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Human Rights Council extends mandates on Syria, Iran and freedom of religion or belief

Human Rights Council 
MORNING

22 March 2013

The Human Rights Council this morning adopted six resolutions. The Council decided to extend the mandates of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran as well as the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. 

Other texts dealt with torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and the rehabilitation of torture victims; prevention of genocide; and follow-up to the report of the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.

Regarding the situation of human rights in Syria, adopted by a vote of 41 in favour, 1 against and 5 abstentions, as orally revised, the Council decided to extend the mandate of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law since March 2011. 

On the situation of human rights in Iran, adopted by a vote of 26 in favour, 2 against and 17 abstentions, the Council decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran for a further period of one year.  The Council called upon the Government of Iran to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur and to permit access to visit the country and provide all information necessary to allow the fulfilment of the mandate. 

In a resolution regarding freedom of religion or belief, adopted without a vote, the Council expressed deep concern at emerging obstacles to the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief.  The Council urged States to step up their efforts to protect and promote freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief and decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief for a further period of three years.

On torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment: rehabilitation of torture victims, the Council condemned all forms of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and called upon all States to implement fully their absolute prohibition.  It requested the Office of High Commissioner to provide advisory services in cooperation with other relevant United Nations agencies to States on the provision of redress to victims.

In a resolution regarding the prevention of genocide, the Council requested all Governments to cooperate fully with the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide in the performance of his work and requested the High Commissioner to organize, within existing resources, a high-level panel dedicated to the sixty-fifth anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide within the twenty-fifth session of the Council.

On the follow-up to the report of the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, adopted by a vote of 43 in favour, 1 against and 3 abstentions, as orally revised, the Council renewed its recommendation to the General Assembly to remained apprised of the matter until it was satisfied that the appropriate action with regard to implementing the recommendations contained in the report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict was taken at the domestic or international level in order to ensure justice for victims and accountability for perpetrators, and to remain also ready to consider whether additional action within its powers was required in the interests of justice.
Introducing resolutions and decisions were Ireland on behalf of the European Union, Denmark, Armenia, Sweden, Morocco and Pakistan.
United States, Pakistan, Ireland on behalf of the European Union, Ethiopia, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador, Switzerland, made general comments.

Japan, Pakistan, Indonesia, Argentina, Thailand, Venezuela, United States, Gabon on behalf of the African Group, spoke in explanation of vote before or after the vote.

Iran, Syria and Palestine spoke as concerned countries.  Israel was not in the room to speak as concerned country. 

At the beginning of the meeting, several delegations expressed their condolences to the family of the late President of Bangladesh and to the people of Bangladesh on the death of the President.  The Council held one minute of silence.

Jordan on behalf of the Asian Group, Pakistan behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Bangladesh, Montenegro on behalf of the Eastern European Group, Ecuador on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Group, Ireland on behalf of the European Union, Gabon on behalf of the African Group, Spain on behalf of the Western European Group, and Iran on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, took the floor to express their condolences.

The Council will resume its work at 2.30 p.m. this afternoon to continue to take action on decisions and resolutions before concluding its twenty-second session.

Condolences on Passing Away of the President of Bangladesh

Jordan, speaking on behalf of the Asian Group, conveyed condolences to the Government and people of Bangladesh on the demise of the President and said that the Asian Group was deeply saddened by his departure.  The Asian Group also requested the Human Rights Council to observe a minute of silence on this sad occasion.  Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said that all were saddened by the death of the President of Bangladesh.  Mr. Rahman had been one of the longest-serving lawmakers who had helped establish Bangladesh as the democracy that it was today.  Bangladesh said that the President had dedicated his life to establishment of democracy institutions in the country and his demise was a saddening loss for Bangladesh.  Bangladesh thanked all who expressed their condolences.  Also extending condolences to the people and Government of Bangladesh on the passing of the President of Bangladesh were Montenegro on behalf of the East European Group; Ecuador on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries; Ireland on behalf of the European Union; Gabon on behalf of the African Group; Spain on behalf of the Western European Group; and Iran on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Action on Resolutions Under the Agenda Item on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights
    
Action on Resolution on Freedom of Religion or Belief
      
In a resolution (A/HRC/22/L.9) regarding freedom of religion or belief, adopted without a vote, the Council expresses deep concern at emerging obstacles to the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief and condemns all forms of violence, intolerance and discrimination based on or in the name of religion or belief, and violations of the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief.  The Council urges States to step up their efforts to protect and promote freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief and calls upon States to make use of the potential of education for the eradication of prejudices against stereotypes of individuals on the basis of their religion or belief.  The Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief for a further period of three years and requests the Special Rapporteur to report annually to the Council and the General Assembly.

Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union and introducing draft resolution L.9, said that the European Union attached high priority to freedom of religion or belief and noted that acts of violence and discrimination based on religion or belief continued to be perpetrated in different parts of the world.  The resolution urged States to step up efforts to promote freedom of thought, conscience and belief and condemned all forms of violence on the basis of religion or non-religion identity.  It also requested extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.

United States, speaking in a general comment, said that it strongly supported freedom of religion for all people around the world.  Far too many countries failed to protect or even denied their peoples’ fundamental right to believe according to their conscience and to manifest their beliefs, and subjected their citizens to violence and discrimination.  Those trends must be reversed for sustainable peace to be realized in the world.  The United States called on Iran to release Mr. Abedini and others who were unjustly imprisoned and to cease persecution of religious minorities.  

Pakistan, speaking in a general comment, said that it was unfair to refer to specific countries and that this resolution should have been adopted by consensus without controversy or acrimony.  Pakistan would not refer to specific countries, even if there were many countries where religious respect had been pushed to the limit, with officials burning the Koran in public.
   
Action on Resolution on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: Rehabilitation of Torture Victims
      
In a resolution (A/HRC/22/L.11/Rev.1) regarding torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment: rehabilitation of torture victims, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council condemns all forms of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and calls upon all States to implement fully the absolute prohibition.  The Council emphasizes that States must take persistent, determined and effective measures to prevent and combat all acts of torture; and stresses that all acts of torture must be made offences under domestic criminal law.  The Council encourages bilateral and international cooperation on effective remedy and reparation, and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to provide advisory services in cooperation with other relevant United Nations agencies to States on the provision of redress to victims.
Denmark, introducing draft resolution L.11/Rev.1, said it addressed the rehabilitation of victims of torture and ill treatment within the wider framework of redress and introduced minor oral amendments.  Rehabilitation of torture victims was no easy task and full restitution was seldom possible; victims carried the scars of torture for the rest of their lives.  Nevertheless, a lot could be achieved with the right treatment and the draft resolution highlighted the importance of full holistic and specialized rehabilitation services.  The resolution urged States to provide redress for victims, encompassing effective remedy and adequate, effective and prompt repatriation.  The draft resolution also highlighted the importance of States establishing and maintaining rehabilitation facilities which would deliver services without any discrimination and at the earliest possible stage.

Action on Resolution on the Prevention of Genocide

In a resolution (A/HRC/22/L.30) regarding the prevention of genocide, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council reaffirms the significance of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide as an effective international instrument for the prevention and punishment of the Crime of Genocide.  The Council requests all Governments to cooperate fully with the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide in the performance of his work, to furnish all relevant information requested and to react promptly to his urgent appeals.  The Council also requests the High Commissioner to organize, within existing resources, a high-level panel dedicated to the sixty-fifth anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide within the twenty-fifth session of the Council and invites the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide to an interactive dialogue, dedicated to the sixty-fifth anniversary of the Convention within the twenty-fifth session of the Council.

Armenia, introducing resolution L.30, said that the resolution was based on resolution 7/25 which had been adopted by the Council in 2008 and aimed to draw attention to issues relating to the prevention of genocide.  The resolution referred for the first time to the developments regarding the right to truth, stressing the importance of the promotion of truth for the prevention of genocide and encouraging States to cooperate with the Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide.  The resolution also proposed to conduct an interactive dialogue with the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide during the Council’s twenty-fifth session.  

Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, said that it was regrettable that the draft resolution did not reflect the responsibility to protect which was the foundation to prevent crimes of genocide.  States had the responsibility to protect their population from crimes of genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity, but the international community also had the responsibility to protect where national authorities did not have the capacity to do so. 

United States, speaking in a general comment, commended that the language focused on protection and recognized the responsibility of States to protect from crimes of genocide, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.  The United States sought to prevent those crimes through efforts at home and international cooperation and emphasized the importance of early warning mechanisms for the prevention of atrocities, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Ethiopia, speaking in a general comment, said that it supported the resolution introduced by Armenia and added that the responsibility to protect should have been referred to in the draft proposal.    

Costa Rica, speaking in a general comment, said that the Council should show the world that it could reach consensus on important matters such as the prevention of genocide.  Costa Rica was disappointed that it had not been possible to reach consensus on the language of the draft proposal.  It was important that reference be made to the meeting of 2005 and the responsibility to protect. 

Action on Resolutions Under the Agenda Item on Human Rights Situations that Require the Attention of the Council

Action on Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran

In a resolution (A/HRC/22/L.22) regarding the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, adopted by a vote of 26 in favour, 2 against and 17 abstentions, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran for a further period of one year, and requests the Special Rapporteur to submit reports on the implementation of his mandate to the Council, at its twenty-fifth session, and to the General Assembly, at its sixty-eight session.  The Council calls upon the Government of Iran to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur and to permit access to visit the country as well as all information necessary to allow the fulfilment of the mandate.  The resolution requests the Secretary-General to provide the Special Rapporteur with the resources necessary to fulfil the mandate.


The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (26): Argentina, Austria, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Estonia, Gabon, Germany, Guatemala, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Libya, Maldives, Montenegro, Peru, Poland, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Sierra Leone, Spain, Switzerland, and United States.

Against (2): Pakistan, and Venezuela.

Abstentions (17): Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Ecuador, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mauritania, Philippines, Thailand, Uganda, and United Arab Emirates.


Sweden, introducing draft resolution L.22, said it was a short procedural text aimed at extending the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran.  Sweden welcomed the report and the work carried out by the Special Rapporteur and said that the Council could achieve an important objective to remain informed and engaged on situations of grave and systematic human rights violations.  Sweden also welcomed the efforts by the Special Rapporteur to seek cooperation from Iran and remained convinced that such cooperation offered an opportunity to Iran to engage with the Human Rights Council on the concerns that persisted about the human rights situation.

United States, speaking in a general comment, said that the Special Rapporteur had provided an excellent report on the human rights situation in Iran and it was important to renew his mandate.  The United States regretted that Iran had not given the Special Rapporteur access to the country so that he could fulfil his mandate.  

Pakistan, speaking in a general comment, said that it had been consistently against country-specific mandates which were against the spirit of cooperation and dialogue.  The Universal Periodic Review, which was a cooperative mechanism, was a better way of addressing concerns in a non-politicized manner.  Iran had already engaged with the first Universal Periodic Review cycle and had repeatedly stated that it was willing to engage with the Council.  Therefore, the Council should avoid a selective approach. 

Venezuela, speaking in a general comment, expressed condolences to Bangladesh for demise of its President.  Venezuela was opposed to the practice of some countries presenting resolutions on other countries and interfering in their national affairs, especially when those country mandates were not accepted by the concerned countries.  Venezuela reiterated its opposition to politicization, double standards and selectivity and said that this practice was illegitimate and eroded the credibility of the Human Rights Council.

Brazil, speaking in a general comment, said its support for the draft resolution was based not only on concern for the human rights situation in Iran, but also on the conviction that Iran would benefit from engagement and cooperation with the Human Rights Council.  Since 2005 no visit by any of the Special Procedures to Iran had taken place and no access had been granted to the Special Rapporteur.  Brazil encouraged the High Commissioner to respond to Iran’s invitation to visit the country without prejudice.   

Costa Rica, speaking in a general comment, said that decisions in the Council should be based on dialogue and cooperation.  Country-specific mandates were a transparent means of guaranteeing objectivity and of providing information on a specific part of the world.  Cooperation and dialogue were the best way of avoiding the issues raised by other countries opposing the resolution.   

Ecuador, speaking in a general comment, said that it rejected double standards and stressed that it was unfortunate that the Council was being used to consolidate certain countries’ position of hegemony.  Ecuador urged States to respect the Council and not to use it for a selective and biased approach against Iran or other countries.  Human rights violations in Guantanamo and Iraq also required special attention but were not addressed by the Council.  
 
Iran, speaking as the concerned country, said that the Human Rights Council was to take action on another counter-productive draft resolution on the human rights situation in Iran.  Country-specific resolutions had always been subjected to controversial arguments as this mechanism was frequently abused for non-human rights purposes and was marked by selectivity and double-standards.  The best approach to promote and protect human rights was to engage in meaningful and sincere cooperation.  Iran had taken part in the Universal Periodic Review and had provided a comprehensive view of measures taken at the national level and explained in details its human rights policies and practices.  The goal of the draft resolution was to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur which was unwarranted and a disservice to the cooperation extended by Iran to the United Nations mechanisms.

Japan, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it would vote in favour of the resolution and would continue to engage in active dialogue with Iran.  Japan expected Iran to continue its dialogue with the international community and to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the country.

Action on Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in Syria
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/22/L.31/Rev.1) regarding the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic, adopted by a vote of 41 in favour, 1 against and 5 abstentions, as orally revised, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the independent international commission of inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law since March 2011; requests the commission to continue its work and to present written reports on the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic at interactive dialogues during the twenty-third and twenty-fourth sessions of the Council; and to continue to update its mapping exercise of gross violations of human rights.  The Council requests the Secretary-General to provide the necessary resources to the commission of inquiry in order to allow it to fulfil completely its mandate.  The Council decides to transmit all reports and oral updates of the Commission of Inquiry to all relevant bodies of the United Nations and the Secretary-General for appropriate action and to remain seized of the matter.


The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (41): Angola, Argentina, Austria, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Czech Republic, Estonia, Ethiopia, Gabon, Germany, Guatemala, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Montenegro, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Sierra Leone, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, and United States.

Against (1): Venezuela.

Abstentions (5): Ecuador, India, Kazakhstan, Philippines, and Uganda.


Morocco, introducing draft resolution L.31/Rev.1, said that since the adoption of the last resolution on Syria, the crisis in this country had seen further escalation due to the rise in violence.  More than 70,000 Syrians had been killed and millions were displaced in the country or flowing to neighbouring countries.  War crimes and crimes against humanity, as well as mass atrocities were being committed.  The draft resolution condemned all abuses and human rights violations and called for the immediate and total cessation of violence.  It called for the extension of the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry for one year and requested it to report in writing to every session of the Council.  The draft resolution also reiterated the importance of an independent and immediate investigation into human rights violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity to ensure full accountability for perpetrators.

Venezuela, speaking in a general comment, said that it rejected the selective approach of some countries who wanted to undermine the sovereignty of other States.  Venezuela rejected the proliferation of country-specific mandates such as the one under consideration.  The countries promoting the draft proposal had committed violations of human rights but no mandate had been adopted for those countries.  The text of the resolution was unbalanced and biased, and the purpose of the mandate was to interfere in the internal affairs of another country.       

Switzerland, speaking in a general comment, said that the resolution echoed the deep concerns of the international community about the crimes committed in Syria and the impunity with which they were committed.  In the current circumstances there was no national mechanism in place to deal with violations of human rights in the country.  Switzerland condemned sectarian violence, massacres, the destruction of hospitals, and the use of children in the conflict.

Ireland, speaking in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, said that the European Union continued to be appalled by the increasingly deteriorating situation and the systematic human rights violations and abuses being committed in Syria.  The international community must ensure that impunity for serious abuses, including war crimes, would not prevail.  The European Union was extremely concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation and the destruction of infrastructure and cultural heritage.

United States, speaking in a general comment, said that the draft resolution highlighted the brutality of the Assad regime and the crimes and abuses committed in Syria.  The United States was appalled at the violence which had caused 70,000 deaths and millions displaced within and outside of the country and called on all parties to the conflict to comply with their obligations under international law and international humanitarian law.  Those responsible for crimes against the Syrian people must be held accountable and the Assad regime must step aside as it had lost all credibility.

Brazil, speaking in a general comment, said that the Council must continue to fulfil its mandate and follow closely the human rights situation in Syria.  The Council should also send a clear message of strong condemnation of all human rights violations.  The resolution under consideration, which presented the main concerns about the situation on the ground, could have included important additional messages.  Brazil believed that the only alternative was to promote a Syrian-led political transition through diplomacy and dialogue, not through use of military force.    

Ecuador, speaking in a general comment, expressed its solidarity with the people of Syria who continued to suffer, and condemned the violation of human rights in the country irrespective of who the perpetrators were.  Ecuador disapproved of the use of violence as a means of dealing with confrontation and urged opposing parties in Syria to resort to dialogue in order to resolve their differences.  Ecuador opposed any attempt at foreign intervention and would abstain from the vote on the proposed resolution which was biased.

Costa Rica, speaking in a general comment, said that the Council had to address priority situations of systematic violations of human rights and believed that no one in this room had doubt that those were occurring in Syria daily and were being committed by both sides.  The Council had a duty to protect above all the civilian victims and appealed to all not to dilute that responsibility.  There were too many civilian victims already and Costa Rica appealed to all to show seriousness and vote on the text.

Syria, speaking as the concerned country, said that it was shameful to see Arab States adopting this text, in particular since these States violated the human rights of their own populations.  The Council for its part had ignored the human rights situations in these States and the Arab League had made itself an accomplice of human rights violations in Palestine and now also in Syria.  Sponsoring this project, while their own capitals were victims of terrorists posed the risk of aggravating the situation.  Syria regretted that constructive ideas expressed by other delegations had not been taken into account.  The Council continued to adopt sterile texts over the years and had failed to condemn Turkey and Qatar, who were sending weapons and sustaining Al-Qaeda combatants, as the report of the Special Rapporteur itself highlighted.  The resolution did not address the needs of victims of terrorism and failed to respond to the crisis.

Pakistan, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it was extremely concerned about the deterioration of the human rights situation in Syria.  Ending violence was imperative for the return of stability in the country.  Pakistan had supported the mission of the United Nations mechanism in Syria and had engaged constructively with the main sponsors of the draft resolution to ensure objectivity.   

Indonesia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the resolution could not satisfy all delegates but it appreciated efforts made by the sponsors of the resolution to accommodate other views.  Indonesia called for an immediate end to all violence and crimes committed by all parties in Syria, and urged respect of humanitarian law.  Syria had the responsibility to ensure the safety of all its citizens. 

Explanations of the Vote after the Vote and General Comments at End of Consideration of Texts Under the Agenda Item on Human Rights Situations that Require the Attention of the Council

Argentina, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said it would have preferred a more balanced text in the resolution on Syria, especially in the part referring to the responsibilities of the Syrian Government.  All parties must respect their obligations to protect civilians and ensure access to humanitarian assistance.  Argentina reiterated the call to all arms-providing nations to stop their involvement.

Japan, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote concerning the statement on the programme budgetary implications on the resolution concerning the human rights situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, said that the co-sponsors had been in consultation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights since the earliest phases of the drafting and regretted that the budget figures had been received late.

Thailand, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that Thailand had serious concerns about the human rights situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and believed that the Council and the international community should send a strong message that would prompt the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to cooperate with United Nations mechanisms.  

Venezuela, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that the treatment of the human rights situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea should involve the country concerned.  In that respect, the Universal Periodic Review was the ideal way of promoting dialogue and cooperation.  A country-specific mandate on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea was not the way to promote dialogue and demonstrated clear bias.

Action on Resolution Under the Agenda Item on the Human Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories

Action on Resolution on Follow-Up to the Report of the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict

In a resolution (A/HRC/22/L.41) regarding the follow-up to the report of the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, adopted by a vote of 43 in favour, 1 against and 3 abstentions, as orally revised, the Council renews its recommendation to the General Assembly to remained apprised of the matter until it is satisfied that the appropriate action with regard to implementing the recommendations contained in the report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict is taken at the domestic or international level in order to ensure justice for victims and accountability for perpetrators, and to remain also ready to consider whether additional action within its powers is required in the interests of justice.


The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (43): Angola, Argentina, Austria, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Ecuador, Estonia, Gabon, Germany, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Montenegro, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Sierra Leone, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.

Against (1): United States.

Abstentions (3): Czech Republic, Ethiopia, and Kenya.


After the vote, Switzerland spoke in a point of order to say that it made a mistake - it had wished to abstain in the vote. 


Pakistan, introducing draft resolution L.41, said that the international community had strongly condemned the aggression launched by Israel in 2009 in the Gaza Strip and had consequently endorsed the report of the Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza conflict.  The draft resolution sought to address the implementation of the recommendations contained in the mission’s report and recommended that the General Assembly remain appraised of the situation until it was satisfied that appropriate action to implement the mission’s recommendations was undertaken nationally and internationally.

Palestine, speaking as the concerned country, thanked those who had helped to reach an agreement for the adoption of the five draft resolutions involving Palestine, and said that the situation of Palestine was exceptional because it consisted of a flagrant violation of human rights by an occupying State.  The right to self-determination was enshrined in United Nations instruments and suppression of that right was a human rights violation.  The American President had reaffirmed yesterday that the Palestinian people had the right to exercise their right to self-determination in their territory.  Concerning Israeli settlements in the West Bank, they were in violation of international law and constituted a war crime.  It was regrettable that the new Israeli Government was proceeding with the construction of settlements, which would seriously compromise chances to reach international consensus on a two-State solution.  Palestine called upon the international community to put pressure on Israel to assume its responsibilities, and strongly condemned the targeting of children.  Regarding the recommendations of the Fact-Finding Mission, Palestine said that it hoped the recommendations would be adopted and that mechanisms for their implementation would be strengthened.  In conclusion, Palestine urged the Council to help Israel to respect international law and abandon its arrogance and intransigence.  

United States, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it was deeply concerned about the suffering of Palestinian and Israeli people as a result of the ongoing conflict.  However, one-sided resolutions like this one undermined efforts to resume direct peace negotiations.  The United States rejected efforts to isolate and delegitimize Israel in the Council and across the United Nations.  All parties to the conflict had the responsibility to end it.  The United States called for a vote on this draft resolution.

Gabon, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the African Group, said that the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli settlements had concluded that the rights of Palestinians were violated by the construction of settlements.  The African Group reiterated the appeal for an immediate end to settlement building on Palestinian land and for dismantling of the separation wall and reiterated its solidarity with the Palestinian cause.

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