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Human Rights Council concludes General debate on Technical Assistance and capacity-building

Human Rights Council 

12 June 2013

The Human Rights Council this afternoon concluded its general debate on technical assistance and capacity-building, including the reports which were presented this morning on best practices, lessons learned and challenges in technical assistance and capacity-building efforts of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and country reports on South Sudan and Mali, as well as a report by the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights.

In the general debate speakers welcomed efforts to re-establish peace in Mali but said that the international community had to continue to mobilize in that respect, and stressed in particular the need to protect civilians, especially women and children.  Speakers also said that it was important to continue to offer technical assistance to Mali in order to help create lasting peace in the country.  Speakers also welcomed efforts by South Sudan to build a peaceful democratic society but pointed out that many challenges remained in that regard.

Speaking in the general debate were Mexico, Togo, Luxembourg, Australia, Council of Europe and France.

The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: Society Studies Centre, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, Human Rights Watch United Nations Watch, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development, CARITAS Internationalis and International Service for Human Rights.

The first part of the consideration of the agenda item on technical assistance and capacity-building can be found in HRC/13/86.

The next meeting of the Human Rights Council will be at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 13 June, when the Council will begin to take action on draft resolutions and decisions.  The Council will conclude its regular twenty-third session on Friday, 14 June.
General Debate on Technical Assistance and Capacity-Building

Mexico said that the Council needed to be the body that provided States with tools to set up regulatory frameworks and policies that promoted human rights.  It was the ideal forum for the exchange of initiatives and for enriching the offer of existing technical assistance.  Assistance had to allow an exchange of lessons learned, and to respond to the challenges in the area of human rights globally.  Mexico would continue to promote this vision.

Togo welcomed the decision taken by the Security Council to create a United Nations Stabilization Mission in Mali.  Togo was concerned of the persistence of zones of insecurity in Mali, particularly in rural areas, and it was important for the international community to assist Mali in facing its challenges.  Togo restated its willingness to stand alongside the people and Government of Mali and invited all friends of Mali to continue their support.

Luxembourg welcomed efforts achieved by the Guinean Government on measures to re-establish the rule of law in the country.  However, the complex challenges and efforts that still needed to be made to combat impunity should not be overlooked.  Luxembourg was also concerned by violent incidents that were seen during public demonstrations.  In Mali, it shared the concern about the need to protect civilians, especially women and children.  The international community had to continue to be mobilized. 

Australia acknowledged the steps taken by South Sudan to improve the human rights situation and was concerned about violence against children, arbitrary arrests and the use of the death penalty.  Australia welcomed the establishment of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Mali and its human rights component and looked forward to the imminent appointment of the Independent Expert and the initiation of work on addressing various human rights challenges.

Council of Europe reiterated its commitment to technical cooperation and said that its cooperation priorities in Tunisia were bringing legislation closer to the relevant international standards, including on preventing and combating violence against women.  In Morocco, technical cooperation included efforts to reduce gender discrimination, prevent violence against women, and protect children against all forms of violence.  Independence and efficiency of the judiciary was a priority in Jordan.

France was alarmed that grave human rights violations continued to take place in the north of Mali, including many cases of sexual violence against women and girls.  The rapid deployment of human rights observers was of vital importance and they should be deployed to the north and be in proximity of people.  France saluted the cooperation of Mali with the International Criminal Court and said that efforts by the authorities to promote an inclusive political dialogue must be increased.

Society Studies Centre said that non-governmental organizations had a real capacity to come up with effective solutions to assist people in developing countries.  In Sudan many challenges remained, such as the economic sanctions imposed on the country, which had a direct impact on the enjoyment of human rights by its people.

East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project said that South Sudan had made positive public commitments in the field of human rights, but continuing threats and attacks against journalists and other members of civil society in the country demonstrated the urgent need to address that issue.  Open and frank debate was vital for building a peaceful society. 

Human Rights Watch called on the Council to establish a meaningful follow-up mechanism on the human rights situation in South Sudan, such as an Independent Expert, to provide technical assistance in developing objectives, indicators and lines of responsibility and to monitor the human rights situation.

United Nations Watch said that Annex 19 to the report by the Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation included a list of countries where human rights advisers were deployed, but not a single country from the Western European and Others Group was included.  However, some stood in clear need of human rights advice and capacity-building.

International Federation for Human Rights Leagues said that intensified reprisals had been launched against ADC Memorial, Russia, one of the most active non-governmental organizations in combating discrimination, which had been recently charged with publishing a report and distributing it to the United Nations.  The Federation called on the relevant United Nations mechanisms and the Council to denounce this case of reprisal.

Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development said that it had been collaborating with partners in Sudan for the promotion of human rights and progress had been made.  The situation of human rights had gradually progressed.  Unfortunately, it seemed that technical assistance could not find its way to Sudan.  The Foundation would continue to wait for this assistance and hoped it would be forthcoming. 

CARITAS Internationalis said that the situation in Mali seriously hindered the building of a new Mali on a more solid basis.  Caritas was relying on the transitional authorities and the people themselves to ensure inclusive and serene elections that would bring about a new Mali centred on the respect for human dignity and the promotion of a national identity that was respectful of diversity.  Peace in Mali was the key to security for the sub-region.

International Service for Human Rights said that it was necessary to consider new strategies to strengthen collaboration between the Council and regional human rights systems and mechanisms and to facilitate regular participation of representatives of regional systems in the consideration of country situations, whether in the Council plenary or during the Universal Periodic Review.


For use of the information media; not an official record