Human Rights Council
14 June 2013
Human Rights Council Appoints Independent Experts on Haiti and Mali, Concludes Twenty-Third Regular Session
The Human Rights Council this afternoon closed its twenty-third regular session after adopting a resolution on the deterioration of the situation of human rights in Syria in which it condemned all violations of human rights irrespective of where they came from, and the intervention of all foreign combatants in Syria; demanded that the Syrian authorities cooperate fully with the Commission of Inquiry; and urged the international community to provide urgent financial support to the countries responding to the humanitarian needs of Syrian refugees, and demanded that the Syrian authorities facilitate the access of humanitarian organizations to areas under their control.
In a resolution adopted by a vote of 37 in favour, 1 against and 9 abstentions, the Council noted with concern that the lack of access by the Commission of Inquiry to Syria continued to hamper the Commission’s ability to fulfil its mandate and demanded that the Syrian authorities cooperate fully with the Commission of Inquiry.
The Council strongly condemned the continued widespread and systematic gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms and all violations of international humanitarian law by the Syrian authorities and the government-affiliated Shabbiha militias, as well as any human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law by armed oppositions groups. It also deplored the further deterioration of the humanitarian situation and the failure to ensure the safe and timely provision of humanitarian assistance to all areas affected by the fighting.
Syria, speaking as the concerned country, said that once again the draft resolution had been drafted in an environment which was far from transparency and accountability. It mentioned facts divorced from reality and massacres that had never taken place and turned a blind eye to the presence in the territory of foreign mercenaries trained and equipped by States who had drafted the resolution. The fatal error of the draft resolution was that it reinforced the support of the jihadists through weapons transfer. Syria would not cooperate with this biased Commission which was subject to external pressure. Adoption of this draft resolution would only encourage divisions within the Syrian society which had been united and harmonious throughout history.
The Council also appointed Gustavo Gallón as Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Haiti and Suliman Baldo as Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Mali.
In concluding remarks, Remigiuscz A. Henczel, President of the Human Rights Council, said that diverse opinions expressed within the framework of the Council should be respected by all, even if some disagreed with certain views. He also condemned all acts of intimidation against bodies or individuals who had cooperated in any way with the Council, and urged States to take all necessary measures to ensure the prevention of such acts.
The President also updated the Council on the progress made on the implementation of the recommendations by the Task Force on secretariat services, accessibility for persons with disabilities and use of information technology. Luis Gallegos Chiriboga, Vice-President/Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council, introduced the draft report of the twenty-third session which was adopted ad referendum.
Philippines and Qatar spoke in introduction of resolutions.
Speaking in general comments were United States, Peru, Switzerland, Ireland on behalf of European Union, India, Costa Rica, Indonesia, and Peru.
Speaking in explanation of the vote before or after the vote were Sierra Leone, Austria, Ecuador, Pakistan, Venezuela, Thailand, Brazil, Angola, Uganda, Costa Rica, Argentina, and Ethiopia.
The following observer States spoke on the resolutions adopted: Egypt, El Salvador, New Zealand, Cuba, Australia, Bahrain, South Africa, and Russian Federation.
Ireland on behalf of the European Union, Pakistan on behalf of a group of countries, and the non-governmental organizations International Service for Human Rights and Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples also took the floor in general concluding remarks.
At the request of the Philippines, the Council deferred taking action on a draft resolution on human rights and climate change. The Philippines said it had concluded that more time was needed to discuss the various recommendations and proposals received during and after the consultations. Climate change was a global phenomenon but had a larger impact on less developed and poorer countries. Faced with the grave and urgent situation that climate changed imposed on the world, it was important for the Human Rights Council to remain engaged on the issue.
The twenty-fourth session of the Human Rights Council will be held from 9 to 27 September 2013.
Action on Resolution on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Including the Right to Development
Action on Resolution on Human Rights and Climate Change
Philippines, asked that consideration of draft resolution L.27 be deferred. It had concluded that more time was needed to discuss the various recommendations and proposals received during and after the consultations. Climate change was a global phenomenon but had a larger impact on less developed and poorer countries. Faced with the grave and urgent situation that climate changed imposed on the world, it was important for the Human Rights Council to remain engaged on the issue.
The Council then decided to defer consideration of draft resolution L.27.
Explanations of the Vote After the Vote and General Comments after Concluding Consideration of Texts under the Agenda Item on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights
Sierra Leone, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote on resolutions L.21, L.22, L.23 and L.10/Rev.1, said that one of the reasons given by a number of delegations voting against was that the subjects of those texts were discussed in other fora. Sierra Leone thought that those issues nevertheless needed to be addressed through a human rights lenses and noted that some of the resolutions in question requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to work with the United Nations bodies and agencies working on those specific issues. Sierra Leone considered that the right to peace was an overarching right and that international solidarity and debt relief were important to the promotion and protection of human rights. The Human Rights Council could not hope to fulfil its mandate without mainstreaming human rights into the work of other United Nations bodies, agencies and programmes.
Austria, speaking in a general comment concerning resolution L.5, said that the elements contained in the text such as the role of women journalists in promoting the participation of women in public and political life were valuable. Austria further noted that the terminology used with regard to people belonging to minorities did not conform to the terminology of the United Nations and invited the main sponsors of the resolution to use the correct language in the future.
Action on Resolution under Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention
Action on Resolution on the Deterioration of the Situation of Human Rights in the Syrian Arab Republic
In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.29) on the deterioration of the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic and the need to grant immediate access to the commission of inquiry, adopted by a vote of 37 in favour, 1 against and 9 abstentions, as orally revised, the Council condemns the lack of cooperation of the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic with the Commission of Inquiry, in particular the persistent denial of access to members of the Commission to the Syrian Arab Republic; notes with concern that the lack of access by the Commission of Inquiry to the Syrian Arab Republic continues to hamper the Commission’s ability to fulfil its mandate; demands that the Syrian authorities cooperate fully with the Commission of Inquiry; acknowledges the statement of the Syrian Opposition Coalition of 5 June 2013 to cooperate with the Commission of Inquiry; condemns all violence, especially against civilians, irrespective of where it comes from; urges all parties to the conflict to refrain from any actions that may contribute to the escalation of violations of human rights or international humanitarian law; strongly condemns the continued widespread and systematic gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms and all violations of international humanitarian law by the Syrian authorities and the government-affiliated Shabbiha militias, as well as any human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law by armed oppositions groups, while noting that the Commission of Inquiry stated in its report that abuses and violations committed by anti-Government armed groups did not reach the intensity and scale of the violations committed by government forces and its associated militia; strongly condemns the intervention of all foreign combatants in the Syrian Arab Republic and expresses deep concern that their involvement further exacerbates the deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation, which has a serious negative impact on the region; deplores the further deterioration of the humanitarian situation and the failure to ensure the safe and timely provision of humanitarian assistance to all areas affected by the fighting; demands that the Syrian authorities meet their responsibility to protect the Syrian population and that the Syrian authorities facilitate the access of humanitarian organizations, and calls on all sides to respect the safety of humanitarian workers and United Nations personnel and to protect medical personnel, facilities and transport consistent with applicable international law.
The result of the vote was as follows:
In favour (37): Argentina, Austria, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Guatemala, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Montenegro, 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 (9): Angola, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Gabon, India, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Philippines, and Uganda.
Qatar, introducing draft resolution L.29, said that this resolution came at a time when the continuing deterioration of the situation in Syria, with gross and systematic human rights and international humanitarian law violations, had reached unprecedented levels. The resolution strongly condemned the continued, widespread, and systematic violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, condemned all massacres taking place, stressed the need to hold those responsible accountable, and requested that the Commission of Inquiry be granted access to the country. The main sponsors had worked in a genuine, transparent and constructive manner to garner consensus on this draft, which was a balanced text. It was hoped that the Council would adopt the resolution by consensus.
United States, speaking in a general comment, said that the Council had consistently condemned the continued, widespread violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and all violations of international humanitarian law by the Syrian authorities, as well as by armed opposition groups. Those responsible had to be held to account. All massacres taking place were strongly condemned. The intervention of foreign elements further exacerbated the deteriorating situation. The resolution also focused on the lack of cooperation of Syria with the Commission of Inquiry. It was long past time for the Government of Syria to cooperate with mechanisms of the Council. The message of this resolution was clear and undisputable.
Peru, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that there was a new operative paragraph in the draft resolution L.29 and expressed gratitude to the authors of the text for including it in the text of the resolution. Peru however noted that this paragraph took into consideration the concerns of Peru, the Latin American and Caribbean Group and other States only to some extent and said that it would provide additional information in an explanation of the vote after the vote.
Switzerland, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, expressed alarm over the situation in Syria and said it was vital to immediately stop the violence and address impunity including through the referral of this situation to the International Criminal Court. The draft resolution condemned the operation of all foreign combatants in Syria and Switzerland recalled that all parties to the conflict must respect the international humanitarian law. Switzerland recalled that the recent arms trade treaty provided that no arms could be transferred if there were risks of it being used against the civilian population and in violation of human rights and said that this point was not captured in the text.
Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, said that as they spoke the death toll in Syria had reached an estimated 93,000 people since the start of the conflict. The situation in Syria was increasingly deteriorating and systematic and widespread violations and abuses continued unabated. The European Union called on the Syrian authorities to immediately put an end to the violence. It was greatly concerned about the possible use of chemical agents in Syria, which was unacceptable. The Commission of Inquiry should be granted full access to the country. All United Nations Members were called upon to support the Commission of Inquiry and the call for its access to Syria. The European Union recalled that the Council could refer the situation to the International Criminal Court. While the Syrian authorities had failed to prosecute alleged perpetrators, the international community had to ensure that impunity would not prevail. All parties were urged to allow for cross-border humanitarian operations. It was important for the Council to send the strongest possible message.
India, speaking in a general comment, strongly condemned all violence in Syria as well as all human rights violations irrespective of who the perpetrators were. It saw no merit in two resolutions on the same issue during one session. The text unduly focused on accountability, rather than the immediate cessation of all forms of violence. Syrians themselves should establish accountability, after the end of the conflict. The Council should not confuse its mandate with the humanitarian one. The Syrian crisis could be resolved only through a Syrian-led political process. The Council should seek to gain the confidence of all parties in Syria, through a balanced and impartial resolution. This was what the Syrian people and the international community expected of this Council.
Costa Rica, speaking in a general comment, expressed indignation about massive violations of human rights in Syria and said that all war crimes and crimes against humanity should be subject to trials and those responsible should be held accountable. Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria there had been more than 93,000 victims of the weapons; the failure to condemn the transfer of weapons was tantamount to failing to protect victims of human rights violations and went against the raison d’être of the arms treaty opened for signature recently. Costa Rica was concerned about the brutality of this armed conflict and called on the international community to find a diplomatic solution and said that it was high time that permanent members of the United Nations Security Council put their differences aside and worked in favour of civilians in Syria.
Syria, speaking as the concerned country, said that once again the draft resolution had been drafted in an environment which was far from transparency and accountability. It mentioned facts divorced from reality and massacres that had never taken place and turned a blind eye to the presence in the territory of foreign mercenaries trained and equipped by States who had drafted the resolution. Those States could themselves experience such a situation in which their independence and sovereignty was violated. The fatal error of the draft resolution was that it reinforced the support of the jihadists through weapons transfer. With regard to the Commission of Inquiry, Syria mentioned the scandalous events of May 5 when the Commission of Inquiry had stated that sarin had been used in Syria to only refute that statement a few hours later, thus causing the loss of all trust and confidence in the Commission. Syria would not cooperate with this biased Commission which was subject to external pressure. Adoption of this draft resolution would only encourage divisions within the Syrian society which had been united and harmonious throughout the history.
Ecuador, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, condemned the human rights violations being perpetrated on Syrian territory regardless of who the authors were. Ecuador rejected the use of violence as a way to deal with disputes between parties, and they were urged to find a peaceful solution. It would continue to support mediation and diplomacy and the good offices of the international community geared to finding a solution to this problem. Ecuador was seriously concerned by the spiraling religious and sectarian violence, and the humanitarian violence suffered by minorities. International interference in the conflict, including the provision of arms, was helping to worsen the internal situation. The proponents of this resolution were contributing to maintaining the conflict by providing weapons to opposition groups. Ecuador would abstain from this resolution, which was unbalanced, partial and politically biased, omitting a serious act, namely the transfer of weapons to all parties in the country.
Pakistan, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the most important issue was an immediate end to the conflict and human rights violations in Syria. Pakistan believed that in order to achieve this, the Council should adopt resolutions that respected immutable principles of international law, and that were also balanced and implementable, based on the imperative to promote and protect the human rights of all, rather than be driven by political considerations. The United Nations, especially the Human Rights Council, had to play its due role in accordance with its mandate to achieve this objective. Statements by the High Commissioner and by the Special Procedures noting that crimes against humanity were likely to have been committed in Syria by all parties had to be recalled. Unfortunately, Pakistan’s suggestions to ensure a balanced text had not been taken on board. Pakistan would abstain from the vote on the resolution.
Venezuela, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, rejected the politicized practices of countries that over the last two years had sought to turn the Human Rights Council into an instrument against Syria instead of respecting the principle of independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of this State and respecting the right of its people to self-determination. Those countries had financed and supported the foreign mercenaries who committed serious human rights violations in Syria and who were not interested in the peaceful resolution of this conflict that they had fed. The work of the Commission of Inquiry lacked objectivity and impartiality and since May 5, this was obvious to the whole world. Venezuela rejected draft resolution L.29 which continued to interfere into the domestic affairs of Syria, called for a vote and said it would vote against.
Thailand, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that with more time given for consultations, the draft resolution could have been more balanced, particularly on the role and involvement of external forces in the conflict and on accountability of those who committed human rights violations and abuses. Thailand said it would vote in favour of the resolution to show its solidarity with the Syrian people and with the international community in expressing deep concern over the worsening crisis. Thailand outlined legitimate concerns regarding some paragraphs and said that the issue of legitimate representation could only be decided by the Syrian people and that the support for the draft resolution did not mean endorsement of any act that violated the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign States.
Indonesia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that time and again it had expressed its deep concern about the human rights abuses and atrocities taking place in Syria. Indonesia fully supported that the Commission of Inquiry should be given full access to Syria in order to obtain a comprehensive picture of the human right situation on the ground. All parties in Syria should facilitate access to the Commission of Inquiry. For that reason Indonesia was willing to support the resolution. However, it regretted that reference had been made to only one group in the conflict. This made the resolution less credible. Indonesia strongly believed that the conflict in Syria could only be resolved through diplomatic means, with respect for the sovereignty and integrity of Syria.
Peru, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, condemned all of the human rights and international humanitarian law abuses committed in Syria by all of the sides to the conflict. Peru was convinced that this should be the central element of any resolution on the human rights situation in Syria. Despite its appeals to the authors of the resolution, the text submitted did not sufficiently encompass the adverse impact on human rights of the provision of weapons to all sides in the conflict by outside powers. Using ambiguous language on this question, the Council was not giving due attention to the appeals voiced on a number of occasions by the United Nations Secretary-General, the High Commissioner, and by the Commission of Inquiry itself that all States should refrain from fueling the conflict through the transfer of weapons. Peru would vote in favour of the draft but nonetheless, it would continue to strive to ensure that the Council shouldered its responsibility to protect victims, unequivocally condemn the transfer of weapons and that all perpetrators of crimes were held accountable.
Brazil, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the Human Rights Council must send a clear message of condemnation of all violence and must call upon all parties to put an end to the human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law. Brazil concurred with the Commission of Inquiry that increased arms transfers hurt the prospect of a political settlement to the conflict. Further militarization would only prolong the conflict and impose greater suffering on the civilians. What was needed now was strong and unequivocal support for the initiative to convene an international conference that would build upon the Geneva Action Group initiative of last year. Brazil would vote in favour of the draft resolution and was of the opinion that the text could have been improved and should have included condemnation of all foreign combatants on equal footing.
Chile, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it would vote in favour of draft resolution L.29 because this Council had the responsibility to take a stand whenever it was necessary and as often as it was necessary to protect victims. Chile reiterated some of the concerns expressed during the consultations and said that only the Syrian people had the prerogative to decide on the legitimacy of their representatives. The Council should launch an appeal to avoid any action which would fuel the cycle of violence; the protection of victims was its foundational mandate and this must be put forward before the whole international community.
Angola, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it would again abstain as the text was not aimed at trying to find a peaceful settlement which took the interest of the Syrian people into account. Angola strongly believed that an inclusive solution could bring peace to Syria. It fervently hoped that common sense would prevail. Angola had always said and restated that the Human Rights Council was not a political body.
Uganda, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, deplored and condemned all violence against civilians. Uganda would abstain from the resolution as its language was not balanced and jeopardized the prospect of peace. Change of Government should be the sole resolve of the Syrian people and the external infusion and provision of arms only worsened the situation.
Costa Rica, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it would vote in favour of draft resolution L.29 and said that, in the interpretation of Costa Rica, the language of the text referred to the transfer of weapons.
Explanations of the Vote After the Vote After the Conclusion of Taking Action on Draft Resolutions Under the Agenda Item on Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention
Argentina, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that its Government was following with concern the situation in Syria, which included a clear increase in violence. It was vital to stop the spiral of violence in which all actors in the conflict were submerged. Argentina highlighted that it did not participate in the meetings which gave rise to the terminology in paragraphs 4 and 7 of the resolution. It repeated its appeal to all countries providing weapons to immediately halt the provision of weapons to the warring sides. Argentina also appealed for a halt to the conflict and the democratic participation of all in a democratic solution.
Ethiopia, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, welcomed the adoption of the resolution on the situation of human rights in Eritrea. It was high time that the regime in Eritrea was held accountable for its brutality, its heinous human rights violations against its own people, and its destabilization of the region. It was regrettable to note that the regime in Eritrea was still in denial. As clearly stated in the report of the Special Rapporteur, it should not continue to use as an excuse its internal political situation and self-imposed isolation for the appalling human rights situation in Eritrea, which one way or another touched the life of almost every family.
Venezuela, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that it rejected the politicization of mandates by certain States, which used the Council as a means of aggression towards progressive countries. The workings of the Council should be based on dialogue and cooperation in accordance with its fundamental characteristic of universality. The Universal Periodic Review was the ideal setting to promote and protect human rights through dialogue. Venezuela opposed and would continue to oppose all special mandates and dissociated itself from the resolution on the situation of human rights in Eritrea.
Switzerland, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, on behalf of a group of countries, welcomed the resolution on Belarus and expressed concern at the application of the death penalty in the country, the only European country which continued to use the death penalty. The secrecy surrounding executions carried out in Belarus was of particular concern and was in violation of international standards. Switzerland encouraged the Special Rapporteur to look into the application of the death penalty in Belarus during his second term, and called on Belarus to abolish the capital punishment.
Nomination of Special Procedures
REMIGIUSCZ A. HENCZEL, President of the Human Rights Council, presented a list of two candidates for Special Procedures to be appointed at the current session of the Human Rights Council: Gustavo Gallón as Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti and Suliman Baldo as Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali.
The Human Rights Council then endorsed the list.
The President then updated the Council on the progress made on the implementation of the recommendations by the Task Force on secretariat services, accessibility for persons with disabilities and use of information technology, contained in Council decision 19/119. A conference room paper on this issue had been prepared and most recommendations of the Task Force were already being implemented. Those did not require additional resources but additional resources were required to make the work of the Council accessible to persons with disabilities such as international sign, captioning and training of staff.
General Comments by Observer States
Egypt, speaking in a general comment, said that as a main sponsor to the freedom of expression and empowerment of women resolution, Egypt expressed its gratitude to the Council. It was deeply disappointed regarding the turn of this initiative and how consultations were conducted. Egypt also regretted that its proposals were not taken into consideration. Egypt declared its disassociation from operative paragraphs 8 and 21 of the resolution.
El Salvador, speaking in a general comment, referred to the resolution on accelerating efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women. In the Council, an opportunity had again been lost to attract the support of all Members and non-Members on this resolution. The issue of abortions was controversial and had been extensively discussed. El Salvador protected life since conception and it would not be in a position to support any reference in a resolution. It disassociated itself from operative paragraph 6 and had reservations with regard to operative paragraph 10.
New Zealand, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, acknowledged the engagement of Myanmar in the negotiation process of the draft Presidential Statement on Myanmar. New Zealand remained committed to assisting Myanmar in its political, social and economic reform process and recognized the progress made to date. New Zealand also encouraged Myanmar to ensure that the benefits of the reform process were enjoyed by everyone in Myanmar.
Cuba, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that it objected to country-specific mandates such as the one on Belarus, which were not objective and were motivated by States trying to change the political situation in certain countries. Cuba said that the Council should not allow powerful States to manipulate its work through country-specific mandates, and urged the Council to address pressing human rights issues, such as the continuing use of the Guantanamo detention centre by the United States.
Australia , speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote regarding the Presidential Statement on the situation in Myanmar, said that the holding of open, transparent and informal consultations on this statement could have resulted in a more balanced text that would better reflect the complex situation in Rakhine state. Australia remained concerned about violence against persons belonging to minorities in Rakhine state and encouraged Myanmar to continue to take measures to address the situation and to move to full implementation of the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur. Australia was concerned by the decision of some States to bypass the consultative negotiating process that was the key strength of this Council and instead to table hostile amendments prior to the exhaustion of legitimate negotiation efforts. Earlier this week Australia had announced its candidacy for membership in the Human Rights Council for the 2018-2020 terms and said it would work toward consultation and transparency.
Bahrain, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Countries, thanked Canada for the consultation on the resolution on preventing all forms of violence against women and joined the consensus on this resolution. The Gulf Cooperation Countries fully supported the extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women and asserted that the group members had adopted policies ensuring the participation of women at all levels of power and had put in place mechanisms to prevent violence against women and the rehabilitation of victims of violence. Religious, cultural and historic specificities of countries must be taken into consideration when addressing the issue of violence against women. Bahrain noted that some of the paragraphs of the resolution were inacceptable as they went against the principle of national sovereignty.
South Africa, speaking in an explanation of the vote after action on the resolution on accelerating efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women, said that it was inconceivable that key issues of emergency contraceptives, safer abortions, and post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV amongst others had been omitted from the text. There was an imperative need for the promotion of a more balanced and human rights-based approach to population development particularly with respect to such issues, more specifically the right to choose, which the resolution had failed to address.
Russia, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that the resolution on the human rights situation in Belarus was an extremely politicised and biased effort and discredited the Human Rights Council. The latest one-sided resolution on Syria talked about Hezbollah and the authors did not seem to be worried about the heavily armed and paid rebel groups. The authors of the resolution did not talk about promoting the democratic forces of the future and appeared not to be worried about the fate of Christians in Syria, and the abduction of two Christian priests. The document was aimed at promoting the coalition and ignored the actions taken by many opposition groups.
China, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that it supported the Council’s adoption of resolutions on important issues such as access to medicines, but remained opposed to biased, politicized, country-specific resolutions such as that on Belarus. Instead, China believed that the provision of technical assistance and the use of cooperation and dialogue through the Universal Periodic Review mechanism was a far more constructive approach to improving the human rights situation in other countries. Political dialogue was the only way to put an end to the sufferings of the Syrian people, and the actions of the Council should be conducive to that.
Adoption of the Report of the Session Ad Referendum
23 LUIS GALLEGOS CHIRIBOGA, Vice-President/Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council, introduced the draft report of the twenty-third session which contained the record of the proceedings up until the Council started taking action on draft proposals. The text of resolutions, decisions and the Presidential Statement that had just been adopted would be available in due course. During this three-week session, the Council had heard an update by the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the activities of her Office and held an urgent debate on the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic. The Council also discussed a wide range of topics at the five panels and during the interactive dialogues with Special Procedures mandate holders and the Commission of Inquiry established by the Council. The Council considered the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review of 13 countries and appointed two Independent Experts.
The Council then adopted the session report ad referendum.
General Concluding Comments
Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union in general concluding remarks, reiterated its full support for the Special Procedures mandate holders of the Human Rights Council. Their independence was vital for their work and their reports greatly contributed to the debate. In carrying out this important work, they deserved to be treated with respect and dignity at all times both inside and outside the Council chambers. The European Union was convinced of the need to address country situations whenever and wherever necessary in line with the Council’s mandate. Civil society was applauded for its engagement in this session; its contribution was of great importance to the Council. Civil society should not be stifled either inside or outside of this room.
International Service for Human Rights, speaking in general concluding remarks, said that this session had built on the landmark resolution on protecting human rights defenders. While welcoming resolutions that affirmed the importance of protecting and supporting the work of human rights defenders in diverse contexts, it reiterated its concern at the worsening trend towards attacks and restrictions on defenders. The Council was urged to adopt a follow-up resolution to ensure that the United Nations paid systematic attention to these concerns.
Movement contre le racisme et pout l’amitié entre les peuples, speaking in general concluding remarks, said that while the Council expressed its concern in each of its sessions about the human rights violations committed in Syria, it sometimes remained silent on the decennial, continuous war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Israel’s colonization of the Occupied State of Palestine. It was dismaying that a State may not only infringe with impunity the principles of the Charter and every United Nations resolution concerning its occupation policy, but on top of it be awarded for it and being granted the privilege to negotiate its participation in the work of the highest international body for the protection and promotion of human rights.
Pakistan, speaking in general concluding remarks on behalf of a group of countries, said that it valued the interactive relationship with civil society and welcomed constructive criticism from all non-governmental organizations. It objected, however, to unsubstantiated and politically motivated claims made by non-governmental organizations, which undermined the objectivity of the Council and targeted the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States. Non-governmental organizations should abide by the rules of the United Nations Charter at all times and should avoid politically motivated statements against States.
Concluding Remarks by the President of the Council
REMIGIUSCZ A. HENCZEL, President of the Human Rights Council, in his closing remarks encouraged all those who participated in the Council’s work to discuss issues with the appropriate level of dignity and respect. Different opinions and views might exist, but all must always remain within the accepted framework, ensuring that a sense of respect permeated discussions. The Council was not an appropriate forum to raise and discus issues of a territorial nature questioning the principle of territorial integrity of the Member and Observer States and the President appealed to all stakeholders to refrain from raising such issues in the framework of the Council’s work. Any acts of intimidation or reprisals against individuals and groups who cooperated or had cooperated with the United Nations and its representatives were unacceptable and must end, said Mr. Henczel, and urged States to prevent and ensure adequate protection against such acts.
The President thanked all delegations and representatives of the national human rights institutions and civil society, and expressed his appreciation for an excellent work done by the Secretariat of the Council, the Division for Conference Management, the Conference officers, the interpreters, the Department of Public Information and the Security Officers and then closed the twenty-third session of the Human Rights Council.
For use of the information media; not an official record