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Human Rights Council concludes twenty-third session after adopting 28 texts

Human Rights Council
ROUNDUP

14 June 2013

The Human Rights Council concluded its twenty-third regular session this afternoon after adopting 26 resolutions, a Presidential Statement and a decision, on a wide range of issues.

During the session, the Council extended the mandates of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice and of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons.  Regarding human rights situations requiring its attention, the Council extended the mandates of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea and of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus.

The Council held an urgent debate on the deteriorating situation of human rights in Syria and adopted two resolutions on that country, demanding that the authorities cooperate fully with the Commission of Inquiry, condemning the continued widespread and systematic gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms and the intervention of all foreign combatants, and calling 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.

Under its agenda item on technical assistance and capacity-building, the Council renewed the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Côte d’Ivoire and adopted a number of resolutions, including on national policies and human rights; on technical assistance and consultative services to Guinea; and on technical assistance and capacity-building for South Sudan.  The Council also decided to hold a stand-alone high-level interactive dialogue, at its twenty-fourth session, with the aim of exploring how all stakeholders can work effectively towards the implementation of the road map and the realization of human rights in Somalia.

The Council also adopted a Presidential Statement on the human rights situation of Muslims in Myanmar, calling on the Government to take immediate measures to put an end to all acts of violence and violations of human rights against Muslims.

The Advisory Committee was requested to submit a research-based report on the issue of the negative impact of corruption on the enjoyment of human rights, at its twenty-sixth session, and the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights was asked to submit a preliminary report on attacks and discrimination against persons with albinism at its twenty-fourth session.

Other texts dealt with the human rights of migrants; the role of freedom of opinion and expression in women’s empowerment; the enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights; technical assistance to the Central African Republic; the right to education; trafficking in persons, especially women and children; independence and impartiality of the judiciary; enjoyment of cultural rights of everyone and respect for cultural diversity; foreign debt and human rights; human rights and international solidarity; access to medicines; the right to peace; and national human rights institutions.

Following the recommendations made by the Consultative Group and consultations with regional groups, NGOs and other stakeholders, the Council appointed Suliman Baldo as Independent Expert on Mali and Gustavo Gallón as Independent Expert on Haiti at its closing meeting.

At the end of the meeting, Remigiuscz A. Henczel, President of the Human Rights Council, updated the Council regarding 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, pursuant Council decision 19/119; and expressed deep appreciation to Ambassador Luis Gallegos Chiriboga of Ecuador, Vice-President of the Council, for his personal commitment in facilitating the work of the Task Force.

The Council then adopted its draft report of the twenty-third session, ad referendum, on the understanding that the Vice-President and Rapporteur would finalize it with the assistance of the Secretariat.

In concluding remarks, Remigiuscz A. Henczel, President of the Human Rights Council, encouraged all those who participated in the Council’s work to discuss issues with the appropriate level of dignity and respect. The Council was also 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.  Mr. Henczel appealed to all stakeholders to refrain from raising such issues in the framework of the Council’s work.  Mr. Henczel also reiterated that, as it had been stressed by him on a number of occasions, as well as by many delegations, any acts of intimidation or reprisals against individuals and groups who cooperated or have cooperated with the United Nations and its representatives were unacceptable and must end. The President also echoed the Council’s review outcome in urging States to prevent and ensure adequate protection against such acts.

Documentation, statements, resolutions and reports relating to this and all Human Rights Council sessions are available on its webpage.  Detailed, speaker-by-speaker coverage of every public meeting can be found on the website of United Nations Information Service Geneva.  The twenty-third session was held from 27 May to 14 June and the twenty-fourth regular session of the Human Rights Council will be held in Geneva, from 9 to 27 September 2013.  

Summary of the Programme of Work

The President of the Council, Ambassador Remigiusz A. Henczel of Poland, opened the twenty-third session, followed by an update on the activities of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and a general debate. On 29 May, the Council held an urgent debate on the deteriorating situation of human rights in Syria, subsequently adopting a resolution strongly condemning the widespread and systematic gross violations of human rights by the Syrian authorities and the Government-affiliated militias, including against the people of Al Qusayr. 

On 10 June, the Council heard an address by Heinz Fischer, President of Austria.

During its twenty-third session, the Council held interactive dialogues with 21 mandate holders of the Special Procedures with thematic and country mandates. The Council also considered the reports of its subsidiary bodies under Agenda Item 5, on human rights bodies and mechanisms, including the Social Forum and the Forum on Business and Human Rights, as well as the Working Group on a declaration on the right to peace.

The Council also considered and adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcomes on France, Tonga, Romania, Mali, Botswana, Bahamas, Burundi, Luxembourg, Barbados, Montenegro, United Arab Emirates, Liechtenstein and Serbia, which were reviewed at the fifteenth session of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group held in January this year.

The Council also held its annual day of discussion on women’s human rights and interactive dialogues with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, as well as with the Independent Expert on Côte d’Ivoire.  The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights presented her country reports on South Sudan and Mali.  

Additionally, thematic panel discussions were held during the session on the contribution of parliaments to the work of the Council and the Universal Periodic Review, on strategies for advancing the business and human rights agenda by the United Nations system, and on common challenges facing States in their efforts to secure democracy and the rule of law from a human rights perspective.

The Council also heard the High Commissioner’s annual presentation on the overview of successes, best practices and challenges in technical assistance and capacity-building efforts, and the presentation by the Board of Trustees of the Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights.

Action on Presidential Statement under Agenda Item 1 on Organizational and Procedural Matters

Action on Presidential Statement on Situation of Human Rights of Muslims in Myanmar

In a Presidential Statement (A/HRC/23/L.26) on the situation of human rights of Muslims in Myanmar, the Council expresses its deep concern at the gross violations of human rights against Muslims in Myanmar, including against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State; and calls upon the Government of Myanmar to take all necessary measures to ensure accountability and to end impunity for all violations of human rights and to allow full access of humanitarian assistance to affected persons and communities and the distribution of humanitarian aid without any discrimination.

Action on Resolutions under Agenda Item 3 on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.5) on the role of freedom of opinion and expression in women’s empowerment, the Council invites the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression to include in his reports an analysis of the role of freedom of opinion and expression in improving women’s participation, as well as an analysis of the challenges that women face in exercising their freedom of opinion and expression.

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.6) on enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights, the Council requests the Office of the High Commissioner to seek to enhance dialogue with representatives from non-traditional donor countries with a view to broaden the donor base and replenish the resources available to both funds; and requests the Advisory Committee to prepare a more focused and in-depth study on the ways and means to enhance international cooperation in the field of human rights, and to submit a report to the Council at its twenty-sixth session.

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.7) on the right to education: follow-up to Human Rights Council resolution 8/4, the Council invites all States to give full effect to the right to education and States and other relevant stakeholders to intensify their efforts to disseminate and to promote universal respect for and understanding of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training as a means to give full effect to the right to education worldwide.

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.8) on trafficking in persons, especially women and children: efforts to            combat human trafficking in supply chains of businesses, the Council urges States to recognize trafficked persons as victims with specific protection needs; encourages businesses to become supporters of the Global Compact and the Athens Ethical Principles and to establish an effective monitoring system to scrutinize the risks of human trafficking at all levels of the supply chain; urges States, regional and subregional organizations to develop collective strategies and plans to combat trafficking in persons.

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.9) on the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, jurors and assessors, and the independence of lawyers, the Council calls upon all States to guarantee the independence of judges and lawyers and the objectivity and impartiality of prosecutors, and to ensure that prosecutors can perform their functional activities in an independent, objective and impartial manner; and condemns all acts of violence, intimidation or reprisals against judges, prosecutors and lawyers, and reminds States of their duty to uphold the integrity of judges, prosecutors and lawyers.

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.13) on elimination of discrimination against women, the Council calls upon States to include special measures to achieve gender equality in political and public life and the elimination of discrimination against women and girls; decides to extend the mandate of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice for three years to dedicate specific attention to good practices and to offer support to States’ initiatives to address multiple forms of discrimination when implementing relevant international human rights treaties.

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.14) on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons the Council expresses concern at the persistent problems of large numbers of internally displaced persons worldwide; and decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons for three years; and invites the Special Rapporteur to continue to submit annual reports on the implementation of his or her mandate to the Council and the General Assembly.

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.19) on the negative impact of corruption on the enjoyment of human rights the Council recognizes that all forms of corruption have a negative impact on the enjoyment of human rights; requests the Advisory Committee to submit a report to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-sixth session on the issue of the negative impact of corruption on the enjoyment of human rights, to make recommendations on how the Council and its subsidiary bodies should consider this issue.

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.20) on the promotion of the enjoyment of the cultural rights of everyone and respect for cultural diversity, the Council invites the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights to include in her next report the issue of the ways and means to sensitize institutions and society on diverse cultural heritage and to continue to address issue of the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications; and requests the Special Rapporteur to present her next report to the Council at its twenty-fifth session.

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.22) on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights, the Council urges the international community to take measures to alleviate the debt problem of those developing countries; requests the Independent Expert to report to the General Assembly on the issue of the effects of foreign debt on the human rights, and to submit a report on the implementation of the present resolution to the Council at its twenty-fifth session.

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.23) on human rights and international solidarity, the Council urges the international community to consider concrete measures to promote and consolidate international assistance to developing countries for the promotion the full realization of all human rights; reiterates its request to the Independent Expert to continue to work in the preparation of a draft declaration on the right of peoples and individuals to international solidarity and to submit a report on the implementation of the present resolution to the Council at its twenty-sixth session.

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.25) on attacks and discrimination against persons with albinism, the Council urges States to take all measures necessary to ensure the effective protection of persons with albinism; calls upon States to ensure accountability through the conduct of investigations into attacks against persons with albinism; requests the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights to submit a preliminary report on attacks and discrimination against persons with albinism to the Council at its twenty-fourth session.

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.10/Rev.1) on access to medicines in the context of the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, the Council recognizes that access to medicines is one of the fundamental elements in achieving progressively the full realization of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; urges States to ensure that procurement practices and procedures for medicines are transparent, fair, competitive and non-discriminatory; and invites the Special Rapporteur on the right to health to continue to focus on the issue of access to medicines.

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.3) on technical assistance to the Central African Republic in the field of human rights, the Council condemns all the serious human rights violations and acts of violence perpetrated against the civilian population; requests the High Commissioner to submit to the Council, at its twenty-fourth session, an interim report on the situation and, at its twenty-fifth session, a report evaluating the needs for technical assistance and capacity-building.

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.12) on human rights of migrants, the Council calls upon States to consider signing and ratifying or acceding to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families; expresses its concern at legislation and measures adopted by some States that may restrict the human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants, and reaffirms that States have the duty to comply with their obligations under international law in order to ensure full respect for the human rights of all migrants.

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.28) on accelerating efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women: preventing and responding to rape and other forms of sexual violence, the Council strongly condemns all acts of violence against women and girls; invites the Office of the High Commissioner to make available to the State concerned the rapid deployment of expertise to investigate allegations of mass rape or systematic sexual violence; and decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women for three years.

Action on Resolutions under Agenda Item 4 on Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention


In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.1) on the deteriorating situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic, and the recent killings in Al-Qusayr, the Council strongly condemns all violations of international humanitarian law and the widespread and systematic gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and all violence in the Syrian Arab Republic, irrespective of where it comes from, and calls upon all parties to immediately put an end to all forms of violence; requests the Commission of Inquiry to urgently conduct an inquiry into the events in Al Qusayr and to include the finding in its report to the Council at its twenty-fourth session.

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.18) on the situation of human rights in Belarus, the Council Expresses deep concern at continuing violations of human rights in Belarus and restrictions on human rights; decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus for a period of one year, and requests the Special Rapporteur to submit a report to the Council at its twenty-sixth session and to the General Assembly at its sixty-ninth session; urges the Government of Belarus to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur.

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.17) on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, the Council strongly condemns the continued widespread and systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms committed by the Eritrean authorities; and decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea for one year and requests the Special Rapporteur to submit a report to the Council at its twenty-sixth session.

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, the Council strongly condemns the continued widespread and systematic gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms and the intervention of all foreign combatants in the Syrian Arab Republic; demands that the Syrian authorities meet their responsibility to protect the Syrian population 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.

Action on Draft Resolutions under Agenda Item 5 on Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.21) on the promotion of the right to peace, the Council decides that the working group shall hold its second session for five working days in 2014; the Council also requests the Chairperson-Rapporteur to prepare a new text, on the basis of the discussions held during the first session of the working group and the intersessional informal consultations to be held, and to present it prior to the second session of the working group for consideration; and requests the working group to prepare a report on progress made, and to submit it to the Council as a pre-session document for consideration at its twenty-sixth session.

Action on Resolutions under Agenda Item 8 on the Follow-up to and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.15) on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights, the Council encourages national institutions to continue to play an active role as enumerated in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action; and requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council at its twenty-seventh session on the implementation of this resolution and, at its twenty-seventh session, on the activities of the International Coordinating Committee in accrediting national institutions in compliance with the Paris Principles.

Action on Resolutions and Decisions under Agenda Item 10 on Technical Assistance and Capacity-Building

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.16) on national policies and human rights, the Council recognizes the importance of national systems for collecting, monitoring and evaluating relevant disaggregated national data for drawing up and assessing national policies; and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a report on technical assistance and capacity-building options for integrating human rights into national policies and to submit the above-mentioned report to the Council at its twenty-seventh session.

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.2.Rev1) on technical assistance to Côte d’Ivoire in the field of human rights, the Council condemns the resurgence of attacks by unidentified armed groups in Côte d’Ivoire; decides therefore to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Côte d’Ivoire for one year, from the twenty-third to the twenty-sixth session of the Council; and requests the Independent Expert to submit his report at the twenty-fifth session and his recommendations at the twenty-sixth session of the Council.

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.4) on strengthening of technical cooperation and consultative services in Guinea, the Council recognizes the efforts made by the Government of Guinea to strengthen the rule of law and improve the human rights situation; firmly reiterates its appeal to the international community to provide the Guinean Government with appropriate assistance; and invites the High Commissioner to report to the Council at its twenty-fifth regular session on the situation of human rights and the work of her office in Guinea.

In a decision A/HRC/23/L.11) on assistance to Somalia in the field of human rights, the Council decides to hold, at its twenty-fourth session, a high-level interactive dialogue with the aim of exploring how all stakeholders can work effectively towards the implementation of the road map and the realization of human rights in Somalia; and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to provide a summary of the key conclusions of the dialogue pertaining to how to ensure maximum effectiveness of assistance in implementing the road map.

In a resolution (A/HRC/23/L.24) on technical assistance and capacity-building for South Sudan in the field of human rights, the Council calls upon the South Sudan to implement international and regional human rights instruments; requests the High Commissioner to work with the Government of South Sudan to provide technical assistance and to identify additional areas of assistance; also to submit an interim report to the Council at its twenty-sixth session, and a final report at its twenty-eighth session, on progress in technical assistance and capacity-building.

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