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Human Rights Council concludes twenty-fourth regular after adopting 40 texts

ROUNDUP

27 September 2013

The Human Rights Council concluded its twenty-fourth regular session this evening after adopting 40 texts on a wide range of issues and its report for the session. The Council adopted a resolution on the continuing grave deterioration of the human rights and humanitarian situation in Syria in which it condemned the recent massacre in the Al Ghouta region. It also created mandates for Independent Experts on the human rights of older persons and on the human rights situation in the Central African Republic.

In concluding remarks, Remigiuscz Henczel, President of the Human Rights Council, reiterated that any act of intimidation or reprisals against individuals and groups who cooperated or had cooperated with the United Nations and its representatives was unacceptable and must end. The President encouraged all those who participated in the Council’s work to discuss issues with the appropriate level of dignity and respect.

The Council adopted a resolution on the continuing grave deterioration of the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, demanding that the Syrian authorities cooperate fully with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, including by granting it immediate, full and unfettered access throughout the country. The Council strongly condemned all massacres in Syria, including most recently the massacre in the Al Ghouta region.

The Council decided to appoint, for a period of three years, an Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons. It also created a mandate for an Independent Expert on the human rights situation in the Central African Republic. The Council renewed the mandates of the Independent Experts on the human rights situations in Sudan and Somalia and extended the mandate for the Special Rapporteur for the human rights situation in Cambodia. It extended the mandates of the Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation; the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing; the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery; the Special Rapporteur on the right to health; and the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. The mandates of the Working Group on arbitrary detention and the Working Group on the use of mercenaries were also extended.

The Council elected new members of its Human Rights Council Advisory Committee and requested the Advisory Committee to prepare studies on the possibilities of using sport and the Olympic ideal to promote human rights for all; on the role of local government in the promotion and protection of human rights; a research-based report containing recommendations on a mechanism to assess the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights and to promote accountability; and on the situation of human rights of persons living with albinism.

The Office of the High Commissioner was requested to prepare a study on factors that impeded equal political participation and steps to overcome challenges; and to hold a half-day panel discussion on the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples in natural disaster risk reduction prevention and preparedness initiatives. The Council also requested the Office of the High Commissioner to convene an expert workshop to assist it in the preparation of concise technical guidance on the application of a human rights based approach to reduce and eliminate preventable mortality and morbidity of children under five years of age.

The Council also requested the Office of the High Commissioner to convene a panel discussion on the protection of the human rights of persons deprived of their liberty; to organize a high-level panel discussion on the identification of good practices in combating female genital mutilation; to draft a study on the prevention of human rights violations and its practical implementation; to hold a workshop on regional arrangements for the promotion and protection of human rights; in addition to a workshop on the impact of the application of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights by the affected populations.

The Council decided to organize a panel discussion on the importance of the promotion and protection of civil society space. It decided to convene a two-day intersessional intergovernmental meeting of the Working Group on the right to development. With regard to the World Programme for Human Rights Education, the Council decided to make media professionals and journalists the focus group of the third phase of the World Programme for Human Rights Education. Concerning the role of prevention in the promotion and protection of human rights, the Council decided to convene a panel discussion on the role of prevention in the promotion and protection of human rights.

Other resolutions adopted by the Council concerned the strengthening of efforts to prevent and eliminate child, early and forced marriage; establishing a fund for civil society participation; promoting the prevention of, protection against and accountability for reprisals and intimidation related to cooperation with the United Nations; Social Forum meetings in 2014; taking concrete action against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; technical assistance and capacity-building for human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; the enhancement of technical cooperation and capacity-building in the field of human rights; technical assistance and capacity-building for Yemen in the field of human rights; the prevention of attacks against persons with albinism; the impact of arms transfers on human rights in armed conflicts; and conscientious objection to military service.

The Council adopted its report of the twenty-fourth session.

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-fourth session was held from 9 to 27 September 2013. The twenty-fifth session of the Human Rights Council will be held in Room XX of the Palais des Nations from 3 to 28 March 2014.

Summary of the Programme of Work

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay opened the session with an update on the activities of her Office, which strongly focused on the situation in Syria. The High Commissioner said that the appalling situation in Syria cried out for international action, yet a military response or the continued supply of arms risked igniting a regional conflagration, possibly resulting in more deaths and even more widespread misery. The High Commissioner highlighted concerning human rights situations in Iraq, Egypt, Bahrain, Turkey, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Sri Lanka, among others. She also referred to issues concerning the Roma in European countries, migrants and refugees, discrimination, the economic crisis and food security. A general debate on the annual report of the High Commissioner followed.

During its twenty-fourth regular session the Human Rights Council heard the latest report of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, which included the findings of an independent inquiry into the events of Al Qusayr and an oral update on the latest developments in the conflict. The Council also heard a preliminary oral update from the Commission of Inquiry on the grave violations of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; both presentations were followed by an interactive dialogue. The Council also heard presentations from 19 independent human rights experts and bodies and held panel discussions on the human rights of children whose parents had been given the death penalty or executed; on gender integration; and on the human rights of indigenous peoples.

The Council held half-day discussion on indigenous peoples, as well as panel discussions on the human rights of children of parents sentenced to the death penalty or executed, and an annual discussion on gender integration. It also held general debates on the death penalty, the safety of journalists, attacks and discrimination against persons with albinism, the human rights of older persons, and the rights of indigenous peoples. The Council also heard reports on technical assistance and capacity-building for Yemen, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic and Cambodia.

In its third week, the Council held a stand-alone, high-level interactive dialogue on Somalia which was attended by the Somali Prime Minister. It was presented with the report of the Secretary-General on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the report of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, and held general debates on those situations. It also held dialogues with mandate holders on the human rights situations in Cambodia, Somalia, and Sudan.

During the session the Council approved the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Reviews of Turkmenistan, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Colombia, Uzbekistan, Tuvalu, Germany, Djibouti, Canada, Bangladesh, Azerbaijan, Russian Federation, Cameroon, and Cuba.

Election of Members of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee

The Council elected the following members of its Human Rights Council Advisory Committee by acclamation: Ms. Hoda Elsadda (Egypt); Mr. Alfred Ntunduguru Karokora (Uganda); Mr. Yishan Zhang (China); Mr. Kaoru Obata (Japan); and Mr. Mikhail Alexandrovich Lebedev (Russian Federation). Following a vote, Mr. Jean Zeigler (Switzeralnd) was elected as the Western European and Other States member. The Group of Latin American and Caribbean States were urged to present a candidate to enable the Council to elect a member of the Advisory Committee as soon as possible.

Resolutions and Decisions

Action on Resolutions and Decisions under Agenda Item 1 on Organizational and procedural matters

In a decision (A/HRC/24/L.4) concerning the postponement of the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living and on the right to non-discrimination in this context, the Council decided to postpone the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur to its twenty-fifth session, and extend, on an exceptional basis, the mandate of the Special Rapporteur until March 2014.

Action on Resolutions and Decisions under Agenda Item 3 on Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.1) on promoting human rights through sport and the Olympic ideal, the Council requested the Advisory Committee to prepare a study on the possibilities of using sport and the Olympic ideal to promote human rights for all, to seek the views and inputs of Member States and other relevant stakeholders, and present a progress report to the Council before its twenty-seventh session.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.2) on local government and human rights, the Council requested the Advisory Committee to prepare a research-based report on the role of local government in the promotion and protection of human rights, including human rights mainstreaming in local administration and public services, and to present a progress report on the requested research-based report to the Council.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.3) on the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, the Council decided to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for a period of three years. It also requested the Special Rapporteur to submit to it annual reports and recommendations on measures that should be taken to combat and eradicate contemporary forms of slavery and slavery-like practices and to protect the human rights of victims of such practices.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.5/Rev.1) on human rights and unilateral coercive measures, the Council requests the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee to prepare a research-based report and the Office of the High Commissioner to organize a workshop on the impact of the application of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights by the affected populations and to prepare a report on the proceedings of the workshop and to submit it to the Council at its twenty-seventh session.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.6) on the right to development, the Council decided to endorse the recommendations of the Working Group on the right to development and to convene a two-day intersessional intergovernmental meeting of the Working Group with the participation of States and other relevant stakeholders. It also decided to consider the extension of the meeting time of the Working Group, as appropriate.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.7) on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, the Council decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, for a period of three years; and requested the Special Rapporteur to continue to report annually to the Council and the United Nations General Assembly.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.8) on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, the Council decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health for a further period of three years. It also requested the Special Rapporteur to submit an annual report to the Council and to the General Assembly.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.11) on a high-level panel on the identification of good practices in combating female genital mutilation, including cross-border female genital mutilation, the Council decided to organize a high-level panel discussion at its twenty-sixth session on the identification of good practices, and challenges and obstacles encountered, in combating female genital mutilation.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.12/Rev.1) on the World Programme for Human Rights Education, the Council decided to make media professionals and journalists the focus group of the third phase of the World Programme for Human Rights Education; requested the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a plan of action for the third phase of the World Programme (2015-2019) and to submit the plan of action for consideration by the Council at its twenty-seventh session.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.13) on a panel discussion on the safety of journalists, the Council decided to convene, at its twenty-sixth session, a panel discussion on the issue of the safety of journalists, with a particular focus on discussing the findings of the High Commissioner, identifying challenges and further developing good practices for ensuring the safety of journalists.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.14/Rev.1) on the role of prevention in the promotion and protection of human rights, the Council decided to convene at its twenty-seventh session a panel discussion on the role of prevention in the promotion and protection of human rights.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.15) on arbitrary detention, the Council decided to extend the mandate of the Working Group on arbitrary detention for a further period of three years and invites it to report to the Council on the progress made in drafting the basic principles and guidelines at its next interactive dialogue with the Council.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.18/Rev.1) regarding equal political participation, the Council urged all States to ensure the full and effective participation of all citizens in political and public affairs on an equal basis; and requested the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a study on factors that impede equal political participation and on steps to overcome those challenges, and to present the study to the Council for consideration at its twenty-seventh session.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.21) on human rights and indigenous peoples - mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, the Council decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples for a period of three years; and requested the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner to provide all the necessary assistance to the Special Rapporteur for the effective fulfilment of his or her mandate.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.22) on human rights and indigenous peoples, the Council requested the Expert Mechanism to prepare a study on promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples in natural disaster risk reduction, prevention and preparedness initiatives; and decided to hold a half-day panel discussion on promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples in natural disaster risk reduction, prevention and preparedness initiatives.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.23) on conscientious objection to military service, the Council called upon States that did not have such a system to establish independent and impartial decision-making bodies with the task of determining whether a conscientious objection to military service is genuinely held in a specific case; and called upon States to consider releasing individuals imprisoned or detained solely on the basis of their conscientious objection to military service.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.24) on civil society space: creating and maintaining, in law and in practice, a safe and enabling environment, the Council decided to organize, at its twenty-fifth session, a panel discussion on the importance of the promotion and protection of civil society space, and invited the Office of the High Commissioner to liaise with States, relevant United Nations bodies and agencies, relevant special procedures, civil society and other stakeholders to ensure their participation in the panel.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.27) on preventable mortality and morbidity of children under 5 years of age as a human rights concern, the Council requested the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare concise technical guidance on the application of a human rights-based approach to the implementation of policies and programmes to reduce and eliminate preventable mortality and morbidity of children under five years of age; and to convene an expert workshop to assist in the preparation.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.28) concerning human rights in the administration of justice, including juvenile justice, the Council decided to convene a panel discussion on the protection of the human rights of persons deprived of their liberty; and also requested the High Commissioner to submit to the Council at its thirtieth session an analytical report on the human rights implications of over-incarceration and overcrowding.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.29) on the use of mercenaries in violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination, the Council decided to renew the mandate of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries for a period of three years, and requested the Working Group to monitor mercenaries and mercenary-related activities, to update the database of individuals convicted of mercenary activities; and to report its findings to the General Assembly at its sixty-ninth session and to the Council at its twenty-seventh session.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.31) on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, the Council decided to extend, for a period of three years, the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation; requested the Special Rapporteur to continue to report, on an annual basis, to the Council and to submit an annual report to the General Assembly.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.32/Rev.1) on impact of arms transfers on human rights in armed conflicts, the Council expressed its deep concern at the fact that arms transfers to those involved in armed conflicts may seriously undermine the human rights of civilians; urged all States to refrain from transferring arms to those involved in armed conflicts when said States assess that such arms are sufficiently likely to be used to commit or facilitate serious violations or abuses of international human rights law or international humanitarian law.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.34/Rev.1) on strengthening efforts to prevent and eliminate child, early and forced marriage: challenges, achievements, best practices and implementation gaps, the Council decided to convene a panel discussion on preventing and eliminating child, early and forced marriage; and requested the Office of the High Commissioner to liaise with stakeholders with a view to ensuring their participation, and to prepare a report with a particular focus on challenges, achievements, best practices and implementation gaps, to be submitted to the Council to guide the panel discussion.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.35) on regional arrangements for the promotion and protection of human rights, the Council requests the High Commissioner to hold, in 2014, a workshop on regional arrangements for the promotion and protection of human rights, with the participation of relevant experts from international, regional, sub-regional and inter-regional human rights mechanisms.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.37/Rev.1) on the human rights of older persons, the Council decided to appoint, for a period of three years, an Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, who it requested to report annually to the Council and to present his/her first report at its twenty-seventh session.

Action on Resolutions and Decisions under Agenda Item 4 on Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention 1 text

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.38) on the continuing grave deterioration of the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, the Council demanded that the Syrian authorities cooperate fully with the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, including by granting it immediate, full and unfettered access throughout Syria. The Council strongly condemned all massacres in the Syrian Arab Republic, including most recently the massacre in the Al Ghouta region. It demanded that the Syrian authorities facilitate, and all other parties to the conflict do not hinder, the full, immediate and safe access of the United Nations and humanitarian actors, and called upon all Member States to fully fund the United Nations appeals.

Action on Resolutions and Decisions under Agenda Item 5 on Human Rights bodies and mechanisms

In a decision (A/HRC/24/L.16) on the establishment of a Special Fund for the participation of civil society at various fora, the Council requested the Secretary-General to establish a Special Fund for the participation of civil society and other relevant stakeholders at the Social Forum, Forum on Minority Issues, and Forum on Business and Human Rights and decided that the Special Fund should aim at facilitating the broadest possible participation of civil society representatives and other relevant stakeholders and to give priority to the participation of local and national level non-governmental organizations active in the relevant fields.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.17/Rev.1) on cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights, the Council requested the Secretary-General to designate a United Nations-wide senior focal point to engage with all stakeholders to promote the prevention of, protection against and accountability for reprisals and intimidation related to cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.30) on the Social Forum, the Council decided that the Social Forum would meet for three working days in 2014, in Geneva and requested the President of the Council to appoint the Chairperson-Rapporteur for the 2014 Social Forum. The Council decided that the Social Forum will remain open to the participation of representatives of States Members of the United Nations and all other interested stakeholders.

In a Presidential statement (A/HRC/24/L.57), on the reports of the Advisory Committee, adopted without a vote, the Council took note of the reports of the Advisory Committee on its tenth and eleventh sessions (A/HRC/AC/10/3 and A/HRC/AC/11/2) and the recommendations contained in action 11/1, paragraph 4.

Action on Resolutions and Decisions under the Agenda Item 9 on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.25) concerning from rhetoric to reality: a global call for concrete action against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, the Council decided that the Intergovernmental Working Group should convene its twelfth session from 6 to 17 October 2014; requested the Secretary-General to resuscitate the work of the independent eminent experts, and to provide the necessary support from regular as well as extra budgetary resources for the effective performance of the Durban follow-up mechanisms.

Action on Resolutions and Decisions under Agenda Item 10 on Technical assistance and capacity-building

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.9) on technical assistance and capacity-building for human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Council urged the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to redouble its efforts to put an end to impunity, to bring the perpetrators to justice and to ensure that the victims receive compensation, urged the international community to support the Office of the High Commissioner in increasing and enhancing its technical assistance programmes and activities to improve the human rights situation in the country.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.10/Rev.1) on technical assistance for Sudan in the field of human rights, the Council decided to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan for a period of one year, requested the Independent Expert to submit a report to the Council for consideration at its twenty-seventh session and to assist the Government of Sudan in its strategy to implement the remaining accepted Universal Periodic Review recommendations.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.19) on advisory services and technical assistance for Cambodia, the Council decided to extend by two years the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, and requested the Special Rapporteur to report on the implementation of his mandate to the Council at its twenty-seventh and thirtieth sessions.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.20) on assistance to Somalia in the field of human rights the Council decided to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia and requested the Independent Expert to continue his engagement with the Government of Somalia and to report at its twenty-seventh session.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.26) regarding the enhancement of technical cooperation and capacity-building in the field of human rights, the Council decided that the theme for the annual thematic panel discussion under agenda item 10 to be held during the twenty-sixth session of the Council shall be “Technical cooperation and capacity-building in advancing the rights of persons with disabilities through legal and institutional frameworks, including public-private partnerships”..

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.33) on technical assistance and capacity-building for Yemen in the field of human rights, the Council called upon all parties to release persons arbitrarily detained by them and demanded that armed groups end the recruitment and use of children and released those who had already been recruited. The Council called on the Government of Yemen to ensure fair trial guarantees and to ensure that the death penalty was not applied to minors; and requested the High Commissioner to provide technical assistance and to work with the Government of Yemen.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.36) on technical cooperation for the prevention of attacks against persons with albinism the Council requested the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee to prepare a study on the situation of human rights of persons living with albinism and to submit a report thereon to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-eighth session.

In a resolution (A/HRC/24/L.39) regarding technical assistance to the Central African Republic in the field of human rights the Council decided to appoint an Independent Expert to monitor and make recommendations on the situation of human rights in the Central Africa Republic and requested the Independent Expert to present a preliminary report to the Council at its twenty-sixth session.

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