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Council extends mandates on extreme poverty, international solidarity, independence of judges, and trafficking in persons

Human Rights Council       
MIDDAY

  26 June 2014

Establishes Working Group to Elaborate an International Legally Binding Instrument on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises

The Human Rights Council this morning adopted nine texts in which it extended the mandates of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, the Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity, the Special Rapporteur on the independance of judges and lawyers, and the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children.
 
The Council also decided to establish an open-ended intergovernmental working group with the mandate to elaborate an international legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights, and to convene biennial high-level discussions for further exchanges of views on the death penalty.
 
Other texts dealt with a study on the negative impact of corruption on the enjoyment of human rights, the protection of Roma, and the elimination of discrimination against women.
 
The Council requested its Advisory Committee to submit the final research-based report on the negative impact of corruption on the enjoyment of human rights to the Council at its twenty-eighth session.
 
In its resolution on the question of the death penalty, adopted by a vote of 29 in favour, 10 against and 8 abstentions,  the Council urged States that had not yet abolished the death penalty to protect the rights of those facing it, and to ensure that it was not imposed for offences committed by minors, and decided to convene biennial high-level discussions for further exchanges of views on the death penalty.
 
The Council extended, for a period of three years, the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights and requested the Special Rapporteur to promote the effective and comprehensive dissemination and implementation of the guiding principles on extreme poverty and human rights.
 
The Council recognized the need to carry out a comprehensive study of the human rights situation of Roma worldwide, with a particular focus on the phenomenon of anti-Gypsyism, and invited the Special Rapporteur on minority issues to prepare the above-mentioned study with concrete recommendations, and to submit it to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-ninth session.
 
Concerning the elimination of discrimination against women, the Council expressed deep concern about the widespread persistence of various forms of violence against girls and women of all ages and women and called for gender equality and empowerment of women to be reflected as a stand-along goal, as well as integrated in all other goals, in the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.
 
The Council decided, by a vote of 33 in favour, 14 against and no abstentions, to extend the mandate of the Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity for a period of three years. 
 
The Council further extended, for a period of three years, the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers and the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children.
 
The Council adopted by a vote of 20 in favour, 14 against and 14 abstentions, a resolution to establish an open-ended intergovernmental working group with the mandate to elaborate an international legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights and decides that the working group should hold its first session for five working days in 2015, before the 30th session of the Human Rights Council.
 
Introducing resolutions and decisions were Morocco, France, Switzerland, Russia, Colombia, Mexico, Cuba, Hungary, Germany, Ecuador, and South Africa.  Saudi Arabia and China introduced amendments to a resolution.

Mexico, Belgium, Montenegro, Italy on behalf of the European Union, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Botswana, and India made general comments.

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Germany, Benin, Mexico, Costa Rica, Sierra Leone, France, Algeria, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, China, United States, Viet Nam, Pakistan, Botswana, South Africa, Italy on behalf of the European Union, and United Kingdom spoke in explanation of the vote before or after the vote.

The Human Rights Council will resume its work at 2.30 p.m. this afternoon to continue to take action on decisions and resolutions.  It will conclude its regular twenty-sixth session on Friday, 27 June.
 
Action on Resolutions and Decision under Agenda Item on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights
 
Action on Decision on the Negative Impact of Corruption on the Enjoyment of Human Rights
 
In a decision (A/HRC/26/L.5) on the negative impact of corruption on the enjoyment of human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council recalls its resolution 23/9 of 13 June 2013, in which it requested its Advisory Committee to submit a research-based report on the issue of the negative impact of corruption on the enjoyment of human rights to the Council at its twenty-sixth session; takes note of the relevant progress report submitted by the Committee; notes the request made by the Committee to extend the time schedule envisaged for the research-based report to allow for better informed work; and decides to request the Committee to submit the final research-based report to the Council at its twenty-eighth session.
 
Morocco, introducing draft decision L.5 on the negative impact of corruption of human rights, recalled that the Council had requested the Human Rights Advisory Committee to prepare a report including recommendations concerning this issue.  During its last session, the Advisory Committee had asked the Council to extend the deadline in order to further analyse the responses to the questionnaire. This procedural decision thus extended the deadline for the Committee, which would present the report to the Council at its twenty-eighth session in March 2015.
 
Action on Resolution on the Question of the Death Penalty
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/26/L.8/Rev.1) on the question of the death penalty, adopted by a vote of 29 in favour, 10 against and 8 abstentions,  the Council urges States that have not yet abolished the death penalty to protect the rights of those facing it, and to ensure that the death penalty is not imposed for offences committed by minors; calls upon States that have not yet done so to consider acceding to or ratifying the Second Optional Protocol of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; requests the Secretary-General to dedicate the 2015 supplement to his quinquennial report on capital punishment to the consequences of its imposition on the enjoyment of human rights of those sentenced to death; decides to convene biennial high-level discussions for further exchanges of views on the death penalty; and requests the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to organize panel discussions and to liaise with States and other stakholders in order to ensure their participation in the panel discussions.
 
The result of the vote was as follows:
 
In favour (29): Algeria, Argentina, Austria, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Gabon, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Montenegro, Namibia, Peru, Philippines, Romania, Sierra Leone, South Africa, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom, and Venezuela.   
 
Against (10): Botswana, China, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates.   
 
Abstentions (8): Cuba, Kenya, Maldives, Morocco, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, United States of America, and Viet Nam. 
 
 
Before taking action on L.8/Rev.1, the Council rejected the amendment L.34 to L.8/Rev.1 by a vote of 17 in favour, 23 against and 6 abstentions.
 
The Council rejected the amendment L.35 to L.8/Rev.1 by a vote of 17 in favour, 23 against and 7 abstentions.
 
The Council rejected the amendment L.36 to L.8/Rev.1 by a vote of 12 in favour, 26 against and 9 abstentions.
 
 
France, introducing draft resolution L.8/Rev.1 on the question of the death penalty, said the aim was to deal over time with the question of the death penalty in the Council’s work.  This issue had been overlooked by the Council for too long.  Two Council panels had brought home the point of the importance of the death penalty and how it related to human rights.  The Secretary-General was asked to devote his upcoming report to the various violations that stemmed from the death penalty.  There had to be more panels held.  A group of States had lodged three amendments and it was hoped that the Council would vote against these amendments.   
 
Switzerland, also introducing the draft resolution, said that irrespective of the implementation of capital punishment, it was believed that this penalty violated human rights.  It should be seen from the angle of the right to life and other human rights affected by its imposition, namely the prohibition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment.  That many people were kept on death row had to be tantamount to inhuman or degrading treatment.  The families were also affected and reference was made to a past panel in the Council on the human rights of children of parents sentenced to death or executed. 
 
Mexico, speaking in a general comment before the vote, stressed the importance of the right to life and human rights violations often surrounding the application of the death penalty, and which should be looked at by the Council.  The consequences of the death penalty could not be reversed and it was vital to promote a debate on the death penalty from the point of view of human rights.  The resolution proposed the opening of an exchange of views, rather than imposing a vision, and Mexico urged the Council to adopt the resolution without a vote.
 
Belgium, speaking in a general comment before the vote, noted that this was the third time that Belgium had co-sponsored a resolution on this topic.  Belgium reiterated that the death penalty often entailed a number of human rights violations, as illustrated by the application of endless executions which were tantamount to torture and degrading treatment, among other violations.  It was important that the Council addressed this subject.  Belgium called on the adoption of the draft resolution without a vote and on the Council to reject the amendments.
 
Saudi Arabia, introducing the amendments L.34 and L.35, said it considered that the right to life was a fundamental right.  However, they should also remember the rights of victims.  In the framework of justice and due form and domestic legislation, Saudi Arabia wished to collaborate in a constructive way with the Human Rights Council.  It had presented a few amendments which it would have liked to see adopted by consensus, but these had not been accepted by co-sponsors and it was forced to present these so that the resolution could be balanced.  Saudi Arabia asked for a separate vote on these amendments.
 
China, introducing amendment L.36, said it supported the L.34 and L.35 amendments presented by Saudi Arabia.  There was no international consensus on the question of the death penalty and every country had the right to preserve or abolish it.  There was concern about the bi-annual discussions on this question.  Resources of the Council would be devoted to a very contentious area and squeeze the space for discussion for other topics. 
 
Montenegro said in a general comment that Montenegro supported the draft resolution on the death penalty as it stood and believed that the use of the death penalty was a serious human rights violation for those facing the penalty.  This issue must be seen through a human rights perspective.  All members of the Human Rights Council should vote against the proposed amendments.
 
Italy, speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, reiterated its principled position against the death penalty and stressed its cruel and irreversible nature.  There was no evidence that the death penalty deterred crime.  The European Union welcomed the initiative to see the issue with a human rights approach and was of the view that a regular exchange on the death penalty was necessary.  The fact that States had the right to develop their own legal systems was not relevant to this draft resolution as nowhere in the text were States asked to modify their own legal systems.
 
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, speaking in a general comment, joined the voice of those rejecting all amendments.
 
Botswana, speaking in a general comment, expressed support for the amendments which sought to bring balance to the resolution and noted that the interests of victims should be taken into account.
 
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote with regards to amendment L.34, underlined that preambular paragraph 13 of the draft resolution expressed the belief that the use of the death penalty led to human rights violations despite many safeguards.  Capital punishment also affected the rights of other persons, such as relatives.  The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia would vote against amendment L.34 and it called on other members of the Council to vote against it as well.
 
Germany, in an explanation of the vote before the vote in relation to amendment L.34, noted with satisfaction that without preambular paragraph 13, the draft resolution would lose one of its core paragraphs. The resolution was meant to complement the General Assembly resolution on a moratorium.   Germany called for a vote on L.34 and would vote against it.
 
The Council rejected amendment L.34, by a vote of 17 in favour, 23 against, 6 abstentions. 
 
Benin, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on amendment L.35, said that the draft amendment L.35 introduced the misleading idea that draft resolution L.8/Rev.1 intended to modify national justice systems and was not in keeping with the resolution.  Benin called for a vote on this amendment. 
 
Mexico, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on L.35, said that the draft amendment presented a false dilemma.  Draft resolution L.8/Rev.1 was not challenging the sovereign prerogative of countries concerning their justice systems, it only intended to bring about a discussion about human rights in the context of these justice systems and the death penalty.  The sovereignty of States was not under debate and, on the contrary, the draft amendment would damage the resolution and bring further questions and scrutiny on the justice systems of different States.
 
Costa Rica, in an explanation of the vote before the vote on L.35, said it rejected the amendment L.35, particularly since it was focused on criminal justice or the model that each country had on criminal justice.  The attention of the Council was drawn to the human rights dimension of the death penalty, the main motivation behind the co-sponsors of this resolution.  The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights established an undeniable link between criminal justice and human rights.  It restated its deep conviction that all criminal justice systems had to be compatible with human rights.  All Member States were asked to vote against the amendment.
 
The Council rejected amendment L.35 by a vote of 17 in favour, 23 against, and 7 abstentions.
 
Sierra Leone, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it believed the Human Rights Council was the legitimate forum to discuss issues pertaining to human rights and the death penalty.  The topic chosen was expressed in broad terms.  The core group had demonstrated transparency.  Given the importance of the subject, it would not overload the programme of the Council unduly.  Sierra Leone called for a vote and said it would vote against the amendment. 
 
France, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on draft resolution L.36, reiterated that the goal of the resolution was to generate a discussion on the issue and stressed that co-sponsors had been transparent from the beginning.  It had been made clear that the high-level panel discussion would take place on a biannual basis and would be complementary with the resolution concerning the moratorium to the death penalty adopted by the General Assembly.  The discussion would also be structured in an open way to ensure that all countries, including those imposing the death penalty, would be able to participate and contribute.
 
The Council rejected draft amendment L.36 with 12 votes in favour, 9 abstentions, and 26 votes against.
 
Algeria, in an explanation of the vote before the vote on L.8/Rev.1, said that that it would vote for the draft resolution.  Algeria had regularly voted in favour of resolutions to abolish the death penalty.  Algeria would support the draft resolution as essentially, it would allow for a deepened debate on the death penalty.
 
Indonesia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote on L.8/Rev.1, said capital punishment was and continued to be the subject of robust debate within a democratic Indonesia.  It reaffirmed that various efforts had been conducted to strengthen safeguards in implementing capital punishment, including through amendments of its Criminal Code.  A comprehensive approach did not seem to be accommodated in the draft text.  Indonesia was unable to support the text and would vote against it. 
 
Saudi Arabia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote on L.8/Rev.1, clarified that the death penalty was not in contradiction with international instruments and agreements.  In Saudi Arabia, the death penalty was applied only for the most heinous crimes.  It had made efforts to introduce two amendments on the right to sovereignty.  Saudi Arabia believed that applying the death penalty was not a violation of human rights.  Saudi Arabia would therefore vote against the draft resolution. 
 
China, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that China strictly controlled and prudently applied the death penalty.  The use of the death penalty was within the realm of national sovereignty.  The draft resolution wilfully imposed the will of some countries concerning the death penalty and would only serve to politicize it.  China would vote against draft resolution L.8/Rev.1 and called on other members of the Council to vote against it.
 
United States, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, expressed disagreement with the statement in the text that the use of the death penalty inevitably led to the violation of human rights.  The denial of legal protection that occurred in some countries was not the consequence of the death penalty.  All Governments that used the death penalty should to do so in compliance with international regulations.  The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights left it to domestic processes to decide on the moratorium on the death penalty.  It was for those reasons that the United States would abstain from the vote.
 
Viet Nam, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the draft resolution simply put it that the use of the death penalty led to human rights violations.  This statement was not supported by the literature and the controversial notion of the text had been ignored in the consultations.  Viet Nam applied the death penalty only for gravest crimes and was disappointed by the denial of genuine dialogue on the text.
 
Pakistan, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on draft resolution L.8/Rev.1, said that each country had the right to decide on its own justice system in accordance with international obligations.  The draft resolution’s singular focus on the abolition and moratorium were lopsided and unfair, and ignored the rights of children.  The draft resolution ignored the provisions of international law concerning the imposition of the death penalty.  Pakistan was also concerned about the decision to organise a biannual high-level panel which would detract attention from other issues and strain the limited financial resources available.  For those reasons, Pakistan would vote against the draft resolution.
 
Botswana, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on L.8/Rev.1, reiterated that the application of the death penalty did not constitute a violation of human rights as long as it was imposed on the basis of the relevant prescriptions, including the International Covenant on Civil of Political Rights.  Botswana was aware of the consequences of arbitrariness and miscarriage of law in this area but reiterated that sovereign States had the right to organize their criminal justice system, and this right  should be respected.  For these reasons Botswana was calling for a vote on this resolution.
 
Action on Resolution on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/26/L.10) on extreme poverty and human rights, adopted wihout a vote, the Council decides to extend, for a period of three years, the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights; requests the Special Rapporteur to submit an annual report on the implementation of the present resolution to the General Assembly and to the Human Rights Council, in accordance with their programmes of work; requests the Special Rapporteur to promote the effective and comprehensive dissemination and implementation of the guiding principles on extreme poverty and human rights; and calls upon all Governments to cooperate with and assist the Special Rapporteur in his tasks. 
 
France, introducing draft resolution L.10 on extreme poverty and human rights, said that the draft text renewed the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.  It was the fruit of open and in-depth consultations.  France reiterated full support for this mandate, which would contribute to making progress for those who were denied their most fundamental human rights, because of poverty.  France welcomed the fact that the resolution was supported by States from all over the world.  It was hoped that the text would be adopted by consensus. 
 
United States, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it was pleased to join consensus on the draft resolution, which highlighted the issue of extreme poverty in all countries of the world.  The United States had a long-standing commitment to international development and put substantial resources behind that pledge.  It believed the Guiding Principles on extreme poverty and human rights articulated many useful guidelines for States.  However, the United States recalled that the principles were used as a useful tool.  Not all of their aspects may be appropriate for implementation in all circumstances. 
 
South Africa, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, recalled that South Africa had collaborated closely and provided resources to the work of the Special Rapporteur on this issue towards the conclusion and dissemination of the Guiding Principles.  South Africa believed that the Guiding Principles should be firmly placed along the work on development.  The tittle of the resolution should be explicit and indicated that its goal was to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur.  The resolution stated that extreme poverty existed in all countries, regardless of their level of development, which was both misleading and ignored the existing criteria and categories.  South Africa was not in a position to join in consensus and requested that it be disassociated from the resolution.
 
Action on Resolution on the Protection of Roma
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/26/L.11) on the protection of Roma, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council condemns unequivocally the persistent manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance against Roma, including violence, stigmatization and social exclusion; recognizes the need to carry out a comprehensive study of the human rights situation of Roma worldwide, with a particular focus on the phenomenon of anti-Gypsyism; and invites the Special Rapporteur on minority issues to prepare the above-mentioned study with concrete recommendations in consultation with States, national human rights institutions, civil society organizations, regional arrangements, and relevant special procedures and treaty bodies, and to submit it to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-ninth session.
 
Russia, introducing draft resolution L.11 on the protection of Roma, said the main goal was to emphasize the unacceptable violations of all categories of rights of Roma, who were among the most vulnerable and marginalized groups.  This was seen in systematic cruel attacks, including fatal ones, forced expulsions, defamation and racist acts, among others.  Roma were deprived of basic social guarantees.  Another goal was to begin in the Human Rights Council a comprehensive discussion on all aspects of resolving the problems existing in this area.  It was hoped that it would complement other resolutions on the rights of minorities as well as on combating racism and racial discrimination.  Russia introduced oral amendments to the draft resolution.  It hoped that the resolution would be approved by all Members of the Council. 
 
Italy, in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, reaffirmed the European Union’s commitment to prevent discrimination on any ground.  European Union Member States were implementing strategies and policies of integration of Roma persons.  There was full commitment to overcoming challenges and improving the human rights situation of Roma persons.  It was regretted that appropriate prior consultations were not held.  There were concerns that the text failed to apply a universal approach and that it fragmented efforts to fight discrimination on any ground. 
 
India, speaking in a general comment before the vote, was concerned that the situation of the Roma, despite an awareness of their plight, had not received enough attention in the Council.  India believed that the resolution could improve the understanding of the situation of the Roma.  
 
United States, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the attention of the Council should focus on the very difficult situation faced by Roma people.  The United States regretted that its recommendations had not been taken into account and indicated that, due to problems in the text, the United States would have to disassociate itself from the resolution.  Among other problems, the resolution could be read as suggesting that the rights of the Roma arose from their belonging to the group.  Moreover, the text contained numerous reference to undefined terms such as “anti-gypsyism” and went as far as to assert than anti-Roma violence was a new phenomenon, which was simply historically inaccurate.  The United States looked forward to future actions in the Council and to improve the situation of Roma in the countries where they lived.
 
Action on Resolution on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/26/L.12) on the elimination of discrimination against women, adopted without a vote as orally revised,  the Council calls upon States to include special measures or positive action measures to achieve gender equality and empowerment of women in economic and social life; calls upon States to adopt a coherenet set of gender-responsive social and economic policies directed at the family, workplace and marketplace; requests States to take measures to overcome the existing barriers to women’s economic opportunities due to maternity and burden of unpaid care; recommends States to support women’s enterpreneurship and to provide women with social security over the course of their life-cycle; calls for gender equality and empowerment of women to be reflected as a stand-along goal, as well as integrated in all other goals, in the post-2015 sustainable development agenda; urges the Governments to recognize the important role the media can play in the elimination of gender stereotypes;  and requests the Working Group to continue working on its thematic priorities – political and public life, economic and social life, family and cultural life, and health and safety, as well as mobilizing society as a whole on eliminating discrimination against women and girls.
 
Colombia, introducing draft resolution L.12 on the elimination of discrimination against women, said that the draft took up and emphasized the commitments made by States during the Beijing Conference.   Progress made was recognized, particularly the work of the Working Group and other bodies of the United Nations.  Despite efforts, 15 years on from the Conference, there was still a need to fulfill this promise.   Discrimination against women was worldwide.  Eradication required a coordinated effort.  All had experiences to share and lessons to learn.
 
Mexico, also introducing the draft resolution, said that the draft resolution was focused on the participation of women in economic and social life.  The text called on States to take measures vis-à-vis the persistence of policies and practices that led to gender discrimination.  There was conviction that the full participation of women in all areas of life was in fact vital if there was to be full political, social and economic development.  Mexico introduced oral amendments.  Delegations were called upon to support the text and it was hoped that it would be adopted without a vote. 
 
United States, speaking in a general comment, said it strongly supported the draft resolution.  It understood that the draft text encouraged States to use quotas only when it felt they had to do so. 
 
Action on Resolution on Mandate of Independent Expert on Human Rights and International Solidarity
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/26/L.16) on the mandate of the independent expert on human rights and international solidarity, adopted by a vote of 33 in favour, 14 against and no abstentions, the Council reaffirms that the promotion of international cooperation is a duty for States, that it should be implemented without any conditionality and on the basis of mutual respect; raffirms that international solidarity is not limited to international assistance and cooperation, aid, charity or humanitarian assistance; decides to extend the mandate of the Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity for a period of three years; and requests all States, United Nations agencies, other relevant international organizations and non-governmental organizations to mainstream the right of peoples and individuals to international solidarity into their activities, to cooperate with the Independent Expert in her mandate, and to supply all necessary information requested by her.
 
 
The result of the vote was as follows:
 
In favour (33): Algeria, Argentina, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Ethiopia, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Maldives, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela and Viet Nam.  
 
Against (14): Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Montenegro, Republic of Korea, Romania, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom, and United States of America.  
 
Abstentions (0):        
 
 
Cuba, introducing draft resolution L.16 on the mandate of the independent expert on human rights and international solidarity, said that the draft had been adopted consecutively by an overwhelming number of Council  members over the years.  The draft resolution would extend the mandate of the Independent Expert for three years.  International solidarity and cooperation were essential instruments to support national mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human rights.   A small number of countries believed that international solidarity was not an issue which should be addressed by the Council, but it was actually the basis of all human rights. 
 
Italy, speaking on behalf of the European Union in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the European Union attached the highest importance to international solidarity.  The overall objective of the development policies of the European Union in third countries remained the eradication of poverty.  It was the primary responsibility of States to protect and promote the human rights of their own citizens.  International solidarity was an important moral principle and political concept, but did not have a legal status or could count as a human right, which was why the European Union would not support the extension of the mandate of the Independent Expert.  The European Union called for a vote.
 
Action on Resolution on the Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/26/L.18) on the mandate of the special rapporteur on the independance of judges and lawyers, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for a period of three years; urges all Governments to cooperate with and assist the Special Rapporteur in the performance of his or her tasks; and encourages the United Nations, including its specialized agencies, and other stakeholders, to cooperate to the fullest extent possible with the Special Rapporteur in the fulfilment of his or her mandate.
 
Hungary, introducing draft resolution L.18 on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, said that draft resolution was largely based upon the text of the previous mandate renewal resolution and last year’s resolution regarding the independence and impartiality of the judiciary.  It condemned the increasingly frequent attacks on the independence of judges, lawyers, prosecutors and court officials, in particular threats, intimidation and interference in the discharge of their professional function.  It decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for a further three years on the same terms and urged Member States to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur in the performance of her tasks.  The resolution had always enjoyed the wide support of Member States and had been adopted without a hope.  It was hoped that the draft resolution would once again be adopted without a vote.
 
Action on the Resolution on the Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/26/L.19) on the  mandate of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for a period of three years; urges all Governments to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur and to respond favourably to his or her requests to visit their countries; strongly encourages Governments to refer to the Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights and Human Trafficking developed by the Office of the High Commissioner as a useful tool in integrating a human rights-based approach into their responses to combat trafficking in persons; and urges States, subregional, regional and multilateral organizations to develop and strengthen strategies and plans of action to combat trafficking in persons in accordance with a victim-centered approach.
 
Germany, introducing draft resolution L.19 on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, said that the trafficking in persons mandate reflected the work and lessons learned during the previous decade.  It was a heinous crime affecting millions of people around the globe, which was why the mandate was so important.  Germany was convinced that the mandate in its renewed form would contribute to boosting efforts to combat trafficking in persons and to upholding and protecting the human rights of victims. 
 
Action on the Resolution on the Elaboration of an International Legally Binding Instrument on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Respect to Human Rights
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/26/L.22/Rev.1) on elaboration of an international legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights, adopted by a vote of 20 in favour, 14 against and 13 abstentions as orally revised, the Council decides to establish an open-ended intergovernmental working group with the mandate to elaborate an international legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights; affirms the importance of providing the working group with independent expertise and expert advice in order for it to fulfil its mandate; decides that the working group shall hold its first session for five working days in 2015, before the 30th session of the Human Rights Council; and requests the working group to submit a report on progress made to the Human Rights Council for consideration at its 31st session.
 
 
The result of the vote was as follows:
 
In favour (20): Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Morocco, Namibia, Pakistan, Philippines, Russian Federation, South Africa, Venezuela and Viet Nam.
 
Against (14): Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Montenegro, Republic of Korea, Romania, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom, and United States of America.  
 
Abstentions (13): Argentina, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Gabon, Kuwait, Maldives, Mexico, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, and United Arab Emirates.     
 
 
Ecuador, introducing draft resolution L.22/Rev.1 on the elaboration of an international legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights, introduced two oral amendments.  The Human Rights Council had to act consistently in order to correct inequities, its raison d’être.  While companies enjoyed protection, victims of harmful corporate activities had no legal protection, only voluntary norms.  An internationally binding legal instrument would protect these victims.  There had been negotiations for more than three months on this resolution.  Unfortunately, there was quite a difference of opinion and sadly, consensus had not been reached.  A last appeal was made to Council Members not to call for a vote, and in so doing respect victims of harmful corporate activities.
 
South Africa, also introducing the draft resolution, said that it held a strong view that transnational corporations and other business enterprises often operated in an environment where appropriate national regulations were either totally absent or very weak.  This was thus an important resolution.  The people of the world had voted with their feet at the margins of the Council and it was hoped that their call would be heeded by the Council.
 
United States, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it was extremely disappointed that Ecuador and South Africa had decided to proceed with the draft resolution.  It contradicted the consensus-based approach and would unduly polarize the issue, taking the Council back to the days of the Human Rights Commission.  Individual States had taken a number of steps to implement the Guiding Principles, which were a success, even though they were only three years old.  The draft resolution was a threat to the Guiding Principles.  A “one size fit all” legally binding instrument was not an appropriate solution for the vast and diverse business field. 
 
Italy, speaking on behalf of the European Union in an explanation of the vote before the vote, regretted that Ecuador and South Africa had decided to proceed with action on the text, closing the door to compromise.  The European Union had made substantial progress in this field, including at the legislative level, and by Member States individually.  National action plans were the best way to achieve progress, including at the regulatory and legal level.  No international mechanism would be able to replace robust domestic legislation and mechanisms.  If the resolution was adopted, it would divide the Council in the years to come.
 
United Kingdom, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that of course it understood the need to address the needs of victims, but fundamentally, the issue was one of the rule of law, the national rule of law, within individual States.  It was only through a rigorous application of a fair and just legal system that victims could be protected and legitimate business could thrive.  It was of concern that the text was posited on the inherent and inexorable divide between business on one side and citizens on the other.  An appeal was made not to take the issue forward in a way that discouraged business and investors from going about their lawful business, but to work with those that championed the Guiding Principles and had been active on them.  These Guiding Principles, in its view, offered the best way forward for dealing with these important issues, taking into account the needs of citizens and ensuring that they would benefit from economic development. 
 
China, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that China supported efforts by the international community to promote business, in particular transnational corporations, to better promote and protect human rights.  China was in favour of pursuing dialogue and cooperation to improve and develop the Guiding Principles, to ensure actual effects.  The formulation of an internationally legally binding instruments was a complex issue and it was necessary to carry out an in-depth study.  China would vote in favour of the draft resolution. 
 
Japan, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reiterated its commitment to the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and said that their wide acceptance by a range of stakeholders was an important achievement that needed to be built upon.  The international community could deepen its understanding of the issues related to business and human rights by learning from the implementation of the Guiding Principles.  Japan could not see the purpose of the international binding instrument and that was why Japan could not support the draft resolution.
 
India, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the issue of transnational corporations and human rights was an important area and said that the international community must hold corporations accountable for human rights violations arising from their business operations.  The Guiding Principles had a limited field of application and could not provide remedy for victims of human rights violations.  The resolution opened for States the opportunity to discuss the issue of transnational corporations and close important protection gaps.
 
Ireland, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, expressed its strong commitment to the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and said that, even if much was achieved since their establishment, still more needed to be done.  An intergovernmental working group was not equipped to discuss the issue of reparation and remedies for victims of human rights violations by transnational corporations; this needed to be brought to different forums, such as the International Law Commission, which had technical capabilities, or an intergovernmental group of experts.  The issue could not be effectively addressed by the Working Group and this would jeopardize the implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. 
 
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