Romania, introducting L.20, thanked all co-sponsors for supporting the draft resolution. The core group was confident that the theme of second session of the Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law would allow participants to discuss the ever increasing engagement and role of parliaments in promoting human rights. An oral revision had been issued based on inputs received from interested delegations. The core group invited the members of the Council to adopt the resolution as orally revised.
China, introducing draft amendment L.52, said many countries had expressed concern and dismay regarding L.20. They supported civil society’s constructive role in the Human Rights Council, but were opposed to some organizations whose actions were contrary to the purposes of the Charter, especially when they used ways to advance their schemes. It was mandatory to regulate non-governmental organizations’ participation in the Human Rights Council subsidiary fora. Therefore China was submitting an amendment, which proposed the introduction of a sentence which stated “that respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Member States.” The amendment was in accordance with the purposes of the principles and provisions of the United Nations Charter.
South Korea, in a general comment on behalf of the sponsors, reiterated the commitment to the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, which was also behind the text of the draft resolution, in the operative paragraph dealing with participation in the second session of the Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law. This paragraph sought to clarify the participation of the non-governmental organizations, stating that they could only participate if their aims and principles were in line with the United Nations Charter. Sponsors remained seriously concerned that amendment L.52, if adopted, would create confusion and unnecessary redundancy in language, as the draft resolution already mentioned the principles of the United Nations Charter. Sponsors therefore could not support the proposals and called for a vote.
Action on draft amendment L.52
United Kingdom, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the draft amendment would create confusion on the possibility of non-governmental organizations to take part in the second session of the Forum Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law. The United Kingdom stressed that the text of the resolution already referred to the United Nations Charter and expressed concern that the draft amendment, in its calling for respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, would limit the participation of non-governmental organizations.
The Council rejected the proposed amendment L.52 by a vote of 18 in favour, 23 against and six abstained.
Action on draft resolution L.20
Cuba, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the paragraph was a reminder of all biased resolutions that had been introduced in the Human Rights Council and which aimed to establish a single model of democracy, contrary to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. There was no single model of democracy. Democracy was the power of the people, by the people, and for the people. The model promoted by certain States had been proven not to work. It was one of the causes of the prevailing unfair international order, which aimed to impose formulas to foster regime change. It was Cuba’s duty not to remain silent, and to advocate a participatory exercise. This was why Cuba could not accept preambular paragraph 6 of L.20 and it disassociated itself from the consensus.
China, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, maintained reservations with regard the purposes and necessity of establishing a Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law. The Forum did not regulate non-governmental organizations which could be used for political schemes and undermine the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Member States. Thus, China would disassociate itself from the consensus on L.20.
Egypt, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that in fact the paragraph itself gave rise to confusion. What were the arrangements to ensure that non-governmental organizations without consultative role in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) could participate in the Human Rights Council? The Council did not follow the same rules as ECOSOC. Egypt joined with the consensus on the draft resolution L.20 but would take into account the participation of non-governmental organizations in the future by consultation.
The Council then adopted draft resolution L.20, without a vote, as orally revised.
Explanations of the Vote after the Vote after the Conclusion of Taking Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item on the Promotion and Protection of all Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, including the Right to Development
Venezuela, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said in relation to the resolution on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, that Venezuela held the work by social movements in a very high regard and said it was important for them to cooperate with State institutions. There must be a serious, transparent and responsible work highly pursuant to the laws of the State. Venezuela was concerned about foreign financing which sought to undermine democratic governments under the guise of human rights. It was regrettable that the final outcome of the negotiations on the final text was not to the satisfaction of everyone.
Saudi Arabia, in an explanation of the vote after the vote on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council who were members of the Human Rights Council, said that Islamic Sharia guaranteed freedom of opinion in their States and there was no discrimination in their societies. Paragraphs one and 13 of the text L.15 undermined public order and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries therefore had to disassociate themselves from the resolution.
Switzerland, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, welcomed the adoption of the resolution on economic, social and cultural rights. It noted that States could adopt different policy measures to implement economic, social and cultural rights. Switzerland most strongly condemned any terrorist acts. The international community had to agree on the best ways to counter terrorism and ensure the full balanced implementation of all aspects of the fight against terrorism. States had the paramount responsibility to protect human rights while countering terrorism. Switzerland regretted that those aspects had not been properly reflected in draft resolution L.9.
Appointment of Special Procedure Mandate Holders
JOAQUIN ALEXANDER MAZA MARTELLI, President of the Human Rights Council, said that the list of the candidates for the four members of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Special Rapporteur on right to development, the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, and the member from Latin American and Caribbean States of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, had been circulated to all delegations on 15 February 2017 and posted on the Extranet.
The President proposed the appointment of the following persons to the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Laila Susanne Vars of Norway, member from the Arctic; Edtami Mansayagan of the Philippines, member from Asia; Kristen Carpenter of the United States, member from North America; and Megan Davis of Australia, member from the Pacific.
The President also proposed Saad Alfarargi of Egypt as the Special Rapporteur on the right to development; Analisa Ciampi of Italy as the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; and Luciano Hazan of Argentina for the position of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, member from Latin American and Caribbean States.
The Council endorsed the list of candidates.
The Council then decided, by a draw of straws, on the duration of membership in the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Kristen Carpenter would serve for one year, Megan Davis would serve for two ears, while Laila Susanne Vars and Edtami Mansayagan would serve for a period of three years each.
The President further said that Mr. Ion Diaconu from Romania had been elected as a member of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee.
General Comments by Observer States
Australia restated its understanding of international law in the context of various resolutions across the session. It reiterated that in Australia’s view, the right to safe drinking water and access to sanitation arose only out of the right to an adequate standard of living in Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Australia recognised the primacy of Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights when discussing the right to privacy; particularly its articulation that interference with this right must not be unlawful or arbitrary. It was inaccurate to imply the right entailed additional characteristics that exceeded the limits of established international human rights law. Australia urged States to ensure that articulations of the right to privacy under international law were consistent with Article 17. It also noted that States may need to collect, retain or use data for a number of legitimate purposes beyond those which applied to private actors. These included national security, law enforcement, service delivery, and the generation of population statistics. Such State activity should always be subject to appropriate safeguards.
Iceland, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said too many children continued to have their human rights violated as they faced discrimination and different forms of violence. The resolution listed some sobering facts, including that the risk of material mortality was highest for teenage girls under 15 years of age and that more than 720 million girls and women were subjected to child, early and forced marriage. Yet the same resolution was silent on the fundamental importance of sexual and reproductive health and rights as a priority to address these challenges. It also failed to mention the necessity to educate and empower children through comprehensive sexuality education that could enable them to make decisions about their sexuality, health and lives. While recognizing that the OP21 included a reference to maternal mortality and to the enjoyment of physical and mental health, Iceland noted that these terms must be understood in accordance to the Convention on the Rights of the Child as per General Comment No. 20 and the Committee on the International Covenant on Economies Social and Cultural Rights General Comment No. 22. Although there were sensitivities around these issues, Iceland was of the firm opinion that omitting these could not be the solution. Iceland was committed to finding a long-term solution with all partners to advancing this important issue.
Liechtenstein stated that it was pleased to sponsor the draft resolution on the protection of human rights defenders. It reiterated the importance of the participation of civil society in the Council’s work. It regretted that any references to UNCTAD’s framework of coordination. The Advisory Committee had to take into account the management of confiscated assets.
France welcomed the renewal of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria and the cooperation of the authorities of Mali with the Council, as well as the renewal of the mandate of Independent Expert. It welcomed the creation of a fact-finding mission to Myanmar, and the efforts of the Haitian authorities to reinforce their national human rights institutions. It also took positive note of the renewal of mandates on freedom of opinion, human rights defenders, and torture.
Russian Federation underlined that States had the paramount responsibility for safeguarding human rights. If human rights issues were discussed at the international level, it should be done in a constructive manner. The Russian Federation opposed the use of human rights issues for political ends because it discredited the Council’s work, and that was why it could not accept the draft resolutions on Syria, Myanmar, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Mali and Georgia. Russia called on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to show a more constructive approach.
Canada extended appreciation to the 83 States on the resolution on inclusiveness and respect for diversity. It outlined the positive outcomes of the Human Rights Council, such as the renewal of the mandates for the Special Rapporteurs for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Syria, Myanmar and Iran. Canada maintained its firm support for the mandate of human rights. It noted Haiti’s decision not to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur. While it would have hoped that the decision to end the mandate would have been in consultation with the international community, it nevertheless respected the decision of the Haitian Government.
Czechia was satisfied that a number of resolutions had been adopted, including on the renewal of mandates on torture, as well as country-specific mandates on Myanmar, Mali, Burma and others. Czechia was a strong supporter of the Human Rights Council. It welcomed L.5 and L.20 and thanked their co-sponsors. The effective realisation of human rights defenders deserved close attention.
Statement by the Rapporteur of the Council
MOUAYED SALEH, Vice President and Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council, explained that the draft report of the thirty-fourth session would be finalized and circulated for comments. He reminded that the comments should be sent within two weeks of the circulation of the draft report. The texts of the resolutions and the President’s Statement would be updated on the Council’s website. In the past four weeks the Council had held a high-level segment, interactive dialogues and general debates with the High Commissioner for Human Rights on his and his Office’s reports, and with mandate holders. The Council had adopted Universal Periodic Review outcomes of 11 countries, and it had appointed four members of the Expert Mechanism on the rights of indigenous peoples, and three Special Procedure mandate holders. The Vice President thanked all delegations and civil society representatives for their contributions.
The Council then adopted the draft report of the 34th session of the Human Rights Council.
General Concluding Remarks by States and other Stakeholders
Brazil reaffirmed its firm commitment to upholding its longstanding human rights policy. During the session, Brazil had engaged in different initiatives on political and civil rights, as well as on economic, social and cultural rights, with sponsors from different regions, in a non-selective and non-ideological way. Brazil’s positions were decided upon careful examination of the intrinsic merits of the questions at hand – not by any other consideration. Brazil, together with Germany and 66 co-sponsors, played a key role in the adoption of the resolution on the right to privacy in the digital age. Together with all Latin American neighbours and the European Union countries, they championed the promotion of the rights of the child in the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Brazil joined Egypt and other Arab countries in condemning terrorism. It defended the right of every child to have an identity document. It firmly supported human rights defenders; freedom of expression; human rights of migrants; and those combatting torture and racism. It co-sponsored all resolutions providing the renewal of the mandate of the Special Procedures in charge of important issues. It worked with the African Group to reach consensus to foster the establishment of a Forum of People of African Descent. It co-sponsored the resolution on the realization of economic, social and cultural rights, and reiterated its engagement to give full effect to these rights.
Paraguay asked for a correction as to the vote on draft resolution L.13 on cooperation with Georgia. The correction to be made was that Paraguay intended to abstain, rather than vote in favour.
Forum Asia, International Service for Human Rights, and other non-governmental organizations in a joint statement, welcomed the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders. The fracturing of consensus on the right to food was deeply regretted. The Council could only be a credible part of the rights-based system if it struck a balance between engaging the concerned States and responding to human rights violations and victims’ demands for accountability. The hasty end to the mandate on Haiti did not strike that balance, and the Council had failed to bring attention to violations in Azerbaijan, Bahrain, China, Egypt, Philippines, Turkey and others. The dissociation of Myanmar from the resolution was regretted, and the Council was commended for advancing accountability for mass atrocities in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, South Sudan, Sri Lanka and Syria. Allegations of intimidation or reprisals were deeply concerning, against defenders from Myanmar, Bahrain and Sri Lanka, and the Council was urged to take those cases seriously.
Closing Remarks by the President of the Council
JOAQUÍN ALEXANDER MAZA MARTELLI, President of the Human Rights Council, in his concluding remarks congratulated everyone for having completed the session on time. Faced with an overly packed programme of work and the decision by the United Nations Office at Geneva to limit services for evening meetings, the Council had had to adopt urgent and extraordinary measures, such as reducing speaking times, in order to be able to complete its work on time. The measures adopted during the thirty-fourth session could be viewed as limited in space and time in their participation. The President thus encouraged all Member States to consider taking voluntary concrete steps to increase the efficiency of work. Unfortunately, allegations of intimidation and reprisal had been brought to the President’s attention. The President therefore recalled the Council resolutions 12/2 and 16/21 which condemned and rejected all acts of intimidation or reprisal by Governments and non-State actors against individuals and groups who sought to cooperate or had cooperated with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights. He urged all States to take all necessary measures to prevent and ensure adequate protection against such acts. The President then declared the thirty-fourth session of the Human Rights Council closed.