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Human Rights Council adopts six texts, appoints Special Procedure mandate holders and closes its thirty-fourth regular session

Human Rights Council

AFTERNOON 

24 March 2017 

Extends Mandate on Situation of Human Rights in Mali for One Year 

The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted five resolutions and a President’s Statement, appointed Special Procedure mandate holders, and then closed its thirty-fourth regular session.            

The Council adopted a resolution on human rights, democracy and the rule of law, texts under its technical assistance and capacity building agenda item on Georgia, Libya, Mali and Haiti, and a resolution on the Voluntary Technical Assistance Trust Fund.             

The Council decided to extend the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali for a period of one year.            

In a resolution on cooperation with Georgia, adopted by a recorded vote of 18 in favour to 5 against with 24 abstentions, the Council requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue to provide technical assistance through his office in Tbilisi, and to present an oral update on the follow-up to the present resolution at the Council’s thirty-fifth session.              

The Council also requested the Office of the High Commissioner to monitor and report on human rights violations and abuses across Libya and to establish the facts and circumstances of such abuses and violations with a view to avoiding impunity and ensuring full individual accountability. 

In a President’s Statement on the situation of human rights in Haiti, the Council encouraged the Government to cooperate fully and efficiently with treaty bodies, and to present its periodic reports, and to support the national treaty bodies reporting and follow-up mechanism.  The Council requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide an oral update to the Council at the thirty-seventh session and a written report at the thirty-eighth session. 

The Council decided that the Voluntary Technical Assistance Trust Fund to Support the Participation of Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States in the Work of the Human Rights Council, at least once every year, would brief the General Assembly on the outcomes of the Council’s regular and special sessions and would conduct workshops in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and the Caribbean, before the tenth anniversary of the Trust Fund.  The Council further requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report in which it would evaluate the activities of the Trust Fund in meeting its training and capacity-building mandate, to be presented to the Council at its forty-ninth session. 

By the terms of a resolution on human rights, democracy and the rule of law, the Council decided that the theme of the second session of the Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law, to be held in 2018, would be “Parliaments as promoters of human rights, democracy and the rule of law”, and that the second session would be open to the participation of States, United Nations mechanisms, bodies and specialized agencies, national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations. 

The Council then proceeded with the appointment of Special Procedure mandate holders. 

The following persons were appointed 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. 

Saad Alfarargi of Egypt was appointed 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.  Ion Diaconu of Romania was appointed as a member of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee. 

The Council then adopted ad referendum the report of its thirty-fourth session, presented by Mouayed Saleh, Human Rights Council Vice-President.

In his closing remarks, Joaquin Alexander Maza Martelli, President of the Human Rights Council, expressed concern about allegations of acts of intimidation and reprisals against civil society representatives, including by Member States of the Council, and urged States to take all necessary measures to prevent and ensure adequate protection against such acts. 

Speaking in the introduction of draft texts were Georgia, Tunisia (on behalf of the African Group), Maldives, Romania and China. 

Libya, Mali and Haiti spoke as concerned countries. 

Albania, Egypt, Germany (on behalf of the European Union), Netherlands, Paraguay, Brazil, Republic of Korea and United Kingdom spoke in general comments. 

Speaking in an explanation of the vote before or after the vote were Venezuela, United Kingdom, Paraguay, Latvia, Switzerland, Kyrgyzstan, Brazil, Cuba, China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia (on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council), and Switzerland.  

The following observer States spoke on the resolutions adopted: Australia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, France, Russia, Canada, and Czechia. 

Brazil and Paraguay spoke in general concluding remarks.   

The International Service for Human Rights delivered a joint civil society end of session statement. 

The thirty-fifth regular session of the Human Rights Council will be held from 5 to 23 June 2017. 

Action on Texts under the Agenda Item on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building in the Field of Human Rights 

Action on Resolution on Cooperation with Georgia 

In a resolution (A/HRC/34/L.13) on cooperation with Georgia, adopted by a recorded vote of 18 in favour to 5 against with 24 abstentions, the Council requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue to provide technical assistance through his office in Tbilisi; calls for immediate access for the Office of the High Commissioner and international and regional human rights mechanisms to Abkhazia, Georgia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, Georgia; and requests the High Commissioner to present to the Human Rights Council, in accordance with its resolution 5/1 of 18 June 2007, an oral update on the follow-up to the present resolution at its thirty-fifth session, and to present a written report on developments relating to and the implementation of the present resolution at its thirty-sixth session. 

The result of the vote was as follows: 

In favour (18): Albania, Belgium, Botswana, Croatia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, Japan, Latvia, Netherlands, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal, Slovenia, Togo, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and United States of America. 

Against (5): Bolivia, Burundi, China, Cuba, and Venezuela.            

Abstentions (24): Bangladesh, Brazil, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nigeria, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Switzerland, Tunisia, and United Arab Emirates.  

Georgia, introducing draft resolution L.13 on cooperation with Georgia, said it highlighted the cooperation of Georgia with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and its human rights mechanisms, including the Human Rights Council.  It underlined Georgia’s commitment to continue its collaboration in an active and transparent manner and to implement recommendations.  It addressed problems in the Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions, where the local populations were deprived of fundamental rights, including freedom of movement, education in the native language, and access to health care.  The situation on the ground was rapidly deteriorating.  Therefore rapid action of the international community was needed.  The resolution called for unhindered access to both regions for representatives of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other actors of the human rights community, and was a product of informal consultations. While preparing the text, Georgia had shown a constructive spirit of cooperation.  Georgia thanked all 30 countries that had become original sponsors of the draft resolution.  Since tabling it, 10 other countries had joined the sponsorship.  It hoped the resolution would be adopted by consensus.  

Albania, in a general comment, welcomed the initiative by Georgia to strengthen cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and to improve human rights in the country.  The draft resolution aimed to facilitate the access of the Office and other human rights mechanisms to both regions in Georgia.  The High Commissioner spoke of the refusal to grant access to South Ossetia and Abkhazia.  The office in Tbilisi enjoyed fruitful cooperation with the Government of Georgia.  Albania supported the activities of the office and welcomed further assistance to ensure that human rights were strengthened in Georgia. 

Venezuela, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the draft resolution could play a key role in promoting international cooperation.  But it regretted that the whole text did not refer to item 10, but was a political tool with no objectivity and not in line with the ultimate goal.  Venezuela opposed the selectivity of the draft resolution.  It would thus vote against the draft resolution. 

United Kingdom, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, commended Georgia for its ongoing cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Its recognition of its own challenges deserved full recognition and full support.  The lack of access to Abkhazia and South Ossetia was of concern.  Arbitrary detention, torture and restricted freedom of movement in those two regions were addressed in the draft resolution.  At its core the resolution was about access.  The Council should always support cooperation with human rights mechanisms.  Independent monitoring and reporting would improve the human rights situation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. 

Paraguay, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said development efforts and planning of such efforts were very important in the monitoring and following up of resolutions for human rights.  Paraguay had an open invitation to thematic rapporteurs, in particular to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and these had allowed it to make adjustments within the country to better respond to the areas of weakness identified.  The draft resolution would be a very valuable contribution to the Sustainable Development Agenda goals.  It was essential to have direct visits from the Special Rapporteurs.  Without such contributions, the Human Rights Council recommendations would not have had such impact. That was why Paraguay supported any resolution that supported the work of Special Rapporteurs and would vote in favour of the draft resolution proposed by Georgia.  

Latvia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the High Commissioner for Human Rights had expressed deep concern regarding access to South Ossetia and Abkhazia.  The draft resolution underlined the importance of access by the High Commissioner and the international human rights mechanisms to ensure an objective assessment of the situation of human rights.  It was an important resolution against future deterioration of the human rights situation in the two regions.  Latvia encouraged all to vote in favour of the resolution. 

Switzerland, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, thanked Georgia for introducing the resolution.  It shared the concerns of the main author and co-sponsors concerning the two regions, especially with regard to the arbitrary detentions and restriction of movement of persons.  Switzerland supported the unrestricted movement and access principle. Switzerland was involved in various dialogues between Russia and Georgia, and as such, worked to improve security and respect for human rights.  Switzerland respected the territorial integrity of Georgia and called for respect of human rights in Georgia’s territory. Switzerland would abstain due to its impartiality and neutrality position.   

The Council then adopted the draft resolution by a vote of 18 in favour, five against and 24 abstentions.  

Action on Resolution on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building to Improve Human Rights in Libya 

In a resolution (A/HRC/34/L.18) on technical assistance and capacity-building to improve human rights in Libya, adopted without a vote, the Council repeats its call to all parties to comply immediately with their applicable obligations under human rights and international humanitarian law and for strict respect of all human rights and fundamental freedoms;  calls for those responsible for violations or abuses of international human rights law and violations of international humanitarian law to be held accountable, in accordance with international standards; and also calls upon the Government of National Accord to appoint a focal point on justice and human rights.  The Council further calls upon the international community to provide financial support for the United Nations humanitarian response plan for Libya for the period 2017-2018 to address the needs of 1.33 million people; urges the Libyan authorities to expedite the voluntary, safe and dignified return of all persons displaced by the conflict since 2011, in accordance with applicable law; and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to monitor and report on human rights violations and abuses across Libya and to establish the facts and circumstances of such abuses and violations with a view to avoiding impunity and ensuring full individual accountability.  

Tunisia, introducing draft resolution L.18 on behalf of the African Group, said the draft resolution was an update to last year’s resolution that took into account the latest developments in Libya.  It highlighted the many challenges that Libya was still facing in its efforts to improve the human rights situation in the country, including the deterioration of security and the threat of terrorism.  It urged the Government of Libya to take a number of measures to avoid impunity and ensure full accountability.  It requested the High Commissioner to coordinate with relevant mandate holders to undertake visits to Libya throughout 2017, and to present an oral update to the Council at its thirty sixth session during an interactive dialogue.   

Egypt, in a general comment, supported the Libyan people and expected the Council to provide them with all resources to protect human rights, and meet expectations of peace and stability.  It condemned human rights abuses by terrorist groups.  Egypt sought to restore security in Libya.     

Libya, speaking as the concerned country, thanked the African Group which had tabled draft, and thanked Tunisia for introducing it.  Libya appreciated the positive contributions by all delegations.  The draft resolution would send a strong message on the need of technical assistance to Libya, particularly in the transitional period, in an effort to protect and promote human rights and establish security in the country.  Libya hoped to be able to increase that support.   

The draft resolution was then adopted without a vote. 

Action on Resolution on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building in the Field of Human Rights in Mali 

In a resolution (A/HRC/34/L.19) on technical assistance and capacity-building in the field of human rights in Mali, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council reiterates its call for an immediate halt to all human rights violations and abuses and acts of violence and for the strict observance of all human rights and fundamental freedoms; and calls upon all signatories of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali to implement all its provisions, including those relating to the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former rebel fighters, the redeployment of Malian armed forces throughout the territory and decentralization  The Council decides to extend the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali for a period of one year in order to permit him to evaluate the situation of human rights in Mali and to assist the Government of Mali in its efforts to promote and protect human rights and to strengthen the rule of law; calls upon all parties in Mali to cooperate fully with the Independent Expert and to assist him in carrying out his mandate; and requests the Independent Expert to submit a report to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-seventh session. 

Tunisia, introducing draft resolution L.19 on behalf of the African Group, explained that the objective of the draft resolution was to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali.  Amendments made took into account the latest developments on the ground, such as attacks by extremist groups in central and northern Mali.  The resolution presented new legislative measures, namely the adoption of the national policy on human rights, the law for the protection of human rights defenders, and information on the functioning of the National Human Rights Commission.  It also recommended humanitarian aid to refugees and displaced persons, notably in the north of the country. 

Germany, speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, welcomed the draft resolution and thanked the delegation of Mali and the African Group for the high quality text which reaffirmed the support of the international community.  The European Union remained concerned by the fight against impunity for violations against human rights defenders, as well as acts of terrorism.  In this regard, it supported the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and would vote in favour of the draft resolution.  

Mali, speaking as the concerned country, thanked the Member States of the Human Rights Council, as well as the African Group for its constant support and solidarity.  At a time when terrorist groups were pooling their forces, Mali more than ever needed the international community to combat terrorism and act against trafficking of human beings and other forms of trans-border crime.  One of the main concerns, namely the fight against impunity, was included in the Malian Government’s agenda.  The hope born during the conference of international understanding was an expression of Mali’s commitment to fulfil its obligations to the promotion and protection of human rights.  

The Council then adopted the draft resolution L.19 without a vote, as orally revised.  

Action on Resolution on Promoting the Voluntary Technical Assistance Trust Fund to Support the Participation of Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States in the Work of the Human Rights Council 

In a resolution (A/HRC/34/L.35) on  promoting the Voluntary Technical Assistance Trust Fund to Support the Participation of Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States in the Work of the Human Rights Council, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council decides that the Trust Fund will conduct at least one briefing on the outcomes of the regular and special sessions of the Human Rights Council each year in New York, prior to the commencement of each session of the General Assembly, for least developed countries and small island developing States, with a view to supporting the engagement of these delegations in the work of the Third Committee; also decides that the Trust Fund will conduct workshops in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and the Caribbean, before the tenth anniversary of the Trust Fund, reflecting on its achievements, identifying where further improvements might be made and assessing the value of its activities in fulfilling its training and capacity-building mandate in support of the engagement of least developed countries and small island developing States in the work of the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms; and requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report in which the Office evaluates the activities of the Trust Fund in meeting its training and capacity-building mandate, and to present the report to the Human Rights Council at its forty-ninth session.  

Maldives, introducing draft resolution L.35, noted that universal representation and participation should be at the core of multilateral diplomacy.  It was an ideal that was equally applicable to the three pillars of the United Nations system: international peace and security, sustainable development, and human rights.  Every voice mattered, and the Least Developed Countries and the Small Island Developing States Trust Fund was one of the most concrete steps that the international community had made towards that goal.   

Netherlands, in a general comment, noted that universal participation was fundamental to the United Nations.  Too often the gap between the principle and reality was too wide.  Human rights were universal and so should the Council sessions be.  The Trust Fund enriched the work of the entire of the United Nations.  It was very timely that the Council recognized the value of the Trust Fund.  The Netherlands called on donors to continue supporting the Trust Fund. 

Mongolia, in a general comment, welcomed draft resolution L.35.  Its adoption would reinforce the benefit of technical assistance on the basis of States’ needs and requests for the promotion of human rights around the world.  The Trust Fund played an important role in strengthening States’ national capacities to effectively implement their human rights obligations and accepted Universal Periodic Review recommendations.  Mongolia expressed hope that the Trust Fund would also encompass landlocked developing countries.   

Paraguay, in a general comment, said it was very much affected by the situation of landlocked countries which were at the same time least developing countries. These had to be included in the Voluntary Technical Assistance Fund, as they had a double burden because of their lack of sufficient resources and their landlocked situation. International cooperation continued to be an important tool for the development of landlocked countries, especially least developed countries.  

The Council then adopted draft resolution L.35 without a vote, as orally revised.  

Action on a President’s Statement on the Situation of Human Rights in Haiti 

In a President’s Statement (A/HRC/34/L.53) on the situation of human rights in Haiti, adopted without a vote, the Council encourages the Government of Haiti to continue to cooperate fully and efficiently with treaty bodies, and to present its periodic reports; requests that the Government support the national reporting and follow-up mechanism and to coordinate putting in place of a national action plan, with the help of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  The Council also requests the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide an oral update on the application of that plan at the thirty-seventh session and to present a written report at the thirty-eighth session, in the framework of the interactive dialogue under item 10.  

Brazil, in a general comment, reaffirmed its commitment to the promotion of all human rights in Haiti.  Greater technical assistance and capacity building would help the people of that country live in peace and security.  It welcomed Haiti’s successful holding of elections.  Brazil called on the authorities to continue their commitment to the United Nations human rights system and civil society.  It called on all countries to maintain their constructive engagement with Haiti. 

Haiti, speaking as the concerned country, said that the Council was the best forum to discuss common efforts to protect human rights.  Recommendations by Special Procedures had encouraged the Government of Haiti to cooperate fully with treaty bodies in order to achieve full and effective enjoyment of human rights.  The Government’s decision to put an end to the Special Rapporteur mandate should not be interpreted as the end of Haiti’s cooperation.  Haiti emphasized its long cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Haiti would be able to at last build up its national capacity to establish the rule of law and full enjoyment of human rights.  The Government thanked all delegations on the consensus on the draft resolution. 

The Council then adopted draft resolution L.53 without a vote. 

Explanations of the Vote after the Vote after the Conclusion of Taking Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building  

Kyrgyzstan, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that Kyrgyzstan supported the territorial integrity of Georgia and stressed the need to resolve conflicts peacefully through the framework set by international law, and with due respect for human rights. 

Brazil, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, strongly supported the role of technical assistance in constructively promoting human rights and welcomed the assistance provided by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to countries that requested it.  Brazil welcomed the cooperation with Georgia with the Office and said that in the future, the resolutions on this agenda item should focus strictly on technical assistance and capacity building and not on issues that were in the purview of Security Council. 

Action on Resolution 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 

Action on Resolution on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law 

In a resolution (A/HRC/34/L.20) on human rights, democracy and the rule of law, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council decides that the theme of the second session of the Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law, to be held in 2018, will be “Parliaments as promoters of human rights, democracy and the rule of law”; also decides that the second session of the Forum shall be open to the participation of States, United Nations mechanisms, bodies and specialized agencies, funds and programmes, intergovernmental organizations, regional organizations and mechanisms in the field of human rights, national human rights institutions and other relevant national bodies, academics and experts, and non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council.  The Council encourages States and all stakeholders to pay particular attention to ensuring the broadest possible and most equitable participation, with due regard to geographical and gender balance, and considering the participation of youth. 

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. 

For use of the information media; not an official record 

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