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Human rights council creates mandate on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy

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Extends Mandates on Education, Trafficking in Persons, International Solidarity, Persons with Disabilities, Transnational Corporations, and Independence of Judges and Lawyers

The Human Rights Council this morning adopted 13 texts in which it created the mandate of a Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members, and extended the mandates on education, trafficking in persons, human rights and international solidarity, persons with disabilities, business and human rights, and the independence of judges and lawyers. 

In other texts, the Council decided to convene a half-day intersessional workshop on the right to peace; a panel discussion on the human rights of internally displaced persons in commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement; and a high-level panel discussion to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. 

Concerning the enhancement of international corporation in the field of human rights, the Council requested the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to seek to enhance dialogue with representatives from non-traditional donor countries in order to broaden the donor base and to replenish existing resources available to the funds.  On eliminating violence against women, the Council asked the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report on engaging men and boys in promoting and achieving gender equality.  A final text related to the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, jurors and assessors, and the independence of lawyers.  

In a resolution adopted without a vote, the Council appointed a Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members for a period of three years.  The mandate holder was tasked to follow up and report on progress made and measures taken by States for the effective implementation of the principles and guidelines for the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members, to identify, exchange and promote good practices, and to report annually to the Human Rights Council, starting from its thirty-eighth session. 

In a resolution on the right to education: follow-up to Human Rights Council resolution 8/4, adopted without a vote, the Council extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education for a period of three years. 

By a vote of 32 in favour, 15 against and no abstentions, the Council decided to extend the mandate of the Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity for a period of three years, and it requested the Independent Expert to continue to participate in relevant international forums and major events with a view to promoting the importance of international solidarity in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In a resolution on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, adopted without a vote, the Council extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, for a period of three years.

The Council also extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities for a further period of three years, in order to identify, exchange and promote good practices relating to the realization of the rights of persons with disabilities and their participation as equal members of society.

The Council also extended the mandate of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises as set out in Human Rights Council resolution 17/4 for a period of three years, and it decided that the Working Group would guide the work of the Forum on Business and Human Rights and prepare its annual meetings.

In a resolution adopted without a vote, the Council extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers for a period of three years, on the same terms as provided by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 26/7 of 26 June 2014. 

By a vote of 32  in favour, 11 against and four abstentions, the Council decided to convene, with the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in the period between the thirty-seventh and the thirty-eighth sessions of the Human Rights Council, a half-day intersessional workshop on the right to peace, to discuss the implementation of the Declaration on the Right to Peace.  It requested the High Commissioner to submit a report on the workshop, in the form of a summary, to the Council at its thirty-ninth session.

In a decision adopted without a vote, the Council decided to convene, at its thirty-eighth session, a panel discussion on the human rights of internally displaced persons in commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, with a particular focus on their application and on achievements, best practices and challenges.

By a vote 32 in favour, three against and 12 abstentions, the Council adopted a resolution on enhancing international cooperation in the field of human rights in which it requested the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to seek to enhance dialogue with representatives from non-traditional donor countries with a view to broadening the donor base and to replenishing the resources available to the funds. 

The Council called upon States to take immediate and effective action to prevent violence against women and girls, and it requested the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report before the thirty-eighth session of the Human Rights Council to review promising practices and lessons learned, existing strategies, and to make recommendations for further action by States and the international community in that regard.

In a resolution adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council called upon all States to guarantee the independence of judges and lawyers and the objectivity and impartiality of prosecutors, as well as their ability to perform their functions accordingly, including by taking effective legislative, law enforcement and other appropriate measures that would enable them to carry out their professional functions without interference, harassment, threats or intimidation of any kind.

In a resolution adopted without a vote, the Council decided to convene, at its thirty-seventh session, a high-level panel discussion to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, with a particular focus on the implementation of the provisions thereof, including the benefits of enhanced international cooperation in that regard.  It requested the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a summary report on the panel discussion and to submit it to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-eighth session and to the General Assembly.

Speaking in the introduction of draft texts were Eritrea, Russian Federation, Portugal, Cuba, Germany, Austria, New Zealand, Norway, Venezuela on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Japan, Canada, Hungary,

Germany on behalf of the European Union, South Africa, United States, and Panama spoke in general comments.

Speaking in an explanation of the vote before or after the vote were: Germany on behalf of the European Union, United Kingdom,  Ecuador,  Panama, Belgium, Egypt, Japan, Latvia, Albania, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, United States, China, Nigeria,

At the beginning of the meeting, a draft resolution on the situation of human rights in Ethiopia was introduced, and then withdrawn.

The Council will next meet at 1:30 p.m. to continue taking action on decisions and resolutions. 

Action on Resolution under the Agenda Item on the Annual Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General

Action on Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in Ethiopia

Draft resolution L.38, (A/HRC/35/L.38) on the situation of human rights in Ethiopia was withdrawn.

Eritrea, introducing draft resolution L.38, on the situation of human rights in Ethiopia, said that the resolution addressed the alarming situation of human rights in Ethiopia.  It highlighted the excessive use of force by the Ethiopian security forces against peaceful protesters and the arbitrary detention and torture of dozens of civilians.  The resolution also condemned the draconian state of emergency and the lack of cooperation with international mechanisms.  The resolution called upon the Government to release detainees under the law against terrorism, and also called on the United Nations to dispatch an international mission to investigate the abuses by the Government, and to make recommendations to fight against impunity and strengthen accountability on the situation of human rights.  Eritrea had conducted consultations, during which a number of delegations had shown their interest in supporting the resolution, while others had requested more time for consultations and coordination among their groups.  In light of this, the Eritrean delegation had decided to defer the consideration of L.38 to a future session.

The draft resolution was withdrawn.

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
 
Action on Resolution on the Seventieth Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action

In a resolution (A/HRC/35/L.1) on the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to convene, at its thirty-seventh session, a high-level panel discussion to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, with a particular focus on the implementation of the provisions thereof, including the benefits of enhanced international cooperation in that regard; and requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a summary report on the panel discussion and to submit it to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-eighth session and to the General Assembly.

Russian Federation, introducing L.1 on the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, said the importance of those two instruments could not be overstated.  The new universal and modern human rights structures were owed to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, which were quoted in almost every United Nations resolution related to human rights.  The event of the anniversaries should be marked, and the international community should look forward to recognizing new challenges.  The anniversaries should be food for thought; the international community needed to consider how to return authority to the United Nations’ work.  The international community could only be effective if work was based on mutual respect.  The Russian Federation would continue to contribute to a positive atmosphere in the Human Rights Council.

The resolution was adopted without a vote.

Action on Resolution on the Right to Education: Follow-up to Human Rights Council Resolution 8/4

In a resolution (A/HRC/35/L.2) on the right to education: follow-up to Human Rights Council resolution 8/4, adopted without a vote, the Council welcomes the work of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, and takes note of her latest report, on realizing the right to education through non-formal education; and decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education for a period of three years.  The Council requests all States to continue to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur with a view to facilitating her tasks in the discharge of her mandate, and to respond favourably to her requests for information and visits; and also calls upon States to take all necessary measures, including sufficient budgetary allocations, to ensure inclusive, equitable and non-discriminatory quality education, and to promote learning opportunities for all, paying particular attention to girls, marginalized children, older persons, persons with disabilities and persons with low qualifications.
Portugal, introducing draft resolution L.2, urged all States to give full effect to the right to education, reflecting the most recent developments in the area in the last 12 months.  The resolution placed particular emphasis on the importance of non-formal education and on creating an enabling policy environment, for recognition, validation and accreditation of knowledge, skills and competences, acquired though non-formal and informal learning, as recommended by the Special Rapporteur in her latest report to the Council.  The draft resolution extends the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education for a period of three years.

The resolution was adopted without a vote.

Action on Resolution on Human Rights and Solidarity

In a resolution (A/HRC/35/L.3) on human rights and solidarity, adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, 15 against and no abstentions, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity for a period of three years; requests the Independent Expert to continue to participate in relevant international forums and major events with a view to promoting the importance of international solidarity in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, especially those goals relating to economic, social and climate issues, and invites Member States, international organizations, United Nations agencies and other relevant organizations to facilitate the meaningful participation of the Independent Expert in these international forums and major events.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (32): Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Togo, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.

Against (15): Albania, Belgium, Croatia, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Latvia, Netherlands, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, Switzerland, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and United States of America.

Abstentions (0):

Cuba, introducing draft text L.3 on human rights and international solidarity, said that the text had been adopted year after year with the support of a vast majority of the members.  The draft resolution acknowledged the work done by the relevant Special Rapporteur, and reminded that international solidarity was an important requirement for dignity which should be at the basis of all human rights. 

Germany, speaking on behalf of European Union Member States that were Members of the Human Rights Council, said the European Union remained committed to international solidarity as an important moral principle.  Yet serious conceptual doubts existed about whether that principle could be translated into the language of international human rights standards.  There was no consensus on the draft declaration on the right to international solidarity, which was referred to in the resolution.  The European Union therefore called for a vote and would vote against the resolution.

The resolution was adopted with 32 votes in favour, 15 against and no abstentions.
 
Action on Resolution on the Promotion of the Right to Peace

In a resolution (A/HRC/35/L.4) on the promotion of the right to peace, adopted by a vote of 32  in favour, 11 against and four abstentions, the Council decides to convene, with the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in the period between the thirty-seventh and the thirty-eighth sessions of the Human Rights Council, a half-day intersessional workshop on the right to peace, to discuss the implementation of the Declaration on the Right to Peace; and requests the High Commissioner to submit a report on the workshop, in the form of a summary, to the Council at its thirty-ninth session.
The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (32): Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Togo, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.

Against (11): Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Latvia, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and United States of America.

Abstentions (4): Albania, Georgia, Portugal, and Switzerland.

Cuba, introducing draft resolution L.4, highlighted that peace was a legitimate right for every human being.  The adoption of this draft resolution would allow the convocation of a workshop of half a day on the right to peace in order to examine the application of the Declaration on the Right to Peace.  This Declaration had been adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2016 by a large majority of its members.  Its contribution to the goal of reaching peace should be recognized.  Peace was a sine qua non for the enjoyment of all human rights, particularly the right to life.  Achieving the right to peace would allow countries to lay down the foundation for the exercise of all human rights.

Germany, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that there was no legal basis for the right to peace in international law.  There was no internationally agreed definition of peace, nor agreement on who would be the rights-bearers or the duty-bearers of such a right.  The Declaration on the Right to Peace was open to interpretation which could be contrary to some provisions of the United Nations Charter.

United Kingdom, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the right to peace did not exist in international law.  There was no internationally defined right to peace, the scope was vast and unwieldy, and enforcement was also challenging.  The course of action taken by the sponsor was regretted, and the United Kingdom called for a vote on the draft resolution, which it would be voting against.

The resolution was adopted with 32 votes in favour, 11 against and four abstentions. 

Action on Resolution on the Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children

In a resolution (A/HRC/35/L.6) 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 on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, for a period of three years; urges all Governments to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur and to respond favourably to her requests to visit their countries, to provide her with all necessary information related to the mandate and to react promptly to her communications and urgent appeals in order to enable her to fulfil the mandate effectively; and underlines the importance that the Special Rapporteur continue to participate in relevant international forums and events on migration with a view to combating trafficking and upholding the human rights of victims of trafficking in persons, especially women and children. 

Germany, introducing draft resolution L.6, highlighted that trafficking in persons continued to violate the human rights of too many individuals, especially women and girls.  To eradicate this problem, there was a need for a concerted international response and genuine multilateral, regional and bilateral cooperation among countries of origin, transit and destination.  The foundation of the response to the menace of trafficking was the strengthened adherence of the promotion, protection and fulfilment of human rights, especially of the victims.  This was the rationale of the resolution on trafficking in persons.

The resolution was adopted without a vote.

Action on Decision on the Panel Discussion on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons in Commemoration of the Twentieth Anniversary of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement

In a decision (A/HRC/35/L.7) on the panel discussion on the human rights of internally displaced persons in commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to convene, at its thirty-eighth session, a panel discussion on the human rights of internally displaced persons in commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, with a particular focus on their application and on achievements, best practices and challenges in this regard, as well as on recommendations to meet these challenges, and further decides that the discussion shall be fully accessible to persons with disabilities.  The Council requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to organize the panel discussion from within existing resources; and to prepare and submit a summary report on the panel discussion to the Human Rights Council at its fortieth session.

Austria, introducing draft decision L.7 on behalf of a number of co-sponsors, said there were twice as many internally displaced persons as refugees in the world, but global attention was focused on refugees and migrants.  The current level of engagement by the international community and the United Nations system was insufficient.  The draft decision would convene a panel discussion during the Council’s thirty-eighth session with the aim of enhancing attention to the situation of internally displaced persons. 

The decision was adopted without a vote.

Action on Resolution on the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

In a resolution (A/HRC/35/L.8) on the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities for a further period of three years, with the following mandate, inter alia: to identify, exchange and promote good practices relating to the realization of the rights of persons with disabilities and their participation as equal members of society; to gather, request, receive and exchange information and communications from and with States and other relevant sources, including persons with disabilities and their representative organizations and other civil society organizations, on violations of the rights of persons with disabilities; and to make concrete recommendations on how to better promote and protect the human rights of persons with disabilities, including on eliminating discrimination, violence and social exclusion.  The Council calls upon all States to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur in the performance of his or her mandate, including by providing all necessary information requested, and to give serious consideration to responding favourably to his or her requests to visit their countries and to consider the conclusions and appropriate follow-up as well as implementing the recommendations made by the mandate holder in his or her reports.

New Zealand, introducing draft resolution L.8, said that the resolution reaffirmed the obligation of States to take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against persons with disabilities and to promote, protect and respect their human rights.  New Zealand welcomed the work of the Special Rapporteur and extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities for a further period of three years with an increased emphasis on data-collection efforts.  With over 1 billion people with some form of disability in the world today, this mandate remained of critical importance. 

Germany, speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, expressed their deep gratitude to the sponsors of this resolution, New Zealand and Mexico, whose objectives were shared by the European Union.  Extending the mandate of the Special Rapporteur would increase the attention attached to the issue of persons with disabilities.  The European Union called on States that had not ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to do so.  The European Union hoped that the resolution would be adopted by consensus to further highlight the importance of this issue.  

The resolution was adopted without a vote.
 
Action on Resolution on Business and Human Rights: Mandate of the Working Group on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises

In a resolution (A/HRC/35/L.11) on Business and human rights: Mandate of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, adopted without a vote, the Council decides that the Working Group shall guide the work of the Forum and prepare its annual meetings; welcomes that the central theme of the 2017 Forum on Business and Human Rights is “Realizing access to Remedy”; and decides to extend the mandate of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises as set out in Human Rights Council resolution 17/4 for a period of three years.  The Council requests the Working Group, in accordance with its mandate, to give due consideration to the implementation of the Guiding Principles in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; and also requests the Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide all the resources and assistance necessary for the Working Group to fulfil its mandate effectively, including its role in guiding the work of the Forum on Business and Human Rights.

Norway, introducing the resolution on behalf of a group of States, said the resolution L.11 renewed the mandate of the Working Group on business and human rights.  The Guiding Principles were the authoritative framework in preventing and addressing the human rights impact of business activities.  The draft resolution introduced the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as a framework for the Working Group’s activities in the years to come.  It was acknowledged that the private sector had a great impact on people’s lives and hopes for the future. 

Germany, speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, said the adoption without a vote of the resolution reaffirmed global consensus to implement the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.  The European Union proposed clearer language on the situation for human rights defenders.  The European Union joined the consensus so that the Human Rights Council could renew the important mandate.

South Africa, in a general comment, said the issue of ensuring accountability, the right to remedy and the right of access to justice and redress for human rights abuses violations committed by transnational corporations was of critical importance to the African region.  South Africa had called for the text to take into account other ongoing initiatives than voluntary ones, in particular United Nations Human Rights Council resolution 26/9.     

Ecuador, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, thanked the sponsors of the resolution for the way in which the consultations had been conducted.  This allowed all stakeholders to achieve an atmosphere for consensus.   Ecuador encouraged further initiatives to find binding instruments that could ensure that private enterprises respected human rights in their activities.  The Working Group on business and human rights and the Guiding Principles constituted two complementary processes which aimed at eradicating impunity. 

The resolution was adopted without a vote.

Action on Resolution on the Enhancement of International Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/35/L.12) on the enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights, adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, three against and 12 abstentions, the Council takes note of the annual update on the activities of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights; requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to seek to enhance dialogue with representatives from non-traditional donor countries with a view to broadening the donor base and to replenishing the resources available to the funds; and to make clear the process by which States request assistance from the funds, and to process such requests in a timely and transparent manner that adequately responds to the requesting States.  The Council urges States to continue to support the funds; and to take the measures necessary to enhance bilateral, regional and international cooperation aimed at addressing the adverse impact of consecutive and compounded global crises, such as financial and economic crises, food crises, climate change and natural disasters, on the full enjoyment of human rights.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (32): Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Togo, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.

Against (3): Hungary, Republic of Korea, and United States of America.

Abstentions (12): Albania, Belgium, Croatia, Georgia, Germany, Japan, Latvia, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland, and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Venezuela, introducing draft text L.12 on the enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Universal Periodic Review was the ideal mechanism for fostering dialogue to improve the situation of human rights on the ground.  The promotion and protection of human rights needed to be guided by principles of objectivity and non-selectivity.  The prevailing shortcomings in the international system being noted, an international order should be built based on respect for cultural diversity and human rights.  Dialogue between cultures and civilizations promoted respect for diversity.  It was hoped that the traditional resolution would enjoy consensus support by the Human Rights Council.

United States, in a general comment, called for a vote on the resolution, saying there had been no meaningful engagement on it.  The United States’ concerns with the resolution were around issues such as technical transfer and the right to development, and would be detailed when the Council concluded taking action on resolutions under item 3.

Germany, speaking on behalf of the European Union in an explanation of the vote before the vote, highlighted that the European Union considered cooperation as an essential element of its foreign action.  However, the European Union also recognized that the goal of ensuring the full enjoyment of human rights first lay with States.   International cooperation could not substitute States efforts to guarantee human rights.  The European Union reiterated its support for the full recognition of the right to development and recognized the intersectionality of all rights.  International cooperation was only one of the elements to protect human rights.  In this context, the European Union could not support L.12 resolution.

The resolution was adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, three against and 12 abstentions,

Action on Resolution on the Elimination of Discrimination against Persons Affected by Leprosy and Their Family Members

In a resolution (A/HRC/35/L.14) on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to appoint, for a period of three years, a Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members, with the following mandate: to, inter alia, follow up and report on progress made and measures taken by States for the effective implementation of the principles and guidelines for the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members; … identify, exchange and promote good practices relating to the realization of the rights of persons affected by leprosy and their family members, and to their participation as equal members of society with a view to achieving a leprosy-free world; and to report annually to the Human Rights Council, starting from its thirty-eighth session.  The Council calls upon all States to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur in the discharge of the mandate, including by providing all information requested, giving serious consideration to responding favourably to the requests of the Special Rapporteur to visit their countries, and considering the implementation of the recommendations made in the reports of the mandate holder.

Japan, introducing L.14 on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members on behalf of the Core Group, said the resolution aimed at closing the history of discrimination against and stigmatization of leprosy patients, ex-patients and their families, and focused on their social inclusion.  It requested the establishment of a Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons belonging to that group, and reaffirmed that they were entitled to the full enjoyment of their rights.  The aim was for the Special Rapporteur to fulfil the mandate within one three-year term ending in 2020, or two terms at the most. 

Germany, in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, said that for the sake of the efficiency of the Council, duplication of work should be avoided.  The sponsors were invited to assess at the next session the work done with other United Nations bodies on the issues in question.  The noble goal of the sponsors was noted.

The resolution was adopted without a vote.
 
Action on Resolution on Accelerating Efforts to Eliminate Violence against Women: Engaging Men and Boys in Preventing and Responding to Violence against All Women and Girls

In a resolution (A/HRC/35/L.15) on accelerating efforts to eliminate violence against women: engaging men and boys in preventing and responding to violence against all women and girls, adopted without a vote, the Council expresses outrage at the persistence and pervasiveness of all forms of violence against women and girls worldwide; calls upon States to take immediate and effective action to prevent violence against women and girls by, inter alia, fully engaging men and boys, alongside women and girls, including community and religious leaders, as agents and beneficiaries of achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls as a contribution to the elimination of violence against women and girls; and to take immediate and effective action to respond to violence against women and girls and to protect all victims/survivors.  The Council requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights… to prepare a report before the thirty-eighth session of the Human Rights Council to review promising practices and lessons learned, existing strategies and United Nations and other initiatives to engage men and boys in promoting and achieving gender equality, in particular efforts to challenge gender stereotypes and the negative social norms, attitudes and behaviours that underlie and perpetuate violence against women and girls, and to make recommendations for further action by States and the international community in this regard.

Canada, introducing draft resolution L.15, thanked delegations and civil society representatives for their constructive engagement during consultations.  Violence against women and girls was one of the wold’s greatest and most persistent violations of human rights, leaving women and girls vulnerable and unable to fully participate in society.  The resolution clearly expressed a common outrage at the pervasiveness of all forms of violence against women.  It included a number of actions that would help guiding States in their efforts to end violence against all women.  The text also referenced two fundamental issues to the theme of engaging men and boys.  These were the need for comprehensive sexuality education programmes as well as support for women working to defend the rights of women.

Russian Federation, introducing amendments L.39 and L.40, said that ending violence against women constituted a priority.  Putting an end to any illegal activity which implied violence against women such as trafficking in persons was of utmost importance as well as protecting victims and rehabilitating them.   The Russian Federation welcomed the thematic approach taken by the draft because it considered the role of men and boys.  The Russian Federation agreed to the substance of the text but wanted to introduce an amendment that would replace the formulation of human rights defenders.  The Russian Federation also supported the position of the resolution on the role of education as a sine qua non to abolish discrimination.  However it did not agree with the inclusion of the concept of comprehensive sexual education which was unclear.  There was no credible data proving that the use of this concept would help eradicate violence against women.

Panama, in a general comment, rejected the draft amendments submitted by the Russian Federation and others asking for a vote. There had been four consultations with broad participation and constructive dialogue.  More than 70 countries had co-sponsored the resolution, and the presentation of the amendments was regretted given the attempts to create a balanced text.  The amendments weakened the resolution.  Panama called on all Member States to vote against the amendments.

Germany, speaking on behalf of European Union Member States who were Member States of the Council in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reiterated the European Union’s strong support for women’s empowerment.  All States should create an enabling environment where human rights defenders could carry out their activities.  There was a need for universal and comprehensive sexuality education and health care services.  For those reasons, the European Union would vote against the amendments.  The European Union supported the resolution as proposed by the main sponsor.

Panama, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, thanked Canada for its leadership.  As co-sponsors of the text, it was vital to have the support of men and boys, and it was the first time the Human Rights Council had addressed that topic.  If men and boys were not involved, human relations would never be transformed.

Belgium, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said fighting gender-based violence enjoyed consensus across the membership of the United Nations.  Work with men and boys could have a transformative impact on the roots of gender-based violence.  Belgium would vote against the amendments and called on all members of the Council to do the same. 

Egypt, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, stressed that, although it agreed with the essence of the resolution, some of the elements included in it seemed to go beyond the goal of fighting violence against women.  That was the case for comprehensive sexual education.  Indeed, there was no link between comprehensive sexual education and fighting violence against women. 

Action on Amendment L.39
 
Japan, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, opposed the adoption of amendment L.39 outlining that the term “women human rights defenders” provided an extended protection for all human rights defenders.  All persons willing to defend human rights should receive strong protection.

Latvia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, highlighted that the term “women human rights defender” was recognized in the United Nations system.  Women faced repeated attacks in their work of defending human rights.  They were confronted to gender specific threats such as sexual violence and attacks against their relatives, including their children.  The resolution should not be undermined.

The Council then rejected amendment L.39 by a vote of 13 in favour, 25 against and eight abstentions. 

Action on L.40

Albania, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the amendment proposed to delete the reference to comprehensive sexual education, which empowered girls and enabled youth to take independent and informed decisions and strengthened women’s autonomy throughout their lives.  If the reference to comprehensive sexuality education was deleted, the remaining paragraph 9 (g) would not make sense.

Netherlands, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said young people, especially boys, needed to be provided with education based on gender equality and human rights.
The Netherlands would vote no on the amendments and called on other Council members to also vote no.

The amendment was rejected by a vote of 16 in favour, 25 against, with 4 abstentions. 

 Action on Resolution L.15

Saudi Arabia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, said the Gulf Cooperation Council countries refused any form of violence against women.  The laws of the States of the Gulf Cooperation Council enshrined the protection of women against violence and they had ratified the relevant international instruments in this regard.  The changes that had been proposed to the main text had not been accepted, turning the resolution into a text that was against the values of the societies and cultures of the Gulf Cooperation Council Member States, and against Sharia, which was why they would vote against the draft resolution.

Bangladesh, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that Bangladesh attached highest priority to the fight against violence against women and was one of the few countries in the world that had zero tolerance to violence against women.  This was in no way contrary to the Bangladesh’s cultural values and cultural diversity.  Bangladesh was unable to accept the proposed text although it would not block the consensus on the resolution.

United States, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, appreciated the extremely open negotiation process led by Canada.  The United States had to disassociate itself from the operative paragraph 8d as it believed that women should have equal access to reproductive health care and did not recognize abortion as a method of family planning.  Violence against women must be eliminated, regardless of its drivers, stressed the United States.

Egypt, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, stressed that promoting comprehensive sexual education could be used to promote abortion and free sexual relations among people of the same sex. 

China, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, agreed that non-governmental organizations and individuals could play an active role in protecting human rights.   However, human rights defenders did not enjoy an international definition.  Such definition could be used by certain non-governmental organizations to impose their own agenda.  Countries in the Council seemed to have different definitions of the concept.  In this context, China dissociated from the consensus.

Nigeria, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that although it agreed with most of the content of the resolution, the reference to human rights defenders and comprehensive sexual education were not acceptable to Nigeria.  

The resolution was adopted without a vote

Action on Resolution on the Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers

In a resolution (A/HRC/35/L.19) on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers for a period of three years, on the same terms as provided by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 26/7 of 26 June 2014.  The Council urges all Governments to cooperate with and assist the Special Rapporteur in the performance of his or her tasks, to provide all necessary information requested by him or her, to respond to communications transmitted to them by the Special Rapporteur without undue delay, to consider responding favourably to his or her requests for visits and to consider implementing his or her recommendations.

Hungary, introducing the draft resolution L.19, said that an independent, impartial and functioning justice system was indeed a fundamental prerequisite for the rule of law and for ensuring the respect for human rights.  The draft resolution condemned the increasingly frequent attacks on the independence of judges and lawyers, prosecutors and court officials, and decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers for a further period of three years on the same terms, and urged Governments to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur in the performance of his tasks.

The resolution was adopted without a vote.

Action on Resolution on the Independence and Impartiality of the Judiciary, Jurors and Assessors, and the Independence of Lawyers

In a resolution (A/HRC/35/L.20) on the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, jurors and assessors, and the independence of lawyers, adopted as without a vote as orally revised, the Council calls upon all States to guarantee the independence of judges and lawyers and the objectivity and impartiality of prosecutors, as well as their ability to perform their functions accordingly, including by taking effective legislative, law enforcement and other appropriate measures that will enable them to carry out their professional functions without interference, harassment, threats or intimidation of any kind; and to ensure that prosecutors can perform their functional activities in an independent, objective and impartial manner.  The Council invites States to recognize the vital role played by lawyers in upholding the rule of law and promoting and protecting human rights; and encourages the Special Rapporteur to facilitate the provision of technical assistance and capacity-building and the dissemination of best practices… when requested by the State concerned, with a view to establishing and strengthening the rule of law, paying particular attention to the administration of justice and the role of an independent and competent judiciary and legal profession.

Hungary, introducing draft resolution L.20, said that this text was based on resolution 29/11 adopted by consensus in 2015 and built upon the latest report of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of lawyers and the legal profession.  Among the new elements, the draft resolution acknowledged the importance of a privileged lawyer-client relationship based on the principle of confidentiality.  It emphasized the principle of non-identification.  The resolution also encouraged States to take actions to combat discrimination in the administration of justice and provided for tailored human rights training to all judges, lawyers and prosecutors.  It invited States to take measures to provide for independent and self-governing associations of lawyers.  An effective system for the administration of justice presupposed not only an independent judiciary but also an independent legal profession.

The resolution was adopted without a vote.

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For use of the information media; not an official record

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