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Human Rights Council decides to dispatch team of international experts to the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Human Rights Council
MORNING

 23 June 2017

Council Adopts 11 Resolutions and a Presidential Statement, including on Syria, Ukraine and Côte d’Ivoire, Extends Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Belarus

The Human Rights Council this morning adopted 11 resolutions and a Presidential Statement, in which it decided to dispatch a team of international experts to the Democratic Republic of the Congo; extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Belarus for a year; demanded that all parties in Syria work urgently towards the comprehensive implementation of the Geneva communiqué, including through the establishment of an inclusive transitional governing body with full executive powers; addressed cooperation with Ukraine in the field of human rights; and requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide technical assistance to Côte d’Ivoire with a view to the end of the mandate of the Independent Expert and the closure of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire in June 2017.

The Council requested the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action to include in the programme of work for its sixteenth session a one-day meeting to consider the elaboration of a draft United Nations declaration on the promotion and full respect of human rights of people of African descent.

Other texts concerned the right to health, human rights in cities, the detrimental effect of corruption, the Social Forum, the contribution of parliaments, and national policies and human rights.  

In a resolution on technical assistance to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and accountability concerning the events in Kasai provinces, which was adopted unanimously as orally revised, the Council requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to dispatch a team of international experts, including experts from the region, to collect and preserve information, to determine the facts and circumstances concerning alleged human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law in the Kasai regions. 

The Council decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus for one year by a vote of 18 in favour, eight against, with 21 abstentions.

The Council adopted a resolution on the human rights situation in Syria, by a vote of 27 in favour, eight against, with 12 abstentions, in which it demanded that all parties work urgently towards the comprehensive implementation of the Geneva communiqué, including through the establishment of an inclusive transitional governing body with full executive powers.  It also urged the Syrian authorities cooperate fully with the Human Rights Council and the Commission of Inquiry by granting it immediate, full and unfettered access throughout the country. 

In a resolution on cooperation with and assistance to Ukraine in the field of human rights, adopted by a vote of 22 in favour, six against, with 19 abstentions, the Council recognized the continuing need for ongoing reporting, including on the most serious human rights problems within Ukraine and their root causes.
In a Presidential Statement on the situation on human rights in Côte d’Ivoire, adopted without a vote, the Council requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide the technical assistance requested by the Government of Côte d’Ivoire to strengthen the capacities of the National Commission for Human Rights with a view to the end of the mandate of the Independent Expert and the closure of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire in June 2017. 

The Council in a resolution requested the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action to include in the programme of work for its sixteenth session a one-day meeting to consider the elaboration of a draft United Nations declaration on the promotion and full respect of human rights of people of African descent;

Concerning the role of the right to health in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Council called on the international community to assist developing countries, including through access to essential medicines and vaccines.

A resolution on human rights in cities and other human settlements urged States to promote a safe, healthy, inclusive and secure environment in cities and human settlements.

The issue of corruption and its negative impact on human rights was addressed in a resolution urging States that had not yet done so to consider ratifying the United Nations Convention against Corruption, and effectively implement it. 

A resolution on the Social Forum decided that it should focus on the possibilities of using sport and the Olympic ideal to promote human rights for all and to strengthen universal respect for them. 

Regarding the contribution of parliaments, the Council requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a study on how to promote and enhance synergies between parliaments and the work of the Human Rights Council and its universal Periodic Review.

A resolution on national policies and human rights requested the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a compilation of good practices, challenges, lessons learned and recommendations in mainstreaming human rights as enshrined in international human rights law into national policies. The Council also requested the Advisory Committee to prepare a study that could help States to implement the 2030 Agenda through integrating human rights into national policies, based on the compilation prepared by the High Commissioner.

Syria, Belarus and the Democratic Republic of the Congo spoke as concerned countries.

Speaking in the introduction of draft texts were Brazil, Ecuador, Morocco on behalf of a group of States, United Kingdom on behalf of a group of States, Saudi Arabia, Malta on behalf of the European Union, Cuba, Ecuador, Brazil on behalf of the Core Group, Tunisia on behalf of the African Group, Ukraine and Côte d’Ivoire.

Speaking in general comments were Germany on behalf of the European Union, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Egypt.

Speaking in an explanation of the vote before or after the vote were: United States, Venezuela, Cuba, Egypt, Brazil, Paraguay, Iraq, China, Kyrgyzstan, Bolivia, Ecuador, Indonesia, Germany on behalf of the European Union and Georgia.

The Council will meet again this afternoon to conclude taking action on two texts before closing its regular thirty-fifth session.

Action on Resolutions on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, including the Right to Development

Action on Resolution L.18/Rev.1 on the Right to Health

In a resolution (A/HRC/35/L.18/Rev.1) on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon States to respect, protect and fulfil the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, with special attention to groups in vulnerable situations; calls upon the international community to continue to assist developing countries in promoting the full realization of the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, including through access to medicines, in particular essential medicines, vaccines, diagnostics and medical devices that are affordable, safe, efficacious and of quality; and requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report which presents contributions of the right to health framework to the effective implementation and achievement of the health-related Sustainable Development Goals, identifying best practices, challenges and obstacles thereto, and to submit it to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-eighth session.
 
Brazil, introducing draft resolution L.18/Rev.1 on behalf of more than 40 co-sponsors, stressed that health was a fundamental human right, indispensable to the enjoyment of other human rights.  Nevertheless, for millions of people around the world, especially for women and girls, the full enjoyment of the right to health still remained an elusive goal.  The draft resolution underscored that the implementation of the health-related Sustainable Development Goals contributed to the full realization of human rights.  It also recognized the need for States to address the social, economic and environmental determinants of health, mindful of the interrelatedness between poverty and health.  It referred to the goal of achieving universal health coverage, by ensuring that all people had access without discrimination to healthcare services, including sexual and reproductive healthcare services.  It also reaffirmed the fundamental human right to health by refugees and migrants.  It recognized the particular challenges and intersecting forms of discrimination faced by women, youth, children, indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, persons living with HIV, and people of African descent.

United States, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, appreciated the extensive consultations of the co-sponsors and said it would join the consensus.  However, the United States disassociated itself from operative paragraph 9 due to the language that undermined intellectual property rights.  The United States also did not accept the resolution’s focus on the effective achievement of sustainable health goals.  It did not want to frame the Sustainable Development Goals in the right to health framework.  Certain recent United Nations reports had put forth some flawed approach towards access to medicines.

The resolution was adopted without a vote.

Action on Resolution L.30/Rev.1 on Human Rights in Cities and other Human Settlements

In a resolution (A/HRC/35/L.30/Rev.1) on human rights in cities and other human settlements, adopted without a vote, the Council urges States to promote a safe, healthy, inclusive and secure environment in cities and human settlements enabling everyone to live, work and participate in urban life without fear of violence and intimidation, taking into account vulnerability and cultural factors in the development of policies concerning public security and crime and violence prevention, including by preventing and countering the stigmatization of specific groups as posing inherently greater security threats; encourages the relevant special procedures mandate holders, in fulfilling their respective mandates, to submit proposals that could support States in the implementation of the New Urban Agenda and Sustainable Development Goal 11 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; and underscores the importance of the high-level meeting of the General Assembly to be convened by the President of the General Assembly during the seventy-first session of the Assembly to discuss the effective implementation of the New Urban Agenda.

Brazil, introducing draft resolution L.30, highlighted that today, the global urban population represented more than half of the world’s total population.  In 2050, the number of persons living in urban areas would practically double.  Last year, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development adopted the new “Urban Agenda” in which States shared a vision of cities for all, which referred to the use of cities and human settlements on an equal footstep with the aim of fostering integration in cities.  This vision had a clear link with goal 11 of the 2030 Agenda which aimed at making cities and other settlements more sustainable. 

Ecuador, introducing draft resolution L.30, highlighted that the resolution addressed various topics such as water and sanitation, the environment and education, among other things, and that it benefited from a constructive participation by delegations during the consultations.

United States, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, greatly appreciated extensive consultations leading to the draft resolution.  It reaffirmed its commitment to sustainable urban development.  However, it did not recognize any right to the city.  The human right to safe drinking water was derived from the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, but the United States did not accept that that right derived from any other international conventions or national laws.   

The resolution was adopted without a vote.

Action on Resolution L.34 on the Negative Impact of Corruption on the Enjoyment of Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/35/L.34) on the negative impact of corruption on the enjoyment of human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council urges States that have not yet done so to consider ratifying the United Nations Convention against Corruption, and calls upon States parties to the Convention to effectively implement it.  The Council welcomes the commitments made by all States in Sustainable Development Goal 16 and its target 16.5 to substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms; and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to organize, before the thirty-ninth session of the Human Rights Council, in September 2018, in coordination with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, an intersessional, half-day open-ended expert workshop, with the objective of exchanging best practices on how the United Nations system supports States in preventing and fighting against corruption, with a focus on human rights; and also to prepare a summary report of the above-mentioned seminar, and to submit the report to the Human Rights Council at its forty-first session.

Morocco, introducing draft resolution L.34, said that this text aimed at raising awareness about a cross cutting and global phenomenon, corruption, which created negative impacts impeding the full enjoyment of all human rights.  Morocco highlighted the necessity of creating a mainstreaming human rights protection approach in the field of the policies and strategies of fighting against corruption.  The draft also highlighted the contribution brought by all components of the United Nations system in the fight against corruption.  Morocco highlighted that this subject had broad support.  Propositions and concerns coming from various delegations had been taken into account during consultations.

The resolution was adopted without a vote.

Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item on Human Rights Issues that Require the Council’s Attention
 
Action on Resolution on the Human Rights Situation in the Syrian Arab Republic

In a resolution (A/HRC/35/L.9) on the human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, adopted by a recorded vote of 27 in favour to 8 against, with 12 abstentions, the Council demands that the Syrian authorities cooperate fully with the Human Rights Council and the Commission of Inquiry by granting it immediate, full and unfettered access  throughout the Syrian Arab Republic; expresses its profound concern at the findings of the Commission of Inquiry in its report, including those suggesting that the offensive against Aleppo involved serious violations and abuses of international human rights law and violations of international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict, which, according to the Commission, in many cases amounted to war crimes, in particular by the Syrian authorities and their allies; and expresses deep concern at the plight of the roughly four and a half million Syrians living in besieged and hard-to-reach areas in the Syrian Arab Republic, whose needs are particularly acute and who require full, immediate and safe humanitarian access.  The Council invites Member States to support actively the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Persons Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic and provide adequate financial means for its establishment and functioning; and demands that all parties work urgently towards the comprehensive implementation of the Geneva communiqué, including through the establishment of an inclusive transitional governing body with full executive powers, which shall be formed on the basis of mutual consent while ensuring the continuity of governmental institutions.
 
The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (27): Albania, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, El Salvador, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, Japan, Latvia, Netherlands, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Togo, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and United States of America.

Against (8): Bolivia, Burundi, China, Cuba, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Philippines, and Venezuela.

Abstentions (12): Bangladesh, Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mongolia, Nigeria, South Africa, and Tunisia.

United Kingdom, introducing the draft resolution L.9 on behalf of a group of countries, noted that the human rights situation in Syria remained acute.  It was vital that the Council continued to take a strong and unified stance on Syria.  The Assad regime, Daesh and foreign fighters had to stop the bloodshed.  There had to be accountability for crimes committed and it was for those reasons that the group of countries strongly supported the Commission of Inquiry and the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism.  The draft resolution expressed concern at the alarming number of attacks on protected infrastructures, such as hospitals and schools.  Those attacks were not only serious violations of international law, but were cowardly acts of aggression against the sick, injured, young children and other most vulnerable groups. 

Saudi Arabia, introducing the draft resolution L.9, regretted that once again the suffering of the Syrian people had to be addressed.  Crimes continued to be committed against the Syrian people by the Assad regime and terrorist groups.  The draft resolution contained several items, such as condemnation of the use of chemical weapons.  Not adopting the resolution would send a bad message and would encourage human rights violations.

Germany, in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, was appalled by the persistent humanitarian and political crisis in Syria.  Millions of people were in need of humanitarian assistance.  The Syrian regime held the primary responsibility for the protection of the civilian population.  The European Union called on the Syrian regime to ensure full humanitarian access.  The violence had to end and those responsible for the committed crimes had to be held accountable.  The European Union particularly welcomed the part of the resolution which condemned attacks on hospital and schools, and called for unfettered access for humanitarian assistance, particularly in besieged areas of the country.  The European Union urged all to join consensus on the resolution.

Switzerland, in a general comment, was concerned about the violations and abuses of human rights committed by all parts in the Syrian conflict.  It fully supported the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry.  Switzerland regretted that some operative paragraphs, 4, 5, 8 and 9 notably might weaken the applicability of the text.  Switzerland recalled that it remained vital that justice be done for all victims.  It was important that the Commission of Inquiry might work in close collaboration with the international mechanism recently create by the General Assembly.  Switzerland called for the situation in Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court.  It called upon all parties to the conflict to take measures to ensure the effective protection of medical missions in Syria.

Syrian Arab Republic, speaking as a concerned country, said that this resolution ignored the responsibility of the armed groups which targeted civilian infrastructures and civilians.  Armed groups used civilians as human shields and blocked humanitarian assistance.  It was the responsibility of Syria to combat terrorism and protect public infrastructures and facilities.  Syria condemned the lack of condemnation of armed groups by the draft resolution.  It highlighted that the selectiveness and illegitimate mechanisms that had been formed did not help finding a solution to the conflict.  

Venezuela, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reminded that Venezuela had previously rejected and condemned in various fora the selectivity, politicization and double standards that came with initiatives such as the draft resolution on Syria.  Venezuela rejected the policies of interference and destabilization in Syria.  It reiterated its support for a peaceful solution reached by Syrians themselves, with respect for Syrian sovereignty and self-determination.  Venezuela would therefore vote against the draft resolution.

Cuba, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reiterated Cuba’s condemnation of the death of innocent civilians in Syria.  It rejected the selective and manipulative approach in which the blame was attributed to any parties in the Syrian conflict.  Interventionism should be set aside and serious efforts to find peace should be pursued.  Cuba upheld the territorial integrity of Syria, noting that the role of the international community was to provide support and safeguard peace and stability, rather than to instigate actions that led to the death of civilians.  Cuba requested a vote on the draft resolution and would vote against it.

Egypt, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, stated that given the involvement of several parties in the Syrian conflict and its impact on the region, Egypt had decided to take an extraordinary position on the issue.  Egypt had always opposed this agenda item because it did not have the approval of the concerned country.  Egypt hoped for a thorough study of the situation without politicization and international polarization.  The draft resolution was unbalanced when it came to allocating responsibility for human rights violations.  It was based on unofficial sources of information.  Egypt opposed the call for the referral of Syria to the International Criminal Court and would thus abstain from voting on the draft resolution.

Brazil, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the text remained unbalanced and did not contribute to a resolution of the conflict.  Calling on the Council to deliberate on ongoing talks was not appropriate.  Brazil rejected the attempt to use the Human Rights Council as a tool for political pressure regarding matters outside its mandate.  Brazil also rejected any proposition that singled out one of the parties to the detriment of others.  Those with influence on the conflict should overcome their differences and work together to put an end to the suffering of millions of people.

Paraguay, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said a prompt solution for the Syrian crisis was needed.  The support of the Human Rights Council was important to protect all in Syria.  But the text of the resolution could be improved through a reduction in its length and clarification of some of the ideas presented.  The international community should make efforts to bring about a political solution to the conflict, which was unprecedented.

Iraq, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said a peaceful solution was the only choice.  There was an imbalance in the text.  The Syrian Government was being held responsible for the protection of the Syrian people while many areas were not under government control.  Many aspects of the resolution required clarity, and Iraq would therefore vote against it. 

China, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, recalled that a political solution in Syria was the only way to protect human rights in the country, improve the humanitarian situation and combat terrorism, with respect for Syria’s territorial sovereignty.  The draft resolution was not consistent with these principles. 

Kyrgyzstan, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, was concerned about the situation in Syria and backed the activities of the Commission of Inquiry in the country.  It was important that the work of the Commission relied on the United Nations Charter.  Kyrgyzstan highlighted that adopting this resolution that had not been supported by Syria only politicized the activity of the Council and did not help reaching a solution to the conflict.

Bolivia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, condemned al human rights violations and particularly those committed against women, children and any persons who had no link to the conflict.  Bolivia was a peaceful country supporting the principles of multiculturality, the right for peace, and respect of national sovereignty.  The resolution did not include those principles. 

Ecuador, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, condemned the grave human rights violations in Syria and the indiscriminate attacks against the civilian population.  All that had resulted in an unprecedented humanitarian and refugee crisis.  Ecuador expressed solidarity with all the victims, and called for holding to account those responsible for human rights violations.  The draft resolution maintained a focus that was exclusively based on security concerns and it did not present a solution for peace.  It did not accord objective responsibility of all State and non-State actors, including of those who provided weapons.  Ecuador would thus abstain.

Indonesia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, underlined the importance of reflecting the spirit of mutual forgiveness and reconciliation in Syria.  Indonesia was deeply concerned that the conflict in Syria remained unabated and was worsening.  It urged all parties involved to stop the humanitarian suffering, restrain from all acts of violence, and create political conditions conducive to peace.  Indonesia encouraged the Council to support and promote an all-inclusive dialogue and reconciliation process without any preconditions with a view to achieving a peaceful and comprehensive solution to the conflict.  The draft resolution, unfortunately, had not been able to accommodate the above-mentioned points and Indonesia would thus abstain from voting.

Tunisia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the aim was not condemnation, but to seek to put an end to the suffering of the Syrian people and end the bloodshed.  A political solution required the harnessing of all the efforts of the international community for the most appropriate settlement.  The resolution needed to be placed within the context, and Tunisia would abstain from voting on L.9.

The resolution was adopted by a recorded vote of 27 in favour to 8 against with 12 abstaining.

Action on Resolution L.16 on the Situation of Human Rights in Belarus

In a resolution (A/HRC/35/L.16) on the situation of human rights in Belarus, adopted by a recorded vote of 18 in favour to 8 against with 21 abstentions, the Council again strongly encourages the Government of Belarus to establish a national human rights institution in accordance with the principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (the Paris Principles), and to engage actively in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus for a period of one year, and requests the Special Rapporteur to submit a report on the situation of human rights in Belarus to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-eighth session and to the General Assembly at its seventy-third session; and urges the Government of Belarus to fully cooperate with the Special Rapporteur, including by providing him access to visit the country in order to assist the Government in fulfilling its international human rights obligations and by considering implementation of his recommendations.  
 
The result of the vote was as follows:

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

Against (8): Bolivia, Burundi, China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Philippines, and Venezuela.

Abstentions (21): Bangladesh, Botswana, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Georgia, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nigeria, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Togo, Tunisia, and United Arab Emirates.

Malta, introducing draft resolution L.16 on behalf of the European Union, said that the resolution offered a balanced text reflecting positive steps taken by the country concerned but also pointing to persisting serious shortcomings in the human rights record of Belarus.  The resolution was based on the findings of the latest report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Belarus which described a steep deterioration of the human rights situation in Belarus and violations of freedoms of peaceful assembly and association as well as freedom of expression and continued criminalization of civil society groups.  The European Union advocated for the abolition of the death penalty and strongly condemned its continued application in Belarus.  While noting some encouraging initiatives, such as organising a public debate on the death penalty in December 2016 in Minsk, the European Union urged Belarus to join the global moratorium on the death penalty as a first step toward its abolition.

Belarus, speaking as the concerned country, called on all Member States not to support the draft resolution, which in its current form was an example of the worst practice of the United Nations of politicization and discrimination against a country.  All those who were genuinely interested in human rights in Belarus should cooperate with the Government of Belarus.  The country had seen developments after working with various United Nations agencies and through a whole host of State programmes.  The unifying commitment of the United Nations country team during the ongoing work to involve domestic and foreign partners in the implementation of national plans of action had yielded results.  Belarus was convinced that the key success was in a policy of cooperation. 

China, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, stated that it had always supported constructive dialogue and cooperation among States.  It opposed the politicization of human rights issues, as well as confrontation and pressure.  Human rights had to be advanced in the light of national needs.  China welcomed the progress made by Belarus.  Regrettably, the draft resolution was not conducive to the development of the human rights cause in Belarus.  China therefore called for a vote on the draft resolution and would vote against it.

Cuba, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, rejected the imposition of this type of resolutions.  Such resolutions were a sterile exercise.  Cuba voiced solidarity with the people of Belarus and encouraged them to exercise their sovereignty and self-determination.  The draft resolution was another example of the politicization of human rights.  Cuba would thus vote against the draft resolution.

Venezuela, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the draft resolution did not benefit from the support of the concerned country and constituted an interference in its internal affairs.  Venezuela rejected the double standards and the lack of objectivity that were clear in this instrument.  Some governments promoting such instruments had committed human rights violations and yet, such mechanisms had not been created against them.  The mandate had no “raison d’etre”.

The Council then adopted the resolution by a vote of 18 in favour, eight against and 21 abstentions

Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item on Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms

Action on Resolution L.5 on the Social Forum

In a resolution (A/HRC/35/L.5) on the Social Forum, adopted without a vote, the Council decides that the Social Forum will meet for three working days in 2018, in Geneva… and should focus on the possibilities of using sport and the Olympic ideal to promote human rights for all and to strengthen universal respect for them.  The Council requests the President of the Human Rights Council to appoint, as early as possible, from candidates nominated by regional groups, the Chair-Rapporteur for the 2018 Social Forum; and also requests the High Commissioner to facilitate participation in the 2018 Social Forum… of no fewer than 10 experts, including representatives of civil society and grass-roots organizations in developing countries.  The Council invites the 2018 Social Forum to submit a report containing its conclusions and recommendations to the Human Rights Council at its fortieth session.

Cuba, introducing draft resolution L.5, said the Social Forum was a unique place inside the United Nations where it was possible to have a dialogue and an exchange among different stakeholders of the international community and civil society.  The draft resolution focused on the possibility to use sports and the ideal of the Olympics in order to promote human rights for all.  This theme also considered the contribution of Paralympic games to the goal of promoting human rights, particularly those of persons with disabilities.  Cuba said it was paradoxical that some delegations, while expressing worries on the limitation of the operative space for civil society, had requested to reduce the duration of the Forum.

Germany, in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the European Union, appreciated the modalities for the Social Forum.  However, concerns regarding its budgetary implications remained.  The aims of the Social Forum could be achieved with reduced budgetary implications.  The European Union hoped that issue could be addressed next year.  It nevertheless remained committed to the participation of civil society in the Council’s work and it would thus join the consensus.

United States, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, strongly supported the engagement of civil society in the work of the Council.  However, it had significant concerns regarding the draft resolution and would therefore disassociate itself from it.  The draft resolution contained inaccurate and misleading language on the economic crisis.  Moreover, the United States was concerned about the mention of the right to development.  Significant budgetary implications merited careful scrutiny.  The Social Forum requested too much in terms of resources.

The resolution was adopted without a vote.

Action on Resolution L.24 on the Contribution of Parliaments to the Work of the Human Rights Council and its Universal Periodic Review

In a resolution (A/HRC/35/L.24) on the contribution of parliaments to the work of the Human Rights Council and its universal periodic review, adopted without a vote, the Council invites the High Commissioner to provide the Human Rights Council with regular updates on the parliamentary capacity-building and awareness-raising activities carried out by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in cooperation and coordination with the Inter-Parliamentary Union; requests the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a study… on how to promote and enhance synergies between the parliaments and the work of the Human Rights Council and its universal periodic review, and to present it to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-eighth session, in order to provide States and other relevant stakeholders with elements that could serve as orientation to strengthen their interaction towards the effective promotion and protection of human rights.

Ecuador, introducing draft resolution L.24, said it was based on the recognition of the crucial role played by parliaments in translating international commitments into national laws and policies, thus contributing to the achievement by States of their obligations related to human rights.   It was important that the work of the Council and the Universal Periodic Review received support from parliaments.  The text requested that the Office of the High Commissioner prepare a study on the ways to foster more synergies between parliaments, the Council and the Universal Periodic Review.  The study could play the role of a guideline for States and all relevant actors in order to strengthen their interactions to better promote human rights.

The resolution was adopted without a vote.

Action on Resolution under the Agenda Item on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Forms of Intolerance

Action on Resolution L.17/Rev.1 on the Consideration of the Elaboration of a Draft Declaration on the Promotion and Full Respect of Human Rights of People of African Descent
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/35/L.17/Rev.1) on the consideration of the elaboration of a draft declaration on the promotion and full respect of human rights of people of African descent, adopted without a vote, the Council requests the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action to include in the programme of work for its sixteenth session a one-day meeting to consider the elaboration of a draft United Nations declaration on the promotion and full respect of human rights of people of African descent; requests the Secretary-General to allocate the necessary resources to ensure the participation of civil society organizations, particularly people of African descent, as well as members of academia, in the meeting of the Intergovernmental Working Group, taking into account geographical and gender representation criteria; and requests the Intergovernmental Working Group, through its Chair-Rapporteur, to report on the above-mentioned discussion, including any recommendations stemming therefrom, to the Human Rights Council at its fortieth session.

Brazil, introducing the draft resolution L.17/Rev.1 on behalf of the core group, reminded that the General Assembly 68/237 of December 2013 had proclaimed the International Decade for People of African Descent, commencing in January 2015 with the theme “People of African descent: recognition, justice and development.”  Owing to the special and unique nature of discrimination often faced by people of African descent throughout the world, in particular due to the legacies of the slave trade and colonialism, the promotion, protection and fulfilment of their human rights should be a priority concern for the United Nations.  In many areas of the world, people of African descent still had limited access to quality education, health services, housing and social security.  They all too often experienced discrimination in their access to justice and faced alarmingly high rates of police violence, together with racial profiling.  The core group called on the Council to adopt the draft resolution by consensus. 

Tunisia, introducing draft resolution L.17/Rev.1 on behalf of the African Group, said that the draft resolution stated that the implementation of the Decade would contribute to the full implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Actions.  Racism and racial discrimination continued to manifest themselves in the inequality of people of African descent.  States were requested to adopt measures to ensure the rights of people of African descent.  The draft resolution would provide an important input  for the implementation of the Durban Declaration.  Tunisia called all delegations to renew their commitment to the International Decade for People of African Descent and Programme of Activities.

Azerbaijan, in a general comment, was concerned that racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance continued to manifest against people of African descent.  This was a matter of great concern.

Germany, in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, reiterated its commitment to the implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent.  The existing human rights legal framework needed strong instruments in order to promote and protect human rights.  The Durban Declaration of Programme of Action also provided a solid framework.  Regrettably, the implementation was still lacking.

The resolution was adopted without a vote.

Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building
 
Action on Resolution on Cooperation with and Assistance to Ukraine in the Field of Human Rights
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/35/L.10) on the cooperation with and assistance to Ukraine in the field of human rights, adopted by a vote of 22 in favour to 6 against, with 19 abstentions, the Council recognizing also the continuing need for ongoing reporting, including on the most  serious human rights problems within Ukraine and their root causes, invites the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue  to present orally to the States members of the Human Rights Council and observers the findings of each of the reports of the Office of the High Commissioner on the situation of human rights in Ukraine as part of the interactive dialogues, and through the modalities of the Council, in accordance with its resolution 5/1 of 18 June 2007, until the forty-first session of the Council.
 
The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (22): Albania, Belgium, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Ecuador, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, Iraq, Japan, Latvia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Panama, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Slovenia, Switzerland, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and United States of America.

Against (6): Bolivia, Burundi, China, Cuba, Philippines and Venezuela.

Abstentions (19): Bangladesh, Botswana, Brazil, Congo, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Paraguay, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Togo, Tunisia, and United Arab Emirates.

Ukraine, introducing the draft resolution L.10, said that the draft resolution was a follow-up to previous resolutions with the main aim of continuing the High Commissioner’s oral updates on the situation in Ukraine.  The Government of Ukraine was grateful to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights because it had helped Ukraine make significant progress in human rights.  However, many challenges remained.  Change was possible through open discussion of reports.  Regretfully, there was no progress in human rights in the territories outside the control of the Government of Ukraine.  The international scrutiny there was vital.  Ukraine expressed hope that the draft resolution would be supported by the Council.

United Kingdom, in a general comment, welcomed Ukraine’s constructive engagement with the Council.  In recent years, Ukraine had been a fine example of cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  No other country had invited such a large amount of attention, allowing frank discussion of human rights challenges.  The United Kingdom thus commended Ukraine for the willingness to discuss its human rights situation so openly.  It welcomed the extension of technical cooperation and assistance in the field of human rights in Ukraine.  The United Kingdom urged all Member States to support Ukraine’s request for assistance and cooperation. 

Cuba, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the text contained controversial elements on which there was no consensus in the Council and the General Assembly.  For this reason, Cuba could not support the resolution and requested a vote.  It was not possible to recognize the oral presentations of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights which had been based on reports that had not been requested by intergovernmental entities.

Brazil, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, agreed that cooperation was key to achieve progress in the field of human rights.  Brazil drew the Council’s attention to the fact that the resolution contained elements which did not refer to technical assistance and capacity building and asked the Council to stick with those topics.  

China, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, suggested that the draft resolution be put to vote.  China always advocated for respect of sovereignty of States.  However, the draft resolution promoted political settlement of the crisis in Ukraine.  Some elements of the resolution went beyond the scope of technical assistance and cooperation and China would thus vote against it.

Georgia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, commended Ukraine for the implementation of the High Commissioner’s recommendations for proper application of technical assistance.  It called on the international community to keep Ukraine in the Council’s focus.  Georgia said it was necessary to have the two-year period for the continuation of the dialogue on Ukraine.  Georgia would thus vote in favour of the draft resolution.

Hungary, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it would vote in favour of the draft resolution.  The invitation addressed to the High Commissioner for Human Rights should advance in its work.  The High Commissioner for Human Rights should continue to present the findings of each of the reports on the situation of human rights in Ukraine.

The resolution was adopted by a vote of 22 in favour to 6 against, with 19 abstentions.

Action on Resolution L.23 on National Policies and Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/35/L.23) on national policies and human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council requests the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a compilation of good practices, challenges, lessons learned and recommendations in mainstreaming human rights as enshrined in international human rights law, into national policies, in order to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals…, and to submit it to the Human Rights Council at its forty-first session.  The Council also requests the Advisory Committee to contribute during the consultation process, including by the participation of its members in the informal consultations; and to prepare a study that could help States to implement the 2030 Agenda through integrating human rights into national policies, based on the compilation prepared by the High Commissioner, and to present it within its regular reporting cycle to the Council at its forty-fifth session, on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

Ecuador, introducing draft resolution L.23, said that the draft text examined the inclusion of human rights in public policies in order to effectively implement the Sustainable Development Goals.  In this context, the concept of leaving no one behind relied on guaranteeing that human rights would be incorporated in the design, development, implementation and evaluation of public policies which aimed at achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  The resolution put emphasis on the relation between the Sustainable Development Goals and human rights, considering good practices, challenges and the potential of all regions.  The process that led to the elaboration of the text allowed different stakeholders to exchange their ideas.  The process would lead to the completion of best practices at the national level that could be disseminated in other regions. 

United States, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, announced that its statement under item 10 would explain the position on national human rights policies.

The resolution was adopted without a vote.

Action on Resolution L.36 on Technical Assistance to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Accountability Concerning the Events in the Kasais

In a resolution (A/HRC/35/L.36) on technical assistance to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and accountability concerning the events in Kasai, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council takes note of the initial results of the national investigation into the allegations of human rights violations and abuses committed in the Kasaï regions; requests the High Commissioner for Human Rights to dispatch a team of international experts, including experts from the region, to collect and preserve information, to determine the facts and circumstances in accordance with international standards and practice… concerning alleged human rights violations and abuses, and violations of international humanitarian law in the Kasai regions, and to forward to the judicial authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo the findings of this investigation in order to establish the truth and to ensure that the perpetrators of deplorable crimes are all accountable to the judicial authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and to present an oral update, and invite the team to participate in an enhanced Interactive Dialogue at the 37th session; and requests the High Commissioner to present a comprehensive report with the team’s findings, and to invite the team to participate in an Interactive Dialogue at the 38th session.  The Council also requests the Office of the High Commissioner to provide the necessary technical assistance to the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo regarding its investigations into the allegations of human rights violations and abuses committed in the Kasai regions.

Tunisia, introducing draft resolution L.36 on behalf of the African Group, explained that the draft resolution aimed to establish effective and efficient cooperation between the United Nations and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to combat impunity by investigating facts and circumstances of serious human rights violations in the Kasai provinces.  It underscored the primary responsibility of the Government to protect citizens within its territory.  It applauded the Government’s continued efforts to investigate human rights violations.  The draft resolution requested the High Commissioner to send a team of international experts to gather information in cooperation with the Government.  The Government was called upon to cooperate with that team and to facilitate its work.  The draft also asked the High Commissioner to present an oral update and invite the team of experts to participate in an interactive dialogue at the thirty-seventh session of the Council. 

Germany, in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, voiced alarm over the serious human violations in the Kasai regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and their regional repercussions.  The European Union condemned the recruitment of children and destruction of schools and other civilian infrastructure, noting that there should be a fight against impunity.  Measures had been taken by the Government to inquire into those events, and alleged perpetrators should be brought to justice.  The European Union called for the establishment of an independent international inquiry into human rights violations in the Kasai provinces in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  The European Union regretted that many proposals to strengthen the protection of human rights had not been supported. 

Democratic Republic of the Congo, speaking as the concerned country, said it was regrettable to hear in the Council claims that the Bana Mura militia had been created by the authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the fight against the Kamuina Nsapu armed groups.  The Democratic Republic of the Congo only had one army and this erroneous declaration should not have been brought to the public before verification.  The Democratic Republic of the Congo regretted the lack of transparency which, until now, had characterized the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  All parties should discuss any evidence before presenting it in public.  Otherwise, unbalanced and politically motivated resolutions were conceived, using human rights as a pretext to put pressure on countries.  These practices must be stopped in order to give back the Council its full legitimacy.  The role of the Council was to take action to end human rights violations and not to exacerbate the tensions behind these violations.  There was an urgent need to avoid chaos in the country. 

The Democratic Republic of the Congo had long experienced the irreplaceable role of justice as a key pillar of national reconciliation.  Human rights could not prevail if perpetrators were not investigated.  The Democratic Republic of the Congo had also played a pioneering role before the International Criminal Court with which it had developed a close cooperation.  It had been the first country that had executed arrest warrants coming from the International Criminal Court.  The draft resolution had been conceived to recall that the Democratic Republic of the Congo was willing to cooperate with the United Nations.  It called on the United Nations to send a team that would provide technical support to the Congolese investigative system.  The Congolese justice system had begun the investigations on the death of two United Nations officers.   The Democratic Republic of the Congo thanked the African Group, which had allowed the elaboration of the draft text, which had found a common denominator between all parties that was based on the principle: “justice must be done”.  The Democratic Republic of the Congo was deeply committed to improving the situation of human rights and would continue its cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the field of technical assistance and capacity building.  The resolution would allow the international community to respond to the aspirations of the victims of the Kamuina Nsapu inside and outside the country.

United States, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it was deeply concerned about the violence in the Kasai provinces in the Democratic Republic of Congo and political uncertainty in the country, due to the lack of the electoral process.  It remained concerned that the Government lacked the will and capacity to investigate human rights violations.  Accountability for all parties was need.  The United States joined the consensus on the draft resolution and it strongly supported the establishment  of a United Nations international team of experts to investigate the human rights abuses in the Kasai provinces.  It expected the Government to fully cooperate with that team.  The United Nations and the Government had to ensure the security of international experts.  It was critical that the team be able to develop conclusions free from the Government’s interference.  The United States urged the Government to take advantage of the team and technical assistance to bring to justice those responsible for the committed crimes.
The resolution was adopted without a vote.

Egypt, speaking in a general comment after the Council concluded taking action on resolution under agenda item 10 on technical assistance and capacity building, said it was aware of the challenges faced by the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  It called on all parties to reject violence and to cooperate with international mechanisms.  The resolution drew up a roadmap for truthful cooperation between the Government and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Egypt welcomed the Government’s measures so far to investigate and prosecute the cases of human rights violations.   It warned against expediency in adopting international investigations, as was the case in many Council decisions. 

Action on Presidential Statement on the Situation of Human Rights in Côte d’Ivoire

In a Presidential Statement (A/HRC/35/L.50) on the situation on human rights in Côte d’Ivoire, adopted without a vote, the Council requests the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide the technical assistance requested by the Government of Côte d’Ivoire to strengthen the capacities of the National Commission for Human Rights with a view to the end of the mandate of the Independent Expert and the closure of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire in June 2017, and encourages the Ivorian authorities to bring the Commission into conformity with the Principles concerning the Status of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (Paris Principles) and to give it the means to carry out its work in complete independence.  The Council calls upon the Government of Côte d'Ivoire, with the support of all parties concerned, including civil society, to implement the recommendations made by the Independent Expert in his report and to take the necessary legal measures for implementation, in particular through the National Commission on Human Rights and the technical ministries appointed to take over from the Human Rights Division of the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire. (unofficial translation from French)

Côte d’Ivoire, introducing the Presidential Statement L.50, applauded the mechanisms of the Council that had provided support to Côte d’Ivoire.  It extended gratitude to numerous bilateral and multilateral partners, and non-governmental organizations.  Côte d’Ivoire was determined to respect its international human rights obligations.  The resulting progress was irreversible.  As for the monitoring of the achievements, the National Commission of Human Rights and ministries had been well equipped to perform the monitoring.  Côte d’Ivoire was a country of peace, following the successful resolution of the crisis.  The Government was ready to pursue national reconciliation and social cohesion.  
 
The Presidential Statement was adopted without a vote.

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