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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ADOPTS SEVEN RECOMMENDATIONS TO HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL


Human Rights Council Advisory Committee

30 January 2009

Committee Also Adopts Report to Human Rights Council and Concludes Second Session


The Human Rights Council Advisory Committee today adopted seven recommendations to be submitted to the Human Rights Council on human rights education and training; missing persons; gender mainstreaming; subsidiary bodies of the Human Rights Council; elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members; protection of civilians in armed conflict; and the right to food.

In a recommendation to the Human Rights Council on human rights education and training, the Advisory Committee requests the Human Rights Council to ask the Rapporteur of the drafting group to prepare a summary of the replies received, on the basis of the provisional conclusions reached by members of the group during the second session of the Advisory Committee, and to submit that summary to the Advisory Committee at its third session. The Advisory Committee also recommends that the Council take note of the elements of reflection submitted by the Committee as an interim report on its ongoing work. It recommends that the Council request the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to facilitate the organization of an informal meeting to enrich the collective thinking before the next session of the Advisory Committee.

In a recommendation to the Human Rights Council on subsidiary bodies of the Human Rights Council, the Advisory Committee designates Committee members Mr. José Bengoa Cabello and Ms. Purificacion Valera Quisumbing to follow the work of the Social Forum; and designates the members Ms. Mona Zulficar and Mr. Miguel Alfonso Martinez to follow, respectively, the work of the Forum on Minority Issues and the work of the Expert Mechanism on Indigenous Peoples.

In a recommendation to the Human Rights Council on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members, the Advisory Committee recommends to the Human Rights Council that it consider adopting the following decisions, among others: welcomes with appreciation the working paper on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members; endorses all the conclusions contained in the working paper; and requests Mr. Shigeki Sakamoto to formulate a draft set of principles and guidelines for the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members.

In a recommendation to the Human Rights Council on the drafting group on gender mainstreaming, the Advisory Committee recommends that the Human Rights Council consider adopting the following decisions, among others: that the Human Rights Council authorizes the Advisory Committee to prepare draft guidelines on methods to enhance implementation of gender mainstreaming, including action-oriented mechanisms within the Human Rights Council and all other organs within the United Nations system, in consultation with all other relevant United Nations organs, specialized agencies, treaty bodies, national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations.

In a recommendation to the Human Rights Council on protection of civilians in armed conflict, the Advisory Committee recommends that the Human Rights Council consider adopting the following decisions, among others, that the Human Rights Council, requests a member of the Advisory Committee to be invited to participate in the expert consultation on the issue of protection of civilians in armed conflict to be convened by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, as requested by the Council in its resolution 9/9, and report to the Advisory Committee at its fourth session.

In a recommendation to the Human Rights Council on missing persons, the Advisory Committee asks the Council to request the drafting group to submit the results of its work on the study to the Advisory Committee; and also to request the Secretariat to provide all assistance necessary to support the activities of the drafting group, particularly to facilitate contacts with relevant stakeholders, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross.

In a recommendation to the Human Rights Council on the right to food the Advisory Committee recommends to the Human Rights Council that it consider adopting the following decisions: the Human Rights Council entrusts the Advisory Committee with the task of preparing a study on “The Food Crisis, the Right to Food, Agricultural Subsidies and the Right of Peasants”; the Human Rights Council entrusts the Advisory Committee with the task of preparing a study on “The Food Crisis, the Right to Food and the New Concept of “Hunger Refugees”: Definition and Situation”; and the Human Rights Council urgently appeals to Member States to increase their contributions substantially and as soon as possible so as to enable the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Food Programme to effectively discharge their mandates during the current crisis.

At the end of the session, the Committee adopted its report to the Human Rights Council on its second session and closed the session.

The Committee will hold its third session from 3 to 7 August 2009.


Action on Draft Recommendations

Action on Recommendation on Human Rights Education and Training

In a recommendation to the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/AC/2/L.1) on human rights education and training, adopted without a vote, the Advisory Committee requests the Human Rights Council to ask the Rapporteur of the drafting group to prepare a summary of the replies received, on the basis of the provisional conclusions reached by members of the group during the second session of the Advisory Committee, and to submit that summary to the Advisory Committee at its third session. The Committee also requests national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights to add this item to the agendas of their forthcoming international meetings, in March 2009 in Geneva, at the annual meeting of the International Coordinating Committee, and at their regional meetings. The Advisory Committee recommends that the Council take note of the elements of reflection submitted by the Committee as an interim report on its ongoing work and consultations and to encourage it to continue its work in order to develop a draft declaration on human rights education and training. The Advisory Committee also recommends that the Council request the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to facilitate the organization of an informal meeting to enrich the collective thinking before the next session of the Advisory Committee.

EMMANUEL DECAUX, Advisory Committee Expert, presenting the progress report of the drafting group on human rights education and training, made several oral amendments.

Action on Recommendation on Subsidiary Bodies of the Human Rights Council

In a recommendation to the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/AC/2/L.3) on subsidiary bodies of the Human Rights Council, adopted without a vote, the Advisory Committee designates Committee members Mr. José Bengoa Cabello and Ms. Purificacion Valera Quisumbing to follow the work of the Social Forum, which will meet on 31 August 2009, and to brief the Committee at its fourth session on issues of relevance to the work of the Committee. The Advisory Committee also designates the members Ms. Mona Zulficar and Mr. Miguel Alfonso Martinez to follow, respectively, the work of the Forum on Minority Issues and the work of the Expert Mechanism on Indigenous Peoples, which will meet in August and September 2009, and to brief the Committee on issues of relevance to its work at its fourth session.

HALIMA WARZAZI, Advisory Committee Expert, presenting the recommendation on subsidiary bodies of the Human Rights Council, said that there was no need to explain this document, since it would be adopted with consensus. This document would be updated during future meetings.

Action on Recommendation on Elimination of Discrimination Against Persons Affected by Leprosy and Their Family Members

In a recommendation to the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/AC/2/L.4/Rev.1) on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members, adopted without a vote, the Advisory Committee recommends to the Human Rights Council that it consider adopting the following decisions: welcomes with appreciation the working paper on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members submitted by Mr. Shigeki Sakamoto (A/HRC/AC/2/CRP.5); endorses all the conclusions contained in the working paper; requests the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide Mr. Shigeki Sakamoto with all the assistance necessary to enable him to accomplish this task; and further requests Mr. Shigeki Sakamoto to formulate a draft set of principles and guidelines for the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members, for review by the Advisory Committee at its third session in August 2009, and for consideration by the Human Rights Council by September 2009.

SHIGEKI SAKAMOTO, Advisory Committee Expert, presenting the draft recommendation, said the Council was invited to request that he prepare a study on principles concerning the elimination of discrimination against people affected by leprosy and their family members, which the Advisory Committee could take up at its third session in August 2009.

HALIMA WARZAZI, Advisory Committee Expert, reminded the Committee to include the problem of the elimination of the actual disease of leprosy in the text.

MIGUEL ALFONSO MARTINEZ, Advisory Committee Chairperson, said that during their discussions it had been made very clear that many members attached great importance to the eradication of leprosy.

Action on Draft Recommendation: Drafting Group on Gender Mainstreaming

In a recommendation to the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/AC/2/L.5/Rev.1) on the drafting group on gender mainstreaming, adopted without a vote, the Advisory Committee recommends to the Human Rights Council that it consider adopting the following decisions: “the Human Rights Council authorizes the Advisory Committee to prepare draft guidelines on methods to enhance implementation of gender mainstreaming, including action-oriented mechanisms within the Human Rights Council and all other organs within the United Nations system, in consultation with all other relevant United Nations organs, specialized agencies, treaty bodies, national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations”.

MONA ZULFICAR, Advisory Committee Expert, introducing the draft recommendation on the drafting group on gender mainstreaming, recalled that at the Committee’s last session it had adopted recommendations. In the working group, preliminary guidelines to mainstream gender had been discussed. The working group acknowledged that it was important to build on work that had been done by other United Nations bodies.

Action on Recommendation on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

In a recommendation to the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/AC/2/L.6/Rev.1) on protection of civilians in armed conflict, adopted without a vote, the Advisory Committee recommends that the Human Rights Council consider adopting the following decisions: “the Human Rights Council requests a member of the Advisory Committee to be invited to participate in the expert consultation on the issue of protection of civilians in armed conflict to be convened by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, as requested by the Council in its resolution 9/9, and report to the Advisory Committee at its fourth session.”

MONA ZULFICAR, Advisory Committee Expert, introducing the recommendation on protection of civilians in armed conflict, said that the Committee requested that a member of Advisory Committee be invited to participate in the expert consultation on the issue of protection of civilians in armed conflict in order to be better informed on the subject.


Action on Recommendation on Missing Persons

In a recommendation to the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/AC/2/L.7) on missing persons, adopted without a vote, the Advisory Committee requests the drafting group to submit the results of its work on the study to the Advisory Committee at its third session with a view to submitting them to the Council at its twelfth session; and also requests the Secretariat to provide all assistance necessary to support the activities of the drafting group, particularly to facilitate contacts with relevant stakeholders, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, and to make all relevant information on the ongoing work of the drafting group available on the website of the Advisory Committee.

WOLFGANG HEINZ, Advisory Committee Expert, introducing the draft recommendation on missing persons, said that they had set up a six-member drafting group and promised to submit a draft prepared by the working group at the next session of the Advisory Committee in August.

Action on Recommendation on the Right to Food

In a recommendation to the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/AC/2/L.2/Rev.1) on the right to food, adopted without a vote, the Advisory Committee recommends to the Human Rights Council that it consider the following proposals with a view to further enhance the respect, the promotion and the fulfilment of the right to door in light of the ongoing crisis: to call on States, individually and through multilateral institutions and international organizations, to take measures to prohibit non-commercial stock exchange speculation by financial investors on, and to restrict the use of derivatives in relation to staple foods prices through regulations, in order to limit price volatility and to ensure market stability - re-establishing international buffer stocks in order to stabilize the price of food commodities, following the model developed in 2008 by UNCTAD should be considered; to call on States, individually and through multilateral institutions and international organizations, to give priority to developing bio-energy technologies that do not use staple foods - put an end to the transformation of staple foods into biofuels, including any relevant subsidies, incentives or tax breaks, to end a five-year moratorium on all initiatives to develop biofuels that aim to convert staple foods into biofuels could be considered - ensure that climate protection goals are achieved through energy conservation, efficiency improvement, and innovative energy generation technologies; to call on industrialized and developed States, individually and through multilateral institutions and international organizations, to take measures towards the elimination of distortions in agricultural policies, particularly with respect to subsidies as well as tariffs and non-tariff barriers; and to call on States, individually and through international cooperation and assistance, relevant multilateral institutions and international organizations, to take measures to: support small-holders and traditional farmers, as well as their organizations, including in particular rural women and vulnerable groups, by guaranteeing them access to land rights and fair prices for their products and promoting sustainable forms of agricultural productions, give top priority in national budgets to investments in subsistence agriculture and local production, including infrastructures, irrigation, seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, etc., to this end, Bretton Woods institutions and the World Trade Organization should change the existing paradigm of their agricultural policy accordingly, and address the violations of the human rights of agriculture workers and small-hold rural families, particularly the right to adequate food, including by considering the drafting and the adoption of an International Convention on the Rights of Peasants

The Advisory Committee also recommends to the Human Rights Council that it consider to call on States, individually and through international cooperation and assistance, relevant multilateral institutions and international organizations, to increase international aid allocated for agricultural development, particularly with respect to production of staple foods in the least developed countries, in order to reduce dependency on food imports and foster local production; to call on States, individually and through multilateral institutions and international organizations, to take measures to strengthen national and international protection mechanisms for people forced to leave their land and countries because of hunger or other severe violations of their right to adequate food; to call on States, individually and through multilateral institutions and international organizations, to ensure that their international political and economic policies, including international trade agreements, do not have adverse impact on the right to food in other countries. All international trade agreements should be developed with the participation of all stakeholders, including civil society. The implementation of the concept of food sovereignty should be considered; to call on States, individually and through multilateral institutions and international organizations, to ensure that food deprivation is not used, directly or indirectly, as means of political or economic pressure by States or non-State actors.

The Advisory Committee further recommends to the Human Rights Council that it consider adopting the following decisions: the Human Rights Council entrusts the Advisory Committee with the task of preparing a study on “The Food Crisis, the Right to Food, Agricultural Subsidies and the Right of Peasants”; the Human Rights Council entrusts the Advisory Committee with the task of preparing a study on “The Food Crisis, the Right to Food and the New Concept of “Hunger Refugees”: Definition and Situation”; and the Human Rights Council urgently appeals to Member States to increase their contributions substantially and as soon as possible so as to enable the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Food Programme to effectively discharge their mandates during the current crisis. Such contributions are based on the obligation of the States to respect, protect and fulfil the right to food without discrimination and without any territorial or jurisdictional limitations.

MONA ZULFICAR, Advisory Committee Expert, introducing the recommendation, said that the changes that had been introduced yesterday to the text responded to the comments made by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. In the preambular paragraph reference had been made to the 2004 guidelines and as well to food security. The Committee had introduced a lot of language and recommendations that were used in background papers by Mr. Ziegler and the Special Rapporteur on the right to food. There was now a definition of staple food and it was emphasized that there was inadequate and decreasing investment by governments. The new concept of hunger refugees was not intended to undermine existing human rights mechanisms. Speculation not related to real transactions should be prohibited so that they would not increase the volatility. Also, the Committee recommended putting an end to use staple foods to produce bio-fuels. Further investment in local production to support small farmers should be increased, especially vulnerable groups such as women, for example by guaranteeing access to land rights and fair prices.

JEAN ZIEGLER, Advisory Committee Expert, said that a change needed to be made to page 3 section c of document (A/HRC/AC/2/L.2/Rev.1) on the right to food, where it read “export”, the word itself should be removed.

BERNARD MUDHO, Advisory Committee Expert, said that instead of deleting the term export subsidies, it should be replaced by agricultural subsidies.

VLADIMIR KARTASHKIN, Advisory Committee Expert, thanked the Committee Experts who had prepared the document on the right to food. He said that many comments that had been made were very substantive. Nonetheless, not all comments had been taken into account, including his. He had a particular doubt regarding “hunger refugees”. He was not 100 percent satisfied with the document although he was appreciative of the work that had been done. If this document had been put to a vote, he would have abstained.

CHEN SHIQIU, Advisory Committee Expert, said that he did not object to the adoption of the document without a vote. However, he still had reservations. There had not been enough debate about the document. Especially on the core issue, on the term “hunger refugees”, which he was afraid would cause legal repercussions in the future. The most substantive issue was the right of peasants and the other was the so-called right of “hunger refugees”. Later on if the Committee was to form an international instrument, he asked would “hunger refugees” remain in quotation marks? He stressed that no international instrument referred to the right of persons in quotation marks, and using quotation marks implied discrimination. If the document was translated into Chinese it would have had to refer to “hunger refugees” as so-called “hunger refugees” and thus would detract the importance attached to the topic. It was important for him to voice his reservation in this regard.

MIGUEL ALFONSO MARTINEZ, Advisory Committee Chairperson, said that the experts who prepared this recommendation were able to count on a lot of cooperation for their work. Particularly Ms. Zulficar was an essential link to produce this consensus. This work was more complicated than expected.

ALEXANDRE GUIDO LOPES PAROLA (Brazil) thanked the President of the Committee for his competence and leadership, and also thanked the work of the members of the Committee. Brazil reiterated its full support to the Committee, and thanked the Committee for its interaction with Brazil during the discussions. The discussions proved the victory of dialogue.

General Statements

MIGUEL ALFONSO MARTINEZ, Advisory Committee Chairperson, in his concluding remarks, expressed his thanks to his colleagues. Formally speaking, the report to the Human Rights Council was adopted. The Chairperson was a rotating office with a new incumbent in August. He asked the Secretariat to elaborate further on the rotation principle with regard to the regions.

A Representative of the Secretariat said that the Chairperson during the first and second sessions of the Advisory Committee was assigned to the Group of Latin and Caribbean States and the rotation would next move to the African Group.

MIGUEL ALFONSO MARTINEZ, Advisory Committee Chairperson, said that there was already some success in this Committee and the Committee would continue to draw on the varying degrees of experience of the Members.

EMMANUEL DECAUX, Advisory Committee Expert, congratulated the Chairperson on his role and work in the Advisory Committee. There was good synergy in the Committee. This was a collegial body, working towards consensus. He stressed the time constraints that hindered the work of the Committee. He suggested that more time was needed, it was impossible to complete the work of the Committee in five days, they needed seven working days. Many logistical aspects impeded the work of the Committee, such as documents being translated into the working languages of the United Nations, and at the very least to have documents translated in more than one language. The added value of the work of the Committee would require the requests from the Council. The work of the Committee was just beginning, but it was on the right track.

HALIMA WARZAZI, Advisory Committee Expert, thanked the Chairperson for steering this Committee skilfully. She also thanked her colleagues and everyone in charge of facilitating the meetings.

JEAN ZIEGLER, Advisory Committee Expert, said that he joined his colleagues who said that the Chairperson was skilful, diplomatic and tolerant. He thanked the Chairperson for his energy, courage and principles that guided the Committee. On a critical note, on the collective work on human rights, he asked the Secretariat to get in touch with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to coordinate the work of the Advisory Committee, in order to avoid questions from the press and media being posed directly to the Committee Experts, as was the case last night. There were seven posts for press officers within the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights who should be involved in promoting the work of the Advisory Committee.

MIGUEL ALFONSO MARTINEZ, Advisory Committee Chairperson, agreed that the work of the Advisory Committee merited the attention of media worldwide.

PURIFICACION V. QUISUMBING, Advisory Committee Expert, said that the standard of Chairmanship was now set very high. The Chairperson was so efficient that the Committee was finished at 3 p.m. Since the Committee was always complaining of not having enough time, maybe the discussions should be stressed. It was a privilege to serve with him in this new development in the history of the United Nations.

VLADIMIR KARTASHKIN, Advisory Committee Expert, said that the Chairperson was elected at the most significant and crucial time of the work of the Advisory Committee. It was the first session of a newly created body that determined the work that would be done. The Chairperson had laid the basis for this important work. Over the last two sessions, Mr. Kartashkin said he had had a chance to get to know the Chairperson better. The two sessions of the Committee were only the very first steps to build this relationship further. He also thanked all the members of the Secretariat for all their considerable assistance. He said he looked forward to the future, and to renewed success in the Advisory Committee.

JOSE BENGOA, Advisory Committee Expert, said that the Chairperson had helped to set their little vessel out into the water. The time factor had to be given further thought. It was not possible to sit down with the necessary calm to thoroughly analyze issues. Many delegations shared this feeling.

JEAN ZIEGLER, Advisory Committee Expert, said that he was pleading to the Committee on behalf of his colleague Mr. Burney who had received death threats in Pakistan, and yet the Government had withdrawn the body guards around his house and office. Mr. Ziegler called on the Committee to address the Government of Pakistan on this matter. He recalled that Mr. Burney had gone to Mumbai to give blood, following the terrorist attacks on two hotels, and had returned to Karachi where he had discovered that there were fatwas calling for his death. This was an urgent matter and it was necessary for the Committee to call on the Government of Pakistan to ensure the protection of Mr. Burney, as his body guards had been withdrawn, to protect him and his family. The fatwas launched against him were surprising after he preformed an enormous gesture, giving blood, to help victims of the terrorist attacks that took place in Mumbai.

MIGUEL ALFONSO MARTINEZ, Advisory Committee Chairperson, said that he would have been happier if this issue had been taken up in private consultation with him first, and he did not want Mr. Burney to take his comments in the wrong way. He did not want to force a vote of confidence and no public decision should be taken. He did not think that that would be the most effective way to protect Mr. Burney. He would not want to force a vote on this matter which could be misconstrued by the authorities.

HALIMA WARZAZI, Advisory Committee Expert, said that this was a very delicate matter, and the delegation of Pakistan had always supported the Committee in the difficulties faced in the Sub-Commission. She advised that this discussion take place in private rather than in a public forum.

JOSE BENGOA, Advisory Committee Expert, said that it would be best for Mr. Burney if they gave a vote of confidence to what the Chairperson suggested.

MIGUEL ALFONSO MARTINEZ, Advisory Committee Chairperson, said that he understood from the statements of his colleagues that instead of taking collective action, a decision on further measures would now be entrusted to the Chair. It was so decided.

ABDELWAHAB HANI, of the Arab Commission for Human Rights, said that they regarded the independence of the Experts to be a very important issue. Within the framework of the Advisory Committee this was not clear. If independence of the Committee Experts was spelled out clearly it avoided ablations.

ERIC TISTOUNET, Secretary of the Human Rights Council, said that after the High Commissioner had met with the Advisory Committee Experts, she had asked him to make a few points. Mr. Martinez has been able to set a solid basis for the future work of the Advisory Committee. The High Commissioner intended to do everything possible to ensure the functioning of the Committee. Mr. Tistounet also assured the Committee of the complete support of the Secretariat. There were serious efforts underway to develop the participation of the non-governmental organizations in the work of the Committee. Regarding the media, he had taken note of the comments that had been made.

MIGUEL ALFONSO MARTINEZ, Advisory Committee Chairperson, in his closing remarks expressed his sincere thanks to all the staff members, the technical staff of the United Nations, the interpreters, who always found a way to add time when needed. He thanked the précis writers and the security staff who made the work of the Advisory Committee possible. It was an outstanding experience. The contributions of the Secretariat were outstanding, and it was they without a doubt, who made it possible for the Committee to complete its work on time.
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For use of the information media; not an official record