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Human Rights Council renews mandates on right to food and on elaboration of optional protocol to children's rights convention

AFTERNOON

24 March 2010

Adopts Four Resolutions on the Situation in the Occupied Arab Territories and Resolutions on the Arbitrary Deprivation of Nationality and on Staffing of OHCHR

The Human Rights Council this afternoon began its programme of voting on resolutions, adopting eight texts, notably renewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food and prolonging the mandate of the Working Group on the on an optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child to provide a communications procedure until the Council’s seventeenth session. It also adopted four resolutions, following a vote, relating to the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories, as well as resolutions on human rights and arbitrary deprivation of nationality and on the composition of the staff of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Under the its 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, the Council adopted a resolution on the composition of staff of OHCHR, in which it requested the High Commissioner to work on the broadest geographic diversity of her staff to achieve a better representation of countries and regions that are unrepresented or underrepresented, particularly from the developing world, while considering applying a zero-growth cap on the representation of countries and regions already overrepresented.

Under its agenda item on promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development, the Council adopted a text on human rights and arbitrary deprivation of nationality, in which it requested the Secretary-General to prepare a report on the impact that arbitrary deprivation of nationality, including in cases of States succession, might have on the enjoyment by persons of their human rights, including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, and to present it to the Council at its nineteenth session. In a text on the Open-ended Working Group on an optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child to provide a communications procedure, the Council decided to extend the mandate of the Open-ended Working Group until the seventeenth session of the Council. In a text on the right to Food, the Council decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, for a period of three years, and requested the Special Rapporteur to continue to monitor the evolution of the world food crisis and to maintain the Council informed of the impact of the crisis on the enjoyment of the right to food and to alert it to possible further actions in that regard.

Under its agenda item on the Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories, the Council adopted a text on human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan, in which it called upon Israel to desist from its continuous building of settlements and from changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan, and emphasized that the displaced persons of the population of the occupied Syrian Golan must be allowed to return to their homes and to recover their property. In a text on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, the Council reaffirmed the inalienable, permanent and unqualified right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including their right to live in freedom, justice and dignity and to establish their sovereign, independent, democratic and viable contiguous State.

Under the same agenda item, in a text on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, the Council condemned the new Israeli announcement on the construction of 120 new housing units in the Bitar Elite settlement, and 1,600 new housing units for new settlers in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Ramat Shlomo; and urged the parties to give renewed impetus to the peace process. In another text, on the grave human rights violations by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, the Council demanded that the occupying Power, Israel, end its occupation of the Palestinian land occupied since 1967, and that it respect its commitments within the peace process towards the establishment of the independent sovereign Palestinian State; demanded that Israel, stop the targeting of civilians and the systematic destruction of the cultural heritage of the Palestinian people; called for the immediate cessation of all Israeli military attacks and operations throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory; and demanded that Israel immediately lift the siege imposed on the occupied Gaza Strip.

Speaking this afternoon in introductions of resolutions were Cuba, the Russian Federation, Thailand, and Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Arab Group. Chile and Argentina made general comments on draft resolutions; speaking in explanations of vote before the vote were France on behalf of the European Union, the United States and Argentina; and Syria and Palestine spoke as concerned countries or parties.

At the beginning of the meeting, Alex Van Meeuwen, President of the Council, announced that in closed meeting the Council had examined the human rights situation in the Republic of Guinea under the complaint procedure established pursuant to Council resolution 5/1, and decided to discontinue consideration of the communication on Guinea.

The next meeting of the Council will be at 10 a.m. on Thursday 25 March, when it will continue to take action on draft resolutions.

Action on Resolutions 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

In a resolution (A/HRC/13/L.18) on the composition of staff of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, adopted with thirty-one in favour, twelve against, and three abstentions, the Council requests the High Commissioner to work on the broadest geographic diversity of her staff by enhancing the implementation of measures to achieve a better representation of countries and regions that are unrepresented or underrepresented, particularly from the developing world, while considering applying a zero-growth cap on the representation of countries and regions already overrepresented in the Office of the High Commissioner; welcomes the efforts made towards the achievement of a gender balance in the composition of the staff and the decision to continue to pay special attention to this issue; requests future High Commissioners to continue to enhance the ongoing efforts made in the fulfilment of the goal of a geographical balance in the composition of the staff of the Office; underlines the importance of continuing to promote geographical diversity in the recruitment of and promotion to high-level and Professional posts, including senior managers, as a principle of the staffing policies of the Office of the High Commissioner; and requests the High Commissioner to submit a comprehensive and updated report to the Council at its sixteenth session, in accordance with its annual programme of work, following the structure and scope of her report and with a special focus on further measures taken to correct the imbalance in the geographical composition of the staff of the Office.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (31): Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Uruguay and Zambia.

Against (12): Belgium, France, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and United States of America.

Abstentions (3): Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chile, and Republic of Korea.

JUAN ANTONIO QUINTANILLA ROMAN (Cuba), speaking in introduction of draft resolution L.18, said that equitable geographical representation in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was important. If the text were to be adopted, the Human Rights Council would reaffirm the importance of having such a balance in the Office, and would request the High Commissioner to continue to take all necessary measures to correct the current imbalance. The text also recognized the importance of following up and implementing the General Assembly resolution on the creation of a temporary mechanism to hire staff at the P-2 level, which should already be functioning. The draft should be adopted with the broadest possible support, which would send a clear measure as to the need to correct the current imbalance.

JEAN-BAPTISTE MATTEI (France), in an explanation of vote before the vote, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the General Assembly was the only body to deal with questions of administration, budget and human resources. The consideration in the recruitment of staff should be the need to provide the organization with the service of persons with the highest level of integrity and experience while duly taking into account geographic balance. The European Union welcomed the efforts of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the High Commissioner’s personal commitment to establish a better geographical balance and the efforts of the Secretary-General to ensure a fairer distribution between regions and gender. Nevertheless, the European Union was alarmed by paragraph 5 of the draft resolution and said that the Council had no legal basis for changing the geographical distribution of United Nations staff. The European Union asked for a vote on the draft resolution and said it would vote against it.

EILEEN CHAMBERLAIN DONAHOE (United States), in an explanation before the vote, said due regard should be paid to recruiting staff in as wide a geographic range as possible. However, the Human Rights Council was after all a political body of Member States and should not tell the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights what to do on staffing. The United States would vote no on the draft resolution for those reasons.

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

In a resolution (A/HRC/13/L.4) on human rights and arbitrary deprivation of nationality, adopted without a vote as orally amended, the Council urges all States to adopt and implement nationality legislation with a view to avoiding statelessness; encourages States that have not acceded to the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons to consider doing so; expresses concern that persons arbitrarily deprived of nationality may be affected by poverty, social exclusion and legal incapacity and calls upon States to remove obstacles that prevent the enjoyment by such persons of relevant civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights; calls upon States to ensure that all children are registered at birth; and requests the Secretary-General to prepare a report on the impact that arbitrary deprivation of nationality, including in cases of States succession, may have on the enjoyment by persons of their human rights, including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, and to present it to the Council at its nineteenth session.

ALEX AKZHIGITOV (Russian Federation), introducing draft resolution L.4, said the initiative had become a traditional one, adopted at first by the Commission on Human Rights in 1997, and had unfortunately not lost any of its relevance since then. The draft resolution was the result of the broadest possible consultation with all States. The speaker then read out some oral amendments to the text, and said that he hoped that, as in the past, the text would be adopted by consensus. It was the special merit of the resolution – the universal support it garnered gave rise to hope that eventually there would be a solution to the arbitrary deprivation of nationality.

In a resolution (A/HRC/13/L.5) on the Open-ended Working Group on an optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child to provide a communications procedure, adopted without a vote as orally amended, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Open-ended Working Group until the seventeenth session of the Council, and also decides that the Open-ended Working Group shall meet for up to 10 working days and report to the Council not later than at its seventeenth session; requests the Chairperson of the Open-ended Working Group to prepare a proposal for a draft optional protocol; further decides to invite a representative of the Committee on the Rights of the Child to participate in the meetings of the Open-ended Working Group as a resource person and, where appropriate, relevant United Nations special procedures and other relevant independent experts; requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to update and publish the report of the Secretary-General on the comparative summary of existing communications and inquiry procedures and practices under international human rights instruments and under the United Nations system (E/CN.4/2005/WG.23/2), and to present that report to the Council at its fifteenth session.

VIJAVAT ISARABHAKDI (Thailand), introducing draft resolution L. 5, said that so far 52 countries had co-sponsored the draft, which was a follow-up from resolution 11/1. The first session of the open-ended Working Group had been held last year, providing States with an opportunity to discuss relevant matters. The main objective of the draft resolution was to extend the mandate of the open-ended Working Group until the seventeenth session of the Council. It also requested the Chairperson of the Working Group to prepare a proposal of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child by December 2010, and that it be circulated by September 2010 in all the official languages of the United Nations.

In a resolution (A/HRC/13/L.17) on the right to Food, adopted without a vote, the Council expresses grave concern at the fact that the world food crisis continues to seriously undermine the realization of the right to food for all, and especially for one sixth of the world population, mainly in developing and least developed countries; considers it intolerable that, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the number of people who are undernourished has grown to about 1.02 billion worldwide, and that there are an additional 1 billion people suffering from serious malnutrition; calls upon States, relevant multilateral institutions and other relevant stakeholders, to take all necessary measures to ensure the realization of the right to food as an essential human rights objective, and to consider reviewing any policy or measure that could have a negative impact on the realization of the right to food; encourages the Special Rapporteur to explore ways and means of raising the capacity of countries, particularly developing countries, to ensure the realization and protection of the right to adequate food for their populations, and to report on his findings to the Council; decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, for a period of three years, to continue to work in accordance with the mandate established by the Council in its resolution 6/2 of 27 September 2007; requests the Special Rapporteur, as part of his mandate, to continue to monitor the evolution of the world food crisis and to maintain the Council informed of the impact of the crisis on the enjoyment of the right to food and to alert it to possible further actions in this regard; requests the Office of the High Commissioner to collect the views and comments of all Member States, all relevant United Nations special agencies and programmes and all other relevant stakeholders on the good practices of anti-discriminatory policies and strategies set out in the preliminary study, so that the Advisory Committee take them into account for the conclusion of the study; requests the Advisory Committee to continue to work on the issue of discrimination in the context of the right to food and, in that regard, to undertake a preliminary study on ways and means to further advance the rights of people working in rural areas, including women, in particular smallholders engaged in the production of food and/or other agricultural products, including from directly working the land, traditional fishing, hunting and herding activities, and to report thereon to the Council at its sixteenth session; and requests the Special Rapporteur to submit a report on the implementation of the present resolution to the Council at its sixteenth session.

RESFEL PINO ALVAREZ (Cuba), in an introduction of the draft resolution L.17, on the right to food, said that the draft had been the outcome of an extensive process of consultations. Cuba thanked the more than 55 delegations that had co-sponsored the resolution. Draft resolution L.17 continued a thematic consideration of the right to food. It provided specific guidelines for implementation at the national and international level. For years they had listened to talk of millions of hungry people. Now there were millions of malnourished people. There was also the combined effect of the world food crisis and the world economic, environmental and energy crises. Cuba called for the adoption of the draft and hoped the Council would be able to maintain its work on the right to food.

CARLOS PORTALES (Chile), in a general comment, said that it should have been made explicit in the text that there was a need to apply an international system of agriculture and trade that was fairer, and also to address the elimination of agricultural subsidies. That was something the international community could advance, and it could lead to a fairer system.

HECTOR RAUL PELAEZ (Argentina), in a general comment, said Argentina reaffirmed the importance of realization of the right to food. An analysis of the enjoyment of that right should include a comprehensive approach. For example, there was also a need to eliminate all forms of export subsidies. The distorting nature of those, among others, led to an unjust situation on international markets and was an additional obstacle to developing country’s attempts regarding the realization of the right to food.

ERIK WOODHOUSE (United States), in a general comment, said the United States was pleased to join the consensus; combating hunger was a key policy of the Obama Administration. The United States was, however, not party to the International Covenant on Social, Cultural and Economic Rights and did not treat the right to food as a formal and enforceable right. Although it had been the largest food aid donor for the past decade, the United States was concerned about the resolution’s imbalanced nature on certain categories of countries. While recognizing that food security was of more concern in some countries, the imbalance could affect the universality of human rights. Global food prices had fallen significantly since 2008 and the language of the resolution did not reflect that. The resolution would not undermine the United State’s commitment to its existing trade agreements.

Action on Resolutions Under the Agenda Item on Human rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories

In a resolution (A/HRC/13/L.2) on human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan, adopted with thirty-one in favour, one against, and fifteen abstentions, the Council calls upon Israel to desist from its continuous building of settlements and from changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan, and emphasizes that the displaced persons of the population of the occupied Syrian Golan must be allowed to return to their homes and to recover their property; further calls upon Israel to desist from imposing Israeli citizenship and Israeli identity cards on the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan, and to desist from its repressive measures against them and from all other practices that obstruct the enjoyment of their fundamental rights and their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights; calls upon Israel to allow the Syrian population of the occupied Syrian Golan to visit their families and relatives in the Syrian motherland through the Quneitra checkpoint and under the supervision of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and to rescind its decision to prohibit these visits, as it is in flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; also calls upon Israel to release immediately the Syrian detainees in Israeli prisons, some of whom have been detained for more than 24 years; further calls upon Israel to allow delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit Syrian prisoners of conscience and detainees in Israeli prisons accompanied by specialized physicians to assess the state of their physical and mental health and to protect their lives; determines that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken or to be taken by Israel, the occupying Power, that seek to alter the character and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan are null and void, constitute a flagrant violation of international law and of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and have no legal effect; again calls upon States Members of the United Nations not to recognize any of the above-mentioned legislative or administrative measures; and requests the Secretary-General to report on this matter to the Council at its sixteenth session.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (31): Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Uruguay and Zambia.

Against (1): United States of America.

Abstentions (15): Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon, France, Gabon, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

ZAMIR AKRAM (Pakistan), on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference introducing draft resolution L.2, said, unfortunately, traditional views had been expressed by some groups during the negotiations, and they continued to present requirements that made the text ineffective in protecting the rights of Syrian inhabitants under Occupation. Since 1967, Israel had perpetrated grave human rights violations on the inhabitants of the Occupied Syrian Golan. It had prohibited them from visiting their families in the motherland, and those who resisted peacefully had suffered torture. The text referred to international humanitarian law, international human rights law, the United Nations Charter, and other international texts such as the Council's own resolutions. The resolution called upon Israel to desist from imposing Israeli citizenship and identity cards on Syrian citizens and from all other practices that impeded their enjoyment of their fundamental human rights, and called upon the authorities to allow the Syrians to visit their families and to immediately release Syrian prisoners in Israeli prisons, and to treat them in accord with international law. The sponsors trusted that the text would enjoy full support by the Council, and hoped it would be adopted by consensus.

FAYSAL KHABBAZ HAMOUI (Syria), speaking as a concerned country, thanked Pakistan and Sudan for submitting draft resolution L.2. Today, against the backdrop of grave circumstances in the Middle East, the Council had before it a draft resolution on human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan. Israel violated human rights, the right to life, and the right to property. It also neglected its obligations and deprived the people of the Syrian Golan from their freedom of movement and their right to remedy, as well as from visiting their families in Syria. Probably the tragedy of Syrian prisoners was the best proof of Israel’s ill-treatment and practices. Since Israel’s occupation of the Syrian Golan hundreds of resolutions had been adopted, but the occupying Power continued to deliberately ignore them. Before the Council was a draft resolution that condemned the practices of the occupying Power; that called for the release of prisoners and detainees from the Syrian Golan, some of whom had been behind bars for 25 years in harsh conditions; and called on Israel to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to review the grave health conditions of prisoners. Syria had sought consensus but one of the groups had failed to support the human rights that were violated in the Syrian Golan. Syria appealed for members to adopt draft resolution L.2, in accordance with the Council’s mandate to promote and protect human rights.

JEAN-BAPTISTE MATTEI (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union, in an explanation of vote before the vote, underscored the need to respect and safeguard the human rights of people living in the Syrian Golan Heights. Nonetheless, the text remained unchanged and the situation remained the same as last year. However, the European Union did support the return of refugees. Nonetheless, it would not be able to support a text that did not take a balanced approach on the situation. The European Union thus called for a vote, in which it would abstain.

In a resolution (A/HRC/13/L.27) on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, adopted with forty-five in favour, one against, and no abstentions, the Council reaffirms the inalienable, permanent and unqualified right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including their right to live in freedom, justice and dignity and to establish their sovereign, independent, democratic and viable contiguous State; also reaffirms its support for the solution of two States, Palestine and Israel, living side by side in peace and security; stresses the need for respect for and preservation of the territorial unity, contiguity and integrity of all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem; and urges all Member States and relevant bodies of the United Nations system to support and assist the Palestinian people in the early realization of their right to self-determination.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (45): Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, France, Gabon, Ghana, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uruguay and Zambia.

Against (1): United States of America.

Abstentions (0):

ZAMIR AKRAM (Pakistan), on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Arab Group introducing draft resolution L.27, said that realization of the right to self-determination was an essential precondition to ensure the enjoyment, protection and promotion of human rights. The draft resolution focused on the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people, granted to them by the United Nations Charter, international law, and other international texts. It further recalled the relevant United Nations General Assembly, Security Council, and Human Rights Council resolutions that confirmed and defined the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, particularly their right to self-determination, and reaffirmed that right. In the operative part, the draft resolution reaffirmed the unqualifiable right to self-determination, including the right to live in freedom, justice and sovereignty; stressed the need for respect and preservation of the territorial integrity of all Palestinian territory; and urged all Member States of the United Nations system to support and assist the Palestinian people in the early realization of their right. The draft resolution contained facts recognized, acknowledged and cherished by the international community. Due to the wide applicability of the right of self-determination to numerous situations around the world, it was hoped the draft resolution would be adopted by consensus.

IBRAHIM KHRAISHI (Palestine), speaking as a concerned party, thanked all those who had sponsored the draft resolution. It was hoped that in such a session next year another resolution on Palestine would be seen to allow Palestine exercise its right to self-determination. The great idea presented by President Wilson after the First World War had become an integral part of international law and all instruments. Palestine was in dire need of those concepts in order to exercise its right to freedom and self-determination. The draft resolution should be implemented in the next session. Palestine believed that objecting to the right to self-determination ran counter to all declarations made, namely that Palestinians had the right to live side by side with Israel. That legally meant the right to self-determination.

EILEEN CHAMBERLAIN DONAHOE (United States), in an explanation of vote before the vote, said it was deeply concerned over the ongoing suffering of both the Palestinian and the Israeli people. The only resolution would be for the aspiration of both sides to be achieved with two separate States. All countries should be working to advance the cause of peace, not to hinder it. To achieve a real, lasting peace, both sides had to take meaningful steps. The United States continued to urge Israel to increase the scope and quantity of goods entering and leaving Gaza to improve the humanitarian situation there. It did not accept continued Israeli settlement. It had a clear position on that matter. In light of its overarching goals, the United States was concerned to be presented with a one-sided resolution. The Council was too often exploited as a platform from which to single out Israel. The human rights record of all States should be assessed under a more robust, common rubric. The United States continued to provide diplomatic and financial support to the Palestinian Authority. It also supported programmes designed to support democracy and human rights. Peace was the region’s interest and in the world’s interest. The United State’s commitment to achieving a two-State deal was unwavering. For that reason it called on other Members to vote No.

In a resolution (A/HRC/13/L.28) on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, adopted with forty-six in favour, one against, and no abstentions, the Council condemns the new Israeli announcement on the construction of 120 new housing units in the Bitar Elite settlement, and 1,600 new housing units for new settlers in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Ramat Shlomo, and calls upon the Government of Israel to immediately reverse its decision which would further undermine and jeopardize the ongoing efforts by the international community to reach a final settlement compliant with international legitimacy, including the relevant United Nations resolutions; urges the full implementation of the Access and Movement Agreement of 15 November 2005, particularly the urgent reopening of Rafah and Karni crossings, which is crucial to ensuring the passage of foodstuffs and essential supplies, as well as the access of the United Nations agencies to and within the Occupied Palestinian Territory; calls upon Israel to take and implement serious measures, including confiscation of arms and enforcement of criminal sanctions, with the aim of preventing acts of violence by Israeli settlers, and other measures to guarantee the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilians and Palestinian properties in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem; demands that Israel, the occupying Power, comply fully with its legal obligations, as mentioned in the Advisory Opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice; and urges the parties to give renewed impetus to the peace process.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (46): Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, France, Gabon, Ghana, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uruguay and Zambia .

Against (1): United States of America.

Abstentions (0):

ZAMIR AKRAM (Pakistan), on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Arab Group introducing draft resolution L.28, said in violation of international humanitarian and human rights law, Israel continued its construction of illegal settlements in the Occupied Territories, including the Syrian Golan, and the draft resolution intended to answer the humanitarian situation that had created in the Occupied Territories. There was a legal framework to the resolution based on a wide range of international texts. It expressed concerns that continued Israeli settlement activity, including the Separation Wall, undermined the construction of a two-State solution and was contrary to international law. Those actions also threatened the peace. The text condemned and deplored the Israeli announcement of the construction of new settlements in and around East Jerusalem, and called upon the Government of Israel to reverse that decision. The text also expressed concerns on other Israeli measures, such as a tramway connecting illegal settlements, and restrictions within the Occupied Palestinian Territory on movement of people and goods, the construction of a wall around the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and other displacements of thousands of Palestinian residents. The draft resolution urged Israel to reverse the settlement policy, and to prevent acts of violence by Israeli settlers. In dealing with this illegal situation, widely condemned by the international community, the Human Rights Council should keep its humanitarian aspects in view, and adopt the resolution by consensus.

IBRAHIM KHRAISHI (Palestine), speaking as a concerned party, said the draft resolution before the Council was one that had been supported in substance and in form by the Council as a whole. Palestine recalled the campaign waged over the last few days by Israel, which had stated that settlement activities would continue. There would no longer be a territory for a Palestinian State, there would only be settlements, which would kill any chance for the establishment of a Palestinian State.

FAYSAL KHABBAZ HAMOUI (Syria), speaking as a concerned country, thanked Pakistan for having introduced draft resolution L.28. Israelis had been given plots of land in the Occupied Golan Heights in Syria as well as financial rewards for settling there. The goal of all of that was to prevent any peace from being established in the region. That was a violation of international human rights law. Israel was defying peace efforts. That in itself required that those who supported Israel revised their position. Israel’s refusal to put an end to occupation was trampling on international law, and by it, Israel rejected peace in the region. Syria hoped that the draft resolution would be adopted by consensus because those who blocked peace deserved no support whatsoever.

EILEEN CHAMBERLAIN DONAHOE (United States), speaking in an explanation of vote before the vote, said the United States had explained its position in this regard in the discussion on draft resolution L.27, and called for a vote, also calling on delegations to vote against the draft resolution.

JEAN-BAPTISTE MATTEI (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union, in an explanation of vote before the vote, recalled that the establishment, expansion and maintenance of settlements were illegal activities that ran counter to international law. They were an obstacle for the process that aimed at establishing a viable Palestine entity and a threat to peace. The road map was clear: Israel had to freeze all settlement activities, including those related to the natural growth of existing settlements. The European Union would vote in favour of draft resolution L.28.

In a resolution (A/HRC/13/L.29) on the grave human rights violations by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, adopted with thirty-one in favour, nine against, and seven abstentions, the Council demands that the occupying Power, Israel, end its occupation of the Palestinian land occupied since 1967, and that it respect its commitments within the peace process towards the establishment of the independent sovereign Palestinian State; strongly condemns the Israeli military attacks and operations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory; demands that the occupying Power, Israel, stop the targeting of civilians and the systematic destruction of the cultural heritage of the Palestinian people; condemns the disrespect for religious and cultural rights provided for in core human rights instruments and humanitarian law by Israel, in the Occupied Palestinian Territories; demands that Israel immediately cease all diggings and excavation works beneath and around Al-Aqsa mosque compound and other religious sites in the old city of Jerusalem; calls for the immediate cessation of all Israeli military attacks and operations throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory; demands that the occupying Power, Israel, immediately stop its illegal decision to demolish a large number of Palestinian houses in East Jerusalem; demands that Israel, release Palestinian prisoners and detainees including women, children and members of the Palestinian Legislative Council; calls upon Israel to lift checkpoints and open all crossing points and borders according to relevant international agreements; and demands that Israel immediately lift the siege imposed on the occupied Gaza Strip.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (31): Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Uruguay and Zambia.

Against (9):Belgium, France, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and United States of America.

Abstentions (7):Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Japan, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, andUkraine.

ZAMIR AKRAM (Pakistan), introducing draft resolution L.29 on behalf of the Arab Group and the Organization of Islamic Conference, said the right to life – the highest of all rights – had been violated, and expressed concern over the lack of implementation of recommendations that had been made. In the operative part, the draft resolution demanded that Israel stop occupying a number of territories, and that it agree to East Jerusalem being the capital of the Palestinian people. It also condemned the disrespect of religious and cultural rights provided for in international instruments and humanitarian law, also demanding that Israel immediately stopped house demolitions. The text also urged Israel to refrain from violence against civilian populations and demanded that it immediately lift the siege on Gaza. The Arab Group and the Organization of the Islamic Conference hoped that Members would adopt the draft resolution by consensus.

IBRAHIM KHRAISHI (Palestine), speaking as a concerned party, said Palestine had consulted with all different sides, and was prepared to accept all opinions. However, it had turned out that it was impossible to not reflect the daily acts of aggression and violation of international human rights instruments and international humanitarian law by Israel in the draft. The greatest violation was the Occupation itself. Legal language knew no moderation inasmuch as international law applied to all human beings, no matter where they were. It was impossible to be moderate when four civilians were killed, the oldest among whom was not even 19 years old. One could not be moderate when Israel declared it was going to build 1,600 additional housing units. All were well aware of the very large number of barriers that existed. No reference was made to more than 8,500 Palestinian political prisoners, who were political prisoners who had not used weapons of any kind. No mention was made of 300 corpses that Israel had kept. On 3 March in Hebron a group of teenagers had demonstrated when they had been denied access to their homes, and some of them, including a child of seven, had been imprisoned. The Council should allow the family of that child to visit him, and bring him toys so that he could have them in his prison cell to play with. The families of more than 8,000 Palestinian political prisoners had been totally ignored. The situation had to be examined and delved into. Human rights had to be upheld, as should be the exercise of the law, and the targeting of civilians, whether Palestinian or Israeli, should be stopped. The rule of law should be upheld. There was no path towards peace – peace was the path; there was no path before respect for human rights – human rights were the path.

EILEEN CHAMBERLAIN DONAHOE (United States) called for a vote on draft resolution L.29 and encouraged Members of the Council to join the United States in voting no.

JEAN-BAPTISTE MATTEI (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union, speaking in an explanation of vote before the vote, said the European Union had largely approved of the text. The European Union was concerned over the humanitarian situation in several Occupied Territories. It was disappointed, however, at the absence of references to the launch of missiles, which was still continuing, in the text. The European Union regretted that its efforts to improve the text had not been taken into consideration.

HECTOR RAUL PELAEZ (Argentina), speaking in an explanation of vote before the vote, said it would be voting in favour of the draft resolution before the Council. Without prejudice to the above, it would have been desirable for the text to be more balanced, in keeping with the resolution adopted last year, and Argentina would have liked the text to have included a condemnation of the launching of missiles and rockets against the civilian population of Israel.

ZAMIR AKRAM (Pakistan), introducing draft resolution L.30 on follow-up to the report of the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, said the international community had expressed its dismay and strong condemnation of the aggression launched by the occupying Power Israel last year in Gaza. Draft resolution L.30 recalled the relevant parts of international law that were applicable to the Occupied Palestinian Territories; stressed the need to ensure accountability for all violations of international human right and humanitarian law; welcomed the report of the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner on the implementation of the relevant Council resolutions; called upon all parties to conduct independent and credible investigations that were in conformity with international law; and requested the Secretary-General to present a comprehensive report on follow-up to the mission’s report, among others.

When the Council reconvenes tomorrow it will take action on draft resolution A/HRC/13/L.30.
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