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Human Rights Council adopts resolutions on social forum and ad hoc committee on elaboration of complementary standards

AFTERNOON

25 March 2010

The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted two resolutions on the meetings in 2010 of two of its subsidiary bodies, the Social Forum and the Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards.

Under its agenda item on human rights bodies and mechanisms, with regard to the Social Forum, the Council decided that the Social Forum would meet for three working days in 2010, in Geneva, and that it should focus on the negative effects of climate change on the full enjoyment of human right. The Social Forum should also focus on measures and actions to address the impact of climate change on the full enjoyment of human rights, including on most vulnerable groups, particularly women and children; and the importance of international assistance and cooperation in addressing the human rights-related impact of climate change.

Under its agenda item on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, follow-up and implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, with regard to the elaboration of complementary standards to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Council decided that the Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards would convene its third session from 29 November to 10 December 2010.

Introducing resolutions were Cuba and Nigeria.

The United States spoke to withdraw L.3 on the Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards.

Speaking in general comments were France on behalf of the European Union, the United States, Argentina on behalf of Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Mexico and Uruguay, Pakistan and Japan.

The Council will meet at 10 a.m. on Friday, 26 March to conclude taking action on draft resolutions and decisions before it concludes its session.

Action on Resolution Under Agenda Item on Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms

In a resolution (A/HRC/13/L.16) on the Social Forum, adopted without a vote as orally amended, the Council decides that the Social Forum will meet for three working days in 2010, in Geneva, and that it should focus on the negative effects of climate change on the full enjoyment of human rights; measures and actions to address the impact of climate change on the full enjoyment of human rights, including on most vulnerable groups, particularly women and children; and the importance of international assistance and cooperation in addressing the human rights-related impact of climate change. The Council requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to consult all actors identified in the present resolution on the issues referred to and to submit a report as a background contribution for the dialogues and debates that will be held at the 2010 Social Forum; decides that the Social Forum will remain open to the participation of representatives of United Nations Member States and all other interested stakeholders, including non-governmental organizations not accredited to the Economic and Social Council, whose aims and purposes are in conformity with the spirit, purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, in particular newly emerging actors such as small groups and rural and urban associations, anti-poverty groups, peasants’ and farmers’ organizations, youth associations, community organizations and trade unions; requests the Office of the High Commissioner to seek effective means of ensuring consultation and the broadest possible participation of representatives from every region, especially those from developing countries; requests the Secretary-General to take all practical measures required for the success of this initiative; and invites the 2010 Social Forum to submit a report containing conclusions and recommendations to the Council.

JUAN ANTONIO QUINTANILLA ROMAN (Cuba), introducing resolution L.16, said the Social Forum was a unique space within the United Nations system for dialogue and an open exchange of views among the international community for a wide range of actors, organizations, and civil society, including grass-roots organizations made up of peasants, women, and other groups, who found in the Forum a setting for discussing various issues affecting them directly or indirectly. Unfortunately, their presence was not always possible, due to financial reasons. The resolution suggested that the Social Forum address climate change, which affected almost all human rights, being a threat to health, food, water resources, destroying land and giving rise to forced migration and conflicts. The Forum would provide an excellent opportunity to engage with civil society and other sectors to discuss measures and actions to address this issue at various levels, regional, local, national and international, and other important aspects of the phenomenon.

JEAN-BAPTISTE MATTEI (France), speaking in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, said the European Union had from the beginning participated in a constructive manner in the consultations on the draft resolution introduced by Cuba. However, it expressed concern with regard to the language used in paragraph 5 of the resolution. The European Union was of the view that human rights needed to be taken into account when dealing with the impact of climate change on members of the most vulnerable communities. Furthermore, the European Union was deeply attached to a continued increase of the participation by civil society in dialogues organized by United Nations. The topics of the Social Forum should take into account the preoccupations of civil society and its daily actions. Generally speaking, more attention should be given to the necessary collaboration with interested parties, including civil society and non-governmental organizations. In spite of these concerns, the European Union would go along with the consensus on the draft resolution before the Council.

MARK C. STORELLA (United States), speaking in a general comment, said no nation could escape the impact of climate change. The poorest and weakest suffered most from its ramifications. The United States was committed to helping the poorest and the most vulnerable to tackle the effect of climate change. However, a human rights approach would be ineffective in addressing the effects of climate change. A system of international cooperation, like the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, would be better equipped to fight climate change than a human rights body.

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

EILEEN CHAMBERLAIN DONAHOE (United States) said concerning L.3 on the Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards, the United States had worked over the last six months to advance the important fight against racial discrimination and racism, and the United States was here to find a constructive way forward on these efforts. All were here to strengthen efforts to combat intolerance, and to work together to address and combat incidents of discrimination and violence against persons based on race and religion. The United States initially put forward a text representing a positive path forward to protect and promote the human rights of all individuals. In deference to the African Group, the United States was withdrawing resolution L.3, and asked the Council to consider L.9 by the African Group, which should provide a genuine avenue for constructive movement to address racial discrimination and intolerance.

In a resolution (A/HRC/13/L.9 Rev.1) on the elaboration of complementary standards to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, adopted without a vote as orally amended, the Council decides that the Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards shall convene its third session from 29 November to 10 December 2010.

OSITADINMA ANAEDU (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group, introduced the draft document on the elaboration of complementary standards on the elimination of all forms of discrimination, saying the African Group and other countries had shown commitment to the need for complementary standards. Nonetheless, States who insisted on talking about whether or not such standards were necessary had impeded the Council’s progress in that regard. The African Group was bitterly disappointed that the Ad Hoc Group had not reached consensus on the need for such standards as agreed in Durban. The African Group would work with the Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee for transference of that process. It urged dialogue between parties in order to start the process. Overall, there had been tremendous efforts and good will by all parties and the African Group expressed its gratitude in that regard.

SEBASTIAN ROSALES (Argentina), speaking in a general comment on behalf of Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Mexico and Uruguay, expressed special thanks to the African Group, Nigeria and South Africa. The initial basis for the work of this mechanism was to be found in the Durban Declaration. The abovementioned countries attached importance to supporting the work of the mechanism. They were of the view that to approach the process, it was first necessary to identify shortcomings in the existing fight against racism, racial discrimination and other related intolerance. Once identified, the way to address those should be identified. At this stage, it was advisable to explore only procedural matters.

JEAN-BAPTISTE MATTEI (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, said the European Union as a whole approved of the resolution and welcomed the work of all those who had worked on it. The European Union was firmly engaged in combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance, and had thus played a role in the Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards. The European Union did, however, have serious reservations on three elements of the text: that it gave too restrictive a perception of the mandate; the European Union was not convinced of the need to draft new standards; and that it seemed to limit the work of the Committee to elaborate complementary standards to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Therefore, without calling for a vote, the European Union disassociated itself from the resolution.

MARGHOOB SALEEM BUTT (Pakistan), speaking in a general comment, thanked the African Group for its painstaking efforts in working on the draft resolution. It must be remembered that once the Council had approved a resolution, its mandate had to be applied conforming to the terms of the resolution.

AKIO ISOMATA (Japan), speaking in a general comment, said consensus was a method that the cross-regional group had repeatedly emphasized. Japan considered it imperative to continue exchanging views on possible gaps and how to address them. Japan expressed its continued commitment to fight racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and joined consensus on this resolution.

EILEEN CHAMBERLAIN DONAHOE (United States), speaking in a general comment, said the United States returned to the Human Rights Council last year with a sincere desire to continue the important work of combating racial discrimination and racial intolerance, as such actions took place in all countries of the world. The Human Rights Council owed it to the victims to strengthen efforts to combat these scourges. In recent years in the Council, these issues had been polarised, and lines had been drawn making it difficult to progress. Some Governments believed that restrictions on expression were unacceptable or dangerous. Other disagreements were over form, as to whether a new treaty needed to be adopted, or whether there should be measures to strengthen existing provisions. The United States believed that actions were required to strengthen these norms. The United States had made an all-out effort over the last six months and six hours to try to find a way to break this impasse, and had searched for an approach to ensure progress. The United States joined consensus on this text today, in the sincere hope that it represented a new spirit of cooperation towards bridging old divides and focusing on positive actions to help victims of intolerance and discrimination. Seeing the consensus achieved on this issue was a first step towards putting into action things most Members agreed on, actions that would give meaningful help to those who needed it most. In the months to come, efforts to create a common agenda within the United Nations system to combat these scourges would bear fruit.

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For use of the information media; not an official record