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Human Rights Council concludes thirty-second session after adopting 33 resolutions and one decision

Human Rights Council
FINAL ROUNDUP

8 July 2016

Creates a New Mandate on Protection against Violence and Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The Human Rights Council this afternoon concluded its thirty-second regular session after confirming the appointment of five mandate holders and adopting the report of the session.  Last week, the Council adopted 33 resolutions and one decision on a wide array of issues.  The Council also adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of 14 countries. 

The Council created the mandate of an Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for three years, to assess the implementation of existing international human rights instruments with regard to ways to overcome violence and discrimination against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  The Independent Expert was mandated to raise awareness of violence and discrimination against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and to identify and address the root causes of violence and discrimination. 

The Council extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea for a period of one year.  The Council reiterated its call upon the Government of Eritrea to account for and release all political prisoners, and to ensure free, fair and equal access to an independent and impartial court to challenge the lawfulness of any detention. 

The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus was extended for a period of one year.  The Council urged the Government of Belarus to carry out a comprehensive reform of the justice sector and bar associations in order to guarantee the full independence and impartiality of the judiciary.

The mandate of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice was also extended, for a period of three years. 

The Council decided to extend, by three years, the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons to address the complex problem of internal displacement, in particular by mainstreaming the human rights of the internally displaced into all relevant parts of the United Nations system.  

The Council also voted to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, for a period of three years.

In another resolution, the Council extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food for a period of three years. 

The mandate on capacity-building and technical cooperation with Côte d’Ivoire in the field of human rights was extended, for a final one-year period, until 30 June 2017. 

The Council also decided to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequence, for a period of three years.

In a resolution on the human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, the Council demanded that the Syrian authorities cooperate fully with the Human Rights Council and the Commission of Inquiry, and strongly condemned the terrorist acts and violence committed against civilians by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Daesh), al-Nusrah Front or other terrorist organizations.

In a resolution on civil society space, the Council urged States to create and maintain, in law and in practice, a safe and enabling environment in which civil society can operate free from hindrance and insecurity.

The resolution on the elimination of female genital mutilation urged States to place special emphasis on education, in particular of youth, parents and religious, traditional and community leaders, about the harmful effects of female genital mutilation.  The right to education by every girl was addressed by another text, in which the  Council urged all States to intensify their efforts to realize progressively  the equal enjoyment of the right to education by every girl.  The Council, in another resolution, requested the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report on the impact of multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence in the context of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance on the full enjoyment of all human rights by women and girls.

The Council adopted a resolution calling on all States to protect people, particularly women, children and other vulnerable groups in conflict-affected areas, and people fleeing conflict, from all forms of trafficking in persons.   Another text  reaffirmed that the right to a nationality of every human person is a fundamental human right.   The Council also adopted a resolution stressing the importance of women’s equal nationality rights in law and in practice.

In a text on the impact of arms transfers on human rights, the Council urged all States to refrain from transferring arms when they assess that such arms are sufficiently likely to be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of the international human rights law.  The resolution on the right to education called upon States to take all necessary measures, including sufficient budgetary allocations, to ensure inclusive, equitable and non-discriminatory quality education.  The Council also decided to convene, at its thirty-third session, a panel discussion on the theme “Youth and human rights”.

The promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet was addressed by another resolution adopted by the Council.  The Council adopted a text calling for strengthening the promotion and protection of the human rights of migrants, including in large movements.

In a resolution on the Declaration on the Right to Peace, the Council recommended that the General Assembly adopt the text stating that everyone has the right to enjoy peace such that all human rights are promoted and protected and development is fully realized.

Another text, on access to medicines, stressed the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. The Council also adopted a resolution on promoting the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health through enhancing capacity-building in public health.  The Council, in another resolution, reaffirmed the obligation of States to ensure that policies and services related to mental health comply with international human rights norms.

Other adopted resolutions addressed the issues of business and human rights - improving accountability and access to remedy; the role of the family in supporting the protection and promotion of human rights of persons with disabilities; the Social Forum; cooperation and assistance to Ukraine in the field of human rights; regional arrangements for the promotion and protection of human rights; enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights; human rights and climate change; and human rights and international solidarity.

The Council appointed five individuals to fill vacancies for Special Procedure mandate holders:  Agnes Callamard (France) as the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Ahmed Shaheed (Maldives) as the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief; Koumbou Boly (Burkina Faso) as the Special Rapporteur on the right to education; Tomás Ojea Quintana (Argentina) as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; and Anita Ramasastry (United States) as the member of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises from Western European and other States.

The Council adopted its report of the thirty-second session, which will shortly be available on its website.

In concluding remarks, Choi Kyong-Lim, President of the Council, expressed concern that a number of civil society members who had planned to travel to Geneva to attend the current session had been denied exit from their country and placed under a travel ban.  That situation was wholly unacceptable.  All acts of intimidation or reprisal against individuals and groups cooperating with the United Nations had to end.  In the context of its tenth anniversary, a Human Rights Council Retreat would take place on 1 and 2 September.  It would an informal exchange between Permanent Representatives of the Member States of the Council, coordinators of regional and political groups, and other stakeholders, all with a view of improving cooperation and dialogue, and to tackling some of the key questions facing the Human Rights Council today. 

Documentation, statements, resolutions and reports relating to this, and all previous Human Rights Council sessions, are available on its webpage.  Detailed, speaker-by-speaker coverage of every public meeting can be found on the webpage of the United Nations Information Service in Geneva.

The thirty-second regular session took place from 13 June to 8 July 2016.

The thirty-third regular session will take place in Room XX of the Palais des Nations from 13 September to 30 September 2016.

Summary of the Session

The thirty-second session of the Human Rights Council was opened by Choi Kyong-Lim, President of the Council, who informed that, for the first time, all 193 United Nations Member States were present.  Their participation was made possible thanks to the Voluntary Technical Assistance Trust Fund.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein provided an update on the activities of his Office since the previous session.  High Commissioner Zeid stressed that the non-cooperation by some Governments would not result in the Office remaining silent in its scrutiny of their human rights situations, and urged every State to fully comply with international human right norms, particularly in situations of conflict.  Refugee law had also be respected, especially the principle of non-refoulement, and the countries of Europe had to find a way to address the current migration crisis in a manner that respected human rights, including in the context of the European Union-Turkey agreement.  He expressed his concern about the increase in the detention of migrants in Europe, including in “hotspots” in Greece and Italy, to which even unaccompanied children were frequently subjected, and deplored the widespread anti-migrant rhetoric in some European countries.  Another great concern was the narrowing of democratic space in many countries around the globe.

In the opening session, the Council also heard from Didier Burkhalter, Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, who spoke on behalf of the host country, Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh, Vice President of Viet Nam, and Mahmud Mammad-Guliyev, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan.  On the first day, a panel discussion was held on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Council with the participation of former Council Presidents, who reflected on their experiences in the Council, the achievements of the organisation over the decade and remaining challenges. 

In the course of the first week, the Council held clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on migrants and the Special Rapporteur on poverty, and with the Special Rapporteur on health and the Special Rapporteur on trafficking.  A panel discussion was held on the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development, which was followed by a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to education and the Independent Expert on international solidarity.  The Council also held a full-day annual discussion on the human rights of women as well as a clustered interactive dialogue with the Working Group on transnational corporations and human rights and the Special Rapporteur on internally displaced persons.  The first week ended with a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on independence of judges and lawyers and the Special Rapporteur on peaceful assembly and association, and a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on violence against women and the Working Group on discrimination against women. 

At the beginning of the second week, the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of expression  and the Special Rapporteur on summary executions presented their reports.  The Council also heard presentations of thematic reports of the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner on issues including violence against women, civilian use of firearms and climate change.  The Council held three interactive dialogues - with the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, the Special Rapporteur on Belarus, and the Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea.   An enhanced interactive dialogue on South Sudan was also held, with the participation of senior Government officials.  The Council organized a panel discussion on the contributions of parliaments to the work of the Council and the Universal Periodic Review.  During the second week, the Council considered and adopted the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Reviews of the following 14 countries: Namibia, Niger, Mozambique, Estonia, Paraguay, Belgium, Denmark, Palau, Somalia, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Latvia, Sierra Leone and Singapore.  It heard presentations of reports of the Social Forum, Forum on Business and human rights and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 

The third week of the thirty-second session started with a general debate on agenda items 6 - Universal Periodic Review; 7 - Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories; and 8 - Follow-up to and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.  The Council held an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on racism, as well as interactive dialogues with Independent Experts on the Central African Republic and Côte d’Ivoire.   The Council also organized a panel discussion on the use of sport and the Olympic ideal to promote human rights for all. 

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights provided updates on the situations in Ukraine and Burundi, which was be followed by interactive dialogues.  The High Commissioner also provided updates on human rights situations in Sri Lanka and Myanmar.  The High Commissioner made an oral presentation to the Council on technical cooperation, while the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights presented a comprehensive report on the Board’s work.  In the last two days of the session, on 30 June and 1 July, the Council took action on 33 draft resolutions and one draft decision tabled during the session. 

Resolutions and Decisions

Action on Resolutions under Agenda Item 3 on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/32/L.1) on youth and human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to convene at its thirty-third session a panel discussion on the theme, “Youth and human rights”, the objective of which will be to identify challenges, best practices and lessons learned in the exercise of human rights by young people.

In a resolution (A/HRC/32/L.2/Rev.1) on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, adopted by a vote of 23 in favour, 18 against and 6 abstentions, the Council decides to appoint, for a period of three years, an Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, with the mandate to assess the implementation of existing international human rights instruments with regard to ways to overcome violence and discrimination against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

In a decision (A/HRC/32/L.4) on regional arrangements for the promotion and protection of human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council requests the Advisory Committee to prepare a report on regional arrangements for the promotion and protection of human rights, in particular on the progress made in the establishment of regional and subregional arrangements for the promotion and protection of human rights.

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.6) on trafficking in persons, especially women and children: protecting victims of trafficking and people at risk of trafficking, especially women and children in conflict and post-conflict situations, adopted without a vote, the Council calls on all States to protect people, particularly women, children and other vulnerable groups in conflict affected areas, and people fleeing conflict, from all forms of trafficking in persons.

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.7/Rev.1) on the elimination of discrimination against women, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice for a period of three years; and calls upon States to ensure women’s and girls’ equal access to accessible, affordable, available, appropriate, effective and high-quality health care and services.

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.8) on human rights and arbitrary deprivation of nationality, adopted without a vote, the Council reaffirms that the right to a nationality of every human person is a fundamental human right;  and calls upon States to refrain from enacting or maintaining legislation that would arbitrarily deprive persons of their nationality on grounds of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, including disability.

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.11) on enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council urges all actors on the international scene to build an international order based on inclusion, justice, equality and equity, human dignity, mutual understanding and the promotion of and respect for cultural diversity and universal human rights, and to reject all doctrines of exclusion based on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.12) on the right to a nationality: women’s equal nationality rights in law and in practice, adopted without a vote, the Council urges all States to refrain from enacting or maintaining discriminatory nationality legislation, with a view to avoiding statelessness and loss of nationality, preventing vulnerability to human rights violations and abuses, decreasing the risk of exploitation and abuse, and promoting gender equality in the acquisition, change, retention or conferral of nationality.

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.13) on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons for a period of three years to address the complex problem of internal displacement, in particular by mainstreaming the human rights of the internally displaced into all relevant parts of the United Nations System.

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.14) on the impact of arms transfers on human rights, adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, 5 against and 10 abstentions as orally revised, the Council urges all States to refrain from transferring arms when they assess, in accordance with applicable national procedures and international obligations and standards, that such arms are sufficiently likely to be used to commit or facilitate serious violations or abuses of international human rights law or international humanitarian law.

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.15) on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food for a period of three years; and requests the Special Rapporteur to report annually on the implementation of the mandate to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.16) on human rights and international solidarity, adopted by a vote of 33 in favour, 13 against and 1 abstention, the Council requests the Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity to convene a meeting with experts from the five geographical regions to assist in finalizing the draft declaration on the right of peoples and individuals to international solidarity.

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.19) on business and human rights - improving accountability and access to remedy, adopted without a vote, the Council requests the High Commissioner to convene two open consultations involving representatives of States and other stakeholders on the report in 2017, dedicating the first consultation to analysing best practices and how to improve the effectiveness of cross-border cooperation between State agencies and judicial bodies with respect to law enforcement.

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.20) on the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council affirms that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression; calls upon all States to promote and facilitate international cooperation aimed at the development of media and information and communication facilities and technologies in all countries; and requests the High Commissioner to prepare a report on ways to bridge the gender digital divide from a human rights perspective, and to submit it to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-fifth session

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.22) on the protection of the human rights of migrants - strengthening the promotion and protection of the human rights of migrants including in large movements, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon all States to reaffirm the fundamental importance of respecting, protecting and fulfilling the human rights of all migrants who leave their countries, regardless of their migratory status; and decides to hold an enhanced interactive dialogue on the theme, “The human rights of migrants in the context of large movement” at its thirty-fourth session.

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.23/Rev.1) on access to medicines in the context of the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council calls upon States to promote access to medicines for all, including through the use, to the full, of the provisions of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights which provide flexibility for that purpose.

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.24/Rev.1) on promoting the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health through enhancing capacity-building in public health, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council urges Member States and the international community to increase investment to improve health systems in developing countries and countries with economies in transition with the aim of providing sufficient health workers, infrastructures, and supplies to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.25) on addressing the impact of multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence in the context of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance on the full enjoyment of all human rights by women and girls, adopted without a vote, the Council  requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report on the impact of multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence in the context of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance on the full enjoyment of all human rights by women and girls; and decides to convene, at its thirty-sixth session, a panel discussion.

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.26) on mental health and human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council reaffirms the obligation of States to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms and to ensure that policies and services related to mental health comply with international human rights norms; and requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report on the integration of a human rights perspective in mental health.

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.28/Rev.1) on accelerating efforts to eliminate violence against women: Preventing and responding to violence against women and girls, including indigenous women and girls, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequence, for a period of three years; and calls upon States to take effective action to respond to violence against women and girls, including indigenous women and girls, and protect all victims and survivors.

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.29) on civil society space, adopted with a vote of 31 in favour, seven against, with nine abstentions as orally revised, the Council urges States to create and maintain, in law and in practice, a safe and enabling environment in which civil society can operate free from hindrance and insecurity; also urges States to ensure access to justice, and accountability, and to end impunity for human rights violations and abuses against civil society actors;

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.30/Rev.1) on realizing the equal enjoyment of the right to education by every girl, adopted without a vote, the Council urges all States to strengthen and intensify their efforts to realize progressively  the equal enjoyment of the right to education by every girl; and encourages States to increase investments and international cooperation to allow all girls to complete free, equitable, inclusive and quality early childhood, primary and secondary education.

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.31/Rev.1) on the elimination of female genital mutilation, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council urges States to place special emphasis on education, in particular of youth, parents and religious, traditional and community leaders, about the harmful effects of female genital mutilation, and especially to encourage men and boys to become more involved in information and awareness-raising campaigns and to become agents of change.

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.32) on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council decides to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, for a period of three years; and calls upon States and other relevant stakeholders to promote, create and maintain conditions conducive for the development and activities of professional associations.

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.33) on the right to education, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council calls upon all States to take all measures to implement Human Rights Council resolutions on the right to education with a view to ensuring the full realization of this right for all; calls upon States to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including Goal 4; and calls upon States to continue to make efforts to strengthen the protection of preschools, schools and universities against attacks.

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.34) on human rights and climate change, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council decides to incorporate into its programme of work for the thirty-fourth session a panel discussion on the adverse impact of climate change on States’ efforts to progressively realize the rights of the child and related policies, lessons learned and good practices; and requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to conduct a detailed analytical study on the relationship between climate change and the full and effective enjoyment of the rights of the child.

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.35) on the protection of the family: the role of the family in supporting the protection and promotion of human rights of persons with disabilities, adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, 12 against, with 3 abstentions, the Council calls upon States to recognize the important role played by families in caring for and supporting persons with disabilities; and decides to convene a one-day intersessional seminar on the impact of the implementation by States of their obligations under relevant provisions of international human rights law. 

Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item 4 on Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention

In a resolution (A/HRC/32/L.5/Rev.1) on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea for a period of one year; and reiterates its call upon the Government of Eritrea to end the use of arbitrary detention of persons in Eritrea, to account for and release all political prisoners, and to put an end to the system of indefinite national service.

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.9) on the human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, adopted by a vote of 27 in favour, 6 against and 14 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; and demands that the Syrian authorities facilitate, and all other parties to the conflict do not hinder, the full, immediate and safe access of the United Nations and humanitarian actors.

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.10/Rev.1) on the situation of human rights in Belarus, adopted by a vote of 15 in favour, 9 against and 23 abstentions, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus for a period of one year; and urges the Government of Belarus to carry out a comprehensive reform of the justice sector and bar associations in order to guarantee the full independence and impartiality of the judiciary, the presumption of innocence, the right to a fair trial.

Action on Resolution under Agenda Item 5 on Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.17) on the Social Forum, adopted without a vote, the Council decides that the Social Forum will meet for three working days in 2017, in Geneva; requests the President of the Human Rights Council to appoint, as early as possible, from candidates nominated by regional groups, the Chairperson-Rapporteur for the 2017 Social Forum, bearing in mind the principle of regional rotation.

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.18) on the Declaration on the Right to Peace, adopted by a vote of 34 in favour, 9 against and 4 abstentions, the Council adopts the Declaration on the Right to Peace and recommends that the General Assembly adopt it too.  The Declaration states that everyone has the right to enjoy peace such that all human rights are promoted and protected and development is fully realized; and that States should respect, implement and promote equality and non-discrimination, justice and the rule of law and guarantee freedom from fear and want.

Action on Resolutions under Agenda Item 10 on Technical Assistance and Capacity-Building

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.21) on cooperation and assistance to Ukraine in the field of human rights, adopted by a vote of 22 in favour, 6 against, and 19 abstentions, the Council invites the High Commissioner 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.

In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.27) on capacity-building and technical cooperation with Côte d’Ivoire in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to extend, for a final one-year period, until 30 June 2017, the mandate on capacity-building and technical cooperation with Côte d’Ivoire in the field of human rights; and requests the Independent Expert to submit a report and his or her final recommendations to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-fifth session.

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