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Human Rights Council holds general debate on technical assistance and capacity building after reports on Afghanistan and Yemen

​Human Rights Council

MORNING/MIDDAY

23 March 2017

Concludes General Debate on the Reports of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Secretary-General 
 
The Human Rights Council this morning held a general debate on technical assistance and capacity building after hearing the presentation of reports and oral updates of the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Afghanistan and Yemen, and the report of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights.
 
Kate Gilmore, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, introduced country reports of the Secretary-General and High Commissioner for Human Rights on Afghanistan and Yemen.  On Yemen, Ms. Gilmore stressed that the living conditions in Yemen were miserable, deplorable and untenable, and that the absence of a credible and viable political solution, combined with the relentless escalation of violence over the last three months, was undermining the prospects of an immediate ceasefire and the resumption of humanitarian aid.  Turning to the report on Afghanistan, she said the Office had recorded the highest number of civilian casualties since 2009, with a total of 10,533 lives lost in 2016.  Even more alarming was the trend of targeted killings of civilians, for which Islamic State had claimed responsibility.  The report further underscored the enduring prevalence of violence against women which remained of utmost concern; and described the persisting practice of torture and ill-treatment in places of detention and the continued impunity of perpetrators. 
 
Ms. Gilmore then gave the High Commissioner’s annual presentation on the enhancement of technical cooperation and capacity-building in the field of human rights, noting that translating the 192 recommendations made during the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review was part of a matrix to translate and implement the recommendations at the national level.  The importance of national human rights action plans was underlined as they had proven to be critical vehicles that enabled Member States to meet their international human rights obligations. 
 
Christopher Sidoti, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights, said the Board provided policy advice and guidance on technical cooperation relevant to the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the ground in support of State efforts for the promotion and protection of human rights, in particular the implementation of Universal Periodic Review recommendations.  He spoke about the Board’s visit to Guatemala.  Mr. Sidoti concluded by saying that in 2016, the Fund continued to provide resources for technical cooperation to build strong national human rights frameworks in 27 regions, countries and territories through 13 human rights advisers, 10 human rights components of peace missions, and four country offices. 
 
Afghanistan, speaking as a concerned country, said Afghanistan was at a critical juncture, going through a political, economic and security transition.  Afghanistan believed that there could not be any distinction between good and bad terrorists.  The answer to violent extremism was to ensure that girls and boys received a decent education; women’s role in governance, peace, trade and economy was important for the Government.  Afghanistan thanked all friends and allies showing continued resolve in their support to the country.
 
Yemen, speaking as a concerned country, said the Government was doing its level best, putting an end to insurrection in some areas.  The Yemeni Government was willing to receive humanitarian aid through Mokha and other ports, and the airport would also be brought back into service.  The Government was preparing a rehabilitation programme for children recruited by militias, and requested humanitarian organizations to assist in making that programme a success. 
 
In the general debate on technical assistance and capacity-building, delegations recognized the importance of technical assistance and of providing it to all requesting States, and rejected any attempt to void the concept of technical assistance of its true meaning.  Technical assistance and capacity building were one of the main mandates of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and should be the priority of its work.  Technical assistance and capacity building should be dispensed in line with the principles of the United Nations Charter and according to the will and needs of concerned countries.  Pleas for financial and technical assistance to address accepted recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review should be heeded.  The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights must be able to assist more States that were requesting assistance.  All donors were called upon to continue and increase their contributions.
 
Speaking were Pakistan on behalf of a like-minded group of countries, Tunisia on behalf of the African Group, Netherlands on behalf of a group of 33 States, Bahrain on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Malta on behalf of the European Union, Peru on behalf of the core group on national policies and human rights, Morocco, Sudan, United Kingdom on behalf of 45 countries, Switzerland, Brazil, United Kingdom, China, Netherlands, United States, India, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Bolivia, Bhutan on behalf of a group of 11 least developed countries beneficiaries of the Voluntary Trust Fund, Canada, France, Australia, Maldives, Thailand, Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, Myanmar, Chad, Russian Federation, Jordan, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Cambodia.  
 
The following civil society organizations also took the floor: Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, Advocates for Human Rights, Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l’Homme, Amnesty International, International Lesbian and Gay Association, Human Rights Watch, Observatoire Mauritannien des Droits de l’Homme et de la Démocratie, Liberation, Association pour l’integration et le Développement Durable au Burundi, Prahar, Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme, International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, World Barua Organization, Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, Alsalam Foundation, Iraqi Development Organization, United Nations Watch, Centre Independent de Recherches et d’Iniatives pour le Dialogue, ANAJA, Tourner la page, Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development, Ecumenical Alliance for Human Rights and Development, Association des Etudiants Tamouls de France, Save the Children International, International Buddhist Relief Organisation, Center for Organisation Research and Education, Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy, Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights Association, Association of World Citizens, Society for Development and Community Empowerment, Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul, Association Solidarité Internationale pour l’Afrique and Indian Council of South America.
 
Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the Democratic Republic of the Congo spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
 
At the beginning of the meeting, the Council concluded the general debate it began on Wednesday, 22 March, 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.  A summary of the first part of the general debate can be found here.
 
During the debate, speakers addressed domestic issues within countries mentioned in the reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General, calling generally on greater adherence to international obligations.  That included highlighting the situation of human rights defenders in various countries, as well as speaking of the importance of a broad application of human rights in post-conflict countries.  Many speakers addressed the particular situation of children and adolescents, urging the Human Rights Council to pay special attention to their rights when addressing human rights situations of concern in various countries. 
 
The following civil society organizations took the floor: Tourner la Page, International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Indian Council of South America, ANAJA (L’eternel a repondu), International Fellowship of Reconciliation, Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund, Europe Third World Centre, Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul, Centre Independent de Recherches et d’Initiative pour le Dialogue, Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, World Organization Against Torture, Peace Brigades International Switzerland, Colombian Commission of Jurists, United Nations Watch, Association des étudiants tamouls de France, Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l’Homme, International Catholic Child Bureau, Defence for Children International, International Buddhist Relief Organization, Freedom Now, Covenant House (joint statement), Franciscans International, Corporacion para la Defensa y Promocion de los Derechos Humanos Reiniclar, Plan International, Inc., International Educational Development and International Service for Human Rights.
 
Maldives and Iraq spoke in a right to reply.
 
The Council has a full day of meetings scheduled.  At 2:30 p.m., it will begin taking action on decisions and resolutions before it concludes its thirty-fourth regular session on Friday, 24 March.
 
General Debate on the Annual Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General
 
Tourner la page said that in Latin America, one of the greatest challenges was the insecurity of human rights defenders, particularly those working on indigenous rights and land issues, and noted that in Colombia in 2016, there had been an increase of 25 per cent of murders of human rights defenders compared to 2015.
 
International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination was alarmed by the continued persecution of ethnic and religious minorities in Iran and in the region.  Furthermore, every attempt to peacefully renounce those violations resulted in more violations.  Under the pretext of fighting Da’esh, Iran had put in place a militarized security structure which had resulted in terrorising non-Shiites in neighbouring countries.
 
Indian Council of South America said that the Dakota Access Pipeline was within the boundaries of the original 1851 and 1868 Fort Laramie Treaties, and the Great Sioux Nation had never ceded this territory.  This pipeline blatantly disregarded international treaties by the United States, and it would inevitably contaminate the water, territory and natural resources of the Great Sioux Nation.
 
ANAJA (L’Eternel a répondu) said that the time-line extension of two years for implementing recommendations in the report on Sri Lanka would only help Sri Lanka to continue to harass religious minorities in its territory.  The Tamil had suffered a genocide in which 147,000 had been killed and justice must be delivered, including the establishment of an international tribunal.
 
International Fellowship of Reconciliation said armed gangs in Colombia were stepping into the void left by the FARC and the concern of the High Commissioner about human rights defenders was shared.  Effective measures should be taken to protect conscientious objectors from obligatory military service.  The Colombian authorities should ensure there was demilitarization of the country.
 
Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund welcomed the reports on Honduras and Guatemala, and the Guatemalan State was asked to approve reforms regarding indigenous law.  The international commission against impunity should be broadened.  Honduras was urged to open up space for civil society participation in public life.  The deaths of 40 girls in a fire was condemned.
 
Europe Third World Centre welcomed the report of the High Commissioner on Colombia, saying dozens of leaders had been murdered in the country.  The FARC were laying down their arms but other paramilitary groups were active.  The Colombian State was urged to ensure that human rights defenders were protected. 
 
Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul expressed disappointment about the extension of the time-line of resolution 30/1 on Sri Lanka, as the fulfilment of transitional justice commitments by the Government of Sri Lanka had been worryingly slow.  The only way to ensure justice and accountability was to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court.
 
CIRID (Centre Indépendent de Recherches et d’Initiatives pour le Dialogue) said that in Yemen, the situation of children was in total violation of their right to life, and recalled the obligation of Yemen not to recruit children in the armed forces.  Children in Yemen were being killed, abducted, maimed, recruited and imprisoned.  The international community must act to address this situation.
 
Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik said that the report on Iran was comprehensive, precise, objective and balanced, and then spoke about the case of 17 workers who had been sentenced to flogging for taking part in a peaceful demonstration, and other violations against left-wing activists.
 
World Organization against Torture said that in Colombia, the level of impunity for acts of torture and extra-judicial executions was still above 95 per cent.  Therefore, the construction of peace must ensure that structural obstacles were removed, such as the framework law that favoured impunity of the superiors, and the under-reporting of cases of torture and ill-treatment.  Honduras was urged to withdraw the army from the tasks of citizen security and dismantle the prisons installed in military facilities.
 
Peace Brigade International Switzerland was concerned about the increase in violence against human rights defenders in Colombia and Honduras, noting that 30 individuals had been murdered so far in 2017, of which 25 in Colombia.  Most of those human rights defenders worked on land and environmental issues, in the context of increased pressure to use the land for exploitation of natural resources.
 
Colombian Commission of Jurists stated that the implementation of the peace agreement in Colombia could guide the State to deal with outstanding human rights issues.  The proper implementation of the peace agreement required the decisive support of the international community and of the Human Rights Council in its oversight. 
 
United Nations Watch reminded that Iran’s minorities continued to face discrimination and that human rights defenders were being prosecuted for peacefully exercising their freedom of expression.  Iran had just sentenced 10 dissidents living abroad, including civil rights activist Marzieh Armin, to prison sentences.  A resolution renewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur would be entirely warranted.
 
Association des Etudiants Tamoules de France expressed disappointment over the extension of the duration of resolution 30/1 adopted in September 2015.  The lack of political will of the Government of Sri Lanka to effectively provide truth and justice in the country was well evident through the past judgments of Sri Lankan courts, particularly when the victims were Tamils.
 
Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l’Homme said Iranian politicians had defused tension by signing the nuclear deal, and all items of the agreement should be implemented.  To allow its citizens to enjoy true development, Iran extended a lot of support to countries of the world, especially disadvantaged people in Africa, east Asia and others against the forces of darkness and evil and their terrorist allies.   
 
International Catholic Child Bureau thanked the High Commissioner for the report on Colombia, which had raised the issue of prolonged pre-trial detention of children and adolescents in conflict with the law.  Allegations of ill-treatment of adolescents had been received.  Solitary confinement as a disciplinary measure seemed to be a common measure in Colombia.
 
Defence for Children International spoke about the situation of human rights in Colombia and urged the Human Rights Council to pay attention to the demobilization, disarmament and reintegration of children and adolescents leaving the FARC.  The Council was called on to urge the Colombian Government to strengthen the national healthcare system and give priority to the issue of children and adolescents during peace talks.
 
International Buddhist Relief Organization said that the Sri Lankan forces had defeated the most ruthless terrorist group in the world, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, and said that in this process, scores of soldiers had been killed.  The Tamils were now trying to achieve their goals through the United Nations as they had not been able to achieve it through the war. 
 
Freedom Now urged the Council to take special note of a labour and child rights activist currently serving a seven-year sentence in prison in Iran for communicating with the previous United Nations Special Rapporteur.  The Council should inquire about this case and ensure that Iran ceased its harassment and persecution of human rights defenders.
 
Covenant House, in a joint statement with, Dominicans for Justice and Peace - Order of Preachers, lamented the death of more than 40 children in a fire in a government child-care facility in Guatemala, simply because they were locked up and could not escape.  Guatemala should urgently reform its child care system, in line with its human rights obligations.
 
Franciscans International welcomed the mention of indigenous peoples’ rights in the report on Colombia.  The State still failed to recognize the constitutional rights of the indigenous communities.  It called on the High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue monitoring the situation of human rights in Colombia in the context of extractive industries’ activities, with special emphasis on the rights of indigenous peoples.
 
Corporación para la Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos Reiniciar drew attention to threats, attacks and murders of the members of Marcha Patriótica in Colombia, notably the murders of indigenous peoples, villagers and social leaders who defended human rights.  The responsible parties had not been prosecuted as they had been members of the Colombian Parliament.  The impunity for those crimes continued.
 
Plan International welcomed the signing of the peace agreement in Colombia.  Peace building went beyond the implementation of the agreement and that was why there should be improvement of living conditions, and strengthening of the capacities of girls, boys, adolescents and the youth, generating opportunities for them, and recognizing them as agents of change.
 
International Educational Development said the Council in its resolution 30/1 on Sri Lanka had not explicitly required a hybrid court and not even a debate on it in a transparent manner.  Tamil victims had collected more than 1.6 million signatures in a call for the referral of the situation in Sri Lanka to the United Nations General Assembly with recommendations to establish a Special Tribunal or to refer the situation to the United Nations Security Council for referral to the International Criminal Court.  The Council was urged to comply with that.
 
International Service for Human Rights welcomed the reports of the High Commissioner on Guatemala, Honduras and Colombia.  Guatemala was dangerous for human rights defenders, and the State was urged to draft legislation on that.  In Honduras, the threat of judicial cleansing hung over magistrates.  One of the scourges in Honduras was corruption.
 
Right of Reply
 
Maldives, speaking in a right of reply, acknowledged concerns expressed, but said the nation was in transition toward democracy, and today had a constitution that separated the branches of government.  The accusation that freedom of expression was being limited was a mischaracterization caused by the lack of international presence in Maldives, whether embassies or international media representatives.  The Government of the Maldives reaffirmed its commitment to the strengthening of democracy.
 
Iraq, speaking in a right of reply, said it supported the action of non-governmental organizations, however, Iraq rejected and refuted any false accusations.  Iraq was committed to promoting and protecting human rights.  The accusation that one group was actually a militia was unfounded.  This front was helping to tackle terrorism and was working with Iraq’s armed forces.  In fact it was an organization which was approved by the State and was working according to human rights standards.
 
Presentations on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building
 
Presentation on Country Reports of the Secretary-General and High Commissioner on Afghanistan and Yemen
 
KATE GILMORE, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, introduced country reports of the Secretary-General and High Commissioner for Human Rights on Afghanistan and Yemen. 
 
In the oral update on Yemen, Ms. Gilmore stressed that one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, one entirely man-made, was underway in Yemen.  Over 21 million Yemenis, 82 per cent of the population, were in need of humanitarian assistance; 14 million were suffering from food insecurity; and at least 1.3 children were acutely malnourished.  Almost three million people were internally displaced while the country’s infrastructure had been extensively destroyed and its economy decimated.  The living conditions of people in Yemen, simply put, were miserable, deplorable and untenable.  The absence of a credible and viable political solution, combined with the relentless escalation of violence over the last three months, was undermining the prospects of an immediate ceasefire and the resumption of humanitarian aid.  The fighting in and around the port cities of Mokha and Hodeida had left thousands trapped and the substantive destruction of infrastructure compromised the delivery of humanitarian aid. 
 
In accordance with the Human Rights Council’s resolution 33/16, the Office of the High Commissioner had strengthened the capacity of the country office in Yemen and had re-established engagement with the National Commission, agreeing together on a programme of joint activities and a list of thematic priorities.  Ms. Gilmore urged the de facto authorities in Sanaa to extend cooperation to the National Commission and the teams tasked with the implementation of the above resolution. 
 
Noting that the calls for an international and independent commission of investigation had been dismissed by some as potentially undermining the existing national commission, the Deputy High Commissioner stressed that there were no persuasive reasons to believe that an international and independent investigation could not operate alongside a national commission of inquiry.  The existence of one did not exclude the other.  The national commission had so far failed to live up to the standards with which it must comply in order to carry out its duties with credibility, including the principle of impartiality.  Also, the violations committed in the ongoing conflict were of such gravity that continued impunity could not be accepted.  In the absence of a credible mechanism for national remedy, international and independent alternatives were essential.  The High Commissioner therefore had no choice but to reiterate the call for an international and independent commission of inquiry into all allegations of human rights violations and humanitarian law, regardless of the alleged perpetrators.
 
Turning to the report on Afghanistan, the Deputy High Commissioner deeply regretted that the Office had recorded the highest number of civilian casualties since 2009, with a total of 10,533 lives lost in 2016.  Children continued to suffer from the direct and indirect consequences of conflict-related violence.  Further, 80 attacks on hospitals and health workers had been recorded, and attacks against religious figures and places of worship were on the rise.  Even more alarming was the trend of targeted killings of civilians, for which Islamic State had claimed responsibility.  The report further underscored the enduring prevalence of violence against women which remained of utmost concern.  It described the persisting practice of torture and ill-treatment in places of detention and the continued impunity of perpetrators.  In relation to the 22 September 2016 peace agreement between the Government and Hezb-i-Islami, the Office remained concerned about the amnesty provisions applicable for the leadership and members of armed groups with regards to past political and military actions, as well as the absence of the vetting process.  The report welcomed the adoption by the Government of the strategy and action plan on the elimination of violence against women, the recognition of the role of women in the peace process, the development of policy on civil casualty mitigation, and the commitment to establish new mechanisms to address violence against journalists.
 
Documentation
 
The Council has before it the report of the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the field of Human Rights (A/HRC/34/74)

Presentations by the Deputy High Commissioner on the Work of the Office of the High Commissioner in Technical Assistance and by the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Voluntary Fund for Technical Assistance in the Field of Human Rights
 
KATE GILMORE, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, reminded that the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was supported by the work of country offices, which played an important role in the work of the Office in effective engagement with Member States through capacity building and training.  Translating the 192 recommendations made during the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review was part of a matrix to translate and implement the recommendations at the national level.  The importance of national human rights action plans was highlighted as they were critical vehicles to enable Member States to meet their international human rights obligations.  Significant progress had been made in supporting the whole United Nations system to implement human rights standards.   Those were the ways to make deliberations at the Human Rights Council materialize on the ground and make difference in the lives of citizens.
 
CHRISTOPHER SIDOTI, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights, explained that the Board of Trustees provided policy advice and guidance on technical cooperation relevant to the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the ground in support of State efforts for the promotion and protection of human rights, in particular the implementation of Universal Periodic Review recommendations.  The members of the Board as overseers of the Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights, and the Voluntary Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance in the Implementation of the Universal Periodic Review, sought to promote the complementary and effective use of the resources.
 
As for the Board’s visit to Guatemala, Mr. Sidoti explained that the Guatemala Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights used technical expertise and close interactions with all partners on the ground to gather evidence-based information and credible, validated data on the human rights situation and challenges.  That visit once again demonstrated that when the Office was given the opportunity to use strategically the full mandate of the High Commissioner to support a country’s human rights efforts, the results were tangible and sustainable, and the Office was accepted as a key and reliable partner.  The Board had particularly welcomed the priority that the Guatemala Office had afforded to human rights issues of indigenous peoples and the Office’s partnership with indigenous organizations.  The Board commended in particular the Maya programme that had supported indigenous initiatives through strategic litigation and other forms of advocacy.  The Board was convinced that the approach taken in Guatemala and in other country offices should be more widely known.  The lessons learned should be applied in the establishment and strengthening of the work of all country offices, but also shared openly with Member States. 
 
Mr. Sidoti said that the Board considered that to have effective, sustainable results for the promotion and protection of human rights, technical cooperation programmes should be aimed at translating into reality the obligations and commitments of Member States within the international human rights legal framework.  At its field sessions, the Board had observed the technical support provided by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for legislative and policy development, and for capacity building for rights holders and civil society.  That support was in practical terms based on international standards and recommendations.  It was informed by evidence-based information and credible and validated data on the situation and challenges on the ground.  The Board emphasized that the promotion and follow-up to recommendations were not ends in themselves, but means to achieve the goal of full compliance with international human rights obligations.  In 2016, the Fund continued to provide resources for technical cooperation to build strong national human rights frameworks in 27 regions, countries and territories through 13 human rights advisers, 10 human rights components of peace missions, and four country offices.  The total expenditure of the Fund in 2016 amounted to $ 14.3 million, substantially less that the projections in the work plan, owing to a number of reductions in various programmes as a result of a lack of adequate funding.
 
Statements by the Concerned Countries
 
Afghanistan, speaking as a concerned country, said Afghanistan was at a critical juncture, going through a political, economic and security transition.  Afghanistan was at the front line of a fight for the security of the world, and had made enormous sacrifices in the global fight against terrorism and violent extremism.  Afghanistan’s prolonged conflict was a result of violent extremism, illicit narcotics and State-sponsored terrorism.  Taliban leaders resided in Pakistan and they had influence over them.  Afghanistan believed that there could not be any distinction between good and bad terrorists.  As long as a distinction was made, the international community was defeated.  A recent attack on a hospital in Kabul showed that terror knew no boundaries.  Afghanistan remained committed to State-to-State cooperation with Pakistan based on the principles of mutual respect and non-intervention that could benefit the entire region.  The answer to violent extremism was to ensure that girls and boys received a decent education; women’s role in governance, peace, trade and economy was important for the Government.  Afghanistan thanked all friends and allies showing continued resolve in their support to the country.
 
Yemen, speaking as a concerned country, said the situation in Yemen was better than in the last few years, and the Government was doing its level best, putting an end to the insurrection in some areas.  To be objective, all violations needed to be addressed.  The Yemeni Government had been forced to use military force, and it was thanks to the support of Arab brothers that Yemen had been able to resist the Houthi coup targeting the legitimate regime.  The insurrection had been ended but only through sacrifices.  A mosque had been targeted recently, and 27 people had been killed.  Those acts had to be imputed to the terrorist militia.  Previously the Council had called for a commission of inquiry.  The Office of the High Commissioner was called on to support the commission so it could carry out its task.  The Yemeni Government was willing to receive humanitarian aid through Mokha and other ports, and the airport would also be brought back into service.  The Government was preparing a rehabilitation programme for children recruited by militias, and requested humanitarian organizations to assist in making that programme a success.  Member States were called on to refrain from circulating propaganda which could hurt the situation.
 
General Debate on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building
 
Pakistan, speaking on behalf of a like-minded group of countries, stressed that technical assistance and capacity building were the most effective, constructive, non-politicized, impartial, and objective tools at the disposal of the Council to prevent human rights abuses and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms.  They were tools to promote dialogue and engagement with the State concerned with the view to avoid confrontation, and had a transformative impact as they were tailored to the peculiar socio-economic and cultural specificities of nations.
 
Tunisia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the African Group was determined to work within the Council to double the efforts for the promotion of international cooperation in the field of human rights.  States had the primary responsibility in the promotion and protection of human rights and all countries could benefit from technical assistance and capacity building, if they were provided in line with their priorities and were delivered upon their request.  The adoption of the 2030 Agenda was a great opportunity to strengthen universal peace, and realize the human rights of all with the vision of leaving no one behind.  The role of technical assistance and capacity building was essential.
 
Netherlands, speaking on behalf of a group of 33 States, said the States were deeply concerned about the deterioration of the already catastrophic human rights and humanitarian situation in Yemen, and expressed continued support to the independent investigation into all alleged violations and abuses with a view to ending impunity for crimes committed by all parties to the conflict.  The independent investigatory work carried out by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights remained essential for the collection and preservation of all information, while the report it would present to the September Council must provide a basis for starting a process of accountability.
 
Bahrain, speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, underlined the importance of technical assistance and of providing it to all requesting States.  The Gulf Cooperation Council categorically rejected any attempt to void the concept of technical assistance of its true meaning.  It welcomed the cooperation of the Yemeni national commission of inquiry with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  The Gulf Cooperation Council valued the submission of the report on the human rights situation in Yemen and systematic violations of human rights perpetrated by the Houthi regime, and reiterated its call on the international community to pursue political consultations to achieve peace in Yemen.  
 
Malta, speaking on behalf of the European Union, confirmed its strong support for the important work carried out by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on technical assistance and capacity building.  The European Union recognized the urgent need to bring an end to the human rights violations and abuses in Libya, and the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and Congo, as well as in Yemen.  The European Union acknowledged the efforts made by Guinea to achieve reconciliation, and deplored the attacks by violent extremists in Mali.  It also followed closely human rights developments in the Central African Republic and Ukraine. 
 
Peru, speaking on behalf of the Core Group on National Policies and Human Rights, expressed satisfaction with the quality of the debate of the workshop on ensuring effective and inclusive mechanisms and methodologies to mainstream human rights in the formulation and implementation of public policies held in Geneva on 5 September 2016, in accordance with resolution 30/24.  The Core Group was committed to building on the outcome of the workshop and ensuring the importance of the human-rights based approach to public policies. 
 
Morocco, speaking on behalf of Organisation de La Francophonie, commended the efforts of the authorities in Haiti and encouraged them to continue working with United Nations mechanisms.  Concern was expressed about the situation in Mali, and the international community and countries in the region should help Mali provide a response to security issues.  The Central African Republic was in a serious human rights situation in some prefectures, and the country was encouraged to do its utmost to ensure that peace and security were restored nationwide.  Guinea should implement its action plan, reform the justice system and combat female genital mutilation.  The international community was called on to support the draft resolution on the Voluntary Trust Fund. 
 
Sudan, speaking on behalf of a group of 20 States, said the human rights situation in Yemen required attention and the rejection of the rebels to comply with the peaceful solution was deeply concerning.  The killing of civilians was condemned, and the United Nations and its Special Envoy were called on to bring the parties into dialogue in line with the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative.  All parties were called on to fully respect all human rights and fundamental freedoms, and those responsible for violations needed to be held accountable.  The Yemeni national commission of inquiry was welcomed, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was called on to provide technical assistance in that regard.
 
United Kingdom, speaking on behalf of a group of 45 States, said the Council’s broad mandate and the cause of human rights could be helped by better identifying where the enjoyment of human rights had been strengthened through positive State engagement with the Council and the wider United Nations human rights system.  The group of countries were committed to developing a platform that celebrated success and shared good practices on how this was achieved.  The Council still needed to take appropriate preventive action, react with concern to deteriorating global situations, and respond to human rights emergencies, but that was only part of the work and the duty of the Council.  Developing such a platform could serve as an inspiration for others, encouraging a race to the top.
 
Switzerland commended the essential work of the Office in Yemen and remained concerned about systematic and serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law being committed by all parties to this conflict.  All parties should facilitate access to the High Commissioner’s team entrusted with the task of documenting the human rights situation in the country.  In Afghanistan, civilians were those most affected by the conflict, and Switzerland urged all parties to refrain from attacking civilians and civilian infrastructure.
 
Brazil said that technical assistance and capacity building were one of the main pillars of the Human Rights Council and welcomed the views of those countries which benefitted from such initiatives on how to improve and strengthen the current mechanisms.  While the monitoring of situations that required the Council’s attention remained necessary, the cooperative nature of the Council must be reinforced in all its aspects, to the benefit and the credibility of the Council itself.
 
United Kingdom welcomed the commitment of the new President of Haiti to address human rights challenges and was disappointed that the mandate of the Independent Expert would not be renewed.  The Democratic Republic of the Congo should investigate the alleged shootings of civilians by the army in the Kasai region.  The lack of progress on the Peace and Reconciliation Accord in Mali was concerning; all parties should combat violent extremism and create a less permissive environment for terrorist groups and organized crime networks.  The United Kingdom announced it would host an international conference on Somalia this spring.
 
China noted that technical assistance and capacity building were one of the main mandates of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and should be the priority of its work.  Technical assistance and capacity building should be dispensed in line with the principles of the United Nations Charter and according to the will and needs of concerned countries, and never imposed.  It was important to raise transparency and fund-raising for technical assistance.  China condemned the use of naming and shaming, and the politicization of human rights.  It called on all parties to exchange views on an equal footing when discussing item 10 on technical assistance and capacity building.
 
Netherlands recognized the important steps taken by the Central African Republic to improve the situation in the country, but it remained worried about the general weakness of the justice system.  In Ukraine, the Netherlands was deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation of human rights in Crimea and the rights of ethnic minorities.  The Netherlands underlined its support to Mali to defend itself from extremist groups.  It welcomed the constructive cooperation between Libya and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and called on all parties to cease hostilities.
 
United States extended condolences to the delegation of the United Kingdom for yesterday’s attack in London.  The United States was troubled by the anti-democratic actions in Cambodia, such as the jailing of opposition politicians and civil society figures.  It commended Colombia for having extended the mandate of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and it encouraged Bolivia to extend the mandate of the Office there.  It also commended the work of the offices in Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.
 
Saudi Arabia welcomed the report of the national commission of inquiry in Yemen and urged the implementation of the Human Rights Council resolution 33/16, as well as the recruitment of additional human rights monitors to support the work of the national commission.  Saudi Arabia welcomed the efforts of the Yemeni authorities who sought the improvement of the living conditions of the people, and the peace dialogue on the initiative of the Gulf Cooperation Council.  Everyone should avoid dealing with the puchists and thus giving them credibility and recognition.
 
Iraq welcomed the international efforts to deal with the crisis in Yemen and find a peaceful solution.  It was necessary to establish a dialogue between all stakeholders without external influence; it was a Yemeni crisis which must be dealt with by the Yemenis.  All parties should adopt cooperate to put an end to this crisis.  Iraq was ready to support all attempts to find peace in Yemen and address the humanitarian situation of civilians, and urged all States to support Yemen in emerging from the crisis.
 
Bolivia was concerned about the politicization of the agenda item on technical assistance and capacity building and stressed it was possible to strengthen international cooperation in the field of human rights without arbitrariness.  Respect for diversity was the way forward and finger-pointing was counterproductive.  The principle of universality drew strength from multi-culturalism, and it required exchanges between peers on an equal footing.
 
Bhutan, speaking on behalf of a group of 11 least developed countries beneficiaries of the Voluntary Trust Fund, hailed the initiative which enabled their participation in the work of the Council and ensured that those countries were not left behind.  The presence of those countries in the Council was a steep learning process for them as they learned the human rights architecture, and the fundamental importance of knowing better that human rights mattered for all humanity.  All delegations should lend their support for the resolution on the Voluntary Trust Fund.
 
Canada noted that the independent competences of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and its mandate holders and Special Procedures in the area of technical assistance and capacity building had resulted in concrete results on the ground.  It was for that reason that Canada would support the four resolutions on this subject presented to the Council during the thirty-fourth session.
 
France commended the measures taken by the new President of The Gambia to create a commission of inquiry to investigate disappearances that had taken place during the previous regime.  In Cambodia, France stressed the need to build the rule of law, pluralistic democracy and respect for human rights.  In Tunisia it noted that it was important for the Council to pursue its assistance to the authorities.  France would continue to mobilize and finance the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. 
 
Australia strongly supported the Council’s role in providing technical assistance to build States’ capacity, and to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights.  Australia would continue to support the work of the Regional Office of the OHCHR in Suva, which provided vital capacity building and technical assistance in promoting human rights in the Pacific. 
 
Maldives expressed regret that in the Council, the smallest and most vulnerable countries, which were most in need of protection, were often left without a seat at the table.  In the case of small island developing States, financial and capacity constraints remained an ever-present challenge, and they had a valuable contribution to make.  Token engagement was not enough to overcome the overwhelming silence of their voices on certain issues.  The creation of the Voluntary Trust Fund was meant to address this problem over the long term for both least developed countries and small island developing States.
 
Thailand said that at the upcoming June session the Council would hold its annual discussion on technical assistance and capacity building, which would be a timely opportunity to evaluate achievements and shortcomings.  Drawing on experiences of States, the Office and other stakeholders, the international community could build on its past successes, address existing challenges, and discuss innovative approaches to better promote and protect human rights.
 
Gulf Cooperation Council called for even more support for the Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights and stressed the importance of technical assistance and capacity building in States to help them overcome human rights challenges.  The Gulf Cooperation Council noted the update on the situation in Yemen and underlined the efforts of the Government and the national commissions of inquiry in documenting violations of human rights.  The thematic report of the commission was welcomed and the work of the commission should be supported.
 
Myanmar welcomed the contributions of the Trust Fund to help least developed countries and small island developing States, noting that it had assisted over 51 such States since its inception in 2014.  Most of the countries were facing challenges in the promotion and protection of human rights due to limited resources and shortage of technical skills.  Technical assistance should be provided on the basis of the request of the country concerned.
 
Chad supported the mandate of the Board of the Voluntary Trust Fund and appreciated the technical support and capacity building programmes for national institutions, especially for legislative, judiciary and human rights bodies.  Chad was strongly committed to the promotion and protection of human rights and attached great importance to the role of the United Nations in this domain. 
 
Russian Federation noted that States had the primary responsibility to protect human rights, while the international community should provide them with the necessary assistance.  Activities of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights needed improvement, particularly with respect to the requests of developing States which remained unanswered.  The Russian Federation noted the negative trend of totally unjustified demands on States.  Such activities did not help advance dialogue.
 
Jordan said that technical assistance was necessary in a way that was appropriate for each country’s needs.  As for Libya, the country should be able to face terrorism and find stability and peace.  With respect to Yemen, Jordan had rejected any attempt to impose external interference in the country’s affairs.  Jordan called for the strengthening of negotiations between all stakeholders in Yemen to broker a deal.
 
Sierra Leone stated that the pleas for financial and technical assistance to address accepted recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review should be heeded.  The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights needed to be able to assist more States that were requesting assistance.  Sierra Leone called on all donors to consider continuing and increasing their contributions.
 
Sudan deplored the continuing decrease in voluntary contributions to the Fund, particularly in the last three years, which was having a negative impact.  Sudan welcomed the visit by the High Commissioner’s technical committee to Sudan with a view to enhance human rights capacity building under item 10 on technical assistance and capacity building.  Sudan reiterated that the realization of the right to development could contribute to participatory and inclusive development.
 
Cambodia said that the statements on the situation of human rights in Cambodia ignored the reality on the ground.  Cambodia was a member of nine core human rights treaties, and had extended the presence of the OHCHR office in Cambodia for another two years.  Cambodia was aware of all its responsibilities prescribed by treaties to which it was a party.  Some delegations applied double standards to human rights issues. 
 
Afghanistan independent Human Rights Commission stated that civilian casualties must be avoided during anti-terrorism campaigns.  The Afghan Government had to put an end to the culture of impunity.  Anti-government elements needed to put a stop to extrajudicial killings and violence against women and girls.  Host countries were asked to stop deportations of Afghan refugees.  The Special Rapporteur on Torture should be invited to visit Afghanistan. 
 
Advocates for Human Rights noted that South Africa’s laws were designed to promote the human rights of the black population through affirmative action, but those laws excluded the coloured people of South Africa.  During apartheid, the coloured had not been white enough to enjoy their own full human rights, and now they were not black enough.  Human rights of all people, including the coloured people, ought to be safeguarded.   
 
Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l’Homme noted that a culture of human rights was not a luxury, but a need.  It depended on the provision of adequate education.  The organization called on the Council to consider the human rights situation in Yemen, where people faced violations perpetrated primarily by Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.  A number of judgments had been issued in absentia, including capital punishment. 
 
Amnesty International reminded that two years ago the Saudi Arabia-led coalition had launched air strikes on the Houthi-armed group in Yemen, leading to more than 12,000 civilians killed or injured.  It expressed concern that the Saudi Arabia-led joint incidents assessment team and the Yemeni national commission of inquiry appeared to fall short of international standards, particularly with respect to transparency and impartiality.
 
International Lesbian and Gay Association welcomed the fact that New Zealand, Germany and the United Kingdom had announced that people convicted of homosexuality under former laws could apply for pardons.  It also took positive note of positive developments in Viet Nam, Finland, Lebanon, Peru, Zambia, Iraq and Barbados.
 
Human Rights Watch said it had documented 62 apparently indiscriminate coalition airstrikes on Yemen and 18 more where the coalition had used banned munitions.  The Council should create an independent, international investigative mechanism to examine abuses by all sides in Yemen.  Until then, it should ensure that States supported the investigative efforts of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
 
L’Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l’Homme et de la Démocratie said that justice delayed for the Tamils was justice denied.  Collaborating with a genocidal State was a shame to humanity.  How was the world allowing a perpetrator of heinous crimes to co-sponsor a resolution against itself?  The international community should come forward to cease relations with the Sri Lankan State in order to protect the lives of Eelam Tamil women and children.
 
Liberation brought the Council’s attention to the peculiar case of the non-autonomous territory of Western Sahara, which was in urgent need of technical assistance and capacity building.  The importance of opening the channels and ways of cooperation between the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Saharawi National Commission of Human Rights was emphasized. 
 
Association for Integration and Sustainable Development in Burundi urged the High Commissioner to provide technical assistance and capacity building to the countries affected by caste-based discrimination, including India.  In Gujrat State, for example, Dalit women had been beaten naked because they had tried to access the water from upper caste localities.
 
Prahar appealed to the Council and other treaty bodies and human rights mechanisms to take adequate action for the Assamese script and culture so that it could come back from the path of vanishing.  The Council was urged to develop a plan of action for the provision of technical assistance to the Government of India.   
 
Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme welcomed the opening of different country offices of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Africa to increase capacity building and technical assistance in several countries.  It was concerned about the intensification of violence in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and urged the Democratic Republic of the Congo to open up to human rights mandate holders.  It also called on parties in Ukraine to observe the ceasefire.
 
International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination remained concerned about the failure of the international community to take effective measures to alleviate the dramatic worsening of the conditions in Yemen.  Iran, which had been accused of initiating the conflict in Yemen, remained deeply involved there.  The international community had to take all measures to stop such an illegal interference.
 
Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association reminded that the Indian Armed Forces Special Powers Act of 1958 had enabled the Indian army and paramilitary forces to operate in north-east India and Jammu and Kashmir.  The Human Rights Council should communicate with India to investigate the committed crimes under that act.
 
Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee highlighted the dehumanizing practice of manual scavenging in India.  Since scavenging work was caste-based, it was considered compulsory for a particular caste within the Dalit community.  It had not remained merely an occupation, but had continued as a practice and custom.  The system had rendered a vast majority of oppressed people who were considered “untouchables” deprived of their social, economic and political rights.
 
Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain was worried about the lack of technical cooperation between Bahrain and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, despite the claims that such cooperation was forthcoming.  The Government had not accepted favourable conditions for the technical cooperation programme to have a positive outcome.  Bahrain was demonstrating an attitude running contrary to the spirit of cooperation.
 
Alsalam Foundation said that the situation of human rights in Bahrain had reached deplorable levels.  Recently, there had been an upsurge of human rights violations in the country.  Any cooperation that did not go hand in hand with concrete measures could not lead to positive outcomes.  Security forces had perpetrated violations of human rights in Bahrain. 
 
Iraqi Development Organization drew attention to the Council’s failure to set up an international commission of inquiry into human rights violations committed in Yemen.   The exiled Government was involved in the violation of human rights.  The Saudi coalition had used barrel bombs against civilians on at least 60 occasions, and had caused the largest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War. 
 
United Nations Watch urged the United Nations to do everything it could to stop rape in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  An environment of safety and confidentiality for victims had to be created so that they could report abuses.  An estimated 1.7 million women were estimated to have been raped in the country.  More needed to be done to increase speed, accuracy and effectiveness of reports and to protect innocent women.  
 
CIRID (Centre Independent de Recherches et d'Iniatives pour le Dialogue), in a joint statement with, OCAPROCE Internationale, asked about the role played by the Yemeni national commission of inquiry in the investigation of human rights violations in Yemen.  The Commission could not access a number of regions in the country, and faced a number of obstacles in the area of oversight.  It called for strengthening of assessment mechanisms.
 
ANAJA drew attention to the human rights situation in Iran, where the oppression of ethnic and religious minorities was ongoing.  The Iranian Government did not stop at resorting to torture and doing away with human rights defenders.  The use of all languages other than Farsi at school was prohibited, and Kurds were still marginalized and oppressed.  The number of executions of Kurdish citizens was high.  The Council should extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur.
 
Tourner la page called for the right to self-determination of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka, noting that the security and judicial sector in the country was not sufficiently transparent and impartial to investigate the cases of past crimes.  It called on the Council to establish a mandate on the situation of Tamils. 
 
Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development expressed concern about the human rights situation in Yemen and the need to scale up technical assistance.  Yemen needed guarantees of human rights and should transpose them into domestic laws.  It needed to strengthen its human rights institutions and to set up national plans to protect human rights, particularly to protect those most vulnerable.  
 
Ecumenical Alliance for Human Rights and Development drew the Council’s attention to the crimes perpetrated by the Houthi militias in Yemen.  The Houthi forces had indiscriminately shelled civilian areas and committed murder and torture.  Stability and security needed to be established in Yemen, and the legitimate Government supported.  The militias ought to be held accountable for the crimes they had committed. 
 
Association des étudiants tamouls de France asked that necessary technical assistance be provided to the people of Eelam Tamil until they enjoyed their right to self-determination.  An international investigation had to be established into the crimes against humanity and genocide by the Sri Lankan security forces.  Victims had their reservations regarding the Hybrid Court.  The State that had committed genocide could not be party to an investigation. 
 
Save the Children International, in a joint statement with, Cooperazione Internazionale; Mercy Corps; Action Against Hunger; Defence for Children International; Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies; and Norwegian Refugee Council, expressed concern over the rapidly deteriorating situation in Yemen, which was in a perfect storm of humanitarian, protection and economic crises.  An estimated 18.8 million people needed humanitarian assistance, of whom 10 million were children.  All parties to the conflict were urged to respect international humanitarian law.  An independent investigation was needed.
 
International Buddhist Relief Organization noted that the Sri Lankan forces had defeated the most ruthless terrorist organization in the world, the Tamil Tigers.  In the process, 29,000 soldiers had been killed in action.  While more than 50 per cent of Tamils lived in the south, there were no Sinhalese and Muslims living in the north after the ethnic cleansing by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. 
 
Centre for Organisation of Research and Education said people were aware that in spite of the principle of equality, racism existed in Indian society.  The issue of caste discrimination should be on the Council’s agenda.  Many Dalits were experiencing modern forms of slavery.  The Council was urged to develop a plan of action to better protect minority rights, especially those of Dalits.
 
Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy said technical assistance and capacity-building was important for developing countries.  But it was concerning that some misused that, affecting people in Baluchistan who had been forcefully displaced from their home towns.  Chinese and Pakistani companies were drilling for gas, while locals were being deprived.  The State had responded with violence.  The speaker called for the Human Rights Council to “please save us”.
 
Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights Association spoke as the coordinator for hundreds of Egyptian non-governmental organizations and stated that the support of the Fund should be extended to civil society sponsoring their initiatives.  A deeper partnership between the Universal Periodic Review and civil society was encouraged.  The Fund had high costs in some areas, and it was called on to explain the nature of technical interventions which had resulted in good outcomes in some countries.
 
Association of World Citizens stated that hundreds of media outlets had been closed following the attempted coup d’etat in Turkey.  Turkey was being driven by a fascist force, and hundreds of journalists and politicians were in prison.  Peaceful protests were not allowed in many places, and there was no freedom of speech, press or association.
 
Society for Development and Community Empowerment said that the Tamil people needed technical support and assistance until they were given the right of self-determination.  Many cases of enforced disappearances were taking place as part of arbitrary arrests.  Concern was expressed over the Swiss Embassy’s policy in Colombo, which denied visas to some Tamil human rights activists.
 
Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul stated that the Tamil people were in urgent need of capacity building and technical assistance until they were given the right to self-determination.  The activities of the Sri Lankan State against the Tamils had been of a genocidal nature.  Various commissions of inquiry in Sri Lanka had all failed to deliver justice.  Justice delayed was justice denied, stressed the speaker. 
 
Association Soldiarite Internationale pour l’Afrique said that the national question in the island of Sri Lanka could not be resolved without eliminating the genocidal character of the State itself.  The Council was urged to re-evaluate its approach by investigating the approach itself, which was the real problem.
 
Indian Council of South America noted that the United States had violated the Constitution of the United States and its international law obligations by unilaterally annexing Alaska.  The removal of environmental safeguards by the current United States Administration could serve as an example for reckless endangerment for life and the land.   
 
Right of Reply
 
Pakistan, speaking in a right of reply, said continued political volatility in Afghanistan was a cause for concern for the international community.  Pinning the blame elsewhere was not appropriate.  Had Afghanistan forgotten how Pakistan had welcomed Afghans with open arms, with the people of Pakistan hosting over 6 million Afghan citizens?  The responsibility of a recent terrorist attack had been claimed by Da’esh, which was a common enemy.  By the resilience of its people, Pakistan had broken the back of terrorist outlets.  The Afghan Government tried to shroud its failures by shifting the blame to Pakistan.  Pakistan’s innocent people were at risk from terrorist attacks from across the border.  Pakistan preferred dialogue over conflict.
 
Afghanistan, speaking in a right of reply, said Afghanistan had always preferred communication over confrontation, and had always taken the position that peace in Afghanistan was important both for Afghanistan and for its neighbours.  Osama bin Laden had been tracked down in Pakistan a few years ago.  Mullah Mansour had been killed on Pakistani territory.  The facts presented earlier were not rhetoric from Kabul but hard-core facts.  From January until the present, the Pakistani military had violated the frontier several times.  In an effort to inflate ambiguity, Pakistan had sent a list of terrorists which had been found to be in desperate need of verification.  Afghanistan was fighting 20 groups recognized as terrorists.  Afghanistan was trying to overcome its challenges.
 
China, speaking in a right of reply, said it opposed the statement by some non-governmental organizations which had mentioned things which had nothing to do with the agenda item, and whose wording to describe the Chinese-Pakistani economic corridor was objected to.  The corridor was an important part of Chinese initiatives, and it was not just in the interest of the economic development of China and Pakistan, but would promote trade in the region.  The construction of the corridor had support, and China joined Pakistan in promoting it.  China rejected certain non-governmental organizations bringing up issues which had nothing to do with the agenda item.
 
Pakistan, speaking in a second right of reply, rejected the assertions by Afghanistan.  There had been no improvement of the situation in Afghanistan, and the suffering of the people threatened international peace and security.  The international community needed to evaluate the deteriorating security situation.  The magnitude and complexity of challenges faced by Afghanistan were understandable, but there were opportunities too, and cooperative mechanisms needed to be used to address the unprecedented challenges of terrorism and extremism.  The people of Afghanistan and Pakistan shared a destiny, and Pakistan was ready to support its Afghan brothers and sisters to bring peace and stability to the region.
 
Democratic Republic of the Congo, speaking in a right of reply, underscored that the current mandate of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been revised by the Security Council so that it could protect the civilian population.  Some non-governmental organizations had alleged violations of human rights in the country without providing any facts.  The official Armed Forces did not recruit children; that condemnable practice was done by various armed groups.  The Joint Office of the High Commissioner in the country had also received a clear mandate to look into various allegations of human rights abuses.  Perpetrators, no matter who they were, should be brought to court.
 
Afghanistan, speaking in a second right of reply, thanked Pakistan for the help provided to Afghan refugees over recent years.  The evidence presented by Afghanistan in the Council was made up of hard facts.  Afghanistan was facing serious challenges, but had also made commendable achievements, especially given the history and the current environment.  Pakistan should concentrate its generous support to the joint effort to combat terrorism.  Afghanistan and Pakistan were on the same boat, an honest united front was needed.   
 

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For use of the information media; not an official record

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