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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADOPTS RESOLUTION ON THE IMPACT OF THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL CRISES ON HUMAN RIGHTS



Human Rights Council
23 February 2009




Council Concludes Tenth Special Session


The Human Rights Council this morning concluded its tenth Special Session after adopting a resolution on the impact of the global economic and financial crises on the universal realization and effective enjoyment of human rights which expressed deep concern that the universal realization and effective enjoyment of human rights were challenged due to multiple and interrelated global economic and financial crises.

In the resolution, which was adopted by a vote of 31 for and 14 abstentions, the Council underlined the urgent need to establish an equitable, transparent and democratic international system to strengthen and broaden the participation of developing countries in international economic decision-making and norm-setting. The Council also expressed grave concern that these crises threatened to further undermine the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals including the Millennium Development Goals.

The Council, in the resolution, stressed that the global economic and financial crises did not diminish the responsibility of national authorities in the realization of human rights. It called upon States, notwithstanding any possible impact of the global economic and financial crises, to respect their human rights obligations and to continue their efforts towards the universal realization and effective enjoyment of all human rights, particularly by assisting the most vulnerable, and in this context urged the international community to support national efforts to, inter alia, establish and preserve social safety nets for the protection of the most vulnerable segments of their societies. The Council reaffirmed that an open, equitable, predictable and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system could substantially stimulate development worldwide, benefiting all countries, particularly developing countries, and thereby contributing to the universal realization and effective enjoyment of all human rights.

In explanations of the vote before and after the vote, speakers expressed concern over the failure of the Council to reach a consensus on the draft resolution. They said the final text of the resolution did not take into account the obligation of States to continue to protect human rights despite the crisis. Others said that despite the fact that there was no consensus on the text of the resolution, today a message was sent to the poor and needy that the Human Rights Council was trying to help and was aware of their plight, and was responding through commitments already in place.

Speaking this morning were representatives of Germany on behalf of the European Union, Canada, Switzerland, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, Cuba, Egypt, and China. The President of the Council also made concluding remarks.


The Human Rights Council will next meet on Monday, March 2 to start its tenth regular session.



Action on Resolution

In a resolution (A/HRC/S-10/L.1) on the impact of the global economic and financial crises on the universal realization and effective enjoyment of human rights, adopted by a vote of 31 for and 14 abstentions, the Council expresses deep concern that the universal realization and effective enjoyment of human rights are challenged due to multiple and interrelated global economic and financial crises; underlines the urgent need to establish an equitable, transparent and democratic international system to strengthen and broaden the participation of developing countries in international economic decision-making and norm-setting; expresses grave concern that these crises threaten to further undermine the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals including the Millennium Development Goals and calls upon all States to refrain from reducing international financial resources for development, official development assistance and from imposing protectionist measures, and to maintain their commitments to mobilize and sustain financial resources for development, in accordance with the Monterrey Consensus on Financing for Development, and to make concerted and sustained efforts to contribute to an early recovery; stresses that global economic and financial crises do not diminish the responsibility of nation authorities in the realization of human rights; and calls upon States, notwithstanding any possible impact of the global economic and financial crises, to respect their human rights obligations and to continue their efforts towards the universal realization and effective enjoyment of all human rights, particularly by assisting the most vulnerable, and in this context urges the international community to support national efforts to, inter alia, establish and preserve social safety nets for the protection of the most vulnerable segments of their societies.

In the resolution, the Council also calls on States to ensure that those at risk of being most affected by the global economic and financial crises are protected in a non-discriminatory way; reaffirms that an open, equitable, predictable and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system can substantially stimulate development worldwide, benefiting all countries, particularly developing countries, and thereby contributing to the universal realization and effective enjoyment of all human rights; recognizes the central role of the United Nations in the international system and welcomes the decision of the General Assembly to hold a high-level conference on the world economic and financial crises and its impacts on development due to take place 1-4 June 2009; and in this context recommends that an invitation be addressed by the General Assembly to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to participate in this high level event and to present a report with suggested recommendations, building on the deliberations of this special session, so as to invites relevant thematic Special Procedures, within their respective mandates, building on the deliberations of this special session, to consider any of the impacts of the global economic and financial crises on the realization and effective enjoyment of all human rights particularly economic, social and cultural rights, and to integrate their findings in this regard in their regular reports presented to the Human Rights Council, with special attention to non-discrimination and to ways and means to ensure respect for and protection of the human rights of vulnerable and marginalized groups, particularly women, children, migrants, migrant workers and their families, indigenous peoples, and people living in poverty, and on the elimination of acts of racism and xenophobia and promoting greater harmony and tolerance in all societies; invites the treaty bodies, within their respective mandates, to consider any of the impacts of the global economic and financial crises on the realization and effective enjoyment of all human rights, and to consider presenting recommendations thereon. The Council decides to remain seized of the implementation of the present resolution.


The result of the vote was as follows:

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

Against (0):

Abstentions (14):Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Ukraine and United Kingdom.



REINHARD SCHWEPPE (Germany), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the European Union, said that the European Union had engaged constructively in the drafting of the resolution. They recognized that the economic and financial crises had direct consequences on developing and developed nations. The realization of human rights including economic, social and cultural rights lay with States. States should take responsibility to ensure that those rights were provided for and protected, including the most vulnerable groups. The European Union regretted that much of the language in the draft resolution focused on international trade and development, rather than addressing the direct mandate of the Human Rights Council. The current economic and financial crises should not weaken the ability of States to protect human rights. The European Union strongly regretted that a consensus could not be reached and that the Human Rights Council could not fully discuss the complexity of the current economic and financial crises. The European Union would call for a vote on the resolution and would abstain in the vote.

JOHN VON KAUFMANN (Canada), in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said Canada was concerned over the failure of the Special Session to reach a consensus on the draft resolution. Canada noted that the concerns of many countries had not been taken into the text of the resolution. The Human Rights Council should focus on issues under its mandate, namely to promote human rights without any discrimination. The final text of the resolution did not take into account the obligation of States to continue to protect human rights despite the crisis. Canada requested that the resolution gave attention to the primary responsibility of States to protect and promote the human rights of individuals. As efforts to find appropriate balance between national and international responsibilities had not been successful, Canada would abstain in the vote.

DANTE MARTINELLI (Switzerland), in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that Switzerland expressed concern last Friday of the threat represented by the crises to the protection and promotion of human rights. Switzerland thanked the sponsors of the resolution. However, they regretted that there was not enough time to reach consensus with the text. Switzerland regretted that the Human Rights Council was not sending direct messages that the crisis did not justify for States to ignore human rights during such times. For these reasons and others, Switzerland decided it would abstain during action on the draft resolution.

AKIO ISOMATA (Japan), in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the current economic and financial crises had an enormous impact on the realization of human rights and thus Japan had supported having a discussion in the Human Rights Council on the subject. Japan expressed its respect for the efforts put in drafting the text of the resolution, but stressed that the main focus needed to be put on human rights. Japan had been hoping that the Special Session could send a strong message to the international community and said Japan would abstain due to lack of consensus.

MARIA NAZARETH FARANI AZEVEDO (Brazil), in the explanation of the vote after the vote, said that the reason they had convened the Special Session was not to shame people and accuse them of starting the crises, but because Brazil deeply believed that the Human Rights Council had a duty and mandate to discuss the promotion and protection of human rights. The consequences of the economic and financial crises on unemployment, health, or mortality could anger people and cause political problems. Brazil believed that the resolution was a balanced one, and that it covered the issues that did not exactly belong to the realm of human rights, but they were there as an explanation of the context.

JOSE GUEVARA (Mexico), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that like others Mexico regretted that there was no consensus on this matter. This Special Session should contribute to international efforts to reduce the negative effects of the crises with concrete proposals. Mexico had contributed to the draft of the resolution to improve the text’s focus on the human rights perspective, however, the will was lacking to reach a compromise on the text, which was regrettable.

JUAN ANTONIO FERNANDEZ PALACIOS (Cuba), in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said Cuba regretted that the Special Session was unable to conclude with a consensus. Cuba did not think this was the responsibility of anyone, as there had been cooperation on the part of the co-sponsors. Cuba was unable to understand some Members States who had stated that the resolution was a blank check for the violation of human rights, as it dealt only with international financial institutions. This was unfair.

HISHAM BADR (Egypt), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, thanked all the co-sponsors for the resolution, including China, Russia and India, among others. Egypt believed that today the Council did the right thing, despite the fact that there was no consensus on the text of the resolution. Today a message was sent to the poor and needy that the Human Rights Council was trying to help and was aware of their plight, and was responding through commitments already in place. Further there was nothing new that was added today. A balance was struck through political, social and cultural rights. Egypt reiterated that it was happy about the decision taken today by the Council. The Human Rights Council had addressed the crises in an appropriate and effective way.

QIAN BO (China), in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that China had supported the Special Session and it thanked Brazil and Egypt for their contribution to the process. The resolution was not adopted by consensus and that was regrettable. The deterioration of the crises would deal a heavy blow to all countries, especially developing ones. The concerted efforts of all countries were needed to deal with the financial crisis and China hoped that the international community could join hands and work together. The Human Rights Council had a role to play there, to strengthen the protection of all human rights, including civil, political, economic, social and cultural, as well as the right to development.

MARTIN IHOEGHIAN UHOMOIBHI, President of the Council, in his closing remarks, thanked all the independent experts and representatives of specialized agencies who spoke last week before the Council. He stressed that the resolution adopted, including that the Council should remain seized by the matter, was important to the future the work of the Human Rights Council. He recalled the text of the resolution, which stated that the global economic and financial crises did not diminish the responsibility of States to ensure human rights were upheld. The Human Rights Council could have remained quiet and pretended that human rights were not affected in the current economic and financial crises, but the Council did make its voice heard and did send an extremely important message to all members of the international community today.

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