GENEVA (19 June 2018) - The Human Rights Council this morning held a general debate on the oral update of Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The High Commissioner addressed the opening of the Council’s thirty-eighth session yesterday and a summary of his statement can be found here.
In the general debate, delegations thanked the High Commissioner for his commitment to promoting and protecting human rights throughout his tenure. Speakers called for a transparent selection process to appoint the High Commissioner’s successor and asserted their commitment to cooperation and dialogue with the Office. Drawing attention to the deteriorating human rights situation around the world, including the refugee crisis, speakers called for increased technical assistance and capacity building efforts. In order to meet these challenges, the High Commissioner’s Office required adequate funding. Some States voiced their disappointment that mandate holders had strayed beyond the parameters of their mandate. A number of States regretted politicized reports from mandate holders.
Speaking in the debate were the delegations of Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, China on behalf of a group of countries, Togo on behalf of the African Group, New Zealand on behalf of a group of countries, Uruguay on behalf of a group of countries, Argentina on behalf of a group of countries, Belgium, Qatar, Pakistan, Germany, Brazil, United Kingdom, Iraq, Tunisia, Croatia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Senegal, Chile, Switzerland, Japan, United States, Hungary, Spain, Slovenia, Republic of Korea, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Mexico, China, Cuba, Georgia, Ukraine, Australia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Nepal, Slovakia, Philippines, Ecuador, Rwanda, Iceland on behalf of a group of countries, Netherlands on behalf of a group of countries, Afghanistan, South Africa, Morocco on behalf of a group of countries, Israel, France, Thailand, Czechia, Norway, Kuwait, Canada, Montenegro, Finland, Jordan, Libya, Italy, Estonia, Sudan, Iran, Zambia, Lichtenstein, Greece, Botswana, Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Netherlands, Latvia, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Honduras, Algeria, Russian Federation, Belarus, Lesotho, Fiji, Benin, India, Portugal, Bolivia, Myanmar, Luxembourg, Ireland, Turkey, Armenia, Mauritius, Bhutan, Viet Nam, Yemen, Morocco, Maldives, Republic of Moldova, Syria and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: International Movement against all Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR); Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y promocion de los Derechos Humanos, Asociacion Civil; Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies; International Federation of Journalists; International Service for Human Rights; Il Cenacolo; Organization for Defending Victims of Violence; Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development; Amnesty International; Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice delle Salesiane di Don Bosco; Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development Forum-Asia; International Muslim Women's Union; Victorious Youths Movement; CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation; Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik; Human Rights Watch; Global Action on Aging (in a joint statement with International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations); Association of World Citizens; Ius Primi Viri International Association; Indian Council of South America (CISA); Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative; Association Dunenyo; France Libertés – Fondation Danielle Mitterrand (in a joint statement with American Association of Jurists; Asociación Española para el Derecho Internacional de los Derechos Humanos AEDIDH and International Fellowship of Reconciliation); Organisation internationale pour les pays les moins avancés (OIPMA); International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD); Alliance Creative Community Project; World Muslim Congress; Commission of Health and Human Rights Promoters; Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l'homme; European Coordination for Association and Individues for the Freddom of Conscience; World Organisation Against Torture (in a joint statement with Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development Forum-Asia and International Federation for Human Rights Leagues); Article 19 - The International Centre against Censorship; United Villages; International Federation for Human Rights Leagues; International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations; United Nations Watch; International Fellowship of Reconciliation; Franciscans International (in a joint statement with several NGOs1); Iraqi Development Organization; Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain Inc; Alsalam Foundation; Women's Human Rights International Association; Global Welfare Association; Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru”; Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights (APWCR); Action of Human Movement (AHM); Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul; L'Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l'Homme et de la Démocratie; International Solidarity for Africa; ABC Tamil Oli; Tourner la page and Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights.
The Council will next hold a clustered interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity and the Special Rapporteur on the right to education.
General Debate on Oral Update by the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, supported efforts for the promotion and protection of all human rights based on the principles of impartiality, non-selectivity and transparency. The High Commissioner’s role and the success of his Office relied on adequate budgetary allocations. Ongoing conflicts showed little sign of improvement and the international community must work towards the resolution of the global refugee crisis. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation called for solutions to crises in Kashmir and Myanmar.
China, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said they were committed to cooperation with the High Commissioner. However, the group of countries regretted the undue focus allocated by the High Commissioner on certain countries and his Office’s insufficient attention to technical assistance and capacity building. The High Commissioner must play a constructive role in responding to human rights issues and must abide by the principles of the United Nations Charter in respect of national sovereignty.
Togo, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the High Commissioner’s update highlighted the deteriorating human rights situation around the world. It was essential to maintain and strengthen cooperation with the High Commissioner’s Office in order to adequately address crises. The values of solidarity and sharing were the only fair and effective responses that would allow for the peaceful coexistence of people. It was important to reassert the universal nature of human rights.
New Zealand, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, voiced deep concern over the human rights situation in Cambodia. The electoral process in that country could not be guaranteed to be genuine. Other concerns included amendments to the constitution that further restricted freedom of expression. General elections scheduled for next month could not be considered legitimate without the participation of the main opposition party. Cambodia was called on to release all political prisoners and create an enabling environment for all media.
Bulgaria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that in Sudan, accountability for perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses was lacking. The European Union condemned the escalation of violence in Cameroon and called on the authorities to de-escalate and engage in dialogue for a lasting solution. They also asked Bahraini authorities to respect the freedoms of opinion, expression and peaceful assembly, and the right to a fair trial. Finally, in Yemen, the European Union said that there needed to be modalities to ensure a durable cessation of hostilities, to achieve a political settlement, and to grant full humanitarian access, ensuring the delivery of life-saving assistance.
Uruguay, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said that all countries should bolster their cooperation with the United Nations. They were concerned that the efficiency and independence of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and therefore the protection of human rights, were being called into question because of budgetary cuts. Also, the rise of nationalist positions and attacks on human rights defenders was contrary to the work of the United Nations.
Argentina expressed, on behalf of the Lima Group, grave concern about the extremely worrying situation of human rights of the Venezuelan people, which had its origins in an unprecedented political, economic, social and humanitarian crisis in this brotherly country. The countries of the Lima Group did not recognize the legitimacy of the 20 May elections because they had not complied with the international standards of a democratic, just and transparent process. The Government of Venezuela should allow the entry of humanitarian aid into the country and the implementation of epidemiological control measures to prevent a public health crisis.
Belgium expressed appreciation for the independence of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in carrying out of his mandate and said that Belgium would continue to support the work of his Office. Belgium shared the concerns about the deteriorating situation of human rights in a number of countries, including the detention of journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders in Turkey and Saudi Arabia, and the persistent repression under the pretexts of the fight against terrorism in Bahrain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Qatar welcomed the efforts of the High Commissioner despite the enormous pressure put on him and his Office. Qatar urged the Council and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to pay attention to the impact on the Qatari people of the blockade that the country was being subjected to. The Syrian people had to defend themselves against the oppression by the regime, and Qatar condemned the violations of human rights in that country as well as by Israel against the Palestinian people.
Pakistan acknowledged the High Commissioner’s report on Jammu and Kashmir and said that, mindful of the plight of the Kashmiri civilians in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan had long sought a sustained focus of his Office on this situation. The report corroborated grave human rights abuses by India and documented excessive use of force, arbitrary arrests, detention and disappearances, mass graves and continued sexual violence, as part of the overall impunity enjoyed by Indian security forces.
Germany said people around the world depended on the fact that human rights violations were being raised at the Human Rights Council. Germany condemned ongoing violence in Nicaragua and welcomed the decision to establish a group of experts to study the violence in that country. Threats to freedom of expression were increasing, with members of the media facing harassment. Germany thanked the High Commissioner for standing as a strong and independent advocate for human rights.
Brazil said human rights were under serious threat in all corners of the world. Extremism and misogynistic discourses were factors contributing to the deterioration of human rights. Against this complex human rights backdrop, Brazil expressed its appreciation for the High Commissioner’s work. The High Commissioner’s Office must be given proper resources to respond to crises and lead capacity building and technical assistance efforts.
United Kingdom urged all States to work constructively with the High Commissioner. Condemning violence in Nicaragua, the United Kingdom called for a resolution to the crisis. Elections in Venezuela had been neither free nor fair. Cambodia was witnessing a continued deterioration of democracy following the disruption of several civil society organizations and media outlets. The Philippines was urged to investigate all killings associated with the war on drugs. Bangladesh was urged to pursue recommendations included in its latest Universal Periodic Review.
Iraq praised the efforts made by the High Commissioner over the past four years. Iraq would cooperate constructively with the High Commissioner’s successor. There were no current requests for visits to Iraq by mandate holders and the Government was proud of its work with all mandate holders. Iraq would continue working constructively with all members of the international human rights system.
Tunisia thanked the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for its support in helping to establish the democratic system in Tunisia. The protection of human rights in Tunisia was held firm by the State’s ability to implement the human rights conventions and treaties. The Office’s cooperation with and support of Member States was key to upholding human rights. Civil society played an important role in the protection of human rights internationally. Women’s empowerment was particularly important.
Croatia said Croatia stood with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and condemned all reprisals against human rights defenders. Of particular concern was the refusal of some countries to cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner. Croatia’s efforts were focused on preserving the independence and integrity of the Office. The space for civil society was diminishing with some Governments introducing restrictive laws to limit their activities. Finally, the Council’s commissions of inquiry and fact-finding missions had significantly contributed to accountability processes in many countries.
Egypt expressed its sincere gratitude for the efforts which had been carried out by the High Commissioner over the past four years in protecting human rights and exercising his Office’s mandate. Egypt would continue dialogue and cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and human rights bodies.
United Arab Emirates thanked the High Commissioner for his views and positions over the years. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights tabled noble and universal values. However, some of those values were used as political tools of pressure. Regret was voiced over the fact that some of the human rights mechanisms had gone beyond their scope.
Senegal noted the remarkable work carried out by the High Commissioner in promoting human rights despite obstacles. The High Commissioner’s update noted progress in some areas, particularly in some African countries. Senegal affirmed the importance of the non-selective character of human rights, particularly the rights of migrants. Senegal expressed hopes that efforts of the High Commissioner and his Office would continue, particularly in the area of technical cooperation.
Chile thanked the High Commissioner for his ongoing efforts in protecting human rights across the globe. His work had been instrumental in raising the visibility of human right violations. That work was occurring at the time of crises and wars and it was precisely in those times that the world needed cooperation. For Chile, international cooperation was and would continue to be a priority. The support of the High Commissioner had been instrumental in drafting the first national human rights plan in Chile.
Switzerland congratulated the High Commissioner for his extraordinary commitment throughout his mandate. In Bangladesh, there were a concerning number of extrajudicial arrests in relation to the war on drugs. Switzerland shared concerns over the disproportionate police intervention in the framework of protests in Nicaragua. Sexual violence against women and girls in India was a major concern and effective investigations were needed to bring perpetrators to justice. Pakistan was urged to abolish the death penalty.
Japan emphasised the increasing importance of the role of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Japan voiced concern over repression of freedoms in the Asia-Pacific region. Tokyo was engaging with States to promote the basic principles of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Noting that this was the current High Commissioner’s last Council session, Japan hoped the selection of his successor would take place in a transparent manner.
United States condemned Nicaragua’s violent response to peaceful protests and urged an immediate investigation into violence in the country. Nicaragua was called on to protect fundamental rights. Washington was concerned over the shrinking space for civil society actors in Egypt. The United States said the press was undergoing increasing repression in Bahrain in the lead up to elections. The President of Maldives was called on to return to a democratic path that led to free and fair elections.
Hungary highly valued all efforts to improve the work of the Human Rights Council. Hungary called on the international community to give priority to the promotion and protection of all human rights. Collective efforts were central to ensuring that rights and freedoms were upheld. Legislation being pursued in Hungary would not affect human rights monitoring at borders as stated by the High Commissioner. Proposed laws aimed to counter illegal migration and human trafficking.
Spain said that the worsening of the human rights situation globally was of great concern. Member countries should offer frank and unfettered access to all human rights mechanisms, which were critical to the effective functioning of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Spain remained firmly committed to the abolition of the death penalty in national and universal respects. It warned that populism undermined the rule of law and jeopardized the cohesion of societies.
Slovenia strongly believed in a wider, multilateral system and only when States worked together could peace be attained. Slovenia was committed to upholding the provisions of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights, which, together with other human rights documents, had proved instrumental in improving the lives of millions. Slovenia urged Member States to cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner and to open their doors to visits by the Office and other United Nations human rights mechanisms.
Republic of Korea took note with appreciation of the recent progress towards a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula and welcomed commitments for the humanitarian measures in those dialogues. The cooperation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with the United Nations was recognized and hope was expressed that existing cooperation could lead to positive effects and substantial improvement of the rights of the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Ethiopia had been undertaking fundamental reforms over the past few months, including lifting of the state of emergency, releasing prisoners, and promoting dialogue with communities. Despite difficulties encountered, Ethiopia continued to register fast economic growth. A Memorandum of Understanding had been signed last April between the Foreign Minister of Ethiopia and the High Commissioner to host the Regional Office for Eastern and Southern Africa in Addis Ababa.
Saudi Arabia thanked the High Commissioner for his oral update covering the latest developments worldwide. Saudi Arabia continued to cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Human Rights Council, including through the Universal Periodic Review. Concerning the operation in the port city of Hodeida, Saudi Arabia stressed that it had been a decision of the Yemeni Government.
Venezuela stated that four years ago a hope had existed that the High Commissioner and his Office would exercise their mandate in accordance with universal human rights principles. Deep regret was expressed that four year had been wasted. Illegal, extremely politicized reports had been produced by the Office, based on remote monitoring and lacking scientific rigour. Such dreadful practices violated the mandate of the High Commissioner and his Office. Venezuela continued along the path of democratic peace, regardless of the false claims of the High Commissioner.
Mexico reiterated its firm commitment to the defense of human rights. Mexico was deeply concerned about the human rights of migrants, insisting that States must uphold the dignity of all people, regardless of their migration status. Criminalizing migration was unacceptable and policies allowing for the separation of children from their parents at borders must be abandoned. Mexico appealed to the Council to carefully follow legislative developments related to migration. Mexico thanked the High Commissioner for his work.
China said the High Commissioner had failed to work in an impartial manner. He had failed to abide by the principles of the United Nations Charter and had jeopardized the principle of national sovereignty by fervently trying to impose his own philosophy on Member States. China urged the High Commissioner to carry out his functions impartially and based on the mandate handed down by the United Nations General Assembly.
Cuba trusted that the principle of impartiality would prevail in the work of the High Commissioner. The High Commissioner’s Office must discharge its duties with strict accordance to its mandate. More must be done to prevent selectivity, double standards and politicization. Cuba was concerned over the rise of hate speech around the world and reasserted its unwavering support for the Government of Venezuela.
Georgia brought attention to the issue of universal access of relevant human rights bodies to certain parts of the world. The High Commissioner had voiced concern that his Office had not been granted access to certain regions of Georgia in accordance with relevant United Nations resolutions. Regimes in control of those occupied territories were contributing to the deterioration of the human rights situation on the ground. Georgia appealed to the international community to ensure the access of human rights bodies to those regions.
Ukraine agreed with the dignitary from Qatar, who said yesterday that football was a way for people to reconcile, however, this did not apply to Russia. Russia had bombed Syria and invaded Georgia and Ukraine, occupied sovereign territories, beat and arrested its own citizens during peaceful protests, and was today hosting the FIFA World Cup. Russian hotels were full of football fans but their prisons were overcrowded with political detainees, many arrested in Ukraine. Ukraine asked that the Council ensure the safe return of prisoners to their homes.
Australia congratulated Ethiopia on easing restrictions, with the return of opposition figures and the release of political prisoners. Elsewhere, Australia was deeply concerned by the increasing frequency of reprisals against human rights defenders and noted reports of detention and harassment of members of civil society and the media, and human rights defenders in Russia, Honduras and Nicaragua. Australia also noted, with regret, the execution carried out in Thailand following a nine-year hiatus.
Democratic Republic of the Congo defended its cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights despite comments made to the contrary. The country was visited by the Office in 2016, during which there was unhindered travel from the east to the west for four days. Also, it was mentioned that the Under-Secretary of the Office, Andrew Gilmour, was invited to visit the country in 2016.
Nigeria was deeply concerned over the rise of populism and anti-migration policies in some States which had negated the human rights of migrants and had exacerbated the already dire conditions of vulnerable migrants. Ongoing negotiations for two global compacts for migrants and refugees had to ensure dignified and humane treatment of all migrants and refugees. Nigeria reiterated the call for the non-politicization of human rights issues as well as the imperative of avoiding a double standards approach in addressing human rights situations worldwide.
Nepal remained constructively engaged with the United Nations human rights mechanisms, including the Special Procedures of the Council. The Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants had been hosted by Nepal earlier this year and invitations for visits had been extended to the Special Rapporteur on the right to food as well as to the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences. The Universal Periodic Review mechanism had become a hallmark of positive international cooperation.
Slovakia said that the High Commissioner had shed light into many dark corners and brought a glimmer of hope to people deprived of their fundamental freedoms. A worrying trend was noticed of prevailing opposition to grant access to the Office of the High Commissioner into the territories required and to accept visits of the Special Procedure mandate holders. Special Rapporteurs were commended for their determination and countries were called on to issue standing invitations to all Special Procedure mandate holders.
Philippines noted that the Office of the High Commissioner had to avoid the pitfall of overemphasis on civil and political rights at the expense of economic, social and cultural rights. Moreover, the High Commissioner had to refrain from the politicization of human rights and double standards. All States were encouraged to contribute to the budget of the Office of High Commissioner and provide un-earmarked voluntary contributions to avoid perception that the independence of the Office was being compromised.
Ecuador agreed on the importance of recalling the fundamental values of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration had created a system that could be improved to better assist victims of rights violations. Ecuador stressed the relevance of bolstering the international human rights system in the light of attempts to manipulate the Human Rights Council’s agenda. The rise of xenophobic discourse was a major concern as was the imposition of unilateral coercive measures.
Rwanda paid tribute to the work conducted by the High Commissioner during his tenure. Rwanda continued to fully cooperate with all human rights mechanisms and had issued standing invitations to all thematic Special Procedures. In relation to the suspended visit by the Subcommittee against Torture, Rwanda said it had granted full access to the Subcommittee and said any issues must have been brought to the attention of the liaison officer appointed to the visit.
Iceland, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said the Philippines, as a Human Rights Council member, was expected to uphold the highest human rights standards. Efforts in that country to counter drug issues must be carried out in full respect of the rule of law and compliance with international obligations. The Government was urged to take measures to end killings associated with the campaign against drugs. Concerns were also raised over reports of harassment of persons exercising their freedom of expression.
Netherlands, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, called on the next High Commissioner to highlight gross human rights violations. The group of countries drew attention to the situations in Myanmar, Syria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They welcomed next week’s United Nations General Assembly debate on the responsibility to protect. The international community must prioritize early warning mechanisms and early action to prevent human rights violations.
Afghanistan was proud to be among the 118 United Nations Member States that upheld human rights. Afghanistan’s accession to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment was a sign of its commitment to all human rights mechanisms. The armed conflict would not hinder their ability to provide a dignified life to all of Afghanistan’s citizens and promote human rights values globally.
South Africa thanked the High Commissioner for the successful conclusion of his term, carried out, they said, under conditions that were the most challenging since the end of the Second World War. South Africa praised the High Commissioner for rising to those challenges. The State lauded the High Commissioner’s focus on the plight of the Palestinian people and asked States that had not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child to do so.
Morocco, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said that 11 Special Procedure mandate holders had visited Morocco, including Western Sahara where they had had access to all parties, including civil society. The issue at stake was a regional one, and efforts had been made to achieve a political solution. Morocco was investing efforts to improve socio-economic conditions and projects had been launched to transform the region into an economic centre. It was important to continue with bilateral efforts and avoid escalation.
Israel agreed that the High Commissioner had a point in saying that there had been much politicization in the Council. Only a month ago, the twenty-eighth special session of the Council had again singled out Israel. The reason was that Palestinians and their allies succeeded in winning a majority. Palestinians were using their own civilians as human shields for their terrorist activities. On the other hand, the Council was alarmingly silent when it had come to the suffering of Israeli civilians.
France welcomed the progress in Ethiopia, Armenia and Tunisia, as stated in the High Commissioner’s update. It was essential for the Special Procedures to have access to “Burma”. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it was important for the upcoming elections to be free and transparent. The Council had to closely monitor the human rights situation in Burundi and South Sudan where over 4 million people were displaced. France was a candidate for renewed membership in the Council for the period 2021-2023.
Thailand was developing its national action plan on business and human rights that would help translate the United Nations Guiding Principles into concrete impact on the ground and was looking forward to welcome two visits of other mandate holders in the near future. The Government was open to the inclusive participation of all stakeholders and the promotion of fundamental rights.
Czechia pointed to the worrisome refusal of some States to grant access to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other human rights mechanisms. Such refusals undermined the universality of human rights. Agreeing with the High Commissioner, Czechia stressed that human rights were not the imposed values of one culture, rather they were the expression of dignity of every human being.
Norway said that States must scale up efforts to live up to the ambitious goal of human rights for all. Rights defenders and journalists must be respected and the rights of minorities must be upheld. Fulfilling human rights was a smart investment in future generations that would help build peaceful societies. In order to enhance the prevention focus of the Council, Norway would introduce a relevant draft resolution on the matter.
Kuwait applauded the important role played by the High Commissioner in the field of human rights throughout his tenure. Kuwait reaffirmed the need for societies to protect human rights and refuse attempts by some actors to impose their values. Armed conflicts were wreaking havoc around the world, disproportionately affecting marginalized communities. Human rights situations in specific countries had direct effects on the global state of rights.
Canada said the High Commissioner had acted as a voice for repressed people around the world. The High Commissioner had provided information that was vital to improving human rights situations. However, some States were not considering such information and recommendations. Canada expressed its gratitude to the High Commissioner for his commitment to human rights on the global stage.
Montenegro recognized the High Commissioner’s brave leadership, outstanding commitment and persistent efforts in promoting and defending human rights and freedoms, with particular regard to defending civil society and human rights defenders globally. Montenegro reiterated its support in upholding human rights freedoms and would continue to strengthen its efforts to respect and fulfil its human rights obligations.
Finland was closely following the human rights situation in Cambodia and offered the Office its support to gain access to separatist regions of Georgia and Ukraine. However, the Council should be more alert to early warnings of human rights violations and abuses. By implementing tools for prevention through those early warning mechanisms, there would be greater accountability for perpetrators of human rights violations and better support for victims. Finland called on Burundi, the Philippines and Venezuela to engage constructively with the Council.
Jordan had already implemented a number of international instruments and exercised national efforts to implement a number of reforms. To commemorate their dedication to human rights, Jordan was printing a seventieth anniversary postal stamp. Jordan also supported all efforts to find a resolution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine and stressed that a Palestinian State must be established with Jerusalem as its capital.
Libya thanked the High Commissioner for his support to the State in implementing human rights. Libya condemned the tragic state of the Rohyngia in “Burma” as well as attacks against the Palestinians by Israel and urged the Council to seek a solution. Libya also recalled current cooperation between the Libyan Government and human rights mechanisms. A Special Rapporteur had visited Libya and the findings during the visit would be relayed during this session of the Council.
Italy noted that finding appropriate responses to the migration situation remained at the top of the Italian human rights and humanitarian agenda. A call was reiterated for the development of comprehensive and holistic approaches based on shared responsibility and international solidarity in order to properly tackle migration. Italy remained actively committed to the fight against trafficking in human beings as demonstrated by its actions to save thousands of lives in the Mediterranean Sea.
Estonia expressed concern over the suppression of dissenting voices, including attacks against public scrutiny by independent media representatives and human rights defenders. Estonia strongly supported the greater involvement of non-governmental organizations in the United Nations. What could the Council do to prevent human rights violations both in the short term as well as in the long term, in building up the resilience of communities?
Sudan noted it was not surprising that the United States had been making allegations on the human rights situation in Sudan. However, no allegations were made by the United States concerning the human rights of Palestinians or migrants. Sudan called on the Office of the High Commissioner to continue with its technical assistance and capacity building programmes.
Iran attached great importance to multilateralism and opposed any policy or measure which might lead to the weakening of multilateralism in the United Nations system. The ongoing grave and systematic violations of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories continued to be a source of great concern. Joint international actions were required more than ever to end the violence and genocide against Palestinians, including in Gaza.
Zambia voiced concern over ongoing human rights violations around the world. There was no single country that could claim to be totally upright with its human rights record, it was only the magnitude of rights abuses that was different. Human rights violators must not continue to be members of the Human Rights Council for the Council to preserve its credibility. Zambia called for further scrutiny of potential Council members.
Lichtenstein commended the impartial manner with which the High Commissioner had carried out his mandate. All States were urged to refrain from reprisals against rights defenders in all circumstances. The situation of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar was a glaring example of the international community’s lack of commitment for accountability. The United Nations Security Council must use its competence to refer the situation to the relevant courts.
Greece thanked the High Commissioner for his pertinent insight into the global human rights situation. Greece underlined its steadfast support to the universality of human rights and unrestricted cooperation with all relevant international human rights mandate holders. The suffering of refugees and migrants was a major priority and the Government was undertaking efforts to improve the lives of migrants.
Botswana said the overall update from the High Commissioner struck a positive note and thanked him for his work throughout his mandate. It was incumbent on all States to ensure the accomplishment of international human rights goals. Botswana hoped that the fulfillment of human rights obligations and commitments would always rise above the limitations of narrow self-interests.
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea took note of the High Commissioner’s efforts for the promotion of human rights during his term. However, regret was reiterated over some stereotyped references on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in his oral update which was, as usual, based upon unconfirmed information that was fabricated and spread by hostile forces. The Office of High Commissioner had to faithfully observe impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity in all of its activities and refrain from one-sided approaches.
Indonesia clarified that it had invited the High Commissioner to visit the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua to have first-hand information on the ongoing improvements of human rights as well as the existing challenges. In the follow up the staff members of the Regional Office in Bangkok had unilaterally set the dates and areas in Papua and West Papua, obstructing the coordination. However, Indonesia remained committed to its standing invitation.
Zimbabwe pointed out that it had not been against the visits of the Office of the High Commissioner and indeed had believed such visits were instrumental in strengthening the capacity of States to comply with their human rights obligations. In this regard, the Government would consider the requests to undertake visits on a case by case basis and work out mutually agreed programmes with the concerned Special Procedure mandate holders.
Netherlands said that the Council had to continue its journey and redouble its efforts in defending human rights worldwide. The Netherlands shared the High Commissioner’s concern over the lack of access to Syria, Myanmar and Burundi. The Netherlands welcomed that the implementation of the resolution on Yemen was on track. It was proud of its standing invitation policy towards mandate holders and all States were encouraged to adopt a similar policy.
Latvia thanked the High Commissioner for his focus on access and cooperation. Latvia was concerned that in occupied Crimea and occupied regions of Georgia, the occupying powers were denying access to human rights bodies. Latvia reiterated its support for the High Commissioner’s tireless efforts throughout his tenure and his strong voice as an advocate for victims of human rights abuses around the world.
Bahrain voiced concern over repeated allegations of human rights violations that were void of meaning and not based on any facts. Such allegations sought to hurt Bahrain. Civil society organizations and the Government were carrying out their activities in a transparent manner. Freedom of expression was an essential element of society. Claims of lack of access to mandate holders were based on inaccurate information.
Costa Rica echoed condemnation of the violence in Nicaragua and urged the Government to cease its indiscriminate use of force and to cooperate with the interdisciplinary group of experts. Medical assistance must be provided to those who were wounded and investigations must be undertaken to bring perpetrators to justice. The United States was urged to cease migratory polices that separated children from their parents.
Honduras placed on record the fact that it was satisfied with the High Commissioner’s openness during his tenure. Genuine dialogue and cooperation were key for the international human rights mechanisms to function. Honduras praised States mentioned in the High Commissioner’s update for progress made in their countries. Honduras was deeply concerned over migratory policies that criminalized children.
Algeria praised the High Commissioner for his courage and dedication. Algeria condemned the continued violations by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories and welcomed information and follow-up visits to Western Sahara. The Office of the High Commissioner and the Council were urged to use previous findings of missions to Western Sahara. A more in-depth debate on migration would be instrumental in addressing all issues pertaining to challenges to human mobility.
Russian Federation said that the High Commissioner’s oral update had pointed out as a major problem the unwillingness of States to cooperate and accept visits of mandate holders. However, the absence of dialogue could not be blamed on one side only. The real reason for refusing cooperation was the loss of trust of States in the Council. The last four years had seen unprecedented strengthening of its monitoring function.
Belarus positively viewed cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner. Cooperation had to be based on the voluntary participation of States. Regret was voiced that frequently human rights mechanisms were drawn into political agendas which had undermined trust in human rights bodies. There was no added value in remote monitoring, as was shown in the case of Belarus where it had been a loss of money and time.
Lesotho joined others in paying tribute to the High Commissioner for his selfless service to the course of human rights. He would be remembered for his humanity and commitment to universal dignity and equality. Treaty body reporting mechanisms inbuilt in treaties deserved to be a composite working mechanism to be carried forward as it continually provided a true introspection for States performance on human rights.
Fiji welcomed the High Commissioner’s first visit to the region earlier this year. The joint analysis by the people of a nation must invite a common perspective as part of efforts to construct a unified identity and promote peace and stability. Such an analysis could yield benefits in States recovering from conflict. Fiji noted the High Commissioner’s efforts to improve the human rights situation in the country.
Benin said human rights violations persisted around the world. Women and children faced ill treatment. Women’s empowerment was pivotal to ensuring that human rights were upheld. Events affecting the movement of persons had imposed on the international community the need to guarantee dignified migration. The movement of people must be seen as an added value, not as a threat.
India was dismayed at the High Commissioner’s reference to a fallacious report already rejected by the Government. Such selective compilation of unverified information distorted the truth. The report also served to undermine the United Nations-led consensus on terrorism. Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India and Pakistan was in illegal, forcible occupation of the region. The Council was urged not to legitimize terrorism.
Portugal said the human rights situation of migrants and refugees was worsening by the day. Resurgent narratives based on prejudice and mistrust were contributing to the deteriorating situation. Portugal expressed pleasure at the High Commissioner’s participation in consultations on issues of mental health and human rights earlier this year. Portugal was proud that its initiative had led the Council to urge the development of community-based, people-centered services to address mental health issues.
Bolivia noted that cooperation with human rights mechanisms was essential and Bolivia had extended an open-ended invitation to all Special Procedures and treaty bodies and had provided all assistance needed during visits. It was further important that principles of objectivity and non-selectivity as well as respect of sovereignty had been adhered to as they had been essential in improving human rights situations worldwide.
Myanmar noted that the promotion of human rights had to be done in an objective and non-selective manner instead of exercising cherry-picking and selective compiling of unfounded information. It was regretful that such reports had found their way to the Council. The situation in Rakhine state was a very complex one relating to several issues, including migration, territorial integrity, terrorism, and national sovereignty, and the risk of communal violence would deteriorate if not addressed properly.
Luxembourg expressed profound gratitude to the High Commissioner and his Office for their work and integrity. Authoritarianism and nationalistic chauvinism had been threatening to undermine the progress that had been achieved over the past 70 years. There were too many human rights crises currently to address them all now. Luxembourg reaffirmed its unwavering belief in multilateralism and human rights principles.
Ireland believed that the rules-based system had to be protected, as it had been the basis for global stability for over 70 years. Ireland noted the High Commissioner’s call for States to cooperate with, and provide access to the mechanisms of the Council, be they commissions, fact-finding missions, Special Procedures or others. Ireland was prioritising a draft resolution supporting civil society space, working closely with the core group of Chile, Japan, Tunisia and Sierra Leone to prepare the resolution for presentation to the Council.
Turkey said it had extended invitations to the High Commissioner and his Office to visit Turkey, including to regions in the south east of the country. In March, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had produced a document on Turkish policy efforts based on remote monitoring that ran against the productive cooperation that Turkey wished to conduct with United Nations mechanisms.
Armenia thanked the High Commissioner for his commitment to human rights throughout his tenure. Armenia highly valued cooperation with United Nations human rights bodies and attached high importance to the role of rights defenders and civil society organizations in the promotion and protection of rights and freedoms. Armenia reiterated its concern over reprisals against journalists in the region.
Mauritius said Mauritius was consistent in its engagement on human rights issues with United Nations entities, including through its participation in the Universal Periodic Review mechanism. The High Commissioner’s report on Jammu and Kashmir used unverified information regarding the situation on the ground. The issue of Kashmir must be addressed in a bilateral manner.
Bhutan said the High Commissioner had brought human rights to the forefront of the global agenda and had made significant contributions throughout his tenure. Turning to Jammu and Kashmir, Bhutan said reports on the region based on remote monitoring would not yield any progress. The Human Rights Council was urged not to take action based on such unreliable reporting.
Viet Nam was determined to ensure full enjoyment of human rights by consolidating the rule of law, boosting legal reform and conducting economic restructuring. Viet Nam was fully compliant with international standards and believed that the optimal way to promote human rights was through a genuine dialogue and all States were called to pursue the same approach.
Yemen noted that the High Commissioner’s report had not accurately portrayed the situation in Yemen, especially when talking about the situation in Hodeida. The narrative portrayed in the report was more in line with Houthi militias. Yemen’s Government had held several peace dialogues and had welcomed the United Nations Special Envoy. Hodeida was used to smuggle arms and weapons and to confiscate humanitarian assistance, while the local population was deprived of assistance because of militias.
Morocco maintained its openness and cooperation with the different human rights mechanisms of the United Nations, contrary to what Algeria had claimed. Western Sahara was open to visits which demonstrated an atmosphere of dialogue and freedom. People of the region freely elected their leaders. Morocco was based on the rule of law and human rights principles.
Maldives said that now, more than ever, there was a need for international human rights institutions and mechanisms that were credible, impartial and strongly focused on the rights and voices and victims. The commitment of Maldives to pursuing meaningful and constructive dialogue across the breath of human rights issues with all relevant stakeholders was reiterated.
Republic of Moldova expressed deep appreciation for the High Commissioner’s passion to address human rights issues. Unimpeded access was essential to the Human Rights Council’s work and the Republic of Moldova had hosted visits from several mandate holders. The presence of international human rights experts was of particular importance regarding areas not covered by a nation’s constitution.
Syria said double standards adopted by certain countries were present in the Council’s agenda. Israel was using the Council to attack particular States. The High Commissioner’s report encouraged people to rise up against their governments. The report failed to account for terrorist activities in Syria that were being funded by outside powers. Having shared information on attacks with the High Commissioner, Syria was dismayed his update did not reflect that information.
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia thanked the High Commissioner for his oral update to the Council. It took courage to work for the benefit of the many, while certain States sought to abuse their power. The mandate of the High Commissioner would be remembered as a success. The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia stressed that only when States worked for each other could peace be attainable, and echoed the standing ovation the High Commissioner received yesterday.
International Movement against all Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR) shared the High Commissioner’s concerns on the growing threat of chauvinistic nationalism which denied the universality of human rights. The High Commissioner’s concerns on the situation in Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Myanmar and the United States were echoed.
Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y promocion de los Derechos Humanos, Asociacion Civil noted that, as stated in the report, figures of people being displaced and murdered in Mexico were horrific. Regret was voiced that 14 recommendations issued to the Government of Mexico had not been addressed. On the contrary, a law was issued allowing army forces to continue to use torture as a legitimate tool.
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies noted that the situation in Yemen continued to be the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, with 22.2 million civilians requiring humanitarian aid, including 11 million children. Germany, Norway, Finland, Belgium and the Netherlands were commended for beginning to restrict arms sales to Saudi Arabia given its conduct in Yemen. However, the United Kingdom, the United States and France continued to supply billions of dollars in arms to Saudi Arabia and other coalition members.
International Federation of Journalists said that for almost a decade they had suffered a campaign of harassment and persecution by the Iranian authorities because of their work as journalists at the BBC. Families of journalists in Iran had been threated and banned from travel. The Council was asked to urge Iran to address this matter.
International Service for Human Rights said that constructive engagement with the Office through technical cooperation should be complemented by reporting measures and speaking out. It was said that human rights defenders were the real heroes of the human rights movement, however some defenders were prisoners of the State. Civil society would not stand down until the prisoners were freed.
Il Cenacolo urged the re-establishment of fundamental rights for sub-Saharians in Algeria. Those refugees were denied work in the country where they were detained. Freedom of expression was also suppressed for a detainee, who was investigated by an Algerian military officer, arrested on drug charges. This detainee required immediate international assistance.
Organization for Defending Victims of Violence found that the unilateral, coercive measures of four Middle Eastern countries sanctioning Qatar were a violation of human rights. Measures to sanction Qatar had also been taken by the United States. Also, a mechanism needed to be established to protect children, especially in Iran. Such measures were crucial to the human rights of Iranian people.
Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development said that States, national and international institutions and civil society bore the responsibility for ensuring the enjoyment of human rights, which could not be confused with an attempt to create a morally perfect society. The actual aspirations of human rights were quite modest but this should not distract from their full force.
Amnesty International shared the grave concern about serious human rights violations on both sides of the line of control in Kashmir and urged India to repeal the Armed Forces Special Power Act and address the impunity of its armed forces for human rights abuses, and also urged Pakistan to repeal its anti-terrorism legislation. Amnesty also shared the High Commissioner’s deep concern about the draconian bill in Hungary concerning civil society organizations working with migrants and refugees.
Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice delle Salesiane di Don Bosco welcomed the report on the gaps in human rights protection in the context of migration due to climate change, and expressed concern about the vulnerability of youth in this context. Young people, when empowered, were very effective agents of change at the local level, including in addressing the negative impact of climate change.
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development Forum-Asia said that the active and outspoken role that the High Commissioner played had helped shine a light on several human rights situations and it was hoped that this would remain an inspiration for his successor. The Forum echoed concerns about the widespread and systematic attacks on Rohingya in Myanmar which involved allegations of grave international crimes, including genocide. India and Pakistan should fully cooperate with the High Commissioner’s call for a commission on inquiry on the human rights situation in Kashmir.
International Muslim Women's Union thanked the High Commissioner for his work and for being able to compile a report on the continuing human rights violations in Kashmir. The lingering, long-lasting dispute was particularly affecting women. The report captured well violence against women and the use of rape perpetrated in the states of Jammu and Kashmir by the security forces.
Victorious Youths Movement drew the attention of the Council to the vulnerability faced by people in Western Sahara. People were living in camps without adequate protection offered and the situation of children and women was deplorable. The international community was urged to speak against such types of practices which have been increasingly affecting the human rights situation.
CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation shared the High Commissioner’s concerns about civic space restrictions in Bangladesh, in particular threats and attacks against journalists from government-affiliated groups, security forces and religious extremists and the failure to bring perpetrators to justice. Equally worrying were recent violent attacks on civil society in Nigeria resulting in 170 deaths.
Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik thanked the High Commissioner for his oral update and continuous work to ensure the promotion of human rights, and expressed hope that the heritage left by the High Commissioner would continue to live following the end of his term. The report detailed denial of access to the Office of the High Commissioner and Special Procedures in almost 40 countries. Access to Iran had been continuously denied since 2005, including to two former Special Rapporteurs on the human rights situation in Iran.
Human Rights Watch said that the High Commissioner had brought due attention to the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela where food shortages had made it difficult for families to feed their children. The report on Kashmir had well-documented human rights violations by Indian and Pakistani troops, who had killed and injured hundreds while displacing Kashmiri Hindus.
Global Action on Aging in a joint statement with International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, said they liked the High Commissioner’s input on the violations of social and economic rights worldwide. Violations of civil and political rights were rooted in a failure to uphold and fulfil social and economic rights. It was also noted that social and economic rights were in decline in many countries because of the abdication of State responsibilities.
Association of World Citizens stated that when States worked together for all people, peace was attainable. There were women from the war in Yemen, the extent to which people faced conflict situations, and States needed to protect people as a whole, children in particular. Food was of critical importance but the children also needed a family environment and critical medical treatment.
Ius Primi Viri International Association thanked the High Commissioner for raising the alarm about the situation in Yemen and hoped that the upcoming report on this country would address the situation of forced recruitment of children by the militias. Yemen played an important role in regional peace and security and it was an imperative to maintain its fabric.
Indian Council of South America (CISA) requested the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to ensure that the incoming High Commissioner addressed the situation of human rights of indigenous people in Alaska and Hawaii, in the context of the right to self-determination as guaranteed by the United Nations Charter. The Office must not let itself be intimidated by the United States on the issue of decolonization and human rights.
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative shared the concern about the indiscriminate use of force against peaceful protestors in the Anglophone region of Cameroon, and called upon the Government to stop the violence. The killing of scores of people in the context of the war on drugs by the armed forces of Bangladesh was condemned.
Association Dunenyo welcomed the intention of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to pay a visit to Western Sahara, which would shed real light on the situation in this area. Morocco had managed to reach a reasonable level of socio-economic development and to start a reconciliation process. It was not possible to deny that there were many ambitious plans for development in the rural areas, and the international community had an obligation to ensure the conditions for sustainable development.
France Libertés – Fondation Danielle Mitterrand in a joint statement with American Association of Jurists; Asociación Española para el Derecho Internacional de los Derechos Humanos AEDIDH and International Fellowship of Reconciliation, said that in the occupied territories of Western Sahara, which was described as a non-self-governing territory, the Moroccan occupation authorities had targeted Saharawi civilians and human rights activists. Authorities used a systematic policy of defaming human rights activities. The Council was called to create a special mandate on the occupation of Western Sahara.
Organisation internationale pour les pays les moins avancés (OIPMA) believed that all reports submitted under agenda item 2 could be a starting point for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. All promises, practices and lessons learned had to be reflected in plans of action on local, national and regional levels, involving all relevant stakeholders.
International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD) was deeply concerned about human rights violations in Europe. Asylum seekers arriving in Europe found themselves either trapped in Eastern Europe without proper asylum protection conditions, or in Turkey which could not be always considered a safe third country. Poor reception conditions were present everywhere and integration in local communities was not achieved.
Alliance Creative Community Project informed the Council of the need to create an independent Commission of Inquiry which would investigate crimes committed against the “Macedonian” minority in Greece since 1917. Greece and “Macedonia” recently signed an agreement, negotiated under heavy international pressure, to end the name dispute. However, this agreement had violated the “Macedonian” constitution and peaceful demonstrations in “Macedonia” had followed.
World Muslim Congress commended the High Commissioner for releasing the first-ever detailed report on Kashmir as well as the human rights defenders of Indian-occupied Kashmir who cooperated with the Office. The report recognized that Jammu and Kashmir was an international dispute and that the right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people was protected under international law. It was, however, time for India to come out of denial mode and to open the territory of Kashmir for international scrutiny.
Commission of Health and Human Rights Promoters said that the report of the High Commissioner covered a very brief period, since 2016, however, it was enough to show the massive atrocities committed in Jammu and Kashmir.
Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l'homme found that the global migrant crisis in the Mediterranean was grave and the separation of Mexican children from their families at the border with the United States was unacceptable. The technical cooperation in many African countries had not borne fruit, mostly due to a lack of resources. Donors should, thus, renew their financial generosity so that the Office could continue to meet its noble objectives.
European Coordination for Association and Individues for the Freddom of Conscience expressed deep concern about the situation of the Church of Almighty God, a new Christian religious movement, which had four million members in China. According to the Criminal Code, the members of the Church could be arrested for belonging to a banned organization, and this was a typical case of a crime of conscience, with people being punished for their beliefs. China should respect the freedom of religion.
World Organisation Against Torture in a joint statement with Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development Forum-Asia and International Federation for Human Rights Leagues called for the early establishment of a commission of inquiry to conduct a comprehensive investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir. Grave human rights violations by the law enforcement and armed forces in Kashmir were met with chronic impunity and exoneration, and in India they enjoyed a de facto immunity, with victims unable to obtain justice. The rampant misuse of Pakistani’s anti-terrorism laws, violation of land rights, and restrictions of freedom of religion and expression, were also of concern.
Article 19 - The International Centre against Censorship reiterated the High Commissioner’s call to speak louder on the issue of human rights violations and condemned the repression of journalists and independent media in Turkey, Malaysia, Iran and Russia. Article XIX thanked the High Commissioner for his services.
United Villages said that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act was being used with impunity against the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and joined the High Commissioner in calling upon India to immediately repeal it and remove a requirement for a prior authorization by the central government to prosecute security forces accused of human rights abuses in civilian courts. Also, India should establish an independent, impartial and credible investigation into all civilian killings which had occurred since July 2016.
International Federation for Human Rights Leagues shared the concern of the High Commissioner over the situation in Nicaragua in which lethal use of force by State security forces had been documented against peaceful protesters. The Government was urged to create conditions conducive for dialogue and adhere to the recommendations of the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights. In Kashmir, the call for accountability in Kashmir present in the High Commissioner’s report was welcomed.
International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations congratulated the High Commissioner for all of his efforts carried out over the past years but noted that the Office of the High Commissioner had not been doing its work. The Office of the High Commissioner was not cooperating with non-government organizations. This had to become a high priority for the Council.
United Nations Watch said that the United Nations had been working contrary to its aims when Iran was elected to the board of United Nations Women; Saudi Arabia was awarded a seat on the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women; and Turkey, a country which prosecuted human rights activists, was a member of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations. Allowing such practices showed that the United Nations was failing to uphold its mission.
International Fellowship of Reconciliation noted that the report of the High Commissioner had referred to the 2016 visit of the Special Rapporteur to Turkey, however the situation had significantly deteriorated since then. In the Russian Federation, members of Jehovah's Witnesses, an organization renowned for its non-violence attitude, were charged with terrorism. This was not only bizarre but also obscene.
Franciscans International, in a joint statement with several NGOs1, regretted the degrading human rights situation in the Philippines, which had refused visits by the Special Rapporteur to the country. Because of the Philippines’ lack of cooperation with Special Procedures, Franciscans International called on the Council to conduct independent investigations in the country to clearly define the threats to human rights and human rights defenders in the Philippines.
Iraqi Development Organization said that Bahrain continually repressed the freedom of expression within its borders. This was evident when a peaceful assembly in 2013 resulted in death and over 280 arbitrary arrests as well as the sequestering of village borders. No investigation had been carried out after the fact and the Government was still involved in carrying out tactics to repress human rights.
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain Inc thanked the High Commissioner for highlighting of the situation of their colleague, Nabeel Rajab, and the charges against him. They remained concerned that he would face additional prison charges for 14 other cases. There were also several other high-profile human rights defenders, activists and political figures still in prison in Bahrain. Bahrain had systematically closed civil and political space. It was critical that the country take steps to ensure fair and legitimate elections.
Alsalam Foundation found that Saudi Arabia often pushed back against universal human rights principles, including women’s rights and civil and political space. Despite this, many Saudi activists had advocated for domestic reforms but were often the victims of suppression. The Government had, for example, arrested people working to promote women’s rights. After their arrest, the State media had engaged in a campaign to vilify the activists.
Women’s Human Rights International Association drew attention to the repression of human rights defenders and journalists in Iran and urged the High Commissioner to prevent the Iranian authorities from further executions. Iran was able to act with total impunity because the international community had failed to hold them to account.
Global Welfare Organization said that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had violated the human rights of all people in Sri Lanka for over three decades and said that the Sri Lankan armed forces had defeated those ruthless terrorists and protected the rights of all people in the country, including the Tamils themselves. The Council should correct the mistakes contained it its resolution 30/1 and recognize the heroic soldiers of Sri Lanka.
Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru” said that the general crisis that was currently shaking the world was interconnected and unprecedented: financial crisis, food crisis, and migrant and refugee crisis. Nationalism was the enemy of the United Nations and represented a danger for international peace.
Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights (APWCR) thanked the High Commissioner for his ground-breaking report on the forgotten and neglected conflict in Kashmir, which must be resolved soon. On 14 June, a few hours after the report had been released, a prominent Kashmiri journalist and editor had been assassinated after his newspapers had praised the report, and this was one illustration of the hardship the people suffered under Indian rule.
Action of Human Movement (AHM) said West Cameroon was under the violent colonial occupation of the Republic of Cameroon. The people of West Cameroon faced brutal repression at the hands of the Government, with acts such as rape used as weapons against indigenous populations. The military’s actions had resulted in massive internal displacement. The group appealed for humanitarian assistance to affected populations.
Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul said acts by certain Spanish judges in the Catalan region of the country over recent months were not in line with the United Nations Charter. Several Catalonian leaders were facing forced exile. Supreme Court judges had used false evidence and were denying the right to freedom of a number of political leaders. Spain was called on to act impartially on the matter.
L'Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l'Homme et de la Démocratie said people all over the world depended on the fact that the Human Rights Council was considering their plight. The group called attention to the Tamil genocide in Sri Lanka and said recent efforts to commemorate the event were repressed. Tamils in India were also facing repression at the hands of the Government.
International Solidarity for Africa urged the Council and High Commissioner to provide the necessary technical assistance and capacity building to protect the Tamil people of Sri Lanka. While Sri Lanka made public commitments to cooperate with United Nations bodies, it failed to take action. It asked that an international investigation into the alleged violations of human rights by Sri Lankan Security forces against the Tamil people, ending in May 2009, be opened.
ABC Tamil Oli said that after nine years of war, torture, sexual violence, disappearances, torture camps, militarization and the demolition of places of worship had become standard practice. Victims had neither say nor control. The Tamil people were particularly vulnerable and were denied justice. The Sri Lankan Government was sending war criminals as ambassadors and external department officials to foreign countries to threaten Tamil refugees. The Council, they said, should cease relations with Sri Lanka to protect the lives of Tamil women and children.
Tourner la Page said that the people of “Macedonia” needed the support of the Office of the High Commissioner. “Macedonians” demonstrated against the Government, which was putting their language, identity and history in danger as well as their Constitution, because of negotiations with Greece. The demonstrations were suppressed with tear gas and rubber bullets. This was a scandalous situation and violated the right of self-determination.
Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights stated that the Palestinians, enduring over 50 years of occupation, and residents in Gaza subsisting in near unliveable conditions, believed that the Council’s advocacy of impartial monitoring and expert recommendations were entirely justified. They urged the States to further the High Commissioner’s call on Israel to provide access to all human rights mechanisms to enable impartial monitoring and advance accountability and justice.
1. Joint statement on behalf of: Franciscans International; Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development Forum-Asia; International Commission of Jurists; International Federation for Human Rights Leagues; International Service for Human Rights and World Organisation Against Torture.
For use of the information media; not an official record
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