عودة


Human Rights Council extends mandates on countering terrorism, Syria, Iran, South Sudan and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

عودة

22 رجب, 1440

MORNING

Adopts 12 resolutions

GENEVA (22 March 2019) - The Human Rights Council this morning adopted 12 resolutions in which it, among other actions, decided to extend the mandates of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism for a period of three years, the Commission of Inquiry for the Syrian Arab Republic for one year, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran for one year, the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan for one year, and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for one year.

Other adopted texts concerned the implementation of recommendations on accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem; empowering children with disabilities for the enjoyment of their human rights, including through inclusive education; the thirtieth anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child; human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan; the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination; the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem; and on Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan.

In a resolution adopted without a vote, the Council decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism for a period of three years and requested all Governments to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur in the performance of the tasks and duties mandated.

In a resolution on the human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, adopted by a vote of 28 in favour, five against and 14 abstentions, the Council decided to extend the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry for one year and requested the Commission of Inquiry to provide an oral update to the Council during the interactive dialogue at its forty-first session, and to present a report during an interactive dialogue at the forty-second and forty-third sessions. 

By a vote of 22 in favour, seven against, and 18 abstentions on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Council decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran for a period of one year, and requested the Special Rapporteur to submit a report on the implementation of the mandate to the Council at its forty-third session and to the General Assembly at its seventy-fourth session. 

In a resolution adopted without a vote, as orally revised, the Council decided to extend the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan for a period of one year and requested the Commission to present an oral update to the Council at its forty-second session in an interactive dialogue, and to present a comprehensive written report to the Council at its forty-third session in an interactive dialogue.

In another resolution adopted without a vote, the Council extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for a period of one year and requested the Special Rapporteur to submit regular reports to the Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly, including on the follow-up efforts made in the implementation of the recommendations of the commission of inquiry.  The Council also decided to continue to strengthen, for a period of two years, the capacity of the Office of the High Commissioner, including its field-based structure in Seoul, and requested the High Commissioner to provide an oral update on the progress made in this regard to the Council at its forty-third session and to submit a full written report on the implementation of the recommendations to the Council at its forty-sixth session. 

By a vote of 23 in favour, eight against and 15 abstentions, the Council requested the High Commissioner to strengthen the field presence of the Office of the High Commissioner in the occupied Palestinian territory, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, and to deploy the personnel to document the ongoing violations of international law, to follow up on the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the commission of inquiry, and to provide the Council with an oral update at its forty-second session.

In another resolution adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council decided to focus its next annual full-day meeting on the theme “Realizing the rights of the child through a healthy environment”, and it requested the High Commissioner to prepare a report on that theme and to present it to the Human Rights Council at its forty-third session.

In a resolution adopted without a vote, the Council invited the President of the Council to consider the theme “Thirty years of implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child: challenges and opportunities” for the annual high-level panel discussion on human rights mainstreaming to be held at the forty-third session of the Council.

In a resolution on human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan, adopted by a vote of 26 in favour, 16 against and five abstentions, the Council requested the Secretary-General to bring the present resolution to the attention of all Governments, the competent United Nations organs, to disseminate it as widely as possible and to report on this matter to the Human Rights Council at its forty-third session.

In a resolution on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, adopted by a vote of 41 in favour, three against and two abstentions, the Council called upon Israel to immediately end its occupation of the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and urged all States to adopt measures as required to promote the realization of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people, and to render assistance to the United Nations in carrying out the responsibilities entrusted to it by the Charter regarding the implementation of this right.

In a resolution on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, adopted by a vote of 39 in favour, three against and five abstentions, the Council demands that Israel, the occupying power, withdraw from the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, and to cease all of its settlement activities, and cease immediately its imposition of prolonged closures and economic and movement restrictions, including those amounting to a blockade on the Gaza Strip.

In a resolution on Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, five against and 10 abstentions, the Council called upon business enterprises to take all measures necessary to comply with their responsibilities under the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and requested the High Commissioner to report to the Human Rights Council on the implementation of the provisions of the present resolution at its forty-third session, with particular emphasis on the policies and practices linked to the settlement enterprises that discriminate against the Palestinian population in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. 

Israel, State of Palestine, Syrian Arab Republic, Islamic Republic of Iran and South Sudan spoke as concerned countries.

Speaking in introduction of draft texts were Pakistan on behalf of Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Uruguay, Romania on behalf of the European Union, Mexico, United Kingdom and Sweden.

Tunisia, Philippines, Egypt, Bulgaria on behalf of the European Union, Australia, United Kingdom, Qatar, Cuba, Peru on behalf of group of countries, and Iraq spoke in general comments.

Australia, Czech Republic, United Kingdom, Spain, Uruguay, Iceland, Brazil, Austria, Egypt, China, Uruguay, Pakistan, Iraq, Cuba, Denmark, Japan, South Africa, Mexico and Argentina spoke in explanation of the vote before the vote.

South Africa, Chile, Australia, Tunisia and Iceland spoke in explanation of the vote after the vote.

The Council will reconvene at 3 p.m. to conclude taking action on resolutions and decisions before closing its fortieth session.

Action on Resolution under the Agenda Item on the Annual Report of the High Commissioner, Reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General

Action on Resolution on Ensuring Accountability and Justice for All Violations of International Law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem

In a resolution (A/HRC/40/L.25) on ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, adopted by a vote of 23 in favour, eight against and 15 abstentions, the Council requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to strengthen the field presence of the Office of the High Commissioner in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, and to deploy the personnel and expertise necessary to monitor and document the ongoing violations of international law in the context of large-scale civilian protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in accordance with the findings of the independent international commission of inquiry on the protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, to follow up on the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the commission of inquiry, and to provide the Human Rights Council with an oral update at its forty-second session, and to present a report to the Council at its forty-third session, to be followed by an interactive dialogue.

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (23): Afghanistan, Angola, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Cuba, Egypt, Eritrea, Iraq, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Spain and Tunisia.

Against (8): Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Fiji, Hungary and Ukraine.

Abstentions (15): Argentina, Bahamas, Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Iceland, India, Italy, Japan, Nepal, Rwanda, Slovakia, Togo, United Kingdom and Uruguay.

Pakistan, introducing draft resolution L.25 on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, reminded that in order to avoid any politicization, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation had tabled the draft resolution under agenda item 2.  That in no way diluted the importance that the Organization gave to agenda item 7.  It was imperative to end the impunity in the occupied Palestinian territory, and to promote the relevant rules and principles of international law, including international humanitarian law, and the Geneva Conventions.  The resolution called for the safety and wellbeing of all civilians and their protection in armed conflict.  It underscored the work of the Commission of Inquiry and other relevant mechanisms of the Council.  It welcomed the Commission’s work on the protests in the occupied Palestinian territory and called on all stakeholders to pursue its recommendations.  It called on all States to promote human rights obligations, and to respect international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.  It requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to strengthen the field presence of her Office in the occupied Palestinian territory, particularly in the Gaza Strip, and to deploy personnel and expertise to document the violations in the context of large-scale protests.  Pakistan urged Member States to ensure accountability and to adopt the draft resolution by consensus. 

Tunisia, in a general comment, said this resolution was a message to be sent by the Human Rights Council to all victims in the occupied Palestinian territories and remaining occupied Arab territories.  No one was beyond the law or accountability, and no one enjoyed international immunity.  The fact-finding mission on Gaza in 2014, and the Commission of Inquiry, confirmed the violations perpetrated by Israel.  Justice could not prevail without forcing the occupying power to respect international humanitarian law and human rights law.  The Council had an ethical and legal obligation to the Palestinian people until the end of the occupation.  It called on all Member States to support the principle of accountability for the Palestinian people.

Philippines, in a general comment, supported the draft resolution but registered their reservations on OP6 of the resolution as they were not part of the International Criminal Court.

Israel, speaking as the concerned country, said the resolution aimed to legitimize the erroneous report of the Commission of Inquiry on the Gaza border fence events.  The mandate of the report was to investigate the “military assaults” on “civilian protestors”, this terminology clearly influenced the Commission’s work and findings.  Hamas had immediately congratulated the Commission of Inquiry and the report.  The Council should take into account the serious lack of evidence as well as the presence of political bias in the report.  The Commission ignored key facts of the Gaza border events, including Hamas’ involvement.  It ignored the 1,300 rockets fired by Hamas during the same period.  The Commission displayed disrespect to Israel’s legal system and misrepresented their legal position.  The Commission seemed to accept information from Hamas unquestionably.  These deficiencies led to clear mistakes and biases and led to the failure of the Commission to stop Hamas sending women and children as human shields.  Israel was willing to study and act on its conduct and to consider lessons learned, but it did so without relying on international reports.   The resolution was damaging and should be rejected.  The Council was losing its credibility and persisted in legitimizing those who undermined human rights.

State of Palestine, speaking as the concerned country, thanked the European Union’s mission that had worked diligently to preserve a unified European position on the principle of accountability.  It reminded that a number of regional groups had requested an independent and transparent investigation into the violations committed in the context of large-scale peaceful protests in the occupied Palestinian territories.  Israel had refused to deal with that investigation.  Had it been allowed access, the Commission of Inquiry would have witnessed the inconsistencies of some of the allegations of the occupying power.  The Commission of Inquiry had not found any injuries inflicted on Israeli civilians, whereas on the Palestinian side, women, elderly and persons with disabilities had deliberately been killed and wounded, in direct violation of the Rome Statute, and thus amounting to crimes against humanity.  A number of European ministers had called for the application of accountability.  During the past week, during the interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Israel had said that a crime had been committed against an Israeli child.  The State of Palestine rejected any attacks on children.  However, were attacks on non-Jewish children acceptable?  The State of Palestine called on everyone to reason and to preserve international peace and order.

Australia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said they had been consistent in their opposition to one-sided anti-Israeli bias.  The text of this resolution failed to call for accountability on both sides.  It was unacceptable that Hamas was not included in the text of this resolution.  The context of this resolution did nothing to bring together the Israelis and Palestinians in a long-term solution. Australia maintained that a two-State solution was needed, called on both sides to respect international law, and requested investigations of any actions that broke international law.  For this reason, Australia would maintain their opposition to the resolution.  Australia called for a vote, and would vote no.  Australia also maintained their principled opposition to agenda item 7 and would vote no on resolutions under it.

Czech Republic, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, was convinced that respect for the rule of law by all parties was the corner stone of peace and stability for all countries.  The human rights violations of Palestinians should be investigated by this Council.  However, this resolution was unbalanced.  The Czech Republic did not accept that the protests in Gaza started last year were purely civilian, and Hamas had some involvement in them.  For these reasons the Czech Republic would vote no on this resolution.

United Kingdom, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that item 7 was divisive and an impediment to peace in the region.  The United Kingdom would continue to vote against each resolution tabled under item 7 on principle.  This resolution, tabled under item 2, was being considered, but on the basis of the text, the United Kingdom would abstain from the vote.  Accountability should be perused fairly, they could not accept an inquiry which refused to scrutinize Hamas and did not look into human rights violations by all parties.  Israel had the right to self-defence, but the United Kingdom had their long-standing concern against the use of live ammunition.  The United Kingdom supported the scrutiny of Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories at the Council so long as it was balanced, transparent and did not take place under item 7.

Spain, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reminded that in May 2018 it had voted in favour of the establishment of an Independent and Impartial International Commission of Inquiry into the violations committed in the context of protests in the occupied Palestinian territory because it was fully convinced of the need to establish accountability.  Spain appreciated the State of Palestine’s efforts to achieve a more balanced text and to consider it under agenda item 2.  Hamas must ensure that they did not provoke the other party and that protests were peaceful.  That was not reflected in the text of the draft resolution.  The organizers must at all costs avoid risks for the loss of lives.  Israel’s security was of utmost importance for Spain as it faced unacceptable terrorist threats and attacks.  Israel must be able to defend itself using proportional means.  Despite the shortcomings in the text of the draft resolution, Spain would vote in favour.

Uruguay, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, believed that Israel had the right to self-defence and to be able to exist safely within internationally recognized borders.  But the use of force by the Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip was deleterious.  Uruguay had expressed its concern about that on a number of occasions.  There were existing mechanisms which could have considered the excesses committed during March and December 2018.  Uruguay was thus not sure that progress towards dialogue and negotiations would be made by establishing a new mechanism.  Uruguay reiterated the need for ensuring a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with respect for international law.  The Palestinian and Jewish peoples had the right to have their own States. 

Iceland, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, expressed concern at the human rights abuses laid out in the report.  Israel must respect proportionality, and must refrain from the use of force against civilians, particularly against children who posed no threat to life.  However, the resolution should be more balanced.  It did not reflect the moves by Israel to investigate the allegations of violence against Palestinians.  It did not reflect Hamas’ role in the acts of violence, and that Hamas as a governing party had failed to prevent these acts.  Iceland called for all acts of violence to be accounted for, and for these reasons Iceland would abstain.

Brazil, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, appreciated the flexibility of the Palestinian delegation in the preparation of the resolution.  Brazil had voted in favour of the resolution that established the Commission of Inquiry to look into protests in the Palestinian territory.  Brazil reiterated its regret at the violence of the past year, and its solidarity with the victims, and called for the full respect of international humanitarian law.  The Brazilian Government recognized the need for all countries to defend themselves, but the use of violence should be proportionate.  Brazil reiterated the need for a thorough investigation.  However, the Commission of Inquiry had overstepped its mandate in this case.  In this context, Brazil could not support it, and would vote against draft resolution L.25.

Austria, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said compliance with international humanitarian law and human rights law, including accountability for serious crimes, was a precondition for justice.  It urged Israel to make credible responses to what was contained in the report.  However, the report did not take into account the wider context of the attacks nor the role of Hamas.  Austria urged all Palestinian duty bearers to hold those responsible for ongoing attacks accountable.  The gaps in the report were mirrored by the gaps in the resolution.  Singling out Israel in item 7 was not helpful and entrenched positions.  Austria could not support the revolution as it was concerned about the need for all sides of the conflict to take accountability; selective demands for accountability led to partial justice.  It would vote against the resolution.

The Council then adopted resolution L.25 by a vote of 23 in favour, eight against, and 15 abstentions. 

South Africa, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said the Council had a moral duty to insist on accountability for violations of international human rights law in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, for the sake of those living under violent occupation, akin to apartheid.  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights required everyone to call for accountability everywhere when gross violations occurred.  International human rights law enjoined everyone to do so non-selectively.  The placement of the draft resolution L.23 under agenda item 2 was not an erosion of item 7, and South Africa expressed hope that the Council would remain seized with the plight of the Palestinian people, ensuring the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and that no one was left behind, especially Palestinian women and children.

Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, including the Right to Development

Action on Resolution on the Rights of the Child: Empowering Children with Disabilities for the Enjoyment of their Human Rights, including through Inclusive Education

In a resolution (A/HRC/40/L.20/Rev.1) on the rights of the child: empowering children with disabilities for the enjoyment of their human rights, including through inclusive education, adopted without a vote (as orally revised), the Council urges States to take all measures necessary to ensure the full enjoyment by children with disabilities of all human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis with other children, without discrimination of any kind; calls upon States to respect, protect and fulfil the right to education for all children with disabilities, including with regard to its availability, accessibility, acceptability and adaptability, quality and inclusiveness; and encouragesspecial procedures and other human rights mechanisms of the Human Rights Council to continue to integrate a child rights perspective while implementing their mandates, and to include in their reports information, qualitative analysis and recommendations on the rights of the child, paying particular attention to the rights of children with disabilities.  The Council decides continue its consideration of the question of the rights of the child … and to focus its next annual full-day meeting on the theme “Realizing the rights of the child through a healthy environment”, and requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report on that theme, in close cooperation with all relevant stakeholders… including children themselves, and to present it to the Human Rights Council at its forty-third session, with a view to providing information for the annual day of discussion on the rights of the child.

Uruguay, introducing draft resolution L.20 Rev.1, said it invited States to take all necessary measures to provide children with disabilities with the same rights as all other children.  These should be in line with the Convention on Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.  It called on Member States to take steps to protect children from violence of all forms.  Under the text, a number of measures were foreseen, including that inclusive schools should be provided to empower children with disabilities, curricula should be adapted, and teacher training and support should be given to families of affected children.  The drafting of the resolution had been held in a consultative manner, and Uruguay believed that the text was balanced and took stock of a number of issues raised by delegations.  Uruguay valued the contribution by international organizations and civil society groups, and called on all States to co-sponsor the resolution and adopt it by consensus.

Romania, also introducing resolution L.20, said that children with disabilities were 10 times less likely to attend school and those who did were more likely to drop out or face discrimination.  This marginalization and discrimination was exacerbated by the lack of quality inclusive education, preventing those with disabilities from entering the workplace.  This resolution would help people with disabilities to fully and effectively participate in society on an equal basis with others.

The Council adopted the resolution without a vote.

Action on Resolution on the Thirtieth Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child

In a resolution (A/HRC/40/L.21) on the thirtieth anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted without a vote, the Council invites the President of the Human Rights Council to consider the theme “Thirty years of implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child: challenges and opportunities” for the annual high-level panel discussion on human rights mainstreaming to be held at the forty-third session of the Council; requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to make provisions and provide resources for the above-mentioned panel discussion and to circulate the relevant information among States and other stakeholders; and encourages States to use the anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child as a tool to raise awareness of the Convention and to maintain momentum and increase action with respect to the rights of the child.

Uruguay, introducing draft resolution L.21, explained that the theme of the draft resolution was the thirtieth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and suggested that it be the topic of the annual panel on incorporating a human rights perspective to be held at the Council’s forty-third session.  It called on the High Commissioner for Human Rights to plan other events to commemorate the anniversary.  Given that the Convention was the only document practically ratified by all Member States, it was upon everyone to ensure the rights of children.  The commemoration was an opportunity to highlight achievements and the pending challenges.  The negotiation process of the draft resolution had been open, transparent and inclusive.  Uruguay was pleased that the draft resolution had been co-sponsored by all members of the Council.

Romania, also introducing draft resolution L.21 on behalf of the European Union, reminded that the Convention on the Rights of the Child had been ratified by 196 States parties, which was a reason for commemoration.  The European Union believed that the thirtieth anniversary was an occasion to re-commit to the implementation of the Convention.  The holding of the mainstreaming high-level panel with the theme “30 years of implementation of the Convention of the Rights of the Child” was an opportunity to mainstream the rights of the child into the United Nations system.  Protecting and fulfilling the rights of the child had to be a priority.

Tunisia, in a general comment, thanked the co-sponsors of resolution L.21.  The resolution came at a time of various challenges faced by children globally, including violence, displacement and asylum, hate speech, the rejection of the other, as well as growing gaps in economic development.  All of these factors had impacts on the rights of the child and the development of the child.  The fact that the text called on having a high-level panel to coincide with the thirtieth anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child meant it would give the Convention a new impetus for unifying the efforts of those signatories.  That was why Tunisia supported this resolution.

The Council then adopted the resolution without a vote.

Action on Resolution on the Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering Terrorism

In a resolution (A/HRC/40/L.29) on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism for a period of three years; requests all Governments to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur in the performance of the tasks and duties mandated, including by responding promptly to the Special Rapporteur’s urgent appeals and providing the information requested; and requests the Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide all the necessary human, technical and financial assistance to the Special Rapporteur for the effective fulfilment of his or her mandate.

Mexico, introducing resolution L.29, said it concerned the extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of fundamental freedoms while combatting terrorism for a further three years.  The cooperation between Egypt and Mexico to table a resolution on this important and sensitive subject, despite differing views within the Council, allowed it to speak again with one voice.  The dialogue was positive and would allow further discussions and negotiations.  The renewed mandate would ensure that the Special Rapporteur would consider the effects of terrorism on victims particularly.  They hoped the resolution would be adopted without a vote, as usual.

Egypt, in a general comment on behalf of a group of countries, reminded that its core group’s initiative had been merged with the one of Mexico in March 2018, which had sent a strong and unified message of solidarity to the victims of terrorism.  Egypt was always ready for any positive initiative that could reach consensus in the Council.  Egypt and Mexico had agreed to continue working together and they had held one round of formal consultations.  Unfortunately, that round was not able to reach an agreement on a text reflecting different views.  Egypt was disappointed that the effects of terrorism could not be added to the mandate of the Special Rapporteur.  Egypt was of the view that the draft resolution thus only reflected only one aspect of terrorism. 

Bulgaria, in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, reminded that in March 2018, the Council had decided to merge different initiatives into one substantive resolution on terrorism.  It still supported the merger, but when it came to the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, it was of the view that it should remain focused solely on the question of the promotion of human rights while countering terrorism.  The European Union agreed that the existing system was failing and that there was a need for monitoring States’ human rights obligations when countering terrorism.  Political opposition and human rights defenders were increasingly being labelled as terrorists and enemies of the State.  Accordingly, the European Union’s priority was to ensure that the independence and integrity of the mandate was respected, and it advocated that the focus on protecting human rights while countering terrorism not be lost.  There was no need for a separate mandate focusing on the effects of terrorism.  The European Union called on everyone to join consensus on the resolution.    
    
Australia, in a general comment, condemned all forms of racism and the sentiments that drove them.  Australia extended its condolences to the victims of the Christchurch terrorist attacks.  They stood together to condemn the violence behind the attacks, and stood with Muslims, supporting their right to practice their religion without fear.  Terrorism was a transnational challenge requiring international cooperation.  Australia stressed the need for States to respond to terrorism in accordance with international law.  Australia supported the extension of the Special Rapporteur’s mandate as set out in this resolution.  They commended the flexibility of the main sponsor of this text, and their ability to incorporate the different views presented.

United Kingdom, in a general comment, condemned the terrorist attacks in Christchurch New Zealand and extended its sympathies to the families of the victims.  The United Kingdom believed that any activities to counter terrorism must be done within the rule of law.  A State that violated human rights in its attempts to tackle terrorism was failing in doing so.  The United Kingdom recognized diverging views within the Council on how to reconcile these perspectives, and commended Mexico for reconciling the different interests presented during the drafting process.  Renewing the mandate had ensured the independence of the Special Rapporteur, and the United Kingdom intended to support the resolution without further amendment.

The Council adopted the resolution without a vote.

Chile, in an explanation of the vote after the vote after the Council ended the consideration of resolutions under agenda item three, speaking about L.22 Rev.1, recognized the contribution of environmental human rights defenders in the protection of the environment and economic, social and cultural rights which all members of society had a right to.  Chile had been unable to sponsor this resolution as there was a reference to documents that Chile had not signed.  As a member of the Non-Aligned Movement and committed to peace, Chile did not support regimes that violated human rights by refusing humanitarian aid to their people.  Concerning another resolution, Chile said it had not supported the resolution.

Australia, in an explanation of the vote after the vote after the Council ended the consideration of resolutions under agenda item three, said that it did not accept references to the phrase “communities of shared future,” because that language reflected domestic political discourse.  Australia favoured the use of internationally accepted “realization of economic, social and cultural rights.”  It further regretted that the majority of draft resolutions had been shared late.  It was fundamental for good faith negotiations that draft texts be delivered in a timely manner to allow full and proper negotiations.

Tunisia, in an explanation of the vote after the vote after the Council ended the consideration of resolutions under agenda item three, was pleased that a number of draft resolutions under item three had been adopted by consensus, which facilitated dialogue and progress in dealing with various human rights issues.  Tunisia supported those draft resolutions that dealt with economic, social and cultural rights, discrimination against women, environmental human rights defenders, freedom of religion or belief, and the Special Rapporteur on terrorism.  Human rights were interdependent, inalienable and indivisible.  Civil and political rights could not be implemented without economic, social and cultural rights.        

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

Action on Resolution on the human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic

In a resolution (A/HRC/40/L.7) on the human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, adopted by a vote of 28 in favour, five against and 14 abstentions, the Council deplores the fact that the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic continues in its ninth year with its devastating impact on the civilian population, and urges all parties to the conflict to abstain immediately from any actions that may contribute to the further deterioration of the human rights, security and humanitarian situations; demands that the Syrian authorities cooperate fully with the Human Rights Council and the Commission of Inquiry by granting the Commission immediate, full and unfettered access throughout the Syrian Arab Republic; urges all parties to take note of the recent recommendation of the Commission of Inquiry on ensuring that the right of return is fully respected and facilitated by guaranteeing that all return movements are voluntary, safe and dignified and subject to informed consent to the places of origin and protect all property and tenancy rights; condemns in the strongest possible terms the repeated use of chemical weapons by the Syrian authorities; decides to extend the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry for a period of one year; and requests the Commission of Inquiry to provide an oral update to the Human Rights Council during the interactive dialogue at its forty-first session, and to present an updated written report during an interactive dialogue at the forty-second and forty-third sessions. 

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (28): Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Spain, Togo, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Uruguay.

Against (5): China, Cuba, Egypt, Eritrea and Iraq.

Abstentions (14): Angola, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa and Tunisia.

United Kingdom, introducing on behalf of a group of countries draft resolution L.7 on the human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, said that in drafting it, they used information from the ground, as well as reports from the Commission of Inquiry.  This draft reflected strengthened language on sexual violence, persons with disabilities, and the need to ensure child protection.  They incorporated the findings of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons regarding the use of chemical weapons.  Many of the details of the resolution would not be possible without the work of the Commission of Inquiry, and therefore extending its mandate for a further year was essential.  The negotiation process for the drafting of this resolution had been open and transparent, and the group of countries called for the resolution to be passed without a vote.  They urged all Member States to put the plight of the Syrian people first, to support the United Nations-led political process under the auspices of the Special Envoy of the Secretary General, and to adopt the text by consensus.

Qatar, also introducing resolution L.7, said the resolution condemned terrorist acts aimed at civilians and the use of chemical weapons, and stressed the importance of guaranteeing accountability and promoting the mandate of the independent international mechanism.  It called on the Council to vote in favour of the resolution.

Cuba, in a general comment, rejected that deaths within this conflict were attributed to one party without proper investigation.  The role of the international community was to help ensure peace and stability, not to incite deadly acts.  Cuba denounced the politicization of the Council.  This resolution would not help to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict.  Cuba would vote against it.

Bulgaria, in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, said the European Union supported the draft resolution.  The conference organized by the European Union recently aimed at mobilizing financial international support and aid to Syrians inside and outside the country, at supporting civil society, and at sending a signal that justice and accountability were needed for achieving peace in Syria.  The European Union appreciated the work of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, and it continued to express deep concern about the humanitarian crisis in the country.  The European Union would therefore vote in favour of the draft resolution.

Australia, in a general comment, appreciated the open and consultative process on the draft resolution.  It reminded that the Syrian people, particularly women and children, continued to suffer grave human rights violations.  The Council must continue to shine light on the human cost of the Syrian conflict, including on the use of chemical weapons.  Australia urged all parties to allow safe and unimpeded humanitarian access and to respect human rights law, and it urged all members of the Council to support the draft resolution. 

Peru, speaking on behalf of a group of countries in a general comment on resolution L.7, was deeply concerned at the continuing human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law by all countries involved in the conflict.  However, the group of countries regretted that the draft did not include a text calling for all States to refrain from transferring weapons to the region, if these curtailed human rights.  Peru also believed there was a moral responsibility to curtail profits from actions that benefitted from human suffering, such as arms transfers and illegal diversions.  Peru had proposed such wording in the draft text, but it had been rejected, to their regret.

Iraq, in a general comment, stressed that the only possible solution to the conflict in Syria was to have an inter-Syrian dialogue, respecting the sovereignty of the people of Syria, without international interference.  The resolution laid blame on one party, weakening the chances of reaching a permanent solution.  Iraq respected the mandate to investigate the crimes perpetrated by all parties but regretted that the text had not been updated to assuage the reservations of some Member States.  Iraq’s main reservations were that the resolution did not treat all members to the conflict as equally responsible in upholding human rights; it did not address the catastrophic situation of refugees in camps and no measures were outlined to return them to their homes and start reconstruction; and it generally did not take into consideration the evolving situation on the ground.

Syrian Arab Republic, speaking as the concerned country, noted that the draft resolution was no exception to the previous biased decisions against Syria.  It was an unacceptable approach that undermined the role of the Council in protecting human rights on the basis of objectivity and non-selectivity.  References to extra-territorial jurisdiction undermined Syrian law.  Syria rejected misconceptions about its law.  The draft resolution put the legitimate Government and terrorist groups on an equal footing.  It also ignored the illegal occupation in certain parts of Syrian territory, which was expected because the co-sponsors were complicit in the aggression against Syria and in crimes concealed by the draft resolution.  Syria called for respect of international law in all operations of the Council.  The mandate of the Commission of Inquiry should not be extended because it was politicized.  The International Impartial and Independent Mechanism had been launched by the Governments sponsoring terrorism in Syria.  Accordingly, Syria called on all members of the Council to reject the draft resolution.       

Egypt, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said its main priority had always been to end the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic and end the suffering of its people.  It reiterated the sovereignty of Syria, and the need to resolve the issue via the Geneva process, in order to preserve the independence of Syria and the legitimate goals of the Syrian people.  Egypt thanked the co-sponsors for their conducive approach to drafting, though they still saw that the draft text was not free from the clear politicization of the work of the Council, and did not reflect its main role, which was to promote human rights.  Hence, the draft resolution lacked balance in designating those responsible for human rights abuses in Syria.  The draft resolution was also based on unofficial non-United Nations sources, and included more than one reference to the International Criminal Court, on which the position of Egypt was well known.  As a result, Egypt was keen not to take part in the Council’s deeply political resolutions against countries by name, and would vote against this draft resolution.

China, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that disputes should be resolved through constructive dialogue rather than through resolutions which singled out countries.  The sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of the Syrian Arab Republic should be respected.  The resolution unilaterally exerted pressure on the Syria Government and would not help to end the conflict.  China would be voting against the resolution.

Uruguay, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the resolution emphasized the need for access for humanitarian aid and highlighted concern for women, children and internally displaced people.  Uruguay was pleased that the language to protect children had been strengthened and that there was a call to end attacks on school and hospitals.  It regretted that their proposals were not included in the text, including an explicit reference on the responsibility of all parties that breached international humanitarian law and international human rights law to be held to account, as well as a paragraph on accountability for States transferring weapons to any party in the conflict.  The suffering of civilians had gone on too long, and all parties to the conflict should continue a peaceful negotiation to peace.  Uruguay would vote for the resolution.

The Council then adopted resolution L.7 by a vote of 28 in favour, 5 against, and 14 abstentions. 

Action on Resolution on the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran

In a resolution (A/HRC/40/L.15) on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, adopted by a vote of 22 in favour, seven against and 18 abstentions, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran for a further period of one year, and requests the Special Rapporteur to submit a report on the implementation of the mandate to the Human Rights Council at its forty-third session and to the General Assembly at its seventy-fourth session.  The Council calls upon the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur and to permit access to visit the country and to provide all information necessary to allow the fulfilment of the mandate; and requests the Secretary-General to provide the Special Rapporteur with the resources necessary to fulfil the mandate.

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (22): Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine and United Kingdom.

Against (7): Afghanistan, China, Cuba, Eritrea, India, Iraq and Pakistan.

Abstentions (18): Angola, Bangladesh, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Nepal, Nigeria, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Togo, Tunisia and Uruguay.

Sweden, introducing the draft resolution L.15, explained that it aimed at extending the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran for a further period of one year, with a view to improving the situation of human rights, in light of persisting human rights concerns.  Apart from technical updates, no other changes had been made in the text compared to the text adopted in 2018.  Sweden positively noted the improved engagement of the Government of Iran with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  It also called on the Government of Iran to facilitate the request from the Special Rapporteur to visit the country.  Cooperation with the Special Rapporteur and other mandate holders offered an opportunity for Iran to engage with the Council on the concerns that persisted about the human rights situation.

Bulgaria, in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, said the European Union was concerned about the situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran.  The European Union welcomed the improved engagement of the Government with the Human Rights Council.  The authorities were urged to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran and facilitate a country visit.  The draft resolution was a short procedural text with the main idea of extending the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran for another year.

Islamic Republic of Iran, speaking as the concerned country, said the appointment of a Special Rapporteur for Iran through a country-specific resolution was a politically motivated and unjust scheme.  It was disturbing that putting States on the spot had become a course of convenience for the wholesale human rights violators, who wished to use it as a smokescreen.  Draft resolution L.5 and its mandate contributed to clichés against Iran, and it was regrettable that the Human Rights Council’s time and budget had been diverted to this course.  Iran deeply regretted that Sweden and a few other countries had persisted in their unconstructive approach against Iran.  This approach lacked good faith, particularly as they remained indifferent to the atrocities conducted in the region by their allies.  Iran had vigorously engaged with the Universal Periodic Review Process since 2008, and continued to enhance its constructive interaction with the United Nations human rights mechanisms.  Iran urged Sweden to discontinue its unlawful and unconstructive pathway, and called upon the Human Rights Council Member States to vote against the draft resolution.

Pakistan, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it supported constructive engagement with United Nations and Council mechanisms but that States had the primary responsibility in guaranteeing human rights.  Since this resolution defied the principle of sovereignty and independence and did not have the support of the country concerned, Pakistan would vote against it.

Uruguay, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it would abstain for the vote in order to be consistent with the fact that it did not support its establishment in 2011.  Special Rapporteurs played a vital role in monitoring human rights around the world but Uruguay questioned what contribution this mandate would make to protecting the human rights of the people of Iran, suggesting that other mechanisms would be more appropriate.  The priority should have been on constructive dialogue and keeping channels of communication with the country concerned open.  Uruguay remained concerned about the situation in Iran, including the execution of underage persons, and it called on Iran to align itself with recommendations and cooperate with the High Commissioner during an upcoming visit. 

Brazil, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, noted that the work of the Special Rapporteur had shed light on many troubling issues in Iran.  Brazil deeply regretted that Iran had not received the Special Rapporteur.  It noted some questions about the means of enforcement of the Charter on Citizens’ Rights, and it was particularly concerned about reports of human rights violations against women, children, human rights defenders, journalists, and religious and ethnic minorities.  Brazil was further concerned about the application of capital punishment for a wide range of crimes that did not fall under the category of the most serious crimes.  Iran needed to demonstrate compliance with international human rights law, and to allow unimpeded access to the Special Rapporteur to its territory.  Brazil would abstain from voting on the draft resolution and it reiterated solidarity with the Baha’i minority in Iran.

Iraq, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, stressed the importance of dialogue and cooperation in the Human Rights Council, without ignoring the positive steps taken by some countries concerned.  Such resolutions did not contribute to dialogue and cooperation.  Instead, they turned the Council into a politicized and discriminatory forum.  Iraq called on the Council to avoid such resolutions, and for those reasons Iraq would not support the draft resolution.
     
Cuba, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that resolution L.15 was a clear political act.  Country specific resolutions were defunct, and it was only through dialogue that the Conference could promote human rights.  Therefore, the Universal Periodic Review was the only way to effectively resolve human rights issues.  Unilateral coercive measures against countries of the south, as was the case in Iran, were unacceptable.  Cuba would therefore vote against the resolution.

The Council then adopted resolution L.15 by a vote of 22 in favour, seven against, and 18 abstentions.

Action on Resolution on the Human Rights Situation in South Sudan

In a resolution (A/HRC/40/L.16/Rev.1) on the situation of human rights in South Sudan, adopted without a vote, as orally revised, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, composed of three members, for a period of one year, renewable as authorized by the Human Rights Council, with the following mandate to, inter alia, monitor and report on the situation of human rights in South Sudan, and to make recommendations to prevent deterioration of the situation with a view to its improvement; to determine and report the facts and circumstances of, to collect and preserve evidence of, and to clarify responsibility for alleged violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes, including sexual and gender-based violence and ethnic violence, with a view to ending impunity and providing accountability; and to report on the factual basis for transitional justice and reconciliation.  The Council requests the Office of the High Commissioner to provide the full administrative, technical and logistical support necessary to enable the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan to carry out its mandate; and also requests the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan to present an oral update to the Human Rights Council at its forty-second session in an interactive dialogue, and to present a comprehensive written report to the Council at its forty-third session in an interactive dialogue.

United Kingdom, introducing resolution L.16 Rev. 1, said it sought to renew the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan.  The Commission was mandated to monitor, and report on the human rights situation, provide guidance on transitional justice and accountability, and included an evidence collection function.  The latter element was critical to support future accountability for human rights violations and abuses.  As the Commission’s mandate was comprehensive and effective, there were no substantive changes to the resolution, only a rollover of the mechanism.

Bulgaria, speaking in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, said that human rights’ abuses in South Sudan were of great concern to the European Union.  They called on the parties concerned to resolve the conflict in the South Sudan, and in particular to implement the requirements of chapter 5 of the Revitalized Peace Agreement, including the hybrid court, within the time frame.  The European Union acknowledged that the Government of South Sudan had taken some steps to improve human rights, including on the rights of women in the country.  They also noted the constructive approach with the Government of South Sudan in its dealing with the Council, and they called on the Council to extend the mandate of the United Nation’s mission in the country. 

South Sudan, speaking as the concerned country, expressed its disagreement with allegations of rape and gang rape contained in the report of the Commission on Human Rights.  The allegations were disputed by a fact-finding mission established by the Government.  The peace agreement had been signed with almost all armed groups in September 2018 and its implementation was underway.  In line of all of this as well as South Sudan’s cooperation with the Commission, the Council should consider in future to move South Sudan to agenda item 10.  The international community was called upon to support the implementation of peace agreement.

Egypt, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reaffirmed its support for achieving peace, stability, security and development in South Sudan and welcomed the signing of the revitalized peace agreement.  Its implementation had affected positively the situation of human rights in South Sudan, which had to be reflected by the Council, namely with regard to the agenda item.  The Human Rights Council should support the Government by providing technical assistance and capacity building.  Egypt had participated in the consultations, but still believed that the draft resolution did not reflect enough the improvement of the situation on the ground.  Egypt in the past had expressed its reservations about the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, mainly with regards to giving it judicial power.  Egypt would join consensus but disassociated itself from OP15 and OP16 B.

The Council adopted the resolution without a vote.

Action on Resolution on Situation of Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

In a resolution (A/HRC/40/L.18) on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, adopted without a vote, the Council condemns in the strongest terms the long-standing and ongoing systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations and other human rights abuses committed in and by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The Council decides to continue to strengthen, for a period of two years, the capacity of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, including its field-based structure in Seoul, to allow the implementation of relevant recommendations made by the group of independent experts on accountability; and requests the High Commissioner to provide an oral update on the progress made in this regard to the Human Rights Council at its forty-third session and to submit a full written report on the implementation of the recommendations to the Council at its forty-sixth session.  The Council also decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for a period of one year; and requests the Special Rapporteur to submit regular reports to the Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly on the implementation of his mandate, including on the follow-up efforts made in the implementation of the recommendations of the commission of inquiry.

Romania, introducing on behalf of the European Union resolution L.18 entitled “situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”, thanked all co-sponsors, and hoped others would add their voice to the resolution. The European Union was encouraged by the diplomatic efforts underway, and noted that the dialogue was a clear change of context from the previous year.  At the same time, the European Union believed that a better future for the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was only possible if the human rights violations perpetrated in the county were urgently addressed, and noted the situation as described by the 2014 Commission of Inquiry remained unchanged.  Torture, lack of fundamental freedoms, and the violation of economic and social rights had led to severe hunger in the country.  The European Union called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to tackle these issues in the context of the upcoming Universal Periodic Review on 9 May 2019.  The European Union with its approach of “critical engagement” stood ready to contribute to bringing about such changes, and this was the objective of resolution L.18.  They also commended the work of the Special Rapporteur, including its field based structure in Seoul, and called for the extension of the mandate.

Cuba, in a general comment, noted that the draft resolution on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was provocative, confrontational and discriminatory.  The draft resolution undermined the principles of respectful dialogue, non-selectivity and non-politicization.  Cuba called for a return to respectful dialogue and it rejected the promotion of resolutions that did not contribute to the promotion of human rights, such as the one on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  For those reasons, Cuba would disassociate itself from the consensus on the draft resolution.   

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea did not take the floor as the concerned country.

China, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, advocated constructive dialogue and cooperation to resolve human rights issues.  Denuclearization and permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula was the current trend and the Human Rights Council should contribute to that goal.  Naming and shaming, and the imposition of mandates against the will of concerned countries was not productive.  China would thus disassociate itself from consensus on the draft resolution.          

Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item on the Human Rights Situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories

Action on Resolution on Human Rights in the Occupied Syrian Golan

In a resolution (A/HRC/40/L.4) on human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan, adopted by a vote of 26 in favour, 16 against and five abstentions, the Council expresses grave concern about the Israeli practices in the occupied Syrian Golan described in the report of the Secretary-General submitted to the Human Rights Council at its fortieth session, highlighting the arbitrary arrests of Syrians, the lack of due process guarantees afforded to Syrians and the unlawful mine-laying practices of the Israeli occupation forces in the occupied Syrian Golan, expresses regret at the non-cooperation of Israel with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and deplores the Israeli settlement expansion plans in the occupied Syrian Golan and Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories mentioned in the report.  The Council requests the Secretary-General to bring the present resolution to the attention of all Governments, the competent United Nations organs, specialized agencies, international and regional intergovernmental organizations and international humanitarian organizations, to disseminate it as widely as possible and to report on this matter to the Human Rights Council at its forty-third session.

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (26): Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Cuba, Egypt, Eritrea, India, Iraq, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia and Uruguay.

Against (16): Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Slovakia, Spain, Togo, Ukraine and United Kingdom.

Abstentions (5): Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Fiji, Rwanda and Somalia.

Pakistan, introducing resolution L.4, said it dealt with concerns in the occupied Syrian Golan, including the illegal imposition of Israeli citizenship on Syrians, arbitrary arrests and other human rights breaches by the occupying forces.  The resolution reaffirmed the principle of inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force.  The operative paragraphs focused on the grave human rights situation of the Syrian citizens of occupied Golan and called upon the occupying power to comply with all the United Nations resolutions, in particular Security Council resolution 497 which rendered all imposition of Israeli laws, jurisdiction or administration in the occupied Syrian Golan null and void.  It regretted the Israeli Government’s non-cooperation with Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and deplored the settlement expansion plans.  Pakistan hoped that the text would be adopted by consensus.

Israel, speaking as the concerned country, stated that in this session, once again the Council would vote against Israel under agenda item 7, the only country specific item of the Human Rights Council.  Israel asked the Council where was its sense of priority, and its objective of supporting human rights victims, not violators.  Israel said that the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt had published an article critical of item 7 the previous day.  Far from serving any useful purpose, this dedicated agenda item obstructed the search for peace, and Israel strongly advocated the abolition of item 7 in the agenda.  They rejected the resolutions in their entirety, and called on the Council to remove item 7 from the standing agenda.  Israel believed the Council needed an urgent reform in its bias against the world’s only Jewish State, and had consistently been an inflammatory environment, which served to deepen the mistrust between Israelis and Palestinians.  Despite the Council, and not because of it, they would continue to seek peace.

Syrian Arab Republic, speaking as the concerned country, noted that the draft resolution documented serious violations perpetrated by the occupying power in the Syrian Golan.  It denounced Israeli settlement activities and noted that it was illegal to impose Israeli laws on the Syrian Golan.  It requested Israel to respect relevant United Nations resolutions.  The draft resolution also called on Israel to stop changing the demographic and legal situation of the Syrian Golan, and to stop imposing Israeli identity on citizens of the Syrian Golan.  All measures by the occupying power were null and void, and they constituted flagrant violations of international law and the Geneva Conventions.  Voting for the draft resolution would send a clear message to the occupying power and to all those who supported Israel.  The international community should reject any illegal occupation.  Some countries with double standards presented themselves as pioneers in the defence of human rights, such as the United States which justified Israel’s actions.  The occupied Syrian Golan would remain Arab and Syrian.

United Kingdom, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the disproportionate focus of the Council on Israel threatened the Council’s credibility.  Item 7 represented systematic and institutional bias and weakened the voice of the Council.  The move of the accountability resolution under item two had allowed the United Kingdom to engage with the text and to move back to its position of abstention.  For the remaining resolutions under item 7, the United Kingdom would vote against all of them.  This should not be construed as a vote against Palestinian self-determination, nor as a vote against appropriate and proportionate scrutiny of human rights abuses or illegal settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.  This dedicated agenda item obstructed efforts for peace.  In future, the United Kingdom would continue to support scrutiny of Israel and the occupied Palestinians territories in the Human Rights Council so long as it was justified, proportionate and not under item 7.  The United Kingdom called for a vote on this resolution and would vote against it.

Australia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said item 7 expressed a bias and was inappropriate.  One-sided resolutions had no place in the Council.  Australia considered that item 7 did nothing to bring the two sides together.  Australia maintained its principled opposition to item 7 and would vote no on all four resolutions tabled under this item.

Brazil considered the present text of the resolution to be unbalanced and biased since it addressed only parts of the human rights concerns of the Syrian people, including in the occupied Golan.  The text drew attention to the human rights violations in the Syrian Golan by Israel, but not of the Syrian Government’s violations.  Therefore, Brazil would vote against the resolution.

Denmark, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it would vote against all for resolutions under item 7, based on its principled opposition to item 7.  Denmark believed it was wrong to single out Israel under a dedicated agenda item, the only country in the world in this situation.  Demark continued to support the Human Rights Council in scrutinizing Israel, as long as this was on the same footing as other countries.  This would not change Denmark’s role in the Middle East process, and was only a statement on the Council’s biased treatment of Israel.  Denmark remained committed to a two-State solution.

Bulgaria, in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the European Union, said that the European Union continued to oppose Israel’s annexation of the Syrian Golan, and reaffirmed its commitment to the protection of human rights there, as well as the applicability of the Geneva Conventions.  The European Union could not support the draft resolution because the text was not sufficiently balanced.

Japan, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, maintained that the Golan Heights was an occupied territory and that its annexation by Israel was unacceptable.  Japan’s position on the need to protect human rights in the occupied territories remained the same.  Japan supported the streamlining of resolutions under agenda item 7, from the perspective of rationalization of the human rights Council resolutions.  This was not linked with the issue of human rights in Palestine.  Japan supported the transfer from item 7 to item 2 of L.25 on accountability in the occupied Palestinian territory.  However, in order to encourage the reconsideration of item 7 as a whole, Japan would vote against the draft resolution L.4.  Japan expected the Council to play a role in realizing peace in the Middle East. 

The Council then adopted draft resolution L.4 by a vote of 26 in favour, 16 against and five abstentions.  

Action on Resolution on the Right of the Palestinian People to Self Determination

In a resolution (A/HRC/40/L.26) on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, adopted by a vote of 41 in favour, three against and two abstentions, the Council calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to immediately end its occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and further reaffirms its support for the solution of two States, Palestine and Israel, living side by side in peace and security; and expresses grave concern at the fragmentation and the changes in the demographic composition of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, which are resulting from Israel’s continuing construction and expansion of settlements, forcible transfer of Palestinians and construction of the wall.  The Council confirms that the right of the Palestinian people to permanent sovereignty over their natural wealth and resources must be used in the interest of their national development, the well-being of the Palestinian people and as part of the realization of their right to self-determination; and urges all States to adopt measures as required to promote the realization of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people, and to render assistance to the United Nations in carrying out the responsibilities entrusted to it by the Charter regarding the implementation of this right.

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (41): Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Egypt, Eritrea, Fiji, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Senegal, Slovakia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Togo, Tunisia, Ukraine and Uruguay.

Against (3): Australia, Denmark and United Kingdom.

Abstentions (2): Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo,

Pakistan, introducing resolution L.26 on behalf of Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said it focused on the inalienable right to self-determination of the Palestinian people, their right to live in freedom, justice and dignity and their right to their independent State of Palestine.  The resolution stressed the need for the preservation of territorial unity, contiguity and integrity of the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and urged the international community to support the Palestinian people in the early realization of their right to self-determination.  The Organization of Islamic Cooperation hoped that the resolution would be adopted by consensus.

State of Palestine, speaking as the concerned country, invited everyone to consider what had happened in the past several days at the United Nations in Geneva when a representative of the United States had accused the Human Rights Council of being anti-Semitic.  Likewise, the United Kingdom’s Foreign Minister had said that the State of Palestine had to rein in Hamas and he called into question the agenda item 7.   The United Kingdom bore a historic responsibility towards Palestine more than any other country.  Why were those countries targeting agenda item 7?  Since 1947 Palestine had been divided into two States, with the expulsion of thousands of Palestinians.  When the Palestinians were given the right to self-determination, then the State of Palestine would no longer be concerned about item 7.  It was shameful that the Israeli Prime Minister had stated that Israel was a country for its Jewish residents only, and that he had suggested that self-determination was specific to the Jewish people.  “Stop playing with the language and see the issue in its reality,” the representative of the State of Palestine urged.  Some delegations had stated that they would vote against Israeli settlements, and yet the Israeli Government grabbed land on a daily basis.  As for the list of companies active in the occupied Palestine territory to be published by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Palestinian delegation wondered why there had been no positions on that issue. 

South Africa, in an explanation of the vote before the vote said it was impossible to enjoy any rights, without the right to self-determination.  The people of Palestine did not enjoy this right.  For South Africans, had there not been dedicated attention given to their plight by the international community, in opposition to the wishes of some larger States, the country would not be enjoying the position it held today.  South Africa opposed the abolition of item 7 on efficiency grounds, or for any other reason.  It was a matter of national importance, as put by Nelson Mandela, who stated that apartheid was a crime against humanity, and in doing so Israel had perpetuated a system of gross racial inequality.  In the context where a two-State solution was being eroded, and the reality of a single apartheid State being created where Palestinians were subjugated, it was crucial the Human Rights Council continued to be seized of this matter.  South Africa would vote in favour of this resolution.

Mexico, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, was making one statement in favour of its positive votes on all four resolutions tabled under item 7.  The worsening situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, especially in Gaza, placed the civilian population in a position of vulnerability.  Mexico called for dialogue and measures to promote trust and reconciliation between both parties and for them to exercise restraint.  All human rights violations should be investigated no matter their perpetrators.  Mexico urged Israel to reconsider its decisions on the closure of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron.

Brazil, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, welcomed the consideration of resolution L.25 under item 2, saying this was a positive development.  It was difficult to investigate the impact of Human Rights Council resolutions on the ground.  There was a need to recognize that the current framework was not working.  Brazil remained fully engaged and willing to negotiate with all parties.  The Council should continue to monitor the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories in accordance with L.27.  It would vote in favour of L. 26 and L. 27.
Argentina, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, recognized the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.  Argentina had recognized the State of Palestine in 2010, and it would vote for the draft resolution L.26.  Argentina also reiterated its position on the right of Israel to be recognized by all other States.  The right to self-determination required the active participation of people subjected to foreign occupation. 

The Council then adopted draft resolution L.26 by a vote of 41 in favour, three against and two abstentions. 

Action on Resolution on Human Rights Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem

In a resolution (A/HRC/40/L.27) on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, adopted by a vote of 39 in favour, three against and five abstentions, the Council demands that Israel, the occupying Power, withdraw from the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, so as to enable the Palestinian people to exercise its universally recognized right to self-determination; and demands that Israel cease all of its settlement activities, the construction of the wall and any other measures aimed at altering the character, status and demographic composition of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  The Council demands that Israel cease immediately its imposition of prolonged closures and economic and movement restrictions, including those amounting to a blockade on the Gaza Strip; and reiterates the responsibility of Israel to respect the right to health of all persons within the Occupied Palestinian Territory and to facilitate the immediate, sustained and unfettered passage of humanitarian relief.  The Council urges all States and the specialized agencies and organizations of the United Nations system to continue to support and assist the Palestinian people in the early realization of their inalienable human rights, including their right to self-determination, as a matter of urgency, in the light of the onset of the fiftieth year of the Israeli occupation and the continued denial and violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people.

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (39): Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Egypt, Eritrea, Fiji, Iceland, India, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovakia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Tunisia, Ukraine and Uruguay. 

Against (3): Australia, Denmark and United Kingdom.

Abstentions (5): Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Hungary, Rwanda and Togo.

Pakistan, introducing on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation draft resolution L.27 “Human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem”, said it addressed the continuing human rights violations, including the excessive and lethal use of force against Palestinian civilians, and violations of their right to liberty, security and freedom of movement.  The preambular of the resolution reaffirmed the applicability of international human rights instruments and of the Fourth Geneva Convention in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and called on Israel to comply fully with these.  The resolution also expressed deep concerns over the critical human rights situation in the Gaza Strip.  It urged Member States to continue to provide emergency assistance to the Palestinian people to alleviate the financial crisis and the dire socio-economic and humanitarian situation in the territories.

Australia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, requested a vote on the draft resolution L.27.

The Council then adopted resolution L.27 by a vote of 39 in favour, three against, and five abstentions.

Action on Resolution on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the Occupied Syrian Golan

In a resolution (A/HRC/40/L.28) on the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, five against and 10 abstentions, the Council reaffirms that the Israeli settlements established since 1967 in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan are illegal under international law, and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution.  The Council demands that Israel, the occupying Power, immediately cease all settlement activities in all the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan; and calls upon business enterprises to take all measures necessary to comply with their responsibilities under the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and relevant international laws and standards with respect to their activities in or in relation to the Israeli settlements and the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.  The Council calls upon the relevant United Nations bodies to take all necessary measures and actions within their mandates to ensure full respect for and compliance with … the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; and requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to report to the Human Rights Council on the implementation of the provisions of the present resolution at its forty-third session, with particular emphasis on the policies and practices linked to the settlement enterprise that discriminate against the Palestinian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. 

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (32): Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Cuba, Egypt, Eritrea, Fiji, Iceland, India, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Tunisia and Uruguay.

Against (5): Australia, Denmark, Hungary, Togo and United Kingdom.

Abstentions (10): Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Croatia, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Slovakia and Ukraine.

Pakistan, introducing resolution L.28, on behalf of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, said the construction of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan, continued in violation of international humanitarian law and human rights law.  The resolution sought to address the dire humanitarian and human rights challenges arising from the illegal policy.  The preambular part of the text established the legal framework on the illegality of these settlements and that the transfer by the occupying power of its civilian population onto the territories was in violation to the Fourth Geneva Convention.  The operative part of the text reaffirmed that these illegal settlements were an obstacle to peace and economic and social development and demanded that the expansions cease immediately.  The resolution called on Israel to put an end to all human rights violations linked to the presence of settlements, especially the right to self-determination.  Pakistan hoped that the Council would adopt the draft resolution by consensus.

Brazil, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, maintained its principled position on Israeli illegal settlements.  It regretted their constant expansion, which was contrary to international law and presented an obstacle to the peace process.  Brazil would abstain from voting on the draft resolution L.28 because it advocated the streamlining of other resolutions under agenda item 7.  Brazil reiterated that respect for international law was a cornerstone for peace and security in the region. 

United Kingdom, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, called for a vote on draft resolution L.28.

The Council then adopted the draft resolution L.28 by a vote of 32 in favour, five against and 10 abstentions.

Iceland, in an explanation of the vote after the vote after the Council concluded action on resolutions under agenda item 7, explained that Iceland’s opposition to this agenda item was well known.  Iceland believed that self-determination was a fundamental right and recognized Palestine’s right to a State, and opposed Israel’s’ illegal occupation of territories.  However, equally, they recognized that having this specific standing item on the agenda did not help advance the resolution of the issue.  In particular, the resolution concerning the human rights situation in the Golan was duplicative of resolutions adopted in the General Assembly.  It also entirely failed to mention the horrors committed by the Assad regime in Syria.  Therefore, Iceland had voted against this resolution.  The horror perpetrated against the Palestinians should be brought up in other fora, rather than using item 7.  As a result of these previous efforts, and despite their concern on this item, Iceland had voted in favour of draft resolutions L.26, L.27, and L.28.

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For use of the information media; not an official record

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