عودة


Human Rights Council holds an interactive dialogue on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, and concludes interactive dialogue on the situation of human rights in Syria

عودة

10 رجب, 1441

​Human Rights Council
HRC/20/27

10 March 2020

High Commissioner for Human Rights Presents Oral Updates on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and on Venezuela, Council Starts General Debate on Human Rights Situations that Require the Council's Attention

The Human Rights Council this morning held an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, and concluded its interactive dialogue with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic. It heard the High Commissioner for Human Rights present oral updates on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and then started its general debate on human rights situations that require the Council's attention.

Yanghee Lee, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, speaking via video conference, presented her last report to the Council. She noted the serious nature of the conflict in Myanmar, the violence experienced by people in Rakhine state, and the recent Internet blackout extended to nine townships affecting more than 1 million people, mostly in Rakhine state. She noted the number of students arrested, as well as a crackdown on journalists. People in rural areas were being imprisoned for resisting the confiscation of their lands. Those who challenged environmental destruction were also risking their freedom. An end to impunity was the lynchpin for Myanmar to succeed in its transition to democracy.

Myanmar, speaking as the concerned country, noted that sustainable peace and development were two sides of the same coin that was an inevitable part of the path towards democracy and the realization of human rights in Myanmar. The democratically elected Government of Myanmar had faced numerous challenges in numerous sectors since taking office in 2016. Progress had been made on national reconciliation and the peace process with the signing of a nationwide cease-fire agreement in January 2020. Repatriation was the first priority of the Government and it had been working with regional partners to facilitate the repatriation process.

In the discussion on Myanmar, speakers called on the Government to facilitate the safe return of Rohingya refugees, to address pervasive hate speech that targeted minorities in the country, and to end the Internet shutdown in parts of Rakhine and Chin states. They also called for the Government to ensure that the 2020 elections were free and fair. States asked Myanmar to lift restrictions on political activists, and to cooperate with the work of the future Special Rapporteur. There were calls for the international community to support accountability efforts, including the International Criminal Court investigation, the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, and the International Court of Justice's preliminary ruling on provisional measures. Some States recognized the complex nature of the situation in Rakhine state, noting it should be approached objectively and comprehensively. These regretted that the Special Rapporteur had consistently assailed the credibility of the Independent Commission of Enquiry since its inception, rather than encourage domestic accountability efforts.

Speaking in the discussion on Myanmar were Pakistan (on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation), the European Union, Viet Nam (on behalf of the Association of South East Asian Nations), Czech Republic, Canada, Bangladesh, Estonia, Australia, Afghanistan, Liechtenstein, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, France, Philippines, Luxembourg, Sierra Leone, Costa Rica, Netherlands, New Zealand, Denmark, Croatia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Greece, Republic of Korea, Iran, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Venezuela, Thailand, Sweden, Indonesia, Albania, Maldives, China, Nepal, Belgium, United Kingdom, Iceland, Norway, Malaysia, Cambodia, Marshall Islands, Ireland, Viet Nam, Switzerland, Spain and Belarus.

Also taking the floor were the following civil society organization: Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Physicians for Human Rights, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, International Commission of Jurists, Save the Children International, International Educational Development Inc, Association for Progressive Communications, Amnesty International, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, and CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation.

The Council then concluded its interactive dialogue with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic. The first part of the dialogue was held at the previous meeting, and a summary can be found here.

In the discussion, Speakers regretted the increase in human loss and the destruction of infrastructure in Syria, noting that the main cause for the Syrian crisis was foreign interference without respect for Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Five foreign armies were present in Syria. Some speakers condemned Turkey's invasion of Afrin and north-eastern Syria where mass human rights violations had taken place. Those speakers expressed grave concern about reports of social and demographic engineering throughout Syria, including in the northeast. There was no military solution to the conflict in Syria, speakers emphasized, opposing any attempt to use the conflict in Syria to destabilize the entire region. Some speakers said that the report of the Commission of Inquiry was unbalanced and its methodology doubtful because of distance and selective interviews, and it was impossible to guarantee the objectivity and reliability of the information presented in the report.

Speaking on Syria were Iraq, Belarus, Bahrain, Cuba, Japan, Luxembourg, Kuwait, Netherlands, Chile, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Egypt, Greece, Russia, Uruguay, Iran, Turkey, Democratic People's Republic of Korean, Venezuela, Indonesia, Albania, Maldives, Malta, China, Georgia, Belgium, United Kingdom, Marshall Islands, Romania, Australia, Ecuador, Italy, France, Armenia and Spain.

Also taking the floor were the following civil society organization: Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Physicians for Human Rights, Reporters Without Borders International, International Council Supporting Fair Trial and Human Rights, Union of Arab Jurists, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Amnesty International, The Palestinian Return Centre Ltd, World Evangelical Alliance, and Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture.

Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, then provided oral updates on the situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. She said that in line with resolutions 34/24 and 40/20, the Office of the High Commissioner had strengthened its monitoring of the situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. This work indicated that systematic human rights violations, including sexual violence against women and girls, was taking place. This occurred under the direct authority of two ministries, and could constitute crimes against humanity.

On the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the High Commissioner noted that the security forces had blocked opposition politicians from accessing the legislature, and her office had documented aggression towards journalists and opposition political activists, as well as seizures of the property of non-governmental organizations. Human rights organizations funded from abroad had been sanctioned, and trade union leaders harassed. New economic sanctions were affecting the population, and specific sanctions targeting the oil industry hampered the importation of food, medication and humanitarian aid.

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

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, speaking as a concerned country, regretted that the presentation of the High Commissioner's oral update was lacking in terms of objectivity and methodology. Council resolution 45/25 was a politically motivated resolution aimed at drafting a report that was riddled with lies. Ultimately, it was wasting the limited resources at the disposal of the United Nations human rights mechanisms. Venezuela stressed the negative effect of unilateral coercive measures on the human rights of its citizens.

In the general debate on human rights situations that require the attention of the Council, speakers called for an end to politicization and double standards in the work of the Human Rights Council, noting that all human rights should be treated equally, including the right to development. Some speakers denounced the rise in hate speech and Islamophobia, and opposed discussions which violated the principles of universality and non-selectivity in the promotion and protection of human rights. They highlighted the importance of the Universal Periodic Review in addressing human rights situations based on cooperation and dialogue.

Speaking in the general debate were: Pakistan (on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation), Venezuela (on behalf of a group of countries), Peru (on behalf of a group of countries), and Croatia (on behalf of the European Union).

The meetings of the forty-third regular session of the Human Rights Council can be followed on the webcast of UN Web TV

The Council will next meet today at 3 p.m. in the Assembly Hall to continue its general debate on human rights situations that require the Council's attention.

Announcement by the President of the Human Rights Council about Additional Precautionary Measures Regarding the COVID-19 Situation

ELISABETH TICHY-FISSLBERGER, President of the Human Rights Council, reminded that on Monday, 9 March, the Bureau of the Human Rights Council had held an extended meeting with representatives of regional coordinators, the United Nations Office at Geneva, and the host country Switzerland to discuss the latest developments of the COVID-19 situation and its implications on the current session of the Council. The United Nations Office at Geneva and the Swiss authorities had then held a long meeting and on the basis of that the United Nations Office at Geneva had made a number of recommendations. The proposal was for the Council to continue, with precautionary measures to work in safe conditions. The plenary meetings would be moved from room XX to the Assembly Hall, which could seat up to 2,000 persons and would allow for adequate spacing between each delegation. Delegations would be asked to be present with no more than two delegates in the plenary room and the empty seats in between delegations should be left empty. Arrangements would be made to ensure webcast from the Assembly Hall and delegates not attending the plenary meetings were encouraged to follow the meetings via webcast. The Bureau would continue to discuss the best options for the adoption process at the end of the session since the Assembly Hall did not provide for electronic voting. Informal consultations would continue to be moved to larger rooms that allowed for adequate spacing between delegates and should be attended by two representatives per delegation at the most. The Secretariat would organize for the electronic tabling of resolutions in order to avoid queues in front of the tabling office. Delegates would be asked to follow the sanitary measures as recommended by the Swiss authorities, namely to refrain from shaking hands, and any delegate with symptoms such as fever or coughing should stay at home. With the agreement of the Council, the proposed measures would be applied as of Tuesday, 10 March, at 3 p.m. It was so decided.

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar

Documentation

The Council has before it the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar (A/HRC/43/59). The advance unedited version of the report can be found at A/HRC/43/59

Presentation of Report by the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar

YANGHEE LEE, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, speaking via video conference, presented her last report to the Council. She noted the serious nature of the conflict in Myanmar, the violence experienced by people in Rakhine state, and the recent Internet blackout extended to nine townships affecting more than 1 million people, mostly in Rakhine state. She noted the number of students arrested, as well as a crackdown on journalists with Reuters being the latest news agency to be sanctioned for reporting from Rakhine. She regretted the lack of international intervention, even as Rohingya refugees were risking their lives to flee the region. People in rural areas were being imprisoned for resisting the confiscation of their lands. Those who challenged environmental destruction were also risking their freedom. She proposed that Myanmar embark on an inclusive national dialogue to address discrimination and inequality, and find ways to move towards a pluralistic society.

An end to impunity was the lynchpin for Myanmar to succeed in its transition to democracy. Perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses and international crimes must be held accountable for their actions. The Government should reform the justice system, ensure judicial independence, and remove systemic barriers to accountability, in order to ensure that they criminalize all international crimes, including war crimes and crimes against humanity and genocide, which did not currently exist. The Special Rapporteur urged the international community to support strongly the ongoing international accountability initiatives, including to refer Myanmar to the International Court of Justice, establish an international tribunal to try alleged perpetrators of international crimes, or cooperate with the investigation by the International Criminal Court that was just beginning, and the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar. The international community should ensure that victims were placed at the centre of all justice initiatives.

Statement by the Concerned Country

Myanmar, speaking as the concerned country, noted that sustainable peace and development were two sides of the same coin that was an inevitable part of the path towards democracy and the realization of human rights in Myanmar. The democratically elected Government of Myanmar had faced numerous challenges in numerous sectors since taking office in 2016. It was striving to build an all-around democratic society despite many challenges. Myanmar had a unique history and it was more than just one story. One would not be able to see a true and comprehensive picture by selectively choosing a chapter. Concluding with one's own narrative would only further create misunderstanding among the different communities in the country. Progress had been made on national reconciliation and the peace process with the signing of a nationwide cease-fire agreement in January 2020. In its endeavour to achieve sustainable development, the Government was paying special attention to balance business, development and the protection of human rights. Several legal reforms had taken place. Achieving democracy was not easy for Myanmar. Since 25 February 2020, the Parliament had been discussing heatedly the proposed amendments to the Constitution.

Myanmar was at a critical juncture in light of the upcoming general elections later during the year. It was battling against hate speech offline and online before the elections. Repatriation was the first priority of the Government and it had been working with regional partners to facilitate the repatriation process. In conclusion, Myanmar stressed that it was important for Special Procedure mandate holders to work in good faith, in an impartial and objective manner, and that they strictly adhere to the code of conduct. Non-constructive measures, retribution and ill intentions were the obstacles that would lead to mistrust among the communities in the country.

Discussion on Myanmar

In the discussion, speakers called on Myanmar to cooperate with Bangladesh in repatriating the displaced Rohingya, to ensure that the general elections in 2020 be free for all, and asked how the Human Rights Council should continue to address the pertinent question of accountability in the country. Some States regretted that members of the peacock generation were being persecuted and arrested for their political views, and called on Myanmar to respect the rights of minority groups in the country. The pervasive nature of hate speech targeting the Rohingya was of great concern to a number of States, with several expressing regret that a resolution had not been passed within the Council on this matter. Members asked Myanmar to facilitate the safe return of Rohingya refugees, and to work to end the cycles of violence that had led to years of conflict in the country. States asked Myanmar to lift restrictions on political activists, allow free and transparent elections, and cooperate with the work of the future Special Rapporteur.

The lack of effort by the Government to address the almost 1 million refugees fleeing the country, as well as the widespread violation of women's rights across a number of regions was of great concern. A number of States supported the actions brought forward by the Gambia to pursue accountability for the crimes committed against the Rohingya. These called on the international community to support accountability efforts, including the International Criminal Court investigation, the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, and the International Court of Justice's preliminary ruling on provisional measures. Some States recognized the complex nature of the situation in Rakhine state, noting it should be approached objectively and comprehensively. They regretted that the Special Rapporteur had consistently assailed the credibility of the Independent Commission of Inquiry since its inception, rather than encouraging domestic accountability efforts.

Interim Remarks by the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar

YANGHEE LEE, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, responding to questions about pursuing accountability and how the Human Rights Council could help in that regard, noted that the Council could invite the Security Council to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court. Also, the Council could take action to pressure Myanmar to follow the provisional measures that the International Court of Justice had set up. Furthermore, the Council should very closely monitor the situation in Rakhine state. As for the persecution of critics in the election year, Ms. Lee said she had pointed out an increasing number of politically motivated arrests. Some 647 individuals had been imprisoned due to political activities, she reminded, noting that those included protesters against large economic projects that had been initiated without prior consultations with the local communities. Journalists and activists had been systematically persecuted.

The rise in nationalist, extremist and populist rhetoric stoked by the parties in power, affected the right to political participation by ethnic and religious minorities, especially the Rohingya minority. With respect to the peaceful settlement of the conflict, the Special Rapporteur noted the increase in conflicts and displacement in the Shan state. In many instances, the landmines in the conflict areas had been causing many civilian deaths among internally displaced persons upon their return home. The conflict was not due to underdevelopment, but due to inequality in revenue sharing and inequality of access to some basic economic rights. Thus, successful conflict resolution would depend on listening to the needs of ethnic minorities. Speaking on the rate of Rohingya returns, Ms. Lee said the exact number was very difficult to assess and verify. The general sentiment was that Rohingya wanted to come back, but under favourable conditions and not under the present conditions, she emphasized. The national human rights commission of Myanmar was not following the Paris Principles and its members had ties with the Myanmar military. There was no transparency in the appointment of its members, the Special Rapporteur noted.

Discussion

Speakers regretted Myanmar's lack of cooperation with the Special Rapporteur and noted that the Government had squandered every opportunity to display leadership and to undertake reform to further the transition and improve the situation of human rights. They also regretted backsliding in many areas, notably in the democratic space and the fact that the conflict raged on, and that international crimes might have been perpetrated. Myanmar should hold an inclusive, participatory and human rights grounded national dialogue to bring the nation together. Speakers were concerned about the lack of tangible progress in the return of Rohingya refugees and other forcibly displaced persons. Myanmar must create the necessary conditions for the voluntary, safe and sustainable return of Rohingya refugees. The upcoming elections would be a litmus test on the democratic transition in the country, speakers underlined. An important part of that was ensuring that freedom of speech, association and peaceful assembly were respected, speakers added, voicing concern about the Internet shutdown in parts of Rakhine and Chin states. They asked the Special Rapporteur about what the Human Rights Council and countries could do to ensure the respect for freedom of expression in the context of elections. Furthermore, speakers welcomed the recent international efforts for accountability in Myanmar, including at the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court, noting that impunity could not prevail. It was essential that Member States sustained the recent momentum generated by the moves towards accountability for the crimes against the Rohingya.

Some speakers welcomed the bilateral cooperation between Myanmar and Bangladesh in order to facilitate an early repatriation process. They stressed that the best way to promote and protect human rights in any country was through the Universal Periodic Review, and not by imposing country specific mandates against the will of the concerned country. The mandate on Myanmar was an example of wasted time and resources. Special Procedures should carry out constructive dialogue and cooperation with concerned countries, with respect to their national sovereignty and respecting the information that concerned countries submitted. It was necessary to recognize the difficult circumstances in Myanmar, especially in Rakhine state, but also to recognize the efforts made by the Government of Myanmar to promote peaceful coexistence of the different ethnic and religious groups in the country. Speakers called on the international community to assist Myanmar in creating an environment conducive to long-term solutions in Rakhine state through the promotion of sustainable development and livelihoods for all affected communities. They encouraged Myanmar to enhance its efforts for national reconciliation, sustainable peace and inclusive development.

Concluding Remarks by the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar

YANGHEE LEE, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, reiterated that legislative reform, an independent judiciary and civilian control of the army were important steps that the Government of Myanmar should take in order to improve human rights in the country. In anticipation of elections scheduled for November 2020, the Council should request updates from Myanmar in the June and September sessions, and ask access for independent monitors on the ground. The Council should also investigate whether elections were held in conflict areas, and whether Internet restrictions were lifted. She expressed concern that expansion was needed in the energy sector, as approximately half the population did not have access to electricity. However, the offshore energy sector received significant foreign investment, and was very opaque, therefore more transparency was needed to ensure corruption was prevented. The Special Rapporteur reiterated that she had taken on the mandate in good faith, and had not politicized the role. She concluded that there remained a long way to go, but Myanmar's transformation into a democracy that respected human rights could still be achieved.

Interactive Dialogue with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic

The interactive dialogue with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic started in the previous meeting and a summary can be found here.

Discussion

Speakers regretted the increase in human loss and the destruction of infrastructure in Syria, noting that the main cause for the Syrian crisis was foreign interference without respect for Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Five foreign armies were present in Syria. Certain speakers condemned Turkey's invasions of Afrin and north-eastern Syria where mass human rights violations had taken place. Those speakers expressed grave concern about reports of social and demographic engineering throughout Syria, including in the northeast. There was no military solution to the conflict in Syria, speakers emphasized, opposing any attempt to use the conflict in Syria to destabilize the entire region. The report of the Commission of Inquiry was unbalanced and its methodology doubtful because of distance and selective interviews, some observed, adding that it was impossible to guarantee the objectivity and reliability of the information presented in the report. The brunt borne by the civilian population was exacerbated by the unilateral coercive measures against Syria, which should be condemned, speakers insisted. There should be full respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Syria and the Human Rights Council should avoid making unbalanced decisions. Speakers called attention to the flagrant violations of international humanitarian law, especially in Idlib, Hama and Aleppo, and they called on all parties to the conflict to comply with international humanitarian law and human rights law.

Considering that the conflict in Syria was entering its tenth year, some speakers stressed that now was the last opportunity to bring an end to hostilities. They called for an independent, impartial and credible investigation of all human rights violations and urged the Syrian authorities to cooperate with the Commission of Inquiry to that end. The Human Rights Council should take immediate action to prevent the humanitarian deterioration in Syria, speakers emphasized, and reminded that the unabated aerial strikes in the northwest of the country had left nearly one million displaced, with children freezing to death. The international community had an enormous responsibility to resolve the critical humanitarian situation in Syria and it should act on the basis of international solidarity in order to protect the human rights of Syrians, particularly women and children. Speakers condemned arbitrary arrests, summary executions, enforced disappearances, torture, cruel and inhumane treatment, and sexual and gender-based violence. They were deeply concerned about the continued violation of children's rights, such as the right to education, and the recruitment and use of children in hostilities. International humanitarian law was not optional, nor conditional on circumstances or reciprocity, speakers emphasized. Humanitarian assistance from the international community remained vital, and speakers thus called for humanitarian actors to be provided safe and unhindered access to all populations in need, as well as safe passage for the evacuation of civilians.

Interim Remarks by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic

KAREN KONING ABUZAYD, Member of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, emphasized the importance of political attempts to address the situation in the country.

HANNY MEGALLY, Member of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, called on the Syrian Government to implement the recommendations of the report with respect to women in the conflict. In addition, free access for humanitarian aid was needed as children were dying due to exposure to weather, rather than the direct effects of the fighting. He called on Member States to live up to their moral obligation to repatriate refugee children, in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Priority attention was needed regarding the provision of education in Syria, where 2 million children had no access to education as schools had been destroyed and teachers had fled. Regarding the plight of the detained and the missing, he called for the Government and armed groups to provide a list of those they were detaining, and grant access to families, as well as independent monitors. Those arbitrarily detained should be released. As a first step, he called for cooperation between all entities working on documenting this in order to build a comprehensive picture. He noted that the Syrian State, despite being in control, was very much weakened as it had ceded control to various armed groups. This development had made the United Nations' monitoring work much more difficult.

Discussion

Speakers noted that it was disheartening that most of the recommendations made by the previous report of the Commission of Inquiry had gone unrealized. The end to hostilities in Syria required a cooperative, multilateral approach, they stressed, and asked the Commission about concrete steps that could be taken collectively to deepen effective international cooperation on Syria in order to bring peace and stability to the region. The international community had to use its influence to bring the parties to the conflict to the negotiating table and to respect the relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council. All parties should commit to a political solution under the auspices of the United Nations, and under no circumstances could parties be exempted from their obligations under international humanitarian law on the account of counter-terrorism efforts. Speakers urged all States to ensure the renewal of the United Nations cross-border delivery of aid, which had been renewed in January 2020 but only for a period of six months, and which offered a lifeline for civilians in north western Syria. Speakers welcomed the Commission of Inquiry's continued investigations, including into incidents related to Operation Peace Spring. Some called on the Turkish authorities to launch their own investigations, which should be credible, comprehensive and public. They underlined the need to fight terrorism in order to bring peace to Syria, adding that the prolonged crimes against humanity committed by notorious terrorist groups were the main root cause of the persistent conflict in the region, in violation of international law and the United Nations Charter.

Some speakers regretted that official information was missing from the Commission's report, and that instead it contained dubious information. For example, the report did not contain any reference to the United States' robbery of Syria's oil and gas resources. They reminded that some humanitarian workers had frequently been found falsifying information and being in collusion with terrorists. Accordingly, the expensive exercise by the Commission of Inquiry should be stopped. Those speakers also called attention to the distorted information about the conflict in Syria disseminated by certain international media corporations. Others argued that the Syrian regime was causing destruction in Idlib in order to rid itself of the democratic opposition, which was why some neighbouring countries had to intervene to protect the innocent civilians. The brutal Syrian regime and the Russian offensive had created the gravest humanitarian crisis of the entire Syrian war in Idlib and surrounding areas, they stressed. Accordingly, they called on all those with influence over the Assad regime, especially the Russian Federation, to pressure Syria to release thousands of unlawfully and arbitrarily detained Syrians, to genuinely engage with the political process, and to honour its obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law. It was concerning that the Syrian regime was conducting itself in exactly the same brutal way which had created the tensions that had sparked the conflict initially.

Concluding Remarks by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic

KAREN KONING ABUZAYD, Member of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, responding to questions and comments about the Commission getting more information, noted that recording comprehensive casualties was quite difficult in Syria, particularly because the Commission was not allowed in. The report called for unfettered access for humanitarian organizations in every part of the country. Access for monitors was important to investigate human rights violations. Unfortunately, that call had gone unheeded so far. The Commission of Inquiry had documented attacks on medical facilities throughout Idlib, which had decimated the civilian infrastructure on which men, women and children relied on. Those attacks, which had been carried out deliberately, constituted war crimes, Ms. Koning Abuzayd underlined. The hospitals left were overflowing and there was not enough medicine, thus putting vulnerable groups at even more risk. The Commission's secretariat had continued its investigations into human violations and it appealed to Member States to provide responses to all its requests.

HANNY MEGALLY, Member of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, said that clearly the cease-fire agreement was holding in Idlib for the moment. That fact afforded hope that it would become a launching pad for more to happen. The Commission of Inquiry was currently asking for urgent and unfettered humanitarian assistance to the displaced population in Idlib and the surrounding area, of which 60 per cent were children, Mr. Megally stressed. It was no time to be talking about Security Council resolutions ; it was the time to act and prevent those children from dying, he emphasized.

Presentation of Oral Updates by the High Commissioner for Human Rights relating to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

MICHELLE BACHELET, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, provided oral updates on the situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

In line with resolutions 34/24 and 40/20, the Office of the High Commissioner had strengthened its monitoring of the situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. This work indicated that systematic human rights violations, including sexual violence against women and girls, was taking place. This occurred under the direct authority of two ministries, and could constitute crimes against humanity. They were working to identify those most responsible, and were also looking into the abduction of foreign nationals, justice for whom could be achieved based on the principle of universal jurisdiction. The Accountability Project for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea presented a challenging opportunity to advance accountability, but given the large volume of information involved, the High Commissioner called on Member States to address the limited resources made available for this work.

Ms. Bachelet noted that in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the security forces had blocked opposition politicians from accessing the legislature, and her office had documented aggression towards journalists and opposition political activists, as well as seizures of the property of non-governmental organizations. Human rights organizations funded from abroad had been sanctioned, and trade union leaders harassed. New economic sanctions were affecting the population, and specific sanctions targeting the oil industry hampered the importation of food, medication and humanitarian aid. The plight of children waiting for transplants was severe, and compounded by the critical situation of hospitals in Venezuela. A recent survey of the World Food Programme estimated that 2.3 million people were suffering from severe food insecurity and a further 7 million suffered medium food insecurity. Estimates suggested that 4.9 million people had fled the country, and the High Commissioner deplored xenophobic statements from neighbouring governments towards refugees. She appealed to all parties to act in a way that avoided the further deterioration of the situation in Venezuela.

Statements by Concerned Countries

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

Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, speaking as a concerned country, regretted that the presentation of the High Commissioner's oral update was lacking in terms of objectivity and methodology. The Council resolution 45/25 was a politically motivated resolution aimed at drafting a report that was riddled with lies. Ultimately, it was wasting the limited resources at the disposal of the United Nations human rights mechanisms. It begged the question whether there were human rights violations in Colombia, Peru, Paraguay and Canada, the very countries that had sponsored the resolution 45/25. The dialogue between the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Venezuela must be maintained because that cooperation was relevant and necessary under the United Nations Charter. The delegation of Venezuela stressed the negative effect of unilateral coercive measures on the human rights of its citizens. The warmongering administration of President Donald Trump was using the Monroe Doctrine to meddle into Venezuelan internal affairs in order to undermine the human rights of Venezuelans and impede their economic development, which constituted crimes against humanity. That administration had robbed Venezuela of $ 16 billion.

General Debate on Human Rights Situations that Require the Attention of the Human Rights Council

Speakers called for an end to politicization and double standards in the work of the Human Rights Council, noting that all human rights should be treated equally, including the right to development. Some speakers pointed out the rise in hate speech and Islamophobia promoted by ethno-nationalist far-right political leaders. They opposed the selective adoption of resolutions in the Council and the increased politicization of discussions under item 4, which violated the principles of universality and non-selectivity in the promotion and protection of human rights. They highlighted the importance of the Universal Periodic Review in addressing human rights situations based on cooperation and dialogue. Speakers underlined the seriousness of the human rights situations in many countries.

___________

For use of the information media; not an official record

Follow UNIS Geneva on: Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube |Flickr


عودة

عودة

لا