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Human Rights Council holds Interactive dialogue with High Commissioner for Human Rights on his Annual Report

Human Rights Council 
MIDDAY/AFTERNOON

5 March 2015

Hears Address by the Prime Minister of Tuvalu

The Human Rights Council today held an interactive dialogue with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on his annual report.  It also heard an address by Enele Sosene Sopoaga, Prime Minister of Tuvalu.

In his presentation, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the fight against terror was a struggle to uphold the values of democracy and human rights – not undermine them.  The tentacles of Takfiri groups had reached not only into Iraq and Syria but also Nigeria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and beyond and he was appalled by the massive suffering that group provoked.  Extremism – however repugnant – was nurtured by ideology, and by alienation fed by years of tyranny, corruption, repression, discrimination, deprivation and neglect of the legitimate rights of communities.  He spoke of
a disturbing trend of harsh restrictions on public freedoms by States across all regions, and negative trends regarding the death penalty.  The High Commissioner said the new reorganization of his Office would include the devolution of greater resources from headquarters to the field. 

In the interactive dialogue, speakers expressed their deep appreciation for the work of the Office of the High Commissioner, and underlined the importance and need to strengthen its technical assistance in the field of human rights.  They reiterated the importance of the independence of the Office of the High Commissioner, and insisted that appropriate resources be allocated to its activities.  Speakers underlined the importance of cooperation between the Office of the High Commissioner and other United Nations agencies and rights mechanisms.  They welcomed the fact that the Office was engaged in the Human Rights Up Front initiative, and its efforts for conflict prevention.  Some speakers recalled the neutrality of the Office of the High Commissioner, and insisted that it relied on verifiable information only.  Speakers also regretted that the Office of the High Commissioner did not show sufficient attention to economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development.

Speaking in the interactive dialogue were Brazil on behalf of Chile, Columbia, and Uruguay; Algeria on behalf of the African Group; Ecuador on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States; Bahrain on behalf of the Arab Group; European Union; Egypt on behalf of the Like-Minded Group; Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation; Iran on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement; Morocco on behalf of the Francophone Arab Countries; China; Qatar; Turkey;  Belgium; Brazil; Armenia; El Salvador; Pakistan; Japan; Egypt; Norway; Indonesia; Netherlands; Niger; Iran; Venezuela; Sierra Leone; Ukraine; Canada; Russian Federation; Greece; Kuwait; Syria; Namibia; Algeria; Austria; Saudi Arabia; Morocco; Council of Europe; Republic of Moldova; Portugal; Jordan; Ireland; India; Belarus; Chile; Viet Nam; Malaysia; Honduras; Tunisia; Thailand; Argentina; Czech Republic; Costa Rica; Sudan; United States; France; Switzerland; Uruguay; Burkina Faso; Australia; Nepal; Slovenia; Togo;  Nigeria; Mali; Georgia; South Africa; Albania; Oman; Paraguay; Philippines; United Kingdom; United Arab Emirates; Cuba; Maldives; Haiti; Hungary; Myanmar; Democratic Republic of Congo; Botswana; Germany; Israel; Azerbaijan; Spain; and Senegal.

Representatives of the following non-governmental organizations also spoke: the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, Centre for Reproductive Rights, Reporters without Borders, Americans for Human Rights and Democracy in Bahrain, Human Rights Watch, Associazione Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII (joint statement), International  Organization for the Right to Education and Freedom of Education (joint statement), International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, International Service for Human Rights, Asian Forum for Human Rights, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Comision Mexicana de Defensa y Promocion de los Derechos Humanos, Liberation, and Pasumai Thaayagam Foundation.

Syria, Venezuela, Qatar, Turkey, Egypt and the United Kingdom spoke in right of reply. 

At the end of the meeting Enele Sosene Sopoaga, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, addressed the Council on the dangerous impacts of climate change on humankind and said that the situation on the ground was dire and required not further reports and assessments but urgent concrete actions to protect, rebuild and adapt, and so protect the rights of those most vulnerable.  Human rights implications of climate change could be best addressed through two international frameworks: the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Human Rights Council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, who should focus on developing a new international instrument on the rights of people affected by climate change.

The Human Rights Council will resume its work at 9 a.m. on Friday, 6 March, to hold its annual discussion on human rights and climate change.

Documentation
 
The Council has before it the annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/28/3)

Presentation of Annual Report by the High Commissioner for Human Rights
 
ZEID RA'AD AL HUSSEIN, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, presenting his Office’s report for 2014, said he spoke at what may prove to be a turning-point in their young and troubled century.  There was real danger that in their reaction to extremist violence, decision-makers would lose their grasp of the deeper principles that underpinned the system for global security built by States 70 years ago to ward off the horror of war.  The fight against terror was a struggle to uphold the values of democracy and human rights – not undermine them.  The High Commissioner said the authoritative long version of his statement detailed a shocking range of violations committed by Takfiri groups.  The tentacles of that movement reached not only into Iraq and Syria but also Nigeria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and beyond.  The so-called ISIL movement in particular gloatingly broadcast its acts of horror.  The High Commissioner said he was appalled by the massive suffering that group provoked: from the murders, torture, rape and sale of children, to mass beheadings, burning people alive in cages, to seemingly genocidal attacks on ethnic and religious groups.

Extremism – however repugnant – was nurtured by ideology, and by alienation fed by years of tyranny, corruption, repression, discrimination, deprivation and neglect of the legitimate rights of communities.  A real campaign of ideas to discredit ISIL should seek to infuse fresh courage into the overwhelming majority of peaceful and tolerant Muslims around the world, to encourage them to take a stand.  The fact that the vast majority of ISIL's victims were fellow Muslims received far less publicity.  Events in Syria had an acute and dangerous impact on neighbouring countries; that destruction was a major factor behind the rise of the takfiri mind-set.  The Syrian conflict had killed well in excess of 200,000 people, and continued to kill more every day.  
   
Measures building a "national security state" were human rights violations that generated legitimate resentment, harmed social cohesion, and undermined the essential values of the international community, said the High Commissioner, citing the example of the orange jumpsuits of Guantanamo which became “a propaganda tool for our enemies" in the words of former President George W. Bush.  The High Commissioner said he was appalled by the rising tide of attacks targeting people on account of their religious beliefs, including in their places of worship. 

There was a disturbing trend of harsh restrictions on public freedoms by States across all regions.  When powerful leaders felt threatened by a tweet, a blog, or a high-school student's speech, it spoke of profound underlying weakness.  In the long version of his statement the High Commissioner said he was concerned about shrinking freedom of expression and democratic space in a multitude of countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Hungary, Myanmar, Occupied Palestinian Territory, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Venezuela and Viet Nam.  There were negative trends regarding the death penalty in Indonesia, Jordan and Pakistan, and of the continued extensive use of the death penalty in China, Iran, Iraq and the United States.  The High Commissioner said in his full statement he commended Tunisia and Colombia for important advances in human rights and also made specific remarks regarding Central African Republic, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Mexico, South Sudan and Sri Lanka.

If the right to adequate health had been honoured it would likely have been easier to contain the Ebola outbreak, said the High Commissioner, resulting in fewer deaths, fewer orphans, and less damage.  The provision of adequate services for all was not only just – it was far cheaper than solving the disasters, such as Ebola, generated by deprivation.  He also spoke about climate change, and migration in Europe, the Americas, and into Australia. 

The High Commissioner said the new reorganization of his Office would include the devolution of greater resources from headquarters to the field.   More resources would be moved to countries in need of assistance, seven new regional hubs would be created in cities where the United Nations presence was already strong and the Office would strengthen its presence in New York, while maintaining a critical mass in Geneva. 

Governments existed to serve the people – not the other way round.  Governments that protected human rights, combated discrimination and deprivation, and were accountable to their people were more prosperous and secure than those which stifled rights, hampered opportunities, and repressed freedoms.  Human rights were the only viable way to build safe and harmonious societies, concluded the High Commissioner.

The long version of the High Commissioner’s statement is available here: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=15642&LangID=E

Interactive Dialogue with the High Commissioner for Human Rights
 
Brazil, speaking on behalf of Brazil, Chile, Columbia and Uruguay, recalled that the Human Rights Council had adopted Resolution 27/32 on human rights sexual orientation and gender identity, which together with Resolution 17/19 constituted a milestone in combatting violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people and protecting their human rights.  The text reaffirmed that all human beings were born free in dignity and human rights.  This same resolution also acknowledged that significant challenges remained and that violations were committed in all regions because of the sexual orientation of individuals.

Algeria, speaking on behalf of the African Group, underlined that attention should be given to promoting inclusive human rights that were not politicized.  It was important to focus on economic, social and cultural rights, and especially on the right to development, with a view to the post-2015 development agenda.  Attention had to be given to the fight against discrimination, racism, xenophobia, the rights of migrants, and health, development and peace.  Tolerance and respect of religious and cultural diversity would free the world from stigmatization and attacks on sacred values.  The African Group was particularly concerned about the dramatic effects of Ebola and the situation in the Sahel and Sahara. 

Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, highlighted the commitment of the Member States of the Community to eradicate poverty and hunger in the region.  Poverty could not be eradicated and development could not be sustainable if there was no focus on the rights of vulnerable groups, including indigenous peoples, women, the elderly, migrants, children, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.  Equity was a guiding principle and key to ensuring effective justice to all.  Member States of the Community acknowledged that the definition of development had to promote the elimination of gaps within societies and on the global level.  Conflict prevention was important.

Bahrain, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, expressed willingness to fully cooperate with the High Commissioner and supported the High Commissioner’s work in fostering economic, social and cultural rights, and for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, as well as his work on the post-2015 development agenda.  Human rights should be mainstreamed into all those frameworks, and the Human Rights Council should focus on the rights of migrants, children, elderly, and persons with disabilities. The Arab Group also drew attention to human rights violations against Palestinians and called on Israel to stop flouting its international obligations. 

European Union supported the High Commissioner’s commitment to redouble efforts to fight impunity in Mali, the Central African Republic and Chad.  The European Union expressed concern over the growing number of victims and serious human rights violations and abuses in eastern Ukraine and Crimea.  It asked the High Commissioner to elaborate on how the United Nations system could better mobilize as a whole to react to emerging human rights crises.  In the light of the post-2015 development agenda, the European Union endorsed a human rights-based approach, encompassing all human rights and gender equality.

Egypt, speaking on behalf of the Like-Minded Group, said that despite achievements in the work of Human Rights Council, some areas required additional attention.  It was important to improve global human rights conditions through a sincere, consensual and balanced approach.  All human rights should be treated on an equal footing, and a balance between political and civil rights on one side, and economic, social and cultural rights on the other side should be achieved.  It was also necessary to introduce more geographically equitable representation of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in order to achieve better transparency and efficiency.

Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said that counter-terrorism measures were counterproductive.  Combating terrorism had to involve investigation into its root causes.  The Organization of Islamic Cooperation was concerned about human rights violations during counter terrorism operations, and alarmed by religious hatred in the world.  It appealed to the Human Rights Council to take concrete action.  It was important to respect each other’s beliefs. It highlighted the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and grave human rights violations there.  It was important to uphold economic, social and cultural rights. 

Iran, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the increasing terrorist attacks across the globe and the cruelty of those acts was frightening.  Iran condemned the crimes against and systematic violations of the rights of the Palestinian people, noting that Israel should be punished for these crimes.   The international community should address its drawbacks in the protection of human rights, and investigate the root causes of terrorism, such as social exclusion, poverty and stereotyping.  Only cooperation and constructive engagement could remedy those problems.  Further improvement of the work of the Human Rights Council should be in compliance with relevant mandates.

Morocco, speaking on behalf of the Francophone Arab Countries, underscored that efforts had to be continued to promote human rights.  The group was concerned about the financial difficulties of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and recognized that it needed to remain strong.  All Member States needed to provide resources to help the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  The Francophone Group was pleased with its strategic partnership with the Human Rights Council, reiterated its availability and willingness to contribute to its work, and stated that it would continue its dialogue and fruitful cooperation.

China said this year marked the seventieth anniversary against fascism and the establishment of the United Nations, and reminded of the scourges of the two world wars.  It was important to uphold the principles of sovereign equality of States and non-interference in their international affairs.  China hoped that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights would play a more important role in advocating tolerance and mutual understanding.  It was important to follow the principle of impartiality.

Qatar stated that terrorism was the biggest challenge today.  It was an attack on human rights and dignity.  It was unfortunate that the fight against terrorism was a pretext to discriminate against peoples, including by certain regimes.  A number of countries had criminalized the victims and glorified the butchers.  As far as the situation of Jerusalem was concerned and the continuation of the building of settlements by Israel, this was unacceptable.

Turkey stated that as the conflict in Syria entered its fifth year, 1.7 million refugees were hosted by Turkey.  Concerning Ukraine, Turkey appreciated the efforts deployed by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Turkey was disturbed by the human rights violations in Crimea.  Regarding the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the human rights situation there was abysmal.  Turkey would resolutely continue its efforts in cooperation with its international partners to finding a just and lasting solution. 

Belgium said that independence was the most important precondition for the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  It called on all States to cooperate with the Office, adding that the financing of the Office and its restructuring required great attention.  Belgium stressed the importance of the Office’s work on Syria and the Middle East, bearing in mind the lack of access to information.  It also underlined the importance of civil society in ongoing discussions

Brazil praised the important work that the High Commissioner carried out as the world faced multiple threats and dangers.  Economic, social and cultural rights had suffered, and Brazil called for the redoubling of efforts to ensure that those rights were at the centre of deliberations on the post-2015 development agenda.  The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights could not stand by as new issues rose on the international agenda, such as privacy in the digital age.  More resources had to be devoted to prevent crises, and in that respect technical cooperation would be instrumental.

Armenia welcomed the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ approach to strengthen thematic priorities of the human rights mechanisms, and to improve the performance of the inter-agency commission.  Armenia condemned the violence committed by terrorist groups, which caused displacement of thousands of people, and destruction of cultural heritage.  It welcomed the establishment of new Special Procedures, and underlined the importance of the Universal Periodic Review.

El Salvador shared the need to strengthen human rights mechanisms, to combat gender discrimination and to put an end to impunity.  El Salvador attached particular importance to the rights of individuals from vulnerable groups, including persons with disabilities and indigenous people.  El Salvador underlined the importance of the right to development and of economic, social and cultural rights.  It was necessary to continue discussions on international governance and a democratic international order.  The detention of unaccompanied minors was also a source of concern for El Salvador. 

Pakistan was concerned that civil and political rights occupied an unbalanced focus in the work of the Office of the High Commissioner, as opposed to economic, social and cultural rights.  Pakistan underlined the necessity to provide technical assistance at the request of States.  Pakistan was concerned about the extraterritorial use of armed drones and its human rights implications.  Pakistan believed the use of the death penalty in cases of terrorism was consistent with its international obligations. 

Japan said that its policy in response to terrorist acts perpetrated against two of its citizens had been to enhance its cooperation and assistance to the Middle East.  Japan called for constructive dialogue between the new Government of Sri Lanka and the Office of the High Commissioner.  Japan stood ready to support efforts by Myanmar in favour of human rights.  Japan expressed concerns about the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and supported the High Commissioner’s efforts on this issue. 

Egypt expressed its disappointment about what the High Commissioner had said on the justice system in Egypt.  The High Commissioner had no experience in justice and his Office was not equipped to take a position on that issue.  Furthermore, he had relied on statements by non-governmental organizations.  These allegations were inaccurate.  No one could be arrested without a warrant by the Prosecutor.  The High Commissioner had spoken about the restructuring of his Office and Egypt asked the High Commissioner to call for a meeting to discuss these proposals with Member States.  The importance of transparency relating to financial and human resources was underlined.

Norway stated that 2014 had been a year of horrible violations of human rights.  In reaction to extremist violence, Norway was determined to work on the human rights principles that were established 70 years ago to prevent increasing violence, the neglect of human rights, and discrimination.  A big challenge was the implementation gap between established norms and what was on the ground.  The High Commissioner had become a trusted advisor for States to address capacity gaps.  Norway supported the efforts of the High Commissioner and would continue to support him.  Norway urged the High Commissioner to speak with one voice in Geneva and New York.

ZEID RA’AD AL HUSSEIN, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, welcomed the support showed to the work of his office, despite the fact that it had been critical of some States.  Observations by all stakeholders were welcome and the Office would take them into due consideration.  In response to the European Union’s question on prevention, he said that the human rights up front initiative by the Secretary-General would be a tool to address emerging crises.  It was important to identify early signs and act upon them.  Human rights mechanisms, including Special Procedures, had an important role to play in that regard.  The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights would present a study on crisis prevention during the September session of the Council.  In response to concerns raised by other delegations, he said that the geographical representation within the Office’s staff had improved, and the High Commissioner would continue efforts on this.  In response to Pakistan, the High Commissioner agreed that more capacity building was needed and said that more capacity building would be carried out by regional offices. 

Indonesia noted that challenges were faced continuously.  When challenges were deemed extraordinary, an appropriate response was needed.  In this context, compounded with the challenges of its vast coastline and land borders, the Government of Indonesia had to enforce the existing laws with regard to the death penalty.  This applied to most serious crimes and only as a last resort.  The world had witnessed violent threats.  No religion could be associated with terrorism.  The tendency of negative stereotyping continued of certain religions and its followers. 

Netherlands said that the High Commissioner had to take an independent stand to identify difficulties and solutions.  More and more voices of Islamic authorities were heard as they distanced themselves from extremist violence and reinstated the genuine message of Islam.  The Netherlands asked the High Commissioner whether there was a role for the Office in this campaign of ideas.  The Netherlands stressed that the law needed to counter terrorism was already there and that there was no need for new norms of international law. 

Niger expressed its support for the work of the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms, particularly the Universal Periodic Review, and said that the funding of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights through the strengthening of the regular budget was of crucial importance.  This was particularly important in light of the need for stronger preventive action and rapid response to emerging challenges.  The Ebola epidemic in Africa continued to be of concern.

Iran agreed with the High Commissioner on the need to tackle the root causes of extremist violence and that counter-terrorism measures that violated human rights were counterproductive.  Iran was disturbed by the evidence offered by the Feinstain report about torture committed by the United States, and strongly underlined the need for more attention by the Council and the international community to the gross and systematic violation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. 

Venezuela said that it fully protected and guaranteed human rights, including freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly.  Law enforcement authorities in Venezuela had a constitutional obligation to respect human rights and to use proportional force.  A small number of people had been deprived of their liberty following the terrorist events that had taken place in Venezuela last year, in full compliance with human rights and democratic principles. 
Sierra Leone underlined that conflicts had escalated, and that barbaric acts had been perpetrated by ISIL and Boko Haram.  Sierra Leone called on the international community to address these challenges more effectively, and regretted that early signals such as systematic human rights abuses were often ignored by security actors.  Sierra Leone commended technical assistance activities carried out by the Office of the High Commissioner. 

Ukraine appreciated the work by the Office of the High Commissioner in Ukraine, where an invasion by the Russian Federation had led to human rights violations.  Ukraine welcomed the Office’s efforts to ensure a human rights-based response to the humanitarian needs in the country.  In occupied Crimea, the situation had deteriorated and the rights of the population were systematically violated.  Ukraine said the presence of the Office of the High Commissioner there should be extended for a longer period. 

Canada supported the intention to investigate human rights abuses and in particular sexual violence committed in the ISIL controlled areas and was troubled that some States, when confronted with conflicts or disasters, imposed restrictions on freedom of expression and association.  All States must ensure that the Human Rights Council was a free environment in which civil society organizations could engage free from fear.  Canada underlined the commitment to pursue the discussion on the report on human rights violations in Sri Lanka, which had been postponed at the request of the High Commissioner. 

Russia expressed disagreement with the instances where the High Commissioner took upon himself to criticise countries and said that instead of the practice of naming and shaming, a different approach should be adopted.  The rapid deterioration in Syria, Iraq and Libya was a result of external interference and Russia asked the High Commissioner for concrete suggestions on how those situations could be addressed.  Russia requested the High Commissioner to organize a briefing for countries on the reorganization of his Office and explain the criteria used in the selection of locations for seven regional hubs.

Greece said that, in the light of the difficulties that Greece and its people had experienced over the past several years, Greece had developed the first Human Rights Action Plan which aimed at integrating human rights into public policies.  Greece recognized the importance of the rights of migrants who remained persons of concern in the country and said it had undertaken steps to address administrative detention of nationals of third countries.

Kuwait stressed the importance of combatting impunity and promoting human rights in conflict areas.  Regarding the outbreak of Ebola, Kuwait had contributed to combatting it through its donation of $ 5 million to the World Health Organization.  The humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Syria were of utmost concern and humanitarian assistance had been organized by Kuwait.  Kuwait reiterated its full support of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Syria, referring to three points on the High Commissioner’s report, stated that incorrect information had been shared related to the situation in Syria.  The situation showed that the ongoing process was not the result of the Government’s action as described by the High Commissioner, but the result of terrorism that had arrived in Syria from other countries at the very beginning.  The conflicts in Syria and Libya and other countries were financed from abroad. These extremists came from different countries and this had been happening since Afghanistan.  History was repeating itself.

Namibia called on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate the rights of women and children in countries in conflict.  Namibia regarded women as the backbone of societies.  The right to development was the basis for the realization of other human rights.  Namibia urged the facilitation of dialogue to realize this right.  This was a catalyst to poverty eradication and had to be mainstreamed in the post-2015 development agenda.

Algeria said the post-2015 development agenda had to reflect the importance of economic, social and cultural rights.  Algeria welcomed the High Commissioner’s efforts to bring human rights to the heart of peacekeeping operations.  Algeria was concerned about the rise of hate speech against migrants.  On Mali, an historic agreement had been signed in March and needed implementation.  Algeria welcomed efforts to overcome the current crisis in Libya. 
Austria commended the High Commissioner’s Office for being more and more engaged with the human rights up front initiative and its efforts in favour of crisis prevention.  Austria expressed concerns about cases of reprisals against human rights defenders and about laws and policies restricting the activities of civil society organizations. 

Saudi Arabia said that no States could claim an ideal in terms of human rights, and that the best means to protect human rights was through the Universal Periodic Review.  Freedom of expression was linked to its responsible exercise, and this issue had to be approached without selectivity.   Efforts to impose one view on this had to stop.  Sharia in Saudi Arabia guaranteed human rights, and it was regrettable that the High Commissioner seemed to have adopted preconceptions on this. 

Morocco noted the contemporary context marred by the threat of terrorism and the budgetary reductions imposed on the Office of the High Commissioner which might reduce the scope of its action.  Morocco also remarked on the imbalance in the treatment of economic, social and cultural rights and civil and political rights, and said that the protection of human rights required the international community to protect achievements and combat the instrumentalization of human rights.

Council of Europe acknowledged its intense cooperation with the Office and hoped that synergies between the two organizations would be further strengthened, especially as their agendas were similar and both were concerned with the strengthening of human rights mechanisms, and addressing racism and discrimination and others.  The Council of Europe noted that its conventions were open for accession to non-European countries as well.

Republic of Moldova stressed the importance of a well-functioning and well-resourced Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to face contemporary challenges.  Thematic priorities could only be strengthened with the parallel work of Special Procedures and through the Universal Periodic Review.  It was the responsibility of States to ensure sufficient space for the work of human rights defenders.

Portugal echoed the words of the High Commissioner regarding international humanitarian and human rights law and stated that it would dedicate its efforts to working on the nexus between these two rights, together with the High Commissioner.  The best weapon against poverty and conflict was education.  Portugal would work with other States to achieve progress on this, as well as on victims of displacement.  Portugal commended the High Commissioner’s firm stance on the abolition of the death penalty, as well as on the quest for accountability.

ZEID RA’AD AL HUSSEIN, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, thanked all delegations who took the floor and who expressed support for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as well as for the entire human rights architecture.  It was a sign of maturity and strength that delegations continued to support the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights even when they were criticized by it.  He paid special tribute to all countries that had extended standing invitations to Special Procedures, and encouraged those who had not (half the Member States) to consider extending standing invitations. 

In response to the questions from representatives of Portugal, Indonesia, the Netherlands, and the Russian Federation, the High Commissioner acknowledged the urgency which States faced to tackle drug related offences, but noted that there was no evidence that the death penalty deterred drug crimes.  It was not the severity but the certainty of punishment that deterred crime.  On the question of the role of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the campaign for ideas, the High Commissioner, at the request of the Security Council, was involved in drafting a comprehensive human rights strategy that would combine education at an early stage with respect of all human beings, especially on religious tolerance.  The initiative to reform the management of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had been taken at an internal meeting the previous Thursday.  This was only proposal.  On Monday States had been informed of this and they would be regularly briefed as the initiative went forward. 

The High Commissioner extended an idea to modify the Human Rights Council format, and proposed the holding of a High-Level Segment, where the General Debate would be held only in the mornings and would be extended 10 days.  This would allow the Human Rights Council to interact with all high-level delegations, and to have intensive consultation with Special Procedures and the Universal Periodic Review in addition to national human rights institutions and civil society.  If then there was an interactive debate at the end, before adopting the resolutions, perhaps all input could be taken into account in the resolutions. Perhaps this would be a better format.

Jordan expressed concern over the deterioration of the human rights situation in Syria, and over the plight of the Palestinian people, noting that Israel continued to carry out violations of human rights in the Gaza strip and eastern Jerusalem.  The Palestinian people needed to obtain their own State.  Speaking about capital punishment, Jordan noted that this form of punishment could exist in the cases of most serious crimes.  Finally, Jordan was committed to working with all States on the promotion of human rights.

Ireland expressed strong support for the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as concern over the ongoing human suffering.   It stressed the crucial role that human rights education played in the general promotion of human rights, as well as freedom of expression and civil society space.  Ireland asked the High Commissioner to elaborate on the activities that his Office could undertake in order to promote civil society space.   It also called for a transformative post-2015 development agenda.

India commended the High Commissioner’s work in light of the many challenges with respect to human rights, and stressed that it was necessary to address the underlying causes of extremism, and analyse global economic development from a human rights perspective.  It was equally important to increase the capacity of States in order to promote the right to development.  The operative word of the Human Rights Council should be assist rather than confront States, and to take into account specific national concerns and needs. 

Belarus stressed that transparency and active cooperation with all States did not undermine the independence of the Office of the High Commissioner.  Reliance on extra-budgetary resources however did undermine this independence.  Belarus welcomed its cooperation with the Office on the issue of human trafficking, and expressed its will to continue this cooperation without selectivity. 

Chile underlined the importance of human rights in peacekeeping operations, and of identifying early warning signals to prevent conflicts.  Chile expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the intergovernmental process on strengthening the treaty body mechanism.  Chile welcomed that the Office of the High Commissioner attached importance to the issue of violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. 

Viet Nam expressed its attachment to human rights and international dialogue and cooperation on human rights issues, and underlined the importance that the High Commissioner only used credible and verifiable information.  It was indeed regrettable that the High Commissioner had made comments on Viet Nam that were based on wrong information. 

Malaysia said that the promotion of human rights required cooperation and dialogue in a non-confrontational manner.  It expressed concern over the rising attacks against freedom of belief, adding that it was crucial to analyse the roots of extremism.  Religious intolerance, including Islamophobia, was based on intolerance.  Reorganization of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was important, and Malaysia renewed its commitment to the work of the Office.

Honduras welcomed the action of the High Commissioner to include migration in the priorities of his work.  A fairer distribution of resources for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for all the regions also deserved attention, as well as the early warning system for violations of human rights.  The link between human rights and migration needed to be integrated in the post-2015 development agenda talks.

Tunisia welcomed proposals to make the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights more efficient and expressed support for such plans.  It reiterated support for the transitional process to strengthen the Office.  Tunisia took legal measures to strengthen human rights and a place for civil society, and to ensure that all rights of freedom, dignity and prosperity were available to citizens.
Thailand regretted that the High Commissioner’s reference to Thailand had not taken into account the context in the country last year, which was about to escalate into violent political confrontation.  Martial law was only invoked to deter those ill-intentioned from inciting further violence.  The Government fully respected freedom of expression
and had reached to all segments of society to express their views and contribute toward the reform process. 

Argentina believed that the situation of persons who were historically excluded and of those suffering various forms of discrimination must be improved.  In particular, violence on the ground of sexual orientation must be addressed.  Rights of migrants should be at the heart of public policies and laws, and Argentina welcomed the initiatives of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to mainstream human rights, particularly in the sustainable development goals. 

Czech Republic said that conflict, violent extremism and the atrocities witnessed on a daily basis were nurtured by human rights violations, injustice and discrimination.  The Czech Republic agreed with the High Commissioner that security threats must not side line the commitments to human rights; to the contrary, they must make them more pronounced.  The Czech Republic expressed concern at the rhetoric abusing human and cultural diversity in order to deprive certain groups of their rights and freedoms.

Costa Rica said that the High Commissioner’s annual report reflected a deteriorating global human rights situation.  The international community needed to combat poverty, address climate change, and fight impunity, which was crucial in ensuring that victims received adequate compensation.  Costa Rica welcomed proposals to reform the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and expressed its support in all further work of the High Commissioner.

Sudan took note of the annual report, but objected to its lack of precision on the human rights situation in Darfur.  It underlined that no rape incidents had taken place in the said region and no information had been received about it.  The said allegations were false, and were coming from Europe and people using arms against Sudan.  Such allegations aimed to destabilize the country, and the Government called on those who spread them to abort such endeavours.

United States thanked the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights for its engagement in Sri Lanka and looked forward to receiving the report.  It also welcomed the pragmatic approach to the current human rights violations.  It was deeply concerned by steps taken by Egypt that undermined freedom of expression and civil society.  Egypt needed to ensure that all detainees received a fair trial.  It welcomed the creation of an office in Seoul with a mandate to investigate human rights violations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

France said that in Syria crimes continued to be committed with impunity by the regime and Da’esh, which in Iraq was responsible for barbaric acts in areas under its control.  The efforts of the United Nations in Libya must be supported.  France was concerned about the situation in Ukraine and called on all parties to the conflict to immediately implement their responsibilities from the Minsk agreement.  France also said that regional and international action was needed to stop the crimes committed by Boko Haram and bring those responsible to justice.

Switzerland said that violations of international humanitarian law continued in Ukraine and called on all parties to implement their obligations from the Minsk agreement and address impunity.  Switzerland expressed regret about the return to executions in Jordan and Pakistan and agreed with the High Commissioner that all responses to terrorism must be in accordance with the human rights framework.  Switzerland welcomed the intention of Sri Lanka to cooperate with the Office and the Special Rapporteur on truth, justice and reconciliation.

Uruguay noted the disparity that existed between the request for support and the capacity of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide it.  The Office, the Human Rights Council and the Special Procedures were the human rights system of the international community and it was the responsibility of all its members to ensure they functioned smoothly and independently.

Burkina Faso welcomed the annual report and commended the work of the High Commissioner, bearing in mind limited financial resources.   It welcomed the creation of three new mandates of the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Burkina Faso called for the intensification of efforts to fight all forms of inequalities and promote migrant rights and economic, social and cultural rights.  Those issues required the attention and participation of the entire international community.

Australia placed great importance on the independence of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and welcomed his thoughtful observations on the imperative of countering violent extremism.  Australia placed great importance on gender equality and the contribution of women and girls in responding to violent extremism.  It also called for a stronger response to humanitarian crises, with a view to address the challenges of migration.

ZEID RA’AD AL HUSSEIN, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in response to the question on which actions States should take to provide human rights education on national levels, said that education, if devoid of a human rights dimension, would being to unravel when confronted with a crisis; human rights violations were the province of those uneducated in the area of human rights.  The Office had tools and capacities to support national efforts in human rights education, for example the Right to Human Rights Education, a new web-based resource.  The Rights Up Initiative pivoted on sensitizing the system to human rights and the nexus was on civil society which could alert the system at large about human rights violations.  The High Commissioner was working with a Mumbai-based think-tank which was working on a study into economic costs of the denial of human rights.  With regard to the role of the Office in combating impunity and its distinct advantages, High Commissioner Zeid said that the Office had a great deal of information and was building ever greater levels of expertise, both through commissions of inquiry and investigations conducted by the Office itself; further it had institutional advantage in the realm of international human rights law and the interaction with various mechanisms which held States accountable, such as Special Procedures and treaty bodies.

Nepal attached great importance to the human rights mechanisms, and welcomed the High Commissioner’s priority in countering the negative and discriminatory perceptions of migrants, and exploring the human rights challenges faced by migrant domestic workers.  It also appreciated his focus on the post-2015 development agenda with recognition of the value of human rights, including the right to development.  Nepal also prioritized ensuring justice for victims of past conflicts through transitional justice mechanisms.

Slovenia expressed concern over shameful acts of violence committed on a daily basis.  Slovenia recently granted equal legal rights to same sex couples, and welcomed the early warning on human rights violations.  It expressed hope that human rights would get more attention in the peace and security pillar, and advocated for a human rights approach in the post-2015 development agenda.  It also noted that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights needed an appropriate budget.

Togo welcomed different initiatives taken to prevent and respond to multiple violations of human rights across the globe.  It fully supported four priorities listed in the annual report:  the reinforcement of international human rights mechanisms; reinforcement of equality and fight against discrimination; the fight against impunity, reinforcement of the rule of law; and the quick response to human rights violations in conflict. 

Nigeria regretted the deterioration of the human rights situation worldwide, and shared the High Commissioner’s concerns about violations perpetrated by the Boko Haram armed group.  Nigeria expected greater cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner on this issue.  Nigeria was concerned that the resources of the Office did not permit meeting the growing demand for technical assistance. 

Mali regretted that economic, social and cultural rights, and the right to development, did not have sufficient attention from the Office of the High Commissioner.  Mali was committed to achieve a peaceful settlement of the crisis in the country, and to use dialogue to reach sustainable peace. 

Georgia welcomed that the previous High Commissioner had visited the occupied territories of Georgia, and hoped that under its new leadership, the Office would continue to pay due attention to the situation there under Russian occupation.  Georgia also shared the High Commissioner’s concerns regarding the situation in Ukraine. 

South Africa said challenges presented by the current economic climate should not affect the exercise of human rights.  This could only be done by a balance between economic, social and cultural rights, and civil and political rights.  South Africa shared the concern about the ongoing violations of human rights, especially in Syria, and reminded that there was no neutral solution to any conflict.  The emergence of new conflicts should not deter resolution of the old ones.

Albania supported the four-year plan started in 2014, especially the activities aimed at the protection and promotion of economic, social and cultural rights stipulated in the post-2015 development agenda.  Albania shared concern about extensive discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and was deeply concerned by the number of acts of intolerance, violence and hatred perpetrated in the name of religious belief. 

Oman rejected violence and extremism in all forms.  The presentation of the High Commissioner had indicated his efforts in the promotion and protection of human rights.  The Human Rights Council should listen to all partners and assess all information; it should not limit itself to single sources of information.  Certain mandate holders did not respect human rights and certain interventions which were aimed at provoking tension in societies had to be confronted.

Paraguay commended the work of the High Commissioner, and pledged to support his mandate and increase the budget of his Office.  It appreciated the support and work of the Office in instituting national institutions and mechanisms for the protection of human rights.  Paraguay had taken important steps in the promotion and protection of human rights through its system of monitoring recommendations, which it would share with other States. 

Philippines said that people looked to the Human Rights Council as the strong vanguard of the principles of equity, justice, freedom and peace.  There was a need for a more constructive and inclusive approach in pursing the shared vision of a world free from fear and want.  There was a great imperative for the Council to move forward through genuine constructive dialogue and cooperation. 

United Kingdom said it remained gravely concerned about a number of critical human rights situations, in particular in Syria, Iran, Burma and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  It welcomed the recent release of journalists in Egypt and called on the authorities to conduct the retrial in a timely manner.  It shared concerns about the situation in Venezuela, notably death of protesters and the arrest and detention of opposition leaders, as well as the shrinking of civil society space in Azerbaijan.

United Arab Emirates shared the High Commissioner’s concerns about rising extremism.  It hoped that the High Commissioner would attach due importance to the right to development and economic, social and cultural rights.  It expressed concerns about the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and called for the implementation of the recommendations made by the commission of inquiry.  It also expressed concerns about the situations in Yemen, Iraq and Libya.

Cuba agreed that more measures were needed to address increased racism and acts of religious hatred.  It underlined the importance of economic, social and cultural rights, and said that sustainable development was essential for the protection of human rights.  Cuba regretted the selectivity and politicization of human rights bodies, and welcomed the initiative to reorganize the High Commissioner’s Office, hoping it would lead to more transparency and better use of funds. 

Maldives said that all efforts to promote human rights should be based on the principles of democracy and the rule of law.  Maldives was committed to cooperating with human rights mechanisms.  It had issued a standing invitation to Special Procedures and cooperated with the treaty bodies.  The Council should avoid double standards, politicization and selectivity.  Maldives expressed its concerns about climate change and called for the adoption of a legally binding instrument. 
Haiti was concerned about the situations in Syria and Ukraine.  The vulnerability of developing countries was aggravated by factors related to climate change.  This was a major concern for Haiti and similar countries which were more exposed to climate factors. By acceding to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Haiti hoped to ensure the education and non-discrimination of such persons.  Haiti had revised the labour code in that respect.

Hungary reiterated its commitment to democratic values and an active and independent civil society.  It was also committed to the rule of law and the respect of fundamental norms, which included the transparent and legal utilization of public funds.  In reference to the High Commissioner’s report in this respect, Hungary stated that the Government had acted against the alleged misuse of funds and not civil society in general.  Non-governmental organizations were indispensable for the betterment of human rights.

Myanmar shared the concerns of many others in connection to the transparency of donations, and wished to know more about the consolidation process when donors made an earmarked donation for particular countries.  In reference to the report of the High Commissioner regarding Myanmar, Myanmar did not agree with what was said on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.  People could now freely use the internet and social media and were ensured free assembly.

Democratic Republic of the Congo welcomed that the High Commissioner had referred to the human rights impact of the Ebola virus, and said that it remained committed to conduct elections in respect of the announced calendar.  The Democratic Republic of the Congo had taken measures to contain violent protests in full respect of human rights. 

Botswana strongly condemned the terrorist activities of ISIL and said that the conflict in Syria would leave a mark on the human conscience worldwide.  Botswana was particularly concerned about the refugee crisis in Syria.  Botswana expressed concerns about abuses by Boko Haram and was of the view that States had the responsibility to build a climate of dialogue and tolerance to combat racial and religious hatred.

Germany placed much value in the treaty body system, and looked forward to seeing the strengthening process bear fruit this year.  Germany welcomed that the Office of the High Commissioner had increased its cooperation with other United Nations agencies in New York, and welcomed further expansion of such collaboration.  Germany underlined the importance of supporting the implementation of recommendations made during the Universal Periodic Review, and expressed concerns about reprisals against human rights defenders. 

Israel said that this Chamber was notorious for spreading lies and distortions about Israel; it discriminated against it and subjected it to unfair and biased treatment.  Israel would never participate in agenda item 7, which for Israel was null and void.  Israel was not above the law, but the law had to be seen to be administered fairly and equitably.  Israel had been conducting its own investigations of alleged violations of the Laws of Armed Conflict which went beyond its obligations under international law.

Azerbaijan said that it was fully aware of the role that vibrant civil society could play in the democratic life of a country, and that about 50 political parties and more than 3,000 civil society organizations and media outlets were operating in Azerbaijan today.  The same degree of attention should be given to the human rights of the 1 million Azerbaijani refugees and internally displaced persons who had been expelled from their native lands more than 20 years ago.

Spain said that it was obvious from the report how much work the Office had done in 2014 and congratulated the High Commissioner on the work on the abolition of the death penalty.  The situation of persons with disabilities continued to remain a priority.  Spain said that sometimes the world was too pessimistic and did not give due attention to achievements, such as those made in Tunisia or Colombia. 

Senegal said that the fight against all forms of racial discrimination and exclusion was at the heart of its concerns and urged the High Commissioner to intensify efforts to combat xenophobia and build a culture of genuine peace and tolerance.  Senegal took positive note of the many activities conducted by the Office in the area of technical assistance and capacity building and appealed to the international community to provide the Office with the necessary resources.

ZEID RA'AD AL HUSSEIN, High Commissioner for Human Rights, responding to questions by delegations, said that women and girls could greatly contribute to the fight against violent extremism because they were frequently targeted by extremists.  It had to be recognized that the empowerment of women contributed to overall social development and peace, and it was therefore important to invest in their education.   Responding to the questions about the funding of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and challenges on implementing the resolution on treaty body strengthening, he said that the Office would benefit from additional meetings and measures taken in order to harmonize the meeting system.   Treaty body chairpersons had recommended simplified reporting procedures, and a feasibility study on that issue would be submitted.   As for the engagement of the peace and security pillar in the human rights discussions, informal consultations were already underway.   Their intensification was no surprise because so many peace and security issues were linked with human rights problems.  As for strengthening the voice of human rights defenders, there existed a natural nexus between them and the United Nations, and it was the United Nations’ obligation to come to their defence.  The High Commissioner thanked all for the feedback and questions and stressed the importance of listening to each other. 

International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights expressed concerns about reprisals on human rights defenders and acknowledged the support of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in this respect.  This was a responsibility that the Human Rights Council shared.  The Coordinating Committee called on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to condemn reprisals and develop a common approach to address them.

Centre for Reproductive Rights, Inc. was concerned about the situation of civil society in Hungary and human rights defenders in Russia.  Women had been attacked in those societies.  The Centre for Reproductive Rights urged a strong commitment to reproductive rights as human rights.

Reporters Sans Frontiers International – Reporters Without Borders International said in view of the increased risks faced by journalists, United Nations Security Council Resolution 17/38 had been enacted on the protection of journalists in armed conflict.  It was very important to have an instrument that would provide a real deterrent to the threats faced by journalists.

Americans for Human Rights and Democracy in Bahrain was encouraged by the persistent concerns expressed by the High Commissioner about the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia, including the situation of human rights defenders, but was disappointed by the lack of recognition in the report of another major human rights abuser: Bahrain. 

Human Rights Watch agreed with the High Commissioner that no matter how grave the threat, abandoning the human rights framework was never the answer, including the lack of accountability for the use of torture.  The High Commissioner should outline concrete benchmarks for an effective accountability mechanism in Sri Lanka and consider credible models of a hybrid court there.

Associazione Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII said in a joint statement that due to rapid socio-economic and demographic transformation, the family unit found itself increasingly challenged by separation because of migration and the search for employment, while financial problems strained many in almost all countries.  States and international organizations must commit to enact effective policies and measures to provide the necessary comprehensive support for the family and its members.

International Organization for the Right to Education and Freedom of Education proposed concrete suggestions: the inclusion of structural indicators in primary education; and the inclusion of indicators on domestic legal provisions for freedom of individuals and groups to establish and direct educational institutions.

International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations said since self-determination was a corner stone of the principal United Nations conventions on human rights, the High Commissioner and his Office should report to the Human Rights Council at coming sessions on the human rights situation in Western Sahara and should visit the occupied territories of Western Sahara.

International Service for Human Rights raised concerns about the worsening use of counter terrorism laws and measures to criminalize human rights defenders in all regions.  Such laws and measures were used in Chile, China, Egypt and the United States.  Those approaches were not only incompatible with human rights standards, but were also counterproductive.

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development expressed deep disappointment over the deferral of the report on Sri Lanka by the Office of the High Commissioner to the thirtieth session of the Council.  A noticeable reduction in threats to human rights defenders and media freedom had been observed.  However political prisoners and human rights defenders detained by the previous governments were yet to be released while civilians in the north and east were still subjected to intimidation and a lack of fundamental freedoms.

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies said decades of brutal totalitarian policies adopted by Governments in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Yemen and the Occupied Palestinian Territories had served as the primary recruitment tool of extremist groups.  Any policies adopted to counter terrorism in the region could only be effective if they contained measures to advance human rights and the rule of law. 

Comision Mexicana de Defensa y Promocion de los Derechos Humanos said in Mexico, organized crime was highly targeted by the State security forces.  The Government had introduced an organized strategy to control drug trafficking-related crimes. This had placed the national security agenda over the human rights agenda.  The Comision invited the High Commissioner to continue monitoring the systematic widespread violation of human rights by security forces in Mexico.

Liberation said that the Western Sahara was the last colony in Africa and its people were waiting for the realization of their right to self-determination.  The refusal of the international community to implement any human rights monitoring mechanism was regrettable.  The High Commissioner should monitor the situation of human rights in Western Sahara.

Pasumai Thaayagam Foundation remained optimistic about the commitment of this Council to accountability and justice in Sri Lanka, but shared deep disappointment about the delay of the report.  After years of failed domestic mechanisms, justice delayed could not be justice denied, and the High Commissioner should ensure that the next six months were used to release a stronger and more comprehensive report.

ZEID RA’AD AL HUSSEIN, High Commissioner for Human Rights, thanked representatives of civil society and national human rights institutions for their contributions.  He suggested publishing a state-of-the-world report in order to avoid any doubts about picking on certain States.  Referring to the state of human rights in Bahrain, he said discussions were ongoing with Bahrain’s representatives.  On Iraq and a report that was due by the end of the month, the High Commissioner said he had appealed to the Iraqi Government to accede to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.  As for the human rights situation in Western Sahara, he said discussions were ongoing about a technical visit.  Concerning the deferral of the publication of the report on Sri Lanka, that decision was taken after very careful and deep consultations and upon advice by three experts.  There was an enormous task of proving a roadmap on how to deal with any exaggerated counter-terrorism measures by Governments.  The High Commissioner suggested that another discussion be held on that matter.  In the meantime, he stressed that any exaggerated action by Governments threatened human rights protection.  

Statement by the Prime Minister of Tuvalu

ENELE SOSENE SOPOAGA, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, said that dangerous impacts of climate change on humankind were already happening and there was evidence of destruction throughout the world.  For Tuvalu, an island atoll nation in the Pacific, the situation was very serious and the rights of its people were seriously compromised, particularly by the rise of the sea level.  The situation on the ground was dire and required not further reports and assessments but urgent concrete actions to protect, rebuild and adapt, and so protect the rights of the most vulnerable.  The way forward must be projected and it must focus not on saving the economy, but saving human beings.  The science of climate change was clear and its economy was clear: small island States would be completely submerged within the next 50 years if no action was taken.  It was the responsibility of the United Nations to devise human rights-based responses to this risk.  Climate change also contained a fundamental justice concern, which was connected with the ability of affected nations to respond to derailed development, displacement, and worsening of existing inequality, poverty and conflict.  Human rights implications of climate change could be best addressed through two international frameworks: the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Human Rights Council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, who should focus on developing a new international instrument on the rights of people affected by climate change.

Right of Reply

Syria, speaking in a right of reply regarding the comments made by Qatar, stated that Qatar was not a democratic country.  It referred to freedoms but was not party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  Qatar initiated terrorism, indoctrination, military training, and was associated with money laundering.  All these acts violated the Security Council rules under Chapter VII. Many who financed terrorists lived in Qatar.  Qatar was playing a role in the destruction and destabilization of other countries.  Regarding Turkey, there was a proven link between Turkey and the Islamic State (ISIL). Turkey had opened its borders for the flow of oil which strengthened the economic position of Da’esh.

Venezuela, speaking in a right of reply in response to the statement of the United Kingdom, regretted that racial discrimination persisted in the United Kingdom as a vestige of its colonial past.  Migratory domestic workers were especially concerned.  The practice of racial violence against ethnic minorities was growing.  The world awaited the outcomes of investigations of accusations of torture and ill treatment as a result of the illegal military intervention of the United Kingdom army in Iraq.  If this Government was to teach lessons on human rights, it needed to begin by an impartial and independent investigation into the grave acts of torture it committed in Iraq between 2003 and 2009.  The United Kingdom continued to use techniques of deliberate pain on children who were in institutions for discipline. 

Qatar, speaking in a right of reply in response to the statement made by Syria, recalled that it was part of the alliance that was fighting against the Islamic State, and stressed that it would fight terrorism in all its forms.  As for the accusation that Qatar committed human rights violations, it was in fact the Syrian regime that had committed them.

Turkey, speaking in a right of reply, categorically denied the accusations made by Syria, noting that the Syrian regime was solely responsible for the destruction.  Turkey was a safe refuge for some 1.2 million Syrians and it ensured that cross-border humanitarian assistance reached millions of people inside the Syrian borders.  Thus nobody, and particularly Syria, had the right to question Turkey’s actions. 

Egypt, speaking in a right of reply, said that no one in Egypt was imprisoned except for committing criminal offences under the law.  The standards of fair trial and due process were respected in line with international and domestic standards.  It was regrettable that the High Commissioner had presented a misguided and biased picture of the situation in Egypt.

United Kingdom, speaking in a right of reply, said it was a country that abided by international law and refuted all allegations made by Venezuela in its right of reply.

Syria, speaking in a second right of reply, said that Qatar had not responded to any of the points Syria had raised earlier.  The regime in Qatar continued to take provocative steps which would destroy any value that this Council had. 

Qatar, speaking in a second right of reply, stated that it was disgusted with what had been said by the representative of Syria, an illegitimate regime which had caused the death of 200,000 of its civilians.  Countries were not at the Human Rights Council to receive lessons from Syria’s Government.  That was schizophrenia.  It was known that the survival of the regime was aided by terrorism.  Assad was the initiative of all terror.

Turkey, speaking in a second right of reply, stated that it was unacceptable that the Syrian regime, which was responsible for the deaths of more than 200,000 civilians, continued to have a seat in the Human Rights Council and was making statements.  Da’esh was a terrorist organization.  The operation by Turkey on its territory had been conducted with the knowledge and approval of the international community. 

CORRECTION

In press release HRC/15/15 of 4 March 2015, the statement by the delegation of Indonesia should read as follows:

Indonesia ensured that due process of law was fully observed in the imposition of the death penalty.  Between 2008 and 2013, Indonesia had unilaterally implemented a moratorium on the death penalty.  If they had to reintroduce the death penalty, it was simply because they were dictated by the aggravated situation affecting their society as a result of those crimes. 

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