Back


Human Rights Council Concludes Forty-Sixth Regular Session after Adopting 30 Resolutions and One Decision

Back

24 March 2021

Council Extends 10 Thematic and Country-Specific Mandates, Highlights the Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Adopts Universal Periodic Review Outcomes for 14 States, and Appoints Six Mandate Holders

24 March 2021

The Human Rights Council this afternoon concluded its forty-sixth regular session after adopting 30 resolutions and one decision, extending mandates on the environment, cultural rights, albinism, privacy, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Islamic Republic of Iran, Myanmar, Syrian Arab Republic, South Sudan and Malia, and focusing on the wide-ranging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With regard to ensuring equitable, affordable, timely and universal access for all countries to vaccines in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the Council urged States to immediately take steps to prevent, within their respective legal frameworks, speculation and undue export controls and stockpiling that may hinder affordable, timely, equitable and universal access for all countries to COVID-19 vaccines and strongly urged all States to refrain from taking any economic, financial or trade measures that may adversely affect equitable, affordable, fair, timely and universal access to COVID-19 vaccines, in particular in developing countries. The Council also decided to hold, at its forty-ninth session, a half-day panel discussion on the matter.

The Council recognized that developing countries required massive liquidity and financing support to deal with the immediate fallout resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and its repercussions for the economy and for all human rights owing to the challenges faced in the areas of healthcare, education, employment and social protection systems, as well as to the heavy debt burden and deteriorating economic buffer. The effects of the pandemic were also highlighted in a number of other resolutions, including on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the realization of economic, social and cultural rights, and promoting mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of human rights.

The Council extended mandates of the Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment for a period of three years; the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights for three years; the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism for three years; the Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy for three years; the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for one year; the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran for one year; the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar for one year; the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic for a period of one year; the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan for a period of one year; and the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali for a period of one year.

Concerning Sri Lanka, the Council decided to strengthen the capacity of the Office of the High Commissioner to collect, consolidate, analyse and preserve information and evidence and to develop possible strategies for future accountability processes for gross violations of human rights or serious violations of international humanitarian law in Sri Lanka to advocate for victims and survivors, and to support relevant judicial and other proceedings, including in Member States, with competent jurisdiction.

On the situation of human rights in Belarus in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election and in its aftermath, the Council requested the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, with assistance from relevant experts and special procedure mandate holders, inter alia: to collect, consolidate, preserve and analyse information and evidence with a view to contributing to accountability for perpetrators and justice for victims and, where possible, to identify those responsible.

A resolution on Nicaragua was adopted under agenda item two on the annual report of the High Commissioner. Resolutions were adopted on Iran, Myanmar, Syria and South Sudan under agenda item four on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention. Resolutions on Mali, South Sudan and Georgia were adopted under agenda item 10 on technical assistance and capacity building.

During the annual high-level segment at the beginning of the session, 130 dignitaries addressed the Council, including six Heads of State, three Prime Ministers, 12 Deputy Prime Ministers, 80 Ministers of Foreign Affairs and other dignitaries.

The Council also filled six vacancies of Special Procedure mandate holders: Margaret Lokawua (Uganda) for the position of Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, member from Africa; Sheryl Lightfoot (Canada) for the position of Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, member from North America; Morris Tidball-Binz (Chile) for the position of Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Vitit Muntarbhorn (Thailand) for the position of Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia; Catherine S. Namakula (Uganda) for the position of Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, member from African States; and Priya Gopalan (Malaysia) for the position of Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, member from Asia-Pacific States.

The Council adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcomes of Belarus, Libya, Malawi, Panama, Mongolia, Maldives, Andorra, Honduras, Bulgaria, Marshall Islands, United States, Croatia, Liberia and Jamaica.

Nazhat Shameem Khan, President of the Human Rights Council, in her concluding remarks, reiterated that any act of intimidation or reprisal against those cooperating with the United Nations were unacceptable. She closed the forty-sixth session of the Human Rights Council by thanking the Bureau, the Secretariat and many others for their dedication, flexibility and creativity in implementing the many extraordinary measures necessary to ensure that the Council continued its mandate.

The forty-seventh regular session of the Council is scheduled to be held from 21 June to 9 July 2021.

Action on Resolutions under Agenda Item Two on the Annual Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.1/Rev.1) on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka, adopted by a vote of 22 in favour, 11 against and 14 abstentions, the Council requests the Office of the High Commissioner to enhance its monitoring and reporting on the situation of human rights in Sri Lanka, including on progress in reconciliation and accountability. The Council decides to strengthen the capacity of the Office of the High Commissioner to collect, consolidate, analyse and preserve information and evidence and to develop possible strategies for future accountability processes for gross violations of human rights or serious violations of international humanitarian law in Sri Lanka to advocate for victims and survivors, and to support relevant judicial and other proceedings, including in Member States, with competent jurisdiction.

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.8) on the promotion and protection of human rights in Nicaragua, adopted by a vote of 20 in favour, 8 against and 18 abstentions, the Council requests the High Commissioner to enhance and broaden monitoring by the Office of the High Commissioner and to continue to report on the situation of human rights in Nicaragua, including by preparing a comprehensive written report that assesses progress and challenges regarding that situation, and to present it to the Human Rights Council at its forty-ninth session, to be followed by an interactive dialogue.

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.31) on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the obligation to ensure accountability and justice, adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, 6 against and 8 abstentions, the Council calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to comply immediately with its international law obligations to the protected occupied population, and ensure non-discriminatory access to vaccines for immunization against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, including in coordination with the Government of the State of Palestine.

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

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.2) on human rights, democracy and the rule of law, adopted without a vote, the Council decides that the theme of the fourth session of the Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law, to be held in 2022, will be “Strengthening democracies to build back better: challenges and opportunities”.

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.4) on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, adopted by a vote of 30 in favour, 15 against and 2 abstentions, the Council urges all States to stop adopting, maintaining or implementing unilateral coercive measures not in accordance with international law, international humanitarian law, the Charter of the United Nations and the norms and principles governing peaceful relations among States, in particular those of a coercive nature with extraterritorial effects, which create obstacles to trade relations among States, thus impeding the full realization of the rights set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments, in particular the right of individuals and peoples to development.

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.5) on the freedom of religion or belief, adopted without a vote, the Council condemns violence and acts of terrorism, which are increasing in number and targeting individuals, including persons belonging to religious minorities across the world. The Council emphasizes that no religion should be equated with terrorism, as this may have adverse consequences for the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief of all members of the religious community concerned.

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.6/Rev.1) on human rights and the environment, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment for a period of three years. The Council appeals to all States to consider adopting and implementing national measures that respect and protect the rights of those who are particularly vulnerable to the loss of healthy ecosystems and biodiversity.

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.10) on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights, adopted by a vote of 28 in favour, 14 against and 4 abstentions, the Council recognizes that developing countries require massive liquidity and financing support to deal with the immediate fallout resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and its repercussions for the economy and for all human rights owing to the challenges faced in the areas of healthcare, education, employment and social protection systems, as well as to the heavy debt burden and deteriorating economic buffer.

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.12) on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to renew, for a period of three years, the mandate of Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, to enable the mandate holder to continue to work in accordance with the mandate established by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 10/23 of 26 March 2009.

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.13) on the question of the realization in all countries of economic, social and cultural rights, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to convene a panel discussion, during its forty-ninth session, under agenda item 3, to discuss the conclusions and recommendations made by the Secretary-General in his report on the importance of robust and efficient public policies and of adequately resourced and fully functioning services for the protection of economic, social and cultural rights to address the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and to contribute to recovery efforts, including practical examples and good practices.

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.14) on the negative impact of the non-repatriation of funds of illicit origin to the countries of origin on the enjoyment of human rights, and the importance of improving international cooperation, adopted by a vote of 31 in favour, 14 against and 2 abstentions, the Council requests the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights to conduct a new study, in connection with the previous relevant studies conducted by the mandate holder and the Advisory Committee, on a proposed non-binding set of practical guidelines for efficient asset recovery aiming at curbing the illicit transfer of funds and mitigating its negative effects on the enjoyment of human rights with a view to help requesting and requested States to strengthen their cooperation in this regard, and to present the study to the Human Rights Council at its fifty second session.

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.15) on the mandate of the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, adopted without a vote, the Council commends the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism for the important work undertaken to end attacks on and to spread awareness about persons with albinism. The Council further decides to extend the mandate of the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism for a period of three years, on the same terms as provided by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 28/6 of 26 March.

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.22) on promoting mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of human rights, adopted by a vote of 26 in favour, 15 against and 6 abstentions, the Council decides to convene at its forty-ninth session a meeting under item 3 of its agenda on the theme of enhancing technical cooperation and capacity-building in promoting and protecting the human rights of persons in vulnerable and marginalized situations in recovery efforts during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.25/Rev.1) on ensuring equitable, affordable, timely and universal access for all countries to vaccines in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, adopted without a vote, as orally revised, the Council calls upon States and other relevant stakeholders to take appropriate measures to guarantee the fair, transparent, equitable, efficient, universal and timely access and distribution of safe, quality, efficacious, effective, accessible and affordable COVID-19 vaccines and to enable international cooperation. The Council also decides to hold, at its forty-ninth session, a half-day panel discussion on the matter and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to make the discussion fully accessible to persons with disabilities.

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.27) on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment: the roles and responsibilities of police and other law enforcement officials, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon all States to take effective measures to ensure that the use of force by police and other law enforcement officials, including the use of less-lethal weapons, is in conformity with international obligations and the principles of legality, necessity, proportionality, accountability and non-discrimination, and that those using force account for each use of force, bearing in mind that lethal force may only be used to protect against grievous bodily harm or an imminent threat to life.

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.28) on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy for a period of three years, whose tasks will include, inter alia, to gather relevant information, including on international and national frameworks, national practices and experience, to study trends, developments and challenges in relation to the right to privacy, as set out in article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and to make recommendations to ensure its promotion and protection, including in connection with the challenges arising from new and emerging technologies.

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.11) on, the right to food, as orally revised, adopted without a vote, the Council encourages the Special Rapporteur to continue to take into account the links between human rights and trade policy perspectives, food systems and global governance, and to cooperate with relevant international organizations to ensure that the international trade regime and global economic architecture are geared towards fulfilling the right to food. The Council requests all States, private actors, international organizations and agencies, within their mandates, to take fully into account the need to promote the effective realization of the right to food for all.

In a decision (A/HRC/46/L.23) on the high-level panel discussion on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Voluntary Technical Assistance Trust Fund to support the participation of Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States in the work of the Human Rights Council, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to convene, during the high-level segment of its forty-ninth session, a high-level panel discussion on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Voluntary Technical Assistance Trust Fund to Support the Participation of Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States in the Work of the Human Rights Council focused on the benefits of universal and meaningful participation of all States Members Of the United Nations in the work of the Human Rights Council, and that the discussion shall be fully accessible to persons with disabilities.

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

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.7) on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to continue to strengthen, for a period of two years, the capacity of the Office of the High Commissioner, including its field-based structure in Seoul, to allow the implementation of relevant recommendations made by the group of independent experts on accountability in its report, aimed at strengthening current monitoring and documentation efforts, establishing a central information and evidence repository and having experts in legal accountability assess all information and testimonies, with a view to developing possible strategies to be used in any future accountability process. The Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 37/28, for a period of one year.

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.9) on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, adopted by a vote of 21 in favour, 12 against and 14 abstentions, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran for a further period of one year. The Council further calls upon the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur and to permit access to visit the country and to provide all information necessary to allow the fulfilment of the mandate. Finally, the Council requests the Secretary-General to provide the Special Rapporteur with the resources necessary to fulfil the mandate.

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.19) on the situation of human rights in Belarus in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election and in its aftermath, adopted by a vote of 20 in favour, 7 against and 20 abstentions, the Council requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, with assistance from relevant experts and special procedure mandate holders, inter alia: to monitor and report on the situation of human rights, to carry out a comprehensive examination of all alleged human rights violations committed in Belarus since 1 May 2020, including the possible gender dimensions of such violations, to establish the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged violations, and to collect, consolidate, preserve and analyse information and evidence with a view to contributing to accountability for perpetrators and justice for victims and, where possible, to identify those responsible.

Prior to adopting the resolution, the Council voted on and rejected 14 amendments.

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.21/Rev.1) on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar for a further period of one year, requests the Special Rapporteur to present an oral progress report to the Human Rights Council at its forty-seventh and forty-eighth sessions and to submit a written report to the Third Committee of the General Assembly at its seventy-sixth session and to the Council at its forty-ninth session, each to be followed by an interactive dialogue, in accordance with its annual programme of work, and invites the Special Rapporteur to continue to monitor the situation of human rights and to measure progress in the implementation of recommendations.

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.24) on the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic, adopted by a vote of 27 in favour, 6 against and 14 abstentions, the Council expresses grave concern that March 2021 marks 10 years since the peaceful uprising and its brutal repression that led to the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic and that the conflict has been marked by consistent patterns of gross violations and abuses of international human rights law and violations of international humanitarian law. The Council decides to extend the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic for a period of one year.

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.29/Rev.1) on the situation of human rights in South Sudan, adopted by a vote of 20 in favour, 16 against and 11 abstentions, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, composed of three members, for a period of one year, renewable as authorized by the Human Rights Council.

Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item Seven on the Human Rights Situation in Palestine and other Occupied Arab Territories

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.16) on human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan, adopted by a vote of 26 in favour, 18 against and 3 abstentions, the Council demands that Israel stop its repressive measures against the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan, and release immediately the Syrian detainees in Israeli prisons and determines that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken or to be taken by Israel, the occupying Power, including the Knesset’s decision of 22 November 2010 to hold a referendum before any withdrawal from the occupied Syrian Golan and East Jerusalem, that seek to alter the character and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan are null and void, constitute a flagrant violation of international law and of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and have no legal effect.

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.18) on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, adopted by a vote of 42 in favour, 3 against and 2 abstentions, the Council calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to immediately end its occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and further reaffirms its support for the solution of two States, Palestine and Israel, living side by side in peace and security. The Council confirms that the right of the Palestinian people to permanent sovereignty over their natural wealth and resources must be used in the interest of their national development, the well-being of the Palestinian people and as part of the realization of their right to self-determination.

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.30) on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, adopted by a vote of 36 in favour, 3 against and 8 abstentions, the Council calls upon Israel to accept the de jure applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and to the occupied Syrian Golan, to abide scrupulously by the provisions of the Convention, in particular article 49 thereof, and to comply with all its obligations under international law and to cease immediately all actions causing the alteration of the character, status and demographic composition of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan. The Council decides to remain seized of the matter.

Action on Resolution under Agenda Item Nine on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Forms of Intolerance, Follow-up to and Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.3) on combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against, persons based on religion or belief, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon all States, inter alia, to take effective measures to ensure that public functionaries, in the conduct of their public duties, do not discriminate against individuals on the basis of religion or belief; and to foster religious freedom and pluralism by promoting the ability of members of all religious communities to manifest their religion and to contribute openly and on an equal footing to society.

Action on Resolutions under Agenda Item 10 on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.17) on technical assistance and capacity-building for Mali in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali for a period of one year in order to permit him to evaluate the situation of human rights in Mali and to assist the Malian transitional authorities in their efforts to promote, protect and fulfil human rights and to strengthen the rule of law.

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.20) on technical assistance and capacity-building for South Sudan, adopted without a vote, the Council requests the Office of the High Commissioner, in cooperation with the Government of South Sudan and relevant mechanisms of the African Union, to urgently assist South Sudan to address human rights challenges in the post-conflict transition, by inter alia: monitoring and reporting on the situation of human rights in South Sudan, and to make recommendations to prevent any deterioration in the situation with a view to improving it; and providing the required technical assistance and capacity-building, particularly with regard to the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement.

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.26) on cooperation with Georgia, adopted by a vote of 19 in favour, 8 against and 19 abstentions, the Council requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue to provide technical assistance through the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Tbilisi. The Council further demands that immediate and unimpeded access be given to the Office of the High Commissioner and international and regional human rights mechanisms to Abkhazia, Georgia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, Georgia.

Back

Back

No