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Human Rights Council adopts eight resolutions and closes twenty-eighth session

AFTERNOON

27 March 2015

Extends Mandate on Mali, Adopts Texts on Libya, Iraq, Guinea and Haiti, on Prevention of Genocide, and on Violence on the Basis of Religion, and Elects Four Mandate Holders

The Human Rights Council this afternoon closed its twenty-eighth session after it adopted eight texts, including on extending the mandate of the Independent Expert on Mali, on combatting intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of persons based on religion or belief, on the prevention of genocide, and on the impact of the world drug problem on the enjoyment of human rights. The Human Rights Council also elected four mandate holders.

Other adopted texts pertained to technical assistance and capacity-building in Libya, Iraq, Guinea, and Haiti.

In a resolution on combatting intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against, persons based on religion or belief, the Council called upon States to take effective measures to combat discrimination on the basis of religion or belief, to promote religious pluralism, to counter religious profiling and to protect places of worship and religious sites. The resolution requested the High Commissioner to prepare a comprehensive follow-up report with elaborated conclusions and potential follow-up measures on this issue.

In a resolution on the prevention of genocide, the Council recommended that the General Assembly designate 9 December as the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of Genocide, invited the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide to continue providing States with guidance, assistance and follow-up and requested the Secretary-General to draw up a roster of focal points and networks on the prevention of genocide with updated information from Member States.

The Council condemned in the strongest possible terms continued, widespread and grave abuses by Da’esh and urged the Iraqi Government to investigate all alleged abuses and violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. In a resolution on technical assistance and capacity-building to improve human rights in Libya, the Council condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist acts, hostage-taking and violence committed against civilians by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Da’esh in Libya) and other terrorist organizations, and requested the High Commissioner to urgently dispatch a mission to investigate violations and abuses of international human rights law in Libya with a view to ensuring full accountability.

The Council extended for a period of one year the mandate of the Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Mali, and noted the efforts of the Government of Mali to bring before an independent and impartial justice system all perpetrators of human rights violations, as well as its continued cooperation with the International Criminal Court. In a resolution on strengthening technical cooperation in Guinea, the Council called on the Government of Guinea to ensure that the elections to be held in 2015 were conducted in a peaceful and transparent manner, and called on the international community to support Guinea’s efforts in the fight against Ebola.

The Council requested the High Commissioner to prepare a study on the impact of the world drug problem on the enjoyment of human rights and decided to convene a panel discussion on this matter at its thirtieth session.

In a statement by the President of the Human Rights Council on the situation of human rights in Haiti, the Council welcomed and endorsed the request of the Haitian authorities to renew for one year the mandate of the Independent Expert and welcomed the launch of the "Punch" campaign on prolonged pre-trial detention.

Joachim Rücker, President of the Human Rights Council, said the Council elected by acclamation Albert Kwokwo Barume (Democratic Republic of the Congo), as the African member of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; Idriss Jazairy (Algeria), as the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights; Rhona Smith (United Kingdom), as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia; and Dante Pesce (Chile), as the Latin American and Caribbean Member of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises.

The Council then adopted ad referendum the report of its twenty-eighth session presented by Mothusi Bruce Rabasha Palai, Human Rights Council Vice-President and Rapporteur.

In his closing remarks, Mr. Rücker, President of the Human Rights Council, encouraged all those who participated in the Council’s work to discuss issues with the appropriate level of dignity and respect and condemned acts of intimidation or reprisal. He paid tribute to Ms. Jane Connors, Director of the Research and Right to Development Division of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, who was soon retiring.

Introducing texts were Colombia, Pakistan, Algeria, Iraq, Armenia, Rwanda, and Cuba.

Speaking in general comments were Russian Federation, Sierra Leone, Latvia, Indonesia, United States, France, Pakistan, and India.

Speaking in explanations of the vote before or after the vote were United States, Brazil, Gabon, Netherlands, Latvia, Cuba, South Africa, Pakistan, Algeria, Venezuela, Paraguay, Japan, Sierra Leone, and Saudi Arabia.

Libya, Guinea and Haiti spoke as concerned countries.

The following observer States spoke on the resolutions adopted: Tunisia, Switzerland, European Union, Egypt, Australia, Costa Rica, Canada, Armenia, Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie and Iran.

Association of World Citizens and International Service for Human Rights also took the floor in general concluding remarks.

The twenty-eighth session of the Human Rights Council took place from 2 to 27 March 2015. Documentation, statements, resolutions and reports relating to this and all Human Rights Council sessions are available on its webpage. Detailed, speaker-by-speaker coverage of every public meeting can be found on the webpage of the United Nations Information Service Geneva.

The Human Rights Council will next meet at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, 1 April 2015 to hold a Special Session “in light of the terrorist attacks and human rights abuses and violations committed by the terrorist group Boko Haram”. The next regular session of the Human Rights Council will take place from 15 June to 3 July 2015. More information is available on the Council’s webpage.


Action on Resolution under the Agenda Item on Follow-up to and the Implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action

Action on Resolution on the Contribution of the Human Rights Council to the Special Session of the General Assembly on the World Drug Problem of 2016

In a resolution (A/HRC/28/L.22) on the contribution of the Human Rights Council to the special session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem of 2016, adopted without a vote, the Council requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a study to be presented to the Human Rights Council at its thirtieth session, on the impact of the world drug problem on the enjoyment of human rights, and recommendations on respect for and the protection and promotion of human rights in the context of the world drug problem, with particular consideration for the needs of persons affected and persons in vulnerable situations. The Council also decides to convene a panel discussion at its thirtieth session on the impact of the world drug problem on the enjoyment of human rights and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a report on the panel discussion in the form of a summary. The Council invites the High Commissioner to submit to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, through the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the contribution of the Human Rights Council to the special session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem to be held in 2016; and invites the General Assembly to take into account the contribution of the Human Rights Council during its special session on the world drug problem in 2016 and of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs during the preparatory process.

Colombia, introducing resolution L.22, said that the preparatory process of the draft resolution was inclusive, with the participation of all specialized agencies. There was no other better contribution on the impact of the world drug problem on human rights. The objective was to open the debate and not prejudge any outcomes, and there would be no duplication of work. The goal was to present different perspectives on the human rights aspect of the world drug problem, and to that end a study would be published and then complemented by an open discussion. Colombia said it believed that the text was balanced, and expressed hope that Member States would approve it.

Russia, in a general comment, believed that the main guiding body dealing with the spread of drugs was the Commission on Narcotic Drugs at the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime. Any attempts to fight the spread of drugs in other fora was counterproductive and could lead to the duplication of work. Alternative approaches to fighting the drug problem through the question of human rights were inappropriate. The provision inviting the High Commissioner to prepare a report on the issue would be an additional burden to the agenda of the Human Rights Council.

United States, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said there was no dispute between human rights efforts and the efforts to counter the spread of drugs. Thus the United States supported the resolution. The United States appreciated Former High Commissioner Navi Pillay’s efforts towards an integrated and balanced strategy to counter the spread of drugs. The United States was concerned about the high costs this resolution would incur and asked Human Rights Council to minimize the costs involved.

Action on Resolution under the Agenda Item on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

Action on the Resolution on Combatting Intolerance, Negative Stereotyping and Stigmatization of, and Discrimination, Incitement to Violence and Violence against, Persons Based on Religion or Belief

In a resolution (A/HRC/28/L.4) on combatting 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 deeply condemns any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, whether it involves the use of print, audio-visual or electronic media or any other means; calls upon all States to take effective measures to ensure that public functionaries do not discriminate against an individual on the basis of religion or belief; 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; to encourage the representation and meaningful participation of individuals, irrespective of their religion, in all sectors of society; and to make a strong effort to counter religious profiling, which is understood to be the invidious use of religion as a criterion in conducting questionings, searches and other law enforcement investigative procedures. The Council further calls upon States to adopt measures and policies to promote full respect for and protection of places of worship and religious sites, cemeteries and shrines. The Council requests the High Commissioner to prepare and submit to the Human Rights Council, at its thirty-first session, a comprehensive follow-up report with elaborated conclusions and potential follow-up measures.

Pakistan, introducing resolution L.4, noted that the oral revision stressed the urgent need to implement all parts of the action plan of the resolution, with equal focus and attention to address religious intolerance. The added language also addressed the time Member States had at their disposal to submit their submissions. The resolution addressed rising religious intolerance and violence based on religion. Practical steps were at the heart of the resolution, and they had to be implemented by all States in a comprehensive manner. Muslim populations were subjected to discrimination and marginalization. The rise of the Islamophobic agenda in many countries was noted, as well as media stigmatization. The selective application of the freedom of expression was worrying. Muslims had to be treated the same way as other citizens.

Sierra Leone, in a general comment, expressed its appreciation for draft resolution L.4. Sierra Leon was a diverse country which enjoyed tolerance between different religious communities. However, there had recently been problems between groups that had lived together for centuries. Terrorist groups were using religious differences to spark intolerance between religious groups, and incite anger between groups that had lived together for centuries. Therefore this was a timely resolution and Sierra Leone would support it fully.

Latvia, on behalf of the European Union, in a general comment, deplored violence and intolerance towards others. Addressing religious intolerance required more than passing resolutions. Concrete actions and implementation were needed. The action plan in the resolution provided useful guidance in this regard. People and ideas moved across borders, but the problems of intolerance lay mostly within countries. Respect of human rights had to be put at the heart of everything that was done. For these reasons, the European Union expressed its support for this resolution and its central message that they must stand together to promote tolerance and fight hatred.

Indonesia, in a general comment, said that the draft resolution was timely and important, due to the rising religiously inspired violence. The text and previous similar resolutions would contribute to Indonesia’s efforts to fight discrimination on the basis of religion. Indonesia promoted tolerance and understanding between different nations. The resolution would serve as the main point of reference in the fight against discrimination based on religion. Indonesia expressed hope that Member States would adopt the resolution.

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

Action on Resolution on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building to Improve Human Rights in Libya

In a resolution (A/HRC/28/L.7/Rev.1) on technical assistance and capacity-building to improve human rights in Libya, adopted without a vote, the Council condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist acts, hostage-taking and violence committed against civilians by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Da’esh in Libya) and other terrorist organizations, their violent extremist ideology and their continued gross, systematic and widespread abuse of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law; calls for those responsible for violations or abuses of international human rights law, including sexual violence and violations and abuses against children, to be held accountable in accordance with international standards; calls upon the Government of Libya to increase efforts to end impunity; expresses grave concern at the rise in the number of conflict-related detainees, including children, and at reports of torture and sexual and gender-based violence in detention centres. The Council requests the High Commissioner urgently to dispatch a mission to investigate violations and abuses of international human rights law that have been committed in Libya since the beginning of 2014, and to establish the facts and circumstances of such abuses and violations, with a view to avoiding impunity and ensuring full accountability, in coordination with the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, and to submit to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-first session, a written report on its findings.

Algeria, introducing draft resolution L.7/Rev.1, said that this was being presented at a crucial moment in light of the situation in Libya. The text presented was an update to the text presented the previous year, taking into account the political crisis, terrorism, and the impact this situation had had on the country. It contained a new paragraph 18, on the Commission of Inquiry in Libya. It also requested the Human Rights Council to present a written report on technical assistance and capacity building in Libya during the thirty-first session of the Human Rights Council. The draft resolution had been in consultation with all partners. It was therefore hoped that it would be adopted by consensus.

Latvia, in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, expressed support for the resolution because the current situation in Libya was deeply concerning. It had to be ensured that the Council responded appropriately, in particular to ensure accountability for the committed violations, and that it contributed to the building of sustainable peace. The International Criminal Court should play a crucial role in Libya.

Russian Federation, in a general comment, said Russia supported the Libyan people. It highly appreciated the Government’s cooperation with United Nations human rights mechanisms. However, it noted that the resolution did not mention the threat of terrorism that Libya faced today. It was necessary to understand that terrorists were the main threat to Libya and the region. The Russian Federation expressed conviction that Libyans had to unite their forces to push back terrorists, and therefore it joined the consensus on the resolution.

Libya, speaking as the concerned country, thanked the African Group and the representative of Algeria for presenting L.7/REV.1 on technical assistance and capacity building in Libya, and thanked all countries that sponsored this resolution. This would give a new dynamism to cooperation between Libya and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Libya wanted to show all of the challenges in full transparency, and to show that the competent authorities could promote national dialogue. There were negative effects due to terrorist armed groups operating. There were severe human rights violations by Da’ash. Progress had been made at the national level. Dialogue was the only way to ensure that democracy was adopted by the people and supported by the international community.

Action on Resolution on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building in the Field of Human Rights in Mali

In a resolution (A/HRC/28/L.9) on technical assistance and capacity building in the field of human rights in Mali, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to extend for a period of one year the mandate of the Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Mali, and asks him to report to the Council at its session in March 2016. The Council requests the High Commissioner to provide technical assistance to the Government of Mali, including the Commission on truth, justice and reconciliation. It urges the international community to continue its assistance to Mali, particularly in achieving stability, fighting impunity and promoting respect for all human rights. The Council strongly condemns the armed attacks and all forms of violence in Mali, especially in the northern regions of the country, as well as human rights violations and abuses of international humanitarian law committed against the civilian population, including women and children. The Council reiterates its call for an immediate end to all acts of violence and human rights violations, and notes the efforts of the Government of Mali to bring before an independent and impartial justice system all perpetrators of human rights violations, as well as its continued cooperation with the International Criminal Court.

Algeria, introducing draft resolution L.9 on behalf of the African Group, presented oral revisions to the text and said that this was the fourth resolution on Mali since the outbreak of the crisis. The objective was to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur to enable him to assist the Government in the steps to promote and protect of human rights and establish the rule of law. The resolution referred to the signing of the peace agreement, the fight against impunity and the assistance to internally displaced persons and refugees, among other issues.

Latvia, in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the adoption of resolution L.9 by consensus. It praised the commitment of Mali to the promotion and protection of human rights. However, the security situation in Mali was still worrying and violations of human rights continued. The European Union thus called on the Government of Mali to continue its efforts to improve the situation and renew their commitment to fight against impunity. The judiciary should be strengthened to that end. The Council should keep the situation in Mali on its agenda. The European Union fully supported the extension of the mandate of the Independent Expert.

Action on Resolution on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building in strengthening Human Rights in Iraq in Light of the Abuses Committed by Da’esh and Associated Terrorist Groups

In a resolution (A/HRC/28/L.29) on technical assistance and capacity building in strengthening human rights in Iraq in light of the abuses committed by Da’esh and associated terrorist groups, adopted without a vote, the Council condemns in the strongest possible terms continued, widespread and grave abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law committed by Da’esh and associated terrorist groups and strongly condemns in particular all violence committed against persons based on their religion or ethnicity, as well as attacks on civilians, particularly against women and children; urges the Iraqi government to investigate all alleged abuses and violations of human rights and violations of International Humanitarian Law; urges the international community to assist Iraq in its efforts to ensure humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons fleeing the areas affected by violence and to put in place measures to protect mass graves sites caused by Da’esh; and requests the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide technical assistance to the Government of Iraq to assist in promoting and protecting human rights and to provide a written report on it at the 30th Session of the Human Rights Council in September 2015.

Iraq, introducing draft resolution L.29, said Iraq was seriously concerned that the human rights of the people of Iraq were being violated by Da’ash. Terrorism was not exclusively a problem for Iraq but for the entire international community. The draft resolution took note of the report by the mission of inquiry on violations in Iraq committed by Da’ash. In paragraph 1, the resolution condemned in the strongest possible terms the widespread abuse of human rights by Da’ash and all other groups. In paragraph 2 the resolution urged the Government to investigate all alleged abuses. Paragraph 4 urged the provision of technical assistance for Iraq. Iraq urged the Council to adopt the resolution

United States, in a general comment, expressed deep concern about the human rights situation in Iraq, particularly by horrific acts committed by ISIL or Da’esh which might amount to crimes against humanity, war crimes and even genocide. Successful stabilization began with fair treatment beforehand and the United States urged Iraq to protect civilians and prevent acts of revenge which would build trust between liberated communities and the Government of Iraq. Iraq should also undertake investigation into all human rights violations and abuses, including by its own security forces and associated militia groups. The United States looked forward to the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ report on Iraq which would shed light on human rights violations and abuses by all parties.

France, in a general comment, said that this draft resolution would allow the situation in Iraq to remain on the agenda of the Council and said that Da’esh continued to take apart the rule of law, cultural diversity and human rights in Iraq. The work of the High Commissioner was absolutely essential to document all crimes so that justice could be provided for all the people in Iraq. The allegations of crimes committed by national security forces and associated armed groups were worrisome and France urged Iraq to investigate all the allegations and prevent abuses from occurring.

Latvia, in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, said it remained deeply concerned about the violence committed by Da’esh in Iraq and about indications that war crimes may have been committed by other parties in the conflict. It called on the Iraqi Government to ensure that all the perpetrators were held accountable in line with international law. The European Union also urged Iraq to accede to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The European Union remained committed to keeping the alarming situation in Iraq on the Council’s agenda.

Brazil, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, supported the resolution in light of the violence committed by Da’esh and other armed groups. However, Brazil was concerned that the resolution fell short of properly addressing the human rights violations committed by the terrorist and armed groups. It was disturbing that the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights indicated indiscriminate targeting of civilians, arbitrary killings and abductions. Brazil insisted that all crimes must be investigated and perpetrators held accountability. Inclusive and non-sectarian dialogue was necessary in order to achieve sustainable peace in Iraq.

Action on Resolution on Strengthening Technical Cooperation and Advisory Services in Guinea

In a resolution (A/HRC/28/L.31) on the strengthening of technical cooperation and advisory services in Guinea, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon the Government of Guinea to ensure that the elections to be held in 2015 take place in conditions of peace, transparency and security, with full respect for human rights and democratic standards. The Council welcomes the efforts by the Government of Guinea to strengthen the rule of law and improve the human rights situation in the country, and to undertake reforms in the security and defence sectors that incorporate respect for human rights and guarantee the enjoyment of civil and political rights. The Council welcomes the progress made with regard to the reform of the justice sector and encourages the Government of Guinea to pursue its efforts to fight impunity. The Council firmly reiterates its appeal to the international community to provide the Government of Guinea with appropriate assistance to promote respect for human rights, the fight against impunity and the reform of the security and justice sectors, as well as the initiatives that are under way to promote truth, justice and national reconciliation; and invites the High Commissioner to submit to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-first session a report on the situation of human rights and the work of the Office of the High Commissioner in Guinea.

Algeria, introducing draft resolution L.31/rev.1 on behalf of the African Group, said there had been an oral revision of paragraph 4, “calls upon Guinean authorities to pursue efforts to consolidate freedom of assembly, including freedom and protection of journalists.” This reflected the projects in Guinea in view of strengthening the rule of law. The first round of elections would take on 11 October 2015, and they were the reason why the new draft resolution contained more paragraphs. The draft aimed to ensure peaceful democratic elections. It encouraged Guinea to appoint a panel of judges to investigate violence against women and girls committed in September 2009. It ensured the impartiality and independence of the judges and the safety of witnesses including psychological support. It also compensated victims. Finally, it reiterated the appeal by the international community to fight against impunity, and to promote truth, justice and international cooperation.

Latvia, in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the adoption of the resolution L.31/Rev.1 and the constructive spirit in which the negotiations had taken place. Regardless of the progress made in Guinea over the past year, efforts of the Government were needed in the national reconciliation process and the resolution urged the Government to fight impunity and ensure investigation into the massacre of September 2014, follow through the judicial sector reform and undertake training of the police. For all those reasons, it was important to keep Guinea on the agenda of the Council.

Guinea, speaking as the concerned country, thanked all those who expressed their support for the resolution and said that the Government was prepared to work tirelessly to promote and protect human rights. Guinea was firmly committed to intensify efforts to address the human rights challenges, including national reconciliation and transitional justice, strengthening the rule of law, combatting intolerable violence against women and girls, and to work vigorously on the investigation of the September 2014 massacre. Bringing justice to the victims was the least that could be done. Further, Guinea would strengthen freedom of expression and freedom of journalists, ensure the conditions for the holding of free and fair elections, undertake very strong reform of the justice, and fight against impunity. Human rights and respect for human rights was the only path to peace and establishment of democratic institutions, Guinea concluded.

Action on President’s Statement on the Situation of Human Rights in Haiti

In a statement by the President of the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/28/L.37) on the situation of human rights in Haiti, adopted without a vote, the Council welcomes and endorses the request of the Haitian authorities to renew for one year the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti. The Council invites the Independent Expert to assist the Government of Haiti in the implementation of his recommendations and those issued by other Special Procedures and to present its report on the situation of human rights in Haiti to March 2016 session of the Council of Human Rights. The Council notes the latest legal and policy developments in Haiti, including progress on civil and political, economic, social and cultural rights. The Council encourages the Government of Haiti to continue to strengthen the rule of law, and to fight against impunity, corruption, crime and its causes. The Council strongly encourages the Government of Haiti to continue to strengthen the capacity of the national police and the judiciary, and particularly welcomes the launch in March 2015, of the "Punch" campaign which aims to provide an urgent and structured response to the phenomenon of prolonged pre-trial detention. The Council encourages the international community to strengthen cooperation and coordination with the Haitian authorities.

Haiti, speaking as the concerned country, thanked the group of friends and the Special Rapporteur, and was very pleased that the extension of his mandate had been approved. The Government was fully committed to create a sustainable environment that would lead to free democratic elections. This was seen through the new provisions adopted that guaranteed a safe environment for the elections.

France, speaking in a general comment on behalf of a Group of Friends of Haiti, praised the work of the Independent Expert and the excellent efforts he had carried out to prepare the very specific recommendations to strengthen institutions and the rights of all in Haiti, including the most vulnerable. The Group of Friends of Haiti was ready to assist Haiti in the establishment of the rule of law, human rights and democracy.

Gabon, in an explanation of the vote after the vote on behalf of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, welcomed the extension of the mandate of the Independent Expert on technical assistance and capacity building in Haiti and stressed the importance of the upcoming election in this country for the rule of law and democracy. The Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie welcomed the publication of the electoral timetable and the launch of the electoral process in Haiti. The Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie also welcomed the extension of the mandate of the Independent Expert on Mali and expressed concern about the deterioration of the situation in the north of the country. The return of sustainable peace and democracy was a priority. They also welcomed the adoption of the resolution on technical assistance and cooperation to Guinea.

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

Action on Resolution on the Prevention of Genocide

In a resolution (A/HRC/28/L.25) on the prevention of genocide, adopted without a vote, the Council recommends that the General Assembly designate 9 December as the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of Genocide in order to raise awareness of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and its role in combatting and preventing the crime of genocide; invites the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide to continue to execute the activities under his mandate, including in the follow-up to the present resolution, by providing States with guidance, assistance and follow-up, upon their request; invites the Special Adviser to an interactive dialogue with the Human Rights Council at its thirty-first session on the progress made in discharging his duties; and requests the Secretary-General to draw up a roster of focal points and networks on the prevention of genocide with updated information from Member States. The Council also underlines that the issue of the terrorist activities that constitute the crime of genocide as established in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide should be addressed within the existing counter-terrorism framework; and emphasizes the important role that education, including human rights education, can play in genocide prevention, and further encourages Governments to promote, as appropriate, educational programmes and projects that contribute to the prevention of genocide.

Before taking action on draft resolution L.25, the Human Rights Council rejected, by a vote of 23 against, 14 in favour, and 10 abstentions, amendment L.38 introduced by Cuba; and rejected, by a vote of 23 against, 15 in favour, and 9 abstentions, amendment L.42 as introduced by Pakistan. At the request of Cuba, the Council voted separately on preambular paragraph 22 and operational paragraph 17 together, adopting them by a vote of 28 in favour, 8 against and 11 abstentions.

Armenia, introducing resolution L.25, said that the draft resolution had been presented by Armenia since 1998, and hoped that the current draft resolution would be adopted by consensus as well. The draft represented sustained efforts of Armenia at the international level to prevent the crime of genocide and to implement the Convention on the Prevention and Suppression of Genocide. It reiterated that the fight against impunity was key in the prevention of genocide. It underscored the need to identify the root causes of genocide, and suggested that a list of contact points be established to strengthen the prevention of genocide. It also proposed that 9 December be set up as the international day of commemoration of victims of genocide. The international community should mobilize to prevent genocide and other acts of violence, and Armenia thus called for the draft resolution to be adopted by consensus. The text of the resolution provided a balance for several contradictory positions, and it was hoped that such an approach would be appreciated by all Member States.

Rwanda, also in introduction of draft resolution L.25, welcomed the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Responsibility to Protect framework and the introduction in the resolution of language of genocide denial, which was an impediment to addressing the crimes of genocide.

Cuba, introducing draft amendment L.38 on operative paragraph 17 of the draft resolution on the prevention of genocide, said that Member States had neither negotiated nor reached agreement in respect to the concept of the “responsibility to protect”, its scope or related issues. Cuba had very serious concerns regarding paragraphs 17 and 22, believing that these were attempts to implement and practice the so-called “responsibility to protect” in a sideways manner. The new proposed framework on the evaluation of atrocity crimes further emphasized this claim. The framework was aimed to justify military intervention in countries. Cuba was fully compliant with international law but would call on the Council to vote in favour of the amendment. In the case that the amendments on L. 38 and L.42 were not taken, then Cuba would ask for a separate vote on paragraphs 17 and 22 together.

France, in a general comment, said that the work done so far on the prevention of genocide should be mentioned in the text. The concept of responsibility to protect should remain in the text as it was vital in the prevention of genocide. France thus called for vote on the proposed amendments, which aimed to remove that concept from the text, and it called on all Member States to reject them.

Pakistan, introducing amendment L.43, strongly condemned all acts described as genocide under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Pakistan was concerned and could not accept the addition of new concepts to the international agreement on the crime of genocide. Crimes of genocide were clearly defined legal concepts and any attempt to introduce non-consensual notion such as the “responsibility to protect” or “atrocity crimes” were motivated by other concerns such as regime change.

United States, in a general comment, urged Member States to vote no on all amendments and in favour of all paragraphs of the draft resolution. The United States was dismayed at the tabling of unclear amendments in a very late stage and in a politicized manner, and viewed all those amendments as hostile.

France, in a general comment, called upon Member States to adopt the draft resolution as revised by Armenia. The draft reflected a balance. The subject of this resolution was very important to the cause of humanity – namely prevention of genocide. For this reason, France could not accept the amendments and asked all members to reject them.

India, in a general comment, emphasized that genocide was an odious crime that inflicted great losses in humanity. Its support to the amendment in operative paragraph 17 was in order to strengthen the work of the Special Advisor. India also supported the Cuban statement. Therefore it would vote in favour of amendment L.38.

Cuba, in a general comment, said that the expression used by the Ambassador of United States was inappropriate. “Hostile amendments” was not appropriate to use with regard to Cuba’s proposal. Cuba participated constructively and respectfully in relevant discussion, and it asked others to act in the same manner.

Netherlands, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, opposed this amendment and said that operative paragraph 17 was an absolutely crucial part of the resolution which summarised the work on the prevention of genocide and the Responsibility to Protect framework. This framework needed to be used in the prevention strategies of the worst imaginable crimes, those of genocide, war crimes and crime against humanity. Operative paragraph 17 contained purely factual reference to this milestone framework and striking it from the resolution would mean denial of activities on the prevention of genocide. The Netherlands would vote no on the amendment and called on all Member States to do the same.

Latvia, on behalf of the European Union in an explanation of the vote before the vote on amendment L.42, said that the new framework of analysis tackling the crime of genocide had been developed by the United Nations Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide and the Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect. It provided an integrated analysis of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Therefore the European Union believed that full and correct reference to the work of the Special Advisors was relevant and appropriate. The amendment proposed to delete reference to the Office of the Special Advisors. The European Union regarded the contribution of the Special Advisor on responsibility to protect as important in the fight against genocide. Both Special Advisors had played a crucial role. For this reason the European Union could not accept the amendment.

Cuba, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it regretted that its proposals were not accepted. It thanked Armenia for the work done on that important draft resolution. Nevertheless, efforts to include some concepts that were not universally accepted were not welcome. The Council was not a forum where the concept of the responsibility to protect would become operational. That was the task of the General Assembly. Discussions in the Council had made it evident that there were opposing views on the concept. The decision to intervene invoking the responsibility to protect was problematic because it was not clear how such intervention would be decided. Small States had the right to intervene as well as big States. Where was the difference between responsibility to protect and intervention for political reasons? The Council had to abstain from making any progress on the issue, and Cuba could not support the text as it stood.

South Africa, in an explanation of the vote before the vote on L.25, said it had a longstanding position on the matter of the prevention of the crime of genocide. Regarding the draft resolution, the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide had major substantive procedural gaps. There were new crimes associated with genocide that were not present in the Convention, including terrorism. The fact remained that terrorism had yet to be defined as a crime of genocide in international law. It would be preposterous for this Human Rights Council to appropriate to itself mandates of the United Nations Secretary-General. Therefore South Africa disassociated itself completely from draft resolution L.25.

Pakistan, in an explanation of the vote before the vote on L.25, said that its amendment did not have hostile intentions. The amendment had been based on the idea that the resolution had the aim to widen the scope of the crime of genocide, and to introduce contentious concepts such as the responsibility to protect. Therefore, Pakistan fully aligned itself with the views of Cuba and South Africa. The dubious concept of “responsibility to protect” was a red line, as it could amount to regime change. It could also be, and was, an excuse to pursue double standards in the implementation of the responsibility to protect. Therefore, Pakistan disassociated itself from preambular paragraph 22 and operational paragraph 17 of L.25. Pakistan requested that this be mentioned in the summary report of the proceedings of the Human Rights Council accordingly.

Algeria, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the resolution as a whole was not problematic. Algeria firmly condemned all measures that could lead to genocide and highlighted that in some provisions the resolution was not in line with the concept of the responsibility to protect and with the African position as described in the Constitutive Act of the African Union.

Venezuela, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, disassociated itself from the preambular paragraph 22 and the operative paragraph 17 because of the same reasons laid down by Cuba and South Africa.

Explanations of the Vote after the Vote after the Conclusion of Taking Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Including the Right to Development

Paraguay, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said it voted in favour of the resolution on the effects of terrorism on human rights. However, it underlined that States should always protect human rights of all persons without discrimination, and noted that it would prefer that the resolution provide an even clearer reference to that responsibility.

Brazil, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, underscored that the protection of the environment was one of the pillars of economic development. However, it did not support the change of nomenclature on the issue of human rights obligations in relation to a clean and safe environment. It preferred to keep the current title of the mandate holder as Independent Expert.

Japan, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that precious lives had been lost in acts of terrorism perpetuated by extremist groups and Japan expressed support for the resolution on the protection of human rights while fighting terrorism. Japan would continue to combat terrorism with the international community and make diplomatic efforts to this end.

United States, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, concerning resolution L.26 on the right to work, said that the United States had joined the consensus in the recognition that this right was enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and was concerned that the resolution impinged on the role and responsibility of the International Labour Organization and was of the opinion that the Human Rights Council should not expand its resources on the topic that was already dealt with by another international institution. With regard to the right to development, referenced in several resolutions adopted in this session, the United States said that the right to development did not have an international meaning and work was needed to make it consistent with human rights. This was not to mean that the United States was against development, to the contrary, the United States was the world’s largest development donor.

Sierra Leone, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, expressed its satisfaction with the adoption of L.10 on the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights of persons with albinism. These persons suffered from discrimination, violence and atrocities that prevented them from enjoying human rights, including the right to life.

South Africa, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, thanked all members of the African Group for entrusting it in the mandate to oversee the draft resolution L.11 /Rev.1 on the renewal of the mandate of the open-ended intergovernmental working group to consider the possibility of elaborating an international regulatory framework on the regulation, monitoring and oversight of the activities of private military and security companies. It had hoped resolution L.11 could have been adopted by consensus so that South Africa could continue ongoing constructive work, but the European Union had blocked it, and discredited the work of South Africa. South Africa urged the European Union to desist from such behaviour, and focus on common collective responsibility.

Venezuela, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, had serious concerns about the notion “responsibility to protect” and said that it would erode standards. Venezuela was concerned about including this notion as a standard within the United Nations and said that Venezuela had firmly rejected its use to undermine the sovereignty and independence of nations. The use of this framework was a violation of the United Nations Charter, and further discussions on the responsibility to protect should take place in the General Assembly, in the presence of all States. Venezuela was a supporter of the notion of the prevention of genocide.

Saudi Arabia, speaking also on behalf of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that genocide must be prevented because it was a crime against human rights and against United Nations values and principles. Every effort had been made to put across the concerns about some of the paragraphs in resolution L.25 but those amendments had unfortunately not been accepted and therefore Saudi Arabia had left the consensus on the preambular paragraph 22 and the operative paragraph 17.

Appointment of Special Procedure Mandate-Holders

JOACHIM RUECKER, President of the Human Rights Council, said the Council elected by acclamation Albert Kwokwo Barume (Democratic Republic of the Congo), as the African member of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; Idriss Jazairy (Algeria), as the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights; Rhona Smith (United Kingdom), as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia; and Dante Pesce (Chile), as the Latin American and Caribbean Member of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises.

General Comments by Observer States

Tunisia, in a statement on behalf of 51 States, expressed strong support for the independence of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the High Commissioner. In the interest of the promotion and protection of human rights, it was important to keep separate the Office of the United Nations Secretary-General and the General Assembly from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The report of the Joint Inspection Unit raised concern that the independence of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights would be undermined.

Switzerland thanked the States which had supported the draft resolutions L.19, L.22 and L.27. On L.29 Switzerland was very worried that war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity may have been committed by ISIL. That was why it joined the consensus on this resolution, but was disappointed that the text did not include all parties to the conflict in Iraq, including the Iraqi Government. On the draft resolution L.30 on terrorism, it was important to achieve consensus on the issue of human rights protection in the context of the fight against terrorism in the future. On L.25, the prevention of genocide was a priority for Switzerland, and it welcomed the new framework of analysis.

European Union said concerning the Presidential Statement on 70 years since the end of World War II that a resolution to that effect would be introduced at the General Assembly.

Egypt shared the position of other delegations which disassociated themselves from preambular paragraph 22 and operative paragraph 17 of resolution L.25 on the prevention of genocide. Egypt said that the notion of sexual education did not have a basis in international human rights law and entailed controversial notions that promoted certain lifestyles. On the resolution on human rights, democracy and the rule of law, Egypt would be paying attention to the application of the organizational modalities for the Forum and would closely follow the work of the newly created mandate on the right to privacy in the digital age.

Australia said it was pleased to sponsor the resolution on the prevention of genocide. The prevention of mass atrocities, including genocide, should be a collective priority and Australia strongly supported all efforts in that regard. It noted the adoption of the resolution on the right to privacy in the digital age, which established a Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy. It also welcomed the resolution on the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the resolution on technical assistance to Iraq, and the resolution on the effects of terrorism on human rights.

Costa Rica said with respect to the resolution on the composition of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Costa Rica supported the resolution in its original form. The Office had to reflect its multicultural composition. However, the Council should adopt measures to guide the work of the Office. The Office and its officers were indivisible and their main task was to ensure the full enjoyment of human rights in the world.

Canada took the opportunity to underscore its appreciation on some draft resolutions and some concerns. On L.23 Canada was pleased to co-sponsor the initiative on improving maternal health. Regarding L.27 establishing the Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy, the views in the resolution were in accordance with Canada’s views. Regarding L.10 Canada recognized that acts of violence against persons with albinism were unacceptable, and it appreciated the leadership of the African Group to end violence against persons with albinism. Despite the underfunded Human Rights Council, two new mandates had been created and the mandates of five were renewed.

Armenia greatly valued the adoption of the Presidential Statement commemorating 70 years since the end of the Second World War. With due respect to the statement, Armenia proposed to rephrase one of the phrases in the statement as follows: “take appropriate measures to strengthen peace, based on principles of equal rights and self-determination of people” in line with United Nations Charter.

Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie took positive note of several resolutions, including on human rights, democracy, rule of law, and the rights of the child, as well as resolutions on technical assistance and capacity building in Haiti, Mali and Guinea. The creation of the mandate on the human rights of persons with albinism was only the beginning of a long journey that would hopefully improve the situation of persons with albinism and end the unacceptable violence of which they were victims.

Iran thanked Armenia for tabling the resolution on the prevention of genocide L.25 and disassociated itself from the part of the resolution that referred to the controversial notion of the “responsibility to protect”.

Report of the Session

JOACHIM RÜCKER, President of the Human Rights Council, proposed the adoption of the report of the session. The draft report was placed on the extranet yesterday afternoon.

MOTHUSI BRUCE RABASHA PALAI, Vice-President and Rapporteur of the Council, introducing the draft report, said that it contained a procedural description of work up until Thursday morning, 26 March, at 12 noon. Any comments or corrections could be sent through the Secretariat of the Council. The final draft report would be posted on the extranet. The format was based on the agenda of the Council. The text of resolutions, decisions and Presidential Statements adopted during the session would be available in due course on the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and subsequently included in part one of the final report. During this session, 92 dignitaries had addressed the Council, which held discussion on a wide range of topics, and heard reports of two Commissions of Inquiry. Further, the Council had adopted outcome reports of the Universal Periodic Review for 14 countries, and had appointed four special procedure mandate holders.

JOACHIM RÜCKER, President of the Human Rights Council, said the report was adopted ad referendum.

General Concluding Remarks

Association of World Citizens said it was pleased to see that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had reached a better geographical representation and expressed hope that interns working in the Office would also be involved in the concept of staff, as their work was immeasurable.


International Service for Human Rights, in a joint statement with several NGOs1 said it was concerned by the overall failure of the Council to address grave violations of human rights. There had been a failure to adopt a resolution on Iraq. While the resolution on Myanmar was welcome, it failed to address the recent crackdown on students. There was also no firm stance on the situation in Ukraine. It was dismayed by the deeply flawed resolution on the effects of terrorism on human rights, which did not take into account the civil society dimension.

Closing of the Session

JOACHIM RÜCKER, President of the Human Rights Council, in his closing remarks, said that the Council had adopted 34 resolutions and three Presidential Statements, and encouraged all those who participated in the Council’s work to discuss issues with the appropriate level of dignity and respect. It was encouraging to see that many States had played an active and positive role in supporting non-governmental organizations and human rights defenders, but more needed to be done. He reminded States of resolution 16/21 in which the Council had collectively rejected any act of intimidation or reprisal against individuals and groups who cooperated or had cooperated with the United Nations. Two new Special Procedure mandates had been created at this session; the vacancies would be advertised shortly by the Secretariat and the President encouraged highly-qualified women candidates to apply. The President paid tribute to Ms. Jane Connors, Director of the Research and Right to Development Division of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, who was soon retiring. Finally, the President called on all to work together to achieve tangible results to make a difference for human rights on the ground, and then closed the twenty-eighth regular session of the Human Rights Council.
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1. Joint statement: International Service for Human Rights; Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA); Human Rights Watch; International Federation for Human Rights Leagues (FIDH); Human Rights House Foundation; and CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation.

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For use of the information media; not an official record