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Human Rights Council adopts four resolutions, creates commission of inquiry on Burundi

MIDDAY
 
Texts on Syria, Countering Terrorism and Equal Participation in Political and Public Affairs Adopted
 
GENEVA (30 September 2016) - The Human Rights Council during its midday meeting adopted four resolutions that included creating a commission of inquiry to conduct a thorough investigation into human rights violations and abuses in Burundi since April 2015.  Other texts related to the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, equal participation in political and public affairs, and the human rights situation in Syria.
 
In a resolution on the human rights situation in Burundi, adopted by a vote of 19 in favour, seven against, and 21 abstentions as orally revised, the Council decided to create for a period of one year a commission of inquiry to conduct a thorough investigation into human rights violations and abuses in Burundi since April 2015, and to identify alleged perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses in Burundi with a view to ensuring full accountability. 
 
With regard to the resolution on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, which was adopted by a vote of 38 in favour, none against and nine abstentions, the Council called upon States to ensure that any measures taken to counter terrorism and violent extremism conducive to terrorism complied with international law.  It reaffirmed that terrorism and violent extremism could not and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group, and it urged States to ensure that such measures were not discriminatory and did not resort to profiling based on stereotypes founded on ethnic, racial or religious grounds.
 
Concerning the resolution on equal participation in political and public affairs, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council requested the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare concise and action-oriented draft guidelines as a set of orientations for States on the effective implementation of the right to participate in public affairs. 
 
Adopting the resolution on the human rights situation in the Syria by a vote of 26 in favour, seven against, and 14 abstentions as orally revised, the Council strongly condemned the military offensive on eastern Aleppo being conducted by forces loyal to the Syrian authorities, and the airstrikes on 19 September 2016 on a United Nations/Syrian Arab Red Crescent aid convoy in rural Aleppo.  It decided to convene a high-level panel discussion on the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic at its thirty-fourth session, in consultation with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry, including on the issue of enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention, and the need for accountability for related violations and abuses.
 
Introducing draft resolutions and amendments were Mexico, Russian Federation, Czechia, United Kingdom, and Slovakia on behalf of the European Union.
 
Mexico, Slovenia, Belgium, Russian Federation, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Botswana, Indonesia, Slovenia on behalf of the European Union, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Ecuador spoke in general comments. 
 
Speaking in explanation of the vote before or after the vote were:  Mexico, Switzerland, Albania, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Netherlands, Panama, Belgium, Georgia, Russian Federation, South Africa, Cuba, Namibia, Paraguay, Saudi Arabia on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, China, Venezuela, Algeria, Burundi, and Saudi Arabia.
 
Syria and Burundi spoke as concerned countries.
 
The Council will resume its work at 4 p.m. to continue taking action on decisions and resolutions before concluding its regular thirty-third session.
 
Action on Texts 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 Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering Terrorism
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.27/Rev.1) on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, adopted by a vote of 38 in favour, none against and nine abstentions as orally revised and as amended, the Council calls upon States to ensure that any measure taken to counter terrorism and violent extremism conducive to terrorism complies with international law, in particular international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law; reaffirms that terrorism and violent extremism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group; urges States to ensure that measures taken to counter terrorism and violent extremism conducive to terrorism are not discriminatory, and not to resort to profiling based on stereotypes founded on ethnic, racial or religious grounds; and urges all States to respect and protect 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, including in the context of digital communication.  The Council also urges States, while countering terrorism and violent extremism conducive to terrorism, to respect the rights to be equal before the courts and tribunals and to a fair trial.  
 
The result of the vote was as follows:
 
In favour (38): Albania, Algeria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Botswana, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Ecuador, Ethiopia, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Maldives, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Panama, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, South Africa, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and Viet Nam.
 
Against (0):
 
Abstentions (9): Burundi, China, El Salvador, India, Paraguay, Philippines, Russian Federation, Togo, and Venezuela.
 
 
Mexico, introducing draft resolution L.27/Rev.1 on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, said that the initiative was meant to reaffirm consensus which already existed on combatting terrorism and violent extremism.  Focus on violent extremism leading to terrorism was one of the main aspects of anti-terrorism activities.  Drafters had done their best to ensure that all aspects were covered by the text and hoped that the international community would speak with one voice.  The draft presented included some oral amendments, which reflected the consultations with a number of delegations.
 
Russian Federation, introducing oral amendments, said that it had consistently spoken for the protection of human rights while countering terrorism.  In that endeavour the principles of sovereignty and equality among States had to be upheld.  However, the draft resolution in its current version did not fully meet those criteria.  There had been no due consideration of the idea of the primarily responsibility of States to prevent terrorism and violent extremism.  The Russian Federation was concerned about the references in the context of counter-terrorism measures of specific groups.  The key elements which would be in line with international law were missing in the draft resolution.  Most of the names proposed contained earlier agreed language.  The Russian Federation proposed to insert a new preamble paragraph PP2, which would read: “Reiterating the important contribution of measures taken at all levels against terrorism and violent extremism as and when conducive to terrorism consistent with international law, in particular international human rights, refugees and humanitarian law, to the functioning of democratic institutions and the maintenance of peace and security and thereby to the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as the need to continue this fight, including by strengthening international cooperation and the role of the United Nations in this respect.”
 
The Russian Federation proposed to delete words “and preventing violent extremism conducive to terrorism” from the operative paragraphs 25, 31, and 32.  Instead of existing operative paragraph 5, it proposed to add the following paragraph: “Reaffirms the primary responsibility of States in preventing and countering terrorism and violent extremism as and when conducive to terrorism in the territory under jurisdiction in full compliance with international law.”  It proposed to insert at the end of the current operative paragraph 3 after the “democratic societies” the following: “as well as threatening territorial integrity and the security of States in destabilizing legitimately constituted governments.”  It also proposed to delete the last part of operative paragraph 15 referring to targeting of specific groups.
 
Mexico, speaking on behalf of the proponents of the draft resolution L27/Rev.1, explained the consultation process, which had led to the introduction of 14 new paragraphs.  The draft resolution had been finally submitted this week, but delegations continued to submit amendments, always with a warning of a vote if they were not accepted.  As far as Mexico was concerned, it had always been a multilateral process.  Mexico noted that many of the amendments subject to the vote were not sustained against the position of the proponent.  The proposal of amendments appeared to be a negotiating technique focused on disruption rather than substance.  That was why Mexico was opposed to all the amendments and urged the Council to vote against each and every one of them. 
 
Slovenia, speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, said that terrorism posed a serious threat to the lives of peoples around the world.  The fight against terrorism had to be carried out with the utmost respect for human rights and international laws.  Mexico’s draft resolution was well balanced and included a number of pertinent aspects.   Mexico had conducted an open and transparent negotiations process.  It was hoped that the resolution would set an important benchmark, and the European Union called upon the Council to vote in favour of it.
 
Belgium, speaking in a general comment, said it was not the only country to have been struck by terrorism this year.  Belgium firmly condemned all forms of terrorism, which were unjustifiable by any standard.  Belgium continued to stand determined in fighting terrorism and violent extremism.  Belgium was an open and democratic society, and was committed to respecting those same values in its fight against terrorism.  Even in its darkest hours, Belgium had upheld human rights and the rule of law, and encouraged its partners to do the same.   
 
Russian Federation, speaking in a general comment, noted that oral revisions had been circulated in the Council room.  The delegation of the Russian Federation proceeded from the draft that had been circulated on Thursday, 29 September.  However, the oral revision to operative paragraph 6 had been surprisingly removed.  The Russian Federation therefore required the formal restoration of that the oral revision to that paragraph and that it also be considered as an oral revision.
 
Mexico, speaking in a general comment, said that in order to avoid an unnecessary debate, it reminded that the consultation process for the draft resolution was multilateral and not bilateral.  The views and opinions of all delegations had to be taken into account.  Mexico opposed the amendment proposed by the Russian Federation and called for a vote on it.
 
Mexico, updating the Council on the consultations on the draft resolution, said that the co-sponsors had decided to accept the re-introduction of the operative paragraph 6, which would hopefully create the conditions for the adoption of the draft resolution by consensus.
 
Russia thanked the co-sponsors for their constructive approach and asked that draft oral amendments 2, 3, 4 and 5 be considered as a package.
 
Action on Oral Amendment 1
 
Mexico, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, rejected the inclusion of a new, additional preambular paragraph.  It was regretted that the amendment was not raised during informal negotiations.  It was crucial that the text be the outcome of transparent and inclusive negotiations.  The proposed amendments were categorically rejected and all members of the Council were called on to vote no.
 
Switzerland, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the amendments were not supported.  The amendments would introduce an imbalance into the text.
 
The oral amendment was rejected by a vote of 15 in favour, with 20 votes against and 10 abstentions.
 
Action on Oral Amendments 2 to 5
 
Albania, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that those amendments aimed to delete references to the prevention of violent extremism, which would make it seem that measures to address violent extremism were not in line with human rights norms and standards.  Albania rejected those oral amendments and asked for a vote.
 
Mexico, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, categorically rejected the attempts to delete references to the prevention of violent extremism.  The draft resolution was aligned with the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and deleting this reference would be commensurate with ignoring the realities of the world.  Mexico did not understand the reasons behind those amendments, and would vote against them.
 
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, commended the core group for the transparent preparatory process and noted that the battle against terrorism was a defining battle of our age.  Violent extremism was the fuel that made terrorism such a global threat.  The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was against the deletion of the reference.
 
France, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the amendment implied that measures taken to combat violent extremism did not need to meet human rights requirements.  It was a collective responsibility to ensure that the fight against terrorism was accompanied by respect for human rights.  Council members were called on to vote no.
 
The oral amendments were rejected by a vote of 8 in favour, to 25 against, with 11 abstaining.
 
Action on Oral Amendment 6
 
Mexico, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the amendment showed the lack of consistency by the delegation that had proposed it.  The language of the draft resolution was aligned with the previous resolution.  Mexico could not accept this amendment and appealed to all delegations to vote no. 
 
Netherlands, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it did not support this amendment, adding that the main sponsors of the draft resolution had done their utmost to take into account all views expressed during the consultation process.  The current text contained all essential elements about the responsibility of States to protect all persons on their territory in accordance with international law.
 
The Council then rejected oral amendment 6 by a vote of 15 in favour, 22 against and nine abstentions.
 
Action on Oral Amendment 7
 
Panama, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, rejected the oral amendment which aimed at limiting the security of States, putting that above territorial integrity, and confusing the fight against terrorism.  All members of the Council were called on to vote against the amendment. 
 
Mexico, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the amendment referred to issues that were discussed and deleted from the resolution as a result of a compromise.  As the main sponsor, it was the responsibility of Mexico to find a compromise.  All delegations were called on to vote no.

The amendment was adopted by a vote of 19 in favour, to 17 against, with 10 abstentions.   
 
Action on Oral Amendment 8
 
Mexico, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that this amendment ignored the negotiating process in which different delegations had expressed their opinions and in which a negotiated solution had been found.  Mexico wished to hear the reasons for which the amendment had been introduced.  Mexico could not accept the amendment and invited others to vote no. 
 
Switzerland, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the amendment by Russia ignored the reality and stressed that some measures taken to counter terrorism and violent extremism could cause terrorism.  Switzerland would vote against the amendment and urged other delegations to do the same.
 
The Council then rejected oral amendment 8 by a vote of 16 in favour, 21 against and eight abstentions.
 
Action on Oral Amendment 9
 
Belgium, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that operative paragraph 36 was extensively discussed in consultations.  It had been decided to rely on agreed language from a General Assembly resolution on a global counter-terrorism strategy.  Belgium had both substantial and procedural objections to the amendment.  The reference to youth was relevant and it was part of a delicate balance in the text.
 
Mexico, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the proposed amendment was submitted late and had not been discussed and that it had tried to make a proposal that did not take into account the positions of most delegations.  If all delegations were to pursue negotiations in this way, the Council would be brought to destruction.  All delegations were invited to vote no.
 
Georgia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that operative paragraph 36 reflected the scope of proposals by delegations during consultations.  The timing of the proposal was also of concern. All were invited to oppose the amendment.
 
The oral amendment was rejected by a vote of 11 in favour, to 21 against, with 13 abstentions.
 
 
Action on Resolution L.27 Rev.1 as Orally Revised and as Amended
 
Russia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, regretted that many amendments to the draft resolution were not accepted.  The current draft contained a number of provisions which Russia could not accept for their clear lack of conformity with international law and the principles of international customary law.  The text was an attempt to impose on all States a mode of law particular to a certain group of countries.  There were also procedural problems in the presentation of the draft text; that was why Russia had to call for the reinstatement of operative paragraph 6.  Russia urged sponsors of the resolution to hold open and constructive dialogue in the future, in order to ensure that draft resolutions enjoyed genuine consensus.  Russia asked for a vote on the draft resolution, and would abstain.
 
South Africa, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that terrorism was the greatest global challenge of our times and its insidiousness, unpredictability and disregard for human rights by perpetrators required the attention of all.  States should be united in international cooperation to address this challenge.  South Africa had asked during the consultations that the draft resolution reflected the legitimate aspirations for self-determination and national liberation.
 
Cuba, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reiterated its unflinching desire to combat terrorism and rejected all its forms and manifestations, including those in which States were directly or indirectly involved.  The international community must not accept the acts of interference into affairs of the State committed under the banner of countering terrorism, or the commission of acts of torture, extra-judicial executions, disappearances, or arbitrary detentions.  Whenever legal or ethical principles were violated, it prepared the ground for hatred, vengeance and terror, which had no place in a fair and equitable international order that the world was striving for.  The international community must tackle the root causes and conditions which fostered terrorism, such as poverty, illiteracy, exclusion, hegemonic appetites and other factors.  Cuba would support the draft resolution.
 
Namibia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, regretted the non-consideration and non-inclusion in the resolution that the Council was about to consider.  People pursing their right to self-determination could never be considered terrorists.
 
Mexico, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, invited delegations to distinguish between consensus on an amendment and consensus on a resolution as a whole.  In future, suggestions could be submitted during informal consultations and not in private, at the last minute.  It was regretted that despite efforts, the Russian Federation had called for a vote, which sent a worrying signal of division to violators of human rights.  The amendment adopted did not affect the context of the resolution.  Mexico hoped that members would vote in favour of the resolution.
 
United Kingdom, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the main sponsors’ process had been open and transparent.  It was unfortunate that some delegations called for a vote on the text which was built on consensus in Geneva and New York.  That put the main sponsor of the resolution and its many co-sponsors in an unreasonable position.  The United Kingdom would vote in favour of the resolution.
 
Action on Resolution on Equal Participation in Political and Public Affairs
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.28) on equal participation in political and public affairs, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council urges all States to ensure the full, effective and equal participation of all citizens in political and public affairs, including by, inter alia, taking all necessary measures to eliminate laws, regulations and practices that discriminate, directly or indirectly, against citizens in their right to participate in public affairs on the grounds of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, or on the basis of disability; requests the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare concise and action-oriented draft guidelines as a set of orientations for States on the effective implementation of the right to participate in public affairs; and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to provide an oral update to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-sixth session, seeking the views of States on the content and the preparation of the draft guidelines.
 
Before the Council adopted the resolution, it rejected amendment L.34 by a vote of 17 in favour, 25 against and five abstentions.
 
Czechia, introducing draft resolution L.28, said that equal participation was a cornerstone of democracy, based on the rule of law and the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms of all.  Ensuring full participation by all, including those whose voice was too weak to be heard, was a basis of public structures.  The draft resolution was built on three previous resolutions adopted consensually by the Council and on the guidance on the right to equal participation in public and political affairs.  There was a need for an effective guidance document on the implementation of this right, and the draft resolution initiated the drafting process of United Nations Guidelines, in an open and consultative process by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  In order to accommodate concerns by some States, the co-sponsors had introduced amendments in order to further strengthen the role of States in the drafting process.  The draft resolution merited the Council’s support and Czechia invited Member States to adopt it by consensus.
 
Action on Amendment L.34
 
Russia, introducing a draft written amendment, said that one of the most recent examples of the realization of the right to equal participation was the election to the State Duma, the Parliament in December 2015, which had been opened to all Russians throughout the world, except in Ukraine where this right had been denied to Russian nationals.  Russia could not agree with the drafting of new guidelines because the Council had not given States an opportunity to discuss openly the problems in the implementation of article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the right to participate.  It was also unclear what were the grounds on which the proposal to develop the guidance for States for the participation in State affairs was based.  A comprehensive and open discussion on those issues was needed as it was wrong to take a one-sided approach, impose one’s own attitude on other States, and then ask those States to agree.  The draft amendment proposed the replacement of operative paragraphs 8, 9, 10 and 11 in order to provide for the holding of open discussions on the right to participate.
 
Netherlands, speaking on behalf of the sponsors, said that they did not agree with the proposed amendment and would call for a vote. 
 
Republic of Korea, in a general comment, said that ensuring the right to equal participation in public affairs was a fundamental condition for advancing human rights.  Guidelines should serve as a useful tool to help women and marginalized groups to participate in public affairs.  The resolution as orally revised was supported.
 
Mexico, speaking in a general comment, said that in light of its relevance, the theme deserved the Council’s constant attention.  In spite of various human rights instruments with provisions on public affairs, there were still obstacles that hampered the full enjoyment of rights to take part in public affairs.  The opportunity to be able to take part in a significant way continued to be an unreachable goal for many people.  People belonging to minority groups faced lack of access and discrimination.  The reports presented by the High Commissioner had addressed discrimination, which hampered participation.  Guidelines proposed in L.28 represented the next logical step which could serve as a guideline for all societies.  A guide was not a binding instrument, and would help States pick up good practices and tailor them to their situations.  Mexico welcomed the draft resolution with its oral amendments and urged Member States to support it.

Botswana, speaking in a general comment, said that the draft resolution sought to elaborate the United Nations Guidelines on article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on equal participation in public affairs.  The experience with previously adopted guidelines showed that those soft instruments had a clear value addition and served as important awareness-raising tools.  Botswana fully supported the draft resolution as orally revised and encouraged all members of the Council to do the same.
 
Indonesia, speaking in a general comment, reiterated its support for the draft resolution which highlighted a very important human rights which deserved the Council’s unwavering attention.  Ultimately, the realization of this right rested with States, and the draft resolution tried to take a modest step forward in cooperation with States.  Indonesia hoped that the spirit of consensus could be maintained.
 
Albania, speaking in a general comment, expressed surprise at the amendment tabled by the Russian Federation.  According to the draft, States would have less room for shaping relevant content and preparation.  The amendment damaged the draft resolution and presented no alternative. Albania would vote no and urged all to do the same.
 
Paraguay said that all efforts were supported to facilitate all human rights without discrimination.  More than 50 co-sponsors supported the initiative.  The amendment had a prescriptive and limiting effect.  It went backwards without offering any benefit.  Paraguay could not understand the rationale behind the amendment.
 
Georgia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the Guidelines were by nature non-binding instruments and would assist States to fulfil their human rights obligations.  The proposed amendment was a step back, especially since oral amendments introduced by the main sponsors had strengthened the role of the State.  Georgia called upon Member States to vote against the draft amendment. 
 
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the Guidelines were voluntary and would assist the States which needed them.  The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia would reject the draft amendment.
 
Netherlands, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, disagreed with the reasoning behind the amendment and said that many discussions on the topic had been already held.  Only 22 per cent of all parliamentarians were women and that was why practical tools for the promotion of the right to participate were very welcome.  They were not premature, as they were an outcome of the multi-year process which had involved States and other stakeholders.  The Netherlands would vote against the amendment.
 
The Council then rejected amendment L.34 by a vote of 17 in favour, 25 against and five abstentions.
 
Action on L. 28
 
South Africa, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that equal participation in political and public affairs was of critical importance.  Strong legislation protected equal participation nationally.  Full and effective participation was best ensured by a solid legal basis.  Women were involved in a variety of institutions, and South Africa remained concerned at the approach taken by the sponsors of the resolution, holding the view that intergovernmental discussions were fundamental.  Multilateralism meant that those processes could deliver the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.  The Council was no exception to multilateralism.  It could not opt out of it.  If there were gaps in human rights instruments, Member States needed to identify them in discussions.  The current trend in development of guidelines with unclear legal status was concerning.  It was disappointing that sponsors had remained inflexible.  South Africa could not support operative paragraphs 8 and 9.  South Africa would dissociate itself from operative paragraphs 8, 9, 10, and 11.
 
Saudi Arabia, speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the Gulf Cooperation Council attached importance to the equal participation of citizens.  Equal participation was vital and had a vital impact on the development of sustainable societies.  It was premature since in-depth discussions on guidelines had not yet been held, especially since the draft resolution required Guidelines to be submitted to the Human Rights Council at its next session.  Comprehensive discussions would be needed.  But the request was not taken into consideration.  While wishing to express support for the principle of participation, Saudi Arabia would not join consensus on paragraphs 8, 9, 10, and 11.   
 
Cuba, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that in Cuba, the right of citizens’ participation was respected without any discrimination, including in political decision-making processes.  Cuba would continue to respect and guarantee the enjoyment of this right, but did not agree with the focus of some operative paragraphs of the draft resolution and regretted that the draft amendment had been rejected.  There was no need to draft Guidelines for the right to equal participation; in any case, this should be an inter-governmental process.  Cuba disassociated itself from consensus on operative paragraphs 8, 9, 10 and 11.
 
Russia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, expressed regret that the main sponsors of the draft resolution continued to draft the document which would clearly not enjoy the support of all States.  This approach did not support strengthening of national human rights systems.  The practice had shown that the imposition of one’s will and coercion did not lead to any good.  Although Russia did not call for a vote on the draft resolution, it disassociated itself from the consensus on operative paragraphs 8, 9, 10 and 11.
 
China, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that equal participation of citizens in public and political affairs was very important and was in favour of the draft resolution.  However, the preparation of the Guidelines was a concern because the relevant issues must be addressed through inter-governmental processes in order to find a consensus.  China disassociated itself from the consensus on operative paragraphs 8, 9, 10 and 11.
 
Action on Texts under the Agenda Item on Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention
 
Action on Resolution on the Human Rights Situation in the Syrian Arab Republic
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.30) on the human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, adopted by a vote of 26 in favour, seven against, and 14 abstentions as orally revised, the Council strongly condemns the military offensive on eastern Aleppo being conducted by forces loyal to the Syrian authorities, and calls upon them to halt immediately the indiscriminate bombing of the civilian populations; strongly condemns the airstrikes on 19 September 2016 on a United Nations/Syrian Arab Red Crescent aid convoy in rural Aleppo; demands that the Syrian authorities cooperate fully with the Human Rights Council and the Commission of Inquiry by granting it immediate, full and unfettered access throughout the Syrian Arab Republic; strongly condemns the continued systematic, widespread and gross violations and abuses of human rights and all violations of international humanitarian law by the Syrian authorities and affiliated militias; and also strongly condemns the terrorist acts and violence committed against civilians by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Daesh), al-Nusrah Front or other terrorist organizations.  The Council  demands that the Syrian Arab Republic immediately cease the use of chemical weapons; further demands that all parties take all appropriate steps to protect civilians; also demands that the Syrian authorities facilitate, and all other parties to the conflict do not hinder, the full, immediate and safe access of the United Nations and humanitarian actors, including to hard-to-reach and besieged areas; and demands that all parties work urgently towards the comprehensive implementation of the Geneva communiqué, including through the establishment of an inclusive transitional governing body with full executive powers.  It decided to convene a high-level panel discussion on the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic at its thirty-fourth session, in consultation with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry, including on the issue of enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention, and the need for accountability for related violations and abuses.
 
 
The result of the vote was as follows:
 
In favour (26): Albania, Belgium, Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, El Salvador, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Latvia, Maldives, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Arab Emirates, and United Kingdom.
 
Against (7): Algeria, Bolivia, Burundi, China, Cuba, Russian Federation, and Venezuela.
 
Abstentions (14): Bangladesh, Congo, Ecuador, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Namibia, Nigeria, Philippines, South Africa, Togo, and Viet Nam.
 
 
United Kingdom, introducing the draft resolution, said that recent devastating events in Syria underscored the need for another resolution.  The Syrian regime and its supporters, including Russia, were called on to halt indiscriminate bombing.  The resolution called on all parties to renew efforts to respect human rights and comply with international law.  An oral revision was included to reflect the situation in eastern Aleppo.  The resolution established a panel to increase the visibility of crimes committed in Syria.  The resolution deserved broad support and the United Kingdom hoped it could be adopted by consensus.
 
Slovenia, speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, said that the situation in Aleppo had seen a dramatic deterioration, including through the targeting of a humanitarian convoy last week.  The human suffering was an affront to the whole world.  A negotiated settlement to the conflict was the only way to bring it to an end.  All were called on to allow unhindered humanitarian access to those in need.  The ongoing efforts of the Commission of Inquiry were to be commended and supported.  That was fundamental for accountability efforts.  The European Union condemned attacks that the Syrian regime continued to commit against its own people.  The continued targeting of civilians and healthcare personnel was contrary to international humanitarian law.  The European Union insisted on the need for transitional justice.  The United Nations Security Council was called on to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court.  The European Union welcomed the proposal to establish a panel to increase the visibility of crimes being committed.  The European Union invited all members of the Human Rights Council to join the consensus around the resolution. 
 
Russia, speaking in a general comment, noted that the efforts of the sponsors of the draft resolution had sought not to improve the situation in Syria but to advance their own political interests.  The added value of this initiative was zero, and could even be negative.  It was nothing more than to place the blame for what was happening on the legitimate Syrian Government and protect the terrorists for their anti-humane actions.  The authors of the draft, including those who supported illegal armed groups in Syria, referred to humanitarian catastrophes and human rights violations, which put in question how genuine the draft resolution was.  It was regrettable that the United States and its allies were trying to work in favour of radicals, their hands were stained in blood of thousands of civilians.  The draft resolution was divorced from the reality and reflected distorted views of the situation.  Russia asked for a vote, would vote against, and hoped that all other States which did not want to support terrorism would for the same.
 
France, speaking in a general comment, expressed France’s support for the draft resolution which would strengthen the action of the Council in addressing the situation in Syria, where the regime, with the support of Russia, was involved in a total war against its people.  France called for immediate action in favour of the cessation of hostilities in Aleppo, and an end to daily bombing by the regime, the use of famine as a weapon of war, and all other intolerable violations of international humanitarian law which might amount to war crimes. 
 
Qatar, speaking in a general comment, said that the draft resolution had shown but a tip of the iceberg of the problems in Syria, namely the massive human rights violations, the destruction of infrastructure and the use of prohibited weapons.  The international community could not remain a bystander and it had to deliver humanitarian aid to eastern Aleppo and other besieged areas.  The lack of political will would only give more time to the Syrian regime.  Qatar as the main sponsor of the resolution reiterated that the core group had cooperated openly with all delegations during the negotiation process, and it hoped that the draft resolution would contribute to the alleviation of the suffering of the Syrian people.  It called on all Member States to vote for it.
 
Saudi Arabia, speaking in a general comment, noted that the suffering of the Syrian people had continued for five years.  Syrian allies had flouted all the norms of international humanitarian law.  Saudi Arabia had provided economic support to the Syrian people.  However, whenever political agreements broke down, the Syrian regime was behind such actions.  Every time a resolution on Syria was submitted in the Council, the history would be their witness.  None of the countries would like to be mentioned on the black pages of history.  Saudi Arabia called on all Member States to vote for the draft resolution.
 
Ecuador, speaking in a general comment, said that there was still no solution on the horizon for the conflict in Syria.  Unprecedented migratory flows had resulted from the ongoing war, severely affecting the most vulnerable, such as children and persons with disabilities.  The draft resolution did not recognize all parties to the conflict nor did it contribute to the wellbeing of the Syrian people.  Ecuador would abstain.
 
Syria, speaking as the concerned country, stated that a number of countries had been waging an information campaign against the legitimate Syrian Government, all under the guise of human rights.  Were those political and selective resolutions going to help people in Syria in any way?  Would the distortion of facts help the political process, asked Syria?  The draft text was full of lies and fabrications and it did not serve the Syrian people and did not help reach a political solution of the crisis.
 
Venezuela, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it would vote against the resolution.  Venezuela had condemned in different fora, the selectivity, politicization and double standards in country-specific resolutions.  The systematic interference in the affairs of Syria was rejected.  Syria required real commitment from the international community and Venezuela supported initiatives geared at negotiated peaceful solutions which would respect its territorial integrity and its sovereignty.

Switzerland, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, deplored continuing systematic violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Syria which were the major obstacle to reaching a solution to this conflict.  That was why Switzerland would vote for the resolution.  The situation in Syria must remain on the agenda of the Council and for this the work of the Commission of Inquiry was indispensable.  Supporting and protecting human rights defenders was a priority for the Swiss programme in Syria.
 
Cuba, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, condemned the death of civilians in any circumstances and said that the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference must be defended at all costs.  The role of the international community was to provide peace and stability in Syria and not support attacks on its citizens.  No effort should be spared to achieving peace and re-establishing a country full of culture and history that was able to stand on its own.  Cuba was in favour of peace and a fair and inclusive solution to the crisis, and would vote against the present resolution.
 
Algeria, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, strongly condemned all human rights violations at an unprecedented scale in Syria.  It was important to say that the draft resolution was not totally keeping in line with the efforts to promote a political settlement.  It was unbalanced because the human rights violations by terrorist groups were not sufficiently addressed.  The Commission of Inquiry ought to show more discernment and objectivity.  Algeria would vote against the draft resolution.
 
China, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, was against all acts in Syria going against international human rights and humanitarian law.  China had always advocated that human rights issues should be discussed in a constructive manner and was against country-specific resolutions.  The content of the draft resolution was seriously unbalanced and was not helping a political solution, which was why China would vote against it. 
 
Action on the Resolution on the Human Rights Situation in Burundi
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.31) on the human rights situation in Burundi, adopted by a vote of 19 in favour, seven against, and 21 abstentions as orally revised, the Council decides to create for a period of one year a commission of inquiry to conduct a thorough investigation into human rights violations and abuses in Burundi since April 2015; to identify alleged perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses in Burundi with a view to ensuring full accountability; to formulate recommendations on steps to be taken with a view to guaranteeing that the authors of these violations and abuses, regardless of their affiliation, are held accountable for their acts; and to present an oral briefing to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-fourth and thirty-fifth sessions, and a final report during an interactive dialogue at its thirty-sixth session.  Furthermore, the Council calls upon the Burundian authorities to ensure equitable political processes and to enable the holding of free, fair and transparent democratic elections; and urges the Government of Burundi to cooperate fully with the commission of inquiry, to authorize it to conduct visits to the country and to provide it with all the information necessary to fulfil its mandate. 
 
The result of the vote was as follows:
 
In favour (19): Albania, Belgium, El Salvador, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Latvia, Mexico, Mongolia, Netherlands, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and United Kingdom.
 
Against (7): Bolivia, Burundi, China, Cuba, Morocco, Russian Federation, and Venezuela.
 
Abstentions (21): Algeria, Bangladesh, Botswana, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Namibia, Nigeria, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Togo, United Arab Emirates, and Viet Nam.
 
 
Slovakia, speaking on behalf of the European Union in introducing the draft resolution, expressed alarmed about human rights violations committed in Burundi, as presented by the group of independent experts, who had said that some of the violations might amount to crimes against humanity.   The European Union had appealed to the African Group to take the lead on this important issue and propose, in collaboration with country concerned, a follow-up resolution.  Unfortunately Burundi had not taken the lead on a resolution on its own country situation.  Building on the resolution adopted consensually during the Council’s Special Session in December 2015, the resolution established a Commission of Inquiry on the human rights violations committed in Burundi.   This mechanism was compatible with international and regional efforts aimed at preventing the further deterioration of human rights in Burundi.
 
Burundi, speaking as the concerned country, rejected the draft resolution.  The purpose of the Human Rights Council was not to aggravate the human rights situation in countries but help them improve their human rights situations.  Cooperation and working together with the Human Rights Council needed to be the fundamental principle.  Resolutions imposed on States was nothing more than selectivity.  Burundi as a Member of the Human Rights Council could not shirk its mission toward the promotion and protection of human rights.  People in Burundi were going about their normal business.  The creation of another mechanism was unjustified.  Burundi asked the Human Rights Council not to rush into things in adopting a resolution on Burundi.  The report that the resolution was based on contained falsehoods, lies, and manipulations.  Members of the Council were called on to vote against the draft resolution.
 
Albania, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the draft resolution reflected the serious human rights situation in Burundi.  It proposed an appropriate way forward to combat impunity, and it was regrettable that consensus had not been reached on that issue.  Albania called on all to vote for the draft resolution.
 
Russian Federation, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, was concerned about the situation in Burundi.  Unfortunately, the draft resolution was guilty of systemic shortcomings and it tried to grant certain powers to the National Human Rights Institution, which it did not have.  It was unacceptable to introduce new criteria for membership in the Human Rights Council.  Russia would vote against the draft text.
 
Burundi, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reiterated the call for the draft resolution to be put to a vote.
 
Venezuela, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, reaffirmed its opposition to double standards and politicization which aimed at converting the Council into a systematic tool against countries of the south.  The treatment of the situation of countries should try to involve the countries concerned and the Universal Periodic Review had shown itself to be effective as the best opportunity for protecting human rights.  Venezuela would continue to call for reflection in the Human Rights Council on the ineffectiveness of the mandates against specific sovereign countries. 
 
Saudi Arabia, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that the report had recommended that the Human Rights Council should consider whether Burundi could remain a member of the Council.  That recommendation went beyond the mandate of the investigation group.  The draft resolution was not balanced.  Therefore, Saudi Arabia had not supported the resolution. 
 
Burundi, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said it was very sorry that the resolution on the human rights in Burundi had been adopted.  The results of the vote spoke for themselves, and it showed that it was mainly Member States of the European Union which voted in favour.  The European Union was refusing to recognize the progress made by Burundi.  The resolution contained many lies and unchecked claims, and did not help the country or its people in any way.  Burundi appealed to all to avoid the politicization of the Council.

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