Header image for news printout

Human Rights Council adopts Universal Periodic Review outcomes of Israel, Lichtenstein, and Serbia

MIDDAY

29 June 2018

The Human Rights Council in its midday meeting adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcomes of Israel, Lichtenstein, and Serbia.

Vojislav Šuc, President of the Human Rights Council, said Israel had informed him that it would not be present in the room for the consideration of the outcome of its Universal Periodic Review.  However, Israel had presented its position on recommendations in the addendum to the Working Group report.  

In the ensuing discussion, a number of delegations called on Israeli forces in the occupied Palestinian territories to uphold human rights and humanitarian responsibilities.  States called for an end to Israel’s settlement policy.  At the same time, a number of States welcomed Israel’s cooperation during the Universal Periodic Review process.  Israel was urged to promote the rights of minority groups, including persons with disabilities and women from minority communities.

Speaking were Iran, Libya, Madagascar, Singapore, Venezuela, Botswana, Honduras, and Egypt.

Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: United Nations Watch; Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, (in a joint statement with Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights); World Jewish Congress; Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILF), (in a joint statement with Women's Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling); International Fellowship of Reconciliation; Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man; Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture; CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation; Association of World Citizens; Human Rights Watch.

The President of the Human Rights Council said that out of 240 recommendations, Israel had accepted 70 and noted 170.  

The Council then adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Israel.

Peter Matt, Permanent Representative of Lichtenstein to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said the country prioritised the protection of human rights and took Universal Periodic Review recommendations seriously.  The recommendations had been assessed in terms of political feasibility and 84 had been accepted.  Developments since the 2013 Universal Periodic Review cycle showed that recommendations had a considerable impact on human rights policy in the country.  

In the discussion, speakers welcomed the adoption of the law on associations for human rights that would allow for the creation of a national human rights institution and appreciated the fact that the national human rights institution was being developed by civil society, independently from the Government.  They encouraged Lichtenstein to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, and urged it to revise asylum procedures on trafficking in persons to take into account the special needs of women, and to establish a legal framework for all forms of discrimination.

Speaking were Afghanistan and Honduras, as well as the non-governmental organization United Villages.

The Vice President of the Human Rights Council said that out of 126 recommendations, Lichtenstein accepted 82 and noted 42.  

The Council then adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Lichtenstein.

Dejan Zlatanović, Permanent Representative of Serbia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, informed that Serbia had not accepted recommendations which did not correspond to the situation on the ground, or those that required changes in the legal framework that was assessed as adequate.  Serbia was devoted to democracy and the rule of law, and it firmly believed in the United Nations human rights mechanisms and their positive impact on societies and regional and global peace and stability.  Dialogue with those mechanisms should be conducted in an objective, non-politicized and impartial manner.    

In the discussion, speakers recognized Serbia’s efforts with respect democratization, rule of law, and fulfilment of its international obligations in the field of human rights.  It noted with appreciation Serbia’s continued commitment to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence, and steps toward enhancing gender equality.  Some speakers, on the other hand, expressed concern about continued impunity for war crimes under international law, the intimidation, attacks and harassment of human rights defenders and journalists, and lack of true judicial independence.

Speaking were Egypt, Honduras, Iraq, Libya, Russian Federation, Venezuela, Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Azerbaijan, China, and Cuba.

Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: Human Rights House Foundation; Amnesty International; International Commission of Jurists; CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation; Human Rights Watch; United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation.

The President of the Human Rights Council informed that out of 190 recommendations received, Serbia had accepted 175 and noted 15.

The Council then adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Serbia.  

The Council will next meet at 3 p.m. to hold a general debate on the Universal Periodic Review.  

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Israel

VOJISLAV ŠUC, President of the Human Rights Council, said Israel had informed him that it would not be present in the room for the consideration of its outcome of the Universal Periodic Review.  However, Israel had presented its position on recommendations in the addendum to the Working Group report.  

Iran said the settlement and transfer of populations being perpetrated by Israel were war crimes.  Israel must comply with international human rights and humanitarian law.  Israel was proclaiming itself as the only democracy in the Middle East.  Still, the Human Rights Council continued witnessing a lack of cooperation from Israel that threatened the integrity of the Universal Periodic Review process.

Libya said Israeli occupation forces were violating human rights.  The occupation forces must respect human rights and seriously review Universal Periodic Review outcomes.  Libya reiterated its call for the Human Rights Council to ensure that Israel’s violations of human rights in Palestine were stopped.

Madagascar invited the Council to adopt the report submitted by Israel.

Singapore commended Israel for its constructive cooperation during the third cycle of its Universal Periodic Review.  Israel had accepted two recommendations made by Singapore on promoting the rights of persons with disabilities and on the rights of minority women.

Venezuela regretted the absence of Israel at the adoption of its report which showed its disregard for the Universal Periodic Review and United Nations resolutions, and also regretted the fact that Israel had ignored many recommendations to comply with international law.  Israel should recognize and respect the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people, put an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine and the Syrian Golan, and comply with all its international obligations, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Botswana was pleased that Israel had accepted its recommendations to cooperate with human rights mechanisms and to undertake judicial reforms to ensure equal protection and treatment under the law, and that the children were not exposed to arbitrary arrest and detention.  Botswana wished Israel all success in the implementation of the accepted recommendations.

Honduras had recommended that Israel lift its reservations to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and that it ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court.  Honduras urged Israel to establish a national human rights institution in line with the Paris Principles and explicitly include the right to non-discrimination in its fundamental law.

Egypt was still concerned about the grave human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories, and its racist practices at various levels – social, political and judicial - and stressed the importance for Israel to put an end to such procedures and grant equality to all its citizens, in line with international law.  Egypt stressed the importance of putting an end to illegal settlement activities, and stopping the desecration of Islamic and Christian sites under the effective control of the Israeli Government.

United Nations Watch said that the Universal Periodic Review process upheld the Council’s promise to be guided by impartiality in the promotion of human rights.  This was the opposite of what occurred during discussions under the Council’s item 7.  Better measures were needed to protect Israelis of Ethiopian descent.  Arab-Israeli employees must see increased representation in the nation’s civil service.

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, in a joint statement with Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, said Israel was failing to implement recommendations it had accepted related to freedom of movement and on the prevention of use of excessive force.  Israel’s refusal to commit to such recommendations demonstrated an entrenched lack of political will to abide by its international obligations.

World Jewish Congress commended Israel for having adopted 93 recommendations.  Combatting hate was at the core of the organization’s goals and Israel shared that same commitment.  Israel was urged to protect the rights of all minorities.  The celebration of diversity in Israel was unique in the region.  Israel was encouraged to build on commitments to freedom of religion.

Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILF), in a joint statement with Women's Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling, said Israel had shown a lack of support for commitments to the rights of women in Gaza.  Practices of evictions and night raids continued.  Israel must create enabling environments that would allow civil society organizations working on gender issues to work freely.  Israel, as an occupying power, must comply fully with its international obligations.

International Fellowship of Reconciliation was deeply disturbed that Israel continued to imprison conscientious objectors and that there was no civilian oversight or consistency in the exceptions granted by the Israeli military with regards to the military service.  This violation of human rights of Israeli citizens should not be overlooked – again – in the fourth cycle of the Universal Periodic Review.

Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man said it was troubling that Israel could not accept recommendation made by Switzerland to invite the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders for a visit.  Out of 240 recommendations, Israel noted nearly two thirds, most of which related to the human rights of Palestinians and the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, amongst which only eight out of 101 had been fully supported.  It was regrettable that Israel’s engagement with the Universal Periodic Review process was “once again disingenuous”.

Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture said that Israel had disregarded most recommendations received and had promulgated a number of laws against Palestinians, including on forced detention of children.  The suffering of the people of Gaza under the siege for over a decade demanded the accountability of Israel.  

CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation called upon Israel to stop using excessive and lethal force during protests, noting that recently, in the Gaza Strip, Israeli occupation forces had used snipers, plastic coated steel bullets, explosive bullets, and gas grenades fired from drones in a calculated attempt to kill, maim and inflict serious bodily harm on Palestinians.  Since 20 March, Israeli forces had killed 127 Palestinians and injured an estimated 14,000.

Association of World Citizens said that Israel had a policy of racial discrimination against all Arab Israelis.  How could Israel’s partial commitment to the recommendations be interpreted when it forced Palestinians to leave their homes?  Israel’s policies continued and were aggressive in attacking symbols of worship.  

Human Rights Watch stated that Israel had further cemented a differential system of treatment towards the Palestinians.  Systematic human rights violations included unlawful killings of civilians, including hundreds of children.  The authorities had shrunk the space for activists defending fundamental freedoms.  The Palestinians were subjected to forced displacement and limited movement, and Israel’s commitment to promote and protect human rights were empty words.

The President informed that out of 240 recommendations, Israel had accepted 70 and noted the rest.  

The Council then adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Israel.

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Lichtenstein

PETER MATT, Permanent Representative of Lichtenstein to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said Lichtenstein prioritised the protection of human rights and took the implementation of the Universal Periodic Review recommendations seriously.  The recommendations had been assessed in terms of political feasibility and 84 had been accepted.  Lichtenstein’s position on the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of All Workers and Members of Their Families had not changed.  The same applied to accession to the International Labour Organization convention.  The Government intended to ratify the International Convention on Enforced Disappearance.  Recommendations had been accepted suggesting consideration of the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  The Government would address the recommendation favourably but would not anticipate its results.  The State had limited resources that had forced it to reject recommendations on domestic violence and racism.  However, the Government fully supported the general aim of those proposals.  Lichtenstein was fully committed to conducting an active policy on gender equality in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.  The Government did not accept some gender equality recommendations as they called for the establishment of gender quotas.  Developments since the 2013 Universal Periodic Review cycle showed that recommendations had a considerable impact on human rights policy in the country.  Lichtenstein remained fully committed to the Human Rights Council and the Universal Periodic Review process.

Afghanistan said it was encouraging that Lichtenstein had accepted most of the recommendations made to it and urged Lichtenstein to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, and to ensure the implementation of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

Honduras thanked Lichtenstein for the support given to the recommendations relating to the ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and urged Lichtenstein to revise asylum procedures and trafficking in persons’ legislation to take into account the special needs of women, and establish legal frameworks for all forms of discrimination.

United Villages welcomed the adoption of the law on associations for human rights that would allow for the creation of a national human rights institution and appreciated the fact that the national human rights institution was being developed by civil society, independently from the Government.  

The President of the Human Rights Council informed that out of 126 recommendations received, Lichtenstein had accepted 84 and noted 42.

PETER MATT, Permanent Representative of Lichtenstein to the United Nations Office at Geneva, reaffirmed the commitment of Lichtenstein to the Universal Periodic Review process and said that the recommendations from the past reviews had been integrated in the country’s policies and practices.

The Council then adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Lichtenstein.

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Serbia

DEJAN ZLATANOVIĆ, Permanent Representative of Serbia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, informed that out of 190 recommendations received, Serbia had accepted 175.  Relevant Government departments had carefully reviewed the received recommendations.  Those that could not be accepted mostly did not correspond to the situation on the ground, or they required changes in the legal framework that had already been assessed as adequate by the competent international institutions.  Serbia was devoted to democracy and the rule of law.  Its dedication to the promotion and protection of human rights was additionally manifested by the fact that within the Government there was a special operating department – the Human and Minority Rights Office.  Cooperation with United Nations mechanisms greatly assisted the promotion and protection of human rights in Serbia.  A special body had been established to institutionalize cooperation with the United Nations – the Council for Monitoring the Implementation of the Recommendations of the United Nations Human Rights Mechanisms.  That very same body would monitor the implementation of the recommendations contained in the current Universal Periodic Review report.  Serbia firmly believed in the United Nations human rights mechanisms and their positive impact on societies and regional and global peace and stability.  Dialogue with those mechanisms should be conducted in an objective, non-politicized and impartial manner, Mr. Zlatanović concluded.    

Egypt welcomed the commitment of Serbia to ratify a number of human rights instruments and the adoption of a strategic plan to fight war crimes.  Serbia should continue to pursue the economic development and education of minorities.

Honduras was satisfied that Serbia had accepted the recommendations to reinforce measures to eradicate social stigmatisation and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and HIV/AIDS status, to improve access to justice and protection from violence for women with disabilities, and to promote tolerance for minorities, including the Roma people.  Honduras encouraged Serbia to consider its position on the ratification of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

Iraq was pleased that Serbia had accepted its recommendations concerning education, domestic violence, and asylum procedures, and wished Serbia every success in the implementation of the accepted recommendations.

Libya thanked Serbia for its active participation in the Universal Periodic Review and that it had supported 76 recommendations, including to ratify the international instrument on the fight against corruption.  Libya wished Serbia success in the promotion and protection of human rights.

Russian Federation noted Serbia’s success in the promotion and protection of human rights, and its readiness to cooperate with the Universal Periodic Review mechanism.  It welcomed the fact that Serbia had adopted an overwhelming number of recommendations.

Venezuela welcomed Serbia’s creation of a new legal framework to fight discrimination in all its forms, as well as changes to the Law to Sanction the Diffusion of Hate Speech and Incitement to National, Racial and Religious Hatred, which had been incorporated in the Penal Code.  

Afghanistan appreciated Serbia’s acceptance of its recommendations, and urged Serbia to finalize the ratification of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

Albania recognized Serbia’s efforts with respect to democratization, the rule of law, and the fulfilment of its international obligations in the field of human rights.  It noted with appreciation Serbia’s continued commitment to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence, and steps toward enhancing gender equality.  However, it regretted that Serbia had only noted Albania’s recommendations to ratify the Convention on Migrant Workers and to identify Government officials who had allegedly been involved in war crimes.  

Algeria took note with satisfaction that Serbia had proceeded to ratify several regional legal instruments and that it had aligned its domestic law with international treaties.  Serbia had accepted Algeria’s recommendations to strengthen training programmes for State officials on the rights of minorities, and to provide legal and financial resources necessary for the Ombudsmen to fulfil his mandate.

Azerbaijan reiterated its appreciation for the commitment of Serbia to cooperation with United Nations human rights mechanisms and urged the Council to adopt the outcome report with consensus.

China commended Serbia’s constructive participation in the Universal Periodic Review and thanked it for accepting its recommendations.  China hoped that Serbia would continue to pursue the socio-economic development of its people, promote gender equality, and better protect the rights of women.  

Cuba noted that Serbia had accepted the majority of recommendations it had received and welcomed in particular its commitment to promote a strategy to prevent discrimination, and to adopt measures to improve the situation of women and gender equality, as they would greatly contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights in the country.

Human Rights House Foundation said that civil society organizations were sometimes subjected to smear campaigns, in which those organizations that received foreign funding were labelled as “foreign mercenaries”.  Serbia had not yet implemented its commitments to denounce more forcefully attacks on human rights defenders and prosecute those responsible.  Journalists in Serbia continued to be subjected to harassment and intimidation.

Amnesty International was concerned that impunity persisted in Serbia for war crimes under international law, noting that the number of indictments remained seriously low.  The organization also drew attention to the shrinking space for human rights defenders and journalists.  

International Commission of Jurists welcomed Serbia’s acceptance of all recommendations to strengthen the rule of law and judicial independence.  However, it regretted that constitutional amendments would empower the National Assembly to determine appointments and dismissal of judges of the Constitutional Court.  

CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation, in a joint statement, welcomed the agreement signed between the Prosecutor’s Office, the State Secretary of the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs, and journalists’ and media associations in December 2016 on cooperation and measures to improve the security of journalists.  But Serbia had only fully implemented one out of 18 recommendations relating to civic space.  The organization was alarmed about the intimidation, attacks and harassment of human rights defenders and journalists.

Human Rights Watch regretted that Serbia had rejected a key recommendation to refrain from prosecuting journalists, human rights defenders, and others as a way of deterring them to express opinions.  The organization reminded that Roma, internally displaced persons and migrants had not seen notable improvement in their situation.  

United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation noted that refugees and migrants had been trapped in Serbia, and had been sent back violently from Hungary and Croatia to Serbia.  They lived in abandoned buildings in Serbia with temperatures during winter below zero.  

The President of the Human Rights Council informed that out of 190 recommendations received, Serbia had accepted 175 and noted 15.

DEJAN ZLATANOVIĆ, Permanent Representative of Serbia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, thanked all the delegations for their interest and constructive remarks and said that one of the values of the Universal Periodic Review mechanism was that it provided external perspectives on the situation of human rights in a country.  Serbia would go ahead towards achieving the human rights situation that was in line with international obligations, said Mr. Zlatanović, explaining that in Serbia, migrant workers enjoyed the same rights as any other workers in the country, thus Serbia would not ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.  As for the remarks concerning the prosecution for war crimes, Mr. Zlatanović recalled that a special international court, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, had been established in The Hague for that very purpose, and had enjoyed Serbia’s full cooperation.

The Council then adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Serbia.
 __________

For use of the information media; not an official record
Follow UNIS Geneva on: Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube |Flickr