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Human Rights Council Adopts Nine Texts: Establishes Mechanism to Protect Africans and People of African Descent against Excessive Use of Force by Law Enforcement Officers, Renews Mandate on Belarus

13 July 2021

The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted nine texts in which it, among other actions, established an international independent expert mechanism on promoting and protecting the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Africans and people of African descent against excessive use of force and other human rights violations by law enforcement officers, and renewed the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Belarus for one year.

Other texts concerned the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet; the impact of arms transfers on human rights; the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic; the situation of human rights in Belarus; the Social Forum; the commencement of the fourth cycle of the Universal Periodic Review; and new and emerging digital technologies and human rights.

In a resolution on the promotion and protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Africans and of people of African descent against excessive use of force and other human rights violations by law enforcement officers through transformative change for racial justice and equality, the Council decided to establish an international independent expert mechanism for a period of three years, comprising three experts with law enforcement and human rights expertise, to investigate governments' responses to peaceful anti-racism protests and all violations of international human rights law and to contribute to accountability and redress for victims.

On the situation of human rights in Belarus, the Council  decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus for a period of one year, urging the Belarusian authorities to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur, including by allowing her access to visit the country and to meet freely with relevant stakeholders, including civil society, in her official capacity in order to assist the Belarusian authorities in fulfilling Belarus' international human rights obligations and by considering the implementation of her recommendations, and also urged the Belarusian authorities to extend full cooperation to thematic special procedures.

In a resolution on the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet, the Council condemned unequivocally all human rights violations and abuses committed against persons for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms on the Internet, and called upon all States to ensure accountability and effective remedies in this regard, in accordance with their international obligations.  The Council requested the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to study the trend in Internet shutdowns, analysing their causes, their legal implications and their impact on a range of human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights. 

Concerning the impact of arms transfers on human rights, the Council urged all States to refrain from transferring arms when they assess, in accordance with applicable domestic laws, regulations and procedures and international obligations and commitments, that there is a clear risk that such arms might be used to commit or facilitate serious violations or abuses of international human rights law or serious violations of international humanitarian law.  The Council also requested the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare, in consultation with States, United Nations agencies and other relevant stakeholders, an analytical report on good practices, lessons learned and challenges faced by States in preventing, mitigating and addressing the diversion of arms and unregulated or illicit arms transfers that have a particular impact on the enjoyment of human rights by children and youth.

In a resolution on the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic, the Council deplored the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Syrian Arab Republic, which the risks created by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic have further exacerbated. It recalled that applicable obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law, including with regard to the fate and whereabouts of missing persons, exist independently of a political agreement.

In a resolution on the Social Forum, adopted without a vote, the Council requested the President of the Human Rights Council to appoint, as early as possible, from candidates nominated by regional groups, the Chair-Rapporteur for the 2022 Social Forum, bearing in mind the principle of regional rotation.  The Council invited the 2022 Social Forum to submit a report containing its conclusions and recommendations to the Human Rights Council at its fifty-second session.

In a decision on the commencement of the fourth cycle of the universal periodic review, the Council decided that the fourth cycle of the universal periodic review shall commence in October/November 2022, once the outcome documents of the last States under review during the third cycle have been adopted by the Council at its fiftieth session.

In a resolution on cooperation with and assistance to Ukraine in the field of human rights, the Council invited the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue to  present  orally  to  the  States  Members  of  the  Human  Rights  Council  and  observers  the findings of each of the  reports of the Office of the  High Commissioner on the situation of human rights in Ukraine as part of the interactive dialogues, and through the modalities of the Council, in accordance with its resolution 5/1 of 18 June 2007, until the fifty-third session of the Council.

In a resolution on new and emerging digital technologies and human rights, the Council requests the Office of the High Commissioner to convene two expert consultations, to discuss the relationship between human rights and technical standard-setting processes for new and emerging digital technologies and the practical application of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to the activities of technology companies, and to submit a report thereon, reflecting the discussions held in an inclusive and comprehensive manner, to the Human Rights Council at its fiftieth and fifty-third session.  

The webcast of the Human Rights Council meetings can be found here. All meeting summaries can be found here. Documents and reports related to the Human Rights Council's forty-seventh regular session can be found here.

The Council will next meet at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 14 July, to continue taking action on remaining draft resolutions before concluding its forty-seventh regular session.

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

Action on Resolution on the Promotion, Protection and Enjoyment of Human Rights on the Internet

In a resolution (A/HRC/47/L.22) on the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet, adopted by a vote of 43 in favour, none against and 4 abstentions, the Council affirms that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression, which is applicable regardless of frontiers and through any media of one's choice, in accordance with article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  The Council condemns unequivocally all human rights violations and abuses committed against persons for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms on the Internet, and calls upon all States to ensure accountability and effective remedies in this regard, in accordance with their international obligations.  The Council requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to study the trend in Internet shutdowns, analysing their causes, their legal implications and their impact on a range of human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights, through robust consultations with stakeholders and building on previous reports, and to present a report thereon to the Human Rights Council at its fiftieth session.

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (43): Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, France, Gabon, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Libya, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay and Uzbekistan.

Against (0):

Abstentions (4): Cameroon, China, Eritrea and Venezuela.

Action on Resolution on the Impact of Arms Transfers on Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/47/L.27) on the impact of arms transfers on human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council urges all States to refrain from transferring arms when they assess, in accordance with applicable domestic laws, regulations and procedures and international obligations and commitments, that there is a clear risk that such arms might be used to commit or facilitate serious violations or abuses of international human rights law or serious violations of international humanitarian law.  The Council also requests the  Office  of  the  United  Nations  High  Commissioner  for  Human Rights  to  prepare,  in  consultation  with  States,  United  Nations  agencies  and  other  relevant stakeholders, an analytical report on good practices, lessons learned and challenges faced by States in preventing, mitigating and addressing the diversion of arms and unregulated or illicit arms transfers that  have  a  particular impact on the  enjoyment of human rights by children and youth, and the role of national control systems as effective mechanisms in that regard, and to present the report to the Human Rights Council at its fifty-first session.

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

Action on Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in the Syrian Arab Republic

In a resolution (A/HRC/47/L.6) on the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic, adopted by a vote of 26 in favour, 6 against and 15 abstentions, the Council reiterates the call of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria for a complete, immediate and nationwide ceasefire. It deplores the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Syrian Arab Republic, which the risks created by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic have further exacerbated. It strongly condemns the continued use of involuntary or enforced disappearance in the Syrian Arab Republic, and related human rights violations and abuses, which have been carried out with consistency, in particular by the Syrian regime, but also by other parties to the conflict, urges all parties to immediately cease the use of involuntary or enforced disappearance, and all related human rights violations and abuses, and urges all parties to the conflict to take all feasible measures, in accordance with Security Council resolution 2474 (2019), to search for and reveal the fate of those missing or disappeared. It recalls that applicable obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law, including with regard to the fate and whereabouts of missing persons, exist independently of a political agreement.  It emphasizes the need for accountability, including for crimes committed in relation to enforced disappearance in the Syrian Arab Republic, and underscores that accountability is vital in peace negotiations and peacebuilding processes.  The Council encourages all Member States, relevant United Nations bodies, international organizations and civil society to coordinate further efforts and proactively focus attention on the issue of missing persons in the Syrian Arab Republic, including those subjected to enforced disappearance, and recalls the importance of the full and meaningful participation of victims, survivors and their families in such efforts.

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (26): Argentina, Austria, Bahamas, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cote d'Ivoire, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, France, Gabon, Germany, Italy, Japan, Libya, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Republic of Korea, Somalia, Togo, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Uruguay.

Against (6): Armenia, Bolivia, China, Cuba, Russian Federation and Venezuela.

Abstentions (15): Bahrain, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Eritrea, India, Indonesia, Mauritania, Namibia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Senegal, Sudan and Uzbekistan.

Action on Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in Belarus

In a resolution (A/HRC/47/L.13) on the situation of human rights in Belarus, adopted by a vote of 21 in favour, 7 against and 19 abstentions, the Council  strongly condemns the forced diversion and landing of a civilian flight in Minsk on 23 May 2021 endangering aviation safety, and the arbitrary detention and arrest by Belarusian authorities of an independent journalist, Raman Pratasevich, and his partner present on board. It strongly urges the Belarusian authorities to fully respect, protect and fulfil all their international human rights obligations, including those under the International Covenants on Human Rights and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.  The Council demands in this respect the immediate and unconditional release of all persons arbitrarily or unlawfully detained in Belarus. The Council also demands prompt, effective, thorough, transparent and impartial investigations with a view to ensuring accountability in all cases of alleged human rights violations and abuses.  The Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus for a period of one year, and requests the Special Rapporteur to continue to monitor developments and to make recommendations, and to submit a report on the situation of human rights in Belarus to the Human Rights Council at its fiftieth session and to the General Assembly at its seventy-seventh session.  The Council urges the Belarusian authorities to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur, and also urges the Belarusian authorities to extend full cooperation to thematic special procedures.

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (21): Argentina, Austria, Bahamas, Brazil, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Republic of Korea, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Uruguay.

Against (7): Bolivia, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Philippines, Russian Federation and Venezuela.

Abstentions (19): Armenia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Libya, Mauritania, Namibia, Nepal, Pakistan, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Togo and Uzbekistan.

Action on Resolution under the Agenda Item on Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms

Action on Resolution on the Social Forum

In a resolution (A/HRC/47/L.17) on the Social Forum, adopted without a vote, the Council reaffirms the Social Forum as a unique space for interactive dialogue between the United Nations human rights machinery and various stakeholders, including the contribution of civil society and grass-roots organizations, and stresses the need to ensure greater participation of grass-roots organizations and of those living in poverty, particularly women, especially from developing countries, in the sessions of the Forum.  The Council requests the President of the Human Rights Council to appoint, as early as possible, from candidates nominated by regional groups, the Chair-Rapporteur for the 2022 Social Forum, bearing in mind the principle of regional rotation.  The Council invites the 2022 Social Forum to submit a report containing its conclusions and recommendations to the Human Rights Council at its fifty-second session.

Action on Decision under the Agenda Item on the Universal Periodic Review

Action on Decision on the Commencement of the Fourth Cycle of the Universal Periodic Review

In a decision (A/HRC/47/L.7) on the commencement of the fourth cycle of the universal periodic review, adopted without a vote, the Council decides that the fourth cycle of the universal periodic review shall commence in October/November 2022, once the outcome documents of the last States under review during the third cycle have been adopted by the Council at its fiftieth session.

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

Action on Resolution on the Promotion and Protection of the Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Africans and of People of African Descent against Excessive Use of Force and other Human Rights Violations by Law Enforcement Officers through Transformative Change for Racial Justice and Equality

In a resolution (A/HRC/47/L.8/Rev.1) on the promotion and protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Africans and of people of African descent against excessive use of force and other human rights violations by law enforcement officers through transformative change for racial justice and equality, adopted without a vote (as orally revised), the Council recalls that law enforcement officials, in carrying out their duties, should apply non-violent means before resorting, when absolutely necessary, to the use of force, and that in any event all use of force should comply with the fundamental principles of legality, necessity, proportionality, precaution and non-discrimination, and that those using force should be accountable for each use of force. The Council decides to establish an international independent expert mechanism, comprising three experts with law enforcement and human rights expertise, to investigate governments' responses to peaceful anti-racism protests and all violations of international human rights law and to contribute to accountability and redress for victims. The Council also decides that the international independent expert mechanism shall have a three-year mandate. The Council further requests the High Commissioner and the international independent expert mechanism, to present to the Council, on an annual basis, starting from the 51st session, their respective written reports, jointly during an enhanced interactive dialogue, that prioritizes the participation of directly affected individuals and communities, including victims and their families, and transmitting its annual report to the General Assembly.

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

Action on Resolution on Cooperation with and Assistance to Ukraine in the Field of Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/47/L.25) on cooperation with and assistance to Ukraine in the field of human rights, adopted by a vote of 19 in favour, 8 against and 20 abstentions, the Council welcomes the oral presentations by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to the States Members of the Human Rights Council and observers of the findings of the reports of the Office of the High Commissioner on the situation of human rights in Ukraine held, in accordance with Council resolutions 29/23, 32/29, 35/31 and 41/25, from the forty-second to forty-seventh session of the Council.  The Council also invites the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue to present orally to the States Members of the Human Rights Council and observers the findings of each of the reports of the Office of the High Commissioner on the situation of human rights in Ukraine as part of the interactive dialogues, and through the modalities of the Council, in accordance with its resolution 5/1 of 18 June 2007, until the fifty-third session of the Council.

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (19): Austria, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Libya, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Republic of Korea, Ukraine and United Kingdom.

Against (8): Armenia, Bolivia, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Russian Federation and Venezuela.

Abstentions (20) : Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Ivory Coast, India, Indonesia, Mauritania, Namibia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Uruguay and Uzbekistan.

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 New and Emerging Digital Technologies and Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/47/L.12/Rev.1) on new and emerging digital technologies and human rights, adopted by a vote of 44 in favour, none against and 3 abstentions, the Council reaffirms the importance of a holistic, inclusive and comprehensive approach and the need for all stakeholders to collaborate in a more concerted way in addressing the possible impacts, opportunities and challenges of new and emerging digital technologies with regard to the promotion and protection of human rights.  The Council requests the Office of the High Commissioner to convene two expert consultations, to discuss the relationship between human rights and technical standard-setting processes for new and emerging digital technologies and the practical application of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to the activities of technology companies, and to submit a report thereon, reflecting the discussions held in an inclusive and comprehensive manner, to the Human Rights Council at its fiftieth and fifty-third session.  The Council also requests the Office of the High Commissioner, when preparing the above-mentioned expert consultations and reports, to seek input from and to take into account the relevant work already done by stakeholders from diverse geographic regions, including States, international and regional organizations, the Advisory Committee, the special procedures of the Human Rights Council, the treaty bodies, other relevant United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, including the International Telecommunication Union, other relevant standard development organizations, and the Office of the Envoy of Secretary-General on Technology, within their respective mandates, national human rights institutions, civil society, the private sector, the technical community and academic institutions.

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (44): Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, France, Gabon, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Libya, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay and Uzbekistan.

Against (0):

Abstentions (3): China, Eritrea and Venezuela.

Link: https://www.ungeneva.org/en/news-media/meeting-summary/2021/07/afternoon-rights-council-adopts-nine-texts-establishes-mechanism

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For use of the information media; not an official record