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Human Rights Council adopts 12 resolutions

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21 Март 2019

AFTERNOON

Extends mandates of the Special Rapporteurs on the right to food and on freedom of religion or belief

GENEVA (21 March 2019) - The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted 12 resolutions in which it, among other actions, decided to extend the mandates of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food and of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief for a period of three years respectively.  

Other adopted texts concerned the implementation of its recommendations relating to reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka; the situation of human rights situation in Nicaragua; the impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of all human rights; non-repatriated illicit funds; elimination of discrimination against women and girls in sport; promotion of the enjoyment of the cultural rights of everyone; the right to food; the effects of foreign debt on human rights; human rights, democracy and the rule of law; the contribution of environmental human rights defenders to the enjoyment of human rights; and the realization of economic, social and cultural rights in all countries.

In a resolution adopted without a vote, the Council decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food for a period of three years, and requested the Special Rapporteur to report annually on the implementation of the mandate to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.

In another resolution adopted without a vote, the Council decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief for a further period of three years, and it requested the Special Rapporteur to report annually to the Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly.

The Council requested the Government of Sri Lanka to implement fully the measures identified by the Council’s resolution 30/1, and requested the High Commissioner to present a written update to the Council at its forty-third session, as well as a comprehensive report, to be followed by a discussion on the implementation of Council resolution 30/1, at its forty-sixth session.

By a vote of 23 in favour, three against and 21 abstentions, the Council requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a comprehensive written report on the human rights situation in Nicaragua and to present it at the forty-second session of the Human Rights Council, to be followed by an enhanced interactive dialogue, and to present an oral update on the human rights situation to the Council at its forty-first and forty-third sessions.

The Council requested the Office of the High Commissioner to organize a biennial panel discussion entitled “The way forward to a United Nations declaration on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of all human rights, including the right to development”, for the forty-second session, and requested the Special Rapporteur to act as rapporteur for the panel discussion and to prepare a report thereon, and to submit and present the report to the Council at its forty-third session.

By a vote of 31 in favour, two against and 14 abstentions, the Council requested the Advisory Committee, in preparation of the study requested by the Council in its resolution 34/11 on the possibility of utilizing non-repatriated illicit funds, to seek the views of regional and international experts and organizations, as well as United Nations bodies and non-governmental organizations, including by holding a one-day meeting in Geneva in April or May 2019. 

In a resolution adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council requested the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report on the intersection of race and gender discrimination in sports, including in policies, regulations and practices of sporting bodies, and elaborating on relevant international human rights norms and standards, and to present the report to the Human Rights Council at its forty-fourth session.

In another resolution adopted without a vote, the Council requested the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights to pay due attention to the enjoyment of cultural rights by persons with disabilities, and it further requested the Special Rapporteur to participate in relevant international forums related to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and to contribute to its implementation.

By a vote of 27 in favour, 14 against and six abstentions, the Council requested the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to disseminate the guiding principles on human rights impact assessments of economic reforms, and requested the Independent Expert on foreign debt to submit a report on the implementation of the present resolution to the Human Rights Council at its forty-third session.

The Council decided that the theme of the third session of the Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law, to be held in 2020, will be “Equal access to justice for all: a necessary element of democracy, rule of law and human rights protection,” and it requested the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue to provide the Forum, at its third session, with all the necessary services and facilities.

In an orally revised resolution adopted without a vote, the Council expressed grave concern at the situation of environmental human rights defenders around the world, and strongly condemned the killing of and all other human rights violations or abuses against environmental human rights defenders.  It encouragedthe Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders to continue to address the situation of human rights defenders in his work and reporting.

Finally, the Council requested the Secretary-General to continue to prepare and submit to the Human Rights Council an annual report on the question of the realization in all countries of economic, social and cultural rights under agenda item 3, with a special focus on the role of new technologies for the realization of economic, social and cultural rights.

Sri Lanka and Nicaragua spoke as concerned countries.

Speaking in introduction of draft texts were United Kingdom, Argentina, Venezuela on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Angola on behalf of the African Group, South Africa, Cuba, Romania on behalf of the European Union, Norway and Portugal.

Peru, Bulgaria on behalf of the European Union, Iceland, Ukraine, Cuba, Tunisia on behalf of a group of countries, India, Chile, Tunisia, Iraq, Fiji, Uruguay, Australia and Egypt spoke in general comments.

United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Egypt, Uruguay, China, Bulgaria on behalf of the European Union, Brazil, Australia, Japan, Argentina, Bahrain on behalf of a group of countries, Iceland, Pakistan, China, Hungary, and Italy spoke in explanation of the vote before the vote.

The Council will reconvene on Friday, 22 March, at 9 a.m. to continue taking action on resolutions and decisions before closing its fortieth session.

Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item on the Report of the High Commissioner and Reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General

Action on Resolution on Promoting Reconciliation, Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka

In a resolution (A/HRC/40/L.1) on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka, adopted without a vote, the Council requests the Government of Sri Lanka to implement fully the measures identified by the Council in its resolution 30/1 that are outstanding, and requeststhe Office of the High Commissioner to continue to assess progress on the implementation of its recommendations and other relevant processes relating to reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka, and to present a written update to the Human Rights Council at its forty-third session, and a comprehensive report, to be followed by a discussion on the implementation of Council resolution 30/1, at its forty-sixth session.

United Kingdom, introducing resolution L.1 also on behalf of Canada, Germany, Montenegro and North Macedonia, said on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the end of the protracted armed conflict in Sri Lanka, efforts should be stepped up.  In the first five years after the conflict, Sri Lanka chose not to adopt many measures to help advance reconciliation, accountability or human rights.  In 2015, Sri Lanka committed to take steps towards these aims in the interest of every community in the country.  The resolution sought to continue this process and recognized both the achievements over the past two years as well as the challenges.  The countries encouraged Sri Lanka to accelerate its efforts to achieve the full implementation of the 2015 undertakings and to set up a time bound implementation plan to make progress and to strengthen its engagement with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights through annual reports.

Peru, speaking in a general comment, welcomed the resolution and thanked the co-sponsors and the Sri Lankan Government for co-sponsoring it.  This testified to their efforts to promote peace and reconciliation.  Peru bore witness to the importance of transitional justice mechanisms and recommended that Sri Lanka set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Sri Lanka, speaking as the concerned country, considered the resolution as a mark of recognition of Sri Lanka’s commitment and progressive steps already taken by the Government since 2015.  Sri Lanka had facilitated eight visits by Special Procedure mandate holders.  Sri Lanka was committed to finding innovative and pragmatic solutions to protect the country’s national interests.  Co-sponsorship of this year’s resolution assured all the victims that they would continue to move forward to ensure eventual closure of events.  The Office of the High Commissioner was called on to engage with national institutions and independent bodies, including the national human rights commission, to verify the facts on the ground. 

Draft resolution L.1 was then adopted without a vote.

Action on Resolution on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in Nicaragua

In a resolution (A/HRC/40/L.8) on the promotion and protection of human rights in Nicaragua, adopted by a vote of 23 in favour, three against and 21 abstentions, the Council urges the Government of Nicaragua to respect the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, of association and of expression, and the independence of the media and the judiciary, and calls on the Government to release all those arbitrarily or illegally detained, to guarantee due process rights and to ensure that the conditions of detention are compliant with its human rights obligations and commitments.  The Council calls upon the Government to resume its cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner, the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council and the relevant treaty bodies, as well as the Organization of American States and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; and urges the Government to guarantee a thorough and transparent accountability process with a view to ensuring access to justice and reparation for the victims of human rights violations and abuses.  The Council requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a comprehensive written report on the human rights situation in Nicaragua and to present it at the forty-second session of the Human Rights Council, to be followed by an enhanced interactive dialogue, and to present an oral update on the human rights situation to the Council at its forty-first and forty-third sessions.

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (23): Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Uruguay.

Against (3): Cuba, Egypt and Eritrea.

Abstentions (21): Angola, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Iraq, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Togo and Tunisia.

Argentina, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, introducing draft resolution L.8, said it was the result of the violent oppression of peaceful protests in April 2018 in Nicaragua.  The actions of the Government had caused the death of more than 300 persons.  No human rights mechanism was currently in place for Nicaragua, and the sponsors were concerned about the repression of civil society, and the detention of persons without due process.  Members of the Council needed to ensure that human rights were universal, and therefore the Council must make recommendations in response to the violations of Nicaragua, and not be put off by accusations of the politicization of human rights.  Nicaragua for its part must maintain an inclusive and transparent dialogue during this process, and the Government’s reiterated promise to release all political prisoners must be upheld.  There were 47 co-sponsors for the resolution, reflecting the broad support of the international community.

Bulgaria, in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, said that the crisis in Nicaragua had to be addressed through a transparent dialogue and with the support of the international community.  The European Union condemned the use of paramilitary groups to carry out functions of the police. Opposition supporters who were detained for practising their right to protest had to be released.  Freedom of the media had to be upheld.  International human rights institutions from the United Nations should be allowed back to Nicaragua.  All parties were called upon to bring positions closer to the negotiating table.  The authorities were called on to end the repression of their own people.  All Member States were called on to support L.8.

Iceland, in a general comment, said that the social and political crisis in Nicaragua had left hundreds dead, injured and detained, and that the restriction of civic space and press freedom and criminalization of dissent was concerning.  The Council had a mandate to prevent human rights violations using all the mechanisms at its disposal.  This resolution would contribute to concrete steps taken by Nicaragua to release individuals detained for exercising their fundamental freedoms and to uphold human rights.  Iceland encouraged Nicaragua to cooperate with international mechanisms and emphasized the importance of human rights monitoring as currently no international mechanisms were allowed to work within the State.  Upholding the rule of law made countries less vulnerable to conflict.

Ukraine, in a general comment, said it was following closely the crisis and was concerned about reports pointing to grave violations of human rights, loss of life, attacks on opposition voices, and arbitrary arrests.  A national dialogue had to be organized after international mechanisms received access to the territory of Nicaragua, including the Organization of American States.  The Council should adopt the resolution, thus contributing to the international response to the crisis in Nicaragua.

Cuba, in a general comment, quoted a philosopher who said that history repeated itself like a tragedy and another time like a comedy.  And this was what the Council was facing.  The submission of L.8 showed that the principles of objectivity and non-interference were being side-lined.  It was another case of obvious manipulation of human rights principles to promote an agenda for regime change, organized by the United States, who found sponsors to submit it.  Cuba condemned the actions of the United States that were designed to destabilize Nicaragua.  This resolution was part of the hostile policy of the United States.  The supposed concern of the United States for the people of Nicaragua was a fallacy.  The Organization of American States was not a credible actor.  On contrary, they were accomplices with fascist dictatorships.  Human rights procedures should refrain from recounting narrative blaming Nicaragua.  Cuba rejected the resolution and asked that it be put to a vote, and said Cuba would vote against it.

Nicaragua, speaking as the concerned country, totally rejected all of the points in the draft resolution.  The Government of Nicaragua had reiterated in writing, with specific evidence, its commitment to peace.  They informed the Council that they had, in the Bureau of National Dialogue, recently agreed on a number of measures, including electoral reforms to hold elections, strengthening the rights of citizens, and release within 90 days of prisoners from the events of 18 April.  An appeal would be made to the international community to suspend the sanctions on Nicaragua.  The resolution contained information based on prejudiced reports, and failed to report the full picture such as the use of weapons and armed attacks against the police.  Nicaragua respected the right to free expression within the boundaries of the law.

United Kingdom, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it would vote in favour of resolution L.8.  It stood in full support with the co-sponsors of the resolution.  Serious concerns had been raised about the human rights situation in Nicaragua and the Council had a duty to respond to these.  The response of the Nicaraguan Government was not credible.  The resolution was both warranted and timely.

Czech Republic, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said a credible and inclusive dialogue should be held between all Nicaraguans.  It supported electoral reforms and this resolution.  The Czech Republic called on all Member States to vote in favour.

Egypt, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reaffirmed its position against resolutions which targeted specific countries of which this was an example. Dialogue and cooperation were preferable to the politicization of human rights.  Egypt called on the High Commissioner to draft a different report, bearing in mind that a study of this kind without the support of the country would have only negative impacts and outcomes.

Uruguay, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, regretted that the Council was discussing this draft resolution.  Uruguay was concerned that the Government had discontinued cooperation with human rights mechanisms and the United Nations.  There was repression occurring in Nicaragua which Uruguay had condemned on several occasions.  Police violence and brutality was unacceptable.  Uruguay was willing to cooperate with all to ensure peace in Nicaragua, and hoped it would be possible to emerge out of the crisis through dialogue.  The resolution was one small building block towards the cessation of violence.

China, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it always called for constructive dialogue and cooperation as a means to address differences on human rights.  Confrontation would only exacerbate the situation, rather than solve it.  National governments had the primary responsibility to promote and protect human rights within their national borders, and the international community should act in accordance with the wishes and needs of the government and people concerned.  Interfering in the internal affairs of other States was rejected.  China would abstain from the vote.

The Council then adopted resolution L.8 by a vote of 23 in favour, three against, and 21 abstentions.

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 Negative Impact of Unilateral Coercive Measures on the Enjoyment of Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/40/L.5) on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, adopted by a vote of 27 in favour, 15 against and five abstentions, the Council requests the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights to… focus on the resources and compensation necessary to promote accountability and reparations for victims in his next reports to the Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly, and to… continue his work on identifying a set of elements to be considered, as appropriate, in the preparation of a draft United Nations declaration on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, and to submit those elements to the Human Rights Council in his next report.  The Council requests the Office of the High Commissioner to organize a biennial panel discussion, in accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 27/21 of 26 September 2014, entitled “The way forward to a United Nations declaration on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of all human rights, including the right to development”, for the forty-second session with the participation of Member States, relevant United Nations bodies, agencies and other relevant stakeholders, and requests the Special Rapporteur to act as rapporteur for the panel discussion and to prepare a report thereon, and to submit and present the report to the Council at its forty-third session.

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (27): Angola, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, China, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Fiji, India, Iraq, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Africa, Togo, Tunisia and Uruguay.

Against (15): Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Abstentions (5): Afghanistan, Argentina, Mexico, Peru and Senegal.

Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), introducing draft resolution L.5 on behalf of the non-aligned countries, said that at the Margarita summit, leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement had condemned the practices and application of coercive measures against countries in the Movement, which impinged the sovereignty of those countries.  Such coercive measures affected human rights and the enjoyment of economic and social rights.  Referring to the Political Declaration of New York adopted 20 September 2017, they reaffirmed their opposition to coercive and unilateral measures adopted by certain Member States.  Resolution L.5 addressed these measures, and reiterated the importance of promoting multilateralism to combat unilateral measures.  They requested the Office of the High Commissioner, based on its mandate for the protection of human rights, to give priority in its annual report to combatting the negative effects of unilateral coercive measures on human rights, trade, and international relations, which particularly affected the poorest and most vulnerable developing countries. 
                         
Cuba, in a general comment, emphasized the importance of this resolution for countries such as Cuba, that had been the subject of unilateral measures by the United States for 60 years.  The harm done by these measures on the Cuban people had been considerable and had been detailed in annual reports submitted to the Council.  This resolution was a form of support to countries such as Cuba.  Regrettably, there had been a proliferation of these measures and economic sanctions recently.  If the resolution was put to a vote, Cuba would vote in favour.

Bulgaria, in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the European Union, said that Venezuela was to be thanked for holding two rounds of consultations on the resolution on human rights and universal coercive measures.  The introduction of restrictive measures must always be undertaken in accordance with international law.  The measures had to be proportionate to their objectives.  Sanctions were one of the European Union’s tools to promote the objectives of its foreign and security policy.  They were always part of a comprehensive approach, not punitive in nature but aimed to target those who inflicted human rights violations.  Everything was done to minimize adverse factors.  Nonetheless, the Council was not the appropriate forum to address this issue.  There was no reason to hold another panel discussion.  The Council’s time could be put to better issues.  For those reasons, L.5 could not be supported and the European Union called for a vote.

Brazil, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, believed that sanctions had to be in line with international law.  Brazilian legislation did not allow for unilateral coercive measures.  Brazil did not favour the negotiation of a draft United Nations declaration on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on human rights, and further discussion on this would be counterproductive.  Many countries under coercive measures used the sanctions as a pretext to violate the human rights of their citizens.  This was the case of Venezuela.  Brazil would vote against and urged everyone else to do the same.

Australia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, did not agree with resolution L.5 and the inference within it that targeted sanctions were contrary to international law.  Resolution L.5 mischaracterized international law.  Australia believed such sanctions could be in line with international law, and did not believe the Human Rights Council was the right forum for addressing the issues raised in this resolution.  It believed these were political in nature, and it would vote against the draft resolution.

The Council then adopted resolution L.5 by a vote of 27 in favour, 15 against, and five abstentions.

Action on Resolution on the Negative Impact of the Non-Repatriation of Funds of Illicit Origin to the Countries of Origin on the Enjoyment of Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/40/L.9) on the negative impact of the non-repatriation of funds of illicit origin to the countries of origin on the enjoyment of human rights, and the importance of improving international cooperation, adopted by a vote of 31 in favour, two against and 14 abstentions, the Council requests the Advisory Committee, in preparation of the study requested by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 34/11 on the possibility of utilizing non-repatriated illicit funds, including through monetization and/or the establishment of investment funds, to seek the views of regional and international experts and organizations, as well as United Nations bodies and non-governmental organizations, including by holding a one-day meeting in Geneva in April or May 2019.  The Council requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide all assistance and financial resources necessary to allow the Advisory Committee to carry out the mandate set out in the present resolution, and calls upon all relevant stakeholders … to cooperate fully with the Advisory Committee in this regard.  The Council also requests the Secretary-General to bring the present resolution to the attention of all Member States and the forums dealing with the issue of the repatriation of funds of illicit origin within the United Nations system …, particularly within the context of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the United Nations Conference on trade and development.

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (31): Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, China, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Fiji, India, Iraq, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Togo, Tunisia and Uruguay.

Against (2): Japan and Ukraine.

Abstentions (14): Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Mexico, Slovakia, Spain and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Angola, introducing resolution L.9 on behalf the African Group, said the economic principles of self-determination meant that all peoples had the right to use and benefit for from their natural resources.  Yet there was an estimated $ 50 to 60 billion worth going to developed countries, particularly through illicit financial flows and fraud.  This resolution stressed the commitment of States parties against corruption and the restitution of funds was a main objective of the resolution.  The repatriation of funds to their State of origin was paramount to combat and confront corruption.  The resolution had little budgetary impact on the Council and there had been two sessions of informal consultations.  The negative impact of the non-repatriation of illicit funds deserved the full consideration of the Council in order to increase the resilience of societies to achieve their human rights objectives.

Tunisia, in a general comment on behalf of a group of countries, said human rights were indivisible.  The right of peoples to enjoy their wealth and resources was underscored and it was part of the mandate of the Council.  The United Nations Convention on Combatting Corruption and the 2030 Agenda underlined this as well.  The Council was called upon to adopt the draft resolution.

Japan, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said Japan understood the importance of the issue of asset recovery, however, this was not a matter for the Human Rights Council.  Resolution L.9 was not compatible with the United Nations Convention against Corruption.  As a State party to the Convention, Japan was committed to the optimal use of this framework.  In order to address all concerns on draft resolution L.9, Japan had contributed to the consultations, but regretted their suggestions had not been taken into account.  For this reason, Japan called for a vote, and would vote against the draft resolution.

Bulgaria, speaking on behalf of the European Union in an explanation of the vote before the vote, thanked the African Group for their work on draft resolution L.9.  However, the current draft addressed the matter in a way that was at odds with the mandate of the Human Rights Council.  The European Union supported the Convention against Corruption.  Work on this issue of repatriation of assets should be carried out by the Intergovernmental Working Group on Asset Recovery in Vienna.  Draft resolution L.9 as presented today ran counter to the United Nations Convention against Corruption.  Therefore, the European Union could not support it.  The Council should focus on the human rights aspects.  The European Union would abstain from the vote. 

Australia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said they were broadly supportive of the resolution but thought that it did not contain enough regulation as repatriation on a case by case basis without broad conditions lacked a framework.  The right to development had not been defined in any legally binding document.

Argentina, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, attached great importance to the negative effects of the non-repatriation of illicit funds.  However, there was insufficient explanation between the causal relations between illicit fund repatriation and development.  Lack of policies to regulate repatriation meant that benefits could end up in the financial markets but not in the hands of States.

The Council then adopted resolution L.9 by a vote of 31 in favour, two against, and 14 abstentions. 

Action on the Resolution on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and Girls in Sport

In a resolution (A/HRC/40/L.10/Rev.1) on the elimination of discrimination against women and girls in sport, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council calls upon States to ensure that sporting associations and bodies… refrain from developing and enforcing policies and practices that force, coerce or otherwise pressure women and girl athletes into undergoing unnecessary, humiliating and harmful medical procedures in order to participate in women’s events in competitive sports; and requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report on the intersection of race and gender discrimination in sports, including in policies, regulations and practices of sporting bodies, and elaborating on relevant international human rights norms and standards, and to present the report to the Human Rights Council at its forty-fourth session.

South Africa, introducing draft resolution L.10, expressed condolences to the people of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi for the terrible loss caused by tropical cyclone Idai.  Today, South Africa marked its Human Rights Day in remembrance of the Sharpeville massacre which took place in 1960 and inspired the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.  The draft resolution explicitly recognized a particular form of discrimination in sport.  Black women and girl athletes from the Global South were subjected to humiliating and harmful medical procedures in order to compete in sport.  No women should have to face this choice because she enjoyed a natural advantage.  There had been many challenging discussions with partners on the resolution.  Late tabling caused many challenges for delegations.  Criticism was accepted on linkages between this and other resolutions.  Black women and girls could not wait for others to permit them to enjoy their human rights.  The delegation respectfully requested the Council to dislodge racism against African women and girl athletes and women athletes in all developing countries, by adopting this resolution by consensus.

India, in a general comment, said the resolution was important as it focused on the human rights of women and girls, and sent a strong signal that violations against them should end.  It required a report on what discrimination was occurring and what could be done about it.  India strongly supported this resolution.

Bulgaria, in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, said the European Union was committed to combatting discrimination in sport in all its guises.  The resolution dealt with a greatly complex issue, and this should have been better reflected in the text.  It was unfortunate that the resolution was presented to the Council only three days before an important court case, the timing could be considered as interference.  Governments should not be given a greater role in sports associations, as they should be able to establish fair sporting conditions and honour human rights.  The European Union would join the consensus on this issue.
Bahrain, speaking on behalf of a group of 15 countries in an explanation of the vote before the vote, stated at the outset that they wanted to stress their unwavering commitment to women’s human rights in all areas of life, including in sport.  They regretted that the text was circulated only three days prior to the deadline, and only benefitted from one round of consultations.  The complex nature of discrimination against women in sport needed more time than this, as well as the adequate input of relevant stakeholders.  Most importantly, they wished to underline that the adoption of the resolution could influence legal action currently pending before an independent arbitral institution.  The countries could not afford to participate in the action on draft resolution, and thereby disassociated themselves from the text as a whole. 

The Council then adopted resolution L.10 Rev.1 without a vote.

Action on Resolution on the Promotion of the Enjoyment of the Cultural Rights of Everyone and Respect for Cultural Diversity
In a resolution (A/HRC/40/L.11) on the promotion of the enjoyment of the cultural rights of everyone and respect for cultural diversity, adopted without a vote, the Council welcomes the work and contributions of the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, and requests the Special Rapporteur to pay due attention to the enjoyment of cultural rights by persons with disabilities: to continue working, within her mandate, with relevant stakeholders towards a comprehensive promotion and protection of cultural rights, and to report regularly to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.  The Council further requests the Special Rapporteur… to participate in relevant international forums related to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and to contribute to its implementation, including by providing advice to States, international organizations, civil society and other stakeholders on the effective respect, protection and fulfilment of cultural rights in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Cuba, introducing draft resolution L.11 on behalf of co-sponsors, said the draft resolution on the promotion of cultural rights for everyone and respect of cultural diversity demonstrated their commitment to this important topic.  For the co-sponsors, respect for cultural diversity was crucial for the promotion and protection of human rights and there was a need to dedicate resources for the functions of the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights.  They hoped that the draft would be adopted by consensus.

The draft resolution L.11 was adopted without a vote.

Action on Resolution on the Right to Food

In a resolution (A/HRC/40/L.12) on the right to food, adopted without a vote, the Council expresses its deep concern that, according to the publication entitled The State of Food Insecurity and Nutrition in the World 2018: Building Climate Resilience for Food Security and Nutrition, the number of hungry people in the world is unacceptably on the rise and the vast majority of hungry people live in developing countries, and that without increased efforts there is a risk of falling far short of achieving the target of the Sustainable Development Goals on ending hunger by 2030.  The Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur [on the right to food]for a period of three years; requests the Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue to provide all the human and financial resources necessary for the continuation of the effective fulfilment of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur; and also requests the Special Rapporteur to report annually on the implementation of the mandate to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly in accordance with their respective programmes of work.

Cuba, introducing draft resolution L.12, on behalf of the co-sponsors, said it had as one of its objective the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food.  Human and financial resources should be provided to ensure the successful fulfilment of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur.

United Kingdom, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the United Kingdom had been giving effect to the relevant Covenant via legislation, however it was not incorporated into domestic law.  Indeed, this was not required by the Covenant itself.  Notwithstanding this, the United Kingdom supported the resolution and would join the consensus.

Resolution L.12 was then adopted without a vote.

Action on Resolution on the Effects of Foreign Debt on the Full Enjoyment of All Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/40/L.13) on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights, adopted by a vote of 27 in favour, 14 against and six abstentions, the Council requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to disseminate the guiding principles on human rights impact assessments of economic reforms; and reiterates the call on industrialized countries to implement the enhanced programme of debt relief without further delay and to agree to cancel all the official bilateral debt of those countries covered by the programme in return for their making demonstrable commitments to poverty reduction.  The Council encourages the Independent Expert to continue to cooperate … with the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, special rapporteurs, independent experts and members of the expert working groups of the Human Rights Council and its Advisory Committee on issues relating to economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development in his work; and requests the Secretary-General to provide the Independent Expert with all necessary assistance, in particular all the staff and resources required to carry out his functions.  The Council urges Governments, international organizations, international financial institutions, non-governmental organizations and the private sector to cooperate fully with the Independent Expert in the discharge of the mandate; and requests the Independent Expert to submit a report on the implementation of the present resolution to the Human Rights Council at its forty-third session.

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (27): Angola, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, China, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Fiji, India, Iraq, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Togo, Tunisia and Uruguay.

Against (14): Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine and United Kingdom.

Abstentions (6): Afghanistan, Argentina, Bahamas, Iceland, Mexico and Peru.

Cuba, introducing draft resolution L.13, said it was an honour on behalf of the co-sponsors to submit the draft resolution entitled the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights.  The work of the Independent Expert in drafting the Guiding Principles was noted, and Cuba hoped that they would be used by financial institutions.  It was unclear how some were still some doubting the link between external debt and the enjoyment of human rights.  Why not ask people in those countries who could not enjoy their rights because of austerity policies caused by a big foreign debt?  Cuba had held informal consultations and bilateral meetings and hoped that the draft resolution would be adopted with the support of a broad majority of States.  If a country proposed a vote, Cuba asked States to vote for the draft resolution.

United Kingdom, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it was important for the Council to maintain a focus on human rights and that this was not the forum to discuss foreign debt.  It called for a vote on the draft resolution and would vote against it.

Brazil, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it remained concerned about a number of provisions in the resolution and could not support it.  Brazil did not concur with the underlying precept that economic reform was detrimental to the realization of human rights obligations.  Compromise was often necessary to ensure the long-term wellbeing of the economy.  Brazil reiterated its commitment to all economic, social and cultural rights.

Iceland, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it supported efforts in other forums on foreign debt, including the basic principles for sovereign debt restructuring.  Such efforts should be sustainable from a macro-economic perspective but also promote sustainable development and human rights.  During the financial crisis in Iceland, the authorities had endeavoured to establish accountability.  The Independent Expert in 2015 was received to discuss their progress.  The focus of the resolution did not reflect the different experiences of States, which were dealing with foreign debt.  Iceland would abstain from voting, in order to register its reservations to the draft, but it reiterated its support to discussions on the impact of foreign debt on enjoyment of human rights.

Australia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, did not believe that the Human Rights Council was the right forum for discussing sovereign debt, as it fell outside its mandate.  This would duplicate the work of other bodies on the United Nations.  For this reason, Australia would vote against the draft resolution.

The Council then adopted resolution L.13 by a vote of 27 in favour, 14 against, and six abstentions.

Action on Resolution on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law

In a resolution (A/HRC/40/L.14) on human rights, democracy and the rule of law, adopted without a vote, the Council takes note of the report of the Chairperson on the work of the second session of the Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law, and invites States and other stakeholders to consider and implement the relevant recommendations contained therein; decides that the theme of the third session of the Forum, to be held in 2020, will be “Equal access to justice for all: a necessary element of democracy, rule of law and human rights protection”; also decides that participation in the third session of the Forum will be in accordance with the modalities set out by the Human Rights Council in its resolutions 28/14 and 34/41; and requests the Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue to provide the Forum, at its third session, with all the necessary services and facilities, including interpretation in all official languages of the United Nations.

Romania, introducing resolution L.14 on behalf of the core group of countries Morocco, Norway, Peru, Republic of Korea, Romania and Tunisia, said the main focus of the resolution was the third session of the forum and proposed as its theme “Equal access to justice for all: a necessary element of democracy, rule of law and human rights protection”.  Equal access to justice for all was an essential guarantee for the promotion and protection of human rights and its importance was acknowledged by the United Nations membership through the adoption of the 2030 agenda, especially Sustainable Development Goal 16 that pledged to leave no one behind.

Chile, in a general comment, thanked the main co-sponsors for submitting this initiative once more.  Building democratic societies was at the centre of the United Nations work.  Chile was convinced that respect for human rights and the principle of elections were central elements of democracy.  The Council recognized the link between democracy and human rights and in 2015 had established the Forum on Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law where good practices were shared.  Access to justice was essential for human rights protection.  The decision to focus the next Forum on access to justice was welcomed and Chile supported this draft resolution and States were urged to adopt the resolution by consensus.

Bulgaria, speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, noted that the draft resolution proposed equal access to justice for all, which they considered a necessary element of human rights protection.  The European Union supported the theme of the forum underpinning these proposals.  They represented an essential element of the 2030 Agenda.  For these reasons, the European Union supported the adoption of the agenda and supported the consensus.

Tunisia, in a general comment, said the link between democracy and the rule of law was indivisible, and human rights were the main guarantor of freedoms.  Ensuring access to justice for all was an additional element in ensuring the rule of law.  This right was a cornerstone of the primacy of law.  It was essential to ensure the elimination of obstacles which made it impossible to enjoy human rights, and facilitate access to justice without discrimination.  Tunisia called on all members of the Council to adopt the resolution by consensus.

Iceland, in a general comment, said access to justice was a basic principle for the rule of law and was a guarantee for the promotion and protection of human rights.  It welcomed the theme proposed for the third session and believed it would assist States in leaving no one behind.

The Council then adopted resolution L.14 by consensus.

Action on Resolution on Freedom of Religion or Belief

In a resolution (A/HRC/40/L.17) on the freedom of religion or belief, adopted without a vote, the Council condemns all forms of violence, intolerance and discrimination based on or in the name of religion or belief, and violations of the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief, and any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, whether it involves the use of print, audiovisual or electronic media or any other means; and urges States to step up their efforts to promote and protect freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief, including to take all necessary and appropriate action, in conformity with international human rights obligations, to combat hatred, discrimination, intolerance and acts of violence, intimidation and coercion motivated by intolerance based on religion or belief.  The Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur [on freedom of religion or belief] for a further period of three years; requests the Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide the Special Rapporteur with all the human, technical and financial assistance necessary for the effective fulfilment of the mandate; and requests the Special Rapporteur to report annually to the Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly in accordance with their respective programmes of work.

Romania, introducing draft resolution L.17 on behalf of the European Union, said that freedom of religion or belief was a core value in the European Union.  Incidents committed in the name of religion were deplored.  The international community had to promote freedom of thought and religion everywhere.  The draft resolution urged States to step up their efforts.  All States were called on to support the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief and the resolution would extend his mandate for another three years.  His role was important for promoting measures at national, regional and global levels.  All permanent missions and civil society were thanked for their cooperation, particularly the Organization for Islamic Cooperation.  The European Union was hopeful that both this resolution and the resolution on combatting intolerance would be adopted by consensus, reflecting their importance.

Action on Resolution on Environmental Human Rights Defenders

In a resolution (A/HRC/40/L.22/Rev.1) on recognizing the contribution of environmental human rights defenders to the enjoyment of human rights, environmental protection and sustainable development, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council expresses grave concern at the situation of environmental human rights defenders around the world, and strongly condemns the killing of and all other human rights violations or abuses against environmental human rights defenders, including women and indigenous human rights defenders, by State and non-State actors; and calls upon States to take appropriate, robust and practical steps to protect women human rights defenders and to integrate a gender perspective into their efforts to investigate threats and attacks against human rights defenders.  The Council also calls upon States to implement the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, including to develop a national action plan or other such framework, and to encourage, and where appropriate require, all business enterprises to carry out human rights due diligence, including with regard to human rights relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment; and encouragesthe Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders to continue to address the situation of human rights defenders, including good practices and challenges, in his work and reporting, including through collaboration and coordination with relevant United Nations agencies, organizations and mechanisms, the treaty bodies and other relevant special procedures, in accordance with the mandate.

Norway, introducing draft resolution L.22/Rev.1, said that in the 20 years since the unanimous adoption of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the international community had adopted several comprehensive and firm resolutions in their support.  Environmental human rights defenders contributed to making societies better, and should be seen as an asset, not a threat.  Their aim was to recognize the important role played by environmental human rights defenders in society.  The resolution was a comprehensive text reached via comprehensive and rich discussions with States and representatives from civil society.  Broad support across regions would play an important role in implementing the resolution.  As such, they had held five informal consultations, as well as numerous discussions of views.  The main elements of the resolution continued to confirm the importance of action to implement the 1998 Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.  It also called on States to refrain from actions that hindered their work, including reprisals or violence.

To empower environmental human rights defenders, actions were needed in a number of areas, including developing effective development mechanisms.  Indigenous peoples, those living in rural areas, marginalized communities, as well as women human rights defenders faced particular challenges that needed consideration.  The resolution also recognized the responsibility of business enterprises in respecting such human rights.  The text had 50 original and 8 additional co-sponsors, representing all regions.

Tunisia, in a general comment, said that the resolution was timely in underscoring the Council’s commitment to the promotion of rights of human rights defenders, allowing them to conduct their activities without obstacles and without being subjected to reprisals.  Tunisia called on the Council to adopt the resolution by consensus.

Iceland, in a general comment, said that environmental human rights defenders strove for the enjoyment of a safe and healthy environment.  They faced great challenges and were subjected to intimidation, stigma and killings by State and non-State actors.  As stated by the Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, unless the international community strengthened the protection of environmental human rights defenders, the full enjoyment of the 2030 Agenda would be impossible.  Iceland strongly supported this resolution and would vote in favour.

Iraq, in a general comment, said it had participated in all informal consultations on this resolution and made its comments and recommendations to make the draft better balanced and to focus on defending the rights of environmental human rights defenders.  Iraq was not always able to find an attentive audience for its recommendations.  Iraq did support the rights of environmental human rights defenders, but it considered that these rights required obligations to provide a framework for activities.  Otherwise, rights were given without prescribing duties.

Bulgaria, in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, said the European Union remained a staunch and unequivocal supporter of civil society and human rights defenders as they played an important role in the promotion and protection of human rights for everyone.  As the situation for human rights defenders was becoming more challenging, it was timely for the Council to take action on this resolution.  It sent a message in support of the positive contribution that environmental human rights defenders made to society.  The European Union believed that environmental damage could have a negative impact on human rights.  The resolution was a well-balanced text that had benefited from extensive negotiations and revisions.  The European Union called on the Council to adopt the resolution by consensus.

Fiji, in a general comment, said that as a small island nation, environmental issues were important for it.  Therefore, the defence of environmental human rights defenders was especially important.  This resolution was not about taking away the power of States to make or implement environmental policy.  It was about respecting the right of each and every person to take part in the debate.  States and civil society could work together to find solutions to problems that affected all.  The resolution provided a strong link between human rights, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the climate agenda.

Uruguay, in a general comment, applauded the introduction of the resolution, to which they were traditional co-sponsors.  Human right defenders should continue to be protected, and this required a judicial framework in line with judicial standards that protected their rights.  Uruguay was concerned by the many attacks on human rights defenders, and the implementation of standards that unduly limited their work.  It was essential that measures were taken to ensure that acts perpetrated against human rights defenders did not go unpunished.  Uruguay was proud to have signed a regional agreement concerning access to information and access to justice throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.  Through this they guaranteed that States should provide information to their citizens, and to give protection to environmental human rights defenders.  They hoped there could be consensus on this resolution, thereby reaffirming the importance placed by the international community on this matter.

Australia, in a general comment, said that human rights defenders made a vital contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights and to peace, security and sustainable development.  It noted the intersectional challenges faced by minority human rights defenders including women, environmental defenders, indigenous people or religious or ethnic minorities.  Australia encouraged the Council to adopt the resolution to combat reprisals against human rights defenders.

Egypt, in a general comment, said the promotion of the rights of human rights defenders had to be in line with national legal frameworks.  States had a duty to guarantee to individuals, groups and societies a space to carry out their human rights activities.  Egypt commended the latest amendments to the resolution, and assured the Council of it cooperation for future iterations of the text which would surely take into consideration the consultative nature and the multiplicity of opinions expressed.

Pakistan, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, appreciated Norway for working on this matter in an inclusive manner.  Pakistan’s civil society, especially human rights defenders, had made important contributions globally.  Pakistan supported efforts to combat climate change and they were implementing a Green vision within which they had planted a billion trees.  Pakistan had participated in consultations on the draft resolution.  Rights and responsibilities were interlinked and this was how human rights defenders could optimize their role.  Adding those elements in future would improve the text.  Pakistan would join consensus on this draft. 

China, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it paid close attention to the protection of the environment.  The term human rights defender did not have a universally recognized definition.  As there was no clear term, it could not be ensured that the term would not be misused.  The draft one-sidedly emphasized the rights of defenders but did not talk about responsibilities, so it was unbalanced. Sponsors were congratulated for their inclusive spirit.  The draft was lacking balance, but to promote cooperation, China would join consensus.

The draft resolution L.22/Rev.1 was adopted without a vote.

Action on Resolution on the Realization in All Countries of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/40/L.23) on the question of the realization in all countries of economic, social and cultural rights, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon States to promote the use of human rights indicators to measure progress in the implementation of laws, policies and actions to address discrimination and inequalities; to identify patterns of discrimination in law, policies and practices, and address entrenched structural barriers and unequal power relations that generate and perpetuate inequality over generations; and to strengthen the role and capacity of national human rights institutions … and equality bodies to protect civic space and to contribute to providing support for stakeholders in the identification of appropriate solutions for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals at the national and local levels. The Council encourages enhanced cooperation and increased coordination between the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other human rights treaty bodies, United Nations bodies, specialized agencies and programmes and mechanisms of the Human Rights Council whose activities have a bearing on economic, social and cultural rights.  The Council requests the Secretary-General to continue to prepare and submit to the Human Rights Council an annual report on the question of the realization in all countries of economic, social and cultural rights under agenda item 3, with a special focus on the role of new technologies in the realization of economic, social and cultural rights.

Portugal, introducing L.23 on behalf of 40 co-sponsors, said it built upon previous omnibus resolutions adopted by the Council on the realization of economic, social and cultural rights, and called for the ratification of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and its Optional Protocol.  The draft resolution also requested that the Secretary-General focus the next annual report on the role of new technologies for the realization of economic, social and cultural rights.  The text had benefited from three rounds of consultations, and Portugal thanked those who had participated.  The text had benefitted from comments from all regions.

United Kingdom, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the Government had been giving effect to the Covenant with the aim of achieving the rights contained in it, but it was not part of state law.  Notwithstanding this reservation, it joined the consensus.

Hungary, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, regretted that despite the objection of many States, the draft resolution still referred to the Global Compact on Refugees and other divisive documents which had not been signed by all members of the Council.  It was unjustified to refer to these documents in a resolution by the Council.  Hungary officially disassociated itself from paragraph 6 but joined the consensus.

Italy, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, was strongly committed to the protection of all human rights.  The promotion of economic, social and cultural rights was essential for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  Portugal was thanked for this important imitative and for consultations.  However, Italy could not accept reference to the Global Compact on Migration as Italy had not voted in favour of it.  Italy thus disassociated itself from the preamble paragraph.

The draft resolution L.23 was adopted without a vote.

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