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Human Rights Council continues general debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights

Human Rights Council

18 September 2015

The Human Rights Council this morning continued its general debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development. 

The general debate started on 17 September and a summary can be read here

During the debate, speakers expressed frustration over continuing divergences relating to the right to development, and demanded that all States make efforts to support the work of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Right to Development towards the adoption of a set of international standards.  Speakers also referred to the importance of adopting an international regulatory framework on the activities of private security and military companies, including redress and remedy for victims, and to the importance of the right to self-determination.  Some speakers expressed concerns over restrictions on freedom of expression, including artistic expression and attacks against human rights defenders and journalists.  Divergent views were expressed regarding the use of the death penalty. 

Speaking were Ireland, Netherland, Cuba, Venezuela, Indonesia, Namibia, India, Russian Federation, Algeria, United States, South Africa, Latvia, Estonia, Montenegro, Pakistan, Latvia on behalf of a group of States, Saudi Arabia, Council of Europe, Egypt, Australia, Greece, Iraq, Belgium, Zimbabwe, Iran, Senegal, Moldova, Bahamas, Myanmar, Sudan, Costa Rica, the Philippines, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Gulf Cooperation Council, Jamaica, Equatorial Guinea, and Spain.

The following national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations also spoke: International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, Canadian Human Rights Commission, Article 19, Reporters Without Borders, Friends World Committee for Consultation (Quakers), International Catholic Child Bureau in a joint statement, International Organization of the Right to Education and Freedom of Education, Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXIII, Canners International Permanent Committee, Union of Arab Jurists in a joint statement, United Schools International, Centre for Environmental and Management Studies, Society for Threatened Peoples, International Association for Democracy in Africa, Pan-African Union for Science and Technology, Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture, Agence pour les Droits de l’Homme, Iranian Elite Research Centre, Liberal International, Prahar, Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, Alsalam Foundation, Iraqi Development Organization, Franciscans International, European Union of Public Relations, Global Network for Rights and Development, Federación de Asociaciones de Defensa y Promocion de los Derechos Humanos, Human Rights Now, World Barua Organization, Pax Romana, United Nations Watch, Indian Law Resource Centre, Arab Commission for Human Rights, International Commission of Jurists, China Society for Human Rights Studies and International Federation for Human Rights Leagues.

The Council will resume its work at 3 p.m. to conclude its general debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development.

General Debate on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, including the Right to Development

Ireland said that the Council should continue to be the forum for discussions on the death penalty in order to promote the international community’s universal abolition of the death penalty.  Ireland welcomed the reaffirmation of the strong international consensus that while States were entitled and obliged to take action to protect their populations against acts of terrorism, they must, when doing so, comply strictly with their human rights obligations.

Netherlands said that human rights defenders and civil society organizations brought human rights and human dignity to the national and international debates on the questions of our time, including violent conflicts, migration, climate change and inequality.  In many counties they did not have the freedom to organize, and this was making the world a less open and a more dangerous place.  The international community must stand united to protect those important voices.

Cuba expressed its support for the elaboration of the international normative framework to regulate private military and security companies.  It was regrettable that some countries attempted to redefine the right to development and Cuba stressed that what was at the heart of the discussion was the operationalization of this right in public policies and in international organizations and institutions.

Venezuela stressed the importance of a stable environment in which the right to development could be enjoyed by all, and underlined the ongoing challenges, including poverty, economic crises created by predatory capitalist systems, lack of technology transfers, and unilateral coercive measures.  Venezuela expressed its regret at the lack of political commitment which obstructed the work of the Working Group on the right to development.

Indonesia reiterated that as a democratic State, it guaranteed freedom of opinion, expression and assembly and said those detained had violated the procedures of convening a public assembly.  With regards to allegations of torture, Indonesia said that any evidence of wrongdoing by law enforcement officials would be independently investigated.

Namibia said that in 10 days and during the United Nations Development Summit in New York, the international community would adopt the future development agenda.  As Governments, they had to create the world they wanted, a world where all human rights were respected and where justice was prevalent: a world where no one was left behind.  Namibia was committed to seeing a united, peaceful and prosperous Africa, and was working towards this goal at the national, regional and international levels.  More needed to be done by the international community to revitalize the global partnership at all levels.

India noted with concern that the report on annual activities in relation to the right to development was becoming yet another annual ritual, without concrete steps taken by the Secretariat for its practical implementation.  The High Commissioner had to allot adequate time and resources to the right to development.  India was seriously concerned regarding the slow progress of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Right to Development and said that it was disappointing to note that some delegations had a regressive approach.  There was a need to reinvigorate the deliberations of the Working Group.  There was a need for a binding document.  A balance was needed on addressing civil and political rights on one hand and economic, social and cultural rights on the other.

Russian Federation said that one of the most serious challenges facing the international community was terrorism and the spread of extremist ideologies.  Interference in internal affairs weakened the fight against terrorism and extremist ideologies.  The statistics of terrorist acts demonstrated that where direct external interference took place, the situation was aggravated.  One example of this was Christians in the Middle East, who were subjected to barbaric treatment.  Rash interference in the internal affairs in the Middle East and North Africa could lead to extreme human and humanitarian rights violations.  The use of force under the pretext of human rights was not acceptable.

Algeria said that activities of private military companies had multiple impacts on human rights and therefore should not escape oversight by the international community, especially criminal prosecution for acts of murder, torture and arbitrary detention.  States where those companies were registered, as well as States which were using their services, must be accountable with regards to measures taken to prevent and sanction such abuses by private military and security companies.

United States said that far too many people across the globe lived under threat because of their religion, including in Iraq, Iran, China and Myanmar, while anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim discourse and violence were on the rise in Western Europe.  The United States expressed concern about restrictions by governments on freedom of religion or belief and said that severe violations and abuses of religious freedoms were, in part, driving many of the violent conflicts the world witnessed today.

South Africa said that only an internationally legally binding instrument would ensure that States applied minimum standards to regulate activities of private military and security companies.  South Africa was concerned about a significant gap in the protection of the global poor and stressed the imperative need for the elaboration of a Convention on the Right to Development, and the integration of the right to development into the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Latvia concurred with the assessment of the High Commissioner that a regular and independent review of existing laws and policies to ensure compliance with international human rights obligations was important, in particular with a view to ensuring effective remedies for human rights violations and providing redress for the victims.  Latvia also shared the opinion of the High Commissioner that the creation of a protective and enabling environment in law and practice for civil society was an important pre-condition in this respect.  Civil society had a vital role to play in the prevention of human rights violations. 

Estonia was concerned regarding the arbitrary detention case of the Estonian police officer Eston Kohver, abducted by the Russian authorities and sentenced to 15 years of prison.  Estonia was not aware of his whereabouts and Estonian authorities had not been allowed to see him.  Estonia welcomed the recent report on arbitrary detention, and agreed that States should protect every person’s right to liberty.  These were principles of utmost importance.  Whereas the violation of the rights of Mr. Kohver had been discussed in various venues, these had been ignored by the Russian Federation.  Estonia requested Russia once again to free Mr. Kohver. 

Montenegro remained fully committed to the abolition of the death penalty and welcomed the recommendations in this respect.  Montenegro very much appreciated the progress of a number of countries on the abolition of the death penalty and would continue to raise this issue within the United Nations.  Montenegro was fully committed to promoting the right to education of every girl, with a particular focus on vulnerable groups such as Roma children and children with disabilities.  All countries needed to put additional efforts to improve the rights of the child.  Montenegro would continue to improve in this area, particularly in early childhood development. 

Pakistan reiterated the importance of equal rights and self-determination of people, by which people freely choose their political and economic systems.  Unfortunately, this right was violated in Jammu and Kashmir, where people had been deprived of their right to self-determination for decades, in violation of international law, including Security Council resolutions, and suffered human rights violations, including enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention and lack of fair trial.  Pakistan’s position in relation to this issue was consistent with international law, and the international community should stand up for Jammu and Kashmir. 

Latvia, speaking on behalf of a group of 53 States, highlighted the importance of freedom of expression, and particularly of free artistic creation, which was critical to the human spirit, the development of vibrant cultures and the functioning of democratic societies.  Artists however faced censorship all over the world, by fear of artistic expressions’ transformative effects, or in order to silence political dissent or different beliefs.  Women and persons belonging to minorities were the most affected.  Artists in many parts of the world faced human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions, attacks on their physical integrity and arbitrary detentions.  

Saudi Arabia refuted accusations by the United States with respect to human rights in Saudi Arabia, and said there was no discrimination against any citizen in Saudi Arabia, contrary to what was happening in the United States.  Saudi Arabia disagreed with the report on the death penalty, and regretted that it did not refer to the opinion of those States that believed in the usefulness of the death penalty.  The death penalty was only used for the most serious crimes, when all other judicial means were exhausted, and in full respect with fair trial standards.  Saudi Arabia was committed to continue its efforts for human rights at the domestic and international levels.   

Council of Europe had issued guidance to its 47 Member States on their obligations in the context of the migrant crisis, and stressed that any person arriving in its Member States was entitled to protection of his or her rights, and this applied even in times of large-scale arrivals.  It was the duty of each Member State to fully comply with the European Convention on Human Rights concerning the processes of arrival and detention of asylum seekers. 

Egypt deplored the fact that the report on the high-level panel on the impact of terrorism on human rights was made available only today and requested an explanation why this had happened.  It was regrettable that the report on the high-level panel on the question of the death penalty once again ignored the contributions and submissions of retentionist States, thus making it one-sided and unbalanced.   

Australia welcomed the international trend toward the moratorium on the death penalty leading to its universal abolition and stressed that there was no evidence proving the deterrent impact of the death penalty on crime.  Australia urged those States which retained the death penalty to impose it only for the most serious crimes and asked how the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights could best provide technical assistance on alternative criminal justice penalties to States.

Greece reiterated its longstanding view that the focus of the Council on civil and political rights should not overshadow the equal importance of economic, social and cultural rights.  This was even more needed in times of financial crisis where economic and social rights in all societies were seriously challenged and cultural rights were further marginalized.  Greece referred to the rights of vulnerable groups such as children, women, migrants, especially in light of the current migration and refugee crisis, persons with disabilities, and many others who faced serious difficulties in the enjoyment of their human rights, as well as all forms of discrimination on a daily basis in all parts of the world. 

Iraq agreed with the report on the right to development and called on the Working Group to complete its tasks, especially the revision of its standards.  There was no doubt that creating a conducive environment for development was favourable.  There was no model that fit all, and national characteristics had to be taken into account.  In Iraq, the Government worked on fighting marginalization and poverty.  Terrorism represented by ISIS had undermined efforts in Iraq as it controlled large parts of the territory.  Since June 2014, over 3 million people had been displaced.

Belgium stated that the report of the High Commissioner on the death penalty exposed that the imposition and application of the death penalty affected those facing the death penalty as well as other persons.  In this respect, Belgium particularly welcomed the attention paid to the human rights of children of parents sentenced to the death penalty or executed.  Concerning the prohibition of torture, Belgium supported the recommendation of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment for a more comprehensive legal study on the emergence of a customary norm prohibiting the use of the death penalty under all circumstances. 

Zimbabwe said the right to development included the right of all people to the constant improvement of their well-being, and underlined the centrality of this right in the attainment of all other rights.  Zimbabwe was seriously concerned that progress in operationalizing the right to development had been slow, including efforts to adopt a binding international instrument.  Zimbabwe called on all Member States to compromise and constructively contribute towards the speedy completion of the work of the Working Group.

Iran underlined the importance of the right to development and of adopting a legally-binding international instrument on this issue.  Iran referred to the report on unilateral coercive measures, and reiterated its view that such sanctions were contrary to international law and had negative impacts on the full enjoyment of human rights and indiscriminate human cost, particularly for women and minorities.  It called upon the international community to stand against these unlawful practices. 

Senegal called on the international community to further its efforts to reach consensus concerning the right to development, and called for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Agenda.  The international community should accelerate the development of an international framework on private security and military companies to ensure the right to redress and remedy of victims. 

Republic of Moldova said it was a strong supporter of the abolition movement and agreed that the use of the death penalty was incompatible with fundamental tenets of human rights, in particular human dignity, the right to life and the prohibition of torture and other cruel and inhumane treatment.  Transparency of States still using the death penalty was crucial for upholding minimum requirements on fair trial and due process, and ensuring adequate access to information for the family and general public.

Bahamas said that migration was an essential reality as people moved from one country to another in search of economic social advancement and peace and security.  Migration should be safe and orderly and should involve greater dialogue between countries of origin, transit and destination.  The Bahamas continued to make significant advances in critical areas on the Beijing Platform for Action, particularly in the areas of poverty, violence against women, power and decision making.

Myanmar shared the view that human rights education and training played a very important role in promoting and protecting human rights, and said that countries which received human rights education and training must always remain in the driving seat, in all aspects.  They should come first in the decision making.

Sudan said the death penalty was a problematic issue, adding that the United Nations Charter prohibited interference into States’ internal affairs and protected States’ right to decide their own judicial system.  Sudan’s legal system was based on Islamic Sharia, and the imposition of the death penalty in Sudan was subjected to clear limitations and only applied to the most serious crimes. 

Costa Rica underlined the importance of human rights training for law enforcement officials and the military, whose delicate jobs could lead to human rights violations if not exercised with due diligence.  Costa Rica noted with satisfaction that there was a trend towards the abolition of the death penalty, which was a violation of the right to life and which had no proven deterrent effect on crime.  The prohibition of torture and the right to a fair trial must also be ensured.

Philippines agreed that international standards relating to the death penalty should apply to all equally, and stressed the importance of pursuing avenues to encourage States to periodically review their policies on capital punishment, and to at least impose a moratorium on executions with a view towards the abolition of the death penalty.  Philippines shared concerns relating to the continuing deadlock that hindered the work of the Working Group to establish standards for the implementation of the right to development. 

Colombia said it had in place the guidelines for consultation with indigenous people and so far had undertaken 794 prior consolation projects which ensured the participation of ethnic minorities in development.  There was an ethnic component to the health policy, and alternative mechanisms to access to justice had been developed which allowed for pluralism and strengthening of communities, allowing them to emerge from conflict based on principles of indigenous justice.

Sri Lanka said that the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Right to Development should focus on its full mandate as stipulated in the enabling resolution 1998/72 and said that the extension of its meeting time, and the adequate allocation of resources would ensure the visibility of the right to development and would support the successful accomplishment of the mandate by the Working Group on the right to development.

Gulf Cooperation Council confirmed the importance of the Special Procedures system for the promotion and protection of human rights and said that its Code of Conduct aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of this system though professional and ethical conduct.  Mandate holders must abide by this Code and ensure that their recommendations did not go beyond their mandates or the mandates of this Council.

Jamaica said it had a de facto moratorium on the death penalty, however, no decision had been taken to formally abolish this punishment.  Paradoxically, the Secretary-General report suggested that it was only persons facing the death penalty who were deprived of their liberty and separated from their children and loved ones.  If the focus was to be on the impact on families of imprisonment of a family member, then this argument might be better placed in the context of a separate debate on whether States should abandon the system of incarceration altogether.  The fact was that the death penalty was not prohibited under international law, nor customary international law.

Equatorial Guinea said that the protection and promotion of all human rights were the responsibility of all States.  The concept of prevention meant the punishment of any violation and ensuring non-repetition of these violations.  These rights could only be effective if a climate and culture of good cooperation was promoted and these rights were mainstreamed everywhere.  The Government of Equatorial Guinea had established situations to improve the situation.  It believed that human rights education allowed for better participation of all stakeholders in the decision making process.

Spain said that the attacks on the independence of the High Commissioner’s office were sirens of relativism which was a dangerous school of thought fighting against human rights.  On the report of the Secretary-General on  the death penalty, Spain said there were no justifications for the death penalty.  On the report on equal participation and the analysis of barriers that stood in the way of this, Spain said that the case of persons with disabilities and persons from the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and trans-sexual communities merited a deeper analysis within the Human Rights Council.

International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights encouraged States to adopt a comprehensive national framework for the prevention of human rights violations, and encouraged them to ratify international human rights treaties, investigate human rights violations, provide redress to victims, establish independent accountability institutions in compliance with the Paris Principles, and promote human rights education and an enabling environment for civil society. 

Canadian Human Rights Commission said the number of detainees with mental health issues had increased in Canada, adding that it was vital that proper health services were available to protect these persons, which was often not the case.  Of particular concern was the use of solitary confinement for inmates with mental health problems. 

Article 19 - International Centre Against Censorship, said States were failing to prevent and prohibit attacks and arbitrary detention of journalists, and referred to cases in Myanmar, Gambia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Egypt, Brazil, Mexico, Kenya, Indonesia, Russia and Bangladesh.  It regretted that States were failing to ensure independent, speedy and effective investigations and prosecutions, and reiterated the Secretary-General’s concern that surveillance and States’ policies on anonymity and encryption posed increasing security risks to hold those responsible to account. 

Reporters Without Borders International said that news providers everywhere continued to be victims of violence, arbitrary detention, kidnapping and murder.  This year alone had already claimed the lives of 50 journalists and net citizens, and 321 were imprisoned.  Journalists went missing in 10 countries, including in Eritrea, Libya, Iraq, Iran, and others, while in other countries missing journalists became targets when dealing with organized crime, government abuses and corruption, including in Mexico, Colombia, Sri Lanka, and Maldives.

Friends World Committee for Consultation drew attention to reports on cruel and degrading treatment experiences by children of parents sentenced to death or executed.  States should develop ways to minimize the harm suffered by other persons affected by the death penalty, including family members, and to take the best interest of the child into account into prosecutorial and sentencing decisions in all cases including capital cases.

International Catholic Child Bureau, in a joint statement with World Organization Against Torture ; Defence for Children International; and Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, said that in Brazil, the Constitutional amendment 171/1993 adopted twice in July and August 2015 aimed at reducing the age of criminal majority of children from 18 to 16 years, which allowed for the treatment of children under adult regimes, either in court or while in detention.  This ongoing legislative reform was incompatible with the United Nations recommendations to Brazil and a step backwards from Brazil’s national and international commitments.

International Organization for the Right to Education and Freedom of Education, on behalf of severals NGOs1, stressed the important role of national coordination and international cooperation in the implementation of human rights education, whether among governments, with national human rights institutions, or between institutions within each State, academia or NGOs.  Long-lasting progress and quality improvement in human rights education was valued.  Human rights education was key to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Associazione Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII, on behalf of severals NGOs2, said that it was pleased with the Working Group on the Right to Development’s decision to proceed with the second reading of the draft criteria and corresponding operational sub-criteria for the implementation of the right to development.  It regretted the deadlock that characterized the Working Group’s resumed sixteenth session.  After adoption by consensus of conclusions and recommendations, two Member States expressed reservations not recognizing the right to development in its wholeness.  This was a matter of great concern. 

Canners International Permanent Committee  said that the main aim of the United Nations  Declaration on protecting the rights of indigenous people recognized the importance of the cultural diversity and individual and collective human rights of indigenous peoples.  The Hazara in Balochistan were particularly vulnerable to attacks because of their distinctive facial features and Shia religious affiliation.  They had been subject to constant attacks by Sunni extremist militants.  More than 500 Hazaras had been killed in attacks since 2008. 

Union of Arab Jurists, speaking in a joint statement, said that today, hundreds of refugees would arrive at European borders, dead or alive.  The victims of the crisis that Europe faced now were the very same victims of the conflicts and occupations that countries across the Middle East and North Africa had faced for years.  If the world failed to readjust its focus to the grave human rights violations that continued to plague Syria and Iraq, then the human rights abuses which went unacknowledged or unpunished would continue to send boys, girls and families onto the beaches of Europe.

United Schools International said that social marginalization and legal discrimination placed indigenous people at a risk of a wide range of human rights violations.  In Iraq, the targeting and persecution of minorities and indigenous people by ISIS militants had been particularly troubling, with Iraqi Turkmen, Assyrians and Kurds facing massacres, forced conversions and direct attacks on their culture and identities.

Center for Environmental and Management Studies noted the absence of a clear working definition of a mercenary, which created problems in ensuring the compliance of States with international laws relating to the use of mercenaries.  Many States still failed to prohibit their citizens from enlisting in mercenary groups.  The linkages between terrorism and mercenaries could not be ignored.

Society for Threatened Peoples turned the attention of the Council to the worsening situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China and the recent treatment of Uyghur asylum seekers.  It urged all United Nations  Member States to uphold international law with regards to those seeking  respite from seemingly inescapable persecution.  2015 had been an appalling year in relation to the treatment of refugees, particularly those escaping the conflict in the Middle East and parts of Asia along with increasing numbers of Uyghurs. 

International Association for Democracy in Africa said that the United Nations resolution towards the establishment of a democratic and equitable international order recognized that democracy included respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms.  However practices followed by certain countries were posing an imminent threat to the establishment of a democratic and equitable international order.  Some States, through their active support to terrorism, were posing a threat not only to regional security but also to global security.  The elites, especially the army, depended on Islamic terrorism and anti-South Asia activities to keep themselves in power.

Pan-African Union for Science and Technology said that the rights of indigenous peoples had become an important component of international law and policy, as a result of movement driven by indigenous peoples, civil society, international mechanisms and States at the domestic, regional and international levels.  In case of blatant violation of these, the Baloch indigenous tribe in Pakistan was subjected to a barrage of human rights violations by the political regiments.  The legitimate demand of the Balochs for self-determination was ruthlessly suppressed. 

Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture expressed concerns about the repression of peaceful demonstration, including violence, torture and arbitrary detentions in Lebanon.  Human rights violations had become systematic.  Lebanon should end these practices and the Government should be held accountable and protect human rights, and respond to these movements through the adoption of reforms. 

Agence pour les droits de l’homme underlined that the importance of the impartiality and independence of the judiciary was key for the exercise of human rights.  What had been done in Norway was shameful, and official media had created a campaign to distort the image of a human rights organization.  Norway had been playing an inflammatory and racist role to discredit a human rights organization, its fault being that some of its managers were not native Norwegian. 

Iranian Elite Research Center said the Norwegian constitution guaranteed human rights and rule of law principles, however the GNRD non-governmental organization had been tremendously shocked by its incomprehensible and unjustifiable rejection, based on press information and in the absence of a court judgement. 

Liberal International turned the attention of the Council to the ongoing violations of human rights against pro-democracy activists and leaders of opposition movements.  In Malaysia the leader of the opposition had been sentenced to five years of prison allegedly for breaking the sodomy laws.  Liberal International condemned the imprisonment of Mr. Anwar and called on the Malaysian authorities to release him immediately.

Prahar said Assam was the most populous state in north India, it was beautiful with natural resources and its people had been living a simple life.  However, large-scale migration had become the leading cause to social, economic and political instability in Assam.  The people of Assam had given up their sleep to safeguard their own identity and rights.  But the large-scale migration had changed the demographic scene.  The illegal migrants’ problem remained unresolved.

Organization for Defending Victims of Violence said that the number of refugees from conflict had surpassed 59 million, which was the highest since the Second World War.  The International Organization for Migration had announced that the number of Iraqis displaced by the DAESH conflict was 4 million.  Poverty and unemployment, continuation of war with DAESH, and fear of random death by suicide bombings were some of the reasons why Iraqi youth turned to migration. 

Alsalam Foundation expressed concerns over torture in detention facilities in Bahrain, and demanded that the international community gave attention to this issue.  The situation in Bahrain had deteriorated recently, and many had been subjected to torture and humiliation.  The authorities had to investigate these cases.  International monitors had to be sent to these prisons so that these practices ended.  Bahrain also had to release all prisoners of conscience. 

Iraqi Development Organization, in a joint statement, called the Council’s attention to the deterioration of the human rights and economic situation in Yemen due to the actions by Saudi Arabia.  The economic infrastructures in Yemen had been destroyed by the Saudi-led coalition, and access to food, health and other basic services had been hindered.  This war had resulted in obstacles to the return of stability and democracy, and opened the path to terrorism. 

Franciscans International, in a joint statement with, Edmund Rice International, raised concerns about the situation of those seeking asylum in Australia, and the indefinite detention of many in Nauru.  Refugees suffered dire living conditions, and security companies were allowed to use force to deal with any kind of dissent.  The Council should urge Australia to protect the rights of refugees and end abuses against them.

European Union of Public Relations said slavery was absolutely prohibited, however forced labour, trafficking and exploitation continued in many forms, and affected women and children particularly.  Sexual trafficking and child marriage were some example of modern slavery.  Horrifying reports continued to emerge on how ISIL enslaved Yazidi women in Iraq and Syria.  

Global Network for Rights and Development addressed the issue of poverty in the post-2015 development agenda.  Multidimensional factors contributed to a real system of impoverishment.  There was no simple solution.  A strategy was needed that enhanced the empowerment at all levels while fighting against tax evasion, a scourge that drained the country of resources.

Federacion de Asociaciones de Defensa y Promocion de los Derechos Humanos stressed that enforced disappearances constituted a crime against humanity.  It denounced this practice in Western Sahara, considering that the Kingdom of Morocco replied only partially to questions put to it in this regard.  It stressed that two mass graves had been discovered, and that Morocco had undertaken to investigate them. 

Human Rights Now was deeply concerned about the grave human rights violations in the Levant, particularly with regards to sexual violence by ISIL.  Mostly Yezidi women and children remained in captivity.  Ten Yezidi women and girls had escaped and had been interviewed.  They had stated that they had been repeatedly sold and violated by ISIL soldiers; they had been enslaved, raped, tortured, beaten and deprived of food and water. Human Rights Now asked the Human Rights Council to conduct an independent inquiry on the situation of these women.

World Barua Organization declared that 70 million indigenous peoples lived in the north east region of India where they suffered discrimination by the Indian Government.  The development and construction policies of the State had disempowered traditional indigenous structures.  Over 250 dams posed serious threats to the community, and transcended borders into Bangladesh.  Land vital for food production was being devastated.

Pax Romana and the World Evangelical Alliance expressed deep concern about the recent bombings in Nepal.  These bombs had come after the Nepalese Government had decided to become a secular state.  A newly formed fundamentalist group had claimed the blasts.  Pax Romana commended Nepal’s efforts to become a secular country.  This was a major step forward.  However there was concern that the new Constitution did not give people the right to fully exercise religious freedom, and they called upon the Government of Nepal to change that.

United Nations Watch said human rights had to be respected by international civil servants, including by United Nations personnel.  Teachers mandated to spread tolerance by the United Nations were in fact teaching hatred against Jews.  This was done with the support of the United Nations and international donors, and had not been addressed. 

Indian Law Resource Centre questioned the legitimacy of Chile’s control over the Rapa Nui people, including their natural resources, and voiced concerns over human rights violations against Rapa Nui people.  It called on the international community to ensure the Rapa Nuis’ right to self-determination. 

Arab Commission for Human Rights regretted that the United Nations webcast only was available in English, and stressed the importance of multilingualism within the work of the United Nations. 

International Commission of Jurists said the issue of judicial independence linked with non-recurrence had not been given enough scrutiny.  More was needed to identify why violations of economic, social and cultural rights led to more risks of enforced disappearances, and the Commission regretted that such practice may discourage people advocating for economic, social and cultural rights. 

China Society for Human Rights Studies said that it had conducted several studies on the promotion and protection of human rights.  It recommended that the Human Rights Council take a comprehensive review of all United Nations  resolutions and conventions.  It also recommended that a systematic guide be drawn up, as well as the setting up  of a new mechanism on the right to development.   The post 2015 agenda had to focus on equal opportunities for vulnerable groups. 

International Federation for Human Rights Leagues said that four years after the adoption of Human Rights Council resolution 16/18, the international community was at a crossroad.  In the face of rising religious intolerance and human rights violations and abuses committed in the name of religion, full implementation of the resolution’s built-in action plan was urgent.  The Istanbul Process deserved a shift, and there should be a significant focus on the ability and willingness of States to implement core issues highlighted by resolution 16/18 and the Rabat Plan of Action. 


1Joint statement: Make Mothers Matter ; International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination; International Federation of University Women; New Humanity;Teresian Association;        Soroptimist International; International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism ; Planetary Association for Clean Energy; Foundation for GAIA; Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem; Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University; Soka Gakkai International; Servas International; and Institute for Planetary Synthesis.

2Joint statement: International Organization for the Right to Education and Freedom of Education; Arab Commission for Human Rights; American Association of Jurists; Pax Romana ; Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice delle Salesiane di Don Bosco; Dominicans for Justice and Peace - Order of Preachers; International Volunteerism Organization for Women, Education and Development ;Company of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul; Caritas Internationalis (International Confederation of Catholic Charities); and New Humanity.

For use of the information media; not an official record

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