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Human Rights Council concludes thirty-third session after adopting 30 resolutions and one Presidential statement

ROUNDUP
 
Creates Commission of Inquiry on Burundi and Special Rapporteur on the Right to Development, Appoints Five Mandate Holders
 
GENEVA (30 September 2016) - The Human Rights Council concluded its thirty-third regular session this evening after adopting 31 texts on a wide range of issues, as well as its report for the session.  The Council also adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of 14 countries, and appointed five  mandate holders and seven members of the Advisory Committee.
 
In the resolution on the human rights situation in Burundi, the Council created, for a period of one year, a commission of inquiry to conduct a thorough investigation into human rights violations and abuses in Burundi since April 2015, and to identify alleged perpetrators. 
 
The Council also decided to appoint, for a period of three years, a Special Rapporteur on the right to development, whose mandate will, inter alia, include to contribute to the coherent and integrated implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
 
The resolution on the human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic asked that Syria immediately cease the use of chemical weapons, and demanded that all parties take all appropriate steps to protect civilians and allow for the full, immediate and safe access of humanitarian actors to the areas in need.  In a text under technical assistance and capacity building, the Council called upon all parties in Yemen to respect their obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law.  The resolution on technical assistance and capacity building to improve human rights in Sudan extended, by one year, the mandate of the Independent Expert, and called upon the Government to continue its full cooperation with the Expert.  Technical assistance to the Democratic Republic of the Congo was addressed by another text, which also strongly urged the Government to take immediate steps to peacefully resolve the political issues which had led to recent violence.  The mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Central African Republic was renewed, for one year, by a resolution which called for an immediate end to all abuses and violations of human rights by all parties.  The Council also renewed, for a period of one year, the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia.
 
The Human Rights Council decided to amend the mandate of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which would assist Member States upon request to achieve the ends of the Declaration on the Rights Indigenous Peoples.  In another resolution, the Council extended by three years the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.  The Council also adopted a text calling for a panel discussion at its thirty-sixth session to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  
 
In the resolution on the safety of journalists, the Council called upon States to develop and implement strategies for combating impunity for attacks and violence against journalists.  Another resolution requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare guidelines for States on the effective implementation of the right to participate in public affairs.  Arbitrary detention was addressed by the resolution which extended the mandate of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention for three years and requested States concerned to take appropriate steps to remedy the situation of persons arbitrarily deprived of their liberty.  In another text, States were encouraged to establish effective, independent and pluralistic national human rights institutions and to strengthen the existing ones.
 
The Council adopted a resolution on unaccompanied migrant children and adolescents and human rights, which called upon countries of origin, transit and destination to facilitate family reunification, as appropriate.  The Council, in another resolution, decided to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery for a period of three years.   The Council, further, extended, for a period of three years, the mandate of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights.  In the resolution on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, the Council urged States to ensure that measures taken to counter terrorism and violent extremism were not discriminatory, and not to resort to profiling.
 
In the text on preventable maternal mortality and morbidity and human rights, the Council requested States and other relevant actors to give renewed emphasis to maternal mortality and morbidity initiatives in their development partnerships.  Another resolution called upon States to adopt a human rights-based approach to reduce and eliminate mortality and morbidity of children under five years of age.  The Council adopted a resolution on the human rights of older persons, which extended the mandate of the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons for three years.  The Council also extended the mandate, for three years, of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.   The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation was also extended for a period of three years.    
 
The Human Rights Council, in the resolution on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, called upon Member States to fulfil their commitments expressed during the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.  The responsibility of States to promote and protect all human rights, including through prevention of human rights violations, was recognized in another text adopted by the Council.  The Council further adopted a resolution calling upon States, when relevant, to develop comprehensive transitional justice strategies and to establish mechanisms in order to address past atrocities.   The Council also decided to convene a panel discussion on the role of local government in the promotion and protection of human rights.
 
Cultural rights and the protection of cultural heritage were the subject of a resolution that stressed the right of everyone to take part in cultural life, including the ability to access and enjoy cultural heritage.  Another text called upon States and other relevant actors to reflect on the achievement made and obstacles faced in their past efforts pertaining to technical cooperation and capacity building in the field of human rights.
 
A Presidential Statement was adopted on the reports of the Advisory Committee.
 
The Council appointed five individuals to fill vacancies for Special Procedure mandate holders: Cecilia Jimenez-Damary (Philippines) as the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons; Nils Melzer (Switzerland) as the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Asma Jahangir (Pakistan) as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran; Vitit Muntarbhorn (Thailand) as the Independent Expert on the protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; and Elina Steinerte (Latvia) as a member of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention from the group of East European States.  The following seven individuals were appointed to vacant seats in the Advisory Committee: Lazhari Bouzid (Algeria) and Mona Omar (Egypt) for the African States; Xinsheng Liu (China) and Kaoru Obata (Japan) for the Asia-Pacific States; Mikhail Aleksandrovich Lebedev (Russian Federation) for the Eastern European States; Carla Hanania de Varela (El Salvador) for the Latin American and Caribbean States; and Jean Ziegler (Switzerland) for the Western European and Other States.
 
In concluding remarks, Choi Kyong-lim, President of the Human Rights Council, stated that he had received allegations of acts of intimidation and reprisals during the session, and that various representatives of civil society organizations had been banned from traveling from their home countries to Geneva to attend the session.  A human rights defender participating in this session had received intimidating messages over social media.  The participation of civil society in the Human Rights Council was crucial, and any act of intimidation and reprisal against  an individual or group who cooperated with the Council was completely unacceptable, stressed Mr. Choi. 
 
Documentation, statements, resolutions and reports relating to this and all Human Rights Council sessions are available on the Council’s webpage.  Detailed, speaker-by-speaker coverage of every public meeting can be found on the website of United Nations Information Service Geneva.
 
The thirty-third session of the Human Rights Council was held from 13 to 30 September 2016.  The thirty-fourth session of the Council will be held in Room XX of the Palais des Nations from 27 February to 24 March 2017.

Summary of the Programme of Work

The thirty-third session of the Human Rights Council was opened by Ambassador Choi Kyong-lim of the Republic of Korea, President of the Council, on 13 September.  The Council heard an oral update by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, followed by a general debate.  In his address, the High Commissioner expressed concern over the growing refusal of an increasing number of Member States to grant the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, or the human rights mechanisms, access to countries or to specific regions.  The High Commissioner stressed that there was no alternative to working together and committing to collective action in order to solve common problems, in particular terrorism and its main exponent Da’esh, the alienation and frustration of many throughout the world who felt short-changed by poor governance and corruption, and the fact that dangerous xenophobes and bigots were running for office in several well-established democracies.  The Human Rights Council, designed to be more credible, more impartial and more focused on the rights and voices of victims, was growing ever more polarized, with States increasingly attempting to block or evade human rights scrutiny, claiming that human rights were being misused as a pretext for interference in the affairs of sovereign nations.   
 
In the first week of the session, the Council held a clustered interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order and the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights.  The Council also held a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation and with the Working Group on arbitrary detention, as well as an interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons.  A high-level panel discussion on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training took place on 14 September.  The following day, the Council held two clustered interactive dialogues: one with the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances and the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences; and the other one with the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination and with the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes.  On the final day of the first week, the Council held a general debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights, including on the report of the Working Group on the right to development on its seventeenth session and on thematic reports by the High Commissioner, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Secretary-General.  At the end of the day, the Council met in private under its complaint procedure. 

At the beginning of the second week of the session, the Council held an interactive dialogue with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, followed by a general debate on human rights situations that required the Council’s attention.  A half-day panel discussion on violence against indigenous women and girls took place on 20 September, followed by a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and the Expert Mechanism on the rights of indigenous peoples.  The Council further held an interactive dialogue with its Advisory Committee, followed by a general debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms, including on the report of the open-ended intergovernmental working group on the draft United Nations declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas on progress made in drafting the declaration.  In the second half of the week, the Council considered the Universal Periodic Review outcomes of 14 States: Suriname, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Greece, Sudan, Hungary, Papua New Guinea, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Antigua and Barbuda, Swaziland, Trinidad and Tobago, Thailand, and Ireland.  The Council also held a panel discussion on youth and human rights, as well as a general debate on the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, and a general debate on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.

The last week of the thirty-third session commenced with an annual discussion on the integration of a gender perspective, which was followed by a general debate on the follow-up and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.  The Council held an interactive dialogue with the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, followed by a general debate on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, follow-up and implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.  On 27 September, the Council carried out separate interactive dialogues with the High Commissioner on Ukraine, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Libya, followed by an enhanced interactive dialogue on the situation in Burundi.  Further, it held separate interactive dialogues with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia and the Independent Experts on the human rights situation in Sudan, the Central African Republic and Somalia, before starting a general debate on technical assistance and capacity building, including on the reports of the High Commissioner on Yemen and Cambodia.  In the final two days of the thirty-third session, the Council took action on 30 draft resolutions and one Presidential Statement tabled during the session. 

At the end of the session, the Council elected members of the Advisory Committee, while the President of the Council appointed the following new independent expert mandate holders: Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, Special Rapporteur on  torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Independent Expert on the protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and a member of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention from the group of East European States. 
 
Resolutions and Decisions

Action on Texts under Agenda Item 1 on Organizational and Procedural Matters

 
In a Presidential Statement (A/HRC/33/L.1) on the reports of the Advisory Committee, the Council takes note of the reports of the Advisory Committee on its sixteenth and seventeenth sessions, and notes that the Advisory Committee has made certain research proposals.
 
Action on Resolutions under Agenda Item 3 on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, including the Right to Development
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.2) on the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences, adopted without a vote, the Council renews the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for a period of three years; decides that the Special Rapporteur shall continue to examine and report on all contemporary forms of slavery and slavery-like practices, in particular those defined in the Slavery Convention of 1926.
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.3/Rev.1) on preventable maternal mortality and morbidity and human rights, adopted without a vote as orally revised and amended, the Council urges all States to renew their political commitment to eliminate preventable maternal mortality and morbidity, and requests States and other relevant actors to give renewed emphasis to maternal mortality and morbidity initiatives in their development partnerships and cooperation arrangements.
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.6) on the safety of journalists, adopted without a vote, the Council  condemns unequivocally all attacks and violence against journalists and media workers, and calls upon States to create and maintain, in law and in practice, a safe and enabling environment for journalists to perform their work independently and without undue interference.
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.7) on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, adopted by a vote of 30 in favour, 12 against and five abstentions, the Council reaffirms the Universal Declaration of Human Rights shall be the basis of government authority, and requests the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order to submit to the Human Rights Council, at its thirty-sixth session, a report on the implementation of the present resolution.
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.8) on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination, adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, 13 against and two abstentions, the Council requeststhe Working Group to continue to monitor mercenaries and mercenary-related activities in all their forms and manifestations, and renews, for a period of three years, the mandate of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights.
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.9) on the human rights of older persons, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons for a period of three years, and requests the Independent Expert to integrate a gender and disability perspective throughout the work of the mandate, and to address multiple, intersecting and aggravated forms of discrimination faced by older persons.
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.10) on human rights and transitional justice, as orally revised, adopted with a vote of 29 in favour, 1 against and 17 abstentions, the Council reiterates the responsibility of each individual State to protect its population from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity; calls upon States, where relevant, to develop comprehensive transitional justice strategies and to establish judicial and non-judicial mechanisms in order to address past atrocities and the needs of victims.
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.12) on the role of prevention in the promotion and protection of human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council recognizes that States have the primary responsibility for the promotion and protection of all human rights, including the prevention of human rights violations; and invites national human rights institutions to consider addressing the issue of the role of prevention in the promotion and protection of human rights in the framework of relevant international and regional forums.
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.13) on unaccompanied migrant children and adolescents and human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon countries of origin, transit and destination to facilitate family reunification, as appropriate, as an important objective that promotes the welfare and the best interests of unaccompanied migrant children and adolescents.
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.14/Rev.1) on local government and human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to convene on the same day as the organizational meeting for its thirty-sixth session a panel discussion on the role of local government in the promotion and protection of human rights, the objective of which will be to identify ways in which local government can promote, protect and fulfil human rights effectively.
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.15) on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health for a period of three years; and requests the Special Rapporteur to submit an annual report to the Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly covering all activities relating to the mandate.
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.19) on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, adopted by a vote of 42 in favour, one against and four abstentions, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the current mandate holder as Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation for a period of three years, and calls upon States to identify all laws that have both direct and indirect discriminatory consequences with regard to the equal enjoyment of the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation.
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.20) on preventable mortality and morbidity of children under 5 years of age as a human rights concern, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon States to adopt a human rights-based approach to reduce and eliminate preventable mortality and morbidity of children under 5 years of age, and calls upon States and other relevant stakeholders to continue to take and intensify action to address the interlinked root causes of preventable mortality and morbidity of children under five.
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.21) on cultural rights and the protection of cultural heritage, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon all States to respect, promote and protect the right of everyone to take part in cultural life, including the ability to access and enjoy cultural heritage; urges all parties to armed conflicts to refrain from any unlawful military use or targeting of cultural property, and calls for the safety and security of cultural rights defenders involved in the protection of cultural heritage to be protected.
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.22) on arbitrary detention, adopted by a vote of 46 in favour, none against and one abstention, the Council  decides to extend the mandate of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention for a further period of three years, and requests the States concerned to take account of the views of the Working Group, and, where necessary, to take appropriate steps to remedy the situation of persons arbitrarily deprived of their liberty.
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.23) on human rights and indigenous peoples: mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples for a period of three years to, inter alia, examine ways and means of overcoming existing obstacles to the full and effective protection of the rights of indigenous peoples.
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.24) on human rights and indigenous peoples, adopted without a vote, the Council requests the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to prepare a study, to be finalized by its tenth session, on good practices and challenges, including discrimination, in business and in access to financial services by indigenous peoples, in particular indigenous women and indigenous persons with disabilities.
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.27/Rev.1) on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, adopted by a vote of 38 in favour, none against and nine abstentions, as orally revised and as amended, the Council calls upon States to ensure that any measure taken to counter terrorism and violent extremism complies with international law, and reaffirms that terrorism and violent extremism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group.
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.28) on equal participation in political and public affairs, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council urges all States to ensure the full, effective and equal participation of all citizens in political and public affairs, and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare concise and action-oriented draft guidelines as a set of orientations for States on the effective implementation of the right to participate in public affairs.
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.29) on the right to development, adopted by a vote of 34 in favour, two against and 11 abstentions as orally revised, the Council decides to appoint, for a period of three years, a Special Rapporteur on the right to development, whose mandate will, inter alia, include: to contribute to the work of the Working Group on the Right to Development, and to contribute to the promotion, protection and fulfilment of the right to development in the context of the coherent and integrated implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
 
Action on Resolution under Agenda Item 4 on Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.30) on the human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, adopted by a vote of 26 in favour, seven against, and 14 abstentions as orally revised, the Council strongly condemns the military offensive on eastern Aleppo being conducted by forces loyal to the Syrian authorities, and calls upon them to halt immediately the indiscriminate bombing of the civilian populations, and demands that all parties work urgently towards the comprehensive implementation of the Geneva communiqué.
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.31) on the human rights situation in Burundi, adopted by a vote of 19 in favour, seven against, and 21 abstentions as orally revised, the Council decides to create for a period of one year a commission of inquiry to conduct a thorough investigation into human rights violations and abuses in Burundi since April 2015 to identify alleged perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses in Burundi with a view to ensuring full accountability.
 
Action on Resolution under Agenda Item 5 on Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.25) on the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to amend the mandate of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which shall provide the Human Rights Council with expertise and advice on the rights of indigenous peoples as set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and assist Member States, upon request, to achieve the ends of the Declaration.
 
Action on Resolutions under Agenda Item 8 on Follow-up to and Implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.17/Rev.1) on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon States to promptly and thoroughly investigate any cases of alleged reprisal or intimidation against members or staff of national human rights institutions or against individuals who cooperate, seek to cooperate or have cooperated with them, and to bring the perpetrators to justice; and encourages national human rights institutions to continue to participate in and contribute to the work of the Human Rights Council, including the universal periodic review.
 
Action on Resolutions under Agenda Item 10 on Technical Assistance and Capacity-Building in the Field of Human Rights
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.4) on technical assistance and capacity-building to improve human rights in Sudan, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council decides to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert for a period of one year, and calls upon the Government of the Sudan to continue its full cooperation with the Independent Expert and to continue to permit effective access to visit all areas of the country, and to meet with all relevant actors.
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.5) on technical assistance and capacity-building for Yemen in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council calls upon all parties in Yemen to respect their obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law, and requests the High Commissioner to allocate additional international human rights experts to the Yemen Office to complement the investigatory work of the National Commission.
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.11/Rev.1) on assistance to Somalia in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, under agenda item 10, for a period of one year, and calls upon the Federal Government of Somalia, with the support of the international community, to prepare for and hold a credible, transparent and inclusive election process in 2016.
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.16) on technical assistance and capacity building in the field of human rights in the Central African Republic, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to renew, for one year, the mandate of the Independent Expert to assess, monitor and report on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic with a view to making recommendations related to technical assistance and capacity-building in the field of human rights.  The Council also reiterates its call for an immediate end to all abuses and violations of human rights and illegal acts of violence committed by all parties.
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.18) on the enhancement of technical cooperation and capacity-building in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote,  the Council encourages States, relevant international organizations, intergovernmental bodies and civil society, including non-governmental organizations, to reflect on the achievements made and obstacles faced in their past efforts pertaining to technical cooperation and capacity-building in the field of human rights.
 
In a resolution (A/HRC/33/L.26) on technical assistance and capacity-building for human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, adopted without a vote, the Council strongly urges the Government to intensify its efforts and take immediate steps to peacefully resolve the political issues that led to recent violence in the country, and requests the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report on the situation of Human Rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo during the electoral context.

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