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Human Rights Council holds general debate on the High Commissioner’s oral update


GENEVA (12 September 2017) - The Human Rights Council this morning held a general debate on the oral update of Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which was delivered at the opening of the Council’s session on 11 September. 

In the general debate, many delegations shared the view that Member States of the Human Rights Council were required to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.  Speakers firmly opposed any restrictions on civil society and condemned acts of intimidation and violence against human rights defenders and non-governmental organizations.  Delegations agreed that the main responsibility for protecting human rights lay with governments around the world.  Speakers highlighted that it was crucial to preserve the impartiality and non-selectivity of all the High Commissioner’s work in order to preserve its credibility.  A number of States rejected references made about them in the High Commissioner’s update and outlined steps they were taking to promote and protect human rights.

Speaking during the debate were Egypt on behalf of a group of countries, Paraguay on behalf of a group of countries, Tunisia on behalf of the African Group, Estonia on behalf of the European Union, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Norway on behalf of a group of countries, Nicaragua on behalf of a group of countries, Rwanda on behalf of a group of countries, Venezuela on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Indonesia on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Egypt on behalf of the Arab Group, Brazil, Germany, Philippines, Netherlands, Bolivia, Belgium, Iraq, Switzerland, Japan, Tunisia, United States, Croatia, Ecuador, Georgia Venezuela, South Africa, China, Portugal, Paraguay, United Kingdom, Cuba, Latvia, India, Botswana, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Mexico, Morocco, on behalf of a group of countries, Canada, Iceland, Kuwait, Israel, Nicaragua, Liechtenstein, France, Czechia, Montenegro, Pakistan, Greece, Armenia, Russian Federation, Maldives, Denmark, Chile, Thailand, Malaysia, Libya, Estonia, Spain, Bahrain, Armenia, Italy, Singapore, Senegal, Honduras, Nepal, Costa Rica, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ukraine, Turkey, Angola, Iran, Lesotho, Jordan, Syria, Ireland, Benin, Myanmar, Algeria, South Sudan, Sudan, Azerbaijan, Uganda, Mali, Zambia, Poland, Uruguay, Afghanistan, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Morocco and the Republic of Moldova.

The following civil society organizations also took the floor: International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism, World Evangelical Alliance, Conectas Direitos Humanos, Commission africaine des promoteurs de la santé et des droits de l’homme, Victorious Youths Movement, Society for Threatened People, Canners International Permanent Committee, International Commission of Jurists, Asian Legal Resource Centre, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, African Regional Credit Association, American Association of Jurists, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Alsalam Foundation, International Federation For Human Rights Leagues, International Muslim Women’s Union, International Service for Human Rights, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, BADIL Resource for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, Human Rights Watch, Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, Africa Culture Internationale, United Schools International, Conseil international pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux droits de l’homme, International Association for Democracy in Africa, Pan African Union for Science and Technology, Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme, World Muslim Congress, World Environment and Resources Council, Indian Council of South America, Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee, Centre for Environmental and Management Studies, CIVICUS-World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Liberation, European Union of Public Relations, United Nations Watch, United Villages, Centre for Organisation Research and Education, Organisation pour la Communication en Afrique et de Promotion de la Cooperation Economique Internationale, International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, International-Lawyers.org, Association for the protection of women and Children’s rights, International Buddhist Relief Organisation, Action internationale pour la paix et le développement dans la règion des Grands Lacs, ABC Tamil Oli, Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul, Tamil Uzhagam, Association Thendral, Association Tourner La Page, International Career Support Association and Russia Peace Foundation. 

In its midday meeting, the Council will continue its clustered interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the rights of older persons and the Special Rapporteur on the rights to water and sanitation, which it started on 11 September.

General Debate on the Oral Update of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Egypt, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, stated that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights needed to avoid the practices of naming and shaming and politicisation.  The group rejected all efforts to use the Office for political purposes, which was a violation of the United Nations Charter.  A full assessment of capacity-building and technical assistance programmes was needed in order to help developing countries promote and protect human rights.  The High Commissioner should make every effort to promote a cooperative spirit in his entire Office. 

Paraguay, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, spoke in the name of the signatories of the Lima Declaration on the situation in Venezuela.  The Foreign Ministers of those countries condemned the limitations on political freedoms in Venezuela and the disruption of order.  The group also lamented the humanitarian situation in that country, and advocated for the peaceful re-establishment of democracy.  The Government of Venezuela was violating inter-American values and it was terrorising its own population.

Tunisia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, stated that the African Group was ready to continue its cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and to deal with human rights situations in a spirit of dialogue and cooperation.  That was the best way to achieve progress in the field of human rights.  It was also necessary to strengthen the resources available to the Office to assist countries in the protection of human rights.   

Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the European Union remained concerned about the conflict in Yemen and called on parties to grant full humanitarian access.  It was worried about restrictions on the democratic space and fundamental rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  It noted with concern that the multi-dimensional crises and violations in Sudan included curtailment of the activities of civil society and restrictions on freedom of religion.  The European Union also welcomed Sri Lanka’s progress in operationalising the Office of Missing Persons.

Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, condemned the disproportionate use of force by Myanmar in reaction to the attacks of 25 August which had resulted in an escalating human catastrophe.  More than 290,000 Rohingya Muslims had been forced to flee to Bangladesh.   There were reports of racial hatred perpetrated against Muslim citizens.  It was regrettable that the fact-finding mission had not been given access to Myanmar.  The Organization called on Myanmar to take necessary measures to respect international law and human rights governance. 

Norway, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, noted that the Council had a clear mandate to contribute towards the prevention of human rights violations and to respond promptly to human rights emergencies.  The group emphasized that States must be committed to engage in preventing human rights violations from happening by implementing their obligations.  The High Commissioner should have the tools and resources necessary to gather early warning information about patterns of violations in an effective manner.

Nicaragua, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, noted that the violation of the fundamental rights of the Saharawi people of the Western Sahara remained of great concern.  The right to development had taken an even greater dimension in light of the exploitation of natural resources in Western Sahara.  The violation of the right to development had forced the population into exile in the desert.  Regrettably, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had not yet contacted the relevant authorities to launch the necessary mission.  The group called on the Office to formulate an appropriate programme and to launch a technical mission to Western Sahara.

Rwanda, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, thanked the High Commissioner for his strong voice in the protection of human rights and prevention of human rights violations.  United Nations mechanisms were particularly well placed to prevent mass killings and to advance preventive actions in Member States.  The Office provided technical assistance and capacity-building programmes to States in order to strengthen accountability and prevent mass violations of human rights.  The Universal Periodic Review could be a useful mechanism to assess risks of mass atrocities.

Venezuela, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people were of concern.  The blockades of Gaza and other serious crimes should be stopped.  It was only through cooperation that solutions could be reached.  All areas of human rights should receive equitable resources.  The High Commissioner should carry out an active role to realize the right to development; the special circumstances of each State should also be taken into account.  The approach which used the concept of naming and shaming went against the goals of the Council.

Indonesia, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, expressed support for Special Procedure mandates, but some efforts should be taken to improve their mechanisms.  Those efforts included the need for a comprehensive review of each mandate with a view to avoiding overlapping coverage of issues and areas.  They should also include the review and update of the Manual of Operations, which did not cover guidelines on the practice of recent developments, such as the rise of social media.  Strengthened Special Procedure mechanisms would encourage States to increase their engagement and cooperation with mandate holders, which would in turn contribute toward the promotion and protection of human rights.

Egypt, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said the situation in Myanmar was of concern and condemned discrimination and crimes committed against the Rohingya.  The Council and the international community should take all measures to put an end to those practices and allow humanitarian workers to reach the victims.  The Government of Myanmar should no longer make unfulfilled promises in the case of acts of violence against the Rohingya.  The Council and other United Nations mechanisms should strive to achieve sustainable solutions to combat those crimes against humanity and bring to trial those responsible.

Brazil welcomed the High Commissioner’s call upon States to respect and promote the set of international human rights norms and principles.  However, it strongly disagreed with the hasty and unfair comment made on Brazil in the High Commissioner’s speech.  Brazil had been seriously engaged in a fight against corruption that made evident its attachment to justice and the rule of law.  Brazil was also firmly engaged in discussions to ground its deliberations with the Human Rights Council on constructive dialogue and the pursuit for sensible solutions.

Germany noted that the participation of civil society in all deliberations about human rights was essential.  Furthermore, cooperation with the Council and its Special Procedures was expected from all States but in particular from those that were currently members of the Council, such as Burundi and Venezuela.  Germany supported the High Commissioner’s call for an independent investigation into the allegations of serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Yemen.

Philippines regretted that the High Commissioner’s speech relied on biased information which had no basis and was spread by media hype.  The Philippines was a democratic country and its Government investigated all allegations of human rights violations.  It was engaged in seeking justice and dignity for Filipino people and would continue to promote and protect human rights. 

Netherlands stated that the Human Rights Council had achieved a great deal, but noted that it could and should do more.  Accordingly, the Netherlands had signed a statement on membership engagement which aimed to improve the effectiveness and credibility of the Council.  Member States had to act in those places where there was a pattern of human rights violations, such as in Syria, Burundi, Myanmar and Yemen.  The Netherlands reiterated its call for the resolution of the crisis in Yemen and for an independent, impartial and international investigation to put an end to the cycle of impunity in that country.

Bolivia noted that many human rights violations were kept silent and were not mentioned in the reports of the High Commissioner, such as the rights of the poor people being affected by the capitalist system, in spite of the fact that the capitalist system was the root cause of many human rights violations.  Likewise, unilateral sanctions and measures needed to be given more attention in the High Commissioner’s reports.  Bolivia reiterated that a constructive dialogue was a fundamental component of the High Commissioner’s mandate.

Belgium stressed the importance of the proper functioning of the Council and the independence of the Office of the High Commissioner.  It called on Burundi to act quickly to put an end to human rights violations carried out by the security forces.  As for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it regretted the disturbing multiplication of violence in the country and expressed hope that the international team of experts would be able to work with the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo with respect to the crimes committed in the Kasai province.   

Iraq noted that the High Commissioner for Human Rights had highlighted the human rights situation in several countries in his statement yesterday.  There was a need for internally displaced persons to be returned to their homes in Iraq in a way based on law and with respect for the dignity of people.  Women needed to be able to realize their rights in Iraqi communities.  The international community needed to provide further assistance to help Iraq face the challenges in democracy and development in the country.

Switzerland expressed concern at the worsening human rights situation and the escalation of violence in Rakhine state and called on the Government of Myanmar to abide by human rights obligations and to ensure rapid and unfettered access to all communities.  The situation in Venezuela was also of concern, as was the increase of human rights abuses in the Central African Republic and the situation of individuals in China.  Switzerland called on the Chinese Government to guarantee all human rights. 

Japan said the draft resolution on the situation of human rights in Cambodia was important to Japan; there needed to be a constructive relationship between the Government of the State concerned, Member States, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and civil society.  There had been no improvement in the human rights situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.  At the present session of the Council, a Special Rapporteur would be selected on the issue of the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members.

Tunisia recalled its commitment to cooperate with the High Commissioner for Human Rights and was ready to consolidate human rights and freedoms in Tunisia by introducing adequate legislation in accordance with international standards.  Dialogue was vital to avoid violence and countries should be encouraged to provide vital assistance to victims and ensure that all stakeholders took part in constructive dialogues.  Assistance and humanitarian aid should be given to Rohingya people and Tunisia expressed solidarity with all victims and refugees in this area.  Myanmar should abide by its international commitments and respect the lives of the Rohingya.

United States reiterated its deep concern about Yemen’s deteriorating humanitarian and human rights situation.  It was worried about severe restrictions of freedom of peaceful assembly and expression in Bahrain.  The United States was extremely disappointed by Egypt’s approval of a law on non-governmental organizations that imposed severe restrictions on civil society and the continued shrinking space for these voices in Egypt.  It shared the High Commissioner’s concern about the Venezuelan Government’s actions, including the excessive use of force.  

Croatia said that the preservation of human dignity should be at the heart of the Council.  It remained concerned about countries denying access and not engaging with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Croatia strongly condemned countries that were members of the Council and where grave violations of human rights occurred.   Every country should engage in implementing high human rights standards.  Finally, Croatia announced it would present the resolution on the right to conscientious objection to military service this session.  

Ethiopia welcomed the engagement of the High Commissioner in areas of concern, underlining the importance of dialogue and cooperation.  The state of emergency declared last year in Ethiopia had been lifted.  No one was arbitrarily arrested and detained for the exercise of their right to expression.  The remaining cases were processed in line with the principles of due process and the rule of law.  Practical measures had been taken to allow opposition parties to take part in the political life.  Ethiopia had also taken economic and social measures, in particular those relating to job creation efforts.   

Egypt noted that some statements of the High Commissioner had gone well beyond his mandate, which had to respect the sovereignty and jurisdiction of States, and not to confuse States with terrorists.  The High Commissioner had used descriptive, imprecise and illogical language.  Egypt had not cut off aid to civil society, as suggested by the High Commissioner.  He had confused political dissident with the Muslim Brotherhood, which was very concerning.  That group was proven to be a criminal group that threatened national security.

Slovenia stated that it had taken the High Commissioner’s comment on the internal and external gap seriously, expressing hope to address some of its own challenges.  Among the human rights situations pointed out in the oral update, Slovenia shared concern over the situation in the Rakhine state in Myanmar and condemned the laying of mines on the border with Bangladesh.   Slovenia expressed continued support for the work of the High Commissioner’s Office.

Ecuador thanked the High Commissioner for Human Rights for his report which had criticized double standards, an issue which was of importance when discussing migrants and other vulnerable groups.  It was essential to develop a unified global voice in favour of human rights.  Regarding Venezuela, unilateral measures taken by the United States were of concern, as they polarized the situation.  The country’s request for technical assistance should be noted.

Georgia thanked the High Commissioner for Human Rights for his update and noted that the Human Rights Council remained crucial in struggling against human rights violations all over the world.  It was also essential to safeguard the role of the Human Rights Council to ensure space for human rights defenders and civil society.  Georgia remained concerned about the denial of access to the Office of the High Commissioner by occupied regions of Georgia.  Despite recent efforts by the Office, the occupying power had denied access to both regions. 

Venezuela condemned imperial powers that aimed to use the bodies of the United Nations for their own reasons.  A report had been produced without any mandate against Venezuela, and there had been numerous press releases talking about chaos and death in Venezuela.  The lack of cooperation shown by the High Commissioner was regrettable.  There was a record of the elections, and the international media strategy was an example of the politicized use of human rights.

South Africa called on the High Commissioner to remain true to his mandate and act objectively.  It outlined that the Human Rights Council was a responsive mechanism that should not be subject to politicization.  South Africa was disappointed by the absence in the High Commissioner’s speech of mention of Western Sahara and the Palestinian occupied territories.  Matters pertaining to the Council, including the criteria for membership, required intergovernmental procedures.

China urged the High Commissioner to discharge his duties in an unbiased manner.  The High Commissioner should fully respect the integrity and sovereignty of States and should not overstep his mandate.  He should resist politicization in human rights issues and preserve the intergovernmental nature of human rights mechanisms.  It was necessary to strengthen technical cooperation to enhance States’ capacity building.    China was concerned that the geographical representation of the staff of the Council was seriously imbalanced.  It regretted the unsubstantiated allegations of the High Commissioner on China which was a country of the rule of law.

Portugal was worried about ongoing violence in Yemen where it fully supported the actions of the High Commissioner.   Another major concern was the fighting against ISIL in Iraq which should remain a key priority for all countries.  Reports of civilian casualties and enforced conscription of children in the region were particularly worrisome.  Portugal reiterated its will to continue to advance on a systematic implementation of human rights.  It reiterated its opposition to the death penalty in all situations and called on countries to establish a moratorium as a first step towards its complete abolition.

Paraguay said it was gravely concerned by the conclusions of the High Commissioner’s report with respect to Venezuela.  It called for the re-establishment of the democratic system in Venezuela and it urged the Government to immediately stop systematic violations of human rights and political persecutions.  It was essential to have an independent investigation of those violations.  Paraguay called for the full respect for Venezuelan sovereignty and it encouraged the High Commissioner to continue to observe what was happening in that country.

United Kingdom welcomed the international investigation into the Kasai violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and urged the Government to cooperate with the investigation.  It was deeply concerned about Maldives’ resumption of the death penalty, the increasing death toll associated with the “war on drugs” in the Philippines, and the serious human rights situation in Yemen.  In Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom welcomed the Government’s recent steps to operationalise the Office of Missing Persons.  It remained concerned about the worsening restrictions on freedom of association and expression in Viet Nam and Turkey. 

Cuba noted that the continued use of debate on human rights in specific countries continued to be evidence of the growing politicisation, double standards and selectivity in the Council.  Cuba encouraged the principles of objectivity and impartiality, which should also prevail in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Respecting sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and the right to self-determination should be a priority in the Council.  Cuba appealed for the end of interference into the internal affairs of Venezuela.

Latvia thanked the High Commissioner for Human Rights for carrying out his mandate exactly in the manner envisaged at its creation.  The Office needed to remain persistent.  Latvia concurred with the assessment that the human rights situation around the world continued to remain of serious concern.  While acknowledging a number of successes, Latvia agreed that a greater focus on prevention would enhance people’s lives.  Noting repeated calls by the High Commissioner for cooperation with mechanisms, Latvia would continue to call for the same.

India recognized the role assigned to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and noted that India’s Universal Periodic Review report would be adopted at the current session.  Observance and promotion of human rights was an ongoing process.  Some of the observations of the High Commissioner for Human Rights were perplexing, such as tendentious judgments based on inaccurate reports.  India was concerned about illegal migrants who could pose security challenges.  Achieving human rights goals called for objective consideration and the verification of facts.

Botswana noted that the High Commissioner for Human Rights had outlined a number of cases and situations where the international community had fallen short of expectations.  The magnitude of violence across the globe was sufficient proof that the culture of impunity was not abating.  The Universal Periodic Review process presented a great opportunity to mitigate those challenges.  Botswana would always choose to remain on the side of the victims of human rights abuses, irrespective of the identity and power of the perpetrators.

Qatar noted that the Human Rights Council should rapidly tackle human rights violations in order to increase its credibility.  It called on the Council to put an end to the embargo placed on Qatar, adding that the suffering of Qatar’s population should come to an end.  Qatar condemned the activities of Israel in Gaza and the Palestinian occupied territories, which prevented the parties from finding a solution for a long-lasting peace.  In Syria, violations committed against civilians and the use of Sarin gas by the State was a major concern.  Qatar condemned the violence inflicted on the Rohingya population and urged Myanmar to abide by international law and provide humanitarian assistance to the victims.

Republic of Korea said that it was urgent to address the internal-external gap in implementing human rights commitments and to protect human rights defenders and civil society members.  The recent series of events in the Republic of Korea, which overcame a political crisis, was a powerful testimony to the fact that the rule of law was key to human rights protection.  The Republic of Korea condemned “North Korea’s” behaviour of striving to develop weapons of mass destruction while neglecting people’s basic rights and livelihoods.

Bangladesh highlighted that the displacement of 300,000 Rohingyas from Myanmar to Bangladesh had had serious consequences for the country.  Myanmar was clearly ignoring humanitarian law.  More than 3,000 Rohingyas had been killed and others continued to be oppressed by Myanmar’s forces and intelligence service.  Militias’ propaganda continued, alleging that Rohingyas were migrants coming from Bangladesh whereas this population had been living in Myanmar for years.  Bangladesh called on the international community to address the root causes of this crisis, including the statelessness of the Rohingyas.

Saudi Arabia said that it continued to promote human rights on the basis of the Sharia, and it had been implementing relevant programmes in cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Based on its principled position, Saudi Arabia was one of the largest donors to Yemen in order to put an end to the suffering of people there, in particular to combat cholera.  It regretted that cholera had spread in the areas under the control of the Houthi, as well as the inaccurate number of civilian casualties presented by the High Commissioner.  They were not civilians, but militants in civilian clothes.     

El Salvador reaffirmed its commitment to human rights, as exemplified in its efforts to address the problem of gang violence, which sought to terrorise the population and destabilise institutions.  The Government had sought to strengthen the prevention and protection of victims, as well as to work with youth and prevent them from joining gangs.  Extrajudicial executions in El Salvador were investigated, unlike what was suggested by the High Commissioner’s report. 

Hungary stressed its full commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights.  Collective international cooperation should be based on a continuous and frank dialogue with the States concerned.  Sharing of experiences and good practices would facilitate achieving the realisation of human rights for all.  Hungary regretted the recently adopted law in Ukraine which seriously violated the educational and linguistic rights of minorities.  Hungary did its share to provide aid to asylum seekers above its economic capacity.

Nigeria thanked the High Commissioner for Human Rights for his comprehensive update, and expressed belief that a strong global synergy would help in addressing human rights violations.  Nigeria would continue to work with all mechanisms, and at every given opportunity, it would underscore the interconnectivity between the right to development and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Despite the achievements recorded by the Human Rights Council, more needed to be done as regards the human rights situation around the world.

Mexico thanked the High Commissioner for Human Rights for his report, and noted that he had referred to the vulnerable situation of migrants in many parts of the world, though he had not referred to Mexico, a country which had challenges in that field.  Mexico regretted the rescinding of the “DACA programme” for people who had arrived in the United States as children.  The United States was their country and their culture, they had not committed crimes yet were being stripped of their identity.  Mexico would carry out a campaign to support the “Dreamers,” as those people were known.

Morocco, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said 11 Special Procedures had visited Morocco, and noted that all had visited freely.  The Security Council had expressed no concern about the human rights situation in Sahara and had repeated calls for registration in the Tindouf camp.  Morocco continued to boost cultural conditions for the full enjoyment of the human rights of the people of the Sahara.

Canada said that Council members were required to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.  Canada called on countries preventing United Nation Special Procedures from establishing the facts surrounding alleged violations and abuses on human rights to grant in-country access without delay.  Canada remained dismayed that those who peacefully cooperated with human rights mechanisms were often the targets of reprisals.

Iceland said that, while recognizing diverse threats faced by different countries in the world, any measures taken to counter those must be carried out in full compliance with international human rights standards.  In Turkey, Iceland was concerned by the crackdown on independent media and the arrest of human rights defenders.  It was concerned by action taken against the judiciary and judges.

Kuwait reiterated its will to fully cooperate with the High Commissioner.  All members of the international community looked up to the High Commissioner and his Office.  Its teams around the world deserved financial support.  Kuwait assured that it was in favour of constructive dialogues in order to promote human rights in accordance with countries’ culture and values.

Israel noted that there were still those who preferred to keep the status quo in the Council and to continue tainting that body with politicisation, biased attitudes and double standards.  While the ritual naming and shaming of Israel continued, the worst violators of human rights passed by without scrutiny.  Israel reiterated the importance of education in the eradication of anti-Semitism and racism, noting that denial, misinformation and stereotypes created a fertile environment for spreading hate. 

Nicaragua referred to the report of the High Commissioner presented in June 2017 regarding the composition of his Office staff and it was concerned about continued geographic imbalance and underrepresentation.   It urged the High Commissioner to continue his efforts to guarantee better geographic distribution of the staff of his Office.  Nicaragua expressed solidarity with Venezuela and called for the respect of its sovereignty.

Liechtenstein said that the chronic underfunding of the High Commissioner’s Office was of great concern.  It was disturbed by the fact that a growing number of human rights defenders around the world were confronted with calls of intimidation, threats and reprisals.  It was an essential part of the Council’s work to address such situations.  On Syria, Liechtenstein was proud for having spearheaded the efforts that had led to the creation of the international, impartial and independent mechanism for the crimes committed there.     

France welcomed the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ oral update.  France promoted dialogue and cooperation, and recalled the responsibility of all States to abide by international principles.  Cooperation with human rights mechanisms was the best way to achieve lasting solutions, and therefore the Burmese authorities were called on to cooperate.  The High Commissioner’s work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sri Lanka was of importance. 

Czechia said the High Commissioner’s report painted a grim picture, and encouraged the High Commissioner to continue to speak up against human rights abuses anytime and anywhere they occurred.  The main responsibility lay with governments around the world.  It was crucial to preserve the impartiality and non-selectivity of all the High Commissioner’s work.  Czechia remained fully committed to working closely with the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights.

Montenegro welcomed the update presented by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and his decisiveness in discharging his mandate.  Montenegro opposed any restrictions on civil society and condemned acts of intimidation and violence against human rights defenders and non-governmental organizations.  Montenegro would continue to cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights on developing a national human rights database and follow-up system.

Pakistan asked why the High Commissioner was continuously comparing Indian-occupied Jammu Kashmir with Azad Kashmir.  The High Commissioner needed to base his oral update on accurate facts.  Reports repeatedly highlighted that there was no parallel between Jammu Kashmir and Azad Kashmir.  Pakistan outlined that contrary to the situation prevailing in Jammu Kashmir, Pakistan allowed total access for United Nations mechanisms to Azad Kashmir.

Greece strongly believed in the universality of human rights and would continue to advocate in favour of the independence of the High Commissioner.  Greece thanked the High Commissioner for his support for the constant efforts of the Greek people to alleviate the suffering of refugees.  It was particularly rewarding not only for the small island of Tilos but for Greece as a whole that international actors proceeded with public confirmation of this kind.

Australia remained deeply concerned about the escalation of violence in Rakhine state in Myanmar.  It urged the Government of Myanmar to ensure that all civilians were protected and received humanitarian assistance.  Australia also remained concerned about ongoing reports of extra judicial killings in the Philippines and the deterioration of the situation of human rights in Venezuela, Turkey and China.

Russian Federation regretted that the fundamental principles of the United Nations had not been respected in the work of the High Commissioner and his Office.  Why did he not pay attention to the right of minorities to be educated in their native languages?  Russia noted that resolution 48/141 did not authorise the High Commissioner to make decisions on the questions of membership in the United Nations. 

Maldives reminded of its history of constructive cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  It was inaccurate that the Government of Maldives was increasingly cracking down on political freedoms.  It was important for the international community to respect the solutions chosen by the Government of Maldives.  It urged the High Commissioner to present a more balanced picture of the democratic reality of the country. 

Denmark underlined that civil society was invaluable in preventing and putting an end to human breaches and accordingly it should be allowed to operate freely and without any fear of reprisal.  Denmark also highlighted the importance of further strengthening the prevention of torture through the sharing of experience.  Many of the most effective safeguards were simple and did not require sophisticated technologies.

Chile took note of the points made by the High Commissioner for Human Rights that the rate of climate change and displacement of humans were unprecedented.  Chile had transitioned from poverty to development and had carried out reforms.  Strengthening citizens was the best way to leave no one behind.  All had to respect international standards.  That did not undermine the sovereignty of any State.

Thailand thanked the High Commissioner for Human Rights for his report and concurred with his view of the primary role of governments to protect human rights.  Thailand stressed the importance of constructive partnerships.  The national reform process in Thailand was ongoing, and a national human rights plan was also being drafted.  Thailand supported the Global Compact on Migration and would help combat intolerance against migrants.

Malaysia thanked the High Commissioner for Human Rights for his update and noted that governments had the primary responsibility to protect human rights, though individuals and civil society were also stakeholders.  There was a need for genuine dialogue and consultation to guide all stakeholders.  As a candidate State to membership elections to the Human Rights Council, Malaysia was committed to equal opportunities for all members of society.

Libya valued the efforts of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the efforts of his Office.  Migration was important, and Libya called for a comprehensive manner to tackle the phenomenon.  Libya was a transit country for migrants on the way to Europe and was shouldering increasing responsibilities, while also facing tremendous security challenges.  Libya condemned all gangs that smuggled and trafficked migrants, calling for cooperation among all stakeholders to combat human trafficking groups.

Estonia highlighted that the fight against terrorism and drugs should not be used to further narrow countries’ democratic space and impede the activities of civil society.  In order to increase the credibility of the Council, it was of utmost importance that Member States upheld the highest human rights standards.  The High Commissioner was asked how to provide access for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to Russian-occupied regions of Georgia and Ukraine to investigate human rights violations.

Spain reiterated its support to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and outlined the importance that all countries cooperate with the Human Rights Council.  Members of the Council must uphold high human rights standards.  Spain was concerned by the situation in Venezuela and was in favour of a negotiated solution to the crisis that would allow the liberation of prisoners.  It outlined the necessity to keep Burundi on the international agenda.

Bahrain highlighted the importance of discussions based on objectivity and non-politicization.  Bahrain was disappointed by the unfounded allegations and the lack of credibility of the High Commissioner’s reports on Bahrain.  Bahrain had provided reports dissipating any possible doubts and accusations.  Steps had been taken to bolster civil society in the country that was engaged in fully cooperating with the High Commissioner.

Armenia expressed gratitude for the work of the High Commissioner.  It attached importance to fully implementing human rights and noted that the considerable gap between what happened inside and outside was remarkable.  It was worried about continuing repression against human rights defenders and media in Turkey.  Recent revelations on corruption in the region was also worrisome.

Italy said the world was facing an acute humanitarian crisis and increasing instability in all areas and regions.  Italian authorities remained determined to protect the human rights of migrants and refugees.  The Human Rights Council’s mandate on technical assistance was an important tool to support capacity building of Member States.  Conditions for long-term stability and peace needed to be made with the participation of women and girls.

Singapore said Singaporeans had constitutionally protected the right to freedom of speech, but those rights needed to be exercised with responsibility.  The fight was against intolerance and not against any religion.  Norms and trusts between communities took a generation or more to build up, and sensible boundaries needed to be drawn.

Senegal supported the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ work for human rights worldwide, and noted that Senegal was a candidate for membership of the Council for the period 2018-2020.  The drama suffered by the Rohingya was of immediate concern to the Council, and the international community needed to urgently act to put an end to the repression that the Rohingya people were suffering.

Honduras reiterated its firm commitment to human rights mechanisms and would continue to support the mandate of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Corruption had an impact on human rights, and it was only through cooperation and genuine dialogue that it would be possible to achieve progress against corruption and impunity.  Honduras shared the concern of the High Commissioner for Human Rights over the rescinding of the “DACA programme”.

Nepal reiterated its commitment to implementing human rights and said its new Constitution provided grounds for further improvement in this field.  Nepal was committed to engage with the United Nations mechanisms to promote and protect human rights; these rights had seen recent considerable progress in the country.  Recently, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants had been invited to visit Nepal.

Costa Rica thanked the High Commissioner for his report and voiced concern that some situations of violations of human rights that were mentioned in the update were happening in countries that were members of the Council.  Costa Rica called on countries to fully cooperate with the High Commissioner and to provide access for the United Nations instruments. 

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea expressed its strong reservations to some references made by the High Commissioner in his update.  It was opposed to politicization, selectivity and double standards in the field of human rights.  The fact that the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities had been recently invited to visit the country was a testimony of its will to cooperate with the Council.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea condemned the allegations made by certain delegates, notably Japan and “South Korea”.

Ukraine noted that the High Commissioner for Human Rights had spoken about trends causing a degradation of human rights standards around the world.  Transparency and cooperation with human rights mechanisms was essential, and there should be no fear of monitoring.  Over three years of illegal Russian occupation of Crimea had led to no access to the peninsula for international monitoring.

Turkey said the democratically elected Government had been subject to an attempted coup, and swift measures had been necessary to protect democracy.  The state of emergency was a practice permissible under international human rights law.  Proceedings against certain members of human rights organizations were conducted in connection with criminal charges.  Turkey was concerned about developments in northern Rakhine state in Myanmar and would continue efforts toward ending that tragedy.

Angola said respect for the principles of human rights was imperative to address the challenges faced by the international community.  Efforts should be concentrated on fighting terrorism and extremism, as well as environmental disasters, through dialogue.  Angola worked to strengthen capacity while avoiding politicization.  Angola had recently held general elections in a climate of peace, and submitted its candidacy for the Human Rights Council membership for the period 2018-2020.

Iran said the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights should focus on the work of all people, and activities of the Office should be in conformity with principles of impartiality and avoid double standards.  The appalling situation of the Rohingya in Myanmar was very concerning, and the safety and security of the Muslim population should be ensured.

Lesotho commended the High Commissioner for Human Rights for his zeal in pursuing his duties.  Yet much work remained, as there was a need for strong political will from States.  If States were consistent in their observance and respect for human rights, the Council’s work would be effectively complemented.  The Council’s mandate could not survive without States parties taking human rights seriously at the domestic level.

Jordan reiterated that violations would never end until the end of the occupation.  There would be no peace until a lasting solution for a viable, contiguous Palestinian State was reached.  Jordan asked for further capacity building, including for Libya, and expressed concern about the situation in Syria.  Regarding the massacres against the Rohingyas of Myanmar, the Government of Myanmar should shoulder its responsibilities. 

Syria stated that the High Commissioner’s report showed hypocrisy and selectivity towards the situation in Syria.  The report turned a blind eye towards the efforts of the Syrian Government to meet the basic needs of those affected by terrorism, as well as to the use of unilateral coercive measures against the Syrian population.  A fruitful dialogue was needed and Syria hoped that those who applied double standards would abandon their selectivity and parochialism. 

Ireland said that the High Commissioner’s update reminded the international community of the scale of the global challenges that it faced in promoting and protecting human rights.  It had never been more important to act clearly and effectively to support those who protected and promoted human rights.  Thus, Ireland welcomed the High Commissioner’s emphasis on the vital role of civil society and human rights defenders.

Benin condemned the acts of terrorism committed in September 2017 in Burkina Faso, Spain, United Kingdom and in other countries.  Benin also reiterated its solidarity with the victims of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Jose.  It called on the international community to provide assistance to the afflicted populations, among them millions of women, children, elderly and persons with disabilities.

Myanmar stressed that it would never endorse atrocities and objected to the use of such terms without concrete evidence by the High Commissioner as this undermined the credibility of his Office.  People in the Rakhine state were incited to leave their homes and given false hope of settlement in foreign countries.  The Government of Myanmar was fully aware of the need to take swift solutions to address that situation.

Algeria renewed its support for the mandate of the High Commissioner, noting that serious human rights violations by Israel had continued in the occupied Palestinian territories.  The suffering of the Gaza population had increased due to the longstanding blockade.  Algeria called on the High Commissioner to make the colonial issue in Western Sahara a priority.  There had been a number of visits which needed to be stepped up now in order to be included in the reports of the Secretary-General.  Algeria also deplored the violence against the Rohingya in Myanmar. 

South Sudan noted the oral update provided by the High Commissioner for Human Rights and said that the Government of South Sudan was committed to implement the agreement for the resolution of the conflict and that it had unilaterally announced a cease-fire but the problem was that the insurgents were not cooperating.  South Sudan was committed to cooperating with humanitarian partners and it would provide assistance to those in need.

Sudan said it cooperated with the Office of the High Commissioner and called on the Council to work without politicization and double standards.  After the resolution of the Security Council on Darfur which had led to a marked improvement, the report mentioned by the Security Council was based on the report of the United Nations Mission in Darfur.  A National Unity Government had been formed.  Outlaws were dealt with by the judiciary, and calling them militias was a political epitaph and not correct use of the language.

Azerbaijan noted that most human rights violations were rooted in unresolved conflicts around the world.  Conflict situations were not limited to those mentioned by the High Commissioner.  Dealing with them was not a choice but an obligation for the High Commissioner and for the Human Rights Council.  The situation of a million Azerbaijani refugees had never been addressed by the system.

Uganda thanked the High Commissioner for his oral update on the human rights situation around the world, and expressed agreement that the Global Compact on Migrants should result in migration governance which was better grounded in human rights.  As a refugee-hosting country, Uganda had been stretched to the limit and yet kept receiving more refugees on a daily basis, especially from South Sudan, whose warring parties were urged to stop fighting and come to the negotiating table to settle their differences.

Mali congratulated the High Commissioner for his report.  Armed groups in Mali continued to perpetrate crimes in zones outside the control of the Government.  Faced with these grave violations of human rights, the Government had issued arrest warrants.  Turning to the armed forces and security forces, trials had been started for perpetrators of identified cases in order to combat impunity. 

Zambia applauded the efforts of the High Commissioner’s Office in ensuring that human rights were promoted and protected throughout the world.  There was a need for the Council to find ways and means to prevent human rights violations and strengthen its early warning mechanisms, which should translate into early action if human rights violations were to be effectively prevented. 

Poland underlined that the people in Poland had the right to express their political views in the form of peaceful demonstrations and protests.  That was the case in July 2017 when important discussions on the reform of the judiciary in Poland had taken place.  The High Commissioner’s Office would benefit from an open dialogue with Poland in order to avoid certain misconceptions as mentioned in the High Commissioner’s report.

Uruguay said that the High Commissioner was a cornerstone of the international system for the promotion and protection of human rights.  It was vital that his Office and its independence were strengthened and that it have more non-earmarked funds.  The High Commissioner provided substantial space to civil society and Uruguay called for avoiding reprisals against human rights defenders.  States should do their utmost to avoid such reprisals.  Human rights violations and oppression were even more worrying when committed by States, especially in the name of terrorism.

Afghanistan shared the concern that terrorism was endangering human rights every day.  The world needed a global strategy and coordinated action to protect human dignity and to fight violence and terror.  Afghanistan also condemned the ongoing situation in Myanmar and the violation of the human rights of the Rohingya.  While it commended Bangladesh for hosting Rohingya Muslims, Afghanistan called on donor countries and aid organizations to support Bangladesh in that endeavour. 

Viet Nam took note of the oral update of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and underscored that nations were not obliged to abolish the death penalty.  In Viet Nam, the death penalty was not imposed on persons under the age of 18, as well as other groups.  Viet Nam had millions of daily active users of Facebook.  The views of the United Kingdom were regretted, as they were inaccurate and taken out of context.

Cambodia said a suspect had been indicted on suspicion of espionage.  Immunity had been waived.  The arrest had nothing to do with next year’s election or freedom of expression.  Politics and freedom of expression played no role in the recent closure of a newspaper.

Central African Republic noted the concern of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and said the Central African Republic had been confronted with a security challenge and armed groups were laying waste to large regions of the country.  Civilians were being massacred, and the country was being looted.  The Central African Republic called for the assistance of the international community.  Violations of human rights should be condemned.

Morocco thanked the High Commissioner for his update.  The High Commissioner should call on Algeria to study problems of human rights.  Those included having closed itself off to international human rights and Tindouf camp violations.  The High Commissioner should include those subjects in reports to the Council.  Algeria had lost credibility in the Human Rights Council as it had lost credibility in Africa.  Morocco had no problem with the Alba Group.

Republic of Moldova reminded that it continued to broadly engage with international human rights mechanisms.  The Government aimed to ensure respect of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, and it supported the existence of a strong, free and independent civil society.  It had withdrawn the new draft law on civil society in order to gather input from non-governmental organizations.

International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism expressed grave concern about the increase in racist manifestations which were undoubtedly encouraged by the new leadership in the United States.  It also echoed the High Commissioner’s concern about the dire situation of the Rohingya and urged the Council to take meaningful action to hear their pleas.  In Sri Lanka, the organization shared growing concerns regarding the slow progress in reconciliation. 

World Evangelical Alliance urged the Government of Sri Lanka to take sincere steps to address the grievances of minority communities.  Sri Lanka was an ethnically and religiously diverse country.  The Government thus had to guarantee freedom of expression and religious belief to all its citizens.

Conectas Direitos Humanos , in a joint statement with Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) Asociación Civil, noted that there was an urgent need for States to review the restrictive migration policies that had been largely implemented so far.  States had to seize the opportunity of the Global Compact for a paradigm shift, putting an end to the criminalisation of migration. 

Commission africaine des promoteurs de la santé et des droits de l’homme stressed that terrorism and systematic human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir required more attention by the High Commissioner.  Unprovoked and indiscriminate heavy shelling had resulted in daily deaths of civilians.  How long did they have to wait for a United Nations fact-finding mission?  India was not cooperating with the High Commissioner’s Office.    

Victorious Youths Movement voiced concerns about the Polisario’s role in impeding food assistance to be provided to children in Western Sahara.  Some of those saharaoui, including children from the Tinduf camp, were regularly sent to Europe on “peace vacations”.  They were not allowed to come back to their families and risked to be used for trade and pornography.

Society for Threatened Peoples condemned the military operation led by Myanmar against Rohingyas and the displacement of hundreds of thousands people to Bangladesh, including mothers and babies.  The Council was urged to protect the vulnerable Rohingya population and called on the State of Myanmar to facilitate humanitarian assistance to the area and allow investigation on the atrocities committed.

Canners International Permanent Committee outlined that the right to legal representation and to fair trial were key to fully realize international human rights standards.  In Pakistan, there was a constant phenomenon of enforced disappearances, particularly in the region of Baluchistan where activists and students had been declared disappeared.  The Council was urged to adopt a zero tolerance policy on cases of enforced disappearances.

International Commission of Jurists was worried about arbitrary detentions, and extrajudicial and arbitrary executions in Venezuela.  The 1999 Constitution had de facto ceased to be enforced and the road to arbitrary exercise of power had begun.  The International Commission of Jurists considered that it was imperative that the Council took action on this serious situation.

Asian Legal Resource Centre said that the international community was witnessing some of the most harrowing circumstances in Asia, namely the situation of the Rohingya in Myanmar.  Asian States had shown a growing and alarming trend of discounting human rights, fair trial and the rule of law under the pretext of national security.  In countries like Myanmar, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India, Governments were engaged in systematic fanning of religious and fundamentalist sentiments against liberal, democratic and secular ideals.

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies urged the Council to ensure the establishment of an international and independent investigation into violations and abuses of human rights and humanitarian law in Yemen.  Yemeni civilians were in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, with more than seven million on the brink of famine and with the outbreak of cholera. 

African Regional Credit Association stated that the international community had to take strengthened measures to combat enforced disappearances.  States should all act at national and regional levels and thus contribute to the elimination of enforced disappearances.  The situation in Pakistan required the attention of the Human Rights Council regarding that issue.

American Association of Jurists, in a joint statement with several NGOs1, drew attention to the situation in Western Sahara, noting that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had not made contact with the Polisario.  Nothing prevented the Office from pursuing a technical mission in the Tindouf camps.  Refugees had their food rations cut due to funding problems.  That situation was the consequence of the illegal occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco.

International Association of Democratic Lawyers expressed its deepest dismay at the OHCHR report on human rights abuses and violations in the context of the protests in Venezuela.  The report attributed responsibility for the violent acts that occurred to State security organs, completely ignoring the serious threats and terrorist attacks they had to face, as well as the efforts made by the democratic institutions of the State to promote dialogue, and guarantee peace, security and the normal development of democracy in the country.  Member States of the Council should strongly reject this report.

Alsalam Foundation was deeply worried about widespread arrests and travel bans imposed by Bahrain.  There had been reports of torture of human rights defenders by the security agency in Bahrain where restrictive measures had been adopted on civil society, criminalizing the right to free assembly.   Furthermore, poor conditions in detention centres obliged prisoners to engage in hunger strikes. 

International Federation For Human Rights Leagues voiced concern about serious violations of international humanitarian law by parties to the conflict in Yemen.  It remained alarmed at the ongoing human rights crisis in Bahrain.  The Government had continued to suppress all forms of opposition in 2017 and imposed travel bans on civil society and political activists.

International Muslim Women’s Union outlined that the world was still exposed to considerable challenges in the realm of human rights.  It welcomed the High Commissioner’s statement on Pakistan and India and asked both countries to allow access to the United Nations to the conflict zone. 

International Service for Human Rights drew attention to the arbitrary arrest, disappearance, torture and killing of human rights defenders in Burundi, and to the repression of civil society in Egypt.  In the Philippines, presidential orders to shoot defenders perceived to “obstruct justice” should be met with unequivocal international response.  The organization called for an international investigation into possible crimes against humanity in Venezuela.  

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development shared concern about Myanmar and urged the Council to treat the situation with the seriousness that it deserved.  It condemned threats to journalists and human rights defenders in India and Pakistan, and it echoed the call for progress in reconciliation in Sri Lanka.  It shared concerns about the lack of rule of law in the Philippines and attacks on democratic space in Cambodia and the Maldives. 

Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, in a joint statement, welcomed the High Commissioner’s boldness in highlighting human rights abuses in Bahrain and criticising Bahrain’s hollow efforts towards assistance and reform.  It also welcomed the High Commissioner’s comment on Governments who engaged in intimidation and bullying of human rights defenders.

BADIL Resource for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights reminded of the fiftieth anniversary of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.  The human rights violations perpetrated by Israel against Palestinians could constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes.  The colonial expansion and construction had led to forced evictions and illegal displacement of the Palestinian population.

Human Rights Watch welcomed the High Commissioner’s report on the human rights and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.  Last week, Human Rights Watch had released a report detailing China’s systematic efforts to deflect criticism and undermine United Nations human rights mechanisms.  Extrajudicial executions continued unabated in the Philippine Government’s so-called “war on drugs”.

Commission to Study the Organization of Peace outlined that the Security Council strictly condemned any form of forced labour and slavery and called on all States to abolish all forms of slavery and bonded labour.  In Pakistan, 2 million people were victims of modern slavery.  The Council was requested to take urgent action against this practice in Pakistan.

Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik requested the support of the Human Rights Council for three prisoners in Iran.  One was a prisoner of conscience and one had gone on a hunger strike and needed medical treatment.  Other prisoners were on death row.

Africa Culture Internationale voiced concerns about the killing of children by the airstrikes launched by the Arab coalition in Yemen.  Sixty per cent of the child victims who had died since the beginning of the conflict had been killed by airstrikes launched by the coalition.  The Council was asked to address the violations of human rights in Yemen.

United Schools International underlined that the right to development was an inalienable right of all people to participate in the enjoyment of economic, social, cultural and political development.  In Pakistan, the right to development was a distant dream for the people of Baluchistan.  The situation there had been additionally aggravated by the Pakistan-China economic corridor.

Conseil international pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux droits de l’homme thanked the High Commissioner for having rejected the practices of certain governments to conduct reprisals against human rights defenders.  It drew attention to the suffering of the Yemeni people, noting that no effort had been made to curtail the catastrophe caused by Saudi Arabia and its allies.  A commission of inquiry had to be established.

International Association for Democracy in Africa reminded of the Council resolution on coercive unilateral measures which were contrary to international law and international humanitarian law and that impinged on peaceful relations among States.  Coercive unilateral measures had far-reaching negative impacts on general populations of the targeted countries.  Pakistan had built a barrier on the border with Afghanistan, thus adversely affecting the lives of thousands of people.

Pan African Union for Science and Technology spoke against servitude and slavery, reminding of the relevant principles outlined in the the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  It stressed that in Africa and Asia bonded labour in agriculture had persisted.  Pakistan never paid much attention to that issue and social acceptance of that practice was widespread in that country. 

Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme said it was worrisome that the global affront of violent extremism was being met with authoritarian and oppressive responses that indivisibly undermined the enjoyment of fundamental and universal human rights.  The climate of intimidation and insecurity by security forces in Burundi was of concern, as was the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Yemen, Myanmar, Syria and Libya.

World Muslim Congress welcomed the update presented by the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  He had called on the Governments of India and Pakistan to allow a fact-finding mission on both sides of the Line of Control.  Questions were posed as to how long the Council would let Kashmiris be “disappeared”, and how long the Council would wait before draconian laws were revoked.

World Environment and Resources Council said that in the preamble to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, principles which had been reiterated included the need for people to be able to exercise important human rights.  Development activities should benefit all, but in Baluchistan, the local people were driven out from the port area to make place for the Chinese workers and engineers.

Indian Council of South America said there were indigenous peoples from all over the world claiming their international status who did not participate in the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.  Many indigenous peoples had a political status that was not reflected in the outcome document, which was therefore not universal.  The sweeping conclusion in the document claiming that indigenous rights must be settled under the domestic laws of each State was rejected.

Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee regretted that the last Special Rapporteur that had visited India did not investigate effectively human rights violations in this country where the homes of non-Hindu minorities had been systematically destroyed.  Non-Hindu people were treating abusively and their products were regularly boycotted.  Another Special Rapporteur should be sent to investigate the situation in India.

Centre for Environmental and Management Studies raised the issue of terrorism as a global security emergency.  Nations should be involved vigorously in preventing terrorist attacks.  However countries like Pakistan had been proven to provide safe haven for terrorist groups.  There was proof that attacks in Afghanistan had originated in Pakistan.

CIVICUS-World Alliance for Citizen Participation shared the concern of the High Commissioner about the conflict in Yemen and called for an inquiry to be launched in that country.   It also shared concerns about the situation in Venezuela where public media had been closed.  About 30,000 persons were being held in detention there.  CIVICUS called on President Maduro’s Government to release political prisoners and restore an independent judiciary.

Liberation welcomed the High Commissioner’s comments on India, which was experiencing increasing religious intolerance under the pretext of the protection of the holy cow.  Religious fundamentalists had compromised all frameworks that protected human rights.  The feeling of fear in India was spreading fast.  Liberation thus called on the Human Rights Council to make India accountable for that situation. 

European Union of Public Relations reminded that a just social international order stipulated respect for international law, support for non-violent conflict resolution, and disarmament.  Nuclear armaments in Pakistan posed a threat to the just social international order.  Pakistan had an established history of sharing nuclear technology with “North Korea” and Iran.

United Nations Watch presented the speech of the wife of the arrested mayor of Caracas in Venezuela.  She drew attention to widespread human rights violations which aimed to curtail any form of protest against the Government.  There was also evidence of the use of arbitrary detention, torture and military courts for civilians.  Why was Venezuela still a member of the Council?
United Villages welcomed the update by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, adding that there were new challenges like those in Burma and Venezuela.  The Indian and Pakistani Governments were urged to allow a fact-finding mission, and they needed to cooperate with mandate-holders which would expose wrong-doings.  The situation in Jammu and Kashmir was unchanged.

Centre for Organization Research and Education said the situation of human rights was declining around the world and needed an immediate response.  Not just political instability was the cause, but there were human rights violations in politically stable countries too.  Members of scheduled tribes and castes were victims of rape, honour killings and other human rights violations in India.

Organisation pour la Communication en Afrique et de Promotion de la Cooperation Economique Internationale expressed concern at the situation of human rights defenders, including in the Palais des Nations where people were threatened with reprisals, sometimes in writing.  Non-governmental organizations were often the target of bribery and threats, and the situation was becoming ever more concerning.  The situation for human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was becoming ever more severe.

International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination said that the civil war in Yemen had resulted in thousands of people killed and had prevented populations to access medical services, further aggravating the cholera outbreak.  In Iraq, entire cities like Mosul and Fallujah had been destructed by ISIL.  The Council was urged to address the suffering of civilians in this country and to guarantee people with a full enjoyment of their rights.

International-Lawyers.org was concerned about the High Commissioner’s decision to reduce budget resources for the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.  It looked forward to the publication of the programme on the International Decade for People of African Descent.

Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights said there was a need to focus on the situation where territories were under foreign occupation.  There was a grim situation of human rights in Indian Jammu and Kashmir where India did not allow United Nations fact-finding teams to visit.  This situation had drastically increased human rights violations in the zone.

International Buddhist Relief Organization drew attention to the issue of non-discrimination and protection of vulnerable people in Sri Lanka, which had been continuously overlooked and disregarded by the Council.  The most brutal terrorist organization in the world had operated in Sri Lanka with impunity for three decades.  Their victims included innocent Singhalese, Tamils and Muslims who had been chased from the north-east of the country in an effort to create a mono-ethnic enclave.

Action internationale pour la paix et le développement dans la règion des Grands Lacs, in a joint statement with Organisation Internationale pour le Développement Intégral de la Femme;International Committee for the Respect and Application of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, noted that the Great Lakes region was lawless.  The Kasai population in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been massacred with impunity, and almost one million people had been displaced.  The international community had to find a definite solution to put an end to that situation.

ABC Tamil Oli drew the Council’s attention to the fact that many countries had refused resettlement to Tamils who had been members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.  It urged the Governments of host countries to recognize the plight and dangers faced by the Tamils in Sri Lanka.  The situation of Tamil refugees required urgent attention.

Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul said the human rights situation in Sri Lanka was very troubling.  After 24 months, nothing had moved forward.  The Tamil people were still denied justice.  The State and the opposition had declared their stance on the hybrid court, and the only way to assure justice was by international investigations.

Tamil Uzhagam said the Tamil people of Sri Lanka urgently needed the Human Rights Council to provide the necessary technical assistance and capacity building.  Human rights activists in the Tamil Nadu state of India needed the protection of the Human Rights Council.

Association Thendral said Australia’s offshore policies affected Sri Lankan Tamils, who had been warehoused in uncertain conditions without access to a meaningful future.  Australia had to find a safe third country to resettle the refugees, or resettle them in Australia where they would be welcomed by the Tamil community.  In June 2017, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of migrants said the centre on Nauru violated rights.

Association Tourner La Page shared its concern about the troubling situation of human rights in Sri Lanka and in Tamil Nadu.  The intelligence wing of occupying Sinhala military had instructed several village officials to submit written reports providing in-depth details on the whereabouts of former LTTE members.  Ex members of LTTE were under military harassment and Sri Lanka police arrest without any charges.

International Career Support Association raised the issue of the claim by the Korean Government on Japanese historical sites.  The Government of the Republic of Korea was accused of financing a cyber group formed by nearly 100,000 students named “VANK” which was a sub-governmental organization to spread propaganda.

Russia Peace Foundation regretted that the High Commissioner did not mention the human rights violations in Ukraine in his update.  The Ukrainian Government had adopted xenophobic policies and committed gross violations of human rights in 2017.  In Crimea, some children were impeded from learning their own language.  Ukraine should be not beyond criticism.


1. Joint statement on behalf of: American Association of Jurists; Asociación Española para el Derecho Internacional de los Derechos Humanos; France Libertés – Fondation Danielle Mitterrand; International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL); International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations; Indian Council of South America; International-Lawyers.Org; Libération; International Educational Development, Inc.; International Fellowship of Reconciliation.


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