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Human Rights Council Concludes Fifty-Fourth Regular Session after Adopting 36 Resolutions and One President’s Statement

13 October 2023

ROUND UP 13 October 2023

Council Establishes Fact-Finding Mission on Sudan and Working Group on Rights of Peasants, Extends 14 Thematic and Country Mandates, Submits Draft Covenant on the Right to Development to the General Assembly

The Human Rights Council today concluded its fifty-fourth regular session after adopting 36 resolutions, and one President’s statement. In these texts, among other things, the Council established an independent international fact-finding mission for Sudan, and a working group on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas. The Council also decided to submit to the General Assembly the draft international covenant on the right to development for its consideration, negotiation and subsequent adoption.

The Council extended the mandates of 14 thematic and country mandates during the session. It decided to extend, for a period of one year, the mandates of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burundi, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Russian Federation, the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic, the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, and the International Team of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia was extended for two years.

The Council also extended, for a period of three years, the mandates of the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, the open-ended intergovernmental working group to elaborate the content of an international regulatory framework on the regulation, monitoring and oversight of the activities of private military and security companies, the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances, the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, and the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent.

Other texts concerned the reports of the Advisory Committee; the use of mercenaries; quality education for peace and tolerance for every child; the centrality of care and support from a human rights perspective; the World Programme for Human Rights Education; human rights and indigenous peoples; and the human rights of older persons. Further resolutions adopted concerned preventable maternal mortality and morbidity and human rights; the contribution of the implementation of the objectives of the International Year of the Family and its follow-up processes in the promotion and protection of human rights; and the realisation of the equal enjoyment of the right to education by every girl.

Resolutions adopted also concerned the right to privacy in the digital age; promoting and protecting economic, social and cultural rights within the context of addressing inequalities; cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights; a world of sports free from racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; from rhetoric to reality: a global call for concrete action against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; the enhancement of technical cooperation and capacity building in the field of human rights; technical assistance and capacity building for Yemen in the field of human rights; the penitentiary system, security and justice: enhancement of technical cooperation and capacity building to protect human rights in Honduras; the establishment of a regional office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights for the Caribbean Community; and the question of the death penalty.

Václav Bálek, President of the Human Rights Council, in his concluding remarks, said this had been the longest September session in history, beginning in the summer and finishing in the autumn. He expressed sincere gratitude to the members of the Bureau, the Council Secretariat, the Presidency’s Office, the Division for Conference Management, and Members and Observers of the Council, before closing the fifty-fourth session.

The fifty-fifth regular session of the Human Rights Council is scheduled to be held from 26 February to 6 April 2024.

Action on Decision under Agenda Item One on Organizational and Procedural Matters

In a President’s Statement on the report of the Advisory Committee, the Council noted that the Advisory Committee had made four research proposals.

Action on Resolutions under Agenda Item Two on the Annual Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General

In a resolution on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, the Council decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan for a period of one year. It requested the Special Rapporteur to prepare a report on the phenomenon of an institutionalised system of discrimination, segregation, disrespect for human dignity and exclusion of women and girls.

In a resolution on responding to the human rights and humanitarian crisis caused by the ongoing armed conflict in Sudan, the Council decided to urgently establish an independent international fact-finding mission for Sudan, with a mandate to investigate and establish the facts, circumstances and root causes of all alleged human rights and international humanitarian law violations in the context of the conflict that began on 15 April 2023 between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces, as well as other warring parties.

Action on Resolutions under Agenda Item Three on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, including the Right to Development

In a resolution on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination, the Council, a resolution in which it requested 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 to continue to monitor mercenaries and mercenary-related activities in all their forms and manifestations in all parts of the world, and to continue to update the database of individuals convicted of mercenary activities.

In a resolution on the mandate of the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, the Council decided to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order for a period of three years, and called upon all Governments to cooperate with and assist the Independent Expert in the discharge of the mandate.

In a resolution on ensuring quality education for peace and tolerance for every child, the Council decided to convene a panel discussion on accessible, inclusive, equitable and quality education for peace and tolerance for every child, especially children in the most vulnerable situations, at its fifty-seventh session.

In a resolution on the centrality of care and support from a human rights perspective, the Council decided to request the High Commissioner for Human Rights to organise a two-day expert workshop to address the human rights of women, persons with disabilities, children and older persons as caregivers, as well as receivers of care and support, and for their self-care from a gender equality and human rights perspective. It also requested the High Commissioner to prepare a comprehensive thematic study on the human rights dimension of care and support.

In a resolution on the World Programme for Human Rights Education, the Council requested the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare, from within existing resources, a plan of action for the fifth phase of the World Programme (2025-2029).

In a resolution on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, the Council decided to extend the mandate for a period of three years and urged all States to cooperate with and to assist the Special Rapporteur so that his mandate could be carried out effectively.

In a resolution on the working group on the rights of peasants, the Council decided to establish, for a period of three years, a working group on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas, consisting of five independent experts, with a mandate to promote the effective and comprehensive dissemination and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas.

In a resolution on the right to privacy in the digital age, the Council called upon all States to respect and protect the right to privacy, including in the context of digital communications and new and emerging digital technologies, and to take measures to end violations and abuses of the right to privacy. It requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report on challenges and risks with regard to discrimination and unequal enjoyment of the right to privacy associated with the collection and processing of data, and to present the report to the Council at its fifty-seventh session, to be followed by an interactive dialogue.

In a resolution on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, the Council decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for a period of three years.

In a resolution on the mandate of the open-ended intergovernmental working group to elaborate the content of an international regulatory framework on the regulation, monitoring and oversight of the activities of private military and security companies, the Council decided to renew the mandate of the working group for a period of three years to continue to elaborate the content of an international regulatory framework to protect human rights and ensure accountability for violations and abuses relating to the activities of private military and private security companies.

In a resolution on preventable maternal mortality and morbidity and human rights, the Council requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare an update to the technical guidance on the application of a human rights-based approach to the elimination of preventable maternal mortality and morbidity, and to submit it to the Council at its sixtieth session.

In a resolution on human rights and indigenous peoples, the Council decided that the theme of the annual half-day panel discussion on the rights of indigenous peoples, to be held during the fifty-seventh session of the Council, would be on laws, policies, judicial decisions and other measures that States have taken to achieve the ends of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Council requested the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a stocktaking report, compiling existing procedures on the participation of indigenous peoples at the United Nations, and highlighting existing gaps and good practices, and present the report to the Council at its fifty-seventh session.

In a resolution on the human rights of older persons, the Council requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to convene a meeting of human rights experts, fully accessible to persons with disabilities, with the participation of the Independent Expert, including with the meaningful and effective participation of older persons and their representative organizations, to discuss and draw up recommendations on the human rights obligations of States regarding violence against and abuse and neglect of older persons in all settings.

In a resolution on promoting and protecting economic, social and cultural rights within the context of addressing inequalities, the Council decided to convene a panel discussion on the reinforcement of the work to promote and protect economic, social and cultural rights within the context of addressing inequalities, at the fifty-seventh session of the Council, and requested the High Commissioner to prepare a summary report on the panel discussion and to present it to the Council at its sixtieth session, followed by an enhanced interactive dialogue. The Council also requested the High Commissioner to establish a knowledge hub to consolidate best practices and know-how in promoting and protecting economic, social and cultural rights within the context of addressing inequalities.

In a resolution on the contribution of the implementation of the objectives of the International Year of the Family and its follow-up processes in the promotion and protection of human rights, the Council decided to convene, at its fifty-seventh session, a panel discussion on the implementation of States’ obligations under relevant provisions of international human rights law on the role of the family in supporting the protection and promotion of human rights of its members, to discuss challenges and best practices in this regard. It also decided to organise an expert workshop before its fifty-ninth session, on the role of the family and family-oriented approaches, policies and programmes in the promotion and protection of human rights and in sustainable development, to highlight best practices from different regions.

In a resolution on enforced or involuntary disappearances, the Council decided to extend the mandate of the Working Group for a further period of three years and called upon States that have not provided substantive replies concerning claims of enforced disappearances in their countries to do so, and to give due consideration to relevant recommendations concerning this issue made by the Working Group in its reports.

In a resolution on human rights and unilateral coercive measures, the Council decided to extend for a period of three years the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights.

In a resolution on the right to development, the Council decided to submit to the General Assembly the draft international covenant on the right to development for its consideration, negotiation and subsequent adoption. The Council also requested the Office to organise the next biennial panel discussion on the right to development at the fifty-seventh session of the Council.

In a resolution on the question of the death penalty, the Council called upon States that had not yet abolished the death penalty to take active steps to reduce the number of offences for which the death penalty could be imposed and to limit them strictly to “the most serious crimes” and called upon States that applied the mandatory death penalty to end the practice. The Council also decided that the upcoming biennial high-level panel discussion to be held during the fifty-eighth session of the Council would address the contribution of the judiciary to the advancement of human rights and the question of the death penalty.

In a resolution on the realisation of the equal enjoyment of the right to education by every girl, the Council urged all States to strengthen and intensify their efforts to take deliberate and targeted steps for every girl to fully realise the equal enjoyment of the right to education, and to review, repeal and eliminate, as appropriate, laws, policies and practices that negatively affect the right to education of every girl. The Council requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report on how climate change can impact the realisation of the equal enjoyment of the right to education by every girl, as well as highlighting how the realisation of the equal enjoyment of the right to education by every girl can contribute to the climate change agenda.

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

In a resolution on the situation of human rights in Burundi, the Council called for an immediate end to all human rights violations and abuses and for the full respect of all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Council decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burundi for a further period of one year, and urged the Government to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur.

In a resolution on the situation of human rights in the Russian Federation, the Council strongly urged the Russian authorities to comply with all Russia’s obligations under international human rights law and decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Russian Federation for a period of one year. The Council called upon the Russian authorities to establish full and non-selective engagement with all United Nations human rights mechanisms and to allow the mandate holder unhindered access to visit the country.

Action on Resolutions under Agenda Item Five on Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms

In a resolution on cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights, the Council urged all States to prevent and refrain from all acts of intimidation or reprisal, both online and offline. It invited the Secretary-General to continue to provide the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights with adequate resources to prevent and address allegations of acts of intimidation or reprisal in the most effective and gender-responsive manner, and invited the Secretary-General to submit the report he or she presents annually to the Council on cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights.

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

In a resolution on a world of sports free from racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, the Council urged States, in partnership with national, regional and international sports federations and organizations to develop and finance awareness-raising campaigns for preventing and combatting racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in sport. The Council requested the High Commissioner and other relevant parts of the United Nations Organization to support the development and implementation of practical measures and policies with international sporting bodies aimed at combatting racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in sport.

In a resolution on the mandate of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, the Council decided to extend the mandate of the Working Group for a further period of three years. It requested the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights to strengthen the substantive and administrative support provided to the Working Group in order for it to effectively fulfil its mandate.

In a resolution on from rhetoric to reality: a global call for concrete action against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, the Council requested the International Independent Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in Law Enforcement to present its annual report to the General Assembly. The Council requested the High Commissioner to facilitate the participation of the group of legal experts in the fourteenth session of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards, and to task them with providing advice with a view to contributing to discussions on the elaboration of a draft additional protocol criminalising acts of a racist and xenophobic nature. It also requested the Chair-Rapporteur of the Ad Hoc Committee to present in person a progress report to the General Assembly at its seventy-ninth session. The Council requested the Chair-Rapporteur of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action to continue her research and to present to the Working Group at its next session a document compiling existing language to issues pertaining to the draft declaration on the promotion and full respect of the human rights of people of African descent. The Council decided that the Group of Independent Eminent Experts will meet annually in Geneva for a four-day session, and that it will conduct two annual advocacy visits of two working days each to raise awareness about the need to enhance the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

Action on Resolutions under Agenda Item 10 on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building

In a resolution on the enhancement of technical cooperation and capacity building in the field of human rights, the Council called for the Office of the High Commissioner and other relevant United Nations agencies to continue to provide timely and quality support for States’ requests in their efforts to implement recommendations accepted in the context of the Universal Periodic Review and to prepare their national reports for the review, and encouraged greater coordination in this regard. The Council decided that the theme of the annual thematic panel discussion under agenda item 10, to be held at its fifty-sixth session, would be “Enhancing technical cooperation and capacity building in the implementation of Universal Periodic Review recommendations”.

In a resolution on advisory services and technical assistance for Cambodia, the Council welcomed the efforts made by the Government of Cambodia to combat crimes, such as trafficking in persons, the exploitation of labour and the sexual exploitation of women and children. The Council decided to extend for two years the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, and requested the Special Rapporteur to report on the implementation of his mandate to the Council at its fifty-seventh and sixtieth sessions, including to make recommendations on technical assistance and capacity building for the protection and promotion of human rights in the country.

In a resolution on technical assistance and capacity building for Yemen in the field of human rights, the Council called upon all parties to renew the truce and immediately implement all of its provisions, called for the lifting of the siege that the Houthis have imposed on the city of Ta‘izz, and called upon all parties to immediately implement the Stockholm Agreement in order to begin negotiations for a comprehensive and inclusive political solution to the current crisis in Yemen. The Council welcomed the technical assistance provided by the Office of the High Commissioner to the National Commission of Inquiry, and requested the High Commissioner to continue to provide substantive capacity building and technical assistance to the Government of Yemen and all requisite technical and logistical support to the National Commission of Inquiry, and to submit its comprehensive report on alleged human rights violations in all parts of Yemen, as soon as it is available.

In a resolution on the penitentiary system, security and justice: enhancement of technical cooperation and capacity building to protect human rights in Honduras, the Council requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide technical assistance and capacity building to national civilian authorities in penitentiary, security and justice matters for a period of one year, to improve the situation of human rights in Honduras. It requested the High Commissioner to submit a report to the Council at its fifty-seventh session, to be followed by an interactive dialogue.

In a resolution on technical assistance and capacity building in human rights in the Central African Republic, the Council decided to extend by one year the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic. The Council decided to hold, at its fifty-fifth session, a high-level dialogue allowing it to evaluate the evolution of the situation of human rights in the field, with a particular focus on the situation of women and girls.

In a resolution on assistance to Somalia in the field of human rights, the Council decided to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia for a period of one year, to monitor and report on the situation of human rights with a view to making recommendations on technical assistance and capacity building. It requested the Independent Expert to report to the Council at its fifty-seventh session and to the General Assembly at its seventy-ninth session, and requested the Independent Expert to provide an update to the Council in her report on progress on the implementation of the indicators in the transition plan to inform future action by the Council.

In a resolution on the establishment of a regional office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights for the Caribbean Community, the Council welcomed the initiative of the Government of the Bahamas to host a regional office of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for the Caribbean Community, and welcomed the willingness of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to engage with the Caribbean Community to conclude an agreement with the host country. It requested the Secretary-General to provide all the resources necessary to establish and operate the regional office.

In a resolution on technical assistance and capacity building in the field of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Council decided to renew for one year the mandate of the International Team of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and requested it to provide the technical support necessary to the Government in the effective implementation of its national transitional justice policy. The Council also requested the High Commissioner to continue to provide the Government with technical assistance and further asked him to organise, before its fifty-seventh session, a meeting with the goal of evaluating the progress made in the fields of medico-legal and transitional justice.

Other Matters

The Committee elected members of the Advisory Committee: for the Group of Asia-Pacific States, Riva Ganguly Das (India), Buhm-Suk Baek (Republic of Korea); for the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, Jewel G. L. Major (Bahamas); for the Group of Western European and other States, Catherine Van de Heyning (Belgium); for the Group of Eastern European States, Patrycja Sasnal (Poland); and for the Group of African States, Joseph Gérard Angoh (Mauritius), and Nadia Amal Bernoussi (Morocco).

The Council also appointed 12 mandate holders: for the mandate of Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Gehad Madi (Egypt); for the mandate of Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity, Cecilia Bailliet (Argentina); for the mandate of Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Nicolas Levrat (Switzerland); for the mandate of Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Ben Saul (Australia); for the mandate of Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, Graeme Reid (South Africa); for the mandate of Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy (Hansen’s disease) and their family members, Beatriz Miranda Galarza (Ecuador); for the mandate of Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, Heba Hagrass (Egypt); for the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls, member from African States, Laura Nyirinkindi (Uganda); for the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls, member from Asia-Pacific States, Haina Lu (China); for the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls, member from Eastern European States, Ivana Krstic (Serbia); for the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls, member from Western European and other States, Claudia Flores (United States of America); and for 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, member from Eastern European States, Jovana Jezdimirovic Ranito (Serbia).


Produced by the United Nations Information Service in Geneva for use of the information media; not an official record.
English and French versions of our releases are different as they are the product of two separate coverage teams that work independently.

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