Human Rights Council adopts 10 texts, requests a high-level panel discussion on genocide and a study
Asks Special Rapporteur on Unilateral Coercive Measures to Present a Set of Elements to be Considered in the Preparation of a Draft Declaration on the Negative Impact of Unilateral Coercive Measures
The Human Rights Council this morning adopted 10 resolutions, including texts requesting the convening of a high-level panel discussion on genocide; and a study on the role of capacity building in the promotion of human rights. The Council also requested the Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures to present in his next report a set of elements to be considered as appropriate in the preparation of a draft United Nations declaration on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures. On the issue of genocide, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights was requested to organize at the thirty-ninth session of the Human Rights Council a high-level panel discussion to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The Council also requested the Secretary-General to prepare a follow-up report based on information provided by States on the implementation of the provisions of the present resolution. In a text on cooperation in the field of human rights, adopted by a vote of 28 in favour, 1 against and 17 abstentions, States were called upon to uphold multilateralism and the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee was requested to conduct a study on the role of technical assistance and capacity building in fostering mutually beneficial cooperation in promoting and protecting human rights. By the terms of a text on unilateral coercive measures, adopted by a vote of 28 in favour, 15 against and 3 abstentions, the Special Rapporteur on the matter was requested to present to the Council in his next report a set of elements to be considered as appropriate in the preparation of a draft United Nations declaration on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights. The Council decided that its next annual interactive debate on the rights of persons with disabilities would be held at its fortieth session with a focus on article 26 of the Convention on habilitation and rehabilitation. The Council requested the High Commissioner to prepare its annual study on the rights of persons with disabilities on article 26 of the Convention. The Council also decided to incorporate into its programme of work a thematic panel discussion with regard to promoting human rights through sport and the Olympic ideal, to be held once every four years at its session preceding the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. In a text on torture, States were urged to adopt, implement and comply fully with legal and procedural safeguards against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and ensure that these safeguards were not compromised by any form or practice of corruption. The Council decided to continue its consideration of the question of the rights of the child in accordance with its programme of work and relevant resolutions, and to focus its next annual full-day meeting on the theme “Empowering children with disabilities for the enjoyment of their human rights, including through inclusive education”. Turning to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Council decided to organize two one-day intersessional meetings for dialogue and cooperation on human rights and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In another text, the Council decided to invite the President of the Economic and Social Council, commencing in 2018, to brief it on an annual basis on the discussions of the high-level political forum, including on gaps, challenges and progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. On terrorism, the Council called upon States to ensure that measures to counter terrorism and violent extremism conducive to terrorism complied with international law. States were also urged not to resort to profiling based on stereotypes founded on ethnic, racial or religious grounds or any other ground of discrimination prohibited by international law. Speaking in introduction of draft texts were the delegations of Greece, Denmark, Bulgaria (on behalf of the European Union), Uruguay, Venezuela (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Mexico, China, Denmark (on behalf of a group of countries), Chile, South Africa, Armenia, and Egypt. United States, Belgium, Slovakia (on behalf of the European Union), Venezuela, Egypt, Cuba, Germany, Pakistan, South Africa, Chile, Panama, Australia, Rwanda, and Saudi Arabia spoke in general comments. Speaking in an explanation of the vote before or after the vote were United States, Slovakia (on behalf of the European Union), Brazil, Mexico, Australia, Mongolia, Japan, Switzerland, Republic of Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, and Kyrgyzstan. At 1 p.m., the Council will continue taking action on resolutions and decisions before closing its thirty-seventh session. Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Including the Right to Development Action on Resolution on Promoting Human Rights through Sport and the Olympic Ideal In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.31) on promoting human rights through sport and the Olympic ideal, adopted without a vote, the Council encourages States to promote sport as a means to combat all forms of discrimination; and decides to incorporate into its programme of work a thematic panel discussion with regard to promoting human rights through sport and the Olympic ideal, to be held once every four years at the session of the Human Rights Council preceding the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, and also decides that the discussions will be fully accessible to persons with disabilities. The Council also decides that the first such panel discussion will be organized at its forty-fourth session, ahead of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Greece, introducing draft resolution L.31 on behalf of sponsors Brazil, China, Republic of Congo, Cyprus, Japan, Lebanon, Morocco, Republic of Korea, Russia and Greece, presented the text which was the result of two rounds of informal negotiations. The resolution took into account the work accomplished thus fur with regard to sport and the Olympic idea and had the ambition to deepen the scope of resolution 31/23. L.31 brought in new elements such as women empowerment and gender equality, persons with disabilities, volunteer movements, and the participation of teams of refugees. The resolution called for the Council to incorporate into its programme of work a thematic panel discussion with regard to promoting human rights through sport and the Olympic ideal. United States, speaking in a general comment, was pleased to support the draft resolution. The United States had been long supporting sport activities in the promotion of sport and international labour standards and would continue to work to integrate human rights in international labour standards. The Council adopted the draft resolution without a vote. Action on Resolution on the Negative Impact of Corruption on the Right to be Free from Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.32) on the negative impact of corruption on the right to be free from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon States to adopt such legislative and other measures as may be necessary to establish as a criminal offence the acts of corruption as required in the United Nations Convention against Corruption and as required in other relevant regional anti-corruption treaties to which they are a party; and urges States to adopt, implement and comply fully with legal and procedural safeguards against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and ensure that these safeguards are not compromised by any form or practice of corruption. The Council underlines that one key aspect of prevention measures against corruption is to address the needs of those in vulnerable situations and persons belonging to marginalized groups, who may be the first persons negatively impacted by corruption and may consequently be in increased risk of being subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Denmark, introducing draft resolution L.32, said it had a long tradition of being a main sponsor of resolutions on torture in both the Council and the General Assembly. The basis for the draft resolution was the role that the rule of law and good governance played in torture prevention. The text identified areas where corruption had a particularly negative impact on the fight against torture. Measures to combat torture and corruption could be mutually reinforcing, including in the training of law enforcement personnel, judges and other public officials. Belgium, speaking in a general comment, was strongly committed to fight against torture and other forms of degrading treatment. Belgium welcomed the fact that the resolution focused on the links between corruption and torture, two illegal practices tightly intertwined. The importance of independent law enforcement mechanisms was emphasized in the text and the process of drafting the resolution was highly transparent. Slovakia, speaking in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, reiterated that this was another step in the fight against torture. Members States of the European Union were proud to join the consensus in adopting this draft resolution. Venezuela, speaking in a general comment, considered that L.32 sought to bring a new substantive concept to this area. However, this issue should be brought up at the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime, not the Council and therefore Venezuela could not support it. Egypt, speaking in a general comment, welcomed draft resolution L.32 and announced its sponsorship of the text as part of Egypt’s policy to combat corruption and torture. The Council adopted the draft resolution without a vote. Action on Resolution on the Rights of the Child: Protection of the Rights of the Child in Humanitarian Situations In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.33) on the rights of the child: protection of the rights of the child in humanitarian situations, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to contribute to the work of the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development on the follow-up of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development… in particular by providing comprehensive inputs from a child’s rights perspective, to the yearly thematic reviews of progress at the Forum. The Council decides to continue its consideration of the question of the rights of the child in accordance with its programme of work and its resolutions 7/29 of 28 March 2008 and 19/37 of 23 March 2012, and to focus its next annual full-day meeting on the theme “Empowering children with disabilities for the enjoyment of their human rights, including through inclusive education”, and requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report on that theme, in close cooperation with all relevant stakeholders.., and to present it to the Human Rights Council at its fortieth session, with a view to providing information for the annual day of discussion on the rights of the child. Bulgaria, speaking on behalf of the European Union to introduce L.33 on the protection of the rights of the child, said that when crises struck, children were the first to suffer. They suffered unspeakable physical and psychological damage. One out of three suffered such damage while 50 million had been uprooted from their homes. The European Union thanked all delegations for their constructive engagement. The text presented would continue to improve the protection of children in the humanitarian context. The European Union proposed oral revisions to PP11, inserting a phrase on “the best interest of the child;” OP14 inserting “in consultation with children;” and OP22 inserting “strongly condemns all attacks directed against civilian objects.” The oral revisions reflected the widest possible consensus, and it was hoped that the draft resolution would be adopted as orally revised, in consensus. Uruguay, speaking on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group, said this was a topic of particular urgency, and invited States to take all measures to protect children in disasters, when they were more vulnerable to violence, abuse and exploitation. This text was in line with international law and proposals by humanitarian actors, with the aim to provide health care, education, reunification, identification as well as other rights to children, always upholding the best interest of the child. It highlighted the discussion today, which had concluded that the Convention of the Rights of the Child was applicable in all situations. The consultation process of this draft had been open and transparent. The text presented was balanced, having taken into account the consensus expressed by all countries. Uruguay invited all States to co-sponsor this draft resolution by consensus. United States, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, joined the consensus on the draft resolution to underscore the priority it placed on domestic and international efforts to promote and protect the wellbeing of children. However, it dissociated itself from two paragraphs referring to international legal obligations on climate and federalism. The United States reiterated the understanding expressed in its position on the New Declaration and thus dissociated itself from preambular paragraph 11. It also dissociated itself from the language regarding the policies, systems and procedures applicable to migrant children. The United States made sure that they were treated in a safe and dignified manner, and its current practices with respect to children were consistent with its international commitments. It noted that the Council’s resolutions did not oblige States to join human rights or other international instruments or any obligations under them. The Council then adopted the draft resolution as orally revised without a vote. Action on Resolution on Human Rights and Unilateral Coercive Measures In a resolution (A/HRC/37/L.34) on human rights and unilateral coercive measures, adopted by a vote of 28 in favour, 15 against and 3 abstentions, the Council requests the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights to identify and propose concrete measures to ensure the removal of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights of victims, and to focus on the resources and compensation necessary to promote accountability and reparations for victims in his next report to the Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly; and also, taking into account the views of Member States, to present to the Human Rights Council in his next report, a set of elements to be considered as appropriate in the preparation of a Draft United Nations Declaration on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights. The Council requests the High Commissioner, in discharging his functions relating to the promotion, realization and protection of the right to development and bearing in mind the continuing impact of unilateral coercive measures on the population of developing countries, to give priority to the present resolution in his annual report. The results of the vote were as follows: In favour (28): Angola, Burundi, Chile, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Togo, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela. Against (15): Australia, Belgium, Croatia, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States. Abstentions (3): Afghanistan, Brazil, Mexico. Venezuela, introducing draft resolution L.34 on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said it also enjoyed co-sponsorship of Jordan on behalf of the Arab Group and Togo, on behalf of the African Group. At the Margarita summit, States had expressed their dissatisfaction with unilateral coercive measures and announced their decision to require the annulment of such measures. The historic position of the Non-Aligned Movement was to condemn unilateral coercive measures, as was done in the declaration of New York. New elements had been incorporated in this draft resolution to update the resolution 34/30 on the same topic. The Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures was required to report to the Council on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on human rights and to prepare elements to draft a declaration on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on human rights. The Office of the High Commissioner was required to give priority in its report to the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on human rights. Cuba, speaking in a general comment, said that draft resolution L.34 was an expression of genuine will to end the negative practice of unilateral coercive measures. Countries expressing opposition to this draft resolution were the very same countries imposing unilateral coercive measures. Those countries sought to bring double standards to the Council. Cuban people knew too well the consequences and impact of unilateral coercive measures, having been subjected to the economic and trade blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States. Slovakia, speaking on behalf of the European Union Member States that are Members of the Human Rights Council in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reiterated that the introduction and implementation of restrictive measures must always be undertaken in accordance with international law. Such measures must respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular due process and the right to an effective remedy. The measures imposed must always be proportionate to their objective. Sanctions were one of the European Union’s tools to promote the objectives of the Common Foreign and Security Policy: peace, democracy, and respect for the rule of law, human rights and international law. They were always part of a comprehensive policy approach involving political dialogue and complementary efforts. The European Union’s restrictive measures were not punitive in nature but sought to bring about a change in the policy or conduct of those targeted. Measures were therefore always targeted at such policies or activities, the means to conduct them and those responsible for them. Despite the European Union’s numerous concerns about the Council’s initiatives on unilateral coercive measures and possible biased political agendas that might be pursued, including by the Special Rapporteur, the European Union had always actively participated both in the informal consultation on the resolution and in the previously Council-mandated panel and workshops. Nonetheless, bearing in mind the nature and content of this draft resolution, which dwelled essentially on relations between States instead of on concrete human rights of individuals, the European Union recalled its position that it considered that the Human Rights Council was not the appropriate forum to address this issue. Finally, the European Union could not support any of the new elements introduced in this resolution. Its long-standing position that sanctions were not intrinsically unlawful in nature prevented them from supporting the premise that their imposition must give rise to accountability or reparations. Furthermore, it did not see the need for the elaboration of a draft United Nations declaration on the issue, nor for the High Commissioner to give priority to the present resolution in his annual report, as it was the European Union’s strong belief that there was sufficient work being done so far in the United Nations system. For the above mentioned reasons, the European Union could not support the draft resolution and called for a vote. The European Union Member States that were members of the Human Rights Council would vote against the resolution. Brazil, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, condemned unilateral coercive measures as they were contrary to international law, international humanitarian law, and the United Nations Charter. Brazil stressed their potential negative impact on the enjoyment of human rights. Brazil was, nevertheless, concerned about some new elements in the draft resolution, such as the possible United Nations declaration on the negative effects of unilateral coercive measures, which would require more time for negotiations due to the complexities of the issue. The situation in Venezuela had created a dilemma with regard to Brazil’s traditional position on the matter. In Venezuela threats against human rights defenders were the result of the policies administered by the Venezuelan Government itself, such as using access to food to influence the popular will. Brazil thus decided to abstain on the draft resolution. Mexico, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reminded that it traditionally supported the initiative when the use of unilateral coercive measures was in contravention of the United Nations Charter and contrary to international law. But it had concerns regarding the development of the text, namely closed negotiations and the inclusion of a new paragraph that did not enjoy the support of the membership. Mexico disagreed with paragraph 24, which requested the Special Rapporteur to submit a proposal of elements for the elaboration of a new United Nations declaration on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on human rights. It was necessary to maintain the spirit of cooperation in the United Nations and avoid duplication of work. The proposal for coming up with a declaration on the issue would not contribute to international standards on the matter. Mexico would thus abstain from voting on the draft resolution. United States, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, once again categorically rejected the premise that underlined the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures. The imposition of targeted sanctions did not violate human rights. In fact, targeted sanctions could be a powerful tool to promote human rights accountability for those who violated or abused human rights. The resolution before the Council today blatantly mischaracterized international law and called into question legitimate practices undertaken by many United Nations Member States. Sanctions, whether unilateral or multilateral, could be a successful means of achieving foreign policy objectives. Financial sanctions, bans on technology and arms transfers, and travel restrictions helped impede the ability of designated persons from engaging in actions that threatened international peace and security. In cases where the United States had applied sanctions, the measures had been implemented with specific objectives in mind, including as a means to promote the rule of law or democratic systems, to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms, or to encourage improved resource governance. The United States believed that sanctions could be an appropriate, effective, and legitimate alternative to the use of force and that the United States sanctions were consistent with international law and in line with the United Nations Charter. For these reasons, the United States would vote “no” on the resolution and urged all delegations to vote against it.
Australia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said sanctions had played a critical role over the years in fighting oppression and promoting freedoms, including by ending apartheid. Sanctions in line with international obligations were directed at advancing accountability. Australia did not support this resolution and would vote no. The Council then adopted the draft resolution with a vote of 28 votes in favour, 15 against and 3 abstentions. Action on Resolution on the Equality and Non-Discrimination of Persons with Disabilities