Decisions of the 19th Regular Session of the HRC

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HRC Council, Room XX (Photo: J. M. Ferré)
HRC Council, Room XX (Photo: J. M. Ferré)

A very busy session has come to an end. The Human Rights Council decided upon a series of resolutions in the final two days of its 19th Regular Session. Among the most controversial ones were the country situations in Sri Lanka, Iran, Syria as well as the resolution on the Forum of Minority Issues and the one on human rights and the environment.

Here are some of the most important resolutions of this spring session:

 

Promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka

In a resolution on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka, adopted by a vote of 24 in favour, 15 against and 8 abstentions, the Council noted with concern that the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission of Sri Lanka did not adequately address serious allegations of violations of international law. It called upon the Government to undertake the steps necessary to fulfil its relevant legal obligations and commitment to initiate credible and independent actions to ensure justice, equity, accountability and reconciliation for all Sir Lankans.

It was a highly debated resolution – with States, such as Cuba, China, Russia, Ecuador and others declaring that the approach was biased and politicised, opposing the discussion of country-specific situations outside the UPR. The adoption of the resolution was therefore an important step of the Council.                                        

Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

The Council adopted this resolution by a vote of 22 in favour, 5 against and 20 abstentions. It welcomes the report and recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran and expresses serious concern at the developments noted in that report as well as the lack of access permitted to the Special Rapporteur to travel to Iran. Furthermore it decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran for a further period of one year, and requests the Special Rapporteur to submit a report on the implementation of his mandate to the Human Rights Council at its 22nd session, and to the General Assembly at its 67th session.

Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

In the resolution, adopted without a vote, the Council expresses its very serious concern at the ongoing grave, widespread and systematic human rights violations in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. It decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for a period of one year and urges the Government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur, permitting him unrestricted access to visit the country.

Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic

Concerning the situation of human rights in Syria, the Council strongly condemned the sharply escalating widespread, systematic and gross violations of human rights perpetrated by the Syrian authorities and the attacks against civilians in cities and villages across the country. The resolution was adopted by a vote of 41 in favour, 3 against and 2 abstentions. The Council decided to extend the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry established by the Human Rights Council in its resolution and requested the Commission of Inquiry to conduct a mapping exercise of gross violations of human rights since March 2011, including an assessment of casualty figures, and to publish it periodically.

Situation of human rights in Myanmar

On the situation of human rights in Myanmar, the Council urged the Government of Myanmar to ensure that the by-elections of 1 April were free, transparent and fair. It called for an immediate end to the continuing recruitment and use of child soldiers by all parties, and decided to extend for one year the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. The resolution was adopted without a vote although several States dissociated themselves.

Birth registration and the right of everyone to recognition everywhere as a person before the law

Another important resolution concerned birth registration and the right of everyone to recognition everywhere as a person before the law. The Council called upon States to establish or strengthen existing governmental institutions responsible for birth registration and the preservation and security of such records. States should identify and remove physical, administrative and other barriers that impeded access to birth registration. The resolution was adopted without a vote.

Human Rights and the Environment

In this resolution, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to appoint, for a period of three years, an Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. The expert will have to make recommendations that could help the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals, particularly Goal 7.

There were also 5 resolutions passed on Agenda Item 7

Amongst them the Council decided to send an independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Moreover, the Council called on Israel not to obstruct the process of investigation and to cooperate fully with the mission. These resolutions were contested since some States highlighted that there should be no singling out of one state under one full Agenda Item.

Forum of Minority Issues

There was a hot debate about the resolution on the Forum of Minority Issues. The Council decided that the Forum would continue to meet annually for two working days allocated to thematic discussions and that the Independent Expert would continue to guide its work. China was unsuccessful at integrating clauses that would allow further impediment to the action of civil society organisations in Minority Forum with its amendment being rejected by a vote of 15 in favour, 18 against and 12 abstentions.

Agenda Item 10

Under this item, resolutions on technical cooperation and assistance were adopted on countries, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Haiti, Guinea, Yemen and Libya as well as the Voluntary Technical Assistance Fund to Support the Participation of Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States.

The following mandate holders were appointed by HRC 19

  1. Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantee of non-recurrence
    Mr. Pablo DE GREIFF
  2. Expert Mechanism on the rights of indigenous peoples
    Mr. Danfred TITUS
  3. Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order
    Mr. Alfred DE ZAYAS
  4. Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic
    Mr. Paulo PINHEIRO
  5. Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan
    Mr. Mashood BADERIN

It has been a very fruitful session and we hope that the June session will be as successful!

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