Human Rights Council, 25th Session, Week 3

The World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) is a global nonprofit organization representing and coordinating a membership of over 100 national United Nations Associations.
Friday, March 21, 2014

During its third week, the Human Rights Council focused on Item 4, 5 and 6 of the Agenda, namely the Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention, the Human rights bodies and mechanisms and the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

Under Item 4, the Council held three interactive dialogues on the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran and Myanmar.

Among the violations in the DPRK were those pertaining to the right to food, those associated with prison camps, torture and inhuman treatment, arbitrary detention, discrimination, freedom of expression, the right to life, freedom of movement, and enforced disappearances. The HRC unanimously expressed its willingness to tackle these profound violations and improve the situation.

Highlights

On 18 March the HRC held an Interactive Dialogue with the independent commission of inquiry (COI) on the Syrian Arab Republic. The report, presented by Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro Chair of the Commission, revealed that both Government forces as well as non-state armed groups committed war crimes, including murder, execution, torture, hostage-taking, violations of international humanitarian law tantamount to enforced disappearance, rape and sexual violence, recruiting and using children in hostilities, attacking protected objects and forcibly displacing civilians.

Main issues discussed during the interactive dialogues between the SRs and States included the following:

  • The humanitarian situation within the country: States underlined the need to guarantee immediate access to bring humanitarian workers and ensure protection to medical facilities and personnel.
  • Protection of civilians: The COI pleaded the Syrian Government to end the bloodshed in the country and to fulfill its obligations under international human rights law to ensure the protection of civilians
  • Accountability: A vast majority of States requested to hold the Syrian government responsible for the violence against its population, the use of chemical weapons, specifically sarin, as well as the use of starvation as a method of warfare. Other States including Austria, the Czech Republic and France, encouraged the Council to refer the Syrian government to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

On 19, 20 and 21 March the Human Rights Council adopted the outcomes of the UPR of Belize, the Central African Republic, Chad, China, Congo, Jordan, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Senegal.

During the adoption of its reportChina said that it accorded great importance to the recommendations made and would accept any recommendation that was suitable to China’s conditions. Some recommendations had not been accepted, because they were not practicable and were at odds with realities in China, such as those regarding the death penalty.

Delegations encouraged China to continue taking all measures to protect human rights and combat all forms of discrimination. Speakers expressed concerns about policies vis-à-vis ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, as well as about the detention of human rights activists and lawyers. Several delegations and civil society organizations expressed their concern about the detention and the circumstances of the death of Chinese Human Rights Defender Cao Shunli, who was scheduled to travel to Geneva in preparation for the UPR in September 2013 but was detained and died in captivity in March 2014.

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