Outcomes of the 22nd Session of the Human Rights Council

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GENEVA - During the fourth week of the 22nd session of the Human Rights Council, 12 country specific and 25 thematic resolutions were adopted. Below is a selection of highlights from the final week of the session.

Country Specific Resolutions

The USA submitted a resolution on Promoting Reconciliation and Accountability in Sri Lanka. They expressed serious concern that not enough has been done to investigate the allegations of violations of international human rights law during the civil war that raged in the country from 2006 to 2009. In the aftTheeresolutirmath of the war, the Sri Lankan government has failed to hold perpetrators accountable and end the culture of impunity.

The resolution urges Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations in the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ report on Promoting Reconciliation and Accountability in Sri Lanka and the recommendations from the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission. It calls the government to effectively cooperate with all UN mechanisms and for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to present an interim-report on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka during the 24th session of the Human Rights Council. The resolution was adopted by vote with 25 votes in favor, 13 against and 8 abstentions.

Ireland, on behalf of the European Union, submitted a resolution on the Situation of human rights in Myanmar. The resolution applauds the continued progress of political reform, democratization and while welcoming inclusion by the Government of civil society and opposition parties in political dialogue.

However, conflicts including violations of international law continue in some areas of the country and the resolution underscores the need for independence, impartiality and accountability of the judiciary as a key tool to ensure the rule of law. The international community is encouraged to support the government through technical assistance and capacity-building. The resolution supports a one year extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. It was adopted without a vote.

The resolution Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, tabled by Sweden, regretted Iran’s unwillingness to cooperate with requests put forward in previous resolutions by the General Assembly and Human Rights Council. In this regard, the Iranian government’s failure to allow the Special Rapporteur access to the country is alarming. The resolution commends the work of the Special Rapporteur and calls for an extension of the mandate for one year. It was adopted through a vote, with 26 votes in favor, 17 abstentions and 2 votes against.

Ireland, on behalf of the European Union and Japan, presented a resolution on The situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The document deplores the deterioration of the humanitarian and human rights situation in the country, especially abuses including torture, enforced disappearances, violation of the right to food, freedom of expression and the right to life. It identifies women, children, elderly and the disabled as particular vulnerable groups for human rights abuses. The resolution calls for a one year extension of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. It was adopted unanimously and will, for the first time, set up a Commission of Inquiry into human rights abuses in the country, which the resolution says may amount to crimes against humanity.

The resolution on Assistance to the Republic of Mali in the field of human rights, presented by Gabon on behalf of the African group, calls for an immediate halt to all human rights violations in the country and invites the government to organize free, fair and transparent elections as soon as possible. The resolution requests the creation of a one-year mandate for an independent expert on the situation of human rights in Mali. It calls the international community to provide technical and capacity-building assistance and requests the High Commissioner to submit a report on the human rights situation to the 23rd session of the Human Rights Council. It was adopted without a vote.

Presented by a list of countries including Jordan, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, the resolution Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic, expresses grave concern over the continuing violence and the systematic and widespread human rights abuses perpetrated by the Syrian authorities. It condemns intentional attacks against medical facilities, acts of violence against humanitarian personnel, sexual violence committed against women and the involvement of children in armed conflict. It emphasizes the need to end impunity and to hold accountable all those responsible for violations. It stresses the paramount importance of follow up on the work of the Commission of Inquiry and urges the international community to provide financial support to countries hosting Syrian refugees. Finally, the resolution reiterates the call upon the Syrian authorities to allow and facilitate full access of humanitarian organizations and decides to extend the mandate for the Commissioner to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights abuses. The resolution was adopted by vote, 41 in favor, 1 against and 5 abstentions.

Thematic resolutions

Norway presented the resolution Protecting human rights defenders to the Council, strongly calling upon States to end impunity for acts of reprisals against human rights defenders and to avoid impediments to their work. The document calls for States not to impose discriminatory restrictions on potential sources of funding aimed at supporting their work. It reaffirms the positive obligation upon States to create a safe and enabling environment for defenders in which they can operate free from hindrance and insecurity. Moreover, it includes a call to ensure that laws do not prevent public officials from being held accountable, and that laws to protect national security are not misused to target defenders. Celebrated by civil society around the world, this landmark resolution was adopted without a vote and with broad cross-regional support.

Birth registration and the right of everyone to recognition everywhere as a person before the law, submitted by Mexico and Turkey, recalls the State obligation to register all children immediately after birth. The resolution urges States to identify and remove obstacles that infringe on access to birth registration including barriers relating to poverty, gender, nationality and displacement. It requests the OHCHR to prepare a report on all forms of hindrance for access to universal birth registration and possession of documentary proof of birth, to be submitted to the 27th session of the Human Rights Council. The resolution was adopted without a vote

Submitted by a number of countries including Ecuador, Maldives and Romania, Contribution of parliaments to the work of the Human Rights Council and its universal periodic review, acknowledge the key role that parliaments play in the implementation of international commitments. By deepening the collaboration between the Council and parliaments much can be gained in order to ensure that the Universal Periodic Review has the greatest impact possible on national level. The document includes a request to the OHCHR to organize a panel discussion on the issue and present a summary on the outcome to the Council. The resolution was adopted by consensus.   

Education as a tool to prevent racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, was presented by countries including Brazil, Colombia and Honduras. It draws on the Durban Declaration which states that education is essential to change attitudes based on racism. It also affirms that the realization of the right to quality education for all contributes to the eradication of poverty, racism and related intolerance. Moreover, the resolution takes a positive stance on enhancing the use of new communication technologies to establish educational networks combating racism, xenophobia and related acts of hatred and discrimination. The resolution was adopted with 46 votes in favor and 1 abstention.

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