Decisions of the 20th Session of the Human Rights Council

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The last two days of the 20th Session of the Human Rights Council saw the adoption of a total of 23 resolutions, including the following:

Human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic

This resolution, proposed by the United States of America, was adopted with 41 votes in favour, 3 against and 3 abstentions. Following up on the meeting of the Syria Action Group on 30th June, the resolution calls for the resumption of Special Envoy Kofi Annan's 6-point peace plan, an investigation into human rights abuses committed by the Syrian authorities, and for unlimited access to Syria to be granted to the Commission of Inquiry.

Situation of human rights in Belarus

This EU-led resolution passed with 22 votes in favour, 5 against and 20 abstentions. The government's restriction of civil and political liberties and its alleged use of illtreatment and torture of political prisoners are condemned in strong terms, and the resolution establishes the appointment of a Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Belarus. Cyprus, speaking on behalf of the EU in its introductory statement on the resolution, drew attention to the fact that Belarus is the only European country that practises the death penalty, and urged for a moratorium.

The effects of foreign debt on the full enjoyment of all human rights

Cuba's resolution on foreign debt, adopted with 31 in favour, 11 against and 5 abstentions, was proposed in light of the global economic crisis, with a view to alleviate the financial burden on developing countries. Grants, concessional loans and removal of trade barriers are among the resolution's recommendations for debt relief, allowing poorer countries to achieve long-term growth and poverty reduction.

The promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the internet

Adopted without a vote, this resolution was submitted by Sweden, United States of America, Tunisia, Turkey, Brazil and Nigeria, and is the first Human Rights Council resolution regarding the internet. It affirms that the same human rights that we hold offline must be accorded to us online, especially the right to freedom of expression. The resolution recognises the importance of the internet for innovation, growth and development and the benefits that an open and freely accessible internet confers on society.

The right to a nationality - women and children

This resolution, submitted by the United States of America and supported by Botswana, Iraq, Colombia, Mexico, Slovakia and Turkey, was adopted without a vote. It aims at reducing statelessness among women and children by calling upon states to enable free birth registration and adopt nationality legislation, among other measures. In their introductory statement, the United States spoke of the vulnerability of stateless persons to becoming victims of trafficking and other forms of exploitation, and the importance of women being able to confer nationality to their children in the same way as men.

Appointment of Independent Expert

During this session, an Independent Expert on human rights obligations related to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment was appointed.

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