Human Rights Council, 26th session

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GENEVA - The 26th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) kicked off on Tuesday 10 June 2014. The Council, established in 2006, gathers 3 times a year in the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The agenda of the council is divided into 10 items that are tackled throughout the month. Alongside the formal debate, States and civil society organization held parallel events to raise their concerns on specific issues linked to Human Rights, to share experience and encourage interactive dialogue.

Resolutions and Outcomes

During the 26th session concluded on 27 June 2014, the Council has adopted 34 texts on a wide range of issues.

A/HRC/26/L.8: The question of death penalty States that have not yet abolished the death penalty to ensure this treatment is not imposed for offences committed by persons below 18 years of age.

A/HRC/26/L.4: The continuing grave deterioration in the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic The resolution strongly condemns the grave violation of human rights and international humanitarian law in Syria. Members’ States highlighted the lack of cooperation by the Syrian authorities with the commission of inquiry. The resolution encourages the Syrian Arab Republic to undertake urgent humanitarian measures in order to put an end to the abuses committed against the civilians in particular women and children. Additionally, the Council condemns the use of chemical weapons and all indiscriminate methods of warfare which are prohibited under international law.

A/HRC/26/L.10: Extreme poverty and human rights The Council expressed its deep concern on the persistence of poverty in all countries of the world and its expansion in developing countries. Eradication of poverty must remain a high priority for the international community. The Council welcomed the work of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights on fiscal and tax policy and decided to extend its mandate for a period of three years.

Current Special Rapporteurs list

Documents and Resolutions

Opening remarks

President of the Council, Ambassador Baudelaire Ndong Ella of Gabon opened the 26th session of the HRC. On the first day, the Council welcomed the High Commissioner of Human Rights Navi Pillay, for one last time before stepping down in August this year. She presented an update on the activities of her Office. Among several issues, Mrs Pillay particularly highlighted the increaserequests from the Security Council for information and advice on human rights issues. The High Commissioner also referred to human rights situations of concern such as violence against women and the importance of independent journalism in any democratic society.

“To eradicate poverty, we must address inequality,”H.E. Mrs. Navi Pillay

Panel discussion on the Safety of Journalists

During week one, the Council held a panel discussion on the safety of journalists. States urged to approach the issue from a human rights perspective and work actively in order to protect journalists abroad. The discussions were accompanied by the presence of Special Rapporteurs on:

-          The right to freedom of expression, Mr. Frank William La Rue

-          Peaceful assembly and association, Mr. Maina Kiai

-          Violence against women, Ms.  Rashida Manjoo

-          Extreme poverty, Mr. Philip Alston

Delegations called on States to ensure accountability by investigating attacks and crimes against journalists.


Clustered Dialogue with Rashida Manjoo, SR on violence against women and Philip Alston, SR on extreme poverty 

On Wednesday 11 June, the Human Rights Council discussed the alarming situation regarding violence against women and extreme poverty worldwide. During the discussion, the Member States agreed on the urgency to put an end to the silence and to tackle the underlying causes of violence against women and girls. The Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Mrs. Rashida Manjoo, insisted on the lack of transformative remedies to address the root causes of violence against women. The discussions on poverty reduction focused on the necessity to combine efforts with investments in areas such as health and education. The Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, said that if the elimination of extreme poverty was not a central part of the human rights vision, a highly selective battle was being fought. 

“The use of sexual violence in war is one of the great injustices of our lifetime.  It is hard to document, let alone investigate”. British Ambassador to Turkey.


Clustered Dialogue with Gabriela Knaul, SR on independence of judges and lawyers and François Crépeau, SR on migrants 

On Friday 13 June, discussions focused on the independence of judges and lawyers and on migrants’ rights. A group of UN independent experts on migrants, slavery, trafficking, sale and sexual exploitation of children welcomed the adoption by the International Labour Conference.


High-level panel discussion on the identification of good practices in combating female genital mutilation (FGM)

In her opening statement, H.E Mrs. Navi Pillay illustrated the emergency of the situation. In 29 countries with the highest prevalence rate, more than 125 million women and girls had been subjected to female genital mutilation. The panel aimed to look into progress made as well as outstanding challenges, and to find best practices in eliminating female genital mutilation. Furthermore, delegations highlighted that gender inequality and power imbalances among genders were contributing factors to lack of progress in the fight against female genital mutilation. The role of the international community is to export the network of support for ending the practice. The Council agreed that States should work with traditional and religious leaders at all levels and should invest in education and in awareness campaigns targeting the communities. Last but not least, members of the Council stressed the importance to reach the level of zero tolerance.


“The numbers of women and girls undergoing female genital mutilation were alarming and this situation should be of concern to everyone” Nakpa Polo, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Togo, Panel Moderator.


Annual full-day discussion on women’s rights

Two panel debates were organized: on the impact of gender stereotypes on the recognition and enjoyment of women’s human rights and on women’s human rights and the sustainable agenda. It was noted that the post-2015 framework must be based on human rights and all goals must be gender mainstreamed. During the second debate, the successful results of Millennium Development Goals were evoked regarding progress in sectors such as education and poverty reduction, particularly for women.


General debates on racism and xenophobia

During the session, it was noted that to this day, people of African descent continued to be victims of the cascading legacies of slavery, the slave trade and colonialism. Concerns were expressed with regards to the growth of religious intolerance and racism. The council adopted a resolution on the Implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent. It was decided to urgently transmit the report to the General Assembly in order for the international community to proceed with the adoption of the draft programme for the implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent, commencing on 1 January 2015.


General debates on thematic reports, all human rights, and human rights situations requiring attention

A number of delegations expressed their concerns over trafficking in human beings and human rights of migrants,calling for a stronger cooperation within the international community. Many delegations raised the question of violence against women and girls as well as the right to development and the right of self-determination among others.


Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s attention

The Council continued to debate on the human rights situations that require the Council’s attention. Two main groups of countries defended their interests as the Non-Aligned Movement reaffirming the need to defend the principle of non-selectivity, non-politicization, and impartiality. On the other side, the group of States expressed the great alarm at continuing fighting in Syria and reaffirmed its deep concern about the increased number of Syrian refugees to neighbouring countries.


Universal Periodic Review

The Human Rights Council adopted the UPR for 14 countries while several States stressed their concern about the increasing number of incidents of intimidation or reprisals against groups collaborating with the Council.

Focus on…

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea: the SP on the situation of human rights, Mr. Marzuki Darusman reiterated the unique opportunity for all parties concerned of this discussion to make a difference in people’s lives. The delegation of DPRK rejected the confrontational report and said it was full of fabrications provided by defectors from the north with ambiguous identities. Many delegations took the floor to express their opposition ti country specific mandates which were not conductive to dialogue and cooperation.



“Since my last visit in February 2014, there have been some notable human rights issues in the country that have attracted considerable international concerns,” Mr. Baderin said.

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