Week Three of the 21st Session of the Human Rights Council

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UN Photo/Jess Hoffman
UN Photo/Jess Hoffman

The highlight of the third and final week of the 21st Session of the Human Rights Council was the adoption of several resolutions during its last two days. The final week also included the report of the Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict and appointments of Special Procedure mandate-holders.

Decisions of the 21st Session of the Human Rights Council

The last two days of the 21th Session of the Human Rights Council saw the adoption of a total of 27 resolutions, including the following:

Germany`s resolution on The Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation calls upon states to provide appropriate funding for sustainable provision of safe drinking water and sanitation. The resolution encourages the Special Rapporteur to continue its work and to submit an annual report to the General Assembly. The resolution was adopted without a vote.

The highly controversial resolution on Promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms through a better understanding of traditional values of humankind: best practices submitted by Russia claims that a better understanding and appreciation of traditional values contributes to promote and protect human rights. It requests OCHCR to collect information on the issue and present a summary thereon to the 24th Session of the Human Rights Council. NGOs based in Geneva emphasised that traditional values are frequently invoked by States to justify human rights violations. The resolution was adopted after a vote which saw 25 in favor, 15 against and 7 abstentions.

In the resolution Preventable maternal mortality and morbity and human rights resolution New Zealand, Columbia and Burkina Faso drew attention to the high global rate of preventable maternal mortality and morbidity and stressed the need for a human rights-based approach to combat the situation. It encourages NGOs to help tackle interlinked root causes such as poverty, lack of education and especially violence against women and girls. It was adopted without a vote.

Morocco, Qatar, Jordan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Kuwait submitted a joint resolution on the Situation of human rights in Syria supported by a number of both Member and Non-Member States of the Human Rights Council. It calls upon the Syrian government to meet its responsibility to protect the Syrian population and strongly condemns the continued widespread and systematic gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities as well as by armed opposition groups. The resolution includes an extension of the mandate of the independent international commission of inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic. The resolution was adopted after a vote which saw 41 in favor, 3 against and 3 abstentions.

Report of the Secretary-General on the progress made in the implementation of the Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict

Deputy High Commissioner Ms. Kyung-wha Kang presented the report and called for prompt action by all parties involved in response to recommendations made by the Secretary-General. The report highlighted that Israel has a responsibility to protect Palestinian people and to hold settlers accountable who perpetrate violence against them and their property.

Israel had the opportunity to speak as a concerned country but was not present in the room. Palestine, speaking as a concerned country, was given the floor and accused Israel for not following UN recommendations and violating international humanitarian law when committing daily and systematic violence against Palestinian people and their property. The support for a two state- solution was strong amongst Member States and especially Malaysia, China and Ecuador highlighted this road for reconciliation as the only possible way for an independent and self-determined Palestinian state.


The last day of the session saw Ms. Beedwante Keethraruth appointed as Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, Mr. Miklos Harastzi as Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus and Mr Marc Pallemaerts as Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes

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