|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
31st & 32nd Meetings (AM & PM)
General Assembly Considers Annual Report of Human Rights Council
Speakers Hail Council’s ‘Innovative’ Working Methods, Assembly Also Concludes
Debate on Reports of International Criminal Court, International Court of Justice
In its third annual debate on the work of the Human Rights Council, the General Assembly today recognized the newly formed body’s use of innovative mechanisms, special sessions and input from civil society to protect more people around the world from human rights violations.
Human Rights Council President Alex Van Meeuwen, of Belgium, said the 47 member body’s institutional architecture was in place as it considered new subjects and sought novel approaches to transcend the rigidity of former procedures and practices that had drawn criticism during its former life as the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
He cited the special sessions held on conflicts in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Sri Lanka, as well as on the fallout of the world economic crisis, as ways in which the Council was working to end atrocities around the world and help States find answers to some of the day’s most critical challenges. Indeed, the links between economic, cultural and social rights were now part of the debate of the United Nations primary human rights body as it worked to envelope the views of other stakeholders.
In the midst of its fourth year of operation, the Council was trying to improve its operations and procedures and expand its workload while operating under severe budget constraints, Mr. Van Meeuwen said. The current practice of carrying out new mandates “within existing resources” was impractical and it was time to ensure the increased meeting schedule and Universal Periodic Review -- a unique process which involved a review of the human rights records of all 192 United Nations Member States once every four years -- was supported financially.
Opening the meeting, General Assembly President Ali Abdussalam Treki said the promotion and protection of human rights was among the pillars of the United Nations, along with development, peace and security. Reiterating the remarks he had made during the Assembly’s general debate, he called on States to ensure that this human rights pillar was one of stone -- buttressed by resources, respect and credibility that bespoke an institution dedicated to the cause of human dignity.
Mr. Treki said the Council’s Universal Periodic Review was a reminder of the universality of human rights, Governments’ obligations and upcoming challenges. He also said the report covered the “remarkable” scope and depth of work of the Council over the past year. That had included creation of new instruments, special sessions convened to address emergencies and the adoption of vital resolutions. And as the Council approached its mandated five-year review in 2011, he urged delegates to develop an open and inclusive process that involved working closely with that body.
Stressing the need to deliberate the Council’s report in the Assembly and its subsidiary bodies, the representative of Sudan said the Council’s important work in institutionalization and the study of working methods had paved the way for a new era in human rights. The Periodic Review was a hallmark of the Council and he hoped it would end the use of country-specific resolutions, which only deepened confrontation and were inconsistent with the new approach. He was keen to see the Council move towards balancing economic and social rights, on the one hand, and cultural and political rights -- including the right to development -- on the other.
Israel’s delegate delivered a cutting review of the Council’s work, saying the body had shown an obsessive preoccupation with her country and had singled it out in a discriminatory manner. Half of the Council’s special sessions had been held to condemn Israel, and the body had adopted more resolutions and decisions against Israel than on all other Member Stats combined, she said.
Only days before the Assembly was set to debate a Human Rights Council report on its twelfth special session that detailed human rights abuses in the Gaza Strip during the conflict there at the beginning of the year, she criticized the Council for dispatching so-called “fact-finding missions”. Such missions had actually been mandated to denounce every Israeli action, irrespective of the facts on the ground and the ongoing terrorism facing Israelis on a daily basis. She asked: “Is this the work of a Human Rights Council that is impartial? Is this the work of a Council that is objective?”
In an address made during her country’s first year as a Council member, the representative of the United States said the Council’s work was tremendous and contained many successes detailed in the report. Yet the report also was a transparent reminder of its failings, such as not addressing some of the most difficult and sensitive human rights situations, including conditions in Iran. Another failing was the sustained one-sided treatment of Israel, with multiple resolutions targeting Israel, that the United States could not support for many reasons.
Senegal’s delegate said the Council had assuaged misgivings about its ability to meet its mandate. The Universal Periodic Review, for example, was a source of satisfaction as it generated an open and transparent dialogue. Senegal, which had undergone the Review in February, was trying to implement the activities to which it had voluntarily subscribed. Agreeing with other delegates, he said the Council’s 2011 review would be an opportunity to assess the Council’s work and make revisions that would help tackle today’s human rights challenges.
In other business, the Council concluded its debate, started Thursday, on the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice.
Also speaking on the Human Rights Council report were representatives from Sweden (on behalf of the European Union), Brazil, Egypt, Switzerland, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malaysia, Mexico, Iran, India, New Zealand (also on behalf of Canada and Australia), Colombia, the Maldives.
Iran spoke in exercise of the right of reply on the Human Rights Council debate.
Addressing the Assembly on the International Criminal Court were the delegates of Colombia, Ghana, Argentina, Venezuela, Uganda, Botswana, Nigeria and Iran.
The Legal Affairs Adviser in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, as well as the representatives of Mexico, Georgia and the Russian Federation then concluded the afternoon’s debate with remarks on the International Court of Justice.
Georgia also spoke in exercise of the right of reply during that debate.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Monday, 2 November to take up matters related to disarmament, including the annual report of the International Atomic Energy Agency and follow-up to the commemoration of the two-hundredth anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.
The General Assembly met today to take up the Report of the Human Rights Council (A/64/53), which contains the resolutions, decisions and President’s statements adopted by the Human Rights Council from 28 November 2008 to 18 June 2009, at its tenth and eleventh sessions, and at its eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh special sessions.
The General Assembly was also set to conclude its joint discussion of the annual reports of the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice. For that discussion, it had before it the Report of the International Criminal Court (A/64/356) and the Report of the International Court of Justice (A/64/4). (For more information, please see press release GA/10878).
Statement by the President of the General Assembly
General Assembly President ALI ABDUSSALAM TREKI, recalling his statement at the opening of the general debate, said the Assembly’s 2005 World Summit had reaffirmed that the promotion and protection of human rights was among the pillars of the United Nations, alongside development, peace and security. He had called on States to ensure that that pillar was one of stone, buttressed by resources, respect and credibility, and benefiting an institution dedicated to the cause of human dignity. He had called on States to support the Human Rights Council and effectively follow-up on the Durban Review Conference in combating the global scourge of racism.
Today’s agenda was a reminder of the importance of human rights principles and the vital need to assess progress made. The Council’s report covered the “remarkable” scope and depth of that body’s work in the past year, he explained. Indeed, the nascent body had registered an impressive list of achievements: new instruments had been created, special sessions convened to address emergencies, and vital resolutions adopted. Moreover, the independent special procedures had undertaken countless missions, while the Council’s Universal Periodic Review was a reminder of the universality of human rights, Governments’ obligations and the challenges ahead.
The broad participation that characterized the Council’s work -- from members, observers and civil society -- was a hallmark of its consultative approach, he said. Ensuring that the Council had the necessary support was imperative for the successful continuation of its work, and the Assembly had a duty in that regard, he said. As the Council approached its mandated five-year review in 2011, he urged delegates to develop an open and inclusive process, and begin preparations in close cooperation with that body. To that end, he had met with the Council President and would continue to consult with delegations in the coming weeks.
Statement by President of the Human Rights Council
ALEX VAN MEEUWEN ( Belgium), President of the Human Rights Council, said the present report covered the period of the Council’s third cycle: its session from September 2008 to June 2009. The Assembly’s decision in 2005 to establish the Council had showed the commitment and resolve of Member States to revitalize and strengthen the Organization’s role in guaranteeing the effective enjoyment of all human rights for all people. Member States had confirmed their faith in fundamental human rights and the dignity and worth of the human person, which was at the core of the United Nations Charter, laid down more than half a century ago.
Turning to some of the Council achievements and activities, he said the Universal Periodic Review was a meaningful innovation. That mechanism showed the spirit of the Charter in every respect and provided equal treatment on agreed standards. Almost half of the Member States had been examined and most results had been positive. Now there was a shift to follow-up and implementation of recommendations. Carrying out serious Periodic Reviews was an important test for the Council’s credibility. The Council was working to secure a better understanding of the norms and standards on human rights.
Several new fields and older themes had been discussed. The adoption of standards was another area of tangible progress. Consistent with its mandate, the Council had dealt with serious violations of human rights in special sessions, such as its eighth such session on the situation in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, ninth session on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, tenth special session on the repercussions of the world economic crisis, and in a eleventh special session, the situation in Sri Lanka.
While the Council had operated for four years and its institutional architecture was in place, the body was still evolving. New topics were being considered and the Council was seeking novel approaches to questions of human rights. It worked to transcend the rigidity inherent in some procedures and avoid practices that had been criticized when the body was known as the Human Rights Commission.
He said those innovations allowed it to focus more on debate and allow civil society and other stakeholders to make meaningful contributions to its work. Issues such as the rights of the disabled, children’s rights, and climate change had been brought into the debate. The second extraordinary session on the economic crisis helped to link economic, cultural and social rights into what was happening in the field. A question was whether the Council could integrate the views and contributions of other actors, which was important for its work.
He would not emphasize any further about the two sessions, the twelfth session held from 14 September to 2 October and the twelfth extraordinary session held from 15 and 16 October, both concerning the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, as the two sessions would be examined separately by the Assembly plenary.
While many things had been achieved since the Council’s inception, there were many challenges ahead. The Council was not a perfect institution and the upcoming 2011 review process would provide the Member States with the opportunity to fine tune some of its mechanisms and adjust working methods to allow real progress. Strengthening the human rights machinery could only be done with cooperation and the collaborative efforts of the entire spectrum of the Council’s membership, civil society and all stakeholders.
Meanwhile, he said the Council had decided to create an open-ended intergovernmental working group on its work and functioning, and had asked the current President to undertake transparent and all-inclusive consultations on the modalities of the review. That would aim to implement the aim of the Council’s founding Assembly resolution 60/251, which stated that the Council should review its work and functioning five years after its creation. The Working Group would meet in the second half of 2010 and was to report to the Council at its seventeenth session in June 2011.
Turning to budget issues, Mr. Van Meeuwen said that while recognizing the need to improve the Council’s functioning, there was wide acknowledgement in Geneva of the perennial lack of appropriate resources to carry out the Council’s work. He had called for the creation of a tripartite task force to address that issue. The current practice of servicing new mandates from “within existing resources” had proved to be impractical, and it was time to address the entire spectrum of meeting-service requirements and ensure the Universal Periodic Review process was supported with budget and capacity resources.
While the task before the Council may be daunting, the international community must remain committed to the plight of the victims of human rights abuses and ensure this commitment was translated into results that would benefit the victims, he said.
Statements on Human Rights Council Report
ANDERS LIDÉN (Sweden), speaking on behalf of the European Union, noted that the Human Rights Council aimed to strengthen the ability of the United Nations to ensure that all persons would be able to enjoy all human rights. The Council should address situations of violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations, and respond promptly to human rights emergencies. Peace, security, development and human rights complemented each other, and were mutually reinforcing. Through their joint promotion the collective well-being was strengthened.
The Council continued to serve as a forum for dialogue on a wide range of thematic human rights issues and specific human rights situation. In addition, the ongoing monitoring and reporting role of the Council was equally important and through various mechanisms, it was informed of serious and ongoing human rights situations and thematic human rights issues. He thanked civil society organizations for their important contributions to the Council’s work.
Noting that situations of violations of human rights had been addressed in resolutions and special sessions, including on Sudan and Burma/Myanmar, he said that regrettably, the Council had been prevented from addressing some other human rights emergencies. It was crucial for the Councils’ credibility that it live up to its promise of ensuring universality, objectivity and non-selectivity in line with its mandate.
Four sessions were held in the past year, including one that dealt with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The European Union still hoped the mandate of the Independent Expert on human rights in that country would be re-established. Further, the Council still needed to address a number of issues including the widespread use of sexual violence against women and children and the impunity enjoyed by those responsible for violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
He said that many of the issues dealt with at special sessions remained very serious, among them the protection and promotion of human rights in Sri Lanka. The European Union was convinced that country mandates were needed to keep the Council and other parts of the United Nations system informed of serious situations, and contribute to obtaining tangible improvements on the ground. It was also imperative to safeguard the role played by Special Procedures in monitoring, advising and publicly reporting on serious rights situations and thematic issues.
The independence of Special Rapporteurs should likewise be safeguarded. He called upon the Council to never lower its guard concerning situations that deserve the full attention of the international community. The mandate of the Council was not to protect Governments from scrutiny but individuals from human rights violations. “We do not accept the artificial divide between raising human rights violations in individual countries, and the provision of technical assistance to improve the respect for human rights,” he said.
REGINA MARIA CORDEIRO DUNLOP ( Brazil) said that, in the run-up to the Council’s review, slated for 2011, it was time to take stock of its performance and contributions to promoting and protecting human rights worldwide. Recalling that the Council embodied the commitment made at the 2005 World Summit to bring human rights to the fore of the United Nations agenda, she said the Council had fulfilled that expectation.
Much ground had been covered to ensure that the Council would not suffer the shortcomings of the old Commission on Human Rights, she continued. The Universal Periodic Review was a main achievement, and the world was on the way to seeing, for the first time, every Member State submitting its human rights situation to a peer review process in which contributions by relevant stakeholders –- including civil society – were taken into account.
Improvement had also been seen in the Special Procedures mechanism, inherited from the Commission, which had been strengthened by institutional support provided to the special rapporteurs and other mandate holders. Finally, she said the Council was consolidating its role as a relevant forum for discussion of pressing issues, and she praised the decision to hold respective thematic special sessions on the world food crisis, and the financial and economic crisis, from a human rights perspective. Despite such progress, there was still room for improvement, notably in increasing participation in the interactive dialogue with countries being examined under the Periodic Review.
Also, the Council’s mandate in the field of cooperation had to be expanded, she said. It should be made able to help interested countries overcome problems, which would help address deficiencies in the implementation of recommendations issued at the Periodic Review. As a steadfast supporter of the Council since its 2006 creation, Brazil would participate actively in common efforts towards the Council’s review in 2011.
MAGED A. ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt) said that the establishment of the Human Rights Council had ushered in the dawn of a new era of cooperative and collective action that avoided politicization, selectivity and double standards that characterised the work of the Commission of Human Rights. The Council had been successful in furnishing favourable foundations to overcome the obstacles that shackled the international efforts aimed at consolidating the universal respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the past. That had been possible through diligent efforts to unify the standards and adoption of a constructive cooperative approach in dealing with human rights questions.
Egypt welcomed the progress in the practical implementation of the institutional framework set up for the work of the Council, which included clear regulations defined by the Code of Conduct for Mandate Holders. The mutual quest for the promotion of human rights, to make them common denominators shared by all, required a pledge to implement the Universal Periodic Review on all States, with participation of civil society and non-governmental organizations. It was imperative to make available the financial resources to support the activities of the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR), in order to allow it to implement its mandates without excessiveness, enabling it to provide technical assistance and consultation.
He urged working in parallel within the United Nations system to strengthen the early-warning capabilities, relying on authenticated and non-politicized information, and strengthening the cooperation of States with fact-finding missions to investigate the gross violations of human rights. It was imperative to maintain the Council’s engagement in ensuring respect for human rights in the Occupied Palestine Territories and ensure Israel’s full adherence to international obligations, including its commitment to full cooperation with the Special Rapporteur. Lastly, he noted that restoring the balance in the international attention to economic, social and cultural rights, side-by-side the civil and political rights, was a dire necessity to heed to the aspiration shared by people for the effective realisation of the right to development.
GABRIELA SHALEV ( Israel) said the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which had celebrated its sixtieth anniversary last year, reaffirmed the faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human persons and the equal rights of men and women. Yet as the Council’s report was considered today, it was regrettable that the work of that body had strayed far from the principles it was mandated to uphold. Instead of upholding its values, the Council had demonstrated an obsessive preoccupation with Israel.
She said that Israel was the only country in the world singled out in a discriminatory manner by the Council’s agenda and half of its special sessions had been held to condemn Israel. The Council had adopted more resolutions and decisions against Israel than on all other Member States put together. While the Council had reviewed and revised the mandate of nearly every special procedure, it refused to review its “grossly one-sided mandate concerning our region”, she said.
She criticized the Council for dispatching so-called “fact-finding missions” that had actually been mandated to denounce every Israeli action, irrespective of the facts on the ground and the ongoing terrorism facing Israelis on a daily basis. She asked: “Is this the work of a Human Rights Council that is impartial? Is this the work of a Council that is objective?”
Unlike some other Council members, Israel was a democracy that respected fundamental freedoms, protected a viable press and possessed an independent judiciary. She questioned whether the Council’s work reflected universality. “The work of the Council is neither constructive nor fair nor impartial,” she said. The report reminded the international community that the Council was increasingly manipulated and exploited by some of its members and their obsession to “demonize” Israel and demean its democratic nature.
Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan had acknowledged in 2005 that a “credibility deficit” existed within the Organization’s human rights institutions, she said. “Yet today this deficit was not a relic of the past -- it is a fixture of the present,” she added. The longer it took to rectify that injustice, the greater the damage would be to the integrity and legitimacy of the Council, and the wider United Nations system.
JEAN-DANIEL VIGNY ( Switzerland) said the Council was working at full speed, having adopted many resolutions on a wide range of issues –- from child protection and climate change, to human rights education and training. The ordinary sessions had been followed by meetings of the Universal Periodic Review and Social Forum working groups. In light of the growing number of those and other meetings, the Council must try to streamline the activities of some working groups and spread its workload more evenly over its three annual sessions.
The Council had adopted good practices regarding its working methods and there were various examples of trans-regional cooperation, notably on human rights education and training within the Platform for Human Rights Education and Training, which involved representatives from Morocco, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Italy, the Philippines, Slovenia and Senegal. Even in notoriously difficult areas like freedom of expression, progress had been made with the adoption of a consensus resolution on that topic, sponsored by the United States and Egypt.
At the same time, the Council must be able to handle specific situations, and efforts must be made to build on its mandate –- be it to address situations of gross and systematic violations of human rights or to prevent such violations from occurring, he said. Developing such potential must take priority. Strengthening the Council’s Presidency was a necessary step to more efficiently tackle political and operational questions, and his Government had decided to present a decision in the Third Committee (Social, Cultural and Humanitarian), following a decision adopted by the Council last year.
On the Council’s the relations with the Assembly, he said there was still no clear-cut vision on the distribution of responsibilities. His Government hoped to improve cooperation between them and, in doing so, reduce existing overlap. The General Assembly should play a programme-based role, while the Council should strengthen its operational role in the implementation of political commitments.
RAYMOND SERGE BALÉ (Democratic Republic of the Congo) said the Council, day by day and session by session, was becoming a useful option in the promotion and protection of human rights, and he could only welcome such a development. He commended OHCHR, among other rapporteurs and mandate holders, whose relationship allowed States to support human rights. Indeed, the Council shouldered important responsibilities, and the diverse contributions of States, United Nations Agencies and civil society meant that the universal nature of human rights had become a fact of life.
He commended the Council’s efforts to bolster cooperation, notably in the field of food security, and through resolutions on the effects of foreign debt. At the same time, he expressed concern at the impacts of economic and financial crisis on the exercise of human rights, saying that discrimination against the world’s most vulnerable should occupy Council’s attention. The Annual Day on the Rights of Women had marked a key moment in awareness-raising about those rights.
For its part, the Congolese Government was examining a bill on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, particularly regarding children in armed conflict, the sale of children and the prostitution of children, he explained. The success of the Durban Review Conference, held in April, was an edifying example of States’ concerted efforts, and testimony to what common commitment could achieve. He called for developing more standards on combating discrimination. Also, the Universal Periodic Review allowed for examining the human rights situations of all countries. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, which had been examined in May 2009, would intensify its efforts to protect human rights. The accreditation procedure for the national human rights commission had been set up, and contacts with the subcommittee of the International Committee for the Coordination of National Institutions had been fruitful. Efforts to promote and protect human rights had continued in the schools through civic and moral education programmes.
HAMIDON ALI ( Malaysia) reaffirmed that human rights were universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. The international community needed to treat human rights globally in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing and with the same emphasis. Countries should not pick and choose which rights they wished to highlight or how they should be enjoyed, nor should they seek to impose differing emphasis and urgency to human rights.
He was pleased to note that the vast majority of the United Nations membership was supportive of the work of the Council, especially in ensuring the Council avoided the prior mistakes of the Human Rights Commission. With the review of the Council due in 2011, Malaysia was encouraged by the proactive steps taken by members of the Council to establish a framework for the review process.
Touching on a few other issues regarding the work of the Council, he noted that the Universal Periodic Review provided an important non-confrontational, objective, transparent and universal platform for dialogue on the promotion and protection of all human rights, which complemented and added value to the work of the Council in fulfilling its mandate.
Malaysia reaffirmed its belief in the importance of the work of the Special Procedures mandate-holders, and believed that given the sensitive nature of the various mandates, those mechanisms needed to carry out their duties responsibly. He supported the views expressed by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people during the eleventh regular session last June, and that greater coordination was needed between human rights mechanisms to avoid duplication within the United Nations Forum on Indigenous Issues structure and provide coherence to the roles and responsibilities of various organs.
PAUL BADJI ( Senegal) said that at this time, when doubt and uncertainty had taken hold of even the most optimistic minds, the Council’s focus on intercultural dialogue and freedom of expression was a source of hope and reassurance. In four years, it had assuaged misgivings about its ability to rise to the challenge of its mandate, by regularly enhancing its effectiveness. In that context of dynamism, the Council had held thematic panels on the rights of women, rights of migrants in detention centres and, human rights and climate change. Joint initiatives, such as that between the United States and Egypt on the freedom of expression, also should be encouraged. Responsible freedom of expression was essential in the fight against racism and discrimination. The Council had risen to the challenge by successfully holding the Durban Review Conference on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Intolerance.
The increased range of the Council’s composition reflected the recognition of its progress, he said. Far from revisiting the paralyzing attitude of blithe complacency, the Council’s results should encourage the Assembly to consolidate the body. The Council should bolster its work in human rights education, which would help create a world devoid of prejudice. The more than encouraging way that the Universal Periodic Review operated was a source of satisfaction, as it had generated an open and transparent dialogue. For its part, Senegal, which had gone before the Periodic Review in February, was trying to implement the activities to which it had voluntarily subscribed.
On the Council’s Special Procedures, he said the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrant Workers had visited Senegal in August and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, last September. Another mandate holder, addressing the sale of children, was now in Senegal for 10 days, having arrived on 21 October. Senegal would continue its human rights efforts at national, regional and international levels. He commended the adoption of the resolution establishing the intergovernmental working group, whose mandate was to take stock of the Council’s functioning. The Council’s 2011 review would provide an opportunity to assess its work, with a view to making changes that would allow it to better tackle human rights challenges.
CLAUDE HELLER ( Mexico) said the human rights situation in his country had been reviewed under the Universal Periodic mechanism during the period covered by the report. Mexico was committed to follow up on the recommendations it had received. Mexico was convinced of the novel mechanism’s usefulness as a tool for objective evaluation, which could improve the human rights situation in all countries.
The Council continued with its relevant work this year, such as the adoption of guidelines for children without parental care and the creation of a Working Group to elaborate an optional protocol on communications to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, he said. Another example was the creation of an Independent Expert on human rights, which would help strengthen the system of Special Procedures.
Two fundamental revisions to the Council’s work needed to be carried out in 2011. The first, related to matters connected with its work and function, would be in the context of the Council. The second, on the Council’s own status within the Organization, would involve the Assembly. Both issues should produce a real strengthening of the Council so it could fully comply with its mandate, he said.
Mexico considered those revisions an opportunity to strengthen the Council’s working methods and move towards a genuine culture of dialogue and good practices, thereby strengthening the enjoyment of human rights worldwide. Mexico was fully committed to contribute to the Working Group the Council had created to initiate this process and was pleased to have been re-elected as a Council member in last May’s elections.
ESHAGH AL HABIB ( Iran) commended the Council on building appropriate mechanisms to fulfil the mandates given to it by General Assembly resolution 60/251 (2006). Among the priorities of the “new phase” of human rights machinery was to approach issues in a cooperative and constructive manner, and to meet such expectations, the Council must act as a forum for dialogue and understanding. The universality of human rights required that all rights be given equal status. While the creation of new mandates focused on economic, social and cultural rights was a worthy achievement, more effective mechanisms were needed to support cultural rights. Operational steps also were needed to strengthen the right to development.
While poverty and inequality posed a daunting challenge for developing nations, the spread of intolerance and lack of an ethical code of conduct for media still stood in the way of the effective implementation of human rights for all. There were still attempts on the part of a few to impose their views on the application of internationally-agreed standards, and the Council should design innovative approaches to confront such attempts. The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) should focus on policy-oriented discussions and provide strategic recommendations to the Assembly, which, in turn, would guide the Council in promoting human rights. Calling the Universal Periodic Review a “breakthrough” in the United Nations’ intergovernmental human rights activities, he said Iran appreciated the degree of its transparency in examining country situations. As Iran would be considered in February, his Government had arranged with national stakeholders –- including governmental and non-governmental institutions -- to draft its report.
SANJAY NIRUPAM, Member of Parliament of India, noted signs of promise in the Human Rights Council. There had been considerable progress in the last three years in strengthening its institutional mechanisms, and in reviewing, improving and rationalizing all mandates, mechanisms, functions and responsibilities of the former Commission on Human Rights. Its strength lay in its emphasis on dialogue, cooperation, transparency and non-selectivity in promoting and protecting human rights. The enthusiastic participation of Member States in the Universal Periodic Review process was one sign of that strength, as were the wide-ranging debates between States at the Council’s special sessions. Since that body was still evolving, it was important that States continued to provide it with collective guidance. Efforts at providing guidance should be inclusive, and should respect the diversity of historical experiences, cultures and development of different countries. The Indian Government looked forward to the Council’s upcoming review in 2011.
While affirming his trust in Special Procedures, he stressed the importance of having them exercise responsibility and sensitivity in the discharge of their mandates. The Council had provided them with a code of conduct to which they must adhere, and any attempt to reinterpret that code or to depart from their mandates would only weaken the mandate-holders. In that regard, he welcomed the Council’s resolution 11/11 on the system of Special Procedures. In addition, he was encouraged by the Council’s efforts to translate the right to development into reality, with discussions gradually moving away from theory into policy design and implementation. He noted the significant contribution of the Working Group on the Right to Development in that regard. He added, as well, that the Council must play a central role in denouncing terrorism, which posed a threat to development and undermined the very foundation of freedom, democracy and enjoyment of human rights.
JIM MCLAY (New Zealand), reaffirming the universality and indivisibility of human rights for all, said his country regarded the Human Rights Council as the primary United Nations mechanism with responsibility for such matters and wished to see the Council fulfil the mandate with which it had been entrusted: to respond effectively, and in a timely manner, to human rights situations while promoting open, inclusive dialogue and cooperation with concerned countries.
He said in the three years it had been operating, the Council had seen some positive work that had contributed towards the fulfilment of its mandate, and in that regard, New Zealand welcomed the contribution of new members, and was pleased to see evidence of increased cross-region cooperation. Transparency was also important, and in that regard the Council’s use of new technology in its work was commendable.
Because strong operational practices in the Council were critical for the effective implementation of human rights, New Zealand considered the system of independent Special Rapporteurs, including those on specific human rights situations, and the Universal Periodic Review, to be among the more valuable components of the Council’s work. Despite some encouraging, positive steps, his country remained convinced that more needed to be done. In that regard, he urged the Council to intensify efforts to assist States in their responsibility to address the gap between the norms embodied in the core human rights instruments and the reality faced by individuals. Specifically, he urged Member States of the Council, past and present, to reinvigorate their efforts to deliver on their pledges to the Council upon their election to the Council.
New Zealand further considered that being able to address critical country situations in a timely and effective manner was fundamental for the fulfilment of the Council’s mandate, and vital for its credibility. He expressed concern that the Council could sometimes be selectively willing to condemn what it regarded as human rights abuses in some places, while conveniently ignoring others that might be uncomfortably “closer to home”, and in that regard called for greater consistency by the Council for the sake of its own wider credibility.
CLAUDIA BLUM (Colombia) welcomed the work of the Human Rights Council and noted that yesterday’s discussion held in the Third Committee (Social, Cultural and Humanitarian) had included important thematic resolutions, which contained new provisions to be taken into account in the realization of political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights. It was important that the Council continued to strengthen its working methods and decisions in accordance with the objectives and spirit of it. The Council needed to continue to be strengthened as a body for constructive international dialogue that promoted international cooperation in the protection of human rights. The principles of universality, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity must be at all times the guide of its work.
The Universal Periodic Review continued to advance, and the Review on Colombia took place at the end of 2008, after the country had voluntarily accepted the procedure. It was important that each State set up internal systems for following up the implementation of the commitments made under this Review. In future reports, it was important to have more references on its contributions in areas that we consider relevant in order to assess the results of the new institutional system on human rights.
For example, information related to contributions in: the mainstreaming of human rights within the United Nations system, the strengthening of the work of OHCHR, the continuous review and formulation of objectives and mandates, increasingly coherent and organized, the complementary actions with the various human rights institutional systems, and the consolidation of coherence with the different human rights treaty bodies. The Council’s effectiveness would be greater if it gave a high priority to the objective of continuing to embed a culture of human rights at all levels. The Council needed to strengthen its work and raise human rights awareness in the policies of other multilateral bodies.
JOAN PLAISTED ( United States) said her country was honoured to assume a Council seat for the first time this year and its decision to join the Council was not decided lightly. The decision was based on a clear and hopeful vision of what could be accomplished together. That vision was not an American one, but one that reflected the aspirations embodied in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the Council’s own mandate.
When President Barack Obama had addressed the Assembly’s general debate, he had emphasized that respect for human rights and democracy was essential to sustain prosperity and lasting security. The United States approached the Council willing to support what it did well, but also pledging to challenge actions that it believed undermined its effectiveness and mandate. She said the United States sought to build partnerships in its efforts and listen and learn from other Council members while working to identify common ground. It remained steadfast in its assertion that all Governments, including its own, were responsible for ensuring the rights and freedoms spelled out in international human rights law. The Council must focus its work on making a practical impact on respect for human rights, improving the lives of victims, and preventing abuses.
The United States approached the report with those views in mind. The breadth of work covered by the Council was tremendous, with about 100 resolutions a year on numerous thematic areas in multiple sessions. As when reviewing the work of any political body, the United States found much to agree with and much to which it would take strong exception, she said. The United States strongly supported the Council’s considerable work on women’s issues, for example, and supported resolutions on Somalia. It had worked diligently with other observer states and Council members to forge agreements on sensitive issues in the Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Yet it would be remiss to not point out that while the report included the Council’s successes, it also was a transparent reminder of its failings. The United States was disappointed that the Council failed to seriously address some of the most difficult and sensitive human rights situations, including the situation in Iran. Its failings also included the continued one-sided treatment of Israel. There were multiple resolutions within the report that targeted Israel that the United States could not support for many reasons, she said. The United States hoped to work in partnership with all Member States, particularly with Council Members, to strengthen the Council’s work and impact. The country looked forward to working with the Council and the Assembly to empower and strengthen the United Nations human rights mechanisms and improve its -- and our -- ability to improve the lives of the world’s most vulnerable people, she said.
ABDUL GHAFOOR MOHAMED ( Maldives) lauded the Council’s excellent work, saying that despite its young age, it had tried to meet the world’s expectations in elevating human rights protections for all peoples. His Government recognized the importance of the Council’s 2011 review and, in that process, it was imperative that due attention be paid to the Council’s maintenance of its pledge to uphold the fundamentals on which it had been established. He was pleased that resolution 10/4 (2009), which broke new ground in clarifying the relationship between climate change and human rights, had been adopted by consensus at the Council’s tenth regular session, with almost 90 sponsors. It had made clear that climate change negatively impacted a range of internationally-protected human rights, with the heaviest implications for the most vulnerable. It also stated that current climate negotiations, due to conclude in Copenhagen in December, must succeed, in order to protect human rights.
An interactive panel on the link between climate change and human rights was held in June, during the Council’s eleventh session, he said, a debate the Maldives found extremely worthwhile. The country was now considering its next steps and, in that regard, would be informed by the outcome of the December climate meeting. He also welcomed the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Reviews of small island developing States, including the Bahamas, Barbados, Cape Verde, Tuvalu and Mauritius. His Government firmly supported the Periodic Review process and, at the same time, was aware of the pressures it placed on the administrations of small island States, notably those that did not have permanent missions in Geneva. The Maldives, and other States, established a Group of Friends in Geneva to offer advice to countries that did not have a presence in Geneva.
IDREES MOHAMED ALI MOHAMMED SAEED ( Sudan) stressed the importance of continuing deliberations of the Council’s report in the General Assembly and its subsidiary bodies. The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural), the technical body authorized to discuss human rights, was the most appropriate forum for implementing the Council’s recommendations. The consensus resolution, adopted this year, stipulated that the Council should be considered by that Committee and he wholeheartedly supported that resolution. The Council was an important milestone, in light of the need to “breathe new life” in to the United Nations’ work in the human rights field. Its creation had marked a new phase in the protection and consolidation of human rights, and had been set up in a way that took account of the double standards and selectivity, which had plagued the former Commission on Human Rights.
The Council’s important work in institutionalization and the study of working methods had paved the way for a new era in human rights, based on dialogue, cooperation provision of technical assistance, he continued. That was a new approach to tackling human rights issues that replaced the heavy legacy of politicization and double standards. He was keen to see the Council take more action to balance economic and social rights, on the one hand, and cultural and political rights -- including the right to development -- on the other.
He said the Universal Periodic Review was a hallmark of the Council and he hoped it would bring an end to the use of country-specific resolutions. Such resolutions only deepened confrontation and were inconsistent with the Council’s new approach. In closing, he said Sudan would work with the human rights mechanisms to protect and promote rights through dialogue, understanding and cooperation.
Right of Reply
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Iran, responding to the statement made by the representative of the United States, said it was unfortunate that the abuse of the United Nations machinery, including the Assembly and the Council, had been made a traditional exercise to advance that country’s political purposes. Iran said such practices had nothing to do with human rights. It harmed the Council’s mechanism. The United States had a policy of making references to others in violation of human rights, while segments of its own population, including foreigners and indigenous people, suffered from human rights violations.
Statements on the International Criminal Court
As the Assembly resumed its debate, which it began yesterday, on the annual report of the International Criminal Court, CLAUDIA BLUM ( Colombia) highlighted the positive work of the Court, including its consolidation of international criminal law, and efforts to ensure that international justice prevailed against impunity for crimes committed within its jurisdiction. This year, the Court had finished its substantive preliminary proceedings, an important step in the due administration of justice.
She also welcomed the progress achieved on the path towards universality of the Rome Statute, which had already 110 States Parties, following the recent accession of Chile and the Czech Republic. In August 2008, the Prosecutor of the Court, Mr. Luis Moreno Ocampo, had paid a visit to the country. He had met senior Government officials, the Attorney General, the Supreme Court, and civil society representatives. Continuing, she said those meetings had analyzed information on investigations and ongoing processes against leaders of illegal-armed groups, politicians and military personnel suspected of crimes that might be under the body’s jurisdiction.
Additionally, the Prosecutor had discussed the existence of international support networks that provided assistance to armed groups who committed crimes in Colombia. She hoped that the work of the Court could benefit the Colombian justice system, mainly in fulfilling its primary obligation to investigate, prosecute and punish those responsible of those crimes and to prevent impunity. Touching on other issues, she urged a commitment to renew efforts to strengthen the Court and harmonize national legislation with the Rome Statute. Colombia expected that full implementation of the Rome Statute would deter war crimes, forced recruitment of children, and terrorist attacks against civilians.
As a State Party to the Rome Statute, EBENEZER APPREKU ( Ghana) said his country would continue to support and cooperate with the Court as an independent judicial institution. Yet, he emphasized that due process dictated that every accused person or alleged perpetrator of any of the crimes considered by the Court should be presumed innocent until proven guilty. By that standard, justice and the rule of law were equally served whether an accused person was proven guilty, and deserved to be convicted or jailed, or proved innocent and acquitted and discharged. Public discourse on questions relating to alleged crimes must reflect that balance.
It was gratifying that the cases before the Court had given it the opportunity to test and clarify some of the Rome Statute’s provisions. He said Ghana looked forward to active participation in the 2010 Review Conference, which would provide a platform for reaching consensus on the definition of aggression and fill in other gaps in the existing regime. That conference also would provide a unique opportunity to assess the Court’s work and make necessary amendments to the Statue on the basis of consensus, with the goal of enhancing its efficiency and effectiveness.
Though some may disagree with certain decisions, the Conference should not be used as an occasion to impugn or question the integrity of the Court or its judges. As the various ad hoc criminal tribunals close down, the workload of the International Criminal Court would increase in the foreseeable future. That made the promotion of universal participation in the Statue more imperative and underscored the need to provide the Court with adequate resources to discharge its mandate, he said.
JORGE ARGÜELLO ( Argentina) said the Court was firmly consolidating itself in its judicial stage and it was imperative for that body to show its ability to administer justice in an effective, expeditious and impartial manner. It also was important to rapidly fill vacancies in the Court to ensure the full functioning of all Chambers. Even with a global vocation, the Court had not yet achieved universal participation, which was necessary, along with credibility, to let it investigate and judge all situations where it was required. Such universality depended not only on ratification of the Rome Statute, but on States’ adoption of internal legislation that mirrored the provisions of the Statue, particularly in the area of arrest and surrender warrants. Without this, the court could not fulfil its mandate of investigating and judging.
Turning to the 2010 Review Conference, he said that meeting would be a forum for adopting the definition of the crime of aggression. Argentina also considered it an opportunity to consider other proposals on which there was general consensus and to take stock of the Court’s activities. He said the Conference should also include a segment to examine issues such as complementarity, cooperation of States with the Court, and the impact of international justice in national trials and in peace processes.
Cooperation by the States, the United Nations, regional organizations, and other agents was essential for the Court to function effectively, he said Argentina had adopted the necessary measures for the internal implementation of the Statute and had ratified the agreement on the privileges and immunities of the Court, he said.
JORGE VALERO BRICEÑO ( Venezuela) saluted Chile and the Czech Republic for ratifying the Rome Statute. His country had actively participated in preparations for the Statute, and was among the first to ratify that treaty. It was important that the Court, as a permanent legal body, maintained its independence in the strict context of the Rome Statute, exercising its jurisdiction with Parties and with those that had accepted its jurisdiction. For peace-loving countries like Venezuela, it was indispensable that the Court not allow a subordinate role to be imposed on it in the exercise of its jurisprudence.
For its part, Venezuela would participate actively in the 2010 Review Conference, to be held in Uganda, he said, adding that his Government was aware of the responsibility to define the crime of aggression. Efforts to that end would mark a substantive step that could change the history of injustice that had characterized the sad fate of so many peoples, who had suffered at the hands of States that had plundered their cultural wealth. In that context, he urged safeguarding the Court’s independence. The Rome Statute must not contain any article that could be interpreted in a way to understand that the Court would be subject to any subordination.
DUNCAN MUHUMUZA LAKI ( Uganda) said his Government supported the Court as the principal partner in the fight against impunity for the most heinous crimes. Uganda was the first country to make a referral to the Court, which resulted in the case of the Prosecutor vs. Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen. Without a police force of its own, the Court had to rely on voluntary State cooperation to affect arrest warrants. The Court was steadily marching on the road to universality, and he welcomed that Chile and the Czech Republic’s ratification of the Rome Statute had brought the total membership to 110. He called on others that had not ratified the Statute to consider doing so, as universal ratification would send a clear message that there was no room for impunity, anywhere.
For its part, Uganda had offered to host the Review Conference on the Rome Statute, which would provide the opportunity for victims from the region to interact with other stakeholders in the fight against impunity. He applauded efforts of civil society organizations that had arranged for delegates to meet with victims of the Lords Resistance Army in northern Uganda. His Government hoped that during the Conference, the crime of aggression would be defined and that conditions under which the Court might exercise jurisdiction would also be agreed. Finally, he welcomed States Parties and non-States Parties alike to Kampala and assured the Assembly of an atmosphere conducive to which remaining tasks could be accomplished.
CHARLES T. NTWAAGAE (Botswana), aligning himself with the African States Parties to the Rome Statute, said that preserving the integrity of the Statute, and ensuring that the Court remained fully independent in the delivery of its mandate were of utmost importance. The Rome Statute provided the opportunity to advance the ideals of the United Nations Charter, and States bore the responsibility of fulfilling the Charter’s purposes and principles. Similarly, the extension to the Court, of the mandate to pursue perpetrators of grave crimes had never been so compelling.
Continuing, he said that today, more than ever, there was the possibility of recourse to international legal institutions for victims. Therefore, cooperation in fighting impunity and grave human rights violations was not without common cause for the victims of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. In closing, he reiterated Botswana’s commitment to supporting the Court and expressed his confidence in the enforcement measures that would deter serious crimes.
BUKUN-OLU ONEMOLA (Nigeria) opened by expressing appreciation to the International Criminal Court for its relentless efforts to carry out its mandate as an independent judicial institution. The Court was one of the great advances in the area of international law and it ensured accountability for grave crimes, something that was vital for lasting peace and security. The Court relied on the cooperation of States, international organizations and civil society to help it carry out its work. Such cooperation ensured proper investigations, the execution of outstanding warrants, surrender of persons, witness protection, enforcement of sentences, and enhancement of credibility.
He encouraged all countries to ratify the Rome Statute and said his delegation had taken note of the efforts to improve the Court’s geographical representation, gender balance and the representation of the different legal systems of the world in its recruitment activities. Also of importance was the need to achieve wide geographic representation and gender balance with regard to the African region. Considering that the Court had four situations -- Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan/Darfur, and the Central African Republic ‑‑ and eight cases before it, additional funding was needed. However, to encourage more States to enter into such agreements with the Court, it needed to be proactive in exploring ways to facilitate participation of more developing States.
ESMAEIL BAGHAEI HAMANEH ( Iran) said it was generally recognized that the success of International Criminal Court hinged on that body avoiding double standards and remaining neutral, independent and apolitical. He recalled that next year was the first Review Conference of the Rome Statute, and that the main item on its agenda would be the incorporation of the definition of the crime of aggression, which was “the mother of all other international crimes of grave nature”, and as such, both its definition and the way the Court tackled it would broadly influence the cause of ending impunity for such crimes, as well as affect the whole architecture of international law.
Moving on to the relationship between the Court and the Security Council, Iran considered that any decision of the Conference of the States Parties would have lasting implications for the legitimacy and efficiency of the Court. In principle, the Security Council, under the Charter to determine the existence of an act of aggression should not undermine the role of the Court. As a judicial body, the Court and its organs needed to respect the laws and regulations prevailing in the system it belonged to. In other words, in collecting evidence or arresting suspects, it needed to refrain from taking any measure that was considered an infringement of international law. Lastly, a recent development was the declaration filed by Palestine with the Registrar of the Court regarding crimes committed on the territory of Palestine since 1 July 2002. The Prosecutor was currently considering whether Palestine could issue the declaration.
Statements on the International Court of Justice
JOEL HERNÁNDEZ, Legal Adviser, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, said the new composition of the Court reaffirmed its universal character and ensured that decisions would take into account the main legal systems of the world. While it had seen a steady increase in the number of cases to consider, the backlog had been avoided, a sign that changes in its rules of procedure and working methods were yielding good results. The Court’s sustained level of activity had been made possible thanks to guidelines adopted to improve its efficiency and constant review of guidelines for States appearing before it.
However, he was also concerned at the continued need for human resources, so that judges could carry out their work. He went on to say States were obliged to reflect on how to support the Court if its caseload continued to increase. While taking on more cases should be welcomed, as it showed States’ willingness to peacefully settle their disputes, the United Nations should make more efficient use of resources and allocate them where they were most needed. The Court deserved support and the Assembly should listen to its call for more clerks.
Regarding the Court’s website, he said there were differences in the English, French and Spanish versions, as the latter was considerably less rich in information, which hampered the analysis of Spanish-speaking scholars and practitioners of international law. He welcomed the Court’s decision on the Avena and other Mexican nationals case, and ruling on provisional measures requested by Mexico. He stressed the importance of the Court’s ruling last January in connection to States’ obligation to comply with the Court’s decisions. In closing, he reiterated Mexico’s full support to the Court.
ALEXANDER LOMAIA ( Georgia) welcomed the Court’s report, and recalled its decision, last October, when it ruled in favour of Georgia’s request for the indication of provisional measures. That request had been submitted to protect Georgians against violent discriminatory acts by Russian armed forces acting with separatist militia and foreign mercenaries. Those measures had binding effect and thus created legal obligations. It was up to the Court solely to determine whether “our northern neighbours” complied with the ruling.
He said Georgia had provided the Court with clear evidence that none of the provisional measures had been fulfilled. Those who had been forcefully displaced had not been allowed to return to their homes -– they were being arrested for trying to approach their villages. The Secretary-General’s report on the Status of internally displaced persons and refugees from Abkhazia, Georgia (A/63/950) confirmed that ethnic Georgians had been displaced from the Abkhazia region. Also, the Independent International Fact Finding Mission’s report noted that several elements suggested the conclusion that ethnic cleansing had been carried out against ethnic Georgians in South Ossetia, during and after the August 2008 conflict. He expressed deep confidence that the Court would continue its consideration of all pending cases, including that one.
GENNADY KUZMIN ( Russian Federation) said his Government had voiced its opinion on the Court during yesterday’s Security Council meeting, and respected its role in intergovernmental relations. The Russian Federation was promoting the concept of international law, due, in part, to its utmost trust in the Court and belief that the rule of law deterred attempts to resolve disputes through reckless military action. Turning to the case on the Court’s docket in which the Russian Federation was the respondent, he said that claim, which Georgia had brought against the Russian Federation, reflected the cynicism of Georgia’s actions in South Ossetia.
Having failed in its military gamble, Georgia was attempting to repair its eternally damaged image through international bodies, he said. The claimant itself had deemed it acceptable to fire on peaceful civilians, including Russian Federation peacekeepers. That dispute brought before Court did not fall within its framework. It was no coincidence that Georgia had to redraft its statement of claim numerous times. It was clear that such ineptly constructed cases, even by retained judicial practitioners, were hard-pressed to establish a link between the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination and the situation at hand. Georgia claimed to have such a dispute with the Russian Federation but had never proposed holding talks on racial discrimination against Georgians. The Court did not have the competence to consider that case.
As to why his Government was participating in the process invented by Georgia, he said its participation was yet another confirmation of its adherence to the Court and the fundamental principles of law. The blurring of the Court’s jurisdiction attempted to “fish out” of a narrow, specific treaty, standards that would lead to a loss of trust in the Court. He reminded the Assembly that in 2007, the Russian Federation had withdrawn its reservation on the Court’s competence.
He said the Court’s impartiality had been shown by the split of votes on the provisional measures in the case. The Court had ordered both sides to refrain from breaching the Convention. The Russian Federation was fulfilling that requirement and intended to do so in the future. Indeed, the 50-50 vote split was rare in the Court’s history. For the first time, seven justices had signed a dissenting opinion. The conclusion of half of justices that the Court’s provisional measures were based on “shaky legal grounds” spoke for itself.
It was odd that Georgia had waited for armed conflict to break out before taking its racial discrimination claim to the Court. The fragmentation of international law showed that that States were trying to use all available resources in their dispute cases. Indeed, he said, tribunals could have different rulings on the same issue –- a negative trend. It was important for the Court to determine its competence and stick to “tried and tested practice”. He did not wish for it to lose its iconic stature.
Right of Reply
Georgia’s delegate, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, cited page 3, paragraph 14, of the Report of the International Court of Justice (A/64/4), which stated that, after a thorough analysis, the Court had found it had prima facie jurisdiction under the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination to deal with the case. Indeed, it could deal with the request for provisional measures. He expected that the Court members would respect that decision.
He said the Russian Federation had claimed its aggression had been motivated by the will to protect itself from an attack by Georgia. To that assertion, he read from the report of the Independent International Fact Finding Mission, which stated that claims of “genocide” by Georgia were neither founded in law nor substantiated by evidence. That Mission found patterns of forced displacement of ethnic Georgians who had remained in their homes, and evidence of the systemic destruction of villages in South Ossetia. Ethnic cleansing of Georgians had been practised in South Ossetia. Also, a widespread looting campaign had taken place in South Ossetia and in the buffer zone. Ossetian civilians had participated, with reports of Russian Forces also being involved. The Russian Federation had failed to prevent that and did not stop such looting after the ceasefire.
* *** *For information media • not an official record