|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-sixth General Assembly
48th & 49thMeetings (AM & PM)
Presenting Annual Report, Human Rights Council President Tells General Assembly
2011 Review Process Provided Momentum for Body to ‘Rise above Group Politics’
Assembly Also Concludes Debate on Report of International Atomic Energy
Agency, Adopts Text Supporting Agency’s Work On Nuclear Safety, Verification, Security
Evaluating the work of the Human Rights Council, General Assembly delegates today said that during its five-year existence, the Geneva-based Council had developed considerably, but that it should avoid politicization and continue to take the lead in addressing urgent human rights situations around the world.
Presenting the Council’s report to Member States, its President, Laura Dupuy Lasserre ( Uruguay), said the 47-member body’s recently-concluded review process in Geneva had proven to be a valuable opportunity to assess its effectiveness. Even though the outcome document did not include specific language on how the Council would enhance its effectiveness in responding to human rights situations, the process had “allowed for momentum to rise above group politics and respond to such situations on the ground in a timely and constructive manner”. During the past year, the Council had held four special sessions in relation to the situations of Côte d’Ivoire, Libya and Syria (twice), and established fact-finding missions.
Meanwhile, the review had generated certain follow-up tasks, and to that end, she had established a Task Force to consider improving secretariat services, accessibility for persons with disabilities and the use of information technology. Its recommendations would be presented to the Council at its March 2012 session. She had also begun consultations on the first yearly high-level panel on human rights mainstreaming within the United Nations system. Another achievement of the review process was the opening of new spaces for the participation of national human rights institutions, which were key actors for the improvement of the situation on the ground.
She touched on the significant challenges facing the Council in terms of securing the resources for it to continue its activities. The past year had witnessed renewed attention to address urgent human rights situations and emerging issues. Moreover, the number of resolutions, decisions and mandates had increased. All that required significant resources, and she said the total of new resource requirements in 2010 was under $5 million, and this year, the total rose to more than $24 million.
The main reason for that increase had been the establishment of four commissions of inquiry and fact-finding missions. She urged the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) to consider options to address the funding of extraordinary expenses. Lastly, she gave assurances of her commitment to follow up on the review outcome.
Opening the discussion, Assembly Vice-President Peter Thomson of Fiji, delivering a statement of behalf of General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, said that human rights was one of the core agendas of the United Nations. As a relatively young entity, the Human Rights Council had grown and developed considerably in responding to the needs for ensuring all human rights for all around the world. It had acted quickly and responded to many situations, and it had also promoted dialogue and cooperation amongst States.
To date, the foremost achievement was the successful completion of the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review of Member States which had been reviewed on the basis of equal performance records. Commending the spirit of cooperation in that endeavour, he also appreciated that the Council’s deliberations on collective rights such as the right to development, food, drinking water, and even the right of peoples to peace.
He underscored the work of the Special Procedures of the Council — Special Rapporteurs, Independent Experts and special mandates — as the “eyes and ears of the human rights system” and said they had a key role to play in the protection and promotion of fundamental rights and freedoms. Recalling that the theme of the Assembly’s sixty-sixth session was mediation, he expressed the hope that the Human Rights Council would continue to be instrumental in fostering dialogue among the many cultures and civilizations and be guided by the spirit of cooperation and inherent value of mediation.
During the debate, many of the afternoon’s speakers said that this year, the Council had contributed to the further development of international norms and standards in the field of human rights, and had worked to monitor implementation of international human rights law and standards. Now that the review process had ended, it was necessary, many said, to use every occasion to enable the Council to fulfil its commitments and to live up to the world’s expectations. Several delegates were pleased that action had been taken to address urgent country situations in Côte d’Ivoire, Libya, Syria, Belarus and Yemen.
It was significant to recall the “emblematic case of Libya’s suspension from the Human Rights Council”, said the head of the delegation of the European Union, adding that all needed to pay more attention to the human rights record of States. Despite strides made in many situations, there was scope to improve the Council’s capacity to have more impact on the ground, respond in real time and prevent further abuses.
While agreeing that the Council was making progress in enhancing its effectiveness, several speakers said that it should strive to avoid the political manipulation and selectivity that had plagued the Commission on Human Rights, its predecessor body. Indeed, they believed it was critical to avoid the mistakes of the past.
Cuba’s delegate was worried by the Council’s tendency to perpetuate selectivity in the application of human rights standards. Referring to finances, she said that “double standards” had permeated the Council, and stressed that the international community expected it to respond to all crises equally, including those in the global South. As long as unjust policies remained in place, Council members must speak out for them to end.
During the morning session, the General Assembly recognized the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), with the adoption by consensus of a resolution on that Agency’s report. The text reaffirmed the Assembly’s strong support for the indispensable role of the Agency in encouraging and assisting the development and practical application of atomic energy for peaceful uses, in technology transfer to developing countries and in nuclear safety, verification and security.
The Assembly also wrapped up its debate on the annual report of the International Atomic Energy Agency , which it had begun yesterday. Speakers agreed that the nuclear accident at the Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant was a turning point in nuclear safety, expressing solidarity with those affected.
They added that to regain public confidence in the safety and sustainability of nuclear power, it was important to address nuclear safety high on the global agenda. Safe nuclear power played a key role in development. Some speakers noted that the Agency’s work in technical cooperation played an indispensable role as the main vehicle for promoting peaceful uses of nuclear technology, especially in developing regions.
Taking part in the debate on the report of the Human Rights Council were the representatives of the United Republic of Tanzania, India, Liechtenstein, Sudan, Kuwait, Philippines, Senegal, Brazil, Greece, Tunisia, Egypt, Peru, Japan, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Mexico, New Zealand, Iran, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Maldives, Malaysia, Nigeria and Chile.
Also speaking in that discussion was a member of the Parliament of India.
Participating in the conclusion of the Assembly’s discussion on the report of the International Atomic Energy Agency were the representatives of the Republic of Korea, Egypt, Nigeria, Iran, Sudan, Indonesia, Peru, Norway, Ethiopia, Libya, Syria and Malaysia.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea spoke in explanation of position before action on the resolution.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea and Japan.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 8 November, to consider the Report of the Security Council and the question of its equitable representation and membership.
The Assembly met today to continue and conclude its consideration of the annual report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which was transmitted in note by the Secretary-General (document A/66/95). Please see also Press Release GA/11165.
It was also expected to take up the report of the Human Rights Council (document A/66/53 and A/66/53/Add.1), which contains the resolutions, decisions and President’s statements adopted by the Council from 23 December 2010 through 21 October 2011 at its sixteenth (28 February – 25 March 2011), seventeenth (30 May – 17 June 2011) and eighteenth (12-30 September and 21 October 2011) sessions and at its fourteenth (23 December 2010), fifteenth (25 February 2011), sixteenth (29 April 2011), and seventeenth (22 and 23 August 2011) special sessions. An index of topics considered by the Council in its resolutions, decisions and President’s statements appears at the end of the report.
SHIN DONG-IK (Republic of Korea) said that while the International Atomic Energy Agency played a vital role in accelerating and enlarging the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity, it faced ever-increasing demands from risks such as nuclear proliferation, terrorism and safety, as shown by the Fukushima accident. It must be provided appropriate resources to maintain its capacity. The Fukushima incident sent an unmistakable signal to the international community not to remain complacent with regard to nuclear safety. To that end, he welcomed the adoption of the Action Plan on Nuclear Safety at the IAEA General Conference this year and looked forward to its effective implementation through full cooperation by Member States.
The threat of terrorism was real, he said, noting that 172 incidents had been reported in the year ending June 2011 under the Illicit Trafficking Data Base (ITDB), including 14 cases of unauthorized possession and/or attempts to sell or smuggle nuclear material or radioactive sources. The Republic of Korea supported the Nuclear Security Fund and relevant legal instruments and international activities. In March 2012, it would host the second Nuclear Security Summit, at which efforts would be made to maximize synergy among various initiatives and activities to keep nuclear material in safe hands.
He expressed appreciation of the first IAEA report on the application of safeguards in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. That report expressed concern at the country’s uranium enrichment programme and also underlined that that programme violated Security Council resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009). In the current climate of dialogue, he looked forward to the Agency’s resumption of an active role in the denuclearization of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. He also welcomed the first resolution from the Agency condemning that enrichment programme, and urging that country to come into compliance with the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and to cooperate with IAEA in implementing safeguards. That text had also urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programmes and to immediately cease all related activities.
MAGED ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt) said that international crises in the fields of energy and climate change posed constraints on the growing energy needs of the developing world in terms of both quantity and quality. Amid those challenges, the IAEA report reflected the continued importance of nuclear technology to generate electric power as it pointed out that there were 60 countries which had expressed interest in exploring the use of nuclear energy. A large number of States would have their first reactors up and running by 2030. That proved the growing interest in the exercise of the inalienable right, anchored by Article IV of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
He said that while a timetable of the Egyptian programme to produce nuclear energy was subject to further adaptation in light of fundamental transformation which the country was currently experiencing and allowed for taking into account lessons learned from the experiences of other countries, it continued to move forward in the implementation of that national project to achieve its legitimate aspirations and respond to development needs. Egypt remained at the forefront of countries that had provided unlimited support to IAEA since its inception, out of its belief in the Agency’s role towards preventing nuclear proliferation, and promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy to support the ambitions and needs of developing countries in a wide range of areas.
The system of comprehensive safeguards in place among States parties to the NPT remained a major pillar used to strengthen the non-proliferation regime. In order to achieve a universal system of Safeguards, it was necessary to make progress in achieving universal adherence to the Treaty. At the regional level, all countries of the Middle East applied comprehensive safeguards except Israel, whose opaque nuclear activities remained outside any international control. The fact that Israel continued to ignore the call of the international community for it to accede to the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon State and subject all its nuclear facilities to the full scope of IAEA safeguards risked nuclear proliferation in the region and hindered efforts to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone there.
BUKUN-OLU ONEMOLA ( Nigeria) commended the Agency for delivering on its mandate for technical cooperation, nuclear safety, safeguards and security. IAEA continued, despite numerous constraints, including of financial resources, to contribute to international peace and security while ensuring that humanity derived maximum benefits from nuclear science and technology. He expected that implementation of the Action Plan on Nuclear Safety resulting from the High-level Ministerial Nuclear Safety Conference in June of this year, along with measures identified at national and regional levels and informed by lessons from the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, would go a long way to address security concerns and restore confidence in nuclear technology.
Despite apprehensions following that accident, he continued, Nigeria remained convinced that nuclear technology, if safely and responsibly applied, had a vital role to play in serving immediate human needs. He stressed that transparency regarding information and lessons learnt from the Fukushima accident would help his country avoid pitfalls as it introduced nuclear power into its energy mix. He said the Agency’s achievement in the application of nuclear technology to food and agriculture was “phenomenal”, including its collaborations with other entities in eradicating rinderpest, the deadly cattle disease. He also commended IAEA’s focus on nuclear techniques for water management, which addressed needs of both developed and developing countries. Nigeria’s national programmes would continue to benefit from the Agency’s Programme of Action on Cancer Therapy, he said.
He noted IAEA Technical Cooperation Programme contributions to efforts by Member States in addressing national development priorities. He encouraged States, who were able, to make extrabudgetary contributions to the “Peaceful Uses Initiative” of the United States. Nuclear waste management was key to any nuclear power programme. Nigeria had wide-ranging support from the Agency in project design and implementation as it commenced development of such facilities. Asserting Nigeria’s commitment to the basic tenets of the NPT, he called that treaty a pillar in securing the world from nuclear holocaust, and appreciated the Agency’s efforts to reinvigorate the creation of a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East. He also anticipated that the Seoul 2012 Summit on Nuclear Security would be vital to keeping nuclear materials from unauthorized end-users.
ESHAGH AL-HABIB ( Iran) said that nuclear technology played a significant role in the advancement of human society by contributing to such peaceful applications as food, medicine and agriculture. According to its statute, he stressed, IAEA should “accelerate and enlarge” that contribution, including by facilitating the transfer of technology and the promotion of the scientific and technological capacity of Member States. The inalienable right to the peaceful applications of nuclear technology, without discrimination, was the very foundation of the NPT. Iran underscored that such a right should never be restricted, including through “ulterior outside political considerations”. Additionally, the implementation of related provisions of the NPT and the IAEA statute required a realistic and balanced approach.
Unfortunately, he said, developed States parties to the NPT, as the main suppliers of nuclear high technology, by continuing the application of a discriminatory, selective and highly politically motivated approach in their nuclear cooperation, had given rise to two “dangerous impressions”. First, being a party to the NPT and the IAEA Safeguards Agreement did not facilitate but impeded nuclear cooperation, and, therefore, was not a privilege. And the second impression was that non-NPT parties were more richly and generously rewarded through nuclear cooperation.
It was a source of grave concern that those who had chosen not to accede to the NPT not only were not subject to any pressure to do so, but were encouraged and rewarded. He said that the United States, the United Kingdom and France, in particular, provided well-documented assistance and cooperation to the Zionist regime which, in addition to its unsafeguarded nuclear programme, possessed one of the largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons. Indeed, such double standards contravened the letter and spirit, as well as the universality, of the NPT, and undermined the integrity of that treaty.
Iran emphasized the need to avoid the use of extralegal unilateral measures and attempts to use the Agency as an instrument in support of short-sighted political interests. By calling IAEA a “watchdog organization”, a neglected task of the Agency was ignored: that of nuclear disarmament. Iran was proud that it had been able to exercise its inalienable right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and remained fully committed to its nuclear activities, which were, and had always been, for peaceful purposes. Despite all external pressure on IAEA, it had always repeatedly confirmed the non-diversion and peaceful nature of that programme. Finally, from a legal point of view, he pointed out that IAEA should verify only “declared” nuclear material, and the recent report of the IAEA Director General had mentioned “all nuclear material”, which was legally incorrect.
DAFFA-ALLA ELHAG ALI OSMAN ( Sudan) said that the IAEA report emphasized many things, including the role of cooperation in nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and development. Sudan accorded high priority to the contents of the report, especially its sections on food security, water resources and agricultural projects. Assisting developing countries to improve relevant national technical systems was important. He hoped that cooperation would be improved in the framework in the Agency’s programmes. Such cooperation was needed, for example, to fight malaria, which would go a long way to ensuring that the continent could achieve socio-economic development, as well as the Millennium Development Goals.
He stressed that all States should be able to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination. States should refrain from putting pressure on IAEA, and he called for justice and equity to tackle outstanding issues. Sudan would emphasize the role of the NPT which constituted one of the main pillars on international peace and security. He expressed concern that the Middle East was still far from achieving that goal, and he noted that for decades, Israel had refused to put its nuclear programme under the IAEA safeguards system. Israel’s adherence to the NPT and Additional Protocol was vital to eliminating the tension in the region, and doing so would add to international peace and security.
Along the same lines, he hoped IAEA would continue to ensure support for the developing countries for the development of nuclear energy for peaceful uses. Reaching that goal would yield a “considerable breakthrough”. The rising cost of alternative energy forced developing countries to find solutions. He said the Agency should encourage countries to work side by side, and noted the need for cooperation in medical and health projects.
FIKRY CASSIDY (Indonesia), extending sympathy to the people and Government of Japan over the events at the Fukushima power plant in March, he also expressed admiration and respect for the tremendous courage and resilience shown by the Japanese emergency teams in getting the facility back under control. To regain public confidence in the safety and sustainability of nuclear power, including in Indonesia, it was important to address nuclear safety high on the global agenda.
He said that IAEA Technical Cooperation played an indispensable role as the main vehicle for the Agency to deliver its mandate to promote the peaceful uses of nuclear technology, especially in developing regions of the world. As a country that had benefited from a wide application of nuclear techniques for water, Indonesia supported the decision of the Director General of IAEA to prioritize those techniques for this year. The role of Regional Cooperative Agreement (RCA) in the promotion of the use of nuclear technology for socio-economic development in the Asia-Pacific region could not be overlooked. Indeed, in the RCA’s almost 40 years of existence, the participating countries and the Agency had accumulated valuable experience in cooperation and coordination of nuclear-related development activities in the region.
Indonesia continued to support international cooperation in nuclear security and the centrality of IAEA’s role in that area, he said. Together with representatives of IAEA, Indonesia co-hosted a high-level regional workshop on the International Legal Framework for Nuclear Security from 20-22 July 2011. Indonesia’s commitment to safeguards remained strong. On the issue of safeguards in the Middle East, Indonesia would continue to support IAEA taking a comprehensive and balanced approach in addressing non-proliferation issues in the region. In pursuit of paving a way for the realization of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in that region, Indonesia fully supported the Director General’s initiative to convene a forum on the topic in Vienna, and would stand ready to participate constructively in the process.
ALEXIS AQUINO ( Peru) joined in co-sponsoring the resolution on IAEA as an expression of its firm support of the Agency’s work. It had been a founding member and had participated on its Board of Governors for the period 2009-2011. Peru had also been endorsed by the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States to return to the Board for the period 2013-2015. The nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant was an important milestone in the Agency’s work, he said. Acknowledging that fundamental responsibility for nuclear safety remained with States, he said the Agency played a pivotal role in maintaining nuclear security. He said he would have preferred a bolder document, but supported the post-Fukushima Action Plan on Nuclear Safety, nonetheless. Further, he emphasized the need to strengthen the nuclear regime, preserving IAEA’s central role.
Peru had significant cooperative projects with IAEA in areas such as medicine, improving agricultural products and in the country’s research institutions, among other areas, he continued. The Director General of the Agency had visited the country in June 2011 and had been able to observe projects under way to fight cancer and to manage water resources, among others. It was important to enhance the capacity of developing countries in those and other areas. To that end, he proposed four priorities for the Agency: fighting cancer, as two thirds of those cases were in developing countries; improving food availability; supporting States wishing to develop nuclear power; and water management.
Regionally, he said, Peru had actively participated in the Regional Agreement of Technical Cooperation for the Promotion of Nuclear Science and Technology in Latin America (ARCAL) since 1984, especially in human resource training, health and other fields, and had also joined the Ibero-American Forum of Radiation and Nuclear Safety Regulatory Agencies (FORO), which worked to standardize regulatory policies among countries of the region.
KNUT LANDELAND ( Norway) said his delegation was pleased to co-sponsor the draft resolution on the Report of IAEA. Norway’s Government attached great importance to that Agency, as it was not only a key guardian of the collective non-proliferation regime, but an important partner in promoting social and economic development while ensuring the safety and security of peaceful nuclear programmes.
He said nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament were closely interlinked. The goal of eliminating nuclear weapons, as set out by the NPT, could not be achieved unless there was confidence in the integrity of the non-proliferation regime. It was, therefore, vital that the Agency was provided with the necessary legal tools to implement its non-proliferation mandate. He urged countries with outstanding proliferation issues to fully cooperate with the Agency in resolving those matters, and in demonstrating the exclusively peaceful nature of their nuclear programmes.
Achieving a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East was an important goal both from a regional point of view, and to reinforce the global non-proliferation regime. Norway would chair the IAEA Forum on a Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone in the Middle East to be held in November in Vienna. The NPT Review Conference in 2010 had also underlined the importance of international cooperation with regards to peaceful uses of nuclear energy. It was imperative that Member States provided sufficient and predictable funding so that the Agency could carry out its mandate.
FORTUNA DIBACO ( Ethiopia) said her country was a beneficiary of IAEA’s Technical Cooperation Programme. Among the several areas of technical cooperation, with the assistance of the Agency, was a project to eradicate the tsetse fly from the Southern Rift Valley regions of Ethiopia with an Integrated Pest Management approach. The project was being implemented, and so far, remarkable achievements have been registered, thereby benefiting several communities by helping them to regain their farmland and livestock activities. Strengthening such concrete and tangible gains needed enhanced support from the Agency so that the benefit would be sustainable through integrated development that took into account proper land use planning and management.
Technical cooperation between Ethiopia and the Agency in the area of human health had resulted in putting in place a modest national infrastructure for the application of nuclear medicine and radiotherapy. A project was being designed for 2012-2017 to consolidate the existing radiotherapy and nuclear medical facilities in five regional State University hospitals for the diagnosis, curative and palliative treatment of cancer patients and for efficient diagnosis and management of other equally serious diseases. Ethiopia said that it would, therefore, like to request the Agency to further strengthen its cooperation in that area in order to combat cancer through sustainable cancer therapy programmes. Ethiopia was encouraged that the technical cooperation it had with IAEA to apply isotope techniques in managing water resources was also well under way.
Ethiopia supported the Agency’s efforts to promote and maintain global nuclear safety. The Ethiopian Radiation Protection Authority (ERPA) continued to work towards full implementation of regulatory control systems in all thematic safety areas. The delegation commended the activities of IAEA in assisting Member States including Ethiopia in the peaceful use of nuclear energy through the development of effective and efficient programmes aimed at improving scientific, technological and regulatory capabilities. She reaffirmed Ethiopia’s commitment to the peaceful use of nuclear technologies. She said Ethiopia would do its utmost to further enhance the beneficial cooperation it has with the Agency, as well as with all the development partners that had so far made generous contributions to the country’s development efforts in that particular field.
SALAHEDDIN EL-MESALLATI ( Libya) emphasized the right of developing countries to avail themselves of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, and the right to access nuclear material and equipment and exchange technical information. Libya declared its position to take scientific, practical steps to implement non-proliferation, technical cooperation and verification. He expressed support for the safeguards system, and called for countries to adhere to the NPT. He supported the Director-General of IAEA and his statement before the NPT Review Conference in 2010. He expressed belief that nuclear disarmament should be of utmost importance and the Agency played an important role in such activities.
Libya acceded to the Convention on nuclear safety and early reporting of nuclear accidents, as well as set up an office to supervise nuclear safety and security along with an independent monitoring agency to carry out its mandate. He commended the Agency’s role in helping to combat any threats posed by groups that would use biological or nuclear weapons. The Middle East was a hotbed of tension because of nuclear weapons in Israel, which then led other countries to seek to acquire such weapons. He called on all countries with nuclear weapons to put an end to their programmes, as set out in Article VI of the NPT and highlighted by the 2010 NPT Review Conference.
BASHAR JA’AFARI ( Syria) said that despite the fact that there was universal understanding that the sole danger in the Middle East lay with Israel’s nuclear weapons, some of those who turned a blind eye to that “clear-cut situation” were pleased to raise new allegations with suspect motives. That non-impartial and non-objective trend exposed the falsity of those countries’ statements to the effect that they wished to see a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. They themselves had supplied Israel with nuclear materials for decades, he said. Those States had further tried to divert attention from such facts during last year’s NPT conference.
The “nuclear hypocrisy” which marked the minds of Western States did not further the goals of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, he said. Instead, it encouraged irresponsible nuclear activities by a Power that refused to place its programme under the safeguards of IAEA. In that regard, the Agency should hold Western States responsible for their violations of Articles I and II of the NPT. Referring to the “crass insinuations” made against Syria yesterday by the Head of the delegation of the European Union, he reminded the Assembly that many States in the European bloc did not comply with their nuclear commitments.
The Director General of the IAEA had stated yesterday that the Agency had come to the conclusion that a building at the Dair Alzour site, discovered in 2007, was a nuclear reactor that should have been declared to IAEA. Further, the Board of Governors had found in June 2011 that Syria did not comply with its international nuclear obligations. Contrary to that opinion, Syria in fact made the NPT the main pillar of its policy. He recalled that, in 2003 — when Syria had been a non-permanent member of the Security Council — it had presented a draft resolution to the effect of creating a zone free of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. That resolution remained unadopted. Syria’s credibility could, therefore, not be questioned, he said. Its policies had simply clashed with those of the major Security Council Powers.
Moreover, the Council and IAEA did not condemn Israel’s “gross aggression” against its sovereignty in 2007 — a fact that Syria had hoped would have been mentioned in the Director General’s report, but was not. He quoted a paragraph written by the former Director General of IAEA, Mohamed El-Baradei, entitled “The Age of Deception: Nuclear Diplomacy in Treacherous Times”. It stated that “one of the strangest and most striking examples of nuclear hypocrisy […] must surely be Israel’s bombing of the Dair Alzour installation in Syria in 2007”. The then-Director General had informed countries that anyone with evidence that the installation had been nuclear in nature should come forward, but none had done so.
Later, in a television interview, Mr. El-Baradei had been asked whether the facility was a nuclear reactor. He had responded that Syria had not seen any evidence to conclude one way or another. However, he had added that, “to bomb first and ask questions later”, as Israel had done, was deliberately undermining the system. Only the IAEA had the means to verify allegations of clandestine nuclear activity. Moreover, he recalled that the former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, had been asked in a separate interview what he thought of the assertion that Israel should have brought its evidence to IAEA; Mr. Bolton had replied that “the notion that Israel or the United States would put their national security in IAEA’s hands is just delusional”. To hear those sentiments coming from the United States Ambassador to the United Nations was “dreadful”, the former Director General had noted.
HUSSEIN HANIFF ( Malaysia) said there were more than 60 countries that had expressed an interest in exploring the use of nuclear power, including his own. As part of Malaysia’s Economic Transformation Programme, nuclear power development had been identified as one of the main projects for future power generation. The objective was purely to ensure adequate electricity supply for the people of the country beyond the year 2020. He said that Malaysia was appreciative of IAEA’s inputs towards the country’s draft comprehensive nuclear law, which aimed to further strengthen existing legislation. Malaysia had also enacted a Strategic Trade Act, encompassing export control measures for all single- and dual-use strategic goods, including nuclear, chemical, biological, and missile-related items, as well as conventional arms.
Malaysia had always recognized the importance of regional cooperation and had participated actively in many regional projects under the aegis of the Agency. He welcomed the Agency’s efforts to create a common framework for nuclear waste and spent fuel management for the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) through the “Consultancy Meeting on Recommendations in Spent Fuel and Radioactive Waste Management” last March, and other efforts in the field of nuclear security and nuclear safety. He was pleased that the Malaysian Nuclear Agency had been re-designated, for the period 2010-2014 as the IAEA Collaborating Centre for Radiation Processing of Natural Polymer and Nanomaterials. That facility had demonstrated, among others, the radiation-aided production of non-toxic, environment-friendly palm oil acrylates for printing applications.
Speaking in explanation of position before action on the draft resolution before the Assembly, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), gave heartfelt thanks to those who had expressed wishes for a peaceful resolution of tensions on the Korean peninsula.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea “totally and categorically” rejected the report of IAEA, he said. It mentioned factors that were a distortion of fundamental reality. In the first instance, it referred to Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as if it were a member of IAEA, which was not the case. His country had withdrawn from IAEA in 1994 and from the NPT in 1993, in accordance with international law. Specifically, he said, Article X of the NPT stipulated that any country could withdraw if the supreme interests of the State were jeopardized. Noting that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had been included in the Bush Administration’s seven-country list for pre-emptive strike, his country had been compelled to withdraw from the NPT in defence of its supreme interests.
He also said that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s entry into the NPT had come with the expectation that the nuclear danger on the Korean peninsula would be removed, but that had not occurred. The United States had introduced nuclear weapons to the peninsula in 1957, and by 1970 the number of those weapons had reached 1,000. Indeed, it had been living with potential nuclear disaster for decades.
Further, he said, regarding remarks in the report on Iran’s enrichment programme, which was similar to the situation in his country, he noted that over 90 countries were now moving towards peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Noting that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was a member to the Six-Party talks, he said that if one looked at history, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s ability to independently produce nuclear power had been damaged. In 1994, it had entered into its first-ever agreement with the United States. By that agreement, the United States was to have supplied light-water reactors to compensate for the losses of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea by 2003, but in 2002, the United States had unilaterally abrogated that agreement without prior notice to his country and without compensation.
In addition, the report’s stated danger of threat posed by nuclear testing was also counter to fundamental reality, he said. The agreement framework of 1994 had stated that the United States would not use nuclear weapons and would not threaten the security of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, but the United States had called Iran, Iraq and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea an “Axis of Evil”, after which Iraq had been invaded. The Bush Administration had said at that time that Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was the next target. The daily presence on the Korean peninsula of nuclear and other weapons threatened the peace and security of the peninsula, the region and the world, he said.
In closing, he said that Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had “totally and categorically’ rejected Security Council resolutions aimed at it as soon as they had been adopted. Since 1957, it was the United States who had been the perpetrator. Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had been under threat, but the Security Council had painted it as the perpetrator. Military exercises and alliances were not a solution to the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula, he said. Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was committed to resumption of the Six-Party talks as soon as possible, on the basis of action for action.
Action on Draft
The Assembly then adopted by consensus, a draft resolution entitled “Report of the International Atomic Energy Agency” (document A/66/L.6).
Right of Reply
Speaking in exercise of his right of reply, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that his delegation categorically rejected the report of the Director General as having no basis in reality. Its neighbour, the Republic of Korea, was “under the nuclear umbrella of the United States”, the world’s largest nuclear-weapon State. In that regard, he would ask the Republic of Korea why it had allowed that large foreign Power to bring nuclear weapons onto the Korean peninsula. The transport of such weapons into the Republic of Korea had come to light in a shocking 1975 media report, he added.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea also wished to draw attention to the continued military exercises of the United States and the Republic of Korea, whose scope and nature were arousing “severe concern”. Even as he spoke, the two countries were conducting joint military exercises, which had begun on 27 October 2011. The western media were not reporting those “military provocations,” and no dialogue had been considered. In that light, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea urged the Republic of Korea to remove all American military bases — which constituted a “cradle of United States nuclear weapons” — from its territory, as they risked the destruction of the entire peninsula.
He added that Japan was also under the nuclear umbrella of that large foreign Power, as a “secret deal” had been made to allow American nuclear warships to enter Japan’s waters. Nuclear materials had existed in that country ever since. Japan had the technology required for nuclear weapons, he stressed, and could assemble such weapons within just one week’s time. Those facts threatened peace and stability in Northeast Asia and across the entire world.
Responding, the representative of the Republic of Korea said that the claims just made by the delegation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea ran counter to the facts. That country had withdrawn from the NPT in 1993 when IAEA had reported its non-compliance with the Safeguard Agreements to the Security Council. He described a series of nuclear tests that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had conducted on the peninsula — in 2006, and then again in 2009 — as well as Security Council resolutions condemning them.
That body, among others, had called on the country to give up its nuclear weapons. He urged it to comply with those requests. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was, in fact, ignoring all such obligations, claiming the right to peaceful use of nuclear energy. It believed that the international community was “ganging up” against it, which was not the case. He pointed instead to several examples of provocations on the part of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which had led to the resolutions and condemnations that were mentioned.
The representative of Japan, responding to the allegations made by the delegate from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said Japan’s adherence to the obligations of IAEA and NPT — and towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons — was “unshakable”. It had never allowed nuclear weapons to enter its waters, he stressed. Japan was in strict compliance with all safeguards obligations. Its peaceful use of nuclear energy had been confirmed by IAEA; moreover, as an extra transparency measure, Japan regularly reported all of its plutonium holdings. The country maintained an exclusively defence-oriented ballistic policy, he said, adding that the programme threatened no country or region.
Taking the floor again, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea underscored that the “South Korean” delegate had neglected to address the nuclear weapons umbrella of the United States. He stressed that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had rejected those Security Council resolutions that the delegate had mentioned. Those texts undermined the Council’s true mandate and the credibility of the United Nations Charter in the area of State sovereignty. That principle allowed the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to rightfully defend itself against the threat of the American nuclear umbrella across the border.
He also referred to a political incident involving the alleged sinking of a South Korean ship near the border of the two countries’ waters, calling for justice in light of that false accusation. As for Japan’s delegate, he said that the fact that American nuclear weapons had entered into the country’s waters had been confirmed by the Foreign Minister of Japan himself.
The representative of the Republic of Korea said that there were 1 million “North Korean” troops stationed along the border between the two countries, and that they made frequent provocations. He reminded the Assembly that the Republic of Korea was only a few miles away from the heavily-armed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a fact that made for a dangerous and difficult situation. Regarding the sinking of the Cheonan warship, he stressed that no responsibility had ever been admitted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Also taking the floor for a second time, the delegate from Japan wished to remind the international community that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continued to develop its nuclear programmes in violation of many Security Council resolutions and Joint Statements of the Six-Party talks. That country must take concrete steps to demonstrate its commitment to improving inter-Korean relations, he said.
Opening Remarks and Presentation of Report of Human Rights Council
Opening the discussion, PETER THOMSON (Fiji) delivered a statement of General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, saying that human rights was one of the core agendas of the United Nations. As a relatively young entity of the system, the Human Rights Council had grown and developed considerably in responding to the needs of ensuring all human rights for all around the world. It had acted quickly and responded to many situations, and it had also promoted dialogue and cooperation among States.
In particular, he said the consensual approach that prevailed throughout the review of the Council’s methods of work and functions had demonstrated commitment of the membership to achieve the shared objective of strengthening the human rights system. The outcome that resulted from those negotiations, as well as the coordinated approach between Geneva and New York during the review, was welcomed. He believed coordination and consultation between the Council and the Assembly should be enhanced. Following the conclusion of the review, it was expected that the Council was now better equipped to face the challenges before it.
In the body’s five-year existence, its foremost achievement had been the successful completion of the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Member States which were surveyed on the basis of equal treatment on their human rights records and performance. Commending the spirit of cooperation in that endeavour, he also appreciated that the Council’s deliberations on collective rights such as the right to development, food, drinking water, and even the right of peoples to peace, had effectively engaged the international community’s expectations in emerging rights.
Also worthy of special mention were panel discussions held on a broad range of human rights issues which had drawn international attention to new issues or broadened worldwide understandings of others. He underscored the work of the special procedures of the Council as the “eyes and ears of the human rights system” and said they had a key role to play. Recalling that the theme of the Assembly’s sixty-sixth session was mediation, he expressed the hope that the Human Rights Council would continue to be instrumental in fostering dialogue among the many cultures and civilizations and be guided by the spirit of cooperation and inherent value of mediation.
Presenting the report of the Human Rights Council, LAURA DUPUY LASSERE ( Uruguay) said that in this, its fifth year, the Council had undertaken a review process, which had been a valuable opportunity to assess its work. Even though the outcome document did not include specific language on how the Council would enhance its effectiveness in responding to human rights situations, the process generated the momentum for “rising above group politics and responding to such situations on the ground in a timely and constructive manner”.
She went on to say that during the past year, the Council had held four special sessions in relation to the situations of Côte d’Ivoire, Libya and Syria (twice), and had established fact-finding missions to investigate those situations and make recommendations in the face of serious human rights violations.
As for the review-generated follow-up tasks, she said she had established a Task Force to consider improving secretariat services, accessibility for persons with disabilities and the use of information technology. She had also begun consultations on the first yearly high-level panel on human rights mainstreaming within the United Nations system. Another achievement of the review process was the opening of new spaces for the participation of the council of national human rights institutions compliant with the Paris Principles, which were key actors for the improvement of the situation on the ground.
The annual report of the Council and its addendum contained resolutions and decisions adopted. During the past three regular sessions, the Council held 14 panel discussions, drawing from the experience of United Nations human rights experts, civil society, academia, Governments and others. She said that the themes of the panel discussions included, inter alia, the human rights of victims of terrorism. The Council had established new special procedures mandates, including both country and thematic mandates, bringing the total to 44. Among them were the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran; the Independent expert on the situation of human rights in Côte d’Ivoire; and the Independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order.
She said that the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review had concluded its last session of the first cycle, and the human rights situations in all 193 Member States had been considered by that panel and the Council, with most States represented by ministers, which was a milestone. Lastly, she touched briefly upon the significant challenges facing the Council in terms of resources for it to continue.
The past year had witnessed renewed attention to address urgent situations and emerging issues. In addition, the number of resolutions, decisions and mandates had increased. All required significant resources, and she said that the total of new resource requirements in 2010 was under $5 million, and this year, the total had risen to more than $24 million. That had largely been due to the establishment of the respective fact-finding missions and commissions of inquiry.
She said that the General Assembly had pledged to consider the issue of making additional resources available quickly, in response to new and time-sensitive mandates created by the Council at every session. She urged the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) to consider options to address the funding of extraordinary expenses. In conclusion, she gave assurances of her commitment to follow up on the review outcome.
OMBENI SEFUE (United Republic of Tanzania), speaking on behalf of the African Group, reaffirmed his delegation’s commitment to the work of the Human Rights Council and emphasized that engagement with all stakeholders was key to arriving at an understanding on issues of divergence and to advancing those that had been agreed upon. He welcomed the consensual approach that resulted from negotiations in the General Assembly on review of the Council and commended the coordinated approach between Geneva and New York, during that review, noting that that practice should be strengthened. Further, the new practice of interactive dialogue between the Third Committee (Social Humanitarian and Cultural) and the President of the Council would benefit all. Those bodies were now able to consider and act on all Council recommendations to the Assembly, including those that dealt with the development of international law in the field of human rights.
He said that the African Group looked forward to reinforcing the Council’s efforts in combating all forms of discrimination around the world on the grounds of race, sex, language or religion, and particularly discrimination against women, national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, migrants and others who faced social marginalization and discrimination. Those endeavours should avoid the imposition of controversial notions that were not grounded in international human rights and humanitarian law, and which did not take into account the divergent social, cultural and value systems in different societies. He also encouraged the Human Rights Council to intensify its collaboration with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
THOMAS MAYR-HARDING, Head of the delegation of the European Union, said that, even now that the review process had ended, it was necessary to use every occasion to enable the Council to fulfil its commitments and live up to the world’s expectations. The European Union was pleased to note that the Council had taken a leading role in the recent events in the Middle East and elsewhere. In particular, actions it had taken to address urgent country situations in Côte d’Ivoire, Libya, Syria, Belarus and Yemen were examples of the Council’s response to urgent human rights situations.
Serving on the Human Rights Council entailed important responsibilities, he said, which should guide both the election of members and their conduct during their tenure. In that respect, it was significant to recall the “emblematic case” of Libya’s suspension from the Human Rights Council, which had taken place on 1 March 2011, following the recommendation of its Special Session on the situation in Libya. The European Union encouraged all to pay more attention to the human rights record and commitment of States.
The delegation attached great importance to the Council’s special procedures, its “eyes and ears”. It welcomed the establishment of a new mandate on Iran and the extension of the mandates of the Special Rapporteurs on the human rights situations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar and Cambodia. He said the Council had also committed to providing technical assistance and capacity-building to the Government of South Sudan to promote human rights, upon its request.
Thematic special procedures played an equally outstanding role, he said, highlighting the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, established 25 years ago. In order to allow special procedures to perform their role, it was crucial that mandate holders were able to independently assess and draw the Council’s attention to human rights issues and situations. The ability of a mandate holder to undertake country visits and establish direct contact with relevant government structures was crucial, he concluded.
Over the past year, the Council had contributed to the further development of international norms and standards in the field of human rights, and had worked to monitor the implementation of international human rights law and standards. In the area of strengthening international cooperation and the development of capacity=building and technical measures, important initiatives had been adopted in support of efforts of the authorities in Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan, Tunisia, Guinea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo; fact-finding missions and commissions of inquiry were also important tools. The European Union believed that, despite the strides made, there was scope to improve the Council’s capacity to have an impact on the ground, in particular, to respond to human rights violations in real time and help to prevent further abuses.
Turning to the Universal Periodic Review process, which was moving into its second cycle, he stressed that the focus of the Review should henceforth be on implementation and follow-up. The Council also had an important role to play in a number of thematic debates, he said, citing the example of its request that the High Commissioner on Human Rights commission a study to document discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, among other initiatives.
E.G. SUGAVANAM, Member of Parliament of India, said that the Human Rights Council had been established in 2006 to promote and protect human rights globally. He was encouraged that the body had been able to achieve broad consensus in addressing human rights issues, considerably improving on its predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights. In large measure, that was due to the non-selective and transparent approach taken by the Council. It had been expeditious in addressing recent human rights situations and had placed greater emphasis on dialogue, cooperation and capacity-building. Welcoming the completion of the review process, he said: “We must ensure that the Council continues to function in a non-selective, non-politicized and transparent manner”.
The Universal Periodic Review was a positive, universal, transparent mechanism with the participation of all stakeholders, which enhanced commitment to improving human rights on the ground, he said. The first such periodic review cycle, successfully completed in October 2012, had generated momentum towards ratification of core international human rights instruments, submission of periodic reports to treaty bodies, better cooperation with special procedures, and greater openness towards human rights complaints procedures. It had also enhanced visibility of recommendations from treaty bodies and special procedures.
He also welcomed the practice of presenting the Council’s report in the General Assembly, whose recommendations were considered and acted upon in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural). Procedures for Assembly decisions on the Council’s report, especially those with financial implications, must be streamlined, so that they might be considered quickly by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ).
ANAYANSI.RODRIGUEZ CAMEJO ( Cuba) said that the Council had been established due to the urgent need to counter double standards and the “political manipulation” that had plagued its predecessor, the Human Rights Commission. It was critical to ensure that the new body did not repeat the mistakes of the Commission. In that vein, Cuba was worried by the Council’s tendency to perpetuate selectivity in the application of human rights standards. Cuba had played an active role in the process that had established the Council, and had been an active negotiator in each chapter of its review. The outcome of the review process had been favourable for developing countries, she said, noting that the Universal Periodic Review process was the only existing universal mechanism for the comprehensive analysis of the situation of human rights in all countries. That function distinguished the Council from its predecessor.
The Council had demonstrated its capacity to address urgent human rights situations, she continued. It had studied grave violations of human rights perpetuated by Israel against the Palestinian people. The first “milestone” special session of the Council, initiated by Cuba on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, had focused on the global right to food. It had showed the Council could respond to situations that spanned global boundaries. Nevertheless, double standards had permeated the finances of the Council, she said, stressing that the international community expected it to respond to all crises equally, including those in the global South. As long as an unjust policy remained in place, Council members must speak out for their end; as long as unrelenting blockades – such as the one imposed on Cuba by the United States – remained in place, they must speak out in favour of their termination. Cuba continued to work for all human rights, in particular economic, social and cultural rights, with the aim of ensuring that they were placed on the same level as civil and political rights.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER ( Liechtenstein) said that it was clear that while ambitious ideas to improve the work of the Council could not find agreement during the review process, several measures could be adopted to fine-tune its proceedings and institutional relationships. The modest results of the process had convinced his delegation that the Council was generally well functioning. Yet, that perception should not have prevented Member States from taking decisive action, in particular in areas such as funding and regarding the processing of the Council’s recommendations. Specifically, funding difficulties were imperilling the Council’s work, and he urged the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) grant the High Commissioner access to the “unforeseen and extraordinary expenses mechanism” to fund the implementation of Council mandates to address human rights emergencies.
In his capacity as co-facilitator of the review of the Human Rights Council, he said the review had resulted in the broadest possible support for the Council as an institution short of consensus. The recent enhanced authority of the Council was a consequence of an increasingly comprehensive implementation of its mandate during last year, in particular in the areas of urgent human rights crises, thematic human rights issues and standards-setting. Led by the continued efforts of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to raise awareness for human rights emergencies, the Council, he said, had reacted swiftly and adequately to address the situations in Côte d’Ivoire, Libya and Syria. He said it was unfortunate that equally urgent action by the Council was not taken in the case of Bahrain, Yemen and Sri Lanka, where such action would have been justified.
He welcomed the appointment of a Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran as an important step towards accountability and called for full cooperation with the mandate. He welcomed the decision of the Council to mandate a study into discriminations and human rights violations faced by persons based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. In the field of standards-setting, he welcomed the adoption of the Optional Protocol on the Rights of the Child both by Working Group and the Council, as well as the endorsement by the Council of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
HAMZA OMAR HASSAN AHMED ( Sudan) congratulated the President of the Human Rights Council on her wise leadership of the Council. He called the establishment of the Council five years ago “an important milestone”, and welcomed the Universal Periodic Review to which all countries were subject. He noted that resolution 60/251, on Special Procedures, could be helpful in avoiding politicization of the process. He confirmed Sudan’s cooperation with the Council, having submitted its first report, in Geneva, for Universal Periodic Review. Many had been involved in its preparation, among them Government and civil society.
He described current human rights developments in Sudan, among them, recent presidential and parliamentary elections and also noted the Doha agreement on peace in Darfur, which had led to a drop in violence. He expressed appreciation for the report’s recognition of how Sudan was meeting its human rights obligations. Sudan had also joined the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol. He welcomed the Council’s decision, at its last session, to end the term of office of the Independent Expert on human rights in Sudan, thus confirming the improvement in that situation there. Also, he said, Sudan’s legislature had approved the establishment of a human rights office in Sudan. In conclusion, he said that economic, human and social rights should be treated equally with political rights.
FARAH ALGHARABALLY ( Kuwait) thanked the Membership of the Assembly for the confidence they had shown in Kuwait by electing it a member of the Human Rights Council. “The advancement of peoples and nations are measured by their respect for, and commitment to, human rights and fundamental freedoms,” he stressed, affirming his county’s commitment to those principles, including the right to life and freedom of opinion. Kuwait’s Constitution provided for those rights, as well as for the basic equality of all people without regard to gender, race or religion. His country promoted the rights of women and sought to promote child welfare through the instruments and treaties that it had become a party to. It supported the right to free media, thereby ensuring an atmosphere of democracy. Kuwait also protected people from torture, denigration and abuse, he added.
In affirming the established principles of Kuwait’s foreign policy, he said that much humanitarian assistance was provided through both governmental and non-governmental organizations. It had established a voluntary contribution to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in support of its functions. However, he said it was necessary to strongly denounce the oppressive Israeli policy that continued to affect the helpless Palestinian population in the occupied territory. He called on Israel to reverse its expansionist policies and further called on States to uphold their responsibilities in that regard.
LIBRAN N CABACTULAN ( Philippines) said the Human Rights Council had strengthened the United Nations human rights machinery. The formal review process on the Council’s status and functions had seen reasonable progress in the fulfilment of its mandate, and noted the Council’s increased workload since inception, as well as a growing number of cross-regional initiatives. He said those initiatives demonstrated the positive engagement and cooperation of delegations in working towards more practical and forward-looking approaches in addressing concerns.
The Universal Periodic Review remained the most innovative and effective mechanism for ensuring that States fulfilled their responsibilities to respect and implement human rights and fundamental freedoms. He said there was a need, however, to strengthen the Universal Periodic Review to continue improving human rights worldwide and to address violations wherever they occurred. The Philippines sponsored initiatives on human rights and extreme poverty and on combating trafficking in persons, especially women and children, he said, adding that it traditionally co-sponsored an initiative on human rights protection for vulnerable groups, and was a member of the cross-regional platform for Human Rights Education and Training. The Philippines continued to advocate for, and support, discussions on the right to development with a view to ensuring its realization, particularly in the Human Rights Council.
ABDOU ALAM DIALLO ( Senegal) recalled that three special sessions had been held by the Human Rights Council and many resolutions and decisions had been adopted over the course of its five-year history. Those accomplishments were “eloquent evidence” of the progress made by the Council. Almost all of the Member States were now involved in the Universal Periodic Review, which “opened a new chapter” in the protection and promotion of human rights. It was now just a few months until the first cycle would end, he said, and the mechanism had effectively contributed to that end goal; however, to what extent would be discovered after the review was completed.
It was crucial that the Council find the right answers to situations requiring its attention. He underscored that Assembly resolution 65/281 (2010), the outcome of the review of the activities and functioning of the Human Rights Council, had tried to do just that. The result, achieved thanks to a broad willingness to compromise, “was one that we hail”. In deciding to keep the Council as a subsidiary body of the Assembly, it had helped to improve its operation. A study on unforeseen expenditures should be undertaken, given its limited financial resources, in an effort to make it more effective. Meanwhile, the resolution which set up an office for the Council, was a positive step, as it would contribute to the development of its “institutional memory”. He hoped that it would reflect the principles of equitable geographical distribution when it was staffed.
ALAN COELHO DE SÉLLOS ( Brazil) said most of the outcomes of the Council’s work were adopted by consensus, evidence that in the human rights agenda, “what we shared still outweighs what divides us.” Brazil maintained that increased dialogue and mutual understanding were fundamental to achieving an even greater convergence, which could only lead to a more effective Human Rights Council. Having recently completed its second mandate as a member of the Council, Brazil has constantly worked with a view to achieving outcomes that were both meaningful and acceptable to all.
Brazil’s assessment was that the Human Rights Council was overall a success story. At the same time, it had the potential to become an even more effective instrument for the promotion and protection of all human rights. The recently concluded review had already made important contributions to the work and functioning of the Council, and Brazil believed it was possible to continue such improvement during the day-to-day work of that body. Among the necessary improvements, Brazil attached great priority to increasing the Council’s ability to provide cooperation and technical assistance. In that regard, he recalled the joint intervention by Brazil and other 97 countries on the topic of technical assistance and capacity-building. “We must do more in order to fully realize the mandate of the Council for fostering cooperation, thus contributing to the promotion and protection of human rights in the world,” said the representative.
ANASTASSIS MITSIALIS ( Greece) attributed the developments in countries of North Africa and the Middle East to the ever-pressing need to guarantee the protection of the fundamental rights and freedoms of all peoples, specifically in its neighbouring region. The current global financial crisis had put considerable pressure on the protection of economic, social and political rights of a great number of people, he said. Despite being at a “difficult economic juncture”, he said his Government spared no effort in promoting human rights in all fields of action, including in the fields of racism and xenophobia. Furthermore, the Government had strengthened legislative framework in favour of gender equality and counselling for victims of gender-based violence, trafficking of women and children, as well as for the protection of children’s rights.
In the context of Greece’s candidature for a seat in the Human Rights Council, he said the Government was in the process of ratifying several international human rights instruments and intended to further promote the engagement of Greek and international non-governmental organizations in the Council’s work. He said that only through objective monitoring and reporting could the Council identify the areas in need of capacity-building and technical assistance, thus further helping countries to better address human rights violations. In addition, he said, the Government intended to take a number of steps to address the fields of migration management and asylum procedures, given the enormous challenges that arose from the unprecedented flow of migrants entering Greece, as a result of its geographical location.
OTHMAN JERANDI ( Tunisia) welcomed the new spirit of cooperation between the United Nations and Tunisia since the 14 January revolution. Tunisia was more committed than ever to meet its international human rights obligations. That new spirit of cooperation had been demonstrated by Tunisia’s ratification of four international human rights instruments, among them the Rome Statute and the Convention against Torture, and had signalled its resolve to establish a global human rights mechanism and break with the past. It had withdrawn its reservations on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, to further strengthen gender equality at home.
The country had opened its doors to all special procedures related to the Human Rights Council, such as special rapporteurs and to the offices of numerous international human rights organizations, he said. In particular the Human Rights Council had adopted a resolution on 24 March on cooperation between Tunisia and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Tunisia had also established a committee to harmonize national legislation with international human rights values.
The first-ever democratic elections had been held in Tunisia on 23 October, demonstrating significant progress achieved in democratization. Massive voter turnout, over 90 per cent, showed Tunisians’ commitment to that process. Expressing gratitude to the United Nations and others who had helped to ensure a seamless electoral process, he reaffirmed Tunisia’s strong commitment to the creation of a country where people could prosper in a free and unified democratic regime. Further, next June, Tunisia would present its report for the second cycle of Universal Periodic Review which would detail what had been done since its 1ast report and describe challenges remaining. In closing, he reiterated Tunisia’s resolve to further forge solid cooperation with the Human Rights Council to ensure a culture of human rights.
MAGED A. ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt) said that the Human Rights Council had continuously improved its performance by unifying working standards and the adoption of a constructive cooperative approach in dealing with human rights issues, with a view to providing advice and support upon the request of Member States. Its mandate was also based on the principle of the primary responsibility of Governments in promoting and protecting human rights, as described in the 2005 World Summit outcome. In that regard, all Member States had the duty to interact with the mechanisms of the Council, without exception. Those mechanisms, in turn, should be applied in a fair and equal manner on the basis of objectivity and impartiality, devoid from double standards, politicization and selectivity.
The international community had an obligation to support and respect the institutional balance between the roles of the principal organs of the United Nations in addressing human rights issues — with a particular emphasis on economic, social and cultural dimensions — while avoiding the attempts of some States to impose their values, concepts, perceptions, as well as the standards of their legal, justice and human rights systems, onto others. In that regard, he said it was important to respect the mandate of the Human Rights Council and to refrain from imposing country-specific resolutions which only targeted developing countries.
Egypt reiterated the central role of the Council in ensuring respect for human rights and international humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, he said, as well as the full compliance of Israel with its international obligations, including full cooperation with the special rapporteurs and the fact-finding missions mandated by the Council. Finally, he also reiterated the importance of providing the Council’s financial resources from the regular United Nations budget, and not from earmarked funding.
ALFRED CHUQUIHUARA ( Peru) said that the Council contributed to a greater dissemination and understanding of human rights, and that it had acted in a timely manner in urgent circumstances in various parts of the world. As a member of the Council once again, Peru said that it had worked together with the Council’s working groups and its Special Procedures. It had been visited by Special Rapporteurs on the right to housing and on adequate health, the rights of migrants, indigenous peoples, and the protection and promotion of human rights in the fight against terrorism, among others. Close communication with civil society and United Nations organs, as well as other actors, was critical to ensuring that the Council fulfilled its mandate. Additionally, technological assistance and capacity-building were another core part of the Council’s mandate. Peru would support all requests for technical assistance made by States.
During the Council’s eighteenth regular session, a resolution on truth, justice and assurances of non-repetition had been put forward by Peru, he continued. It was necessary to find the “truth” — the causes of violence — to pursue perpetrators and to restore justice and dignity to victims. Peru had also been active in the review of the work and functioning of the Council, he said, which provided an opportunity to strengthen it and better meet victim’s needs. In particular, it needed to tackle circumstances that were unforeseen and extraordinary. Peru would continue to support any such process to defend the human rights of all individuals without distinction.
KAZUO KODAMA ( Japan) said the Human Rights Council had an increasingly important role and had steadily accumulated achievements. The Universal Periodic Review was designed to improve human rights situations in all Member States through voluntary follow-up actions. In addition, Special Procedures complemented the Periodic Review in addressing serious violations around the world, he said. Japan placed a high value on their role and had extended a standing invitation to all thematic mandate holders. The Council had convened special sessions in response to serious human rights violations and had launched an urgent dispatch of an international commission of inquiry, he said.
As a member of the Council since its establishment, he said Japan had helped to strengthen the work and functioning of the Council and participated in negotiations of the Human Rights Council review this year. Difficult negotiations resulted in a few but not all the hoped-for improvements to the Council being achieved. A more practical way of aligning the Council’s work with its membership and reporting cycle was found, and “options” for financing were presented to the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).
Measures to improve the electoral process, however, could not be agreed, he said. As the Council aimed to mainstream human rights and integrate the human rights perspective into all United Nations activities, he recognized the supplementary role and importance of the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural). He looked forward to further concrete achievements and strengthening of the Council through continuous review.
EDUARDO ULIBARRI ( Costa Rica) said that his delegation was pleased that the ambassador for Uruguay had presented the report in her capacity as President of the Council. While the outcome of the review process did not reflect all expectations, it was crucial that all countries continue to recognize the commitments they had made to the Council in good faith, he stressed. Costa Rica, for its part, would have preferred for the report to be presented first within the plenary of the General Assembly, and then later in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) for examination of specific recommendations. It was necessary for meetings of that Committee not to be scheduled in parallel with the Assembly’s plenary meetings, allowing all delegates to be in attendance. He asked the Secretariat to consider those suggestions and to make improvements.
The eighteenth regular session of the Council was the first in which Costa Rica had participated as a new member, he said. The President of Costa Rica led the delegation at that meeting in order to ensure that its decisions and resolutions were fully implemented on the ground. The country agreed to act with impartiality, objectivity, non-selectivity and non-politicization. At the current session, Costa Rica would continue the cooperation with States that it had initiated as an observer. He emphasized the need for the creation of a special procedure on human rights and the environment, among other mandates, and noted that Costa Rica had submitted, along with several other States, a draft resolution calling for a study of the application of the death penalty worldwide.
Describing several “milestone” decisions and resolutions adopted by the Council, he reiterated Costa Rica’s call to ensure that those documents were observed. It was the responsibility of all to ensure that human rights were protected and promoted; it was further necessary that sufficient funding be made rapidly available to respond to the unexpected needs of the Council. He called upon all States to consider, in a creative manner, changes in the daily practices of the Council to make it more efficient, as well as to help it improve its consideration of the contributions of civil society.
THOMAS GURBER ( Switzerland) said his delegation’s assessment of the Human Rights Council’s work over the past year was positive. The work of the Council had developed at a promising rhythm in response to the democratic movements and the major surge in popular support. The nature of those changes underlined the importance that States must attach to the search for global solutions in a spirit of cooperation, inclusion and real transregional dialogue. To that end, it was important to pursue efforts to overcome current divisions between regional groups. As a member of the Human Rights Council, Switzerland was actively committed to strengthening the Council’s actions on several themes.
He said Switzerland was pleased by the discussions during the Panel on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests at the Council’s last session in September, the aim of which had been to draw the Council’s attention to a phenomenon which was becoming increasingly important. Switzerland was also happy to have been one of the main authors behind the creation of a new mandate for a Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non–recurrence. That mandate would certainly reinforce the fight against impunity.
He said that Switzerland gladly welcomed the Secretary-General’s plan to increase the budget, earmarked for activities linked to human rights and the Human Rights Council, which amounted today only to about 3 per cent of the United Nations budget. Finally, he welcomed the fact that human rights had become more visible within the United Nations system. The presentation of the Annual Report of the Human Rights Council in the framework of the General Assembly was one of the most notable examples of that. However, he regretted that the review of the mandate and the functioning of the Council had not resulted in allowing the plenary debate of the General Assembly today to take the form of an interactive dialogue.
LUIS ALFONSO DE ALBA ( Mexico) said that review of the Human Rights Council had begun with discussions of the scope of the exercise. Although the Council had existed for only five years, its capacity to deal with national cases and election of members, among other things, took up much of the review time, even interfering with its actual work. Time and the political will had been lacking to study changes introduced in 2006. Many issues had been left pending, among them the possibility of the Council being made a principal organ of the United Nations. Nonetheless, the outcome of the review was positive. There was balance in structuring the framework to protect all human rights.
During the review process, the Council had continued to use all tools at its disposal to protect the rights of women and children, the freedom of association, and others, he said. It had considered the situations in Côte d’Ivoire, Syria and Libya, recommending that the General Assembly suspend the latter’s membership. Those special sessions demonstrated the effectiveness of arrangements made when the Council had been set up.
There was always room for improvement, he continued, especially in the Council’s use of its meagre resources. Achievements led to new challenges as demonstrated by the Universal Periodic Review. Resources were needed so that countries could implement recommendations from the first cycle during the second. The issue of coherence among human rights entities also needed to be tackled to avoid duplication of efforts without omitting any areas of concern. He suggested that issues be differentiated on the basis of the expertise of entities that might handle them. In closing, he said that the Assembly must support the work of the Council by backing up its recommendations.
JIM MCLAY ( New Zealand) said that since the Council’s special session on Libya, that body had acted decisively on human rights violations. He praised as “positive progress” actions on Libya, Côte d’Ivoire and Syria, adding that the Council would be “judged on its willingness to engage on human rights violations”. He said that constructive, cross-regional fulfilment of the Council’s mandate was evident in its thematic initiatives, and noted resolutions presented by New Zealand on the rights of persons with disabilities and on maternal mortality. He was impressed with the contribution to the Council from civil society, whose active role helped promote better outcomes, and praised the involvement of other branches of the United Nations system.
The Universal Periodic Review was a valuable addition to the United Nations’ human rights machinery, he said, also citing special procedures as a vital tool for promoting and protecting human rights. He said New Zealand had welcomed the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples to identify progress and problems still needing to be addressed, adding that the Government was acting on recommendations. Improvements to the work and functioning of the Council were modest, he said, but the Council’s success lay in the manner in which its rules were implemented, and political will and courage to act decisively on human rights were required.
ESHAGH AL-HABIB ( Iran) said the Human Rights Council was established to be a forum for dialogue, mutual understanding and cooperation in achieving the universal realization of human rights, devoid of politicization, selectivity, double standards and confrontational approaches. He was, therefore, disappointed that the Council was falling back into the habits of its predecessor body, the Human Rights Commission, in its particular manner in addressing human rights violations. Indeed, it was deplorable that despite the existence of the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, certain countries still continued to introduce country-specific resolutions in the Human Rights Council and in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural). He added that such resolutions were politically motivated and crafted to meet “certain interests”.
He said his Government was fully cooperating with the United Nations human rights mechanisms, and just last month, Iranian officials had met with members of the Human Rights Committee when presenting the third periodic report on the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. He reiterated his Government’s full and close cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review process through the submission of a comprehensive and detailed national report, as well as the participation of an Iranian high-ranking delegation, who, he said, was actively and constructively participating in the review. The world faced numerous human rights challenges, including poverty, religious and racial discrimination, foreign occupation and aggression, and he expected the Human Rights Council to rely on principles of objectivity, cooperation, transparency, and consensus to tackle such issues.
SHIN DONG-IK (Republic of Korea) was pleased to note that the Human Rights Council responded promptly to recent human rights emergencies, especially in the Middle East and North Africa, adding that the international community had delivered a unified message that serious human rights violations should be ended immediately and accountability must be established. Regarding the Universal Periodic Review, he said that mechanism had proven to be a very constructive process for countries that had participated. States under review had displayed great flexibility, openness and a genuine willingness to cooperate with the recommendations presented.
However, the success of those recommendations depended on the sincerity of the States, which he encouraged to take concrete actions and tangible measures towards achieving the ultimate goal of improving the human rights situation on the ground. He emphasized the importance of the system of Special Procedures, which he said was a tool in the promotion and protection of human rights. Furthermore, persistent refusals by some States to cooperate with those mechanisms, not only continued to present a major challenge as they sought to carry out their mandates, but also undermined the capacity of the Council to respond to chronic human rights concerns and emergencies.
GRIGORY Y. LUKIYANTSEV ( Russian Federation) said that making the Human Rights Council, the primary international human rights body, accountable to the General Assembly rather than the Economic and Social Council had acknowledged the importance of such rights among the Organization’s priorities. Results of the Council’s work to date would place it in greater demand. Among its most important responsibilities was carrying out the Universal Periodic Review. The Russian Federation had supported that exercise in the belief that, if carried out on the basis of equality and mutual respect, it would lessen confrontation between States cooperating on human rights. Over the long term, the Periodic Review should replace the former, largely discredited and politicized system of review. He affirmed the need to abide by inter-State agreements in performing reviews.
One of the Council’s most important instruments was the system of Special Procedures, inherited from the Commission on Human Rights, he continued. They must be de-politicized and their mandates must be carried out in accordance with the code of conduct established by the sixty-second plenary of the Assembly. The Council’s institutional structure also called for new relations between Governments and civil society which he hoped would be based on the principle of mutual respect and constructive dialogue. Further, he supported initiatives for greater participation of the Council in reviewing basic parameters of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights at the global, regional and country levels. Relations between the Council and the High Commissioner must be transparent and complementary, rather than competitive.
The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action on Human Rights confirmed the equality of all human rights and established that they were interrelated and interdependent, he said. That principle should determine the Council’s short- and long-term priorities. The Council should also attend to the inter-civilization and intercultural components of the Organization’s activities to ensure a balanced relationship between the norms and standards of human rights and traditional values. Universal standards derived from different cultural situations that brought together rather than divided people. The Russian Federation had proposed a resolution on the matter. Success, he said in closing, depended on Members’ abilities to listen to each other and take account of each other’s views.
HUSSEIN HANIFF ( Malaysia) commended some of the encouraging assessments and recommendations in the focus and modalities of the Universal Periodic Review. With the complexity of issues related to human rights, the recommendation for an extension of the review cycle to four and a half years, and using the existing resources and workload was indeed welcome. In that regard, he noted with appreciation that the Universal Periodic Review Voluntary Trust Fund to facilitate the participation of States should be strengthened and made operational in order to encourage significant participation of developing countries, particularly the least developing countries and small island developing States, in their reviews.
As for the work of Special Procedures, he said that in line with the Council resolution 5/2, States should cooperate with and assist those mechanisms in the performance of their tasks. It was incumbent upon mandate holders to exercise their functions in accordance with their mandates and in compliance with the Code of Conduct. Malaysia noted the work by the Special Procedures in fostering a constructive dialogue with States. He encouraged the country specific mandates to consider closely the internal situations of the concerned countries in order to provide reports that would help improve human rights situations, and at the same time also take into consideration the views of the majority.
ABDUL GHAFOOR MOHAMMED ( Maldives) appreciated the leadership taken by the Human Rights Council during “an eventful year”. Events in the Middle East revealed people yearning for freedom and the recognition of basic rights, he said, commending the political transitions and urging implementation of the necessary structural reforms. He also urged States undergoing civil unrest to engage in dialogue to improve those situations. The Human Rights Council and the United Nations worked to facilitate such outcomes, he said, and States should work closely with them to aid their transitions.
Since its own transition in 2008, Maldives had acted in the Human Rights Council, calling for special sessions on Libya and Syria, and co-sponsoring resolutions establishing commissions of inquiry to look into allegations of gross violations. He said Maldives had also played an important part in negotiations for the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
He strongly recommended engagement with the Human Rights Council and the Universal Periodic Review, which could yield greater results for Member States and assist with the challenges they faced. Maldives had called for Special Procedures on freedom of assembly, on laws discriminating against women, on truth, justice and reconciliation and on the establishment of a Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran. He expressed unwavering support for an independent Palestinian State, and concern about the human rights situation in Gaza, urging measures to protect the rights of the Palestinians. Domestically, Maldives continued with establishing human rights institutions, and was working to ensure an independent judiciary that protected the rule of law and human rights. He also stressed support for increasing the employment of women and youth across sectors.
OLUFEMI LANLEHIN ( Nigeria) noted the Council’s substantial effort to achieve its mandate, saying it devoted attention to human rights issues in a timely and effective manner. He hoped the body’s work would remain guided by resolution 60/251 and grounded on the principles of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action on human rights. The Council was a “unique tool” for protecting and promoting human rights, and a focus on economic, social and cultural rights would allow the Council to contribute most to attaining the Millennium Development Goals, he said.
He commended the Council for completing the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review and for concluding review of the Council’s work and functioning. The Universal Periodic Review had been quite successful, with unanimous participation from States from the outset, he said, expecting the next cycle to reinforce the mechanism’s importance. He was pleased to note the substantial increase in standing invitations issued to Special Procedures and the growing number of States ratifying the core human rights instruments.
OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ ( Chile) said that the progress made by the Council was a result of the review that was approved last year. The international community had recognized Uruguay’s contribution to the field of human rights by electing its Ambassador to the United Nations, Laura Dupuy Lasserre, President. Chile had long said that the Council needed sufficient resources to make a difference on the ground.
In that vein, he recalled, Ms. Lasserre had said today that the Council needed more resources to function properly. Yet, despite that and other constraints, the Council’s actions throughout the year had been carried out in a timely manner, and had indeed made a difference. The independence and impartiality of the special procedures were a core part of the Council’s mandate, he stressed, adding that it must also preserve its crucial value of non-selectivity.
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