Human Rights Council Successfully Built on Strong Desire of States to Address Human Rights Violations in Non-Confrontational Manner, Third Committee Told

14 November 2012
GA/SHC/4055

Human Rights Council Successfully Built on Strong Desire of States to Address Human Rights Violations in Non-Confrontational Manner, Third Committee Told

14 November 2012
General Assembly
GA/SHC/4055
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-seventh General Assembly

Third Committee

37th Meeting (PM)

Human Rights Council Successfully Built on Strong Desire of States to Address

Human Rights Violations in Non-Confrontational Manner, Third Committee Told

President Says Approach Illustrated by Crisis in Syria, Which Dominated Year;

Yet, Full Implementation of Important Resolutions Depends on Additional Resources

In its six years of existence, the Human Rights Council had successfully built on the strong desire of all Member States to address the root causes of human rights violations and raise awareness about them in a non-confrontational, consistent and coherent manner, but more funding was needed for its growing mandates, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) was told today.

In just the first full year after the review of its working methods, the Council in 2012 used interactive dialogue to pass resolutions on human rights situations in nearly 20 countries, with the crisis in Syria illustrating the Council’s approach and dominating much of its attention, said Council President Laura Dupuy Lasserre ( Uruguay).

“I would like to highlight that the full implementation of these important resolutions very much depends upon the availability of additional resources that I trust will be approved by the Assembly,” she said.

This year the Council also established two new country mandates, the Special Rapporteurs on Belarus and Eritrea, and one thematic mandate, the independent expert on the human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, which brought its total number of mandates to 48.

“The high number of panels, together with the interactive dialogues and general debates, provides for a fruitful forum for focussed discussion on diverse human rights challenges, but we should avoid overloading the programme of work of the Council,” she said.  In 2012, it adopted a total of 99 resolutions, decisions and President’s statements. 

The capacity of the Council to take action on human rights issues had been affirmed as the number of cross-regional initiatives continued to increase, she said.  Many resolutions were adopted without a vote, demonstrating the Council’s capacity to agree on issues relating to protection of those most in need.  Furthermore, she said, the number of dignitaries addressing the Council increased constantly, demonstrating the growing interest in it as the main United Nations body dealing with human rights issues.

In the Council’s work, the Universal Periodic Review was definitely seen as a valuable tool for national dialogue and reflection on action needed, she said.  The second cycle, which started in May, was looking into implementation of recommendations made during the last four years and into the national challenges ahead.

It was essential to ensure that the main achievements of the first cycle remained, particularly the 100 per cent record in presentation of reports by high-level delegations -- a first for the United Nations system.  “I would like to appeal to you all to provide support for this valuable universal mechanism and ensure that it remains comprehensive during the second cycle, according to the constructive spirit and its legal foundations,” Ms. Dupuy Lasserre said.

In the year following the review of the Council’s working methods, it had formed a Task Force to follow up on certain issues, including the need to enhance Secretariat services to the Council, access to the Council’s work for persons with disabilities, as well as the use of information technology.  Most of the Task Force recommendations did not require additional resources, but the number of resolutions and decisions adopted by the Council this year remained high, while ever-increasing special procedures and new mandates carried significant resource implications.

The total of new resource requirements emanating from Human Rights Council mandates in 2012, according to the preliminary estimate of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and including conference services, amounted to over $12 million, she said.

Concluding, she said that, although she was fully aware of the current financial situation due to the financial crisis, she hoped to see cooperation and support from all Member States to address those issues, through the Fifth Committee, by positively considering options on how best to address the funding of new mandates arising from resolutions and decisions of the Council, and at the same time not forgetting the needs of the High Commissioner’s Office, if States wanted it to deliver more technical cooperation.

In the ensuing debate, delegates expressed support for the Council’s role building national capacities, monitoring human rights, and strengthening efforts to combat racism, among other things, through constructive dialogue.  However some said the Council’s efforts at cooperation and transparency were not being fulfilled, and some resolutions had been politicized.  Egypt’s representative said there had been attempts to enforce certain “controversial notions” without reaching an international consensus.

Turning back to the issue of funding, Chile’s representative said his country was firmly convinced of the need to increase the regular budget devoted to human rights, so that the system would not be forced into a situation of chronic instability.  Pending the adoption of lasting and viable solutions to funding, he encouraged States to be particularly careful when requesting new mandates, reports or panels. 

Morocco’s representative urged questioning on why the Council’s work had been seen in a negative way.  There was feeling that the real action was going on elsewhere, he said.  Reference to the Council’s work in the media was rare and often blurred; making it hard to claim it had achieved the highest visibility.  The Council must adopt a communications strategy, he added.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Malaysia, Sudan, Belarus, Indonesia, Senegal and Ukraine.

The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. Thursday, 15 November, to take up a number of draft resolutions.

Background

Before the Committee was the Report of the Human Rights Council (document A/67/53) on its work from its nineteenth session (27 February to 23 March 2012), twentieth session (18 June to 6 July 2012), and nineteenth special session (1 June 2012).  It detailed topics considered by the Council in resolutions, decisions and President’s statements.

Introductory Statement

Human Rights Council President LAURA DUPUY LASSERRE ( Uruguay) said 2012 marked the sixth year since the establishment of the Council, and the first full year after the review of its working methods.  Since then, the Council had aimed to address the root causes of human rights violations and raise awareness about them.  That was done by successfully building on cross-regional coalitions and on a strong desire by all Members to deal with human rights challenges or deteriorating situations and emergencies in a non-confrontational, consistent and coherent manner.

An illustration of that approach could be found in the consideration of the human rights situation in Syria, which had dominated much of the Council’s attention this year; two special sessions and one urgent debate had been held and related resolutions had been adopted in every regular session, following interactive dialogues with the Commission of Inquiry.  In its latest resolution, the Council decided to extend the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria and to strengthen its capacity.  She had appointed two additional members of the Commission, and hoped for a strengthened Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) support, including more staff on the ground.  The Council had also adopted resolutions concerning 18 other countries and discussed the longstanding human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, establishing a fact-finding mission, which would be considered at the next March session.  “I would like to highlight that the full implementation of these important resolutions very much depends upon the availability of additional resources that I trust will be approved by the Assembly,” she said.

During its past three regular sessions, among other debates, the Council held 16 panel discussions on themes such as freedom of expression on the internet, the rights of minorities, sport and the Olympic Ideal and technical cooperation in the context of the Universal Periodic Review.  All panels benefited from the expertise of a wide range of stakeholders and triggered substantive and constructive discussions.  The first high-level panel on human rights mainstreaming in February focused on human rights, development and cooperation.  Next year, the high-level panel would likely address human rights and the post-2015 development agenda, focusing on education; it could provide an opportunity for improvements based on an assessment of progress and also give input for the High-level Panel of Eminent Persons at the General Assembly next year.  “Issues relating to the right to development continue thus to be at the heart of the work of the Council,” she said.

With regard to Special Procedures, the Council established new mandates, including two country mandates, the Special Rapporteurs on Belarus and Eritrea, and one thematic mandate, the independent expert on the human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment -- bringing the total number of mandates to 48.  In 2012, the Council heard for the first time the reports of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence; the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order; the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises; and the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice.

“The high number of panels, together with the interactive dialogues and general debates, provides for a fruitful forum for focussed discussion on diverse human rights challenges, but we should avoid overloading the programme of work of the Council,” she said.  “In 2012, the Council adopted a total of 99 resolutions, decisions and President’s statements.”  As already noted, the number of cross-regional initiatives continued to increase, affirming the capacity of the Council to take action on human rights issues.  Many of the resolutions were adopted without a vote, again demonstrating the Council’s capacity to agree on issues relating to protection of those most in need.

The resolution adopted in March 2012 on freedom of religion and belief was of particular importance, emphasizing that freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression were independent, interrelated and mutually reinforcing.  In June, the Council also held a constructive discussion on the line between freedom of expression and incitement to hatred and to violence, a most welcome follow-up to the landmark March 2011 resolution, while the number of dignitaries addressing the Council during the high-level segment of the March session increased constantly and demonstrated the growing interest in the work of the Council, being the main UN body dealing with human rights issues, she said.

Active participation of civil society organizations was also central to the work of the Council, making it a unique forum among other Organization intergovernmental organs, she said.  It was essential that human rights defenders and other civil society actors contributed to the Council’s work in a free, open and safe environment.  In that context, she deeply regretted the rise in the number of reported cases of intimidation or threats, as well as physical attacks, arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment of persons who had cooperated with the United Nations, including the Council and its mechanisms.  She had personally condemned intimidation measures and reprisals, and thanked the Secretary-General for his report on the matter, sending a clear message of support.

The Universal Periodic Review was definitely perceived as a valuable tool for national dialogue and reflection on action needed; the second cycle, which started in May, was looking into the implementation of recommendations made during the last four years and into national challenges ahead.  The second cycle would be crucial to consolidate the Universal Periodic Review as a significant tool, and it was essential to ensure the main achievements of the first cycle remained, particularly the 100 per cent record in terms of presentation of reports by high-level delegations, a first for the United Nations system.  “I would like to appeal to you all to provide support for this valuable universal mechanism and ensure that it remains comprehensive during the second cycle, according to the constructive spirit and its legal foundations,” she said.

A Task Force had followed up on certain issues stemming from the review outcome, including the need to enhance secretariat services to the Council, access to the Council’s work for persons with disabilities, as well as the use of information technology.  Most of the Task Force recommendations did not require additional resources, and she wanted emphasize the need for conference services to be strengthened.  “This could be done within existing resources, by the transfer of existing vacant translators and editors’ posts from New York to Geneva.  This was indeed of utmost importance in order to provide adequate conference services to the Universal Periodic Review, which has actually been underfunded since the very beginning of its establishment in 2008,” she said.  Some reports were not being made available in all languages before their consideration, which was a serious impediment for a meeting that relied on the capacity of States to consult and review in advance pre-session documentation of each State under review.

Another Task Force recommendation, which required additional resources for implementation included the need to ensure sustainable webcast coverage.  So far the OHCHR had relied on voluntary contributions to provide this essential service to the Council.  Another area where resources would also be needed was the accessibility of documents for persons with disabilities, she said.  The current year confirmed the number of resolutions and decisions adopted by the Council remained high, while ever-increasing Special Procedures and new mandates carried significant resource implications.  “The total of new resource requirements emanating from HRC (Human Rights Council) mandates in 2012, according to the preliminary estimate of OHCHR and including conference services amounts to over $12 million in total,” she said.

The Secretary-General made proposals last year on financing unforeseen and extraordinary expenses arising from resolutions and decisions from the Council.  However, the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions recommended the existing procedure for meeting these expenses not related to peace and security be utilized.  That meant that the Secretary-General, and therefore the Council, had to explain why additional requirements could not be immediately absorbed within approved resources.  “Although I am fully aware of the current financial situation due to the crisis, I would like to seek cooperation and support from all Member States to address these issues, through the Fifth Committee, by positively considering options on how best to address the funding of new mandates arising from resolutions and decisions of the Council, and at the same time not forgetting the needs of the OHCHR, if we want it to deliver more technical cooperation,” she said.

Question and Answer Session

When the floor was open for questions and comments, Switzerland’s delegate asked about decisive elements for the success of the Council’s second cycle.  She also wondered how the Universal Periodic Review and treaty bodies served to strengthen each other.  She drew attention to Ms. Dupuy Lasserre’s appeal for strengthening allocations from the regular budget and stepping-up voluntary contributions.  She also asked about measures for achieving an increase in the regular budget for human rights activities.

The United States delegate said he was pleased to see the successful conclusion of the Periodic Review’s first cycle.  While the United States was proud of the Council’s many achievements, the disproportionate focus on Israel had decreased its effectiveness and he objected to the permanent item devoted to that issue.  He asked what thematic issues would be important to address in the coming year, and further, about steps to take to ensure the Periodic Review was as effective as possible.

The representative of the European Union said her delegation wished to see a Council able to fulfil its mandate.  The second cycle of the Periodic Review was underway and States would spell out the ways they would implement the accepted recommendations.  She asked about the role the Council should play in ensuring implementation of the recommendations, and further, about ways to enhance the Council’s visibility.

Liechtenstein’s delegate said that, at this crucial stage of the Review, his Government was concerned that its universal nature might be at risk, a fear recently confirmed by the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  He asked about steps that had been or would be taken to address that issue.

China’s delegate said the Council had played a significant role in promoting human rights around the world.  At the same time, she voiced concern about the rising tendency towards politicization and the failure of mechanisms to adhere to their terms of reference.  Those problems must be addressed.  She underlined the principles of impartiality, non-selectivity and a balanced approach to the various categories of human rights in that regard.  China had participated in the Council’s work and was preparing for the next round of the Review.  She was concerned that the General Assembly plenary had considered the Council’s report before the report had been considered in the Third Committee, reiterating that the Third Committee was the primary body responsible for human rights.  The report should be submitted to the Third Committee before going elsewhere.

Syria’s delegate said the Council was adopting resolutions concerning human rights in certain developing countries.  Did that not contradict the principles of the Periodic Review, which gave all States the opportunity to have the Council’s recommendations?  She asked about ways to tackle human rights violations in countries claiming to be “developed countries”, in which there was discrimination against foreigners, indigenous peoples and political prisoners.  She also asked about Council measures to deal with such violations.

Cuba’s delegate said the negative practices that had discredited the Commission on Human Rights should not exist in the Council.  Developed countries had stressed the promotion of certain issues and manipulated that consideration for their own interests, including through country-specific resolutions.  He noted the obstacles placed for resolutions promoted by developing countries, especially when it came to social, cultural and economic rights.  He cited, in that regard, allusions to budgetary restraints and a lack of resources to cover activities that dealt with economic and cultural rights.  He asked for the President’s views on creating a better environment for cooperation.  He also asked how the right to development could take its rightful place in the Council’s activities and, more broadly, those of the human rights machinery.

Japan’s delegate said her country had been elected to the Council for the 2013-2015 term on 12 November.  She asked how States should make the best use of the second Periodic Review, and further, how to evaluate recent progress in the Council.

Algeria’s delegate said his country had contributed to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Algeria had also presented its candidacy for the Council’s 2014-2016 period.  Special mandates were sometimes connected and he asked if a reduction in the number of mandates could be considered.

South Africa’s delegate said funding for new mandates merited special attention.  The challenges posed by extreme poverty required a global response and she welcomed the Council’s adoption of the Guiding Principles in that regard.  South Africa also welcomed resolution 21/19 on the promotion and protection of human rights of peasants and others working in rural areas.  South Africa had presented its second Periodic Review report on 31 May 2012.

Mexico’s delegate asked for details on steps to follow to make the Council more accessible to disabled persons.

Responding to Mexico’s query, Ms. DUPUY LASSERRE said a Council Task Force was working to take practical measures, with the Office of the High Commissioner, to provide security and documentation for persons with disabilities.  Her office had published a report in March, which contained a recommendation for creating a focal point in the United Nations Geneva office to respond to such requests.  She also had recommended that a special bus be used for transport to Palais des Nations.  The Council’s recommendations also included the publishing of official documents in brail to make documents more accessible to some disabled persons.  She cited one instance in which a person required a brail machine so she could participate in a certain meeting.  Her request had been denied, because the equipment was not an official document.  That was a lack of will on the part of the administration.

More broadly, she said the Council’s report should pass first to the Third Committee before the Assembly.  However, the reverse did not prevent her from having a dialogue with the Third Committee or passing resolutions in the Third Committee, so she did not see too much trouble on that point.

To questions concerning cooperation, she said cooperation went in various directions:  among countries, between countries and the Council, and in other ways.  The number of countries that had extended invitations to special mandate holders had increased.  Countries could also accept country visits when they arose – but that had not always been the case.  There were political aspects to good will, to see the universal human rights system “as one that can help us, not one that will interfere in our internal affairs”.  She believed countries appreciated the system, and that the Periodic Review was seen as an instrument to help countries on a national basis.  Countries presented their own problems and indicated the obstacles to be overcome to address them.

She said the lack of financial resources was not the only problem when dealing with human rights; there was also one of political will and the will to hold a national dialogue with all stakeholders in a serene setting in line with international standards.  The Periodic Review was a “success story” because it had been accepted by all countries.  It was possible not to accept all recommendations; but it was desirable for countries to accept the broad majority of recommendations, when they met international human rights standards.  She said there had been a spirit of cooperation in Periodic Review exercises which had led to periods of national reflection.

From there, she said, the United Nations should assist in implementing Universal Periodic Review recommendations in every country that needed help.  National coordinators could facilitate contacts with donors when additional financing was needed.  Treaty bodies could cooperate in efforts to follow-up the Periodic Review by shortening the time needed for follow-up to recommendations.  Those States not party to a given convention would be covered by mandate holders.  The treaty bodies conducted period reports, while those with special mandates could address issues as they came up and communicate with countries so that, through cooperation, they could discover what a country was doing in a given area. 

As for issues to be addressed in the next year, she cited democracy and the rule of law, a follow-up on the United Nations event on the rule of law, and the anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Plan of Action.  She also drew attention to the post-2015 development agenda, saying that the high-level panel on development held this year highlighted the role the United Nations could play in such efforts.

More broadly, she said that if a country opted out of the Council, aside from damaging the institution, that action would cause harm to the population under the country’s jurisdiction.  It would deny its population from considering what human rights were in a body that had international standing.  There were human rights challenges in every country and there could be resolutions on every country in the world.  While the Council’s working methods had improved considerably, consensus could be achieved on all occasions.  Some countries did not provide the most basic cooperation, even when a special procedure requested a visit to assist the country.  Countries must show good will from the outset.

With that, she said increasing the Council’s visibility must involve the media, human rights actors, civil society and others, to support State efforts to support human rights.

MONZER FATHI SELIM ( Egypt) said the Council played an important role in supporting States in their primary responsibility to protect all human rights, and it should work to ensure the realization of those rights with full respect to the principles of sovereignty and non-interference in order to avoid the politicization, selectivity and double standards that affected its predecessor.  The report reaffirmed the Council’s important role in building national capacities, monitoring human rights, protecting the human rights of Palestinians and strengthening efforts to combat racism, among other things.

But the Council’s efforts to maintain the principles of cooperation and transparency were waning, he said, urging that several challenges be addressed, including the politicization of Council resolutions.  He drew attention to attempts to enforce certain “controversial notions” without reaching an international consensus, the fact that one State that had systematically violated the rights of people under its occupation had suspended its ties with the Council, and systematic attempts to use the Council as a tool to legitimize Security Council interference in human rights situations around the world.  Such efforts were moving States towards a “confrontational path”.  He reaffirmed Egypt’s support of the Council to respect all human rights, through promoting implementation of the recommendations of its Universal Periodic Review by all States, and encouraging interaction with mandate holders.

HUSSEIN HANIFF (Malaysia) reaffirmed support for the decision to allocate today’s agenda item to the Assembly plenary and the Third Committee on the understanding that the Committee would act on all Council recommendations to the Assembly, including vis-à-vis the development of international law in the field of human rights.  He was encouraged that the Council functioned in a manner consistent with agreements reached during the review process.  The report showed that the Council continued to “break new ground” in its efforts to ensure the promotion and protection of all human rights and he was pleased at the adoption of initiatives that aimed to enhance its ability to provide technical assistance.

The Council was moving towards more sustained conversations on values, traditions and practices underpinning the enjoyment of human rights, he said.  There had been forward movement on the issue of transparency in the funding of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights with Presidential Statement 19/1, and Malaysia was supportive of that initiative on the basis that public access to such information would dispel any notion that the Office could be influenced by those controlling its purse strings.  All parties must uphold the agreed work methods.  He took strong exception to attempts to interpret certain agreed upon understandings, noting instances in the past year in which the Bureau had addressed substantive matters that were beyond its mandated role.  The role of the President and Bureau was clearly defined by the institution building package.  He urged the Bureau to refrain from pursuing matters that were beyond its jurisdiction.

MOHAMED IBRAHIM MOHAMED ELBAHI ( Sudan) said the creation of the Council some six years ago had been a great achievement in the work of the General Assembly and its bodies dealing with human rights on the basis of equality among all countries.  To reaffirm Sudan’s cooperation, it presented its first report to the Universal Periodic Review mechanism last year in Geneva and accepted the recommendations.  Sudan had also created a national commission to implement those Universal Periodic Review recommendations.  Other positive developments in the country were accepted positively in the Council, he said.

Over its last session, the Council provided experts for technical support to Sudan, in recognition of steps and improvements in human rights conditions in the country.  That highlighted what the Government had been doing to champion rights, including appointing a human rights commission, which had already issued a development plan.  Sudan had also created a special tribunal for Darfur, a special prosecutor, and in the Blue Nile it had undertaken steps with others to assist expanding agriculture.  In conclusion, his delegation requested that necessary resources be provided to the Council to allow it to carry out its mandate to strengthen economic and social rights.  The rights of free expression should not be used to defame religious convictions, he added.

EVGENY LAZAREV ( Belarus) said his country had carefully read the report of the Council and reaffirmed the Universal Periodic Review as a balanced form of cooperation, taking practical steps to implement human rights.  Belarus had implemented some 80 per cent of the Council’s recommendations so far; however, at the same time, double standards existed to serve individual Member States.  There was an alarming trend in the work of the Council of politicized bias, considering certain States.  Belarus was deeply concerned by the practice of selective adoption of country resolutions; consideration of them must not replace the Universal Periodic Review, particularly when such countries were making efforts to implement the Review.

Unfortunately, Belarus did not see a balance in the application of rights.  Belarus in the past had engaged with the Council with enthusiasm, hope and belief that the Universal Periodic Review would form the basic criteria for evaluation of human rights in all countries.  Unfortunately, so far, its hopes had not been justified.  A clear bias in civil and political rights to the detriment of economic and social rights meant that the Council was not performing to his country’s expectations.  At the same time, Belarus would continue to work to bring back the Council as the unbiased, primary organ of work on human rights in the United Nations.

OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ ( Chile) congratulated Ms. Dupuy Lasserre on her leadership and appreciated the constructive dialogue that characterized her term of office, hoping those features would be an integral part of the approach adopted by future Council Presidents.  Chile considered the completion of the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review a big achievement.  “The value of this universal non-selective mechanism, based on constructive dialogue and cooperation, is obvious.  We hope that the second cycle, which commenced recently, will help to provide effective follow-up of the recommendations made in the first cycle,” he said.

If the hard work of the Council was to have a real impact on the ground, there must be a political commitment reflected in the deeds.  “The figures regarding the financial situation of the Human Rights Council and the Office of the High Commissioner are alarming,” he said, adding “there is no getting away from the fact that only 3 per cent of the total United Nations budget is allocated to human rights, which is one of the three pillars of the system, and that 60 per cent of the funds for human rights come from voluntary contributions.”  In that regard, Chile was firmly convinced of the need to increase the regular budget devoted to human rights.  Otherwise, the system would be forced into a situation of chronic instability.  Meanwhile, pending the adoption of lasting and viable solutions, he encouraged States to be particularly careful when requesting new mandates, reports or panels.  “It makes no sense politically to deplore the system’s financial situation if, at the same time, as it happened in the last Human Rights Council session, the resolutions adopted amount to a price tag over $4 million,” he said.

MOHAMED ACHGALOU ( Morocco) said his Government had great hopes in the Council’s ability to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights without politicization.  Events had shown that no single State could define the Council’s direction.  Rather, a collective response determined its course.  Hence, the Council provided the opportunity to speak in one voice on various situations, as it had done on the situation in Libya.  A resolution on combating an incitement to violence - adopted by the Council and submitted to the Committee - was the ultimate expression of States to fill historic gaps, and to consolidate cooperation and mutual understanding.

The Council must preserve the gains it had made, he said, notably by rejecting doctrines advocating exclusion, xenophobia, intolerance or religious hatred.  It could do so only with joint action denouncing the behaviour of small groups, which was in no way representative of the communities from which they came.  The Council was obliged to ensure that recent events did not mar the confidence placed in it since its creation.  Intolerance must not be tolerated.  Failure in that area would be measured in terms of human life.  He urged asking why the Council’s work had been seen in a negative way.  There was feeling that the real action was going on elsewhere.  Reference to the Council’s work in the media was rare and often blurred; making it hard to claim it had achieved the highest visibility.  The Council must adopt a communications strategy.  Attention also must be given to the capacity of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

AHMAD ARIEF ADNAN ( Indonesia) said his country would continue to engage with the Council to make it a more respected human rights body.  The Universal Periodic Review had made the Council a more prominent body compared with its predecessor and he expressed gratitude for the valuable inputs Indonesia had received during the thirteenth session of the Working Group on the Review in May.  Indonesia had received 180 recommendations, of which it had immediately accepted 144; the remaining 36 had been brought home for further consultations.

He said Special Procedure mandate holders should build mutual trust and closer cooperation with States, noting that, by working with the Council, Indonesia aimed to make substantial progress in promoting and protecting the human rights of Indonesians and people around the world.  With that in mind, he said decades of suffering by Palestinians made the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory a priority.  Indonesia was deeply preoccupied by human rights violations in the Territory, which warranted close international attention.  He called on Israel to fully implement all recommendations contained in various reports and resolutions to ensure justice was achieved.

ABDOU SALAM DIALLO ( Senegal) said the year had been marked by unprecedented rights violations and the Council’s report should inspire States to confront those major challenges to humanity.  He was gratified by the vitality of the Council, which had achieved the first cycle of its Universal Periodic Review.  The international community should harmonize that important monitoring mechanism with bodies created by virtue of the nine major international instruments in that area.  An approach must be developed for the effective functioning of all mechanisms, along with the principles of universality, indivisibility and interdependence, which characterized human rights.

He said Senegal was committed to better monitoring of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance, which had re-emerged as a result of the economic crisis.  He urged placing the right to development, as well as economic, social and cultural rights, at the crux of the Council’s agenda, as the Millennium Development Goals would be achieved largely through respect for those rights.  On other matters, he urged States, universities, the sports world and others to promote education for peace and religious tolerance.  Also, there was an urgent need for Israel to pursue cooperation with the Council and respect the Palestinian’s inalienable right to self-determination. 

Mr. KVAS ( Ukraine) commended the Council’s cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner and improvement in the relationship between those two bodies.  The Office should remain independent of the Council.  He also positively assessed the work of the human rights treaty bodies, saying that the treaty body strengthening process, led by the High Commissioner, had highlighted their multi-stakeholder nature.  The importance of preventive measures in the promotion of human rights could not be overestimated, a point made by the Secretary-General in his address to the Council.  He drew attention to the Council’s adoption of a resolution initiated by Ukraine on that topic, which had more than 40 co-sponsors.

He went on to say that Ukraine was strongly committed to the Periodic Review, having first appeared before that body in 2008.  Ukraine had appeared before the second Periodic Review on 24 October 2012.  He also acknowledged special procedures as among the most dynamic and effective mechanisms for protecting and promoting human rights.  He welcomed further enhancing transparency in their selection and appointment, and ensured their independence as prerequisites for their ability to fulfil their mandates.  In the context of the outcome of the Council’s review, he welcomed allowing national human rights institutions to nominate candidates as mandate holders, in line with the Paris Principles.  He urged countries to cooperate with the Special Procedures by honouring standing invitations and committing to voluntary reporting on the implementation of Review recommendations.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.