In Report to General Assembly, Human Rights Council President Highlights Significant Progress in Discharging Mandate Worldwide
In Report to General Assembly, Human Rights Council President Highlights Significant Progress in Discharging Mandate Worldwide
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-eighth General Assembly
52nd Meeting (AM)
In Report to General Assembly, Human Rights Council President Highlights
Significant Progress in Discharging Mandate Worldwide
Speakers Urge Broader Definition of Human Rights in Development, Climate Change
The Human Rights Council, in striving to overcome political positions and fine-tuning its working methods to broaden cooperation with all countries, had made significant inroads on issues worldwide, the President of that body told the General Assembly today after introducing its latest report.
Among the 107 resolutions it had adopted, said Remigiusz Henczel ( Poland), a number had been submitted by cross regional groups. The Council’s creativity in its working methods had also greatly facilitated dialogue with countries concerned, including the Central African Republic.
In addition, he said, during the past three sessions, panel discussions had been held on themes ranging from the impact of corruption to the rights of children whose parents had been sentenced to death or had been executed. Other issues considered included gender integration, indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities, as well as the promotion of technical cooperation in the field of the administration of justice. A high-level panel had also focused on mainstreaming human rights into the post-2015 development agenda, in particular with the right to education.
Throughout the year, Syria had been high on the agenda, he said, noting that the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry on that country had been extended again. The Council had also established a Commission of Inquiry to investigate violations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and had extended existing special mandates for that country, Myanmar, Iran, Belarus and Eritrea.
Still, he said, challenges remained regarding the universal periodic review, including upholding the principle of universality by ensuring the participation of all States and avoiding issues of a bilateral, territorial nature that would negatively impact the process. All States under review must be treated equally in order to ensure the review’s credibility, he emphasized, noting that Israel had re-engaged itself with the Council. As well, a seminar had been organized, for the first time, to facilitate the participation of small island developing States and least developed countries.
What was required, he stressed, was cooperation and support from all Member States to address funding of new mandates arising from the Council’s resolutions and decisions, through the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).
Most delegations hailed the Council’s work as vital in the field of human rights, with Gabon’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the African Group, calling the universal periodic review (UPR) the most distinct mechanism to assist States in fulfilling their human rights obligations. Echoing a common view, she said it was critical that the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance for the UPR implementation should be properly resourced.
With a number of delegations reporting on national progress made and their commitments to the review process, some brought up human rights issues that the Council must continue to pursue. Several speakers pointed to the Israeli-Palestinian situation, calling for greater attention, while others urged the Council to sharpen its focus on the situation in Syria and other countries.
Syria’s delegate said the current humanitarian crisis in his country had been caused by terrorist groups supported and trained by some of the same States that had supported Human Rights Council resolutions on his country. A politically-driven Council had not recognized those external threats in its latest report nor had it weighed in on those States that had supported terrorist groups in Syria while violating human rights in their own countries.
Several delegates emphasized that human rights extended through a number of areas. A number of speakers underlined that development was a human right, with Mongolia’s representative emphasizing that human rights were core to development planning and mutually reinforcing with the rule of law and democracy.
The Philippines’ delegate said climate change and the monumental damages it caused hampered the full enjoyment of human rights. “My country knows first hand,” he stated, referring to the recent devastation experienced by the Philippines as a result of Typhoon Haiyan.
The General Assembly also took up six reports of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) and, upon the recommendation of the Committee, decided in favour of appointments to fill vacancies in the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, Committee on Contributions, Investments Committee, Board of Auditors, International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) and the independent Audit Advisory Committee.
Also speaking today were representatives of India, Mexico, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Japan, Cuba, Russian Federation, Maldives, Switzerland, Qatar, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Ukraine, Sudan, South Africa and Egypt.
The representative of the European Union Delegation also spoke.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Qatar and Syria.
The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday 18 November for a by-election to fill vacancies resulting from four members from the Western European and other States relinquishing their seats in the Economic and Social Council and for the election of one judge for the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991.
The General Assembly met today to consider the following reports from its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) to fill vacancies in subsidiary organs and other appointments: Appointment of members of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (document A/68/557); Appointment of members of the Committee on Contributions (document A/68/558); Confirmation of the appointment of members of the Investments Committee (document A/68/559); Appointment of a member of the Board of Auditors (document A/68/560); Appointment of members of the International Civil Service Commission (document A/68/561); and Appointment of members of the Independent Audit Advisory Committee (document A/68/562).
The Assembly would also consider the Report of the Human Rights Council (document A/68/53) and (document A/68/53/Add.1).
The General Assembly took up six reports of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) and, upon the recommendation of the Committee, decided in favour of the following appointments to fill vacancies in subsidiary organs and to fill other appointments.
On the appointment of members to the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (document A/68/557), the Assembly decided to appoint the following persons for three-year terms of office beginning 1 January 2014: Toshihiro Aiki ( Japan), Richard Moon ( United Kingdom), Carlos Ruiz Massieu ( Mexico), Devesh Uttam ( India), Catherine Vendat ( France) and Zhang Wanhai ( China).
Turning to the report on the appointment of members of the Committee on Contributions (document A/68/558), the Assembly decided to appoint the following persons for three-year terms of office beginning 1 January 2014: Ali Ali Kurer (Libya), Jan Pierre Diawara (Guinea), Gordon Eckersley (Australia), Bernardo Greiver del Hoyo (Uruguay), Pedro Luis Pedroso Cuesta (Cuba) and Ugo Sessi (Italy).
On the appointment of members to the Investments Committee (document A/68/559), the Assembly then decided to confirm the Secretary-General’s reappointment of Simon Jiang (China) and Achim Kassow (Germany) as regular members for three-year terms of office beginning 1 January 2014, and Ivan Pictet (Switzerland) and Michael Klein (United States) as regular members for one-year terms of office beginning 1 January 2014. The Assembly also reappointed Gumersindo Oliveros ( Spain) as an ad hoc member of the Investments Committee for a one-year term of office beginning 1 January 2014.
Turning attention to the report on the appointment of a member of the Board of Auditors (document A/68/560), the Assembly appointed the Controller and Auditor-General of India as a member of the Board for a six-year term of office beginning 1 July 2014.
Regarding the appointment of members of the International Civil Service Commission (document A/68/561), the Assembly appointed the following persons as members for four-year terms of office beginning 1 January 2014: Minoru End (Japan), Luis Mariano Hermosillo (Mexico), Aldo Mantovani (Italy), Curtis Smith (United States) and Wolfgang Stöckl (Germany). The Assembly also designated Mr. Stöckl as Vice-Chair of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) for a four-year term of office beginning 1 January 2014.
Considering the report on the appointment of members to the Independent Audit Advisory Committee (document A/68/562), the Assembly appointed Natalia Bocharova (Russian Federation) as a member for a three-year term of office beginning 1 January 2014.
Introduction of Report
REMIGIUSZ A. HENCZEL ( Poland), President of the Human Rights Council, introduced its report, stating that the Council had achieved significant progress in dealing with human rights issues around the world since its establishment seven years ago. Syria had been high on the agenda throughout the year and the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry on that country had been extended again. The Council had also established a Commission of Inquiry to investigate violations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and had extended existing special mandates for that country, Myanmar, Iran, Belarus and Eritrea.
He underlined the Council’s creativity in its working methods, which had greatly facilitated its dialogue with concerned countries. Such interactive dialogues on the Central African Republic and on Somalia had been initiated by the countries themselves. In addition, a number of country specific resolutions on cooperation and capacity building had also been adopted.
During the Council’s past three sessions, he continued, thirteen panel discussions had been held on various themes, including the impact of corruption on human rights, business and human rights, democracy and the rule of law, the human rights of children of parents sentenced to the death penalty or executed, gender integration, indigenous peoples, rights of children, rights of persons with disabilities, as well as the promotion of technical cooperation in the field of the administration of justice. A high-level panel discussion marking the twentieth anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action had also been held, focussing on the Declaration’s implementation, best practices and challenges.
In addition, there had been a high-level panel on mainstreaming human rights into the post-2015 development agenda, in particular with the right to education, he said. The Council had also established new special procedures mandates, bringing the total of such mandates to 51. Among the new mandates were the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, and independent experts on the situations in Mali and in the Central African Republic.
Affirming the Council’s capacity to overcome different political positions, he noted that among the 107 resolutions it had adopted, a number had been submitted by cross regional groups, with many being adopted without a vote. Turning to the role of civil society in Council proceedings, he said that, uniquely among United Nations intergovernmental organs, civil society’s participation was central to the Council’s work. Therefore, any intimidation of or reprisals against individuals and groups cooperating with the United Nations must end. Thus, of utmost importance was the Council resolution 24/24 requesting the Secretary-General, in cooperation with the High Commissioner for Human Rights to designate a system-wide senior focal point on reprisals.
He pointed out a number of challenges regarding the universal periodic review, which was currently in its second cycle, namely, upholding the principle of universality by ensuring the participation of all States and avoiding issues of a bilateral, territorial nature that would negatively impact the process. All States under review must be treated equally to ensure the review’s credibility. He pointed out that the constructive, consensual and non-politicized approach the Council had maintained had encouraged Israel to re-engage with it. In addition, to facilitate universal participation in the review, a seminar had been organized, for the first time, to facilitate the participation of small island developing States and least developed countries.
In closing, he stressed the need for cooperation and support from all Member States to address funding of new mandates arising from the Council’s resolutions and decisions, through the Fifth Committee.
MARIANNE ODETTE BIBALOU ( Gabon), speaking for the African Group, said it was the Council’s duty to firmly ground its work on universality, objectivity and non-selectivity in the consideration of human rights issues. The universal periodic review (UPR) remained the most distinct mechanism to assist States in fulfilling their human rights obligations. Therefore, it was critical that the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance for the UPR implementation should be properly resourced. She also expressed support for the Mechanisms and Special Procedures of the Council and the important work they undertook in the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
However, she noted that in recent times the Council had faced governance challenges, in particular, with the erosion of the provisions of the Institution-Building package, which was the solid foundation of its mandates. Such erosion could, in the long run, present credibility gaps in the Council’s work. In addition, the unsolved funding shortages would affect the implementation of the decisions and resolutions of the Council’s work.
Turning to the recently adopted Council resolution 24/24, which had made critical recommendations to the Assembly regarding the designation of the United Nations-wide Senior Focal Point to “prevent, protect against and promote accountability for reprisals and intimidation”, she said such a matter needed further reflection and deliberation by the Member States before a decision could be made. A feasibility study should be undertaken to take stock of the different mechanisms currently being utilised in other United Nations bodies. Meanwhile, she reiterated the African Group’s position on rejecting any form of reprisals on individuals or groups.
HELEN KALJULATE, Deputy Head of the European Union Delegation, noted that the Council had maintained its leadership in addressing human rights situations. In particular, the Council’s response to the Syrian crisis was highly important, including the holding of an urgent debate and extending the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry, which is the only international investigative mechanism on human rights violations in that country. The Council had also demonstrated its commitment to provide technical assistance and capacity building support to the Governments of Afghanistan, Cambodia, Central African Republic and many other countries to promote human rights. Noting the election of 14 new members to the Council, he encouraged all to pay full attention to the human rights records and human rights commitments of States throughout their membership as well as at the time of the elections.
He then stressed that the work of the special procedures was of great value, playing a crucial role in advancing the human rights agenda. It was necessary to significantly improve the overall cooperation between States and mandate holders. He welcomed the extension of the mandates on Belarus, Eritrea, Myanmar, Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and a few other countries, as well as the creation of new Independent Expert mandates on Central African Republic and Mali. Thematic Special Procedures were equally important, he said, highlighting the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. Preserving the universality of the universal periodic review process was also important. Equal treatment of all countries was an underlying clement of that mechanism, and needed to be maintained throughout each cycle. He then welcomed some developments during the Council’s reporting period, including: figuring the enjoyment of human rights by women and girls as a major theme in its agenda; addressing the issue of the death penalty through two new initiatives; continuing its crucial work on the rights of the child; and adopting its first resolution on creating and maintaining, in law and in practice, a safe and enabling environment for civil society.
P. RAJEEVE ( India) said that any act of reprisal or intimidation was unacceptable and must be dealt with effectively. In that regard, he regretted that the Human Rights Council could not address the issue in a unified manner, noting that attempts in the Council to trespass into areas that were not strictly within its mandate were concerning. The appointment of a United Nations-wide mechanism on reprisals that dealt with other United Nations entities not primarily dealing with human rights issues was the prerogative of the body that had universal representation. As such, he would have preferred that such matters be transmitted to the General Assembly, of which the Council was a subsidiary body. He stressed the importance of the Council’s adherence to the Institutional Building Package in carrying out its mandate.
YANERIT MORGAN ( Mexico) said that since 2009, persons from nine mechanisms, as well as the High Commissioner for Human Rights had visited her country. Progress in the human rights arena had already taken place, including the 2011 reform of the Constitution. Last month, Mexico submitted its second report to the universal periodic review, including information on follow-up to recommendations. Stressing that the Human Rights Council must focus on ending impunity for grave human rights violations, she supported the Council in facing current challenges. Further, the Council’s report demonstrated that its strength came from its members. Her delegation was pleased that a growing number of States were recognizing the Council’s important role.
LIBRAN N. CABACTULAN ( Philippines) said the Council should remain focused on supporting all countries to build an enabling environment for the promotion of human rights. The valuable universal periodic review mechanism was helping to ensure the principle of universality and to institutionalize cooperative and constructive dialogue on human rights. He hoped all States continued to participate in the second cycle of review, which was a continuing process and not merely a venue for scheduled reporting. Several outstanding issues included ensuring the protection of rights of the most vulnerable persons at national and international levels.
Turning to Typhoon Haiyan that had ravaged his country, he emphasized that the magnitude and scale of destruction in its wake reflected a change in weather patterns indicative of climate change. “We need to realize that climate change is a global problem,” he said. Noting that his country and Bangladesh had tabled a 2011 Human Rights Council resolution on human rights and climate change, he said the text reiterated concerns that climate change posed immediate and far-reaching threats to people around the world and had implications for the full enjoyment of human rights. “My country knows this first hand,” he stated.
ABDULLAH AL-SALEH ( Kuwait) said that his country had contributed to the protection and promotion of human rights at the international level, especially since its election into the Council. Respect for all human rights in his country was based on the Islamic and Arabic heritage. He outlined many constitutional articles and laws that aimed to protect and promote labour rights, right to education, freedom of religion, freedom of opinions and freedom of the press, among others. In an effort to support the Syrian people, his country had also hosted an international donor’s conference earlier this year, mobilizing $1.5 billion, and would hold another one next year. Israel continued to violate the human rights of the Palestinian people by measures such as land confiscation, restriction of movement, detention and blockage against Gaza. The international community, including the Council, should have that country comply with its international obligations.
STEFAN BARRIGA ( Liechtenstein) said that the universal periodic review had suffered from attempts at its politicization. He called on all States to refrain from interfering with the carefully designed proceedings of that mechanism in order to ensure its continued well-functioning. The second cycle of the UPR had also shone a spotlight on the discrepancies between political commitment and implementation. Thus, emphasis should lie in the future. The Office of the High Commissioner should be given the financial resources to assist States in following up on their commitments. While welcoming the Council’s action to address the human rights emergency in Syria, he said ending impunity had not been accorded the priority it deserved. The Council and its mechanisms must take a clear stance in ensuring justice was served for the victims. The Commission of Inquiry on Syria should express itself more clearly on concrete options for accountability. In addition, he looked forward to the Council taking a more in-depth and systematic look at the death penalty issue and expressed hope that the establishment of a high-level focal point would contribute to the better protection of human rights defenders and victims of human rights violations.
KAZUYOSHI UMEMOTO ( Japan) said that while the universal periodic review was an innovative mechanism that could effectively improve the human rights situation in all Member States, it was by itself insufficient in addressing serious human rights violations around the world. The special procedures complemented the review and were indispensable mechanisms. However, in order for those procedures to achieve their mandate, their independence and unfettered access to countries concerned were essential and he called on all parties to fully cooperate with them. His country had issued a standing invitation to the special procedures and as always would fully cooperate with them.
RODOLFO REYES RODRÍGUEZ ( Cuba) emphasized that the Council should avoid practices such as double standards or political manipulation, which had led to the end of its predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights. The UPR, as a universal mechanism for a comprehensive analysis of human rights situations in the world, had proven to be a means of international cooperation. Its work was based on the principles of objectivity, impartiality and non-selectivity. Still, unjust international order still existed. Coercive unilateral measures continued, such as the blockade on Cuba, and he called on the Council to made efforts in addressing that. The special procedures mandate holders should follow their “code of conduct” and make sure their activities were consistent with the Council’s work. Further, the Council also needed to ensure that the demand for international solidarity should be given priority with a view to tackling the various global challenges. As a founding member and having been elected to join the Council in 2014, Cuba would continue to contribute to the protection and promotion of all human rights, he said.
EVGENY ZAGAYNOV (Russian Federation) noted that his country had been elected to serve on the Council and would focus on a number of thematic priorities, including racism, xenophobia and related intolerance, combating human trafficking and strengthening the integrity of the judicial system. Yet, worrying trends continued to gain momentum. There were still attempts to divide States into good and bad ones, which hampered the Council’s work and contradicted its purpose of working for the benefit of all States, and not serving short-term interests. The primary responsibility of promoting and protecting rights rested with States. Regarding the special procedures, he said they must comply with United Nations principles. The main focus must be on strengthening dialogue with all concerned countries. His delegation supported more active participation with the Council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
FATHIMATH NAJWA ( Maldives) said her country’s membership of the Council for the past three years had been a catalyst for positive change domestically, and its continued tenure would provide an opportunity to consolidate democracy and promote human rights. Challenges, however, remained in strengthening institutions and ensuring a functioning, responsible and independent judiciary and in increasing women’s participation in public and private sectors. Greater protection for children and more opportunities for youth were equally important, as were building resilience and respect for human rights. Turning to the Council’s report, she noted the escalation of violence and deteriorating human rights situations in various corners of the world, and urged all parties to engage in dialogue towards a lasting peace. The Council’s technical assistance to countries in need was encouraging, she said, urging them to work closely with international human rights bodies and the international community to establish necessary institutions. The universal periodic review, while providing an objective, transparent and constructive framework for States to exchange views and interact on human rights issues, must be made more effective. In the days ahead, she said she would like to see an end to violence and a stronger focus on human rights in countries where unrest prevailed.
PAUL SEGER (Switzerland), noting that his country had helped to establish the Human Rights Council in 2006, said most of the recent conflicts had been considered in that body before being examined by the Security Council. The UPR was a unique process that ensured equal treatment in assessing human rights practices. However, to be more credible, it must be rooted at the national level and he called on States to implement the recommendations received during that process. The growing demands on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had led to cutbacks in field operations. Without additional resources, the “great progress and commitments” may cease. He urged States to engage more actively in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) and request a sufficient share of the United Nations budget.
ALYA A.S. AL-THANI ( Qatar) said that, given the tragic situations in the world, objectivity was increasingly needed to guide the Council in its work. She hoped the current session would address previous shortcomings. She stressed that during her country’s membership in the Council, Qatar had honoured its human rights commitments, including adopting a policy focusing on the promotion and protection of rights. As well, it had developed an institutional framework, improving its performance at national, regional and international levels. At the national level, gender equality and the protection of the rights of migrant workers were among the steps being taken. Unfortunately, human rights in her region had not advanced because of the Israeli authorities continuing to commit illegal practices, violating international humanitarian law by detaining and imprisoning Palestinians, demolishing Palestinian homes and suffocating the Palestinian economy. The situation in Gaza was worsening, she said. She also called on the Human Rights Council to respond to the alarming situation in Syria.
EDUARDO ULIBARRI ( Costa Rica) urged all States to participate in the second cycle of the universal periodic review. It was essential to form more recommendations and build capacity in order to achieve improvements. For its part, Costa Rica had, among other things, co-sponsored a resolution on the peace objection to military service and co-hosted a round table on the death penalty. The Council was the appropriate place for dialogue on divergent views on subjects, he said, noting that coherence was a priority in both domestic and foreign policies. Other national progress included the establishment of new legislation against human trafficking and a decree recognizing seven indigenous languages, among others.
OCH OD ( Mongolia) said that the promotion and protection of human rights was one of the main pillars of his country’s foreign policy. The Government was undertaking legal reforms to harmonize national laws with international norms. In addition, the country had adopted a “ninth Millennium Development Goal” on strengthening human rights and fostering democratic governance. Acknowledging that human rights were central in development planning, he underscored that human rights, the rule of law and democracy were mutually reinforcing. As well, for the first time, Mongolia had submitted its candidature for the Human Rights Council, he said, noting that it had ratified and implemented over 30 human rights instruments, supported the work of special mandate holders and had a plan of action to implement universal periodic review recommendations.
HUSSEIN HANIFF ( Malaysia) said his country had successfully undergone the second review of its universal periodic review in October of this year, receiving 232 recommendations on how to further promote and improve its human rights situation. The relevant ministries and agencies would be thoroughly studying and considering those recommendations. On the human rights situation of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Territory, he called for the Palestinians’ right to self-determination through a final solution to the conflict that created two States living side-by-side in peace and security. He urged the Council to continue to press on that issue and to ensure that the Palestinians were afforded their basic rights, including their right to an independent State. As well, he said the intricate responsibility to promote and protect human rights necessitated deeper cooperation among stakeholders. Although human rights treaty bodies were in place to keep a check and balance over States parties’ compliance and efforts to improve human rights situation, significant issues remained to be addressed in order to facilitate human rights treaty bodies’ fulfilment of their objectives.
BASHAR JA’AFARI ( Syria) said the Human Rights Council report had failed to address the violation of occupied territories in the Syrian Golan and the Palestinian territories. Despite the Council’s requests, Israel continued to defy the will of Member States and refused to adhere to relevant resolutions. He was also concerned by attempts to turn the Human Rights Council into a private entity serving the agendas of influential States with the adoption of resolutions that focused on some reports of violations, but not others, including violations such as racism, discrimination against indigenous peoples, cruel and inhumane treatment of detainees and countries invading sovereign countries. Resolutions on Syria that were listed in the report were based on media information from a single source and had been presented in a manner that chimed with political efforts by some States, without calling on countries to end their political support of opposition groups in Syria. The sponsors of those resolutions had not addressed the fact that the current situation was a result of those States’ support for those armed opposition terrorist forces, some of which were trained in neighbouring countries.
There was no question that Syria was suffering from a humanitarian crisis fuelled by terrorist groups armed and financed from abroad, he went on to say. While Syria had offered solutions to resolve the crisis on political and humanitarian fronts, the Council’s report had not reflected those efforts or the Government’s obligation to oppose those armed groups. Rather, the States in question had sought to adopt political resolutions to push Syria to give up its sovereign rights. In the meantime, the Human Rights Council had not addressed Israel’s boycott of the Council nor Israel’s actions in the occupied Syrian Golan. Regarding comments made by some delegations, he said while Qatar’s delegate had called the situation in Syria dangerous, a poet in Qatar had been condemned for criticizing the former emir, serving a 15-year prison sentence. Turning to a statement made by a Kuwaiti delegate, he pointed out that a New York Times article reported that a Kuwaiti former soldier said funding from the Gulf States were being sent to Salafists, jihadists and terrorists in Syria, including to Al Qaida.
YEVHENII TSYMBALIUK ( Ukraine) said the Special Procedures and the UPR mechanism were extremely important tools for human rights protection. In that regard, his country had issued a standing invitation to all thematic Special Procedures and had received a number of visits on their request. Ukraine had also presented its national report for the second cycle to the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review and had been successfully reviewed in October of this year. Stressing the importance of further mainstreaming human rights issues and strengthening coordination within the United Nations system, he said duplication of work by the Human Rights Council and the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian Cultural Affairs) must be avoided.
MOHAMED I.M. ELBAHI ( Sudan) said that his country attached great importance to continued cooperation with human rights mechanisms. In that connection, Sudan had presented its report to the universal periodic review and had made the national plan for implementing that mechanism’s recommendations. His country would participate in the second round of review with the same commitment. He then enumerated various efforts made by his Government in helping its citizens fully enjoy their human rights, especially regarding children, persons of disabilities, women and the elderly. Sudan had also made bilateral agreements with neighbouring countries to prevent human rights violations, particularly human trafficking. In Darfur and South Kordofan, violence had receded to a great extent, which contributed to the improvement of human rights situations in those areas. He also called for the lifting of sanctions on certain countries, which undermined human rights.
PITSO MONTWEDI (South Africa), emphasizing that the full realization of civil and political rights without the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights was impossible, said the Council’s decisions and resolutions should not duplicate texts from the Third Committee. Lasting progress in the implementation of human rights depended on sound and effective national and international policies of economic and social development. However, the current financial crises had a negative affect on the Council’s work. The Voluntary Trust Fund to implement the universal periodic review must be properly resourced. Further, more visible support was needed for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), as well as for the Council’s work on racial discrimination and the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. Turning to the situation in occupied Palestinian territory, recent attempts to erode the institution-building text of the Human Rights Council posed serious governance gaps in the work and authority of the Council. The Council must promote dialogue and cooperation in conducting its mandate. Matters with serious political ramifications should always be consulted upon by the General Assembly. Regarding resolution 24/24, further reflection and deliberation was needed by that universal body. Domestic jurisprudence should be used to adequately deal with any act of intimidation or reprisals against any individual or grouping.
OSAMA A. MAHMOUD (Egypt), emphasizing that the report reflected the Council’s promoting rights on equal footing, with the universal periodic review process remaining the only way to protect and promote rights, said he was concerned with the situation of the Palestinian peoples. In terms of the Council’s work, he said politicization and the injecting of gender identity was an attempt to legitimize that identity. The Council should not become a tool for some States and their views. The international community had the responsibility to strengthen the Council’s role in fact-finding missions and the implementation of recommendations.
Right of Reply
In exercise of the right of reply, a representative of Qatar said that the delegate of Syria had twisted realities and facts by trying to describe the Syrian people’s revolution as terrorist activities with support from abroad. He reaffirmed that Qatar would continue to act in order to make the Syrian people’s voice reach this international forum.
Responding to her counterpart, a representative of Syria said that the repetitive statement of that representative had tried to persuade the international community to believe that what had happened in Syria was the responsibility of the Government. She advised him to read the international reports that had highlighted Qatar’s role in funding al-Qaeda in Syria. She wanted to send a message to that country: “Stop lying.” The Syrian people would hold it accountable for all crimes committed against them. Its sponsorship to terrorism must end.
The representative of Qatar said that what he said was not merely “accusations”, but a reference to the Assembly resolutions, the reports and decisions of the Human Rights Council, as well as the resolutions and presidential statements of the Security Council.
The representative of Syria said that the resolutions mentioned by the delegate of Qatar were not consensual and had been promoted by Qatar and other countries with a well-known agenda against her country. She urged those countries to stop interfering in Syria’s internal affairs.
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