Human Rights Council adopts five resolutions, extends mandates on Mali and Myanmar and closes fortieth session
Appoints Four Members of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
GENEVA (Burma Times) – The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted five resolutions in which it, among other actions, extended the mandates of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali for one year, and of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar for one year.
Other resolutions concerned technical assistance for Libya and Georgia; and combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against, persons based on religion or belief.
In a resolution adopted without a vote, the Council decided to extend the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali for a period of one year and requested the Independent Expert to submit a report to the Human Rights Council at its forty-third session, followed by a dialogue to assess the evolution of the human rights situation, with a particular focus on the participation of civil society, including women and young people, in the peace and reconciliation process. The Council also requested the High Commissioner to continue to provide technical assistance.
By a vote of 37 in favour, three against and seven abstentions, the Council decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar for a period of one year, requested the Special Rapporteur to present an oral progress report to the Human Rights Council at its forty-first and forty-second sessions and to submit a report to the Third Committee of the General Assembly at its seventy-fourth session and to the Council at its forty-third session.
In another resolution adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council requested the Office of the High Commissioner to monitor and report on human rights violations across Libya and to provide technical assistance and capacity-building to Libya. The Council further requested the High Commissioner to present an oral update on the situation of human rights in Libya and the implementation of the present resolution to the Council at its forty-second session during an interactive dialogue, with the participation of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya, and to present to the Council, during an interactive dialogue at its forty-third session, a report on the situation of human rights in Libya.
By a vote of 19 in favour, three against and 25 abstentions, the Council requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue to provide technical assistance to Georgia and requested the High Commissioner to present to the Human Rights Council an oral update on the follow-up to the present resolution at its forty-first session, and to present a written report on developments relating to the implementation of the present resolution at its forty-second session.
In a resolution on combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against, persons based on religion or belief, adopted without a vote, the Council requested the High Commissioner to prepare and submit to the Human Rights Council at its forty-third session a comprehensive follow-up report with elaborated conclusions based upon information provided by States.
The Council then proceeded with the appointment of Special Procedure mandate holders.
The Council then appointed four members of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Belkacem Lounes (Algeria), Rodion Sulyandziga (Russian Federation), Erika Yamada (Brazil), and Megan Davis (Australia).
The Council adopted ad referendum the report of its fortieth session presented by Vesna Batistic Kos, Vice-President and Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council.
Mali, Libya and Myanmar spoke as concerned countries.
Speaking in introduction of draft texts were Pakistan on behalf of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, Angola on behalf of the African Group, Georgia and Romania on behalf of the European Union.
Bulgaria on behalf of the European Union, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Australia, Denmark, Bangladesh and Argentina spoke in general comments.
Cameroon, Czech Republic, Brazil, United Kingdom, China, Japan, Egypt, Philippines and Iraq spoke in explanation of the vote before the vote.
Pakistan, India, Bahrain, Chile and Eritrea spoke in explanation of the vote after the vote.
Sweden on behalf of group of countries, Indonesia, Russian Federation and Switzerland spoke in general comments as Observer States.
Marshall Islands and Mozambique spoke in concluding remarks.
The non-governmental organization International Service for Human Rights, in a joint statement with several NGOs1, also spoke in concluding remarks.
Coly Seck, President of the Human Rights Council, in his concluding remarks, regretted that he had to mention that representatives of civil society that participated in the session continued to face acts of intimidation and repression. He counted on the support of States in making sure that such acts did not take place in the future.
The forty-first session of the Human Rights Council will take place in Geneva from 24 June to 12 July 2019.
Action on Resolution under the Agenda Item on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Forms of Intolerance, Follow-Up to and Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action
Action on Resolution on Combating Intolerance, Negative Stereotyping and Stigmatization of, and Discrimination, Incitement to Violence and Violence against, Persons Based on Religion or Belief
In a resolution (A/HRC/40/L.3) on combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against, persons based on religion or belief, adopted without a vote, the Council condemns deeply any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, whether it involves the use of print, audiovisual or electronic media or any other means. The Council calls upon all States to foster religious freedom and pluralism by promoting the ability of members of all religious communities to manifest their religion and to contribute openly and on an equal footing to society; and to make a strong effort to counter religious profiling, which is understood to be the invidious use of religion as a criterion in conducting questionings, searches and other law enforcement investigative procedures. The Council requests the High Commissioner to prepare and submit to the Human Rights Council at its forty-third session a comprehensive follow-up report with elaborated conclusions based upon information provided by States … and views on potential follow-up measures; and callsfor strengthened international efforts to foster a global dialogue for the promotion of a culture of tolerance and peace at all levels, based on respect for human rights and diversity of religions and beliefs.
Pakistan, introducing draft resolution L.3 on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, thanked the European Union for its cooperation on the draft resolution. The draft resolution addressed the ways and means to address rising xenophobia, Islamophobia and populism, including racial profiling, in a consensual manner. It proposed a series of steps to be implemented by States. The draft expressed concern about the rise of intolerance and xenophobia based on religion, and it underlined the importance of respect for cultural diversity. Finally, it called for respect for human rights and diversity in beliefs. Irrespectively of religious diversity, there was a shared interest for all to show respect for religions and to prevent any advocacy of religious hatred. There was a common interest to push back the wave of hate crimes, xenophobia and intolerance. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation expressed hope that the adoption of the draft resolution would bring the world closer in that shared objective.
Bulgaria, speaking in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, said the appalling events in Christchurch this week reminded all of the scourge of intolerance. The European Union deplored all forms of intolerance and stood shoulder to shoulder with those seeking to foster unity and religious tolerance.
Tunisia, in general comment, said that resolution L.3 was an important text to put an end to stigmatization, violence, and discrimination against those of different beliefs. Since its first adoption in 2011, this resolution had become even more relevant given the rise in intolerance. Religious freedom and protection from religious fanaticism were keystones in building a tolerant society and for enriching humanity. The focus of resolution L.3 was to spread serious dialogue between peoples, an important tool in order to have an alliance between civilizations that coexisted. Therefore, draft resolution L.3 deserved all support.
United Kingdom, in a general comment, welcomed the consensual adoption of this resolution. No country was immune to the threats of extremism, as exemplified by the attacks in Christchurch. This resolution was timely as there was an urgent need to strengthen and foster dialogue on peace at all levels of society, including members from all religions and beliefs. It was the responsibility of all States to promote tolerance and the right to freedom of religion and belief.
The Council adopted the resolution without a vote.
Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item on Technical Assistance and Capacity-Building
Action on Resolution on Technical Assistance and Capacity-Building for Mali in the Field of Human Rights
In a resolution (A/HRC/40/L.2) on technical assistance and capacity-building for Mali in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali for a period of one year in order to permit him to evaluate the situation of human rights in Mali and to assist the Government of Mali in its efforts to promote, protect and fulfil human rights and to strengthen the rule of law; and requests the Independent Expert … to work closely with all entities of the United Nations, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States, neighbouring States and all other international organizations concerned, and with Malian civil society. The Council also requests the Independent Expert to submit a report to the Human Rights Council at its forty-third session; decides to hold a dialogue at its forty-third session … to assess the evolution of the human rights situation in the country, with a particular focus on the participation of civil society, including women and young people, in the peace and reconciliation process. The Council also requests the High Commissioner to continue to provide the technical assistance requested by the Government of Mali in order to strengthen the capacity of the National Human Rights Commission of Mali; and urges the international community to continue to provide the necessary assistance to Mali to ensure its stability with a view to promoting respect for all human rights and resolutely combating impunity.
Angola, introducing draft resolution L.2 on behalf of the African Group, noted that the situation in Mali continued to be worrying due to attacks of terrorist groups in the north and centre of the country. Inter-communal conflicts had led to grave human rights violations, as well as to the deterioration of the humanitarian situation. The African Group welcomed the initiatives taken by the Government of Mali to confront the crisis and protect human rights, such as the opening of investigations into human rights violations, the re-establishment of social services, the signing of the peace accord, and the reintegration of combatants. The draft resolution focused on the main priorities for achieving sustainable peace, including the implementation of the peace agreement and the Algiers process, the fight against impunity, reconciliation, and the re-establishment of State authority in the entire territory of Mali. The main goal of the draft resolution was to extend the mandate of the Independent Expert, which would allow the Council to continue supporting Mali and to continue monitoring the situation of human rights. Finally, the African Group called on members of the Council to continue manifesting solidarity with Mali.
Bulgaria, speaking in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, thanked Mali and the African Group for the resolution, and believed the text reflected accurately the situation in the field. They welcomed the progress, and the commitment of the Government in Mali to improve the human rights situation. The European Union regretted the outbreak of violence in the territory, and the targeting of human rights workers, and asked Mali to combat the growing culture of impunity. They welcomed the work of the Independent Expert, and supported renewing his mandate. The work was important in helping Mali towards peace, and for this reason the European Union supported the resolution.
Mali, speaking as the concerned country, thanked the Council for accepting the resolution L.2 by consensus in order that technical assistance to Mali may continue. They welcomed Angola’s inclusive approach to drafting the resolution. Mali was facing many challenges but the Government would honour its responsibilities to protect fundamental freedoms. In addition, it would continue its cooperation with all human rights mechanisms and would spare no efforts in implementing the recommendations in L2. Mali extended an invitation for support for the State.
The Council adopted resolution L.2 without a vote.
Action on Resolution on Technical Assistance and Capacity-Building to Improve Human Rights in Libya
In a resolution (A/HRC/40/L.6/Rev.1) on technical assistance and capacity-building to improve human rights in Libya, adopted without a vote, as orally revised, the Council requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights… to monitor and report on human rights violations and abuses across Libya and to establish the facts and circumstances of such abuses and violations with a view to avoiding impunity and ensuring full individual accountability, and… to provide technical assistance and capacity-building to Libya on its request to promote and protect human rights and prevent and ensure accountability for violations and abuses of human rights. The Council further requests the High Commissioner to present an oral update on the situation of human rights in Libya and the implementation of the present resolution to the Human Rights Council at its forty-second session during an interactive dialogue, with the participation of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya, and to present to the Council, during an interactive dialogue at its forty-third session, a report on the situation of human rights in Libya, including the implementation of technical assistance and capacity-building to support the efforts of the Government of National Accord to prevent and ensure accountability for violations and abuses of human rights. The Council further requests the Secretary-General to provide the Office of the High Commissioner with the resources necessary for the full implementation of the present resolution.
Angola, introducing draft resolution L.6/Rev.1 on behalf of the African Group, clarified that the current draft resolution represented an update to the previous resolutions on Libya, underlining the numerous challenges faced by the country. The draft text appreciated the efforts of the Government of National Unity to improve the situation of human rights in the country, namely the recent meeting of the President of the Presidential Council and the commander of the national army, organized by the representative of the United Nations Secretary-General in the context of upcoming general elections. The draft resolution took into account the current difficulties in Libya with respect to human rights, and it encouraged the Government of National Unity to intensify efforts to promote and protect human rights and to prevent abuses and punish perpetrators. Accordingly, the draft text requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide technical assistance and capacity building to Libya.
United Kingdom, in a general comment, regretted that language around irregular migrants existed in the text, which could reduce the protection of all migrants. They also would have appreciated a greater focus on refugees. Whilst the United Nations was undergoing a process regarding Libya, they did not support a resolution on Libya, which could impinge on that work.
Libya, speaking as the concerned country, thanked the African Group for drafting this resolution which supported technical assistance and capacity building in Libya. It was drafted in a spirit of transparency away from all politicization. Following the meeting in Abu Dhabi in February, Libya was preparing for another conference and general elections. Libya called on all countries to adopt the resolution by consensus.
The Council adopted resolution L.6 Rev.1 without a vote.
Action on Resolution on Cooperation with Georgia
In a resolution (A/HRC/40/L.24) on cooperation with Georgia, adopted by a vote of 19 in favour, three against and 25 abstentions, the Council requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue to provide technical assistance through her office in Tbilisi; strongly calls for immediate and unimpeded access to be given to the Office of the High Commissioner and international and regional human rights mechanisms to Abkhazia, Georgia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, Georgia; and requests the High Commissioner to present to the Human Rights Council, in accordance with its resolution 5/1 of 18 June 2007, an oral update on the follow-up to the present resolution at its forty-first session, and to present a written report on developments relating to and the implementation of the present resolution at its forty-second session.
The results of the vote were as follows:
In favour (19): Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Slovakia, Spain, Togo, Ukraine and United Kingdom.
Against (3): Cameroon, China and Cuba.
Abstentions (25): Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, India, Iraq, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Tunisia and Uruguay.
Georgia, introducing draft resolution L.24, explained that the draft resolution stressed the dire humanitarian situation in the occupied regions of Georgia, namely Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region, remaining outside the effective control of the Government of Georgia. Some practices in Abkhazia and South Ossetia appeared to amount to discriminatory patterns based on ethnic grounds, especially with regard to freedom of movement, access to personal documents, the right to education and property rights, and that ethnic Georgians appeared to regularly face various forms of discrimination. Georgia deeply regretted the alarming tendency of the illegal detention and deprivation of life of Georgian citizens, demonstrating that ethnically targeted violence was encouraged in both Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions. Georgia had reinitiated the resolution in order to bring once again to the attention of the Council the deteriorating humanitarian and human rights situation in those regions.
Australia, in general comment, stated that it was a strong and consistent supporter of Georgian sovereignty, and did not recognize claims to independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The resolution reaffirmed the need for unimpeded access to these regions by United Nations bodies. The recent tragic events in the Gali district of Abkhazia showed the important role that a United Nations monitoring mission could play. Continued international human rights engagement would help. Australia supported the resolution and called on all countries to do the same.
Denmark, in a general comment, said technical assistance and capacity building were important to protect human rights, and access to the territories by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was important to give such assistance and for monitoring purposes. Denmark reiterated its support for the territorial independence of Georgia. It regretted that those who were in control of both regions did not allow access to the mandate holders. Denmark fully supported the resolution and called on all members of the Council to do likewise.
Cameroon, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said technical assistance contributed to resilience and promoting human rights. However, this should be given only on the explicit and informed request of the State concerned. The giving of technical assistance was often used to hit political targets, unfortunately this was the case of this resolution which touched on the issues of sovereignty and internal borders. Cameroon requested a vote on the resolution and would vote no.
Czech Republic, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the draft resolution was a balanced text and it called for immediate and unimpeded access by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other human rights mechanisms in the occupied regions of Georgia. The Czech Republic commended Georgia for its cooperation with the Office. The draft resolution was a preventive tool against the worsening of the situation on the ground. The Czech Republic called therefore on all Council members to support the draft resolution.
Brazil, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, welcomed the assistance provided by the High Commissioner to countries that requested it. They commended Georgia for its positive engagement with the Office. However, Brazil would abstain from the vote, as they believed some non-relevant issues had been included within the text, which meant the Human Rights Council was not the right forum for discussing it. The appropriate United Nations fora for this issue might be the Security Council or the General Assembly, rather than under item 10 as had been proposed.
United Kingdom, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, commended Georgia for its ongoing constructive relationship with the Office of the High Commissioner. Its willingness to accept assistance was to be commended. The United Kingdom was deeply concerned that staff from the Office were still denied access to Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This resolution sought to address these concerns, and therefore it was about access and cooperation. The Council should support the request whether it came via this mechanism or another. The United Kingdom would therefore vote yes on resolution L.24 and they called on other members to do the same.
China, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said differences on human rights should be settled by discussion rather than politicization. It hoped the parties concerned would not resort to confrontation and would vote against the resolution.
The Council then adopted resolution L.24 by a vote of 19 in favour, three against, and 25 abstentions.
Action on Resolution under the Agenda Item on Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention
Action on Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar
In a resolution (A/HRC/40/L.19) on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, adopted by a vote of 37 in favour, three against and seven abstentions, the Council expresses grave concern at continuing reports of serious human rights violations and abuses in Myanmar, including sexual and gender-based violence and violations and abuses against children, in particular in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States, and calls upon the Myanmar authorities, in particular the Myanmar military and security forces, to end immediately violence and all violations of international law in Myanmar, in particular in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States. The Council also expresses serious concern about the recent escalation of violence in Rakhine State between the armed forces of Myanmar, the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army, causing loss of life, displacement and further human suffering; and decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar for a further period of one year, requests the Special Rapporteur to present an oral progress report to the Human Rights Council at its forty-first and forty-second sessions and to submit a report to the Third Committee of the General Assembly at its seventy-fourth session and to the Council at its forty-third session. The Council calls upon the Government of Myanmar to resume without delay its cooperation with the Special Rapporteur in the exercise of the mandate, including by facilitating further visits and granting unrestricted access throughout the country; and requests the Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide the independent international fact-finding mission, the Special Rapporteur and the ongoing independent mechanism with the assistance, resources and expertise necessary to enable them to discharge their mandates fully.
The results of the vote were as follows:
In favour (37): Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Eritrea, Fiji, Hungary, Iceland, Iraq, Italy, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Togo, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Uruguay.
Against (3): China, Cuba, and Philippines.
Abstentions (7): Angola, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Japan, Nepal, and Senegal.
Romania, introducing draft resolution L.19 on behalf of the European Union, reminded that the report of the Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar contained findings that gross human rights violations had been committed in Myanmar, in particular in Kachin, Rakhine and Shan states, by the Myanmar military, many of which amounted to the gravest crimes under international law. Human rights mechanisms established by the Council played a crucial role in the promotion and protection of human rights, and they could make a real difference in the human rights situation on the ground. It was imperative that States fully cooperated with the mandate holders. The European Union regretted that the Government of Myanmar had decided to discontinue its cooperation with the Special Rapporteur. The draft resolution called on the Government to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur, the Fact-Finding Mission, and with the ongoing independent mechanism – once operational – and to grant all United Nations mechanisms full, unrestricted and unmonitored access to all areas in the country. The resolution also reflected some recent positive steps taken in Myanmar, including the establishment of a joint committee to implement steps to amend the Constitution on 19 February 2019, and the joint communiqué between the Government of Myanmar and the United Nations to address conflict-related sexual violence. The adoption of the resolution would send a strong signal of support by the Council not just in respect of the transition underway in Myanmar, but also to the victims of human rights violations, including the Rohingya community, that their precarious situation remained high on the agenda of the international community.
Bangladesh, in a general comment, said that since no tangible progress had been made on the situation of the Rohingyas and their subsequent large exodus to Bangladesh, this resolution was balanced and timely. The report highlighted human rights’ concerns, as well as recognizing areas of progress. It also called for a report from the Secretary-General on the United Nations’ role in Myanmar since 2011. Despite Myanmar’s claims of progress regarding the sustainable return of Rohingyas, little progress had been made, and Myanmar continued its attempts to divert attention away from the crisis. As such, this august Council needed to act upon the crisis, to allow for the safe return of refugees to their homes, and to ensure accountability for the crimes committed.
Argentina, in a general comment, reiterated its concern about the human rights violations against Rohingya and called for urgent action. It requested Myanmar to allow access and cooperate with all human rights mechanisms. Argentina was committed to fighting all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and all other forms of intolerance, values shared by the international community, and it therefore called for all aggression on all ethnic minorities to be stopped and for an end to impunity. Argentina supported the resolution and urged the Council to do the same.
Myanmar, speaking as the concerned country, said it rejected the draft resolution, first because it was based on one-sided narratives, and highly politicized and seriously flawed reports of the Fact-Finding Mission and the Special Rapporteur. Second, the draft resolution clearly demonstrated its intent to garner international pressure against Myanmar by passing one resolution after another, and heaping mechanism after mechanism. Third, the tone of the draft text demonstrated a total disregard for the dignity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of a sovereign United Nations Member State. Fourth, a large number of paragraphs narrowly focused on the rights of only a particular group in Rakhine. Myanmar would never allow any attempt that could have a negative impact on the social cohesion and unity among different ethnic and religious communities in the country. Fifth, the draft resolution sowed seeds of mistrust and further polarization among different communities in the country and between Myanmar and the international community. Sixth, the draft resolution deliberatively ignored the threat of terrorism which was the real cause of the present humanitarian situation. Seventh, Myanmar was against country-specific resolutions as a matter of principle. The adoption of yet another ill-intentioned, selective and politically motivated resolution would not help Myanmar. If there was genuine will, there was room for the European Union and other co-sponsors to play a more constructive role in assisting Myanmar’s democratic transition. Myanmar categorically rejected draft resolution L.19 and said that it would not be bound by it.
China, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, stated their sincere hope that Myanmar would achieve sustainable development as this was for its own benefit, as well as that of the wider region. China regretted the reports of violence in Rakhine district. They called for all sides to cooperate to allow the return of Rohingyas. China always advocated that human rights differences should be resolved via dialogue, and was not in favour of applying pressure. Myanmar’s sovereignty needed to be respected, as should its path to development. As the concerned country, Myanmar had stated its objection to the draft resolution, which set up a country specific resolution without the consent of the country involved, as well as proposing its referral to the International Criminal Court. They were concerned that such actions rather than solving the issue, would only further exacerbate the problems on the ground. China had put down its proposed amendments to the draft, which regrettably had not been adopted. Country specific mechanisms like the one proposed for Myanmar were a huge budgetary strain, and therefore should be avoided. China called for a vote on the resolution, and would vote against it.
Japan, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, shared the concerns of other countries on the human rights situation in Myanmar. It called upon Myanmar to further improve its human rights situation in the bilateral human rights dialogue. It was critical that the Commission of Inquiry established by Myanmar be able to conduct its work. Japan would abstain from the vote.
Egypt, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reiterated its deep condemnation of the grave human rights violations against Muslims in Myanmar and had repeatedly called on the Government to address the violations and end impunity. Egypt had engaged constructively on the resolution, but its concerns were not reflected in the draft text. There were references to mechanisms and treaties, such as the International Criminal Court, to which Egypt was not party, and it considered some of the recommendations in the resolution to be beyond the mandate of the Council. Egypt would vote for L19, but officially stated its reservations regarding preambular paragraphs 3,4,8 and 11 and operative paragraphs 5 and 6.
Philippines, in an explanation of the vote before vote, reiterated its support for Myanmar’s democratic transition, its ongoing reform of public institutions, and reform of the Constitution. The Philippines condemned all loss of life, violence, and displacement, and advocated for remedy to victims to be provided. States held the primary responsibility in the protection of human rights, and the Philippines believed that assisting Myanmar’s democratic transition would require time for it to transform its institutions. It was for those reasons that the Philippines would vote against the draft resolution L.19.
Iraq, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, expressed grave concern over human rights violations in Myanmar and the violence against Rohingya Muslims. Iraq reiterated its call to the Government of Myanmar to protect all its citizens regardless of their religious or ethnic backgrounds. Iraq thanked the sponsors of the resolution, having participated informally in the drafting of the text. Despite all the efforts made, some of the text proposed by Iraq had not been accepted. Furthermore, Iraq had a clear position on the International Criminal Court. As a result, Iraq supported the resolution and would vote in favour of it. However, it disassociated itself from any reference to the International Criminal Court, in particular to preambular paragraphs 8 and 11 and operative paragraph 5.
The Council then adopted resolution L.19 by a vote of 37 in favour, three against, and seven abstentions.
Pakistan, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, shared the deepest concern of the international community regarding the deteriorating situation of human rights in Myanmar. It was in that spirit that Pakistan had voted in favour of draft resolution L.19. Pakistan stressed that it held reservations to all references to the Rome Statute and the International Criminal Court
India, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, was of the view that it was necessary to recognize the limits of Myanmar’s institutional capacities. Its efforts to implement the recommendations of the Kofi Annan Commission should be encouraged. Building trust was key to achieving a resolution of the situation in Myanmar. Human rights could only be advanced through constructive cooperation and dialogue, and thus India had abstained from the vote on draft resolution L.19.
Bahrain, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said it took a position of principle on all discussions under item 4 as selectivity and politicization should be rejected. It was regrettable that resolutions were adopted without the accord of the States concerned nor respect for their priorities or sovereignty. Human Rights should be dealt with as a whole on the basis of objectivity and non-selectivity. The Council should not follow attempts to move it far from the goals for which it was founded as grave human rights could not be ignored. In taking this position Bahrain rejected interference in the internal affairs of States. Bahrain had abstained from L.15 in accordance with this principled position.
Chile, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, continued to be concerned about violations of international humanitarian law by all contributors to the conflict in Syria, as well as reports of the use of chemical weapons. As such any transfers of chemicals to the involved parties should be stopped. Chile would have preferred it if some of the suggestions made by delegates had been taken on board during the informal process.
Eritrea, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, continued to be concerned about mandate holders appointed by the Council that did not enjoy the support of the concerned country. As a country that had been under special mechanisms for seven years, the experience had vindicated Eritrea’s position. Whilst it stood with the victims of any crimes, it did not believe in the politicization of resolutions or mechanisms. Eritrea’s vote had nothing to do with favouritism for any government, however, it was essential to ensure the effective delivery of the mandate of the Council. For this reason, regarding resolutions L.7 and L.15, Eritrea had voted no. On resolution L.19, Eritrea had disassociated itself from any reference to the International Criminal Court with regard to Myanmar.
Appointment of Special Procedure Mandate Holders
COLY SECK, President of the Human Rights Council, said that the Council would proceed with the appointment of Special Procedure mandate holders.
The Council then appointed four members of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Belkacem Lounes (Algeria), Rodion Sulyandziga (Russian Federation), Erika Yamada (Brazil), and Megan Davis (Australia).
Report of the Fortieth Session of the Council
VESNA BATISTIĆ KOS, Vice President and Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council, reminded that the secretariat would finalize the report, add the details of the action on draft proposals and circulate it for comments. She reminded that the comments and corrections should be sent within two weeks following the circulation of the final report. The draft report contained 10 chapters, which corresponded to the respective items of the agenda of the Council. The text of the resolutions, decisions and President’s statements that had been adopted would be available in due course on the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The Council then adopted ad referendum the report of its fortieth session.
Statements by Observer States
Sweden supported the resolution on the realization in all countries of economic, social and cultural rights, and welcomed the link made between the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the full realization of those rights, and therefore Sweden had co-sponsored it. However, Sweden was concerned about the reference to “community of shared future of all human beings” which undermined the universality, indivisibility interrelated, interdependent and mutually reinforcing nature of human rights as held by individuals.
Indonesia explained that it had decided to co-sponsor resolution L.22 on environmental human rights defenders. Though Indonesia acknowledged the importance of its scope, they were concerned with the resolution’s emphasis only on the situation facing some human rights defenders, but did not mention the situation facing other related human rights defenders. They found this peculiar as the threat to environmental human rights defenders was similar to that faced by other defenders. Indonesia also believed that the definition of human rights defenders should be expanded to also include other defenders such as civil servants, amongst others. Indeed, human rights defenders could be any person or group of persons working to promote human rights, ranging from intergovernmental organizations in the largest cities, to individuals working within their local community.
Russian Federation was convinced that the Council was doing everything in order to prevent discrimination against women in sports, however it should not go against international law. Russia regretted that the author of L.10 on discrimination against women and girls in sport used this, but this did not lead to gender equality, as it undermined international law. Concerning L.22 on environmental human rights defenders, Russia expressed its disagreement with this initiative. Russia did not see itself bound by resolution L.22.
Switzerland welcomed the adoption of various resolutions and the renewed mandates. It regretted the absence of a schedule for the clear implementation of recommendations in L.1 on Sri Lanka. Although it supported the excellent work of the Commission, Switzerland felt that the wording of paragraph 5 in L.7 might weaken its work and the term “foreign terrorist” did not prejudge international humanitarian law. It noted that in L.9 the only means for the return of illicit funds to be successful would be with the full participation of the countries involved.
General Concluding Remarks
Marshall Islands thanked the President for welcoming national delegates of least developed countries and small island developing States, as well as those from Lesotho, Trinidad and Tobago, Myanmar, Samoa, Bangladesh and Timor-Leste. Donor countries were thanked for their ongoing contribution to the Trust Fund. All five beneficiaries from Marshall Islands were women coming from Majuro. Marshall Islands would be opening its Permanent Mission soon in Geneva. The United Nations was a primary multilateral platform for small States where all could sit together. Joint threats should be raised here such as climate change, or painful issues such as nuclear legacy after World War II whose effects were still suffered by many Marshallese.
Mozambique thanked the delegations that had extended their heartfelt sympathies to the victims of the humanitarian emergency in Mozambique. The magnitude of cyclone Idai had been unprecedented, with severe impacts on the provision of food, water and shelter. The cyclone, with its impact on Mozambique and neighbouring countries, was a clear display of the impact of climate change. As soon as the conditions allowed, the Government would provide a detailed account of the human loss, and infrastructure destroyed. The permanent mission had also opened a condolence book for those who wished to put their solidarity on record.
International Service for Human Rights, in a joint statement with several NGOs1, welcomed the positive steps taken by the Council to protect human rights defenders but regretted that the resolution did not address the obligations of international financial institutions and investments. It regretted that no matter the agenda item number, the United Kingdom, Australia and China failed to protect the human rights of Palestinians. It deplored that despite the detention of over 1 million people, the Council had again taken no action against China.
Concluding Remarks by the President
COLY SECK, President of the Human Rights Council, regretted that he had to mention that representatives of civil society that participated in the session continued to face acts of intimidation and repression. He recalled that any act of intimidation and repression against a group or individual that cooperated or wanted to cooperate with the Council was unacceptable. Civil society made a crucial contribution to the Council’s work and it was the responsibility of the Council to assure them sufficient space for that contribution. He counted on the support of States in making sure that such acts did not take place in the future.
1 Joint statement on behalf of: International Service for Human Rights, CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation, International Commission of Jurists, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, and International Lesbian and Gay Association.