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While many Member States commended the work of the Human Rights Council as crucial in the promotion and protection of universal human rights, others expressed concern over its subjectivity, double standards and politicization, as the General Assembly took up the intergovernmental body’s report today.
Vojislav Šuc (Slovenia), President of the Human Rights Council, presented the body’s annual report and its addendum (documents A/73/53 and A/73/53/Add.1), noting that in its 12 years of existence, the Council has played a central role in addressing violations at the global level. Through technical assistance and cooperation, it has helped to build resilience and stability within societies. Over the past year, it adopted 87 resolutions, 53 of which were adopted without a vote.
In September, the Council decided to establish an independent mechanism to collect and analyse evidence of serious crimes committed against the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, he said. The Council also extended the mandate of several inquiry commissions, including on Syria and Burundi. It considered the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights containing findings on the situation in Yemen, which concluded that Government officials had committed acts amounting to international crimes. In May, the Council held a special session on the deteriorating situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem and decided to dispatch a commission to investigate all violations there.
The seventieth anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights offers the opportunity “to review how much we have accomplished, where we stand and what should be our way forward”, he went on to say. Expressing concern over some States’ positions to not cooperate with the Council’s mechanisms or to cooperate with only a selected few, he called on States that have not yet done so to issue standing invitations to all the special procedures mandate holders. He also added that the universal periodic review enjoys strong legitimacy and is often cited as one of the Council’s greatest achievements.
Welcoming the participation of least developed countries and small island developing States in the work of the Council, he underscored that the active participation of civil society and national human rights institutions has also been essential to the Council’s work. “Regrettably, however, during this year, I have continued to receive allegations of intimidations, threats and reprisals against individuals who cooperate with the Human Rights Council,” he said, emphasizing the critical importance of ensuring that the Council remains a safe environment where civil society members can freely express their views.
General Assembly Vice President Melitón Alejandro Arrocha Ruíz (Panama), speaking on behalf of Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés (Ecuador), emphasized that the Human Rights Council has a critical role through its various mechanisms, procedures and resolutions to develop international law and international human rights law. “Protecting human rights is essential if we wish to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” he said, adding that the Human Rights Council contributes to the Assembly’s efforts to eradicate poverty in all its forms and dimensions.
Delegations also commended the Council’s work, with the European Union’s representative emphasizing that the 12 year old intergovernmental body is adjusting to new realities. The Council has recommitted to improving its efficiency, already having streamlined the process of adopting resolutions that allow for stronger stakeholder engagement and create more space for dialogue and reinforcing ownership.
Welcoming the active participation of civil society in the Council’s work, speakers also condemned the targeting of human rights defenders who engage with United Nations human rights mechanisms.
Georgia’s delegate called on Member States to take measures to prevent reprisals against human rights defenders. Expressing support for the strengthening of the Council’s delivery of technical assistance and capacity building support, she also noted that the universal periodic review is a unique human rights mechanism which enables States to better assess developments and make necessary adjustments to improve and advance human rights.
The representative of Costa Rica said that, despite not being a member of the Council, Costa Rica has cooperated with that body on several occasions, including on the human rights of protesters and human rights education. This is particularly crucial given the current global trend to demonize “the other”, migrants and refugees. In addition, greater coordination between all United Nations structures would have a direct impact on conflict prevention and the protection and promotion of human rights.
Liechtenstein’s representative stressed that upholding the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights is a binding political commitment made by the membership of the General Assembly. The longstanding concern over the situation in Myanmar has found its tragic expression in the Fact Finding Mission report, including patterns of serious human rights violations and abuses and other crimes perpetrated on a massive scale. Considering the pervasive culture of impunity at the domestic level, the report found that the impetus for accountability must come from the international community.
Myanmar’s representative voiced his rejection on the three resolutions on Myanmar in the Council’s report, calling them politically motivated, lacking objectivity and infringing on his country’s sovereignty. The Fact Finding Mission hinders Myanmar’s own efforts to find long term solutions to the situation in Rakhine State. His Government has already established an independent commission of enquiry to investigate alleged rights violations following terrorist attacks there.
Several other representatives, including the delegate of Belarus, also expressed alarm at the manner in which the Council was conducting its work. Underscoring that its proceedings remain excessively politicized and bogged down by initiatives that do not enjoy consensus, he said that certain procedures are biased and subjected to pressures from abroad. It is important to put an end to the consideration of country specific issues where there is no mandate from a relevant Human Rights Council resolution.
The Human Rights Council has unfairly targeted Syria, that country representative stressed. Rejecting double standards and “shameful subjectivity”, he underscored that the questions of human rights must be dealt with objectively. The “illegal Alliance” in Syria has destroyed cities and uses prohibited weapons against innocent civilians. “These crimes do not find their way into the reports of the Human Rights Council because of politicization, selectivity and double standards,” he continued, noting that his Government has “sent hundreds of letters” urging the Council to take note of particular situations.
Also speaking today were representatives of Mozambique (on behalf of African Group), Libya, Kuwait, Chile, Slovenia, Iran, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, India, El Salvador, Switzerland, Republic of Moldova, Norway, Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Mongolia, Australia, Eritrea, New Zealand and Bangladesh.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Monday, 7 November, to take up the report of the Economic and Social Council and the coordinated implementation of and follow up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences.
MELITÓN ALEJANDRO ARROCHA RUÍZ (Panama), Vice President of the General Assembly, speaking on behalf of Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés (Ecuador), said Human Rights Council President Vojislav Šuc will introduce the “Report of the Human Rights Council” (document A/73/53) and its addendum (document A/73/53/Add.1). Emphasizing the importance of making the United Nations relevant to all people, he said the Human Rights Council has a critical role. Through its various mechanisms, procedures and resolutions, it has helped to develop international law and international human rights law.
“Protecting human rights is essential if we wish to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” he said, adding that the Human Rights Council contributes to the Assembly’s efforts to eradicate poverty in all its forms and dimensions. He called for increased coordination among all organs of the United Nations system and noted that the Assembly will hold two meetings to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the twentieth anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. “Those meetings offer an opportunity to send a clear message on the relevance of strengthening the international human rights system,” he said.
Introduction of Report by Human Rights Council President
VOJISLAV ŠUC (Slovenia), President of the Human Rights Council, presenting the intergovernmental body’s annual report (document A/73/53), said the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights offers the opportunity “to review how much we have accomplished, where we stand and what should be our way forward”. In its 12 years of existence, the Council has played a central role in addressing violations at the global level. Through technical assistance and cooperation, it has helped to build resilience and stability within societies.
Providing an overview of the report, he highlighted Council activities and measures adopted at its three regular sessions and two special sessions. Since December, it adopted 87 resolutions, 53 of which were adopted without a vote. In September, it decided to establish an independent mechanism to collect, consolidate, preserve and analyse evidence of serious crimes committed against the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. The Council has also extended the mandate of several inquiry commissions, including on Syria and Burundi. In September, it considered the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights containing findings on the situation in Yemen, which concluded that Government officials had committed acts amounting to international crimes. In May, the Council held a special session on the deteriorating situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. It decided to dispatch a commission to investigate all violations in the occupied Palestinian territory.
In 2018, the Human Rights Council held 13 panel discussions on thematic issues, he said, noting continued initiatives that make its work accessible to persons with disabilities. The special procedures of the Council not only provided one of the main sources of up to date, reliable information on human rights issues and situations around the world, but also could contribute to the United Nations early warning and prevention efforts. He expressed concern over the position of some States not cooperating with the Council’s mechanisms or to cooperate only with a selected few. He called on States that have not yet done so to issue standing invitations to all the special procedures mandate holders and to fully cooperate with them. Moreover, he said the universal periodic review enjoys strong legitimacy and ownership by Member States and is often cited as one of the Council’s greatest achievements.
Throughout the reporting period, he said, the Voluntary Technical Assistance Trust Fund to Support the Participation of Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States in the Work of the Human Rights Council enabled the participation of 25 delegates in its regular sessions. The active participation of civil society and national human rights institutions has also been essential to the Council’s work. “Regrettably, however, during this year, I have continued to receive allegations of intimidations, threats and reprisals against individuals who cooperate with the Human Rights Council,” he said, emphasizing the critical importance of ensuring that the Council remains a safe and include environment where civil society members can freely express their views.
He also noted several Human Rights Council resolutions which made recommendations to the General Assembly, including on Syria, the occupied Palestinian territory and concerning the Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar. At its September session, the Council recommended that the General Assembly adopt the United Nations declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas. Further, he said he had initiated a process which seeks to identify long term measures to improve efficiency, strengthen the Council and rationalize its work, including through the use of modern technology.
ANTÓNIO GUMENDE (Mozambique), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the Council’s role as the principal United Nations body responsible for the universal respect of all human rights must have a mandate driven by cooperation and genuine dialogue. “Africa remains convinced that the universal periodic review is the sole mechanism for the work of the Human Rights Council in the fulfilment of States’ human rights obligations,” he said. To realize the Council’s objectives, the Voluntary Trust Fund for the implementation of universal periodic review recommendations must be properly resourced. He affirmed a need to respect “regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds” while promoting human rights. He also voiced concern over the “increasingly non consensual nature” with which Council resolutions are adopted.
He said the Group deplores the lack of constructive engagement by the global North on the work of the intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights. The Council’s mandate can only be implemented effectively if it is based on the principles of non politicization, non selectivity, objectivity and universality. Human rights violations can be avoided by building resilient societies, he said, calling for all rights to be addressed in a “fair and equitable” manner. Pointing out that the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) is mandated to examine the work of the Council, he warned of increasing attempts to undermine this objective.
ANA BRITO MANEIRA, of the European Union delegation, said the Human Rights Council is adjusting to new realities. Reminding the 18 newly elected members to give due importance to the human rights situation in their own countries, she said no State has a perfect human rights record. In this vein, she underlined a need for a “spirit of self reflection” while addressing their own situations. The Council has recommitted to improving its efficiency, already having streamlined the process of adopting resolutions allowing for stronger stakeholder engagement and creating more space for dialogue and reinforcing ownership. Synergies between the Human Rights Council and the Third Committee should be further improved while respecting the former’s independence. Welcoming the strong condemnation of discrimination and gender based violence against women and girls, she expressed support for developing inclusive gender responsive policies and regulations and to repeal laws and policies criminalizing women’s and girls’ actions or behaviour.
Targeting human rights defenders who engage with United Nations human rights mechanisms is also unacceptable, she said, condemning any act of violence, harassment, intimidation and reprisal. On the situation in Myanmar, she said the Fact Finding Mission report points at possible cases of genocide in Rakhine State and to findings that crimes against humanity have been committed in Kachin, Rakhine and Shan States by military and security forces, noting the establishment of a mechanism to collect, consolidate, preserve and analyse evidence. Recalling human rights situations in a number of countries, including Burundi, Syria and Yemen, she said technical assistance and capacity building has helped countries facing crises to build human rights protection policies. The mechanisms of the Council are “a powerful medicine that can heal wound and develop resilience”, she said.
Mr. OPIMAH (Belarus) said Human Rights Council proceedings remain excessively politicized and bogged down by initiatives that do not enjoy consensus. Numerous special procedures need to base their operations on cooperation and dialogue with States. Unfortunately, certain procedures are biased and subjected to pressures from abroad. It is important to put an end to the consideration of country specific issues where there is no mandate from a relevant Human Rights Council resolution. For the abovementioned reasons, he said his delegation cannot support the current report.
KOUSSAY ALDAHHAK (Syria) said that the Human Rights Council has unfairly targeted his country. Rejecting double standards and “shameful subjectivity”, he noted that civilian infrastructure in Syria has been destroyed by outside forces who enjoy impunity. The questions of human rights must be dealt with objectively. Syria also condemned an attempt to deal with the agenda of human rights in a manner that serves the purposes of the Israeli occupation. He called for an end to the crimes and serious violations of international law committed by Israel and the “illegal alliance” in Syria that has destroyed cities and uses prohibited weapons against innocent civilians.
“These crimes do not find their way into the reports of the Human Rights Council because of politicization, selectivity and double standards,” he continued, noting that his Government has “sent hundreds of letters” urging the Council to take note of particular situations. He called on European countries to raise their voices against Governments that support terrorism. “This is shameful,” he said. “People are paying with their blood.” Urging the lifting of economic sanctions against Syria, he also expressed concern over the discourse of hate facing Syrian migrants and refugees.
INASS A. T. ELMARMURI (Libya), associating herself with the African Group, voiced concern over the politicized nature of human rights issues. “Libya has the sovereign right to reject any international instrument that is not in line with its legislation,” she said. Human rights discussions must not overlook persistent violations faced by migrants, an issue of major concern for Libya as it is a transit country. “Libya will spare no efforts to cooperate with regional organizations,” she said, noting ongoing efforts with the International Organization for Migration (IOM). At the national level, strategies are in place to improve the situation of migrants and programmes are being implemented to allow for their voluntary return or resettlement. Despite these efforts, Libya continues to suffer from the negative consequences of migration. The best approach to address illegal migration is to tackle its root causes, she said, calling called on origin and destination countries to assume responsibility for related issues.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said that upholding the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights is a binding political commitment made by the membership of this Assembly. The longstanding concern over the situation in Myanmar has found its tragic and full scale expression in the Fact Finding Mission report, including patterns of serious human rights violations and abuses in different states and other crimes perpetrated on a massive scale and as a result of what appears to be a policy by the authorities. In light of the pervasive culture of impunity at the domestic level, the report found that the impetus for accountability must come from the international community. “We commend the clear stance of the Fact Finding Mission that these crimes should be referred to the International Criminal Court as the permanent dedicated court dealing with the most serious crimes under international law,” he said. Further, he welcomed the Council’s decision to establish an independent mechanism to collect, consolidate, preserve and analyse evidence of the most serious international crimes and violations of international law committed in Myanmar. The Security Council should refer the case to the Court, however, in the absence of such a referral, States have other options available to them.
Ms. AL SABAH (Kuwait) said discussions related to the Council require close follow up due to ongoing conflicts across the world. She encouraged constructive partnerships for the maintenance of human rights and rejected attempts to impose any principles on sovereign States under the guise of human rights related concerns. Kuwait believes in the rights to employment, food and medical care, which can only be realized in an environment of international peace and security. For its part, Kuwait created institutions to combat corruption and protect the rights of women. Condemning attacks against civilians and related infrastructure, she said all human rights are universal, indivisible and interrelated. Kuwait prioritizes the protection of heritage areas, including in conflict zones, and will soon welcome the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities. Raising other concerns, she noted important steps being taken towards ensuring accountability in addressing the situation in Myanmar and said Israeli security forces are violating the human rights of Palestinians.
MILENKO ESTEBAN SKOKNIC TAPIA (Chile) said that the Human Rights Council has worked to promote and protect the rights of people around the world. This work must be strengthened and respected by States and protected by the international community. Those States on which the Human Rights Council’s work has focused must also be respectful. Expressing concern about the dismal human rights situations worldwide, he said that responding to it is a major challenge which must be tackled by collective international efforts. Civil society participation in that regard is crucial. The Council would benefit if it presents itself as a strong and vibrant body, he continued, emphasizing that Member States have a responsibility to help strengthen it. “All people must be able to achieve their freedom and equality,” he added.
DARJA BAVDAŽ KURET (Slovenia), associating herself with the European Union, noted the strong interlinkages among peace, security, sustainable development and human rights. The Council has a “good story to tell”, as it “truly is a much needed voice of human dignity and rights,” she said. Recalling the Council’s heavy responsibility to respond effectively to human rights challenges around the world, she called for increasing its ability to implement commitments member States make in Geneva while underscoring the importance of finding new and innovative ways to translate actions into results on the ground. The human rights dimension should be systematically included in conflict prevention. Supporting the efforts of the Council’s to increase efficiency and improve its work methods will lead to results. Citing the words of High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, she said “if we undermine multilateral institutions such as this one, we will fail to meet the challenges our people face.”
MOHAMMAD HASSANI NEJAD PIRKOUHI (Iran) said it is unfortunate that politicization and manipulation have eroded the effectiveness of the Human Rights Council and the universal periodic review. The initial idea behind the review mechanism was to ensure universality, objectivity, non selectivity and impartiality in the Council’s work. Regrettably, some countries still prefer to revert to the dysfunctional practice of tabling country specific resolutions. Thus, the report’s reference to the resolution adopted against Iran only exposes the Council’s shortcomings and is “nothing but a waste of time and resources”. Iran disassociates itself from all such references in the Council’s report. On other matters, he welcomed the proposal to cap the duration of Council panels from three to two hours, and other proposals to change the structure of the universal periodic review. He also disagreed with any reduction in the time allocated for States’ right of reply.
ALYA AHMED SAIF AL THANI (Qatar) pointed to the rising tide of terrorism and extremism worldwide and said her country pursues international efforts to uphold human rights. Qatar hosts human rights training sessions for the Middle East and Asia, she said, adding that the Human Rights Council must uphold its mandate in an impartial manner. She said her Government works tirelessly to ensure human rights protections and believes in the importance of the right to development. The National Human Rights Committee has provided detailed reports on the illegal unilateral measures imposed on her country. She called on the international community to denounce such measures and said Israel is committing egregious human rights violations against the people of Palestine. The Human Rights Council is working to assist civilians in Syria, she noted, calling for urgent action to find a political solution to that crisis.
GHASAQ YOUSIF ABDALLA SHAHEEN (United Arab Emirates) said her country is committed to the effective promotion of human rights and international humanitarian law. Lamenting the lack of consensus within the Human Rights Council regarding the crisis in Yemen, she said the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights presents an opportunity to reflect on its achievements. The United Arab Emirates will remain a “proactive member of the international community” and works to ensure national legislation is in line with international human rights law. She said the universal periodic review is an important mechanism to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights, adding that her country has submitted its third review report and is implementation recommendations it accepted during its second review. The United Arab Emirates strives to uphold international human rights practices and is set to launch a national human rights institute.
EKA KIPIANI (Georgia) said that the universal periodic review is a unique human rights mechanism which enables States to better assess developments and make necessary adjustments to improve and advance human rights. The legislative branch of Governments has an important role in implementing United Nations human rights recommendations, she added. Parliaments can also play an important role in overseeing government implementation and compliance with international human rights recommendations. Georgia supports the strengthening of the Council’s delivery of technical assistance and capacity building support and welcomes the active participation of civil society in the Council’s work. She called on Member States to take measures to prevent reprisals against human rights defenders. At the national level, Georgia has established an institution mandated to track and coordinate national follow up and implementation of its obligations. She also stressed Georgia’s full support for the Special Procedures as an effective tool to address specific country situations.
TANMAYA LAL (India), regretted that the Council’s work is growing more “contentious and difficult” and called global governance mechanisms ineffective. Difficulties in addressing human rights issues stem from divergent concerns among Member States in terms of their levels of development, social and cultural contexts and governance systems. “While global discourse on human rights continues to evolve, fundamental contradictions remain,” he said, warning that human rights are being used as political tools. The international community is failing to address terrorism, as India faces repeated attacks from beyond its borders. He said the Council’s workload is increasing while its effectiveness is unclear as its special procedures continue to proliferate, often producing biased reports. “In contrast, the universal periodic review has seen significant success,” he said, attributing such results to its constructive and participatory nature. The human rights agenda must be pursued with respect for objectivity and for national sovereignty.
HÉCTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERÓN (El Salvador) welcomed the thematic diversity the Council tackled in the past year. There is, however, much duplication between the work of the Council and the General Assembly’s Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural). He urged the Council and the Third Committee to be careful and to carry out activities that are complementary and to avoid duplication. He underscored the links between implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the need to protect and promote human rights. Not linking implementation of sustainable development to the protection of human rights runs contrary to everything that the 2030 Agenda stands for, he added. El Salvador welcomes the various resolutions outlined in the Council’s report, he said, also stressing the urgent need to defend the human rights of migrants, particularly children.
Dominique Michel Favre (Switzerland) said that over the last year, the Human Rights Council responded to emerging issues and important mandates, making efforts to improve its impact on the ground. He encouraged the Council to develop monitoring and control instruments to ensure States’ implementation of recommendations made by treaty bodies, special procedures and the universal periodic review. He supported efforts to strengthen the Council by increasing its efficiency and visibility within the United Nations system, as well as optimizing its working methods. Respect for human rights can only be achieved if such fundamental freedoms are fully integrated into the United Nations agenda, he said, underscoring the importance of civil society in that regard.
RODRIGO A. CARAZO (Costa Rica) underscored the need to respect the intrinsic dignity of every human being without distinction of any kind and in a fair and equitable manner. “The United Nations human rights system is based on this concept,” he added. The work of the Council must be inspired and focused on providing a voice, especially to those who are most vulnerable. Human rights must be realized through cooperation and dialogue, he said, emphasizing that the Council must be on “equal footing” with the main bodies of the United Nations. Greater coordination between all United Nations structures would have a direct impact on conflict prevention and the protection and promotion of human rights. Despite not being a member of the Council, Costa Rica has cooperated with the intergovernmental body on several occasions, including on the human rights of protesters and human rights education. This is particularly crucial given the current global trend to demonize “the other”, migrants and refugees. He noted that the Council’s resolution on Venezuela reiterated the responsibility of all States to promote and protect human rights and appealed to the Government to accept humanitarian aid.
VICTOR MORARU (Republic of Moldova) said the Charter of the United Nations established human rights as one of the Organization’s three fundamental pillars, and the variety of issues addressed in the Human Rights Council attests to the United Nations’ intense efforts in that regard. He said inefficiencies must not be “concealed or swept aside” and that human rights are “universal and inalienable”. Reaffirming the importance of granting unimpeded access to the Council’s mandate holders, he said the organ’s primary role is to pursue accountability and improve human rights worldwide. “Member States have the moral and legal responsibility to protect everyone from harm and persecution,” he said. The Republic of Moldova will shoulder initiatives aimed at strengthening the Council’s capacities and has put forth its candidature for the term 2020 2022.
BIRGITTE WILHELMSEN WESSEL (Norway) said preventing human rights violations is “paramount” as the international community moves towards peace, stability and development. She said the twentieth anniversary of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders presents an opportunity to take collective action to reinforce relevant protections. Member States must find common ground on how to strengthen the Human Rights Council’s work and implement changes that are in line with its mandate. The Council possesses “strong tools”, she said, welcoming the presentation of resolutions to the Security Council when relevant. As the world faces mounting rights violations, the United Nations pillar on the matter must be strengthened. “The goal today and for our future is to create better lives and opportunities for more people on this planet,” she concluded.
HAU DO SUAN (Myanmar) said the Council’s report includes three resolutions on his country, none of which enjoy consensus. Myanmar rejects the texts as they are “politically motivated, lack objectivity and infringe on its sovereignty”. He rejected country specific resolutions, noting that they do not result in constructive dialogue. “Objectivity and impartiality are important principles for all of us to adhere to,” he said, rejecting the establishment of the Council’s Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar. The Fact Finding Mission hinders Myanmar’s own efforts to find long term solutions to the situation in its Rakhine State. In line with its policy to cooperate with United Nations special mandate holders, Myanmar is committed to working with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the country. However, the current Special Rapporteur lacks objectivity and is failing to comply with her Code of Conduct.
Myanmar resolutely rejects the International Criminal Court ruling of 6 September 2018 in connection with Rakhine State. “Myanmar is not a party to the Rome Statute and the Court has no jurisdiction over it,” he said, assuring that Myanmar takes alleged human rights violations seriously. The Government has established an independent commission of enquiry to investigate alleged rights violations following terrorist attacks in Rakhine State. Addressing these issues is key to building peace and fostering national reconciliation, he said, adding that Myanmar is preparing for the safe, voluntary and dignified return of people who fled to Bangladesh. The three resolutions on Myanmar “are not conducive to meaningful dialogue” and instead give rise to polarization and confrontation.
STEPAN Y. KUZMENKOV (Russian Federation) said that recent years have witnessed a steady uptick in the politicization and subjectivity of the Council’s work. The Russian Federation is alarmed at attempts to exploit human rights for political pressures without considering the economic, political, cultural and historic contexts of countries under consideration. Selective criticism discredits the Council and deems the United Nations infective and irrelevant. “We do not see genuine cooperation and dialogue within the Council,” he said, highlighting a need to focus on the delivery of technical assistance to States. He rejected duplicative procedures that waste United Nations resources. The Council, given its present structure, was created by all Member States and any changes to its work could only be done with the participation of all States. He expressed alarm over the proposed technical changes to the universal periodic review process. The Russian Federation would not support the plans of several regional groups to fine tune the work of the Council, whose terms of reference are clearly set out in a General Assembly resolution. It is important to keep in mind that the Council is accountable before the Assembly, he said.
Mr. SARMANTAYEV (Kazakhstan) said that the Council has proven to be the key United Nations human rights institution contributing to the promotion and protection of such rights at global and national levels. In order to be effective, the Council’s work in country situations should be primarily based on issues of technical cooperation and capacity building, instead of increased monitoring and investigation activities. The universal periodic review is the most effective and depoliticized mechanism of the Council, he noted, underscoring that his delegation took an active part in its sessions and is preparing to go through its own third cycle in 2019. In March 2018, Kazakhstan submitted its fifth periodic review to Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and is planning to submit its fourth periodic report on the implementation of its obligations under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) said that the persistence of human rights violations around the globe clearly demonstrates the need to focus more attention on preventive action. Such measures and strategies are gaining importance as an effective tool in averting preventable threats and emergencies in the human rights sphere. He called for a broad interregional dialogue conducted in a holistic manner. Further, international support is essential in addressing the human rights violations committed as a result of Russian aggression, he said, commending the work of the Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine. Despite the denial of entry to the Ukrainian Peninsula by the Russian Federation, the Monitoring Mission has multiple reliable sources of information to conduct a quality monitoring of human rights developments in occupied Crimea. The continuing aggression of the Russian Federation not only negatively affects the security and humanitarian situation but seriously undermines basic human rights.
SUKHBOLD SUKHEE (Mongolia), recalling that his country joined the Human Rights Council in 2016, said that as a member, it supports initiatives to protect the rights of children, women, persons with disabilities, freedom of opinion and expression, and freedom of assembly as outlined in its voluntary pledges. Mongolia is also a strong supporter of Council mechanisms and considers Special Procedure mandate holders integral to the promotion of human rights, efforts which are at the core of Mongolia’s national and international policy and central to its development planning. Among the Council’s achievements is the Universal Periodic Review for assessing human rights situations, he said, noting that Mongolia has accepted 152 of its 166 recommendations, which have been translated into the national action plan for 2016 2019.
JO FELDMAN (Australia), commending the Council President for his ongoing leadership in efforts to strengthen that body, said her delegation will continue to engage in efforts to enhance its core mandate of promoting and protecting human rights while preventing and addressing violations. Measures taken must not hinder the ability of civil society or small States, including those not present in Geneva, to engage in the work of the Council. Australia has supported a range of proposals under discussion, including capping the number of panel discussions, improving transparency on potential budget impacts and bi annualizing or tri annualizing resolutions. It also remains open to creative and constructive ideas from States on how to further strengthen the Council, she said, adding that efforts to improve its efficiency are closely linked to efforts to improving its effectiveness.
AMANUEL GIORGIO (Eritrea), associating himself with the African Group, said that the Council is the principle organ responsible for the protection of all human rights in a fair and equal manner. If the work of the Human Rights Council fails, the fate of this sole body on international human rights will be the same as the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. As a member of the Council, his Government will work for a more credible and effective Council and will endeavour to promote transparent dialogue across all countries and regions. The work of the Council continues to expand and there is a serious need to assess whether its current work is reflective of the responsibility it bears. There is also a need to uphold its intergovernmental character and its working methods, considering the importance of reassessing its work. In that regard, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) cannot be underestimated. It should give equal attention to all areas of human rights, he said, calling for OHCHR programmes to be funded from the regular budget of the United Nations.
JARROD CLYNE (New Zealand) said that he is pleased that the Human Rights Council was able to turn its attention to the disproportionately high maternal mortality and morbidity rates affecting women and girls in humanitarian settings. As part of a core group that included Burkina Faso, Colombia and Estonia, a resolution on “Preventable maternal mortality and morbidity and human rights in humanitarian settings” was presented to the Human Rights Council and adopted on 28 September. With it, the Council has sent a clear message that States must ensure accountability and take responsibility for ensuring women and girls’ right to an effective remedy for violations of their right to sexual and reproductive health, as well as to guarantee non recurrence of these violations in humanitarian settings. The resolution also urges States to bring laws and policies concerning sexual and reproductive health into line with international human rights law.
MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) said the universal periodic review is essential in considering the human rights situations of all countries. Bangladesh, as an elected member of the Council will continue to work to preserve its credibility, he stated, adding it serves no purpose to undermine the work of the Council. Moreover, no Member State could claim that it has a perfect human rights record. He urged all States to work with the Council to help it further enhance its efficiency and carry out its work. Monitoring of the Council’s work by the media and civil society adds to its credibility. He reiterated support to the Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar to collect, analyse and preserve the evidence of crimes against the Rohingya and he expressed regret that Myanmar was not complying with the Mission. Accountability of crimes against any people must be pursued.
Right of Reply
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in the exercise of the right of reply, condemned the politicised allegations made by the European Union delegation against his country. He said he rejects the Council’s resolutions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea because they are based on lies and fabricated information. The European Union focused on the words of defectors. Consideration of such claims is disrespectful and mocks the international community.
Source: United Nation