UNITED NATIONS

Press Release



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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADOPTS SEVEN
RESOLUTIONS AND TWO DECISIONS,
INCLUDING TEXT ON DARFUR

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30 March 2007


The Human Rights Council this morning adopted seven resolutions and two decisions, including a text on Darfur in which it expressed its deep concern regarding the seriousness of the ongoing violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Darfur and decided to convene a group to be presided over by the Special Rapporteur on Sudan to work with the Government of Sudan and the appropriate human rights mechanisms of the African Union to ensure the effective follow-up of the implementation of resolutions and recommendations on Darfur and to contribute to monitoring the human rights situation on the ground.

In a decision on human rights and unilateral coercive measures, the Council decided to request the Secretary-General to bring the present decision to the attention of all States and to seek their views and information on the implications and negative effects of unilateral coercive measures on their populations.

In a resolution on the right to development, the Council decided to act to ensure that its agenda promoted and advanced sustainable development and the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals and to agree on a programme of work that would lead to raising the right to development to the same level and on a par with all other human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in the core human rights instruments.

In a decision on enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights, the Council requested the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to consult States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations on ways and means to enhance the international cooperation and dialogue in the United Nations human rights machinery, including the Human Rights Council.

In a resolution on globalization and its impact on the full enjoyment of all human rights, the Council emphasized that development should be at the centre of the international economic agenda and that coherence between national development strategies and international obligations and commitments would contribute to the creation of an enabling environment for development, which was conducive to the full realization of all human rights for all.

In a resolution on strengthening the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Council reaffirmed that the tasks of the High Commissioner included promoting and protecting the realization of the right to development, and requested the High Commissioner to enhance international cooperation for the promotion and protection of all human rights.

In a resolution on rectification of the legal status of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Council decided to initiate a process to rectify the legal status of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, with the aim of placing the Committee on a par with all other treaty monitoring bodies.

In a resolution on combating defamation of religions, the Council urged States to take resolute action to prohibit the dissemination of racist and xenophobic ideas and material aimed at any religion or its followers that constituted incitement to racial and religious hatred, hostility or violence, and also urged States to provide adequate protection against acts of hatred, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from defamation of religions.
In a resolution on elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief, the Council decided to continue substantive consideration of this matter at its sixth session; and requested the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief to report on this issue to the Human Rights Council at its sixth session.

Speaking as a concerned country was Sudan.

Speaking in introductory remarks, general comments and explanation of vote were Cuba, Germany on behalf of the European Union, Canada, China, Japan, Morocco, South Africa, Algeria on behalf of the Arab and African Groups, the Russian Federation, Switzerland, Republic of Korea, France, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Guatemala, India, Brazil, the Philippines, Argentina, Peru, and Zimbabwe.

The Council is scheduled to conclude its fourth session when it meets at 3 p.m. this afternoon, subsequent to the adoption of its report and examination of documents on timetables and programmes of work.


Action on Decision on Human Rights and Unilateral Coercive Measures

In a decision (A/HRC/2/L.14) on Human Rights and Unilateral Coercive Measures, adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, 12 against, and one abstention, the Council decided: to request the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in discharging her functions in relation to the promotion and protection of human rights, to pay due attention and give urgent consideration to the above mentioned resolution and to the present decision; and to request the Secretary-General to bring the present decision to the attention of all States and to seek their views and information on the implications and negative effects of unilateral coercive measures on their populations, and to submit a report thereon to the Human Rights Council at its fourth session.


The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (32): Algeria, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Ecuador, Gabon, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Uruguay and Zambia.

Against (12): Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Switzerland, Ukraine and United Kingdom.

Abstention (1): Republic of Korea.


MARIA DEL CARMEN HERRERA CASEIRO (Cuba), introducing resolution L.14 on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said this draft was originally submitted in the second session of the Council, and was postponed to this session. A revised version had been distributed. For a number of successive years, the Commission had adopted successive draft resolutions on the issue of human rights and unilateral coercive measures, and the General Assembly also traditionally adopted by a large majority resolutions on the same subject. The application of unilateral coercive measures against developing countries was a flagrant violation of their rights, as it prevented them from achieving their fundamental human rights, in particular the rights of all persons to an adequate standard of living, food, shelter, and the right to life.

The resolution was a short, action-oriented text, which tried to gather information on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on countries. It was hoped that it would be adopted unilaterally, or with the vote of countries dedicated to human rights.


Action on Resolution on Right to Development

In a resolution (A/HRC/4/L.14) on The right to development, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to act to ensure that its agenda promotes and advances sustainable development and the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals and, in this regard, to agree on a programme of work that will lead to raising the right to development to the same level and on a par with all other human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in the core human rights instruments; to endorse the road map outlined in the report of the eighth session of the Working Group on the Right to Development, which would ensure that the criteria for the periodic evaluation of global partnerships, as identified in Millennium Development Goal 8 is extended to other components of Millennium Development Goal 8, by no later than 2009; that the above criteria, as endorsed by the Working Group, should be used, as appropriate, in the elaboration of a comprehensive and coherent set of standards for the implementation of the right to development; that, upon completion of the above phases, the Working Group will take appropriate steps for enforcing these standards, which could take various forms, including guidelines on the implementation of the right to development, and evolve into a basis for consideration of an international legal standard of a binding nature, through a collaborative process of engagement; to renew the mandate of the Working Group on the Right to Development for a period of two years; and decides also to retain this priority issue in its future sessions.

MARIA DEL CARMEN HERRERA CASEIRO (Cuba), introducing the draft resolution on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the final revised version had been distributed by the Secretariat yesterday and the revised version contained final amendments introduced during the last informal consultations. She made an oral amendment to the draft. The right to development as an inalienable right was a priority. A programme had been established to lead to the establishment of this right including elaboration of provisions of a legally binding nature. The draft resolution was the outcome of agreements from the Working Group and set out a road map for the implementation of the right to development without excluding the possible elaboration of norms that could lead to a non-binding legal instrument. The Non-Aligned Movement hoped the constructive spirit behind the negotiations would be recognised and the draft adopted.

BIRGITTA MARIA SIEFKER-EBERLE (Germany), speaking on behalf of the European Union, in an explanation of vote after the vote, said the European Union wanted to reiterate the great importance it attached to the right to development. Both the Working Group and the High-Level Task Force had made important achievements. The European Union encouraged the Working Group and the High-Level Task Force to continue. The European Union was looking forward to continue its active cooperation with the Working Group and the Task Force. Cooperation was needed on an international and regional level. The European Union joined consensus on the resolution.

NADIA STUENER (Canada), in an explanation of vote after the vote, said Canada supported the work of the Working Group and the High-Level Task Force on the right to development. However, it did not believe that it was appropriate for the Working Group to consider a legally-binding instrument on the right to development. It was important to consider the practical issues of the right to development, and therefore this was the interpretation of Canada with regards to the elaboration of a legally-binding instrument. The work of the Working Group at its eighth session was valued.

Action on Decision on Enhancement of International Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights

In a decision (A/HRC/2/L.18) on Enhancement of International Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights, adopted as orally amended without a vote, the Council requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to consult States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations on ways and means to enhance the international cooperation and dialogue in the United Nations human rights machinery, including the Human Rights Council, as recognized in preambular paragraph 9 of General Assembly Resolution 60/251, and requests also the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to present a report on the basis of her findings to the Council before the end of 2007.

MARIA DEL CARMEN HERRERA CASEIRO (Cuba), introducing the draft decision on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said this draft had been postponed from the second session, and a revised version had been distributed. Amendments were in bold, and she explained these. Promoting and enhancing international cooperation was the effective way to promote and protect human rights for all. For years the Human Rights Commission had adopted decisions put forward by the Non-Aligned Movement on improved cooperation in the field of human rights. It was one of the essential pillars of the Human Rights Council, as resolution 60/251 explained. This draft decision was a short action-oriented text seeking to collect information on the ways and means to promote international cooperation for more effective promotion and protection. The Non-Aligned Movement hoped the draft would be adopted by consensus.

Action on Resolution on Globalization and its Impact on the Full Enjoyment of All Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/4/L.16) on Globalization and its impact on the full enjoyment of all human rights, adopted by a vote of 34 in favour, 13 against, and no abstentions, the Council emphasizes that development should be at the centre of the international economic agenda and that coherence between national development strategies and international obligations and commitments will contribute to the creation of an enabling environment for development, which is conducive to the full realization of all human rights for all; strongly urges the international community to take stock of the slow progress with regard to the Millennium Development Goals, with a view to taking all necessary and appropriate measures, including enhanced official development assistance, the search for a durable solution to the external debt problem, market access, capacity-building, and dissemination of knowledge and technology, in order to achieve successful integration of developing countries in the global economy; stresses the need to broaden and strengthen the full and effective participation of developing countries in international economic decision-making and norm-setting with a view to ensuring equitable distribution of growth and sustainable development gains in a globalizing world economy; underlines the need for the treaty bodies, special rapporteurs/representatives, independent experts and working groups of the Council, within their mandates, to take into consideration the content of the present resolution; and decides to consider this issue again at its future session.


The result of the vote was as follows:


In favour (34): Algeria, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Ecuador, Gabon, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Uruguay and Zambia.

Against (13): Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Switzerland, Ukraine and United Kingdom.


LA YIFAN (China), presenting resolution L-16 on behalf of the 21 Like-Minded Countries and the African Group, said that it wanted to present the draft resolution on globalisation and its impact on human rights. The world had once expected benefits from globalisation. But the gap between the rich and the poor was widening. The least development countries were on the verge to be marginalized. Measures should be taken to narrow the widening gap. With a view to creating an environment for the developing countries in a spirit of openness and transparency, China had called for informal consultations. They gave results to many comments. China hoped that the draft resolution would be adopted as a gesture of good will for the impoverished.

BIRGITTA MARIA SIEFKER-EBERLE (Germany), speaking in an explanation of vote before the vote on behalf of the European Union, said the issue of globalization touched on a wide range of fields. The European Union agreed that it could have negative impact on human rights but it could also have positive benefits on human rights by bringing people together. The text was consistent with similar ones from the past and emphasized the negative aspects. It was therefore unbalanced and in some instances, inaccurate. It was appreciated that an exchange of views had been sought in submitting the proposal, but there had been no willingness on the part of the Like-Minded Group to address the imbalance. The European Union would therefore vote against resolution L. 16.

MAKIO MIYAGAWA (Japan), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that
the delegation of Japan believed that globalisation had a significant impact on the international environment. The language of the draft resolution did not focus much on human rights issues. Japan thought that it should therefore be dealt with in other fora and not in the Human Rights Council. Therefore, Japan voted against the draft resolution. Nevertheless, Japan appreciated the efforts made by the sponsors of the draft globalisation. Japan called for an opportunity to work closely with the sponsors of the draft resolution to reach a consensual text in the future.

Action on Resolution on Strengthening of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/4/L.15) on Strengthening of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, adopted by a vote of 35 in favour, none against, and twelve abstentions, as orally amended, the Council requests the Secretary-General to give due consideration to geographical rotation when appointing the High Commissioner, as set out in General Assembly resolution 48/141; requests the High Commissioner to provide all States with adequate financial and budgetary information on the Office by, inter alia, holding informal briefings on voluntary contributions and their allocation; reaffirms that the tasks of the High Commissioner include promoting and protecting the realization of the right to development and that the Office should devote adequate resources and staff to its follow-up, with a view to enhancing activities of the Office for its effective realization; requests the High Commissioner to enhance international cooperation for the promotion and protection of all human rights and to engage in a dialogue with all Governments; emphasizes the need for an increase in the allocation of resources from within the United Nations regular budget for advisory services and technical cooperation in the field of human rights; invites the High Commissioner to continue to provide information on cooperation with other United Nations bodies; requests the High Commissioner to take further measures to implement the recommendations of the Joint Inspection Unit with a view to improving the geographic balance of the staff composition of her Office at all levels; emphasizes in this regard the need to take into account the request made by Fifth Committee resolution 61/244 that the Secretary-General present to the General Assembly, in consultation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, proposals to address the imbalance in the geographic distribution of the staff in that Office; again invites the High Commissioner to submit information pursuant to the present resolution in her annual report to the Council; and decides to consider the implementation of the present resolution at a future session under the relevant agenda item.


The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (35): Algeria, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Ecuador, Gabon, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Uruguay and Zambia.

Abstentions (12): Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Guatemala, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Switzerland, Ukraine and United Kingdom.


LA YIFAN (China) introducing resolution L.15, said this was a traditional resolution as adopted by the Commission. There were a few new elements, such as requesting the High Commissioner to take further measures to implement the recommendations of the Joint Inspection Unit with regards to ensuring that her Office had a balanced geographical representation among staff. Two rounds of co-sponsor meetings and three open-ended consultations were held, and various comments and views had been expressed, and duly taken on board. China also made an oral revision of a preambular paragraph. All the valuable contributions and flexibilities shown by all parties during informal consultations were welcomed, and it was hoped the resolution would be adopted by consensus.

BIRGITTA MARIA SIEFKER-EBERLE (Germany), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the European Union, said the European Union attached great importance to this issue. The independence of the Office of the High Commissioner was the key to strengthening its role in the international human rights system. The United Nations General Assembly’s Fifth Committee was entrusted with administrative and financial matters. The Fifth Committee should therefore be responsible for this issue. The European Union welcomed the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ offer to hold more frequent interactions with States on the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights if States so wish. Discussions had been productive, and carried out on a spirit of cooperation, but the text went beyond the balance of compromise reached in consultative and transparent dialogue on the text that had been discussed. It was hoped that consultations would continue so as to be able to reach agreement on this issue, but the European Union members of the Council would abstain

NADIA STUENER (Canada), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that this resolution had been a subject of ongoing consultations. Canada thanked the many sponsors. Canada regretted that despite sincere efforts, there had been substantive interaction and procedural obstacles. Canada was looking forward to the briefings by the High Commissioner. It considered such matters to being under the responsibility of the Fifth Committee. For many reasons, Canada would abstain from this resolution.

MOHAMMED LOULICHKI (Morocco), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said Morocco had said it would join in the consensus. The amendment which had been forwarded at a late time raised questions for Morocco, which wished for clarifications on these issues. It would seem that at the second session a presentation was already made by the Joint Inspection Unit, and Morocco wished to know what the reaction had been to what had been said. When the amendment was presented at the last minute, there was a movement in the room. There should be a minimum amount of time given to delegations in order to examine amendments. This was an unacceptable procedure, and time should be given to examine the issue.

MAKIO MIYAGAWA (Japan), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote , said Japan agreed with the idea of strengthening the Office, but there were some comments on resources (paragraph 9): resources had already been allocated to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, so it should have read “continue to”. In paragraph 17, there was a misquotation of the relevant paragraph. It was regretted that because of last minute amendments the decision was not adopted by consensus.

MOHAMMED LOULICHKI (Morocco), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that since the delegation of Morocco did not receive any explanations as to the reasons behind the amendment presented and since the amendment was up for a vote, Morocco had abstained.

Action on Resolution on Rectification of the Legal Status of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/4/L.17) on Rectification of the legal status of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to initiate a process to rectify, in accordance with international law, in particular the law of international treaties, the legal status of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, with the aim of placing the Committee on a par with all other treaty monitoring bodies; to request, in the above context, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to present a report outlining views, proposals and recommendations on this issue to the last session of the Human Rights Council in 2007 in order to assist in the achievement of the above aim; to request the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to seek the views of States and those of all other stakeholders on this issue, and to prepare a report containing these views, as well as an input from the Office of Legal Affairs in this regard, for submission to the last session of the Human Rights Council in 2007; to convene at the same session, in relation to the above process and its objectives, an interactive dialogue highlighting the importance of the principles of universality and indivisibility and the primacy of equal treatment of all human rights, with a view to deciding on the future direction of this process.

PITSO MONTWEDI (South Africa), introducing resolution L.17, said in this resolution, the Council would embark on a process that would lead to the rectification of the status of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, placing it on a par with all the other treaty monitoring bodies. The co-sponsors had sought the views of the Committee itself. The High Commissioner was requested within to seek the views of States and other bodies, and to present a report to the Council at a future session. This process was seen as totally different from the initiatives of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights with regards to treaty body reform. Several delegations had legitimately asked if there was a need to fix something that wasn’t broken and was working well.

The effectiveness of the Committee and its geographical representation counted for its unique character, and this was not in question. It was nevertheless vital to achieve parity between this Committee and all other treaty-monitoring bodies. This was an initiative that was complementary to the elaboration of an Additional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The Council would, upon receiving the reports, hold an interactive dialogue, with the aim of elaborating future plans for the rectification of the status of the Committee. L. 17 should be adopted without a vote.

Action on Resolution on Follow-Up to Decision on Situation of Human Rights in Darfur

In a resolution (A/HRC/4/L.7/Rev.2) entitled Follow-up to the decision of 13 December 2006 adopted by the Human Rights Council at its fourth special session entitled “Situation of human rights in Darfur” (S-4/101), adopted without a vote, the Council takes note with regret that the high-level mission could not visit Darfur; takes note of the report of the high-level mission; expresses its deep concern regarding the seriousness of the ongoing violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Darfur; calls upon all parties to the conflict in Darfur to put an end to all acts of violence against civilians; calls upon the signatories of the Darfur Peace Agreement to comply with their obligations under the agreement; decides to convene a group to be presided over by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, composed of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for children and armed conflict, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders, the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, the Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights of internally displaced persons, the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture and the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, to work with the Government of the Sudan and the appropriate human rights mechanisms of the African Union to ensure the effective follow-up to and to foster the implementation of resolutions and recommendations on Darfur, to safeguard their consistency and to contribute to monitoring the human rights situation on the ground. The resolution calls upon the Government of Sudan to fully cooperate with the group; requests the Group to report to the Council at its fifth session; and the Council will decide at its fifth session on any follow-up that might be required.

MICHAEL STEINER (Germany), introducing the draft resolution L.7 Rev.2 on behalf of the European Union, said the Human Rights Council should now take an important decision: important for the credibility of the Council and even more so for the people of Darfur. The most essential task in Darfur was to focus on tangible efforts on the ground. By adopting the resolution, the Council would place high responsibility on the Special Procedures designated in the operative paragraph. Under the leadership of the Rapporteur, the group would concentrate on implementation of the wealth of already existing human rights recommendations on Darfur. The European Union appealed to the High Commissioner to give her Office’s best support to the new group. Primary responsibility of human rights lay with governments. Therefore the draft requested the Government of Sudan to fully cooperate with the group. The draft was the result of intensive and fruitful cooperation between the African Union and the European Union. All members of the Council needed to help to bring about the needed results. The dreadful situation in the ground was clear, as had become clear during discussion on the High Level Mission last week. The adoption of the draft would prove that the Human Rights Council did not close its eyes to the suffering of the people of Darfur. This was not a political manoeuvre. It was solely a human rights issue.

IDRISS JAZAIRY (Algeria) speaking in a general comment on behalf of the African Group, said that all were united in expressing concern of the seriousness of the human rights situation prevailing in Darfur and deeply caring about the victims of the crisis. In a joint communiqué it was stated that both parties recognized that significant progress had been made since the signing of the joined communiqué in 2004. Algeria wanted the Council to help in addressing the humanitarian crisis through dialogue and cooperation. Sudan had delivered by reaching agreement on the compromise text. It had responded to the call that this was a dynamic and not a stagnant consensus. As a compromise text, the draft decision did not satisfy everyone. But what was important was that it helped the people on the ground. The needs of Sudan had to be addressed. Implementation strategy together with consistency and workability checks would be worked out by a group of thematic mandate holders chaired by the Special Rapporteur for Sudan in close consultation with the Chairman of the Darfur Dialogue and Consultations body, an African Union internationally recruited official with an in-depth knowledge of the situation on the ground.

Algeria wished to thank the African Group members and the African Union representative, which provided its negotiation troika with extraordinary support. Algeria also thanked the Arab Group, which had been supportive. Tribute was paid to the bridge-building abilities of Ambassador Steiner of Germany and to the European Union, which had engaged with Algeria in a spirit of dialogue and openness. Algeria also wished to express its huge appreciation to the Ambassador of Sudan who had once again demonstrated understanding, cooperation, flexibility and goodwill throughout this difficult process. Sudan had supported the special session on Darfur. The consensus that was achieved should benefit the victims in Darfur. Algeria hoped that this Council, by practicing the values that it preached to the world, may become the conscience of the world rather than a battleground in the aggressive pursuit of national interest.

IBRAHIM MARGANI I. MOHAMED KHEIR (Sudan), speaking as a concerned country, said the Government of Sudan was showing its cooperation with the Council. It had supported the special session and the resulting decision, and had welcomed the high-level mission, offering visas, except for one member of the mission. Unfortunately, the head of the mission refused the request to delay her trip by 48 hours, and led the mission to a place which was not covered by the mandate. It was unfortunate that the cooperation of the delegation had not been appreciated, and instead, appreciation had been given to those who had refused to cooperate, showing double standards. Sudan would show itself as a country that was engaged in a constructive dialogue in a spirit of cooperation. Those who had jointed the consensus were appreciated, as this was the true spirit of the Council. The African Group was thanked for its support and solidarity, as were all friendly countries in other regional groups. The Government of Sudan was committed to human rights and its values, which were embodied in its Constitution, and incorporated in the Peace Agreement of Southern Sudan, and were being fulfilled on the ground. It was unfortunate that some of the Ambassadors in the hall who had visited Sudan and had reported the truth about what they saw and the improvements on the ground were subjected to vilification by some parts of the media.

JUAN ANTONIO FERNANDEZ PALACIOS (Cuba), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the situation in Darfur was complex and delicate, rooted in the colonial past and centuries of poverty and exploitation. A way had been defined to encourage cooperation with the Government of Sudan. This should continue to be the aim. It had been said that different avenues should be found. A development and cooperation strategy in the long term was necessary. Hence the proposal that the Special Rapporteur on the right to food should be part of the group set up by L. 7 Rev.2. It was regrettable this proposal was not heard. Efforts should now be focussed on strengthening the capacity of the Human Rights Council to effectively act to involve all parties in the implementation of the mandate. This was the key to success and the only way to banish the “naming and shaming” that discredited the old Commission.

SHEN YONGXIANG (China), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said China was deeply concerned about the human rights situation in Darfur, Sudan and the gross human rights violations in the area. China supported the efforts of the Human Rights Council to take measures for a dialogue to improve the human rights situation. Therefore, China had supported the special session on Darfur and the establishment of the high-level mission. China therefore joined in the consensus on L-7. But China pointed out that resolution L-7 had defects. Due to various reasons, the composition of the high-level mission was not complete. Only three of the five members went to Chad and these members did not visit Darfur in person.

Many pointed out the problems with the mission and the legitimacy of the mission and the Council did not consider or adopt the report, he said. China wanted to point out firstly, that the human rights institutions of United Nations mechanisms did not include the high-level mission. China wanted to call on the Government of Sudan to cooperate with the Council and to make efforts to improve the human rights situation to realize peace and stability in the area. China wanted its statement to be recorded.

VALERY LOSHCHININ (Russian Federation), in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said the Russian Federation was satisfied that the African Group and the European Union had arrived at an acceptable text of the resolution with regards to follow-up to the results of the Special Session on Darfur. The effective work of the Ambassadors of Algeria and Germany were noted with satisfaction, as was the participation of the Ambassador of Sudan, and it was hoped the resolution would be implemented in close cooperation with the Government of Sudan.

The Russian Federation had joined the consensus, but wished to draw attention to a number of the provisions in the resolution. Russia’s position on the high-level mission remained unchanged, bearing in mind the contradictory elements that accompanied the mission and its work at all stages. The status of the report of the mission remained open to question. There was a Special Rapporteur on the Sudan whose mandate included serious human rights issues in that country, and it was through the strengthening of this mechanism, and not through a group of Special Procedures that the Council should develop its cooperation with the Government of Sudan. The creation of this Group should not be seen as a precedent in the work of the Council. It was hoped that the adoption of the resolution would foster the mobilisation of specific and effective help to Sudan.

ICHIRO FUJISAKI (Japan), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said Japan was happy to adopt this resolution by consensus.

BLAISE GODET (Switzerland), speaking in a general comment, said Switzerland wished to express its satisfaction that this important resolution was adopted by consensus. The adoption of the text today on a consensus basis showed the culture of consensus that existed. It was vital that the effective implementation of the resolution took place now. The mandate had been conferred to the entire international community, which demonstrated its unanimous decision based on the difficult situation in Darfur. Switzerland called upon Sudan to ensure its full cooperation with the Council.

DONG-HEE CHANG (Republic of Korea), speaking in a general comment, said the Republic of Korea sincerely welcomed the adoption by consensus of the resolution, and the spirit of cooperation in the Council. The efforts of all concerned delegations were appreciated. The progress made here today was not only a positive step for the people of Darfur, but an important one in the short history of the Council. Two weeks ago, the Council was buried in technical controversy - and today it had taken a positive step. However, this was only the second step, and there was a long and winding road ahead. The Council should not lose sight of the goal, which was to improve the lives of the people of Darfur. For the Council and the international community to succeed, cooperation among all the parties concerned was indispensable. The Government of Sudan was encouraged to cooperate with the Group in order to ensure the fulfilment of the resolution.

JEAN-MAURICE RIPERT (France), speaking in a general comment, associated France with the statement made by Germany on behalf of the European Union, and saluted the consensus adoption of resolution L. 7. The resolution allowed the Human Rights Council to ensure effective implementation of all related resolutions on the situation in Darfur. The Human Rights Council was based on instruments that had demonstrated their usefulness. The indispensable role of human rights in the field was to be emphasized. It was important to allow an international force based on the three-phase approach of the Secretary-General. The authorities of Sudan should cooperate with international justice to put an end to the most grave violations of human rights in Darfur. The spirit of dialogue and cooperation should continue.

Action on Resolution on Combating Defamation of Religions

In a resolution (A/HRC/4/L.12) on Combating defamation of religions, adopted by a vote of 24 in favour, 14 against, and nine abstentions, as orally amended, the Council expresses deep concern at attempts to identify Islam with terrorism, violence and human rights violations; notes with deep concern the intensification of the campaign of defamation of religions, and the ethnic and religious profiling of Muslim minorities, in the aftermath of the tragic events of 11 September 2001; urges States to take resolute action to prohibit the dissemination including through political institutions and organizations of racist and xenophobic ideas and material aimed at any religion or its followers that constitute incitement to racial and religious hatred, hostility or violence; also urges States to provide adequate protection against acts of hatred, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from defamation of religions, to take all possible measures to promote tolerance and respect for all religions and their value systems and to complement legal systems with intellectual and moral strategies to combat religious hatred and intolerance; further urges all States to ensure that all public officials, including members of law enforcement bodies, the military, civil servants and educators, in the course of their official duties, respect different religions and beliefs and do not discriminate against persons on the grounds of their religion or belief, and that any necessary and appropriate education or training is provided; invites the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance to regularly report on all manifestations of defamation of religions and in particular on the serious implications of Islamophobia on the enjoyment of all rights; and requests the High Commissioner for Human Rights to report to the Human Rights Council on the implementation of this resolution at its sixth session.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (24): Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Gabon, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan, Philippines, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Tunisia.

Against (14): Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Guatemala, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Switzerland, Ukraine and United Kingdom.

Abstentions (9): Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Ghana, India, Nigeria, Peru, Uruguay and Zambia.


TEHMINA JANJUA (Pakistan) presenting the resolution L-12 on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said that the text was not new to anyone. Pakistan had held open handed consultations. The draft resolution addressed the defamation of foreign religions and particularly the one of Islam. Today, it was Islam that was being targeted. There was a clear recognition of the existence of the phenomenon. The manifestations of Islamophobia had extensively been document by three Special Rapporteurs. In a post 9/11 world, Muslims had suffered from discrimination. There were numerous instances reflecting the defamation of Islam, not only in law and judicial practices but also through Islamophobia. Therefore, the draft resolution was presented. The profiling of Muslims constituted racism and was a human rights violation. The resolution would compel the international community to address the phenomenon of the defamation of religions and the consequence it had on individuals. The OIC hoped that the draft would be adopted by consensus. Oral amendments were also made to the text.

BIRGITTA MARIA SIEFKER-EBERLE (Germany), speaking on behalf of the European Union in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the European Union strongly believed in freedom of religion, expression and belief, and believed an ongoing dialogue was the best way forward, and regretted that such a dialogue had not taken place in the Council. There were increasing risks of stereotyping Muslims after the events of September 11, but the European Union was strongly committed to fighting this phenomenon. All forms of religious intolerance should be fought as discrimination based on religion and belief was not limited to adherents to Islam, it was equally relevant with regards to anti-Semitism, Christianophobia, and such as Candomblé and other beliefs. Followers of all religions were victims of human rights violations.

It was problematic to reconcile defamation with discrimination, as the two were of a different nature. It should be stressed that human rights law, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights particularly forbade discrimination due to belief. The main focus should remain the rights and freedoms of individuals, and such an approach would be better for this resolution. International human rights law protected individuals in the exercise of their freedom of religion and belief, and not the religion itself. Against this backdrop, the European Union had supported round tables and other discussions on religion in the context of the Council. For all these reasons, the European Union called for a vote on the resolution, and would vote against it.

CARLOS RAMIRO MARTINEZ ALVARADO (Guatemala), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said Guatemala condemned defamation of religions and any practice incompatible with the preservation of fundamental rights and freedoms. This draft resolution was unbalanced and gave importance to one single religion over all others. It was a selective document that did not take account of the situation of discrimination against other religions around the world. The Guatemalan delegation would vote against this draft resolution and any other that was not inclusive in its content.

MUNU MAHAWAR (India), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that India firmly opposed the defamation or negative stereotyping of any religion. In regard to the resolution L-12, the resolution excessively focused on one religion. But all religions were facing the problem of defamation in one form or another. The resolution did not envisage any role for the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression. It inappropriately sought to address this complex issue as a manifestation of racism. India would abstain during voting on this resolution.

PAUL MEYER (Canada), in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said religious intolerance was a matter of concern for all in the world, including all people. Religious tolerance was part of Canada’s efforts to increase harmony, both at home and abroad. Canada respected diverging views and ideas, and hoped in the future the Council could take a consensus view on this approach, based on dialogue, cooperation, frank dialogue and best practice sharing, and looked forward to achieving this goal. Canada consistently worked to promote religious tolerance, and called on all States to do so.

Canada was also a strong promoter of the freedom of expression, and was concerned that this was not included in the text. There was also concern that the protection of the religions themselves, rather than the protection of the adherents to the resolution, was the focus of the resolution. Canada was also concerned that one religion only appeared to be the focus of the resolution. A lack of implementation of existing obligations was the single most pressing obstacle to tackling religious discrimination. For these reasons and others, Canada would vote against the resolution.

SERGIO ABREU E LIMA FLORENCIO (Brazil), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said Brazil abstained because operative paragraph 10 of L. 12 contained elements found in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Article 19 paragraph 3 of the Covenant stated that exercise of freedom of religion may be subject to certain restrictions but these should be provided by law and necessary for the respect of the rights of others, for public order, or national security. The same paragraph 10 mentioned respect of religions and beliefs in connection with freedom of expression. Amendments did not address the main concerns related to operative paragraph 10 of draft L. 12.

JESUS ENRIQUE GARCIA (Philippines) speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that in supporting L-12, the resolution emphasized that everyone had the right to freedom of religion. The Philippines viewed the inter-religious dialogue as a way of combating the defamation of religions.

MURIEL BERSET KOHEN (Switzerland), in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said freedom of religion was a fundamental right for human beings, and could not be restricted or suspended, except under criteria of international law. Switzerland was aware of problems encountered by Muslims after September 11, and considered that defamation and discrimination based on religious reasons were intolerable in all cases.

Switzerland had however voted against, as it would have preferred that the resolution be against discrimination based on religion, and not defamation per se. Its unclear wording could lead to restrictions on the freedom of expression. There should also have been a clear reference to the Special Rapporteur on the freedom of religion and belief. Mutual understanding should be strengthened through education so as to avoid stereotypes, and discrimination based on religion should be fought so as to promote and protect harmonious communities.

ICHIRO FUJISAKI (Japan), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said Japan regretted that it had to vote against the resolution. Japan was against the defamation of religion. All religions, including Islam, should be fully respected and not subject to negative labelling. Japan understood the underlying sentiment behind L. 12, but the draft only focused on one religion. Japan’s suggestions for amendments to cover other religions were not taken on board, and it regrettably had to vote against the resolution.

ALBERTO J. DUMONT (Argentina), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that Argentina had always sought to bring positions together rather than extend division between communities. The country would have liked to see reflected in the resolution historical positions and shared the view expressed by other delegations on paragraph 10 in the resolution. Argentina also advanced some proposals to strike a balance in the text. Although an effort had been made, it was not sufficient to allow Argentina to vote in favour. Therefore, the country abstained.

CARLOS ALBERTO CHOCANO BURGA (Peru), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said Peru condemned and opposed discrimination based on religious belief. Religion was not incompatible with freedom of expression - both were fundamental rights, and the two should not have been set against each other in the resolution. It would also have been better if, rather than singling out one religion, there had been protection of all religions and beliefs, and this was why Peru had abstained.

DONG-HEE CHANG (Republic of Korea), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said the Republic of Korea shared concerns about intolerance and discrimination on the basis of religious belief. Constructive dialogue between cultures, education and respect for fundamental human rights norms were necessary to combat this, but other human rights norms were equally important. This draft contained an element that might impact on other human rights. There was a need to support efforts to fight against intolerance of all religions. For this reason, the delegation voted against.

TEHMINA JANJUA (Pakistan), speaking in a general comment on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said that they sincerely wanted to take the opportunity to thank all those who voted in favour of the resolution. There was a license apparently for anyone to attack Islam and Muslims. The Organization of the Islamic Conference hoped that the Human Rights Council would look at the resolution again to see how best the concerns of the OIC in this matter could be addressed.

Action on Resolution on Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief

In a resolution (A/HRC/4/L.13) on Elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief, adopted without a vote, as orally amended, the Council decides to continue substantive consideration of this matter at its sixth session; and requests the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief to report on this issue to the Human Rights Council at its sixth session.

BIRGITTA MARIA SIEFKER-EBERLE (Germany), speaking on behalf of the European Union and introducing resolution L.13, said the European Union firmly believed in the principles of tolerance, freedom of thought, and belief, and religious intolerance was a matter of great concern. Discrimination based on belief was a violation of international human rights law and conventions. Over the past year, both in the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly, various Special Procedures had provided ample evidence that discrimination based on religious or belief was not confined to one religion, nor was it confined to one part of the world. Therefore all countries had a duty to combat this phenomenon.

The European Union had been considering tabling a resolution on religious intolerance since the first session, as the issue was of such importance that the Council could not ignore it. The programme of work of the session of the Council was again overburdened, and it was difficult to add more to the drafts already pending. However, the European Union had decided to table a procedural resolution on the topic. In the operative part, it indicated that the concept should be part of the Council’s work. The speaker also made oral amendments to the text, and hoped it would be adopted by consensus.

RODOLFO REYES RODRIGUEZ (Cuba), speaking in a general comment, said this draft resolution gave rise to serious doubts among the delegation. While it had been subject to extensive consultations and comments had been taken on board, the draft represented a challenge and ignored the process of institution building in the Council. All mandates were being reviewed and nobody could say whether this mandate or some of its functions would continue. Already the European Union was saying the Rapporteur would submit a report to the sixth session. This was related to mandate review issues. In terms of programme, it had not been decided how the functioning of these mandates would be decided or discussed. Cuba respected the efforts made in working on this resolution, and would not block it, but wanted to warn that it may be prejudging a decision of the Council at a later date.

CARLOS RAMIRO MARTINEZ ALVARADO (Guatemala), speaking in a general comment, said that in this room, resolutions were being voted on that were a priority to the Council. All were acting in good faith and were aware of the institution building process on the way. Guatemala believed that all should commit to the institution building process.

MUNU MAHAWAR (India), speaking in a general comment, said it was the view of India that the decisions adopted in the form of this resolution and other resolutions would have no impact on the rationalisation of mandates.


Comments on Other Issues

CHITSAKA CHIPAZIWA (Zimbabwe), speaking ironically, said Zimbabwe wanted to thank everyone for the experience yesterday and the discussion during the “related debate”. During the apartheid years, countries suffered to support the liberation movements there. Germany and other western countries never called for economic sanctions against South Africans when they were fighting apartheid. History could be shockingly instructive if inconvenient. The Summit held in Tanzania had declared illegal the economic sanctions levelled by the European Union against Zimbabwe.

YURI BOYCHENKO (Russian Federation) said the decisions and resolutions adopted by the Council at this session concerning the work of Special Procedures should not have consequences on the work of the Special Rapporteurs. Also draft resolutions were not translated and distributed in a timely manner, and this violated the work of the Human Rights Council.

LA YIFAN (China) said with regards to a concern raised by a number of delegations this morning, it was understood that any resolutions or decisions adopted by the Council, especially concerning the Special Procedures, would not have any effect on the current process of evaluation and review of all the human rights Special Procedures.

SERGIO ABREU E LIMA FLORENCIO (Brazil) said the death penalty was a gross violation of human rights and the right to life. Brazil associated itself with the commitment expressed by others against the death penalty.
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