UNITED NATIONS

Press Release



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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADOPTS SIX
RESOLUTIONS AND ONE DECISION
ON DISCRIMINATION AGAINST
WOMEN AND FREEDOM OF
EXPRESSION, AMONG
OTHERS

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Human Rights Council
MORNING
2 October 2009

Defers Action on Resolution Concerning Report of Fact-Finding Mission on Gaza Conflict to March Session


The Human Rights Council this morning adopted six resolutions and one decision on a wide variety of subjects, including on freedom of opinion and expression; elimination of discrimination against women; the adverse effects of the movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights; the effects of foreign debt and other related international and financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights; draft guiding principles on extreme poverty and human rights; Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners in Myanmar; and promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms through a better understanding of traditional values of humankind in conformity with international human rights law.

At the request of the sponsors, the Council deferred action on the draft resolution on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, which deals among other things with the report of the Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, to its March session.

Under its agenda item on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development, the Council adopted four resolutions and one decision. On the freedom of opinion and expression, the Council expressed its concern that incidents of racial and religious intolerance, discrimination and related violence, as well as of negative racial and religious stereotyping, continued to rise around the world; and called on all parties to armed conflict to respect international humanitarian law.

Concerning the elimination of discrimination against women, the Council called upon States to fulfill their international obligations and commitments to revoke any remaining laws that discriminate on the basis of sex and remove gender bias in the administration of justice, taking into account that those laws violate their human right to be protected against discrimination. It called on States to ensure full representation and full equal participation of women in political, social and economic decision-making as an essential condition for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as a critical factor in the eradication of poverty.

On the adverse effects of the movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights, the Council strongly condemned the movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes, which had a negative impact on the enjoyment of human rights, and decided to hold a panel discussion on the matter at its thirteenth session.

With regard to the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights, the Council requested the Office of the High Commissioner to allocate sufficient budgetary resources for the implementation of the activities envisaged in resolution 11/5, including the organization and holding of regional stakeholder consultations on the draft general guidelines on foreign debt and human rights during the present term of the mandate holder.

Concerning the draft guiding principles on extreme poverty and human rights, the Council invited the independent expert on the question of human rights and extreme poverty to submit a progress report presenting her recommendations on how to improve the draft guiding principles on extreme poverty and human rights to the Council no later than its fifteenth session, to allow the Council to take a decision on the way forward with a view to a possible adoption of guiding principles on the rights of persons living in extreme poverty by 2012.

Under its agenda item on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention, concerning a resolution on Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners in Myanmar, the Council expressed grave concern at the recent conviction and sentencing of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and called for her immediate and unconditional release; and called upon the Government of Myanmar to release all political prisoners, immediately and unconditionally, enabling them to participate fully in the 2010 elections.

Under its agenda item on follow-up and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, the Council requested the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to convene, in 2010, a workshop for an exchange of views on how a better understanding of traditional values of humankind underpinning international human rights norms and standards can contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Speaking in introduction of resolutions were Mexico, Cte d’Ivoire, Cuba, France, Sweden on behalf of the European Union, Pakistan and Russia.

Speaking in general comments were South Africa, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Slovenia, United States, Norway, France on behalf of the European Union, Brazil, China, Cuba, Philippines, Russia, Indonesia, Bolivia, Norway,

Speaking in explanations of vote before the vote were France on behalf of the European Union, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Cuba, Chile, India, Senegal, Mexico, Japan, United States, Argentina, Indonesia, and the Republic of Korea. Uruguay also spoke in a general comment.

Speaking in explanations of vote after the vote were Japan, Nigeria and Ukraine. Speaking as a concerned country was Myanmar.


The Council will meet at 3 p.m. this afternoon to continue to take action on draft decisions and resolutions before concluding its twelfth regular session.


General Statement

PABLO A. TAPIE (Uruguay) said before continuing with resolutions, Uruguay wished to express absolute solidarity with the people of the Philippines and Indonesia for the calamities that had struck them. These people should have the backing and solidarity of the Human Rights Council. Uruguay wished to salute, as it wished that sport was a bridge for peace, the cities that were candidates for hosting the Olympic Games, which would be chosen today. Uruguay also wished to congratulate Egypt for the brilliant way in which the Championship had been organised, showing how important sport was as a bridge between civilisations.

Action on Resolutions Under the Agenda Item on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights

In a resolution on Freedom of opinion and expression (A/HRC/12/L.14/Rev.1), adopted without a vote, the Human Rights Council reaffirms the rights contained in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; expresses its concern that incidents of racial and religious intolerance, discrimination and related violence, as well as of negative racial and religious stereotyping continue to rise around the world; calls on all parties to armed conflict to respect international humanitarian law; recognizes the moral and social responsibilities of the media and the importance that the media’s own elaboration of voluntary codes of conduct can play; invites the Special Rapporteur on the protection and promotion of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, to carry out his activities in accordance with its resolution 7/36 and all relevant Council resolutions and decisions; requests the Secretary-General to provide the assistance necessary to the Special Rapporteur to fulfil his mandate effectively; requests the Special Rapporteur to submit an annual report to the Council and the General Assembly on the activities relating to his mandate; and decides to continue its consideration of the issue of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in accordance with its programme of work.

The resolution was introduced by Egypt and the United States on Thursday afternoon and a summary of the introduction can be found in press release HRC/09/124 of 1 October 2009.

PITSO MONTWEDI (South Africa), in a general comment, said that South Africa wished to thank the President of the Council for having given the South African delegation the opportunity to get final instructions from their capital. The issue of freedom of opinion and expression had always been highly politicized in the deliberations of this Council. South Africa for its part had always ensured that its engagement was informed by current provisions of international human rights law. As a country, South Africa respected the principles and the Charter of the United Nations, and all its legislative measures were compatible with international human rights law. As a country, South Africa had ensured that all requisite declarations were consistent with all pertinent human rights treaties. South Africa was therefore concerned at deliberate efforts to undermine international human rights law. Regrettably, the text of L. 14/Rev.1 represented a major setback for South Africa, which would have wished to see a reaffirmation of the provisions of general recommendation number 15, which provided for the prohibition by law of any dissemination of racial discrimination. South Africa was also concerned about the lack of clarity in operative paragraph 4; South Africa’s preference was not for a confusing language as had been used in this paragraph.

JEAN-BAPTISTE MATTEI (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the European Union thanked the main sponsors for bringing forward this important issue at this session. The freedom of opinion and expression was a fundamental human right that every member of the Council had to uphold, promote and protect. The cornerstones of the European Union’s value systems were their beliefs in tolerance, non-discrimination, freedom of expression, freedom of thought, and freedom of religion or belief. They demanded that all people of the world were able to enjoy their right to hold opinions without interference. Restrictions on the right to freedom of expression should be no more extensive than permitted by human rights law. Respect for the freedom of expression and opinion was vital for strengthening democracy, combating racism, racial discrimination and related intolerance. Optional Paragraph four of the current resolution constituted a final compromise for the European Union since they firmly believed that debate on how to deal with these issues had to be grounded in international human rights law, which protected individuals in the exercise of their freedom of religion or belief. Human rights laws did not and should not protect belief systems. Hence, the language on stereotyping only applied to stereotyping of individuals and not of ideologies, religions or abstract values. The European Union rejected and would continue to reject the concept of defamation of religions and also rejected the misuse of religions or belief themselves for incitement of hatred. Further, the notion of a moral and social responsibility of the media as expressed in the resolution went well behind the “special duties and responsibilities”. The European Union could not subscribe to this concept in such general terms. States should not seek to interfere with the work of journalists and had to enable editorial independence of the media.

ZAMIR AKRAM (Pakistan) speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the Organization of the Islamic Conference attached great importance to the exercise of freedom of belief and expression, but the exercise of this right carried with it duties and responsibilities, including the need to fight against hate speech. The joint Egyptian/United States initiative sought to address contemporary issues in the exercise of this right. Building on the 2005 text, the current text included issues of incitement to racial or religious hatred, negative stereotyping, and the need to combat and address the abuse of the right under international human rights law. Negative stereotyping or defamation of religions was a modern expression of religious hatred and xenophobia. This spread not only to individuals but to religions and belief systems, leading to violence, discrimination and hatred, negatively affecting human rights. The Organization of the Islamic Conference wished to put on record, that as per its understanding, the references to obligations under international human rights law came under the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and other particular bodies. The resolution should be adopted by consensus, now and in the future.

RODOLFO REYES RODRIGUEZ (Cuba), in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that freedom of opinion and expression was crucially important for Cuba. Cuba therefore commended the efforts that had been invested to establish a consensus on the adoption of this resolution. Nevertheless, Cuba would like to express its support for the views that had been expressed by South Africa. Freedom of opinion and expression could not be carried out without access to information; there were millions of illiterates, and they did not have this freedom of expression. International law was also interpreted by a group of countries in a selective way. Cuba also wished to point out that the resolution was a timid one in terms of the misbalance, which was significant. Cuba would continue to fight for a new international order for information and communication, and there would remain differences of views since Cuba would not accept the use of one single approach with respect to this right.

CARLOS PORTALES (Chile), in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that this topic was so important that it had led to a list of different views on this draft. Chile thanked the delegations of the United States and Egypt for having found a path for dialogue. It was true that this resolution did not solve all the problems. The right to freedom of opinion and expression was a basic right of all democratic societies. It was obvious that there could be a misuse of this right. However there was international law that sanctioned incitement that could lead to violence. The concept of the defamation of religion took them in an area that could lead to the actual prohibition of opinions. In the world of beliefs there were different opinions. The history of religion included many examples; each of the great religions had had divisions and schisms. The Council had to find formulas that did not broaden or impose limitations on this right. Chile would continue to work in the spirit of the approach of the United States and Egypt.

In a resolution on Elimination of discrimination against women (A/HRC/12/L.3/Rev.1) adopted without a vote as orally amended, the Council calls upon States to fulfil their international obligations and commitments to revoke any remaining laws that discriminate on the basis of sex and remove gender bias in the administration of justice, taking into account that those laws violate their human right to be protected against discrimination; calls on States to ensure full representation and full equal participation of women in political, social and economic decision-making as an essential condition for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as a critical factor in the eradication of poverty; requests the High Commissioner to prepare a thematic study on women’s equality before the law, including an assessment on how the issue is addressed throughout the United Nations human rights system, in consultation with States, relevant United Nations bodies and mechanisms and agencies, including the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the agencies within the United Nations composite entity on gender equality and empowerment of women and all other relevant stakeholders, taking into account efforts undertaken in this regard, particularly by the Commission on the Status of Women; and decides to address the thematic study at its fifteenth session and to hold a half-day discussion on the issue in order to consider taking further possible action on discrimination against women at that session.

JUAN JOSE IGNACIO GOMEZ CAMACHO (Mexico), introducing draft resolution L.3/Rev. 1, said the draft resolution picked up and stressed the commitments made by States at the Beijing Conference and stressed their importance for the full realisation of all human rights by women and their access to development in equal conditions. There had been progress over recent years, in particular among United Nations bodies such as the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Human Rights Council. Fifteen years after Beijing, the international community still had to fulfil the promise to abolish or amend laws that discriminated against women. Legal or de facto or de jure discrimination against women existed across the world, and no country was free from it, whether in terms of law or practice. Its eradication would require coordinated and cooperative efforts, allowing all women to exercise their rights and full development. All had lessons to share and to learn in this regard. This was not a problem concentrated in one particular area - inequality before the law had adverse effects on civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. The resolution requested the High Commissioner to prepare a study on the way in which the topic was being covered by the various United Nations bodies. All should participate in the discussions which would be held in the Human Rights Council next year on this topic. The resolution should be adopted without a vote.

ZAMIR AKRAM (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, in a general comment, said that the Organization of the Islamic Conference attached importance to fighting discrimination against women, and had been engaged to combating this phenomenon in all relevant forums. The Organization of the Islamic Conference also looked forward to a continuation of the constructive approach for the organization to be able to appropriately address this issue in the future. The Organization of the Islamic Conference hoped that this resolution would be adopted by consensus.

ANDREJ LOGAR (Slovenia), in a general comment, said that Slovenia warmly welcomed the introduction of this resolution and thanked the delegations for their hard work to reach a consensus. The United Nations had been a constant partner and ally of women in the setting of legal standards and in devising policy responses to ensure freedom from discrimination on the basis of sex and gender. However, legal provisions that constituted direct or indirect discrimination against women continued to exist in all regions of the world. Slovenia supported efforts to establish a special mechanism on women’s equality before the law. They were convinced that such a mechanism would help diminish gender-based inequalities in legislation and would constitute a step forward.

DOUGLAS M. GRIFFITHS (United States), in a general comment, said the resolution brought attention to the fact that 15 years after the Beijing Conference, discrimination against women still remained a fact. The Council should create a new mechanism to address this issue, and this resolution was the beginning of a process in this regard, obligating States to take appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women, revoking laws and removing gender-bias in laws. It promoted equal pay for equal work. The Council should continue to take strong action to protect and promote the rights of women.

BENTE ANGELL-HANSEN (Norway), in a general comment, said that Norway considered the initiative on the elimination of discrimination against women to be one of the most important initiatives in this session. Equality between men and women was of great importance to Norway. The international community would not get rid of this issue if the law did not provide women with legal recourse. Norway strongly supported this initiative and hoped that it would be adopted by consensus. Finally, Norway would like to thank Mexico and Columbia for the excellent way in which they had conducted these negotiations.

In a resolution on the Adverse effects of the movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights (A/HRC/12/L.4/Rev.1), adopted without a vote, the Council strongly condemns the movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes, which have a negative impact on the enjoyment of human rights; decides to hold a panel discussion on the matter at its thirteenth session, with equitable geographic and gender participation of relevant experts and representatives of civil society, with a view to inform the future work of the Special Rapporteur on the adverse effect on the full enjoyment of all human rights resulting from the movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes; and invites the above-mentioned panel: to undertake comprehensive discussion on existing problems, new trends and solutions to the national and transboundary movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes, which have a negative impact on the enjoyment of human rights, in particular in developing countries; to examine the impact of the movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes in all countries, in particular developing countries, on the enjoyment of all human rights, including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development; to discuss the current trends, good practices, challenges and possible solutions in this area with regard to human rights, and to consider possible measures to reduce and eradicate the negative impact on the enjoyment of human rights of the movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes; and requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner to provide the necessary assistance and support for the panel discussion to be held, within existing resources.

N'VADRO BAMBA (Ivory Coast), introducing draft resolution L.4, said that they thanked the Special Rapporteur on the adverse effects of the movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and waste on the enjoyment of human rights for his work and welcomed the conclusions of his report. Since its creation, this special mandate had made very important contributions and had allowed for a better understanding of the question. However the phenomenon had increased, especially in developing countries. In the draft resolution, they asked the Council to set up a panel of experts that would look at new solutions to this problem, the impact this practice had on the enjoyment of human rights and would discuss existing trends. Ivory Coast also thanked all delegations that had been involved in the consultations.

JEAN-BAPTISTE MATTEI (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union, in a general comment, said the European Union as a whole endorsed this resolution, and could go along with the text. The African Group, which had held open-ended consultations and was constructive with regards to suggestions, was thanked. The European Union attached great importance to the movement and illicit dumping of toxic waste, as well as their illicit transfer. Many African countries were concerned by this when it had negative impacts on human rights, and it was for this reason that the European Union was actively involved in the discussions, with the main concern of ensuring that the resolution could deal with the negative consequences of the transfer on human rights, and not be diverted into areas dealing with other human rights issues. The debate on the resolution should focus primarily on human rights questions, in particular on the ways that States could better meet their international obligations to meet and protect these rights. Respecting existing obligations may be strengthened in many countries, and this respect should be strengthened, rather than setting up new machinery. The text should say that it was up to States to primarily protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms. The lack of this reference was regrettable. The European Union was committed to this very complicated subject, being a party to the Basel Convention on the transfer and control of toxic wastes and their elimination, and had banned the transfer of toxic waste from Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries to non-OECD countries.

MARIA NAZARETH FARANI AZEVEDO (Brazil), in a general comment, said that Brazil was pleased to be one of the co-sponsors of resolution L. 4. The strengthening of mechanisms for the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes was important for the enjoyment of human rights, and Brazil therefore wished to thank the African Group for this timely initiative. Brazil was willing to share its experience and was confident that the current resolution would be adopted by consensus.

DOUGLAS M. GRIFFITHS (United States), in a general comment, said that the United States joined consensus in this resolution as they realised the negative impact that dumping of toxic waste could have on human rights. They however found that the term “dangerous products” in the resolution was too vague as many products could be dangerous if used in a wrong manner. The resolution should concentrate on toxic products. Further, the panel should not replicate the role of the Special Rapporteur but should facilitate its work.

In a decision on the Effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights (A/HRC/12/L.22), adopted by a vote of 31 in favour, 13 against, and two abstentions, the Council decides to: request the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to assist the independent expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights in the implementation of the activities envisaged in Council resolution 11/5; and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to allocate sufficient budgetary resources for the implementation of the activities envisaged in resolution 11/5, including the organization and holding of regional stakeholder consultations on the draft general guidelines on foreign debt and human rights during the present term of the mandate holder.


The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (31): Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, and Uruguay.

Against (13): Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and United States of America.

Abstentions (2): Mexico, and Norway.


RESFEL PINO ALVAREZ (Cuba) introducing draft resolution L.22, said the draft was clear and to the point. With its adoption, the Council would ensure that there were financial resources available for the implementation of activities suggested by the Special Rapporteur in resolution 11/5. Without any doubt, the question of the external debt and other international financial obligations was intrinsically linked to the capacity of States to protect and promote human rights, and in this context, the work of the Special Rapporteur was vital as support for analysis of the subject by the Council. All Members of the Council should vote in favour of the resolution.

JEAN-BAPTISTE MATTEI (France), in an explanation of the vote before the vote, and speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that it was not a good idea to reproduce the very good work that had been done elsewhere. The European Union endeavored to ensure that the issues relating to foreign debt would be dealt with in the appropriate fora. Resolution L. 22 should be put to vote, and the European Union would be voting against it.

In a resolution on Draft guiding principles on extreme poverty and human rights (A/HRC/12/L.30.Rev1), adopted without a vote, the Council invites the independent expert on the question of human rights and extreme poverty: to pursue further work on the draft guiding principles on extreme poverty and human rights with a view to integrate the contributions of Member States and other relevant stakeholders, as well as the results of the consultations undertaken by the Office of the High Commissioner in 2007 and 2008 and the conclusions of the seminar held in Geneva on 27 and 28 January 2009; to consult Member States further, including through relevant regional organizations, and other relevant stakeholders in the course of this process; and to submit a progress report presenting her recommendations on how to improve the draft guiding principles on extreme poverty and human rights to the Council no later than its fifteenth session, to allow the Council to take a decision on the way forward with a view to a possible adoption of guiding principles on the rights of persons living in extreme poverty by 2012.

JEAN-BAPTISTE MATTEI (France), introducing L.30 on behalf of nine countries, said that when this resolution had been postponed last June they had committed themselves to make all necessary efforts to obtain consensus. This resolution represented a tool to combat extreme poverty. It was hard to grasp what was meant under this term. Aside from the monetary component, it also included the lack of human development and social exclusion. Extreme poverty affected all countries of the world. The Independent Expert had their full support.

Action on Resolution Under Agenda Item on Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention

In a resolution on Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners in Myanmar (A/HRC/12/L.32), adopted without a vote, the Council expresses grave concern at the recent conviction and sentencing of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and calls for her immediate and unconditional release; and calls upon the Government of Myanmar: to release all political prisoners, immediately and unconditionally, enabling them to participate fully in the 2010 elections; to engage in a genuine process of open dialogue and national reconciliation with the full participation of representatives of all political parties and ethnic groups; and to create, through the above-mentioned and other national measures, the conditions for inclusive, transparent and credible democratic elections, in accordance with international standards.

The resolution was introduced by Sweden on behalf of the European Union on Thursday, 1 October and a summary of the introduction can be found in press release HRC/09/124 of 1 October.

HANS DAHLGREN (Sweden), speaking on behalf of the European Union, introducing draft resolution L.32, said the draft resolution had been introduced the day before. This was a focused resolution, dealing with the grave concern over the recent sentencing and conviction of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and calling for her immediate and unconditional release, as well as of other political prisoners in order for them to participate in democratic elections, which should be open, transparent, inclusive and credible, with the participation of all political parties and ethnic groups.

QIAN BO (China), in a general comment, said that China regretted the European Union’s persistent tabling of a draft resolution on an individual case. China expressed its concern on this matter. The individual case referred to was already in judicial processing in Myanmar, and the Human Rights Council should respect the independence of the authorities of Myanmar. China hoped that the relevant parties in Myanmar would promote national recommendations, and gradual democracy, as Myanmar would soon hold elections. The Human Rights Council should do more for the national reconciliation of Myanmar. China had decided not to join consensus on the afore-mentioned draft resolution.

RODOLFO REYES RODRIGUEZ (Cuba), speaking in a general comment, said that the first time he had looked at the text he could not believe that this was a resolution of the Human Rights Council as the text only included the term “human rights” in the name “Human Rights Council” . The text did not respect the sovereignty of States. Cuba rejected the text, which also questioned the Myanmar Government’s willingness to negotiate. The term “political prisoners” was also questioned. The use of this term should have consensus. If one could use this term, would this mean that it was possible to also use the terms “social prisoners”, “cultural prisoners” and “economic prisoners”? Cuba could not associate itself with consensus on this resolution.

ZAMIR AKRAM (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, in a general comment, said the Organization of the Islamic Conference had a well-known position on country-specific resolutions. However, it exercised restraint in cases where the countries concerned were taken on board. The contents of the resolution were contrary to this position, and also contrary to the mandate of the Human Rights Council, which had no mandate to pronounce on the decisions of the judiciary of sovereign States, and should avoid double standards. This text took the Council in a wrong direction, and should not become a precedent. The Organization of the Islamic Conference had strong reservations on procedural grounds, which should not become a precedent.

DENIS Y. LEPATAN (Philippines), in a general comment, said that the Philippines had great difficulties with endorsing country-specific resolutions. In the case of Myanmar, the frequency of such resolutions was also a matter of concern. This having been said, the Philippines reiterated all of its previous statements on the need to release Aung San Suu Kyi. As a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Philippines would also continue its constructive dialogue with Myanmar. The Philippines also looked forward to the national elections in Myanmar that were scheduled for 2010, and encouraged reforms that would enable better promotion and protection of human rights in Myanmar.

YURY BOICHENKO (Russian Federation), in a general comment, said that, in order to ensure that States met their obligations in the field of human rights, one had to make sure that this happened in a depoliticized atmosphere. The Universal Periodic Review had been established for this purpose. If the Council adopted resolutions on Myanmar at each and every session, this would not contribute to inter-State dialogue and could have a negative impact on the work of the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar. Further, the draft talked about individual instances of human rights violations and not general ones. The mandate of the Human Rights Council, entrusted to it by the General Assembly, mentioned that the Council had to look at general situations that required its attention.

DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia), in a general comment, said Indonesia was against country-specific resolutions as they seldom brought the concerned country to dialogue with the Human Rights Council, with no or adverse effects on the ground. The efforts of the Secretary-General, the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, and the Special Envoy were supported. The positive development represented by the release of some political prisoners was noted, but more should be released, in order to participate in the election, furthering national reconciliation and dialogue, facilitating the democraticisation process in the country, and the Government should continue reform and national reconciliation. Myanmar should be at peace, prosperous, and well-respected in the international community, and therefore Indonesia stood ready to cooperate with the Government of Myanmar in this regard.

KYAW MYO HTUT (Myanmar), speaking as a concerned country, said that he would like to respond to the draft resolution L. 32. This highly intrusive and politically motivated draft resolution was the second resolution on Myanmar that the European Union had submitted to the Council this year. It was an awkward and a peculiar draft resolution since the resolution was more than a country-specific one, focusing on a person or group of persons in Myanmar. Furthermore, it was tabled at a time when there was no report submitted by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar to the Council. Myanmar believed that the present situation of human rights in Myanmar did not warrant any resolution to be considered at the Council. In Myanmar’s view, the draft resolution amounted to infringement on an internal matter which fell within the domestic jurisdiction of the country. The European Union and their friends should respect and value the judiciary and legislative systems of sovereign States and adopt a balanced and constructive approach. Myanmar would also like to reiterate to the Council that there were neither political prisoners nor prisoners of conscience in Myanmar. The delegation of Myanmar rejected the draft resolution in its entirety and dissociated itself from it.

GOPINATHAN ACHAMKULANGARE (India), in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the Government of Myanmar was aware of India’s position with regard to Myanmar’s process of national reconciliation and democratic transition. India had also taken note of the Secretary-General’s visit to Myanmar, as well as the steps taken thus far by the Government. The international community should engage constructively with the Government of Myanmar, on issues such as the release of prisoners. India had always opposed any sanctions against Myanmar and had decided to dissociate themselves from this resolution but indicated that they would continue to work together with like-minded countries on this issue.

KENICHI SUGANUMA (Japan), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote at the end of the consideration of resolutions under this agenda item, said with regard to the resolution just adopted, L.32, the Government of Japan wished to express its appreciation for the efforts made by the European Union towards the adoption of the resolution by consensus. On the situation in Myanmar, Japan was deeply disappointed about the recent Court decision on Aung San Suu Kyi, and regretted the situation in which she was placed. Japan also welcomed the release of over 100 political prisoners as a positive step, and hoped that Myanmar would continue with the releases, and promote the democraticisation process in an all-inclusive manner. Japan would spare no efforts to help the Government of Myanmar in this regard. Taking all these elements into consideration, Japan decided to join consensus on this matter.



Action on Resolution Under Agenda Item on the Human Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories

The resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem (A/HRC/12/L.12), was deferred to the March session of the Council.

ZAMIR AKRAM (Pakistan), speaking about draft resolution L. 12 on the Situation of Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem (A/HRC/12/L.12), said that, taking into consideration the high importance attached to this resolution by the international community as a whole, and in order to give more time for a broad based and comprehensive consideration of the International Fact Finding Mission’s report, the co-sponsors namely, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the African Group, the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, requested that the consideration of the draft resolution be deferred to the thirteenth session of the Human Rights Council.

Action on Resolution Under Agenda Item on Follow-up and Implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action

In a resolution on Promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms through
a better understanding of traditional values of humankind (A/HRC/12/L.13/Rev.1), adopted by a vote of 26 in favour, 15 against, and six abstentions as orally amended, the Council requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to convene, in 2010, a workshop for an exchange of views on how a better understanding of traditional values of humankind underpinning international human rights norms and standards can contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, with the participation of representatives from all interested States, regional organizations, national human rights institutions and civil society, as well as experts selected with due consideration given to the appropriate representation of different civilizations and legal systems; and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to present to the Council a summary of the discussions held at the workshop in conformity with the programme of work of the Council.


The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (26): Angola, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, and Zambia.

Against (15): Belgium, Chile, France, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Mauritius, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and United States of America.

Abstentions (6): Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Ghana, Ukraine, and Uruguay.


VALERY LOSHCHININ (Russian Federation), introducing draft resolution L.13, said that the preparation of the draft resolution had taken some time. They had held in-depth consultations since the Council’s eleventh session. The resolution proposed that a seminar be held to discuss ways and means to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms through a better understanding of traditional values of humankind in conformity with international human rights law. With that they meant the values that underpinned the values of human rights. A seminar on this issue would be of interest to all delegations.

MAYSA URENA MENACHO (Plurinational State of Bolivia), in a general comment, said the ancestral values and principles of the indigenous peoples of Bolivia were covered in the Constitution of that country, namely "Don't be lazy, don't be a thief, and don't be a liar", meaning noble life, noble lands. These principles drew from values of complementarity, solidarity, harmony, and a responsibility to live well. Within these values, the new Plurinational State of Bolivia was being built. It was only though dialogue and mutual understanding was it possible to build a culture of understanding and peace. Values added something positive, in this case to human rights. In no case would Bolivia accept that through traditional values one should try to include acts that were contrary to human rights. Through traditional values one should meet and dialogue. This opportunity to learn from other cultures and people should not be missed.

BENTE ANGELL-HANSEN (Norway), in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that Norway wished to thank the delegation of the Russian Federation for the process they had conducted on this initiative. It had been open, transparent and inclusive, which was highly appreciated. Norway valued and appreciated that many elements of international human rights standards and norms had developed over time, and that they had their roots in all parts of the world. Norway would further like to highlight the progress that had been achieved in gender equality, which the Government of Norway had made one of its key priorities. Therefore, Norway could not support an initiative which in its view could undermine the struggle for equality among men and women. For this reason, Norway would vote against resolution L. 13.

JEAN-BAPTISTE MATTEI (France), speaking in a general comment on behalf of the European Union Member States of the Council, said that the European Union was deeply convinced that the concept of traditional values was something that could render human rights more vulnerable. The European Union had however wished to constructively commit itself alongside the proposal of the Russian delegation. The European Union had proposed some drafting changes to clarify the concept. However, the main sponsors had decided not to continue efforts to reach consensus. This was not the best way to make progress on such a sensitive topic. At the very least it ought to have been established that the concept had to be in keeping with international human rights law. The European Union believed that other values, less positive, underpinned some harmful traditional practices, such as female genital mutilation, and that these could be legitimized by referring to traditional values and could be used to weaken human rights, as enshrined in international instruments.

ABDOUL WAHAB HAIDARA (Senegal), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said Senegal was committed to the universality and interdependence of human rights. The importance of traditional values was recognised in the African Charter of Peoples Rights, and Senegal believed it could support the resolution. However, it did share the idea that taking into account such values should in no way alter in shape or form the perception of human rights. This was a challenge for the Human Rights Council.

CARLOS PORTALES (Chile), in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that Chile would like to thank the Russian Federation for its concern about this topic. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights reaffirmed this principle when stating that all human beings were free and equal. The international community had gradually made progress in this regard in adopting various human rights declarations. This progress was however not perceived in the same way when it came to the practical implementation. Discrimination against women was found in all parts of the world, and violence was one of its expressions. This draft resolution did not contain a definition of traditional values of human kind, and failed to enshrine them within international human rights law. This was a very delicate question and, if not clearly dealt with, this might bear great risks. For this reason, Chile would vote against this draft resolution.

JUAN JOSE IGNACIO GOMEZ CAMACHO (Mexico), in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that despite the fact that they had participated with a positive spirit in the negotiations, the text was still lacking a clear definition of “traditional values”. This might leave the door open to different interpretations. International human rights had been already negotiated over a long time and at the international level. The topic of the traditional values of humankind could be understood in many different ways, but for Mexico, the current resolution did not contribute to anything. For these reasons, Mexico would be voting against this draft.

KENICHI SUGANUMA, (Japan), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said Japan respected the efforts of the Russian Federation to further promote human rights by presenting this draft resolution. However, when seeking to protect and promote human rights, common understanding on the universal value of human rights, which had been established through discussion in the international community, should be taken into account. While the sponsor's efforts to include the concerns of various delegations were appreciated, the concept of "traditional values of humankind" was of concern. The use of the term "traditional values of humankind" without any qualification vis--vis international human rights law was unacceptable. Although Japan did respect the unique history, traditions, customs and culture of each State, over-emphasising these elements could run counter to the universal culture of human rights, and therefore Japan would vote against the resolution.

DOUGLAS M. GRIFFITHS (United States), in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the United States had approached this resolution with an open mind. The United States had worked with the Russian Federation to work on the language, and it thanked the Russian Federation for having conducted open and transparent consultations. In the end, however, the United States was unable to accept the resolution, among others because the term ‘traditional values’ was not clearly defined. For this reason, the United States must vote no.

SEBASTIAN ROSALES (Argentina), in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that they wanted to thank the Russian delegation for proposing this resolution. However they could not support an initiative in which “traditional values” were referred to for the first time, without clarifying what exactly was meant under that term. The text also did not mention that traditional values could lead to harmful practices violating the rights of women and children.

DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said Indonesia was of the view that the concept of traditional values should be concerned with determining how they could positively contribute to the protection and promotion of human rights, and not depart from this understanding. Traditional family values, among others, were important for the strengthening of human rights principles and norms. All cultures, in their traditions, customs, religions and beliefs shared a common traditional concept of normality, and a better understanding of this would be of help to the Council. Indonesia would vote in favour of the resolution.

QIAN BO (China), in a general comment, said that China fully supported this draft resolution. Traditional values were crucial with regard to many countries. Traditional values were deeply enriching and contained many good points. Further, to a certain degree, they originated much further than traditional human rights values, and human rights values and traditional values were not contradictory but complementary. China was of the view that this resolution should be supported by the members of the Council.

HA WIE-YOUNG (Republic of Korea), in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the Republic of Korea regretted that the resolution had been brought to vote. This was regrettable in particular as many delegations had made efforts to address the legitimate concern made by various stakeholders. Further, the major responsibility was over each Government to eradicate all traditional practices that were against internationally agreed human rights law. The Republic of Korea would vote against this resolution.

MARTIN IHOEGHIAN UHOMOIBHI (Nigeria), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said Nigeria had supported this resolution because it was convinced that the consequences of a dialogue on traditional values could only be positive. There were some traditional values that were being used to abuse human rights, but it was only when these values were discussed in an open and free discussion on how to use traditional values to protect and promote human rights, that these rights could be protected. This was why Nigeria voted in favour of the resolution, and looked forward to participating actively in the Workshop in 2010.

RESFEL PINO ALVAREZ (Cuba), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that Cuba regretted the atmosphere of division and the erroneous conceptions that had characterized the discussions on this draft resolution. Cuba would further like to emphasize the word “values”. Various delegations spoke about practices that violated human rights; practices could be accepted by a society, but values were globally accepted, and this was particularly what this resolution was about. In Cuba’s view, there were several values in the area of human rights, including respect, tolerance, good faith and dialogue. The last value had however been missing in this process of negotiation. This was not the case on the side from the co-sponsors, but of those who had a pre-conceived approach instead of being open-minded.

OLEKSANDR MOSKVITIN (Ukraine), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that the workshop would aim at exchanging views on human rights. However Ukraine had some reservations over the concept of traditional values and regional particularities. Ukraine had always supported the universal nature of human rights and strongly objected to attempts to substitute them with regional particularities which went counter to international human rights norms and values.
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