UNITED NATIONS

Press Release



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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADOPTS FIVE
TEXTS, EXTENDS MANDATES OF
SPECIAL PROCEDURES ON
SUDAN AND BURUNDI

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Human Rights Council
AFTERNOON
24 September 2008


Council Concludes Ninth Regular Session

The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted five texts before concluding its ninth regular session. The texts included extending the mandates of the Special Procedures on Sudan and Burundi.

In a resolution adopted by consensus on the situation of human rights in Sudan, the Council acknowledged the progress made in implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the steps taken by the Government of Sudan to strengthen the human rights legal and institutional framework. It expressed deep concern at the overall situation of human rights in Sudan and decided to extend until June 2009 the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Sudan. Sudan spoke as a concerned country.

The Council also adopted by consensus a resolution on advisory services and technical assistance in Burundi in which it urged the Government to continue its efforts in the area of transitional justice in collaboration with the United Nations and civil society. The Council decided to extend the mandate of the Independent Expert until the creation of a national and independent human rights commission. Burundi spoke as a concerned country.

On the follow-up to the resolution S-3/1: human rights violations emanating from Israeli military incursions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the assault on Beit Hanoun, the Council called upon all concerned parties to ensure their full and immediate implementation of the recommendations of the fact-finding mission.

The Council also adopted a President’s Statement on Follow-up to President’s Statement 8/1 under Item 6, outlining the process for the smooth adoption of future reports to the Universal Periodic Review. And it adopted a decision on the strengthening of the Human Rights Council.

The Council’s draft report on the ninth session of the Human Rights Council was adopted ad referendum.

Martin Ihoeghian Uhomoibhi, President of the Human Rights Council, in his concluding remarks, summarised the achievements of the ninth session. The task had not been easy, but had been accomplished in a convivial manner. The President hoped this would continue in the future and make the work of this Council lighter.

Speaking to introduce the resolutions, or in a general comment, or in an explanation of the vote before the vote, or in an explanation of the vote after the vote were Egypt on behalf of the African Group, France on behalf of the European Union, Switzerland, China, Russian Federation, Pakistan, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Conference, African Group and Arab Group, Netherlands, Canada, Burundi, Japan, Algeria, Sri Lanka, and Singapore.

Also speaking was a representative of Amnesty International.

The tenth regular session of the Human Rights Council will be held from 2 to 27 March 2009.

Action on Resolution under Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention

Action on Resolution on Situation of Human Rights in Sudan

In a resolution (A/HRC/9/L.2/Rev.1) on the Situation of Human Rights in Sudan, adopted without a vote, as orally revised, the Council acknowledges the progress made in implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the steps taken by the Government of Sudan to strengthen the human rights legal and institutional framework, principally in the law reform; expresses deep concern at the overall situation of human rights in Sudan; calls upon the Government of Sudan to continue and accelerate the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and to establish the remaining commissions, in particular the finalisation of the establishment of the national human rights commission. The Council also urges the Government of Sudan to continue and intensify efforts to implement the recommendations compiled by the Group of Experts on the situation of human rights in Darfur without delay. The Council further calls on all parties to respect their obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law, in particular with regard to the protection of civilians, and to end all attacks on civilians; and stresses the primary responsibility of the Government of Sudan to protect all its citizens, including all vulnerable groups. The Council also reiterates its call upon the signatories of the Darfur Peace Agreement to comply with their obligations under the Agreement; stresses the need to address impunity, and urges the Government of Sudan to ensure that all allegations of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law are duly investigated and that perpetrators are brought to justice promptly; and decides to extend until June 2009 the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Sudan.

HISHAM BADR (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the African Group and introducing the draft resolution on the situation of human rights in Sudan, said that the draft resolution took note of the progress on the ground, but also emphasized the importance of continued monitoring of the situation. Following the extensive consultations, Egypt hoped it could be adopted by consensus.

JEAN -BAPTISTE MATTEI (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union, introducing the resolution, said that the Special Rapporteur’s report confirmed the concerns about the human rights situation in Sudan. The elements underscored by the Special Rapporteur were reflected in the resolution and the discussion conducted with all interested delegations and Sudan as a concerned country had led to a resolution which could be adopted by consensus. The European Union underlined the essential nature of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur. The mandate of the Special Rapporteur would exceptionally be extended for a shorter period than usuall but this should in no way set a precedent.

OMER DAHAB FADOL MOHAMED (Sudan), speaking as a concerned country, confirmed that the collective adoption of the draft resolution reflected the fact that Sudan was in total cooperation with the Human Rights Council and had shown sufficient flexibility for the Human Rights Council to continue cooperation on the basis of a positive dialogue.
Sudan confirmed that its Government was keen on the promotion of human rights everywhere in Sudan, including in Darfur where there was a conflict between government forces and rebels. Based on the facts on the ground, Sudan would have preferred not to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur. Sudan emphasized again that the Human Rights Council needed to put aside any politicisation and double standards. In the spirit of consensus, Sudan had made a big effort to cooperate with the Human Rights Council and hoped this would be taken into account. Sudan welcomed all positive action by the Human Rights Council that would be reflected in further positive action for Sudan.

Sudan had some reservations about the resolution and hoped they would be put on the record of the session and of the Human Rights Council. Among them was the content of paragraph three of the draft resolution. Sudan repeatedly said that the Human Rights Council in its reaffirmation and promotion of human rights everywhere in the world must depend upon accurate information and use it as a basis for any resolution. Therefore, the Council must carefully reconsider all information to confirm that resolutions were accurate. Sudan commended the efforts by the African Group that had fully understood the position of Sudan.

ROBERTO BALZARETTI (Switzerland), in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that Switzerland was satisfied with the adoption of the resolution on Sudan. Switzerland commended France, Egypt and Sudan for their consultations to reach the consensus. The resolution reflected Switzerland’s concerns about the situation in Sudan and also acknowledged progress. Switzerland understood that the mandate would be extended to the Council’s 11th session.

QIAN BO (China), in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said China appreciated the adoption of the resolution on Sudan by consensus and the cooperation of Sudan in this regard. The Government of Sudan had maintained a cooperative attitude by allowing the Special Rapporteur to visit the country as evidence of its cooperation. The human rights situation in Sudan was making gradual progress and China hoped that the Human Rights Council would continue to monitor the situation.

Action on Resolution under Universal Periodic Review

Action on President’s Statement on Follow-Up to President’s Statement 8/1

A President’s Statement on Follow-up to President’s Statement 8/1 under Item 6, adopted without a vote, reads as follow: To ensure the smooth adoption of future reports to the Universal Periodic Review, and in the light of the consultations held with all concerned parties, the following arrangements shall be followed: the report of the respective session of the Council shall comprise, as an integral section, the following parts: a summary of the views expressed by the State under review in the plenary session of the Council before the adoption of the outcome, its replies to questions and issues not sufficiently addressed during the interactive dialogue, its views on conclusions and recommendation, its voluntary commitments and its concluding remarks; a summary of the views expressed on the outcome by Member and observer States of the Council; a summary of general comments made by other relevant stakeholders. In order to reflect the views of all speakers accurately and to ensure balanced reporting on both the Working Group and plenary sessions, and bearing in mind the financial implications, including costs for translation of documents, a word limit shall apply to documentation related to the Universal Periodic Review, as specified in an annexed chart. Statements or part of the statements, including those ruled out of order under the Universal Periodic Review, will be dealt with in accordance with the rules and practices of the Human Rights Council.

NATALIA ZOLOTOVA (Russian Federation) wanted to clarify if the annual report of the Human Rights Council to the General Assembly would only include resolutions and president’s statements made during the session.

MARGHOOB SALEEM BUTT (Pakistan) requested that the particular ruling related to point nine would be attached with the presidential statement for future recording.

Action on Resolution under Human Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories

Action on Resolution on Follow-Up to Resolution S-3/1 on Assault on Beit Hanoun

In a resolution (A/HRC/9/L.8) on Follow-up to Resolution S-3/1: Human rights violations emanating from Israeli military incursions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the assault on Beit Hanoun, adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, 9 against, and 5 abstentions, as orally revised, the Council welcomes the report of the high-level fact-finding mission on Beit Hanoun (A/HRC/9/26) and calls upon all concerned parties to ensure their full and immediate implementation of the recommendations of the fact-finding mission contained in its report. The Council also recommends that the General Assembly consider the report with the participation of the members of the mission; regrets the delay in the fulfilment of the mission owing to the non-cooperation of Israel, the occupying Power; calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to abide by its obligations under international law, international humanitarian law and international human rights law. The Council further requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council at its next session on the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the mission.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (32):Angola, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Uruguay and Zambia.

Against (9):Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia and United Kingdom.

Abstentions (5):Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon, Republic of Korea, Switzerland and Ukraine.


TEHMINA JANJUA (Pakistan), speaking on behalf the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the African Group and the Arab Group, introducing the resolution on human rights violations emanating from Israeli military incursions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the assaults on Beit Hanoun, welcomed the report presented by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Professor Christine Chinkin. The resolution focused on the report presented by the high-level panel, namely the implementation of the recommendations set forth in the report. The Organization of the Islamic Conference, the African Group and the Arab Group, hoped that in dealing with this grave situation which was appalling and illegal, the Human Rights Council Members would respond to the call of conscience and rise above geopolitical and ideological orientations.

BOUDEWIJN J. VAN EENENNAAM (Netherlands), speaking on behalf of France, Germany, Italy, Slovakia, and the United Kingdom, said that they took note of the resolution on human rights violations emanating from Israeli military incursions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the assault on Beit Hanoun and thanked the authors for the report.

The countries regretted that there had been no open-ended consultation on the draft resolution, which would have allowed for a frank and open discussion and exchange of ideas. They were not in a position to “endorse” the recommendations nor to “ensure” their implementation. They could not subscribe to the idea that the international community had failed to uphold the international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. They were firmly committed to the peace process and the respect of international humanitarian law in the region. Although they acknowledged that the report did go into the responsibilities of all parties, they regretted that the draft resolution was seriously unbalanced. All parties should respect their obligations under international law and international humanitarian law.

The resolution suggested a follow up to the report by the Secretary-General and the General Assembly, which they found inappropriate, as the said regrettable events had already led to a fact finding mission. For those reasons the Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, Slovakia, and the United Kingdom called for a vote on the draft resolution and would vote against it.

MARIUS GRINIUS (Canada) regretted that this resolution did not take into account all responsibilities of all concerned parties. The follow-up to the resolution did not change the fundamentally flawed nature of the original resolution.

HISHAM BADR (Egypt), in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said the resolution was not an ordinary one and that the report was an extraordinary report. It was prepared by Archbishop Desmond Tutu whose moral authority was unquestionable. He had unveiled to the international community the crimes committed in Beit Hanoun. It was a sad day that some members of the Council refused to accept the resolution.

Action on Resolution under Technical Assistance and Capacity Building

Action on Resolution on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building for Burundi

In a resolution (A/HRC/9/L.18) on Advisory Services and technical assistance in Burundi, adopted without a vote, as orally revised, the Council welcomes the cooperation established between the Independent Expert and the Government of Burundi; calls upon the Government and the Palipehutu-Forces nationales de libération (FNL) to continue to work through all the mechanisms established under the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement to ensure its full and immediate implementation; welcomes the launching of a project to support the national consultations on transitional justice mechanisms in the context of the peacebuilding process and of Burundi’s international commitments to this end, and urges the Government to continue its efforts in this area in collaboration with the United Nations and civil society; urges the international community to increase its technical and financial assistance to the Government of Burundi with a view to supporting its efforts to respect and promote human rights; decides to extend the mandate of the Independent Expert until the creation of a national and independent human rights commission.

JEAN -BAPTISTE MATTEI (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union, introducing the resolution on advisory services and technical assistances for Burundi, said that the European Union welcomed the Government’s commitment to install transitional justice mechanisms. The remaining challenges included the building of institutional capacities with the active support of the international community.

PIERRE BARUSASIYEKO (Burundi), speaking as a concerned country, said that the draft resolution represented a negotiated compromise with the European Union and that the responsibility for the promotion and protection of human rights was a result of good will. There was a price to pay for any project and when they saw how much had been paid against promises, Burundi had to question the level of commitment to the promotion of human rights by some partners. Burundi said it was difficult to talk to people about human rights when they were hungry and lived in poverty. What Burundi needed was the capacity for the promotion and protection of human rights.

Explanations of the Vote After the Vote

MITSUKO SHINO (Japan), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said regarding resolutions with programme budget implications attached that good projects required financial backup and that there had to be enough time to check if resources were allocated in a good manner. Japan wanted the Secretariat to confirm that the resolution of advisory services to Cambodia would not require an additional allocation of resources.

JEAN -BAPTISTE MATTEI (France), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote on behalf of the European Union on the resolution on advisory services to Cambodia, thanked Cambodia for its cooperation. The draft resolution was the result of intensive negotiations between parties concerned, to adequately assess the human rights situation and the needs of Cambodia for advice and assistance. The European Union recognised positive development in Cambodia, and expressed its concern over continued human rights violations. The elections had gone better than the previous one, but still did not comply with a number of standards necessary for democratic elections. The European Union strongly encouraged the Government of Cambodia to work with the Special Procedures and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. It expressed its full support for the renewal of the mandate and its readiness to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Government of Cambodia to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights in the country.

Action on Decision on Strengthening the Human Rights Council

In a decision (A/HRC/9/L.27/Rev.1) on the Strengthening of the Human Rights Council, adopted without a vote, the Council requests the Secretary-General to present to the General Assembly during its 63rd session a report with details of the resources required to ensure provision of necessary services indicated in the report of the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights; decides to recommend to the General Assembly to ensure the establishment of an Office of the President of the Human Rights Council, with adequate staffing resources, including the provision of necessary equipment.

MARTIN IHOEGHIAN UHOMOIBHI, President of the Human Rights Council, introducing the draft decision on strengthening the Human Rights Council, said that although the institution building phase of the Council was now concluded, there was a need to continue strengthening the Council. There was still delay in the publication and translation of documents. The President underscored that ideas to ensure this were not new and they needed to do more. In close cooperation with the Secretariat there was a need to put this draft decision in front of the Council in order to strengthen the Council and the Presidency.

Explanations of the Vote after the Vote

IDRISS JAZAIRY (Algeria) congratulated the President on the demonstrated consensus-based approach that guided this session of the Council, with the exception of the resolution on Beit Hanoun massacre, and hoped it would continue to guide the future work of the Council. Algeria fully shared the content of the statement by India on human rights and transitional justice and would like it to reflect the need for diverse strategies for diverse situations. Algeria proposed that a panel be organised within the Council that would examine convergence and divergence of crisis exit strategies. Materially speaking it was impossible for a medium-sized delegation to take part in this session and in consultation meetings on resolutions. Therefore, Algeria asked the President that such consultations would be organised in the inter-sessions.

AMEER AJWAD OMER LEBBE (Sri Lanka) said concerning the right to food that Sri Lanka welcomed the resolution and had been a co-sponsor of all resolutions so far on this issue. Several measures had been taken in the Asian region in order to ensure food security, among others the conferences of agricultural ministers. Sri Lanka noted that the resolution stated the need of the international community to provide support, such as transfer of technology and increased production of food. It was an important, timely resolution and Sri Lanka looked forward to its implementation.

WU YE-MIN (Singapore), referring to the decision on the draft United Nations Guidelines for the Alternative Care for Children, said Singapore encouraged the sponsors of the resolution to hold open discussions during the drafting. Only then could they ensure the full recognition of those Guidelines by everyone.

Further, concerning the European Union statement during the session, in which they were calling for all States to put a moratorium on the death penalty, Singapore said that this was a clear attempt of one country to impose their view on another country. The death penalty was part of Singapore’s penal system. There was currently no international consensus recognizing that the death penalty was a violation of human rights.

PATRIZIA SCANELLI, of Amnesty International, congratulated the Council on the more transparent appointment process. Further improvement could include ensuring a gender balance and the representation of different legal systems. For new mandates, non governmental organizations could also be consulted. So far, the reports had included no information on the expertise of the candidates and why the regional groups suggested their candidates. This could also be improved.


Concluding Remarks

MARTIN IHOEGHIAN UHOMOIBHI, President of the Human Rights Council, in his concluding remarks, summarised the achievements of the ninth session, noting the adoption of resolutions and two presidential statements. The task had not been easy, but had been accomplished in a convivial manner. The President hoped this would continue in the future and make the work of this Council lighter. He appreciated and thanked every one, States, non governmental organizations, translators, and all persons that made success possible. Finally, he expressed the hope that the future would be brighter and that the achievements of this session would be repeated in the future.

CORRIGENDUM

In press release HRC/08/100 of 19 September, the statement by the International Committee on National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights should read as follows:

KATHARINA ROSE, of the International Coordinating Committee Of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, noting the significant advancements since the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action such as the creation of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, said that important challenges still remained. Many national human rights institutions lacked sufficient powers and finances to be able to carry out their mandates effectively. Some faced threats when conducting their functions and speaking out against human rights violations. The international community must redouble its efforts to strengthen national institutions and help cultivate an environment where they could operate freely. It was also important that the United Nations and international governmental agencies recognised the independent voice of national human rights institutions and took greater steps to integrate them into their activities.
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For use of the information media; not an official record