UNITED NATIONS

Press Release



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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADOPTS EIGHT RESOLUTIONS ON THE PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF ALL HUMAN RIGHTS



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Human Rights Council
AFTERNOON
17 June 2009

Council Creates Working Group on an Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child to Provide a Communications Procedure

The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted eight resolutions 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, concerning the creation of an open-ended Working Group on an Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child to provide a communications procedure; accelerating efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women; trafficking in persons, especially women and children; the promotion of the right of peoples to peace; 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 right to education: follow-up to Human Rights Council resolution 8/4; guidelines for the alternative care of children; and on preventable maternal mortality and morbidity and human rights.

The Council decided to establish an open-ended Working Group of the Human Rights Council to explore the possibility of elaborating an Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child to provide a communications procedure complementary to the reporting procedure under the Convention.

On accelerating efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women, the Council requested the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to convene, in 2010, an expert workshop to discuss specific measures for overcoming obstacles and challenges that States may face in preventing, investigating, prosecuting and punishing the perpetrators of violence against women and girls, as well as measures for providing protection, support, assistance and redress for victims.

On trafficking in persons, especially women and children, the Council requested OHCHR to organize, in close coordination with the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, a two-day seminar aimed at identifying opportunities and challenges in the development of rights-based responses to trafficking in persons with a view to acknowledging emerging good practices and further promoting the practical application of the Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights and Human Trafficking.

On the promotion of the right of peoples to peace, the Council reiterated its request to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to convene, before February 2010, a workshop on the right of peoples to peace, with the participation of experts from all regions of the world, in order to further clarify the content and scope of this right; to propose measures that raise awareness of the importance of realizing this right; and to suggest concrete actions to mobilize States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations in the promotion of the right of peoples to peace. This resolution was adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, 13 against and one abstention.

On the effects of foreign debt, the Council welcomed the report of 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 and requested that he continue to explore the inter-linkages with trade and other issues, including HIV/AIDS, when examining the impact of structural adjustment and foreign debt.

On the right to education: follow-up to Human Rights Council resolution 8/4, the Council urged all relevant stakeholders to increase their efforts so that the goals of the Education for All initiative can be achieved by 2015, including by tackling persistent inequalities based on income, gender, location, ethnicity, language, disability and other factors.

On the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, the Council welcomed the accomplishment of the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children and decided to submit the Guidelines to the General Assembly for consideration with a view to their adoption on the twentieth anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

On preventable maternal mortality and morbidity and human rights, the Council requested OHCHR to prepare a thematic study on preventable maternal mortality and morbidity and human rights, in consultation with States, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations Children’s Fund and the World Bank, and all other relevant stakeholders, and requested that the study include: identification of the human rights dimensions of preventable maternal mortality and morbidity in the existing international legal framework; an overview of initiatives and activities within the United Nations system to address all causes of preventable maternal mortality and morbidity; identification of how the Council can add value to existing initiatives through a human rights analysis, including efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goal on improving maternal health; and recommended options for better addressing the human rights dimension of preventable maternal mortality and morbidity throughout the United Nations system.

Speaking in introduction of resolutions were Slovakia, Canada, Philippines, Germany, Cuba, Portugal, Brazil and Colombia.

Speaking in general comment were Germany, China, Chile, and Egypt.

Speaking in explanation of the vote before the vote were Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Germany, and Canada.

The Council will meet at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 18 June, to continue to take action on draft decisions and resolutions before concluding the eleventh regular session of the Council.


Action on Resolutions on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Including the Right to Development

In a resolution (A/HRC/11/L.3) on an Open-ended Working Group on an Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child to Provide a Communications Procedure, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to establish an Open-ended Working Group of the Human Rights Council to explore the possibility of elaborating an Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child to provide a communications procedure complementary to the reporting procedure under the Convention; also decides that the Working Group shall hold its first session for five working days in Geneva before the end of 2009, within existing resources; further decides to invite a representative of the Committee on the Rights of the Child to attend the session as a resource person and, where appropriate, relevant United Nations special procedures and other relevant independent experts, and also invites them to submit inputs to the Working Group for its consideration; and requests the Working Group to submit a report on progress made to the Council for consideration at its thirteenth session.

ANTON PINTER (Slovakia), introducing draft resolution L.3, said the resolution was the result of several rounds of open-ended consultations including all stakeholders. The main focus of the resolution was the establishment of an open-ended Working Group with the mandate of considering an Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Working Group should hold its first session for five working days by end of 2009. A representative of the Committee on the Rights of the Child would attend the meeting, as would appropriate United Nations bodies. The time was ripe to address the issue of a lack of communications procedure under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In a resolution (A/HRC/11/L.5) on accelerating efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women, adopted without a vote as orally amended, the Council strongly condemns all acts of violence against women and girls and calls for the elimination of all forms of gender-based violence in the family, within the general community and where perpetrated or condoned by the State, in accordance with the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, and stresses the need to treat all forms of violence against women and girls as a criminal offence, punishable by law, and the duty to provide access to just and effective remedies and specialized assistance to victims, including medical and psychological assistance, as well as effective counselling; calls upon States to enact and, where necessary, reinforce or amend domestic legislation, including measures to enhance the protection of victims, to investigate, prosecute, punish and redress the wrongs done to women and girls subjected to any form of violence, whether in the home, the workplace, the community or society, in custody or in situations of armed conflict, to remove gender bias in the administration of justice, and to take action to investigate and punish persons who perpetrate acts of violence against women and girls; urges States and the United Nations system to give attention to systematic research and the collection, analysis and dissemination of data and other relevant information, on the extent, nature and consequences of violence against women and girls, and on the impact and effectiveness of policies and programmes for combating this violence; encourages the Special Rapporteur on violence against women to consider in future reporting the needs of women who experience multiple forms of discrimination, and to examine effective measures to respond to those situations; encourages States to ensure that eliminating violence against women and girls is given due attention in the work of the Council, including the Universal Periodic Review; requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to convene, in 2010, an expert workshop to discuss specific measures for overcoming obstacles and challenges that States may face in preventing, investigating, prosecuting and punishing the perpetrators of violence against women and girls, as well as measures for providing protection, support, assistance and redress for victims, and requests OHCHR to prepare a summary report to be submitted to the Council; and invites OHCHR to summarize the extent to which the Council’s mechanisms, including the special procedures, the universal periodic review, thematic working groups, and relevant special session outcomes and resolutions, have addressed violence against women and girls.

JEFFREY HEATON (Canada), introducing the resolution to accelerate efforts to eliminate violence against women, said that Canada thanked all co-sponsors and non-governmental organizations for their support. Canada hoped that this resolution would be adopted by consensus and with wide support. The genuine spirit of cooperation during negotiations had been much appreciated.

AMR ROSHDY HASSAN (Egypt), in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the delegation of Egypt joined in the consensus and appreciated the tireless efforts undertaken by Canada and the co-sponsors. With regard to operative paragraph 11, Egypt agreed to the consensus on the basis that the multiple forms of discrimination mentioned would be limited to the ones universally agreed upon, especially by the United Nations, and that the resolution would not be used as an opportunity to import new forms of discrimination that were not universally agreed to.

ABDULWAHAB ABDULSALAM ATTAR (Saudi Arabia), in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it concurred and joined with the Egyptian statement.

In a resolution (A/HRC/11/L.6) on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, adopted without a vote, the Council urges Governments, inter alia: to provide resources for the comprehensive protection and assistance to victims of trafficking; to take all appropriate measures to ensure that victims of trafficking are not penalized for being trafficked and that they do not suffer from revictimization as a result of actions taken by Government authorities, regardless of their immigration status; and to establish mechanisms to combat the use of the Internet to facilitate trafficking in persons and crimes related to sexual or other forms of exploitation; invites Governments to include information on measures and best practices to combat trafficking in persons, especially women and children, in their national reports submitted for the Universal Periodic Review; requests OHCHR to organize, in close coordination with the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, a two-day seminar aimed at identifying opportunities and challenges in the development of rights-based responses to trafficking in persons with a view to acknowledging emerging good practices and further promoting the practical application of the Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights and Human Trafficking, with the participation of Governments, the Special Rapporteur and other relevant special procedures, treaty bodies, United Nations specialized agencies and programmes, regional, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions, academics, medical experts and representatives of victims, and to submit a report on the proceedings of the seminar to the Council; and further requests OHCHR to disseminate the Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights and Human Trafficking, and to collect the views of stakeholders, including Governments, United Nations observers, relevant United Nations bodies, specialized agencies and programmes, regional bodies, non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions, on the Recommended Principles and Guidelines, as well as on experiences and emerging good practices while applying them, and to make available to the Council a compilation of these views as an addendum to the above-mentioned report.

ERLINDA F. BASILIO (Philippines), introducing the resolution on human trafficking, said that this resolution continued the cooperation between the Philippines and Germany. The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on human trafficking would be strengthened. The overwhelming majority of human rights victims were women. The emphasis of the resolution was a human rights based approach to combat trafficking. The aim was to protect and assist victims of trafficking. Eighty-one delegations had co-sponsored the resolution. The Philippines thanked the delegations that constructively and actively engaged in the negotiations. It was truly a collective effort. The text was strong and meaningful and could guide the future work of the Council.

REINHARD SCHWEPPE (Germany), also introducing draft resolution L.6, said that trafficking in persons remained an issue with global implications. Still too often the human rights of individuals were not respected. It was Germany’s view that the United Nations recommendations and guidelines were an important tool for those hoping to secure a genuine rights based approach to this problem. In this regard the views of Governments and relevant stakeholders were welcomed with regard to these recommendations and principles, as well as on the emerging best practices with respect to these guidelines. Germany proposed that a seminar be organized to identity opportunities and developments with regard to trafficking in persons, and to highlight the guidelines and best practices in this vein. A seminar would broaden the accepted principles and guidelines. Germany hoped that the draft resolution would be adopted by consensus.

In a resolution (A/HRC/11/L.7) on promotion of the right of peoples to peace, adopted by a recorded vote of 32 in favour, 13 against, and one abstention, the Council reaffirms that the preservation of the right of peoples to peace and the promotion of its implementation constitute a fundamental obligation of all States; stresses the importance of peace for the promotion and protection of all human rights for all; also stresses that the deep fault line that divides human society between the rich and the poor and the ever-increasing gap between the developed and developing worlds pose a major threat to global prosperity, peace, human rights, security and stability; underlines the vital importance of education for peace as a tool to foster the realization of the right of peoples to peace, and encourages States, United Nations specialized agencies and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to contribute actively to this endeavour; reiterates its request to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to convene, before February 2010, a workshop on the right of peoples to peace, with the participation of experts from all regions of the world, in order to further clarify the content and scope of this right; propose measures that raise awareness of the importance of realizing this right; and suggest concrete actions to mobilize States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations in the promotion of the right of peoples to peace; and requests the High Commissioner to report on the outcome of the workshop to the Council at its fourteenth session.


The result of the vote was as follows:

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

Against (13):Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Ukraine, and United Kingdom.

Abstentions (1):India.


RESFEL PINO ALVAREZ (Cuba), introducing draft resolution L.7, said with the adoption of this resolution, the Council would continue its consideration of this important issue which gave rise to great interest from both Governments and civil society. It recognised the sacred right to peace, and the duty to protect which was the obligation of States. All people were part of an international order, and peace was an essential part of that order. Peace was essential for the enjoyment of human rights, including the right to life. Those countries that denied it were no doubt the most active promoters of war. There had been progressive development of the right to peace, noted in the Millennium Declaration adopted by the General Assembly in 2000. This draft reiterated the request to the High Commissioner to hold a workshop with the participation of all regions.

REINHARD SCHWEPPE (Germany), in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the European Union, said that the European Union supported some of the articles in this resolution. However, the absence of peace could not justify the absence of human rights. Further, the resolution exclusively mentioned the relationship between States and not the State and its citizens. Most of the issues were better dealt with in other fora which were already dealing with these issues. The European Union thanked the Cuban delegation for convening an informal meeting on the issue. The European Union would vote against the resolution.

In a resolution (A/HRC/11/L.9) 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, adopted by a recorded vote of 31 in favour, 13 against, and two abstentions, the Council welcomes the report of 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 (A/HRC/11/10), and the areas of focus identified for the period 2009-2010, in particular the development of the draft general guidelines on foreign debt and human rights and the issue of illegitimate debt; expresses its concern that the level of implementation and the reduction of overall debt stock under the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative are still low, and that the Initiative is not intended to offer a comprehensive solution to the long-term debt burden; urges the international community, including the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions and the private sector, to take appropriate measures and actions for the implementation of the pledges and decisions of the major United Nations conferences and summits, in particular those relating to the question of the external debt problem of developing countries; stresses the need for the economic reform programmes arising from foreign debt to be country-driven and for any negotiations and conclusion of debt relief and new loan agreements to be formulated with public knowledge and transparency; also stresses that the economic reform programmes arising from foreign debt should maximize the policy space of developing countries in pursuing their national development efforts, taking into account the views of relevant stakeholders in a way that ensures balanced development conducive to the overall realization of all human rights; further stresses that the economic programmes arising from foreign debt relief and cancellation must not reproduce past structural adjustment policies that have not worked, such as dogmatic demands for privatization and reduced public services; calls upon creditors, particularly international financial institutions, and debtors alike to consider the preparation of human rights impact assessments with regard to development projects, loan agreements or Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers; requests the independent expert to continue to explore the interlinkages with trade and other issues, including HIV/AIDS, when examining the impact of structural adjustment and foreign debt; requests the independent expert to report to the General Assembly on the issue of 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; and requests the independent expert to submit an analytical report on the implementation of the present resolution to the Council in 2009, and to submit a progress report thereon to the General Assembly at its sixty-fourth session.


The result of the vote was as follows:

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

Against (13):Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Ukraine, and United Kingdom.

Abstentions (2):Chile, and Mexico.


RESFEL PINO ALVAREZ (Cuba), introducing draft resolution L.9 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, said with the adoption of this resolution substantive analysis of the former Human Rights Commission would be put in place. It also took into consideration the work of the Independent Expert which provided a substantial framework for the future work of the Independent Expert, and would encourage the expert to continue the work of the mandate. Furthermore, the draft resolution provided a basis for the development of the guidelines on foreign debt. Some Member States considered that this issue was not relevant work to be discussed by the Human Rights Council. However, the latest report of the Independent Expert indicated a deteriorating situation of debt servicing, and in particular in developing countries. Cuba recalled that between 1995-2007 debt servicing increased two fold, which was totally unsustainable. This was linked to the capacity of States to promote and protect human rights. Cuba hoped that the draft resolution would be adopted by consensus as this would illustrate the widest possible support for it.

REINHARD SCHWEPPE (Germany), speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, said it was important for the Council to maintain a focused approach. While there could be a connection between lack of human rights implementation and resources, this was not the issue before the Council. There was no need to duplicate the work done in other international organizations on the effects of foreign debt. The resource limitation of the Council warranted being taken seriously. The resolution did not take this into account, and mandated the Independent Expert to hold regional consultations on an issue that had very little to do with States' human rights obligations, and would put further weight on the budget. These issues should be discussed in the appropriate fora. For these reasons, the European Union would call for a vote on the resolution and would vote against.

In a resolution (A/HRC/11/L.12) on the right to education: follow-up to Human Rights Council resolution 8/4, adopted without a vote as orally amended, the Council urges all relevant stakeholders to increase their efforts so that the goals of the Education for All initiative can be achieved by 2015, including by tackling persistent inequalities based on income, gender, location, ethnicity, language, disability and other factors; stresses the need for cultural and educational programmes to be developed with a view to raise awareness on human rights, and urges States to intensify their efforts in this regard; urges all States to ensure the right to education of persons in detention in the criminal justice system as an imperative in its own right, and to provide appropriate education to foster reintegration into society and help reduce recidivism, including by making every effort, among others: to make available to all detainees comprehensive education programmes aimed at the development of the full potential of each detainee; to incorporate human rights education in the programmes; to develop individual education plans with the full participation of the detainee, taking into account the diverse backgrounds and needs of persons in detention, including women, persons belonging to minority and indigenous groups, persons of foreign origin and persons with physical, learning and psychosocial disabilities; and to ensure that primary education is compulsory, accessible and available free to all, including to all children in detention or living in prisons; and encourages the Office of the High Commissioner, the treaty bodies, the special procedures of the Council and other relevant United Nations bodies and mechanisms to continue their efforts to promote the realization of the right to education worldwide, and to enhance their cooperation in this regard.

FRANCISCO XAVIER ESTEVES (Portugal), introducing the draft resolution on the right to education, said that there were 52 initial co-sponsors for the resolution. This draft reflected a more streamlined and focused approach, avoiding repetitions of previously adopted resolutions while reiterating all the obligations that arose from them. Although it was streamlined, the draft addressed the right to education in a substantive way, retaining key elements such as enunciating some of the international legal instruments which guaranteed it, considering recent significant developments and remaining challenges and recognizing the work undertaken by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, UNICEF, UNESCO and others. This draft resolution was the result of extensive consultations with all interested delegations and had also benefited from the contribution of relevant non-governmental organizations and the Special Rapporteur himself.

In a resolution (A/HRC/11/L.13) on Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, adopted without a vote as orally amended, the Council welcomes the accomplishment of the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children; and decides to submit the Guidelines to the General Assembly for consideration with a view to their adoption on the twentieth anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

MURILO VIEIRA KOMNISKI (Brazil), introducing the draft resolution on the guidelines for the alternative care of children, said that Brazil thanked all 35 co-sponsors, observers and Member States of the Human Rights Council for their constructive support during the broad consultations held. The draft resolution was a result of, among other things, the high level panel held at the Human Rights Council sixth session, and the nine open consultations held this year. There was broad and cross regional support for this draft resolution. Currently there were 8 million children in the world who were in residential care, and the delegation of Brazil urged all Member States to continue their support for alternative care as an important measure towards the protection and promotion of human rights of these children and especially for children who did have parental care, as well as to the enhancement of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Brazil was confident that the draft resolution would be adopted by consensus.

REINHARD SCHWEPPE, (Germany), speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, said the European Union was strongly committed to the full realisation of the rights of the child. The situation of children in all regions of the world remained critical, and more effective international action was required. The Convention on the Rights of the Child constituted a pre-requisite for the fulfilment of this goal. The Guidelines were intended to be a tool for the enhancement of relevant international instruments. The purpose of the Guidelines was to serve as a set of desirable orientations, and this was in compliance with the European Union's understanding of its use.

QIAN BO, (China), in a general comment, said that China believed that the guidelines would play an important role in promoting and protecting human rights. However, the guidelines were of a guiding nature and were not binding. They had to be studied further. China thanked Brazil and others for preparing the guidelines.

JEFFREY HEATON (Canada), in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that Canada welcomed the initiative to develop guidelines for the alternative care of children. However, the timelines given for the consultations did not allow for enough time for the consultations that were required in Canada between the federal and provincial Governments. Also, the consultation process was very broad, which also made it difficult to engage in consultations between provincial and federal Governments. The characterization of the guidelines was carefully reviewed by Canada, and as the guidelines were not obligatory guidelines nor biding to States responsibilities with respect to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Canada joined in the consensus on the adoption of the draft resolution.

In a resolution (A/HRC/11/L.16/Rev.1) on preventable maternal mortality and morbidity and human rights, adopted without a vote, the Council expresses grave concern at the unacceptably high global rate of preventable maternal mortality and morbidity, noting in this regard that the World Health Organization has assessed that over 1,500 women and girls die every day as a result of preventable complications occurring before, during and after pregnancy and childbirth, and that, globally, maternal mortality is the leading cause of death among women and of girls of reproductive age; requests all States to renew their political commitment to eliminating preventable maternal mortality and morbidity at the local, national, regional and international levels, and to redouble their efforts to ensure the full and effective implementation of their human rights obligations; also requests States to give renewed emphasis to maternal mortality and morbidity initiatives in their development partnerships and cooperation arrangements, including through honouring existing commitments and considering new commitments, and the exchange of effective practices and technical assistance to strengthen national capacities, as well as to integrate a human rights perspective into such initiatives, addressing the impact that discrimination against women has on maternal mortality and morbidity; requests OHCHR to prepare a thematic study on preventable maternal mortality and morbidity and human rights, in consultation with States, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations Children’s Fund and the World Bank, and all other relevant stakeholders, and requests that the study include: identification of the human rights dimensions of preventable maternal mortality and morbidity in the existing international legal framework; an overview of initiatives and activities within the United Nations system to address all causes of preventable maternal mortality and morbidity; identification of how the Council can add value to existing initiatives through a human rights analysis, including efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goal on improving maternal health; and recommended options for better addressing the human rights dimension of preventable maternal mortality and morbidity throughout the United Nations system; and decides to address the thematic study requested at its fourteenth session, and to consider taking further possible action on preventable maternal mortality and morbidity and human rights at that session, and invites the Office of the High Commissioner, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Population Fund and the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health to participate in an interactive dialogue on the study in the Council.

ANGELINO GARZON (Colombia), introducing draft resolution L.16/Rev1., said every day over 1,500 women and girls died from complications associated with pregnancy and childbirth. Given the scale of the issue, the Human Rights Council had a role to play in contributing to efforts to reduce these figures and achieve the Millennium Development Goal on maternal health. All States had a role to play in reducing preventable maternal mortality. There was a need for renewed emphasis to achieve the Goal and work on maternal health. Part of this renewed political commitment involved examining strategies to diminish the numbers of deaths and disabilities arising from this issue. There should be a global response to face health challenges. There was a global impact for maternal and child deaths. The Human Rights Council should consider what it could add to efforts to eliminate maternal mortality through a coordinated multi-sectoral approach. The resolution enjoyed the support of more than 70 delegations, reflecting the fact that this issue was not limited to any one nation or culture.

FERNANDO MUNOZ (Chile), in a general comment, said that Chile had co-sponsored the resolution. Chile’s support showed continuity of its vital concern with this issue as expressed when it organized a panel on this subject in June 2008. Pregnancy was not a disease; it was a biological condition and had to be protected by society as a whole. Ten years after the Millennium Declaration it was clear that it was difficult to meet the goal related to maternal mortality. Reduction of maternal mortality required resources. Those countries with lower mortality rates had better health care systems and better programmes for the care of high risk pregnancies. By recognizing maternal health as a human right, countries did so from the standpoint of equality and dignity, which required quality care, from the right to enjoy scientific progress, from the right to health perspective. Lastly, they also recognized this right from the perspective of a woman’s right to decide how many children she wanted to have and when. Maternal health was a fundamental human right.

HEBA MOSTAFA RIZK (Egypt), speaking in a general comment, said that Egypt attached importance to the issue of maternal mortality and morbidity and human rights. With regard to the multiple forms of discrimination noted in the draft resolution, Egypt said that its interpretation of multiple forms of discrimination as noted in the draft was that these only included the universally accepted norms, and did not open the door to other interpretations of forms of discrimination.

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