UNITED NATIONS

Press Release



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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADOPTS TEXTS ON ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS, COOPERATION BETWEEN OHCHR AND AFGHANISTAN AND NEPAL


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Human Rights Council
AFTERNOON
27 November 2006

The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted five texts on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and in the Occupied Syrian Golan; human rights and arbitrary deprivation of nationality; persons deprived of liberty in the context of counter-terrorism measures; and cooperation between the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Afghanistan and Nepal.

In a resolution on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and in the Occupied Golan, adopted by a vote of 45 in favour, one against and one abstention, the Council called upon the Government of Israel to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 to allow him fully to discharge his mandate. The Council urged Israel, the occupying power, to reverse the settlement policy in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan and to prevent any new installation of settlers in the occupied territories.

In a decision on human rights and arbitrary deprivation of nationality, the Council called upon its relevant mechanisms as well as appropriate United Nations treaty bodies to continue to collect information on the question of human rights and arbitrary deprivation of nationality from all relevant sources and to take account of such information, together with any recommendations thereon, in their reports and activities conducted within their respective mandates.

In a decision on persons deprived of liberty in the context of counter-terrorism measures, the Council recalled that States must ensure that any measures taken to combat terrorism comply with their obligations under international law, in particular human rights law, refugee law and humanitarian law.

In a decision on cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Afghanistan, the Council welcomed the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan and on the achievements of technical assistance in the field of human rights, and requested the High Commissioner to continue, in cooperation with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, to monitor the human rights situation in Afghanistan, paying special attention to the rights of women.

In a decision on cooperation with the Office of the United Nations
High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal, the Council welcomed the significant improvements of the human rights situation in Nepal with the success of the democratic movement and the restoration of the democratic institutions; and underlined the need to address the considerable challenges ahead, such as the consolidation of the rule of law and the strengthening of the protection due to the victims of human rights violations.

Speaking this afternoon as concerned countries were Israel, Palestine, Syria, Afghanistan and Nepal. Speaking in general comments were the Russian Federation, and Algeria. Speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote were Canada, and Zambia. Speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote were Peru, Finland, Argentina, Nigeria, Ecuador, Cuba, and Indonesia.

Also this afternoon, a procedural vote was held on whether to defer taking action on L.38/Rev.1 on impunity, L.40 on the effective implementation of international instruments on human rights, and L.42 Rev 1 on freedom of opinion and expression. By a vote of 25 in favour, 20 against, and two abstentions, it was decided to defer taking action on the texts until Tuesday, 28 November. With regards to the procedural vote, Bahrain, Cuba, Finland, and Canada took the floor.

The next meeting of the Council will be at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 28 November 2006, when it will continue to take actions on the draft resolutions and decisions of the second session.


Action on Draft Resolutions and Decisions

Resolution on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and in the Occupied Golan

In a resolution (A/HRC/2/L.12) on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and in the Occupied Golan, adopted as orally amended by a vote of 45 in favour, one against, and one abstention, the Council calls upon the Government of Israel to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 to allow him fully to discharge his mandate; urges Israel, the occupying power: to reverse the settlement policy in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan; to prevent any new installation of settlers in the occupied territories; demands that Israel implement the recommendations regarding the settlements made by the then United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in her report to the Commission on Human Rights at its fifty-seventh session on her visit to the occupied Palestinian territories, Israel, Egypt and Jordan; demands that Israel, the occupying power, comply fully with its legal obligations; and urges the parties to give renewed impetus to the peace process and to implement fully the Road Map endorsed by the Security Council in resolution 1515 (2003), with the aim of reaching a comprehensive political settlement in accordance with the resolutions of the Council, including resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), and other relevant United Nations resolutions, the principles of the Peace Conference on the Middle East, held in Madrid on 30 October 1991, the Oslo Accords and subsequent agreements, which will allow two States, Israel and Palestine, to live in peace and security.


The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (45): Algeria, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Cuba, Czech Republic, Djibouti, Ecuador, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Ukraine Uruguay and Zambia.

Against (1): Canada.

Abstention (1): Cameroon.


ITZHAK LEVANON (Israel), speaking as a concerned country, said since September last year, Palestinian armed groups had fired 1,700 rockets into Israel, maiming civilians, including children, and heavily damaging civilian infrastructure and homes. Not a single one of these had hit a military target, as they were not aimed at these, but at civilians. As the High Commissioner had noted, the use of Qassam missiles was done only with the intent to kill and to spread fear without discrimination. As such, they were in breach of international humanitarian law.

Yesterday, Israelis and Palestinians had reached a ceasefire agreement, which was holding so far. In light of such encouraging developments, the speaker had asked his Palestinian colleague to withdraw this resolution, giving an indication of positive and constructive intentions. The resolution was tabled for purely political reasons, and as a distraction technique to the real issues which had to be resolved. It recognised the principles set out in the Oslo Accords and subsequent agreements, however, it deliberately failed to mention that within these arrangements the issue of settlements would be left to the permanent status negotiations between the parties. Therefore, it not only pre-judged the outcome of these negotiations, but also failed to project reality on the ground, and at the same time impeded positive development that could work towards solving the conflict. All those who would vote for the resolution were perpetuating the conflict instead of pushing for a solution.

MOHAMMAD ABU-KOASH (Palestine), speaking as a concerned country, said he heard what Israel asked Palestine to do. It did not mention the Palestinian answer to that request. Palestine would like to live in peace, but the fact that the occupation was persistent made it necessary for this draft resolution to continue to be tabled. Israel should be judged by its acts rather than by what it stated. Palestine called upon Israel to put the swords aside and transform them into ploughs to cultivate the rich grounds of Palestine bearing in mind the future of both peoples. Palestine thanked the delegations supporting the current text.

AYMAN RAAD (Syria), speaking as a concerned country, said the Council was dealing with the Israeli practices and its policies in the occupied territories. The Palestinians and the Syrians in the Golan Heights were living in confined areas, which the Israeli representative had called a comfort. The Syrian farmers in Golan were affected by the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights. Israel should withdraw from the territories it occupied. Israel was applying a Middle Ages policy while one was living in the twenty-first century. Each day one was witnessing an exodus of the Arab population from the occupied territories. The Israeli practices were a shame for the international community.

PAUL MEYER (Canada), in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the United Nations General Assembly was the appropriate forum to address the issue of Israeli settlements, not the Human Rights Council. Canada had concerns about the Israeli settlements, but also had concerns about the resolution, which was not balanced, and did not recognise all victims in the conflict. The resolution did not contribute to a peaceful solution to the conflict. Canada called for a vote, and would vote against the text.

ELIANA BERAUN (Peru), in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that Peru voted for the draft resolution. However, Peru would like to condemn all acts of violence targeting civilians, and called upon Member States to help combat all forms of violence.

TAPANI KIVELA (Finland), speaking on behalf of the European Union in an explanation of the vote after the vote, thanked both the Israeli and Palestinian delegations for their cooperation in dealing with the resolution and would like to see others do the same with regard to other issues. The European Union called on Israel to desist from any acts that compromised the peace process. The European Union welcomed the ceasefire agreement between Palestine and Israel and both sides should refrain from attacking each other.

ALBERTO J. DUMONT (Argentina), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said Argentina had voted in favour of the resolution, and wished to express condemnation for violence and all acts of terrorism. This should have been reflected in the resolution, as it had been in a relevant resolution of the Human Rights Commission.

USMAN SARKI (Nigeria), in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that Nigeria voted in favour of this resolution as it believed in the peaceful resolution of disputes between and among nations. Nigeria had put this policy into practice by signing a peaceful agreement with neighbouring Cameroon over a territorial dispute. It was possible to solve disputes without resorting to war or violence. The parties to the conflict in the Middle East should abide by all United Nations resolutions and international law.

GALO LARENAS SERRANO (Ecuador), in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said Ecuador voted in favour of the draft text L.12. Ecuador condemned any form of violence and called for the peaceful settlement of conflicts through negotiations and a peaceful manner.

Decision on Arbitrary Deprivation of Nationality

In a decision (A/HRC/2/L.22) on human rights and arbitrary deprivation of nationality, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon its relevant mechanisms as well as appropriate United Nations treaty bodies to continue to collect information on the question of human rights and arbitrary deprivation of nationality from all relevant sources and to take account of such information, together with any recommendations thereon, in their reports and activities conducted within their respective mandates; encourages the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to do the same; and requests the Secretary-General to collect information on the question of human rights and arbitrary deprivation of nationality from all relevant sources and to make it available to the Council at its fifth session.


Decision on Persons Deprived of Liberty in the Context of Counter-Terrorism Measures

In a decision (A/HRC/2/L.34/Rev.1) on persons deprived of liberty in the context of counter-terrorism measures, adopted without a vote, the Council recalls that States must ensure that any measures taken to combat terrorism comply with their obligations under international law, in particular human rights law, refugee law and humanitarian law, and decides to urge all States to take all necessary steps to ensure that persons deprived of liberty, regardless of the place of arrest or of detention, benefit from the guarantees to which they are entitled to under international law, including, inter alia, protection against torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, protection against refoulement, the review of their detention and, if subjected to trial, fundamental judicial guarantees.

MARINA KORUNOVA (Russian Federation), in a general comment, said there was sincere appreciation and gratitude to Switzerland for the draft decision that had been formulated by that country, and its constructive approach and willingness to take into account the concerns and interests of all States. This whole issue, human rights, respect for human rights in the context of terrorism, should continue to be part of the consideration of the Human Rights Council and the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.

IDRISS JAZAIRY (Algeria), in a general comment, said that Algeria congratulated Switzerland for this nitiative and fully endorsed it. Algeria found it interesting that there no English expression for the principle of non-refoulement. Bridging the North-South gap was a task which should never be underestimated.

JUAN ANTONIO FERNANDEZ PALACIOS (Cuba), in an explanation of the vote after the vote, thanked the delegation of Switzerland for its efforts in tabling the draft text. Cuba joined the consensus in adopting the resolution and hoped that the appropriate follow-up would be given to it.

SUNU MAHADI SOEMARNO (Indonesia), in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said respect for human rights and the rule of law were important elements to which the greatest of importance was attached. The consensus on this resolution was greeted with pleasure.

Vote to Defer Three Texts

A procedural vote was held on whether to defer taking action on L.38/Rev.1 on impunity, L.40 on the effective implementation of international instruments on human rights, and L.42 Rev.1 on freedom of opinion and expression. By a vote of 25 in favour, 20 against, and two abstentions, it was decided to defer taking action on the texts until Tuesday, 28 November.


The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (25): Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Ecuador, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lank and Tunisia.

Against (20): Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Japan, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay and Zambia.

Abstentions (2): Mauritius and Mexico.

ABDULLA ABDULLATIF ABDULLA (Bahrain) proposed that the consideration of L.38/Rev.1 on impunity, L.40 on the effective implementation of international instruments on human rights, and L.42 Rev.1 on freedom of opinion and expression, be postponed to Tuesday, 28 November.

IDRISS JAZAIRY (Algeria), in a general comment, said in order to give the three draft resolutions a chance for the maximum level of support, they should be postponed to tomorrow morning in a spirit of understanding and consensus. A little more time should be given, and the voting on these texts should be deferred.

JUAN ANTONIO FERNANDEZ PALACIOS (Cuba), in a general comment, said that it was a pity that they had to reach this point. The spirit of flexibility should have prevailed. Cuba would vote in favour of the procedural proposal tabled by Bahrain.

JOHANNA SUURPAA (Finland), speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, said the European Union attached great importance to the text presented by Canada and saw no reason for its postponement.

PAUL MEYER (Canada), in a general comment, said Canada had been surprised at the request for deferral, given the lack of any substantive rationale for this, in particular the mention of “recent developments” in the field, as there were none known that would justify deferring action on these texts. Canada therefore opposed the procedural motion put forward by Bahrain to defer consideration of these issues.

Decision on Afghanistan and Cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

In a decision on cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights: Afghanistan (A/HRC/2/L.46), adopted without a vote, the Council welcomes the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan and on the achievements of technical assistance in the field of human rights, including the assessment of the human rights situation of Afghanistan contained therein, and the ongoing cooperation between the Government of Afghanistan and the Office of the High Commissioner, as well as with the special procedures of the Human Rights Council, to address the human rights situation in Afghanistan, and urges its continued cooperation; and requests the High Commissioner to continue, in cooperation with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, to monitor the human rights situation in Afghanistan, provide and expand advisory services and technical cooperation in the field of human rights and the rule of law, and report regularly to the Council on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, paying special attention to the rights of women, and on the achievements of technical assistance in the field of human rights.

ASSAD OMER (Afghanistan), speaking as a concerned country, said that Afghanistan had always appreciated the cooperation of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and asked for that cooperation to be expanded to capacity-building. Afghanistan would appreciate the Human Rights Council adopting this resolution by consensus.

Decision on Nepal and Cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

In a decision on cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights: Nepal (A/HRC/2/L.47), adopted without a vote, the Council welcomes the significant improvements of the human rights situation in Nepal with the success of the democratic movement and the restoration of the democratic institutions; underlines the need to address the considerable challenges ahead, such as the consolidation of the rule of law and the strengthening of the protection due to the victims of human rights violations; calls upon all stakeholders to ensure full respect for human rights in line with the recommendations of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and by remaining committed to the peace process; and encourages continued cooperation in that regard by the Government of Nepal as well as by all stakeholders in order to address the situation of human rights in Nepal.


GYAN CHANDRA ACHARYA (Nepal), speaking as a concerned country, said after long years of conflict in Nepal, a comprehensive peace agreement had been signed between the Government and the Maoist Movement. The whole population had welcomed that situation. A truth and reconciliation commission had been set up to consolidate the peace agreement. Spontaneous gatherings had taken place by the civil society to commemorate the death of individuals killed by both the Government and the Movement. The peace process was now allowing the rebels to be brought into the mainstream of the political process. Already actions were being taken to create a new Nepal through measures of reconstructing the country. The delegation supported the draft resolution with regard to Nepal, and would consider it as an encouragement to the efforts being taken the Government by the signing of the peace agreement. The international community should continue supporting Nepal in strengthening the democratic process.

LOVE MTESA (Zambia), in a general comment, said Nepal was to be congratulated for the courage shown in a situation where many others would have resisted cooperation with the Human Rights Council. Nepal had set a good example, which should be emulated by many. Good times were before Nepal, and this should be supported. Nepal was applauded.

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