Bilaterals summary HLS, Human Rights Council 16th session

Meeting with Moldova, Amb. Tatiana Lapicus and Mr. Serghei Ostaf (25 February)

The Ambassador introduced the Moldovan candidate Mr. Serghei Ostaf for the mandate of SR on Freedom of association. She indicated that a series of meetings had been held with various regional groups. Mr. Ostaf presented his vision of the mandate. He underlined the notion of constructive engagement with States and the need to identify the challenges faced by States in the field of freedom of association, as well as solutions in that regard.

Meeting with Sri Lanka, Hon. Mahinda Samarasinghe, Minister for Plantations (25 February)

The Minister briefed the President about the present situation in Sri Lanka. He emphasized the progress achieved since the end of the conflict in 2009. Reference was also made to the Action Plan (voluntary pledge in the UPR context) which should soon be approved by the President and then operationalized. This Action Plan will constitute a key instrument to promote and protect human rights in Sri Lanka. The Minister then referred to the Reconciliation Commission and emphasized its work with regard to lessons learnt from the conflict. 

Meeting with the President of the General Assembly (PGA), H.E. Joseph Deiss (28 February)

The PGA congratulated the HRC President for having led the review process to its conclusion. He indicated that this would now leave enough time for the GA to conclude its NY chapter and ensured that he would welcome the review package very warmly in NY. The PGA emphasized that the end of the review would allow the HRC to go back to its daily business. He also referred to the work of the NY facilitators which was going quite smoothly. A meeting is scheduled in April and the HRC Pdt might attend this meeting.

Meeting with Colombia, H.E. Angelino Garzon, Vice President (28 February)

The Vice-President congratulated the President for his leadership and for the successful outcome of the review process. He asked for support for Colombia's candidate for the EMRIP, Mr Gabriel Muyuy. He also expressed support for Mexico's candidate Ms. Mercedes Barquet as member of the WG for the elimination of discrimination against women. The President was invited to participate to a conference on human rights in Colombia to be held in December, to build, together with the international community and civil society, a common programme for human rights.

Meeting with Bahrain, H.E. Fatima Mohammed Al-Balushi, Minister of Social Development (28 February)

The Minister updated the President on the developments in the country since their last meeting in September 2010. An inclusive national dialogue was initiated to address concerns of demonstrators and other groups in the country, and Bahrain expressed interest in receiving support from the HRC for this initiative. The President welcomed this update and encouraged Bahrain to remain engaged with the HRC.

Meeting with Iraq, H.E Mohamed Al Soodani, Minister of Human Rights (28 February)

The Minister underlined Iraq's interest in cooperation with the HRC, and was in particular interested in any technical assistance that could be provided. Iraq was facing many challenges as regards human rights, and resources and training was needed to improve the reporting to Treaty Bodies. The Minister moreover shared information about the process of establishing a national human rights strategy. The President expressed appreciation for Iraq's engagement with the HRC, and suggested that an implementation plan for accepted UPR recommendations could be used as a basis for technical assistance.

Meeting with Brazil, H.E. Maria do Rosário Nunes, Minister of Human Rights (28 February)

The Minister underlined Brazil's commitment to human rights and the HRC's work, and informed about the developments at national level, including regarding the development of a programme to ensure the protection of human rights defenders, and the work undertaken in relation to human rights in the context of migration. The Minister extended an invitation for the President to visit Brazil. The President expressed appreciation for Brazil's engagement with the HRC, inter alia for the country's work in relation to health, as well as technical cooperation, and thanked for the invitation to visit the country.

Meeting with Tunisia, H.E. Radhouane Nouicer, State Secretary at the MFA (28 February)

The President congratulated the State Secretary for his statement in the High Level segment, in which an open invitation was extended to all SPs and the OHCHR was invited to open an office in Tunisia. The President ensured that the HRC would support the actual transition process. The State Secretary reiterated Tunisia's openness to receive UN institutions in the country so that they may visit, investigate and provide recommendations. He then referred to the Tunisian roadmap to be released before 15 March. This roadmap would indicate the path to follow regarding elections and/or the setting up of a constitutional assembly. The State Secretary emphasized that the Tunisian political scene had become very diverse, with more than 40 political parties having emerged following the departure of Ben Ali.

Meeting with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, H.E. Bambi Lessa, Minister of Justice (1 March)

The President congratulated the Minister for his statement and reiterated the need to have a constructive dialogue within the HRC. He expressed his willingness to engage positively with DRC and asked how DRC intended to approach the dialogue during the session and whether the Minister would be present to transmit DRC's views on the present situation. The Minister insisted that DRC was opened to any exchange but regretted there was no recognition by other States of the efforts made to bring perpetrators of human rights violations to justice. The Minister highlighted DRC's engagement with the ICC.

Meeting with Cameroon, H.E. Henri Eyebe Ayissi (Minister of Foreign Affairs) (1 March)

The MFA reiterated Cameroon's commitment (incl. Cameroon's President personal commitment) to human rights. In this regard, Cameroon will continue to work closely with UN institutions to further advance human rights. The MFA briefed the President about the following issues: 1) Upcoming Presidential elections in Cameroon; 2) On sexual orientation, the MFA affirmed that the 1970s criminal code had remained unchanged and that therefore no new criminal offence had been created since then; 3) On UPR, Cameroon reiterated its commitment to this process, since its review in February 2009; 4) On migration, the MFA briefed the President about the efforts pursued in this area, referring to the numerous refugees from neighbouring countries living in Cameroon. The President congratulated Cameroon for all its efforts in the field of human rights and hopes that Cameroon will continue to remain engaged in the HRC's work, even after its term finishes in 2012. Referring to the OHCHR regional office in Yaounde, the President also underlined the importance of the regional role played by Cameroon in the advancement of human rights.   

Meeting with a delegation of German Members of Parliament (1 March)

The President briefed the German MPs about the review process and outcome, as well as the special session on Libya. On the review, the President referred to the difficulties encountered, in particular due to the different interpretations on the scope of the review process. In this regard, he underlined the impossibility to reach an agreement on the HRC's modalities to deal with emergency country situations. While no agreement could be reached, the President underlined that the review had resulted in important improvements regarding the functioning of the HRC. On Libya, the President took the view that while the special session may had been perceived as belonging to the finest hours of the HRC, he cautioned against taking this case as a benchmark for HRC's action. Indeed, this case was very clear-cut and it might not repeat. That is why it was important to agree on more constructive tools to deal with country situations. 

German MPs conveyed their disappointment about the outcome of the review process, arguing that it was difficult for German domestic constituency to understand why the HRC could take swift action on some situations (i.e. Libya), while remaining silent on other urgent country situations. They also raised specific questions about the bias on the situation in Israel, freedom of religion or belief (HRC16 resolution), discrimination based on sexual orientation, the proposals for a Legal Committee on SP and the cases of persistent lack of cooperation with SP from certain States. In conclusion, German MPs stated that although there was some scepticism in Germany about the HRC's ability to react to country situations, the special session on Libya had been very much welcomed and Germany was therefore willing to continue engaging with the HRC.

The President called upon Germany to continue to remain strongly engaged with the HRC's work, referring to the good work done, for instance in the field of UPR, freedom of association or discrimination against women (new SPs), for instance. 

Meeting with Cote d'Ivoire, H.E. Ahoussou Jeannot, Minister of Justice (3 March)

The Minister requested the President to send a strong message to Member States. He was however not calling for a military intervention but for the arrest of Laurent Gbagbo and for him to be prosecuted by the ICC, as was the case for Charles Taylor (Liberia). Despite the recognition by the international community of Mr. Ouattara as the elected President, no action had been taken to help him in acceding effectively to power and stop the serious human rights violations committed by Laurent Gbagbo and his mercenaries from Liberia and Angola.

Despite the current situation in Northern African countries, the President emphasized that the HRC not forget other human rights situations, like the one in Cote d'Ivoire. While the special session on Cote d'Ivoire had been successful, it was important to ensure implementation of the resolution and allow for an efficient follow up on the ground. The Minister referred to its country's willingness to have a resolution on Cote d'Ivoire during the present session and the President stated that this resolution should be action oriented. He would therefore try to consult with various actors, including the HC, USA and EU to see how to best respond to human rights violations in Cote d'Ivoire. The Minister informed the President they would meet with the HC in order to share ideas on concrete actions that may be undertaken. The President stated he would stay in touch with the Permanent Mission of Cote d'Ivoire, so as to coordinate with them regarding any steps taken by the HRC.

Meeting with Ecuador, H.E. Diego Falconi, Vice Minister of Justice, Human Rights and Worship (3 March)

The Minister expressed its satisfaction for the timely and balanced HRC's response (cf. Declaration of the President on 1 October) to the attempted coup d'Etat last September. The outcome of the review was also discussed. The Minister expressed Ecuador's willingness to cooperate with the HRC and mentioned that Ecuador had since 2008 a constitutional obligation to comply with international human rights mechanisms.