Human Rights Council
20 June 2007
Concludes Discussion on President’s Text on Institution Building in the Council
The Human Rights Council this morning adopted by consensus three resolutions on follow-up to the report of the Commission of Inquiry on Lebanon, follow-up to Human Rights Council resolutions S-1/1 and S-3/1 on the occupied Palestinian territory, and follow-up to the resolution on the situation of human rights in Darfur.
In the resolution on the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the follow-up to the report of the Commission of Inquiry on Lebanon, the Council took note with satisfaction of the factual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and requested the High Commissioner to extend support to the Government of Lebanon’s activities and programmes in particular those consistent with her report.
Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference introduced the resolution and Germany on behalf of the European Union made a general comment on it.
In the resolution on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory and follow-up to Human Rights Council resolutions S-1/1 and S-3/1, the Council called for the implementation of its resolutions S-1/1 and S-3/1, including the dispatching of the urgent fact-finding missions; and requested the President of the Human Rights Council and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to report to the Council at its next session on their efforts for the implementation of Council resolutions S-1/1 and S-3/1 and on the compliance of Israel, the occupying power, with these two resolutions.
Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference introduced the resolution. Israel and Palestine spoke as concerned countries, and Canada and Germany on behalf of the European Union spoke in explanations of the vote after the vote.
In the resolution on follow-up to the resolution A/HRC/4/8 of 30 March 2007 adopted by the Human Rights Council at its fourth session entitled “Follow-up to the decision of 13 December 2006 adopted by the Human Rights Council at its fourth special session entitled “Situation of human rights in Darfur (S-4/101)”, the Council welcomed the report of the United Nations Experts Group on Darfur; and requested the Experts Group to continue its work for six months and to submit an update to the session of the Council in September 2007 and a final report to the following session of the Council.
Germany on behalf of the European Union and Egypt on behalf of the African Group introduced the resolution. Sudan spoke as a concerned country and Canada spoke in an explanation of the vote after the vote.
Also this morning, delegates continued with statements on the institution–building package adopted by the Council at the end of its fifth regular session at midnight on 18 June. Most delegations paid tribute to Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba of Mexico, the first President of the Human Rights Council, and the facilitators who had guided the development of institutional mechanisms. Delegations expressed their satisfaction with the adoption of the institution-building proposals, and with the broad consensus, spirit of dialogue and atmosphere of flexibility and cooperation that had been needed to achieve the outcome. Achievements in building this spirit should be preserved and built upon. There were reservations, comments and concerns on a range of issues, such as ways to improve the Universal Periodic Review, system of country mandates and other aspects of the institution building document. Some countries regretted that certain country mandates, notably for Belarus and Cuba, had not been continued. The adoption of a Code of Conduct for mandate-holders was broadly welcomed as a tool that would enhance the service of human rights. The rights to self determination and development were among those stressed in the light of the proposals and institutional agenda. Essential principles of universality and non-selectivity should be strengthened in order to enhance the Council’s credibility, and the Council now needed to translate commitment into positive acts, speakers said.
Speaking on the institution building of the Council were the representatives of Ghana, South Africa, Indonesia, Iran, Poland, Turkey, Republic of Korea, African Union, Tunisia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Senegal, Egypt, Peru, Algeria, Italy, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Singapore, Bosnia Herzegovina, Ecuador, Angola, Madagascar, Holy See, Venezuela, Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, Lebanon, Zambia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bahrain and Mexico.
Also speaking were the International Federation of University Women, International Indian Treaty Council, Indian Council of South America, International Indian Treaty Council, UN Watch, International Service for Human Rights, Mouvement Contre le Racisme, Comité International pour le Respect et l'Application de la Charte Africaine des Droits de l'Homme et des Peuples.
The Council will meet at 3 p.m. to continue to deal with issues pending before this organizational session of the second cycle of the Council.
Action on Resolution L.4
In a resolution (A/HRC/5/L.4) entitled report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the follow-up to the report of the Commission of Inquiry on Lebanon, adopted without a vote, the Human Rights Council takes note with satisfaction of the factual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/5/9); and requests the High Commissioner to extend support to the Government of Lebanon’s activities and programmes, in particular those consistent with her report.
TEHMINA JANJUA (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), introducing resolution L.4, said resolution S-2/1 of the second special session of the Human Rights Council established a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the grave situation in Lebanon. In this resolution, and that adopted during the third regular session of the Council, it was established that the High Commissioner should report on the follow-up, and the Council had this before it, and the resolution took note with satisfaction of this factual report. It requested the High Commissioner to extend support to the Government of Lebanon in areas consistent with her report. The OIC hoped the resolution would be adopted by consensus.
BIRGITTA MARIA SIEFKER EBERLE (Germany), speaking on behalf of the European Union, in a general comment, said the European Union welcomed the factual report by the High Commissioner on follow-up to the Commission of Inquiry's report. The European Union agreed with the High Commissioner's conclusions that human rights had to be mainstreamed into any actions. There were still problems that needed attention, and in that context, the European Union supported the involvement of the Office of the High Commissioner in future activities in Lebanon as and where needed, as set out in the resolution.
Action on Resolution L.5
In a resolution (A/HRC/5/L.5) on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory: follow-up to Human Rights Council resolutions S-1/1 and S-3/1, adopted without a vote, the Human Rights Council calls for the implementation of its resolutions S-1/1 and S-3/1, including the dispatching of the urgent fact-finding missions; and requests the President of the Human Rights Council and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to report to the Council at its next session on their efforts for the implementation of Council resolutions S-1/1 and S-3/1 and on the compliance of Israel, the occupying power, with these two resolutions.
TEHMINA JANJUA (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, introducing the resolution, said Resolution S1/1 had expressed deep concern over the human rights breaches by the occupying force in the Palestinian territory. The third special session of the Human Rights Council had adopted a resolution on Israeli military incursions. The High-Level Fact-Finding Mission of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Christine Chinkin had been unable to visit Beit Hanoun but had made specific recommendations. Special Rapporteur John Dugard who was to head the Fact-Finding Mission under S1/1 was also unable to undertake his mission. The resolution presented asked for a report on the implementation of the two resolutions.
ITZHAK LEVANON (Israel), speaking as a concerned country, said with regards to L.5, it had been said that there was nothing new under the sun. Yesterday, apparently a new era for the protection of human rights had been ushered in, yet today for the tenth time in one year a resolution on Israel had been presented. There was absurdity in presenting this resolution, when even the Special Rapporteur had said that the issue had been dealt with. Still, the sponsors could not let go of their obsession with Israel. It was obvious that the main purpose of presenting such texts was to give the Council another tool to bash Israel. The difference between this resolution and the situation on the ground were striking. Only last year Hamas attacked Israel, and the Council had remained silence. Such cases would not be included, undoubtedly, in any future reports of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the territories, as he was not mandated to do so. This propagated a one-sided historic picture, and would have negative consequences on the cause of peace.
MOHAMMED ABU-KOASH (Palestine), speaking as a concerned country, said the draft resolution under consideration was identical to that of resolution 4/2 adopted without a vote at the last session of the Council. Its intention was also the same: that the resolutions of the Council had to be respected, even if the violator in question was Israel. In Israeli logic the whole world was wrong except for Israel. The two resolutions S-1/1 and S-3/1, which asked for the dispatching of the urgent fact-finding missions, were not merely tools to punish Israel: they called for the immediate protection of Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories and the Palestinian members of Parliament that had been kidnapped by the Israeli authorities. What had the Palestinian people done to Jews back in 1870 or furthermore in 1921, for it to establish its spearhead to confiscate Palestinian land? The draft resolution was a procedural resolution, and Palestine called for its adoption without a vote, as had been done at the last session.
TERRY CORMIER (Canada), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said there should be substantive follow-up to the decisions of the Council. The Council had a responsibility to ensure it addressed situations in a fair and balanced manner, taking into account the positions of all sides. The Council’s original decisions were flawed because they did not accurately and effectively represent the situation on all sides. Canada therefore disassociated itself from the issue.
BIRGITTA MARIA SIEFKER EBERLE (Germany), speaking on behalf of the European Union, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said there was deep concern for the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, in particular the recent escalation of violence in Gaza. All parties should exercise restraint and protect civilian lives and the work of the international organizations. The safety of civilians should remain a priority, and the European Union condemned all attacks. The European Union had not supported the resolution issuing from the special sessions, however, it agreed that it was vital for all States to cooperate with the mechanisms of the Council. For this reason, as already expressed, the European Union hoped that Archbishop Tutu would bring his mission to completion. For these reasons, the European Union was willing to accept the text without a vote.
Action on Resolution L.6
In a resolution (A/HRC/5/L.6) entitled follow-up to the resolution A/HRC/4/8 of 30 March 2007 adopted by the Human Rights Council at its 4th session entitled “Follow-up to the decision of 13 December 2006 adopted by the Human Rights Council at its 4th special session entitled “Situation of human rights in Darfur (S-4/101)”, adopted without a vote, the Council welcomes the report of the United Nations Experts Group on Darfur; and requests the Expert Group to continue its work for six months and to submit an update to the session of the Council in September 2007 and a final report to the following session of the Council.
MICHAEL STEINER (Germany), speaking on behalf of the European Union, introducing resolution A/HRC/5/L.6, entitled follow-up to resolution A/HRC/4/8 and follow-up to the decision of 13 December 2006 entitled “Situation of human rights in Darfur (S-4/101)”, said the crisis in Darfur continued and the European Union remained deeply concerned about violations of human rights and international humanitarian law taking place there, especially the violations involving the rights of women and children and the repeated aerial bombing. The Experts Group had the potential of making an improvement in the human rights situation in Darfur. The resolution, once adopted by the Council, would extend the mandate of the Experts for six months and request them to report to the Council. It was hoped the decision could be adopted without a vote, thereby enhancing and strengthening human rights protections for the inhabitants of Darfur.
SAMEH SHOUKRY (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the African Group, to introduce resolution (A/HRC/5/L.6) on follow-up to the resolution A/HRC/4/8 of 30 March 2007 adopted by the Human Rights Council at its 4th session entitled “Follow-up to the decision of 13 December 2006 adopted by the Human Rights Council at its 4th special session entitled “Situation of human rights in Darfur (S-4/101)”, said he hoped the resolution would be adopted by consensus. It was a continuation of the new and constructive approach aimed at protecting the rights of the people of Darfur and assisting the Sudanese Government in responding to the humanitarian needs of the region. The African Group welcomed the spirit of cooperation shown by those involved, and the cooperation shown by the Government of Sudan.
IBRAHIM MARGANI IBRAHIM MOHAMED KHEIR (Sudan), speaking as a concerned country, said by accepting a consensus resolution for the third time, Sudan was expressing its belief in the message of the new form of the Council and the necessity of respecting and promoting human rights, a basic pillar. The Council decision 4/8 was based on two pillars: to review the implementation by the Government of Sudan of the recommendations, and the provision by the United Nations and the international community to provide technical support to facilitate the implementation. The full crisis could only be resolved through a political process, and it was hoped that the implementation of these resolutions would help in that aim. Sudan was undergoing progressive economic development, but its use to citizens was doubtful without the prevalence of peace throughout the country in an atmosphere of protection and promotion of human rights. The Government was confident that it could achieve this, with the support of the international community.
TERRY CORMIER (Canada), speaking in explanation of the vote after the vote, welcomed the Council's adoption by consensus of the resolution on Darfur, extending the Experts Group mandate for six months. The Human Rights Council had to remain seized of the human rights situation in Darfur, and Canada looked forward to receiving the report of the Expert Group at the Council's seventh session. Canada urged the Government of Sudan to implement without delay the recommendations of the Experts Group that it had committed itself to, as well as the Group's other recommendations. It was only through concrete improvements in the situation on the ground in Darfur that the success of the Council could be measured.
Statements on the President’s Text on Institution Building in the Council
KWABENA BAAH-DOUDU (Ghana) said what had happened over the past year, the difficulties which had been gone through, were not unexpected, as although some considered human rights as “God-given rights”, they were not, unfortunately, often given on a silver platter. The institutions whose solid foundation had been laid had greater chances of success as, unlike previous institutions, developing and developed countries, rich and poor, North and South, all had contributed to their building. The new mechanism of the Universal Periodic Review would ensure that it was not only the human rights in developing countries which would come under the microscope. The Code of Conduct would ensure that the principles, which were central for the effective promotion and implementation of universal respect for human rights could be upheld, without undue politicisation, selectivity and partiality.
GLAUDINE MTSHALI (South Africa) aligned South Africa with the statement made yesterday by Algeria on behalf of the African Group. South Africa also thanked the Coordinator of the African Group, the Ambassador of Algeria, for his tireless efforts in steering the Group's initiative that had resulted in the Code of Conduct that formed part of the package that had been adopted yesterday. However, their work was not over. There were still pending issues that required urgent attention in the forthcoming sessions, including the aligning of the terms of office of Council Members with the other United Nations organs. During the previous week, South Africa had expressed its concern about country-specific mandates and their role in the demise of the Commission on Human Rights. South Africa therefore supported the criteria that had now been established for country-specific mandates in an effort to prevent politicization, double standards, and selectivity from becoming the practice of the Council. Finally, South Africa expressed its deep appreciation to China, who had raised the threshold of the Council's working culture and who, together with all the other parties, through the spirit of constructive dialogue, had enabled the Council to commence its work as of today.
GUSTI AGUNG WESAKA PUJA (Indonesia) thanked Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba for his able leadership and his relentless efforts deployed over the past month in presiding over the institution-building process, and also the efforts of Algeria, on behalf of the African Group, which had enabled the Council to complete its institution-building task as mandated by its founding resolution. The text that was adopted had been the result of the collective work of those who were keen to see human rights become fully operational. Although it might not fully satisfy the interests of each and every delegation, the decision in its entirety provided the essential operational framework for the Council to be fully functioning. In that regard, Indonesia thanked all the delegations that had contributed to the process of institution building in the Council, expressing appreciation in particular for China's perseverance in promoting their common cause and the flexibility it had shown in the course of the consultations.
ALIREZA MOYERI (Iran) said Iran appreciated the work of former Council President Luis Alfonso de Alba in bringing the Council’s deliberations on institution building to the final stage of negotiations. Iran felt the Universal Periodic Review should preserve a cooperative, consensual character and ensure equal treatment of all States under review, without selectivity and politicization. Iran welcomed the adoption of a Code of Conduct for mandate-holders, understood that the mandate on the occupied Palestinian territories would be valid until the end of the occupation, and emphasized the need for confidentiality in the Complaints Procedure.
The compromise proposal on the agenda of the Council was noted with appreciation, especially the separate agenda items on racism and Palestine. But Iran was concerned that aspects of the agenda item “human rights situations requiring the attention of the Council” could lead to similar situations to those experienced by the Human Rights Commission, which had targeted developing countries in the pursuit of a political agenda dominated by a small group of countries. In this regard, the Chinese delegation’s efforts under the rules of procedure to reflect the concern of developing countries were appreciated.
ZDZISLAW RAPACKI (Poland) said on 18 June, Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba tabled a package which was the result of several months of difficult negotiations. Poland was convinced that the adoption of the package was to be carried out the following day by the new membership of the Council. Poland deeply regretted that not all the mandates of the Special Procedures could be retained in the package. It was difficult to see any justification for the fact that some country mandates were considered more important than others, and they should have been properly reviewed. Poland understood particularly well the situation of those peoples who were under dictatorships and could not enjoy the rights and freedoms enjoyed by others. Poland found it difficult to understand that the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Belarus had not been retained in the package.
AHMET UZUMCU (Turkey) said the package which had been adopted was an important achievement for the Human Rights Council. Turkey was pleased to see that a broad consensus had been secured by the prevailing atmosphere of flexibility, common sense and realism. Therefore the sense of ownership through consensus had been strengthened. Nothing was perfect and what had been agreed was no exception. However, Turkey would act in a cooperative and constructive way that would contribute to the activities of the new forum. The interference of regional and international politics with Council proceedings – which might sometimes be unavoidable – should not operate at the expense of those affected by human rights violations, particularly in conflict areas, who were in urgent need of help. This new institution had to produce concrete outcomes and act in an effective, constructive and responsive manner for it to meet the expectations of the international community. Turkey firmly believed that a renewed commitment to effective multilateralism was the best means to achieve that goal.
SUNG-JOO LEE (Republic of Korea) said the Republic of Korea saw the package as the result of a collective effort and hard work, cooperation, flexibility and mutual respect. The Republic of Korea thanked the former President and the six facilitators for their work in providing a foundation for the agreement. General Assembly Resolution 60/251 had established a mandate to promote and protect human rights, in all countries and all situations, and this was the first principle of the Council. Constructive dialogue was vital, but to be truly effective the Human Rights Council must be able to respond to abuses with sufficient means to carry out its mandate. It should be empowered to make country-specific recommendations. On the Universal Periodic Review, the Republic of Korea believed there should be no distinction between different categories, and on country mandates, these should entail a meaningful review of all mandates based on non-selectivity and impartiality. The Code of Conduct should enhance trust and cooperation and strengthen the mechanism. There were other areas that could have been improved, yet the text broadly represented a big step. However, much work was required to build an effective and strong institution.
KHADIJA RACHIDA MASRI (African Union) said when the Human Rights Council was established by the United Nations General Assembly, the international community rested its optimism and confidence on the belief that cases involving grave or imminent human rights violations would be treated with the seriousness they deserved, and that selectivity and political considerations needed not impair judgement and ultimate action in addressing such cases. The events of the past few days however had left many delegations wondering if such principles were to be attained. However, when all hope seemed to be lost and despair and gloom seemed to replace the collective euphoria and optimism, at the last moment victory was snatched from the jaws of defeat. The enduring legacy of collective efforts would be the President’s document on institution building, together with the Code of Conduct. No edifice would be built without a sound foundation. It was hoped that the new body would continue to thrive and grow in relevance and serve the purpose for which it was established.
SAMIR LABIDI (Tunisia) aligned Tunisia with the statement made by the Arab Group yesterday. Tunisia thanked former President Luis Alfonso de Alba for the continuous efforts he deployed in steering the Council last year. Tunisia had not spared any effort to work towards consensus during its tenure as a Member of the Council. Tunisia was committed to promoting human rights principles, away from any double standards or subjectivity and in the spirit of cooperation and dialogue. Tunisia also thanked the High Commissioner for Human Rights and her Office for their efforts taken on behalf of the Council, as well as Algeria, who had led the African Group, Pakistan, and all those delegations who had worked so hard towards the institution building of the Council.
ALICIA MARTIN GALLEGOS (Nicaragua) said Nicaragua welcomed the document adopted by the Council. It represented the outcome of real dialogue and flexibility among the Council Member States. The Nicaraguan delegation would work constructively to continue to refine the mechanisms, and work towards establishing the right to development as a right of all peoples. The Government of President Ortega was committed to the promotion and protection of all human rights, and membership increased accountability. Nicaragua had handed in to the High Commissioner all reports relating to the international treaty bodies to which Nicaragua was a party. Nicaragua was committed to honouring all its commitments.
MARTIN UHOMOIBHI (Nigeria) said at this time last year, not a few sceptics doubted the possibility of achieving a consensual outcome, which should bode well not only for the new Council but also for the United Nations system as a whole, and for the protection and promotion of human rights as a core objective. Even when there were divergences of views during the negotiation and consultation processes, sufficient room was always allowed for the expression of the shared commitment and interest in furthering the noble objectives of strengthening and promoting human rights globally. All had demonstrated the sufficient flexibility and cooperation needed to achieve the desired outcome. In the real sense of diplomatic practice, core values had been upheld without losing sight of the fundamental interest in the course of consulting and negotiating these instruments. The Code of Conduct was a crucially important instrument that should strengthen and consolidate the role of the mandate holders in the discharge of their responsibilities. The Council should be enabled to focus more on the victims of human rights violations rather than getting its attention unduly preoccupied by issues which detracted from the protection and promotion of human rights.
ABDULWAHAB HAIDARA (Senegal) thanked Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba, who had so brilliantly led the Council during its first year, with a competency, attentiveness, and a keen knowledge of human relations that commanded respect and admiration. In completing its first year – with its five regular and four special sessions, as well as the numerous consultations that had allowed them to complete on time the Council's mandate as set out by the General Assembly – the Council, and all of the stakeholders in the cause of human rights had shown their ability to construct a dynamic dialogue, marked by cooperation and mutual understanding, in order to work together to establish the new mechanisms of the Council. Senegal welcomed that new dynamic, which paved the way for a constructive approach that would ensure that the Council had all the necessary credibility and effectiveness to implement its mandate to promote and protect human rights.
SAMEH SHOUKRY (Egypt) said the document on institution building had not incorporated all the concerns of the African and Islamic groups, but great flexibility had been shown to achieve consensus, and it was hoped that the framework would enable the Council to take up its mandate to protect and promote human rights in a framework of justice, free of politicisation and double standards. It was surprising that in the Council’s framework, certain comments on the Special Rapporteur’s mandate on Palestine had been heard. Despite the suffering of the Palestinian people and the foreign occupation that was behind their hardship, narrow political concerns were making themselves heard. This was a special and exceptional situation and it was hoped the Council would intensify political efforts to help overcome the situation in Palestine.
CARLOS ALBERTO CHOCANO BURGA (Peru) said it had been possible, thanks to Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba, to fulfil the mandate of the Human Rights Council as stipulated by the General Assembly. Given the disagreements expressed by some delegations, the Government of Peru reserved the right to express itself on any part of the document.
MOHAMMED BESSEDIK (Algeria) fully supported the statement made by Pakistan yesterday regarding the right to self-determination. Algeria had continually reiterated the necessity of including that right on the agenda of the Council as a separate item. The legitimacy of that right remained unchallenged, even by those who challenged the concept of collective rights, as the United Kingdom had said yesterday. It was true that the will of peoples always triumphed, but at a great price in terms of loss of life that could be avoided if that right were respected. That theme remained on the agenda of the international community and it was still denied to certain peoples, although it was enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and, since 1960, was reaffirmed by resolution 1514 of the General Assembly, and more recently resolution 60/251. It was incomprehensible, at a time when new types of human rights were being established, that the right to self-determination remained unachieved and had not found a place on the agenda of the Council.
GIOVANNI CARACCIOLO DI VIETRI (Italy) said the new measures were largely positive, notwithstanding some areas that were not satisfactory. It was true that the secret of good compromise was equal distribution of the grounds for dissatisfaction on all sides. Delivery pains experienced in recent days had shown the difficulties. The Universal Periodic Review was one of the main pivots of the new mechanism. It would be able to contribute to effective compliance with human rights mechanisms by all States and involved some welcome new innovations. In terms of Special Procedures, the proposals had preserved the best aspects of the former Commission in a broader compromise. One of the criteria used to judge the new measures was the capacity to move forward in dealing with the rights of the most vulnerable: children in conflict, migrant workers and others.
ANDREJ LOGAR (Slovenia) said Slovenia deeply appreciated the work of the former President of the Council, and was thankful for his remarkable patient guidance, culminating in the overhaul of the institutional system of the Council, changing it to a truly effective body for the protection and promotion of human rights. Slovenia endorsed the institutional package, and understood it was necessarily a compromise for all, putting into place necessary elements for the Human Rights Council. The Universal Periodic Review allowed an assessment of all States in an objective manner, and although it could never be totally divorced from political perspectives, it contained elements which should ensure that these were minimised to the greatest possible extent. For the process to be truly credible and effective, the participation of the voice of civil society was indispensable. The Council needed to be able to address serious and ongoing human rights situations, and it was regretted that not all country mandates were preserved. The Code of Conduct was now more balanced.
TOMAS HUSAK (Czech Republic) said the Czech Republic had joined the general consensus, approving the final proposal that had completed the year of institution building of the Council. It had been very difficult to find consensus. The Special Procedures constituted a unique tool in the promotion and protection of human rights. It had been hoped that, in completing their institution building, the Council would see a new reformed system with no protection gaps and which was better able to address situations of human rights violations. However, two important mandates had been missing from the final proposal: the country-mandates for Belarus and Cuba. That could be seen as a lack of concern for the human rights violations occurring in those countries. It was unacceptable that the international community should remain silent in the face of the lack of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and other fundamental rights and freedoms that were being perpetrated in those countries.
GAN SZE SZE FAITH (Singapore) said the final package was not perfect but was testimony to the resolve of most delegations to work together in good faith to ensure success of the Council. Among the delegations, China had shown particular flexibility. All States had to be treated equally, and the Universal Periodic Review mechanism should be implemented in a way that worked closely with States. It should not be turned into a tribunal or finger-pointing exercise. The institutions had been agreed upon and this was a proud achievement, but a spirit of trust and partnership was needed. Achievements in building this spirit had been substantial and should be preserved and built upon so that institutions became stronger.
JADRANKA KALMETA (Bosnia Herzegovina) said the compromise reached on institution building represented a genuine effort to enhance the credibility and effectiveness of the multilateral human rights system. The adopted document would provide the Council with appropriate elements to continue its work, as well as improve the credibility of the Council on the ground, and help those in need. The Council had to secure the principle of universality and non-selectivity, and consensus building was important in this regard, as it ensured increased implementation and enhanced the status of the decisions. It was hoped that all future decisions that had to be made by the Council in order to keep it functional would be made in a consensual and constructive manner.
JUAN HOLGUIN (Ecuador) said that throughout this entire process Ecuador had been advocating the need, within the Human Rights Council framework, for special human rights procedures to become legitimate instruments that were effective, impartial, objective and non-selective, with the historic mandate of examining emerging serious violations of human rights around the world. For that reason, Ecuador congratulated former President Luis Alfonso de Alba, who had led the negotiations to a successful conclusion during a time when the very viability of the Council had been in question. Ecuador reiterated its commitment to contribute at this historic time before the Council to promote and protect human rights and to construct the structure to do that.
JOSE MARIA CAPON DUARTE E SILVA (Angola) said the Universal Periodic Review and Special Procedures mechanisms were essential instruments, and in spite of some reservations, Angola welcomed the balanced manner in which these were adopted. The Code of Conduct would enhance balance and increase effectiveness in the mandate holders’ work. The Council should not be a forum of confrontation, nor should it function as a court. Universality, non-selectivity and impartiality were the key principles on which the Council should operate.
CLARAH ANDRIANJAKA (Madagascar) said Madagascar gave great importance to the work of the Council, and was committed to the protection and promotion of human rights, as stipulated in its Constitution. Madagascar had supported the creation of a more credible body, and therefore welcomed the spirit of dialogue and cooperation which prevailed in the debates in the heart of the Council, and urged all delegations to continue in this path. The Council should thus be a place of agreement and cooperation for the protection and promotion of human rights.
M. SILVANO TOMASI (Holy See) said that, like a young tree planted in the ground, the Human Rights Council had been established by the United Nations General Assembly in the hope that it would grow into a strong and fruitful plant. The multilateral efforts that had been carried out in the past months had provided both a solid example of how working together with patience and good will could yield positive results, as well as the needed institutional humus for a tree to grow and eventually meet all expectations. The consensus reached, however, was a starting point, a springboard to move ahead and remedy the deficiencies that excessive compromise might have brought about at the expense of a more determined and effective support and promotion of human rights for all men and women even in remote or silenced regions of the world. A globalization of human rights should match the globalization of the economy, of communications, and of the movement of people. The priority of the rights of the human person took precedence over narrow political considerations and immediate advantages that might accrue by tolerating the violation of those rights. The challenge facing the community of States now was to make the Council into the pillar of the international system of coexistence and cooperation it had been envisioned to be.
GABRIEL SALAZAR (Venezuela) said the constructive and active support of the Venezuelan delegation could be counted on in the coming year. There were some imperfections, but Venezuela was pleased with the equilibrium attained. It noted that fundamental progress had been made. Concerning the Universal Periodic Review, Venezuela was pleased with the way recommendations were dealt with. There was a clearer view of the role of Rapporteurs. Venezuela welcomed the streamlining of mandates, the inclusion of a mandate on Palestine, and the discontinuation of mandates on Cuba and Belarus. Positive developments included the elimination of item 9 of the former Commission on Human Rights. The Code of Conduct was extremely positive. As Venezuela understood it, Member States should endorse candidates for the Advisory Committee.
LIBERE BARARUNYERETSE, of Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, said that in fulfilling the important tasks ahead of it, the Council would receive the full support of the organization. During its first year, the Council had successfully completed the task before it, and set up its institutions and mechanisms. The institution building of the Council which had just been completed required a great sensitivity to dialogue, openness and compromise. Whatever initial positions were, the compromise that had been obtained was overall a credible instrument which could lead to a more positive overall trend in the protection and promotion of human rights. The Council should now rely on translating this commitment into positive acts, in particular with regards to the Universal Periodic Review, one of the principle innovations of the Council.
GEBRAN SOUFAN (Lebanon) said, with regard to the Universal Periodic Review, that mechanism was not and should not be seen as a duty for States, but was an opportunity for them to improve. It was a mechanism to improve, overcome and to correct. The inclusion on the agenda of an item on Palestine and the other occupied Arab territories had raised some criticisms. The intention had certainly not been to exclude other situations requiring the attention of the Council – still less to monopolize or paralyse its activities – but merely to highlight the devastating effects of longstanding occupation on the ability of individuals to enjoy their human rights. In conclusion, Lebanon called for constructive cooperation, dialogue that would animate and enrich their debates, and for an end to the attacks and antagonism in favour of a wise and calm approach that would consolidate the respect for human rights.
ENCYLA SINJELA (Zambia) said the Zambian delegation supported the well-balanced draft text on institution building. It would not have been possible to accommodate all the divergent and differing views, but at least all delegations could identify with one or two of their views in the present text. Zambia welcomed the adoption of the Code of Conduct, a tool that would enhance human rights and not hinder them.
ENRIQUE MANALO (Philippines) said the Philippines welcomed the consensus package on institution building, arrived at after intensive negotiations, and this result was attributed to the flexibility and willingness to compromise of all concerned. The Philippines would have preferred to have some provisions in the package drafted differently, but there were many acceptable proposals in the text. In the final analysis, a structure had been built in which the Council, as the international community’s principal body for the protection and promotion of human rights, could conduct its work. It was now time to move on and advance the work on the basis of the institutional structures and rules which had been agreed upon.
DAYAN JAYATILLAKE (Sri Lanka) expressed deep respect for former Human Rights Council President Luis Alfonso de Alba, who had made it possible to build this cathedral of human rights in which they would all dwell. Yes, they had had to struggle, and those struggles had reflected deep-seated contradictions and conflicts of position on principles. Nevertheless, Members had been able to arrive at common grounds and a synthesis, which meant that their common values were far more valuable and far more solid than the others. Sri Lanka intended to dwell in this new home as a full and responsible Member. Sri Lanka also thanked the Algerian Ambassador, who had presided over the elaboration of the Code of Conduct, as well as the facilitators on the other elements of institution building. Also to be thanked was China, for the principled position that China had taken, not only on its own behalf, but on behalf of others. Sri Lanka also fully endorsed the flexibility China had shown, which had allowed the process of institution building to come to a successful conclusion.
SIHASAK PHUANGKET KEOW (Thailand) said the institution building process had demonstrated the staunch commitments of both members and non-members of the Council as well as all stakeholders to the cause of human rights. But this was only the beginning. The challenge was to strengthen the institutions in the years to come. Thailand had concerns but it was important to look ahead, move forward and make the Council work. The constructive dialogue witnessed in the last few days should continue to guide the work of the Council.
ABDULLA ABDULLATIF ABDULLA (Bahrain) extended the thanks of Bahrain to Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba for his wise leadership. Thanks to his collaboration and dedication, the establishment and preparation of the institutional text was approved. There was a lot awaiting the Council, which was expected to defend and promote human rights. It was hoped the Council would be successful in carrying out these tasks.
CONCHITA PONCINI, of International Federation of University Women, in a joint statement, observed that institutional and legal frameworks were the most rigid foundations and most resistant to change once they were adopted. Therefore, the International Federation was gratified that a gender perspective had been included in the principles of the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, and that consideration of gender balance had been spelled out in the mandates of the Special Procedures, Complaint Procedure and Expert Advisory Committee of the Council, and that, in the final adopted package, a gender perspective had been included in the programme of work principles. The International Federation urged, for coherence, that gender mainstreaming and women's rights be integrated into the principles of the agenda and other operating documents and as a standing agenda item.
RONALD BARNES, of Indian Council of South America, said the agenda item on the right of peoples was a full reflection of principles of the Charter of the United Nations and international law. It reflected numerous relevant international instruments. The Indian Council thanked numerous delegations and organizations for strengthening the language on indigenous rights. There were severe limitations in the expert Advisory Committee, and it was hoped space would be made to protect and preserve the rights of indigenous peoples.
WILTON LITTLECHILD, of International Indian Treaty Council, said it could not be stressed strongly enough how important consensus was for the adoption of the President’s text. Anything less than that would have been a poor reflection on the Council and would have undermined its legitimacy in achieving its principal goal to protect and promote the human rights of all. The need for consensus was something that indigenous peoples knew of first hand. Consensus was an important component of indigenous peoples’ philosophies. The institution-building text was not perfect - it did not include indigenous peoples in the agenda and framework of the programme of work. However, indigenous peoples should have faith that the institution could use the tools that had been hammered out over the last year to best protect the dignity of all.
HILLEL NEUER, of UN Watch, said a set of new procedures had been adopted. Should they celebrate them? The mandate of the Special Rapporteurs on the human rights situations in Cuba and in Belarus had been eliminated. The Governments of Cuba and Belarus were celebrating, as were all those who wished to put an end to country mandates. Promises had been broken. Last year the Human Rights Council had promised that the experts would be strengthened. But they had not been. They had also promised that there would be no agenda item singling out Israel. But that was also not the case. The Council was backsliding. Given the current situation, it was hard to see how that would change, but they could at least start with an honest assessment.
CHRIS SIDOTI, of International Service for Human Rights, said the adoption of the text was an important achievement. But the achievements were the minimum necessary for the Council to have a credible basis for the promotion and protection of human rights. It would be judged by its actions. The organization was pleased to see the participation by non-governmental organizations covered in the text. States were encouraged to appoint representatives to the Universal Periodic Review Working Group. The organization looked forward to the clear posting of the eligibility requirements for the mandate holders regarding expertise and skills on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights website. The Code of Conduct should e considered in terms of operative paragraphs of the resolution that established it.
GIANFRANCO FATTORINI, of Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples, said the Universal Periodic Review mechanism raised many hopes and some concerns, in particular with regards to the treatment of information provided by non-governmental organizations. The constitution of a Consultative Committee of reduced size would necessarily imply a reduced capacity for work, and it was regretted that the members of that Committee would have no freedom for initiative. It was also regretted that the right to development, which deserved particular attention, had been in a way drowned. The lack of a specific point on the integration of the fundamental rights of women was also regretted, as was the absence of any reference to the right to self-determination.
JULES NICOLAS JUEPIY, of Comité International pour le Respect et l'Application de la Charte Africaine des Droits de l'Homme et des Peuples, speaking in a joint statement on behalf of African non-governmental organizations, said that, although there was a mention of non-governmental organizations in the first section on the Universal Periodic Review in the package that had been adopted, they were not mentioned thereafter. Non-governmental organizations wanted to have a realistic and pragmatic role in the Council with regard to important decisions.
LUIS ALFONSO DE ALBA (Mexico) expressed its congratulations to the President and thanked the other members of the Bureau. The Resolution of the General Assembly establishing the Council had requested that the pillars be established in the first year for the Council’s work. The document was the outcome of one of the broadest and most inclusive processes and the extent of the consensus should be recognized. Mexico highlighted the document’s value in establishing equitable treatment for all States, and strengthened Special Procedures. Mexico recognised growing interaction between the Council, civil society and other partners in a process that was now moving towards true association. Mexico stressed the need for flexibility and innovation in work processes.
For use of the information media; not an official record