Where global solutions are shaped for you | News & Media | HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL BEGINS DIALOGUE ON A DEMOCRATIC AND EQUITABLE INTERNATIONAL ORDER, AND ON UNILATERAL COERCIVE MEASURES

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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL BEGINS DIALOGUE ON A DEMOCRATIC AND EQUITABLE INTERNATIONAL ORDER, AND ON UNILATERAL COERCIVE MEASURES

Concludes Interactive Dialogue on the Use of Mercenaries and on Hazardous Waste
13 September 2017

The Human Rights Council this afternoon began a clustered interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on a democratic and equitable international order and the Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures.

The Council also concluded its interactive dialogue with the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination, and with the Special Rapporteur on the implication for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes.

Presenting his report, Alfred-Maurice De Zayas, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, said the universal scope of his mandate had proved suitable to demonstrate the interdependence of all rights, and the challenge was how to formulate pragmatic recommendations to advance toward a more democratic and equitable international order. He suggested numerous challenges that a future mandate-holder could address, including climate change, vulture funds, and the unregulated activities of media conglomerates. The report he was presenting focused on the policies of the World Bank Group, while another report to the General Assembly focused on the International Monetary Fund and its loan conditionalities.

Idriss Jazairy, Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, noted that States should be called upon to take resolute steps at an early date and in good faith towards the termination of unilateral coercive measures in force. One theme that required additional attention was the theme of extra-territoriality. There was a general understanding that extraterritorial sanctions were unlawful. By virtue of the United Nations Charter, only measures taken under Chapter VII called for multilateral enforceability. He spoke about his mission to Russia.

Russia spoke as a concerned country.

At the beginning of the afternoon, the Council concluded its interactive dialogue with Gabor Rona, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination, and with Baskut Tuncak, Special Rapporteur on the implication for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes. The dialogue started on 13 September. A summary can be found here.

In the interactive discussion on the use of mercenaries, speakers underscored the need to create a legally binding instrument to combat in a comprehensive manner the use of mercenaries in the context of hostilities in armed conflicts and to provide for accountability for private military and security agencies. Some delegations regretted that the Working Group did not substantively address mercenaries, but almost exclusively focused on private military and private security companies, and suggested that it be phased out or replaced.

On the use of hazardous substances and wastes, speakers concurred that securing access to justice and remedies for victims was crucial. They shared the concern that exposure to toxic substances was becoming the leading health risk to all people worldwide. States had the responsibility to regulate these substances and assess their use by business companies.

In his concluding remarks, Mr. Rona outlined that the vast majority of Member States had serious concerns about mercenaries, foreign fighters and private military and security companies. He was encouraged by the fact that a number of States recognized that there was an extraterritorial responsibility to protect their international human rights obligations. The overwhelming message was that States were concerned about the phenomenon and about gaps in national and international regulations, and violations of human rights and humanitarian law, and were interested in increasing and making more effective the nature and quantity of regulation in order to put an end to the use of mercenaries.

Delivering his concluding remarks, Mr. Tuncak outlined that often, victims of exposure to hazardous substances and wastes faced the insurmountable burden of proof and came from low-income communities. The Special Rapporteur advocated in favour of the adoption of a treaty on transnational corporations and human rights and stressed the need to adopt a global approach to tackle any issues related to hazardous substances and wastes.

The United Kingdom spoke as a concerned country. The United Kingdom National Human Rights Institutions also took the floor.

Speaking in the interactive discussion were the European Union, Tunisia on behalf of the African Group, Sierra Leone, Russian Federation, France, Togo, Sudan, Switzerland, Venezuela, Cuba, Iraq, Egypt, Bolivia, Morocco, China, South Africa, Kyrgyzstan, Ethiopia, India, Botswana, Nigeria, Algeria, State of Palestine, Côte d’Ivoire, Azerbaijan and Ecuador.

The following national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations also spoke: Iraqi Development Organization, Iuventum e.V., World Barua Organization, Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, Association pour l'Intégration et le Développement Durable au Burundi, Liberation, Make Mothers Matter – MMM, Global Institute for Water, Environment and Health, Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l'Homme, Human Rights Now, World Environment and Resources Council, European Union of Public Relations, International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD) and the Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights (APWCR).

The Council will next meet at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 14 September to conclude its dialogue on an equitable international order and unilateral coercive measures. It will then hear the presentation of the reports of the Working Group on the right to development and the Intergovernmental Working Group on private military and security companies, followed by a general debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development.

Interactive Dialogue with the Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries and the Special Rapporteur on Hazardous Substances and Wastes

Statement by a Concerned Country

United Kingdom, speaking as a concerned country, said that it was disappointed by some aspects of the report of the Special Rapporteur. The Government took its responsibilities very seriously and it had made it clear that the protection of the environment would be an important part of its exit negotiations from the European Union, and that it would make sure that the European Union law would continue to have effect in United Kingdom law. Nitrogen dioxide around roads was an immediate concern of the United Kingdom Government. The Government would bring forward a Clean Growth Plan in autumn 2017 and it was preparing an Air Quality Strategy for 2018. That would set out its international commitments to significantly reduce emissions of five damaging air pollutants by 2020 and 2030. The Government would continue working with medical and public health experts to identify policy options, securing real public health benefits. As for shale gas development, it was at a very early stage in the country. While the Government was encouraging its exploration in England, it was always clear that shale gas would only be developed in a manner that was safe for the environment and for people. Hydraulic fracturing and drilling could not take place without relevant permits. As for toxic exposures, the Government had invested a considerable amount of time and public money to better understand the potential risks.

United Kingdom National Human Rights Institutions encouraged the United Kingdom to fulfil its duty to prevent and control exposure to pollution and toxic chemicals. Air pollution was a public health concern and children, the elderly and those with lung complaints, such as asthma, were especially at risk. Another concern was the potential negative human rights aspect of the United Kingdom’s close cooperation with the United States in the area of energy. The United Kingdom and devolved nations had to be clear that Brexit was not an opening for deregulation and regression from human rights standards. Greater policy coherence and public participation in decision-making should be a feature all across the United Kingdom.

Interactive Dialogue

European Union said the report confirmed that the Working Group did not substantively address mercenaries, but almost exclusively focused on private military and private security companies, adding that there was merit in phasing out the Working Group or replacing it with a United Nations Independent Expert on that issue. Regarding hazardous waste, the report of the Special Rapporteur was a reminder that States had an obligation to protect human rights implicated by the production and use of such waste. Tunisia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, supported the call of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries for the elaboration of an international legally binding instrument to ensure adequate protection of the human rights of those affected by the industry. On hazardous substances, the African Group sought the views of the Special Rapporteur on possible avenues that could be utilized through a legally binding instrument. Sierra Leone thanked the Working Group for its constructive overview. The report on hazardous waste was useful as regards the transboundary movement of waste, noting that the Government of Sierra Leone had a waste management plan.

Russian Federation said there was a need for a legally binding instrument to strengthen the international machinery on mercenaries. The Working Group should not remain silent on Kiev’s use of mercenaries. France thanked the Special Rapporteur on hazardous wastes, noting France’s commitment to a global approach based on life cycles of substances and its ratification of the Minamata Convention. Togo said the report on hazardous waste had focused on good practices of sound management and disposal, and had also looked at the way in which scientific progress was always developing. Togo was particularly interested in the issue, which the whole international community should be particularly galvanized on.

Sudan noted that it had faced pillaging, forced abductions, and attacks on institutional structures by rebel groups, which had crossed borders and were involved in all sorts of organised crime and acts of terrorism. Switzerland said that much hope was placed on the first meeting of the Minamata Convention on the reduction of the use of mercury, which would take place in Geneva at the end of September 2017. Venezuela reiterated its concern that multinational private military and security companies were acting in a legal vacuum. Their operations were increasing day by day outside the rule of law. There should be an international legally binding instrument to regulate them.

Cuba stressed that more robust measures were needed to ensure protection from human rights violations committed by mercenaries, which were taking on new forms. It called on all countries to pay particular attention to the use of mercenaries. Iraq noted that it was one of the countries that had suffered most from the inflow of foreign terrorists recruited by Da’esh. International and national preventive measures were needed to address that challenge and prevent impunity. Egypt said that given the growth of private security companies, it stressed that a regulatory legally binding instrument had to be adopted to address that phenomenon in a comprehensive manner. As for the management of hazardous substances, it agreed that States had an obligation to protect their citizens when stocking such materials.

Bolivia attached importance to protecting human rights in the context of managing and eliminating hazardous substances and wastes. The use of pesticides had obnoxious effects, especially in rural areas. Bolivia had set up a technical committee on pesticides used in agriculture in order to register these substances and reassess them. Morocco highlighted that the use of mercenaries raised considerable problems for human rights and security. Hazardous substances and wastes represented a threat to the environment and populations’ health. Morocco had incorporated an environmental component in its development strategy in order to promote a more sustainable management of natural resources. China noted that the rise in the number of private military companies in the world represented a new challenge since it was difficult to hold these companies accountable for their illegal activities and violations of human rights. China strongly supported the idea of creating a legally binding international instrument on this issue. China said it was implementing its international obligations on hazardous substances and wastes, and promoted recycling of resources.

South Africa attached importance to the weaknesses with licensing and registering private military companies, and the lack of rules covering their participation in hostilities and their use of high calibre weapons. On hazardous substances and wastes, there were concerns that communities affected by toxics materials such as women and children were unable to secure access to justice and remedies. Kyrgyzstan noted that there were more than 300 million m3 of radioactive and toxic wastes in the country alone. Most uranium tailings were located in close proximity with settlements cutting mountain gorges. They posed great risks of spreading toxic materials, seriously affecting the health of the population.

Ethiopia said it was worrying for all that exposure to toxic substances was becoming the leading health risk to all people worldwide, and noted that the Ethiopian Government had established a durable policy framework to control hazardous materials. Ethiopia called for genuine global cooperation to fulfil the obligation to respect, promote and protect human rights from risks posed by toxic substances. India expressed appreciation for the Working Group’s global study, noting that India had enacted a Private Security Agencies Regulation Act which provided for licensing of all such agencies. India had established environmentally sound management of hazardous substances and waste, and would upgrade its processes and practices in line with global best practices. Botswana said following increased economic growth, hazardous waste was becoming a growing problem. Infrastructural incapacity meant Botswana was unable to meet all its obligations under the Basel Convention, and faced a mammoth task, to which the international community should provide assistance.

Nigeria said States had an obligation to respect the human rights implications of the disposal of hazardous waste, underscoring that the oil producing areas of Nigeria had witnessed dumping of toxic chemicals and gas flaring. Regarding the issue of mercenaries, it was important to close gaps and create a comprehensive, legally binding instrument. Algeria said there needed to be an internationally binding legal framework to provide for accountability for private security agencies. Thanking the Special Rapporteur on hazardous waste, it was noted that the production and storage of such substances had numerous impacts on human rights; the State had to intervene to mitigate the effects of those substances. State of Palestine said that in the West Bank, the water was often polluted by illegal dumping of toxic waste on the Palestinian territory, and extended an invitation to the Special Rapporteur to visit the occupied State of Palestine in order to assess the perilous threat the issue posed to all Palestinian communities.

Côte d’Ivoire concurred with the Special Rapporteur that States had an obligation to protect their citizens from exposure to pollution and toxic waste, which had a negative impact on life expectancy and infant mortality. It urged the international community to mobilise all available resources to address poor management of toxic waste. Azerbaijan noted that it was simply not enough to mention the shameful and humiliating fact that 1.7 million children under the age of five died each year due to toxic exposure. It drew attention to the outdated Metsamor nuclear power plant in Armenia, which was a time bomb threatening the South Caucasus region. Ecuador underlined the recognition of the extraterritorial obligation to protect human rights in the context of waste management and pollution. Polluting industries moved across borders thanks to their global supply chains.

Remarks by the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries and by the Special Rapporteur on the Management and Disposal of Hazardous Substances and Wastes

GABOR RONA, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination, thanked speakers for their useful feedback. The Working Group understood that the vast majority of Member States had serious concerns about mercenaries, foreign fighters and private military and security companies. Mr. Rona reiterated that the name of the Working Group included the right to self-determination, which was not an accident. All those entities involved in conflicts not on their own territory thus impeded the right of people to determine their own future. He said he was encouraged by the fact that a number of States recognized that there was extraterritorial responsibility to protect their international human rights obligations. That obligation reflected a requirement to respect their own obligations and ensure respect for those obligations. The United Nations Charter was so important in that regard, with the notion of the right to sovereignty and non-use of force in international relations, which were challenges by private military and security companies. On concerns about the effects of private security and military companies operating on States’ soil, the Working Group welcomed the input of countries and it was ready to assist them. The overwhelming message was that States were concerned about the phenomenon and about gaps in national and international regulations, violations of human rights and humanitarian law, and were interested in increasing and making more effective the nature and quantity of regulation in order to put an end to the use of mercenaries. Mr. Rona found that it was perplexing that there was still some confusion, as expressed by the European Union, about the Working Group’s mandate and the reason why mercenaries, foreign fighters and private security companies should come under the roof of the same mandate. Those entities had the capacity to overturn the capacity of countries, which was why there was a need for their regulation.

BASKUT TUNCAK, Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of hazardous substances and wastes, stressed the importance of improving the facilitation of access to remedies for victims of hazardous substances and wastes. He outlined that often, victims faced the insurmountable burden of proof and came from low-income communities. It was then extremely difficult to confront some of the biggest oil and mining companies in the world. The access to remedies was also challenged by the timing of exposure to hazardous substances, said the Special Rapporteur, outlining the difficult case of children who had been exposed to such substances. Finally, the transnational nature of the release of hazardous substances and wastes also made it difficult for victims to access remedies. It was thus urgent to reverse the burden of proof on victims and hold the business sector responsible for the release of hazardous wastes. Increasing information and ensuring that legal aid was accessible for victims was critical in order to ensure non-reproduction. Legally binding standards for transnational companies should be adopted. The Special Rapporteur advocated in favour of the adoption of a treaty on transnational corporations and human rights and stressed the need to adopt a global approach to tackle any issues related to hazardous substances and wastes. The implementation of international obligations was often the main challenge regarding hazardous wastes. Finally he called on businesses to conduct due diligence on human rights issues.

Interactive Dialogue with the Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries and the Special Rapporteur on Hazardous Substances and Wastes

Iraqi Development Organization noted that it was imperative that the report’s findings be implemented, and drew attention to the United Arab Emirates’ use of mercenaries in the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen. Given that context, how did the Working Group suggest that best practices were implemented? Iuventum e.V. welcomed the report’s reference to the Sellafield nuclear site in the United Kingdom, noting that peaceful use of atomic power was an illusion. It noted that nuclear wastes were far more toxic. World Barua Organization underlined that the dehumanising practice of manual scavenging was one of the most dangerous occupations in India and was widespread among the Dalits. It drew attention to the plight of Dalit manual scavenging workers.

Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik noted that exposure to toxic substances through air in large cities had a direct impact on the health of people living there. Sixteen cities in Iran were on the list of the most polluted cities in the world. Association pour l'Intégration et le Développement Durable au Burundi stressed that manual scavenging among the Dalits in India had continued as a custom. Labour safety measures for the Dalits were minimal and led to short life expectancy. Liberation said that the production of hazardous waste in India due to rapid industrialisation and growth of cities had resulted in the violation of human rights, particularly the rights of Dalits who were employed in the area of hazardous waste management.

Make Mothers Matter – MMM said that toxics had a dramatic impact on children, who were particularly vulnerable during their early years. There was a need to adopt a human rights based approach to regulate toxics and protect mothers and children. The best interest of the child must come before business. Global Institute for Water, Environment and Health said that protection against the harm caused by hazardous substances depended on the protection of the right to information and remedies for victims. Financial inequalities had a great impact on the capacities of the most vulnerable States. It asked what rapid international assistance could be put in place to address this issue? Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l'Homme was concerned that mercenaries were deployed in Yemen by the coalition led by Saudi Arabia. They were also used to provoke a democratic shift in Kuwait and Bahrain, and were used in Syria with devastating consequences.

Human Rights Now noted that Iraqis had suffered from the toxic remnants of decades-long conflicts, which continued to cause serious health problems, particularly for children. All forces in Iraq, and especially United States’ forces, left behind toxic waste dumps and equipment. World Environment and Resources Council emphasised that the terrorist activities of ISIS in the Middle East had been causing grave violations of human rights. The recruitment for ISIS had been going on in Pakistan for more than three years, but the Government had been constantly denying that. European Union of Public Relations stated that mercenaries posed a direct threat to peace and stability and as such should be a matter of immediate concern for the international community. More than 300 serving officers of Pakistan’s army and more than 2,000 retired officers had been providing training to ISIS and similar organizations.

International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination drew attention to the mercenaries that continued to commit grave violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law against the people of Iraq with impunity. Stricter licensing and monitoring of mercenary groups should be introduced. Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights (APWCR) noted that the people of occupied Jammu and Kashmir had been facing the worst kind of human rights violations at the hands of Indian troops. India used mercenaries to commit violence against civilians, including the use of chemical weapons.

Concluding Remarks by the Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries and the Special Rapporteur on Hazardous Substances and Wastes

GABOR RONA, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination, said that the creation of a private army in Bahrain was extremely worrying. On best practices, he stressed the importance of bringing uniformity to the regulation standards of the private military industry. Such uniformity could be introduced through the adoption of a legal international binding instrument. The Working Group encouraged all countries to ratify the Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries. The Working Group reiterated that it was available to consider allegations and conduct visits to countries in order to investigate human rights violations by mercenaries, private companies and foreign fighters. Accountability and remedies for victims should be assured.

BASKUT TUNCAK, Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of hazardous substances and wastes, shared concerns expressed concerning the plights of workers around the world who were exposed to hazardous substances. There was a need for increase attention to the rights of the child in relation to their possible exposure to hazardous wastes and substances.

Documentation

The Council has before it the Report of the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order (A/HRC/36/40).

The Council has before it a corrigendum to the Report of the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order (A/HRC/36/40/Corr.1)

The Council has before it the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights (A/HRC/36/44).

The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights - mission to the Russian Federation (A/HRC/36/44/Add.1).
Presentation of Reports by the Independent Expert on the Promotion of an Equitable International Order and the Special Rapporteur on the Negative Impact of Unilateral Coercive Measures

ALFRED–MAURICE DE ZAYAS, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, said the universal scope of his mandate had proved suitable to demonstrate the interdependence of all rights, and the challenge was how to formulate pragmatic recommendations to advance toward a more democratic and equitable international order. He suggested numerous challenges that a future mandate-holder could address, including climate change, vulture funds, and the unregulated activities of media conglomerates. The report he was presenting focused on the policies of the World Bank Group, while another report to the General Assembly focused on the International Monetary Fund and its loan conditionalities. He said his reports called for both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to participate more in the achievement of the principles of the United Nations. Neither the World Bank nor the International Monetary Fund could escape the international human rights treaty regime, much of which had emerged as customary international law. The World Bank understood the word “development” as growth in terms of GDP, he said, noting that in his report he proposed a different understanding of the word as a more equitable distribution of wealth, food security, clean water, sanitation, healthcare, housing, education, a level playing field and equal pay for equal work.

Many non-governmental organizations had documented human rights abuses committed by companies benefitting from World Bank financing. The World Bank promoted public-private partnerships despite the fact that they did not always benefit communities. The World Bank had to concern itself with cases of reprisals against those who had opposed World Bank projects. There was promise in the World Bank’s new Environmental and Social Framework. Mr. De Zayas also welcomed the work of the Ombudsman, which was an internal accountability mechanism conducting independent investigations of the World Bank’s private-sector activities. The Bank’s undemocratic decision-making structure should be addressed, and it should draft a new and separate human rights policy. He recommended that the World Bank adopt and implement the International Labour Organization’s Social Protection Floors Recommendation No. 202, among other specific recommendations. He called on the World Bank to make the protection of human rights a core characteristic of its policy and practice. He also made recommendations to the International Monetary Fund, which included the adoption of national legislation that ensured that corporations paid their taxes.

IDRISS JAZAIRY, Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, said that in its resolution 71/193, the General Assembly had taken note of the proposals contained in his previous reports which included a recommendation to set up a consolidated central register at the level of the United Nations to recapitulate the list of all unilateral coercive measures in force. Another recommendation encouraged the General Assembly to adopt a declaration on unilateral coercive measures and the rule of law. States should be called upon to take resolute steps at an early date and in good faith towards the termination of unilateral coercive measures in force.

One theme that required additional attention was the theme of extra-territoriality. There was a general understanding that extraterritorial sanctions were unlawful. By virtue of the United Nations Charter, only measures taken under Chapter VII called for multilateral enforceability. Mr. Jazairy suggested that the United Nations International Law Commission resumed work on “extraterritorial jurisdiction”. It could elaborate on the inadmissibility of sanctions involving the unlawful assertion of jurisdiction by a source State or a group of States on target States. This would be coupled with the recognition that the impact on targeted countries was what triggered accountability of the targeting State or group of States and the right to reparation of victims in the targeted country.

Turning to his country visits and the key developments affecting unilateral sanctions regime, Mr. Jazairy said he had engaged in “quiet diplomacy” with a view to narrowing the differences between Sudan and the United States. These efforts were successful. A special procurement unit was set up under the United Nations mission in Khartoum with American approval to make life-saving drugs available. In the final days of his administration, former United States President Obama acceded to the request made to relax the sanctions regime applied on Sudan for 20 years. Unfortunately, on July 2017, a new presidential decision extended the review period for three more months, delaying the expected lifting of the sanctions.

In Russia, Mr. Jazairy said that the unilateral measures had only adversely affected the most vulnerable groups of the population. There were huge losses suffered by the European Union agricultural sector due to the countermeasures taken by Russia in retaliation for European Union sanctions. Mr. Jazairy was concerned about the entry into force of the recent additional sanctions by the United States against the Russian Federation. The expansion of the scope and applicability of these measures may entail adverse effects on the Russian economy. Finally, during his visit in Brussels in June 2017, Mr. Jazairy said he had suggested that additional steps be taken by the European Union to better ensure observance of human rights in the context of sanctions.

Statement by a Concerned Country

Russian Federation, speaking as a concerned country, stated that during his visit the Special Rapporteur had had an opportunity to hold discussions on all aspects of unilateral coercive measures with all relevant stakeholders. The Russian Federation categorically rejected unilateral coercive measures because they violated the standards of international law and fundamental human rights. The sole authority to introduce sanctions should be the United Nations Security Council. They had adverse effects on individual States and the world economy. Unilateral coercive measures erected artificial barriers to countries’ development, and they represented collective punishment. The Russian Federation had been exposed to various politicised restrictions by the United States, European and other countries. Most recently, in March 2014, new sanctions had been imposed on the Russian Federation, following the legitimate right of the citizens of Crimea to exercise their right to self-determination. It was regrettable that the Special Rapporteur could not visit the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.

Right of Reply

Russian Federation, speaking in a right of reply, said that the Council had seen Ukraine trying to deviate from issues in their own country. Residents of Sebastopol had decided their own fate. The Russian Federation had fulfilled its human rights obligations. If allegations were deemed to be true, the perpetrators were brought to justice.

China, speaking in a right of reply in response to some non-governmental organizations, objected to the allegations of the legal handling of some cases. Liu Xiaobo was a criminal convicted of violating Chinese law, and after he was diagnosed with liver cancer, experts had provided treatment for him, but his condition had continued to deteriorate and he had died. Ms. Liu Xia had personal freedom. Another person had committed crimes that were clear and substantiated. His case had nothing to do with human rights, as he was trying to incite hatred, which no country could tolerate. China’s handling of the case could not be interfered with. China was a country ruled by law, and being a lawyer was not a talisman to trample the rule of law. China urged non-governmental organizations to respect Chinese law and give up outrageous tactics.

United Kingdom, speaking in a right of reply, said the Working Group on arbitrary detention had rejected a request for a review of an opinion. The United Kingdom rejected the work of the Working Group and was disappointed they would not review their opinion. Julian Assange’s presence at the Ecuadorean Embassy was voluntary and he could leave any time he wanted to, at which time he would be subject to United Kingdom law.

Venezuela, speaking in a right of reply, referred to the statement made by the United States which repeated its interventionism against Venezuela in the Human Rights Council. The United States tried to lecture others while it was a systematic human rights violator and was responsible for thousands of deaths globally. How did it justify its arbitrary detention in countries worldwide, in Guantanamo Bay, and the arbitrary detention of migrants? Venezuela called on the United States to respect the right of Venezuelans to self-determination.

Azerbaijan, speaking in a right of reply, responded to Armenia regarding arbitrary detention and rejected its accusations. Azerbaijan suggested that Armenia carefully read the report of the Working Group on arbitrary detention before making any fabricated allegations. Azerbaijan drew attention to the recent hunger strike of human rights defenders in Armenia, and to Armenia’s attacks on the Azeri civilian population. Turning to the statements made by the non-governmental organization Human Rights House Foundation, it noted that the organization was biased against Azerbaijan.

Armenia, speaking in a right of reply, regretted that Azerbaijan continued to distract the attention of the Council. The authoritarian regime of that country oppressed the human rights of its citizens and was steeped in corruption. The issue of corruption and the so-called “caviar diplomacy” was already the subject of attention at the European level. The people of Nagorno-Karabakh exercised their legitimate right to self-determination.

Azerbaijan, speaking in a second right of reply, rejected Armenia’s fabricated allegations, noting that corruption was in fact a problem for Armenia which was a cash-based economy. Armenia was one of the most mono-ethnic countries in the world, giving no space to ethnic minorities to live there. By its own admission, Armenia also possessed weapons of mass destruction.

Armenia, speaking in a second right of reply, said Armenia was cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and experts had reviewed Armenia’s nuclear power plant for safety, and had noted good practices. During the last years, several important safety systems had been updated. Armenia had been commended for its openness. Regarding the last accusations, Azerbaijan had been criticised for violations of human rights by numerous organs, including concerning xenophobia and hate speech. Azerbaijan had been ranked 163 out of over 180 countries by the World Press Freedom organization.



For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC/17/125E