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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL BEGINS INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE ON USE OF MERCENARIES AND ON HAZARDOUS WASTES

Concludes Interactive Dialogue on Arbitrary Detention and on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, Hears Addresses by Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and Minister of Human Rights of Yemen
13 September 2017

The Human Rights Council this morning began a clustered 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 Council also heard addresses by Le Luong Minh, Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and Mohammed Muhsen Askar, Minister of Human Rights of Yemen, and concluded its interactive dialogue with the Working Group on arbitrary detention, and with the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery.

At the beginning of the meeting, Le Luong Minh, Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), addressed the Human Rights Council, underscoring that ASEAN recognised the complementarity between the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, which aimed to realise an inclusive community with the principle of leaving no one behind, that promoted high quality of life and equitable access to opportunities for all, and that promoted and protected human rights.

Mohammed Muhsen Askar, Minister of Human Rights of Yemen, said all were aware of the tragedy being suffered by Yemen since 21 September 2014 because of the military coup and the catastrophe that entailed. The situation in Yemen was not due to a divergence of political views that led to an armed conflict as some said. What happened in fact was a full coup against legitimacy. There was a response by the Arab coalition after six whole months of the bloody coup of the Houthis and Saleh. The Arab interference in Yemen only came after the war of the militias became a true threat to Yemen and the whole region.

Presenting his report, 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 many States lacked laws on inspections of private security companies and there were very few laws on the requirement for human rights-based vetting mechanisms to ensure private security companies’ personnel had training or complied with international human rights and humanitarian law standards. Adopting a legally binding international regulatory instrument was the best way to ensure consistent regulation worldwide and adequate protection of the human rights of those affected by the activities of private security companies.

Baskut Tuncak, Special Rapporteur on the implication for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, noted that exposure to pollution and toxic chemicals through air, water, food, and consumer products was estimated to be the leading cause of death and disease worldwide. Billions of people worldwide were affected. Mr. Tuncak presented good practices which were intended to help States tailor their laws, policies and practices to their own unique circumstances, and to ensure non-discrimination. He also presented guidelines for businesses regarding their human rights due diligence, transparency and prevention measures.

Earlier during the meeting, the Council concluded the clustered interactive dialogue with José Guevara, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on arbitrary detention, and Urmila Bhoola, the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences. The interactive dialogue on arbitrary detention and on contemporary forms of slavery started on 12 September and a summary can be found here.

In the interactive discussion on arbitrary detention, speakers underscored the importance of considering the issue of prohibition of discrimination on various grounds and of access to remedies in the context of arbitrary detention. The Working Group should encourage victims of arbitrary detention to find redress through national avenues. Some delegations regretted that the Working Group had once again demonstrated its lack of credibility and objectivity, making false assertions. They were concerned that members of the Working Group had expressed political opinions that were beyond their mandate.

On contemporary forms of slavery, speakers concurred that States had a primary responsibility to provide access to justice to victims. Whereas some delegations called for the drafting of a legally binding instrument to regulate the activities of transnational companies in conformity with international law, others noted that a new treaty was not a proper approach to address identified concerns in global supply chains. Speakers also expressed serious concerns regarding the exploitation of migrants in foreign countries and the absence of access to remedies for the victims.

In his concluding remarks, Mr. Guevara invited States parties to communicate with the Working Group. He noted that the Group’s criteria was rooted in applicable law concerning refugees. In the upcoming period, the Group would focus on compensation to victims.

Delivering her concluding remarks, Ms. Bhoola noted the importance of improving the guidelines to business-related human rights abuses and ensuring legal remedies for persons affected by businesses. She added that State-based judicial mechanisms were the core, but that transnational corporations and other business enterprises also had a key role in developing effective judicial mechanisms.

Speaking in the interactive discussion were Ecuador, Maldives, Cuba, Australia, Iraq, Egypt, Bahrain, Venezuela, United States, Bolivia, Tunisia, Morocco, China, South Africa, Nicaragua, Portugal, Nepal, Costa Rica, United Kingdom, Latvia, Ukraine, India, Mauritania, Iran, Sovereign Order of Malta, Republic of Korea, Ghana, Palestine, Croatia, Paraguay, Saudi Arabia, Armenia and Afghanistan.

The following national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations also spoke: Human Rights House Foundation, Article 19 – The International Centre against Censorship, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain Inc., Asian Legal Resource Centre, le Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l'Homme, Verein Sudwind Entwicklunghspolitik, Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism, International Service for Human Rights, China Human Rights Studies (CSHRS), Human Rights Now, CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Anti-Slavery International, Redress Trust, American Civil Liberties Union, and African Regional Agricultural Credit Association.

The Council will continue the clustered interactive dialogue with the Working Group on the use of mercenaries, and with the Special Rapporteur on hazardous wastes at 3 p.m. It will then hold a clustered interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on international order, and with the Special Rapporteur on coercive measures.

Statement by the Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

LE LUONG MINH, Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), reminded that the ASEAN Declaration stipulated as its purpose the promotion of regional peace and stability through respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship among regional countries and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter. As ASEAN had continued its endeavours to strengthen the rule of law and governance and to promote peace, the region had kept abreast of international developments in the field of human rights. Indeed, the commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights had been an integral part of ASEAN’s journey. The ASEAN Charter, which had come into force in 2008, reaffirmed ASEAN’s commitment to strengthen democracy, and enhance good governance and the rule of law, and it had paved the way for the establishment of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission for Human Rights in 2009. The ASEAN Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children had been established in 2009. On 18 November 2012, ASEAN had adopted the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration which set the framework for the protection of fundamental freedoms in the region. The general principles of the Declaration included that all human rights were universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated, and that they had to be treated in a fair and equal manner, and that they had to be considered in regional and national contexts, bearing in mind the different political, economic, legal, social, cultural, historical and religious backgrounds. A milestone achievement for ASEAN had been the launching of the twenty-seventh ASEAN Summit in November 2015 of a politically cohesive, economically integrated, socially responsible ASEAN Community which charted the future direction of the organization that was rules-based, people-oriented and people-centred.

ASEAN recognised the complementarity between the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, which aimed to realise an inclusive community with the principle of leaving no one behind; that promoted a high quality of life and equitable access to opportunities for all; and that promoted and protected human rights. ASEAN was proud that all its Member States had ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Women’s rights had long been acknowledged and would always be promoted among ASEAN Member States. ASEAN had continued to endeavour to enhance the empowerment and participation of women in development and ensure zero discrimination on women’s access to economic opportunities and resources. The proportion of seats held by women in regional parliaments had increased from 12 per cent in 2000 to 18.5 per cent in 2012. ASEAN also endeavoured to protect the rights of migrant workers, and to address trafficking in persons. As ASEAN celebrated 50 years of its evolution and development, Mr. Minh highlighted achievements in human development in the region, such as the decrease in maternal mortality, poverty reduction, and urban development.

Statement by the Minister of Human Rights of Yemen

MOHAMMED MUHSEN ASKAR, Minister of Human Rights of Yemen, said all were aware of the tragedy being suffered by Yemen since 21 September 2014 because of the military coup and the catastrophe that entailed, including the destruction of infrastructure, confiscation of institutions, the destruction of the social fabric of the society, in addition to increasing hate speech and encouraging terrorism. This did not only threaten Yemen, but threatened the whole region and international peace and security. The situation in Yemen was not due to a divergence of political views that led to an armed conflict as some said, including unfortunately the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. What happened in fact was a full coup against legitimacy using armed militias, with the support of some rebel units of the army and security forces; it was an armed coup against the legitimate institutions. Houses of officials were attacked, hundreds of civilians were killed, and Sana’a, the capital, was occupied. There was a response by the Arab coalition after six whole months of the bloody coup of the Houthis and Saleh. It came after two months of comprehensive war by these militias against all the cities of Yemen. It was unfortunate that some did not see the important steps that showed the reality of Yemen. The Arab interference in Yemen only came after the war of the militias became a true threat to Yemen and the whole region. All needed to be aware that the coup forces believed in false political and religious ideas that led to dismantling the fabric of the Yemeni society. They thought they monopolised the divine right and must hold power by force. All had heard the political slogans of those militias, every day they called for death to America and to Israel, which ran counter to Islamic traditions, which prohibited contempt of religions. The militias had also recruited 20,000 children and planted over 200,000 landmines, this was a flagrant violation of the rights of the child and the convention on land mines.

The Government had been forced to use military power in order to face the military coup of the Houthis and Saleh, which had led to all the destruction and the sacrifices of the Yemeni people. Those who were the cause of this catastrophe shouldered the responsibility for the destruction and must be held accountable. The coup had led to a true catastrophe in Yemen and the catastrophe could only stop with a clear international stand to implement international resolutions, especially Security Council resolution 2216. The High Commissioner for Human Rights should move the country office to the temporary capital in Aden in order to make use of the assistance provided. The Council had paid special attention to the situation of human rights in Yemen, and had adopted a number of resolutions. The resolutions of the Security Council in the last two years had asked Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights to provide technical assistance. But that assistance had not been provided as needed. The Yemeni Government would do its utmost to cooperate with the High Commissioner. The suffering of the Palestinian people under occupation and the restriction of its freedoms needed a serious political stance. The ethnic cleansing of the Muslim Rohingya was also condemned in the strongest terms.

Interactive Dialogue with the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery

The Human Rights Council this afternoon began a clustered interactive dialogue with José Guevara, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and Urmila Bhoola, the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences.

Ecuador recalled that last May, Swedish prosecutors had dropped their preliminary investigation into an allegation of rape against Julian Assange. Despite this decision, Assange could still not enjoy freedom of movement out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, out of fear of being arrested by the British authorities. What was the position of the Working Group in light of continuing threats of arrest against Assange? Maldives recalled that there was a need to re evaluate current priorities on arbitrary detention and stated its commitment to advance the rule of law. The Working Group should encourage victims of arbitrary detention to find redress through national avenues. Cuba reiterated the request to ensure that when cases were presented to it, they abided by the code of conduct for Special Procedure mandate holders. On contemporary forms of slavery, Cuba outlined that it was necessary to draft a legally binding instrument to regulate the activities of transnational companies in conformity with international law.

Australia was committed to combat human trafficking and slavery, notably through its participation in the Bali process against modern slavery. Last month, new legislation had been introduced obliging businesses to identify abuses and cases of modern slavery. Iraq noted that its national legislation provided guidelines and pathways to fight against arbitrary detention. Iraq regretted that the complaints made against it for cases of arbitrary detentions and brought to the Working Group were highly politicized. The replies given by Iraq had not been taken into account. Iraq was concerned about terrorist gangs linked to ISIL that had enslaved numerous women and children. Egypt outlined the importance of the mandate of the Working Group but was disappointed that the complaints made against Egypt were based on false information. It was concerned that members of the Working Group had expressed political opinions that were beyond their mandate. On contemporary causes of slavery, there were serious concerns regarding the exploitation of migrants in foreign countries and the absence of access to remedies for the victims.

Bahrain attached utmost importance to human rights and public freedoms and had taken important steps to enhance social cohesion. Any arrest was the result of a perpetrated crime and any investigation had to be conducted in line with the principle of due process. Venezuela regretted that the Working Group had once again demonstrated its lack of credibility. The intention of the Group was to keep Venezuela on its agenda through assertions that were entirely false and lacked objectivity. As for contemporary forms of slavery, they were expressly forbidden under the Venezuelan Constitution. United States called on Venezuela to release Maria Lourdes Afiuni Mora, and expressed deep concern about the widespread and systematic use of excessive force by the Government of Venezuela. As for contemporary forms of slavery, the United States noted that a new treaty was not a proper approach to address identified concerns in global supply chains.

Bolivia raised concern about the use of outdated sources on modern forms of slavery. The Government of Bolivia had paid particular attention to forced labour and servitude of indigenous peoples. Tunisia reiterated the importance of combatting arbitrary detention and it prohibited the arrest of anyone who had not been caught in flagrante. The Government was developing a code of conduct with respect to detention. Morocco underlined the importance of fighting discrimination on various grounds and of access to remedies in the context of arbitrary detention. On contemporary forms of slavery, Morocco concurred that States had a primary responsibility to provide access to justice to victims.

China noted that the Chair of the Working Group had made an irresponsible statement about the case of Mr. Liu Xiaobo, to which China firmly objected, as his case did not represent arbitrary detention. China invited the Working Group to scrupulously remain within its mandate and to use authentic and reliable information so as to preserve its own credibility. Turning to the issue of contemporary forms of slavery, the root causes ought to be dealt with. South Africa commended the Working Group for designing and implementing a follow-up procedure to better track implementation of its recommendations. South Africa thanked the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, and called for an international legally binding instrument to stem the tide of forced labour and contemporary forms of slavery.

Nicaragua regretted the existence of contemporary forms of slavery, which particularly affected the most vulnerable groups; it was a State’s duty to protect citizens through access to justice. Portugal expressed deep concern that the number of enforced disappearances continued to be unacceptably high worldwide. Nepal reiterated its commitment to abolish the “malpractice” of debt bondage from the country and ensure effective protection and rehabilitation of the freed bonded labourers.

Costa Rica said the deprivation of freedom was incompatible with international instruments promoting and protecting human rights. It deplored the use of arbitrary detention as a weapon to restrict freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and disapproved of the lack of cooperation by certain States in this respect. United Kingdom said ending modern slavery was a top priority for its Government, which had introduced the 2015 Modern Slavery Act in order to ensure a strong and comprehensive response to modern slavery in a coordinated and multidisciplinary approach. It thanked the Working Group on enforced disappearances as well as the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery for their work. Latvia said arbitrary detention was a gross abuse of human rights. It welcomed the efforts of the Working Group on arbitrary detention to prevent and end this practice. It asked the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery to share good practices where victim protection had become a domestic priority.

Ukraine said the deprivation of liberty resulted in curtailing human rights and undermining the equality of human beings; sadly this practice was thriving in the temporary occupied Crimea and Donbas as a result of the Russian aggression against Ukraine. It affirmed its readiness to further fully cooperate with the Working Group on arbitrary detention. India said the rise in anti-immigrant sentiments in many countries, stricter migration policies, and prosecution for migration-related offences constituted challenges for migrant workers to gain access to justice. India had recently ratified two core Child Labor Conventions, with which it looked forward to realizing a Child Labour-Free India. Mauritania said it had welcomed the Special Rapporteur this year, who had commended with satisfaction the Government’s efforts to eradicate modern forms of slavery. It noted that it was not timely to engage in obtuse analyses focusing on clichés which alleged that Mauritanian communities did not benefit from equal treatment by the Government.

Iran outlined that thematic mandate holder mechanisms had been established by the Human Rights Council to prevent double standards and politicization through universal monitoring and States’ equal responsibility. These mechanisms must be based on principles of non-selectivity and equal treatment. Sovereign Order of Malta was committed to reducing the vulnerability of migrants and refugees who were exposed to risks of trafficking. Access to social services and humanitarian aid for these persons had to be improved. How could faith organizations help eliminate contemporary forms of slavery? Republic of Korea took note of the recent legislation in some countries such as France, the United Kingdom and the United States to ensure transparency of the global supply chain. These could be references to protect and promote human rights in times of global connectivity. On the issue of contemporary forms of slavery, the Republic of Korea was concerned about the exploitation of “North Korean” workers sent abroad by their Government.

Ghana commended governments that had so far responded positively to requests by the Working Group for the release of detainees. Occasional reported cases of arbitrary arrests were investigated in Ghana. Developing States must tackle the root causes and manifestations of discrimination against minority groups that were vulnerable to contemporary forms of slavery. State of Palestine said it had strengthened its efforts to protect the rights of Palestinian people under the occupation of Israel. Human rights defenders and others were the targets of arrests and arbitrary detentions by the Israeli authorities that were politically motivated. Palestine condemned Israel for its refusal to receive a visit of the Working Group. Croatia said States had the obligation to put in place safeguards against arbitrary detention to protect civilians and human rights defenders. Croatia encouraged the Working Group to improve its working methods to better support victims and called on States to prevent acts of reprisals against persons cooperating with the Working Group.

Paraguay noted that it was working to promote dignified work in a comprehensive way, to combat trafficking in persons and to provide access to justice. It welcomed comments of the Special Rapporteur in that respect. Saudi Arabia underscored that it cooperated with the Working Group in order to clarify cases. At the institutional level, it had established various bodies to work on arbitrary detention in accordance with international norms. Armenia shared concern about the growing number of cases of arbitrary detention in the region. The continued persecution of political opposition in Azerbaijan based on false accusations gave rise to serious concerns. On contemporary forms of slavery, States needed to ensure access to justice to victims. Afghanistan noted that the best way to abolish modern forms of slavery was through dialogue with States. Under its national Constitution, the right of every citizen to work and to be protected from forced labour was guaranteed.

Human Rights House Foundation noted that the authorities in Azerbaijan had put in place legislation that limited the work of human rights defenders, who now faced arbitrary detention on many grounds. It urged Azerbaijan to investigate all cases of arbitrary detention. Article 19 –The International Centre against Censorship drew attention to the arbitrary detention of journalists in Turkey who were facing harsh prison sentences. It also condemned the arbitrary detention of journalists in Viet Nam, Egypt, Russian Federation, Myanmar, Iran and Azerbaijan.

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain Inc. said that given the number of communications regarding the widespread and systematic use of torture, flawed judicial practices and arbitrary detention in Bahrain, it asked whether the Working Group remained concerned that such practices may leave significant numbers of State officials in Bahrain in breach of international human rights law. Asian Legal Resource Centre was deeply concerned about the widespread and consistent practice of arbitrary detention that was resorted to by Asian States, and the lack of basic guarantees of fair trial, including in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and India. Le Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l'Homme said the deprivation of liberty in countries such as Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates was thriving. Many people were executed, hundreds detained, and all forms of crimes against humanity were perpetrated.

Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, in a joint statement with Ensemble contre la Peine de Mort, called the attention of the Working Group to a new trend – namely an increasing number of prisoners of conscience in Iran who were facing double jeopardy and were being re-sentenced on charges for which they had already been sentenced, in order to prolong their detention at the end of their prison term. Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism said unfortunately contemporary slavery had exploited a large number of people and was practiced in an even worse way than traditional forms of slavery. It drew attention to the looming danger of a return to the classical and traditional forms of slavery in terms of recruiting and kidnapping by terrorist groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram. International Service for Human Rights remained concerned about the use of arbitrary detention to silence and intimidate human rights defenders. Four United Nations human rights experts had called on China to immediately release the Chinese lawyer and human rights defender Jiang Tianyoung, held since 21 November 2016.

China Human Rights Studies (CSHRS) said that, as a country of rule of law, China had adopted legal safeguards against arbitrary detention that was prohibited by international law. It was observed that in many cases, victims of arbitrary detention were subject to torture and ill treatment. Human Rights Now regretted that civil society activists and opposition leaders were still arbitrarily detained for politically motivated charges in Cambodia. Furthermore, there were concerns about the arbitrary detention and harassment of activists and lawyers involved in the “709 crackdown” in China. CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation said that despite constitutional protections, peaceful protesters continued to face harassment in the United States. In Azerbaijan, the authorities had failed to respond to repeated calls from the Working Group to end the use of judicial harassment to suppress independent dissent.

Anti-Slavery International noted that access to justice and remedy was essential for eradicating slavery. Some States did not have legal frameworks in line with their Slavery Convention obligations to criminalize all forms of slavery. In other countries, the implementation of anti-slavery legislation was hindered by weak rule of law and lack of police and judicial capacity. Redress Trust welcomed the introduction of the new follow-up procedure to address the lack of compliance of States with the opinions of the Working Group and suggested that this procedure be applied to cases prior to 2016. REDRESS had submitted several cases over the past years. American Civil Liberties Union outlined that mass incarceration was a serious human rights problem that was impacting the lives of millions of people in the United States. One area of serious concern was mass pre-trial detention. Nearly half million people in the United States were held awaiting trial. African Regional Agricultural Credit Association said the situation in Pakistan required the immediate attention of the Human Rights Council, and that the situation was particularly alarming in Baluchistan, where thousands of people had been arbitrarily arrested in the last decade.

Concluding Remarks

JOSÉ GUEVARA, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on arbitrary detention, in closing remarks invited States parties to communicate with the Group. In terms of the request by the European Union regarding examples of opinions and jurisprudence, he referred to an opinion where the Working Group identified defenders of human rights as a protected group. Other opinions were also relevant, all from 2016. The Working Group was delighted to hear the support of Denmark, and during recent visits, the increasing use of torture had been noted. Regarding statements made by Greece and the United States, the Working Group’s criteria was rooted in applicable law concerning refugees. Centres for meetings and other kinds of institutions should remain under constant supervision. On the follow-up mechanism adopted by the Working Group, the Cuban delegation’s comment was notable, he said. At the next period, attention would be paid to compensation to victims. To conclude, he said the Working Group was at the disposal of all governments.

URMILA BHOOLA, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences, thanked all delegates who had participated in the interactive dialogue, and expressed her gratitude to the civil society members for the groundwork and support in the drafting of the report. Addressing the question on good practices that could be identified from the jurisprudence, she mentioned a number of good practices, including strong penalties; the criminalization of modern slavery; monitoring and identification activities; and a clear definition of modern-day slavery. Addressing other questions, she noted the importance of improving the guidelines to business-related human rights abuses and ensuring legal remedy for persons affected by business. In this regard, she highlighted that this would be the focus of the upcoming Business and Human Rights Conference later this year. With regard to a question on cooperation, Ms. Bhoola informed that State-based judicial mechanisms were the core, but that transnational corporations and other business enterprises also had a key role in developing effective judicial mechanisms. Businesses in particular could cooperate with States to ensure effective legal remedies, and eliminate extreme forms of labour that constituted slavery.

In relation to a question on tackling slavery in lower-tier industries, ensuring that business was held accountable in the lower tiers was important, and could be ensured, inter alia, by verification processes. Psychological support to all victims was critical, as was incorporating voices of victims in national responses; adequate training of law enforcement officers; ensuring reporting; guaranteeing public awareness; and respect for the values of human dignity and global solidarity. Finally, Ms. Bhoola emphasized the importance of the role of an Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, and she reiterated her call to States to ensure increasing ratification of the core international human rights law instruments regulating the contemporary forms of slavery, including ILO Protocol 159.

Documentation

The Council has before it the Report 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 (A/HRC/36/47).

The Council has before it an addendum to the Report 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 - mission to the Central African Republic (A/HRC/36/47/Add.1).

The Council has before it the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes (A/HRC/36/41).

The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes - mission to Peru (A/HRC/36/41/Add.1).

The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes - mission to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (A/HRC/36/41/Add.2)

Presentation by Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries and the Special Rapporteur on the Implications for Human Rights of the Environmentally sound Management and Disposal of Hazardous Substances

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, outlined that four years ago, the Working Group began a global study of national legislation on private military and security companies in order to assess their effectiveness in the protection of human rights and the promotion of accountability for violations within the private security industry. The review included 60 States from all regions of the United Nations. Overall, the global study's findings revealed that States approached the regulation of military and security companies in a patchy and inconsistent manner, creating potential risks to human rights.

In terms of good practices, the Working Group was pleased with the existence of a handful of national laws that prohibited the outsourcing of certain governmental functions to private military and security companies and prohibited direct participation in hostilities in armed conflicts abroad. However, only a few States covered the activities of private military and security companies abroad, despite the transnational nature of many companies in this industry. Many States lacked laws on inspections of private security companies and there were very few laws on the requirement for human rights-based vetting mechanisms to ensure private security companies’ personnel had training or complied with international human rights and humanitarian law standards. Given the inconsistency of national legislation coupled with the expansion of the private military and security companies industry, there were inevitable challenges of enforcement, accountability and the availability of remedies to victims of rights violations. Adopting a legally binding international regulatory instrument was the best way to ensure consistent regulation worldwide and adequate protection of the human rights of those affected by the activities of private military and security companies.

Turning to the findings of the Working Group on its official mission to the Central Africa Republic, conducted in October 2016, Mr. Rona said that, despite positive initiatives, mercenaries and foreign fighters continued to be a real threat to national security. As a consequence of the 2013 conflict, there had been at least 5,000 deaths, an estimated 380,000 internally displaced persons and 450,000 refugees in neighbouring countries. The porous border between the Central African Republic and its neighbours had made it easy for foreign-armed actors to enter the country. Some reportedly had remained in the country, taking advantage of the fragile security situation and profiting from criminal activities including illegal taxation imposed on the local population. Monetary gain was a primary motivation for many of these armed actors. Currently, violence by armed groups such as the anti-Balakas and ex-Sélékas continued to be common around the country. The presence of foreign fighters in the Lord’s Resistance Army operating in the southern-eastern region remained a threat to the civilian populations in this area. The Working Group urged the Government to pay particular attention to existing challenges to peace and reconciliation initiatives by ensuring that the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process was prioritised and implemented successfully. Accountability for perpetrators involved in the past conflicts, strengthening of the judicial system, and support for the International Criminal Court investigations were critical.

BASKUT TUNCAK, Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances, said he would be presenting two reports, the first which contained guidelines to good practices in relation to hazardous substances and wastes, and the second which was a report on his mission to the United Kingdom. Exposure to pollution and toxic chemicals through air, water, food, and consumer products was estimated to be the leading cause of death and disease worldwide. Billions of people around the world found themselves on the wrong side of a toxic divide. The rights of children remained at grave risk, he said, noting that States had a duty to prevent childhood exposure to toxic pollution. The guidelines to good practices which he presented were intended to help States tailor their laws, policies and practices to their own unique circumstances. The first section provided views on practices and fundamental approaches to help ensure non-discrimination against any group. The second section provided guidelines for businesses regarding their human rights due diligence, transparency and prevention measures.

Turning to his report on his country visit to the United Kingdom, Mr. Tuncak said the country had made significant progress, but air pollution continued to plague the United Kingdom. The State’s departure from the European Union opened the door to the possibility of back-sliding or regression from established human rights protections from toxic chemicals, pollution and waste. The United Kingdom continued to manufacture and export toxic chemicals and pesticides, which it had banned from domestic use due to an unreasonable risk of death and injury. The export of hazardous pesticides and industrial chemicals to developing countries with weaker systems for controlling their risks led to grave impacts on the rights of workers in those countries. Many States, he noted, struggled with the impacts of urban air pollution, the deregulatory pressure from industry, and the extraterritorial impacts of their businesses. There was a need to strengthen the protection of children and workers from toxic chemical exposures. He expressed hope that the guidelines to good practices and recommendations from country visits would help all States respect and fulfil human rights implicated by hazardous substances and wastes.



For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC/17/124E