18 September 2017
The Human Rights Council this morning concluded its general debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development.
The general debate started on Friday, 15 September and a summary can be found here.
In the general debate, many delegations outlined that the death penalty represented a form of degrading treatment and called on countries to adopt a moratorium on capital punishment. They said the death penalty had a particularly negative effect on vulnerable individuals. Some countries said they only applied the death penalty to extremely grave crimes. Delegations stressed the key role played by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in order to ensure that all individuals could enjoy the right to development. It was of utmost importance to respond to the populations’ basic needs and to address the issue of poverty as a prerequisite to the full realization of the right to development in a comprehensive manner. More sustainable pathways for development were also needed. Several speakers voiced concern at the increasing trend of narrowing space of freedom for human rights defenders and journalists. They urged the Human Rights Council to intensify its efforts to eliminate and prosecute attacks against journalists and media workers.
Speaking were Maldives, Libya, Namibia, Italy, Bosnia Herzegovina, Singapore, Costa Rica, Iran, Ireland, Uganda, Republic of Moldova, Serbia, Norway, Honduras, Armenia, Sierra Leone and Pakistan.
The following civil society organizations also took the floor: Graduate Women International (GWI), International Federation of ACAT Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture, in a joint statement with several NGOs, Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture, British Humanist Association, Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund, in a joint statement with Humanist Institute for Co-operation with Developing Countries, Prevention Association of Social Harms (PASH), VIVAT International, World Evangelical Alliance in Nepal, Conectas Direitos Humanos, Article 19 – International centre Against Censorship, United Nations Watch, Canners International Permanent Committee, Women’s Human Rights International Association, International Commission of Jurists, World Jewish Congress, International Service for Human Rights, Associazione Communita Papa Giovanni XXI, Iraqi Development Organization, Asian Legal Resource Centre, Association Internationale pour l’égalité des femmes, African Regional Agricultural Credit Association, Friends World Committee for Consultation Quakers, Alsalam Foundation, United Villages, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain Inc., International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM), African Commission of Health and Human Rights Promoters, Organization for defending victims of violence, International Muslim Women’s Union, Amnesty International, Make Mothers Matter - MMM, Union of Arab Jurists, Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, International Educational Development, Inc., Verein Sudwind Entricklungspoliitk, Soka Gakkai International, in a joint statement with several NGOs, Global Institute for Water, Environment and Health, Society of Iranian Women Advocating Sustainable Development of Environment, Humanist Institute for Co-operation with Developing Countries, Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l’Homme, International Association for Democracy in Africa, Pan African Union for Science and Technology, Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme – RADDHO, World Muslim Congress, France Libertés – Fondation Danielle Mitterrand, Human Rights Now, World Environment and Resources Council, International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, and Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee.
Also speaking were Center for Environmental and Management Studies, Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturelle, Liberation, European Union of Public Relations, Maarji Foundation for Peace and Development, International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies, Indian Council of South America, International Fellowship of Reconciliation, Indian Council of Education, Song of Cheetah in Desert, Center for Organisation Research and Education, iuventum e.V., Organisation pour la communication en Afrique et de promotion de la coopération économique internationale Ocaproce International, World Barua Organization, International Organization for the Elimination of All forms of Racial Discrimination, Victorious Youths Movement, International-Lawyers.Org, Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights (APWCR), Réseau International des Droits Humains (RIDH), International Buddhist Relief Organization, Al-Ayn Social Care Foundation, Organisation Internationale pour le Développement Intégral de la Femme, ABC Tamil Oli, ASSOCIATION CULTURELLE DES TAMOULS EN FRANCE, Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul, Conscience and Peace Tax International, in a joint statement with Center for Global Nonkilling, Association des étudiants tamouls de France, Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy, LE PONT, Alliance Creative Community Project, The Death Penalty Project Limited, International Career Support Association, European Centre for Law and Justice, World Association for the School as an Instrument of Peace, L'Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l'Homme et de la Démocratie, Society for Development and Community Empowerment, Tamil Uzghagam, Tourner la Page, Kiana Karaj Group, Association of World Citizens, Charitable Institute for Protecting Social Victims, Auspice Stella, European Union of Jewish Students, Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru”, Asian Forum for Human Rights Forum-Asia and Development and FIAN International e.V.
The Council will at noon hold an interactive dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Syria.
General Debate on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, including the Right to Development
Maldives said the Human Rights Council was the principal guide to international norms on human rights. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development paved the way for development. Maldives was concerned about the rise of hate speech and hate crimes. Situations in Yemen, South Sudan and Palestine were of concern. To ensure the Sustainable Development Goals, it was necessary to foster an inclusive environment.
Libya said it was crucial to cooperate with all mechanisms, and the promotion and protection of human rights required the tackling of major questions. International cooperation was key to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The implementation of the goals depended on progress in fostering cooperation and exchanging technical assistance. More sustainable pathways for development were needed.
Namibia said the right to development, like any other human right, should be promoted by all, and should not be perceived as a favour to be granted. Progress in the fulfilment of the Working Group on the right to development’s mandate had been dismal, and the time had perhaps come to rethink the way forward. The enjoyment of a number of human rights hinged on the right to development, so States needed to garner progress.
Italy welcomed the report of the Secretary-General on the death penalty. However, much remained to be done to eradicate this punishment. It was not the right answer. Discussions must be fostered at the national and international levels in order to promote a universal moratorium. The number of arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances remained unacceptably high in the world.
Bosnia and Herzegovina remained opposed to capital punishment as a degrading punishment. Bosnia and Herzegovina had adopted guidelines and an action plan this year on human rights education. It reiterated its commitment to ensure the promotion of human rights education.
Singapore reiterated its commitment to the rule of law. The death penalty was only applied to grave crimes after due process and transparent trials. Convicted persons had the right to an interpreter, needed to be proven guilty and had the right to appeal against decisions. Persons under 18 and pregnant women could not be punished by the death penalty
Costa Rica said the declaration on the right to development defined development in a way that was interdependent and indivisible. In seeking synergies to link the human rights instruments and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the right to development was an area of focus.
Iran said development facilitated the promotion and protection of all human rights. That was why the adoption of a rights-based approach was significant for development. It was upon the United Nations Human Rights Council and Member States to move toward the right to development. States were encouraged to engage in debates, including through the study of operational sub-criteria.
Ireland thanked the High Commissioner for Human Rights for the diversity of reports submitted under the promotion and protection of all human rights agenda item, and highlighted the report on capital punishment, expressing concern about the impact of the death penalty on vulnerable individuals. Ireland remained gravely concerned at the recent reintroduction of the death penalty in certain countries. Ireland agreed that institutions played an essential role in transitional justice.
Uganda said that the objective of the right to development was to improve the well-being of every one, making the right to development a right for all. Every State had the duty to be involved in promoting the right to development. But it was influenced by the resources available. Uganda called for the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to development.
Republic of Moldova welcomed the report of the Secretary-General on capital punishment, which was incompatible with the right to life and constituted a form of degrading treatment. Republic of Moldova called on every State to ratify the second protocol to the Convention against Torture and to adopt a moratorium on the death penalty. It was the obligation of States to ensure the human rights of people sentenced to the death penalty.
Serbia commended the work of the Working Group on enforced disappearances. Serbia was undertaking measures to resolve cases of missing persons from the 1990’s conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Without international presence and monitoring, this process could be impeded in many ways.
Norway said the international community needed to do more to promote the fundamental right to freedom of expression, adding that press freedom was under pressure and that journalism had become a dangerous profession. Norway called on all parties to intensify efforts to eliminate and prosecute attacks on and killing of journalists and media workers. With the United Nations Action Plan for the safety of journalists, the international normative framework was in place, and implementation was overdue.
Honduras said the disappearance of individuals during migration was worthy of the attention of the Human Rights Council. Cases had been documented by the Working Group on enforced disappearances. Trafficking of persons made migrants vulnerable and it should be sanctioned. Adolescents and children were an extremely vulnerable group, and measures should be taken to strengthen their rights.
Armenia thanked the High Commissioner for Human Rights for his reports, and reiterated Armenia’s commitment to the indivisibility of human rights. That was particularly relevant with respect to the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, where people’s rights were being denied.
Sierra Leone outlined that the issues of racism and xenophobia needed to be tackled as a prerequisite for dealing with security threats in the world. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism were key tools to address these issues and prevent them. These issues were not given enough attention by the Human Rights Council.
Pakistan said that human needs, desires and the right to self-determination that was enshrined in the United Nations Charter needed to be addressed in order to reach the right to development. These rights were being abused in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir where over 10,000 persons had been detained and tortured. In this region, human rights were a public communications exercise.
Graduate Women International (GWI) was concerned by the excessive marginalisation of indigenous girls and women in the world. States had the duty to improve the lives of indigenous girls and women by ensuring them access to quality education in order to meet the principles of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It was urgent to re-examine the intention of the Declaration in order to foster life changing actions for girls and women.
International Federation of ACAT Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture, in a joint statement with several NGOs1, said it focused on socio-economic discrimination. The death penalty and poverty were inextricably linked. Throughout the process, poverty had an effect on access to education, help on death row, and other elements. The death penalty was discriminatory against the poor.
Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture said there was a genocidal war by Saudi Arabia against Yemen and the whole international community needed to take responsibility. Exporting arms to Saudi Arabia represented a participation in that genocide, and encouraged Saudi Arabia toward aggression. The Human Rights Council needed to help Yemen. The siege needed to be lifted and cholera needed to be eliminated.
British Humanist Association said there were arbitrary sentences imposed on people convicted of blasphemy. A death sentence had been handed down in Saudi Arabia, and Raif Badawi was also sentenced. Many alleged blasphemers received extrajudicial punishment, and people continued to be killed in the streets of Bangladesh. All States were called on to abolish blasphemy laws.
Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund, in a joint statement with Humanist Institute for Co-operation with Developing Countries, said States must prevent human rights violations through the fight against corruption as there was a strong link between them. The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala was a United Nations initiative. The Commission had done a remarkable job, but it had come under attack for its work. The Council was urged to protect the Commission.
Prevention Association of Social Harms (PASH) said Iran continued to host one of the largest refugee populations in the world, including Afghan and Iraqi refugees. There was a need for international assistance to construct schools and to help refugees’ access to jobs. Financial problems also affected refugees’ wellbeing.
VIVAT International drew the Council’s attention to the situation of human rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It welcomed the Government’s steps against discrimination, and encouraged the authorities to continue to comply with the recommendations for improvement of economic, social and cultural rights.
World Evangelical Alliance was worried about the situation of minorities around the world. In Nepal, a new law criminalized religious conversions. World Evangelical Alliance in Nepal was concerned about the negative perception of minorities in the country. Nepal could be a regional leader if it embraced diversity.
Conectas Direitos Humanos drew the attention of the Council to the lack of state preventive measures and mechanisms against torture in Sao Paolo. This state held over one third of the total detainee population in Brazil. In 2016, civil society re-engaged dialogue with the local government in order to promote the adoption of an effective mechanism against torture.
Article 19 – International centre Against Censorship raised the issue of the increase of crimes committed against human rights defenders and journalists in the world. Such crimes should not go unpunished. Although several legal instruments had been adopted, there were still implementation gaps. Journalists were particularly jeopardized in Myanmar, Mexico and Bangladesh, where bloggers were being murdered.
United Nations Watch said Venezuela had a duty to uphold the highest standards of human rights. Opposition leaders there had been thrown in jail. United Nations Watch had brought the true voices of Venezuela into the Council. Member States were urged to convene an urgent debate on human rights in Venezuela.
Canners International Permanent Committee said Article 9 of the Universal Declaration said none should be subject to arbitrary arrest and detention, such as in Pakistan, where there was a rise in extrajudicial killings. Pakistani politicians often asked the police to resort to arbitrary detention of their opposition. Those from marginalized groups were at particular risk, and there was a need to discipline those responsible for such grave violations.
Women’s Human Rights International Association said there were crimes against humanity committed in Iran in the 1980s, where thousands of people had summarily disappeared. Many had recently admitted they had participated in the killings, but Iranian officials continued to enjoy impunity. The Human Rights Council was encouraged to set up a commission to combat that situation.
International Commission of Jurists welcomed the report of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries, noting with satisfaction the consensus of the international community on the need to combat the abuses of private military and security companies and to regulate their activities. The prevention of human rights abuses and ensuring reparations for victims was essential.
World Jewish Congress said Jews around the world would gather to celebrate Shabbat this Saturday. This doctrine was pragmatic and traditions were essential. Circumcision was the cornerstone of this tradition, as it was for Islam. Unfortunately the rights of freedom of religion and belief of Jewish and Muslim communities were being infringed upon, and this was unacceptable.
International Service for Human Rights said the work of human rights defenders was critical for societies and it was therefore crucial to prevent cases of reprisals. However, reprisals were still ongoing, and in this respect the Service urged the Council to encourage States, including Kenya, Egypt, Qatar, Bangladesh, Congo, Hungary, Nigeria, India and Venezuela to respect international obligations.
Associazione Communita Papa Giovanni XXIII welcomed the summary on the panel discussion on public health, stressing the problems in this area, which had often been the result of economic and financial shortcomings A fair approach to international cooperation that would provide sustainable development for all was needed, as was presented by the report of the Independent Expert for human rights and an equitable international order.
Iraqi Development Organization thanked the Special Procedures for their efforts and reminded that systematic violations in Yemen were taking place on a daily basis. Every 10 minutes a child died because of the impunity, so a prompt ending of the airstrikes and blockade was necessary. The Council was urged to establish an international commission of inquiry on Yemen.
Asian Legal Resource Centre reminded that in most Asian countries, enforced disappearances, torture, maltreatment and systematic violations of human rights were the result of the malfunctioning and inefficient judicial systems which lacked modern logistics. The United Nations needed to develop proper mechanisms to address these problems through helping to develop proper judicial systems in Asian countries.
Association Internationale pour l’égalité des femmes said people had been summarily executed in Iran in the 1980s and the bodies had been buried in mass graves. Anyone asking about those extrajudicial killings was intimidated. In 1989, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran had expressed concern and called on the authorities to conduct an investigation. The Human Rights Council was urged to initiate a commission of inquiry on mass executions in Iran.
African Regional Agricultural Credit Association said in Baluchistan, human rights violations continued unabated, and thousands of Baloch people had disappeared without a trace. Although Pakistan was a Member State of the Human Rights Council, it violated the morals of what the Council stood for. Pakistani security forces muzzled any forces that spoke out about the situation in Baluchistan.
Friends World Committee for Consultation Quakers said that in 2016, States had committed to protecting the human rights of migrants, and there was a legal framework now in place to protect the rights of migrants. All were called on to recall the human rights framework that a Global Compact on migration should be built upon.
Alsalam Foundation raised concern about the death penalty, arbitrary and illegal executions, as well as torture in Saudi Arabia. It was particularly concerned about the case of seven minors who had been sentenced to the death penalty for having participated in a peaceful demonstration and who had been subjected to torture and forced confessions.
United Villages highlighted the importance of the right to seek and receive important information. The people of Jammu and Kashmir had been denied this right. Their right to social media, which was an important source of information and exchange, had been suspended, and internet and telecommunications lines had been cut.
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain Inc. thanked the various mandates of the Council for highlighting their concerns about multiple human rights abuses in Bahrain, where widespread human rights abuses, and overall closing of civil society space, as well as impunity and torture were prevalent. Among those targeted with reprisals by Bahrain was a human rights defender whose family had been tortured while he attended the Human Rights Council.
International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM) reminded that the people of Kashmir were being deprived of their rights, including any means of electronic communication. The Council’s attention was drawn to the fact that in Yemen electric power plants had been destroyed, hospitals damaged and infrastructure destroyed, causing 250,000 fatalities of cholera. The International community had been unable to put an end to the rebellion for two years and the Council was called to react.
African Commission of Health and Human Rights Promoters recalled that the right to development had been proclaimed in 1996. However, people under foreign occupation had been deprived of this right, such as the case in Kashmir. The international community had been unable to protect people in Kashmir so far, and the Council was urged to take measures.
Organization for defending victims of violence noted that thousands of civilians had been dying in Yemen, enabled by the sale of weapons by the United Kingdom and United States, which violated the armed control regime. The Council was called upon to establish an independent fact-finding committee which should be set up by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as to suspend the membership of countries that sold arms.
International Muslim Women’s Union said the Human Rights Council had adopted a resolution allowing the Secretary-General to provide detailed information on perpetrators of sexual violence during conflict. Inhuman weapons were being used against Kashmiris. The kidnapping of women and young girls was taking place but there had been no reaction from the international community.
Amnesty International welcomed the abolition of the death penalty in Mongolia, and welcomed steps taken by several other States such as in Guinea. The Human Rights Council should pay attention to countries administering the death penalty to persons who were below the age of 18 when their crimes had been committed, such as Iran.
Make Mothers Matter - MMM drew the attention of the Council to the importance of supporting pregnant women and very young children during migration. What children experienced during early years set a critical foundation for their life course. States and policy makers should pay special attention to migrant mothers and support them in their parenting role. Every child had a right to thrive, not just to survive.
Union of Arab Jurists said more than 50 years after the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, some States still violated these rights and clearly tried to circumvent them. This was the case, in particular, by powerful States which tried to destabilize weak States, first with unilateral coercive measures that they imposed on them to undermine their right to self-determination; and second through the promotion and export of terrorism to their neighbours. In the past several years, Syria had been subjected to these violations of human rights in the worst way.
Commission to Study the Organization of Peace said in China a number of legislative measures as well as policies had been formulated to promote and protect the rights of women, including through the 1995 Poverty Reduction Plan. Despite the equity of human rights of men and women, there were some countries where women continued to suffer severe discrimination. This included Pakistan, where women continued to suffer from discrimination.
International Educational Development, Inc. was gravely concerned that the right to self-determination had lost its place in the Council. There had been several situations where the failure of the Human Rights Council to address this issue had resulted in genocide. This included the situation in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic where the Hmong people suffered serious abuse. It urged the Council to secure the right of the Hmong people to self-determination.
Verein Sudwind Entricklungspoliitk noted that although most prisoners in Raejei Shahr had ended their hunger strike, some prisoners were still on hunger strike and their health was deteriorating. The death sentence of Mr. Taheri, a prisoner of conscience whose sentence had been initially cancelled in the Supreme Court, had been reconfirmed in the appeals court and was going to be reconsidered in the Supreme Court for the second time, all of which was against the national and international law.
Soka Gakkai International, in a joint statement with several NGOs2, noted the results of the seminar on human rights organizations and emphasized that governments played a crucial role in ensuring achievements of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda under target 4.7. Human rights training for the media in particular needed to be strengthened.
Global Institute for Water, Environment and Health welcomed the Special Rapporteur on the right to development and his report. Technical and transparent cooperation with less developed nations was crucial in the future. The impact of the United States Marshall Plan was reiterated and the strong economic achievements it had achieved.
Society of Iranian Women Advocating Sustainable Development of Environment said it was the thoughtless actions of man which had destroyed the environment and led to climate change. The environment had been destroyed and nature did not belong to a single generation. One symptom was the dust storms which were intensifying due to drought. Iran had desert regions which were close to the origins of those dust storms.
Humanist Institute for Co-operation with Developing Countries said liberty should not be arbitrarily deprived. In Honduras, international organizations had spoken up on the excessive use of force against students. University authorities had put forth criminal charges, and the right to freedom to protest was fundamental. Acts of violence committed against students should not go unpunished.
Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l'Homme said regretfully, although the Gulf States enjoyed a high economic position, they had ill invested their resources, placing them in sovereign funds in Britain. Those countries had squandered their resources. The Saudi Government needed to be prevented from intervening in neighbouring States such as in Libya, Yemen and Qatar.
International Association for Democracy in Africa reminded that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action of 1993 called upon States to refrain from unilateral action that created obstacles to trade and impeded the full realization of human rights. The Association deplored the use of embargoes and other such unilateral coercive measures and their impact on human rights.
Pan African Union for Science and Technology said harmonious relations between States and indigenous peoples were essential. It highlighted the rights of indigenous peoples to self-determination, their full participation in the cultural and social life of States, their participation in the decisions that affected their lives, as well as the right to free and prior consent for policies that affected them. Pakistan violated these rights.
Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme – RADDHO said the rights of developing States, including the right to development, had to be respected in a more collaborative and cooperative vision of the global economy. Unfortunately Governments had adopted policies that led to increasing disparities and a widening poverty gap. If no action was taken to eliminate social and economic injustices, the Sustainable Development Goals would remain a reminder of the failure of the international community to secure human rights.
World Muslim Congress reminded that the people of Kashmir were deprived of their right to free assembly. Peaceful gatherings were forbidden. Decades of military occupation had resulted in a series of international crimes with no impunity. If the international community took no action, children would continue to be blinded and killed.
France Libertés – Fondation Danielle Mitterrand spoke about the plight of the people of Western Sahara, a non-independent territory since 1965. For decades Sahrawis had been experiencing all forms of torture, due to the position they took towards self-determination.
Human Rights Now expressed grave concern over human rights violations occurring in Iraq. Not only had ISIS used civilians as human shields, they had also been threatened by torture and extrajudicial killings by the Iraqi Security forces, including counter terrorism forces. Human Rights Now had reports and videos confirming the execution of civilians. The Iraqi Government was urged to protect civilians, particularly children and women.
World Environment and Resources Council said enforced disappearances in Pakistan had taken place in Sindh province, and there had been a resurgence of that situation in recent years. Almost all of the eye-witnesses said the perpetrators seemed to be official security personnel. The Human Rights Council was asked to set up an investigation into the disappearances of Sindhi people.
International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations said it was important to uphold all categories of human rights with the same vigour. The High Commissioner for Human Rights’ focus on civil and political rights should not be emphasised to the detriment of other rights. Violations of civil and political rights were often rooted in the failure to ensure other rights. A Special Rapporteur should be appointed on human rights and climate change.
Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee said freedom of expression in India was under threat. Journalists were under threat in India, which was a sign of the deepening polarization in the country. Many journalists were facing abuse in their daily life. The Indian Government had been ignoring complaints against activists.
Center for Environmental and Management Studies drew the attention of the Council on the massacre of the Mohajir people in Karachi. Since 2013, hundreds of Mohajirs had been arbitrarily arrested and executed. Demographic numbers had been manipulated in order to reduce the figures, further alienating this community. It called for a referendum to ensure the right of the Mohajirs to self-determination.
Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturelle drew the attention of the Council to the situation of human rights defenders in the United Arab Emirates, notably the case of the blogger Ahmed Mansoor who had been arbitrarily arrested on 20 March this year. Other human rights defenders had been arrested and deprived of access to medical care. It called on the Council to urge the Emirati authorities to respect their obligations and release all human rights defenders.
Liberation said that the Indian Constitution’s principles guaranteed equal rights for men and women. However, violence against women in India was manifested in abduction, domestic violence and rape, which were grave human rights abuses. Liberation called on the Human Rights Council to communicate with the Government of India to help prevent such crimes.
European Union of Public Relations said minority rights and gender rights were the centre of contemporary debates. It was increasingly evident that these rights were crosscutting and interdependent. In this respect, the condition of women in Pakistan was a pitiful one.
Maarji Foundation for Peace and Development said the situation of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar was deplorable. Nearly 400,000 Rohingya Muslims had fled their homes for safety into Bangladesh, and the destruction of their villages continued. Many more were deprived of freedom of movement, and had been subjected to torture and other human rights violations. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights had classified their plight as ethnic cleansing.
International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies said unfortunately and despite efforts, there were still violations of minorities’ rights. The problem existed due to the behavioral patterns in several countries. This was especially true in developing countries, where minorities were undermined. In nations with predominant religions, other religious minorities suffered discrimination.
Indian Council of South America stated that indigenous people in Brazil had been killed and the Amazonian reserve, the size of Demark, had been opened, leaving indigenous people with nowhere to go. The Council was called upon to protect the territory and resources in Bolivia, and reminded of the United States’ acquisition of Alaska and Hawaii, launching a diplomatic protest against the unilateral annexation of territories.
International Fellowship of Reconciliation stated that the right to development was an unalienable right and a prerequisite for the enjoyment of all other rights. Sahrawi people had been living in the territory occupied by Morocco for 40 years and their resources had been illegally exploited. What Morocco presented as economic development of Sahara was in fact only benefitting to foreign and Moroccan interests, which exploited resources without the free and informed consent of the inhabitants of Sahrawi territory.
Indian Council of Education reminded that for a century, the United Nations had been doing enormous work to resolve disputes peacefully and help weak people to protect their rights. A convention on elderly people must provide a comprehensive and systematic framework for the protection and promotion of all human rights in older age. Other organizations should follow the footsteps of the Human Rights Council in uplifting the educational standards in their respective countries.
Song of Cheetah in Desert outlined that drought had limited the access of citizens to food in the Middle East, where conflicts and wars were also causing the deterioration of agriculture, available resources and agricultural products. Chant du Guepard dans le desert outlined that arms and weapons exporting countries should be sanctioned for fuelling war in this region.
Center for Organisation Research and Education voiced concern about the deplorable conditions of indigenous people in India. High scale development projects were carried out without the free and prior consent of indigenous people. Their traditional livelihood was being jeopardized and sometimes destroyed. Projects of extraction of uranium had already poisoned the environment. Centre for Organisation Research and Education called on all States to respect the rights of indigenous people.
Iuventum e.V. regretted that the issue of the environment was no longer found in the Sustainable Development Goals. It voiced concern that environmental human rights defenders were continuously at risk while pollution had increased in quantity and complexity. An open-minded dialogue should bring everyone together towards solutions on this issue.
Organisation pour la communication en Afrique et de promotion de la coopération économique internationale Ocaproce International said the right to development was a right for all humans beings, yet it was denied to the people living under the Polissario camps, which had been subjected to difficult living conditions for many years. The Polissario was not a liberation movement – it was made up of corrupt and authoritarian individuals who undermined the human rights and conditions of people in the camps, who suffered from lack of infrastructure, and serious food and health problems.
World Barua Organization said that the Dalits continued to suffer caste-based violence discrimination in all States. This particularly affected women and children. Dalit students faced high discrimination, which had led to some students committing suicide. Very few Dalit students graduated from college every year due to discrimination.
International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination said violence perpetrated by ISIS had caused the deaths of thousands of civilians in Iraq. It reminded that civilian targeting was a violation of humanitarian law and a crime against humanity. It urged the Human Rights Council to call for an Independent Commission of Inquiry into the violations against human rights and humanitarian law by ISIS in Iraq.
Victorious Youths Movement stated that human rights defenders’ rights had been facing severe violations in Tindouf camps in Western Sahara. Human rights defenders had been subjected to torture and systematic abuse by the host authorities. The security apparatus of Algeria recently abducted a Sahrawi activist. The hosting countries were called on to prohibit such practices and bring to justice those violating the human rights of defenders.
International-Lawyers.Org, in a joint statement with Geneva International Centre for Justice, noted their disappointment that the persistent calls of civil society for the appointment of a Special Rapporteur on human rights and climate change had been ignored. The appointment of the Special Rapporteur on the right to development was welcome, but more funds and a legal instrument on the right to development were needed.
Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights (APWCR) reminded that the right to self-determination of people in Jammu and Kashmir was still impeded by India’s illegal occupation, causing massive human rights abuses. Youth had been systematically attacked, social media was blocked so that the world did not know what was happening, and pellet bullets had been blinding people. India was conducting different actions to alter the demography of Kashmir.
Réseau International des Droits Humains (RIDH) suggested that the Council should organize meetings to discuss Special Procedures reports with civil society, victims and States prior to sessions. It would send a strong signal to the victims of violations of human rights and allow increasing synergies between the Council and other stakeholders. States could also assess their will to cooperate with Special Procedures and show their empathy with victims.
International Buddhist Relief Organization voiced concern about the terrorist activities led by the LTTE in the north of Sri Lanka. LTTE claimed that Tamil people were discriminated against in the country, which was a lie. Elections had been held in the north of the country and Tamil people had access to political power. Human rights should not be an instrument to interfere in States’ internal affairs.
Al-Ayn Social Care Foundation drew the attention of the Council to the situation of people and children who were displaced in Iraq. Despite a total funding of $ 34 million and the provision of aid, another wave of displacement occurred in 2014. Support and temporary housings had been provided. Displaced people had the right to live in dignity and access decent housing conditions.
Organisation Internationale pour le Développement Intégral de la Femme said the human rights situation of the people under the Polisario was in a state of emergency. Protests were prohibited, and violations of the rights of human rights defenders were ongoing. These defenders were subjected to stigmatisation and enforced disappearances.
ABC Tamil Oli said Sri Lankan Tamils were still seeking their human rights. The war was over but the underlying situation was still undergoing. The security forces refused to cooperate with efforts against impunity, and the military involvement of civilian activities was a tool to enhance power. The situation in north and east Sri Lanka had deteriorated, and torture was widely practiced.
ASSOCIATION CULTURELLE DES TAMOULS EN FRANCE, quoting a Reverend Father in Indonesia, said since 2010 many Sri Lankan refugees had come to pray there. The monthly allowance for refugee children allocated by UNHCR was not enough to provide them with a decent education. Furthermore, there was discrimination in terms of assistance to Sri Lankans vis-à-vis other refugees. This discrimination had to be corrected.
Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul spoke about the socio-economic problems faced by the households in the north of Sri Lanka, particularly women. There were over 18,000 households facing the lack of education, impoverished living conditions, and the fear of leaving children alone to pursue work. In order to assist in post-conflict efforts and restoration to justice, the United Nations had to ensure that the voice of women was heard.
Conscience and Peace Tax International, in a joint statement with Center for Global Nonkilling,
said that the right to conscientious objection was a refusal to kill. If a situation of peace was to be delivered, it had to be paid for, since countries usually paid for war. Funds needed to be paid for peace and taxes should be collected for such purposes.
Association des étudiants tamouls de France stated that although the Sri Lankan Government had ratified the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and the President of Sri Lanka had promised to release former prisoners, this had still not been done. The United Nations were urged to assist victims of the plight of Tamils in north-east Sri Lanka.
Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy said that Pakistan continued to daily persecute the Baluch people. Security forces routinely abducted Baluch people and committed gross violations of human right against this community. By doing so, Pakistan was challenging the authority of this Council. Inhuman violations such as enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions against women and children occurred on a daily basis.
LE PONT highlighted that the authorities of Sri Lanka were continually violating the rights of the Tamil people. The propaganda led by Sri Lanka had been constantly portraying Tamil as enemies and terrorists. There were continuing acts of torture and land grabbing. Tamils were subjected to ethnic discrimination such as denial to access to graves.
Alliance Creative Community Project drew the attention of the Council to the violations of human rights committed against women and young girls. There was a report on the case of a woman who was brought in for interrogation and beaten in an unknown place. She had been raped and detained for one week.
The Death Penalty Project Limited was concerned about the disproportionate number of Commonwealth countries that continued to retain the death penalty and to execute death sentences. While some movement towards abolition had been made, the mandatory death penalty remained in force in Malaysia, Nigeria, Ghana, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados, among other States.
International Career Support Association requested the Council to repeal the United Nations Special Rapporteur Ms. Coomraswamy’s report of 1996, the contents of which were not based on historical facts but on fictitious books such as pornographic novels. It also requested the Council to pressure the South Korean Government to fulfill its end of the “2015 Japan-South Korea Agreement” so that the two nations could resolve the comfort women issue finally and irreversibly as had been agreed upon.
European Centre for Law and Justice warned that the attempt to legalize abortion and euthanasia was unacceptable, noting that it was absurd to draw the right to kill from the right to life. It was unacceptable to interpret article 6 in this way. The Centre called upon the Human Rights Council to reaffirm the right to life as the most precious right.
World Association for the School as an Instrument of Peace stated that democracy in Cambodia was eroding, signalizing the failure of the Paris Agreement. The country faced massive migration from Myanmar and grave violations were taking place. Following the Khmer regime, the United Nations had tried to rebuild the electoral system but failed, and nowadays political oppression had been used against the opposition, media and civil society. The Khmer people had launched an appeal to all to comply with the commitments of the Paris Agreement.
L'Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l'Homme et de la Démocratie noted that the Special Rapporteur on minority rights issues recently sent a series of recommendations to the Sri Lankan Government. After 26 years of war, peace was still fragile. Women had been particularly affected. Many remained displaced. Fishing communities also faced large problems. The new Government had promised to deliver on reconciliation obligations but had failed to do so, and rape and torture by the armed forces went unreported.
Society for Development and Community Empowerment stated that Sri Lanka continued to enjoy impunity and military forces remained heavily present in Tamil populated areas. Tamil women were raped by security forces, and this was not an isolated case. The root cause of the conflict that forced Tamils to flee had not been resolved and the ongoing abuse and violence had currently created an atmosphere resembling that of the previous war.
Tamil Uzghagam drew the attention of the Council to the brutal massacre of the Tamil people which constituted a genocide. Tamil Uzghagam called on the Council to render justice for Tamils and provide for the conditions to hold a referendum on self-determination under the surveillance of the United Nations. Means should be found to allow the diaspora to participate.
Tourner la Page was concerned about the living conditions in offshore camps for refugees in Australia. In 52 days, the Australian Government had announced that it would cut the provision of electricity in one of the camps. Some refugees were forced to flee towards communities where they were not welcomed. Other had been attacked with machetes by hungry locals. Papua New Guinea could not ensure the protection of refugees’ human rights.
Kiana Karaj Group said that the killing of thousands and the contamination of water had destroyed the lives of many people in Yemen. People were on the brink of famine in many regions and children were suffering from chronic hunger and did not have access to clean water. The blockade by the Saudi-led coalition had provoked a humanitarian catastrophe.
Association of World Citizens said that the world lived in an era that moved more and more towards globalization, where migration of peoples was a norm. On the other hand, States had the right to protect their citizens. The conflict of interest between these two categories was evident. In Iran, the rights of individuals who wanted to migrate were being seriously violated.
Charitable Institute for Protecting Social Victims said in world trade, computers were deemed as strategic goods, and as such, were included in the sanctions list for Iran. Software programmes such as Oracle Systems and Google were not accessible to Iran and to its people. The scientific advancements in the air and space industry had been met with sanctions by the international community, which were grave violations of Iranian people’s right to development.
Auspice Stella highlighted the human rights violations of indigenous peoples in Argentina, noting that their rights to their ancestral lands were being infringed upon, including by entities such as the multinational company Benneton. Racism, discrimination and xenophobia were the foundations of the Argentine State. The Council was urged to call for a legal investigation based on independence and impartiality of judges.
European Union of Jewish Students wished to inform the United Nations thematic mandate holders about the rising tide of anti-Semitism. In the United Kingdom alone, a rise of incidents by 36 per cent had been registered. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement played a vital role in the spread of hatred towards Israel on campuses, resulting in hate crimes against Jewish students. Concern was raised that the High Commissioner planned to release a blacklist of companies, singling out only the Jewish State.
Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru” stated that due to their large scale and intensity, the incrimination of multinational companies had always provoked debates across the world. The world was dominated by 100 gigantic companies that played a pivotal role in the internationalization of trade. In agriculture, they were causing severe damage with the production of genetically modified food.
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development Forum-Asia said enforced disappearances in Bangladesh remained a grave concern that the Government was ignoring. From 2009 to 2017, rapid action battalions and other parts of the law enforcement agencies had been responsible for 293 cases of disappearances, mostly involving dissidents. Many crimes went unreported due to fear. The Council was urged to pay close attention to enforced disappearances, partially in the light of elections which would take place next year in Bangladesh.
FIAN International e.V., in a joint statement, voiced concern about the regulatory gaps remaining. A new international legal biding instrument should be adopted to ensure access to justice for victims of human rights violations. Cooperation among States should be fostered in order to encourage negotiations between States and allow for the establishment of a roadmap.
1Joint statement on behalf of: International Federation of ACAT Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture; Advocates for Human Rights; International Federation for Human Rights Leagues; Penal Reform International; The Death Penalty Project Limited; International Union of Lawyers.
2Joint statement on behalf of: Al-Hakim Foundation; Hearts’Home; Equitas International Centre for Human Rights Education; Graduate Women International; International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination; Company of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul; Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXIII; ONG Hope International; International Organization for the Right to Education and Freedom of Education OIDEL; Lazarus Union; Mothers Legacy Project; Planetary Association for Clean Energy; Soroptimist International; Teresian Association; Women's World Summit Foundation.
For use of the information media; not an official record