The Human Rights Council this morning continued its general debate on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention.
In addition to alleging violations of human rights in specific countries and regions, speakers appreciated the multifaceted support of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in assisting countries in the promotion and protection of human rights, thus contributing to the strengthening of the rule of law. They urged all States to cooperate and to pay attention to the various issues before the Council. All States were urged to uphold multilateralism, solidarity and collaboration, and to promote and protect human rights through constructive dialogue and cooperation, including the care of minorities. Strong concerns were expressed about the situation of human rights defenders, journalists and political opposition, whose role was key in vibrant societies respectful of human rights. Globally too many States silenced these voices, speakers said. In conflict situations, speakers condemned the reports of killings, sexual assaults, arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, torture and persecution of civilians. Some speakers called on the international community to sanction States accountable for serious cases of violations of the right to life and the right to health. Some speakers alerted the Council to threats to freedom of religion or belief.
Concerns were expressed about the situation of human rights violations which had been exacerbated in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Speakers stated that every aspect of the work of this Council had to now be conditioned by the imperatives associated with countering the pandemic. As a consequence, they highlighted that great care must be exercised in ensuring that the rights of individuals were not unnecessarily overridden in the pursuit of the greater good. The universal character of the pandemic highlighted the imperative of ensuring that the basic rights of all persons were upheld. Speakers also stated that millions of patients in sanctioned countries could die because of limitations of access to food, essential medicine, vaccine, medical equipment and medical care due to the unilateral coercive measures imposed on their countries. The lives of these patients were under continuous threat because unilateral coercive measures banned interbank transactions and made any trade for even humanitarian items very complicated, if not impossible. They called for an end to all sanctions and other obstacles for the treatment of patients in targeted countries as it was well known that these measures were imposed by powerful countries to overthrow governments that did not acquiesce and to influence policies in their favour. Some speakers said that unilateral coercive measures violated the current framework of international law as they denied the right of people to self-determination and violated the equal sovereignty of States.
One speaker regretted that the Human Rights Council ignored the facts of regular violent dispersals of peaceful protesters demonstrating against discriminatory measures imposed by the authorities in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in a number of countries. Other speakers said that while emergency measures were critical to respond to the negative impact of the pandemic, they needed to be implemented in accordance with the State’s obligations under international human rights law. They explained that those obligations should be conducted in such a way as to reconcile the principle of respect for sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of States and non-interference in internal affairs of sovereign States, including when defending themselves and combatting terrorism. Calls were made for the Council to work in accordance with the fundamental principles governing its methodology, which were contained in General Assembly resolution 60/251, and for the need for an objective and constructive approach, in order to guarantee the credibility of the Council and its work, as it was faced with serious challenges. Speakers stated that turning a blind eye to their own human rights problems, some countries, out of political purposes, continued to interfere in the internal affairs of others under the pretext of human rights, in an attempt to impose their own values on others.
Speaking during the discussion were: Finland, Spain, Switzerland, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, United States, China, Belarus, Ireland, Norway, Cyprus, Malta, Syria, Turkmenistan, Estonia, Georgia, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, South Sudan, Vanuatu, Ghana, Madagascar, Cabo Verde, Sweden, South Africa, Jordan, Chad, Viet Nam, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Belgium, Kenya, Mali, Rwanda and Trinidad and Tobago.
Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, Baha’i International Community, Alliance Defending Freedom, Réseau Unité pour le Développement de Mauritanie, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, China Foundation for Human Rights Development, Minority Rights Group, International Humanist and Ethical Union, Article 19 – International Centre Against Censorship, World Evangelical Alliance, International Federation for the Protection of the Rights of Ethnic, Religious, Linguistic and Other Minorities, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Iraqi Development Organization, Promotion du Développement Economique et Social, “Coup de Pousse” Chaîne de l’Espoir Nord-Sud, United Nations Association of China, Human Rights Watch, Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience, Centre pour les Droits Civils et Politiques, European Centre for Law and Justice, British Humanist Association, The Organization for Poverty Alleviation and Development, Villages Unis, Fundacion para la Mejora de la Vida, la Cultura y la Sociedad, Peace Brigades International, VIVAT International, Center for International Environmental Law, Al Baraem Association for Charitable Work, International Lesbian and Gay Association, Amnesty International, Women’s Human Rights International Association, International Service for Human Rights, Prahar, Global Institute for Water, Environment and Health, Edmund Rice International Limited, Society for Threatened Peoples, Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism, Commission africaine des promoteurs de la santé et des droits de l’homme, Alsalam Foundation, Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture, Centre Europe – tiers monde, Africa Culture Internationale, Synergie Feminine Pour La Paix Et Le Developpement Durable, American Association of Jurists, Solidarité Suisse-Guinée, Right Livelihood Award Foundation, World Vision International, Comité International pour le Respect et l’Application de la Charte Africaine des Droits de l’Homme et des Peuples, World Muslim Congress, Franciscans International, The Next Century Foundation, Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peoples, Association d’Entraide Médicale Guinée, Partners For Transparency, Sikh Human Rights Group, CIVICUS, International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, International Action for Peace & Sustainable Development, Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights Association, International Commission of Jurists, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Elizka Relief Foundation, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, Human Rights House Foundation, International Council Supporting Fair Trial and Human Rights, Zero Pauvre Afrique, International Committee for the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas, Human Rights Now, Integrated Youth Empowerment – Common Initiative Group, Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy, Tumuku Development and Cultural Union, Association pour l’Intégration et le Développement Durable au Burundi, Stichting Global Human Rights Defence, Association PANAFRICA, Centre du Commerce International pour le Développement, Centre for Gender Justice and Women Empowerment, Mother of Hope Cameroon Common Initiative Group, Global Welfare Association, South Youth Organization, African Green Foundation International, International-Lawyers.Org, World Barua Organization and Liberation.
The Council started its general debate on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention on Friday, 24 September and a summary can be found here.
At the beginning of the meeting, Nazhat Shameem Khan, President of the Council, said the Council, in a closed meeting on Friday, 24 September, had examined the report of the Working Group on Situations on its twenty-sixth and twenty-seventh sessions under the Complaint Procedure, established pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 5/1 of 18 June 2007. No case was referred by the Working Group on Situations to the Human Rights Council for action at the forty-eighth session.
The webcast of the Human Rights Council meetings can be found here. All meeting summaries can be found here. Documents and reports related to the Human Rights Council’s forty-eighth regular session can be found here.
The Human Rights Council will resume its work at 3 p.m. to hold its annual discussion on the integration of a gender perspective throughout the work of the Council and its mechanisms with a focus on the gender digital divide in times of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Council will then conclude its general debate on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention.