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Summary record of the 47th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Friday, 16 November 2007, at 10 a.m.
Chairman: Mr. Wolfe................................................................................................... (Jamaica)
Agenda item 65: Report of the Human Rights Council (continued)
Agenda item 69: Right of peoples to self-determination (continued)
Agenda item 65: Report of the Human Rights Council (continued ) (A/C.3/62/L.32, A/C.3/62/L.60 and A/C.3/62/L.84)
Draft resolution A/C.3/62/L.32: Institution-building of the United Nations Human Rights Council
16. Mr. Malmierca Diaz (Cuba) introduced the amendment to draft resolution A/C.3/62/L.32 contained in document A/C.3/62/L.84 on behalf of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries as well as El Salvador and Kazakhstan. The amendment represented a trans-regional initiative with broad support, reflecting the results of the first year of the work of the Human Rights Council, and was intended to ensure that it was qualitatively different from its predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights.
21. Mr. Hagen (United States of America), ...
22. A number of things that had gone wrong during the Council’s first year: its relentless focus on a single country, Israel; its failure to address human rights violations occurring in other countries, such as Zimbabwe, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Belarus and Cuba; its premature termination of the mandates of United Nations Special Rapporteurs monitoring two of the world’s most active human rights violators, Cuba and Belarus; and the inclusion in its permanent agenda of only one item dealing with a specific country, namely Cuba. Finally, deeply unfair and non-transparent procedures had been employed to deny Council members the opportunity to vote on the package currently under consideration. All those actions raised questions about the Council’s institutional priorities and ability to make unbiased assessments of human rights situations.
32. Mr. O’Brien (Australia), speaking in explanation of the vote before the voting, said that the institution-building package was unbalanced. His delegation was concerned about the last-minute removal of the Belarus and Cuba mandates, which both warranted continued attention. Singling out Palestine and other occupied Arab territories as a separate agenda item was also unhealthy. For those reasons, his delegation would vote against the draft resolution.
34. Mr. Normandin (Canada), speaking in explanation of the vote before the voting, said that his country’s position since the fifth session of the Human Rights Council had remained unchanged. The proposed agenda item on Palestine and other Arab territories was inconsistent with the principles upon which the Council had been founded, and Canada could not therefore endorse the institution-building package as a whole. Furthermore, the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 was unlimited, whereas other mandates had limited terms. The same text, however, failed to renew country mandates that clearly warranted further review.
37. A recorded vote was taken on draft resolution A/C.3/62/L.32, as amended.
38. Draft resolution A/C.3/62/L.32, as amended, was adopted by 165 votes to 7, with 3 abstentions .*
40. Mr. Amorós Ńuñez (Cuba) said that his delegation had voted for Human Rights Council resolutions 5/1 and 5/2. The Council should move forward in a spirit of cooperation and dialogue, free from the double standards that had undermined the credibility of the Commission on Human Rights, when there had been a mandate against Cuba. He regretted that resolution 5/1 had not gone as far as he had hoped and that some special procedures mandates against specific countries had been maintained. More priority should have been given to the right to development; however, it was only fair that there should be an item devoted to the human rights situation in Palestine, until such time as the occupation of that country had ended.
42. Ms. Samson (Netherlands) said that the package of measures should enable the Council to protect people from human rights abuses. It contained elements her delegation strongly supported as well as elements it could accept in a spirit of compromise. It believed, however, that one situation should not have been singled out on the Council’s agenda and understood Israel’s call for a vote in that respect. The continuous repetition of unbalanced resolutions on the question of Palestine was unfair and damaged the Council’s credibility. ...
46. Mr. Khani Jooyabad (Islamic Republic of Iran) said that his delegation had voted in favour of the package and welcomed its adoption by a strong majority. The result of the vote was testimony to the continuation of decades of mass and systematic violation of human rights by Israel and the United States through occupation and threats to the national security, territorial integrity and the right to self-determination of other independent peoples. His delegation wished to reserve its position on various issues of concern with regard to the adopted text. The universal periodic review would best achieve its goals through dialogue, cooperation and consensus-building with the consent of the country under review. The mechanism must ensure equal treatment of human rights situations in all countries, in a non-selective and non-politicized manner.
47. His delegation welcomed the adoption of the Code of Conduct to help guarantee the impartial and effective performance of all mandate-holders. It also supported the review, rationalization and streamlining of thematic mandates. The mandate on the situation of human rights in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories would be valid until the end of the occupation. His delegation remained concerned with the inclusion of agenda items such as “human rights situations that require the Council’s attention” as well as country-specific mandates that were reminiscent of the Commission’s policy of “name and blame”.
51. Mr. Fieschi (France) said that his delegation had voted in favour, since it had been necessary to confirm the establishment of the Council’s institutional machinery. Every objective of each delegation had not been met, but such was the nature of compromise. His own delegation regretted the singling out on the Council’s agenda of the question of Palestine, which was contrary to the principle of non-selectiveness. However, the agenda did allow for the examination of any human rights situation that required the Council’s attention, in any part of the world. ...
53. Ms. Halabi (Syrian Arab Republic) said that her delegation had voted in favour of the draft resolution, convinced that the package of institution-building measures had been adopted in a balanced, just and fair manner in Geneva. The Syrian Arab Republic was committed to the success of the Council and supported the principles of objectivity, non-selectiveness, universality and constructive dialogue. The Council should follow any human rights situation, including in connection with the right to self-determination. She was particularly grateful to the Council for giving all due attention to the situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.
55. Ms. Abdelhady-Nasser (Observer for Palestine) said that her delegation had already expressed its position on the institution-building package during the general debate on the item. She wished to reiterate that respect for human rights could not be conditioned on the resolution of conflict. It must be clear to the majority of Member States that Israel was not being “singled out”, but, rather, that it had singled itself out as an extraordinary violator of the human rights of the Palestinian people for more than 40 years. Focused attention on the issue was required in order to bring an end to Israel’s grave and systematic violations.
56. Mr. Amorós Núñez (Cuba) ...
57. He expressed surprise at the statement by the representative of Israel, who in referring to Cuba was obviously doing the bidding of its closest ally. As occupying Power, Israel’s human rights violations against the Palestinian people, including the killing of civilians and the building of the separation wall, were well known. ...
58. The Chairman took it that the Committee wished, in accordance with General Assembly decision 55/448, to take note of the report of the Human Rights Council (A/62/53).
59. It was so decided.
60. Ms. Eilon Shahar (Israel) said that her delegation wished to dissociate itself from the consensus on the report.
61. Mr. Hagen (United States of America) said that given his delegation’s deepening concerns about the overall trajectory of the Human Rights Council, it was forced to disassociate itself from the consensus on the report, except with regard to the portion relating to Institution-building. The positive actions taken by the Council were outweighed by the negative actions, which was harmful to its mandate. He noted in particular the Council’s bias against Israel and its lack of attention to freedom of expression, opinion and religion in its resolutions and decisions, some of which could be used to justify restrictions on those freedoms. ...
65. Mr. Hagen (United States of America), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that it appeared that his delegation and those of Cuba and the Sudan were no longer in complete disagreement with regard to the issue of human rights. Those delegations had always opposed efforts by human rights institutions to name and shame individual countries. They currently appeared however to be of the opinion that in some cases that was acceptable, a stance with which his delegation concurred.
66. Mr. Amorós Núñez (Cuba), speaking in exercise of the right of reply to the representative of the United States, stressed that his delegation’s position on human rights was diametrically opposed to that of the United States. His delegation was not selective in its defence of human rights; it respected the Charter of the Organization and cooperated with United Nations bodies. Unlike the United States, it had never entered into foreign wars on the pretext of defending human rights and did not defend the violations of the rights of the Palestinian people by the occupying power or use torture or violate human rights as the United States did in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib prison or its secret detention centres.
68. Mr. Saeed (Sudan) said that his delegation’s position with regard to human rights was very different from that of the United States. His delegation cooperated with international human rights mechanisms whereas the United States had for example refused to allow international scrutiny of the situation at its base in Guantanamo. The United States pretended to be a human rights defender but its history proved otherwise. It was selective in its defence of human rights, for example defending the Israeli occupation and abuses in the Palestinian territories. It should be even-handed in its approach to human rights and, rather than criticizing others, should have the courage to open itself up to international scrutiny.
The meeting rose at 12.50 p.m.
This record is subject to correction. Corrections should be sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned within one week of the date of publication to the Chief of the Official Records Editing Section, room DC2-750, 2 United Nations Plaza, and incorporated in a copy of the record.
Corrections will be issued after the end of the session, in a separate corrigendum for each Committee.