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Source: Human Rights Council
19 June 2007



UNITED NATIONS

Press Release



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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HEARS PRAISE
AND CRITICISM ABOUT ADOPTED TEXT
ON INSTITUTION BUILDING OF COUNCIL
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Human Rights Council

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Vote

After Canada raised a point of order saying that the President of the Council had said at midnight yesterday that the Council would take action today on the President's text on the institution building of the Council, the Council held a vote as to whether the Council could proceed on the necessary follow-up on the text. In a roll-call vote with 46 in favour and one against (Canada), the Council agreed to continue follow-up.


The result of the vote was as follows:


In favour
(46): Algeria, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cameroon, Czech Republic, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Ecuador, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Uruguay, and Zambia.

Against
(1): Canada

Explanation of the Vote after the Vote


TERRY CORMIER (
Canada) said in establishing the Council, the General Assembly had set out its guiding principles. These included universality, impartiality and non-selectivity. Canada therefore regretted the inclusion in the agenda of one situation for selective treatment, that of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel. This inclusion was due to a politicised approach. While not perfect, there were many positive elements in the proposed package, however, Canada could not agree to a package which contained an item so clearly contradictory to the principles under which the Council was founded. The text also failed to renew and subject to review only the mandates on Cuba and Belarus, both situations that clearly warranted continued scrutiny by country-specific mandates.

General Statements


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MICHAEL STEINER (Germany), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said a decisive step had been taken in the common effort to reform the key organ for the protection and promotion of human rights of the United Nations. The task given by the General Assembly was to design the appropriate architecture for the Council to live up to its responsibilities. Given the divergent views of the various delegations, it was quite a significant achievement that consensus had been reached on how the Council should look in the future.

Clearly, this consensus agreement was a compromise. The European Union was not completely satisfied with the result, but was of the view that an acceptable result had been produced, which had potential. The European Union would have wished to retain all existing mandates, but it did not wish to retain the selectivity of the former Commission. The issue of the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory should not have been selected to remain in the agenda. ...


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NICHOLAS THORNE (United Kingdom) ...

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It was regretted that one situation was singled out among all others. While there were serious concerns over the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, there were situations throughout the world in which ordinary people were suffering at the hands of their governments. The United Kingdom did not accept the concept of collective human rights in international law. It was disappointing that two, in particular, of the mandates had not been renewed. The Human Rights Council must now work to deliver an effective and responsive programme.

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HSU KING BEE (Malaysia) said Council members should work together to make the Council more credible and less politicized. Constructive cooperation was needed in moving towards the implementation phase of institution building. The Universal Periodic Review would be a core aspect of the Council's work, a forum for constructive dialogue and cooperation and an avenue for promoting best practice and better understanding. Adoption of the mandate holders' Code of Conduct was a significant contribution to the Special Procedures system. Malaysia underlined that the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Palestine as reflected in Annex 1 remained valid. ...

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JUAN ANTONIO FERNÁNDEZ PALACIOS (Cuba) ... Cuba had also always given its support to the just cause of the Palestinians, suffering under an unjust occupation. However, the attention to that situation was insufficient, and it did require an item under the agenda. ...

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WARREN W. TICHENOR (United States) said there was grave concern for the actions taken over the last 24 hours in the Council. The United States had believed that the Council would take substantive action on the package today. On the package that was now the basis of the work of the Council, the United States cautioned that a biased permanent agenda item on the occupied Palestinian territory and the arbitrary elimination of two mandates raised serious questions as to the impartiality of the Council, and whether it would take seriously its mandate to protect and promote human rights across the world.

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ITZHAK LEVANON (Israel) said that the surreal moments witnessed during yesterday's and today's deliberations in the Council were symptomatic of the Council as a whole. For the past year, they had listened to seeming endless pledges that the Council had to do away with the vestiges of the defunct Commission on Human Rights. But last night, they had welcomed back the resuscitated Commission. What the Council had seen yesterday was a consensus, a consensus across the board that the Council was completely politicized from the outset. The agenda within the document included one item that purported to consider the promotion and protection of all human rights in the world, but then also contained an item that curiously selected one situation for heightened consideration above all others. That did not further the principles of universality, non-selectivity and objectivity. The same was true for the section on review of mandates, which laid out criteria under which the Council was to evaluate all mandates, save for one specific item. Perhaps what they should adopt today was a name change to this body, the Politicized Human Rights Council, to reflect its true nature. The world had entrusted them with creating an impartial, non-selective and universal body to examine human rights. They had failed to do that. What they had reached was a political compromise and not an authentic reform. Israel rejected the paper before the Council, in sum and in detail, because it perpetuated the immoral fixation on Israel.


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For use of information media; not an official record


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