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Source: Human Rights Council
24 March 2016



Human Rights Council adopts six resolutions and closes its thirty-first regular session

AFTERNOON   GENEVA (24 March 2016) - The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted six resolutions, including on protecting human rights defenders addressing economic, social and cultural rights; on the protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests; and four under the agenda item relating to the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.  The Council also appointed four Special Procedure mandate holders, before closing its thirty-first session. 

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Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item on the Human Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories
 

Action on Resolution on the Right of the Palestinian People to Self-determination

 
In a resolution (
A/HRC/31/L.36) on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, adopted without a vote, the Council reaffirms the inalienable, permanent and unqualified right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including their right to live in freedom, justice and dignity and the right to their independent State of Palestine; calls upon Israel, the Occupying Power, to end its occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and reaffirms its support for the solution of two States, Palestine and Israel, living side by side in peace and security; and urges all States to adopt measures as required to promote the realization of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people. 
 
Pakistan, introducing on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and other countries draft proposal L.36 on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, said the realisation of self-determination was an essential condition for the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.  The draft proposal focused on the inalienable right to self-determination of the Palestinian people, granted through the United Nations Charter, international law, international human rights covenants and relevant United Nations resolutions.  The preambular part sought thematic guidance from the United Nations Charter and other relevant international instruments and United Nation resolutions.  In the operative part, the draft resolution reaffirmed the inalienable, permanent and unqualified right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including their right to live in freedom, justice and dignity and the right to their independent State of Palestine.  It also reaffirmed its support for the solution of two States, Palestine and Israel, living side by side in peace and security.  
Due to the universal character of this right and its continued applicability to the Palestinian people, Pakistan trusted the resolution would be adopted by consensus.  

 

State of Palestine, speaking as a concerned country, thanked all the groups and States which supported four draft resolutions on Palestine, and their work in order to strike consensus.  Speaking about the first draft resolution on the right to self-determination (L.36), it noted that the right to self-determination was enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  As for the draft resolution on the human rights in the Occupied Palestine territories (L.37), the most flagrant violations of human rights had been taking place there.  That was not an internal conflict, but the occupation of one country by another.  Israel repeated its egregious abuses on a daily basis.  Israeli soldiers and settlers killed Palestinian children.  The Israeli army prevented the provision of medical care to Palestinians.  There were some 300 children in administrative prisons.  The continued blockade of the Gaza Strip had exacerbated the suffering of the Palestinian people.  
 
Turning to the draft resolution on ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem (L.38), the State of Palestine tried to prevent any incitement to provocation of Israel, and it condemned the inflammatory discourses by some Israeli politicians, including the Prime Minister.  The State of Palestine was ready to assume its legal responsibilities to ensure accountability through investigation of human rights violations.  Nevertheless, it was Israel that prevented the access of the Commission of Inquiry to the Palestinian territories.  With respect to the draft resolution on Israeli settlements (L.39), the international community condemned the Israeli settlements claiming that they were an obstacle to peace and the two-State solution.  If the land grab by Israel continued, its credibility would certainly be undermined.  The State of Palestine asked the Member States of the Council to adopt the draft resolutions with consensus.   
 

Action on Resolution on the Human Rights Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem

 
In a resolution (
A/HRC/31/L.37) on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, adopted by a vote of 42 in favour, none against and five abstentions, the Council demands that Israel, the Occupying Power, comply fully with the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and cease immediately all measures and actions taken in violation and in breach of the Convention; calls for urgent measures to ensure the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem;  and demands that Israel, the Occupying Power, cease all practices and actions that violate the human rights of the Palestinian people.  The Council also calls for urgent attention to the plight and the rights, in accordance with international law, of Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli jails; demands that Israel, the Occupying Power, cease all of its settlement activities, the construction of the wall and any other measures aimed at altering the character, status and demographic composition of the Occupied Palestinian Territory; and requests the Secretary-General to place the presence of the Office of the High Commissioner in the Occupied Palestinian Territory on a firmer basis under the regular budget. 
 

The result of the vote was as follows:
 
In favour (42): Albania, Algeria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Burundi, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, France, Georgia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Maldives, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Panama, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, South Africa, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Venezuela, and Viet Nam.  
 
Abstentions (5): Botswana, Ghana, Paraguay, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Togo.
 
Against (0): 
 
Pakistan, introducing draft resolution L.37 on behalf of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, said the text addressed conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.  The resolution was described; in its operative paragraphs it would, among other measures, urge Member States to continue to provide emergency assistance to the Palestinian people.  Hopes were expressed that the resolution could be adopted by consensus.  
 
Paraguay, in a general comment on draft proposal L.37 on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, said Paraguay had suffered the terrible consequences of war.  After 120 years of a fratricidal war, Paraguay had developed a relationship of trust and mutual support with the peoples of its region.  It was based on its own personal experience, thus, that Paraguay was convinced that Palestine and Israel had the right to live by each other in peace and in respect of their full rights.  Paraguay had always been consistent in recognizing a two State solution. Palestine and Israel were sovereign States and Paraguay had diplomatic relations with both of them.  It called on both parties to respect human rights and international law, and to respect the basic principles and the need for dialogue.  Therefore Paraguay supported the draft resolution.  
 
Saudi Arabia, in a general comment on draft proposal L.37, said six decades and more had passed and the world was still witnessing the shedding of blood by Palestinians at the hands of Israel, which was in unprecedented defiance of all international resolutions.  The continuation of this would only have negative implications for the promotion and protection of human rights.  Israel had blood on its hands and the Human Rights Council should not remain passive.  Saudi Arabia could not understand the words that could be put forward to find a justification to not vote in favour of the draft proposal.  It called upon all countries to vote in favour of the draft proposal.  
 
United Arab Emirates, in a general comment on draft proposal L.37, said the occupation by Israel of Palestine was illegal.  The Human Rights Council needed to continue to address the violations of human rights until the occupation of Israel came to an end.  
 
Cuba, in a general comment on draft resolution L.37, said the situation of the occupied territories needed maximum attention from the Human Rights Council, as Israel continued to violate international humanitarian law and human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.  Cuba called for a sustainable fair solution to the conflict, and this was not possible if violations continued and if there was impunity. 
 

Action on Resolution on Ensuring Accountability and Justice for All Violations of International Law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Including East Jerusalem

 
In a resolution (
A/HRC/31/L.38) on ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, adopted by a vote of in 32 favour, none against with 15 abstentions, the Council calls upon all duty bearers and United Nations bodies to pursue the implementation of the recommendations contained in the reports of the independent commission of inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict; calls upon the parties concerned to cooperate fully with the preliminary examination of the International Criminal Court and with any subsequent investigation that may be opened; and also calls upon all States to promote compliance with international law, and all High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to respect, and to ensure respect for, international humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.  The Council requests the High Commissioner to conduct a comprehensive review detailing the status of implementation of the recommendations addressed to all parties since 2009 by the relevant Human Rights Council mechanisms, and to present a report to the Council at its thirty-fifth session. 
 

The result of the vote was as follows:
 
In favour (32): Algeria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Burundi, China, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Indonesia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Panama, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, South Africa, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, and Viet Nam.  
 
Abstentions (15): Albania, Botswana, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, India, Latvia, Netherlands, Paraguay, Republic of Korea, Togo, and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
 
Against (0): 
 
Pakistan, introducing draft resolution L.38 on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, stated that it was imperative to end violations of international law in the occupied State of Palestine.  The draft text emphasized the importance of safety of all civilians and it deplored civilian deaths from the 2014 Gaza conflict.  The operative part welcomed the work of the United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry into the conflict and called upon all duty-bearers to implement its recommendations.  Member States were urged to adopt the draft resolution by consensus.
 
Saudi Arabia, in a general comment, said that Palestinians were suffering from systematic violations of their human rights.  Impunity and the potential impunity in such systematic, long-term fashion had allowed for the persistence of long-lasting repression without any repercussions.  Palestinian victims had been deprived of their right of effective compensation.  All responsible Israeli officials ought to be held accountable for the violations of the international law and the international humanitarian law.
 
United Arab Emirates, in a general comment, deeply regretted that some delegations were against accountability when it came to the rights of the Palestinian population.  However, in the end, accountability should prevail.    
 

Action on Resolution on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the Occupied Syrian Golan

 
In a resolution (
A/HRC/31/L.39) on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, none against with 15 abstentions, the Council demands that Israel, the Occupying Power, immediately cease all settlement activities in all the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan; also demands that Israel, the Occupying Power, comply fully with its legal obligations, as mentioned in the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice; and calls upon Israel, the Occupying Power, to reverse the settlement policy in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan, and, as a first step towards the dismantlement of the settlement enterprise.  The Council also urges all States to ensure that they are not taking actions that either recognize or assist the expansion of settlements or construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, including with regard to the issue of trading with settlements; and requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. 
 

The result of the vote was as follows:
 
In favour (32): Algeria, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botswana, Burundi, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Panama, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, and Viet Nam.
 
Abstentions (15): Albania, Belgium, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Latvia, Netherlands, Paraguay, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
 
Against (0): 
 
Pakistan, introducing on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and other co-sponsors draft resolution L.39 on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, said the construction of settlements was in continuing violation of international humanitarian law and human rights.  The draft sought to counter the settlement policy and establish a legal framework against it, based on the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on this matter, as well as many other human rights instruments, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, customary international law, and Protocol 1 of the Four Geneva Conventions.  The settlements were illegal and an obstacle to peace and economic and social development.  The resolution condemned the settlement activities and demanded that all settlements in all occupied territories immediately cease.  It called for an end to violations of all human rights, especially the right to self-determination, and to provide for reparations.  The Organization of Islamic Cooperation hoped that the Human Rights Council would abide by international humanitarian law and human rights and adopt the resolution by consensus. 
 
Saudi Arabia, in a general comment on resolution L.39, condemned the occupation by Israel of Palestinian territories for decades, and the expansion of the settlements in flagrant violation of international law and in contradiction of Article 49, paragraph 6 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice that stated that it was illegal to establish such settlements.  Saudi Arabia called upon peace-loving nations to vote in favour of this draft resolution.  
 
Qatar, in a general comment on resolution L.39, said it was extremely important that the Human Rights Council adopt this resolution, as Israel was in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and human rights, including the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice.  Not adopting it would encourage Israelis to continue the settlements.
 
Israel, in general comment on resolution L.39, said the Human Rights Council had just witnessed another absurd performance.  Today it was considering five resolutions mandating six reports overburdening the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the time of the Human Rights Council for future sessions.  Israel rejected these resolutions in their entirety.  By now Israel realised the politicization of the Human Rights Council.  Where was its sense of purpose?  The Human Rights Council had become an inflammatory environment.  Instead of contributing to a more peaceful environment, it contributed to deepened the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.  Was this a farce or a tragedy?  Israel would achieve peace despite the difficulties posed by the Human Rights Council.  Later today, Stanley Michael Lynk would be appointed of Special Rapporteur.  Again the fox would be given the job to guard the hen house.  Again another absurd performance.  While this theatre continued, Israelis would work hard to live in peace and security. 
 
Netherlands, in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the European Union, said settlements were illegal and jeopardized the two-State solution.  Comments were made regarding the listing of companies’ alleged activities.  While recognising the need for informing consumers, Member States had the primary role.  Disappointment was expressed that operative paragraph 17 on looking further regarding best practices was not taken into account.  Due to that, the European Union had been unable to support L.39, and European Union Member States would abstain.  It was noted that in making its statement, the European Union had not expressed itself on the use of certain legal terms, which were listed. 
 
Switzerland, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said Switzerland deplored the existence of settlements which undermined the rights of the Palestinian people.  Switzerland regretted that the text in operative paragraph 17 provided for the establishment of a database of private businesses alleged to be involved in settlements.  There were more appropriate means of ensuring compliance.  That was why Switzerland refrained from co-sponsoring the resolution as had been done in previous years. 
 
Ecuador, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that the Council had considered several resolutions on Palestine, with the view of improving the livelihoods of Palestinians.  All resolutions pointed to the need to recognize and apply many recommendations of international bodies.  Ecuador believed that compiling a database of companies working in the Occupied Territories was a significant proposal, and such a list should be made public.  The request for a database was a viable initiative.  
 
Germany, speaking on behalf of a group of countries in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that their position regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was clear.  The continuing violence had led to the loss of numerous lives in both Israel and Palestine.  All acts of terror were unacceptable and could not be justified; the perpetrators, no matter from which side, ought to be brought to justice.  The group of countries urged both sides to act in a manner which was proportionate.  They believed that the situation in Palestine should be addressed under agenda item 4, as all other country situations.  
 
United Kingdom, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, believed that calling upon the High Commissioner to establish a database was inappropriate and the United Kingdom would not cooperate in the process.


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