Human Rights Council concludes fourth session

UNITED NATIONS Press release, 30 March 2007, published on HREA, Human Rights Education Associates:

The Human Rights Council Adopts Ten Resolutions and Four Decisions, Including on Follow-up to Missions to Darfur and Occupied Palestinian Territory.

The Human Rights Council this afternoon concluded its fourth regular
session, having considered a large number of reports from its Special
Procedures, on the high-level missions mandated during earlier special
sessions, and on a wide range of issues, including racism and racial
discrimination, freedom of religion or belief, indigenous peoples,
violence against women, human rights defenders, and follow-up to earlier
resolutions on Darfur and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It also
adopted its report to the General Assembly.

In his closing statement to the Council, Luis Alfonso de Alba, President
of the Council, said the Council should feel satisfaction at the high
level of participation and interaction at the highest levels at the work
being performed. The level of participation and commitment shown was very
encouraging. It showed the priority that should be attached to the
institution building process, convergence and follow-up, seeking
consensus, the need to clearly identify outstanding issues and focus on
these issues. The time had clearly come to begin negotiating, to reduce
the distance between positions and take account of different concerns.

During the three-week session, the Council heard the Special Procedures of
the Council present their reports on the situation of human rights in
Burundi, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, the
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and the Occupied Palestinian
Territories.

Reports were also presented on minority issues, effects of economic reform
policies and foreign debt on human rights, racism and racial
discrimination, extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, freedom of
religion or belief, human rights of migrants, protection of human rights
while countering terrorism, freedom of opinion and expression, physical
and mental health, education, sale of children and child prostitution,
indigenous people, torture, violence against women, human rights and
transnational corporations, human rights defenders, internally displaced
persons, people of African descent, arbitrary detention, and enforced or
involuntary disappearances.

The Council’s high-level missions to Darfur and the Occupied Palestinian
Territory also presented their reports.

In the resolution adopted on Darfur, the Council took note with regret
that the high-level mission could not visit Darfur. It expressed deep
concern regarding the seriousness of the ongoing violations of human
rights and international humanitarian law in Darfur and decided to convene
a group to be presided over by the Special Rapporteur on Sudan to work
with the Government of Sudan and the appropriate human rights mechanisms
of the African Union to ensure the effective follow-up of the
implementation of resolutions and recommendations on Darfur and to
contribute to monitoring the human rights situation on the ground.

In the resolution adopted on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the
Council noted with regret that Israel, the occupying power, had not
implemented resolutions S-1/1 and S-3/1 and had hindered the dispatching
of the urgent fact-finding missions. It called for the implementation of
its resolutions and the dispatch of the two missions to the territory.

Two special events were also held during the session, on violence against
children, and on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with
Disabilities.

The Council continued the review work of its mechanisms and heard progress
reports from its two intergovernmental working groups on the Universal
Periodic Review, and on the Review of Mandates, which included segments on
the Complaints Procedure, the Expert Advice Body and the Special
Procedures.

Meetings of the 1503 procedure, during which the Council considers the
situation of human rights violations in certain countries behind closed
doors, were also held. The Council decided to discontinue consideration of
the human rights situation in Iran and Uzbekistan.

At the opening session, in a video statement, Ban Ki-moon,
Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that the world was watching
to see if the Council would live up to its promise. He hoped that the
Council’s members would work together to promote an objective and
universal approach to human rights. In the weeks and months ahead, this
would be put to the test time and again, and acute crises and
long-simmering human rights issues would demand scrutiny and remedy. It
was crucial that the Council had the components in place to pass this
test. By the first anniversary of the Council in June, the wheels of the
Council should be in full motion, including the Universal Periodic Review.

High Commissioner Louise Arbour, in her opening statement, said poverty
and discrimination were both the causes and the consequences of the most
egregious violations of human rights and attacks on human dignity. Armed
conflict, whether internal or international, inevitably increased the
threats to life and the vulnerability of civilians. Yet, poverty and war
were often perceived as akin to natural disasters, unfortunate and
deplorable things that happened, but that were essentially unavoidable and
for which no one could really be held responsible.

The Secretariat of the Council announced at the last meeting that an
inquiry would be held, at the request of China, into how an unauthorized
person had obtained a badge and had addressed the Council on behalf of a
non-governmental organization which he did not represent.

The fifth regular session of the Council will be held from 11 to 18 June.

Resolutions and Decisions Adopted by the Council

In a resolution on transitional justice, the Council commended the Office
of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for its efforts in
developing the issue of transitional justice and human rights, and
encouraged OHCHR to continue and strengthen its important analytical and
practical work regarding this complex issue.

In a resolution on the question of the realization in all countries of
economic, social and cultural rights, the Council called upon all States
to consider signing and ratifying, and the States parties to implement,
the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and
also called upon all States to guarantee that economic, social and
cultural rights should be exercised without discrimination of any kind.

In a resolution on the follow-up to the Human Rights Council resolutions
S-1/1 and S-3/1, the Council called for the implementation of those
resolutions, including the dispatching of the urgent fact-finding
missions, and for the President of the Council and the High Commissioner
for Human Rights to report to the Council at its fifth session on their
efforts for the implementation of the resolutions and on the compliance of
Israel.

In a resolution on the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Review of
Mandates, the Council requested the Coordinating Committee of the Special
Procedures to extend the deadline for the submission of comments on and
inputs to the draft manual of Special Procedures, and to present to the
fifth session of the Human Rights Council the outcome of its deliberations
on the code of conduct regulating the work of the Special Procedures.

In a decision on human rights and unilateral coercive measures, the
Council decided to request the Secretary-General to bring the present
decision to the attention of all States and to seek their views and
information on the implications and negative effects of unilateral
coercive measures on their populations. In a resolution on the right to
development, the Council decided to act to ensure that its agenda promotes
and advances sustainable development and the achievements of the
Millennium Development Goals and to agree on a programme of work that
would lead to raising the right to development to the same level and on a
par with all other human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in the
core human rights instruments.

In a decision on enhancement of international cooperation in the field of
human rights, the Council requested the United Nations High Commissioner
for Human Rights to consult States, intergovernmental and non-governmental
organizations on ways and means to enhance the international cooperation
and dialogue in the United Nations human rights machinery, including the
Human Rights Council.

In a resolution on globalization and its impact on the full enjoyment of
all human rights, the Council emphasized that development should be at the
centre of the international economic agenda and that coherence between
national development strategies and international obligations and
commitments would contribute to the creation of an enabling environment
for development, which was conducive to the full realization of all human
rights for all.

In a resolution on strengthening the Office of the High Commissioner for
Human Rights, the Council reaffirms that the tasks of the High
Commissioner include promoting and protecting the realization of the right
to development, and requests the High Commissioner to enhance
international cooperation for the promotion and protection of all human
rights.

In a resolution on rectification of the legal status of the Committee on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Council decided to initiate a
process to rectify the legal status of the Committee on Economic, Social
and Cultural Rights, with the aim of placing the Committee on a par with
all other treaty monitoring bodies.

In a resolution on follow-up to the decision of 13 December 2006 adopted
by the Human Rights Council at its fourth special session entitled
“Situation of human rights in Darfur”, the Council calls upon all parties
to the conflict in Darfur to put an end to all acts of violence against
civilians, and decides to convene a group to ensure the effective
follow-up and to foster the implementation of resolutions and
recommendations on Darfur.

In a resolution on combating defamation of religions, the Council urged
States to take resolute action to prohibit the dissemination of racist and
xenophobic ideas and material aimed at any religion or its followers that
constitute incitement to racial and religious hatred, hostility or
violence, and also urged States to provide adequate protection against
acts of hatred, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from
defamation of religions.

In a resolution on elimination of all forms of intolerance and of
discrimination based on religion or belief, the Council decided to
continue substantive consideration of this matter at its sixth session;
and requested the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief to
report on this issue to the Human Rights Council at its sixth session.

The Council also adopted a decision according to which it decided, without
a vote, to take note of the deferral of draft proposals on: the use of
mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise
of the right of peoples to self-determination; incitement to racial and
religious hatred and the promotion of tolerance; World Programme for Human
Rights Education; Israeli violations of religious and cultural rights in
Occupied East Jerusalem; and human rights situation in the Occupied
Palestinian Territory. It also decided to defer to coming sessions of the
Council texts on the rights of the child; Sri Lanka; and the rights of
indigenous peoples. Deferred until further notice were texts on impunity
and on freedom of opinion and expression.

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