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Human Rights Council Extends Mandates on Syrian Arab Republic, South Sudan and Mali, Appoints Six Mandate Holders and Concludes Forty-sixth Regular Session

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The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted nine resolutions in which it, among other actions, extended the mandates of the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic for a period of one year, the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan for a period of one year, and the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali for a period of one year.

Other resolutions referred to human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan; the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination; Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan; combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against, persons based on religion or belief; technical assistance and capacity-building for South Sudan; and cooperation with Georgia.

Nazhat Shameem Khan, President of the Human Rights Council, announced the appointment of Margaret Lokawua (Uganda) for the position of Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, member from Africa; Sheryl Lightfoot (Canada) for the position of Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, member from North America; Morris Tidball-Binz (Chile) for the position of Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Vitit Muntarbhorn (Thailand) for the position of Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Catherine S. Namakula (Uganda) for the position of Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, member from African States; and Priya Gopalan (Malaysia) for the position of Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, member from Asia-Pacific States.

As proposed by the Bureau, the Council agreed to a list of extraordinary modalities for the thirty-sixth session of the Working Group of the Universal Periodic Review from 3 to 14 May.

The draft report on the session was adopted ad referendum after it was presented by Monique van Daalen, Vice President/Rapporteur of the Council.

In a resolution on the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic, adopted by a vote of 27 in favour, 6 against and 14 abstentions, the Council said the ten-year conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic had been marked by consistent patterns of gross violations and abuses of international human rights law and violations of international humanitarian law and decided to extend the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic for a period of one year.

On the situation of human rights in South Sudan, the Council adopted a resolution by a vote of 20 in favour, 16 against and 11 abstentions, in which it decided to extend the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, composed of three members, for a period of one year, renewable as authorized by the Human Rights Council.

Regarding human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan, the Council adopted a resolution by a vote of 26 in favour, 18 against and 3 abstentions, in which it demanded that Israel stop its repressive measures against the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan, and determined that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken or to be taken by Israel, the occupying Power that sought to alter the character and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan were null and void, constituted a flagrant violation of international law and of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and had no legal effect.

On the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, the Council adopted a resolution by a vote of 42 in favour, 3 against and 2 abstentions, in which it called upon Israel, the occupying Power, to immediately end its occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and further reaffirmed its support for the solution of two States, Palestine and Israel, living side by side in peace and security.

In a resolution on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, adopted by a vote of 36 in favour, 3 against and 8 abstentions, the Council called upon Israel to cease immediately all actions causing the alteration of the character, status and demographic composition of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan.

With regards to combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against, persons based on religion or belief, the Council called upon all States, inter alia, to take effective measures to ensure that public functionaries, in the conduct of their public duties, did not discriminate against individuals on the basis of religion or belief; and to foster religious freedom and pluralism by promoting the ability of members of all religious communities to manifest their religion and to contribute openly and on an equal footing to society.

Turning to technical assistance and capacity-building for Mali in the field of human rights, the Council extended the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali for a period of one year in order to permit him to evaluate the situation of human rights in Mali and to assist the Malian transitional authorities in their efforts to promote, protect and fulfil human rights and to strengthen the rule of law.

Regarding technical assistance and capacity-building for South Sudan, the Council requested the Office of the High Commissioner, in cooperation with the Government of South Sudan and relevant mechanisms of the African Union, to urgently assist South Sudan to address human rights challenges in the post-conflict transition, by inter alia: monitoring and reporting on the situation of human rights in South Sudan, and to make recommendations to prevent any deterioration in the situation with a view to improving it.

In a resolution on cooperation with Georgia, adopted by a vote of 19 in favour, 8 against and 19 abstentions, the Council demanded that immediate and unimpeded access be given to the Office of the High Commissioner and international and regional human rights mechanisms to Abkhazia, Georgia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, Georgia.

In concluding remarks, Ms. Khan, President of the Human Rights Council, reiterated that any act of intimidation or reprisal against those cooperating with the United Nations were unacceptable. She closed the forty-sixth session of the Human Rights Council by thanking the Bureau, the Secretariat and many others for their dedication, flexibility and creativity in implementing the many extraordinary measures necessary to ensure that the Council continued its mandate.

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-sixth regular session can be found here.

The forty-seventh regular session of the Council is scheduled to be held from 21 June to 9 July 2021.

Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item on Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention

Action on Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in the Syrian Arab Republic

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.24) on the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic, adopted by a vote of 27 in favour, 6 against and 14 abstentions, the Council expresses grave concern that March 2021 marks 10 years since the peaceful uprising and its brutal repression that led to the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic and that the conflict has been marked by consistent patterns of gross violations and abuses of international human rights law and violations of international humanitarian law, recalls the statements made by the Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights that crimes against humanity and war crimes are likely to have been committed in the Syrian Arab Republic and the recent conclusions of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic that violations and abuses have included acts that are likely to constitute crimes against humanity, war crimes and other international crimes, including genocide. The Council strongly condemns all violations and abuses and the ongoing human rights situation, demands that all parties immediately comply with their respective obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law, and emphasizes the need to ensure that all those responsible for such violations and abuses are held to account. The Council strongly condemns the ongoing terrorist acts and violence committed against civilians by so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Daesh), Al-Nusrah Front (also known as Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham) and other terrorist organizations designated by the Security Council and their gross, systematic and widespread abuses of international human rights law and violations of international humanitarian law throughout the conflict, reaffirms that terrorism, including the actions of so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Daesh), cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality or civilization, and stresses the importance of the full implementation of Security Council resolution 2170 (2014) of 15 August 2014, as well as the importance of ensuring accountability for all such abuses of international human rights law and violations of international humanitarian law. The Council reaffirms that there can only be a political solution to the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic, demands that all parties work towards a comprehensive, genuine and inclusive political transition. The Council decides to extend the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry for a period of one year.

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (27): Argentina, Austria, Bahamas, Brazil, Bulgaria, Côte d’Ivoire, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, France, Gabon, Germany, Italy, Japan, Libya, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Netherlands, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Korea, Somalia, Togo, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Uruguay.

Against (6): Armenia, Bolivia, China, Cuba, Russian Federation and Venezuela.

Abstentions (14): Bahrain, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Eritrea, Indonesia, India, Mauritania, Namibia, Nepal, Pakistan, Senegal, Sudan and Uzbekistan.

Action on Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in South Sudan

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.29/Rev.1) on the situation of human rights in South Sudan, adopted by a vote of 20 in favour, 16 against and 11 abstentions, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, composed of three members, for a period of one year, renewable as authorized by the Human Rights Council, with the following mandate: (a) To monitor and report on the situation of human rights in South Sudan … (b) To determine and report the facts and circumstances of, to collect and preserve evidence of, and to clarify responsibility for alleged violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes, including sexual and gender-based violence and ethnic violence, with a view to ending impunity and providing accountability … (c) To provide guidance on transitional justice, including accountability, reconciliation and healing … (d) To engage with the Government of South Sudan, international and regional mechanisms … with a view to promoting accountability for human rights violations and abuses committed by all parties … (e) To make recommendations on technical assistance and capacity-building, including to law enforcement institutions, on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including on addressing sexual and gender-based violence; (f) To make recommendations on technical assistance and capacity-building for implementation of chapter V of the Revitalized Agreement; (g) To make recommendations on a follow-up process for the provision of technical assistance and capacity-building to South Sudan. The Council requests the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan to convene two workshops on transitional justice, with the participation of relevant stakeholders, also requesting the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan to work collaboratively with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, including with the Country Rapporteur for South Sudan. The Council also requests the Office of the High Commissioner to provide the Government of South Sudan with technical assistance in order to support the realization of the indicators contained in the present resolution, and requests the Secretary-General to provide the Office of the High Commissioner with all the resources necessary to enable it to provide such administrative, technical and logistical support as necessary to the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan.

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (20): Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Republic of Korea, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Uruguay.

Against (16): Bahrain, Bolivia, Cameroon, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Eritrea, Gabon, Libya, Mauritania, Pakistan, Philippines, Russian Federation, Somalia, Sudan and Venezuela.

Abstentions (11): Bangladesh, Brazil, Burkina Faso, India, Indonesia, Malawi, Namibia, Nepal, Senegal, Togo and Uzbekistan.

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

Action on Resolution on Human Rights in the Occupied Syrian Golan

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.16) on human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan, adopted by a vote of 26 in favour, 18 against and 3 abstentions, the Council demands that Israel stop its repressive measures against the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan, and release immediately the Syrian detainees in Israeli prisons and determines that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken or to be taken by Israel, the occupying Power, including the Knesset’s decision of 22 November 2010 to hold a referendum before any withdrawal from the occupied Syrian Golan and East Jerusalem, that seek to alter the character and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan are null and void, constitute a flagrant violation of international law and of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and have no legal effect. Furthermore, the Council again calls upon States Members of the United Nations not to recognize any of the above-mentioned legislative or administrative measures. The Council requests the Secretary-General to bring the present resolution to the attention of all Governments, the competent United Nations organs, specialized agencies, international and regional intergovernmental organizations and international humanitarian organizations, to disseminate it as widely as possible and to report on this matter to the Human Rights Council at its forty-ninth session. The Council further decides to continue its consideration of the human rights violations in the occupied Syrian Golan at its forty-ninth session.

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (26): Argentina, Armenia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Eritrea, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Libya, Mauritania, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.

Against (18): Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Netherlands, Poland, Republic of Korea, Togo, Ukraine et United Kingdom.

Abstentions (3): Fiji, Philippines and Uruguay.

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

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.18) on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, adopted by a vote of 42 in favour, 3 against and 2 abstentions, the Council calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to immediately end its occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and further reaffirms its support for the solution of two States, Palestine and Israel, living side by side in peace and security. The Council confirms that the right of the Palestinian people to permanent sovereignty over their natural wealth and resources must be used in the interest of their national development, the well-being of the Palestinian people and as part of the realization of their right to self-determination. Calling upon all States to ensure their obligations of non-recognition, non-aid or assistance with regard to the serious breaches of peremptory norms of international law by Israel, in particular of the prohibition of the acquisition of territory by force, in order to ensure the exercise of the right to self-determination, the Council also calls upon them to cooperate further to bring, through lawful means, an end to these serious breaches and a reversal of Israel’s illegal policies and practices. The Council finally urges all States to adopt measures as required to promote the realization of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people, and to render assistance to the United Nations in carrying out the responsibilities entrusted to it by the Charter regarding the implementation of this right, deciding to remain seized of the matter.

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (42):Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Denmark, Eritrea, Fiji, France, Gabon, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Libya, Mauritania, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.

Against (3): Czech Republic, Marshall Islands and United Kingdom.

Abstentions (2): Cameroon and Malawi.

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/46/L.30) on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, adopted by a vote of 36 in favour, 3 against and 8 abstentions, the Council calls upon Israel to accept the de jure applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and to the occupied Syrian Golan, to abide scrupulously by the provisions of the Convention, in particular article 49 thereof, and to comply with all its obligations under international law and to cease immediately all actions causing the alteration of the character, status and demographic composition of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan. Expressing its concern at the failure of Israel, the occupying Power, to cooperate fully with the relevant United Nations mechanisms, 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, and in this regard calls for the full implementation of all relevant Security Council resolutions. The Council 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, including to cease forthwith the works of construction of the wall being built in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, to dismantle forthwith the structure therein situated, to repeal or render ineffective forthwith all legislative and regulatory acts relating thereto, and to make reparation for the damage caused to all natural or legal persons affected by the construction of the wall. The Council urges all States and international organizations to ensure that they are not taking actions that either recognize, aid or assist the expansion of settlements or the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and to continue to actively pursue policies that ensure respect for their obligations under international law with regard to these and all other illegal Israeli practices and measures in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. The Council finally requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to report on the implementation of the provisions of the present resolution to the Human Rights Council at its forty-ninth session and decides to remain seized of the matter.

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (36): Argentina, Armenia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Denmark, Eritrea, Fiji, France, Gabon, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Libya, Mauritania, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Uruguay, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.

Against (3): Czech Republic, Marshall Islands and United Kingdom.

Abstentions (8): Austria, Bahamas, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon and Malawi Togo and Ukraine.

Action on Resolution under the Agenda Item on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

Action on Resolution on Combating Intolerance, Negative Stereotyping and Stigmatization of, and Discrimination, Incitement to Violence and Violence Against, Persons Based on Religion or Belief

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.3) on combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against, persons based on religion or belief, adopted without a vote, the Council calls upon all States, inter alia, to take effective measures to ensure that public functionaries, in the conduct of their public duties, do not discriminate against individuals on the basis of religion or belief; and to foster religious freedom and pluralism by promoting the ability of members of all religious communities to manifest their religion and to contribute openly and on an equal footing to society; encourage the representation and meaningful participation of individuals, irrespective of their religion, in all sectors of society; make a strong effort to counter religious profiling, which is understood to be the invidious use of religion as a criterion in conducting questionings, searches and other law enforcement investigative procedures. The Council further calls upon States to adopt measures and policies to promote full respect for and protection of places of worship and religious sites, cemeteries and shrines, and to take measures in cases where they are vulnerable to vandalism or destruction. Finally, the Council calls for strengthened international efforts to foster a global dialogue for the promotion of a culture of tolerance and peace at all levels, based on respect for human rights and diversity of religion and belief.

Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building

Action on Resolution on Technical Assistance and Capacity-building for Mali in the Field of Human Rights

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.17) on technical assistance and capacity-building for Mali in the field of human rights, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council strongly condemns the violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, including those involving violations and abuses of women’s rights, notably sexual and gender-based violence, violations and abuses of children’s rights, in particular the recruitment and use of children in violation of international law, and extrajudicial and summary executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detention, mistreatment of prisoners, killing and maiming, and attacks on schools and hospitals. The Council encourages the Malian transitional authorities to put in place all necessary measures to prevent the recruitment and use of children in violation of international law, to put a stop to these practices, to implement sustainable reintegration and rehabilitation programmes that take the gender perspective into account, and to adopt the law on the protection of the child. The Council decides to extend the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali for a period of one year in order to permit him to evaluate the situation of human rights in Mali and to assist the Malian transitional authorities in their efforts to promote, protect and fulfil human rights and to strengthen the rule of law, and requests the Independent Expert, within the framework of his mandate, to work closely with all entities of the United Nations, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States, the Group of Five for the Sahel and its member States, neighbouring States and all other international organizations concerned, and with Malian civil society. The Council also decides to hold a dialogue at its forty-ninth session, in the presence of the Independent Expert and representatives of the Transitional Government of Mali, to assess the changes in the situation of human rights in the country, with a particular focus on the issue of space for civil society and human rights defenders.

Action on Resolution on Technical Assistance and Capacity-building for South Sudan

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.20) on technical assistance and capacity-building for South Sudan, adopted without a vote, the Council appreciates the cooperation of the Government of South Sudan with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the special procedures of the Human Rights Council and the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan in the fulfilment of their mandates. The Council emphasizes the need for the Government of South Sudan to ensure the effective and meaningful participation of women during all stages and in all structures envisaged in the Revitalized Agreement, and for all parties to the Agreement to meet their commitments regarding women’s representation and to ensure balance in the representation of youth, gender and national and regional diversity in their appointments. The Council requests the Office of the High Commissioner, in cooperation with the Government of South Sudan and relevant mechanisms of the African Union, to urgently assist South Sudan to address human rights challenges in the post-conflict transition, by inter alia: monitoring and reporting on the situation of human rights in South Sudan, and to make recommendations to prevent any deterioration in the situation with a view to improving it; assessing the technical assistance and capacity-building needs of South Sudan in consultation with the Government of South Sudan and relevant African Union mechanisms; providing the required technical assistance and capacity-building, particularly with regard to the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement; providing guidance on transitional justice, including accountability, reconciliation and healing, as appropriate, and making recommendations on technical assistance to the Government of South Sudan to support accountability, reconciliation and healing. The Council also requests the Office of the High Commissioner to work collaboratively with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, including with the Country Rapporteur for South Sudan.

Action on Resolution on Cooperation with Georgia

In a resolution (A/HRC/46/L.26) on cooperation with Georgia, adopted by a vote of 19 in favour, 8 against and 19 abstentions, the Council expresses serious concern that the provisions of the resolutions with regard to Abkhazia, Georgia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, Georgia have not been implemented. The Council hence requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue to provide technical assistance through the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Tbilisi. The Council further demands that immediate and unimpeded access be given to the Office of the High Commissioner and international and regional human rights mechanisms to Abkhazia, Georgia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, Georgia. The Council finally requests the High Commissioner to present to the Human Rights Council, in accordance with its resolution 5/1 of 18 June 2007, an oral update on the follow-up to the present resolution at its forty-seventh session, and to present a written report on developments relating to and the implementation of the present resolution at its forty-eighth session.

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (19): Austria, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Libya, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Somalia, Ukraine and United Kingdom.

Against (8): Bolivia, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Philippines, Russian Federation and Venezuela.

Abstentions (19): Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Mauritania, Namibia, Nepal, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Senegal, Sudan, Togo, Uruguay and Uzbekistan.