25 September 2020
Begins General Debate on Human Rights Situations that Require the Council's Attention
The Human Rights Council this morning held an interactive dialogue with the Advisory Committee. It also heard an oral update by the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Venezuela, and then started a general debate on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention.
Speaking in the interactive dialogue with the Advisory Committee were the European Union, Ecuador on behalf of a group of countries, China, Russian Federation, Egypt, Nepal, Peru (video statement), Pakistan, India, Iran, Venezuela and Indonesia
Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations : South Youth Organization, China NGO Network for International Exchanges, Institute for NGO Research, China Society for Human Rights Studies, International Committee for the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas, and Iuventum e.V.
The Council then heard an oral update by the High Commissioner on the situation of human rights in Venezuela, after which it began its general debate on human rights situations that require the Council's attention.
Venezuela spoke as a concerned country.
Speaking in the general debate were Germany on behalf of the European Union, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Conference, Venezuela on behalf of a group of countries (video message), Germany on behalf of a group of countries , Azerbaijan on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Peru on behalf of a group of countries, Cuba on behalf of a group of countries, Germany, Pakistan, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Japan, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Australia, Netherlands, Venezuela, Republic of Korea, Uruguay, Spain, Peru, Philippines (video message), Denmark, Chile, United Kingdom, Israel, Finland, France, Slovenia, Canada, Belgium, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Cuba, Sweden, China, Paraguay, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Russian Federation, Ireland, Syria, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Cambodia, Colombia, Georgia, Madagascar, Cyprus, Estonia, South Africa, Myanmar (video message), Norway, Viet Nam, Iran, Belarus and Azerbaijan.
Also taking the floor were the following national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations : Greek National Commission for Human Rights, World Organisation against Torture, Human Rights Watch, European Coordination of Associations and Individuals for Freedom of Conscience, European Union of Jewish Students, Baha'i International Community, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, Minority Rights Group, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, Dominicas for Justice and Peace - Order of Preachers, World Evangelical Alliance, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Society for Threatened Peoples, Amnesty International, Baptist World Alliance, and the International Muslim Women's Union.
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-fifth regular session can be found here.
At 3 p.m., the Council will continue its interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. It will then continue the general debate on human rights situations that require the Council's attention.
Interactive Dialogue with the Advisory Committee
Presentation of Reports
LAZHARI BOUZID,Chairperson of the Advisory Committee, presenting the Advisory Committee's annual report, explained that since the twenty-fifth session of the Committee, initially scheduled for August this year, was postponed to February 2021 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the current annual report covered only the Committee’s twenty-fourth session. Before the Council, along with the report of the Advisory Committee on its twenty-fourth session, there were two thematic reports. The first thematic report dealt with national policies and human rights. While noting that some progress had been made towards realizing the Sustainable Development Goals, it referred to existing challenges and obstacles, such as lack of funding and sufficiently qualified personnel. The second thematic report concerned the importance of a legally binding instrument on the right to development. It concluded that such an instrument would create an enabling environment for development and more favourable conditions for all human rights.
Speakers questioned the value of a legally binding instrument on the right to development, noting that it would be of little use if all parties did not agree on its underlying premises and therefore were unlikely to adhere to its terms. Speakers reaffirmed that States should integrate into their national policies a human rights perspective, and highlighted the need for reliable and disaggregated data. Terrorism and extremism trampled human rights, and it was the responsibility of the international community to address this scourge. Speakers expressed concerns about the idea of racial superiority gaining currency. Additional resources should be made available to the Advisory Committee so it may fulfill its mandate ; it was important that the Advisory Committee finalize its report on terrorism and submit it as soon as possible. Welcoming the compendium of best practices related to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, speakers spotlighted the efforts to ensure gender equality within the human rights mechanisms. The significance of international cooperation to ensure the realization of the right to development was even greater in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Speakers said that in realizing the right to development, politicization should be avoided and the specific contexts of countries should be considered, including their religious, cultural, social and historical characteristics.
LAZHARI BOUZID,Chairperson of the Advisory Committee, called on the Council to entrust the Advisory Committee with new mandates and noted that it had submitted proposals in that regard.
Oral Update by the High Commissioner on the Situation of Human Rights in Venezuela
MICHELLE BACHELET, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, recalling that she had acknowledged the recent adoption of positive measures by the Government of Venezuela, such as the pardoning of 110 persons, the release of 40 persons, and greater cooperation with her Office, said that her Office continued to document cases of repression of peaceful protests in the context of the state of alarm in force since March, including the arrests of demonstrators protesting low wages and pensions, poor public services, and gasoline shortages. In addition, it had observed restrictions on freedom of expression. Acknowledging the efforts of the authorities towards the Venezuelan migrants returning to the country, she expressed concerns about the stigmatizing discourse of some officials who held those who returned through irregular crossings responsible for introducing COVID-19 in Venezuela. The pandemic had compounded other pre-existing emergencies, such as the food crisis. Imposing additional sanctions on diesel exports may further exacerbate the already critical gasoline shortage and hamper the distribution of humanitarian aid and essential goods. She reiterated her call to lift economic sanctions to facilitate the allocation of resources during the pandemic.
Statement by Concerned Country
Venezuela, speaking as a concerned country, firmly rejected imposing resolutions against sovereign countries in this Council, especially when said resolutions did not receive the support of the State concerned. The protection and promotion of human rights should be based on genuine cooperation and dialogue. The work of the Council in that regard should be geared towards universality, objectivity and non-selectivity, and should seek to eradicate any pollicization and double standards. Venezuela took note of the concerns expressed by the High Commissioner and would respond to them in due course. Her oral update was, however, marked by methodological shortcomings and included biased information which fuelled the media campaign waged against Venezuela. The Government nevertheless remained open for a constructive exchange of information with the High Commissioner and her Office. There was an ongoing multifaceted aggression against Venezuela, spearheaded by the United States, which included the imposition of unilateral coercive measures.
General Debate on Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention
Speakers expressed concerns about the destruction of mosques, and attacks against women for wearing the hijab, amongst other instances of Islamophobia. The practice of naming and shaming sometimes served as a means of meddling in the internal affairs of States, in violation of the United Nations Charter. Touting the value of the Universal Periodic Review, speakers encouraged the Council to pay particular attention to issues such as poverty, development, marginalization, and the digital divide, which could not be divorced from any meaningful discussion on human rights. The Council should play a key role in preventing indoctrination of the most vulnerable segments of the population and countering the spread of terrorist ideologies. Some speakers called for the immediate release of all human rights defenders that had been arbitrarily detained. Other speakers called for the creation of a Special Procedure mandate on climate change and human rights to ensure a long-term focus on climate change in the Council, notably in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Speakers also flagged human rights violations in, or involving, the following countries or regions : Iran, Venezuela, Belarus, Russian Federation, temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol, China, Syria, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Myanmar, United States, Hong Kong, Tibet, South Sudan, Nicaragua, India, Jammu and Kashmir, Russian occupied Georgia’s Abkhazia and Tkshinvali regions, Israel, State of Palestine, Lebanon, Xinjiang, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Burundi, Sudan, Turkey, Armenia, Philippines, Djibouti, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Côte d’Ivoire, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bahrain, Cameroon, Yemen and Nepal.
For use of the information media; not an official record