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Human Rights Council concludes interactive dialogues on children and armed conflict and violence against children, and on the rights of persons with disabilities and persons with albinism

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Human Rights Council
MORNING

The Human Rights Council during its midday meeting concluded its clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for children and armed conflict, Virginia Gamba, and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children, Marta Santos Pais. It also concluded its clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, Catalina Devandas Aguilar, and the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, Ikponwosa Ero.

The interactive dialogue on children and armed conflict and on violence against children started on Tuesday, 6 March, and a summary of the discussion can be read here.

In her concluding remarks, Ms. Gamba noted that unless reintegration programmes were taken seriously, it would never be possible to cross the plateau that was faced right now. The same number of children were released every year and recruited to new wars. In addition to basic reintegration needs and health assistance, programmes needed to offer at least four years of psycho-social assistance, as well as a gender-sensitive approach. Reintegration was the elephant in the room. It cost a lot of money, and without a trust fund for all agencies, it would not succeed.

For her part, Ms. Santos Pais highlighted the importance on helping children access health and justice services. Those were often “available” but very distant to children. Only in 2017, more than 9 million adolescent girls had been forced into sexual relations but when surveyed only 1 per cent had been able to access services. Girls in many countries were still criminalized for being victims of sexual abuse. Mind sets needed to change and a different approach to social services was needed. Many States missed the opportunity to emphasize how violence was affecting not only the development of children, but their entire economic development.

In the discussion on children and armed conflict, speakers emphasized the critical need to ensure that girls accessed humanitarian assistance and protection, and especially sexual and reproductive health care and education. The Special Representative should report on gender-related dimensions of grave violations perpetuated against children in situations of armed conflict. They drew attention to the absence of effective and adequate mechanisms to deal with lifelong challenges that children faced from being victims of conflict. Violence and extremism brought fear and the feeling of insecurity to children, while the international community was doing nothing more but express concern for the children in conflicts who were killed, lost their loved ones, were displaced, or suffered deprivations.

On violence against children, speakers said that gender stereotypes and discrimination played a critical role in fuelling violence experienced by over 1 billion children every year. Member States were encouraged to design gender-sensitive policies on combatting violence against children. Some speakers drew attention to violence against mothers and its impact on child development, including during pregnancy, which could impair foetal growth and result in low foetal weight or even miscarriage so a cross-sectorial mobilization was required at every level.

Speaking were Portugal, Council of Europe, Lithuania, Slovakia, Canada, Botswana, Armenia and Afghanistan.

Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: Defence for Children International, Plan International, Asian Legal Resource Centre, Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism, Foundation ECPAT International, World Organization Against Torture, Terre des Hommes Federation Internationale, Charitable Institute for Protecting Social Victims, Iraqi Development Organization, Make Mothers Matter, Al-khoei Foundation, Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, Human Rights Now, Liberation, and Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture.

The Council also concluded its clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, Catalina Devandas Aguilar, and the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, Ikponwosa Ero. That dialogue started on Tuesday, 6 March, and a summary can be read here.

In her concluding remarks, Ms. Devandas Aguilar stressed that persons with disabilities needed to take their own decisions, rather than having others take decisions on their behalf. The question was how to move to a system where they were the decision makers. States could not invest in inclusive education and access technology, if at the end of the day persons with disabilities could not open a bank account, because they were deemed not able to do that. The world needed to respect their preferences and their will. Change was possible, and the Special Rapporteur appealed to all States to withdraw their reservations on article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Ms. Ero said that the situation concerning persons with albinism had been aggravated, due to the intersectionality of disability and colour, leading to either self-isolation or isolation by the community, which then had an impact on their mental health. The role of faith-based organizations was stated in the regional action plan on albinism in Africa, but Ms. Ero stressed that faith-based organizations could not be spoken to in a human rights language. Concerning the question on witchcraft and its impact, international guidance for States on a definition of witchcraft could be developed.

In the discussion on the rights of persons with disabilities, speakers agreed that the refusal to recognize the legal capacity of persons with disabilities was a serious issue. There was a high risk of persons with disabilities being placed under substitute decision making. Persons with disabilities had to be seen as rights holders. States had to empower them in their role as witnesses, judges, lawyers or other interlocutors within the justice system to fully exercise their right to participate in public and political life. Special attention should be given to the rights of women with disabilities, including the need to address multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and the need to guarantee access to health services, including sexual and reproductive health.

On persons with albinism, speakers stated that to overcome challenges with respect to the rights of persons with albinism, it was necessary to strengthen regional human rights mechanisms, as well as to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert. Persons with albinism needed to enjoy equal protection by law, as well as adequate healthcare and social services. Speakers called on States to ensure the highest standards of health for persons with albinism, providing free access to dermatological care, setting up mobile clinics and providing training and information on albinism.

Speaking were Djibouti, Portugal, Argentina, Jordan, Republic of Korea, Fiji, Somalia, Antigua and Barbuda, Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nepal, Burkina Faso and New Zealand.

Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: Alsalam Foundation, Plan International, International Volunteerism Organization for Women, Education and Development – VIDES, Action Canada for Population and Development, Lutheran World Federation, Association of World Citizens, Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, VAAGDHARA, World Barua Organization, Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association, International Bar Association, Association pour l’Intégration et le Développement Durable au Burundi, and Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme.

Azerbaijan and Armenia spoke in right of reply.

The Council will next hold the annual debate on the rights of persons with disabilities, with a focus on article 13 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities regarding access to justice.

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children and on Children in Armed Conflict

Portugal acknowledged the efforts of the Special Representative to scale up activities in safeguarding children’s rights to freedom from violence and asked how the mandate benefited from the inclusion of children’s voices. Expressing concern about the increased vulnerability of children with mental health conditions or psycho-social disabilities to violence, Portugal asked for the Special Representative’s views on the issue. Council of Europe welcomed the strategic focus of the Special Representative on violence against children on attaining the Sustainable Development Goal 16.2 target to end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children, which was also embedded in its own Strategy of the Right of the Child. How could the cooperation with regional and international organizations in this context be more efficient? Lithuania considered children’s rights as a priority across its national framework and international treaties, and expressed strong support for the call to strengthen the prevention of violence against children in the context of implementing the 2030 Agenda.

Slovakia condemned the use of child soldiers, denial of humanitarian access and all attacks on schools and educational intuitions, and asked which immediate actions should be taken to prevent violence against children during armed conflicts. Canada had recently acceded to the Safe Schools Declaration, thus reiterating its commitment to prevent violence against children during armed conflict. Abuses of international humanitarian law and human rights law were condemned, as they made children even more exposed to sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking. Botswana stated that much of the violence committed during childhood had an irreversible impact and consequences, and went on to express its full support towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and in particular the target 16.2 on ending the abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children.

Armenia highlighted the principle of distinction in international humanitarian law and drew attention to the indiscriminate attacks on children living in areas bordering Azerbaijan. Humanitarian assistance for children must be delivered under all circumstances. Afghanistan had taken a number of measures to ensure children’s rights which were vital for peace and the well-being of societies, including the adoption of the national action plan to eliminate early and child marriage 2017-2021. Despite all the measures to protect children from the scourges of armed conflict, the accounted for 30 per cent of all casualties in 2017, lamented Afghanistan.

Defence for Children International, noting with alarm that the war in Yemen had killed more than 5,000 children and left 400,000 severely malnourished and fighting for their lives, stressed the crucial importance of fighting impunity and ensuring accountability. Plan International, Inc, emphasizing the critical need to ensure that girls accessed humanitarian assistance and protection and especially sexual and reproductive health care and education, urged the Special Representative to report on gender-related dimensions of grave violations perpetuated against children in situations of armed conflict.

Asian Legal Resource Centre drew attention to the absence of effective and adequate mechanisms to deal with lifelong challenges children faced from being victims to the conflict in Asia, including the horrendous trauma that scarred the minds of the Rohingya children, the children who had witnessed atrocities in Jammu and Kashmir, and those who had lost their parents to extrajudicial executions in the north eastern states of India, in Bangladesh, in Baluchistan, or in West Papua of Indonesia. Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism said that violence and extremism brought fear and the feeling of insecurity to children, while the international community was doing nothing more than express concern for the children in Yemen, Iraq, Palestine, Syria, or Rakhine state in Myanmar, who were killed, lost their loved ones, were displaced, or suffered deprivations.

Foundation ECPAT International, in a joint statement, drew attention to the increased vulnerability of children to sexual exploitation in the context of sudden influxes of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants from places like Syria or sub-Saharan Africa, and called upon Member States to establish formal protection and monitoring mechanisms for children, especially unaccompanied ones. World Organization against Torture raised concern that torture and ill treatment of children was a form of violence against children that was not being adequately addressed by the Council, and urged the two Special Representatives to include in their advocacy efforts the universal ratification of the Convention against Torture and its comprehensive application to crimes committed against children. Foundation ECPAT International -End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking in Children for Sexual Purposes- (in a joint statement with Child Rights Connect, International Catholic Child Bureau and War Child Holland) on violence against children, noting that gender influenced how violence against children was perpetuated and experienced, stressed the critical importance of using a gender perspective in understanding and addressing violence against children, including sexual exploitation.

Charitable Institute for Protecting Social Victims warned of an increased prominence of the denial of humanitarian access to children in armed conflict, and stressed the growing vulnerability of unaccompanied children in armed conflict to trafficking, abduction, sale or sexual exploitation. Association of World Citizens welcomed the full reintegration of child soldiers in society to prevent them from returning to war zones, and expressed concern about grave and blatant violations against children by non-State militias in Yemen, including the recruitment of over 900 children in 2017 alone. Make Mothers Matter drew attention to violence against mothers, including during pregnancy, and its impact on child development which could impair foetal growth and result in low foetal weight or even miscarriage; a cross-sectorial mobilization was required at every level to address the issue.

Al-khoei Foundation said the conditions set by the war in Yemen had pushed 7 million people to the brink of famine and had onset the largest cholera outbreak in modern history, largely due to the destruction of infrastructure by the Saudi-led coalition air raids using United States-made bombs. Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, noting with concern that only 50 States had comprehensive legislation banning violence against children, said that despite all promises, Iran had not enforced such a law and had executed at least five juvenile offenders in 2017. Human Rights Now expressed grave concern over the situation of Rohingya children in Myanmar and Bangladesh, many of whom were left fatherless and homeless by the violence. Rohingya children in Bangladesh were facing a humanitarian crisis caused by diseases, serous trauma and anxiety, and lack of education and trauma support.

Liberation said in the northern states of India children were raped and tortured at the hands of the security personnel on a daily basis. The indigenous and tribal peoples in that area were under armed occupation, and there was an urgent need to repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and expedite an awareness campaign about this issue. Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture said Israel was detaining more than 55 children aged between 5 and 20, which was a violation of the Geneva Convention, a crime against humanity, and a scandal in the face of the international community. It called upon Israel to immediately release all detained children.

Concluding Remarks by the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General

VIRGINIA GAMBA, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, said in her concluding remarks that in order to improve the situation and better monitor and report on the situation of children affected by violence, the focus should be on strengthening the existing tools through engagement, and deepening of the capacities of country task forces to monitor and better use action plans drawn by her Office and the States which wanted to work to stop the violations in their space. The focus was also on strengthening and increasing the role of the existing mechanisms and initiatives such as the Safe Schools, the Vancouver Principles and the Paris Principles, and the development of new complementary tools, for example an analysis, lessons learned, public awareness and outreach tool developed by her Office to allow for better understanding of the conflict dynamic and violations of children rights. Cooperation with sub-regional and regional organizations needed to be enhanced, which would hopefully lead to regional action plans on the prevention of violence against children in armed conflict.

The international community had to grapple with the key issues of reintegration, child protection capacity, and ensuring better coordination, and it must also adopt action plans and measures to stop violations, and link them with pillars of broader prevention plans and the 2030 Agenda, making for a building block approach. However, unless reintegration programmes were taken seriously, it would never be possible to cross the current plateau, warned the Special Representative as she noted with concern that every year, the number of children released from armed groups was the same as the number of new children recruited to wars. The current reintegration model was inadequate - it covered only basic reintegration needs and lasted only six months, while psycho-social assistance to such children needed to be offered for four years at least, and reintegration had to be gender-sensitive too. Reintegration was the elephant in the room - it cost a lot of money and required the creation of a trust fund to be used by all agencies. The previous year was very bleak, continued Ms. Gamba as child protection capacities in a number of agencies were victims of budget cuts. Children were at the heart of the conflicts today, and they kept conflicts going - as long as children were treated as a commodity that fuelled the war, the protracted nature of war would never stop, concluded the Special Representative.

MARTA SANTOS PAIS, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, in concluding remarks, raised an important cross-cutting dimension on how to build on the positive contributions of children, rather than looking at them as passive recipients of services. It was fundamental to listen to the views of children, she stressed, noting the example of how listening to children was fundamental in understanding the critical aspects of bullying as experienced by children. Turning to the global study on children deprived of liberty, which was a priority for the United Nations system as a whole, the Special Representative said that no one knew how many children were deprived of liberty, and noted that the focus was on listening to as many children deprived of liberty, as well as the children of persons deprived of liberty, including those on death row. The children of detained parents were continuously stigmatized and were victims of bullying and other forms of violence, and she had clear ideas on how their situation could be improved, starting from shortening travel time to visit their detained parent, providing child friendly spaces in the detention facilities where they could visit with their parent deprived of liberty, and others.

Another important topic was raised in the discussion today, said the Special Representative, which was how to assist a child victim to access justice and basic services, which were often available but very distant to children. To illustrate the point, Ms. Santos Pais noted that in 2015, only 1 per cent of the 9 million sexually abused adolescent girls were able to access services that were supposed to support them. Many girls, because they were victims of sexual abuse and became pregnant, were expelled from school or even criminalized for becoming pregnant. Mind sets needed to change and a different approach to these social services was needed. For example, the World Health Organization, which, together with multiple bodies in the United Nations system had issued an action plan to support health professionals to support children victims of sexual violence and detect early and provide early responses to victims. The truth was, however, that most countries did not even know about the adoption of this action plan and the training of doctors and health professionals was therefore not taking place.

In terms of the most important achievements and the opportunities ahead, the Special Representative highlighted the fact that there was a legal imperative as well as a timeframe to achieve sustainable development goal target 16.2 to end all violence against children. The clock was ticking. In the context of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, all States could submit their voluntary progress reports to the High-Level Political Forum, but many had missed the opportunity to emphasize how violence was compromising not only the development of children, but their entire socio-economic development and achieving all other Sustainable Development Goals. States should use this process to document the good practices, reflect on the gaps and emerging concerns, and share their vision on how they were planning to address violence against children.

Finally, Ms. Santos Pais underlined the very important role of the Human Rights Council, which in 2019, when the General Assembly would be undertaking the very first review of the 2030 Agenda, would be uniquely placed to help countries identify how they were mainstreaming policies and how they were planning to put them in practice. In that direction, she encouraged all Special Rapporteurs to give high priority to this topic in the context of their specific mandates. The Special Representative concluded by reminding States that more than one half of the children of the world were facing some form of violence, and this was continuing.

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of Human Rights by Persons with Albinism

Djibouti stressed the right to health of persons with albinism, particularly when it came to skin cancer. Persons with albinism were protected in Djibouti and sun creams were provided to them free of charge. Regional action was welcomed as a step forward. Portugal said that the right to legal capacity was a right to enjoy other rights, moving from a paternalistic to a human rights approach. What was the impact of discrimination on the mental health of persons with disabilities? Argentina said that persons with disabilities had been recognized as rights holder, ensuring respect for their dignity. Specific training was provided in Argentina in the area of access to justice, in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Jordan had passed a law upholding the rights of persons with disabilities, ensuring their access to all services and support and creating equal opportunities for them. The law was in line with the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Republic of Korea stated that there was a lack of credible and comprehensive data on persons with disabilities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The Special Rapporteur as well as other Special Procedures and treaty bodies were encouraged to continue to engage with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to promote the rights of persons with disabilities. Fiji informed the Council that it had hosted Ms. Ero’s visit last year and had acknowledged the preliminary findings and recommendations. The development of the Regional Action Plan on Albinism in Africa was commended.

Somalia stated that to overcome challenges with respect to the rights of persons with albinism, it was necessary to strengthen regional human rights mechanisms, as well as to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert. Persons with albinism needed to enjoy equal protection under the laws, as well as adequate healthcare and social services. Antigua and Barbuda said it had held national consultations with stakeholders and civil society, leading to the adoption of a policy document. It had passed the Disabilities and Equal Opportunities Act of 2017, which protected persons with disabilities from discrimination, exploitation and abuse. Angola said that it had approved legal measures, such as the law on persons with disabilities and the law on accessibility, with an emphasis on the reinforcement of access to justice and workplace.

Democratic Republic of the Congo noted that States were today aware of their obligations to ensure equal rights for all citizens, including for persons with disabilities. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo they still encountered many problems in their daily lives due to the nature of their disability. Nepal stated that its national Constitution guaranteed comprehensive sets of rights for persons with disabilities, and ensured inclusive access to education, free healthcare, social justice, proportional representation, and reservations in public sector employment opportunities. Burkina Faso agreed that the refusal to recognize the legal capacity of persons with disability was a serious issue. Accordingly, the national Constitution of Burkina Faso stipulated that all persons were equal before law. New Zealand said the New Zealand Office for Disability Issues worked with other organizations, including the Human Rights Commission, on community engagement to promote awareness of the paradigm change required by article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This included activities and events to bring the disability sector and older people sector together.

Alsalam Foundation was deeply concerned about the rights of persons with disabilities in dictatorships. Alsalam Foundation was increasingly concerned about and called for the immediate release of Munir Adam in Saudi Arabia, who was imprisoned, tortured and put on death row for being among a group of protesters for human rights after the Arab Spring. Plan International, Inc called on States to remove all legal barriers that prevented all persons with disabilities from accessing their right to information, goods and services, particularly related to guardianship which limited their legal capacity and decision-making abilities. Girls and young women with disabilities should be supported to know about their rights, and to become advocates and agents of change across all levels. International Volunteerism Organization for Women, Education and Development VIDES (in a joint statement with Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice delle Salesiane di Don Bosco), said persons with disabilities had to be seen as rights holders. States had to empower them in their role as witnesses, judges, lawyers or other interlocutors within the justice system to fully exercise their right to participate in public and political life.

Action Canada for Population and Development said the General Assembly in its resolution of November 21, 2017, had specifically focused on key issues critical to the full realization of the rights of women with disabilities, including the need to address multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and the need to guarantee access to health services, including sexual and reproductive health. Lutheran World Federation said the Regional Action Plan on Albinism in Africa was a tremendous step forward. It welcomed this plan of action and the participatory manner in which it had been drafted, and hoped that such practice would be replicated in other States.

Association of World Citizens stated that the right to legal capacity of persons with disabilities ensured their human dignity. There was an increasing wave of discrimination towards persons with disabilities in Iran, particularly in the education sector. Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik said that though Iran had ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and had adopted adequate legislation 13 years ago, the main problems of the community of persons with disabilities remained. VAAGDHARA agreed that the right to full legal capacity was complicated as it was cross-cutting. In India the position of women with disabilities was particularly difficult on both grounds, and India was advised to follow the example of other countries.

World Barua Organization (WBO) said that in India, the ruling party had been taking a charity based approach toward disability. Even the word used for disability was changed so the word used in Hindi language indicated that disability was a god’s gift. Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association MBOSCUDA stressed the need for the training of State authorities on the rights of persons with disabilities. India was congratulated for passing the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill in 2016, though many concerns remained. International Bar Association called on States to ensure the highest standards of health for persons with albinism, providing free access to dermatological care, setting up mobile clinics and providing training and information on albinism. It was suggested to include sunscreen on the list of essential medicines and to make it free of charge.

Association pour l'Intégration et le Développement Durable au Burundi said the situation of persons with disabilities had to be facilitated to ensure they enjoyed a life with dignity, in accordance with article 13 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons Disabilities. Modern day different games and sports were needed to ensure that persons with disabilities were not considered different than others. Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l'homme said the organization of a workshop with a number of experts on witchcraft and human rights in September 2017 had contributed to highlighting the challenges that the world was faced with today. The main cause of stigmatization in Africa was a lack of education about disabilities and the needs of persons with disabilities. The unknown created fear in society and exclusion for persons with disabilities.

Concluding Remarks

CATALINA DEVANDAS AGUJILA, Special Rapporteur on rights of persons with disabilities, in concluding remarks, said there were many challenges, but progress had been made in the right direction. Following their adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, more than 30 countries had moved to legal reforms, such as recognition of legal capacity, establishing systems when it came to joint decision making, representative mandates, and other reforms. Seventeen countries had positive practices in decision-making. Changing attitudes was crucial. The paradigm shift was a fundamental shift. Persons with disabilities needed to take their own decisions, rather than having others take decisions on their behalf. The question was how to move to a system where they were the decision makers, who were supported. States could not invest in inclusive education and access technology, if at the end of the day persons with disabilities could not open a bank account because they were deemed not able to do that. Persons with disabilities needed to have their rights. The world needed to respect their preferences and their will. Change was possible, and the practices seen in the report proved this. In conclusion, the Special Rapporteur appealed to all States to withdraw their reservations on article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

IKPONWOSA ERO, Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, said that the situation concerning persons with albinism had been aggravated due to the intersectionality of disability and colour, leading to either self-isolation or isolation by the community, which then had an impact on their mental health. The role of faith-based organizations was stated in the regional action plan on albinism in Africa, but it was stressed that faith-based organizations could not be spoken with using human rights language. Concerning the question on witchcraft and the impact it made there was an idea to develop international guidance to States and provide a definition, as well as to develop and conceptualize the idea. The regional action plan on albinism in Africa stated that this could be done on a regional level. Malawi was congratulated for a number of legislative changes that had been introduced. The country visits in general had resulted in the increased visibility of civil society organizations working with persons with disabilities.

Right of Reply

Azerbaijan, speaking in a right of reply, said that the statement made by Armenia was a misleading act to divert the attention of the Council. Children in Azerbaijan were suffering due to Armenian aggression and events in 2016 were misinterpreted. In order to defend its citizens and restore its sovereignty, Azerbaijan had conducted countermeasures. No Armenian settlements were close to the line of contact, however, there were Azerbaijani civilians living close to the contact line.

Armenia, speaking in a right or reply, said that it was Azerbaijan that had to provide accountability for violations of international law. It had violated the trilateral ceasefire agreements of 1993 and 1995, and it had incurred gross violations of international humanitarian law, leading to the loss of many lives, including of women and children. Azerbaijan had invaded a part of Nagorno-Karabakh which had remained under the occupation of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan perpetrated a long-standing incitement of hatred towards Armenians. The right to life of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh was still threatened by Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan, speaking in a second right of reply, noted that not much could be expected from a country that had committed atrocities and had raised terrorism to the level of State policy. What could be expected from a country that had created a mono-ethnic society at the expense of expelling all non-Armenians, and committing a genocide in Khojaly. The international community had to give an adequate assessment of the Khojaly massacre. Azerbaijan remained committed to the settlement process, and to restoring full sovereignty over its entire territory.

Armenia, speaking in a second right of reply, said on 4 July 2017, Azerbaijani forces had provoked an incident leading to casualties among civilians. Many documents demonstrated that the Azerbaijani forces positions were in the vicinity of and within civilian settlements, and this was contrary to the Geneva Conventions and in violation of international humanitarian law as well as customary international law.

For use of the information media; not an official record