Delegates Voice Concern over Human Rights Council Membership Selection Process, as General Assembly Takes Up Body’s Annual Report

While many Member States praised the Human Rights Council for its inclusivity and focus on abuses occurring around the world, others expressed concern over its membership selection process, as the General Assembly took up the intergovernmental body’s annual report today.

Presenting its annual report (document A/74/53), Human Rights Council President Coly Seck (Senegal) said the body has remained faithful to the mandate entrusted to it by the General Assembly to promote universal respect and the defence of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction and in a fair and equitable manner.

He provided an overview of activities and measures adopted at its three regular sessions over the past year. The Council is uniquely inclusive among United Nations bodies, soliciting the active participation of civil society alongside countries without member status in Geneva, including small island developing States. The Council’s work included technical assistance and capacity building, particularly with States such as Cambodia and Georgia, and discussions to promote sharing good practices and technical cooperation.

Citing several achievements, he said Council resolutions provided the Assembly with a range of recommendations, including with regard to reports from the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic to the Security Council, and the issues of racism, equal remuneration of work of equal value, and Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar, Burundi and Yemen. At the same time, the innovative universal periodic review process continues to ensure the effective implementation of human rights.

He regretted that on several occasions there have been allegations of acts of reprisal and intimidation against advocates and human rights defenders who have cooperated with the Council. Such actions are unacceptable, he emphasized.

The General Assembly President, Tijjani Muhammad Bande (Nigeria), said that the Council works as a fundamental element of the human rights system to actualize a shared vision for a better world. He observed that that body’s report aligns with the priorities he established for the seventy fifth session of the General Assembly, including education, inclusion, poverty eradication and climate action.

Numerous delegations commended the Human Rights Council’s work, with the European Union’s representative pointing to its prolificity. He observed that, during this reporting period, the Council adopted 88 resolutions, 42 universal periodic review decisions and two presidential statements. These numbers reflect the importance that countries from all regions of the world attribute to its work, he said.

The representative from Ukraine said Sudan’s transformation into a democratic nation can serve as a success story for the Council. He added that his country appreciates the body’s attention paid to the invasion of the Crimea, and other abuses, by the Russian Federation.

Numerous delegations shared the concerns of the Human Rights Council President that, in some cases, individuals who participated with the body were subject to reprisals and intimidation. The representative of the United States said his delegation has grave concerns about the welfare of these individuals. Likewise, the representative of Georgia said that all States must take the necessary measures to prevent these violations.

Several other representatives, including those from Syria and Iran, suggested that the Council’s selectivity in condemning countries’ human rights violations undermines its overall credibility. Conversely, Venezuela pointed to its election to the Council as evidence that the international community rejects the spurious allegations against the country by the United States and its European allies. Some States said that the Council’s effectiveness has been inhibited by its inability to access certain countries charged with human rights abuses. Bangladesh expressed regret that neither the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar nor the United Nations Independent International Fact Finding Mission have been granted access to that country.

Also speaking today were representatives of Cuba, Belarus, Qatar, Australia, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Eritrea, Russian Federation, Maldives, Switzerland, India, Norway, Slovenia, Senegal, Iceland, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Oman and Argentina. The representative of China spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Monday, 4 November, to take up the report of the International Criminal Court.

Opening Remarks

TIJJANI MUHAMMAD BANDE (Nigeria), President of the General Assembly, said that the Human Rights Council works to actualize a shared vision for a better world, as a fundamental element of the human rights system. Resolutions relating to the administration of justice and the integrity of the judicial system have strengthened democracy and the rule of law around the world. He encouraged Member States to view the Sustainable Development Goals through a human rights lens. He said he was pleased to see the resolution, spearheaded by Denmark and the Republic of Korea, on New and Emerging Digital Technologies and Human Rights, which seeks to safeguard the rights of people against the potential harms of new technologies. Similarly, it is encouraging that Iceland instigated the resolution on equal pay for women. Women must take their rightful place at the centre of all our work, he said.

In addition, 20 November marks the thirtieth anniversary of the rights of the child, he pointed out. The notion that ‘children are people, too’ serves as a reminder that their rights everywhere must be upheld so that they may thrive. He commended the Human Rights Council for taking great strides to ensure inclusion through the establishment of the trust fund to support the participation of least developed countries and small island developing States in its work. The report aligns with all the priorities he set out for the seventy fifth session of the General Assembly, including education, inclusion, poverty eradication and climate action. It has long been understood that most of the violent conflicts we are battling against today had their origins in violations of, or disregard for, human rights.

Introduction of Report by Human Rights Council

COLY SECK (Senegal), President of the Human Rights Council, presenting the intergovernmental body’s annual report (document A/74/53), said that it has remained faithful to the mandate entrusted to it by the General Assembly to promote universal respect and the defence of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction and in a fair and equitable manner.

Providing an overview of the report, he highlighted Council activities and measures adopted at its three regular sessions. In 2019, the body focused on new situations and topics that were not on its agenda, such as the developments in the Philippines, Nicaragua and Venezuela. The Council also discussed the issue of discrimination against women and girls in sports, on equal pay and the right to development, creating a new subsidiary expert mechanism in this area. Furthermore, it focused on technical assistance and capacity building.

He said that some Council resolutions made recommendations to the General Assembly, including the submission of all reports from the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic to the Security Council, as well resolutions concerning racism; equal remuneration of work of equal value; and Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar, Burundi and Yemen.

All 193 Member States have been reviewed twice in the universal periodic review, and the third cycle began on 1 May 2017, he continued. In addition, the trust fund, which supports the participation of the least developed countries and small island developing States in the Human Rights Council’s work, has allowed the participation of 32 of these countries, including 11 small island developing States with no permanent representation in Geneva. He encouraged more States to contribute to the fund. Furthermore, the Council was able to have eight meetings in 2019 fully accessible through sign language interpretation and live captioning, as opposed to just a panel discussion in 2011, he said. He stressed the need to maintain the active participation of civil society, as this makes the Council unique among United Nations intergovernmental bodies.

He regretted that on several occasions, there have been allegations of acts of reprisal and intimidation against people who have cooperated with the Human Rights Council. Such actions are unacceptable. He concluded by referring to the forthcoming review of the Council by the General Assembly. He said that close collaboration between the two is the best way forward.

Statements

SILVIO GONZATO, European Union delegation, noted that during this reporting period the Human Right Council adopted 88 resolutions, 42 universal periodic review decisions and two presidential statements. These numbers reflect the importance that countries from all regions of the world attribute to its work, he added. Turning to the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, the Council sent a strong message in 2019 by adopting the African Group led resolution dedicated to the issue without a vote for the first time in many years. The European Union led another resolution on freedom of religion or belief extending the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the matter for a period of three years. He welcomed the Council’s work promoting women’s and girls’ human rights and its fight to end child, early and forced marriages, end discrimination against women and secure equal pay. Noting that the mandate of the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity has been renewed, he underscored that the Council continues to contribute to fighting widening inequalities in income, wealth and access to resources.

The European Union also supported a Human Rights Council resolution focusing on the protection and promotion of human rights in the context of the death penalty, he continued. While supporting a resolution on human rights and terrorism adopted by the Council, the Union wished to see stronger emphasis on the importance of States respecting international law when applying counter terrorism measures. While congratulating new Council members elected in October, he urged them to give due importance to the human rights situation in their own countries. In this regard, we remind Venezuela, Libya, Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Somalia and the Philippines of their particular obligation of cooperation as members of the Council, he stressed.

On Myanmar, the European Union called on the Government to grant access to the Independent Investigative Mechanism for that country and to ensure that full accountability for violations can be achieved. On Burundi, he encouraged its authorities to resume cooperation with the Commission of Inquiry and all relevant human rights mechanisms. He said that the extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus is particularly important considering upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections in the country. While we negotiated constructively and in good faith, the Government unfortunately decided against the cooperative approach, he said.

Expressing profound concern with the situation in Yemen, he stressed that violations of international human rights law must be properly documented and investigated. The European Union will keep the human rights situation in Syria under continued scrutiny, including in the Human Rights Council, he said, expressing support for the work of the Commission of Inquiry and the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism. On Venezuela, the bloc calls on its authorities to fully cooperate with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Council. He also expressed deep concern for the ongoing human rights violations committed in areas of eastern Ukraine not controlled by the Government and welcomed the Council’s updates on Georgia and that country’s regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia. On Sudan, he expressed support for the extension of the mandate of the Independent Expert and for the High Commissioner for Human Rights setting up a country office.

ANAYANSI RODRA�GUEZ CAMEJO, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, said the universal periodic review is extremely important as it is the only international mechanism that analyses the human rights situations in all countries on equal footing. While bitter criticism continues to be leveled at Southern countries, there is silence when the same violations are being committed in developed countries. The Human Rights Council can and must work better, she stressed, adding that any procedure to improve the working methods of the body must be developed in full adherence to its rules and regulations.

The issue of human rights should not be securitized, she continued, adding that Cuba does not support increasing the link between the Human Rights Council and the Security Council. The Human Rights Council can do a great deal in promoting a genuinely democratic international order that protects and promotes human rights. As long as unilateral coercive measures are imposed on countries of the South, the full enjoyment of human rights by all people of the world will remain out of reach. Turning to the economic blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba, she called it a systematic violation of the human rights of the people of Cuba. [The blockade] continues to try to suffocate our people, but it will never succeed, she said.

VALENTIN RYBAKOV (Belarus) called on all States to step up and fulfil their national human rights policies. The universal periodic review mechanism is an important tool but unfortunately the Human Rights Council continues to exceed its role by getting involved in political floggings and therefore losing trust and credibility. The Council, supposedly fighting against repression, is itself turning into a repressive body, motivated by narrow political interests of certain Member States. Today, it would be difficult to find another institution that has a more conflicted reputation, he said, noting the body’s excessive discussion of political topics. This is something of great concern to us, he stressed, reiterating that the Council was not created to suit the interests of individual countries but rather the collective good. The situation is getting worse each year, he said.

The Council’s imbalanced initiatives also run counter to the Sustainable Development Goals, he continued, adding that sanctions or the threat of such measures never have a positive impact on the ground. Turning to the statement made by the European Union, he reiterated that Belarus never recognized the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and will not recognize this mandate. The use of this mandate to put direct pressure in the lead up to the elections in Belarus is a flagrant attempt to politicize the issue. Trust me, we will conduct these presidential and parliamentary elections in the interest of the Belarussian people and not in the interest of the European Union, he stressed. Do not try to intimidate or blackmail us, he said, suggesting an audit of the agendas of the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) and Human Rights Council to save resources.

ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar) said that her country is committed to actively participating in activities undertaken by the Human Rights Council. The United Nations Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South West Asia and the Arab Region, hosted by Qatar, has seen improvement. The country has achieved significant things in the area of social justice, with its efforts recognized by the International Labour Organization (ILO). Qatar has also strengthened the rights of migrant workers, including creating a fund to provide security for them, she said. It has ended the Kafala system, and migrants can now change employers freely. The country has maintained good rankings in national and international rankings of States based on their human rights practices.

JO FELDMAN (Australia) said it is important to support the ability of civil society and small States, some of which do not have a permanent presence in Geneva, to engage with the Human Right Council. Her country is proud to amplify the voices of Pacific countries at the Council. In 2019, Australia led the development of a joint statement on behalf of 15 Pacific nations on the human rights in the fishing industry, including modern slavery and trafficking in person. In addition, Australia developed with 16 Pacific nations a joint statement on the importance of youth employment and education.

Mr. ALMAJROUB (Kuwait) said that his country is anxious to meet its obligations to all international institutions, submitting reports to the relevant bodies on time. In 2019, for instance, it submitted its third regular report on economic, social and cultural rights. The visit to Kuwait at the end of 2018 from the Special Rapporteur attests to the cooperation the nation engages in with the United Nations. He said the country shares the concern of the Human Rights Council over Israel’s violations of the Palestinians, which breach international law. He concluded by saying that Kuwait’s Constitution has articles guaranteeing economic and social rights for all its citizens, including the right to education, freedom of expression and freedom of religious worship.

GEORG HELMUT ERNST SPARBER (Liechtenstein) said the Human Rights Council’s work is essential in cases of emergencies and grave violations, as it is often the only United Nations body to address such situations with the necessary urgency. Highlighting the Council’s work in Myanmar, he lauded the Independent Investigative Mechanism set up by the body to address reports of violations and abuses, including extrajudicial killings, rape and other forms of sexual and gender based violence as well as reports of genocidal intent against the Rohingya population. He expressed regret, however, that the Council failed to provide appropriate political backing during its last session to support accountability efforts, including steps the International Criminal Court has taken to address forced deportation. Moreover, it is shameful that the Security Council continues to ignore calls from States, the United Nations system and victims for a full fledged referral to the International Criminal Court. It is clear that no lasting solution can take place in the absence of accountability, particularly the safe, voluntary and dignified return of the many displaced.

MOHAMMAD HASSANI NEJAD PIRKOUHI (Iran) stressed the importance of furthering cooperation and interaction between the Human Rights Council, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) and the General Assembly to enhance the promotion and protection of human rights. However, we are of the view that the calls to engage Human Rights Council and Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights with the Security Council is an open invitation for even further politicization of human rights, he continued. Bearing in mind, the highly politicized nature of the work of the Security Council and its exclusive structure, any engagement of OHCHR, special procedures and the Human Rights Council with the Security Council bears the risk of harming even further the cause of human rights for the sake of political interests.

At a time when waves of racism, assaults to multilateralism, nationalist populism and extreme supremacist ideologies show no sign of retreat, it is unfortunate that politicization has increased mistrust and eroded the effectiveness of the Council and its universal periodic review mechanism, he said. Regrettably, few countries still prefer to revert to the dysfunctional practice of tabling country specific resolutions that have no value but increasing confrontation in the Council, he added. The resolution against Iran is nothing but a reflection of short sighted political interests of its sponsors and a waste of limited resources that could otherwise be utilized for meaningful promotion and protection of human rights. Iran therefore disassociates itself from that portion of the Council’s report.

SOPHIA TESFAMARIAM YOHANNES (Eritrea) noted that the Human Rights Council presents a renewed opportunity to promote rights globally in an equal and effective manner, but is sadly showing evidence of the previous commission’s failed practices. There are still instances of the Council dictating how States should prioritize rights and establishing ineffective benchmarks for meeting them. Moreover, there is a disproportionate focus on some rights versus others and an arm twisting approach to support country specific mandates in some nations, while ignoring violations in others. This method of addressing human rights will fail, she said, as it is a biased approach aiming to vilify and pressure countries, usually for political reasons. The Council can only be effective in promoting human rights if it constructively engages States on their identified priorities and challenges based on specific national situations. She also noted that official human rights mandates continue to grow in number, as regular budget resources fall behind. Eritrea supports increased allocations of the regular budget as well as unremarked voluntary support from Member States’ contributions.

GRIGORY LUKYANTSEV (Russian Federation) said that the time has come to give some thought to whether the work of the body helps improve the human rights situation in individual countries. The answer is no, he added. In the hands of unethical actors, the Council is quickly frittering away the impartiality of its work. It is openly being used by certain States to advance their political goals. Some Council Members use thematic resolutions to meet their economic and political goals, he said. Its agenda is full of topics that are detached from human rights. He urged the need to strictly adhere to the original mandate of the Council and realize why the body was set up in the first place. He stressed the need to coordinate the work of OHCHR and the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural). In the current conditions, the Russian Federation cannot sit idly by as the Human Rights Council returns to its regular work, he said, emphasizing the need to restore confidence and trust within the body.

ASIM AHMED (Maldives), recalling a recent period of political regression in his country, said the current Government has taken swift measures to restore the human rights of its people. Turning to global issues, he said the humanitarian crisis in the State of Palestine is in perpetual deterioration due to Israel’s illegal occupation. Noting that millions of Syrians are besieged, displaced and deprived of their basic right to life and liberty, he condemned not only gross human rights abuses but also the failure of the international community over the past eight years to stop unspeakable atrocities. Raising concerns about the fate of the Rohingya people in Myanmar, he urged the Government to cease all atrocities and hostilities against them and grant unhindered access to all humanitarian aid officials and journalists. In view of many violations worldwide, he called for specific, practical measures to improve the Council’s working methods.

JARG LAUBER (Switzerland) reiterated the importance of cooperation with all Council mechanisms and instruments. The special procedures of the Council play a vital role in implementing its mandate and providing information on situations worldwide. Noting that the treaty bodies are also a key component of the United Nations human rights pillar, he reiterated the importance of ensuring that it receives the required resources from the Organization’s regular budget to finance its mandate in full. He remained concerned about reprisals against those who cooperate with human rights bodies and mechanisms, calling on all States to ensure that civil society representatives can carry out their activities freely. Noting the shrinking space for human rights defenders and journalists to work freely, he reminded all States of their responsibility to respect, protect and implement those fundamental rights and for the private sector to respect them, including in cyberspace.

NAGARAJ NAIDU KAKANUR (India), noting his county’s constructive engagement with the Council, said the unique, inclusive universal periodic review process has bolstered its credibility and effectiveness. Members must retain its universality and rationalize recommendations, while avoiding its use for imposing specific thematic issues that may not have acquired universal acceptance. However, more balanced geographic representation in the Council is necessary. Turning to other concerns, he said a meaningful collective response to the global terrorism threat is critical. Highlighting some of the Council’s contributions, he said it has recognized that access to medicines is key to realizing the right to high standards of health. Moreover, the human rights dimension of access to medicines and vaccines must be placed at the centre of the world’s efforts to ensure the full realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s health related goals.

BIRGITTE WILHELMSEN WESSEL (Norway) said discrimination against marginalized groups continues despite the 2030 Agenda ambition of leaving no one behind. With many taking to the streets to voice discontent, she reiterated that all States must refrain from responding violently to peaceful protest. Expressing concern about the shrinking space for civil society in many countries and at the United Nations, she said States must recommit to the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and recognize the crucial role they play in building prosperous, democratic societies. Unfortunately, there remains a vast gap between what States have agreed to and the reality human rights defenders experience in many parts of the world. In 2019, the Council addressed serious violations, passing strong resolutions and renewing mandates. While recognizing these efforts, she said it must become ever more efficient to truly fulfil its mandate, adding that the General Assembly is not mandated to reopen decisions taken by the Council or its annual report.

JOHN GIORDANA (United States) said the Council continues to fall short of its potential. Underpinning these problems is a broken membership selection process that permits violators to gain representation at the expense of those who support human rights. The Council will never achieve legitimacy as long as States responsible for abuses are given a platform to criticize other States, while perverting related mechanisms to avoid responsibility for their own violations. The Council’s credibility is further undercut by its refusal to treat all States equally, singling out Israel, for instance. His delegation also has grave concerns about reprisals against human rights defenders appearing before the Council and other United Nations fora in Geneva.

DARJA BAVDAZ KURET (Slovenia), associating herself with the European Union, expressed the need for caution, as human rights are currently under constant threat. While the international community should be discussing human rights in a changing global context, dealing with new threats or frontier issues like demographic changes and environmental degradation, including climate change, it is barely managing to hold the fort. Expressing regret for the many challenges facing international treaties, she lamented the shrinking space for civil society. Civil society should form an integral part of discussions, she said, pointing at the growing number of reprisals against individuals and organizations cooperating with the United Nations on human rights. On the positive side, the Council has adopted several forward looking resolutions since 2018 on human rights defenders, death penalty and discrimination and violence against women. It has also extended numerous mandates, including that of the independent expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

FATOU ISIDORA MARA NIANG (Senegal) said the Council’s report aptly describes significant progress made and remaining challenges. Make no mistake, these gains are fragile and need to be constantly maintained, she added. Poverty, food insecurity, conflict, health crises, climate change and terrorism, among others, are likely to destabilize progress achieved, while threatening international peace and security and development. We believe it is important to do our utmost to ensure the exercise of all human rights, she said, urging all stakeholders to accelerate progress in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Indeed, the promotion and protection of human rights cannot be delinked from peace and security and development. Noting Senegal’s presidency of the Human Rights Council in 2019, she said her country remains committed to respecting human rights, implementing sustainable development and achieving sustained peace.

JORUNDUR VALTA�SSON (Iceland) pointed to important resolutions passed by the Human Rights Council in 2019 including on the situation in Yemen, Myanmar, Iran, Venezuela and the Philippines. He also noted resolutions on violence against women and environmental human rights defenders. He emphasized that the Council should focus on what works well, while also finding mutual ground on further improving and strengthening its work. The Council has been functioning, as it should, as the primary arena for debating and advancing national and international human rights. However, we need to remain vigilant, he said, as these are treacherous times, particularly regarding threats to previous milestones on women’s rights and reproductive freedoms. He stated that Iceland is committed to continue defending women’s human rights.

EGRISELDA ARACELY GONZA�LEZ LA�PEZ (El Salvador) called on Member States to look at the Human Rights Council’s thematic diversity with a view to organize the work of the body and the General Assembly and ensure that this work does not overlap but rather complements. Reiterating support to the Council’s resolution on the empowerment of women, she also added that El Salvador sponsored resolutions on the rights of the child, rule of law and providing protection against violence based on gender identity. El Salvador welcomed the adoption of the reports of the universal periodic review, noting that her country will provide an oral review on 4 November. El Salvador will remain firmly committed to the work of the Human Rights Council and supports the adoption of its report by the General Assembly.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), citing the Council’s recent adoption of a resolution on the situation in Myanmar, said the repatriation of the Rohingya people can only be realized in an environment that restores their safety, human rights and fundamental freedoms. The outright rejection of the Council’s overtures to Myanmar can be construed by those affected as a continued denial of those rights and freedoms by that State. Noting his Government’s full cooperation with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar and the United Nations Independent International Fact Finding Mission, he expressed deep regret that neither has been granted access to Myanmar.

ELENE AGLADZE (Georgia), noting that the Council cannot be effective without the voice of civil society, highlighted the importance of non government organization (NGO) participation. Expressing regret that human rights defenders continue to be subject to reprisals, she said all States must take necessary measures to prevent this. Turning to the Council’s resolution Cooperation with Georgia, calling for immediate access for OHCHR and other mechanisms to the occupied region of her country, she said that despite repeated efforts from the High Commissioner, access has not been granted. This is happening against a backdrop of increased violations of freedom of movement, right to native language, kidnapping, illegal detentions and more, she said, adding that the Russian Federation, being in effective control of the occupied region, is responsible for closing these areas to international monitors.

IHOR YAREMENKO (Ukraine) said Sudan’s transformation into a democratic nation can serve as an exemplary case of success with regard to the Council’s attention. For its part, Kyiv appreciates the Council’s contributions to addressing the human rights situation in Ukraine, including resolutions on cooperation and assistance, adopted since the beginning of the Russian aggression in 2014. Noting his delegation’s candidacy for the Council, he said that during the reporting period, Ukraine initiated two resolutions, including one on preventing human rights violations. While the Council held debates and adopted decisions on the issue, it has not given enough of a role to prevention. Recent elections to the Council demonstrate that adherence to the high standards in human rights is not a key requirement, which weakens it. Such indulgence leads to continued impunity for grave breaches of human rights and international law, he said, adding that his delegation needs a Council that can become a genuine, uncompromising platform for defending human rights, including those who suffer under Russian occupation in Crimea and Donbas.

HENRY ALFREDO SUA�REZ MORENO (Venezuela), noting that supporting human rights is vital to his country, said international engagements on related issues must be constructive and consider each State’s historical and social situation. Despite foreign aggression waged against it, Venezuela was elected to the Council, reflecting the international community’s rejection of the campaign against his country. Condemning the instrumentalization of human rights, he said the criminal policy of regime change of the United States and its European allies is detrimental to the cause of peace worldwide. Human rights cannot continue to be used by humanitarian hawks, he said. Challenges facing Venezuela have to be seen in light of unilateral sanctions, which operate like a bombing campaign but without the media attention. Moreover, sanctions are crimes against humanity, he said, calling for ending the blockade.

RODRIGO A. CARAZO (COSTA RICA) said that his country attaches great importance to human rights and has always focused on consensus building and dialogue as a way to promote the interests of its citizens. The Human Rights Council has a fundamental role in fostering constructive dialogue and enshrining human rights around the world. To address current and future challenges, States must develop a systemic vision that connects policies on the basis of universality, non selectivity and non politicization, he said. When it comes up for review, the Council will find it an opportunity to revamp and retool to allow it to better meet human rights challenges. Costa Rica stands for election as a member of the Human Rights Council for the 2020 2022 term.

NOUR ALI (Syria) said her delegation rejects the politicization of human rights issues. The Human Rights Council is being used as a political tool to serve the interests of powerful countries, and targets Member countries, such as Syria, in a way that is totally detached from the Charter of the United Nations and its values. It is vital to manage the Council in a transparent way that engages Member States without politization and ostracization, approaches that run counter to the body’s inclusivity. She said that Syria reiterates its support for resolutions on Palestine and other occupied territories, texts that identify the violations of human rights by Israel. Syria stands ready to continue engaging with the Council on the basis of impartiality and non subjectivity.

RAHMA KHALFAN SALIM RASHID AL ABRI (Oman) said that her country has acceded to several conventions in the area of human rights. The Government of Oman continues to promote and protect human rights as evident in the praise it received from the Council. She called on Israel’s authorities to abide by the provisions of international law and cease its violations against the Palestinian people. She also called on the international community to continue to assist the people of Yemen.

ALEJANDRO GUILLERMO VERDIER (Argentina) said that his country, as a member of the body, aims to consolidate the universal system that aims to protect and promote human rights. Argentina continues to promote initiatives that are geared towards renewing and strengthening human rights mandates. Activities linked to the universalization of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance are a key part of Argentina’s foreign policy. Violence and discrimination require a targeted response of the Council, he added, welcoming the resolution on human rights situation in Venezuela. This is geared towards ensuring full accountability for perpetrators and ensuring that victims are given justice, he added.

Right of Reply

The representative of China said that the statement made by the United States makes it all too clear that that country is no longer in touch. The United States, as the host country of the United Nations, should do some serious soul searching and ask why its positions are sometimes entirely isolated. The United States should not be flinging unwarranted accusations against China. Rather, it should demonstrate genuine respect for all Member States by addressing them by correct names.

Source: United Nations