Human Rights Council issues conclusions and recommendations - 29 June Afternoon

ORDER OF THE DAY 

[GENEVA, 29 June 2006] - At 3pm, the HRC President called to order the 21st meeting of the first session of the Human Rights Council, to begin consideratrions of proposals number 2 (Adoption of the agenda and organisation of work), 4 (Implementation of GA Resolution 60/251 entitled "Human Rights Council") and 5 (Programme of work for the first year).

The HRC Secretary then reminded Council members of voting procedures. Proposals will be introduced by sponsors (who can be member States or observer States), and any corrections to proposals are announced by sponsors at this stage. He went on to provide explanations and instructions on procedures for co-sponsors, general comments, amendments, statements by concerned countries, explanations of vote, speaking time limits, electronic voting system, etc.

Draft Resolution on the Convention on Enforced disappearance

[Correction: Uruguay is a member State of the Council]

Introduction

The Ambassador of France took the floor to introduce draft Resolution L2 on the UN Convention on enforced disappearance and called for the adoption of the draft "International Convention for the Protection of
All Persons from Enforced Disappearance". The text, he said, was drafted by an openen-ended intergovernmental working group, chaired by Mr Kessedjian, and has the support of NGOs. In September 2005, the text was transmitted to the Commission on Human Rights, which did not have time to decide on the future of this binding legal instrument before it was abolished.

The Ambassador also explained that support for the Convention was also given to the group from Kofi Annan, the president of the ICRC and the Argentine delegation. In addition, 38(?) countries have decided to be co-sponsors for this Convention. He finally called on everyone to adopt the Convention so that the text could be open for signature as soon as possible.

General Comments

Argentina indicated that the HRC could not start in a more auspicious way than by approving this new legally binding instrument and saluted the dedication and efforts of human rights activists in Argentina. Guatemala and Finland/EU made supporting statements. Peru saluted the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, and famous activist Marta Vazquez, whose daughter disappeared in 1976, and who was present in the room - the speaker pointed out that this act was often coomitted in connection with other human rights violations like the right to life or freedom from torture. Japan and Algeria also made supporting statements, so did the UK, with some comments on certain provisions.

Vote

There were no explanations on votes, so the Convention was immediately adopted by consensus. An emotional round of applause followed and all those present in the room turned to Marta Basquez. Canada, Sri Lanka and Ecuador made post-vote statements.

Draft Resolution contained in L3: Working Group of the Commission on Human Rights to elaborate a draft Declaration in accordance with paragraph 5 of the GA Resolution 49/214 of 23 December 1994

Introduction

The Peru delegation introduced the contentious Draft Resolution on the UN Declartion on the right of Indigenous Peoples (see Tuesday's discussions). He explained that indigenous populations had neen victims of oppression, discrimination and sometimes policies of extermination for many years. Despite progress in acknowledging their rights, violations of their rights still continue today. The Council, he said, can begin to make a difference and change the course of history by adopting this Resolution today. Peru is made up of indigenous societies, and happy to present Draft Resolution L3 to the Council. The Draft enjoys co-sponsordhip of 45 delegations. It was supposed to be voted on at the 62nd session of the CHR. The delegate appealed to all delegations to adopt the text by consensus.

General comments

Guatemala expressed its support for the draft, and reminded those present that it was the result of 20 years of uniterrupted work. Switzerland also reminded voters that the text of the Declaration was the result of many compromises within working group chaired by Luis Enrique Chavez from Peru. Mexico supported the text.

Explanations of vote (pre-vote)

Canada stated that it did not see this text as an acceptable outcome of negotiations, and asked the Council to prolong discussions as the draft to them did not receive the necessary support. Canada thought some provisions were too vague, namely the provision on land rights. India and Indonesia encouraged a yes vote. Bangladesh did not accept that the Draft text was being put to a vote, as for them it is far from being ready. The text needs to be further discussed and is not mature, they said. Russia also said it could not support the draft Resolution in its current form, they are not opposed however to continue to participate in discussions meant to improve the Draft. The Philippines also made a statement.

Vote

Because of lack of consensus, the draft was submitted to an electronic voting system (1=yes, 2=no, 3=abstention). But due to technical problems, the vote turned into a roll call vote:

Cuba: yes, Czech Republic: yes, Djibouti: absent, Ecuador: si, Finland: yes, France: oui, Gabon: absent, Germany: yes, Ghana: abstention, Guatemala: si, India: yes, Indonesia: oui, Japan: yes, Jordan: abstention, Malaysia: yes, Mali: absent, Mauritius: yes, Mexico: of course yes! Morocco: abstention, Netherlands: yes, Nigeria: abstention, Pakistan: yes, Peru: SI!, Philippines: abstention, Poland: si, Republic of Korea: oui, Romania: oui, Russian Federation: no, Saudi Arabia: yes, Senegal: abstention, South Africa: yes, Sri Lanka: yes, Switzerland: oui!, Tunisia: abstention, Ukraine: abstention, UK: yes, Uruguay: Uruguay vota si!, Zambia: yes, Algeria: abstention, Argentina: abstention, Azerbaijan: yes, Barhain: abstention, Bangladesh: abstention, Brazil: yes, Cameroon: yes, Canada: no, China: yes

Results: 30 favour - 2 against - 12 abstentions. The Draft was adopted.

Explanations on votes were made by Brazil, Algeria, Japan, Argentina, Ukraine, Mauritius, Germany, UK, Jordan (correction on vote: non-participatory instead of abstention), Barhain (same thing), Morocco.

Exceptionally the floor was given to a representative from an indigenous people's organisation.

Draft Resolution contained in L4/Rev 1 Working Group on an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Introduction

Portugal introduced the Draft Resolution which enjoys the support of 50 sponsors, and called on the Council to adopt the draft Resolution by consensus. The prsident invited interested delegations to add their name to the list of co-sponsors if they wished to do so.

General comments

Guatemala gave supporting statements. Saudi Arabia made a reservation on the subject of cooperation and developing countries.

Vote

No request for pre-vote explanations on votes, the draft was therefore adopted by consensus.

Post-vote explanations

Canada

Other business

Algeria questioned the President's draft statement on the OPCAT, as the African Group cannot endorse it, the group prefers for the statement to be issued on behalf of the President only). Same for Russian Federation (on the President's statement on the entry into force of the new OP on the Convention against Torture), and India. The President postponed the discussion on this subject to the morning. The meeting was adjourned. Tomorrow's session will be extra long: 9am to 6pm.

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