The productive 30th session of the Human Rights Council ended today (October 2) with powerful statements on Sri Lanka, Syria, Sudan, Burundi, Yemen, Preventing and Countering Violent extremism, and Indigenous Rights, among other resolutions.
The Sri Lanka Resolution marks a significant step forward in the process of reconciliation and accountability. Led by the United States, the United Kingdom, Macedonia, and Montenegro, the resolution endorses the decision of the recently elected Sri Lankan government to embark on a path of reconciliation and accountability for the violent events surrounding the end of that country’s decades-long civil war. At the same time it opens a new chapter of cooperation between the Human Rights Council and the Government of Sri Lanka.
Passage by consensus of the first-ever HRC resolution on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism marks a milestone in addressing this scourge. Whether specifying the Shining Path in Peru, Boko Haram in Cameroon and Nigeria, or extremists in Iraq, Mali, or elsewhere, the international community now recognizes that the fight against violent extremism begins well before any violence occurs. By focusing on the promotion of human rights, the resolution prioritizes prevention of the outbreak of extremism. We are grateful for the leadership of the core group: Albania, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Colombia, France, Iraq, Mali, Morocco, Peru, Turkey, Tunisia, and our own government, who were among the more than 50 co-sponsors of this resolution.
The HRC’s 19th resolution on Syria renews the Commission of Inquiry and expresses full support for Special Envoy de Mistura’s efforts. Additionally, it pushes for a political solution and a political transition to an inclusive governing body. The resolution condemns the Assad regime’s continued air assaults on Syria’s people and cities, and stresses the need for accountability for use of chemical weapons. We applaud the members of the core group and its leader the United Kingdom, for their dedication to this issue.
The resolution on the deteriorating human rights situation in Yemen expresses the international community’s deep concern, and calls for all parties to immediately stop attacks on civilians and ensure humanitarian access to the population nationwide. It also calls for continued OHCHR involvement, and welcomes the establishment of a domestic Commission of Inquiry to investigate human rights violations since 2011. Submitted by the Group of Arab States, the resolution was the result of constructive negotiation with the delegation of the Netherlands, who tabled a separate resolution to spotlight the violations and abuses in Yemen, and who worked constructively to allow a single text to be adopted by consensus.
The council also succeeded in shining a spotlight on human rights violations and abuses in Sudan and Burundi. Consensus passage of these resolutions affirms the international community’s demand that governments in Sudan and Burundi cooperate with international efforts to safeguard human rights in these countries, thereby contributing to political reconciliation. The Sudan resolution renews the mandate of Independent Expert Aristide Nonoonsi to assess, verify and report on the country’s human rights situation and commits the government to facilitating his visit to South Kordofan and Blue Nile in the coming year. It also condemns human rights violations and abuses, including bombing of civilians, while urging the government to respect international law, with technical assistance from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The resolution on Burundi seeks to halt a deteriorating cycle of post-election violence, simultaneously focusing increased international attention on the country. There will be a report or discussion of Burundi at every HRC session during 2016 as a result of this important resolution sponsored by the African Group. Resolutions on Somalia, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo also maintain a focus on ongoing human rights situations of concern in those countries.
Mexico and Guatemala led the HRC to unanimous passage of resolutions that sharpens the international community’s attention on the rights of indigenous peoples. One resolution focuses on a number of issues related to indigenous peoples—including combating violence against women and girls and commissioning a study on indigenous individuals and health—while a second establishes a process and timeline for reforming the HRC’s Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, in order to more effectively promote respect for the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.