Azerbaijan, Bahrain, China, Egypt, Philippines, Turkey

HRC34 | Civil society presents key takeaways from Human Rights Council

The 34th session of the Human Rights Council has restored consensus to the important resolution on human rights defenders and moved towards accountability on some situations, but failed to deliver on other urgent issues and countries of concern, NGOs say in presenting key takeaways from the session. 

(Geneva) – Leading civil society groups welcomed significant outcomes of the Human Rights Council’s 34th session, but regretted the Council’s continued failure to address serious human rights violations in a number of countries, such as Azerbaijan, Bahrain, China, Egypt, the Philippines and Turkey. 

In delivering a joint statement, ISHR,the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM ASIA), Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, Human Rights House Foundation, CIVICUS, and the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) particularly praised the Council’s consensus extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders.

‘At a time when the international human rights system is under increasing attack and strain, restoring consensus to this resolution is particularly crucial,’ said Michael Ineichen, ISHR’s Director of Human Rights Council Advocacy. 

While welcoming also the establishment of a Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, the statement highlighted the importance of ensuring the swift appointment of highly qualified experts. In that regard, NGOs urged the President to consult, including with civil society, on the appointment of the FFM’s members. Regretting the dissociation of Myanmar from the resolution as a whole, the statement called on Myanmar to fully cooperate with the Fact Finding Mission.

‘There is a key opportunity for States who have investment, trade and business relationships with Myanmar to use such leverage to ensure cooperation by the government with the Fact Finding Mission,’ said Sarah Brooks, ISHR’s Asia Programme Manager.

‘Business enterprises with relationships in Myanmar also have an interest in seeing the Government cooperate fully with the UN, its experts and the Mission. Technical assistance and accountability, together, will be key contributors to creating a stable and rights-respecting operating environment,’ said Ms Brooks. 

Ms Brooks also noted that the Council’s resolution encourages businesses to ensure respect for human rights, in line with the UN Guiding Principles, throughout their operations in Myanmar. 

Read the full statement below or download it here.

Contact: Michael Ineichen, Director of Human Rights Council Advocacy,+41 78 827 77 86, [email protected]


Joint NGO Statement at conclusion of 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council

Thank you. Mr President,

Forum Asia, ISHR and other NGOs welcome the renewal of key Special Procedures mandates, and in particular that of the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders. At a time when defenders are under an unprecedented attack and killings of defenders are on the rise, the united stance of the Human Rights Council is key.

While we welcome the restoring of consensus to this key resolution, we deeply regret the fracturing of the same on the right to food resolution, particularly given the increasing interrelationship of food insecurity, conflict and human rights violations.

At the outset of this session, High Commissioner Zeid has described 2017 as a pivotal year for the Council, and has diagnosed an attack on the entire rights-based system.

To be a credible part of this system, and rise to the world’s challenges, the Council must – while appropriately engaging the concerned States – respond firmly to human rights violations and victims’ demands for accountability

Some actions at this session have struck this balance in part; others – such as the decision hastily ending the mandate on Haiti – have not. The Council still fails to bring needed attention to a range of violations in countries such as Azerbaijan, Bahrain, China, Egypt, Philippines, Turkey and others.

The urgent dispatch of a Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar is a welcome step. We now look to you, President, to consult, including with civil society, on the appointment of the FFM’s members. But we regret the dissociation of Myanmar from the resolution, and call on Myanmar to fully cooperate with the FFM. We look to all States, including in particular those with investment, trade and business relationships with Myanmar, to fully facilitate the work of the FFM.

We commend the Council for recognising the fundamental relationship between violations of human rights and the commission of mass atrocities, including by advancing accountability for such crimes in the DPRK, South Sudan, Sri Lanka and Syria.

Finally, Mr President, we are again concerned about allegations of intimidation and reprisals against defenders from Myanmar, Bahrain and Sri Lanka, including during the current session. In line with your legal obligation, we urge you to take these cases seriously, follow-up thoroughly on the allegations, and ensure that all those who engage with the body you preside over can do so safely.

Thank you.

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