The Human Rights Council concludes its 30th session
Oral statements delivered by GICJ
The Human Rights Council concluded its 30th session on 2 October 2015. GICJ participated actively in the session by delivering oral statements on the case of Palestine and Iraq and co-organised a side event on Human Rights in Palestine.
GICJ delivered three oral statements under agenda item 3, 4 and 7 of the Human Rights Council's agenda, and called the international community to address the root of the refugee crisis facing Europe, which is directly linked to the deteriorating human rights situation facing both Syria and Iraq. The prevailing impunity that has became the norm rather than the exception even for grave human rights violation in both these countries should no longer be tolerated.
On the human rights situation in Iraq, GICJ reminded the Council that millions of Iraqis have been demonstrating since July, demanding the restoration of their basic rights; and calling for a new political system, free of sectarian quotas and interference of religious leaders. Their demands continue to be met by the Iraqi authorities with empty promises, assassination campaigns targeting leading demonstrators and violence.
On the continuous violations by Israel of the basic rights of the Palestinian people, GICJ reminded members of the Council that the continuing efforts of certain countries to diminish item 7 carries consequences in terms of their own credibility and that of the Council. The suffering of the Palestinians is unrelenting, and while the flag has been raised in the UN, Israeli settlements continue to be built, and violations against the rights of millions continue to go unpunished.
OHCHR summary of the Programme of Work
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, opened the session with an update on the activities of his Office. In his statement Mr. Zeid expressed specific concerns at the international community’s failure to address the situation in Syria. Some countries in the Middle East – Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey – and in Europe – Germany and Sweden – were showing commendable humanity and leadership when it came to hosting refugees and migrants needing protection. He implored decision-makers in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, as well as Europe, to take swift action to establish effective and principled migration governance and urged European States to put in place an architecture of migration governance that was far more comprehensive, thoughtful, principled and effective, and to expand channels of regular migration and resettlement, which would prevent deaths and cut smuggling. The people most responsible for migration were those leaders who had failed to uphold human rights, and robbed their people of hope, said the High Commissioner. He called on all States to accept scrutiny and to fully commit to the implementation of human rights recommendations by United Nations mechanisms. Upholding human rights was intrinsic to the obligations of sovereignty.
During the three-week session the Council convened six thematic discussions on a wide range of human rights issues. It held an annual discussion on the integration of gender perspective and a panel discussion on unilateral coercive measures. Panel discussions on the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and on good governance in public service also took place. The Council held a half-day discussion on the rights of indigenous peoples and a panel discussion on the impact of the world drug problem.
In the first week the Council heard reports from and held discussions with the Working Group on arbitrary detention, the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, the Special Rapporteur on truth, justice, reparation and non-recurrence and the Working Group on enforced disappearances. The Council also held a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of older persons, the Working Group on the use of mercenaries, the Special Rapporteur on hazardous wastes, the Special Rapporteur on water and sanitation, the Independent Expert on democratic and equitable international order and the Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures. A report of the Intergovernmental Working Group on private military and security companies was presented, followed by the presentation of a series of thematic reports, including on the issues of the death penalty, prison overcrowding and the safety of journalists. At the end of the week, the Council met once in private under its Complaint Procedure.
In the second week of the session the Council heard reports from and held discussions with the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, followed with a panel discussion on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. It held a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on indigenous peoples and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, followed by a half-day discussion on the rights of indigenous peoples. An interactive dialogue was held with the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee and the Intergovernmental Working Group on rights of peasants presented its report. The second week ended with the consideration and adoption of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) outcomes for the following 14 States (in order of review): Belarus, United States of America, Malawi, Mongolia, Panama, Maldives, Andorra, Bulgaria, Honduras, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Croatia, Jamaica and Libya.
In the third and final week of the session a general debate on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories took place, and was followed by an interactive dialogue with the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent. The third week also saw a panel discussion on impact of world drug problem and interactive dialogues on the High Commissioner’s oral update on Ukraine, the High Commissioner’s report on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the High Commissioner’s oral update on Libya. Interactive dialogues were also held with the Special Rapporteur on Cambodia, the Independent Expert on Sudan, the Independent Expert on the Central African Republic and the Independent Expert on Somalia. A presentation of the High Commissioner’s report on Sri Lanka took place and was followed by a discussion. In the final two days of the thirtieth session, on 1 and 2 October, the Council continued the general debate and took action on the draft resolutions and decisions tabled during the session. The President of the Council appointed the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, one member of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent and one member of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.
Access the full roundup of the session on the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights here.
GICJ oral statements delivered during the 30th session of the Human Rights Council
General debate under agenda Item:3 Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development - 13th Plenary Meeting 30th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council.
Statement delivered by Ms Eleanor McClelland, researcher at GICJ, on 18 September 2015.
Full text of the statement:
Today, hundreds of refugees will arrive at European borders, dead or alive. The victims of the crisis that Europe faces now are the very same victims of the conflicts and occupations that countries across the Middle East and North Africa have faced for years.
The conflict in Syria alone has forced 11 million people from their homes. This is a result of the failure of international diplomatic efforts and the lack of political will to address and resolve the conflict in its early stages.
In the last year, we have witnessed the situation in Iraq go from bad to worse with sectarian militia violence, corruption and human rights violation becoming systemic. The situation however is not the product of internal factors alone but also the consequence of decades of hardship inflicted upon the Iraqi people in the form of sanctions, illegal invasion and occupation. And all this in a country where there is no special rapporteur for human rights nor due attention paid from the office of the high commissioner for human rights.
The camera lens of the international community has focussed recently on the tragic death of Aylan Kurdi. The fact that millions of others have also risked their lives and paid the heaviest price is indeed unfathomable.
However, if we do not readjust our focus to the grave violations that continue to plague the Iraqi and Syrian people whose homes, hospitals and schools have been destroyed, and for whom water, electricity and food have become luxuries then the human rights abuses which go on unacknowledged and unpunished in these countries will continue to send boys, girls and families onto the beaches of Europe.
The time has come for the international community to tackle the root causes of these crises.
General debate under agenda Item:4 Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention - 18th Plenary Meeting 30th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council.
Statement delivered by Ms Eleanor McClelland, researcher at GICJ, on 22 September 2015.
Full text of the statement:
In his opening statement, the High Commissioner expressed his concern for human rights in Iraq. In his statement, mention of ISIL dominated. However, ISIL are not the only cause of suffering for the Iraqi people today.
The millions of Iraqi citizens who have taken to the streets since July, have not stood in the 50 degree heat to protest against ISIL. Yet while the activity of this terrorist organisation continues to be highlighted internationally and within the Human Rights Council, the voices of millions across Iraq continue to go unheard. So let us take this opportunity to hear their voices, to hear their demands.
Initially, they demanded access to water and electricity, as temperatures soared. In an economy where it is estimated that every week 800 million dollars is unlawfully transferred out of the country, it is a disgrace that people are forced to live without basic services. Where the daily needs of citizens fail to be met by their government, their claim that ‘corruption is terrorism’ rings true.
Today, they are calling for a new political system, one free from sectarian quotas and the interference of religious leaders. They call for investigations into all human rights violations and for the dismissal of the Chief of Justice, under whom corruption and abuse go unpunished.
The government has responded with empty promises, cuts and violence. In addition to the assassination of several leading demonstrators, Geneva International Centre for Justice documents cases of intimidation, threats and violence against protestors daily.
With our focus now on Iraq, we must acknowledge the suffering inflicted upon Iraqi citizens since 2003 by governments that claim to promote rights and democracy. We stand by the Iraqi people and urge the Council to hear their voices and to address their demands.
General Debate Under Agenda Item:7 - Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories - 30th Plenary Meeting 30th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council.
Statement delivered by Ms Eleanor McClelland, researcher at GICJ, on 28 September 2015.
Full text of the statement:
This week, the Palestinian flag will be raised at UN headquarters reflecting the support of the majority of member states for Palestine. However, through their non-participation in this debate, a number of those same states fail to acknowledge the real deprivation of the rights of Palestinians, and their solidarity remains symbolic and unconvincing.
In this Council, the continuing efforts of certain countries to diminish item 7 carry consequences: They will not disappear Israel’s violations but will rather harm their own credibility and that of the Council.
Each day, Palestinians are denied their basic inalienable rights, deprived of housing, food, water, and movement, and increasingly the right to practice their religion.
Levels of violence and tension at al-Aqsa Mosque are rising as police presence intensifies, checkpoints close and hundreds of Palestinians, some as young as 13 are arrested. Israeli authorities deport Palestinians from the city at will and repeatedly prevent men and women from entering the mosque, forcing them to pray in the surrounding streets.
In Gaza, the suffering is unrelenting. Last year, the Israeli assault on Gaza claimed the lives of over 2000 Palestinians and destroyed over 31,000 homes. Today, Israel worsens the man-made humanitarian crisis in Gaza, inflicting collective punishment and failing to ease restrictions. With access to less than 1% of the materials required to rebuild Gaza - the future is bleak. A recent UN report warned that Gaza could be uninhabitable in less than 5 years.
So, as the flag flies this week, Gaza hastens towards the uninhabitable, Israeli settlements continue to be built, and violations against the rights of millions continue to go unpunished. We urge the Council to defend the rights of the Palestinian people in both word and action to finally bring an end to this abuse.
Participation of GICJ at Human Rights Council Sessions
Human Rights Council - 35th regular session (6 June - 24 June 2017)
Human Rights Council - 34th regular session (27 February - 24 March 2017)
Human Rights Council - 33rd regular session (10 September - 30 September 2016)
Human Rights Council - 32nd regular session (13 June - 1 and 8 July 2016)
Human Rights Council - 31st regular session (29 February - 24 March 2016)
Human Rights Council - 30th regular session (14 September - 2 October 2015)
Human Rights Council - 29th regular session (15 June - 3 July 2015)
Human Rights Council - 22nd special session on the human rights situation in Iraq in light of abuses committed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and associated groups - 1 September 2014:
Human Rights Council - 21st special session on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem - 23 July 2014:
Human Rights Council - 26th regular session (10 - 27 June 2014):
Human Rights Council - 25th regular session (3 - 28 March 2014):
Human Rights Council - 24th regular session (9 - 27 September 2013):
Human Rights Council - 23rd regular session (27 May - 14 June 2013):
Human Rights Council - 22nd regular session (25 February - 22 March 2013):
Human Rights Council - 21st regular session (10 - 28 September, 5 November 2012):
Human Rights Council - 19th regular session (27 February - 23 March 2012):