- The 49th regular session of the Human Rights Council (HRC49) was held from Monday 28 February to Friday 1 April 2022.
- As the main annual session of the Council, HRC49 began with a High-Level Segment (HLS). The 2022 HLS included speeches by more than 120 world leaders, including six Heads or Deputy Heads of State, five Heads or Deputy Heads of Government, and 107 Ministers or Vice-Ministers. An analysis of the content and focus of the high-level speeches can be read here.
- In the wake of the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, the Council held an urgent debate on 3 and 4 March focused on the ‘situation of human rights in Ukraine stemming from the Russian aggression.’ At the end of the Urgent Debate the Council adopted a resolution, which established a new Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine. The three human rights experts making up the Commission were appointed by the President in the final week of the Session.
- On 8 March, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, H.E. Ms. Michelle Bachelet, presented an oral update on the human rights situation around the globe.
- Seven panel discussions and one thematic meeting were held during the session.
- More than 90 reports under the Council’s various agenda items were considered.
- 11 new Special Procedures mandate-holders were appointed to the following mandates: three members for the the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (one from Central and Eastern Europe, the Russian Federation, Central Asia and Transcausasia; one from Central and South America, and the Caribbean; and one from the Pacific); Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change; Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan; Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burundi; Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967; member of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (from Western European and other States); member of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (from Asia-Pacific States); member of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises (from Asia-Pacific States); and one member of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination (from Latin American and Caribbean States).
- The outcome reports of the UPR Working Group of the following 13 States were adopted: Antigua and Barbuda, Eswatini, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Papua New Guinea, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Suriname, Tajikistan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, and United Republic of Tanzania.
- 35 texts (all resolutions) were considered by the Council. This represents a 13% increase in the number of adopted texts compared to one-year previously (HRC46). Of the 35 adopted resolutions, 19 were adopted by consensus (54%), and 16 by a recorded vote (46%).
- 23 written amendments were put forward by States during the consideration of draft resolutions. No amendment was adopted: 18 were withdrawn by the main sponsor of the amendment and the remaining five were rejected by a vote.
- 26 of the texts adopted by the Council (74%) had Programme Budget Implications (PBI) and 20 required new appropriations not included in previous Programme Budgets. The total costs of the newly mandated activities amounted to a total of $24’368’000, at the time of writing.
High Level Segment
H.E. Mr. Federico Villegas, President of the Human Rights Council, opened the 49th session by recalling that the first regular session of the year is in many ways the main session of the Human Rights Council, which is in turn the most important forum for human rights of the United Nations. Mr. Villegas highlighted that this session presents the particularity of returning to a more in-person participation through a hybrid format. The President of the Human Rights Council acknowledged that while the pandemic continues, the Council also continues to demonstrate flexibility and perseverance to ensure that it is able to fulfil the collective responsibility to uphold human rights standards and respond to the human rights challenges exacerbated by times of crisis.
H.E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid, President of the 76th session of the General Assembly, addressed the Council virtually and underlined five priority areas, which he called Rays of Hope, namely recovery from COVID-19, rebuilding sustainably, responding to the needs of the planet, respecting the rights of all, and revitalising the United Nations. Regarding the socio-economic recovery from the pandemic, he called for urgent and compassionate action guided by the 2030 Agenda as our common roadmap to recovery. On the needs of the planet, he welcomed the Human Rights Council’s recent adoption of two landmark resolutions, i.e. on human rights and climate change establishing a new Special Procedures’ mandate on the issue, and on the recognition of the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. Moreover, he explained that he will continue to prioritise this issue, including by hosting a high-level event in July to highlight the synergies across the various meetings taking place during his Presidency on this issue and to recall collective priorities to protect the planet. With respect to the rights of all, he presented his efforts to empower women, girls, and young people; to tackle racism and other forms of discrimination; and to empower civil society and grassroots organisations. Lastly, he recalled that ‘all human rights are universal, indivisible, and mutually reinforcing’. Hence, they ‘must be treated in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing and with the same emphasis’. (link to the statement)
UN Secretary-General, H.E. Mr. Antonio Guterres, expressed that human rights were under assault everywhere and reminded the Council that they cannot be confiscated by dictators nor erased by poverty, but that they are inescapable and powerful. The UN Secretary-General pointed to five areas that require urgent attention: COVID-19, global finance, climate action, anarchy in cyberspace, and peace and security. Mr. Guterres explained that all the solutions to these crises are rooted in human rights.
First, on COVID-19, he urged all governments, pharmaceutical companies, and partners to support the World Health Organization’s global vaccine action plan. Second, he highlighted the bankruptcy of the global financial system: a system that has failed to protect the rights of millions of people in the Global South. Against this background, he called for a New Global Deal that ensures power, wealth and opportunities are shared more broadly and fairly, and that includes an overhaul of the global financial system, so that developing countries can invest in the SDGs. Third, he underlined that the climate crisis is a human rights crisis that particularly affects young people, women and girls, Small Island Developing States and indigenous communities. He also welcomed the Human Rights Council’s recognition of the right to a healthy environment. Fourth, he expressed that digital technology is ‘the Wild West’ for human rights and stressed that the internet must be treated as a global public good that should benefit everyone, everywhere. Fifth, Mr. Guterres referred to the escalation of military operations by the Russian Federation in Ukraine and to the arrest of journalists and activists. The UN Secretary-General sent a clear message: ‘conflict is the utter negation of human rights across the board’. He enumerated the inevitable result of war (civilian casualties; women, children and men forced from their homes; hunger, poverty and huge economic disruption) and called for an end to the offensive and a return to the path of dialogue and diplomacy. The UN Secretary-General urged the authorities in countries from Myanmar to Afghanistan, to Ethiopia and beyond, to step up the protection of minorities and respect the equal rights of all their people, during and after conflict. (link to statement)
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, H.E. Ms. Michelle Bachelet then made a brief statement. Her central message focused on the tipping point at which we now find ourselves: the progress of the past decades in the areas of poverty alleviation, conflict eradication, and access to education is in jeopardy because of the pandemic, growing polarisation and environmental harm, digital disinformation, hatred and distortions of democracy, and the disregard of the rule of law. The High Commissioner presented the High-Level Segment as a vital opportunity to come together and confront the military attack on Ukraine with action, placing people and their aspirations and rights at the centre of the collective response. She underlined that ‘it is precisely at a tipping point, or time of crisis, when investment in multilateral and human rights-based action brings swift and effective solutions’. Ms Bachelet called for strong preventive action, consisting of tackling the root causes of grievances and instability, and investing in justice and human dignity not only to respond to the Ukraine conflict, but also to bring long-term solutions to the impacts of the pandemic, climate change, extreme poverty and forced displacement. To conclude, the High Commissioner for Human Rights highlighted that the response to these challenges needs to be global and called on member States to overcome polarisation, discuss their differences, and come together to advance the fundamental rights of all human beings. (link to the statement)
The President of the Swiss Confederation (host country), H.E. Mr. Ignazio Cassis’s central message focused on the attack by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, a blatant violation of international humanitarian law and the most fundamental principles of the UN Charter. He recalled the Human Rights Council’s and Geneva humanitarian institutions’ fundamental roles in protecting human rights and international humanitarian law in Ukraine. He called upon Russia to withdraw from Ukraine and de-escalate its military operations, and he condemned the arrest of peaceful demonstrators within the country itself. Mr. Cassis expressed that Switzerland was prepared to welcome all persons in need. While the focus was principally on the war in Ukraine, he reminded the Council that the international community cannot forget other matters of concern: stability and prosperity, both of which would be better guaranteed in a world where the human rights of all were respected. Lastly, he announced that Switzerland was committed to ensuring cooperation between the three pillars of the United Nations and that the country had submitted its candidacy to the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member for 2023-2024. (link to statement)
Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chile, H.E. Ms. Carolina Valdivia’s intervention started by condemning Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, calling for a withdrawal of Russian troops and the respect of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, and urging to find a solution to the conflict through dialogue and negotiation. Ms. Valdivia presented the Council as the main forum for cooperation, dialogue, and consensus in the field of human rights in the United Nations. Second, she highlighted the imperative of strengthening and revitalising multilateralism, as well as placing gender equality as a priority of the Council. Ms. Valdivia then pointed to three major challenges currently faced by humankind: climate change, COVID-19, and inequality. She stressed that all these issues should be addressed with a human rights-based approach. Particularly on the pandemic, she announced that Chile supports the creation of an internationally binding instrument that allows for the tackling of future health emergencies with greater solidarity and cooperation. Lastly, Ms. Valdivia affirmed Chile’s commitment to continue its institutional efforts to achieve truth, justice and full reparation for all violations that occurred during the dictatorship, as well as to promote human rights in all corners of the world. (link to statement)
Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, H.E. Ms. Retno L.P. Marsudi called on all parties to ensure safe passage for civilians in Ukraine and to allow and facilitate rapid, safe, and unhindered access for humanitarian assistance. Ms. Marsudi highlighted that the conflict in Ukraine has compounded human rights challenges, particularly in a time when we continue to struggle with COVID-19 and its multidimensional impacts: global unemployment has climbed over the 200 million mark, over 1 billion people could be living in extreme poverty by 2030, and discrimination and inequalities run rampant. Against this background, she advocated for a global wake-up call with three areas of focus. First, ensure everyone has an equal chance to defeat COVID-19. This would entail that the Council reinforces its commitment to fulfilling the right to health, including through fair and equitable access to vaccines. Second, uphold democratic values in addressing global challenges, including the pandemic. Third, advance the protection of women’s rights. Lastly, Ms. Marsudi ended her intervention by stressing that an adaptive, agile, and well-prepared Council was needed to address the current human rights challenges. (link to statement)
Minister of Justice of Namibia, H.E. Ms. Yvonne Dausab, addressed the Council by expressing her concern over low vaccination rates in many developing countries. She explained that it is imperative to find answers on how to ensure equitable and affordable access to vaccines for all countries and to share best practices on how to tackle misinformation that perpetuates public apprehension and vaccine hesitancy. In her statement, Ms. Dausab recognised the important role of the mechanisms of the Council. She described the Universal Periodic Review as a unique platform for constructive dialogue between States, and the information provided by Special Procedures as a guide in States’ interventions. Based on the global significance of the right to life and human dignity, she called all States to reconsider the imposition of the death penalty. Ms. Dausab then focused on pressing priorities for her country. First, combating racial and systemic discrimination around the world. Second, eliminating gender-based and sexual violence, while ensuring women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic, and public life. Third, climate change, environmental degradation and pollution were presented as the most serious threat to current and future generations. The Minister of Justice reaffirmed Namibia’s support for the implementation of climate change mitigation mechanisms. Fourth, Ms. Dausab stressed the negative impacts of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of all human rights. She referred specifically to Cuba, Iran, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. Lastly, the Minister of Justice called for the realisation of the right to self-determination for the people of Palestine and the people of Western Sahara. (link to statement)
Minister of Foreign and European Affairs for Luxembourg, H.E. Mr. Jean Asselborn condemned Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and reminded the Council that the worst violations of human rights occur during times of conflict. He brought the attention of the Council to other ongoing conflicts, including in Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Yemen, where the mandate of the Panel of Eminent Experts had not been renewed by the Council last September; in Myanmar, where the military junta is repressing civilians; and in the Middle East, where a two-State solution risked being replaced by a one-State reality of perpetual conflict. ‘Conflicts are escalating while we are facing the scourges of the pandemic and the climate crisis, as well as socio-economic injustices and political crises that may result from them‘. Mr. Asselborn then presented Luxembourg’s four top priorities. First, supporting rule of law, civic space, human rights defenders and the fight against impunity. Second, promoting sustainable development and climate action with a human rights-based approach. Third, advancing gender equality and the fight against discrimination. Fourth, encouraging the promotion and protection of children’s rights. (link to statement)
A URG analysis of the content of over 120 interventions during the High-Level Segment found that certain issues and situations featured in a particularly prominent manner. These are summarised in the above ‘word cloud.’ (Read URG’s full analysis of the High-level Segment here)
On 3 and 4 March 2022, in the context of the 49th session of the Human Rights Council, which opened on Monday 28 February, an urgent debate was convened on the ‘situation of human rights in Ukraine stemming from the Russian aggression’.
After introductory remarks by the President of the Human Rights Council, H.E. Federico Villegas, a series of keynote addresses were delivered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Michelle Bachelet, and Victor Madrigal-Borloz, Chair of the Coordination Committee of UN Special Procedures.
In their statements, they expressed their concern that the Russian Federation’s military attack on Ukraine endangers world’s peace. They both underlined the connection between armed conflict and human rights violations, and the importance of accountability. Ms. Michelle Bachelet declared that Human RIghts Council members would have to decide on the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry to fight impunity while Mr. Victor Madrigal-Borloz welcomed the international justice proceedings that had already been launched by the Prosecutor of the ICC.
During the ensuing debate, 36 member States, 66 observer States, three international organisations and 29 civil society organisations took the floor to discuss the human rights situation in Ukraine stemming from the Russian aggression.
The majority of States condemned the unjustified and violent attack of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, arguing it constitutes a flagrant violation of international law and an attack against international peace. Some other speakers chose a more neutral stance by urging the international community to promote dialogue and calling on all parties to the conflict to fully respect humanitarian law and ease the tensions (China, South Africa). Several speakers expressed their deep concern at reports of discrimination suffered by third country nationals fleeing Ukrainian territory and called on the international community to provide support, regardless of nationality or ethnicity (Côte d’Ivoire, USA).
During the 10th meeting of HRC49, member States adopted draft resolution L.1 on the ‘Situation of human rights in Ukraine stemming from the Russian aggression’. The resolution ‘condemns in the strongest possible terms the human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law resulting from the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine’. Most significantly, the resolution ‘decides to urgently establish an independent international commission of inquiry, constituted by three human rights experts, to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council for an initial duration of one year, complementing, consolidating, and building upon the work of the HRMMU’. The mandate of the Commission will be ‘to investigate all alleged violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, and related crimes, in the context of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine, and to establish the facts, circumstances, and root causes of any such violations and abuses’. Furthermore, the Commission has a strong mandate to facilitate legal accountability, as the resolution requests it to ‘collect, consolidate and analyse evidence of such violations and abuses, including their gender dimensions, and to systematically record and preserve all information, documentation and evidence, including interviews, witness testimony and forensic material, consistent with international law standards, in view of any future legal proceedings’. As such, it will work ‘to identify, where possible, those individuals and entities responsible for violations or abuses of human rights or violations of international humanitarian law, or other related crimes, in Ukraine, with a view to ensuring that those responsible are held accountable’.
The full report on the urgent debate can be found here.
Briefing by the High Commissioner for Human Rights
On 7 March 2022, Ms. Bachelet presented an update to her annual report on the global state of human rights. While she did not expressly reference the invasion of Ukraine, it was a powerful subtext underlying her opening comments, in which she stressed the grave threat that warfare presents to peace, development, and human rights, and urged States to abide by their legal obligations to respect human rights and protect civic space in all contexts. She asserted that ‘we are living in a time of sharply escalating misery and fear’ but that ‘there is still time’ to restore a positive cycle towards the common good. She emphasised the rights of free expression and participation as fundamental to what the United Nations and the Human Rights Council stand for.
In that vein, the High Commissioner provided a survey of crackdowns on political dissent in Eastern European States. In Ukraine, she noted that her office had received reports of arbitrary detentions and beatings of both pro-Ukrainian activists and pro-Russian individuals. She expressed concern over mass arrests of anti-war protestors in the Russian Federation, and the use of repressive legislation to criminalise the exercise of civil and political rights, as well as to limit the work of human rights defenders and civil society organisations in the country.
The High Commissioner then noted the role of hate speech and incitement to violence by political leaders in the intensifying political crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She called for preventive action and constructive dialogue to preserve the rights of all citizens in the country. Furthermore, she noted incidences of excessive use of force and arbitrary and unlawful detentions in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. Regarding the latter, she emphasised that the ongoing Internet shutdown is a clear violation of human rights.
Turning to migration, the High Commissioner commended the European Union for its decision to activate temporary protection measures for people fleeing Ukraine, however, she drew a sharp contrast between this and the grievous treatment of migrants from other nations. She noted that more than 2000 migrants had died or disappeared in the region last year. ‘A humane and principled approach should not be the exception; it should be the rule’. She called for all States to work together in the implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, and urged for non-discrimination in the treatment of migrants.
The High Commissioner then discussed the unsettling trend of unconstitutional regime change in the African Continent – in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Chad—focusing in particular on the work and observations of OHCHR field offices in the G5 Sahel countries. Here, she emphasised the necessity of compliance with human rights and humanitarian law by security forces and non-State armed groups, and again stressed the protection of civic space, political participation and free speech.
The High Commissioner also drew the Council’s attention to the killing of journalists. She noted that her office had documented the killing of four journalists in the last two months in Mexico, and expressed deep concern over the use of malware to spy on journalists and civil society organisations in El Salvador. She stressed that journalists play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy democracy, and called on all States to further rather than censor their work.
Finally, she expressed alarm over reprisals and repressive measures taken against human rights defenders in several countries, including, inter alia, China, Occupied Palestinian Territory, and Iraq. However, she welcomed the Iraqi authorities’ engagement with the OHCHR to address this problem, in particular through the work of the national Fact-Finding Commission investigating violations in the context of demonstrations. She also noted another positive step; her office had secured an invitation by the Government of China for the High Commissioner to visit the country, including the region of Xinjiang, later this year.
Overall, the High Commissioner raised 28 country situations in her update. She also raised the issues of police killings of people of African descent, and freedom of religion, and emphasised throughout her comments the shrinking of civic space as a major threat to human rights. She closed by stating that the work of the Council is to move all countries towards a path of a ‘healthy, peaceful and sustainable future for our children’.
The official transcript of Ms Bachelet’s speech can be found here.
Panel discussions and other thematic meetings
A total of seven panel discussions and one thematic meeting were held during the 49th session. The panels and thematic meeting were focused on the following topics:
- Annual high-level panel discussion on human rights mainstreaming – The contribution of universal participation to the mainstreaming of human rights throughout the United Nations system on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Voluntary Technical Assistance Trust Fund to Support the Participation of Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States in the Work of the Human Rights Council (summary – video);
- Annual full-day meeting on the rights of the child – The rights of the child and family reunification (summary – video);
- Panel discussion on ensuring equitable, affordable, timely and universal access for all countries to vaccines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic (summary – video);
- Annual interactive debate on the rights of persons with disabilities – Statistics and data collection under article 31 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (summary – video);
- Panel discussion on the importance of robust public policies and services for the protection of economic, social and cultural rights in contributing to the COVID-19 pandemic recovery (summary – video);
- Debate in commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – Voices for action against racism (summary – video);
- Meeting on enhancing technical cooperation and capacity-building in promoting and protecting the human rights of persons in vulnerable and marginalized situations in recovery efforts during and after the COVID-19 pandemic (summary – video).
Commissions of Inquiry, Fact-Finding Missions and Independent investigations
Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
On 18 March 2022, the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (FFM), composed of Ms. Marta Valiñas (President), Mr. Francisco Cox Viral, and Ms. Patricia Tappatá Valdez, delivered an oral update on Venezuela’s human rights situation, which was followed by an interactive dialogue with States and NGOs.
Ms. Marta Valiñas, presenting the oral update, recalled that the FFM’s first report, which was presented to the HRC in September 2020, had documented cases of extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, and torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, including sexual and gender-based violence, committed by Venezuelan state actors since 2014, concluding that there were reasonable grounds to believe that some of the conduct described in the report amounted to crimes against humanity.
Ms. Valiñas explained that the FFM’s strategy had since been to focus on the response of Venezuela’s justice system to the human rights violations and crimes detailed in that initial report. The FFM’s findings were presented to the HRC in September 2021, in a report that concluded that actors in the system played an important role, both by action and omission, in the State’s repression of real and perceived Government opponents. She noted with appreciation that the Venezuelan government had announced it will take measures to address the situation of impunity in the country and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court pledging to take all necessary measures to ensure the effective administration of justice in the country. Ms. Valiñas stated that while these are welcome developments that represent an opportunity for victims to obtain justice, what really matters is the implementation of the planned measures.
Ms. Valiñas continued by underlining advances such as the conviction of 185 individuals for human rights violations committed by State security officials, while noting continued obstacles to assessing Venezuela’s efforts to investigate and prosecute these violations, such as a lack of disaggregated data and key information. She reiterated her concern that the government only conducts limited investigations that target low-level, material perpetrators, and explained that for this reason, the Mission is expanding its current investigations into responsibilities higher up the chain of command and will present its findings to the Council in September 2022. In addition, Ms. Valiñas detailed improvements and concerns regarding judicial independence and interference of political actors in the justice system, underlining justice system reforms and issues related to the continued detention of real or perceived Government opponents.
The President of the Mission concluded by stating that it will continue to work independently, impartially, objectively, and rigorously to present a credible body of information to the Council in September 2022.
Venezuela, as the country concerned, stated that it was difficult to justify such a continued waste of the Council’s time, as the FFM was a hostile body created by the Council at the behest of an increasingly dwindling number of supporting countries. Venezuela conveyed its non-recognition of the FFM, arguing that it took place as a part of efforts to politicise the situation. It further stated that the FFM’s conclusions were reached to satisfy the international media and that the information presented was completely unfounded as its investigation had been carried out at a distance and in a selective manner. Venezuela reiterated that it had strengthened its cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner and that the Council should support such cooperation, whereas universal coercive measures only harmed human rights in the country.
The FFM’s mandate was already extended for two additional years during the 45th session in September 2020. The same resolution that extended the mandate requested that the FFM present a written report during the 51st session, to be held in September 2022. Thus, the FFM in Venezuela will be presenting a new report, while looking to have its mandate extended once again in September.
Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan
On 18 March 2022, the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan (Commission), composed of Ms. Yasmin Sooka (Chair), Prof. Andrew Clapham, and Mr. Barney Afako, delivered an oral update to present its sixth report to the Council, which was followed by an interactive dialogue with States and NGOs.
Ms. Yasmin Sooka, in presenting the Commission’s sixth report, stated that South Sudan was at a critical moment in its transition, as key pieces of the Revitalised Peace Agreement went unimplemented and planned elections held the potential to plunge the country into massive violence. A tragedy of epic proportions is unfolding, with the conflict causing over two million people to be displaced, 8.9 million in need of humanitarian aid, and parts of the country once again on the brink of famine in the wake of floods and renewed violence. The growing political crisis is threatening to exacerbate the existing humanitarian and human rights crises, which are already causing widespread suffering.
Ms. Sooka stated that the Commission had documented ongoing violence in certain regions, which has serious consequences for civilians caught up in it, as parties to the conflict have been engaging in collective punishment of communities believed to support the opposing side. Attacks against villages result in massacres of civilians, and forced displacement is being carried out on an ethnic basis.
Ms. Sooka informed the Council that there was widespread and systematic conflict-related sexual violence against women and girls throughout South Sudan, which was a result of the lack of accountability for sexual and gender-based violence throughout the past decades. Further, sexual violence has been instrumentalised as a reward for youth participating in the conflict, as a means of building ethnic solidarity, and as a form of retribution against the ‘enemy’. The objective is the total destruction of certain communities. Ms. Sooka informed the Council that a Paper highlighting the acts, patterns, and impacts of such gross human rights violations and abuses against women and girls was to be published the next week.
Mr. Barney Afako urged South Sudan to implement the steps identified by the Commission’s December 2021 conference, as well as provide resources for the process of consultation and the preparation and enactment of legislation for the establishment of the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation, and Healing. He further urged the authorities to establish the Compensation and Reparation Authority and strengthen national capacities for the collection and preservation of evidence that would facilitate the work of transitional justice mechanisms envisioned by the Revitalised Agreement. Mr. Afako finally urged South Sudan to refrain from interfering with the rights of peaceful association, assembly, and freedom of expression.
Mr. Andrew Clapman stated that developing a permanent constitution was fundamental, and while a bill was prepared, such work had barely started. He argued that the prevailing impunity for serious crimes in the country was funnelling and compounding conflict and insecurity, enabling and even encouraging the perpetration of killings, massacres, rape and sexual violence, including sexual slavery, in addition to the theft and pillage of South Sudan’s wealth from its citizens. Mr. Clapman stated that impunity was therefore a root cause of the concurrent crises in the country.
Ms. Sooka concluded by stating that South Sudan had reached a critical point in its transition timetable, as massive political, humanitarian, and human rights crises persisted, driven primarily by political elites and the lack of political will to address impunity. Even so, the Revitalised Peace Agreement offered a solid framework to address these serious challenges. It must, however, avoid being implemented in a selective, delayed, or deferred manner. Almost all of the UN’s 14 risk factors for atrocity crimes are currently present in South Sudan, and the country could descend into complete conflict if elections are rushed without implementing the required constitution-making provisions.
South Sudan, as the country concerned, stated that the Government considered the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan a significant milestone towards stability in the country, stating that positive progress had been made in its implementation. Regarding the constitutional process, a bill had been drafted and submitted to the Transitional Legislative Authority to be enacted. South Sudan reiterated that the Government is committed to fully implementing the Revitalised Agreement, but faced challenges in the lack of support from the international community through technical assistance and capacity building, especially for rule of law institutions. South Sudan requested that the Council and Office of the High Commissioner provide the necessary tools to enable the Government to deliver services to its citizens.
Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic
On 18 March 2022, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic (CoI), composed of Mr. Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro (Chair), Mr. Hanny Megally, and Ms. Lynn Welchman, delivered an oral update to present its 24th report to the Council, followed by an interactive dialogue with States and NGOs on the situation of human rights in the country.
Mr. Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro reminded the Council that the Syrian civilian population has endured 11 years of crisis and conflict, and are suffering increasing levels of hardship due to growing violence, a stalling economy, and the humanitarian disaster facing the country. He stated that more than half of Syria’s pre-war population has been displaced, hundreds of thousands of Syrians have lost their lives, and over 100,000 continue to be missing or forcibly disappeared. Further, the country’s infrastructure and cities have been demolished, over 90% of its remaining population lives in poverty, 12 million Syrians are food insecure, and 14.6 million need humanitarian assistance. Mr. Pinheiro informed the Council that Syrians will be facing additional difficulties due to the crisis in Ukraine.
Mr. Pinheiro stated that the CoI has called for a review of the impact of unilateral sanctions imposed on Syria, as humanitarian exemptions are not sufficient to mitigate their consequences on the daily lives of Syrian civilians. Over-compliance with sanctions has caused shortages and impeded aid in the country.
Mr. Pinheiro reminded the Council that parts of Syria are still experiencing fighting and bombardment, and that violence against civilians is increasing countrywide. He described how shelling by Syrian and Russian forces killed at least 64 children in the second half of 2021 in Idlib and western Aleppo, while the population of Dar’a al Balad suffered 10 weeks of siege, which included shelling and shortages of essential items.
According to Mr. Pinheiro, Syrians continue to live in fear of arrest for expressing their opinion, being a member of a dissenting political party, reporting to the media, or for defending human rights. Torture and ill-treatment continues in Syria, and tens of thousands continue to be held incommunicado or are forcibly disappeared, as government forces and other parties conceal the fate and whereabouts of detainees. In this respect, the Commission commended the UN General Assembly for the adoption of resolution 76/228, which requested the Secretary General to study the issue. He reiterated the call for the creation of an independent mechanism with an international mandate to coordinate and consolidate claims of missing persons in Syria, including those subject to enforced disappearance.
Concerning accountability, Mr. Pinheiro noted the systemic failures of investigations into possible war crimes carried out by the United States-led coalition and repeated the Commission’s recommendation for all parties to conduct credible, independent, and impartial investigations into incidents in which their forces were involved in civilian casualties. He reiterated that it is essential to ensure accountability for those responsible for violations.
Syria, as the country concerned, renewed its rejection of the Commission’s politicised mandate and its reports, describing it as a platform for shaming and sharing unfounded allegations that lacked credibility and objectivity. It stated that the Council was telling stories without basis in reality, eleven years after the U.S.-supported military and economic aggression in Syria began, and that the report was misleading and ignored Syria’s major challenges. Syria further stated that it had recently completed its third cycle UPR review in order to cooperate with the Council’s mechanisms through constructive dialogue.
Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya
On 29 March 2022, the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya, composed of Mr. Mohamed Auajjar (Chair), Ms. Tracy Robinson, and Mr. Chaloka Beyani, delivered an oral update to present its second report to the Council, followed by an interactive dialogue with States and NGOs on the country’s human rights situation.
Mr. Mohamed Auajjar, presenting the oral update, welcomed the open dialogue as an opportunity to communicate with the Council and update it with the Mission’s recent findings. He then acknowledged and thanked the Libyan government for its sincere cooperation in the Mission’s investigations, and stated that the Libyan people want reconciliation and deserve peace. Mr. Auajjar further reminded the Council of the Mission’s broad mandate to document alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, committed by all parties, and Libya since 2016.
Mr. Auajjar stated that since the release of its last report six months ago, the Mission has found credible and reliable evidence of such violations and abuses. In this time, the Mission has focused its investigations on the most serious violations, with a particular focus on those that hamper the transition to democracy and rule of law in Libya, as well as the situation of vulnerable groups.
Mr. Auajjar stated that in the Mission’s latest report has specific sections devoted to violations in the context of the deprivation of liberty, sexual and gender-based violence, extrajudicial killings and enforced diappearences, as well as abuses against migrants, women, and minorities. He drew the attention of the Council to 20 official and unofficial detention facilities across Libya, as well as evidence that human rights violations experienced by detainees in the country are widespread, systematic, or both. Further, the mission has reasonable grounds to believe that some incidents involving detainees during the armed conflict from 2019 to 2020 may constitute war crimes. The Mission is conducting ongoing investigations into a number of secret detention facilities across Libya, including networks of facilities allegedly controlled by armed militias and prisons declared closed but reportedly still operating.
The Mission has continued to document consistent patterns of serious human rights violations against migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers that occur in Libya’s migration detention centres, trafficking hubs, and other contexts. These violations are occurring against the backdrop of Libyan laws that prescribe automatic and indefinite detention of those who enter the country by irregular means, contrary to Libya’s human rights obligations.
Mr. Auajjar stated that the six months since the Mission’s first report to the Council have coincided with significant political developments in Libya – elections originally scheduled for December 2021 were postponed, and still have not occurred. The country is in a state of renewed polarisation and turmoil, and human rights violations are interfering with Libya’s transition to peace, democracy and the rule of law. There is currently a culture of impunity prevailing in different parts of Libya that is impeding said transition and elections, and the Mission has documented detention by armed groups of people expressing views about the elections or support for candidates. The Mission has found ongoing impunity for attacks against women politicians, undermining women’s political participation, as well as attacks against activists, human rights defenders, and journalists. In its report, the Mission makes several recommendations on these issues, calling on relevant stakeholders to provide the technical assistance Libya requires to fulfil its human rights obligations.
In conclusion, Mr. Auajjar stated that in the brief time that remains, the Mission will work relentlessly to document the wide array of serious human rights violations and abuses that have occurred in Libya since 2016, paying special attention to prevention and accountability. He stated that the end of the Mission’s mandate may coincide with the country’s expected elections. Mr. Auajjar therefore recommended that the Council extend the Mission’s mandate once again, so that it can monitor and document violations of human rights throughout that critical period, and permit a more comprehensive investigation of all violations and abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law and provide holistic recommendations that can assist the Libyan state institutions to end impunity, protect human rights, and contribute to stability and reconciliation.
Libya, as the country concerned, took note of and thanked the Mission for its updated report and stated that Libyan officials have cooperated with the Mission and facilitated its visits since its establishment, reaffirming the country’s commitment to cooperate with the Mission to complete its mandate.
Responding to the Mission’s report, Libya stated it was keen to reduce enforced disappearances and illegal detention, and that it is continuing efforts to ensure respect for human rights and legal rules for the treatment of detained persons. Libya stated that the phenomenon of illegal migration is a major challenge to the country and that it has the right to regulate the entry and residence of foreigners in its territory, which is not an infringement of human rights obligations. Libya stated that women have made remarkable progress in participation in public life, which is reflected in the strong presence of women in the legislature, judiciary, and other government institutions. The country is working to increase women’s participation in public life without discrimination. Concluding, Libya requested that the efforts of the international community be focused on supporting transitional justice, national reconciliation, and an end to external interventions.
Universal Periodic Review
Adoption of the UPR Working Group outcome reports
The Council adopted the UPR outcome reports of Antigua and Barbuda, Eswatini, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Papua New Guinea, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Suriname, Tajikistan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago and the United Republic of Tanzania.
A total of 2682 recommendations were made to these 13 States, out of which 1808 were accepted in full and 874 were noted.
General debate under item 6
Speakers emphasised the importance of promoting civil society space in the UPR process, expressing their concerns over reported acts or threats of violence by States under Review against civil society representatives. Speakers called on all States to take the necessary measures to ensure and strengthen cooperation between civil society representatives and the United Nations mechanisms without fear of reprisal or persecution, harassment or intimidation.
Speakers also underlined the significance of the principle of equality and non-selectivity to build constructive dialogue, which should be at the heart of the Universal Periodic Review process. Some States, however, deplored that this mechanism was used to impose costly, selective, interfering and politicised initiatives against sovereign States on the grounds of the alleged protection of human rights.
France, speaking on behalf of the European Union, called on all States and the High Commissioner for Human Rights to foster the participation of civil society. The EU condemned any acts of violence or threats against individuals or civil society willing to cooperate with the UN, and therefore, called on States to take steps to ensure the full protection of human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists and media stakeholders from reprisals, harassment and intimidation. The EU declared that the end of the third cycle of the UPR is a timely moment to strengthen this mechanism.
Morocco, speaking on behalf of the Group of Arab States, declared that UPR is the most effective mechanism to evaluate best practices in the field of human rights and help capacity-building. Therefore, the mechanism should respect the principle of equality and non selectivity and distance itself from politicisation. Morocco emphasised the importance of the establishment of national plans to ensure the implementation of accepted recommendations and that this discussion should be used to enrich human rights dialogue rather than fuelling confrontation.
In particular, Bhutan reiterated the importance of effective follow-up on recommendation and informed the Council that the country is working towards a National Mechanism for Implementation and a national recommendations tracking database.
UPR Info called on UPR stakeholders, including governments, NHRIs, and civil society organisations to use the time period between the third and the fourth cycle of UPR to accelerate the implementation of recommendations and advance the realisation of human rights for all.
21 Special Procedures (14 thematic, seven country-specific) presented their annual reports or provided oral updates at HRC49 (all of which are available here). During 21 interactive dialogues (all individual), 133 States delivered 722 statements, of which 24% were from the African Group, 33% from APG, 11% from EEG, 11% from GRULAC, 19% from WEOG, and 2% from other countries (namely the State of Palestine, the Holy See and the Sovereign Order of Malta). Additionally, 41 Joint Statements were delivered.
Appointment of new mandate-holders
11 new mandate-holders were appointed during the session to fill positions on eight existing mandates and three new mandates (Afghanistan, Burundi, and climate change). On the final day of the session, the following mandate-holders were appointed:
- Antonina GORBUNOVA (Russian Federation) was appointed as a member from Central and Eastern Europe, the Russian Federation, Central Asia and Transcausasia for the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP);
- Anexa Brendalee ALFRED CUNNINGHAM (Nicaragua) was appointed as a member from Central and South America, and the Caribbean for the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP);
- Valmaine TOKI (New Zealand) was appointed as a member from the Pacific for the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP);
- Ian FRY (Tuvalu) was appointed as the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change;
- Richard BENNETT (New Zealand) was appointed as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan;
- Fortuné Gaetan ZONGO (Burkina Faso) was appointed as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burundi;
- Francesca P. ALBANESE (Italy) was appointed as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967;
- Matthew GILLETT (New Zealand) was appointed as a member from Western European and other States for the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention;
- Angkhana NEELAPAIJIT (Thailand) was appointed as a member from Asia-Pacific States for the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances;
- Pichamon YEOPHANTONG (Thailand) was appointed as a member from Asia-Pacific States for the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises;
- Carlos Alberto SALAZAR COUTO (Peru) was appointed as a member from Latin American and Caribbean States for the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination.
To inform the appointments, the Consultative Group, made up of representatives of El Salvador, Malaysia, South Africa, and Canada, scrutinised around 126 individual applications from 119 eligible candidates for 11 vacancies. The Consultative Group (addendum) sent its recommendations to the President of the Council, who on 22 February 2022, following ‘broad consultations, in particular through the regional coordinators’, ‘to ensure the endorsement of [her] proposed candidates’ shared her proposed list of candidates with member States. The President followed the recommendations of the Consultative Group for nine of the 11 mandates. For the mandate of the member from Central and Eastern Europe, the Russian Federation, Central Asia and Transcausasia for the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) the President decided to put forward the second ranked candidate by the Consultative Group in light of the gender balance of EMRIP. Additionally, for the mandate as a member from Asia-Pacific States for the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances the President also decided to put forward the second ranked candidate referencing Ms. Neelapaijit’s life and professional experience in the area of the mandate.
As of today, there are 58 Special Procedures mandates (45 thematic, 13 country-specific), and 82 mandate-holders (56% male, 44% female).
General debate under item 5 and 10
General debate under item 5
During the general debate under item 5, held on 24 March, Portugal delivered a statement on behalf of the Group of Friends on national mechanisms for implementation, reporting, and follow-up (NMIRFs), stating that support for NMIRFs is based on the belief that ‘human rights laws and standards will have little impact on persons’ lives if they are not implemented nationally’. The GoF celebrated the successful completion of the third cycle of the UPR, despite Covid-related obstacles, and noted that ‘UPR recommendations are increasingly integrated and aligned with the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’.
The Philippines, speaking on behalf of ASEAN, provided a series of recommendations for improving the efficiency and impartiality of Special Procedures, while affirming the view that SPMHs ‘are an integral part of the UN human rights system’. ASEAN suggested, inter alia, revising and updating the SPMH code of conduct and Manual of Operations, a view which was expressed by other delegations during the general debate.
Also discussed was the necessity of safeguarding the rule of law and access to justice for all in the advancement and preservation of human rights. Both the US and France (speaking on behalf of the EU) used their statements to underscore the need to protect human rights defenders from harassment. Romania, speaking on behalf of the core group on the resolution for human rights, democracy and the rule of law, welcomed the report of the Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law and stressed that ‘closing the justice gap’ is a collective issue that requires ‘a common effort from state and society’ to ensure the participation of those who are marginalised and excluded from the justice system.
General debate under item 10
During the general debate under item 10 on technical assistance and capacity-building, Paraguay delivered a joint-statement on behalf of 12 Latin American and Caribbean states, stating that in order to strengthen the capacity of States, the development of NMIRFs is essential. They encouraged the Council to recognise the establishment of NMIRFs as a key recommendation, and called for increased efforts to strengthen NMIRFs.
Pakistan, on behalf of the Like-Minded Group of countries emphasised the importance of technical support for the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development. The group of States stressed that technical assistance must be distributed in such a way that addresses underlying economic pressures, particularly in Covid-19 recovery, asserting that ‘poverty alleviation and reduction of structural inequalities within and among countries ultimately strengthen human rights protection’.
Also during the item 10 general debate, Saudi Arabia gave a statement on behalf of the GCC Group, emphasising the work of the Yemeni National Commission of Inquiry, and committing to providing more support to the National Committee ‘so that it can complete its tasks . . . investigating human rights violations in Yemen’.
Many States used their interventions to praise the Voluntary Trust Fund in ensuring the participation and visibility of LDCs and SIDS in the work of the Council. Lesotho gave a statement on behalf of former beneficiaries of the LDCs/SIDS trust fund, including Barbados, Uganda, Mauritania and Saint Kitts, praising the Trust Fund and crediting its assistance with ‘cataputl[ing] our human rights careers to new heights’. They expressed their gratitude to the secretariat of the Trust Fund, and donor states for enabling the representation of their States on the Council. Mauritius, on behalf of the Small Island Developing States, also underscored the role the Voluntary Trust Fund serves in promoting inclusivity, universality and diversity. They highlighted the draft resolution on the strengthening of the LDCs/SIDS Trust Fund, and concluded in saying, ‘We look forward to a strong re-affirmation of support to the resolution’.
Finally, Luxembourg delivered a statement on behalf of a cross-regional group of 59 States, stressing the urgent need for the Council and the wider UN to better deliver the mobilisation and on the ground implementation of technical assistance and capacity building. They stressed that the Council’s work under item 10 should serve to unite all actors behind the common purpose of working together, through cooperation and dialogue, to help States implement their human rights obligations and commitments. To do so, they proposed to bring the real-world challenges, achievements, best practices and lessons learnt, of States and other actors into the Council. They stressed that in order to reach this objective, it is crucial to create a space where all countries feel free to speak of their human rights experiences and to recognise and celebrate success and progress.
Trust fund to support the participation of LDCs and SIDS
The Trust Fund for the participation of LDCs and SIDS in the work of the Council (set up in 2012) funded the participation of one government official at HRC49, from Benin, which does not have a Permanent Mission in Geneva. The 10th anniversary of the Trust Fund was also recognised by the adoption of Council resolution A/HRC/49/L.3 at this session, which recognised the important work of the Trust Fund to ensure universal participation in the work of the Council and the support it has provided to LDCs and SIDS in the past decade.
The 49th session of the Council concluded with the adoption of 35 texts. This is four texts more than the number of texts (31) adopted at the 46th session in March 2021 or an increase of 13%.
Around 43% of tabled resolutions at HRC49 were adopted by a recorded vote. This is a slight decrease of around 7% compared with the session in March 2021.
20 (57%) of the texts adopted by the Council were thematic in nature, while 15 (43%) dealt with country-specific situations. Of the latter texts, one addressed human rights violations under agenda item 1, three under item 2, five under agenda item 4, three under item 7, while three sought to protect human rights through technical assistance and capacity building (under item 10).
In total, all resolutions adopted at HRC49 will result in seven panel discussions, the extension of eight mandates, 33 OHCHR reports, 13 interactive dialogues, and the establishment of one commission of inquiry, and one group of experts.
26 of the texts adopted by the Council (74%) had Programme Budget Implications (PBI), requiring appropriations of $24’368’000 not previously covered by the regular budget.
Analysis and conclusions
2022 was expected to be dominated, like 2021, by Sino-US rivalry. However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine ensured that the first Human Rights Council session of the year (HRC49) was instead dominated by efforts to hold Russia to account for the gross and systematic human rights violations, which may amount to war crimes, perpetrated against Ukraine’s civilian population.
At the start of the session, the Council’s response was expected to be characterised by four possible steps – or a combination thereof: an urgent debate on the situation in Ukraine, the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry (COI) to investigate Russian violations of international law, the establishment of a new Special Procedures mandate on Russia itself (e.g., to investigate the suppression of domestic dissent), and/or the suspension of Russia’s Council membership rights. In the end, only the first two of these steps materialised at the Council (though Russia’s membership was later suspended by the General Assembly on 7 April). These moves were led by the delegation of Ukraine itself, which throughout the session showed remarkable courage and dignity.
After the rapid adjustment of its programme of work, the urgent debate on Russia’s actions in Ukraine was held on 3 and 4 March. At the end of the debate, the Council passed a resolution (adopted by vote with 32 in favour, 2 against and 13 abstentions) establishing an Independent International Commission of Inquiry to investigate all alleged violations of human rights in the context of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine. In another sign of the Council’s flexibility in responding quickly to events, OHCHR and the Council President then moved quickly to appoint Commissioners and recruit technical support staff for the COI.
In the end, the Council did not appoint a new Special Procedures mandate – something pushed for by NGOs – due to political ‘bandwidth’ limitations at a single session. Nor did it, despite intensive civil society lobbying and strong support on the part of some Council members (e.g., the UK), pass a resolution recommending that the GA suspend Russia’s membership rights under the process foreseen in GA resolution 60/251. This was primarily down to a concern not to weaken the strong support shown by States for the establishment of the COI (Western States in particular – like Ukraine – were pleased with the high ‘yes’ count during voting on resolution 49/1), and a growing belief that suspension of members is a matter for the GA and that, beyond recognising that gross and systematic violations have occurred (which the Council did), the Council does not need to intervene (despite the precedent set by Libya’s suspension in 2011).
The issue of and fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine also spilled over into other Council debates and decisions. For example, Russia tabled numerous amendments to a draft resolution (L21) on the rights of persons with disabilities complaining about the exclusion of its athletes from the Paralympics (all were withdrawn after the sponsors made oral amendments to the text).
Notwithstanding the war in Ukraine, the Council also addressed various other important issues at HRC49 – both thematic and country-focused.
One of the great successes of the Council during the first decade-and-a-half of its existence was the establishment, in 2012, of a Trust Fund to support the participation of LDCs and SIDS. HRC49 saw the adoption of a resolution (L3) marking the Trust Fund’s tenth anniversary, recognising its many achievements since its operationalisation in 2014, and seeking to further strengthen the Fund’s effectiveness by: facilitating Small State participation in Council special sessions; organising briefings for LDC and SIDS delegations at the GA’s Third Committee on the Council’s work; and organising four further regional workshops. Notwithstanding, an important opportunity was missed to reinforce the Fund’s ability to support those LDCs and SIDS choosing to stand for election to the Council – as well as those that successfully secure a seat.
A further important thematic resolution adopted at HRC49 centred on the contribution of human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders, in conflict and post-conflict situations, to the enjoyment and realisation of human rights. Although Norway’s regular resolution on human rights defenders had been adopted by consensus over recent years, on this occasion Russia called a vote (China and Egypt also criticised the text) on the text – a vote it lost heavily (39 in favour, 0 against, and 8 abstentions).
Other notable thematic resolutions at HRC49 included: the prevention of genocide, with a particular focus on digital technologies and social media (Armenia); participation of persons with disabilities in sport, statistics and data collection (New Zealand and Mexico) – see above; the role of States in countering the negative impact of disinformation on the enjoyment and realisation of human rights (Ukraine, Japan, Latvia. Lithuania, Poland, UK, and US) – adopted by consensus (perhaps surprisingly); and the rights of the child (Latin America and EU), which, as has become the norm, attracted a large number of amendments (12) by socially-conservative States (led by Russia), yet was eventually adopted by consensus.
In addition to the resolution on Russian aggression in Ukraine, the Council also adopted two separate resolutions on human rights in South Sudan, one (adopted by vote with 19 in favour, 11 against and 17 abstentions – a worse vote count than the previous year) which renewed the mandate of the Commission of Human Rights in South Sudan, and one tabled by Cote d’Ivoire on behalf of the African Group and focused on capacity-building (adopted by consensus).
As always, the adoption of two separate resolutions on the same situation undermines the credibility of the Council. In future, the cosponsors of both initiatives should work together to agree a joint text that covers both accountability and technical assistance.
Feature photo: Delegates observe one minute of silence for Ukraine during 49rd regular session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. 4 March 2022. UN Photo / Jean Marc Ferré
Yvonne Dausab, Minister of Justice of Namibia during Opening High Level Segment of the 49rd regular session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. 1 March 2022. UN Photo / Jean Marc Ferré
Jean Asselborn, Ministre des Affaires étrangères et européennes de Luxembourg addresses the High Level Segment of the 49rd regular session of the Human Rights Council, Geneva. 28 February 2022. UN Photo by Violaine Martin
Martin Chungong, Secretary-General of IPU during Annual high-level panel discussion on human rights mainstreaming. 28 February 2022. UN Photo / Jean Marc Ferré
Don Pramudwinai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand (video message) during Opening High Level Segment of the 49rd regular session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. 28 February 2022. UN Photo / Jean Marc Ferré
Liudmyla Denisova, Urkrainian Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rihts during debate on the ” situation on human rights in Ukraine stemming from the Russian aggression ” at 49th regular session of the Human Rights Council. 4 March 2022. UN Photo / Jean Marc Ferré
Yevheniia Filipenko, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations Office at Geneva, addresses the 49th regular session of the Human Rights Council. UN Photo/Jean Marc Ferré 4 March 2022 Geneva, Switzerland Photo # UN7925645
Louise Mushikiwabo, Secretary-General of Francophonie during Annual high-level panel discussion on human rights mainstreaming. 28 February 2022. UN Photo / Jean Marc Ferré
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO during Annual high-level panel discussion on human rights mainstreaming. 28 February 2022. UN Photo / Jean Marc Ferré
Interactive dialogue with the independent international fact-finding mission to investigate extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment since 2014 in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Ms. Marta Valiñas, Chair of the fact-finding mission of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Credits : UN web TV, screenshot
Interactive dialogue with the fact-finding mission on Libya, Mr. Mohamed Auajjar, Chair of the fact-finding mission on Libya, Credits : UN web TV, screenshot
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