In a resolution (A/HRC/C/L.35) on the protection of the family: the role of the family in supporting the protection and promotion of human rights of persons with disabilities, adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, 12 against, with 3 abstentions, the Council reaffirms that the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society, and is entitled to protection by society and the State; calls upon States to recognize in their policy and legal frameworks the important role played by families in caring for and supporting persons with disabilities; urges States, in accordance with their respective obligations under international human rights law, to provide the family, as the natural and fundamental group unit of society, with effective protection, support and assistance; and decides to convene, with the support of the High Commissioner, before the thirty-fourth session of the Human Rights Council, a one-day intersessional seminar on the impact of the implementation by States of their obligations under relevant provisions of international human rights law with regard to the protection of the family on the role of the family in supporting the protection and promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities, and to discuss challenges and best practices in this regard.
The result of the vote was as follows:
In favour (32): Algeria, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botswana, Burundi, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Paraguay, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Togo, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, and Viet Nam.
Against (12): Albania, Belgium, France, Germany, Latvia, Netherlands, Panama, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, Switzerland, and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Abstentions (3): Georgia, Mexico, and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Egypt, introducing the draft resolution on behalf of a cross-regional core group, said that the family was an undisputable social, cultural, moral, and religious value that should be celebrated and nurtured. The draft resolution addressed the role and the potential of the family in supporting the rights of persons with disabilities as well as many other aspects of the same topic. Key foundations of the draft resolution from previous years were enumerated; they included the status of the family under international law and its role, including in fostering social cohesion and preserving societies’ values, morals, cultural heritage and value system. The draft also reaffirmed equality between women and men in the family. It continued to impose no one-size-fits-all definition of the family and left that matter to the discretion of each State and society. The main sponsors had avoided ambiguous language on diverse forms of family. It was hoped that the Council would adopt the draft resolution as tabled without any changes.
Belarus, also in introduction of draft resolution L.35 on behalf of the co-sponsors, said it was important to pay attention to the family. The family was the center of life, and played an important role in sustainable development. In adoption of the draft resolution, the Human Rights Council would be strengthening the role of the family. The co-sponsors were convinced that the family could unite all, regardless of the definition it was given in national legislation. The diversity of the group of co-sponsors was proof of that fact.
Qatar, also introducing draft resolution L.35 on behalf of the co-sponsors, said today marked the tenth anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which emphasised the role of the family as a caregiver for persons with disabilities. The draft resolution called on States to recognize and further enhance the role of the family. Unfortunately due to a stance on behalf of some States, consensus could not be reached.
Action on amendments L.82, L.83, L.84, L.89
United Kingdom, introducing the amendments, said it was compelled to introduce amendment L.82 which would state that various forms of family existed. That amendment did not specify various forms of family and it did not seek to define family. It used United Nations agreed language. It was a shame that States tried to backtrack on the previously agreed terminology. The United Kingdom called on Council Member States to vote for amendment L.82. As for amendment L.83, it proposed a change in the reference to “families”. Individuals in families were those who had to take action. The amendment also suggested deletion of the reference to the 2030 Agenda for Development because there was no reference to family in the Agenda. The Council should not be used to renegotiate the 2030 Agenda. Amendment L.84 reflected the fact that family was not recognized as a rights holder in international law. It was individuals who were rights holders. The United Kingdom called on Council Members to support those amendments in separate votes.
Switzerland, also introducing the amendments, explained that the amendment proposed the change of “family” to “families”, Switzerland was a strong supporter of families and their contribution to the strengthening of societies. In different political and cultural systems, different forms of families existed, which the draft resolution did not recognize. If true progress was to be made, that had to be taken into account. Likewise, the draft resolution aimed to protect the family as such, but not to protect human rights of family members in different family contexts without discrimination. Switzerland thus called for Council Members to vote for amendment L.89.
Russia, speaking in a general comment on behalf of the main co-sponsors, said amendment L.82 had no relevance and compromised the delicate balance on which the draft resolution had been built. The draft resolution neither prescribed a definition for a family, nor imposed single or multiple forms of the family. It already recognized the diversity of families, including single mothers, child-headed families, and families with members with disabilities. This amendment had been proposed both in 2014 and 2015, and the Human Rights Council had not even wanted to consider it. Though the amendment looked innocent, its main problem was that it included an open ended invitation for incestuous arrangements, child marriages and other arrangements where human rights could not flourish. The Human Rights Council could not be used as a cover for violations of human rights. The co-sponsors strongly rejected amendment L.82 and called on all Member States of the Human Rights Council to vote against this hostile amendment.
Qatar, speaking in a general comment on behalf of the main co-sponsors, said amendment L.83 denied that the family had a huge role to play as a development actor, and that it was a driving force for educational development. The family would continue to have a positive role in sustainable development. The main co-sponsors rejected amendment L.83 and called on Council Members to vote against it.
Saudi Arabia, speaking in a general comment on behalf of the main co-sponsors, said that amendment L.84 could not be accepted. The family had a great role, including in moral, emotional, material and spiritual support. The family continued to have a role in the promotion and protection of human rights. The amendment failed to capture this role, through family contributions, community support and inter-familiar arrangements. Although the second part of the amendment looked harmless, it totally changed the topic and scope of the draft resolution. The sponsors therefore rejected amendment L.84 and called on all Member States to vote against it.
Morocco, also speaking on behalf of the co-sponsors in a general comment, said that the family was a vital institution for individuals and the closest environment in which human beings grew up, including those with disability. Several international instruments encouraged States to support the members of the family, and the proposal to change the title of the resolution would restrict the protection provided to persons with disabilities. The purpose of the draft resolution was to strengthen the protection and promotion of human rights by strengthening the role of the family. Morocco called upon the Council members to vote against the proposed amendments.
Nigeria, speaking in a general comment, was dedicated to the protection of marriage and family and that was why Nigeria was supporting the draft resolution, particularly because the draft resolution reminded Member States of their duty to protect the family as a fundamental unit of society. However, Nigeria was deeply worried by the opposition launched by draft amendments. The family was the first protector of children’s rights and Nigeria strongly rejected the draft amendment and encouraged other States to vote against it.
United Arab Emirates, speaking in a general comment, said that children had to grow in a balanced family atmosphere. The family was a basic natural unit of society and any attempt to change this arrangement was going against nature. Cultural background and cultural and religious specificities must be taken into account when various issues were being tackled in the Council. The Council was a forum for a positive dialogue between different cultures and religions. The United Arab Emirates would reject all amendments.
Saudi Arabia, speaking in a general comment, said that the protection of the family unit was essential for protecting cultural and religious beliefs, as well as morality. The term “family” was recognized in international law, and Saudi Arabia did not understand the added value of amendments put forward. On the contrary, they compromised the protection of the family and its members. All delegations should vote against these amendments.
Algeria, speaking in a general comment, said that this draft resolution was inspired by major human rights texts, which recognized the centrality of the family unit within societies. Algeria supported the resolution, and would vote in favour of it. It would vote against the proposed draft amendments.
Bangladesh, speaking in a general comment, said that both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights clearly recognized the importance of the family and its members. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as the Universal Declaration on Human Rights also recognized this importance. Opposition to this resolution was therefore incomprehensible. The family, as a natural unit of society, had an important role to play to contribute to development. The text also sought to better protect members of family with disabilities.
Namibia, speaking in a general comment, said the family as a fundamental group in society was entitled to protection. It was essential to give the family a role to ensure the promotion and protection of rights of persons with disabilities. Numerous documents and organizations had recognised that families had a role in this respect. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities underlined that family members should receive assistance to enable the realisation of full rights for persons with disabilities. Families included all types of families, including single-headed families. The resolution did not endeavour to define families. Therefore Namibia requested States to support this draft resolution.
Maldives, speaking in a general comment, said the family had an important role, and the future generations should be fully protected. The draft resolution emphasized the important role played by the family. More attention needed to be paid to the promotion and protection of persons with disabilities, especially within the family. This was reflected in the draft resolution which recognised the role of families in this respect. Therefore the Maldives would vote against the amendments and for the draft resolution.
Slovenia, speaking in a general comment, recognized the value of families that contributed to the strengthening of societies. However, family policies should support all families, no matter their shape or size. Individuals, including those without a family, must enjoy equal protection by the State. Families had to protect the rights of the child, including the vulnerable, elderly and persons with disabilities. They had to promote gender equality. The draft resolution did not emphasise the rights of individuals within families, and did not encompass all families. Therefore Slovenia would vote against the draft resolution, and in favour of the amendments.
Kenya, speaking in a general comment, recognized the importance of the family as a natural environment for growth and nurturing of all its members, particularly the vulnerable such as children and persons with disabilities. The Kenyan Constitution was acclaimed as one of the most progressive, domesticated binding international treaties and defined family as the basic unit of society and recognized the right of every adult person to marry a person of the opposite sex. Any attempt to alter such understanding of the family was not acceptable, and Kenya called on the Council’s members to support the draft resolution without amendments.
Indonesia, speaking in a general comment, said that the draft resolution recognized the challenges facing the family and aimed to protect members with disabilities from any violations, including within the family. The family was clearly defined in Indonesia as a fundamental unit in society that had a crucial role to contribute to development. Indonesia hoped that the draft resolution could be adopted by consensus without any changes.
Qatar, speaking in a general comment, said that the protection of the family was automatically the protection of all individuals in societies. The family had a particular role to play in the protection of its members who needed special protection, such as children or the elderly. The draft resolution placed a particular emphasis on the right of children with disabilities and their equal right to family life and proposed strengthening the role of the family and so achieving the international goals contained in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Côte d’Ivoire, speaking in a general comment, called upon States parties to support this draft resolution, which was based on key provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. States had to provide the family with effective means to address the needs of persons with disabilities therein. Côte d’Ivoire was convinced of the relevance of this issue within the Council. Member States should vote against the proposed amendments.
Belgium, speaking in a general comment, said that rights holders were individuals, and as such members of the family. It was important to note that families existed in various forms. Belgium was attached to the protection of persons with disabilities, and to protect women and children within the family. Culture or religion should not be used in any way to justify violence against members of the family.
Action on Draft Amendment L.82
Russian Federation, in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the sponsors, urged all delegations to vote against this draft amendment.
The Council then rejected draft amendment L.82 by a vote of 16 in favour, 25 against, with 4 abstentions.
Action on Draft Amendment L.83
Russia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the sponsors, called upon all members of the Human Rights Council who supported draft resolution L.35 to vote against amendment L.83.
The Council then rejected draft amendment L.83 by a vote of 13 in favour, 27 against and 5 abstentions.
Action on Draft Amendment L.84
Russia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the sponsors of the draft resolution on the protection of the family, urged all members of the Human Rights Council to vote against amendment L.84.
The Council then rejected draft amendment L.84 by a vote of 14 in favour, 27 against and 4 abstentions.
Action on Draft Amendment L.89
Russia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the sponsors, urged all members of the Human Rights Council to vote against amendment L.89.
The Council then rejected draft amendment L.89 by a vote of 14 in favour, 27 against and 4 abstentions.
Action on Draft Resolution L.35
United Kingdom, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that its requests had been simple and clear, and listed some requests made. They had also asked to delete an incorrect reference to the 2030 Agenda. The family as a unit was not a rights-holder under international law; rights were held by individuals. The United Kingdom was therefore calling for a vote and would urge Council members to vote against this resolution.
Mexico, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, reaffirmed its commitment to development and to the organization of the family. Mexico also recognized the rights of each Member State of the Council to present draft resolutions. Initiatives with restrictive issues negatively affected the impression of the quality of work undertaken by the Human Rights Council. For Mexico, it was important that the Human Rights Council protected different types of families and their members. In Mexico there were numerous types of family structures, including single parent households, civil law and same-sex marriages. Mexico was concerned that the resolution treated persons with disabilities in a partial manner, not recognizing their autonomy as recognized in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. L.35 did draw from that Convention, but quoted that instrument only partially. Mexico was concerned about the precedent that could be set. Mexico lamented that constructive amendments had been rejected.
Panama, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, expressed concern about the fact that the text had a restrictive focus and did not adequately address the rights and equality of women and children. Members of the family were individual rights-holders, said Panama, adding that the language on different forms of families had already been agreed by this Council. Panama would vote against this draft resolution.
The Council adopted draft resolution L.35 by a vote of 32 in favour, 12 against and 3 abstentions.
GENERAL DEBATE ON HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATIONS THAT REQUIRE THE COUNCIL’S ATTENTION
GENERAL DEBATE ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE VIENNA DECLARATION AND PROGRAMME OF ACTION
GENERAL DEBATE ON THE PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF ALL HUMAN RIGHTS
GENERAL DEBATE ON THE REPORT OF THE HIGH COMMISSIONER OF HUMAN RIGHTS
INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE ON EXTREME POVERTY
INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE ON FREEDOM OF PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY AND OF ASSOCIATION
INTERATIVE DIAGLOGUE ON THE RIGHT TO HEALTH
UN COMMISSION OF INQUIRY ON SYRIA: ISIS IS COMMITTING GENOCIDE AGAINST YAZIDIS
UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW
Action on Draft Amendments L.71 to L.81
Action on Draft Resolution L.2/Rev.1
Action on Non-Action Motion
Action on Operative Paragraph 2
Action on the Title of Draft Resolution L.2/Rev.1
Introduction of the Resolution
Separate Action on Operative Paragraphs 3 To 7
Action on the Amendments L.82, L.83, L.84 L.89
Action on Draft Resolution L.35
Action on Amendments L.52, L.53, L.54, L.55, L.56, L.59, L.60, L.61, L.62, L.63, L.64, L.65
Action on the Resolution on Civil Society Space
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