The threat to the functioning of the Council

The implications of the fact that the resolution was passed was outlined in dark terms most strongly by Morocco:

Mr. President, I am taking the floor in a session which is considered a historical one and I do feel very sad and very bitter. We are celebrating the 10th anniversary for the establishment of the Human Rights Council, and we thought that such an occasion would be one that will allow us to send clear messages to our communities and to this world that is marred by terrorism, extremism and migration of all forms. We do think that this Council is responsible for building major consensus amongst all civilizations so that we develop human rights and defend the noble principles of human rights.

In this session, Mr. President, and while we have looked at the results of the vote, we would like to register today and record that we are facing a very divided Council. So this Council is sending a wrong message which will be distorting and will create an ambiguity for the youth.

So, we are talking about the universality, when the common ground between human civilizations is achieved, whereas today we are facing a draft resolution that is against the values and the beliefs of at least 1.5 billion that belong to one civilization. So what is the message that we would like to send this civilization and religious community?

Mr. President, Islam is against violence. It gives all dignity to human beings and refuses all abuses. And Morocco, as a Muslim State believing in human rights, shared and participated in number of initiatives taken by this Council trying to get the positions closer and to get the human rights to win at the end. But today we are calling upon the members to vote against this draft resolution just to preserve the credibility of the Council.

We are at a very dangerous turning point. This vote and this session will be the beginning of a very dark period in the life of the Council where two-thirds of humanity and humankind will feel that they are outside the Council and that the Council is not taking into account their own convictions and feelings and the values they are condoning.

This is why we vote against the draft resolution as we think this will protect the universality of the principles of human rights. We want to vote like this because we want to preserve the Human Rights Council. If given time, the Council will undoubtedly lead to a consensus I think amongst all members. The world is going through a very serious, acute period and we don’t want the Council to enter into a war between civilizations and religions, as the duty of the Council is to build upon, to draw on values that are common to all civilizations. And at least today, and in light of the outcome of the votes, we have to have this courage to say that this draft resolution will lead us to polarization to the vision and dissension, and this does not serve at all human rights and does not put an end to any injustice. My delegation that is participating with you and with other members on a lot of other initiatives will still vote against this resolution.

In the immediate context of the SOGI resolution it would take the form of non-cooperation with the Mandate Holder once the Mandate holder took office. This was articulated explicitly by Indonesia, Algeria and Russia before the vote and by UAE, Egypt, Qatar and the OIC after the vote.

Indonesia said:

Furthermore, in line with our position, we would like to put that in record that we are not in the position to support, cooperate or engage with the mandate holder created for it. I thank you Mr. President.

Russia said:

The Russian Federation will vote against the resolution on this post of an Independent Expert on issues of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and will not cooperate with it is it is established.

Algeria said:

This is why we will vote against this resolution that we consider that it distracts us from the noble principles upon which the Council has been built. And we refuse to deal with any such Independent Expert if such expert is created.

In explanation after the vote the same position was again outlined by a range of states:

United Arab Emirates, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that the adoption of the resolution was a dangerous precedent. It would bring the Human Rights Council closer to exploiting human rights for the promotion of secondary rights. Despite the importance of the resolution, it was a provocation for many communities. The group in question did not respect the traditions. Hence, the United Arab Emirates did not accept the mechanism that had been created and did not plan to cooperate with it.

Qatar, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, except Albania, held that the values of non-violence were important. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation believed that protection against violence should be given to all. At the same time, it stated that the concepts and new language in the draft resolution held no place in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights instruments. The adoption of topics not universally agreed upon, that directly impinged on the social culture and the religious sensitivities of Member States of the United Nations, compromised the work of the Human Rights Council.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation believed that the passage of this draft resolution and the establishment of an Independent Expert on the protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, in an act of cultural superiority, imposed one set of values on the rest of the world. The Organization called for respect of cultural, historic and religious backgrounds and particularities which were clearly set in the two Covenants. The countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, except Albania, would not recognise the mandate created by the resolution, would boycott the Independent Expert, would not be in position to cooperate with that person.

Egypt was alarmed over the adoption of the deeply flawed L.2.Rev.1, which aimed to establish new rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. The Council did not have the legislative power to create new rights, stressed Egypt. Egypt would not recognize nor would it cooperate with the Independent Expert emanating from L.2.Rev.1.

Iran, speaking on L.2.Rev.1, reiterated its commitment to pursue a variety of approaches to protect human rights against violence and discrimination, but any approach should address basic social or religious norms and values of communities. Iran would not cooperate with the mandate holder which this resolution had brought about.

What is being articulated by the OIC states as well as Russia is that the founding mandate of the Human Rights Council, GA Res 60/251 will no more be the framework within which states will operate.

In operative paragraph 4 of GA Res 60/251 establishing the Council the principles which should guide the work of the Council are elaborated:

Decides further  that the work of the Council shall be guided by the principles of universality, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity, constructive international dialogue and cooperation, with a view to enhancing the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development;

The decision to not cooperate with the mandate holder does grave damage to the founding principle of ‘constructive international dialogue and cooperation’. The further question is, once this attitude of disregarding founding norms takes root, will it institutionalize ways of dealing with conflicting viewpoints in the Council?

These fears seem to be anticipated by the High Commissioner in his address to the 32 Session of the Human Rights Council:

And yet the workable space in which we function as one community – resolving disputes, coming to consensus – is under attack. The common sets of laws, the institutions – and deeper still, the values – which bind us together, are buckling. And suffering most from this onslaught are our fellow human beings – your people – who bear the brunt of the resulting deprivation, misery, injustice, and bloodshed.