Action on Draft Amendments L.71 to L.81

Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Member States of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation except Albania, introduced amendments L.71 to L.81 to draft resolution L.2/Rev.1, saying they strongly condemned any forms of violence and discrimination against any individual or group, as illustrated by the commitments of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation against racism and discrimination and in favour of the right to development. The Member States of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, except Albania, disagreed with the content and concept of this resolution, and would not be able to support the appointment of an Independent Expert on this issue. The Council had to respect each culture and its particularities. This draft would further polarize the work of the Council, and should therefore be avoided. The Member States of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, except Albania, were therefore introducing amendments L.71 to L.81, which aimed to align the text with universally agreed language, carefully crafted on the basis of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Amendments also highlighted the need to respect cultural, religious and traditional values, while underscoring the negative effects of imposing values on others. The amendments also replaced the creation of the mandate with a request that the High Commissioner prepare a report on violence and discrimination on grounds recognized within the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, except Albania, requested that these amendments were voted on in four packages: first on L.71, L.72 and L.80, second on L.73, L.74, L.76, L.77 and L.79, third on L.78, and fourth on L.81. The Organization called on all Member States to vote in favour of these amendments.

Mexico said that the main sponsors of the resolution did not support the amendments and would call for a vote on them. Mexico formally requested that all amendments were voted on individually, one by one. Delegations had requested instructions from capitals one by one, and voting amendments in packages might lead to an environment of a lack of clarity and misleading results. The sponsors should present the amendments individually and not as packages when they had the opportunity.

The Council decided to vote on the amendments one by one.

Netherlands, speaking in a general comment on behalf of the European Union, said the concept note on the establishment of the Independent Expert had been much appreciated. Civil society organizations had made it clear that the issue needed to be addressed globally. All societies, including the European Union, faced challenges on this issue. The European Union would support L.2/Rev.1.

Saudi Arabia, speaking in a general comment, said that the universality of human rights did not mean the imposition of certain so-called human rights concepts or ideas imposed from the point of view of another party, when those ran counter to some beliefs and specificities. Protecting the universality of human rights should not go beyond the main framework of human rights and be used to interfere in the affairs of sovereign States. The draft resolution imposed a specific notion that ran counter to religions. Saudi Arabia would not compromise or barter man-made legislation against divine laws. Islam knew the true meaning of human rights. The international community had to refrain from using the Council to interfere in the affairs of other sovereign States. Such resolutions would compromise the functioning of the Council. All were called on to vote yes for the amendments.

United Kingdom, speaking in a general comment, said that the resolution would create a mandate to counter violence and discrimination and that a vote against it was a vote against the spirit of this Council. The United Kingdom noted that cultural and religious reasons were often invoked to justify violence and discrimination against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. The resolution did not request States to change their legislation or to recognize same-sex marriages; it was merely upholding the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guaranteed equal rights to all human beings. The United Kingdom urged upon all to vote for this resolution to stop violence and discrimination.

Maldives, speaking in a general comment, said that the draft resolution was divisive and endorsed the proposed amendments which sought to respect international standards and ensure the protection of all persons around the globe.

Qatar, speaking in a general comment, rejected violence and discrimination against everyone and condemned the attempts to involve the Human Rights Council in matters that did not enjoy consensus or were not part of international instruments which Member States had ratified. There were some practices which might be acceptable by some people in some communities, but it did not mean that they were acceptable in all communities and Qatar insisted on the need to recognize religious and cultural diversity among States.

United Arab Emirates, speaking in a general comment, rejected the instrumentalisation of the Council and of human rights to impose concepts that ran counter to international human rights instruments. The United Arab Emirates rejected all forms of violence and discrimination, but rejected this concept as it was contrary to its cultural identity. It called upon Members of the Council to vote in favour of the amendments introduced by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Maldives and Qatar took the floor to request that, should the amendments be rejected, the Council should hold separate votes on some parts of the draft resolution as follows: a vote on the title of the draft resolution, a vote on the preambular paragraph 4, a vote on operational paragraph 2, and a vote on operational paragraphs 3 to 7 altogether.

Action on L.71

Mexico, speaking on behalf of the core group of sponsors in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said they wished to reject the amendment which tried to transform the initiative into something else. Modifying the title was an attempt at changing the resolution. Approving the amendment would amount to erasing racism in a resolution on racism or the word albinism in a resolution on albinism.  The sponsors of the amendment were undermining all progress achieved in the field of discrimination, minorities, the rights of women, and many more. It would be a dangerous unintended consequence of the amendment. The Human Rights Council must not ignore human rights violations against persons on the basis of their sexual or gender identity. All delegations were urged to vote no on the amendment.

Slovenia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that people were being discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. No country was immune to that problem. It was the responsibility of the Human Rights Council to address that specific grave and widespread problem. The Human Rights Council had already showed it could step up to its role by addressing discrimination against people based on their specific traits.

L.71 was rejected by a vote of 17 in favour, 18 against and 9 abstentions.

Action on L.72

Mexico, speaking on behalf of the core group of sponsors in an explanation of the vote before the vote, strongly rejected amendment L.72 as it intended to change the objective and focus of the draft resolution. By removing a reference to the previous resolutions of the Human Rights Council, including 17/19 and 27/31, it would deny what the Council had already acknowledged in those texts: the existence of widespread violence and discrimination against persons on the grounds of their sexual orientation and gender identity. The draft resolution specifically built upon these Council resolutions. Mexico called for a vote and called upon all to vote against L.72.

Switzerland, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that Switzerland opposed any type of discrimination but the amendment only had one objective: to delete a reference to previous Council resolutions, including resolutions 17/19  and 27/32. Switzerland could not support the amendment.

L.72 was rejected by a vote of 17 in favour, 18 against and 9 abstentions.

Action on L.73

Mexico, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the core group of sponsors, said that amendment L.73 was completely unacceptable because it implied that the resolution as drafted was not objective and was confrontational. It was exactly the opposite. The draft resolution aimed at promoting dialogue and understanding, and had been motivated by the fact that more than 100 States from all regions had, in the context of the Universal Periodic Review, committed to address violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual violation and gender identity. Mexico called on all Member States to vote against this draft amendment.

Germany, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that this amendment was not discussed or presented during negotiations. It was vague and unclear, and implied that the co-sponsors were confrontational when they had, on the contrary, opened negotiations to all.

L.73 was adopted by a vote of 24 in favour, 17 against and 4 abstentions. By this vote, after the fourth preambular paragraph, a new paragraph will be inserted reading: Stressing the need to maintain joint ownership of the international human rights agenda and to consider human rights issues in an objective and non-confrontational manner.

Action on L.74

Mexico, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the core group of sponsors, said the sponsors were strongly committed to the fight against all forms of intolerance and discrimination. Among the different forms of intolerance and discrimination was that suffered by those on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.  Mexico expressed concern that the purpose of amendment L.74was to bring confusion into the discussion and deviate from the focus of the initiative. All were called on to vote “no” on the amendment.

Panama, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that this amendment was out of place. It was clear that it undermined the scope and force of the resolution before the Human Rights Council. Panama insisted that the Council address all human rights violations or it would be sending a negative message to all people that the Council was not capable of providing all people without distinction with protection from human rights violations.

L.74 was adopted by a vote of 23 in favour, 17 against and 5 abstentions. By this vote, after the fourth preambular paragraph, a new paragraph will be inserted reading: Undertaking to support its broad and balanced agenda, and to strengthen the mechanisms addressing issues of importance, including fighting racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in all their forms.

Action on L.75

Mexico, speaking on behalf of the core group of sponsors in an explanation of the vote before the vote, strongly rejected the proposed amendment because it misquoted the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. The international community must treat all human rights equally, and the core group reminded of the duty of States to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms. By rejecting L.75 the Council members would promote universality of human rights.

Netherlands, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that after long discussions in Vienna during the World Conference, all delegations had united on the formula that was now found in article 5 of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, which recognized the importance of national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds. It was the duty of States, regardless of their political, economic or cultural systems, to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms. This was the common standard that the States had set and the mere fact that certain practices had a long history could not be the basis for acceptance. Governments must prevent violence and discrimination against all people no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity; there was no claim of special group rights.

L.75 was adopted by a vote of 20 in favour, 18 against and 6 abstentions. By that vote, after the fourth preambular paragraph , a new paragraph will be inserted which should read: Reiterating the importance of respecting regional, cultural and religious value systems as well as particularities in considering human rights issues.

Action on Draft Amendment L.76

Mexico, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the core group of sponsors, said that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, in 1993, had recognized States’ duty to promote all human rights, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems. Any attempt to reinterpret this principle had to be strongly rejected. All people had an equal right to live free from violence and discrimination. Failure to uphold the human rights of all people and protect them against discrimination or violence constituted a serious violation of international human rights law.

Slovenia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that each State had the right to a cultural identity. However, human rights and freedoms belonged to all individuals. Human rights and fundamental freedoms could not be subjected to selective recognition or protection. Slovenia called upon all Members of the Human Rights Council to vote against this draft amendment.

L.76 was adopted by a vote of 21 in favour, 17 against and 7 abstentions. By this vote, after the fourth preambular paragraph, a new paragraph will be inserted reading: Underlining the fundamental importance of respecting relevant domestic debates at the national level on matters associated with historical, cultural, social and religious sensitivities.

Action on L.77

Mexico, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the core group of sponsors, said that the amendment misleadingly tried to introduce the false idea that the resolution tried to use economic sanctions and coercive measures to undermine the authority of States to determine and influence their own decision-making processes. The proposed amendment damaged the goal of addressing the violence and discrimination that millions of persons around the world suffered on a daily basis.

Switzerland, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the amendment introduced a false idea about the resolution. The argument of sovereignty was not valid. The heart of resolution L2/Rev.1 was to recall the right to non-discrimination for all individuals. Switzerland would vote against and urged all to do likewise.

United Kingdom, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it was the country’s opinion that the paragraph contained in the amendment had no place in the text. The resolution was about stopping violence and discrimination. The United Kingdom had a longstanding tradition to reject such coercive measures at the Human Rights Council.

L.77 was adopted by a vote of 23 in favour, 18 against and 4 abstentions. By this vote, after the fourth preambular paragraph, a new paragraph will be inserted reading: Deploring the use of external pressures and coercive measures against States, particularly developing countries, including through the use and threat of use of economic sanctions and/or application of conditionality on official development assistance, with the aim of influencing the relevant domestic debates and decision-making processes at the national level.

Action on L.78

Mexico, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on behalf of the core group of sponsors, said they rejected this amendment, which affirmed that the main sponsors were trying to impose notions or concepts pertaining to social matters. The objective of the draft resolution L.2/Rev.1 was the opposite. Violence and discrimination were not private matters; they were public issues that threatened the society as a whole. Moreover, the amendment was an offense against the victims of violence, discrimination and abuse suffered by thousands of people all over the world because of their sexual orientation or gender equality.

Netherland, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, opposed this draft amendment. The Universal Declaration on Human Rights’ spirit was to address violence and discrimination on whatever factor. The list it contained was open-ended. Every time people invented a reason to use violence or to discriminate against persons for a specific factor, the international community had to respond.

United Kingdom, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the universality of human rights was enshrined in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. The Council had the mandate to address human rights for all people, without distinction of any kind. The issue of sexual orientation or gender identity did not fall outside of this international framework. The United Kingdom urged the Council’s Member States to vote against this amendment.

The Council then adopted draft amendment L.78 by a vote of 17 in favour, 18 against, with 9 abstentions. By this vote, after the fourth preambular paragraph, a new paragraph will be inserted reading: Concerned by any attempt to undermine the international human rights system by seeking to impose concepts or notions pertaining to social matters, including private individual conduct, that fall outside the internationally agreed human rights legal framework, and taking into account that such attempts constitute an expression of disregard for the universality of human rights.

Action on L.79

Mexico, speaking on behalf of the core group of sponsors in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said they rejected the amendment and recalled that everyone was entitled to all rights and freedoms recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, without distinction of any kind. The amendment placed national sovereignty and cultural relativism over the universality of human rights. Human rights were universal and allegations of national sovereignty should not be invoked to perpetrate human rights violations. States could not hide themselves under their sovereignty, national laws, development priorities or religious or ethical values in order not to respect human rights.

Panama, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, rejected the draft amendment that imposed specific values above the norms of human rights using sovereignty as a pretext. All were born equal and free in rights and those with different sexual orientation and gender identity had those same rights. The adoption of the draft amendment would be a denial of the mandate of the Council to protect and promote human rights of all without distinction.

United Kingdom, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, opposed the draft amendment and said that the appropriate balance between cultural and religious values and universal human rights was set in article 5 of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action and had been adequately addressed by the draft resolution.  The proposed amendment was also incomplete and confusing and the United Kingdom called on members to vote against it.

Netherlands, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, opposed the draft amendment and said that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action had already established that the universality of human rights drummed particularities; sovereignty and national legislation must be tested against international obligations.

The Council then adopted draft amendment L.79 by a vote of 22 in favour, 17 against and 5 abstentions. By this vote, after the fourth preambular paragraph, a new paragraph will be inserted reading: Underlining that the present resolution should be implemented while ensuring respect for the sovereign right of each country as well as its national laws, development priorities, the various religious and ethical values and cultural backgrounds of its people, and should also be in full conformity with universally recognized international human rights.

Action on L.80

Mexico, speaking on behalf of the core group of sponsors in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said they rejected the proposed amendment because it sought to transform the draft resolution into a statement of such generality that lost the original focus and purpose. It would make the resolution irrelevant considering that the overall protection was provided under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The amendment failed to identify serious and systematic violations affecting people because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. The proposed amendment was contrary to the common condemnation of the recent killings in Orlando.

Switzerland, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, stated that L.80 weakened the original draft resolution, especially the negative consideration of violations committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. The worldwide situation was serious enough to justify the use of the word “strongly” in the beginning of the paragraph. The goal of the draft resolution was to protect human rights, rather than a matter of calling for specific rights. It aimed to highlight that there were victims of specific violations and to avoid making those persons invisible.

United Kingdom, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, opposed the proposed amendment L.80 which sought to transform the draft resolution in a way that would not deplore the violence committed against people of different sexual and gender identity. In view of the Orlando killings, the Council would send a discouraging message to the world if it adopted the amendment.

The Council then rejected the amendment L.80 with a vote of 16 in favour, 20 against, and 8 abstentions.

Action on L.81

Mexico, speaking on behalf of the core group of sponsors in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said they strongly rejected in the most unequivocal terms the draft amendment which was an attack on the heart of the resolution: it completely rewrote the resolution, deleting six paragraphs, striping all references to sexual orientation and gender identity, and eliminating the creation of a mechanism of Independent Expert. The amendment would fundamentally alter the nature and goal of the draft resolution. The report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights claimed that current arrangements to protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons were inadequate and Mexico stressed that this protection gap urgently needed to be addressed. Preventing systematic attention to issues of sexual orientation and gender identity would not reduce polarization. The core group urged all delegations to vote against the proposed amendment and give hope and dignity to millions.

United Kingdom, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the amendment sought to remove all references to the main issues of the draft resolution: violence and discrimination against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identify. By accepting this amendment, States were condoning violence, which could include death. Tragically, there had been reports of gay men being attacked and beaten simply for supporting the victims of the Orlando attack. This should not be a North-South issue, many southern countries had taken leadership on the issue. The amendment sought to remove protection from those who needed it the most. The resolution would facilitate dialogue and would fill the protection gap for some of the most vulnerable individuals.

Switzerland, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said Switzerland would vote against the proposed amendment which was completely unacceptable because it sought to make completely invisible the people who suffered violence and discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Russian Federation, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, supported draft amendment L.81. Introducing new grounds for discrimination would only cause problems and confrontation within the Council, and would not contribute to joint efforts by the international community to promote and protect human rights. Russia called on all Member States to vote in favour of this draft amendment.

Netherlands, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, completely opposed this amendment, and did not agree that concepts of discrimination or violence on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity were introduced by the co-sponsors. These concepts were introduced by the perpetrators of such discrimination or violence, and deserved specific attention from the Council and from an Independent Expert.  This issue had to be addressed nationally and internationally.

The Council then rejected draft amendment L.81 by a vote of 17 in favour, 19 against, with 8 abstentions.