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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADOPTS UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW OUTCOMES OF SPAIN AND KUWAIT, AND HOLDS ENHANCED INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE ON SUDAN

Meeting Summaries

The Human Rights Council this morning adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcomes of Spain and Kuwait, and held an enhanced interactive dialogue on progress towards opening a country office in Sudan.

Cristobal Gonzales-Aller Jurado, Permanent Representative of Spain to the United Nations Office at Geneva, reiterated Spain’s will to maintain all communication channels open. After analysing the recommendations in great depth, Spain had decided to accept in full 252 of the recommendations received, equivalent to 91 per cent of the total. The recommendations that Spain accepted were those with which it agreed and which it could implement.

Speakers thanked Spain for its engagement in the Universal Periodic Review process, and welcomed the policy of integrating migrants, refugees and asylum seekers on an equal footing. Some speakers regretted that recommendations on the exploitation of the resources of the non-self-governing territory of Western Sahara were only partially accepted by Spain.

Speaking were Egypt, Iraq, Mauritania, Namibia, Nepal, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Qatar, Russian Federation, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Viet Nam and Afghanistan.

The following civil society organizations also took the floor : World Evangelical Alliance, Réseau Européen pour l'Égalité des Langues, Article 19 - International Centre Against Censorship, Society for Threatened Peoples, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, Amnesty International, Asociacion HazteOir.org, Institut de Drets Humans de Catalunya, Health and Environment Program, and Iraqi Development Organization.

The Vice-President of the Council informed that out of 275 recommendations received by Spain, 252 enjoyed the support of Spain and 10 were noted. Additional clarification was provided on another 13 recommendations, which were accepted/noted.

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Spain.

Jamal Al-Ghunaim, Permanent Representative of Kuwait to the United Nations Office at Geneva, noted that out of a total of 302 recommendations, Kuwait had accepted 230, taking note of 12, partially supporting 6, and rejecting 54. The majority of rejections related to recurring recommendations that contravened the Constitution and the Islamic Sharia law. Acceptance fell in line with the commitment to the Constitution, and most of the recommendations were already being implemented.

Speakers noted that the report before the Council was more proof of Kuwait’s strong commitment to human rights, setting an example to be followed. Speakers were pleased that Kuwait accepted the majority of recommendations. The restrictions on the rights of Bedouins, stateless persons, human rights defenders and non-Kuwaiti citizens were highlighted by other speakers.

Speaking were Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Mongolia, Morocco and Myanmar.

The following civil society organizations also took the floor : International Council Supporting Fair Trial and Human Rights, Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, Amnesty International, Iraqi Development Organization, Villages Unis, Health and Environment Program, Alsalam Foundation, and Africa Culture Internationale.

The Vice-President of the Council informed that out of 302 recommendations received, 230 enjoyed the support of Kuwait and 66 were noted. Additional clarification was provided on another 6 recommendations, indicating which part of the recommendations was supported and which part was noted.

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Kuwait.

The Council also held an enhanced interactive dialogue on the oral reports by the Government of the Sudan and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on progress towards the opening of a country office.

Nada Al-Nashif, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, stated that after the swift deployment of a start-up team in December 2019 to Khartoum, the country office was now operational and included nine staff. The office in Sudan worked in close coordination with the Human Rights Section of the United Nations-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur, based in Darfur, and had been participating in discussions on the creation of the new United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan.

Osman Abufatima Adam Mohammed, Deputy Permanent Representative and Chargé d’affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of Sudan to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said the Transitional Government that was formed on September 5, 2019, had put the promotion of human rights at the top of its agenda. It was working towards signing and ratifying international human rights agreements which Sudan had not yet joined.

In the ensuing enhanced dialogue, speakers regretted that Sudan remained on the list of States sponsoring international terrorism, and praised the ongoing democratic change in Sudan in general and in particular its women and youth, the efforts and sacrifices of whom had led Sudan back on track in terms of peace, democratic governance, respect of human rights and economic recovery.

Speaking were State of Palestine on behalf of the Arab Group, European Union, Burkina Faso on behalf of the African Group, Norway on behalf of a group of countries, Germany, Togo, United Nations Children's Fund, Libya, China, Saudi Arabia, France, Russian Federation, Senegal, Venezuela, Tunisia, Qatar, Australia, Iran, Jordan, Morocco, Bahrain, Czech Republic, Iraq, Netherlands, Ireland, Egypt, Yemen, United Arab Emirates (video message), Switzerland, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, United Kingdom, Sierra Leone, Pakistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, South Africa, Somalia and Mauritania.

The following civil society organizations also took the floor : Christian Solidarity Worldwide, World Evangelical Alliance, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada, United Nations Watch, and Rencontre Africaine Pour la Defense des droits de l'homme.

The Council will next meet at 12 :45 p.m. to hear a presentation of an oral update on the human rights situation in Georgia, and to hold an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. It will also continue the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia.

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Spain

Documentation

The Council has before it the Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review on Spain (A/HRC/44/7).

The Council has before it the Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review on Spain – Addendum (A/HRC/44/7/Add.1).

Presentation by Spain

CRISTOBAL GONZALEZ-ALLER JURADO, Permanent Representative of Spain to the United Nations Office at Geneva , reiterated Spain’s will to maintain all communication channels open. After analysing the recommendations in great depth, Spain had decided to accept in full 252 of the recommendations received, equivalent to 91 per cent of the total. The recommendations that Spain accepted were those with which it agreed and which it could implement. In addition, Spain partially accepted 13 recommendations, which it agreed with in general terms, but which it could only partially implement. In addition, this category included recommendations that could be divided, a part of which was accepted and the other noted. Finally, Spain took note of 10 recommendations.

Last June, the Government had approved the draft organic law for the comprehensive protection of children and adolescents against violence. In relation to the recommendations that reflected concern about poverty rates, last May the Government had launched the so-called minimum vital income. It was a policy of social inclusion based on a social security benefit that aimed to eradicate poverty and promote participation in the labour market and social inclusion of people in vulnerable situations. It was estimated that it would benefit 850,000 households and 2.3 million people. Spain would continue to adopt measures to advance in the fulfilment of the 2030 Agenda, to face the profound demographic changes that the world was experiencing, and to protect the environment and fight with climate change.

Discussion

Speakers thanked Spain for its engagement in the Universal Periodic Review process, and welcomed the policy of integrating migrants, refugees and asylum seekers on an equal footing. Some speakers regretted that recommendations on the exploitation of the resources of the non-self-governing territory of Western Sahara were only partially accepted by Spain. There should be no excuse to participate in the illegal exploitation of the resources of the people of Western Sahara. Some speakers found Spain’s achievements in gender parity encouraging. Speakers welcomed the acceptance of recommendations on child protection and on prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence and trafficking.

The Vice-President of the Council informed that out of 275 recommendations received by Spain, 252 enjoyed the support of Spain and 10 were noted. Additional clarification was provided on another 13 recommendations, which were accepted/noted.

Concluding Remarks

CRISTOBAL GONZALEZ-ALLER JURADO, Permanent Representative of Spain to the United Nations Office at Geneva , said he was very grateful for the constructive interventions made at this meeting. Spain would submit an interim report in order to facilitate the follow-up to the accepted recommendations. Furthermore, Spain intended to align the 275 recommendations received with the Sustainable Development Goals. Spain agreed with delegates’ positive assessment of the Universal Periodic Review as an exercise in transparency, reflection and awareness raising.

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Spain.

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Kuwait

Documentation

The Council has before it the Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review on Kuwait (A/HRC/44/17).

The Council has before it the Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review on Kuwait – Addendum (A/HRC/44/17/Add.1).

The Council has before it the Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review on Kuwait – Addendum (A/HRC/44/17/Add.1).

Presentation by Kuwait

JAMAL AL-GHUNAIM, Permanent Representative of Kuwait to the United Nations Office at Geneva , said that out of a total of 302 recommendations, Kuwait had accepted 230, taking note of 12, partially supporting 6, and rejecting 54. The majority of the rejections related to recurring recommendations that contravened the Constitution and the Islamic Sharia law. Accepted recommendations fell in line with Kuwait’s commitment to the Constitution, and most of these recommendations were already being implemented. Kuwait enjoyed peace, security, and social and economic prosperity, attracting many migrants seeking work. In light of this, human rights and the rule of law were a priority. Post-COVID-19 life was much more different than it was before, as Kuwait worked tirelessly to take on all the challenges that the pandemic had created.

Kuwait’s ambitions were greater than its current achievements when it came to human rights, and it was working tirelessly towards them. It was important to note that longstanding and mature democracies also had shortcomings. Due to the difficult and unstable regional environment, the Council was an opportunity for Kuwait to tap into the experiences and observations of the Council’s members, which was why Kuwait had been eager to submit the national report in this session rather than postponing it. As such, Kuwait was open to all non-politicised criticism, stressing the need to enforce human rights in order to achieve sustainable development.

Discussion

Speakers noted that the report before the Council was yet more proof of Kuwait’s strong commitment to human rights, setting an example to be followed. Speakers were pleased that Kuwait had accepted the majority of recommendations. The continued promotion of gender equality and the development of an employment strategy providing training for persons with disabilities by Kuwait were particularly welcomed. Other speakers noted that the national human rights bureau, which was established in 2015, had been disbanded by the Government and had not been involved in producing the report, making it less credible. The restrictions on the rights of Bedouins, stateless persons, human rights defenders and non-Kuwaiti citizens were highlighted by speakers.

The Vice-President of the Council informed that out of 302 recommendations received, 230 enjoyed the support of Kuwait and 66 were noted. Additional clarification was provided on another 6 recommendations, indicating which part of the recommendations was supported and which part was noted.

Concluding Remarks

JAMAL AL-GHUNAIM, Permanent Representative of Kuwait to the United Nations Office at Geneva , in his concluding remarks, thanked all for their comments, and thanked some non-governmental organizations for their objective comments and constructive criticism, noting that they would be taken into account. The universality of human rights did not mean harming the beliefs and religious and cultural values of peoples, and it was no longer possible for some to continue attempts to impose their values and culture under the pretext of universal human rights. The cooperation of the State of Kuwait with the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, and its support today for most of the recommendations, clearly expressed its commitment to human rights.

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Kuwait.

Enhanced Interactive Dialogue on Sudan

Documentation

The Council has before it the Resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council on 27 September 2019 on technical assistance and capacity-building to further improve human rights in the Sudan (A/HRC/RES/42/35).

Opening Statements

NADA AL-NASHIF, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, stated that after the swift deployment of a start-up team in December 2019 to Khartoum, the country office was now operational and included nine staff, working on six key areas that matched the Government’s priorities, namely : (1) Advancing sustainable development through human rights (2) Strengthening rule of law and accountability, (3) Enhancing participation and protecting civic space, (4) Enhancing equality and countering discrimination, (5) Preventing violations and strengthening protection of human rights, and (6) Increasing implementation of outcomes of international human rights mechanisms.

The office in Sudan worked in close coordination with the human rights section of the United Nations-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur, based in Darfur, and had been participating in discussions on the creation of the new United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan. The Government of Sudan had taken bold steps to enhance the promotion and protection of human rights in the country, including through the repeal of the Public Order Law in November 2019. The Attorney General was encouraged to take appropriate actions to ensure the prompt conclusion of the investigations of grave human rights violations and crimes of the past.

OSMAN ABUFATIMA ADAM MOHAMMED, Deputy Permanent Representative and Chargé d’affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of Sudan to the United Nations Office at Geneva , said that the Transitional Government that was formed on September 5, 2019, had put the promotion of human rights at the top of its agenda. It was working towards signing and ratifying international human rights agreements which Sudan had not yet joined. Sudan reaffirmed its full cooperation with the various human rights mechanisms. Extremely complicated economic difficulties due to wars, conflicts, boycotts and the sanctions, and Sudan’s continued inclusion in the list of terrorism-sponsoring countries had prevented the country from obtaining funding from international institutions. The Transitional Government had inherited this deteriorating economic and institutional situation, which had greatly limited its ability to overcome the challenges. Sudan was looking forward to becoming a model of democratic transition through its cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and would like to extend special thanks to the countries that had contributed to supporting and financing the process of opening the office.

Discussion

Speakers regretted that Sudan remained on the list of States sponsoring international terrorism, and praised the ongoing democratic change in Sudan in general and in particular its women and youth, the efforts and sacrifices of whom had led Sudan back on track in terms of peace, democratic governance, respect of human rights and economic recovery. Some speakers called for an end to be put to the mandate of the Independent Expert on Sudan. Speakers were convinced that the technical assistance offered by the Office of the High Commissioner and the important reporting to this Council were contributing to the sustainability of reforms in Sudan. The slow pace of debt relief by international financial institutions and the COVID-19 pandemic were worrying factors.

Attention was drawn to the ongoing violation of rights of children by armed groups, human rights violations in Darfur, and violence against protesters. Speakers noted that the creation of the national commission of religious freedom was an important step, calling for the return of property seized from religious groups. Speakers also expressed hope that the authorities would strike off article 152 on public decency of the criminal code that was often used to harass women in relation to their clothing, given the encouraging actions already taken by the Government. It was noted that protests continued across the country, with security forces responding with violence, and speakers urged the authorities to prioritise justice.

Concluding Remarks

NADA AL-NASHIF, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, noted that the agreement with Sudan was open-ended, something that strengthened the mandate. The office was keen to work with actors on the ground on the protection of civilians in Darfur once the local office was established. The Government had addressed demands made in protests in central Darfur, but more such action was needed.

OSMAN ABUFATIMA ADAM MOHAMMED, Deputy Permanent Representative and Chargé d’affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of Sudan to the United Nations Office at Geneva , expressed his appreciation for the ongoing cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Sudanese revolution had been praised by the Council, with the restoration of peace and negotiations in Juba being the current priorities. Transitional justice was one of the primary objectives, and while challenges in fighting all forms of violence existed, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, ending impunity was a key goal.

 

HRC20.077E