Expressing alarm at the humanitarian situation inside the war-torn Sudanese region of Darfur, the United Nations Human Rights Council today called on all parties to immediately end their violations of human rights and other international laws.
Continuing its second session in Geneva, the 47-member body agreed – by a vote of 25 to 11, with 10 abstentions – as part of the same decision to press all groups which have not yet done so to sign the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA), and to ensure full and unfettered access to the monitors of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
The opposing countries – Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United Kingdom – had earlier sought amendments to the text which would have underscored the responsibility of the Khartoum Government to protect all Sudanese against violations, and mentioned the need to end impunity. Those amendments were rejected by a vote of 20 in favour to 22 against with four abstentions.
In another action, earlier today the Council adopted a resolution, without a vote, encouraging the OHCHR to undertake a study on reforming the treaty body system, consulting the views of individual States and others in the process.
Two draft texts on impunity and freedom of opinion and expression were postponed to a future session.
Yesterday afternoon the Council adopted a resolution – by a vote of 45 to one (Canada), with one abstention (Cameroon) – calling on Israel to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 and to reverse its settlement policy in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan.
Speaking to reporters today at UN Headquarters in New York, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the Council had focused too much on the actions of Israel since it began work earlier this year – replacing the discredited Commission on Human Rights – and needed to expand its scope to consider other crisis situations as well.
“I think they should be encouraged to look at their mandate much more critically,” he said.
The Council also took decisions yesterday on: encouraging greater cooperation between OHCHR and Afghanistan and Nepal; human rights and arbitrary deprivation of nationality; and persons deprived of liberty in the context of counter-terrorism measures.
When the Council resumes sitting tomorrow, it is expected to formally conclude its second session and begin work on its third session.