EU waters down UN Human Rights Council resolution on Syria

In advance of today’s UN Human Rights Council emergency session on Syria, the EU apparently watered down it draft resolution to include a reference to Syria’s “territorial integrity.”  See UN Watch’s rush summary below. Friday’s talks are summarized here.


Informal Consultations for SS on Syria

August 22, 2011, 9:30 am

President of the Meeting (EU):

Make brief recommendations and then we will re-consider it. This new text has the support of the co-sponsors. Some of the changes are:

  • The title of the resolution has been changed. There have been various changes and some PP’s deleted.
  • A PP10 has been added to address territorial integrity despite resistance in the EU group and it not being strictly human rights law language, but they made a comprise. This is consensus language of a previous resolution so should be no problem.
  • There are also requests for calls on both sides, many delegations are against “Calls on both sides” as human right obligations are upon the authorities and this is the usual way to proceed. But, they added “ Calls for an immediate end to all violence” which refers to violence on all sides.
  • On OP8- has “Call for dialogue” which remains.
  • “Occurred recently”.
  • Considering first report of Commission of Inquiry- we cannot wait for 2012, we want something soon so to take on board the procedural concerns voiced, it is asked that first findings be made public ASAP.
  • There will be an interactive dialogue.
  • For consent, reproduced the language from Cote d’Ivoire and for the findings to be transmitted to the GA and recommend to the GA to pass it on.


Russia not invited to make the changes, changes remain cosmetic, unbalanced and we cannot support it.


Appreciates the optimism in the Presidents voice, will work constructively but on behalf of Arab Group, there have been improvements but Egypt still thinks comments made need to be worked on.


EU has included many propositions and they are very happy. Thinks it would be possible to accommodate all of the countries and consensus would send a strong message to Damascus.


Remains a number of things to iron out when we go paragraph by paragraph. To send a consensual message is important.


To Egypt: not all points were taken, but this is the point of negotiations, we put many proposals together. It would be impossible to take on all the comments.


Exceptional job of the EU to balance proposals. Where we had a consensus earlier in Cote d’Ivoire,we can have it again here using the same language.

To Egypt: there is also strong arab support for the text as it stands.

Consensus would be a strong message: but we cannot have consensus at the cost of the essence of this resolution. If people are disappointed because we didn’t take every input, sorry but we have to hold on to the essence. We have a strong majority already, we cannot have a consensus with everybody being satisfied.

Russian Federation:

In PP3, want not selective reference. PP5- cannot support all that was said by the SG and the special procedures as it is not all worth support, they can only “take note” of the statement. And, still want reference to end of “military operations” by Assad. Russia supports views expressed by United States– we should not sacrifice quality for consensus.


With reference to PP5- wants to focus here on human rights issues and not get stuck on political statements.


Of course you should not take all comments necessarily. On the comment made by US: some Arab countries do support the DR, but we work on instructions received by the Arab group. Some of the Arab countries are satisfied with the DR, but we weren’t informed about that.


We have received message over the weekend that some countries which will support the DR.

In PP10 we took on your concern, please tell me now your concerns you still have.


Areas of problems:

  • PP4- where it says “Taking note of the briefings of the HC”, the idea of noting the briefing of the HC does not really contribute to the substance of the resolution.
  • PP5- where it says “Supporting the recent statement of the SG”, we do not usually do that, you usually “note it”. It also places the SG and the HC on the same level. The same goes for the special mandate holders.
  • PP8- now seems to touch on substance because of “expressing their concerns”.

In general still worried of thanking for concerns.


Whether SG or HC are on the same level has been a registered concern.


Appreciates the hard work. There is some improvement but regrets that many concerns expressed have not been taken on board. The current draft is far away from impartiality and objectiveness. Hopes the concerns and opinions will be listened to and make additional efforts.

  • PP3- No need to mention the details of the statement of the PRST to avoid selective quotation.
  • PP5- Should only “take note” of it.
  • Supports Russia to add reference to announcement made by Syrian government on stopping military action which would reflect a different voice.

South Africa:

On PP4: there was a suggestion by UK that we could put some language to make the briefing particularly relevant for this resolution.

Also on PP10 we see that you have made efforts for consideration on including territorial integrity. Our understanding what that we could incorporate OP6 of the PRST here, I see parts of it in here. Maybe we can find ways to merge them together.


Dialogue issue was more an operational issue.


On Russia and China: contrary to statements made by Assad there was no end to military crackdown, so  it would seem bizzarre for this Council to address something which is not happening.


3 points to raise:

  • Important in PP1 to have reference to GA resolution 68/251 which was not yet available at first SS on Syria as it came out in June.
  • Agrees with Nigeria and others, all comments are purely technical, related to the work of the HRC.
  • PP10- echoes the importance of streamlining the language. Say what the purposes of the UN Charter are. Speaking of territorial integrity is more about the principles reflected in the Charter.
  • PP8, would prefer “noting” instead of “bearing in mind.


Some of this can be accommodated. Best to do overview.

Go through the OP’s now.

Open discussions from OP1- OP5.



On OP1, “Strongly condemns” is right but there “such as arbitrary” gives impression there is already a conclusion. The COI will establish all of this. This is a value judgment. It should stop at “authorities”.

Same for OP2 by saying “expresses profound concern about the findings”- Nigeria believes this is a conclusion.

OP5- small issue but repetition of previous ones.


For OP1- not making a conclusion, there is reason to condemn the violations and there are indications that these are the kind of violations which have happened, it is not prejudging.


We propose our language for OP3 bis to OP3 quint, also amendments in line with Nigeria in OP1, and we cannot welcome the report of the FFM in OP2.


On OP1, agree with Nigeria. It is prejudging the reports of the COI.

OP2 also, we could just take note of the release of the report.


Reiterate our point on OP3 to also talk about all parties, as we said on Friday.

On OP5: what we mean by “HR defenders in all fields and professions”?


On OP3, “all parties” was objected and here it was a compromise.

On OP5: this was a request by one of the co-sponsors, we will bilaterally consult on this.


This “call” in OP5, who are we referring to? In OP4 bis we could separate it.


We support OP1 and 2, we’re dispatching a COI to find those responsible for those violations, but the extent of the violence occurred violates some of the most basic rights. We’re not prejudging anything.

FFM’s report was mandated by this Council, so it would be good to welcome it: we’re neither adopting nor endorsing it. We’d like to see a reference to the HC’s recommendations in that report including reporting to the ICC, but we can support the DR as it is.

On Brazil’s proposal on OP4: we could support it.


Australia’s comment on OP2 are what we are thinking. Thinks language in OP2 strikes the right balance.


This text strikes the right balance. The language used in the HC report is even stronger, graphic and direct so we are clearly not pre-determining the outcome of the COI. Need to take into account the information until this time. Supports keeping the language in OP1.

OP2- very important to express concern if not condemnation with the findings.

South Africa:

Might be proper to have an explanation what OP5 means. As for OP2- supports change of “Noting” from “Welcoming”. South Africa does not want to be caught up in situation of when you like it you “Welcome it” and if you don’t you “Note it”.


We had language talking about journalists lawyers and human rights defenders, we want this to treat all human rights defenders. Let us not prolong this.


For OP1 and OP2 agree with Russia, Nigeria and Algeria. HC has not had chance to consider the report of the FFM so not in position to express or comment on it.

Supports Arabic group of need to reflect on violence from all sides in OP4.

As for OP5, not proper to include in OP5 “all human rights defenders” as it is not clear definition.


3 quick comments:

  • Happy with OP1, need to show victims we see what is going on and not leave it an abstract statement of human rights violations.
  • As for “Welcoming the HC report”, tomorrow or today, we will be in position to support “welcomes” as it will be discussed.
  • OP4, reluctantly signed on to it and not appropriate to change it as there is no change in situation in Syria from credible sources.


Suggest that we switch OP 1 and 2 around.

OP4: we should include all parties in the OPs, whoever is concerned should be addressed.


On OP5: we spent days negotiating the resolution on HR defenders, now you are expanding it to include “professions”, what do you mean by this? If you want, go and pick the language already agreed.


We should not derail this discussion into an “HR defenders” discussion. Let’s not repeat argument on HR defenders.


“Highlights” the findings would not make a judgment.



Almost no substantive requests from the Russia delegation have been included in this part. We will discuss bilaterally.


OP6, Syrian authorities need to ensure safety also of “media professionals”. Media laws on emigration should be taken into account as well and issues with visas. Reluctant to support OP8 bis and were comfortable with original OP8.


OP6, problem is redefining of sovereignty of a country. “Operate in Syria without undue restrictions” means defining what will happen in Syria.

OP7- “all humanitarian actors” is a new concept- and it will create problems.

OP10- Take language we have already agreed on mandate holders and put it here.


Difficulty to include OP8 bis.


OP11, not sure if reference to “crimes against humanity” are in the purview of the mandate of the HRC.



On OP12 we’re adding a reference to “violations occurred recently”.


On OP13 and 13bis: do we understand from this that we are speaking about a mandate for the COI to go after the end of november? Time and date clarifications.

No problem with ID at the 19th session, just need clarifications time and date.

On OP13bis: one, two reports? Linguistically, we then prefer “recommends”. I just received message from Arab ambassadors that they are supporting the amendments we are making here.


Final report would come at the 19th session because that is the next regular session.


Strongly supports this well balanced text which accommodates concern of most stake holders. One question- in OP13- it should be the “second and updated report” and not the “final report”, we want to avoid ambiguity on status of final report. Suggests mandate for COI until March 2012.


on OP12, “occurring recently” could be more precise time frame to avoid ambiguity.


On regards to France- until March 2012 would be a long time for a mandate.


On OP13, I support the proposal by France to replace “second” by “final”.

On OP12, first DR was vague, I’m flexible but maybe we can have a period of time more precise.


There is the question of urgency but also as being thorough, we can act on that report we already have and then on a second report to be published for the March session.


I don’t think this would be clear procedurally: legally speaking, the Council will have the first one (report), so what will be the format of the meetin of the Council? And if we’ll have a second report, this means that we will have settled the question of the first report.


Two reports means independent reports. Algeria is correct. Either you talk about entire reports or you are talking about the first report which you can then updated. Only when the HRC updates it and looks at it it is not a HRC report.


It is a human rights emergency, we need time for the COI. Independent can be local and domestic.


We come to a close. Thanks constructive approach and broad support that resolution already enjoys. Come bilaterally to us for comments.


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