Item 3: General debate
Statement by UN Watch
Delivered by Ms. Sabrina Zeloof
Human Rights Council, 33rd Session
16 September 2016
UN Watch Speaker:
Thank you, Mr. President.
The members of this Council have been mandated by the international community to protect victims of human rights violations around the world.
Resolution 60/251 of 2006 provides that the council would “address situations of violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations,” and that it would hold special sessions, when needed.
In the 10th anniversary year, we ask: Is the Council living up to its mandate?
Let us consider the events of the past summer. Here is what happened on the ground:
In Turkey, following a failed coup attempt, the government embarked on an unprecedented purge, firing or arresting tens of thousands of academics, government employees, journalists, and human rights activists.
Yet while this was happening over July and August, the Council was silent. Why did it refuse to call an urgent session on Turkey? Why are there no UNHRC resolutions condemning Turkey’s violation of basic human rights? Why is there no international Commission of Inquiry?
Also this summer, Venezuela’s extreme policies have led to severe hunger in the country. People have to queue around the block for basic items, such as toilet paper and soap. Riots, muggings, mass lootings, and murders have all spiked, with reportedly the country having the world’s second-highest murder rate. On September 1, a million people marched in Caracas to oppose the government. Dozens of demonstrators, including Alejandro Puglia and journalist Braulio Jatar Alonso, were arrested, further adding to Venezuela’s growing list of political prisoners.
Point of order by Venezuela:
Thank you President, good afternoon, I’m sorry that we have to make a point of order on the basis of article 113 of the internal rules of the general assembly. There has been a lack of respect in the language used with regards to the government and leaders of my country; this is clear violation of resolution from the general assembly. The work of the council must be guided by impartiality, objectivity, and not selectivity. We must have a constructive international dialogue and cooperation with a view to promoting and protecting all human rights. Whilst we recognize that freedom of expression and participation must be honored, we must insist that the character and integrity of our leaders and governors must be respected. Notably if this is jeopardized by NGO’s, the origin of which we do not know, so in line with the practices of this body we would ask you to implore that the speaker use language appropriate to the standards of this body, thank you.
President: We have request for the floor from the delegation of Cuba.
Point of order by Cuba:
Thank you President, we regret that this debate has had to be interrupted but this was the only option for the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. The speaker is out of order because it’s using inappropriate terms to refer to the legitimate governors and leaders of a country. Please call the speaker to order and make sure that the speaker uses appropriate language and references in his statement. We fully concur and endorse the positions taken up by the Venezuelan delegation, thank you.
President: I give the floor to the distinguished representative of the United States
Point of order by US:
Thank you Mr. President, we highlight that the United states firmly believes that accredited NGO’s must be permitted to speak in the council. Though member states, including the United States, may occasionally disagree with the contents of NGOs statements, it is essential that civil society voices be heard here in an atmosphere of open expression. Without addressing the substance of the speaker’s’ statement, we are of the opinion that what we have heard of the intervention so far, is indeed addressed to the subject matter at hand. Mr President we respectfully ask that you rule that the speaker be allowed to finish their presentation, thank you.
President: Thank you, I give the floor to the distinguished representative from Canada.
Point of order by Canada:
Thank you Mr. President, Canada also firmly believes that accredited NGOs should be permitted to speak at the council similar to the statement by the American representative. We respectfully ask you to rule that the speaker be allowed to finish his presentation, thank you.
President: Thank you, I give the floor to the distinguished representative of Nicaragua.
Point of order by Nicaragua:
Thank you President, Nicaragua vehemently supports the position expressed by Venezuela, we call upon NGOs to speak in a respectful manner, in line with practice, thank you.
President: Thank you, I give the floor to the distinguished representative of Pakistan.
Point of order by Pakistan:
Thank you President, we support the position presented by Venezuela, thank you.
President: I give the floor to the distinguished representative of Slovenia.
Point of order by Slovenia:
Thank you Mr. President, Slovenia supports the position given by United States and Canada, thank you.
President: Thank you very much, at the start of this session, I encouraged all participants to show respect and dignity that are appropriate for this forum, and I would like to add that we are expected to adhere to the well-established principles of the United Nations, including when referring to countries, so I would like to encourage all participants to take this in mind. Having said that, I allow the speaker to continue his statement.
UN Watch speaker:
Thank you Mr. President, In relation to Item 3, the promotion and protection of all human rights, we ask, Why did the democratic nations of this Council refuse to call an urgent session on Venezuela? Why are there no UNHRC resolutions condemning Venezuela’s gross violation of basic human rights? Why is there no international Commission of Inquiry on Venezuela?
Thank you, Mr. President.