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TWN Info Service on UN Sustainable Development (Mar17/06)
29 March 2017
Third World Network

Mandates of experts on foreign debt, adequate housing extended
Published in SUNS #8430 dated 27 March 2017


Geneva, 24 Mar (Kanaga Raja) - The United Nations Human Rights Council on Thursday adopted a raft of resolutions including extending, for a period of three years, the mandate of the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt as well as that of the Special Rapporteurs on human rights defenders, on minority issues and on adequate housing.

The Human Rights Council is currently holding its thirty-fourth regular session from 27 February to 24 March.

The resolution extending the mandate of Mr. Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky (from Argentina), the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights, was adopted by a vote of 31 in favour, 16 against with no abstentions.

Those that voted for the resolution were: Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botswana, Burundi, China, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Togo, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.

Those that voted against were: Albania, Belgium, Brazil, Croatia, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Latvia, Netherlands, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, Switzerland, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and United States of America.

The resolution (A/HRC/34/L.3) was tabled by Algeria, Cuba, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.

In the resolution, the Human Rights Council requested the Independent Expert to pay particular attention to:

(a) The effects of foreign debt and the policies adopted to address them on the full enjoyment of all human rights, in particular, economic, social and cultural rights;

(b) The impact of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations on the capacity of States to design and implement their policies and programmes, including national budgets that respond to vital requirements for the promotion of the realization of social rights;

(c) Measures taken by Governments, the private sector and international financial institutions to alleviate such effects in developing countries, especially the poorest and heavily indebted countries;

(d) New developments, actions and initiatives being taken by international financial institutions, other United Nations bodies and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations with respect to economic reform policies and human rights;

(e) The effects of public debt, economic reform and financial consolidation policies on the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals;

(f) The impact of illicit financial flows on the enjoyment of human rights;

(g) The process entrusted with the follow-up to the International Conference on Financing for Development, with a view to bringing to its attention the issue of the effects of structural adjustment and foreign debt on the enjoyment of human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights;

(h) Enhancement of consultations with all relevant stakeholders in the fulfilment of the mandate.

It also requested the Independent Expert to develop guiding principles for human rights impact assessments for economic reform policies, in consultation with States, international financial institutions and other relevant stakeholders, and to organize expert consultations for the development of the guiding principles and a mapping of existing impact assessment tools.

In its resolution, the Council recognized the commitments made in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and noted that, despite international debt relief efforts, many countries remain vulnerable to debt crisis and some are in the midst of a crisis, including a number of least developed countries, small island developing States and some developed countries.

It acknowledged that there is greater acceptance that the increasing debt burden faced by the most indebted developing countries, in particular the least developed countries, is unsustainable and constitutes one of the principal obstacles to achieving progress in people-centred sustainable development and poverty eradication and that, for many developing and some developed countries, excessive debt servicing has severely constrained their capacity to promote social development and provide basic services to create the conditions for the realization of economic, social and cultural rights.

The Council expressed its concern that, despite repeated rescheduling of debt, developing countries continue to pay out more each year than the actual amount they receive in official development assistance.

It recognized that structural adjustment reform programmes and policy conditionalities limit public expenditure, impose fixed expenditure ceilings and give inadequate attention to the provision of social services, and that only a few countries manage to achieve sustainable higher growth under these programmes.

The Council reiterated that the activities of vulture funds highlight some of the problems in the global financial system and are indicative of the unjust nature of the current system, which directly affects the enjoyment of human rights in debtor States.

It called upon States to consider implementing legal frameworks to curtail predatory vulture fund activities within their jurisdictions.

The resolutions extending the mandates for a period of three years of the Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights defenders (as orally revised), on minority issues and on adequate housing were adopted without a vote.

The current Special Rapporteur on adequate housing is Ms. Leilani Farha (Canada), while that on minority issues is Ms. Rita Izsak-Ndiaye (Hungary). The current Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders is Mr. Michel Forst (France).

RESOLUTION ON SRI LANKA

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Council also adopted, without a vote, a resolution (A/HRC/34/L.1) on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka.

The resolution was co-sponsored by Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, Japan, Montenegro, Norway, Sri Lanka, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America.

In the resolution, the Council took note with appreciation of the comprehensive report presented by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-fourth session, as requested by the Council in its resolution 30/1, and requested the Government of Sri Lanka to implement fully the measures identified by the Council in its resolution 30/1 that are outstanding.

It welcomed the positive engagement of the Government of Sri Lanka with the High Commissioner and the Office of the High Commissioner since October 2015, and with relevant special procedure mandate holders, and encouraged the continuation of that engagement in the promotion and protection of human rights and truth, justice, reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka.

The Council requested the Office of the High Commissioner and relevant special procedure mandate holders, in consultation with and with the concurrence of the Government of Sri Lanka, to strengthen their advice and technical assistance on the promotion and protection of human rights and truth, justice, reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka.

It requested the Office of the High Commissioner to continue to assess progress on the implementation of its recommendations and other relevant processes related to reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka, and to present a written update to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-seventh session, and a comprehensive report, followed by a discussion on the implementation of Council resolution 30/1, at its fortieth session.

 


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