FORUM-ASIA at UN Human Rights Council Session 35
6 July 2017 4:00 pm

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterPrint this page

The 35th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council ended on Friday, 23 June 2017. Over the three weeks of the session, FORUM-ASIA delivered eight oral statements, supported three joint statements, and organised five side events. Its advocacy focused on the Maldives and the Philippines, as well as follow up on Burma/Myanmar. It also focused on the themes of freedom of expression, freedoms of assembly and of association, and business and human rights, as well as on the broader issue of civil society space.

The Maldives

Over 30 states delivered a joint statement on the Maldives during the item 2 general debate on 07 June 2017, which FORUM-ASIA and other civil society organisations called for in a joint open letter to states ahead of the Council session. Read FORUM-ASIA’s press release on the joint statement here and for media coverage on the press release click here.

FORUM-ASIA delivered a statement on freedom of expression in the Maldives, particularly on the case of murdered blogger Yameen Rasheed during the item 3 general debate. It also included the Maldives in statements during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, general debate on the High Commissioner’s update, and joint civil society end of session statement.

FORUM-ASIA organised a side event on human rights in the Maldives, and also addressed the country situation in side events on freedom of expression in South Asia and on religion and expression online. The human rights defenders from the Maldives also gave an interview to AFP while they were in Geneva.

Philippines

During the item 2 general debate on 07 June 2017, over 30 states delivered a joint statement on the Philippines. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights had earlier censured the Philippines for hate campaigns against the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions who had mentioned the Philippines in her report and responded to the government during her interactive dialogue. Several states, namely the Czech Republic, Ireland, UK, and U.S., mentioned the Philippines in their national statements during the session.[1]

FORUM-ASIA delivered a statement on the Philippines during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, as well as supported a joint statement with Franciscans International. It included the Philippines in its statements during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, general debate on the High Commissioner’s update, and joint civil society end of session statement.

FORUM-ASIA and several NGOs had called for concerted action on the Philippines at HRC 35, including at a side event on extrajudicial executions in the Philippines. FORUM-ASIA also issued a press release on the joint statement by states.

Burma/Myanmar

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar delivered an update, which was followed by an interactive dialogue in which several states delivered statements. States that mentioned Burma/Myanmar in other debates, include the Maldives, and the U.S.. The High Commissioner for Human Rights had also mentioned Myanmar in his update.

FORUM-ASIA delivered a statement during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur, as well as included Burma/Myanmar in its statement during the general debate on the High Commissioner’s update in which it called for full cooperation with the recently created Fact Finding Mission to the country.

Freedom of Expression

The Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression released his report, which mentioned several Asian states, including Bangladesh, Burma/Myanmar, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, and the Philippines.

FORUM-ASIA delivered a statement on freedom of expression during the item 3 general debate, as well as expressed concerns on Bangladesh and Pakistan during the item 4 general debate. FORUM-ASIA organised a side event on freedom of expression in South Asia, particularly in India, the Maldives, and Pakistan, as well as a side event on religion and expression online.

Freedoms of Assembly and of Association

The Special Rapporteur on freedoms of peaceful assembly and of association released a report (written by the former Special Rapporteur) on the successes and achievements of civil society in recent years, citing examples from Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Nepal, the Philippines, and South Korea. During the interactive dialogue with his successor, FORUM-ASIA delivered a statement on the Maldives, the Philippines, and South Korea.

Business and Human Rights

The report of the working group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises included a report on its mission to South Korea. During the interactive dialogue, FORUM-ASIA delivered a statement on business and human rights in South Korea. Furthermore, FORUM-ASIA organised a side event on strengthening corporate accountability in supply chains.

Civil Society Space

Although not officially on the Council’s agenda, the broader issue of civil society space was also an issue that FORUM-ASIA worked on this session, including in the context of upcoming elections in Cambodia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Singapore, and Timor-Leste as mentioned in a statement.

FORUM-ASIA also participated in discussions on civil society space specific to the Human Rights Council by sharing concerns on narrowing political space for civil society at the multilateral level, including at the UN, during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on freedoms of peaceful assembly and of association. It supported a joint civil society statement that expressed dismay at the roll back and lack of progress in terms of ensuring the most effective participation of civil society at the Council, as well as a statement on shrinking civil society space symbolised by the reduction of the number of desks reserved for NGOs during Council sessions.

Other Country Situations

Other issues discussed in FORUM-ASIA’s statements this session were enforced disappearances in Malaysia, and limited access given to Special Procedures mandate holders in several Asian states, including Indonesia, Laos, and Nepal.

***

[1]

http://www.mzv.cz/mission.geneva/en/human_rights/human_rights_council/hrc35_czech_republic_pointed_at_cases_of.html

https://www.dfa.ie/our-role-policies/international-priorities/human-rights/ireland-and-the-human-rights-council/statements-35th-session/item-4/

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/human-rights-council-35-uk-statement-on-item-2