HRC52: end of the first session of the Human Rights Council in 2023

Press release
Groov3 / Wikicommons

On 4 April 2023, the UN Human Rights Council concluded its 52nd session with the adoption of 43 resolutions, 27 of them by consensus. While this session saw strong outcomes on Nicaragua, Iran, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), and Myanmar, FIDH regrets the lack of ambition in addressing the dire human rights situations in Belarus and Libya. That the serious and deteriorating situations in countries such as China, India, and Egypt are not even on the HRC agenda is a critical failure by Council members.

After concerted advocacy from civil society, the two-year mandate renewal of the Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua was a decisive success. This mandate extension is clearly warranted by the ongoing systematic violation of human rights in Nicaragua, including the recent aberrant decision to deprive hundreds of Nicaraguans of their nationality. The Group of Experts have provided critical reporting and analysis of the worsening human rights situation in the country, including by echoing civil society’s findings that some of these violations amount crimes against humanity.

The situation in Belarus remained high on the Council’s agenda, and FIDH welcomes the successful adoption of the resolution on the situation of human rights in Belarus in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election and in its aftermath. However, Belarusian authorities’ continuing efforts to eradicate the civil society space in the country must be met with a stronger international response – FIDH reiterates its call for the creation of an independent investigative mechanism on Belarus, as echoed by 30 civil society organisations in a joint letter at the opening of this session.

Despite the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya issuing a clear call for urgent action to address the deteriorating human rights situation in Libya, the Council neglected to renew the mandate of the Fact-Finding Mission. This dereliction of the Council’s responsibility only serves to undermine civil society’s efforts to tackle the widespread impunity for gross human rights violations in Libya.

FIDH welcomes the renewal of the mandates of the Special Rapporteurs on Myanmar, the DPRK, and Iran, which provide crucial monitoring and reporting on urgent human rights situations. The strengthening of the resolution on Iran, including through substantive language on torture and the death penalty, is a clear reflection of the worsening situation on the ground.

The creation of an Independent Expert on Haiti is an important step in bringing an overlooked situation to the agenda of the Council, but it must be followed by concrete commitments from Haitian authorities to strengthen the rule of law and good governance, without which human rights violations will continue to be committed with impunity.

The consensus renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders was an important demonstration of the Council’s recognition of essential role played by HRDs in the protection and promotion of all human rights. FIDH further welcomes the renewal of other key thematic mandates, including the Special Rapporteur on torture, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, and the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants.

FIDH co-sponsored more than 20 NGO joint statements/side-events and joined a number of organisations in a joint statement at the closing of the 52nd session, presenting a detailed overview of civil society’s key takeaways from the Human Rights Council.

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