The 36th regular session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) was held in Geneva between the 11 and 29 September 2017. As the primary international human rights body, the Human Rights Council has the capacity to provide early warning regarding potential mass atrocity crimes, as systematic violations and abuses of human rights can be an indicator of potential war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide or ethnic cleansing. This summary highlights outcomes and relevant interactive dialogues from the 36th session as they relate to the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) populations from such crimes. In addition, as part of the 36th session, Rwanda delivered a statement on behalf of the fifty members of the Group of Friends of R2P during the discussion of Item 2: Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General.
A/HRC/36/L.8 Technical assistance and capacity building for Yemen in the field of human rights
The HRC requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to establish by the end of 2017 a group of eminent international and regional experts for a period of at least one year to monitor and report on the human rights situation in Yemen and to carry out a comprehensive examination of all alleged violations and abuses of international law. The group of experts shall identify those responsible for violations and make recommendations on improving respect for and protection and fulfilment of human rights. The HRC stressed the importance of the group of experts to provide guidance on access to justice, accountability, reconciliation and healing; supporting national, regional and international efforts to promote accountability for human rights abuses in Yemen. The resolution was adopted by consensus.
A/HRC/36/L.9 Rev.1 Renewal of the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi
Expressing concern regarding the findings of the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi, the HRC extended the mandate of the Commission for a period of one year in order to continue and deepen its investigations. The Commission shall present an oral briefing to the HRC at its 37th and 38th sessions, in addition to a final report during an interactive dialogue at its 39th session and the 73rd session of the General Assembly. The resolution was adopted by a vote of 22 in favour and 11 against, with 14 abstentions.
A/HRC/36/L.19 Technical assistance and capacity building to improve human rights in the Sudan
The HRC decided to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert for one year, and requested him to present a report to the HRC on the implementation of his mandate at its 39th session. The HRC also called upon the Government of the Sudan to continue to cooperate with the Independent Expert and to permit effective access to visit all areas of the country. The resolution was adopted by consensus.
A/HRC/36/L.22 The human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic
The HRC emphasized the Syrian Arab Republic’s responsibility to protect its population and expressed its deepest concern about the findings of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, established by the HRC in its Resolution S-17/1 of 23 August 2011. The HRC further highlighted the lack of cooperation by the Syrian authorities with the Commission. The HRC strongly condemned the violations of the human rights of children in the Syrian Arab Republic and decided to convene a high-level panel discussion at its 37th session, in consultation with the Commission.
The HRC welcomed the establishment of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Persons Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011 by the General Assembly via Resolution 71/248 of 21 December 2016, and the recent appointment of the Head of the Mechanism. The resolution was adopted by a vote of 27 in favour and 7 against, with 13 abstentions. The resolution included language demanding: “that all parties take all appropriate steps to protect civilians, including members of ethnic, religious and confessional communities, and stresses that, in this regard, the primary responsibility to protect the Syrian population lies with the Syrian authorities.”
A/HRC/36/L.31 Rev.1 Extension of the mandate of the independent international fact-finding mission on Myanmar
The HRC decided to extend the mandate of the independent international fact-finding mission to establish the facts and circumstances of alleged recent human rights violations by the military in Myanmar. It requested that the fact- finding mission present an oral update, to be followed by an interactive dialogue with the HRC at its 37th session. The resolution was adopted by consensus.
A/HRC/36/L.33 Technical assistance and capacity-building to improve the situation of human rights in Burundi
The HRC requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to urgently dispatch a team of three experts to support the judicial authorities of Burundi in ensuring that perpetrators of any alleged human rights violations and abuses are held accountable by the national judicial authorities. The expert team shall collect and preserve information and determine the facts and circumstances of human rights violations and abuses, and make recommendations for technical assistance and capacity building to improve the human rights situation in Burundi. The resolution was adopted by a vote of 23 in favour and 14 against, with 9 abstentions.
A/HRC/36/L.34 Rev.1 Technical assistance and capacity-building in the field of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The HRC requested OHCHR give an oral update on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the HRC’s 37th and 38th sessions, in an enhanced interactive dialogue. OHCHR shall also prepare a comprehensive report on the situation of human rights in the DRC, including in the context of the electoral process, and present it to the HRC at its 39th session. The resolution was adopted by a vote of 45 in favour and 1 against, with 1 abstention. The resolution “recalls that the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo bears the primary responsibility to protect all civilians within its territory”