28th Human Rights Council session adopts the resolution regarding Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law

Geneva, 27 March 2015: The Human Rights Council voted to adopt a resolution on ‘Human rights, democracy and rule of law’ presented by Morocco, Norway, Peru, Republic of Korea, Romania, Tunisia. The resolution creates a 'Forum on human rights, democracy and the rule of law', which will take place in Geneva every two years starting in 2016, with the first Forum considering the topic of ‘Widening the democratic space: the role of youth in public decision-making’.

China, in a rare show of hand, took the lead of a group of States to present a last-minute amendment seeking to restrict the participation of civil society without ECOSOC consultative status in the Forum, by giving a veto to States allowing them to block specific civil society groups. The so called ‘no-objection procedure’, which allows any State to block any NGO on any grounds, has in the past been used to limit and exclude some NGOs from participating in UN processes. Despite these efforts by China (along with Cuba, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela), the Council rejected these restrictions by a vote of 18 in favour, 23 against and 6 abstentions. Of particular note were the favourable (thus restrictive) votes of India, Indonesia and South Africa, while the abstentions by Brazil and Argentina were particularly regrettable given their vibrant civil society and rhetorical openness to NGO participation in the UN. Positively, several smaller States such as Botswana, Côte d'Ivoire, Sierra Leone and Paraguay remained principled in their support to civil society, despite having no-doubt been heavily lobbied by China on the issue.

The resolution itself was adopted by a vote of 35 yes to 12 abstentions, but without negative vote.
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