The UN Forum on Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law was established in 2016, by Human Rights Council Resolution 28/14. The inaugural session of the Forum will be held in Geneva on November 21 and 22, 2016 in Room XVII Palais des Nations. The goal of the Forum is providing a platform for “promoting dialogue and cooperation on issues pertaining to the relationship” between democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
This post presents some facts about Resolution 28/14, the document that led to the creation of this important body under the Human Rights Council.
Resolution 28/14 Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law (A/HRC/28/L.24) is the first resolution on these topics since the Human Rights Council was founded in 2006. This document is the most comprehensive text that has this far been negotiated at the United Nations on the principles, values and mechanism that define what democracy and the rule of law mean, and how they relate to human rights. Also, the Resolution provides the main framework that will lead to the global dissemination of the concepts of human rights, democracy and the rule of law among the youth.
Resolution 28/14 was initiated by the Republic of Romania, which approached states potentially concerned about the values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. The states that responded positively, and agreed to join the “core group” were Peru, The Republic of Korea, Morocco, Tunisia, and Norway.
The Resolution was co-sponsored among others by the United States of America, Australia, Belgium, Denmark and Sweden. Its discussion took place at the 56th Meeting of the 28th regular Session of the Human Rights Council. During the meeting, representatives of China acting on behalf ofalso on behalf of Cuba, Pakistan, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela introduced an oral amendment to paragraph 3 of the draft resolution.
Paragraph 3 of the draft resolution reads
The Human Rights Council,
Decides that the Forum shall be open to the participation of States, United Nations mechanisms, bodies and specialized agencies, funds and programmes, intergovernmental organiz
ations, regional organizations and mechanisms in the field of human rights, national human rights institutions and other relevant national bodies, academics and experts and non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council; the Forum shall also be open to other non-governmental organizations whose aims and purposes are in conformity with the spirit, purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, based on arrangements, including Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31 of 25 July 1996, and practices observed by the Human Rights Council, through an open and transparent accreditation procedure in accordance
with the Rules of Procedure of the Council, which will provide for timely information on the participation of and consultations with the States concerned;
A transcript of the oral amendment is not available. A vote was taken on the oral amendment. Before the vote, the representatives of France, Ireland, and the United States of America made statements explaining their vote.
We regret the decision by some states to put forward an amendment to this resolution after the process of negotiations led by the core group has been extremely open and transparent.
We are seriously concerned that this amendment attempts to stifle the voices of civil society and restrict the space to provide differing views on the topics of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. We are dismayed to see that the amendment is aimed at restricting civil society participation at the forum on a “no-objection basis.” The voices of civil society are vital to vibrant democracies and their participation in the forum should be welcome.
The United States strongly opposes the amendment before us today and will vote in favor of the resolution. We urge all Council members to do the same.
The oral amendment was rejected by 18 votes to 23, with 6 abstentions. Representatives of the People’s Republic of China requested that a separate vote be taken on paragraph 3 of the resolution. Paragraph 3 was adopted by 28 votes to 0, with the People’s Republic of China abstension. Resolution 28/14 was adopted on March 26, 2015 by the Human Rights Council.