The UN Human Rights Council today passed a resolution, tabled by Iceland, on the promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines. The resolution expresses concern over allegations of human rights violations in the Philippines, particularly those involving extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detention, as well as intimidation and persecution of human rights defenders and others. It urges the Government of the Philippines to take all necessary measures to prevent extrajudicial killings and carry out impartial investigations, and hold perpetrators responsible; calls upon the Government to cooperate with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council, and requests the High Commissioner to prepare a comprehensive written report on the situation of human rights in the Philippines.
18 countries today voted yes on the resolution, 15 abstained, while 14 were opposed. Prior to the vote 35 states had signed up as co-sponsors of the resolution.
„As a new member of the Council last year, Iceland pledged to address human rights concerns on their merits. We also pledged to take leadership and responsibility in initiating action when and where warranted. By tabling this resolution we were following up on previous initiatives in the Council. It was necessary, in our opinion, because all reports indicate that the human rights situation in the Philippines continues to deteriorate. I am satisfied with the result today. This vote shows that the Human Rights Council has, for its part, demonstrated that it can address urgent and important issues that warrant its attention,“ said Gudlaugur Thór Þórdarson, Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Iceland has in the past led close to forty states in Joint Statements in the Council on the topic of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, related to the so-called war on drugs. The last such statement, in June 2018, noted that the Council would need to consider a more formal Council initiative, i.e. a resolution, to try and ensure that UN member states meet their human rights obligations.
On 7 June of this year eleven UN human rights experts issued a call to the United Nations to establish an independent investigation into human rights violations in the Philippines, citing a sharp deterioration in the situation of human rights across the country, including sustained attacks on people and institutions defending human rights.
Forty-seven states sit on the Human Rights Council. Iceland was elected to join the Council in July 2018. Iceland’s term ends by the end of the year.