Statements during the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council

Throughout the session, we’ll publish our statements as they become available. So far, Franciscans International has delivered statements on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, Guatemala, Brazil, and El Salvador as well as on climate change and business and human rights.

*On 13 March, the Human Rights Council suspended its 43rd session until further notice over concerns of the COVID-19 virus. This page will be further updated when the session resumes.

Item 2: General Debate on the report of the High Commissioner – Sri Lanka (28 February 2020)

In a joint statement, Franciscans International expressed its deep concern over the recent decision by the government of Sri Lanka to withdraw its support from Human Rights Council resolution 30/1. Adopted in September 2015 with support of the government, the resolution set out a process of transitional justice for crimes committed during the country’s 26-year civil war. Noting the failure of previous domestic efforts toward accountability and reconciliation, as well as the ongoing deterioration of the rule of law in the country, we call on the Council to establish an international accountability mechanism for Sri Lanka.

Full statement (English)

Item 2: General Debate on the report of the High Commissioner – Guatemala (28 February 2020)

FI called on the Council to renew the mandate of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Guatemala, noting several worrying trends. Although the government signed an Asylum Cooperative Agreement with the United States, the policies and conditions to implement this agreement are lacking, putting migrants in Guatemala at risk. Meanwhile, recent reforms to the NGO law restrict the work of civil society in violation of international treaties and the Guatemalan constitution.

Full statement (Spanish)

Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment - Brazil (2 March 2020)  

Despite catastrophic dam breaches in Marina (2015) and Brumadhino (2019), the government of Brazil has so far failed to take action to impunity for the corporate negligence that led to these disasters and to prevent future tragedies. Today, at least 40 other dams in Minas Gerais state are at risk of collapse, presenting ever-present danger to nearby communities and the environment.

Bishop Vincente Ferreira joined Franciscans International at the Human Rights Council share testimony from his diocese which includes Brumadhino, call for redress for the victims, and urge Brazil to meaningfully involve local communities in the process of licensing new mega-projects.

Full statement (English and Portuguese); Video (English)

Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief - Sri Lanka (3 March)

In a joined statement, Franciscans International voiced its concern over increased hostility and discrimination against Muslims after the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka. We also supported the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations that the government reviews Article 9 of the Constitution, which grants Buddhism ‘the foremost place’, and has led discrimination and violence by extremists against other religious minorities.

Full statement (English)

Item 3: Report by the open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations (5 March)

In a joint statement after the presentation of the report on the 5th session of the open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations, Franciscans International called on states to actively participate in the informal consultations ahead of the next session in October 2020. We also stressed the important role played in the process by civil society and the need to maintain and respect this space in future negotiations.

Full statement (Spanish)

Item 4: Human rights situations that require the Council's attention - West Papua (10 March)

A report published in February 2020 by the International Coalition for Papua showed how the human rights situation on the islands has become characterized by stagnant, recurring patterns of violations. Franciscans International hosted human rights lawyer Anum Siregar in Geneva, where she called attention to the rise of political prisoners jailed and charged with draconian treason articles in Indonesia's penal code.

Full statement (English)

Item 4: Human rights situations that require the Council's attention - Climate Change (10 March)

During the 25th UN climate conference in December 2019 (COP25) the President of the Marshall Islands called for the creation of a dedicated Special Rapporteur on climate change. The establishment of this mandate would, among other things, create a focal point for dialogue between different stakeholders working to address one of the most pressing issues of our time. In a joint statement 12 faith-based organizations supported this initiative as an opportunity the Council cannot afford to miss.

Full statement (English)

Item 4: Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention - Brazil (10 March)

During its first year in office, the Bolsonaro administration has taken a range of measures affecting wide segments of society, including indigenous peoples, minority groups, and marginalized and poor communities. In a joint statement, 87 civil society organizations including Franciscans International expressed their deep concern about the deteriorating human rights situation in Brazil and called on the Council to take decisive action to counter these trends.

Full statement (Portuguese, English, and Spanish)

Item 6: Universal Periodic Review - El Salvador (12 March)

El Salvador is facing a persistent water crisis, with over 90% of its surface water sources contaminated. Despite some positive steps, such as the adoption of a 2017 law which bans all metal-mining as a major source of pollution, authorities have not effectively implemented this law or taken steps toward environmental remediation. During El Salvador’s examination under the UPR, Franciscans International called on the government to create a legal framework that recognizes the human right to safe drinking water and engage in efforts with neighboring countries to responsibly govern shared natural resources and transboundary waters.

Full statement (Spanish)





Photo Credit: © Gustave Deghilage