Iceland's Resolution Regarding Philippines Approved by UN

Vala Hafstað

The United Nations Human Rights Council has approved a resolution, sponsored by Iceland, to launch an independent investigation into alleged crimes committed during the Philippine government’s war on drugs. The resolution was approved with a narrow margin yesterday, with 18 nations voting in its favor, 15 abstaining and 14 opposing.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have declared support for the resolution. They have for a long time brought attention to human rights violations in the Philippines.

The resolution mandates a comprehensive written report into the human rights situation in the Philippines, the BBC reports, with a focus on reports of extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances.

“This is proof that our voice and our work make a difference,” Icelandic Foreign Minister Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson tells mbl.is.

“We are fortunate enough to enjoy human rights in Iceland, which we take for granted,” he notes, but adds that in many places in the world, such is not the case. “It is our duty to contribute to the fight for improving the state of human rights affairs in the world,” he states.

Iceland was elected to take a seat on the UN Human Rights Council in July of last year, replacing the United States, which had withdrawn its membership. Iceland’s membership is good through the end of this year.

Guðlaugur notes that Iceland has emphasized how important it is for all nations with a seat on the UN Human Rights Council to follow the International Bill of Human Rights and, thereby, set a good example. “This is why we have, among other things, focused on issues related to the Philippines and Saudi Ariabia, too, and we will continue to do so,” he states.

When asked about his reaction to comments made by Teodoro Locsin, foreign minister of the Philippines, who posted on Twitter that for “those who voted to insult us, the consequences will be far reaching,” Guðlaugur responds, “In my mind the matter is very clear. The Human Rights Council is not made for getting together for a cup of coffee, but for using the council to support human rights, which is what we do. Even though we receive some threats, so be it. We will not budge from our policy.”

Here, you can read a joint statement, given by Harald Aspelund, Iceland’s representative on the council, on behalf of nations supporting the resolution on June 19. 

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