16 November 1999


Press Release
GA/SHC/3562



GENERAL ASSEMBLY ASKED TO PROCLAIM 2001 AS INTERNATIONAL YEAR AGAINST RACISM, XENOPHOBIA, OTHER FORMS OF INTOLERANCE

19991116

Social Committee Calls for Widespread Observance; Other Texts Seek Elimination of Religious Bias, Action Against Mercenary Activity

The year 2001 would be proclaimed the International Year for Mobilization against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, by the terms of a draft resolution approved by the General Assembly’s Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) this afternoon without a vote. Strongly reaffirming the proclamation, the Assembly would call on governments, the United Nations and non- governmental organizations to observe the Year in a suitable manner, including through programmes of action.

The draft, on the Third Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination and the convening of the world conference, was one of two approved by the Committee without a vote. The other concerned the elimination of religious intolerance. A third draft on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating the human rights and impeding the right to self-determination of peoples was approved by a recorded vote of 103 in favour to 16 against with 32 abstentions. (For details of vote, see Annex.)

By the draft on the Third Decade, which had begun in 1993, the Assembly would also decide that the world conference against racism, to be held in 2001, would be action-oriented and focused on practical measures to eradicate racism, including through measures of prevention, education and protection and with remedies that took into consideration the existing human rights instruments.

Also, by the draft, the Assembly would request the High Commissioner for Human Rights to begin preparing for the world conference. It would ask the preparatory committee to draft a final document with specific goals, objectives and timetables. The Assembly would welcome the offer by the Government of South Africa to host the conference in 2001 and would appeal to all States to contribute generously to the conference voluntary fund, also calling for the national and regional meetings as well as other initiatives raising awareness about the conference.


Third Committee - 1a - Press Release GA/SHC/3562 48th Meeting (PM) 16 November 1999

Also this afternoon, the Committee heard the introduction of 14 draft resolutions. They included texts on protecting migrants; on strengthening United Nations action in the field of human rights by promoting international cooperation and the importance of non- selectivity, impartiality and objectivity; on respect for the principles of national sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of states; and on respect for the right to universal freedom of travel and the vital importance of family reunification. Others dealt with national institutions for promoting and protecting human rights and human rights and mass exoduses. There were six texts on the human rights situations in individual countries -- Cambodia, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Haiti, and Sudan. Drafts were also introduced on a high-level political signing conference for the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and on the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the protocols thereto.

The Committee continued its consideration of questions related to refugees and other displaced persons.

During its debate on the issue of refugees, the representatives of Egypt, Brazil, Thailand, United Republic of Tanzania, Liberia, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Guinea and the Republic of Korea made statements.

The Committee will meet again tomorrow at 10 a.m. to conclude its current consideration of issues related to refugees and other displaced persons, including humanitarian aspects.


Committee Work Programme

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this morning to conclude its current consideration of the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, as well as questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons, along with humanitarian questions. (For background information, see Press Release GA/SHC/3558 of 12 November.)

The Committee has before it a number of draft resolutions, expected to be introduced.

By a draft resolution on a high-level political signing conference for the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (document A/C.3/54/L.21/Rev.1), the Assembly would accept with appreciation Italy's offer to host such a conference in Palermo, and would also take the decision to hold the conference. It would request the Secretary-General to schedule the conference for a period of up to one week before the end of the Millennium Assembly in 2000. It would request the United Nations Centre for International Crime Prevention to propose the agenda, including opportunities to discuss matters related to the draft Convention and its protocols.

The draft is sponsored by Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, Greece, Grenada, Honduras, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liberia, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malta, Micronesia, Monaco, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Niger, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Senegal, Solomon Islands, Spain, Tajikistan, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom and United States.

A draft resolution on the draft United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the draft protocols thereto (document A/C.3/54/L.88) contains amendments proposed by the United States to a draft resolution transmitted by the Committee (document A/C.3/54/L.4). By both drafts, the Assembly would take note of results achieved by the Ad Hoc Committee on the elaboration of a Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and the draft protocols addressing the issues of trafficking in women and children, illicit firearms and illegal trafficking in migrants. The Assembly would decide that the international instrument being prepared by the Ad Hoc Committee addressing trafficking in women and children should address trafficking in all persons but especially women and children. It would also decide that the Ad Hoc Committee would be convened in 2000, holding no fewer than four sessions of two weeks each. The proposed amendment would further decide that the Ad Hoc Committee in Vienna should submit the final texts of the draft Convention and protocols to the General Assembly for early adoption prior to a high-level signing conference.

By the terms of a 28-power draft resolution on the Protection of Migrants (document A/C.3/54/L.67), the Assembly would strongly condemn all forms of racial discrimination and xenophobia regarding access to employment, vocational training, housing, schooling, health services and social services, as well as services intended for use by the public. It would welcome the active role played by governmental and non-governmental organizations in combating racism and assisting individual victims of racist acts, including migrant victims.

Also by that draft, the Assembly would call upon all States to review and, where necessary, revise immigration policies with a view to eliminating all discriminatory policies and practices against migrants and to provide specialized training for governmental policy-making and law enforcement, immigration and other concerned officials, thus underlining the importance of effective action to create conditions that foster greater harmony and tolerance within societies.

The draft is sponsored by Angola, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Russian Federation, Senegal and Uruguay.

A 28-power draft on human rights and terrorism (document A/C.3/54/L.70) would have the Assembly condemn the violations of the right to live free from fear and of the right to life, liberty and security. It would also condemn the incitement of ethnic hatred, violence and terrorism. It would reiterate its unequivocal condemnation of the acts, methods and practices of terrorism as activities aimed at destroying human rights, fundamental freedoms and democracy, threatening the security of States, destabilizing Governments, undermining pluralistic civil society and having adverse consequences for development. It would urge cooperation in fighting terrorism at the regional and international levels and would urge States to take steps toward bringing to trial those involved in terrorist acts.

The draft is sponsored by Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Georgia, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Russian Federation, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikistan, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey and Turkmenistan.

By a 22-power draft on the situation of human rights in Cambodia (document A/C.3/54/L.72) the Assembly would urge the Government of Cambodia to develop a democratic judicial system. Expressing concern about the situation of impunity in Cambodia, it would call upon the Government to take further measures to investigate and prosecute those who had perpetrated violations of human rights. The Assembly would also call on the Government to ensure that those most responsible for serious human rights violations be brought to account.

The Assembly would condemn the use of racist rhetoric and acts of violence against ethnic minorities, and would urge an end to racial violence and vilification. It would also urge the Government to take all steps to meet its obligations as a party to the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, including the seeking of technical assistance. Finally, the Assembly would express grave concern at the devastating use of anti-personnel landmines on Cambodian society and would welcome the ratification of the Convention on landmines.

The text is sponsored by Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Costa Rica, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden and United States of America.

By a 34-power draft on the strengthening of United Nations action in the field of human rights through the promotion of international cooperation and the importance of non-selectivity, impartiality and objectivity (document A/C.3/54/L/73) the Assembly would call upon Member States to base their activities for the protection and promotion of human rights upon relevant United Nations instruments and to refrain from activities inconsistent within that framework.

The Assembly would also express its conviction that an unbiased and fair approach to human rights issues contributed to the promotion of international cooperation as well as the effective promotion, protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms. In this context it would stress the continuing need for impartial and objective information on the political, economic and social situations and events in all countries.

The text is sponsored by Algeria, Angola, Bangladesh, Botswana, Burundi, Cambodia, China, Colombia, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Libya, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, Myanmar, Namibia, Nigeria, Peru, Rwanda, Sudan, Syria, Togo, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

By a 35-power draft on the human rights situation in Iraq (document A/C.3/54/L.60), the Assembly would strongly condemn the systematic and extremely grave violations of human rights in Iraq resulting in an all-pervasive repression sustained by widespread terror. It would also strongly condemn the suppression of freedoms, the widespread use of the death penalty, summary and arbitrary executions and widespread, systematic torture. It would call upon the Government to correct those violations and to abide by obligations under human rights treaties, including by bringing security forces into conformity with international standards; by cooperating with United Nations mechanisms, particularly by receiving a return visit by the Special Rapporteur; by establishing independence of the judiciary; by respecting the rights of all ethnic and religious groups as well as by cooperating with the Tripartite Commission concerning missing persons; and finally, by continuing to cooperate in implementing Security Council resolutions to ensure the equitable distribution of humanitarian supplies purchased under the oil-for-food programme.

The draft is sponsored by Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States.

By terms of a 20-power draft on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (document A/C.3/54/L.63), the Assembly would welcome numerous improvements, including two visits this year by the Special Rapporteur; activities of the Human Rights Field Office; the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement of 10 July, signed by all parties as at 31 August; the appointment by the Secretary-General of a Special Envoy for the peace process and of a Human Rights Minister by the Democratic Republic, along with the Government's commitment to cooperate in demobilizing and reintegrating child soldiers into society.

The Assembly would express its concern at the adverse impact of continuing conflict and the preoccupying situation of human rights in the eastern part of the country, along with violations of rights throughout it, including through massacres, summary or arbitrary executions, and the trial of civilians and the imposition of the death penalty by the Military Court, as well as at the excess of small arms and the persecution of human rights defenders and their organizations.

By the draft, the Assembly would urge all parties to the conflict to implement the Lusaka Agreement and to re-establish the authority of the Government, stressing the need for all Congolese to engage in an all-inclusive political dialogue with a view toward national reconciliation and democratic elections. It would urge those same parties to protect human rights and respect humanitarian law; to ensure the security and freedom of movement of United Nations and associated personnel; to cease all military activity and end violations of human rights, making sure there was no impunity for offenders; and to cooperate with the National Commission of Inquiry and all others concerned in investigating alleged massacres of refugees. Finally, the Assembly would call upon the Government of the Democratic Republic to take steps to protect its people and promote the democratic process through such actions as complying with obligations under human rights commitments, upholding its commitment to reform and restoration of the judicial system, ending impunity and cooperating fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

The draft is sponsored by Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Chile, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom.

By terms of a 23-power draft on the situation of human rights in Myanmar (document A/C3/54/L.76), the Assembly would urge the Government of Myanmar to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur and allow him to conduct a field mission. It would deplore the continuing violations of human rights in Myanmar and express grave concern at the increased repression of public political activity and at arbitrary detention and arrest of those exercising freedoms of expression. It would strongly urge the Government to release detained political leaders and political prisoners, expressing grave concern at the escalating persecution of the democratic opposition. It would strongly urge Myanmar, taking into account assurances given by it on various occasions, to take steps towards restoring democracy in accordance with the will of the people as expressed in the 1990 democratic elections.

By the draft, the Assembly would also note with grave concern that the Government of Myanmar had failed to review its legislation, and would strongly urge it to cease the widespread and systematic use of forced labour and to implement the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry of the International Labour Organization regarding implementing the Forced Labour Convention of 1930. It would deplore the continued violations of human rights, in particular, those directed against persons belonging to ethnic and religious minorities and would deplore the continuing violations of women's human rights. It would urge the Government to end the enforced displacement of persons, and other causes of refugee flows to neighbouring countries, and would strongly urge it to ensure full respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The draft is sponsored by Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Spain, Sweden and United States.

A draft on the situation of human rights in Haiti (document A/C.3/54/L.80) would have the Assembly draw attention to the need for the Haitian National Police to continue receiving technical assistance to enable it to perform efficiently within a framework of respect for human rights. It would strongly support efforts to enable the people of Haiti to express their political will in forthcoming legislative and local elections, inviting all political leaders of the country to involve themselves in constructive dialogue, inviting the Government to create the environment for the holding of fair and free elections in accordance with the schedule announced by the Provisional Electoral Council.

It would further call upon the Government to continue structural reforms in the police and the judicial system, to investigate politically motivated crimes and take vigorous action to eliminate human rights violations. Finally, it would reaffirm the importance of investigations undertaken by the National Commission for Truth and Justice with regard to combating impunity and realizing a genuine process of transition and national reconciliation.

The draft is sponsored by Argentina, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Monaco, Paraguay, United States and Venezuela.

By a 17-power draft on the situation of human rights in the Sudan (document A/C.3/54/L.81) the Assembly would express concern at the impact of the current armed conflict on the situation of human rights and civilian population, particularly women and children. It would also urge all parties to the conflict in Sudan to respect and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms and international humanitarian law; to stop the use of weapons, including landmines, against civilian populations; to grant access to international agencies and humanitarian organizations in order to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to all civilians in need; to continue to cooperate with the peace efforts of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development; to prohibit the use or recruitment of children under the age of eighteen, and to fulfil their commitment to the protection of war-affected children; and to allow for an independent investigation of the case of four Sudanese nationals who were abducted on 18 February 1999 while travelling with the International Committee of the Red Cross and subsequently killed while under the custody of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement/Army.

The Assembly would also call upon the Government of Sudan to comply with its obligations under international human rights instruments, to investigate the abduction of women and children taking place within the framework of the conflict in southern Sudan, and to stop the indiscriminate aerial bombardment of civilian and humanitarian targets.

The text is sponsored by Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom.

The Committee also has before it a number of draft resolutions on which action is expected to be taken, among them a text draft on the Third Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination and the convening of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (document A/C.3/54/L.28/Rev.1).

By the first of the draft's four parts, the Assembly would urge Governments to take all necessary measures to combat new forms of racism, as one way of implementing the Programme of Action for the Third Decade. The Assembly would also urge States to become parties to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and to limit reservations lodged against it. Further, it would urge worldwide implementation of the Programme of Action, with particular attention to indigenous people, strongly underlining the importance of education as a significant means of eradicating racism and racial discrimination.

By Part Two of the draft, concerning the world conference against racism and related intolerance, the Assembly would decide that the conference and the sessions of its preparatory committee should be open to participation by all States members and specialized agencies, regional organizations and commissions, as well as to other organizations and bodies who would participate as observers. It would also decide that the conference would be action-oriented, focusing on practical measures to eradicate racism, including through measures of prevention, education and protection and with remedies that took into consideration the existing human rights instruments.

Also, by that part of the draft, the Assembly would request the High Commissioner for Human Rights, among others, to undertake preparatory activities for the world conference, also requesting the preparatory committee to begin drafting a final document containing specific goals, objectives and timetables. The Assembly would welcome the offer by the Government of South Africa to host the conference in 2001, appealing to all Member States to contribute generously to the voluntary fund for the conference, and also calling for the holding of national and regional meetings and other initiatives raising awareness about the conference.

By Part Three of the draft, the Assembly would strongly reaffirm the proclamation of 2001 as the International Year of Mobilization against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, calling for observance of the Year, including through programmes of action. By Part Four of the draft, the Assembly would consider the item of elimination of racism and racial discrimination as a matter of high priority at its next (fifty-fifth) session.

The draft is sponsored by Australia, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, France, Greece, Guyana (on behalf of the group of 77 developing countries and China), Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and United Kingdom.

By a draft resolution on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding self-determination (document A/C.3/54/L.27), the Assembly would urge all States to take the necessary steps, and to exercise the utmost vigilance, against the menace posed by the activities of mercenaries. It would also urge States to take legislative measures to ensure that their territories and their nationals were not used for any activities related to mercenary actions. States would be urged to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur on mercenaries.

In addition, the Assembly would request the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to take actions publicizing the adverse effects of mercenaries and to provide advisory services to States affected by mercenary activities. It would request the Secretary-General to invite Governments to make proposals towards a clearer definition of mercenaries, requesting the High Commissioner for Human Rights to convene expert meetings on the matter.

The draft proposal is sponsored by: Algeria, Angola, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Iceland, India, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan and United Arab Emirates.

The draft resolution on mercenaries contains a related draft containing programme budget implications (document A/C.3/54/L.90). By that draft the Assembly would request that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights be programmed, in its immediate activities to publicize the adverse effects of mercenaries on the right to self-determination, and to render advisory services to States affected by activities of mercenaries. The High Commissioner would also be asked to convene expert meetings on aspects of the issue. The Office was expected to produce a booklet during the biennium 2000-2001 and two expert meetings were expected to be convened for a cost of $435,000. However, no additional appropriation would be required.

By a draft on the elimination of all forms of religious intolerance (document A/C.3/54/L.61), the Assembly would reaffirm that freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief is a human right derived from the inherent dignity of the human person, and guaranteed to all without discrimination. The Assembly would urge States to ensure that their constitutional and legal systems provided effective guarantees for these freedoms, including effective remedies where the right was violated. It would also urge States to ensure that no one within their jurisdiction was deprived of the right to life, liberty or security of person, or be subjected to torture or arbitrary arrest or detention because of religious beliefs.

Further, it would urge States to take all necessary action to prevent such instances and to take all appropriate measures to combat hatred, intolerance and violence as well as all other acts of coercion with respect to matters relating to freedom of religion or belief. It would urge States to ensure that officials did not discriminate against persons professing other religions or beliefs. Finally, the Assembly would note the Special Rapporteur's request that his title be changed from Special Rapporteur on religious intolerance to Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. It would encourage the Special Rapporteur to contribute to the World Conference against Racism in 2001.

The draft is sponsored by Afghanistan, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mali, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States and Venezuela.

By the terms of a draft resolution on the respect for the principles of national sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of States in their electoral processes (document A/C.3/54/L.74), the General Assembly would strongly appeal to all States to refrain from financing political parties or groups in other States and taking any other action that undermines their electoral processes. Also, it would condemn any act of armed aggression or threat or use of force against peoples, their elected Governments or their legitimate leaders.

The draft is sponsored by the following countries: Angola, Burundi, China, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Libya, Mali, Myanmar, Namibia, Nigeria, Sudan, Syria, United Republic of Tanzania, Viet Nam and Zimbabwe.

By the terms of a draft resolution sponsored by Cuba, on the respect for the right to universal freedom of travel and the vital importance of family reunification (document A/C.3/54/L.75), the General Assembly would once again call upon all States to guarantee the universally recognized freedom of travel to all foreign nationals legally residing in their territory. Also by that draft, all States would be called upon to allow, in conformity with international legislation, the free flow of financial remittances by foreign nationals residing in their territory to their relatives in the country of origin. States would also be called upon to refrain from enacting legislation intended as a coercive measure that discriminates against legal migrants.

Under the terms of a draft resolution on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (document A/C.3/54/L.77), the Assembly would urge the Secretary-General to continue to give high priority to request from Member States for assistance in the establishment and strengthening of national human rights institutions as part of the programme of advisory services and technical assistance in the field of human rights.

Also by that draft, the Secretary-General would be requested to continue to provide the necessary assistance for holding meetings of the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions during the sessions of the Commission on Human Rights, in cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Secretary-General would also be requested to continue to provide the necessary assistance for regional meetings of national institutions.

That draft is sponsored by the following: Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Malaysia, Mongolia, Namibia, Nepal, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Slovenia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Ukraine.

By the terms of a draft resolution on human Rights and mass exoduses (A/C.3/54/L.78), the General Assembly would strongly deplore ethnic and other forms of intolerance as one of the major causes of forced migratory movements, and would urge States to take all necessary steps to ensure respect for human rights, especially the rights of persons belonging to minorities. The Secretary-General would be urged to give high priority to, and to allocate the necessary resources within the regular budget of the United Nations for, the consolidation and strengthening of emergency preparedness and response mechanisms, including early warning activities in the humanitarian area, for the purpose of ensuring, inter alia, that effective action is taken to identify all human rights abuses which contribute to mass exoduses of persons.

That draft is sponsored by the following countries: Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, South Africa and Spain.

By the terms of a draft resolution on Human Rights and unilateral coercive measures, (document A/C.3/54/L.79) sponsored by South Africa and China, the General Assembly would urge the Commission on Human Rights to take fully into account the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures, including enactment of national laws and their extraterritorial application, in its task concerning the implementation of the right to development. The Assembly would call upon Member States that have initiated such measures to commit themselves to their obligations and responsibilities arising from the international human rights instruments to which they are party by revoking such measures at the earliest time possible.

Introduction of Draft Resolutions

The representative of Mexico introduced the draft on protection of migrants (document A/C.3/54/L.67). She said Algeria had become a co-sponsor.

The representative of Turkey introduced the draft on human rights and terrorism (document A/C.3/54/L.70). He said the co-sponsors had agreed to delete operative paragraph seven, which had urged the bringing to trial of those involved in terrorist acts. He said Cuba, Malaysia and the Philippines had become co- sponsors.

The representative of Japan introduced the draft on the situation of human rights in Cambodia (document A/C.3/54/L.72). She said a number of oral amendments had been agreed upon. Those included a change in operative paragraph four, line three, to read: “…adoptions of…” rather than “adoption”. In operative paragraph five, line one, the phrase, “its stated commitment” was changed to “(commended Cambodia) for the review and the stated commitment…”. In operative paragraph five, the phrase “grave concern” was changed to “serious concern”. In operative paragraph 15, line four was amended to read “…health conditions…of minorities”. In operative paragraph 17, initial capitals were added to the “Five-Year National Plan Against Child Sexual Exploitation”. Finally, in paragraph 22, line four, the word “requests” was changed to “asks”. In addition, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Norway and the United Kingdom had become co-sponsors.

A representative of Cuba introduced the draft on strengthening United Nations action in the field of human rights through the promotion of international cooperation and the importance of non-selectivity, impartiality and objectivity (document A/C.3/54/L.73). He said Benin had become an additional co-sponsor.

A representative of Cuba also introduced the draft on respect for the principles of national sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of States in their electoral processes (document A/C.3/54/L.74). She said Malaysia had became a co-sponsor.

The representative of Cuba introduced the draft resolution entitled “respect for the right to universal freedom of travel and the vital importance of family reunification”. The following countries were added as sponsors to that draft: Antigua and Barbuda, and Bolivia.

Next, the representative of India introduced the draft resolution entitled “national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights”. The following countries added their sponsorship to that draft: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Spain, Romania, Venezuela and Turkey.

The representative of Canada introduced the draft resolution on “human rights and mass exoduses”. Japan, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Portugal and Thailand also joined as sponsors.

The representative of Finland, also speaking for the European Union, introduced the draft resolution on “human rights situation in Iraq”. Kuwait, Slovenia and New Zealand were added as sponsors to the draft. The following revision was made: in operative three insert after the word “commission” the following: “and technical subcommittee”.

Again, the representative of Finland, also speaking for the European Union, introduced the draft resolution entitled the “situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo”.

The representative of Sweden introduced the draft resolution entitled “situation of human rights in Myanmar”. The following were added as sponsors to that draft: Germany, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom.

Next, the representative of Venezuela introduced the draft resolution on the “situation of human rights in Haiti”. The following countries were added as sponsors to that draft: Andorra, El Salvador, Japan, Norway, Spain, Uruguay, Belgium, Peru, Brazil and Australia. The following revisions were made: in operative paragraph one, the words “in that country” should be deleted. In the seventh line of operative eight, the word “specific” should be included before the word “context”.

The representative of Finland, also speaking for the European Union, introduced the draft resolution entitled “Human rights situation in the Sudan”. The following countries added their sponsorship to that draft: Monaco, Poland, Slovenia, Hungary and Latvia.

The representative of the United States introduced the draft on the high- level political signing conference for the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (document A/C.3/54/L.21/Rev.1). He said a number of oral amendments had been made, including the removal of the word “draft” from in front of the Convention’s title and in front of the word “protocol” in operative paragraphs one and four. In operative paragraph one, the term “Palermo Conference" would also be added, so that lines three and four in that paragraph would read: “...signing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (the Palermo Conference) and the protocols thereto;”. The first words in operative paragraph two would read: “Decides to convene the High Level...”. Operative paragraph four, lines two and three would read: “...propose the agenda for and the organization of...".

The following became co-sponsors: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belarus, Benin, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Brunei, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Comoros, Congo, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Maldives, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Philippines, Qatar, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syria, Togo, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Ghana became an additional co-sponsor, as did Haiti, Netherlands, Hungary, Ukraine, Thailand, Guyana and Bolivia.

The representative of Poland said he would withdraw a resolution related to the hosting of the high level political conference (document A/C.3/54/L.23).

The representative of Italy observed it was seldom a draft resolution had 150 co-sponsors.

The representative of the United States then introduced the resolution on the draft United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the draft protocols thereto (document A/C.3/54/L.4), as well as the amendments contained separately (document A/C.3/54/L.88). Again the term “draft” was deleted before the words “Convention” and “protocols”.

Action on Drafts

The Committee then took up the draft resolution entitled “Third Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination and the convening of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance”. The following countries were added as sponsors: Afghanistan, Austria, Canada, Iceland, Israel, Sweden and former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

It was said that the draft has programme budget implications.

The representative of the United States said his Government looked forward to the convening of the world conference on racism since it should make an important contribution to the international community. Also, it would help analyze existing racial conditions and identify best practices in order to fight against racism. Racism and related intolerance was a problem. He hoped the Conference would be positive and that it would not be caught up in historical grievances that could impede progress. His Government could not approve the draft because of what it stated regarding freedom of speech and hate crimes. His Government supported freedom of speech, no matter how abhorrent racist views were.

The Committee then approved the draft resolution entitled “Third Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination and the convening of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance” (document A/C.3/L/28/Rev.1), without a vote.

Next, the Committee took up the draft resolution on the “use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination”. The following countries were added as sponsors to that draft: Togo, Suriname, Madagascar and Bolivia.

The representative of Finland, also for the European Union, said the impact of the use of mercenaries and their actions as related to terrorist activities were of great concern. However, as in previous years, her Government could not support it. There had been no consultations in regard to that draft. She had doubts whether the subject should be dealt with in the Third Committee, or as a human rights problem. Terrorism and mercenary activities did not seem to fit in the Third Committee. Those subjects should be dealt with in the Sixth (Legal) Committee.

The Committee then approved that draft resolution (document A/C.3/54/L/27), as orally revised, by a recorded vote of 103 in favour, 16 against with 32 abstentions. (See Annex)

The representative of Cuba said the topic of the right of peoples to self - determination was appropriate for the Third Committee. International legislation was necessary in dealing with the use of mercenaries. Also, a universal term regarding mercenaries was needed. States had the right to choose, without foreign interference, their own political regime. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was provided with the necessary arrangements for the full application of such resolution.

The Committee then approved without a vote the draft resolution entitled “Elimination of all forms of religious intolerance” (document A/C.3/54/L.61), to which the following countries were added as sponsors: Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Brazil, Georgia, Philippines and Thailand.

Statements

AHMAD RAGAB (Egypt) said it was particularly important to accommodate the voluntary return of refugees and to bring to justice those who violated their rights. The return of such voluntary returnees, including the Palestinian people, should be the first priority of the United Nations. The situation of hosting refugees complicated ethnic conflicts, particularly in Africa, and also put undue strain on host countries.

MARCELA NICODEMOS (Brazil) said the difficulty of providing aid to refugees was mounting, because of the nature of modern conflicts. The difference between combatants and civilians was often blurred in internal conflicts. Assistance was considered a valuable asset and was often diverted by belligerents to meet their strategic designs. Humanitarian workers bore the brunt of those actions. In addition, she said, resources were inadequate because the magnitude of the problem today. Entire regions were plagued by humanitarian crises. The root cause was lack of political will on the part of those who could make the necessary contributions. It was urgent for the international community to uphold its commitment to the institution of asylum, and to the principle of non-refoulement. Restrictive measures such as physical and legal barriers to prevent refugees from obtaining entry or asylum must be avoided and removed. It was urgent that the international community tackle the plight of refugees in a systematic and coordinated way with adequate resources.

APIRATH VIENRAVI (Thailand) said developing States which bore the brunt of long-term refugee situations needed support and encouragement, not criticism. “Criticism will not help refugees, but practical support and resettlement schemes to third countries will”, he said. Refugee problems were not only the responsibility of host States; they were the collective responsibility of the international community.

He said Thailand hosted more than 100,000 displaced persons from Myanmar. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had free and early access to all temporary shelter areas and took part in admission and registration of the displaced persons. He was pleased that Cambodian refugees who had fled their country in 1997 had been able to return home. Also, the UNHCR in cooperation with his Government, that of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, was planning the return of more than 1,000 Laotian refugees from his country. He hoped for the application of a “culture of prevention” in order to avoid refugee-related problems.

CHRISTINE KAPALATA (United Republic of Tanzania) said refugee movements had become a major source of instability and conflict. For more than forty years, her Government had hosted refugees out of humanitarian concern and in fulfillment of its international obligations. In recent years, however, the economic strains that resulted from hosting refugees had assumed “inordinate proportions”. She called on the international community to respect the principle of burden-sharing. The international community needed to devote the same enthusiasm to burden-sharing as it did to States’ responsibility in hosting refugees. Without adequate financial resources, developing States which were hosting refugees could not meet their international obligations.

According to her Government’s records, there were 800,000 refugees in her country. However, the UNHCR records stated that there were only between 300,000 to 500,000 refugees. That discrepancy was due to the number of refugees who lived outside refugee camps. Even though those people did not live in camps, her Government was still expected to assist them. She called on the UNHCR to re- evaluate refugee statistics in her country. She said the issue of refugee security had acquired greater importance in recent times. However, it was important to also underline the obligation of refugees to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with their status. “It is irrational and unfair for refugees to expect the hospitality of a host Government while violating the laws of the land by engaging in criminal or other activities incompatible with their status”, she said.

NEH DUKULT-TOLBERT (Liberia) noted the concern caused by the fact that of the total of some 21 million refugees, no fewer than six million were in Africa. Hundreds of thousands were sitting in camps after escaping violence wrought by political instability in their countries of origin. The High Commissioner’s visit to Liberia had been fruitful and her participation in the Summit of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in Algiers had given assurance that the UNHCR would help address the issue.

Liberia, she said, was a State party to the conventions and protocols dealing with refugees. It had always opened its doors to refugees, as it had to approximately 90,000 Sierra Leonean refugees who had escaped the crisis in their country. She said Liberia had helped them in the spirit of African brotherhood and solidarity. Now the international community must help Liberia in caring for them. Liberians who had sought refuge in neighbouring West African countries during Liberia’s time of conflict were returning home; since May 1997, the UNHCR had helped repatriate 120,000 Liberian refugees. It was estimated that 210,000 remained in Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire. Liberia had appealed for their return and to help rebuild their native land.

BALI MONIAGA (Indonesia) said he deplored the violence that had occurred during the post ballot period in East Timor, which had prompted a refugee emergency. The flow of refugees from East to West Timor had placed an added burden on Indonesia, as the country of first asylum, which was itself undergoing a severe financial crisis. Through close cooperation between Indonesia and international agencies, more than 50,000 people had been returned to their homes. In addition to financial resources for housing, feeding and caring for the refugees in West Timor, the protection of the refugees had been addressed. Such abuse of rights as had occurred was new to Indonesia.

It was important to look beyond the immediate needs, he said. The humanitarian issues of the day had to be addressed, but the international community should also bear in mind the development needs of tomorrow. The path to peace, stability and prosperity in East Timor lay in genuine reconciliation between East Timorese political groups. Only when that reconciliation had been achieved would the conflict be resolved, and the root causes of the humanitarian problem permanently removed.

EDOM GETACHEW (Ethiopia) said the magnitude of the refugee crisis in Africa had been demonstrated by the fact that among the ten major refugee “source” countries in the world, seven were found in Africa. With well over six million refugees, Africa was the most seriously affected continent. She said there should be an increase in the overall resources allocated to refugees in her region, so that it would be commensurate to the level of crisis.

She said a viable and durable solution to the refugee problem was inconceivable without voluntary repatriation. The cost of that needed the attention of the international community. She said there was a need for burden- sharing arrangements between the United Nations development agencies and the UNHCR, and she called upon the United Nations development agencies such as the UNDP, UNICEF and the World Bank to render their full support in bridging the gap between humanitarian and development assistance. Ethiopia currently hosted 280,000 refugees, she said, among which 72 per cent were Somali. Sixty thousand refugees had been already repatriated to Somali lands; she hoped that an additional 25,000 would be repatriated soon.

PAUL GOA (Guinea) said it was of great concern that programmes related to refugees in Sub-Sahara Africa had been reduced by 15 per cent in the past two years. That situation should be reviewed. The consequences of the presence of refugees in his country had been substantial -- economic, social, cultural, and environmental. Furthermore, they had had a negative impact in development programmes. He said he hoped for international assistance to deal with such problems.

Positive solutions to the conflicts in the African continent should be sought, he went on. A programme called “red cross school” had been initiated in schools in his country; it included the principles of humanitarian law in the school curricula. The international community should make an “objective effort” to identify the reason for conflicts; only then could there be peace and security.

SUH DAE-WON (Republic of Korea) said it was encouraging that several of the world’s most acute refugee crises had been somewhat successfully managed over the past year, as in Afghanistan, Liberia and Cambodia. However, enormous challenges remained, especially as ethnic crises were violating human rights on a larger scale, and public sentiment in some countries had turned a blind eye to the critical need of protecting refugees and internally displaced persons. There had been a gradual shift away from a law- or rights-based approach toward refugee protection and more towards a discretionary one. The UNHCR should put more emphasis on protecting people who were not formally recognized as refugees but lived in refugee-like circumstances outside their countries of origin.

The abominable predicament of refugees and asylum seekers could be beyond description, he said. Also of great concern was the problem of insecurity confronting humanitarian workers. Recognizing the importance of protecting humanitarian assistance to refugees and others in conflict situations, his country had initiated an open debate on the subject during its presidency of the Security Council in 1998. It was against that backdrop that his country was seeking membership to the UNHCR Executive Committee.

(Annex follows)

ANNEX

Vote on Mercenaries Impeding Right for Self Determination.

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) approved the draft resolution on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self- determination (document A/C.3/54/L.27) by a recorded vote of 103 in favour to 16 against, with 32 abstentions as follows:

In favour: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darrusalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Japan, Luxembourg, Federated States of Micronesia, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States.

Abstain: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malta, Marshall Islands, Monaco, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, San Marino, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ukraine.

Absent: Albania, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Chad, Comoros, Dominica, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Grenada, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Kiribati, Lesotho, Nauru, Palau, Rwanda, Solomon Islands, Tajikistan, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Uzbekistan.

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