|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-seventh General Assembly
30th & 31st Meeting (AM & PM)
Universal Recognition of Inalienable Right to Self-Determination Most Effective
Way of Guaranteeing Fundamental Freedoms, Third Committee Told
Hears from Some 35 Speakers in Day-Long Debate,
With Focus on Eliminating Racism, Self-Determination, Human Rights Protections
Universal recognition of the inalienable right to self-determination was the most effective way the global community could guarantee protection of fundamental freedoms, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) was told today, as it concluded discussion on several human rights issues.
“Whether this right is taken away by military intervention, aggression, occupation, or even exploitation, the world cannot condone its deprivation from any peoples in any region,” the Maldives representative said.
All States facing questions of self-determination must include broader ethnic and linguistic groups in decision-making processes, said delegates, as the Committee heard from some 35 speakers in a day-long debate that concluded its consideration of the elimination of racism, and the right of peoples to self-determination, then moved on to consideration of human rights protections.
The representative from the youngest Member State, South Sudan, said his people’s experiences were “an excellent lesson for the international community” on matters of racism and self-determination, since South Sudanese political parties and personalities had not been consulted in discussions on independence from colonial Britain, which led to distrust and decades of war.
The racial and religious discrimination faced by South Sudan for more than six decades should not have happened, with the Charter and the watchful eyes of the United Nations to guard against such indignities, he said. Nonetheless, despite all the hardship inflicted, South Sudan, which finally became a Republic in 2011, would like to put suffering behind, and seek a good relationship with Sudan.
During the discussion, a number of countries supported realization of self-determination for the Palestinian people, calling on the Security Council to recommend that the General Assembly accept the Palestinian application for United Nations membership and heavily criticizing Israel’s policies.
Malaysia’s representative said he had personally witnessed the suffering of Palestinians under Israel’s military occupation and blockade, which destroyed the economy and minimized employment opportunities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. “The sooner the solution is found, the sooner members of both sides can find themselves living in peace and security,” he said. “The only option is to make the two-State solution, based on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as capital of Palestine, a reality,” he said.
The Palestinian observer said Israel had violently withheld the inherent right to self-determination of the Palestinian people, but those people remained committed to peace and had not forsaken their legitimate national aspirations. Israel should not be allowed to continue obstructing and dictating the terms of the Palestinian exercise of the right to self-determination, she said.
Speaking in right of reply, Israel’s representative said that it was committed to advancing the self-determination of Palestinians and to a two-State solution. The Palestinian delegate, among others, had neglected to mention that Israel’s Prime Minister had offered to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority President without preconditions but had been rebuffed “time and again”. If the Palestinian delegate cared about self-determination, she would stop berating his country and start working with it, he said.
In the afternoon, the Committee also resumed its discussion on the promotion and protection of human rights, in which most delegates vowed to continue engaging in the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review, a cornerstone of the international human rights architecture.
During the debate, the representative of Nigeria said the most severe human rights problems in the world today were caused by poverty, discrimination, conflicts and diseases. Political instability and conflicts, particularly in Africa, were intrinsically linked to economic development, he said, calling for an increase in development and financial assistance to realize the Millennium Development Goals.
The representative of Malaysia, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the work of the international community in promotion and protection of human rights should take into account principles of respect for national sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in the internal affairs of States. “Freedom, progress and national stability are promoted by a balance between the rights of the individual and those of the community, through which many individual rights are realized, as provided for in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” he said.
The European Union’s representative said 2012 had been a year in which the long path of transition in many countries continued worldwide. “There may be temptations, once power is gained, to refuse to grant to some the full enjoyment of all human rights. But, democracy can only flourish when it gives its entire people, whatever their gender, religion, disability, language or ethnic identity, an equal say and equal rights, guaranteed in law and practice,” he said.
Also speaking today in the debate on racism and self-determination were the representatives of Kyrgyzstan, Iran, Albania, Malaysia, Bolivia, Norway, Syria, India, Costa Rica, Armenia, Iceland, Egypt and Azerbaijan.
Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Armenia, Pakistan, Syria, India and Azerbaijan, as well as a representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine.
In the debate on the protection and promotion of human rights the Secretary-General of the Ministry for Human Rights of Burkina Faso spoke, as did the representatives of India, United Republic of Tanzania, Morocco, Viet Nam, Ukraine, Latvia, Barbados (on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM)), Chile (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Brazil (on behalf of Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR)), Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Venezuela, United States, Australia, Japan and Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
Exercising the right of reply were the representatives of China, Russian Federation, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Cuba, Bahrain, Viet Nam and Japan.
The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 7 November, to begin its consideration of refugees and hold a dialogue with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to continue its consideration of elimination of racism, racial discrimination and related intolerance as well as the right of peoples to self-determination, and to continue its discussion of promotion and protection of human rights.
Statements on Racism and Self-Determination
NURBEK KASYMOV ( Kyrgyzstan) rejected all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. He also rejected the recent film entitled “The Innocence of Muslims”, saying also it was unacceptable to direct violence against diplomatic staff. There were more than 100 nationalities in Kyrgyzstan, and one third of the population was comprised of ethnic minorities. In 1994, Kyrgyzstan had become party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, reaffirming its attachment to equality and non-discrimination. The constitution enshrined equal rights for all. It was pursuing a policy of multicultural education and transparent governance. A council on inter-ethnic development also had been established under the President’s auspices.
Noting that more than 10 years had passed since the adoption of the Durban Declaration, he said implementation of that instrument and its Programme of Action had been unsatisfactory, as racism persisted in all corners of the world. He shared the Secretary-General’s appeal for more political will and stronger measures to reverse the trend of racist and xenophobic violence. Intercultural dialogue and respect for diversity were extremely important in combating such behaviour. Political platforms based on such attitudes should be condemned as incompatible with democratic principles and he urged States to change legislation, guarantee the rule of law and carry out appropriate educational work.
Mr. RAHMAN ( Iran) said the right of Palestinians to self-determination was an inalienable right, yet Palestinians were being deprived the exercise of that right. Flagrant international human rights violations by the occupying Power continued unabated. The international community should not be indifferent to that travesty of justice and humanity. Palestinians deserved liberation and self-determination and international measures had been inadequate. As long as that question remained unresolved, peace could not prevail in the region. The question of Palestine was at the core of the Middle East conflict. The root cause of the problem should be addressed. The final outcome should be an independent, democratic Palestine with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.
Turning to racism, Mr. ANSARI said racism, in different forms and manifestations, was among the root causes of internal and international conflicts, and threatened ethnic and religious minorities. Racial and xenophobic actions had increasingly targeted minorities, especially Muslim communities, indigenous peoples, immigrants, people with African or Asian origins, and Roma. The growing tendency of politicians to stigmatize people on the basis of religion, race, colour, descent and national or ethnic origin was also alarming. The world had seen a recent upsurge of “Islamophobia” in certain parts of the world, a trend manifested in attacks on Muslim places of worship, among other things. He was gravely concerned at the desecration of Muslim sanctuaries, saying such Islamophobic acts only cultivated animosity among different peoples and nations.
ERVIN NINA ( Albania) welcomed the contribution of the Special Rapporteur in his report on the increased use of the Internet to promote, fuel and disseminate racist ideas. Dialogue among different cultures and civilizations should be seen as an ongoing process that required dedication, goodwill and care. “We cannot permit that the reckless sporadic actions of disruptive groups through the Internet obstruct us from a genuine effort to reach a better understanding of each other in a world everyday more globalized,” he said.
Albania shared the view that the global fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance was an issue that concerned all and in which the international community must be united. But, it was also convinced that the fight against intolerance began at the community level, and no society could progress unless every aspect of discrimination was fought vigorously and continuously.
HUSSEIN HANIFF ( Malaysia) said the long struggle for self-determination still eluded Palestinians, and the expansion of Israeli settlements was tantamount to that country’s encouragement of settler violence against Palestinian people and property. Israeli policies and practices of displacement and dispossession only served to worsen the disempowering and vulnerable conditions endured by the Palestinian people. He urged the international community and the Middle East Quartet to take firmer action to stop the illegal Israeli settlements, confiscation of Palestinian land and resources and demolition of Palestinian homes, property and infrastructure. The practices of administrative detention and extrajudicial execution also required a stronger international response.
In addition, the Palestinian right to self-determination had been denied with illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip, where for five years 1.6 million Gazans had been living with insecurity, he said. He had personally witnessed the sufferings of the military occupation and blockade, which destroyed the economy and minimized employment opportunities in the occupied Palestinian territories. Under restrictive and oppressive conditions, Israel’s control over every entry and exit of all people, goods and services in and out of Gaza was definitely done to slow the Palestinian path towards achieving self-determination. “The sooner the solution is found, the sooner members of both sides can find themselves living in peace and security. The only option is to make the two-State solution based on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as capital of Palestine a reality,” he said.
INGRID SABJA ( Bolivia) said her country prohibited all forms discrimination based on age, colour, origin, culture, religious belief, political or philosophical affiliation, economic status, educational level, and other factors aimed at undermining the enjoyment of equal conditions for all people. The Constitution protected and promoted human rights in rejection of all forms of racism. Yet, various forms of racism had come to the fore during the President’s election among those unable to accept such changes. That had led to confrontations against farming and rural communities.
She said racial discrimination affected the poor, which led to conflict and exacerbated poverty. On 8 October, the President enacted a law against racism that established mechanisms for preventing racism and all forms of discrimination. In line with international human rights treaties, Bolivia sought to consolidate policies for the prevention of racist crimes. Under a supreme decree of 2008, the justice sector worked with indigenous groups and others to draft an action plan for 2009-2013. Another decree established the organizational structure for a general director to combat racism. In addition, “good faith agreements” between Government and civil society bodies to combat racism, discrimination and xenophobia had strengthened the standing mechanism for dialogue.
AHMED SAREER ( Maldives) said among our most inherent rights was that of self-determination. It was only through the realization of self-determination that the global community could begin to address other fundamental rights such as dignity, justice, progress and equity. “Whether this right is taken away by military intervention, aggression, occupation, or even exploitation, the world cannot condone its deprivation from any peoples in any region,” he said. The primary focus of all States facing questions over self-determination must be to create and engage in consultative mechanisms encouraging the exchange of information and ultimately, the incorporation of ethnic and linguistic groups into the decision-making process.
It was clear that shortcomings in the consultative process had left many peoples exploited in the name of development, and natural resources had been used without regard for cultural integrity or preservation. “While Maldives deplores excessive exploitation of natural resources and the potential for adverse impacts, we also deplore the abuse of peoples without regard to human dignity and national commitments to international law,” he said. Taking note of the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Palestine, Maldives strongly believed that a two-State solution with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace was the only way forward, and therefore, called upon the United Nations to seek the right of self-determination for the Palestinian people.
TINE MØRCH SMITH ( Norway) said her country was becoming increasingly culturally diverse, which posed challenges, but also enriched society and created opportunities. The Government had made integration and tolerance key priorities. “Racism and xenophobia remains one of the most dangerous forms of discrimination”, she said, as it could easily lead to hatred, violence and, in the worst cases, crimes against humanity and genocide. Now more than ever it was important to confront extremist ideologies and stereotypes of cultural and religious intolerance. Misperceptions attached to minorities must be continuously fought.
She went on to urge strengthened efforts to ensure that terms like “cultural diversity” and “multiculturalism” were associated with mutual respect, tolerance and a person’s freedom to make his or her own choices. Interpretations of what was discriminatory would differ. In some cases, it could be extremely difficult to decide whether one’s freedom of expression had violated the rights of others, or amounted to advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred constituting incitement to hostility and violence. She strongly supported the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, saying the main battle against racism must be fought at the national level. Coordinated international efforts to combat such abuse were also vital.
NADYA RASHEED, Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine, said Israel had violated, trampled on and violently withheld the inherent right to self-determination of the Palestinian people it held captive in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. The occupying Power’s continuation of its illegal policies, building settlements and related infrastructure, was a clear attempt to strengthen its subjugation and strangulation of the Palestinian people and to entrench its illegal occupation. “There can be no justification for the deliberate planning and expansion of settlements, as well as the continuation of its expansionist Wall, and there can be no explanation other than that the Israeli Government is neither interested in the two-State solution, nor is it interested in peace and security,” she said.
Continued illegal settlement had led to a point where many now openly questioned the attainability of the two-State solution. “The failure to bring a halt to Israel’s settlement campaign and thus enable us to overcome the impasse threatens to unravel all achieved to date and to usher in an era of even greater instability and uncertainty,” she said. The Palestinian people remained committed to peace and had not forsaken their legitimate national aspirations; Israel, as the occupying Power, should not be allowed to continue obstructing and dictating the terms of the Palestinian exercise of the right to self-determination. The Security Council’s duties, the responsibilities of Member States, and the obligations of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention were clear. Serious, practical measures had to be undertaken to compel Israel to halt illegal settlement activities and begin moving towards ending its illegitimate, belligerent 45-year occupation.
MONIA ALSALEH ( Syria) said communications technologies and other efforts had been used to distort cultures and falsely elevate one culture, which only fuelled a false superiority of some racial or religious groups. That threatened international peace and security and undermined the positive contributions of a culture of dialogue. Racism in her region had increased in a “crude and dangerous” fashion due to the Israeli apartheid system. Israel refused to accede to international conventions related to the repressing crime of segregation. It had built a racial separation wall and built a racial entity that would exclude Palestinians, under a mantra of the importance of the “Jewishness of the State of Israel”.
In addition, Israeli authorities were building a separation in the Syrian Golan, she said, a futile attempt to separate the Golan from its motherland, Syria. Those efforts were marked by the theft of water, land and property, which contravened the Geneva accords. Those calling for upholding the rights of Syrians could not ignore their right to restore their occupied territory. Explicit manifestations of racist practices included Israeli violations in the occupied Syrian Golan in the areas of health culture and language. Also, Israel was holding nine prisoners from the Syrian Golan on the charge of burning false Israeli identity cards and choosing to maintain their Syrian citizenship. Israel’s protectors continued to ignore its crimes, which only led Israel to persist in its abuses.
ANYAR MADUT ( South Sudan) said the experiences of his people in dealing with racism and self-determination was an excellent lesson for the international community. In 1953 in Egypt, the British had a consultative meeting with northern Sudanese representatives to discuss the future independence of Sudan; however, it did not include any South Sudanese political parties or personalities. There opinion was not sought or consulted, and that led to distrust. As a result of that discontent, it escalated into a guerrilla armed struggle, which lasted 17 years and displaced hundreds of thousands from their homes. In 1972, an agreement was reached to give South Sudan greater autonomy, but that agreement lasted only ten years. The South Sudanese were forced to rebel, with the declared objective to fight for a secular South Sudan free from discrimination.
The second war lasted 23 years, and ended in 2005, as they exercised their right to self-determination in a national referendum and declared South Sudan a Republic on 9 July 2011. The first comprehensive peace agreement in 1972 had been initially aimed at the principle objective of uniting Sudan under an agreement that would be free of the racist discrimination in the old Sudan, but that had not lasted. The racial and religious discrimination faced by South Sudan for over six decades should not have happened, with the Charter and the watchful eyes of the United Nations to guard against such indignities. Nonetheless, despite all the hardship inflicted on them, the people of South Sudan would like to put their suffering behind them, and seek a good relationship with Sudan.
ANNU TANDON, Member of Parliament of India, said her country had a multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multilingual society. Indians had contended with racism under colonialism, but the leaders of the freedom struggle had ensured that the principles of equality were enshrined in the constitution and anchored in a comprehensive legal framework. India had been involved in drafting the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. Expressing concern at increased racist incidents in some countries, she urged also taking effective national measures, including those to ensure an attitudinal change. Education strategies would perhaps provide the surest guarantee against racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia.
She said India’s unwavering support for the Palestinian cause was a cornerstone of its foreign policy. India supported their aspiration for enhanced status at the United Nations, and for a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital and living alongside Israel, as outlined in the Road Map and Arab Peace Initiative. Ethnic or religious segregation could not be legitimized by an argument that society be created along homogenous lines. That would only aid forces of extreme nationalism. She rejected Pakistan’s statement about Jammu and Kashmir, whose people had regularly reaffirmed their will through free and fair elections held there. Pakistan only sought to turn attention away from its record of human rights violations, including in the Pakistan-occupied area of Jammu and Kashmir.
SAUL WEISLEDER ( Costa Rica) said his country was privileged to be a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society, and was committed to ending of all forms of discrimination. That was why protection of all groups that were not majorities was key to shaping the democratic nature of the country. Costa Rica recognized that people of African and Asian descent, as well as indigenous peoples, remained vulnerable to discrimination, and were also victims of colonialism and continued to suffer its effects. Costa Rica was addressing, as a society, the challenge of racism by ensuring vulnerable ethnicities had access comprehensive development and growth. It was working on a systematic approach against discrimination, submitting reports to treaty bodies and continuing to fine tune its national plan, with significant support of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The development of the plan was an inclusive and participatory process which had to include all stake holders; it was hoped the national plan would pave the way for a State-wide policy to combat discrimination and promote affirmative action to create opportunities for all.
Among other measures, Cost Rica’s inclusive new law on migration was part of the direct struggle against xenophobia, while the 2011 census established self-identification categories for better analysis to inform policies. But, racist phenomena had not been eradicated, and no country could claim to be free from their destructive consequences. Costa Rica was convinced of the need to depoliticize the manner in which the agenda item was addressed and focus on the needs of the victims. Intercultural dialogue was necessary when confronted with discrimination. Only specific measures and human rights-based education that promoted understanding between nations, races and ethnic groups based on the Universal Declaration would help build societies that were democratic and truly respected equality.
GAREN NAZARIAN ( Armenia) considered the right to self-determination a major component of respecting human rights around the world. Its universal recognition was the most effective guarantee of the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. That right was a binding and universally recognized norm of international law. Obstacles against the exercise of the right to self-determination led to armed conflict, destruction, internal displacement and refugee crises. While wounds were trying to heal in Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan was trying to launch a new war with anti-Armenian efforts at the national level. The alarm had been sounded by international and intergovernmental bodies specialized in combating racism.
He said Azerbaijan continued to disseminate false accusations against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. It was spreading hate propaganda. Azerbaijan’s pardon of Ramil Safarov, who slaughtered an Armenian soldier in his sleep simply because he was Armenian, had been cited as a sign of patriotism by Azerbaijani youth. Future murderers were now aware of the impunity they could enjoy for murder driven by hatred. Such alarming acts contradicted international law and challenged the entire human rights system. He expected the United Nations to continue to voice its concern and react promptly to those developments. Azerbaijan had carried out crimes on ethnic grounds over the decades. That had not contributed to an atmosphere of trust and only raised questions about its understanding of the United Nations goals of peace and tolerance.
GRÉTA GUNNARSDÓTTIR ( Iceland) said her country’s Constitution prohibited discrimination based on racial and ethnic origin, religion or belief. Two provisions in the General Penal Code specifically safeguarded against such discrimination, and the Code also made it clear that any kind of hate speech against a person or a group of persons based on nationality, ethnicity, race, religion or sexual orientation was not tolerated. “Hate speech that violates the human rights of individuals is not protected by free speech,” he said, noting that it was recently reaffirmed by a landmark European Court of Human Rights judgement. Iceland also deeply valued freedom of expression as a fundamental right, and had undertaken a comprehensive review of its laws, collecting best practices from around the world.
It was essential to work toward universal adherence and full implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination on All Forms of Racial Discrimination, he said, urging all States who had not yet done so to become parties. The Convention bore in mind daily expression of racism around the world, including in such sports as soccer, where Iceland applauded FIFA for its strong stand against that scourge. Iceland also continued to support the Durban Declaration as well as the outcome document from the Review Conference, seeing them as important tools to deal with the scourge of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Turning to self-determination, he reiterated his country’s long-standing support to people’s right to determine their future. Iceland was determined to contribute to the realization of that inalienable right for the Palestinian people, and continued to call upon the Security Council to recommend that the General Assembly accept Palestine’s application for United Nations Membership.
MONZER FATHI SELIM ( Egypt) said “the right to self-determination was essential for the promotion and protection of all human rights for all peoples without exception”. But, the United Nations, despite achievements, remained politicized when it came to that right for Palestinians, who had lived under foreign occupation for over 65 years. He voiced grave concern towards Israel’s decision to unilaterally suspend its cooperation with the Human Rights Council, which set a dangerous precedent. If not addressed, it would undermine the Council’s functioning. After more than three years of Israel’s war on Gaza, Egypt reiterated its call for the full implementation of recommendations in the report by the United Nations independent international investigation committee.
He said Egypt also welcomed the report and recommendations of the special procedure on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. The main theme of the General Assembly in bringing about adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations by peaceful means underscored the need to ensure that mediation was fair and effective. The decolonization process was incomplete and more effective efforts were needed to achieve it. The United Nations was obliged to ensure full realization of the right to self-determination, and full enjoyment of human rights, especially for Palestinians. He called for upholding that responsibility through building confidence among all parties, with the aim of reaching a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East, on the basis of all terms of reference, United Nations resolutions and the land-for-peace principle.
TOFIG MUSAYEV ( Azerbaijan) said acts of foreign military intervention suppressed peoples’ rights to self-determination and should be halted. In certain instances, there continued to be a flagrant misinterpretation of self-determination; it should be made clear that international law was unambiguous about not creating grounds for non-consensus secession. Claims of secession were unsustainable when they violated international law and when they were coupled with external aid.
That was evidenced in Armenian efforts against Azerbaijan. “We have witnessed this approach once again in the statement by Armenia,” he said. The attempted unilateral secession of a part of Azerbaijan included the use of force and other egregious violations of international norms. That had been affirmed in relevant resolutions in the Security Council and General Assembly. Armenia’s revisionist claims about the principle of self-determination were unsustainable under international law. “Law is more important than force,” he said.
Right of Reply
Exercising his right of reply, Israel’s delegate said he found it surreal to listen to Syria’s delegate speak about protecting human rights when her Government continued to slaughter its own people. It was time Syria stopped using Israel to sweep its crimes under the carpet in efforts to distract from the atrocious crimes of the Assad regime. To comments by the Palestinian delegate, he said that, contrary to those false statements, Israel was committed to advancing the self-determination of Palestinians and to a two-State solution. The Palestinian delegate, among others, had neglected to mention that Israel’s Prime Minister had offered to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority President without preconditions but had been rebuffed “time and again”. If the Palestinian delegate cared about self-determination, she would stop berating his country and start working with it.
Pakistan’s delegate said Kashmir was an internationally recognized disputed territory. Numerous statements had been made by India at the United Nations and other fora. As for the Kashmiri’s elections, it was known that such elections had been rejected by the Security Council and by Kashmiris themselves. No electoral activities could substitute for a free and impartial plebiscite mandated by the Security Council.
He regretted the reference to the so-called human rights situation in Pakistan, saying: “ Jammu and Kashmir is not India’s internal issue”. Pakistan’s statement to which India had referred was based on what Kashmiris and the international media had been saying. Pakistan would continue to support the right of people in Jammu and Kashmir to choose their destiny, in line with Security Council resolutions on that matter. Resolution of those issues could only happen in an environment of cooperation, to which Pakistan remained committed. Ongoing discussions must move forward.
Armenia’s delegate regretted that an attempt had been made by Azerbaijan’s delegate to mislead, by misrepresenting the causes and consequences of the conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia had never started any aggression. It was Azerbaijan that had started the full-scale war against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, forcing them to take up arms to protect their lives. There were systematic breaches of the rule of flaw, fundamental freedoms and human rights, including the right to self-determination.
He said the current situation in the region stemmed from Azerbaijan’s decision to use force to suppress the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and keep them from exercising their right to self-determination. It was Azerbaijan that had violated Security Council resolutions urging parties to pursue negotiations in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group framework. Azerbaijan’s refusal to engage in direct talks with elected representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh, and its hostile stance against Armenia, was the main impediment to resolving that issue. Armenia had used its good offices with the Nagorno-Karabakh leadership to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.
Syria’s delegate said the representative of the occupying Power, having heard condemnations of its racist policies, had found himself in a perilous situation, which was why he had tried to divert attention from events in his country. She would not respond to his lies. He represented an authority that murdered, raped, and imposed a blockade on people for more than 60 years. Today, that representative tried to find solutions that suited his own purposes. Syria impatiently awaited the evacuation of the Golan Heights by the Israeli occupying Power. Syria would always remind the international community of that country’s activities as it pursued its occupation of Arab lands.
Exercising the right of reply, the representative of Palestine said she regretted to have to take the floor to respond to the statement of the representative of Israel. Year after year the same assertions were made, but Israel continued to violate international law on the ground, which did not offer support to the false claim that Israel wanted peace and was a peace-loving country. It continued to demolish Palestinian homes and displace people, building illegal settlements and unleashing racist settlers. “Is this what they mean by peace?” she said.
Israel should stop wasting the time to make those false statements of peace and end its violations. Only when Israel ended its occupation and violations would peace and security prevail.
Exercising right of reply, India’s representative said the representative of Pakistan had regrettably made a fallacious claim. Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India, and its people had chosen their destiny in a democratic way.
Azerbaijan’s representative, in right of reply, said the comments by Armenia were illustrative of the country’s purposeful efforts to mislead the international community. Its claims had never been consistent with international legal norms. The situation following the independence of Azerbaijan and actions of Armenia were clear: it had unleashed a war, occupied Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakhand seven regions and conducted ethnic cleansing. The most serious crimes had been committed in the course of the war. In 1993, the Security Council adopted four resolutions that condemned Armenia’s actions, called for its withdrawal and confirmed Nagorno-Karabakh was part of Azerbaijan. The international community had made it clear that any attempt by Armemia in that regard was a violation. What Armenia described as the peaceful right to self-determination has been described by the international community as the illegal use of force.
Pakistan ’s representative, in response, urged his Indian colleague to read the relevant Security Council resolutions. The only ways to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir dispute was to address it in an international forum and through meeting the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. Pakistan was committed to a peaceful resolution to the dispute, he said.
The representative of Armenia, is a second intervention, said he was responding to another distorted statement by Azerbaijan. The references to occupation and aggression were baseless and the provocative statement showed it was not interested in a legal solution. The people of Nagorno-Karabakh had exercised their inalienable right to self-determination, and Armenia attached the utmost importance to international law to maintain peace and security in the region.
Azerbaijan’s delegate said the Armenian delegate’s latest comments showed how that country was not engaging in a search for peace in the region. Armenia’s delegate had not introduced anything new. He had not listened to what Azerbaijan had outlined, preferring instead to read out a pre-written text of falsifications. Azerbaijan had heard out-of-context comments that failed to respond to its arguments.
Moreover, he said Armenia bore responsibility for unleashing war against Azerbaijan. Armenia, which had purged its territory of all non-Armenians and had created a mono-ethnic culture, should be the last to speak about the rule of law and justice. That was an open challenge to the conflict settlement process and threatened international peace and security. He was confident that Armenia would be obliged to denounce territorial claims and establish civilized relations with all countries in the region.
Statements on Human Rights
ANNU TANDON, Member of Parliament of India, said her country attached great importance to the work of the Human Rights Council, whose strength lay in its adherence to the principles of objectivity, transparency, non-politicization and non-confrontation. Also, the enthusiastic participation by Member States in the Universal Periodic Review underscored the success of that innovative mechanism. India also welcomed the ongoing inter-governmental consultations on treaty bodies, and firmly believed those should now be the focal point in the process to strengthen them, with final recommendations undoubtedly taking into account views of relevant bodies and civil society representatives.
It was important that the Special Rapporteurs ensured their conclusions and recommendations on a particular Member State were first shared with the concerned Government and that they were given adequate time to respond; also, in public statements concerning allegations of human rights violations, Special Rapporteurs had to fairly indicate the responses by concerned States. “We must remember that the objective is to assist national Governments and that task can only be done in cooperation with them and not despite them,” she said. She also highlighted the need for adequate and equitable allocation of financial and staff resources to all mandate holders, and said the financial status of the Office of the High Commissioner was in a critical situation.
ELLEN AZARIA MADUHU (United Republic of Tanzania) said her country was a State party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, among others, and was committed to fulfilling its obligations. It had also submitted its combined initial, second and third report on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which would be considered in November. The Government expected to submit its consolidated seventeenth and eighteenth report on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in 2013.
She went on to say her country implemented human rights instruments in various ways, including through the constitution, the supreme law of the land, which provided procedures for enforcing basic rights and duties. The Government had put in place a national strategy for growth and reduction of poverty and a “Development Vision 2025”, both of which focused on the promotion and protection of human rights. It also was in the final stages of drafting the national human rights action plan, which would provide the necessary framework for that work.
USMAN SARKI( Nigeria) said the most severe human rights problems in the world today were caused by poverty, discrimination, conflicts and diseases. Nigeria was concerned that Africa suffered as a result of that situation; while those problems had been attributed to underdevelopment, the nexus between security and development had given those problems a concrete human rights dimension. Political instability and conflicts, particularly in Africa, were intrinsically linked to economic development, he said, calling for an increase in development and financial assistance to developing countries, particularly in the realization of the Millennium Development Goals, which could be achieved through a renewed commitment by all to deploy 0.7 per cent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) to overseas development assistance.
Despite concerted efforts by the international community, more must be done to implement the Durban Declaration and its Plan of Action, he said, urging States to establish the political conditions necessary to sensitize all segments of society on the evils of racial discrimination. The plight of irregular migrants was also a matter of great concern to Nigeria, which condemned the way they were rounded up and detained under conditions that were inhuman and degrading. “We call on States engaged in this practice to uphold minimum standards of decency in the way irregular migrants are treated, especially the conditions under which they are detained,” he said.
MOHAMED ACHGALOU ( Morocco) underscored that it was the primary responsibility of States to protect and promote the rights of people within their territories. The centrality of human rights had seen important institutional developments, including with the Human Rights Council. Further, the impact of political change on human rights had been seen in recent years, with democratic changes in the Arab world and others in the Sahel challenging the United Nations to find resources and strategies for meeting the needs of countries in democratic transition or post-crisis. While the attitude towards United Nations human rights mechanisms was positive, there had been negative behaviour in implementation efforts.
He urged eliminating the perception that human rights was being used as a simple way of achieving political objectives. That should also cover certain politically motivated non-governmental organizations. In Morocco, human rights today stemmed from a debate among all stakeholders. He commended Moroccan civil society, which had proven its capacity to act to preserve constitutional achievements. Morocco also had gradually adapted to international standards. The attempt to reach equity and reconciliation, a “pioneering” experience for transitional justice, was now part of its constitution. Also, Morocco was committed to discussions with all United Nations human rights mechanisms, including the Universal Periodic Review, having adopted almost all of its recommendations. A national programme also had been created for its follow up.
LE HOAI TRUNG(Viet Nam) said respect, protection and promotion of human rights was the consistent policy of his country, detailing mechanisms and measures implemented that were both in line with international laws and respectful of the social and cultural tradition of the nation. With a policy that puts people at the centre of the socioeconomic process, Viet Nam considered acceding to international Conventions on human rights a steady policy that reflected its resolve and commitment to safeguard those legal standards.
Besides establishing and refining its legal system, Viet Nam had accelerated reform and efficiency and increased democracy to better guarantee human rights. Judges, lawyers, investigators and the police were increasingly well-trained and increasing in number, he said. Viet Nam also attached importance to preparation of periodic reports on implementation of Conventions to which it was a member. Those reports were an opportunity to review and reassess achievements, as well as the challenges to realizing human rights.
Mr. KVAS ( Ukraine) said in order to implement fully the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, a global alliance for human rights must be developed. Contributions from all actors were needed: Governments, international organizations and civil society all had vital roles to play. Genuine and effective prevention was a pragmatic alternative against human rights violations. The adoption by the Human Rights Council of the resolution initiated by Ukraine, “The role of prevention in the promotion and protection of human rights”, co-sponsored by more than 40 countries, showed the vital importance and strong potential of preventive strategies, policies and measures to ensure respect for human rights.
Ukraine was strongly committed to the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, he said. It went through its first Review in 2008 and presented its progress report in 2010. On October 24, Ukraine successfully underwent the second Universal Periodic Review at the Human Rights Council. The Special procedures were one of the most dynamic and effective mechanisms for the protection and promotion of human rights; Ukraine welcomed further strengthening and enhancing transparency in the selection of mandate holders, as well as ensuring their independent status. Being committed to the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide, Ukraine would be a candidate for Council membership for the 2018-2020 term. Ukraine remained determined to engage constructively in the work of the Council, and would exert every effort to ensure it fulfilled its mandate in a most effective and essential manner.
LLENE KONDRATZUKA ( Latvia) acknowledged the important role played by the treaty bodies monitoring implementation of obligations, and gave serious consideration to their recommendations to further improve the human rights situation in her country in accordance with universal standards. Being one of the first States to issue a standing invitation to all special procedures, Latvia actively promoted that practice. “We believe that issuing a standing invitation to the special procedures is an unambiguous signal of the strength and commitment of a country to the promotion and protection of human rights and demonstrates a tangible contribution to the strengthening of the whole UN system of human rights protection, of which the special procedures are an integral and important part,” she said.
To further demonstrate its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, Latvia had put forward its candidature for the Human Rights Council elections for 2014. “Having gone through a challenging transformation process and achieving considerable progress, we believe that as a Human Rights Council Member State we will have much to contribute to the joint efforts in the global promotion and protection of human rights,” she said. Promotion and protection of human rights had been high on Latvia’s agenda since regaining independence in 1991; in the tough situation of the economic crisis, the Government always made sure those rights were protected and support programmes continued to be implemented within the available budget. Despite those achievements, Latvia was realistic and understood there was still room for improvement and development. It was determined to continue seeking cooperation in implementing its commitments, to ensure future challenges could be met.
JOSEPH GODDARD (Barbados), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said it was fundamental for States to address the serious challenges facing the human rights treaty body system by making proposals to guarantee its effective functioning. That would help safeguard the basic tenets of human rights. CARICOM would participate in the intergovernmental process, which was to resume in early 2013. He reiterated concerns voiced during the dialogue with the High Commissioner for Human Rights about the selective implementation of recommendations contained in her report.
He went on to say that, although development was a human right for all, challenges in its realization continued unabated, due to multiple interrelated crises facing developing countries, especially small developing States. It must not be forgotten that all human rights were interrelated and indivisible. It also was crucial to ensure quality education and affordable healthcare. Indeed, education was a human right and vital in the fight against poverty.
He said the Special Rapporteur on the right to food had referred to the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, which stressed the contribution of global fisheries to the right to food and food security. Residents of developing coastal countries were most vulnerable to the challenges facing global fisheries and he underlined the importance of regional cooperation in that regard. He could not stress enough the need to preserve the Caribbean Sea, which was critical to the region’s food security and employment.
HUSSEIN HANIFF (Malaysia), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN),said the work of the international community in the promotion and protection of human rights should take into account principles of respect for national sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in the internal affairs of States. “Freedom, progress and national stability are promoted by a balance between the rights of the individual and those of the community, through which many individual rights are realized, as provided for in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” he said.
ASEAN has made remarkable progress in the promotion and protection of human rights since its reaffirmed support for the Vienna Declaration in 1993, among other things, creating the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, which planned to conduct thematic studies each year of its five-year work plan on topics such as corporate social responsibility, migration, trafficking in persons, juvenile justice and the right to health. Beginning last year, the Commission focused on the drafting of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, which would be a landmark political document, reflecting the aspirations of the people of the region and setting the landscape for human rights cooperation.
Despite different levels of development within ASEAN, the region’s commitment to advancing the status of women was clearly demonstrated by the fact that all Member States were party to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women. A recent consultative meeting in Manila helped highlight good practices and experiences on the implementation of laws, policies and actions aimed at overcoming the invisibility of violence. Human rights cooperation required the full participation of all Member States. “While we seek to set the agenda for the promotion and protection of human rights in the region, there is a need to take into account the non-confrontational and constructive manners of engagement in view of regional particularities, variegated cultures, religions and traditions,” he said. Nonetheless, it would be crucial to ensure the effective promotion and protection of human rights and freedoms in order to realize an ASEAN Community by 2015 that was inclusively strong with empowered peoples.
OCTAVIO ERRAZURIZ (Chile), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said he would focus on respect for the human rights of all migrants. The composition of current societies was the result of historic and contemporary migratory flows; migration enriched societies by making them more diverse, promoting an exchange of ideas and their evolution. Migrants made significant contributions to their countries of origin through, for example, remittances, but their contributions to economic and social development of host societies were not sufficiently taken into account. The international economic and financial crisis had, in many countries, resulted in deteriorating working and employment conditions for migrant workers and their families.
In that context, he highlighted the increasing reverse of migrant flows between the Latin American and Caribbean region and developed countries, which not only included the return of migrants to their country of origin, but also the arrival of migrants from these developed countries. CELAC acknowledged Governments had the right to formulate laws and policies to regulate the flow of migrants through their territories, but regretted the adoption of laws and regulations that criminalized the act of migrating. It encouraged Member States to end excessive detention periods for people who had not committed any crime, and to unconditionally respect the inherent dignity and human rights of migrants, urging all States to eliminate laws with political objectives that stimulated unsafe migration, causing a loss of life.
Turning to violence against women migrant workers, he encouraged States to implement gender-sensitive policies to ensure all women, including care workers, were legally protected against violence and exploitation. CELAC Member States were also concerned about the current exploitation of migrants, and the fact that international criminal networks had targeted the traffic of migrants in their criminal activities. All States needed to strengthen appropriate coordination between countries of origin, transit and destination in order to combat those crimes, he said. CELAC looked forward to convening next year the Second High-Level Dialogue on International Migrations and Development, with a view to addressing those and other crucial issues. “This approach must start off on the basis that the migration phenomenon is constituted by human beings, who cannot be simply handled or managed in a mechanical way. It is crucial to promote and respect their human rights and dignity at the centre of our considerations,” he said.
ALAN SELLOS (Brazil), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), reaffirmed that human rights were indivisible and inter-related. Since 2005, the Meeting of High ranking Authorities in Human Rights had allowed for MERCOSUR States’ coordination on issues related to children, gender discrimination, education and the right to truth, among others. In 2010, it established an institute for public policy, to help strengthen the rule of law in States Parties and consider human rights as a fundamental MERCOSUR strategy.
He went on to say that in no case could the situation derived from the economic and financial crisis be used as an excuse to decrease States’ obligation to the promotion and protection of human rights and he appealed for more efforts in that regard. Developed countries must comply with their obligation to allocate 0.7 per cent of their GDP to official development assistance. As for the incitement to hatred for religious reasons, he said it was unacceptable that people were discriminated against because of their faith. He reaffirmed the right of everyone to freedom of religion or belief.
To combat violations against people due to their sexual orientation or gender identity, he urged enhanced commitment via public policies that included recognition and coexistence of people for the benefit of peace. MERCOSUR was working towards the greatest social inclusion in their public policies, including girls, boys, women, indigenous and elderly peoples. In that context, he referred to a June decision seeking to establish a gender equality policy. In sum, MERCOSUR reiterated its support for the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons against Forced Disappearances, emphasizing also its commitment to strengthening the Human Rights Council.
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING, of the delegation of the European Union, said 2012 had been a remarkable year for the Union in the field of human rights. For the first time, it adopted a unified Strategic Framework setting out principles, objectives and priorities to further improve Union human rights policy. And last July, the first ever Special Representative for Human Rights was appointed to enhance effectiveness and visibility of Union action, with a clear remit to enhance dialogue with third countries, and international and regional organizations. It had also been a year in which the long path of transition in many countries continued worldwide. “There may be temptations, once power is gained, to refuse to grant to some the full enjoyment of all human rights. But, democracy can only flourish when it gives its entire people, whatever their gender, religion, disability, language or ethnic identity, an equal say and equal rights, guaranteed in law and practice,” he said.
Countries part of the Arab Spring -- Tunisia, Egypt and Libya -- successfully organized democratic elections, and expectations were high in countries of the region which had embarked on reforms, such as Morocco, Algeria and Jordan. The Union had also welcomed the increased cooperation of a number of North African countries with the Special Procedures, as well as positive developments in Burma/Myanmar, but recent inter-communal unrest in Rakhine state had drawn attention to one of the many issues that remained to be addressed. In Bahrain, some positive steps had been taken, but more should be done to end the violence and rebuild trust, so that genuine national reconciliation could start. Transition to a peaceful and sustainable future required ending impunity and ensuring accountability for past human rights violations and crimes, which should be prosecuted in domestic courts and, when necessary, the International Criminal Court. The Union encouraged Sri Lanka’s Government to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learned Reconciliation Commission, and address allegations of violations of international law.
The Union continued to be alarmed by the deteriorating human rights situation linked to ongoing conflicts worldwide, he said. The intensification of violence in Syria continued to shock the world, and the Union fully supported the efforts of Mr Brahimi to find a political solution to the crisis, condemning ever increasing use of force by the regime. Among other things, the Union was also very concerned at disturbing reports of violations and acts of violence in Mali; the rapidly deteriorating situation and escalation of violence in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo; recent legislation in the Russian Federation; Venezuela’s denunciation of the American Convention on Human Rights; the unabated crackdown on human rights defenders in Iran; violations relating to land reform and convictions of human rights defenders in Cambodia; a more restrictive approach to freedom of expression and media in Viet Nam; the tragic wave of self-immolations in the Tibetan regions of China; and persistent, grave, widespread and systematic violations of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The General Assembly, as the United Nations’ premier and universal human rights forum, needed to address those situations.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER ( Liechtenstein) urged taking a critical look at the United Nations’ capacity to respond, saying that two elements must come together for it to bring about decisive change on the ground: political will and adequate tools. Protecting rights and freedoms often did not prevail over other political interests in international decision-making and he urged making every effort to ensure that preventing grave and systematic violations of international law was the highest priority in decision-making processes. Preserving the independence of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was essential in ensuring she remains the primary advocate for implementing human rights. Liechtenstein was fully committed to preserving the institutional arrangements among the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council and the United Nations Secretariat, while encouraging different stakeholders in the human rights architecture to strengthen their cooperation.
Indeed, the Council had established itself as the central standing body to address all human rights questions. He called on States to continue engaging in the Council’s Universal Periodic Review, recalling the collective responsibility to ensure the Review continued to be a cornerstone of the human rights architecture. Should a State cease to cooperate, that would challenge the equal applicability of agreements in the human rights field and put that State’s commitment to the principle of inclusive multilateralism into question. He also urged a clear focus on resources in treaty body discussions. In that regard, States must respond to the ad hoc requests for additional funding from treaty bodies in the most precarious situations. Those requests provided an opportunity to pilot innovative proposals, such as the meeting of treaty bodies in parallel chambers when they deemed it appropriate.
JAMAL SHARIFUDDIN JOHAN ( Malaysia) said his delegation shared the view that in certain parts of the world, human rights deteriorated as a consequence of escalating internal conflict, as well as due to recent political upheavals. The key component to ensuring continued exercise of fundamental freedoms such as the right to life, food, health, adequate water and sanitation was the provision of urgently needed humanitarian aid. Malaysia called upon all parties to ensure unimpeded access to humanitarian aid and assistance and called upon the international community to halt the flow of armaments to belligerents, which not only prolonged conflict, but also caused unacceptable loss of life and destruction of property.
For its part, Malaysia had signed the Instruments of Accession of the two Optional Protocols to the Child Rights Convention, underscoring its commitment to protecting children. It had also announced the repeal of legislation inherited from the colonial period, which allowed individuals to be detained without trial based on considerations of national security and public safety. New legislation, currently in the final stages of the legislative process, would provide clearer and stronger safeguards in comparison to the now repealed laws. Sustainable development could only be achieved when the rights of all stakeholders were respected and upheld, and Malaysia attached importance to continued promotion and protection of human rights not only at the national, but also at the regional and international levels.
JULIE NIGNA-SOMDA, Secretary-General of the Ministry for Human Rights of Burkina Faso, said the Universal Periodic Review, while it could be improved, was the favoured framework for assessing human rights progress. Burkina Faso had undergone the Review in 2008 and subsequently organized activities to present its results. Among other measures, it had set up a committee to follow-up on its recommendations. Awareness-raising campaigns also sought to abolish torture, eliminate early and forced marriage and ban female genital mutilation.
She said Burkina Faso also had adopted a series of laws on: the promotion and protection of human rights; repression of terrorist acts; a gender quota in legislative and municipal elections; and land tenure. Two decrees focused on, respectively, a council to prevent violence in schools and gender policy. To prepare for its next appearance before the Council in June 2013, Burkina Faso was taking other efforts, but it also faced challenges in the economic, social and climate areas. The country needed international support in the form of technical and financial assistance, as well as best practices in the implementation of the Review recommendations. Burkina Faso was doing its utmost to coordinate actions through the Ministry for Human Rights.
JORGE VALERO ( Venezuela) said there had been a deterioration of human rights and fundamental freedoms in developed States; poverty and inequality in the world was being spread, as social programmes were cut. At least a billion people were seriously disabled or suffering the serious effects of malnutrition. The struggle against terrorism was used to increase fear and abolish legal and civil rights, as 8 of 10 deaths caused by unmanned drones were civilians. There were also extrajudicial executions, torture was justified, prisoners of war were killed and their deaths were celebrated. It was unacceptable that countries of the European Union held themselves to be sacrosanct defenders of human rights, when they caused the suffering of millions of human beings through their policies. The picture of human rights in the world was certainly not encouraging. Capitalism in its neo-liberal phase was violating the rights of the people of the South.
Since 1999, Venezuela had consecrated in the broadest possible way human rights and guarantees, he said. It recognized the rights of indigenous communities and environmental rights, and had established institutions to exercise those rights. During the last decade, poverty and inequality had been reduced at surprising speed in Venezuela, a participatory democracy where the benefits of development were enjoyed and human rights were for all, not just for the few and privileged. Venezuela repudiated any action that diminished human rights and fundamental freedoms; today there was no death penalty, nor torture, nor secret prisons. Venezuela was fully committed to deepening cooperation with the Human Rights Council, and hoped that system would be strengthened to encourage genuine implementation of human rights.
TED DINTERSMITH ( United States) said the human rights situation in Syria had worsened in the last year, with more than 30,000 people killed. Government forces had escalated violence against civilians and medical facilities. In Iran, repression against citizens also merited the strongest condemnation. Iran must uphold its international obligations, respect its own laws to protect its citizens, and release all those jailed for their religious beliefs. Further, he called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to respect human rights by dismantling political prison camps. That Government subjected its people to forced labour and denied the freedoms of association, expression and movement, among others. Sudan continued to attack civilians in Darfur, sustaining a climate of impunity and denying various freedoms. In Blue Nile and South Kordofan states, the Government’s bombardment was causing civilian displacement and a worsening humanitarian crisis.
The United States strongly supported the July establishment of a Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Belarus, he said, where the Government continued to curtail the freedom of association and right to a fair trial. He also was concerned at the crackdown on human rights activists. In Eritrea, the severe curtailment of fundamental freedoms had led to large numbers of people fleeing the country. The Government also had not accounted for those who had disappeared after arrest. In Cuba, a perennial human rights violator, security forces continued to beat citizens for peacefully expressing freedoms of expression and assembly. China continued to impede the freedoms of expression and association. The Government in Burma had started a noteworthy reform process, but recent events in Rakhine state had been profoundly distressing. The United States remained committed to that reform process.
TANISHA HEWANPOLA ( Australia) said that, as a proud multi-faith, multi-ethnic and multicultural society, Australia encouraged respect for religious differences and protected the rights of people of all religions to practice their beliefs without intimidation. Legislation protected those rights, while multicultural policy advances supported harmonious relationships between people of different backgrounds. Australia firmly believed in the freedom to voice one’s opinions or beliefs as an essential feature of the human rights framework.
She deplored all acts of violence instigated to discriminate against a person’s religion or beliefs, as well as those provoked by a lack of tolerance for freedom of expression. She was deeply concerned about recent violence stemming from the conflicting exercise of those two freedoms. Governments were obliged to encourage healthy dialogue on cultural, ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity that allowed for expression of opinion. On other matters, she called on Syria to abide by a ceasefire and end the violence. She also condemned widespread human rights abuses in Iran, urging the Government to engage with United Nations human rights mechanisms, and expressed deep concern at violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as human rights abuses in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
KAZUO KODAMA ( Japan) said his country appreciated the recent measures by the Government of Myanmar in the areas of democratization and reconciliation, and Japan hoped to continue to play a positive role helping improve living standards, foster human resources and maintain infrastructure and institutions. The human rights situation in Cambodia had been progressively improving since its peace accord 20 years ago, however the country still faced several challenges, including its land rights issue. Japan encouraged the Cambodian Government to cooperate with the international community to make further efforts on the remaining challenges. Japan was also gravely concerned by human rights violations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and was very much disappointed that it refused to cooperate with the United Nations human rights mechanisms, he said.
Ten years had passed since the Pyongyang Declaration between Japan and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, yet the abduction issue remained outstanding. “Twelve Japanese citizens who were abducted by the DPRK have not yet returned to their homeland. There are still other cases of missing persons in which the possibility of abduction by the DPRK cannot be ruled out. This issue should be resolved as soon as possible, as the victims of abduction and their families are becoming old,” he said, asking all Member States to lend support for the situation of human rights in the country. Further, Japan was deeply concerned by continued serious violations of human rights in Syria, urging the Government to stop oppression and violence against its own people. Japan also conducted its eighth human rights dialogue with Iran, and appreciated the Government’s constructive manner. However, it was concerned by the human rights situation in the country and urged the Government to ratify all treaties, calling upon it to cooperate with the international community by allowing the Special Rapporteur into the country.
KANYA KHAMMOUNGKHOUN (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) addressed concerns about a lack of legislation prohibiting the use of the death penalty against children, saying that children’s rights were promoted and protected in the constitution. The Government had adopted a number of measures, including the law on the protection of the rights and interests of children, as well as the national programme on anti-trafficking and sexual exploitation of children. Article 32 of the penal code outlined the death penalty as a punishment to be imposed in especially serious cases. A death sentence was prohibited for offenders under the age of 18 years at the time of their offence.
He said that although the death penalty had been retained in national legislation, a de facto moratorium on it had been observed for several decades. The Lao People’s Democratic Republic was party to seven of the nine core international human rights instruments, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two Optional Protocols. Its appearance in the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review in 2010, as well as submission of other national reports under other human rights instruments, testified to its compliance in that regard.
Right of Reply
Expressing her right of reply, China’s delegate categorically rejected allegations made by the representatives of the European Union and the United States, both of which were deeply crippled by their notorious human rights records. She strongly urged the European Union and United States to review their own human rights situations and resolve differences with other countries by engaging in dialogue.
The representative of the Russian Federation, responding to the European Union delegate’s remarks, said that in July, several amendments had been introduced to publish information on non-profit groups participating in political activities and, at the same time, receiving foreign funding. They aimed to increase the transparency of non-governmental organizations receiving foreign financing. The adopted amendments did not forbid foreign financing of those organizations. No punishment, other than cessation of activities, had been outlined for groups that were hiding their activities. The Russian Federation had borrowed what had long been used by its western partners. In fact, the law was modelled on United States legislation concerning foreign agents, with the Russian version being somewhat softer.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea rejected the fictitious allegations made by the representatives of the United States, European Union, Australia and Japan. Those claims were nothing more than a political game to isolate his country in pursuit of hostile United States policies that had spanned more than half a century. He advised them to reflect on their own human rights situations. He also urged refraining from killing civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
He said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would reject the country specific resolution against his Government in the strongest terms. The abduction issue alleged by Japan had been completely resolved. If any such issue was to be resolved, it was to that to confirm the fate and whereabouts of 8.4 million Koreans who Japan had abducted during its military occupation. Japan was diverting attention from its unresolved crimes against humanity committed against Koreans in the last century. It should apologize and compensate victims, especially comfort women.
Cuba’s delegate, responding to the United States delegate’s comments, said the United States could have apologized for 20 years of not recognizing the many General Assembly resolutions requesting it to lift the blockade against her country. Instead, the Committee had heard a repetition of arguments that did not convince anyone. False librettos did not exempt the United States from the consequences of its attacks against human rights and fundamental freedoms.
She said that country supported mercenaries in countries of the global South, whose main activity was to encourage terrorism and regime change. The United States had no moral right to criticize others. She urged the United States to stop imposing prescriptions and promoting regime change against Cuba. The United States must respect a people who were prepared to sacrifice themselves for the legitimacy of their ideas. It must stop its harassment.
Bahrain’s delegate thanked the European Union for supporting its efforts, saying that her country had implemented the majority of recommendations made by the independent commission of inquiry. In addition, Bahrain had undertaken its second round in the Universal Periodic Review in September, where it fully accepted 145 of 176 recommendations, and partially accepted 13 more. It was in the process of implementing them, as well as those brought forth by the national consensus dialogue. All such efforts showed her country’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights.
In right of reply, the delegate of Viet Nam said he was responding to the statement of the European Union, which referred to the so-called restrictions of freedom of expression in his country. Freedom of expression was clearly expressed in Viet Nam’s Constitution. Viet Nam now had 954 media outlets and 17,000 licensed journalists, and had more than 30 million internet users, ranking first in Southeast Asia. It encouraged the use of blogs and internet forums to express views. However, it believed that freedom of expression came with obligations, including obligations to protect national security, public health, public order and public morals. Any action that incited religious hatred or violence was prohibited under law. The European Union delegation should be mindful of the fact that many European countries had adopted similar laws that would constitute limiting freedom of expression.
Japan’s representative, exercising right of reply, said the statement by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea delegate that the abduction issue was completely settled had been incorrect and contradicted a bilateral agreement. In August 2008, both countries agreed on the modalities of an investigation of the abduction issue. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had abducted citizens of other nationalities, as well. As for numbers of past abuses, they were totally groundless and as to the comfort women issue, he did not intend to explain that issue again.
Responding, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea representative said he was obliged to respond to the misleading statement of Japan. All survivors had been returned home, along with remains of the dead. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had done everything it could do and thought the issue had been resolved once and for all. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea also had documentation of the extent of past Japan abuses. Without settling past crimes, Japanese authorities were continuing to crack down on Korean residents in Japan. His delegations urged Japan once again to settle its past crimes.
In response, Japan ’s representative said he would refrain from engaging in any more detail rebutting the statement of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. It was deeply regrettable that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had not responded with any concrete actions to any concerns of the international community. Instead of merely exercising the right of reply, Japan expected the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to respond concretely to those concerns.
* *** *For information media • not an official record