PROTECTION OF RIGHTS OF MINORITIES DESERVES PRIORITY ATTENTION, THIRD COMMITTEE TOLD AS IT CONCLUDES DEBATE ON HUMAN RIGHTS

16 November 2001
GA/SHC/3666

PROTECTION OF RIGHTS OF MINORITIES DESERVES PRIORITY ATTENTION, THIRD COMMITTEE TOLD AS IT CONCLUDES DEBATE ON HUMAN RIGHTS

16/11/2001
Press ReleaseGA/SHC/3666

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Third Committee

42nd Meeting (AM)

PROTECTION OF RIGHTS OF MINORITIES DESERVES PRIORITY ATTENTION,

THIRD COMMITTEE TOLD AS IT CONCLUDES DEBATE ON HUMAN RIGHTS

The General Assembly's Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) this morning wrapped up its longest debate of the session -- on issues relating to human rights -- as several Eastern European delegations insisted on priority attention to the protection of the rights of minorities.  That was key in preventing the occurrence of armed conflicts.

The representative of Romania, speaking in her country's capacity as Chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said combating racism and intolerance was central in the efforts to prevent conflicts, scale down ethnic tensions and build up a genuine multi-cultural and democratic society.  In recent years, she said, there had been several unresolved minority questions that prompted violent conflicts in several OSCE States.

The delegate of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia said his nation was part of a region burdened by a legacy of ethnic conflict and violations of human rights.  The Government was well aware of those tragic events and stood ready to discuss them openly and constructively.  That was the only way to achieve reconciliation and establish trust and confidence in the region.  His country was aware of its obligations, and was committed to building a society based on democratic principles, on the rule of law and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms.

The regulation of the status of national and ethnic minorities was of the utmost importance for the promotion and protection of human rights, and by extension, all around stability in Eastern Europe, he continued.  National and ethnic minorities were important to the overall democratic process and the development, security and stability of society.  Such minorities were the litmus test of tolerance and dialogue in modern democratic States.

The delegate from Azerbaijan said ensuring the rights of minorities was a way to contribute to the political and social stability and progress of States.  However, representatives of national minorities, as all other citizens, had to respect the national legislation and the rights of others.  The rights of persons belonging to minorities were different from the right of peoples to self-determination.  Minority rights, he said, could not serve as a basis for claims of secession or dismemberment of a State.

During the nine-day debate, the Committee heard from dozens of countries which spoke about the need to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.  Some delegations stressed that, during the war against terrorism, it was critical to show that human rights could not be violated in the name of eradicating terrorism.  Others implored the international community to make the respect of human rights a paramount focus of the new government and society it would help construct in Afghanistan.

Those who took the floor during the debate also spoke about the importance of protecting the rights of migrants, who often faced discrimination as they struggled to acclimate and integrate into their new communities.

Opening the debate was United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, who told the Committee that if the new global anti-discrimination agenda was important on 8 September -- the day it was adopted in Durban, South Africa -- then imagine how much more crucial it had become only three days later, when terrorists attacked the United States.

Mrs. Robinson said racism and intolerance could be both a cause and a consequence of violence.  Major factors in combating racism were the documents adopted at the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.  That was a part of the effective action against all forms of discrimination that was needed to combat the forces of intolerance and hatred in the world.

Following her was a host of Special Rapporteurs and Special Representatives, who addressed an array of subjects ranging from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, to human rights defenders.  Further, country-specific presentations were made about the human rights situation in Afghanistan, the occupied Palestinian territories, Burundi, Sudan, Iraq, Myanmar, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Iran and Cambodia.

Concerning another threat to the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, Sir Nigel Rodley, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, said the single most important factor in the proliferation and continuation of torture was the persistence of impunity.  Causes of impunity of a de jure nature encompassed measures relieving perpetrators of torture of legal liability by, among other things, the adoption of acts of indemnity or by granting amnesty.  He went on to say that one of the main factors constituting a condition of impunity de facto was the prevalence of the opportunity to commit the crime of torture in the first place.  In that respect, one recommendation would be external supervision of all places of detention by independent officials, such as judges, prosecutors, ombudsmen and national or human rights commissions, as well as civil society.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders also said impunity was a massive problem.  Hina Jilani said impunity was the foremost concern of her mandate, and had become the most serious human rights problem in many countries.  It was also a significant factor in enhancing the

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risks attached to the work of human rights defenders.  Exposing human rights violations and seeking redress for them was largely dependent on the degree of security enjoyed by human rights defenders.  Addressing the issue of impunity with respect to defenders was, therefore, a critical element in the promotion and protection of human rights.

At the opening of this morning's meeting, the representative of Pakistan introduced a draft resolution on the universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination.

Also at this morning's meeting, Chairman Fuad Mubarak Al-Hanai recognized that Saturday marked the beginning of Ramadan, and the holiday was coming at a very difficult time.  He hoped the month would be one of reflection.  At the end of the meeting, the Chairman announced that during Ramadan, afternoon meetings would end at 4:30 p.m..

Others who spoke during this morning's meeting were representatives of Tunisia, Cameroon, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Pakistan, Cuba, Syria and Suriname.

Exercising rights of reply were delegates from Ethiopia, Sudan, Zimbabwe and Eritrea.

The Committee will reconvene on Monday at 10 a.m. when it will begin its discussion on refugees with a presentation by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers.

Background

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this morning to conclude its consideration of human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action adopted at the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights.

Also this morning, the representative of Pakistan is scheduled to introduce a draft resolution on universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination (document A/C.3/56/L.32), by which the Assembly would declare its firm opposition to acts of foreign military intervention, aggression and occupation and request the Commission on Human Rights to continue to give special attention to the violation of human rights, especially the right to self-determination, resulting from foreign military intervention, aggression or occupation.

Statements

ALI CHERIF (Tunisia) said it was important for the Committee, as well as the wider United Nations family, to ensure comprehensive follow-up to the Organization’s conventions and meetings, particularly the Assembly special session on HIV/AIDS and the World Conference against racism, among others.  That was the only way the international community’s commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights could be strengthened.  Global actors should also be conscious of the humanitarian implications of protracted conflicts, particularly the impact on such vulnerable groups as women and children.  He called on all combatants to end the fighting and solve their differences peacefully.

He went on to say that it was time for the international community to denounce the human rights abuses practiced by Israel.  Human rights were universal.  They included civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.  Also, the right to development should be at the heart of all efforts to implement human rights goals.  To that end, he hoped to see the establishment of the Global Solidarity Fund, which had been proposed by world leaders during last year’s Millennium Summit.

His own country was attempting to implement a comprehensive strategy to protect and promote human rights, including education programmes and reforms to bring about qualitative progress in the political sphere.  He hoped those reforms would protect privacy and personal data.  His country also hoped to develop a more effective political system, by harmonizing activities between the Parliament and other Government entities.

JAVANSHIR MAMMADOV (Azerbaijan) said Azerbaijan was a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country and national policy was planned and carried out with due regard for the legitimate interests of minorities.  National legislation guaranteed the equality of all citizens irrespective of their ethnic, religious or linguistic identity.  Representatives of all minorities were broadly represented in State structures.  The Constitution and legislation forbade any restriction of human rights and freedoms on the basis of race, nationality, religion, gender, linguistic or social group, or political belief.

He said the promotion and protection of human rights, including the rights of minorities, contributed to political and social stability and the progress of States in which they lived.  At the same time, representatives of national minorities, as all other citizens, had to respect the national legislation and rights of others, including persons belonging to the majority, or to other minorities.  In commentaries to the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, the working group on minorities to the Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights indicated minority rights were different from the right of peoples to self-determination.  Minority rights could not serve as a basis for claims of secession or dismemberment of a State.

He said groundless territorial claims on Azerbaijan, and externally-inspired secessionist movements and hostilities in a region of his country, had led to foreign occupation by neighbouring Armenia.  Armenia now occupied about 20 per cent of the country, which was a gross and flagrant violation of international humanitarian law.  Approximately one million Azerbaijanis were forcibly expelled from their areas of origin.  A total ethnic cleansing had been carried out in Armenia and the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.  His Government rejected the settlement formulas that infringed on its sovereignty and territorial integrity and sought a compromise agreement based on the principles of international law,  

MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon), speaking on behalf of the Economic Community of Central African States, said States in his subregion had long called for a centre focusing on human rights and democracy in Central Africa.  Such a centre was envisioned as a mechanism to help the subregional States with:  training in the management of human rights and democracy; creating human rights structures within those countries or strengthening existing structures, and promoting broad awareness-raising and information-sharing campaigns.  He was pleased to note that six years after the request had been made, the Centre had been established as a subregional office of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Not only had the Centre been established, he said, but it had begun its work immediately after the agreement was signed with the High Commissioner’s Office in September.  Research activities were already underway, and cooperative efforts in the sphere of the promotion and protection of human rights and democracy were ongoing.  The Centre had already published bulletins on human rights, which had been devoted to raising awareness about international human rights instruments.  The Committee should provide all the necessary political support for the Centre, as well as the means for it to respond to the aspirations of States in the region and beyond.  For their part, those States reaffirmed their commitment to work towards the thorough establishment of regional democracy.

VICTORIA POPESCU SANDRU (Romania) said trafficking in human beings was one of the specific areas of human security in which the Romanian chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) had become more engaged.  A complex approach was needed, which should tackle it both as a problem of organized crime and from the human rights perspective.  Human trafficking and related practices, in particular prostitution and forced labour, were violations of basic human rights, including the right to dignity and security of the person.  She said Romania hosted a regional conference on fighting trafficking in human beings and illegal migration last May.  Thus aimed to strengthen measures being taken at national and regional levels to tackle this scourge affecting most European countries, either as source, as transit or as destination.  The participants made it clear that a Europe-wide response was needed.

She said Romania devoted special attention to the protection of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities.  Over the past years, there had been many unresolved minority questions, leading to violent conflict in a number of OSCE States.  Combating racism and intolerance was a key element in the efforts to prevent conflicts, scale down ethnic tensions and build up genuine multicultural and democratic societies.

She said that while fully sharing the principle of Governments' primary responsibility in human rights protection, Romania highly valued the contribution of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).  In many countries, there had been a considerable increase and diversification of civil society involvement in the implementation and monitoring of human rights-related policies.  Her Government paid tribute to the courageous and unprejudiced spirit of the thousands of activists who worked tirelessly to protect human rights.  At the same time, it deplored the fact that too often the human rights defenders were still the target of hostilities from authorities.

MURAT A SMAGULOV (Kazakhstan) said that since gaining its independence, his country had undertaken many initiatives relating to the protection and promotion of human rights.  It was a signatory to 14 multi-lateral instruments, and its Constitution also incorporated the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

He said Kazakhstan had had to learn the traditions of democracy almost from scratch; that was why it was important for the citizens to fully support the government reforms.  The country was home to some 100 ethnic minorities and efforts had been made to harmonize legislation.  Also, an Assembly of the Peoples of Kazakhstan had been established to ensure the country remained united.  The Government had sought to create an atmosphere of mutual understanding and tolerance between various religious groups.

To streamline legislation in the area of human rights, he said, the country was undergoing a great deal of judicial reform.  It had been necessary to establish a multi-party system and to promote independent media.  Conditions had been created for citizens to freely exercise their political freedoms.  During the course of recent elections, televised campaigns and debates had been held, with the participation of some forty political groups.

He said that a human rights Ombudsman had been appointed as a symbol of the further commitment of the country to ensure democratic reform.  The process of political transformation had been gradual.  A step-by-step approach had led to stability as well as the mobilization of national resources to ensure full compliance with and protection of human rights.

VICTOR HUGO FLORES (Mexico) said Mexico recognized and appreciated the efforts of the United Nations in promoting and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities.  During the 1980s and 1990s, the United Nations hosted various conferences that featured discussions on the rights of the disabled.  The World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993 said it was important to pay special attention to non-discrimination policies for everybody, including people with disabilities.

He said Mexico for a long time had been respecting the rights of people with disabilities.  It had gradually obtained knowledge and experience on integrating disabled people into the cultural and political life of Mexican society.  Legislation was introduced that guaranteed better and broader services to disabled people.

He said Mexico proposed the early development of an international convention for the promotion and protection of the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities.  This would provide a universal instrument with a binding nature.  It would respond to the needs of the 600 million people living with disabilities around the world.  It was vitally important to draft this instrument, which would complement the work of the United Nations.  Unfortunately, the number of disabled people in the world was increasing, in part because of the prevalence of armed conflicts and the use of anti-personnel land mines.  Mexico hoped the proposal would be firmly supported.

VLADISLAV MLADENOVIC (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) said his country was part of a region burdened by a legacy of ethnic conflict and violations of human rights.  His Government was well aware of those tragic events and stood ready to discuss them openly and constructively.  That was the only way to achieve reconciliation and establish trust and confidence in the region.  His country was aware of its obligations and was committed to building a society with democratic principles based on the rule of law and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms.

He said regulation of the status of national and ethnic minorities was of the utmost importance for the promotion and protection of human rights and, by extension, all-round stability in Eastern Europe.  National and ethnic minorities were important to the overall democratic process and the development, security and stability of society.  Such minorities were the litmus test of tolerance and dialogue in modern democratic States.  That was why his country had invested considerable efforts in promoting their rights.  To re-assert its commitments in the international sphere, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had confirmed its adherence to all United Nations human rights conventions to which the former Yugoslavia had been party.

Unfortunately, he continued, the last decade had seen the Balkans region riven by ethnic and religious tensions which, in certain instances, had led to terrorist activity.  His country had experienced its tragic share of the violations of human rights, terrorism and other forms of violence that had been linked to organized criminal activity such as illicit trade in narcotics and arms as well as prostitution and money-laundering.  That situation had prevailed in Kosovo and Metohija, the autonomous provinces of the Yugoslav constituent Republic of Serbia.  Since 1999, it had been administered by the United Nations, which had unfortunately been unable to establish the rule of law and full respect for human rights, particularly for non-Albanian communities.

He said the Serbs of Kosovo and Metohija continued to live in heavily guarded enclaves with no freedom of movement.  His Government was aware that the process to promote human rights that had been embarked upon would be slow, and would not be helped by the economic situation in the region.  However, his Government was resolved to continue the process and it would need the support of the United Nations and other international actors to achieve full success.

ISHTIAQ HUSSAIN ANDRABI (Pakistan) said the twentieth century had been indeed, a century of subjugation, inequality, deprivation and poverty.  Yet, a number of human rights issues, such as slavery, brutal working conditions, starvation and child labour had also taken centre stage.  Many hoped that the new century would usher in an era of respect for the human rights and fundamental values of mankind.  The terrorist attacks on the United States of 11 September had radically changed everything, as it was an attack on humanity and required a cohesive response.  Regrettably, while the world was uniting against terrorism, public anguish was being used by some to sow hatred among people.  That dangerous trend must be checked, or it would lead the world into greater disorder.

He said the people of Jammu and Kashmir remained deprived of their fundamental right to self-determination, while several nations, many smaller than Kashmir in size and population, had attained their statehood.  The people of Kashmir were awaiting the redemption of pledges made to them by India and the international community more than 50 years ago.  Their right to freely choose their destiny through United Nations supervision continued to be denied to them.  During this time, Indian security forces, under the guise of fighting cross border terrorism, had increased the level of repression in the occupied State, killing more than 75,000 people during the last 11 years.  The international community must impress upon India that its campaign of repression against the Kashmiri people must end and it should seek a peaceful resolution.

He said the negation of human rights was the negation of human dignity.  Human dignity could neither be achieved nor guaranteed in an environment of abject poverty and denial of the inalienable right to development.  Developing countries continued to contend with the acute problem of an unsustainable debt burden, declining financial flows, unequal terms of trade and lack of market access.  Pakistan believed in the full realization of all civil and political rights, while placing equal emphasis on the promotion and realization of economic, social and cultural rights.  Pakistan had played a leading role in the development and strengthening of human rights norms and standards.  The delegation had made significant and crucial contributions in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

ORLANDO REUEIJO GUAL (Cuba) said universal protection and promotion of human rights must be based on principles of cooperation, solidarity and mutual respect. Cuba had hoped that discussions in the Committee would be based on those principles.  But various capitals in the north continued to look towards people in the south with a spirit of domination.  There was only one way to ensure the protection and promotion of human rights and that was to ensure the protection of the tenets of the Charter.  Any attempt to re-write the Charter or to cast its tenets in a uni-polar, custodial or hegemonistic light was unacceptable.

The goal of countries in the north, particularly the world’s superpower was not the promotion of human rights for all, but to satiate their rapacious appetites for cultural homogenization.  The principles of mutual respect, equality and solidarity continued to be absent from the speeches and practice of several countries, particularly the world superpower.  The Committee had heard arrogant statements containing long selective speeches filled with politically motivated and slanderous accusations that focused only on southern nations.

Perhaps, he continued, it was appropriate to consider the situation of human rights in the world’s superpower.  Information coming from North American authorities and United Nations agencies had revealed a picture of massive violations of the human rights of minorities, as well as poor and indigenous populations of the United States.  Further, that country had practically become a jail.  In 2000, the number of people in jail had reached some 6 million people. That meant that 3.1 per cent of the citizens there now lived behind bars.  Further, it meant that one out of every four detained persons in the world was incarcerated in the United States.  That country had also practically institutionalized racism and police violence and abuse, including death, persisted.  Most in jail belonged to ethnic minorities.

He said treaties signed between the United States Government and Native American tribes could be overridden by Congress without explanation.  The ancestral lands of several tribes were being used for the disposal of waste.  Those and other irregularities made the noisy insistence of North American politicians that their political and judicial systems were ideal all the more intriguing.  A system where one third of electors did not vote was not democratic. A system where the person with the lowest number of popular votes could be elected was not democratic.  A system where 36 million people lived under the poverty level and some 40 million were without insurance could not be a paradigm.  No one had given countries of the North the right to determine the political and economic order of other countries.  Unjust and uni-polar order would have to change if all wished to survive.  If the enjoyment of the right to development were not ensured there would be no peace and democracy.

FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said the international community had to avoid double standards in the protection of human rights.  It was of the utmost importance to recognize the right to development.  It was also important that the international community not resort to verbal attacks on some countries.  An open and constructive dialogue was the way to achieve the peace and respect for human rights that had been envisioned.

He said foreign occupation, genocide, and displacement had to be the focus of the entire international community.  The United Nations had to make sure that the work done to promote and protect human rights was not duplicated.  It was important for the United Nations to react, but not politicize, when flagrant violations of conventions, particularly the Geneva Conventions, were seen.

The United Nations Charter stipulated the principle of equality between all sovereign member States, he said.  The international community should not use ambivalent or selective criteria in choosing to investigate the human rights practices of a country.  There needed to be a distinction between fundamental freedoms and political and economic freedoms -- that meant that primarily, there needed to be assurances that people had access to food, shelter and health care.  It was important not to resort to sanctions against a nation in a unilateral way.  Also, countries should not interfere with the operations of another country when it came to human rights questions.  The most severe human rights violations needed to be prioritized.  The international community had been very selective and unjust in the way in which it chose to deal with many of those matters.

Right of Reply

Exercising the right of reply, the representative of Ethiopia said perhaps he should have asked for four interventions to correct statements made about his country during the debate.  He would quickly dispense, however, with the comments made by the representative of Eritrea.  That was a Government that did not share any basic norms on good governance and human rights with the international community.  Eritrea’s statement had been so far-fetched that he would not dignify it with a full reply.  As for statements made by Canada, Norway, and Belgium, on behalf of the European Union, on his country’s efforts to ensure human rights and democracy, he was ready to engage in a healthy and constructive dialogue.

He said Ethiopia’s constitution subscribed to international norms on human rights.  While there may have been problems in that area in the past, he would hope that the views expressed by other delegations would be based on realities.  Accusations that 40 students had been killed during a demonstration were untrue. Forty students had not been killed.  In fact, no students had been killed at all.  There had been deaths during the incident, of some 31 hooligans that had been robbing and looting.  He would have hoped that those that had expressed their reservations would have understood the threat to the security of public and private property as well as human life. 

He went on to say that time and again, Ethiopia had asked for support from the international community to train the civilian police to deal with such situations.  Such support had not been forthcoming, so perhaps those countries should not criticize the actions that had been taken.  While Ethiopia might have been an infant to democracy, it had still come a long way.  The country was prepared to work to alleviate its shortcomings.

The representative of Sudan, exercising the right of reply, said the United States delegation always had launched random and unfounded allegations against Sudan.  The United States' statement contained allegations that could be described as naïve and without any evidence.  Behind those allegations were political pressure groups within the United States that were blinded by intolerance and hatred, and could not look objectively at the United States.  The United States bombed a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan in 1998.  The United States pointed out that there were no independent human rights organizations in Sudan.  This was simply not true.  A United States senator met with the leader of the largest of these organizations when he visited Khartoum.

She said the delegation was also puzzled when it heard the allegation by the United States about slavery.  There had never been a case of slavery in the world that had been proven since the case of slavery in the United States.  At the World Conference against Racism, the United States was the first delegation to withdraw. The American delegation should be reminded that it was the only delegation repeating those allegations.  The General Assembly and the Special Rapporteur had recognized this as a kidnapping problem, and not a problem of slavery.  The conflict in Sudan was not religious.  The United States should be thanked, however, for condemning the actions of the terrorists and the rebels that had waged war in Sudan for 18 years.  Perhaps this was a starting point in the United States' cessation of false allegations against Sudan.

Exercising his right of reply the representative of Zimbabwe said he would comment on statements made on behalf of the European Union and by Norway, Canada and New Zealand regarding what those delegations had perceived as deteriorating human rights situation in his country.  His delegation would always welcome comments aimed at improving the situation in his country, but it was interesting that the concern expressed for Zimbabwe promoted race-based support for the legacies of colonialism.  He did appreciate the corrective measures taken by some

of those countries and hoped they would support Zimbabwe’s efforts at correcting the colonial wrongs wrought by them.

He said Zimbabwe was concerned with the suggestions that land reform programmes, aimed at returning land so that the rightful owners could feed themselves, were violations of human rights.  The programmes sought to correct the situation where 4,000 whites owned 70 percent of arable land and millions of Zimbabweans eked out an existence on the remaining 30 percent of arid land.  The land reform programmes were about equitable distribution and ensured that no white farmer was left without land.  Those initiatives sought to identify vulnerable groups and ensure that they could feed themselves.  It was unfortunate that that was seen as a violation of human rights.  Indeed, what his Government was hearing was that it was right to let millions of Zimbabweans starve.

On the issue of elections, he said Zimbabwe had had always held general and presidential elections.  The political violence referred to by some delegations was the response of those that wished to see continuation of the spirit of colonialism.  As for international observers, his Government had made it clear that in his culture, one did not demand an invitation.  Invitations to observe the elections would be sent to those that had shown respect for Zimbabwe’s sovereignty.  On the issue of press freedom he hoped that ensuring such freedom, did not mean that journalists could break the law with impunity. 

The representative of Eritrea, exercising a right of reply, said the Ethiopian delegate had referred to deportations.  But the Secretary-General's report on human rights pointed out that it was Eritreans who were deported from Ethiopia, and not in accordance with international humanitarian law.  Repatriation should be carried out with full respect for international humanitarian law.  Another reference had been made about prisoners of war.  Ethiopia stopped releasing prisoners of war, although the International Committee of the Red Cross said that process could not be held up.  It was in violation of the Geneva Conventions.  Eritrea just last week unilaterally released more Ethiopian prisoners of war.  Those were facts, and no amount of rhetoric would change that.

JEANELLE VAN GLAANEN WEYGEL (Suriname) said people needed to be made aware of their human rights only so they could improve their own lives socially and economically.  Human rights education was therefore crucial in the development process, and should start at home, where children were taught morals, values, and the basic concept of respect.  Learning from a young age that people needed to respect one another with all their differences was essential were ratified by the Government.  The importance of human rights to Suriname was reflected in its ratification of all major human rights instruments by the fact that the principles of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights had been incorporated in its Constitution.

In her country's multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society, people worked with each other, based on the principles of equality and non-discrimination.  At the global level, the international community should try and make globalization work for all.  Furthermore, the international community should seek to eliminate all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and dialogue on that important issue should continue.  Suriname joined the international community in its struggle against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

For information media. Not an official record.