SECRETARIAT UNIT, VOLUNTARY FUND FOR PERMANENT INDIGENOUS FORUM CALLED FOR IN DRAFT RESOLUTION APPROVED BY THIRD COMMITTEE

31 October 2002
GA/SHC/3710

SECRETARIAT UNIT, VOLUNTARY FUND FOR PERMANENT INDIGENOUS FORUM CALLED FOR IN DRAFT RESOLUTION APPROVED BY THIRD COMMITTEE

31/10/2002
Press ReleaseGA/SHC/3710

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

Third Committee

31st Meeting (PM)

SECRETARIAT UNIT, VOLUNTARY FUND FOR PERMANENT INDIGENOUS FORUM

CALLED FOR IN DRAFT RESOLUTION APPROVED BY THIRD COMMITTEE

Also Approves Texts on Indigenous Decade, Older Women, Girl Child

The General Assembly would request the Secretary-General to appoint a secretariat unit within the Department of Economic and Social Affairs to assist the newly inaugurated Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in carrying out its mandate, under the terms of a draft resolution approved by the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) this afternoon.

The text, adopted without a vote, would also have the Assembly request the Secretary-General to establish a voluntary fund for the Forum for the purpose of funding the implementation of recommendations made by the Forum through the Economic and Social Council.  By further terms, the Assembly would decide to authorize an exceptional three-day pre-sessional meeting of the members of the Forum from 7 to 9 May 2003.  The programme budgetary implications of that draft were also approved.

The Committee also approved without a vote a related text, on the International Decade of the World's Indigenous People, as well as drafts on the situation of older women in society, and on the girl child.

Prior to adoption of the draft resolution as a whole, operative paragraph

1 of the text on the girl child was approved by a vote of 144 in favour to

2 against (Marshall Islands, United States), with 3 abstentions (Afghanistan, Haiti, Israel) (See Annex 1).

When the debate on the implementation of human rights instruments continued, delegations addressed the streamlining of reporting obligations of States parties to treaty bodies, as well as negotiations on the optional protocol to the Convention Against Torture and other Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The integrity of human rights treaty bodies must not be undermined by non-reporting, backlogs and lack of follow-up, said the representative of the Republic of Korea.  She stressed that the problem must be tackled from both ends –- easing the burden on the State parties and underscoring the importance of meeting their treaty obligations on the one hand, while enhancing the effectiveness in the deliberation of a follow-up to recommendations of the treaty bodies. 

The representative of Slovenia echoed the need to streamline the examination of reports and stressed that States that had accepted international treaty

obligations must comply with them, including full compliance with their reporting obligations in a regular and timely manner under the instruments.  She added that States must avoid resorting to reservations to treaties.  If States did resort to reservations, they must ensure that the reservations were consistent with the scope and intent of the instrument and formulated as precisely and narrowly as possible.

The United States said it was deeply disappointed by the flawed process that had placed the draft optional protocol to the Convention Against Torture on the Committee’s agenda today.  Votes at the Human Rights Commission this year showed that there was substantial disagreement on, rather than support for, that protocol.  It opposed the optional protocol on both substantive and financial grounds.  The investigative mechanism it created could not carry out ad hoc or targeted visits of any kind, and permitted only a minimal follow-up visit, therefore raising questions about its overall effectiveness.

Too much time and money had been spent negotiating the optional protocol, said the representative of the Czech Republic.  He stressed that the optional protocol -- with its twin policies of international cooperation and prevention -- would be a practical contribution to the prevention of torture.  Torture caused suffering and destroyed the very essence of human existence -- there could be no compromises, financial or other -- when dealing with torture.  By adopting the optional protocol at this session, the Committee would be taking a huge step towards total elimination of torture.

When the Committee began its work this afternoon, the representatives of Suriname, Slovenia, Cuba and Pakistan introduced, respectively, draft resolutions on indigenous people and issues; the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination; and on the universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination.

Also participating in the afternoon’s general debate were the representatives of Argentina, Egypt, Mexico, Mongolia, Republic of Korea, Liechtenstein, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Nigeria.

The representative of the International Labour Organization also spoke.

The Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. Friday, 1 November, to begin consideration of the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, following the conclusion of its discussion of human rights instruments.

Background

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this afternoon to continue its consideration of human rights questions, including the implementation of human rights instruments.

The Committee is expected to take action on several draft resolutions on various items related to the advancement of women, the rights of children, and indigenous issues.

Before the Committee was a draft resolution on the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (document A/C.3/57/L.26) which consists of the programme budget implications of draft resolution A/C.3/57/L.7.  The resolution covers the relationship of the proposed request to the medium-term plan for the period

2002-2005 and the proposed programme of work for the biennium 2002-2003, as well as the modification of the approved programme budget for the biennium 2002-2003. 

Under the proposals concerning the provision of adequate resources to support the Forum, the draft resolution states that following a review of activities and functions to be carried out to implement the programme of work outlined for the Forum, it is considered that the secretariat unit to be established to assist the Forum should include six posts -- four at the professional level and two at the general service level.

Further to the text, the Committee may wish to:  request that all activities envisaged in draft resolution A/C.3/57/L.7 be implemented if sufficient financial resources are available, and in the context of its review of the requirements chargeable to the contingency fund; to confirm the use of a phased approach for the establishment of the first secretariat of the Forum; choose as a first priority the first stage of the establishment of the secretariat at a cost of $382,000; and choose as a second priority the convening of a three-day, pre-sessional meeting of the Forum in 2003 at a cost of $30,800.

The Committee is also expected to hear the introduction of several draft resolutions on items related to the programme of activities of the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People, elimination of racial discrimination, and the right of peoples to self-determination.

In that regard, before the Committee there is a draft text on indigenous people and issues (document A/C.3/57/L.29) through which the Assembly would invite the Secretary-General to establish, within the framework of the secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the post of Special Adviser in order to provide independent advice and substantive assistance to the secretariat in carrying out its mandate in a successful manner.

It will also hear the introduction of a draft resolution on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination (document A/C.3/57/L.31).  By its terms, the Assembly would urge all States to take the necessary steps and to exercise the utmost vigilance against the menace posed by the activities of mercenaries and to take legislative measures to ensure that their territories and other territories under their control, as well as their nationals, are not used for the recruitment, assembly, financing, training and transit of mercenaries for the planning of activities designed to impede the right of peoples to self-determination.

The text would further urge all States to take the necessary steps to ensure that their territories and other territories under their control, as well as their nationals, are not used to destabilize or overthrow the government of any State or to dismember or impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent States conducting themselves in compliance with the rights of peoples to self-determination.  The Assembly would also request the Special Rapporteur to continue working to propose a clearer definition of mercenaries, including clear nationality criteria and to make suggestions on the procedure to be followed for international adoption of a new definition. 

There is also a draft on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (A/C.3/57/L.32).  On reports of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Assembly would call upon States parties to fulfil their obligation, under paragraph 1 of article 9 of the Convention, to submit their periodic reports on measures taken to implement the Convention in due time. 

Concerning the financial situation of the Committee, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to continue to ensure adequate financial arrangements and to provide the necessary support, including an adequate level of secretariat assistance, in order to ensure the functioning of the Committee and to enable it to cope with its increasing amount of work.  Concerning the status of the International Convention, the Assembly would urge all States that had not yet become parties to the Convention to ratify it or accede thereto as a matter of urgency, with a view to universal ratification by the year 2005.   

The Committee will also hear the introduction of a draft text on the universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination (document A/C.3/57/L.33) which would have the Assembly express its deep concern at the acts or threats of military intervention and occupation that are threatening to suppress, or have already suppressed the rights of self-determination of peoples or nations.  It would also have the Assembly express its grave concern that, as a consequence of the persistence of such actions, millions of people have and are being uprooted from their homes as refugees and displaced persons, and emphasize the need for concerted international action to alleviate their condition.

The text would, therefore, have the Assembly declare its firm opposition to acts of foreign military intervention, aggression and occupation, since these have resulted in suppression of the rights of peoples to self-determination.  It calls upon those States responsible to cease immediately their military intervention in the occupation of foreign countries and territories and all acts of repression, discrimination, exploitation and maltreatment, in particular the brutal and inhuman methods reportedly employed for the execution of those acts against the people concerned.

Introduction of Drafts

When the Committee began its work this afternoon, it heard the introduction of four draft resolutions on matters related to the programme of activities of the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People, elimination of racial discrimination, and the rights of people to self-determination.

The representative of Suriname introduced the draft text indigenous people and issues (document A/C.3/57/L.29).

The representative of Slovenia introduced a draft resolution on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (document A/57/C.3/57/L.32). 

The representative of Cuba then introduced a draft resolution on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination (document A/C.3/57/L.31).  The Committee Secretary announced that the English version of the draft should have included Sudan among the sponsors. 

The final text before delegations today, introduced by the representative of Pakistan, was on the universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination(document A/57/C.3/L.33).

Action on Drafts

The Committee next took action on draft resolutions on a range of items, including on items related to the advancement of women, the rights of children, and indigenous issues.

The Committee first took up a draft resolution on the situation of older women in society (document A/C.3/57/L.18).  The representative of Suriname, the text’s main sponsor read out a series of correction to the preambular paragraphs of the text.  The draft resolution was adopted without a vote.

Next, delegations took up a draft resolution on the girl child (document A/C.3/57/L.24/Rev.1).

Before action was taken on the draft, the United States requested a vote on operative paragraph 1 of the draft, which would have the Assembly “stress the need for full and urgent implementation of the rights of the girl child as guaranteed her under all human rights instruments, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women”.

He said that his country was not a party to either of the international conventions referred to in operative paragraph 1 of the resolution.  The United States did not agree that there was a need for the universal ratification to implement any of their provisions.  The United States would have preferred to have their legal position taken into account.  Decisions on accession to a convention rested with each State as a matter of sovereignty.  Given that situation, the United States had turned to the only remedy available to it and had requested a vote on operative paragraph 1.  The United States would vote against paragraph 1, but would allow the resolution as a whole to be adopted without a vote.

Operative paragraph 1 was retained in the text by a vote of 144 in favour, to two against (Marshall Islands and United States), with three abstentions (Israel, Haiti and Afghanistan) (See Annex 1).

The resolution as a whole was then adopted unanimously.

Following that action, the representative of the United States said that the United States was joining consensus on the resolution as an expression of its support for the promotion and protection of the humanrights of the girl child.  However, the United States disagreed with the thrust of operative paragraph 7, which could be read to create obligations for non-party States to international treaties. 

The Committee then approved a draft resolution on the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (document A/C.3.57.L.7) and its programme budgetary implications contained in document A/C.3/57/L.26, without a vote.

Following that action the representative of the United States said her delegation supported the work of the Forum and had joined in the consensus.  At the same time, the delegation continued to have concerns about budgetary implications surrounding the issue.  She said the United Nations should be making a greater effort to absorb the cost of the establishment of a secretariat for the Forum, as well as its holding of additional meetings.  The United States would return to the matter when the particulars of the text were discussed in the Fifth Committee.

The representative of Japan said his delegation fully understood the need to establish a secretariat for the Forum as well as the need for that important body to hold additional sessions during the year.  But, at a time when the budgetary resources for the 2002-2003 had been nearly exhausted, the costs under consideration should be absorbed or reallocated in another manner.  On the creation of posts for the secretariat, Japan believed that since the Forum had only just begun its work, it was inappropriate at this time to consider such issues at this time.  It was best to entrust the issue to the Fifth Committee.

The final draft approved today without a vote was on the International Decade of the World's Indigenous People (document A/C.3/57/L.27).

Statements on Human Rights Instruments

ALBERTO PEDRO D’ALOTTO (Argentina) said international human rights mechanisms were the expressions by the international community of its commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights.  When realities changed, human rights treaties were still valuable.  In those contexts, however, optional protocols played a significant role in ensuring the continued relevance of human rights treaties.  Optional protocols complemented conventions.  Argentina had lived through numerous interruptions in the work of its institutions, due to changes in government and a history of leaders not elected by the people.  Today, the Argentinian Government was protecting its institutions, in order to ensure that the suffering of the past would not be repeated.

National governments had the responsibility of living up to and implementing the obligations contained in human right treaties, he said.  The international community, on the other hand, had the responsibility to examine the work of the treaty bodies.  In conclusion, he said that the Convention Against Torture had taken 10 years to elaborate.  The international community would be more able to fight torture with the Convention as a tool, as well as the optional protocol.  Regrettably, delegations had raised procedural and budgetary issues.  It was important to defend the existing text.  An additional effort of the international community was needed with regard to the elimination to torture.  He, therefore, hoped that the optional protocol to the Convention Against Torture would be adopted by consensus. 

MAI TAHA MOHAMED KHALIL (Egypt) said her delegation was convinced that human rights were universal, inter-linked and indivisible.  Social and economic rights must be treated on equal footing with civil and political rights.  The main responsibility concerning the protection and promotion of human rights rested with governments.  Therefore, any attempt to infringe upon the territorial integrity or sovereignty of States should be discouraged.  She went on to say that international efforts to eradicate torture were of great importance to her delegation and the Committee as a whole.  Egypt believed that, while it had surely been possible to find the language of consensus on the proposed draft optional protocol to the Convention Against Torture, certain delegations had attempted to impose views contrary to international norms during the negotiations.

She said that Egypt objected to the draft optional protocol as it stood, because a unilateral vision had been imposed on certain aspects of the text and overall objectives.  She had extreme reservations about adopting such a protocol without reaching consensus.  Such action would endanger the principle of the universality of human rights, and would perhaps set a serious and dangerous precedent.  Further, international instruments should not promote the infringement on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of any State.  In that regard, the current protocol gave the sub-committee to be created under it the ability to infringe upon that integrity at any time, without paying heed to domestic or even international mechanisms aimed at preventing or eradicating torture.  Her Government could not support such an instrument.

FRANCISCO CISNEROS (Mexico) said that the human rights of people with disabilities were of particular interest to Mexico.  In that context, the importance of a broad and comprehensive convention to protect and promote the rights of people with disabilities could not be underestimated.  Last year, President Vicente Fox had proposed establishing a special committee to draw up such a convention and progress had been made over the last year.  In order to support the work of the committee, the Mexican Government had hosted and organized an international meeting of experts last June.  Experts had stressed that people with disabilities needed protection and promotion of their human rights.  The progress achieved in the elaboration of a convention on people with disabilities was in no small part due to the interest and participation of non-governmental organizations.

He said the participation of non-governmental organizations had been important in increasing the awareness on that special issue, and their contributions and experiences had been incredibly important.  The meeting had benefited from the participation of governmental institutions, non-governmental organizations, as well as the thematic discussions.  The thematic discussions held during the expert meeting on the human rights of people with disabilities had been essential to developing an idea of how to approach the elaboration of the convention.   

PUREVJAV GANSUKH (Mongolia) said effective implementation of human rights instruments was an important issue.  As one could see from the deliberations, Member States were continuing to undertake the necessary measures to give full effect to the human rights treaties within their respective jurisdiction.  In Mongolia, under the inspiration of the democratic reform which had started in the 1990s, an intensive process of legislative change had taken place to ensure the consistency of national law with international standards.  His Government’s commitment to human rights was further embodied in a number of national action plans.  The latest of them was the national programme on “Good Governance for Human Security”.

Among other recent activities, he singled out the establishment of the National Commission for Human Rights, which was expected to become an efficient watchdog of human rights.  It went without saying that greater efforts were needed around the world, as well as in Mongolia, to ensure that the goals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were realized for every individual.  The Government of Mongolia, in cooperation with the United Nations country team in Mongolia, was committed to the fulfilment of human rights and improvement in the living standards for the Mongolian people through support for democracy and socio-economic development.  

KYUNG WHA KANG (Republic of Korea) said the majority of United Nations Member States had ratified or acceded to the six core human rights instruments -– but there were exceptions still.  She took the current opportunity to reiterate the Republic of Korea’s support for their universal ratification, as well as its own commitment to abiding by its treaty obligations, including the submission of reports and rendering full cooperation to the treaty bodies.  At the same time, she expressed concern for the integrity of the treaty bodies, which could be undermined by non-reporting, backlogs and lack of follow-up. 

The problem must be tackled from both ends –- easing the burden on the State parties and underscoring the importance of meeting their treaty obligations, on the one hand, while enhancing the effectiveness in the deliberation of any follow-up to recommendations of the treaty bodies.  In that regard, she supported the idea of streamlining the work of the treaty bodies and promoting greater coordination among them, and welcomed the task placed upon the High Commissioner for Human Rights to produce a set of recommendations in that regard, in close consultation with the treaty bodies.

PIO SCHURTI (Liechtenstein) said the draft optional protocol to the Convention Against Torture, ready for adoption this fall, marked a significant step forward in the global fight against torture.  After the Commission on Human Rights and the Economic and Social Council adopted the protocol, the Assembly was now in the position to follow the recommendations of those bodies and adopt the best possible text, which had emerged from nearly 10 years of negotiations.  The protocol would represent a further tool to fight torture.  It did not create new instruments or set new standards.  Instead, the optional protocol established a sub-committee of independent experts to assist States in implementation of the Convention.

He went on to say that, despite the prohibition of torture and cruel and inhuman treatment under customary law and the creation of international and regional instruments pertaining to the prohibition of torture, such violations continued to occur around the globe.  The protocol would address such long-standing issues and practices.  He added that the instrument was particularly innovative, in that it focused on the prevention of torture.  That was an achievement in itself, since it contributed to creating a culture of prevention, which was particularly important in the promotion and protection of human rights.  The remaining question on the protocol surrounded the financing of the sub-committee, he said. 

He said Liechtenstein disagreed with the view that only States party to the protocol should bear the cost and that no funding come from the regular budget.  Indeed, the expenditures of the sub-committee would fall within the requirements listed under Assembly resolution 47/111, which provided that treaty bodies should receive funding from the regular budget.  That notion had also been reaffirmed by the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.  He went on to emphasize the need to promote the widest possible ratification of international human rights instruments, as well as to be vigilant of the need to actively pursue implementation of their important tenets.

TERUNEH ZENNA (Ethiopia) said Ethiopia’s commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights was unequivocally stated in the federal constitution adopted in 1994.  However, in the protection and promotion of human rights, institutions were as important as the constitution itself.  The judicial system was key in upholding the rule of law and preventing human rights abuses.  He added that the institutionalization of an independent judiciary with organized structures at federal and State levels was one of the major steps undertaken by the Government.  It was an important milestone for ensuring the implementation of human rights provisions stipulated in the constitution and the international convenants to which Ethiopia was party. 

Institutions were of paramount importance in the protection and promotion of human rights, he said.  Ethiopia had enacted pertinent domestic laws in respect of the vulnerable groups, such as women, children and ethnic minorities.  The proclamation on the national policy on women, aiming at ensuring their full participation in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the country was only one example.  Partnerships with civil society were needed in the promotion and protection of human rights.  To this end, the Government had developed a code of conduct that provided for the right policy environment for civil society to proactively complement national endeavors.  Those efforts had brought some notable achievements in creating awareness and advocacy. 

EVA TOMIC (Slovenia) said States that had accepted international treaty obligations had to comply fully with them.  That included full compliance with their reporting obligations in a regular and timely manner under the instruments.  Effective implementation at the national level was being thoroughly checked and enhanced during the process of reporting and the ensuing dialogue with treaty monitoring bodies.  She could see value in examining ways for streamlining the examination of reports, with a view to reducing the considerable reporting burden on States parties.  That must be done, however, without impairing the quality of reporting and consideration by the treaty bodies. 

To maximize the quality of State parties reporting, while reducing undue delays between submission of a report and its consideration, she welcomed cross-referencing the comments of various treaty bodies and the formulation of joint general comments by more treaty bodies.  She also welcomed developing procedures for follow-up on concluding observations.  She concluded by referring to the reservation regime, individual complaints procedures and setting standards and said that States must ensure strict implementation of their obligations.  States must also avoid, to the greatest possible extent, the resort to reservations and, if they did resort to them, to ensure that they were consistent with the scope and intent of the instrument and formulated as precisely and narrowly as possible. 

MIAN MUHAMMAD HILAL HUSSAIN (Pakistan) said the Vienna World Conference on Human Rights had highlighted the preconditions for global peace and unity.  It reaffirmed the rights of peoples to self-determination, and the right to take any legitimate action to maintain independence and preserve sovereignty.  The Vienna Declaration stressed the eradication of poverty as well as the right to freedom from torture and the elimination of impunity.  He said the Millennium Declaration also stressed the need for every effort to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, at the global level, in an apolitical, fair and objective approach.  The power and size of countries must not be allowed to obstruct international justice and the preservation of human rights for all. Unfortunately, certain nations consistently used their political or economic might to subvert international order.

He said India was one of those States.  It continued to hinder the right to self-determination of the people of Jamu and Kashmir.  Indeed, India’s participation in the war against terrorism had been motivated by its desire to subjugate the will and rights of the people of Jamu and Kashmir.  He added that the recent elections in Kashmir had taken place “under the jackboots of Indian officials”.  The people there, even those who voted, did not see the outcome of the elections as a substitute for the freedom and respect which was emphasized as their due under relevant Security Council resolutions.

He said the Kashmiri people were not the only ones whose rights had been violated by India; indeed, Muslims in India and throughout the region had been and continued to be mercilessly persecuted.  He said countries like India, being in grave breach of the Charter as well as international human rights instruments, must be subjected to sanctions in order to ensure accountability of their continued violations of international law. 

JAN KAMINEK (Czech Republic) said an absolute ban on torture could be found in most instruments adopted over the last 50 years.  However, torture continued to occur in all parts of the world.  There were two basic lessons to be learned from this development:  first, torture would not be eliminated solely by prohibition, monitoring and ex-post investigation; and second, isolated action at the national level was not effective enough.  Those two concerns had led to the elaboration of an optional protocol to the Convention Against Torture.  Its twin policies of international cooperation and prevention could pave the way for gradual improvement of the overall conditions and social climate, so that eventually no room was left for torture.

He said too much money and time had been spent negotiating the protocol.  On the basis of his country’s experience, he believes the optional protocol would be a practical contribution to the prevention of torture.  It was generally known that torture caused enormous suffering and destroyed the very essence of human existence –- human dignity.  In this regard there could be no compromises, financial or other.  By adopting the optional protocol at this session, the Committee would be taking a huge step forward, towards total elimination of torture.

CAROLINA TINANGON (Indonesia) said international human rights instruments played an important role in protecting human rights throughout the world.  During the transition to democracy, one of Indonesia’s first priorities had been to strengthen the protection of its citizens’ fundamental human rights.  The National Plan of Action on Human Rights (1998-2003) had established a timetable for the achievement of goals in four areas –- the ratification of international human rights instruments; education on human rights issues; implementation in priority areas concerning human rights, and the domestic implementation of human rights instruments. 

A second five-year Plan for 2003-2008 was currently being drafted and the Government was also preparing to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

She said Indonesia had made a great deal of progress and realized that it must go further.  At the same time, she said, the priorities in the evolution of democracy, including human rights initiatives, must be determined by each country in accordance with national priorities, culture, custom and resources.  Emerging democracies required the technical, moral and financial support of established democracies.  Still, the face of democracy must be shaped by a national image.

The Government was trying to build a safer more secure future for its citizens, but the horrific terrorist attack in Bali had demonstrated that forces aiming to undermine those efforts were at work.  Indonesia was seriously attempting to solve its domestic conflicts peacefully and democratically, just as it strived to conduct its external relations peacefully and through dialogue.

G.O.O. ALABI (Nigeria) mentioned the issue of the sharia judgement, which had generated great concerns about the human rights situation in Nigeria.  President Obasanjo had made some pronouncements to allay fears and to give assurance that the judgement in question was never executed in Nigeria.  Indeed, given the thoroughness of the Nigerian legal system, no one could be stoned to death in Nigeria.  He stressed that Nigeria was absolutely conscious of her obligations under the many human rights instruments and would continue to uphold respect for the rule of law and due process.  The Government was, therefore, committed to respect the supremacy of the Nigerian constitution, which allowed the federated States the freedom to make laws in specific areas conferred by the constitution and that were not inconsistent with the constitution. 

He added that, as a developing country, Nigeria was concerned about the right to development.  While Nigeria recognized the need for the realization of civil and political rights through commitment to democracy, good governance and the elimination of corruption, it was equally important that similar attention be given to the achievement of social, economic and cultural rights.  Development entailed the provision of good health services, qualitative and functional education, employment and shelter, without which civil and political rights would amount to nothing.  That no doubt, called for a holistic approach and action to implement all human rights instruments, taking into consideration the basic principles of objectivity, impartiality, non-selectivity and indivisibility of human rights as a common factor to humanity. 

FRANK GAFFNEY (United States) said his country unequivocally condemned the despicable practice of torture and had fought to eliminate it around the world. The United States had led international efforts to put pressure on governments to publicly condemn torture and, among other things, to investigate and prosecute abusive officials, to train law enforcement officers and to provide compensation and rehabilitation to victims.

At the same time, the United States was deeply disappointed by the flawed process which had placed the draft optional protocol to the Convention Against Torture on the Committee’s agenda today.  While the Assembly had agreed that new human rights treaties should attract broad international cooperation, the votes at the Human Rights Commission this year showed that there was substantial disagreement on rather than support for that protocol.

While supporting all efforts to enhance implementation of the torture convention, the United States opposed the optional protocol on both substantive and financial grounds.  The investigative mechanism it created could not carry out ad hoc or targeted visits of any kind, and permitted only a minimal follow-up visit, therefore raising questions about its overall effectiveness.  The optional protocol did not permit reservations, without which the United States could rarely become party to such an instrument with Constitutional concerns.  The United States also opposed the funding of the protocol through the regular United Nations budget.  As with most other optional treaties, States parties to the torture protocol should pay implementation costs, and non-parties should not be financially bound.

CAROLINE LEWIS, of the International Labour Organization, said the number of countries employing foreign labour had more than doubled from 42 to 90 between 1970 and 2000 and the issue was now being acknowledged as a major concern for employers, workers and labour ministries.  Many governments had recognized the need to modernize and improve their laws, policies and practices on migration.  Addressing migration meant addressing employment and social protection issues, but also especially required anti-discrimination and integration initiatives.  Ensuring decent treatment for migrant workers, and resolving tensions between sometimes differing interests of national and foreign workers could not be obtained by piecemeal measures or isolated advocacy.  The complexities of migration required a comprehensive framework of legislative measures to ensure that the benefits and challenges of migration were reconciled with the dignity and rights of the human beings who migrated.

(annex follows)

ANNEX I

Vote on Operative Paragraph 1/Girl Child

Operative paragraph 1 of the draft resolution on the girl child (document A/C.3/57/L.24/Rev.1) was approved by a recorded vote of 144 in favour to

2 against, with 3 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zambia.

Against:  Marshall Islands, United States.

Abstaining:  Afghanistan, Haiti, Israel.

Absent:  Brunei Darussalam, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Dominica, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Federated States of Micronesia, Gabon, Georgia, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Iran, Iraq, Kiribati, Liberia, Nauru, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Zimbabwe.

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For information media. Not an official record.