GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO BE ASKED TO ADOPT PROTOCOL ON TORTURE CONVENTION, SETTING UP INSPECTION REGIME FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF ITS TERMS

7 November 2002
GA/SHC/3719

GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO BE ASKED TO ADOPT PROTOCOL ON TORTURE CONVENTION, SETTING UP INSPECTION REGIME FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF ITS TERMS

07/11/2002
Press ReleaseGA/SHC/3719

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

Third Committee

40th Meeting (PM)

GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO BE ASKED TO ADOPT PROTOCOL ON TORTURE CONVENTION,

SETTING UP INSPECTION REGIME FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF ITS TERMS

Social Committee Text Provides for ‘Regular Visits’; Drafts Approved on Human Rights, Racial Discrimination, Use of Mercenaries, Palestinian Self-Determination

The General Assembly would adopt the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and request the Secretary-General to open it for signature, ratification and accession at United Nations Headquarters from 1 January 2003, under the terms of a draft resolution approved by the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) this afternoon.

The text, approved by a vote of 104 in favour, 8 against (China, Cuba, Israel, Japan, Nigeria, Vietnam, Syria, United States), with 37 abstentions would also have the Assembly call upon States that had signed, ratified or acceded to the Convention against Torture, to sign and ratify or accede to the Optional Protocol.  (For details of vote, see Annex VI.)

The full text of the Optional Protocol is annexed to the resolution.  Article One states the Protocol’s objective, namely to establish a system of regular visits to be undertaken by independent international and national bodies to places where people are deprived of their liberty, in order to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.  The protocol will have no procedure for reservations by States parties.

Article Two of the Protocol establishes a Subcommittee on Prevention to carry out, within the framework of the Charter and in cooperation with States party to the Convention, the functions laid down by the protocol.  Articles Twenty-five and Twenty-six detail the financial provisions of the Subcommittee, noting that expenditures incurred in implementation of the Protocol shall be borne by the United Nations, and that a Special Fund shall be set up to help finance the implementation of the subcommittee’s recommendations.

Before that draft was approved, the Committee defeated by a vote of 12 in favour, 85 against, with 43 abstentions, a motion by Japan to defer action on the text for 24 hours, in order that delegations should have time to study its financial implications more closely with representatives in their respective capitals.  (See Annex IV.)

By a vote of 11 in favor, 98 against with 37 abstentions (Annex V), delegations also rejected a United States-led amendment which would have had all expenses for the implementation of the Optional Protocol borne exclusively by

States parties.  The States parties to the Protocol alone would have been responsible for reimbursement to the United Nations for any expenses incurred by the United Nations, including use of its staff and facilities.

During action on those related texts, delegations strongly condemned the practice of torture, and expressed strong support for the Optional Protocol.  Many said the time had come to take action.  One speaker said that for ten years people had known about issues concerning the funding of the Protocol and the subcommittee to be created under it.  It was surprising that two of the richest countries of the world were now putting up obstacles.

Others, however, felt that the resolution as a whole had been presented on a “take-it-or-leave-it” basis.  They stressed that the weight of a human rights resolution depended on the breadth of its support in the international community.  What was the real, practical benefit of an Optional Protocol not adopted by consensus? one delegate asked.

The Committee approved a total of eight resolutions this afternoon, all of which will be submitted to the Assembly for final adoption later in the session.

Approved without a vote were texts onthe effective implementation of international instruments on human rights, including reporting obligations under international instruments on human rights; on the universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination, and on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Before the adoption of the draft as a whole, operative paragraph 10 of Chapter I of the draft on the Convention against racial discrimination was retained by a recorded vote of 154 in favour to 2 against (United States and Israel) with two abstentions (Marshall Islands and Kuwait).  That paragraph “invited the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to consider the relevant provisions of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action in the discharge of its work”.  (See Annex I.)

A resolution on use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right to self-determination was approved by a vote of 108 in favour to 19 against with 32 abstentions.  (See Annex II.)

A resolution on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination was approved by a vote of 156 in favour to 3 against (Israel, Marshall Islands, United States), with three abstentions (Nicaragua, Micronesia, Cameroon). (See Annex III.)

Following action on the draft resolution, the Committee returned to its consideration of human rights questions, hearing statements from the representatives of China and Switzerland.

The Committee meets again at 10 a.m. Friday, 8 November, to continue its consideration of human rights questions.

Background

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

It was expected to begin its work by taking action on a number of draft resolutions, covering items related to the elimination of racial discrimination, the rights of peoples to self-determination and human rights questions, including the implementation of human rights instruments.

The Committee had before it a draft text on the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (document A/C.3/57/L.30), which would have the Assembly adopt the Optional protocol and request the Secretary-General to open it for signature, ratification and accession at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 1 January 2003.

The draft includes an Annex, which contains the full text of the Optional Protocol.  Article One states the protocol’s objective, namely to establish a system of regular visits undertaken by independent international and national bodies to places where people are deprived of their liberty, in order to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.  The protocol will have no procedure for reservations by States parties.  (For additional background, see Press Release GA/SHC/3711 of 1 November.)

The Committee would also take up document A/C.3/57/L.39, an amendment to a draft resolution on the optional protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (document A/C.3/57/L.30).

The amendment contained in document A/C.3/57/L.39 would replace paragraph 1 of article 25 of the draft optional protocol with the following:

“All expenses for the implementation of the present protocol shall be borne exclusively by States parties.  The States parties alone shall be responsible for reimbursement to the United Nations for any expenses incurred by the United Nations pursuant to paragraph 2 of the article [on the request for the Secretary-General to provide necessary staff and facilities for the effective performance and functions of the Sub-Committee created under the protocol], including use of its staff and facilities.”

There was also 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 the terms of the text, the General 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.  States would be urged 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 or to destabilize or overthrow the Government of any State.  The Assembly would also request the Special Rapporteur to continue working to propose a clearer definition of mercenaries.  (For further background, see Press Release GA/SHC/3710 of 31 October.)

Another draft resolution deals with 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.  The Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to continue to ensure adequate financial arrangements and to provide the necessary support, including an adequate level of Secretariat assistance for the Committee.  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.

Also before the Committee was 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 millions of people have been and are being uprooted from their homes as refugees and displaced persons, and emphasizing the need for concerted international action to alleviate their condition.  The Assembly would also 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.

There was a further draft resolution before the Committee on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination (document A/C.3/57/L.35) which would have the Assembly reaffirm the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including the right to their independent State of Palestine and urge all States and the specialized agencies and organizations of the United Nations system to continue to support and assist the Palestinian people in the early realization of their right to self-determination.

A draft resolution on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (document A/C.3/57/L.36) would have the Assembly urge Governments to take effective measures to provide redress and to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including their gender-based manifestations.  States would be called by the Assembly to take appropriate effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent and prohibit the production, trade, export and use of equipment that is specifically designed to inflict torture.

There was a draft resolution on the effective implementation of international instruments on human rights, including reporting obligations under international instruments on human rights (document A/C.3/57/L.38) through which the Assembly would call upon the Office of the High Commissioner to enhance awareness of the availability of technical assistance for States parties and urge States parties to make every effort to meet their reporting obligations.  The text would also have the Assembly urge each State party whose report had been examined by a human rights treaty body to translate, publish and make available in its territory the full text of the concluding observations and comments of the treaty body on its report and to provide adequate follow-up to those observations

Action on Drafts

The Committee began its work this afternoon by taking action on several draft texts.

Following a programme budget explanation read out by the Committee Secretary, a recorded vote was called for on operative paragraph 10 of Chapter 1 of a draft resolution on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (document A/C.3/57/L.32).

That paragraph "invited the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to consider the relevant provisions of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action in the discharge of its work".

Before the vote, the representative of Slovenia, being the main sponsor with Belgium, supported the integrity of the entire text and regretted that there had been a request for a vote.  He said the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination had contributed to the World Conference against Racism and had a role to play in the follow-up to the Durban declaration.  Slovenia would vote for the retention of operative paragraph 10.

The representative of Belgium said the World Conference against Racism had been a milestone event which could not be disregarded in the draft resolution.  The important contribution made by the Commission of the Elimination of Racial Discrimination had also been highlighted in this paragraph.  The reference to Durban in this text was pertinent and self-evident.

Operative paragraph 10 in Chapter I of the text was retained by a recorded vote of 154 in favour to 2 against (United States and Israel) with two abstentions (Marshall Islands and Kuwait).  (For further details, see Annex I.)

Following the vote, the representative of the United States said the resolution invited the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to consider the Durban declaration, which would involve an inappropriate expansion of the Committee’s mandate.  This provision was out of place.  The United States strongly opposed racial discrimination but could not support any resolution that asked States to more than “consider” becoming part of the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.  

Delegations then approved the resolution as a whole without a vote.

The Committee next took up 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 Secretary read out a statement on budgetary implications and the draft’s main sponsor, Cuba, made a slight technical correction to the wording of the text.

Before action was taken, the representative of Canada, speaking also for New Zealand, said the use of mercenaries had broad impacts on humanitarian law and he was therefore disappointed that the draft resolution had merely focused on the issue of self-determination.  Canada and New Zealand could therefore not support the draft. 

A recorded vote was requested.  The resolution was approved by a vote of 108 in favour, 19 against, with 32 abstentions.  (See Annex II.)

Following the vote, the representative of Ecuador clarified that he had voted in favor of the resolution.

In explanation of vote, the representative of Armenia said the conflict in the region of the Caucasus had provided an example of the horrendous use and recruitment of mercenaries, to undermine the legitimate right to self-determination.  Armenia believed in the right to self-determination and had therefore voted in favour of the resolution.

The representative of Denmark, on behalf of the European Union, said the European Union shared many of the concerns about the dangers of mercenary activity expressed in the report of the Special Rapporteur.  However, as in previous years, the European Union regretted that it could not support the draft resolution before the Committee.  It continued to have doubts on whether the Third Committee was the right forum to deal with the problem of mercenary activity and whether the High Commissioner for Human Rights should be asked to devote priority attention to this subject. 

He said the European Union shared the view that the consideration of the use of mercenaries, and the question of elaborating a legal definition of the term “mercenaries”, fell within the competence of the Sixth Committee.  The European Union would continue to participate actively, and in the appropriate forums, in the dialogue with interested States on ways to curb the threats posed by mercenary activity.

The representative of the United States said the United States had voted no because this resolution was an unnecessary and political exercise that was brought up every year wasting valuable United Nations time.  Despite this misallocation of United Nations resources, the United States had cooperated with the Special Rapporteur.

The Committee then took up a draft text on the universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination (document A/C.3/57/L.33).  The representative of Pakistan made a brief introductory statement.

Before action was taken the representative of Benin said his country had chosen to be a co-sponsor of the draft, in the context of the universality of the right to self-determination as stated in the text and not in regard to specific circumstance. 

The representative of India said her delegation had understood that co-sponsors had had no knowledge of what Pakistan would say in the introductory statement, as the main sponsor.  Pakistan had mentioned the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and claimed continuing suffering and  subjugation of the people, without the knowledge or acceptance of the co-sponsors. 

The representative of Singapore said it had co-sponsored the draft resolution, which did not pronounce itself on any specific situation. 

The representative of Viet Nam said his country had worked hard for self-determination and had therefore co-sponsored the resolution.  Viet Nam was of the view that the draft resolution dealt with the universality of the right to self-determination.  

Delegations approved the text without a vote.

Following that action, the representative of Argentina recalled his country’s total support for the right of peoples to self-determination, particularly peoples under colonialism. 

The representative of Pakistan expressed his gratitude to co-sponsors to the resolution.  He had asked for the floor to express his consternation at the practice of one delegation who had taken the floor and offered its impression of the co-sponsors’ opinion on a statement made by another delegation.  This practice of hegemony must be avoided.  The resolution of the United Nations Security Council had declared that the people of Jammu and Kashmir must be given the right to determine their own future.  The maps of the United Nations all indicated that it was a disputed territory.  It was a travesty for anyone to say that the right to self-determination did not apply to Jammu and Kashmir.

The representative of Armenia said it had sponsored the draft based on the assumption that it concerned a universally recognized principle of international law.  Therefore pinpointing specific situations in the introduction of the text had been inappropriate.

The Committee next took up a draft text on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination (document A/C.3/57/L.35).

Before action was taken the representative of Denmark, on behalf of the European Union, said the European Union was pleased to announce that it was able to support the draft resolution, which reaffirmed the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.  The European Union warmly welcomed the fact that the international community, including not least the Middle East “quartet”, had affirmed the objective of two States -- Israel and Palestine -- living side by side within secure and recognized borders. 

Such a solution constituted the best possible guarantee for the security of Israel and the acceptance of Israel as an integrated partner in the region.  The right to self-determination included the holding of elections within the framework of a democratic society, and the European Union strongly supported the Palestinians in their efforts to hold free and fair elections as early as possible in 2003.

The representative of Israel urged delegations to carefully consider their vote.  This was primarily a political issue under negotiation between Israel and Palestine.  Some aspects concerned human rights.  However, it was more to do with a broader political situation.  Israel had recognized the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination more than 20 years ago.  Not very long ago, the Palestinians and Israel had been discussing outstanding residual issues.  Due to the violence negotiations had ended. 

Once the violence was over, he was sure that negotiations would continue.  This was an issue for the two parties to resolve, he reiterated.  With the onslaught of Palestinian terrorism, he said, Israel believed that supporting this draft would indicate that those who practised terrorism were rewarded, not punished, by the international community.  Support for the item before the Committee would send the wrong signal at the wrong time.

A recorded vote was called for.  The resolution was approved by a vote of 156 in favor, three against (Israel, Marshall Islands, United States), with three abstentions (Nicaragua, Micronesia, Cameroon). (See Annex III.)

After the vote, the representative of Canada said his delegation supported the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people and the creation of a Palestinian State.  However, Canada believed that the cause of the Palestinian people, as well as the region as a whole, would be best served by pursuing a path of negotiation.  Canada supported the affirmation in the draft resolution of the rights of all States in the region to live in peace and security, and within recognized borders.  It also supported the call for a return to negotiations

The representative of Australia said his delegation had voted in favour of the draft because, taken as a whole, it was a clear statement of the right of Palestinian people to self-determination.  However, if a paragraph-by-paragraph vote had been requested, Australia could not have supported operative paragraph one.  That was not from any lack of sensitivity to the situation, but because it considered that a just, lasting and comprehensive solution must arise from adherence to relevant Security Council resolutions, and the principle of land for peace.  That was language that could have been included in operative paragraph one.

The representative of Egypt said he had refrained from comment on the statement by Israel because he wanted that representative to hear the reply of the Committee before he heard it from Egypt.  Palestinians were not terrorists, he continued.  They were fighting for their rights.  Egypt hoped that this was the last year the Committee had to take up such a draft.

The Committee next took up document A/C.3/57/L.39, an amendment to a draft resolution on the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (document A/C.3/57/L.30).

The amendment contained in document A/C.3/57/L.39 would replace paragraph 1 of article 25 of the draft optional protocol with the following:

“All expenses for the implementation of the present protocol shall be borne exclusively by States parties.  The States parties alone shall be responsible for reimbursement to the United Nations for any expenses incurred by the United Nations pursuant to paragraph 2 of the article [on the request for the Secretary-General to provide necessary staff and facilities for the effective performance and functions of the Sub-Committee created under the protocol], including use of its staff and facilities.”

Before any action was taken, the representative of Japan said his delegation appreciated having been informed about budgetary allocations today.  However, given the little time that delegations had had to look over the budgetary issues, Japan requested a deferral of 24 hours so that delegations would have time to call their capitals.

The representative of Mexico said the Secretariat had provided delegations with information just as requested by Japan.  All delegations had received this information and there was no need to defer action.  Mexico said this kind of procedure was unnecessary for a draft that had such broad-based support.

The United States said that the financial implications must be known, and provided for delegations, before action was taken on any new human rights instruments.  Only today had such information been provided and only in a brief informal note.  He expressed his appreciation for this information.  However, a quick review of the document required time to consider options.  The United States supported the request made by the resolution of Japan.

The representative of Norway said he strongly supported the Optional Protocol and that the time had come to take action.  For ten years people had known about the budgetary issue and it was surprising that two of the richest countries of the world were putting up obstacles.

The representative of Japan stressed that the budgetary information was just provided two hours ago.  He was not asking for a year’s deferral but a 24-hour deferral so that all delegations could have a chance to call their capitals.  He said there had been no time to study the document, and reiterated his request for a 24-hour deferral.

The representative of Malaysia asked whether the budget issue would come before the Fifth Committee.

The motion for deferral was then defeated by a vote of 12 in favor to 85 against, with 43 abstentions.  (See Annex IV.)

The Committee then proceeded to act on the amendment.  The representative of Denmark, on behalf of the European Union, said the amendment was not acceptable.  The European Union was not prepared to entertain the suggestion that the Optional Protocol be financed through Voluntary Funds.  The European Union believed that the Optional Protocol was an immense step in the elimination of torture and no country should hesitate to support it.

The representative of the United States said his country sought the most effective and best means to eliminate torture, but this proposed mechanism would cause the diversion of scarce resources.  The flawed process through which the draft resolution was here today reflected the lack of a level of consensus that was desirable for a human rights mechanism.  The United States was concerned that the draft Optional Protocol would not have a level of broad international support.  It was unfair that the many States that would not be parties to it would be contributing to it financially.

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 United States could not accept the proposed financing scheme of mandatory assessments on all Member States.  It sought the strongest means to end that terrible practice.  The draft optional protocol did not accomplish that; indeed, the United States believed it represented a potential diversion of resources from the work of more results-oriented bodies, including the Committee on Torture itself.

The representative of Canada said Canada was a strong proponent of measures to prevent and prohibit torture and supported the fundamental elements of the draft Optional Protocol.  Canada would vote in favor of the Optional Protocol and questioned the purpose of the United States in the amendment.  There was no reason to depart from the established traditions of having the United Nations regular budget support the core human rights instruments, he said.  In fact, it encouraged accession and ratification for poorer countries, since there would be no individual financial implications later.

The representative of Costa Rica said the resolution had the benefit of 86 co-sponsors, and the United States amendment did not respect the mandate of the United Nations Charter.  The Optional Protocol went beyond the financing since it would create a mechanism that would be truly effective in the elimination of torture.  No delegation that truly wanted to fight torture would agree with the amendment.

The representative of South Africa took the floor to reject the amendment proposed by the United States.  She said her delegation believed that all forms of torture must be fought.  She condemned attempts by some to frustrate the good will of other countries with regard to human rights.  Should this ill-conceived initiative be subjected to a vote, her delegation would vote against it.

The representative of Japan said with respect to the draft Optional Protocol that his delegation had some concerns about the domestic inspection mechanism contained in the draft.  Further, no opportunity had been given to discuss substantive issues in the Committee.  The text was flawed and Japan could not support shifting the cost of the protocol to the United Nations regular budget.  It would support the United States amendment.

In recorded vote the amendment was defeated by 11 in favor to 98 against, with 37 abstentions.  (See Annex V.)

After the vote, the representative of Australia said that the six core treaty bodies were being funded from the United Nations regular budget.  However, Australia drew a distinction between core treaty bodies and the Optional Protocol.  This was based on the manner in which this had been determined by the Commission on Human Rights, with a split vote and without broad international consensus.  Australia had therefore voted in favor of the amendment.  

The United States then called for a vote on the draft resolution on the Optional Protocol to the torture convention (document A/C.3/57/L.30).

Before the vote, the representative of the United States strongly condemned the despicable practice of torture and had cooperated with the Special Rapporteur.  It was the largest donor to the Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.  Over the years, the United States had expressed its concerns about the flawed process by which this situation had come from Geneva, through the Economic and Social Council to the Third Committee.  The level of consensus desired for a human rights mechanism was lacking, he said.  Suggestions made by the United States had been rejected. 

He also regretted that the sponsors had chosen not to hold informal consultations.  The United States had opposed the draft resolution, both on financial and substantive grounds, and it questioned the effectiveness of such a mechanism.  The United States opposed funding these human rights mechanisms through the United Nations regular budget.  Non-parties should not be financially bound.  Only on the very day of action had delegations been given annual cost estimates.  Many Member States could already not meet their United Nations dues.  The adoption of the Optional Protocol would set a dangerous precedent and the United States would vote no.   

The draft was then approved by a vote 104 in favour to 8 against (China, Cuba, Israel, Japan, Nigeria, Vietnam, Syria, United States), with 37 abstentions. (See Annex VI.)

After the vote, the representative of Venezuela said the Optional Protocol included conditions to ensure the effectiveness of monitoring arrangements.

The representative of Cuba said the lack of a consensus meant that there was now a document before the Committee that was not universal.  Cuba would prefer to avoid any conflict on the basic principles involved here concerning the sovereignty of the State.  Nevertheless, he congratulated the co-sponsors for their success.

The representative of Thailand said he had abstained, since Thailand adhered to human rights.  It was considering becoming a party to the Convention against Torture in due course.  However, the Optional Protocol still contained several provisions that prevented a consensus. 

The representative of Australia said he had serious concerns as to both procedural and substantive aspects.  Australia firmly believed that human rights mechanisms needed to be adopted with the broadest consensus possible.  He reiterated that Australia remained committed to finding more appropriate means to eliminate torture.

The representative of Egypt said his country had been very active in the elaboration of the draft resolution and regretted that no consensus had been reached.  Aspects of the protocol needed further consideration, particularly in the setting-up of the visiting mechanism.  The Optional Protocol introduced the element of prevention.  However it needed to be applied in a spirit of cooperation.

The representative of Libya said there was no excuse for torture and he had not wished to vote for the Optional Protocol, since the procedure had been tainted by the unwillingness of certain parties to compromise and listen to others.  International efforts to fight torture must be based on the strengthening of existing mechanisms, not the creation of a new unilateral mechanism.  This Optional Protocol forced countries to act against their national sovereignty, which was totally unacceptable. 

The representative of Singapore said his country opposed torture and other cruel treatment or punishment.  It was therefore with deep regret that Singapore could not support draft resolution L.30.  This draft resolution was a sensitive one for many delegations and it was therefore all the more important that the principles of openness, transparency and willingness to work towards consensus should have prevailed during negotiations.  Unfortunately, this had not been the case. 

The draft resolution had been presented on a “take-it-or-leave-it” basis.  He stressed that the weight of a human rights resolution depended on the breadth of its support in the international community.  He asked what was the real, practical benefit of an Optional Protocol adopted by vote in the present circumstances?  In view of the manner in which the resolution was being imposed upon the international community Singapore, regretfully, abstained on the vote. 

The representative of Nepal said he regretted that the draft had not achieved a consensus, and had been taken to the vote.  He had therefore abstained.

The representative of India said his country had constitutional and legal safeguards against torture.  The Convention against Torture was one of the six core instruments in the human rights arena.  However, the negotiations had been difficult and protracted, and had resulted with consensus.  More time should have been allowed for the consideration of the Optional Protocol so that a consensual result could be found.

The representative of Japan said it was unfortunate that the resolution had been adopted, particularly since the Fifth Committee had not had the opportunity to investigate its financial implications.  These issues must be discussed in the Fifth Committee before action was taken in the General Assembly.

The Committee then approved, without a vote, the draft resolution on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (document A/C.3/57/L.36).  The Secretary read a programme budgetary statement, and provided some technical corrections.

The Committee then approved without a vote the final draft on its agenda today, a text on the effective implementation of international instruments on human rights, including reporting obligations under international instruments on human rights (document A/C.3/57/L.38).

Statements on Human Rights Questions

ZHANG YISHAN (China) said the Commission on Human Rights was the most important organ of the United Nations tasked with promoting and safeguarding human rights.  To that end, it was necessary to closely examine ways to strengthen that body's work.

First, practical measures must be taken to avoid confrontations.  In the wake of the challenges that had emerged during the Commission's most recent session, some countries had complained that group positions adopted by African or Asian countries had led to political standoffs.  But what was the real truth? he asked.  Political confrontations in the Commission had existed long before this year, and could thus not be attributed solely to African and Asian countries. 

The root cause of that issue rested in the fact that a few countries and groups of countries were still clinging to cold war mentalities and chose to politicize human rights issues.  Those countries also used country-specific resolutions as a means to pressure developing countries, of which African and Asian nations were frequently victims.  It was his hope that countries which participated in such practices would take appropriate action to resolve the issue.                                                                 

The international community should strive to pursue a balanced approach to human rights issues, ensuring that the twin goals of the Vienna Declaration were respected:  the indivisibility of human rights and the need for broad cooperation for the realization of the right to development.  Such an approach was necessary because economic globalization had not only failed to bring prosperity to all countries, but much of the developing world was now threatened with severe marginalization.

He said the Commission on Human Rights still had the tendency to give short shrift to economic, social and cultural rights, as well as the right to development.  Indeed, many years after its creation, the working group on the right to development was still faced with various difficulties as it attempted to carry out its mandate.  China was pleased that the newly appointed High Commissioner for Human Rights had pledged that he would strike a balance between the two types of rights and would promote the gradual realization of the right to development.

Finally, he said, it was necessary to strengthen international cooperation in the field of human rights.  The international community had a shared responsibility for promoting and protecting those rights and with enhanced cooperation, human rights would thrive.

MS. GROUX (Switzerland) said the continuous and constant promotion of human rights was a tremendous challenge.  That was why Switzerland welcomed the report of the Secretary-General and his commitment to strengthen the United Nations work in the field of human rights.  In this context, she added, it shared the Secretary-General’s concern about the increasing polarization in the work of the Commission on Human Rights.  Switzerland did not appreciate this polarization and had always supported advances in human rights through persistence and dialogue.  There was room for improvement in the reporting to human rights mechanisms.  It was essential to take steps forward in this regard and make the process of reporting on the implementation of human rights instruments more constructive.  Another important improvement would be an increase in cooperation between Committees, as well as the speedy implementation of recommendations.

She said Switzerland also expected coherent and continuous reform by the High Commissioner on Human Rights, particularly in the area of human resources.  In order to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights, it was vital to work in partnerships with different sectors.  Some people feared the emergence of the private sector as a major player; increasingly, however, the private sector was responding to the call for social responsibility.  Actions with regard to human rights would be complementary, since the primary responsibility was that of governments. 

(Annexes follow)

ANNEX I

Vote on Operative Paragraph 10:  Racial Discrimination

Operative Paragraph 10 of Chapter One of the draft resolution on the Convention Against All Forms of Racial Discrimination (document A/C.3/57/L.32) was approved by a recorded vote of 154 in favour to 2 against, with 2 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Afghanistan, 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, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, 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, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against:  Israel, United States.

Abstaining:  Kuwait, Marshall Islands.

Absent:  Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Nigeria, Palau, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Suriname, Tajikistan, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu.

(END OF ANNEX I)

ANNEX II

Vote on Use of Mercenaries

The draft resolution on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights impeding the exercise of the rights of peoples to self-determination (document A/C.3/57/L.31) was approved by a recorded vote of 108 in favour to 19 against, with 32 abstentions, as follows:

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

Against:  Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Federated States of Micronesia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States.

Abstaining:  Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malta, Monaco, Nauru, New Zealand, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Yugoslavia.

Absent:  Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Tajikistan, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan.

(END OF ANNEX II)

ANNEX III

Vote on Palestinian People’s Right to Self-Determination

The draft resolution on the right of the Palestinian people's right to self-determination (document A/C.3/57/L.35) was approved by a recorded vote of 156 in favour to 3 against, with 3 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Afghanistan, 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, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, 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, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, 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, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against:  Israel, Marshall Islands, United States.

Abstaining:  Cameroon, Federated States of Micronesia, Nicaragua.

Absent: Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu.

(END OF ANNEX III)

ANNEX IV

Vote on deferral of action on protocol to Convention against Torture

The amendment to defer action on the draft proposal on the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (documents A/C.3/57/L.30 and L.39) defeated on a recorded vote of 12 in favour to 85 against, with 43 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  China, India, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Singapore, United States, Uzbekistan, Zimbabwe.

Against:  Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gambia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Kiribati, Latvia, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Venezuela, Yugoslavia.

Abstaining:  Albania, Algeria, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Cuba, Egypt, Grenada, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Ukraine, United Republic of Tanzania, Vanuatu, Viet Nam.

Absent:  Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Iran, Jordan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Libya, Maldives, Federated States of Micronesia, Mongolia, Morocco, Oman, Palau, Qatar, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Zambia.

(END OF ANNEX IV)

ANNEX V

Vote on Amendment to Draft on Optional Protocol to Convention against Torture

The amendment to the draft resolution on the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (document A/C.3/57/L.30) was defeated by a recorded vote of 11 in favour to 98 against, with 37 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Australia, India, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Marshall Islands, Pakistan, Russian Federation, United States, Uzbekistan.

Against:  Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Bahamas, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Kiribati, Latvia, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, San Marino, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Yugoslavia, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Abstaining:  Albania, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Egypt, Guyana, Haiti, Indonesia, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mauritania, Myanmar, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Republic of Tanzania, Viet Nam.

Absent:  Afghanistan, Botswana, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Iran, Jordan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, Maldives, Federated States of Micronesia, Morocco, Palau, Republic of Moldova, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, United Arab Emirates, Yemen.

(END OF ANNEX V)

ANNEX VI

Vote on Optional Protocol to Convention against Torture

The draft resolution on the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, as a whole (document A/C.3/57/L.30) was approved by a recorded vote of 104 in favour to 8 against, with 37 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Afghanistan, Albania, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kiribati, Latvia, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, San Marino, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Yugoslavia, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against:  China, Cuba, Israel, Japan, Nigeria, Syria, United States, Viet Nam.

Abstaining:  Algeria, Australia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Mauritania, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sudan, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan.

Absent:  Belarus, Botswana, Cambodia, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, Iran, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, United Arab Emirates, Yemen.

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For information media. Not an official record.