Fifty-seventh General Assembly
50th and 51st Meetings (AM & PM)
THIRD COMMITTEE APPROVES DRAFTS ON INSTRAW, PALESTINIAN CHILDREN;
CONTINUES DEBATE ON REFUGEE ISSUES
The General Assembly would endorse the recommendations of the Working Group on the future of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) and decide to link the Institute to the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, under the terms of a draft resolution approved in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) this afternoon, by a vote of 124 in favour to 7 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, United States), with
Also this afternoon, a resolution on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian children was approved by a vote of 95 in favour to 3 against (Israel, Marshall Islands, United States), with 58 abstentions.
Under further terms of the text on INSTRAW, based on the recommendations of the Working Group, the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs would have direct responsibility for the Institute. Those recommendations would have the Assembly decide to establish a liaison unit of the Institute within the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, create the post of Deputy Director with specific fund-raising responsibilities, and allocate $500,000 from the regular budget to finance the Institute’s core activities.
Commenting on the resolution, which some delegations called "controversial", the representative of Venezuela, on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the fact that the Committee had taken action on a resolution dealing with the advancement of women by recorded voting was very discouraging. It was deplorable that financial considerations were given pre-eminence over what States, collectively, had established as priorities within this Organization’s agenda -- the promotion of gender equality and the advancement of women.
Citing the overall scarcity of funds, the representative of the United Kingdom said that the proposed allocation of resources was not in the wider interest of the United Nations or its Member States. Indeed, the decline in voluntary contributions to the Institute suggested that perhaps the great majority of Member States did not consider INSTRAW to be a funding priority. The United Kingdom believed that, while the Institute had once served a useful purpose, it had now been overtaken by the Internet and the capacities of other research and academic bodies active in similar or related fields, so that its product was readily available elsewhere and at a lower cost.
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Under the terms of the draft on assistance to Palestinian children, the Assembly would express its deep concern about the consequences, including psychological consequences, of Israeli military actions on the present and future well-being of Palestinian children. The Assembly would, therefore, demand that Israel, the occupying Power, respect the relevant provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and comply fully with the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, in order to ensure the well-being and protection of Palestinian children and their families.
When the Committee continued its consideration of questions related to refugees and displaced persons, delegations expressed strong support for the vital humanitarian field work undertaken by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), but, at the same time, stressed that they were greatly troubled by the agency’s dire financial straits, as well as recent trends affecting donor support.
The representative of Indonesia thanked the UNHCR and all those who, in partnership with his Government, had worked very hard to repatriate refugees from West Timor province back to Timor-Leste. Progress had been such that the refugee problem had largely been solved, and now humanitarian relief efforts were winding down, while reintegration efforts were being stepped up.
Such success could not have been achieved if not for outside technical and financial assistance, he continued. This was why Indonesia was greatly concerned by the agency's dire financial straits, and would like to see a long-term solution that would assure a steady stream of adequate financial resources to existing programmes, and the flexibility to deal with emergencies as they arose.
Echoing many of those same sentiments, the representative of Cuba stressed that her country’s admiration for the purely humanitarian focus and respect for the sovereignty of States that had characterized UNHCR’s work had been clouded by the agency’s troubling and persistent financial predicament. The number of refugees and internally displaced persons had been increasing, while resources were steadily declining. Further, the bulk of the available resources was usually directed to more visible refugee flows, while other less appreciable or protracted refugee situations were virtually ignored.
She said the developed world had reacted to increased displacement, particularly during the past year, by closing its borders, which only exacerbated the problem. In that regard, the principle of burden-sharing was a vital concern and must not be deferred. Further, fresh contributions must not be determined by donor preferences, and the needs of all uprooted persons and populations must be met.
At the outset of both the morning and afternoon meetings, delegations heard the introduction of drafts on human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and human rights situations. The eight overall texts covered human rights and extreme poverty; the question of enforced disappearances; promotion of the right to peace; respect for the Charter; protection of human rights while countering terrorism; the human rights situation in Cambodia; protection of migrants; and extrajudicial, summary of arbitrary executions.
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Those texts were introduced, respectively, by the representatives of France, Cuba, Mexico, Japan and Finland.
Participating in the general debate on refugees were the representatives of Nepal, Eritrea, Venezuela, Republic of Korea, India and Thailand.
The representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) also spoke.
The right of reply was exercised by the representative of Israel, as well as by the Observer for Palestine.
The Committee will meet again Monday, 18 November, at 10 a.m. to continue its consideration of the report of the UNHCR, and other matters related to refugees and displaced persons. It is also expected to hear the introduction of a number of resolutions on human rights questions.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to continue and conclude its consideration of the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions.
The Committee was also expected to hear the introduction of a number of draft resolutions on human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Delegations were scheduled to take action on a number of draft resolutions on items related to the advancement of women, protection of the rights of children and the rights of migrants and persons with disabilities.
The Committee had before it a draft text on the future operations of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) (document A/C.3/57/L.16/Rev.1), which would have the Assembly endorse the recommendations of the working group on the Institute’s future operations and extend the group’s mandate. The draft would also have the Assembly urge the Institute to intensify its fund-raising efforts and to diversify its funding sources to include private foundations and inter-agency and inter-institutional collaborations, among others. It would also request the Secretary-General to appoint, without delay, a Director for the Institute.
The Committee was expected to take up the draft on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian children (document A/C.3/57/L.23*), which would have the Assembly express its condemnation of all acts of violence resulting in extensive loss of human life and injuries, including among Palestinian children. It would also have the Assembly express its deep concern about the consequences, including psychological consequences, of Israeli military actions on the present and future well-being of Palestinian children. The resolution would have the Assembly demand that Israel, the occupying Power, respect the relevant provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and comply fully with the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, in order to ensure the well-being and protection of Palestinian children and their families.
Introduction of Draft Resolutions
The Committee heard introductions of resolutions on human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The representative of Peru introduced a draft resolution on human rights and extreme poverty (document A/C.3/57/L.53), by which the Assembly would reaffirm that extreme poverty and exclusion from society constituted a violation of human dignity and that urgent national and international action was therefore required to eliminate it. The draft would have the Assembly call upon States, United Nations bodies, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations to continue giving appropriate attention to the links between human rights and extreme poverty. The representative of Peru said the eradication of poverty was one of the major challenges of the 21st Century and was not only a development goal, but also human rights goal.
A draft resolution on the question of enforced or involuntary disappearances (A/C.3/57/L.57), introduced by the representative of France, would have the Assembly call upon governments to take steps to ensure that human rights were protected when a state of emergency was introduced, in particular by preventing enforced disappearances. By the terms of the text, the Assembly would also urge governments concerned to take steps to protect the families of disappeared persons against any intimidation or ill treatment to which they may be subjected. The representative of France said the practice of enforced disappearances affected many parts of the world and was a very important issue with disastrous effects on victims and their families. He therefore hoped that the draft resolution would be adopted by consensus.
The representative of Cuba introduced a draft resolution on the promotion of the right of peoples to peace (document A/C.3/57/L.58), by which the Assembly would urge the international community to devote part of the resources made available by the implementation of disarmament and arms limitation agreements to economic and social development, with a view to reducing the ever-widening gap between developed and developing countries, and to promote the realization of human rights for all. The representative of Cuba stressed that the right to peace constituted a significant cornerstone of an international society where human rights and fundamental freedoms were respected. Every State had a responsibility to ensure the safety of its citizens and their right to peace.
The representative of Cuba then introduced a text on respect for the purposes and principles contained in the Charter of the United Nations to achieve international cooperation in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms and in solving international problems of a humanitarian character (document A/C.3/57/L.59), which would have the Assembly reaffirm that the enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights was essential for the full achievement of the purposes of the Charter and that human rights and fundamental freedoms were the birthright of all human beings. The main sponsor said the draft recognized that the international community should find ways of eliminating obstacles that were hindering universal enjoyment of human rights, and it should also work to promote broad cooperation and dialogue.
Next, the representative Mexico introduced a draft text on protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (document A/C.3/57/L.61), which would have the Assembly reaffirm its unequivocal condemnation of all the acts, methods and practices of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever and by whomever they were committed. The representative said it was most timely for the Assembly to issue a pronouncement on this very important issue, and he added that negotiations on the draft were ongoing. He added that before action was taken on the draft, Mexico would like to update the Committee on those discussions.
The text would also have the Assembly call on States to take into account relevant resolutions and decisions on protecting human rights while countering terrorism, and encourage them to consider the recommendations of the special procedures of the Commission on Human Rights. It would also request the High Commissioner for Human Rights to, among other things, make recommendations concerning the obligations of States to promote and protect human rights while taking actions to counter terrorism and to provide assistance and advice to States upon request, as well as to United Nations bodies.
The draft resolution on the situation of human rights in Cambodia (document A/C.3/57/L.67) was introduced by the representative of Japan. She said steady progress of the promotion and protection of human rights of the people of Cambodia had only been achieved through the unceasing efforts of the Government, in cooperation with the international community. Cambodia was one of the best examples of how advisory services and technical assistance in the field of human rights could help countries in need. While the text reflected many positive changes that had taken place, it also recognized that problems remained, particularly in the areas of the rule of law, functioning of the judiciary and prison conditions.
The text would have the Assembly recognize that the tragic history of Cambodia required special measures to ensure protection of the human rights of all the people of the country and the non-return to policies and practices of the past. It would urge the Government of Cambodia to expedite the adoption of laws and codes that were essential components of the basic legal framework, including a penal code, a criminal code and a new civil code, and to enhance the training of judges and lawyers.
Finally, the representative of Mexico introduced the draft on the protection of migrants (document A/C.3/57/L.60), stressing that the text attempted to deal with issues surrounding the protection of migrants in an integrated way and made reference to the importance of implementing the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. The draft would have the Assembly reiterate the need for all States parties of relevant international conventions to protect fully the universally recognized human rights of migrants, especially women and children, regardless of legal status, and to treat them humanely, in particular with regard to assistance and protection.
Statements on Refugees
RAM BABU DHAKAL (Nepal) said his delegation had supported the work of UNHCR and had always done so. He noted that the report of the High Commissioner had pointed out some positive developments, such as the reduction of people of concern to the UNHCR. However, he shared the concern of the High Commissioner that problems still remained; concrete solutions needed to be identified; and words needed to be translated into deeds. Nepal appreciated UNHCR’s innovative ideas to find a durable solution to refugee problems and ensure human rights and fundamental freedoms, but suggested that more attention be paid to the root causes of protracted refugee situations.
Concerning development through local integration, he stressed the need to further analyse that concept. Such an approach must take into consideration the economic, social and political situation of each host country, to see if they had the ability to allow or support local integration. The idea of offering official development assistance in return for host countries' carrying out local integration programmes sounded like a good idea, but was potentially explosive.
On the refugee situation faced by Nepal, he said it was a result of Bhutan’s policies. He urged the Government of Bhutan to agree to hold a meeting to sow positive seeds for the future, which would allow the possibility for a safe return of refugees. Nepal had provided space for these refugees for humanitarian reasons alone, but did not have the financial capability to remain a host country.
WALKIRIA FERNANDEZ (Cuba) said her country had always welcomed and supported the work of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). That agency's purely humanitarian focus and respect for the sovereignty of States had characterized its work. Sadly, Cuba's admiration had been clouded, however, by UNHCR's troubling and persistent financial straits. The number of refugees and internally displaced persons had been increasing, while resources were steadily declining. Further, the bulk of the available resources was usually directed to alleviate the suffering of massive flows of refugees, while other less visible or protracted refugee situations were virtually ignored.
The developed world had reacted to increased displacement, particularly during the past year, by closing its borders, which only exacerbated the problem. In that regard, she continued, the principle of burden-sharing was a vital concern and must not be deferred. Further, fresh contributions must not be determined by donor preferences, and the needs of all uprooted persons and populations must be met. The international community could also not ignore that the root causes of forced displacement or migration were a direct consequence of social injustice and poverty.
Ensuring equitable distribution of wealth and equal treatment of all people, as well as creating a world with fewer wars and less ethnic and political violence, would certainly lead to fewer uprooted populations, she continued. Cuba expressed its heartfelt regards to those Palestinian people who were persistently deprived of not only their human rights and fundamental freedoms, but of the right to return to a safe and secure homeland. Cuba would also express condemnation for all those who perpetuated and supported the anti-Palestinian barbarity.
Cuba had developed a fruitful working relationship with UNHCR, which had only strengthened and grown, she said. Due to the economic blockade, Cuba could not donate liberally to the cause of UNHCR, but it did place at the service of refugees all over the world its solidarity and human potential, which were equally important.
AHMED TAHIR BADURI (Eritrea) said that, since Eritrea’s formal independence in 1993, his Government had been very keen in seeking a more durable solution to the refugee issue through the design of a more comprehensive programme, which at the time had been judged as falling beyond the scope and mandate of UNHCR. The UNHCR had not received the support it needed then. However, the close cooperation that had developed between his Government and UNHCR had been helpful in looking beyond the voluntary repatriation dimension of the refugee problem. He noted that, today, the UNHCR was working vigorously to ensure the sustainability of the voluntary repatriation and reintegration programmes, by coordinating its activities with a number of United Nations bodies and other international organizations.
Thousands of the refugees that were voluntarily repatriated to Eritrea had been able to benefit from initiatives aimed at addressing the initial phase of reintegration programmes. These initiatives were an important and helpful means of instilling more confidence in the refugee population, and, therefore, needed to be continued further, he said. In light of the post-conflict situation in his country, his Government, in cooperation with UNHCR, was preparing a comprehensive programme to deal with the rehabilitation of refugees, internally displaced persons, expellees and demobilized soldiers, within the framework of a longer-term
development strategy. Yet, the current situation of the Eritrean refugees in the Sudan was difficult, precarious and uncertain, and the safety and well-being of those refugees was of prime concern to his Government.
MARIO AGUZZI DURÁN (Venezuela) said his country was committed to the universal cause of human rights, as well as the protection and promotion of the rights of refugees and displaced persons. Venezuela's National Commission would elaborate policies on refugee status, reflecting relevant international instruments. Venezuela believed that States bore the main responsibility for addressing the needs of displaced populations. Therefore, in international negotiations on the matter, it had studied carefully options that would promote the voluntary return of uprooted populations in dignity and in accordance with recognized international regulations.
He said the issue of repatriation was most important to his delegation, as was the need to ensure that migrants were treated fairly and in a non-discriminatory manner. In that regard, it was important for the international community to step up its efforts in areas such as education, which would go a long way to ensuring non-prejudicial treatment of migrant and refugee populations. Venezuela supported the vital work being done by humanitarian workers in the field and would reiterate the need to ensure their safety and security at all times.
KWEON KI-WHAN (Republic of Korea) said he welcomed the many accomplishments of the Global Consultations on International Protection. He was assured by the unanimous reaffirmation of the centrality of the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees, and found the new Agenda for Protection to be a comprehensive guide for the development of policies and cooperation to strengthen the protection for refugees and others in need of protection from the international community. The Republic of Korea was particularly pleased with the special attention given to women and children, and was taken by the idea of “Convention Plus”. This idea was the beginning of a process of developing multilateral agreements to supplement the Convention, so as to better address the new challenges to refugee protection, including the whole array of displacements, mass outflows, secondary movements, and the nexus between migration and asylum.
In many areas of the globe, there were people who lived in refugee-like situations outside their countries of origin, but did not have access to protection, he said. In many cases, poverty and starvation were the reason for their flights, but the flights took them only to an existence of extreme vulnerability, where they were exposed to a variety of human rights violations. To regard them as migrants in search of economic opportunities was to gloss over their dire circumstances and did a disservice to the fundamental humanitarian nature of refugee protection. He hoped that the Convention Plus process would be developed and applied in such a way as to address the problems of those vulnerable people.
MUHAMMAD ANSHOR (Indonesia) thanked the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, his Office, his staff and all of those who, in partnership with the Government, had worked very hard to repatriate refugees from West Timor province back to Timor-Leste. These efforts had led to the repatriation of 220,000 refugees, and efforts were under way to resettle those East Timorese who had chosen not to return to Timor-Leste. In fact, progress had been such that the refugee problem had largely been solved, and humanitarian relief efforts were winding down, while resettlement and reintegration efforts were being stepped up.
Prompt action had resulted in the refugee issue being largely settled in only about three years, thus allowing Indonesia and the new nation of Timor-Leste to avoid the politically and socially destabilizing problems which had frequently accompanied longstanding refugee situations in other parts of the world.
The success story in dealing with the refugee problem in West Timor province was an example of effective cooperation between a host country and international agencies, especially UNHCR. The success achieved in dealing with the refugee problem in West Timor province could not have been achieved without assistance from the outside, both technical and financial. This was why Indonesia viewed with great concern the dire financial straits of UNHCR, and would like to see an effective long-run solution to the problem of UNHCR finances -- one that would assure a steady stream of adequate finance to existing programmes, and the flexibility to deal with emergencies as they arose.
JACQUES VILLETTAZ, of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said armed conflict represented one of the major causes of forced displacement across international borders and, to an even greater extent, within countries. The ICRC did its utmost to ensure that the uprooted were properly respected, protected and assisted. States had the primary responsibility in this regard, and humanitarian organizations, such as ICRC, could only play a supportive role. The situation did not allow for complacency. Indeed, current figures of displacement were indicative also of the disregard for existing rules, and of the imperative to do more to ensure that they be properly respected.
The ICRC devoted a considerable part of its attention and resources to millions of internally displaced persons, in more than 50 countries across the world. This must in no way be seen as a shift away from its long-standing policy of seeking to help the civilian population as a whole towards tending primarily to the needs of one group of victims. While particular attention towards specific categories of civilians, such as displaced persons, could be warranted to better identify their particular needs, there could be no justification for ignoring the situation of others, such as residents who had remained trapped in dangerous zones, or who had been further impoverished by sharing their already meagre resources with those who arrived in total destitution. A global, sustained, and holistic approach, geared towards the entire population, was, therefore, required to apprehend the overall situation, to better detect specific problems as they arose and to respond in an impartial manner, so as to avoid discrimination between persons who found themselves in equal distress and danger.
MILOS PRICA (Bosnia and Herzegovina) updated the Committee on the consultations under way on a draft resolution on basic tenets of humanitarian action in emergency situations. Extensive negotiations had been ongoing, and his delegation had presented a detailed briefing that past Monday. At that time, a number of governments had requested further time to study the draft. Bosnia and Herzegovina, therefore, felt it would be difficult to complete the negotiations during the current session, and proposed that further consideration of the text be postponed until the Assembly's fifty-eighth session.
Introduction of Drafts
The representative of Finland began the Committee's work in the afternoon by introducing a draft resolution on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (document A/C.3/57/L.56). That text would have the Assembly express its dismay that, in a number of countries, impunity continues to prevail and often remains the main cause of continuing occurrences of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. The Assembly would, therefore, demand that all governments ensure that those practices be brought to an end and that they take effective action to combat and eliminate the phenomenon in all forms. The text's main sponsor said that the right to life was a right to be protected, promoted and preserved for all people.
Following that introduction, the representative of Egypt said the resolution did not meet consensus, negotiations were ongoing and many delegations, including his own, would present official recommendations for amendments later today. Egypt by no means supported summary executions or the tenor of impunity with which such practices were often carried out. It objected, rather, on the grounds that the text had been overburdened with issues beyond its scope.
Action on Drafts
The Committee turned next to take action on drafts on items related to the advancement of women and the rights of children.
Delegations first took up the draft on the future operation of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women(INSTRAW) (document A/C.3/57/L.16/Rev.1). That text would endorse the recommendations of the Working Group on INSTRAW and request the Secretary-General to implement those recommendations, detailed in paragraph 57 of its report on the future operations of INSTRAW (document A/57/330).
Those recommendations included linking the Institute to the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) of the United Nations Secretariat. The Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs would have direct responsibility for the Institute. The Group also recommended the establishment of a liaison unit of the Institute within DESA, the creation of the post of Deputy Director with specific fund-raising responsibilities, and the allocation of $500,000 from the regular budget to finance the Institute’s core activities. It also recommended that the Secretary-General appoint a Director, to be based at the Institute’s Headquarters in the Dominican Republic.
Before action was taken, the Committee Secretary read out a statement on programme budget implications, which stated that should the Assembly adopt the draft, that decision would give rise to additional requirements of $500,000 for the biennium 2002-2003 under section 9, economic and social affairs. The provision would represent a charge against the contingency fund and, as such, would require an increase in appropriations for the biennium 2002-2003.
Consequently, an additional provision, amounting to $1,309,500, would be required, over and above regular budget resources available under section 9 (economic and social affairs) of the programme budget for the biennium 2002-2003. The amount of $1,309,500 would be provided from as yet unidentified voluntary contributions.
Several delegations then made general statements on the texts.
The representative of Venezuela, on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said it was very discouraging that the Committee would take action on a draft resolution dealing with the advancement of women by recorded voting. It was deplorable that financial considerations were given pre-eminence over what States, collectively, had established as priorities within the Organization’s agenda -- the promotion of gender equality and the advancement of women. The wish of some delegations to deny the opportunity to receive funds from the United Nations regular budget by the only international institute devoted to research and training on gender issues was an unequivocal manifestation of their lack of political will towards women’s issues, and of the changeable nature of their solidarity towards developing countries.
After having accepted the creation of a Working Group to examine the situation of INSTRAW, a group of countries not only delayed the process of appointing their members, impeding the commencement of the Group’s work, but now criticized the report and the recommendations presented by the Working Group. Fortunately, the indolent and deceitful attitude towards this issue did not extend to all members of the General Assembly, he said. The commitment demonstrated by the Spanish delegation, as well as an important number of countries, including Mexico, who was also a co-sponsor of this draft, must serve as an example to those who had put into question the potential of INSTRAW in promoting the advancement of women and gender equality.
He said it had been stressed that inaccurate, contradictory and, in some cases, ambiguous reports coming from different administrative units through the United Nations Secretariat had contributed in stoking the flames of uncertainty and doubt surrounding the Institute for some years now. The Group of 77 and China, together with Mexico, unequivocally deplored current action to put this draft to a vote -- it was an attempt to subordinate substantive issues to budgetary considerations, without taking into account the serious precedent that that might set. Delegations sincerely committed to gender equality and the advancement of women were called upon to vote in favour of draft resolution.
The representative of Spain said that, as the representative of a country that chaired the Working Group, he wanted to emphasise Spain’s commitment to the maintenance of the Institute. He reminded the Committee that INSTRAW was the only Institute with a mandate to carry out research and training on gender issues. It was the only United Nations system entity located in Latin America. He also pointed out that the situation of INSTRAW was not only due to a lack of funding, but also resulted from the lack of coordination and the lack of leadership. Unfortunately, many delegations had focused on the financial aspect. Spain supported the re-modelling of INSTRAW, and would continue to support it politically and financially.
The floor was then opened for those delegations speaking in explanation of vote before the vote.
The representative of the United Kingdom said that the United Kingdom had sought to play a constructive role in the negotiations during this and previous sessions of the General Assembly to find a satisfactory outcome to the future of INSTRAW. The United Kingdom believed that each activity within the United Nations must be seen in a broader context. Resources were limited. There was no clear and specific limit to the future of the proposed regular budget provision. The figures set out in INSTRAW’s proposed work programme for the period 2003 to 2005 envisaged funding of $3.9 million. The United Kingdom believed that this
proposed allocation of resources, and any necessary cuts in other United Nations activity, was not in the wider interest of the United Nations or its Member States.
The decline in voluntary contributions to INSTRAW suggested that the great majority of Member States did not consider INSTRAW to be a funding priority. The United Kingdom did not fund INSTRAW because, while the Institute had served a useful purpose in the past, it had now been overtaken by the Internet and the capacities of other research and academic bodies active in similar or related fields, so that its product was readily available elsewhere and at a lower cost. In view of these concerns, the United Kingdom would abstain in the forthcoming vote on this draft resolution.
The representative of the Czech Republic said there was no doubt that the advancement of women was one of the priorities of the United Nations and the Czech Republic had therefore supported INSTRAW. However, the Government had not been fully convinced that the outcomes of INSTRAW were unique and relevant. The Czech Republic had concluded, through its discussions in the Working Group, that the inefficiency of INSTRAW had not been caused by the Institute alone. Therefore, the Czech Republic would vote in favour of the draft resolution. However, it was probably the Institute’s last chance to prove its importance in the advancement of women.
The representative of Sweden said her Government was an active advocate for the advancement of women, as well as the mainstreaming of gender issues in the work of the United Nations. Sweden’s foreign policy in human rights was based on consistency and results, as Sweden was a considerable donor to gender-related issues. She said that resources must be used in an efficient and result-oriented manner and, therefore, Sweden could not support the recommendations of the Working Group. The INSTRAW remained to convince Sweden that it had a comparative advantage in the field of the advancement of women. She said Sweden could not support the draft resolution and would, thus, abstain.
The representative of Japan said that in the recent report of the Working Group on the future operations of INSTRAW there was little evidence of the concrete contributions INSTRAW had made to the cause of the advancement of women, or the specific roles it was going to play from now on, or the comparative advantages it could offer. There was no suggestion of the kind of detailed plan it must follow in the years to come. Should INSTRAW be “linked” to DESA and the allocation of resources from the regular budget be approved, it might skew and negatively affect the institutional and budgetary structure of other programmes and projects. It might also lead to a diversion of limited resources from other entities that had been conducting effective and substantial operations. Japan could not accept this, and operative paragraph 2 of the current draft resolution was not acceptable.
Concerning operative paragraph 8, Japan did not see any merit in submitting a report on the follow-up to the implementation of the suggested measures to the Commission on the Status of Women, which already had a number of urgent and important items on the agenda. Japan could not accept the current draft resolution.
The representative of the United States said the United States could not support the resolution and would vote “no”, since the draft resolution endorsed recommendations of the INSTRAW Working Group with which the United States did not agree. Most notably, the United States could not accept regular budget funding for the Institute, especially in light of its poor track record. The United States was not convinced that INSTRAW was making worthwhile contributions to the improvement of the situation of women. Its accomplishments to date, including the Gender Awareness Information and Networking Systems (GAINS), had been only marginally useful.
The United States questioned if INSTRAW would become relevant even it if revitalized its work programme and coordinated better with other United Nations bodies working on women’s issues. The United States’ position was consistent -- INSTRAW must remain voluntarily funded, and governments who favoured its work may contribute to its operations and projects.
The representative of Canada said her country was a strong supporter of the need for research on the advancement of women. However, in light of the scarce resources of the United Nations, effective ways to undertake such work needed to be identified. Canada would vote against the draft resolution, since it was important to stand firm on how United Nations funds were allocated.
The representative of Denmark said she would abstain on the draft resolution, based on exactly the same reasons elaborated by the delegation of the United Kingdom and, therefore, associated herself to that statement.
A recorded vote was called.
The resolution was then approved by a vote of 124 in favour to 7 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, Netherlands, Republic of Korea and the United States), with 29 abstentions. (See Annex I.)
In explanation of vote following the vote, the representative of the Netherlands said the efforts made by the Working Group, as well as Venezuela, had been extraordinary. However, the Netherlands could not accept the recommendations and had, therefore, voted against the resolution. The situation of INSTRAW was not new, she said. However, in the past three years, the Institute had not managed to revitalize itself. Today’s recommendation of funding the Institute from the regular United Nations budget would mean that the Third Committee would find itself in exactly the same position next year.
The representative of the Republic of Korea said her country had voted against the resolution, since the Working Group recommendations had been unsatisfactory, offering no sustainable solutions.
The representative of Liechtenstein said Liechtenstein had voted in favour, convinced that the Institute needed the fair chance to give added value. He shared the concerns of many delegations as to the operations. However, the General Assembly needed to give INSTRAW a jump-start, including from the regular budget. He hoped that the adoption of this resolution would mark the beginning of the end of the issue.
The representative of the Dominican Republic said that the vast majority having voted in favour of the resolutions showed that the cause of the advancement of women had taken precedence to financial problems. He thanked Spain, Venezuela and the Group of 77 and China for their work and support, as well as all the countries who voted in favour of the resolution.
Then the Committee took up the draft on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian children (document A/C.3/57/L.23*).
Several delegations took the floor in explanation of vote before the vote.
The representative of Israel said Israel opposed the draft resolution that had been introduced as an initiative of the observer for Palestine -- the latest attempt to politicize all United Nations forums and single out Israel. He noted that there was already a resolution on the rights of the child, all children in the world. Given this draft resolution, it seemed as if one group of children was worthier of protection than others. Even in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the draft ignored the terrible effects on Israeli children as a result of terrorism and suicide bombings.
Indeed, a significant number of suicide bombings had deliberately targeted children. Only a few days ago, two children, aged 2 and 5, had been killed by a Palestinian terrorist. Was this legitimate resistance, he asked. With the adoption of such an unfair draft resolution, the Committee would ignore the cynical abuse of children in acts of terrorism, including suicide bombings. The draft resolution failed to show that the threats to the well-being of Palestinian children were the terrorists themselves. He urged Member States to reject such politicized and unbalanced drafts.
The representative of Egypt said that Egypt was the presenter of this resolution, not the observer for Palestine, since they did not have their independence.
The representative of the United States said the United States could not support the draft resolution since it was unbalanced, singled out one party in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and did not reflect the complexity or context of the situation on the ground. For example, the draft resolution ignored the participation, acknowledgement and acceptance of the use of Palestinian children to perpetrate suicide bombings by groups such as the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade -- despite widespread Palestinian unease with such tactics.
According to Amnesty International, Palestinian Authority television programming had explicitly encouraged children to take part in clashes with Israeli forces and extolled the virtues of “martyrdom”. The United States was deeply concerned about the situation of all Palestinian and Israeli children; however, the omnibus resolution on the Rights of the Child included the situation of children in armed conflict and addressed the plight and concern of all children, regardless of where they lived.
A recorded vote was requested.
The draft resolution was approved by a vote of 95 in favour to 3 against (Marshall Islands, the United States and Israel), with 58 abstentions. (See Annex II.)
Following the vote, the representative of Denmark, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said her delegation had abstained from the vote. The member countries of the European Union had done so because they did not support the proliferation of resolutions on agenda items where the Committee had traditionally not dealt separately with country-specific situations. The European Union continued to support the practice whereby thematic resolutions were all-encompassing and did not highlight one situation or another. That was the most efficient way for the Assembly to do business. Her delegation would have been pleased to vote in favour of the issue if the needs of Palestinian children had been incorporated into one of the existing resolutions on the Middle East.
Regarding the draft's substance, the European Union had consistently expressed its concern about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the West Bank and Gaza, and had been particularly concerned by recent disturbing reports of how the health of Palestinian children had been affected by the worsening crisis. If there was, indeed, to be peace in the future, and neighbourly relations between the parties, children needed to live in peace. They should not be involved in the conflict, nor taught hate. Israel and the Palestinian Authority had to do more to fulfil their responsibilities in those respects.
The representative of Australia said the resolution just approved covered specific regional issues, and his delegation believed it should not have been tabled under thematic items on children. The resolution was also unbalanced, as it reflected only on the actions of Israel and did not reflect the situations that existed on the ground. Australia would continue to urge both sides to work towards a diplomatic solution to the situation.
The representative of Turkey said his country's position on the ongoing conflict was well known by both parties, with which Turkey enjoyed good diplomatic relations. Turkey deplored all acts of violence, particularly those involving children, and would continue to support any actions to end such violence.
The representative of Canada said his country had consistently supported all actions to alleviate the suffering of children in armed conflict. It had not supported the resolution because the text did not reflect the terrible toll of the continued conflict on Israeli children, as well as Palestinian children. Canada called on all parties to continue to work towards a diplomatic solution, so that all the children of the region could live in peace.
The representative of Cameroon said her delegation was particularly concerned at the situation of children suffering in the Middle East, and would call on both sides to work to ensure that Palestinian and Israeli children lived a life in security and free from fear.
The representative of the Russian Federation said his delegation had voted for the resolution, despite the fact that the text dealt selectively with the issue, out of its unstinting concern for the situation of all children in conflict situations.
The representative of Switzerland said her delegation had abstained from the vote. Switzerland regretted the situation of all children in conflict and particularly recognized the situation of Palestinian children. However, it would have wished that the issue had been taken up in other texts under more appropriate items. Switzerland would also note that the elements of the text applied to all children and that all parties to conflict must abide by the Geneva Conventions.
The representative of India believed that the resolution should have been taken up under another agenda item.
The Observer for Palestine expressed his deep appreciation to all delegations who had chosen to support the resolution. However, he failed to understand the position of some who had not been in favour, since there were not enough reasons to withhold support. Previous speakers had referred to Palestinian attempts to single out Israel. That was not Palestine’s intention. However, Israel’s actions of the past years had led to the fact that Israel had singled out itself. Israel was the only occupying country in the world and was engaged in active colonialism, affecting not only Palestinian children but the Palestinian people as a whole. That kind of resolution could not be balanced -- the realities reflected a completely unbalanced situation. There was no way parallels could be drawn between the occupied and the occupier. The Palestinian child had a little bit more hope for a better future because of the message sent by the Committee today.
The representative of Suriname said the only reason the resolution deserved a positive approach was that it served the best interest of children, in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which called for the protection of children all over the world, including the Middle East.
Right of Reply
The representative of Israel, exercising his right of reply, expressed his dismay and outrage, since the Palestinian delegate was speaking with complete impunity when, at this exact moment, there were 11 dead bodies lying in Hebron. Those people had been killed on their way to pray, and had been brutally massacred. That was a fact, and in the face of that fact he would have thought that the Palestinian observer would have offered his regret, instead of coming out with baseless accusations.
The Observer for Palestine, speaking in right of reply, said he had become accustomed to hearing such things from Israel. The Palestinian leadership regretted any loss of life. However, it was important to state that Hebron was a city occupied by Israel. What were those Israelis doing in Hebron, he asked. There were about 400 Israeli religious fanatics in Hebron, engaging in the colonization of the city, making life for Palestinians a nightmare. That was an illegal occupation and the responsibility, therefore, lay with Israel. One must be sick to accept the settlers and colonizers in Hebron; in such situations, extreme reactions were seen, and were understood and legitimate under international law. The problem was the Israeli occupation, which must come to an end.
The representative of Israel said he wished to inform his Palestinian colleague that with the complete end of Palestinian terrorism there would be negotiations and then a peace settlement, including Israeli withdrawal. This was the path that the Palestinians should take, instead of exercising terror. He indicated that, in Israel, it was expected that the Palestinian Authority should not only speak of denouncing terrorism, but should act as well.
The Observer for Palestine said the first acts of violence that were terrorist in nature took place more than 20 years ago -- the occupation. It was the occupation that had caused the violence, not vice versa. Was Israel willing to end its occupation, he asked. Was the Israeli delegate ready to condemn Israeli war crimes committed against the Palestinian people, he asked. Was he ready to accept the self-determination of the Palestinian people?
Statements on Refugee Questions
K. YERRANNAIDU (India) said his delegation had noted the new approaches recommended to enhance the work of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), particularly as they presented a dynamic approach to resolving some of the long-standing difficulties that agency continued to face. India recognized the valuable, collective effort that had gone into framing the Agenda for Protection. That Agenda provided a timely opportunity for the international community to rethink its approaches to the contemporary challenges of refugee protection. The non-binding nature of the framework gave it the necessary flexibility to deal with humanitarian issues that, perhaps, might not be addressed through narrow legalistic approaches.
He went on to say that the High Commissioner's proposal for Development through Local Integration (DLI) needed to be thought through carefully, since in many developing or least developed countries, the viability of such a strategy was unlikely. The implications of local integration in situations of mass exodus into a developing country were even more far-reaching. India believed that local integration could not be a sustainable option when dealing with such massive flows. The ultimate objective of host countries and refugee populations should be repatriation or resettlement, to which UNHCR should apply particular consideration. He added that the "convention plus" initiative was another interesting idea which merited further consideration.
APIRATH VIENRAVI (Thailand) said that, despite some positive trends of the situation of refugees and displaced persons in some countries, the overall situation worldwide continued to be bleak. For millions who had been mired in endless protected situations, durable solutions remained a distant dream. Of all the durable solutions, voluntary repatriation had been indisputably proven and agreed upon as the best and most effective solution. Crucial in this regard was the involvement of countries of origin. Without their earnest cooperation, no durable solution would be achieved. Indeed, countries of origin had the obligation and state responsibility to accept back their nationals with safety and dignity, and the right for these people to return was a fundamental human right, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
Prevention was the best cure, he said. It was, therefore, imperative that protracted situations and flows of refugees and displaced persons were addressed at their root causes. Greater resources must be allocated to create an environment inside the countries of origin conducive to, not only preventing the recurrence of mass outflows, but also facilitating sustainable repatriation, reintegration, rehabilitation and reconstruction. Concerning DLI, he stressed that the implementation of such an initiative must have the consent of the host countries. Taking the promotion of self-reliance as an automatic precursor to local integration was misplaced, and risked undercutting the principle of responsibility-sharing.
ANZHELA KORNELIOUK (Belarus) said the problem of refugees was part of Belarus' daily existence, and dealing with flows of uprooted people hampered stability and security. It had recently become clear that the problem encompassed
not just the flows of populations, but in many cases involved the movements of people that had been choreographed by criminal organizations. Indeed Belarus was considered a "buffer" country for persons seeking access to other European countries or regions. Belarus would call on all members of the international community to continue to provide assistance in that regard.
She went on to say that Belarus had enacted a number of laws and policies aimed at addressing the refugee situation. The Government aimed to ensure integration and equal rights and opportunities for all refugees and migrants. It also worked to raise awareness of the general population as to the proper treatment of refugees. In that regard, the country's education system had been particularly targeted to raise awareness of refugee issues at every level. She said refugees and migrants also now had access to Belarus' health care and education systems. Belarus had also taken a particular interest in protecting the welfare and well-being of refugee children, and made sure that, among other things, they were not separated from their parents or families.
Vote on Future Operations of INSTRAW
The draft resolution on future operations of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) (document A/C.3/57/L.16/Rev.1) was approved by a recorded vote of 124 in favour to 7 against, with 29 abstentions, as follows:
In favour: Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Against: Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, United States.
Abstaining: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Russian Federation, San Marino, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.
Absent: Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Gabon, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Kiribati, Liberia, Madagascar, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Niger, Oman, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Moldova, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan.
(END OF ANNEX I)
Assistance to Palestinian Children
The draft resolution on assistance to Palestinian children (document A/C.3/57/L.23*) was adopted by a recorded vote of 95 in favour to 3 against, with 58 abstentions, as follows:
In favour: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Eritrea, Gambia, Ghana, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Against: Israel, Marshall Islands, United States.
Abstaining: Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Yugoslavia.
Absent: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Gabon, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Kiribati, Liberia, Madagascar, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Nicaragua, Niger, Oman, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Uzbekistan.
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