THIRD COMMITTEE APPROVES HUMAN RIGHTS PROGRAMME FOR 2010-2011, CONCLUDES 2008 SESSION

26 November 2008
GA/SHC/3943

THIRD COMMITTEE APPROVES HUMAN RIGHTS PROGRAMME FOR 2010-2011, CONCLUDES 2008 SESSION

26 November 2008
General Assembly
GA/SHC/3943
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-third General Assembly

Third Committee

49th Meeting (AM)

THIRD COMMITTEE APPROVES HUMAN RIGHTS PROGRAMME FOR 2010-2011,

CONCLUDES 2008 SESSION

 

Having approved nearly 60 resolutions and decisions in the course of its sixty-third session, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) concluded its work today by deciding -- after a series of votes -- to recommend, for adoption by the General Assembly, guidelines on human rights programme planning that would include a reference to the follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.

Approving the decision by a recorded vote of 167 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), and 2 abstentions (Australia, Canada), the Committee would have the Assembly approve programme 19 on human rights of the proposed strategic framework for period 2010-2011 (document A/63/6 (Prog.19)), which is intended as a general guideline for the work of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights(see Annex III).

Paragraph 19.11(d) of that text would have the Human Rights Office focus its strategy on the follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, which the representative of Israel said was unacceptable to her country, as her Government had walked out of the 2001 Durban Conference on racism.  She said she could not accept the document as it appeared, noting that the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action was not mentioned in previous versions of the text, and which was traditionally approved by consensus.

Committee Chair Frank Majoor of the Netherlands, responsible for tabling the decision, promptly withdrew the proposal on hearing the objections of the representative of Israel.  The decision was then immediately retabled for the Committee’s consideration by the representative of Mauritius, acting on behalf of the African Group.  As explained by the representative of Egypt, the Group’s coordinator, the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action was “well appreciated” by many States as a cornerstone in the fight against racial discrimination.

The representative of Israel requested a vote on the decision, after the Committee rejected an attempt by the representative of the United States to orally amend the text to broaden the context of paragraph 19.11(d) to include a reference to the follow-up to the outcomes of all relevant United Nations conferences and summits, and not the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action alone.

Initially, members of the African Group tried to avert the consideration of the oral amendment, arguing that amendments must be introduced at least 24 hours in advance of any action.  The representative of Egypt went as far as to challenge the Chair’s ruling to waive the 24-hour rule, but eventually lost her bid, when the Committee voted in favour of the Chair by 74 votes in favour to 57 against, with 24 abstentions (see Annex I).

Notwithstanding her lack of success, the original text was retained after the Committee rejected the oral amendment by a recorded vote of 105 against to 4 in favour ( Australia, Canada, Israel, United States), with 55 abstentions (see Annex II).

Once the Committee had held its vote to approve the decision, the representatives of Australia and Canada, who abstained from that vote, and the representatives of Israel and the United States, who voted against the decision, each expressed strong support for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, but said they maintained reservations or concerns about the Durban Conference, in part or in whole.

The representative of South Africa, who spoke in support of the decision, said it would have been “inconceivable” to have adopted a text that did not mention the Durban Conference and its follow-up, since it was key to eliminating racial discrimination and its scourges and to protect the victims of such discrimination.  She reaffirmed the High Commissioner’s prioritization of the comprehensive follow-up to Durban and the support given by her offices for the upcoming Durban Review Conference in February 2009.

Also voicing support for the decision were the representatives of France, speaking on behalf of the European Union, and Cuba.

Marking the end of its sixty-third session, the Committee approved its tentative programme of work for next year (document A/C.3/63/L.76), which was orally amended by the Secretary to remove a reference to the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons.

Highlighting the Committee’s achievements in 2008, Mr. Majoor said deliberations on social development had taken place in light of an unfolding worldwide financial crisis, and that the focus was “very much on the impact on economic and social development”.  He pointed to the Committee’s decision to submit, for the Assembly’s approval, a decision to adopt an optional protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which would establish a complaint procedure for victims whose economic, social and cultural rights had been violated.

He also noted that the Committee had had the opportunity to welcome the new High Commissioner for Human Rights, and had had “a very interesting first dialogue with her”, as well as with the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the High Commissioner for Refugees.  At the same time, interaction with special rapporteurs and representatives had been “particularly stimulating”.

The representative of Cuba did note, however, that, although those dialogues were important to the Committee, its first priority was to allow enough time for discussion among Member States.

Speaking to congratulate the Chair and the Committee for a fruitful session were the representatives of regional groups, including the representative of Chile, on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries; the representative of Mauritius, on behalf of the African Group; the representative of Qatar, on behalf of States of Gulf Cooperation Council; the representative of Croatia, on behalf of the Eastern European Group; Iceland, on behalf of the Group of Western European and Other Countries; and Libya, on behalf of the Arab Group.

Also offering words of congratulations were the representatives of Cuba, United States and France, and the representatives of the United Kingdom and Egypt, who both recited humorous poems in celebration of the session’s conclusion.

ANNEX I

Vote on Chair’s Ruling on Amendment

The Chairman’s ruling to allow action on an amendment to the draft resolution on programme planning (document A/C.3/63/L.79) was approved by a recorded vote of 74 in favour to 57 against, with 24 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Afghanistan, Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Maldives, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Saint Lucia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay.

Against:  Algeria, Angola, Belarus, Botswana, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chad, China, Comoros, Congo, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Tunisia, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Abstain:  Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Bhutan, Bolivia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Malaysia, Nepal, Qatar, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates.

Absent:  Bahrain, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Gabon, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Mongolia, Nauru, Oman, Palau, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Tajikistan, Togo, Tonga, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu.

ANNEX II

Vote on Amendment to Programme Planning

The amendment to draft resolution on programme planning (document A/C.3/63/L.79) was rejected by a recorded vote of 105 against to 4 in favour, with 55 abstentions, as follows:

Against:  Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Switzerland, Syria, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

In favour:  Australia, Canada, Israel, United States.

Abstain:  Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Saint Lucia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, United Kingdom.

Absent:  Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Palau, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Somalia, Tajikistan, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu.

ANNEX III

Vote on Programme Planning

The draft resolution on programme planning (document A/C.3/63/L.79) was approved by a recorded vote of 167 in favour to 2 against, with 2 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, 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, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against:  Israel, United States.

Abstain:  Australia, Canada.

Absent:  Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Kiribati, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Palau, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Somalia, Tajikistan, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.