Third Committee Speakers Say Durban Review Conference Start of New Era in Fight against Racial Discrimination
Third Committee Speakers Say Durban Review Conference Start of New Era in Fight against Racial Discrimination
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
36th & 37th Meetings (AM & PM)
Third Committee Speakers Say Durban Review Conference Start of New Era
IN FIGHT against Racial Discrimination
Committee Hears from Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Racism;
Progress Reports from Working Groups on Mercenaries, Right to Development
Viewing the Durban Review Conference as the start of a new era in combating racial discrimination, several speakers in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) commended the Special Rapporteur on racism for his decision to use the Conference’s Outcome Document as a blueprint for his work, and asked for support for that document even from non-attending States.
Githu Muigai, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, said the Outcome Document should also be seen as a blueprint for action by Member States. In his address to the Committee, he reiterated a call to all stakeholders, including those that had not attended the Conference, to determine measures at the domestic level and to establish realistic benchmarks to implement the goals of the racism Conference.
As explained by the representative of the United States, whose country was one of those that had not attended the Conference, which took place in Geneva in April, his Government had attended negotiations on the draft. But while grateful to the countries and United Nations officials that had worked to improve the document, the changes were not sufficient in the end to enable its participation.
Nevertheless, echoing the assessment of several Member States that the Durban Review had reignited international efforts to combat racism, the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania, speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), called on States that had been absent from the Conference to provide “vocal support” for the Outcome Document. The representative of the Russian Federation went a step further, calling for its swift, unanimous adoption by the General Assembly.
Member States addressed another long-standing goal of the international community -- to craft a set of complementary international standards to help bridge what some viewed as gaps in the United Nations-led racism agenda. The process would be guided by a road map endorsed by the Human Rights Council and produced by an ad hoc committee set up for that purpose.
The representative of Iran recalled that the ad hoc committee was tasked with developing new standards to combat contemporary forms of racism. He cited religious and racial profiling, and the defamation of religions as modern forms of intolerance, and said it was a subject that the ad hoc committee should consider. Though careful to state that the Committee’s discussions must fall within the bounds outlined in the first Conference on racism at Durban, South Africa, in 2001, as well as the Outcome Document of the Review Conference last April, he called defamation of religions “the most pertinent issue facing the Committee”.
In his statement, the Special Rapporteur had stressed the importance of a framework for freedom of expression that respected freedom of religion, and upheld people’s right to exercise the freedom of religion in a way that did not harm others. He drew attention to a document produced under the auspices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva last year, which has suggested to Member States as recommended reading.
“I took the view that we rely on existing human rights norms in order to find a way out”, he said, referring to the subject of defamation of religions during the question-and-answer with Member States. He urged that the international community address the question as “incitement to religious hatred”, since jurisprudence on that point was sufficient to address the problem.
Offering a more cautious view of the work of the ad hoc committee, the representative of the Republic of Korea pointed out that before the international community could discuss how to fill gaps in international instruments, it should first agree on what those gaps were. At the ad hoc committee’s most recent session, a significant number of delegations, including his own, were not convinced of the need to set up a new legally-binding instrument, believing that all normative instruments were already in place.
Expressing a similar sentiment, the representative of Sweden, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the international community needed to improve implementation of existing international norms, noting that continued acts of racism went uninvestigated and unpunished.
Also today, the Committee heard from Shaista Shameem, Chairperson and Rapporteur of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination. She said the Working Group was expected to circulate a draft of a possible convention on that subject in early 2010, for Member States to comment on.
She said the draft proposed to identify State functions that were, or should be, considered “inherently governmental” and should not be outsourced to non-State entities. It would further propose that State parties ensure registration and licensing or the regulation of private military and security companies, as well as their personnel.
She added that the draft would reaffirm State responsibility to investigate, prosecute and punish perpetrators of human rights violations and to provide remedies for victims. The draft devises mechanisms to ensure international oversight and monitoring of private military and security companies, and to ensure investigation of reports of abuse and rights violations. It would propose the establishment of an individual complaints procedure, similar to committees established under existing human rights conventions.
Also today, Kyung-Wha Kang, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, delivered the statement on behalf of Arjun Sengupta, Chairperson of the Working Group on the Right to Development. In addition, Ms. Kang introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and on the right to self-determination.
Also speaking were the representatives of the Sudan (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Saint Kitts and Nevis (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Pakistan, Georgia, China, Cuba, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Bolivia, Kuwait, Eritrea, Singapore, Bangladesh, Azerbaijan, Israel, India, Armenia and Syria.
The representatives of the Observer Mission of Palestine and the Holy See also spoke, as did a representative from the International Organization for Migration.
Several representatives also spoke in the exercise of the right of reply. Those included the representatives of the Russian Federation, Pakistan, Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Israel, Armenia, the representative of the Observer Mission of Palestine and Syria.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 3 November, to begin its consideration of the report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to take up the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the right of peoples to self-determination.
Racism, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance
The Committee had before it the report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance on the implementation of General Assembly resolution 63/162, transmitted to it through the Secretary-General (document A/64/295). It is a compilation of feedback from 18 States to implement the resolution. Among the Rapporteur’s concluding observations and recommendations is that States deter the emergence of, and work to counter, neo-fascist and violent nationalist ideologies that promote racial hatred. As part of her recommendations on inclusive education, she lays emphasis on the importance of history classes in teaching the dramatic events and human suffering that resulted from Nazi or Fascist ideology. States should also ensure that those who have been subjected to the dissemination of discriminatory ideas, or those expressing hatred against them, are guaranteed a right of correction and reply by mass media or other public means. The final recommendation is for States to acknowledge the existence of racism in their society. They should adopt a broader understanding of the notions of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in order to take appropriate measures to fight its manifold manifestations.
It also had before it the Secretary-General’s report on global efforts for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of, and follow-up to, the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (document A/64/309). It summarizes information received on activities undertaken by various actors to combat racism and xenophobia. Of those, nine were from Member States and 12 were from United Nations bodies, regional and other intergovernmental organizations, national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations.
The report also described activities undertaken by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the lead-up to the Durban Review Conference, as well as during and after the Conference. It says, as well, that the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination adopted concluding observations and recommendations on nine periodic reports of States parties to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, after having held a dialogue with delegations from the Governments of each State.
Next was a note by the Secretary-General transmitting the interim report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of the follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (document A/64/271). Submitted pursuant to Assembly resolution 63/242 on global efforts for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of, and follow-up to, the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, the report refers to the Durban Review Conference, which was held from 20 to 24 April 2009, in Geneva. It also describes the activities, including country visits, of the current Special Rapporteur, Githu Muigai, and the former mandate holder.
According to the report, the Special Rapporteur hopes that the momentum gained during the Durban review process will maintain its strength and that all pledges and commitments made in the Outcome Document of the Review Conference will be effectively implemented by States, which bear the primary responsibility in this respect. Concrete measures should be identified at the domestic level and States should establish a road map with realistic benchmarks in cooperation with civil society for implementing the Conference’s Outcome Document. The Special Rapporteur calls on those States that chose not to participate in the Conference to, nevertheless, publicly express their support for the Outcome Document and to commit to its implementation.
The Special Rapporteur recommends that States refrain from adopting vague or overly broad restrictions on freedom of expression which have often led to abuse by the authorities and to the silencing of dissenting voices, particularly vulnerable individuals and groups like minorities. He also recalls that a global agenda against racism at the national level is the best way to effectively prevent hate speech. Legislative measures are necessary, but States should also use non-legislative measures, like education and intercultural dialogue, to fight racism and do so in close cooperation with their civil society.
The Special Rapporteur says that, to further clarify the existing links between race and poverty, ethnically disaggregated data should be collected. Regarding the debate over such data collection, he recommends shifting to a thorough discussion on how to best collect them in compliance with international standards. Further, special vigilance is required in the current economic turmoil and States should ensure that all necessary legislative and institutional safeguards are put in place to prevent a significant rise of xenophobia in their domestic societies.
The Special Rapporteur recommends that Governments take concrete measures to foster inter-ethnic cooperation so as to avoid the recurrence of ethnic conflicts. The establishment of an effective system of early warning is also absolutely essential against the crime of genocide. It allows for the identification of situations that might become genocidal and provides a sense of the measures needed to counter the problems.
To provide effective protection to individuals around the world being at risk of violations of civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights on the grounds of systems based on inherited status, the Special Rapporteur would like to encourage an international recognition that discrimination on the grounds of descent constitutes a form of racial discrimination prohibited by the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Also before the Committee was a note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the Durban Review Conference, held at Geneva from 20 to 24 April 2009 (document A/64/487). That report (document A/CONF.211/8) contains the Outcome Document of that meeting, as well as a summary of its work, meetings, documents and attendees. It also includes statements by the United Kingdom, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and Chile on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States.
Among other things, the Outcome Document reaffirms the 2001 Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, as well as the commitment to prevent, combat and eradicate racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, which was the basis for the 2001 World Summit. Its five sections address progress and implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action; the effectiveness of the existing Durban follow-up mechanisms and other United Nations mechanisms that deal with race, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; the universal ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and proper consideration of the recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination; best practices achieved at the national, regional and international levels; and further concrete measures and initiatives at all levels.
The report of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, seventh-fourth session (16 February-6 March 2009) and seventy-fifth session (3-21 August 2009)(document A/64/18) was still to be issued.
The Secretary-General’s report on the right of peoples to self-determination (document A/64/360) discussed the Human Rights Council’s consideration of that question, mostly relating to the situation in Palestine. The subject was taken up under the item on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories, within the context of its consideration of the question of human rights and unilateral coercive measures, and at its special session devoted to the January aggressions in Gaza. Under its separate examination of the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories, Olivier de Schutter, Special Rapporteur on the right to food, introduced a combined report on behalf of nine special procedures mandate holders.
The report says the Council adopted a resolution establishing a fact-finding mission, which then led to the creation of the Goldstone Report. In addition, it adopted a resolution reaffirming the inalienable, permanent and unqualified right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, and considered a report on the use of mercenaries as a means of impeding people’s rights to self-determination.
The report also described the concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights concerning the right to self-determination, which revolved mainly around the rights of indigenous peoples. The Human Rights Committee addressed issues relating to the right of self-determination of indigenous peoples in its concluding observations on Panama and Sweden. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights address the same issue in Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia and Paraguay.
Also before the Committee was a note by the Secretary-General on the report of the Working Group 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/64/311).
[The Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the rights of peoples to self-determination was established in July 2005 pursuant to Commission on Human Rights resolution 2005/2. It is mandated to monitor mercenaries and mercenary-related activities in all their forms and manifestations in different parts of the world, and to study the effects on the enjoyment of human rights of the activities of private companies offering military assistance, consultancy and security services on the international market.]
In its report, the Working Group recommends that the international community’s approach to private military and security companies should imply greater State responsibility for the activities of these companies worldwide, including responsibility for where and how they operate, as well as their impact on the full enjoyment of human rights. Governments should devise national and international mechanisms to monitor any abuses and violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and ensure that victims have access to appropriate remedies. Governments are urged to end all existing agreements that confer prosecutorial immunity for criminal offences and human rights violations to such companies.
Besides monitoring mechanisms, a complaint mechanism, which is open to individuals, State agencies, foreign Governments and other companies and entities, should be established so victims can be heard, can request information from the concerned Government and, where necessary, can seek preventive, investigatory or remedial action. In addition to complaint mechanisms at the national level, the international community should set up an international independent complaints procedure, which the Working Group envisioned in its draft convention.
The Working Group welcomes the ongoing debate in some countries, notably in the United States, on the definition of when governmental functions should, under no circumstances, be outsourced to the private sector. It believes there are certain functions -- including participation in direct hostilities; the handling and detainment of prisoners of war, civilian internees, terrorists, and others defined under international humanitarian law; the direction and control of intelligence interrogations; and intelligence gathering and analysis, as well as certain law enforcement functions -- that cannot, under international law, be outsourced.
To that end, the report recommended that national legislation on the private military and security industry should clearly specify the types of activities that are prohibited for nationally registered companies. These should include mercenary-related activities or participation in the overthrow of legitimate Governments and political authorities -- both of which are banned by the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries. A definition of fundamental State functions that cannot be outsourced is being proposed in the Working Group’s draft convention.
Given the lack of transparency on the type of contractual arrangements between Governments and private military and security companies, the Working Group calls for further transparency and freedom of information on: the number of such companies operating in conflict or post-conflict zones; information on the companies; number and nationality of personnel; casualties; number and types of weapons and vehicles; and the activities for which they are contracted. Such information will be provided pursuant to legitimate limitations posed by national security and privacy.
The report notes that the Working Group has prepared a draft of a possible new international convention on the regulation, oversight and monitoring of private military and security companies. It plans to share this draft convention with Member States, through the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, requesting their input on the content and scope of such a convention. The dissemination of this draft convention is expected in the first trimester of 2010.
Because there was no report on extreme poverty and human rights, the Committee hear an oral report on that subject by a Secretariat official.
Right to Development
Because there was no report on the right to development, the Committee heard an oral report on that subject by the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Statement on Behalf of Chairperson of Working Group on Right to Development
KYUNG-WHA KANG, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, delivered the statement on behalf of ARJUN SENGUPTA, Chairperson of the Working Group on the Right to Development, who was unable to travel to New York.
She said the Working Group created a high-level task force on the implementation of the right to development in 2004, and adopted a preliminary set of criteria for periodic evaluation of global partnerships, as identified by Millennium Development Goal 8, in 2006. A road map was established in 2007 followed by a workplan for the 2008-2010. The workplan encompassed the progressive development and refinement of right to development criteria, including through their application to a wider range of development partnerships. It would also include the consolidation of findings and development of a revised list of right to development criteria, with corresponding subcriteria. There was a consensus within the Working Group to provide for a comprehensive and coherent set of standards that “contribute to the effective implementation of the right to development”.
She said, in 2009, the Working Group made recommendations to accelerate the implementation of Council resolutions 4/4 and 9/2 and Assembly resolution 63/178 on the right to development. Numerous delegations were instrumental to that result, including the newly elected member of the Council, the United States.
At its tenth session, she said the Working Group recommended that the task force shift its focus from pilot-testing to presenting a revised list of right-to-development criteria, along with subcriteria, as well as suggestions for future work, for the Group’s consideration at its eleventh session in 2010. The criteria should serve the eventual elaboration of a comprehensive and coherent set of guidelines. The Working Group had given clear indications and guidance on the path and methods to reach that objective.
She said the Working Group gave its support to the approach proposed by the task force that the criteria should address concerns beyond those enumerated in Millennium Development Goal 8, and that it cover features of the right to development, as defined in the Declaration on the Right to Development. In further refining the list of criteria and preparing the corresponding operational subcriteria, the Working Group recommended that the task force draw on specialized expertise from academia, research institutions and relevant United Nations agencies. It recommended giving due attention to experience gained from applying the provisional criteria and to the views expressed by Member States.
She added that the Working Group recommended that the task force continue studying the issue of technology transfer and debt relief with a view to further refining the criteria. It recommended, as well, that the task force pay due attention to other issues relevant to the right to development: poverty, hunger, climate change, and the global economic and financial crisis.
The Human Rights Council had considered the Working Group’s report at its most recent session, she said, and had endorsed its recommendations. However, in doing so, a vote had been called for and there were abstentions to that resolution.
Introductory Statement by Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights
Ms. KANG said the Secretary-General’s report on global efforts for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of, and follow-up to, the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (document A/64/309) focused on information received from Member States on measures they had undertaken towards the comprehensive implementation of, and follow-up to, the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action. Contributions from nine Member States and 12 from United Nations bodies, other regional intergovernmental organizations and national human rights organizations are included.
She said the report also provided a summary of various developments over the last year on the implementation of Durban Declaration and Plan of Action, including the Durban Review Conference, which was held in April. Among other things, it highlighted the roles of the Durban mechanisms, the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation on the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action, the ad hoc Committee on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards and the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, as well as the successful conclusion of the Review Conference.
The report of the Durban Review Conference (document A/CONF.211/8), which she noted was procedural, contained the Outcome Document that was adopted at that meeting, as well as information on the work done there. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights was pleased with the conference’s success and its consensual Outcome Document. That Outcome Document embodied a renewed commitment of States to the struggle against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. It added tangible and substantive value to the international community’s anti-discrimination agenda. The potential created by the Conference for taking the struggle against racial discrimination to the next level was significant.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights was well aware that the degree to which her Office followed up on Durban would have an impact on its credibility. Thus, she had already declared the elimination of discrimination -- especially racial discrimination -- a priority for the next biennium. Moreover, a cross-divisional in-house task force had been established on follow-up to the Durban Review Conference. It had developed a proposal for a programme on racism and intolerance that looked into what was currently being implemented, which new initiatives could potentially be absorbed within existing resources and programmes, including in the field, and which recommendations required additional resources.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights was keen to implement a solid programme to combat racial discrimination and related intolerance, she said. It counted on the General Assembly to grant it the additional resources required to live up to the expectations created by the Durban Review Conference. At this stage, the Assembly’s endorsement of the report of the Durban Review Conference was necessary to give legal status to the Outcome Document and to ensure that any financial implications were duly considered and acted on. A global unit of purpose was critical to combating the scourges of racism and xenophobia. She hoped that all States would join the consensus achieved in Geneva without renegotiating or reopening the text.
Turning to the report of the Secretary-General’s report on the right of peoples to self-determination (document A/64/360), she said it outlined development emanating from the Human Rights Council’s consideration of that issue at its ninth special session, as well as its ninth, tenth and eleventh regular sessions. It took a special focus on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The report outlined the main conclusions and recommendations of the Fact-Finding Mission to Beit Hanoun (contained in document A/HCR/9/26). It also contained a summary of recent concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights based on their consideration of periodic reports submitted by States parties to the two Covenants.
Statement by Special Rapporteur on Racism, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance
GITHU MUIGAI, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, said this period was notable for having been the time of the Durban Review Conference, which was a unique opportunity to rebuild international consensus on the struggle against racism. The Programme of Action and Outcome Document were blueprints providing the international community with a comprehensive plan of action encompassing legislative, political and awareness-raising measures needed to combat racism. He reiterated a call to all stakeholders, including those who had not attended the Conference, to identify concrete measures at the domestic level, and to establish realistic benchmarks to implement those documents.
He said his interim report had included an overview of country missions he had conducted in Germany, in June 2009, and the United Arab Emirates in August 2008. He would present his findings to the Human Rights Council in June 2010.
Turning to key thematic issues raised during the past months, he pointed to recent developments within the United Nations on the question of discrimination based on work and descent. The draft United Nations principles and guidelines to eliminate caste discrimination were presented in Geneva last September, with the support of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and which were endorsed by the Government of Nepal. It was his hope that, in the coming months, States would engage on substantive discussions on that topic.
Another issue that had drawn attention was the situation of the Roma, he said. He had released a joint statement with the Independent Expert on minority issues on the subject, in which they had underlined the need to take effective action to stem the tide of anti-Roma hostility and violence. He continued to receive reports indicating that the situation had hardly evolved, and that Roma were still the daily victims of discrimination, requiring both a national and European-wide response. He reiterated his call to concerned Governments to commit to solutions that addressed the root causes of that discrimination and the violence affecting Roma people in Europe.
On incitement to racial or religious hatred, he said he had presented a report to the Human Rights Council on manifestations of defamation of religions, and in particular on the serious implications of Islamophobia, on the enjoyment of all human rights by their followers. In a discussion with Member States afterwards, he had noted that the “terminology controversy” around the concepts of “defamation of religions” and “incitement to racial or religious hatred” was detracting attention from real problems. He had, therefore, recommended focusing on the rights of individuals affected by racial and religious intolerance, discrimination or violence, and ways to prevent such acts.
“I took the view that we rely on existing human rights norms in order to find a way out of the terminology controversy”, he said, a topic on which talks needed to continue.
He said the interim report had also addressed the questions of racism and poverty, and genocide. Ethnically-disaggregated data was needed to clarify the nexus between poverty and racism, and though he was fully aware of some States’ reluctance to collect such data, including the risk of its pernicious use, he thought the lack of accurate data had prevented States from devising policies to redress ethnic imbalances. He reiterated his call to shift away from the debate on the need, or not, to collect ethnically disaggregated data to a thorough discussion on how best to collect it.
As for genocide, he said the importance of early-warning indicators had been underlined on several occasions, most recently at a round table on early warning and emerging issues. Several Special Procedures had participated at that round table; he had been unable to attend, but would add his voice to what had been said by his colleagues. The early-warning function of Special Procedures was essential, and he intended to focus more on it in coming months.
He said the General Assembly, in a resolution last year, had requested a report on the inadmissibility of certain practices that contributed to racism and related intolerance, based on views collected from stakeholders. He had summarized the views of States in a second report. The report attempted to reflect on ways to cope with the disturbing phenomenon of neo-Nazism and the existence of skinhead groups. In addition to laws prohibiting the dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, States ought to contemplate other measures. Laws on their own were usually insufficient; States should engage in broader efforts to combat negative stereotypes and to promote intercultural learning. Education was key, in that regard.
He said other positive measures described by States included training for State agents and media professionals, and initiatives to bring communities together in dialogue. The participation in decision-making of members of diverse communities, especially those targeted for racial discrimination, was also important for countering negative stereotypes. Since accessible and effective remedies were an absolute necessity, he encouraged all States parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination that had still not done so to make the declaration under article 14, which enabled the Convention’s monitory body to examine individual communications.
Given that no country was immune to racism, he recommended that all States acknowledge that racism existed in their society, and that they adopt a broad understanding of the notions of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
The representative of Malaysia, speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, expressed appreciation for the continued sustained dialogue with the Special Rapporteur. While significant progress had been made in evolving normative standards for providing protection from racism, xenophobia and related discrimination, it continued to exist. Among other things, the defamation of religion sought to undermine the multicultural fibre of civilizations and cultures. Under the Organization of the Islamic Conference’s regular resolution on combating defamation of religions, respect for all religions was sought. The latest version reaffirmed the need to report on the correlation between defamation of religions and the upsurge in incitement to intolerance and hatred. The Organization of the Islamic Conference was interested in hearing the Special Rapporteur’s view on the Ad Hoc Committee on complementary international standards in examining this. He further noted that the Special Rapporteur had called for ongoing reporting on this issue.
China’s representative commended the Special Rapporteur’s efforts in combating racism. The Durban Review Conference had been an important event in combating racism and constituted a milestone in that effort. However, it was only a beginning and its Outcome Document should be used as a blueprint for the Special Rapporteur’s work. How could the effective implementation of this document by States be encouraged? Since his last visit, the Special Rapporteur had focused on religious discrimination. Did he have any suggestions on how to prevent groups from being attacked?
The representative of Iran, aligning his remarks with those made by Malaysia on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, underlined the work being done in Geneva, particularly the Ad Hoc Committee on complementary international standards. He stressed that the integrity of the Special Rapporteur’s mandate should be maintained with due regard to the terms of reference adopted by the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly. He asked for elaboration on measures that should be taken at the national and international levels to maintain momentum generated by the Durban Review Conference. Considering the scope of the Outcome Document, it was necessary to ensure that the discussions in the Ad Hoc Committee on complementary international standards were linked to racism and the goals of the Outcome Document. What steps had he taken for addressing any issues that arose that were outside the scope of the work?
Kenya’s delegate said the right to freedom of expression was one obstacle in dealing with extremist parties and groups. There was inaction on the part of some Member States in dealing with those issues. Thus, how could those extremist groups be dealt with, while giving due regard to freedom of expression? While the Special Rapporteur noted some efforts that had been undertaken in that respect, what could the international community do to ensure that the people responsible were held accountable, especially given the rising number of incidents?
The representative of Sweden, speaking on behalf of the European Union, underscored the mandate of the Special Rapporteur. She said that racism, xenophobia and racial discrimination needed to be confronted in all regions, including Europe. The Union reaffirmed its efforts to that end and extended full support to the Special Rapporteur’s approach, which sought a shift away from defining new legal definitions to norms of non-incitement, which were grounded in international legal instruments. Apart from the need for States to take legislative measures, the Special Rapporteur recommended that Governments should cooperate with civil society. Could he elaborate on best practices in the field?
Egypt’s representative said it was becoming increasingly evident that, while the adoption of a certain posture by, among others, elites and the media against a religion was always defended as freedom of expression, it created an environment that favoured discrimination. He reiterated the point raised by the Non-Aligned Movement in the discussion with the Special Rapporteur in Geneva earlier this year. The Movement expected the Special Rapporteur to examine any forms of speech that defamed religion or places of worship, and recommended that they should not be allowed under any pretext. He asked about the possibility of “double discrimination” on racial, religious or other grounds -- particularly if it could exist in various forms. Also, did incitement to hatred necessarily result in immediate violence, or could it have a protracted effect?
Cuba’s delegate thanked the Special Rapporteur for his report, but expressed concern for actions against migrants, which had compounded racial discrimination in developed countries. Among other things, that had given rise to discrimination against Islam in some of those countries, which was defended on the grounds of freedom of expression. Moreover, it was regrettable that a group of countries had withdrawn from the Durban Review Conference. What were the obstacles the Special Rapporteur perceived in relation to the issue of racial discrimination against migrants and immigrants?
The representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See said racial discrimination was a grave disrespect of a human person. He was grateful for the focus by the Special Rapporteur on respect for the beliefs of others. The Holy See was also grateful for his recommendation to focus on the rights of the individual and the need to uphold existing international law in the fight against racial discrimination. Indeed, his delegation could not emphasize enough that beliefs were of persons, who had dignity and value.
India’s delegate said his Government’s position on the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination General Comment No. 29 on descent was clear. It had rejected that comment, since it both lacked intellectual rigour and ignored the drafting history of the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The way it addressed the caste system issue was deeply offensive, given India’s past history.
The representative of Pakistan, aligning himself with the position of the Organization of Islamic Conference, raised the issue of early warning indicators in the context of Islamophobia. There had been reports of Islamophobia by both Governments and civil society in several parts of the world. Did the Rapporteur view that issue as a social concept, or would he place it under the garb of freedom of expression? How did he see the Durban Conference addressing new forms of intolerance?
Mr. MUIGAI first responded to the issue of complementary standards, saying work was proceeding on that issue in a Committee of which he was not a member, and which had its own independent identity. However, he understood that the debate taking place in that Committee had been robust, and that genuine dialogue was taking place. Most had felt there would be a positive outcome. As he had stated in his dialogue with the Human Rights Council, he would like to see a progressive development of the law, done in an orderly manner and proceeding from well-known and accepted principles.
On defamation of religion, he reassured the Committee that he knew of instances where individuals around the world were perpetrating ideas and notions against persons exercising certain faiths and religions. He certainly did not doubt the existence of anti Semitism or Islamophobia. Calling it a “sociological concept” did not diminish that problem. The problem must be addressed within existing international legal norms and standards. As such, he urged that the international community address the question as “incitement to religious hatred”, since jurisprudence on that point was sufficient to address the problem. He cautioned against spending time on attempts to clarify theories on the jurisprudence, which was intended to protect human beings. He hoped he had not given the impression that he was insensitive to the existence of Islamophobia or incitement to religious hatred worldwide. Rather, he believed that the methodology for dealing with the problem was well provided for by existing standards. If he was wrong, then certainly contemporary standards ought to evolve. But, it must be done in an orderly fashion by the rightful committee, with no amount of theorizing.
Turning to what States could do to implement the outcome of the Durban process, he said he was struck by a lack of information in countries as to the actual practices in the daily lives of people, such as in community centres or in public places like buses and trains. Society must combat racism through a bottoms-up approach and not from a top-down approach. It should be done through education, communication and dialogue. In most countries, the greatest enemy in the fight against racism was that not enough people were admitting that the problem existed. Many States lived in denial that racism was there. In his dialogues with countries, States often began their discussion by saying that their constitution, policies and laws did not allow racism. That, however, did not always reflect the reality of the country.
One of the greatest threats posed today was the growth of extremist political parties, he said. Particularly in Europe, they targeted minorities, migrants and peoples of minority religious faiths. They were tolerated because it was thought to be an aspect of freedom of expression. But, in his view, those movements were a threat to democracy and to peace, and societies should be very concerned by it. In some of his travels, he had encountered extremism among the youth, which indicated that the situation was likely to continue being a problem moving forward. He knew of countries that were working to combat such extremism. In Germany, for example, the Government was trying to address it through community projects, which he hoped would be replicated elsewhere.
On freedom of expression and freedom of religion, he said the challenge was not that the two were pitted against each other. Both were fundamental, and critical, to the enjoyment of democracy in free societies. Society needed a framework for freedom of expression that respected freedom of religion and people’s right to manifest it in any manner that did not harm others. A document on that issue was produced in Geneva last year, and he recommended that States avail themselves of that document, which had been produced under the High Commissioner’s auspices.
Addressing the subject of double discrimination, and whether freedom of expression was an excuse for ridiculing religion, he said he believed that there was double discrimination of many kinds. For example, migrant women were doubly discriminated as women and as migrants. People of colour and adherents of religions such as Islam also sometimes faced double discrimination. But, he stressed again that society must address such issues within existing frameworks.
In response to India’s comment on the caste system, he said he was aware of the issue. He did not believe it was peculiar to one individual country. If human rights meant anything, it meant that all human beings must be equal in freedom and the opportunities that were availed to them.
His visit to the United Arab Emirates had led to deep and serious engagement, which was to the mutual benefit of the State and the Rapporteur. He encouraged other States to engage in a similar manner.
Statement by Chairperson/Rapporteur of Working Group on Mercenaries
SHAISTA SHAMEEM, Chairperson/Rapporteur of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination, recalled that the Assembly and Human Rights Council had asked the Working Group to elaborate proposals on new guidelines or basic principles to encourage protection of rights while under threat from mercenaries or mercenary-related activities. Those principles had been introduced by her predecessor last year. In March, the Council had requested the Working Group to consult with stakeholders on a possible draft convention on the regulation of private military and security companies. The first draft text was circulated, in July, to 250 experts worldwide. Based on comments received, the Working Group was now in the process of consolidating the draft. It expected to be ready to circulate a draft of a possible convention to Member States in early 2010, for their comment.
She said the draft proposed to identify State functions that were, or should be, considered inherently governmental and should not be outsourced to non-state entities as a matter of public interest. As such, United Nations Member States might like to define the types of activities in the military, or in the field of security, which should not be outsourced to private military security companies under any circumstances. The draft would propose that State parties ensure registration and licensing or the regulation of private military and security companies, as well as their personnel.
She added that the draft would reaffirm State responsibility to investigate, prosecute and punish perpetrators of human rights violations and to provide remedies for victims. The draft devises mechanisms to ensure international oversight and monitoring of private military and security companies, and to ensure investigation of reports of abuse and rights violations. It would propose the establishment of an individual complaints procedure, similar to committees established under existing human rights conventions. Given the concentration of such companies in a handful of countries, the Working Group had acknowledged the importance of having those countries involved in the elaboration of such a new international instrument.
The Working Group was encouraged by steps taken by the United States and the United Kingdom to improve standards and regulations of those companies, she said. In its visit to the United States in July, it had noted measures established by the Government to avoid a situation similar to that which had led to the shooting of civilians at Nisoor Square in Baghdad in 2007. It had adopted laws to strengthen oversight of private military and security companies. The Working Group had presented a list of preliminary recommendations to the United States Government following its visit, including on strengthening the Department of Justice and appointing an independent prosecutor to prosecute cases of human rights violations and criminal offences committed by such companies contracted by the Government. The problem had often laid in absence of proof, or the difficulty of investigation in conflict zones.
She said that, in April, the Working Group had visited Afghanistan, home to around 18,000 to 28,000 private military and security personnel. Afghanistan was among the few countries where there was specific legislation on the issue, which the Working Group commended. The regulation, adopted in February 2008, had led to the licensing of 39 Afghan and foreign companies and their weapons. The regulation must now be fully implemented and oversight ensured.
She said that, for its part, the United Kingdom had recently launched a consultation process on a governmental proposal to introduce a package of measures to improve standards in the private military and security industry in that country. Though the Government did not include the option of licensing activities or companies, it had recommended a self-regulation initiative through the trade association and with international promotion of global standards. The Government would extend international cooperation by building on the Swiss Initiative, the “Montreux Document”, and advocating an extension of the initiative to create internationally-agreed standards for companies. It would also support the establishment of a complaint mechanism.
She said the Working Group did not believe that the self-regulatory option was sufficient, but should be completed through an international legal framework and national legislative procedures. Such a framework and procedure would jointly provide for a credible monitoring system of the activities of private military and security companies, including by the establishment of an independent, international complaints mechanism.
She said that, in addition to its work on possible convention on the regulations of private military and security companies, the Working Group had continued to monitor mercenaries and mercenary-related groups. It continued to receive reports that individual mercenaries were involved in armed conflict for profit. Recently, it had received information that individual paramilitaries from Latin America had been recruited for certain activities in Honduras and it was now verifying that information. Though less significant than during the 1980s and 1990s, when the phenomenon of mercernarism was used to prevent the emergence of new sovereign and independent States, thus, undermining the right to self-determination, the problem still existed and required attention.
She underlined the International Convention on the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries as an important international legal instrument to prevent the use of mercenaries and preventing human rights violations. Those counties that had not yet ratified the Convention should do so.
She went on to note that, just days ago in Bangkok, the Working Group had convened its third regional consultation on traditional and new forms of mercenary activities and on the activities of private military and security companies and their effects on the enjoyment of human rights. It had sought to gain a regional perspective about the current practice related to mercenaries and private military and security companies, registered, operating or recruiting personnel in the region. The State’s monopoly on the use of force was discussed, and information on steps taken by States to introduce legislation and other measures to regulate and monitor the activities of private military and security companies on the international market was shared. General guidelines, norms and basic principles were also discussed, particularly in relation to encouraging the further protection of human rights. The Working Group planned to hold its final last two regional consultations for Africa and Western Europe in 2010.
In the coming months, the Working Group would continue to work towards a possible draft convention on private military and security companies, she said. It was grateful to the non-governmental organizations, academic organizations and experts that had provided comments so far. It had started reviewing those comments and aimed to consolidate the draft at its December session. It would then share with Member Sates the elements for that possible draft convention and would request input from them on the draft’s content and scope. The Working Group would then report on its progress towards the full draft at the fifteenth session of the Human Rights Council in 2010.
She stressed that it was only after the killings at Nisoor Square in Iraq and the involvement of contractors in the abuse of detainees that the United States and other Governments began developing regulatory and legislative procedures to ensure adequate oversight and accountability for private military and security companies. On 1 January 2009, the Status-of-Forces Agreement between Iraq and the United States became a reality, putting an end to the immunity granted so far to private military and security contractors hired by the United States Government. Afghanistan adopted a regulation on private security companies in February 2008, and its Parliament was still considering a draft law on the issue.
She said parallel and complementary efforts towards imposing higher standards on the industry and establishing mechanisms for the protection of human rights should be encouraged. She recalled that Member States had to implement their obligations under international human rights law. Thus, they had an obligation in specifics circumstances to take appropriate measures to prevent, investigate and provide effective remedies for victims of violations committed by private military and security companies and their personnel. The Working Group invited Member States to carefully consider the elements for a possible draft convention in that regard. Such a convention was necessary to ensure proper control and independent oversight and would offer an independent mechanism to address complaints by victims of human rights violations.
The representative of Cuba urged the Working Group to continue its work. She welcomed the strengthening of the legal framework relating to the use, financing and training of mercenaries. She restated the importance of drafting and submitting concrete proposals, including the possible drafting of a convention on the use of mercenaries. All States should take all possible measures to monitor that threat. Legislation should be adopted to monitor and control mercenaries, and no States should finance or train any groups whose activities hampered the right to self-determination. Her delegation further agreed that there were functions that could not be outsourced under international law. Member States must also cooperate and facilitate the prosecution of mercenaries in transparent proceedings. Did the Special Rapporteur and the Working Group follow up on the case of the Cuban terrorist who was free in the United States? As a mercenary, he had participated in a number of terrorist activities, including the in-air destruction of a Cuban airline flight.
The representative of Switzerland agreed on the matter of regulation of private military and security companies. Companies should apply a code of conduct to the entire sector. On the draft convention, he asked what process the Working Group intended to use to encourage wide-scale acceptance of the convention. Noting the inherent functions of Government, he wondered what role legislation on private military and security companies would play in curbing efforts to externalize military activities.
Responding to Cuba, Ms. SHAMEEM said the Working Group had followed up on the situation of Mr. [Luis Posada] Carriles during an official mission to the United States. It was awaiting a response on that issue.
On Switzerland’s question on the process of drafting the convention, she said the process followed the directions given by the resolutions of the Human Rights Council. It had been requested that the possible draft convention be circulated to academics, experts and non-governmental organizations. Next, the Working Group would consult on their recommendations and then circulate the draft to Member States for comments. Once comments were received, adjustments would be made to the draft convention. At that point, the next steps would be devised. Currently, however, there were only elements of a draft convention. It was hoped that the document would be ready in 2010.
On the question related to private military and security companies, she said the Working Group had consulted with private military and security companies, as well as related trade unions. Those consultations had been productive and revealing and had been incorporated in elements for the draft convention. The central question in terms of the philosophical basis of the convention was how much States could outsource fundamental State functions. The Working Group considered there were some that could not be, but beyond that it was up to States to decide. For the Working Group, it was a question of control: to what extent can States retain control over the activities they outsourced? Further, what dangers were posed by the total privatization of war, if there was insufficient control? That was important, because States had an obligation in the case of human rights violations. The Working Group had started from the question of who took responsibility for human rights violations by contracted companies.
ABDALMAHMOOD ABDALHALEEM MOHAMAD (Sudan), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, reaffirmed the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination as the fundamental legal framework for the effective elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Slavery and the slave trade, including the transatlantic slave trade, apartheid, colonialism and genocide must never be forgotten and, in that regard, the Group welcomed actions to honour the memory of the victims. While welcoming progress at the national, regional and international level in conformity with the Durban obligations, the Group further recalled the Assembly’s resolution, in which it emphasized the responsibility of States to adopt effective measures to combat criminal acts motivated by racism and related intolerance. Those would include measures to ensure that racist motivations were considered an aggravating factor for the purposes of sentencing, among other things.
He said the Group was still concerned that civil liberties were diminished after 9/11 and that there had been an intensification of racial profiling. It was alarmed at a resurgence of violent incidents of racism, and seriously concerned at the negative stereotyping of religions and the increase in incidents related to religious hatred. The Group noted “decisive steps” taken by Member States, the United Nations system and the international community to oppose religious intolerance and to enhance dialogue aimed at promoting tolerance. The Durban Review Conference should be viewed as the beginning of a new era in the fight against racism and related intolerance in all parts of the world, including those living under foreign occupation. The Group had been pleased that the Durban Outcome Document had been adopted by consensus, and saw the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, as well as the Outcome Document, as a framework for addressing the issue in a comprehensive way.
The Group pledged to uphold its commitments under those documents, he said. It regretted that some States had not participated in the Conference, and hoped that those countries would revise their positions in the future. The Group called on the United Nations’ Department of Public Information to undertake a media campaign to enhance the visibility of the message of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and its follow-up mechanisms.
DELANO FRANK BART (Saint Kitts and Nevis), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), noted that many people of the Caribbean were direct descendants of centuries of slavery, and the annual commemoration of the transatlantic slave trade had provided the international community with an enabling environment to reflect upon the horrors of one of the most blatant forms of racism. There was a need to expand global efforts to eradicate that scourge. Absent clear expressions of remorse for that historic crime against humanity, and the appropriate reparative measures, the international mandate for the promotion of human rights and freedoms could never meet the threshold of credibility. He acknowledged United Nations efforts to address overt and nuanced forms of racism, expressing appreciation for the commitment by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to commemorate the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition. He also appreciated its initiative on the return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin, which was an example of how to bridge the knowledge gap with respect to the impact and historical significance of the slave trade.
The CARICOM also acknowledged the work of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, he said, particularly its work under the early warning and urgent action procedure. It had deep appreciation, as well, for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, for its sustained efforts to combat racism, especially in the run-up to the Durban Conference. It had organized around 40 events and cultural activities during the Conference. The Human Rights Council was conducting its own important work, including by passing a resolution on the elaboration of complementary international standards on the elimination of racial discrimination, a resolution called “from rhetoric to reality: a global call for concrete action”, and resolutions on discrimination based on religious belief and extending the mandate of the intergovernmental working group on implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. The CARICOM was encouraged that the Council had endorsed the road map produced by the Council’s ad hoc committee on the elimination of racial discrimination last March.
The CARICOM commended the Special Rapporteur for his efforts, including his participation at a conference convened by the Council of Europe on human rights in culturally diverse societies. It took note of his conclusion that a central dimension of the fight against racism was the overlap of class and race and ethnicity, as borne out by statistics. It agreed with him that the socio-economic vulnerability of racial or ethnic minorities was the result of historical legacies that created enduring structural imbalances in society. It noted the connection he had drawn between the economic crisis and the emergence of ethnic and racial tension in areas where migrants lived and worked, with implications for the labour and housing markets. It supported the Rapporteur’s approach to use the Durban Review outcome as a blueprint for his mandate.
He reiterated CARICOM’s support for the efforts of the working group of experts on people of African descent, which had held its eighth session in January and had formulated its new programme of work. From a regional level, CARICOM took note, as well, of continued negotiations on a draft inter-American Convention against Racism and All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance, which had been under discussion for a number of years.
AUGUSTINE MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania), speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and aligning his remarks with those made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said the countries of southern Africa had first-hand experiences on institutionalized racism from the apartheid era and Africa’s accumulated historical experiences from slavery, the slave trade and colonialism. It also had experience on the importance of collective actions by the national, regional and international community to defeat the scourge of racism and racial discrimination. It was proud that the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action had been adopted in an SADC member State that had struggled for decades against discrimination’s direct effects.
Racism and racial discrimination negated the purpose and principles of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he said. As the High Commissioner for Human Rights had said on International Racism Day, “Racism, xenophobia and related intolerance are insidious, corrosive and sometimes explosive forces that devastate the lives of many individuals, and, if left to fester, can undermine societies a whole.” SADC member States had enshrined laws against racism and racial discrimination in their respective constitutions, and they had all acceded to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, as well as the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.
He stressed, however, that, while legislative measures provided the legal basis and multidimensional framework for action, they did not alone create sufficient and comprehensive solutions. As the Special Rapporteur suggested, legislative measures should be complemented with education, intercultural dialogue and social activism to dismantle pervasive social constructions based on racial differentiation. He acknowledged the initiatives of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and the Tripartite Interfaith Forum in promoting societal and international understanding and dialogue on tolerance and harmony.
He further recalled the recognition in the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action that poverty, political marginalization, human rights violations and social exclusion were among the root causes of racism, racial discrimination and other related intolerances. Thus, elimination of racism must also entail equitable distribution of economic, social and cultural resources to ensure social justice and fairness to promote equality of opportunities. He urged intensification of efforts to eradicate poverty and advance the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The SADC also agreed that a central dimension of the fight against racism lay around the overlap between class and race or ethnicity, he said. The structural imbalances created by slavery, segregation, apartheid and colonialism remained, and all Governments should redress those imbalances.
He said the Durban Review Conference had raised a number of issues to prominence, including incitement to religious hatred, the need to protect human rights when countering terrorism, and the importance of acknowledging the permissible limitations to the right of freedom of expression under international human rights law. It had also mandated the intergovernmental process within the framework of the Human Rights Council to explore possibilities for strengthening and enhancing the anti-racism machinery through the Durban follow-up mechanisms. He called on States that had not participated to acknowledge their vocal support for the Outcome Document. He also welcomed the proposal by the High Commissioner for Human Rights to mainstream the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action throughout the United Nations system and requested that her Office be provided with adequate resources in that effort.
CARINA MARTENSSON (Sweden), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said racism, which was prevalent everywhere, could and must be fought while respecting other human rights and fundamental freedoms, notably the freedom of expression. To give impetus to the fight against racism and intolerance, States must: allow free debate and exchange of ideas; disseminate information on human rights violations and call for accountability; and promote an independent media. While incitement to violence or hatred that targeted individuals or groups of individuals could never be tolerated, the European Union considered freedom of expression an essential foundation for any tolerant, democratic society. Respect for equality was a central premise of European integration, and European Union legislation required members to introduce laws prohibiting racial discrimination in everyday life, including in employment, education, health care and housing.
She said organizations such as the Council of European, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and civil society contributed significantly to the fight against racism and related intolerance through independent monitoring and reporting. They also engaged in raising awareness, research and supported legal reform. Its Fundamental Rights Agency supported, through data collection and analysis, the implementation of European Union legislation to fight racism. It was well aware of the problems facing its region, and was determined to take sustained action. She noted that the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination had not been universally ratified, and little progress had been made to get States to lift their reservations to certain parts of the Convention. The European Union, thus, called for universal ratification and for States to enhance their efforts to achieve full cooperation with the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
The European Union welcomed the approach taken by the Special Rapporteur on racism, and his cooperation with the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, and the Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of expression. As for follow-up to the Durban Review Conference, she noted that the intergovernmental working group on effective follow-up to that Conference and the ad hoc committee on complementary standards had met, or were meeting. The European Union hoped that discussions on the work of the working group on African descent and on streamlining racism efforts, would be of added value. It would engage with the intergovernmental working group to the extent that it added real value to that group’s work.
As for the ad hoc committee, she said the European Union was not yet convinced of any normative gaps and the need for any additional international legal norms. The advice of all experts was to the contrary. If new norms were called for, they must be derived from fact-based evidence and be related to the recommendation of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The ad hoc committee’s work must be based on consensus, and should not go against existing international norms. However, the European Union believed that the main reason for continued acts of racism was that they went uninvestigated and unpunished. What should be addressed was the faltering implementation of existing norms. There must be a serious look at how to improve implementation, to save victims from future abuse.
MARINA VIKTOROVA ( Russian Federation) commended the holding and outcome of the Durban Review Conference. The Outcome Document was quite relevant, and brought to light the sensitive nature of the subject. It had made clear that political will was needed to promote efforts and urgent measures for thwarting racism at the local, national, regional and international levels. In her view, the first practical step should be the swift, unanimous adoption of the Outcome Document by the General Assembly, since it would allow States to assess the effectiveness of existing policies, and gain a better understanding of the underlying reasons for racism and responding to it. Since that Review Conference, however, no real progress could be discerned. The High Commissioner and her Office should act as a driving force to bring about change.
She noted that next year would mark the sixty-fifth anniversary of the day of victory in the Second World War. The international community could not allow the lessons of that war to be forgotten. There was a trend in some countries to rewrite history, rehabilitate the racist ideology, and consign to oblivion the tragedy that had led to millions of lives lost during the Second World War. The decisions of some European countries, for instance, had inflamed hatred among their populations, leading to new phobias that had an explicit racial and religious subtext. Such neo-Nazi and fascist movements saw a large influx of young people, and a rise of crimes grounded in ethnic prejudice, which was hypocritically described as crimes against the public order or manifestation of freedom of expression. The Russian Government considered those crimes unforgivable.
To overcome contemporary forms of racism, she said the international community must pay close attention to youth in schools. Her Government supported the Rapporteur in his belief that laws alone were inadequate to deal with those occurrences. States needed to focus on child education and upbringing. The Government agreed with the Rapporteur on the importance of offering history lessons in which pupils learned about the dramatic events of suffering that arose from Nazism and fascism. States needed to exercise political will in the fight against discrimination in a way that was free of double standards.
RAZA BASHIR TARAR ( Pakistan) said the existence of institutionalized racism in the past had been responsible for grave injustice and intense conflicts. While the world was still trying to undo past wrongs, new forms of related intolerances were emerging. Pakistan had been actively engaged in the 2001 World Conference against Racism and its Outcome Document and had continued to play an active role during April’s Durban Review Conference. The consensus adoption of that meeting’s Outcome Document was an expression of collective commitment by the international community to fight racism. It signalled that racism would be vigorously combated by different State institutions within all parameters of law. It also affirmed the minimum standards for combating that scourge and made a significant contribution towards identifying new forms of discrimination and intolerance, including against negative stereotyping and profiling on the grounds of religion and belief.
He stressed that ideological and political resistance to multiculturalism was one of the root causes of the resurgence of racist and xenophobic tendencies. Rejection of diversity had led to the negation of the rights of immigrants, foreigners and minorities. The most serious manifestation of racism was its legitimization under the guise of “identity or preference”. The instances of racism and racial discrimination had recently increased, with the violations against minorities -- including migrants and ethnic communities -- gaining new political legitimacy. While significant progress had been made towards evolving normative standards and instruments to protect against that discrimination, further development of the international legal regime was needed, particularly by the Ad Hoc Committee on complementary standards.
He said incitement to racial or religious hatred was one of the worst forms of racism. It had manifested itself in the shape of negative stereotyping of race and religion, including defamation of religions and sacred personalities. Unfortunately, perpetrators of that “hate fest” had taken refuge behind the principles of freedom of opinion and expression. Civilized societies should exercise their freedoms with responsibility and within the parameters of internationally accepted norms. But, the debate on the defamation of religions had been unreasonably politicized, with some portraying it as a clash between the freedoms of expression and of religion. Some tried to avoid it under the garb of sociological construct and others tired to portray it as granting rights to belief. Yet, no one could either justify any defamatory campaign, or deny the negative stereotyping of religions. The challenge was to remain vigilant of subtle cases that were harmful and morally reprehensible.
MAIA SHANIDZE ( Georgia) said there remained a high number of unresolved cases of discrimination based on ethnic or national origins. For small nations such as her own, it was important that international law be respected and evenly applied in the context of their relationship with big neighbours. Under international law, the legal interests of those expelled out of their homes -- because of the neo-imperialistic ambitions of powerful neighbours -- were given protection. The International Court of Justice had recently ruled in favour of provisional measures submitted by Georgia on the protection of ethnic Georgians in the Abkhazia region from Russian armed forces acting in concert with separatists. The Court recalled that those provisional measures had a binding effect and created legal obligations.
She said the Georgian Government had made available evidence verifying that conclusion: there were instances where ethnic Georgians were not allowed on their properties, or were arrested for approaching their villages. The Secretary-General’s report on the status of internally displaced persons and refugees had confirmed that ethnic Georgians were displaced from Abkhazia. A fact-finding mission said that ethnic cleansing had been carried out against ethnic Georgians in August 2008. In order to restore justice, the international community must strengthen international legal order by cooperating with the International Court of Justice and the Third Committee.
GUI MING LIU ( China) recalled the three world conferences on combating racism and the three successive decades to combat racism. China’s Government supported the adoption of the Outcome Document of the Durban Review Conference and called on all parties to work together to implement it. The key to effective implementation was a zero-tolerance attitude towards racial discrimination, nationally and internationally. No grounds should be allowed for any form of racism. Freedom of speech should not be used as an excuse for racial discrimination. There should be enhanced coordination among various follow-up mechanisms of the Durban Review Conference. There also needed to be improved communication between the special procedures and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
She said, since adopting the Durban Declaration, her Government -- working with the Group of 77 -- had pushed for the adoption of General Assembly resolutions on the comprehensive implementation of the Durban Declaration and its follow-up mechanisms. Domestically, the Chinese Government had been actively disseminating the Durban Declaration and carrying out extensive education to combat racism. It had incorporated the Declaration’s provisions into its development plans, to ensure a policy of zero tolerance. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination had considered China’s report last August, in positive light.
As for the right to self-determination, she voiced China’s support for the Palestinian people, and expressed hope that the international community could play a more active role in finding a comprehensive and just solution to the question, and in achieving lasting peace and stability in the Middle East at an early date.
CLAUDIA PEREZ ALVAREZ ( Cuba) said that it was not possible to protect and promote human rights without eliminating racism, racial discrimination and other related intolerance. The world had a debt with respect to racism, but there had been no political will to deal with the need to compensate those victims at the national and international level. Yet, the need for such compensation could not be postponed. Moreover, a small number of countries had decided to become isolated from international efforts in that regard, particularly by not attending the Durban Review Conference. Among other things, that decision undermined efforts to create communities of understanding working towards the elimination of racism. It was hoped those who set themselves aside during the review conference would accept the meeting’s Outcome Document in an open spirit.
She said that, in keeping with the principles of the revolution, as well as with international commitments, racial discrimination was being eliminated in Cuba. Yet, her delegation believed discriminatory policies were hardening, as seen in the promulgation of legislation that circumscribed immigration, among other things. The Internet offered tools to combat racism, but was being used inappropriately to disseminate ideas promoting racial superiorities. The detainees in Guantanamo Bay were also being held simply on the basis of their looks, or their religion. While foreign occupation continued, it was impossible to speak of the protection of human rights. Thus, Cuba called for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank and the Syrian Golan. Cuba also supported the rights of the people of Puerto Rico. She called for the prosecution of Luis Posada Carriles. Further, all Cuban anti-terrorist combatants should be released from United States jails.
JOHN SAMMIS ( United States) said his country was firmly committed to the elimination of racial discrimination. The people of the United States located their strength in diversity. It was greater than the sum of its parts -- Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. The people of the United States recognized the damage inflicted by persistent intolerance. Through slavery, they had learned the horrible price of bigotry. Yet, because of the sacrifice and dedication of brave leaders and mass movements, they had seen “the power of truly striving to overcome”. Recognizing that there was much more work to do, the Government continued to pay close attention to issues of race, ethnic and national origin. Last week, President Obama signed legislation on hate crimes, which would strengthen the ability of the United States Justice Department and state and local law enforcement officials to deter and prosecute acts of violence motivated by anger against another’s race, ethnicity, gender or faith.
He said his Government considered the United Nations as a vital partner in addressing discrimination and negative stereotyping. During the Human Rights Council session in June, it had hosted a side event where Governments and civil society had explored pitfalls and progress in fighting racism. Earlier in the year, it had sent a delegate to attend negotiations on the draft outcome document for the Durban Review Conference, who met with over 30 delegations, the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights and other parties. The State Department had consulted with many capitals. While grateful to numerous countries and senior United Nations officials who had worked to improve the document and refocus the Conference on the fight to eliminate racial discrimination, the Government regretted that it had not been able to achieve sufficient changes to that document to be able to participate.
WAEL M. ATTIYA ( Egypt), aligning his delegation with the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said that, despite progress made in realizing the universality of the international covenants of human rights, new forms of racism were being seen. The expansion of extremist right-wing tendencies, racism and xenophobia raised grave concerns, especially since a large number of those phenomena emanated from well-established democracies that placed respect of human rights at the top of their political priorities. Further intensification of the efforts to spread the spirit of tolerance and to enhance the ability of communities to accommodate the cultural diversity resulting from globalization was needed. While some States were making efforts to confront those alarming issues, the response of others lagged, in total disregard of the fact that freedom of expression came with great responsibilities, including the commitment to democratic dialogue.
Equally alarming, he said, was the conflation between combating terrorism and unjustified prejudice against individuals and communities on religious grounds, which could coincide with racial prejudice. The nuisances that the members of those communities faced under the guise of security and within the context of limiting migration regulations in the name of protecting national identity were symptoms that required serious review. They should be confronted through the open implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-terrorism Strategy and through efforts of the General Assembly to elaborate a common international vision of the responsibility to protect. Eliminating those negative phenomena required consolidating the international community’s resolve and action within the framework of a multifaceted approach. Parallel action should be taken at the national level to deal with the absence of the necessary legal instruments in some States to prohibit incitement to racism and discrimination and to prevent impunity.
He underscored the ongoing deliberations in the Human Rights Council on elaborating complementary standards to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Those standards could rebuild confidence between the North and the South and should aim to combat discrimination against: women; national, ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities; migrants; and others facing varying degrees of social marginalization, including those who are forced to hide their religious affiliations. No conditionalities that imposed controversial notions or linked those notions to development assistance and programmes should be attached. Efforts to promote freedom of expression should also be taken according to commitments under existing international human rights instruments and in a manner that did not exacerbate racist sentiments.
NAZER SHAWISH (Libya), adding her voice to the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said that, despite efforts to eliminate racism, the world still faced unaccepted practices in the development of new forms of racism. In that respect, her delegation strongly condemned the defamation of religions and any kind of discrimination or humiliation enacted on the basis of faith. Indeed, such defamation ran counter to all human rights principles. Moreover, the freedom of expression should not be used to incite hatred, as it would only increase violence. Libya called on all States to implement the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action. The heinous practices seen on television every day -- including the starvation of the people of Gaza -- were a contemporary form of discrimination.
She stressed that the right to self-determination was enshrined in the United Nations Charter, as well as the international human rights covenants. It should be extended to people suffering from foreign occupation. Further, compensation was needed. Libya remained concerned at the offences against the Palestinian people, which continued despite United Nations resolutions and Human Rights Council resolution 10/20, which confirmed their right to self-determination. Further, Libya was concerned by the use of mercenaries and believed that the use of private security companies was a modern form of such activities. Her delegation looked forward to actively taking part in the drafting of a possible convention on the use of mercenaries next year.
REDOUANE YAHIAOUI ( Algeria), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the Durban Review Conference Outcome Document was designed to renew the international community’s commitment to combat racism and discrimination. Its regulatory framework was previously established by the Convention on racism and the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. It allowed States to reiterate their commitment to the importance of launching a new approach to protect people from discrimination. Traditional forms of racism were assuming new shapes that seemed to render racism politically correct. For example, discriminatory practices were being justified in the fight against terror and illegal immigration. It was sad to see the incitement of religious hatred being propagated in a similar way, and that there was growing impunity in that regard. Strangely, freedom of the press was being invoked to justify the silence of States.
Turning to the right to self-determination, he observed that concerted action was needed to re-establish that right to people living under occupation. That right was a founding principle of the United Nations, and was vital to the enjoyment of other rights, be they civil, political, economic, cultural or social, including the right to development. The Non-Aligned Movement, in its declaration of July 2009, had irrefutably reaffirmed the inalienable character of the right to self-determination of people in non-autonomous territories, or who were living under colonial domination. The violation of people’s right to self-determination was a violation of all human rights. In cases where that right was barred, the destiny of those people lay in the hands of the international community.
AMJAD HUSSAIN B. SIAL ( Pakistan) said the right to self-determination was the bedrock of the United Nations system and underpinned the international order. That right guaranteed all other human rights and had led to the creation of the majority of United Nations Member States. Further, it was the indispensable guarantor of all individual rights. In the 1950s and 1960s, the right to self-determination was seen exclusively as part of the decolonization process. The General Assembly adopted a series of resolutions proclaiming that right, in resolution 1514 and 2625. Since then, it had been established by the Human Rights Committee and other United Nations declarations that the right to self-determination extended to peoples in situations of occupation and alien domination.
He stressed that, today, the right continued to engender hope among the millions of poor and vulnerable peoples whose fundamental right had been deprived and suppressed by occupationist Powers. In that context, the principles strengthening the right to self-determination needed constant reaffirmation. Among other things, the right to self-determination should be exercised freely. It could not be exercised under conditions of foreign occupation. The forcible occupation of the territory of a people whose rights to self-determination had been recognized was a violation of the United Nations Charter. Moreover, the legitimacy of the struggles of people for self-determination could not be questioned by equating them with terrorism.
Having gained independence through the exercise of the right to self-determination, Pakistan had extended political, moral and diplomatic support to the exercise of that right by all other peoples who were entitled to that right. The free exercise of that right, however, had been denied in some parts of the world, such as Jammu and Kashmir and Palestine. On 27 October, the population in Indian-occupied Kashmir had been agitated by the anniversary of their predicament. Six decades had elapsed since the Kashmiri people were promised the exercise of the right to self-determination by the Security Council resolutions, which pronounced that the status of Jammu and Kashmir would be decided through a democratic plebiscite. Pakistan remained committed to the Composite dialogue process with India. A peaceful resolution of that dispute was imperative for durable peace, stability and progress in South Asia.
Mr. ATTIYA ( Egypt) said the international community was still unable to realize full respect of the principle of equal rights and duties, particularly the right to self-determination. Indeed, international action had not yet risen to the level of implementing the pledges taken in the international human rights covenants. That inalienable right was not a donation from the international community, but an acknowledgement of the right of people under foreign occupation to resist that occupation and be free from colonization. It was no less sacred than the right to self-defence against those seeking to impose illegal situations on the ground through economic or military might, in flagrant contradiction of their own claims to be proponents of democracy and freedom. Indeed, depriving the Palestinian people of their inalienable right to self-determination and an independent State was a stark example. Israel continued to blow its own horn that it was the only democracy in the Middle East, even while it occupied other lands by force and committed incessant human rights violations.
He said the report of the Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries raised concerns about the role of some private security companies in exacerbating conflicts. Egypt welcomed the drafting of guidelines and specific standards towards developing a regulatory mechanism for those companies. Efforts should be consolidated, in the meantime, to enhance the national capacities of States emerging from conflicts to develop their security sectors based on the principle of national ownership. The international community must divest itself from selectivity, politicization and double standards when dealing with human rights, starting with the right to self-determination.
He said the success of the Human Rights Council was uncertain, pending its ability to address the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Having carefully considered the Secretary-General’s report on realizing the right to self-determination, Egypt looked forward to the inclusion next year of specific recommendations on how the Council could deal with Israel’s human rights violations. That was particularly necessary in light of the findings by Judge Goldstone, which identified gross violations in Gaza that amounted to war crimes. In addition, the continuing policies of settlement expansion, confiscation and razing of lands, closure of crossings and the negative ramifications of the “Separation Wall” were all detrimental to the contiguity of the Palestinian lands and to confidence-building measures. The role of the United Nations should be invigorated to ensure respect for Palestinian human rights. It was incumbent on the Organization that, as the end of the Second International Decade for the Elimination of Colonialism approached, it reaffirmed its commitment to implementing the 1960 Declaration on Granting Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.
NADYA RASHEED, Observer Mission of Palestine, said the right to self-determination had been withheld from the people living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, by the occupying Power, Israel. The enjoyment of that right was essential for the achievement of a comprehensive, permanent and lasting peace. In addition to the denial of their right to self-determination, they were also denied other rights, such as the rights to life, liberty, the security of persons, freedom of movement, livelihood, education, property, development and others. The brutal machinery of the Israeli occupation had produced illegal settlements, closures, checkpoints, home demolitions, land confiscation, destruction of civilian infrastructure, wanton killings by illegal settlers and occupying forces. It had also produced a two-year siege on more than 1.4 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
She said an obvious manifestation of the denial of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination was Israel’s measures to create new facts on the ground. Israel had been carrying out a massive colonization campaign in the Occupied Territory, including East Jerusalem. It did that through illegal construction and expansion of settlements, and through its unlawful Wall, which was intricately linked to the settlements and intended to protect them. Settlement was especially intense in and around occupied East Jerusalem, which was at the heart of the Palestinian Territory. The Palestinian position had not changed; without a settlement freeze and the eventual dismantlement of settlements, there would be no Palestinian State to negotiate and no two-State solution, to speak of. She informed the Committee that a resolution would be submitted on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, which she hoped States would adopt by consensus, thus, sending a strong message to affirm that right.
INGRID SABJA DAZA ( Bolivia) said the elimination of racial discrimination was one of her country’s political priorities. The Bolivian State’s Constitution prohibited any kind of discrimination based on race, gender or any other status that aimed to undermine the recognition of the equal rights of all people. Likewise, it sought the defence and promotion of human rights. It was true that there had been different forms of discrimination that had ended in violence against indigenous and rural communities during the presidency of Evo Morales. Those were serious violations of the economic, social and cultural rights of people, particularly rural and indigenous peoples, and hampered the peaceful coexistence of people. People bearing such discrimination paid the price in economic, as well as social, terms.
With cooperation from indigenous organizations and other human rights organizations, the national Government had formulated a number of regulations that sought to combat racism. Among other things, it had established a director general for that effort and it would be charged with developing policies to combat intolerance. Other ministries sought to eliminate colonialism and discrimination. The Government had also consolidated the implementation of public policies through a national development plan, which was diversified and based on a plurinational action plan for human rights. It stipulated the need for permanent dialogue based on a widespread agenda that included the commitments assumed under the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action. The rights of migrants, women, children, first nations, HIV sufferers and indigenous peoples, among others, were guaranteed. It also called for measures against slavery and human trafficking.
FARHAD MAMDOUHI ( Iran) thanked the States that had participated in the Durban Review Conference. He also thanked the ad hoc committee on complementary standards for its work so far, saying that the process it was overseeing would round out the measures taken by the international community at the Review Conference. That Conference had been a unique opportunity to rebuild strong international consensus on, and to mark the renewal of, international engagement in the struggle against racism. Trends since 2001 had revealed an upsurge of discriminatory practices. While significant progress had been made to evolve normative standards and instruments to combat that phenomenon, racism still persisted and new forms of discrimination had emerged. Modern-day discrimination was based on culture or nationality, and was widely disseminated in the media, including through the Internet, and was targeted at indigenous peoples, non-nationals and minorities.
He said Iran attached great importance to the work of the Rapporteur on racism and intolerance, and stressed that the integrity of his mandate should be fully maintained, with due regard for the terms of reference adopted by the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council. The task of the ad hoc committee on the elaboration of complementary standards, as defined in various resolutions, was to develop new standards to combat contemporary forms of racism, including racial and religious hatred. Defamation of religions, particularly of Islam, coupled with religious and racial profiling, was a modern manifestation of intolerance, and was the most pertinent issue facing the Committee. The Iranian Government reiterated that all of the Committee’s issues and discussions must fall within the bounds of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, as well as the Outcome Document of the Review Conference. Any issue that did not fall within their scope would be deemed out of context and not acceptable.
He said special attention must be given to the precarious situation of people living under prolonged occupation and who were suffering from racism daily. Complementary standards were also needed to address the grievances of the Palestinian people, which were of deep concern to Iran. The international community should continue to be seized of the issue.
MOHAMMAD ALMUTAIRI ( Kuwait) reaffirmed his delegation’s position as stated by the Emir of Kuwait during a recent General Assembly debate on intercultural dialogue. The legal position of Kuwait was based on Islamic values, which rejected racial discrimination. The United Nations Charter was essentially based on the dignity and equality of all people. Further, the coordination of the coexistence of all peoples could not be achieved in the presence of any discrimination. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights also stated that all people were equal before the law. Moreover, Islamic society guaranteed the fundamental rights of all peoples, and Kuwait had adopted a number of measures that gave concrete expression to efforts to combat discrimination, including its Constitution.
In the elimination of racial discrimination, Kuwait had acceded to a number of human rights conventions, including the Slavery Convention and the Convention on the Elimination of Human Trafficking, the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Convention against Genocide, and the Convention against Torture, among others. Its accession to those Conventions resulted from its profound belief in human rights and their application. The United Nations had condemned occupation and the discrimination resulting from it. It had also declared the right of peoples to end such discrimination. On that basis, the Government of Kuwait condemned the occupation of the Palestinian Territories by Israel. The separation wall being built by Israel was just one of the manifestations of that discrimination and intolerance. It also incited hatred. The Goldstone Report confirmed that Israel had breached the human rights of the Palestinian people and had committed war crimes. For its part, Kuwait sought cooperation in building a society in which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was fully implemented.
Mr. MAMDOUHI ( Iran) spoke a second time to address the issue of self-determination. He said the right of people to self-determination was an inalienable right and was embodied in article 1 of both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. For the Palestinian people, the right to self-determination was fundamental to the realization of all other rights, and its denial had caused much suffering and instability in the world. Their right to self-determination had been thwarted for 60 years by the Israeli regime. The international community was well aware that, since occupation, the United Nations had conferred rights on people of Palestine, while resolutions adopted by United Nations human rights machinery had, for decades, consistently affirmed those rights.
He noted that, in January, the Human Rights Council decided to dispatch a fact-finding mission to investigate rights violations in January, particularly in Gaza. The resulting Goldstone Report authenticated the occurrence of serious violations, and confirmed that war crimes and crimes against humanity had, indeed, been committed by the Zionist regime. The Special Rapporteur further stipulated that the overall situation had continued to deteriorate, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and international human rights law, with implications under international criminal law. Due to the blockade, many basic necessities were not reaching the population and building materials to repair houses were disallowed entirely. The United Nations system was challenged to render protection to Gaza’s civilians.
He noted that the Zionist regime severely impeded the Palestinian people’s rights to self-determination through the building of the wall. Its refusal to withdraw from Palestinian Territory and its continued settlements made a mockery of justice and human rights. The regime was obliged to return the Palestinian people’s ancestral lands, and non-cooperation by the occupying Power must be responded to with concrete measures. Restoring the right to self-determination to the people of Palestine would allow them to pursue economic, social and cultural development, to oversee the return of refugees and to establish an independent Palestinian State.
ARAYA DESTA ( Eritrea) said that his country had fought for several generations to attain its own self-determination and independence and reaffirmed that all people had that right. That principle was enshrined in the United Nations Charter, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. On the basis of those fundamental principles and its own particular experiences, Eritrea each year co-sponsored and supported resolutions in the General Assembly that reminded the world community of obligations to promote the right to self-determination.
Associating his remarks with those made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, he reaffirmed that all human rights were universal, indivisible, independent and interrelated and that the international community must treat all human rights globally, in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing and with the same emphasis. It was on that basis that non-discrimination formed the core principle of many international human rights instruments and must be supported at all times and in all cases, to eliminate racism and racial discrimination. It was increasingly evident that racism, racial discrimination and the politics of exclusion were no longer the exclusive domain of a State’s domestic affairs, but had regional and international implications. Thus, the remedies to racism should exist at all levels of human interaction.
He stressed that Eritrea’s own experiences showed that equal participation of persons belonging to national, religious or linguistic minorities contributed to political and social stability and enriched the cultural diversity and heritage of a society. His delegation shared the profound concern expressed during the Durban Review Conference and believed that any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constituted incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence should be prohibited. In that context, he welcomed the Outcome Document.
SEETOH KIN CHOONG ( Singapore) said that, in order to maintain harmony among his country’s diverse population, its Constitution guaranteed the equality of all before the law and forbade discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, descent or place of birth. Public policies and common spaces were kept secular, while each ethnic group was encouraged to learn its own tongue, follow its own religious beliefs and practice its own traditions. Education and dialogue were also felt to be critical to maintaining harmony and a cohesive society, and to strengthen those areas the 2006 Community Engagement Programme was instituted to strengthen ties and better enable the society to deal with emergencies.
The country also took a serious view of extremism and, for that reason, it adopted a law in 1990 that allowed for intervention when individuals carried out acts that might stir conflict between groups, he said, noting that the penal code also criminalized acts that stirred up racial, religious or ethnic enmity. This year, in addition, a National Integration Council was formed to promote the social integration of the growing number of immigrants the country was receiving. Though all such policies had helped result in a good level of tolerance and respect, the country could not rest on its laurels, given the threats to harmony that were prevalent and that could be exacerbated by new media and other factors. For that reason, the avoidance of extremism and other such matters was recently addressed by the Prime Minister in a major speech, and vigilance would continue.
KOH SANG-WOOK ( Republic of Korea) welcomed the adoption of a consensus Outcome Document at the Durban Review Conference last April, and expressed appreciation for the fact that the document had universal validity without pointing any fingers at specific regions. It had struck a delicate balance between the freedom of expression and the responsibility that that freedom entailed. It reflected appropriate ways to enhance the efficacy of the follow-up mechanisms of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. He expressed hope that the Outcome Document would lay ground for progress in the fight against racism, and said he shared the Rapporteur’s view that the Conference should be seen as the beginning of a new era.
He stressed the need to implement the paragraph of the Outcome Document that tasked the Human Rights Council to elaborate ways and means to enhance the effectiveness of the follow-up mechanisms to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, and to ensure better synergy and complementarities in the work of those mechanisms. He noted the clear need to streamline the work of the intergovernmental working group on the effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, and looked forward to a constructive discussion on that topic in the Human Rights Council.
He welcomed the successful conclusion of the second session of the ad hoc committee on complementary standards. But, before any discussion took place on filling gaps in international instruments, there should first be consensus on what those gaps were. The report of the second session showed that a significant number of delegations, including the Republic of Korea, were not convinced of the need to set up a new legally-binding instrument. His Government was of the view that all normative instruments were already in place, and the enhancement of the implementation of those instruments was the most reasonable and efficient way to fill the gap between the norm and reality. Nationally, the Government placed a high priority on education, the role of civil society and cooperation with regional and international groups to fight racism.
A.K. ABDUL MOMEN (Bangladesh), welcoming the Secretary-General’s report and aligning his delegation with the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said little progress had been made in the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. People were being victimized by “hate crimes”, which might be stray incidents, but should not be taken lightly. The elements of racism were deeply entrenched both in the human mindset and in society. Relevant national strategies, therefore, must be developed through a proper understanding of the roots of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. To that end, he welcomed the Outcome Document of the Durban Review Conference. That Conference had provided a unique opportunity to rebuild a strong international consensus in the struggle against racism.
He noted that racism, nevertheless, continued to persist in every society, with people falling victim to human rights violations simply because of their racial and ethnic identity. That discrimination remained at the root of innumerable conflicts and human tragedies, including war, genocide, ethnic cleansing and slavery. Moreover, the concept of racism had, at times, been manipulated into a term of political abuse. Some people had established intellectual justifications for, and political legitimization of, racism and xenophobia. Bangladesh hoped that the conscious segments of the world’s population would reject those justifications. Moreover, it believed that new, innovative ways to address emerging forms of racism were needed.
He went on to say that racism was conditioned by economic imperatives and cut across other development issues. Thus, efforts to eliminate racism should be undertaken in conjunction with poverty eradication and human development. Countries, particularly the most affluent, were introducing a barrage of restrictive polices and practices targeting asylum seekers, refugees and migrants. Some even used discriminatory acts as part of their counter-terrorism policies, and Bangladesh urged them to rethink those policies. Moreover, it strongly advocated the importance of interreligious and intercultural dialogues to promote reciprocal understanding among various religions, beliefs and cultures. Those convictions found due reflection in its annual flagship General Assembly resolution on the “Culture of Peace”.
ASIF GARAYEV ( Azerbaijan) took note of the Secretary-General’s report on self-determination and took note, as well, of the work of the working group on mercenaries as a means of violation human rights and impeding the rights of people to self-determination. Being from a country that had suffered from mercenary aggression, he attached significant importance to international efforts to eradicate mercenary and related activities.
He noted that the International Court of Justice had declared that the right of people to self-determination was an essential component of contemporary international law, and imposed certain obligations on members of the international community. That right had been significant for Azerbaijan in the wake of the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic. But, it now faced the consequences of that right being misinterpreted, and that right being misapplied, to justify the use of force and attempts at unilateral secession or to incorporate parts of its territory into that of another State. It had led to large-scale military actions and violations of international law. As his Government understood it, the realization of self-determination represented a legitimate process carried out within the limits of international law. It provided for the independence of colonial territories, and could also be applied in the case of foreign occupation. But, international law was ambiguous in that it did not provide for the right to cessation. For, the territorial integrity of States would be of little value if the right to cessation was recognized, and international law did not create grounds or conditions for legitimizing cessation.
He said there was evidence in Armenia of rights violations against Azerbaijan, specifically in terms of ethnic cleansing. Through its speculations on the right to self-determination, Armenia was making revisionist claims that were contrary to international law. All its actions were aimed at tearing up Azerbaijan’s territory, accompanied by violations of the prohibition on the use of force. Azerbaijan asked that Armenia put an end to its aggression, and to conduct an unconditional withdrawal from Azerbaijan and to facilitate the return of displaced persons to their homes. Taking steps to undermine international law could lead to instability.
TIBOR SHALEV-SCHLOSSER ( Israel) said the Israeli people -- indeed, all Jews -- knew as well as anybody the horrible consequences of racism. It, therefore, fought against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and other related intolerance. His delegation noted with alarm the sharp increase in racist incidents around the world. Muslims and Jews had good reason to be wary, with racism creeping into political speech around the globe. Universal ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was needed. Further, anti-Zionism had to be unmasked and should never be mistaken for ordinary political discourse. In that regard, he noted the repeated calls by the President of Iran for the destruction of Israel.
He said the goals set forward in Durban were commendable. But, Israel regretted that that conference, as well as its recent review -- both of which were aimed at eliminating racism -- had instead focused on one case that was exploited for political purposes. By mentioning the Middle East conflict in the context of a meeting against racism, the conference twisted the political nature of the conflict into an allegedly racist one. It had become clear at both Durban I and II that the discussion had nothing to do with racism. However, Israel was hopeful that, by exposing its flaws, a dramatic revision of Durban would take place. Israel was a ready and willing partner in the necessary struggle against racism. In a few days, Jews would commemorate the seventy-first anniversary of Kristalnacht, which had started with words of blind racial hatred. While it marked the beginning of a tragedy, its anniversary provided an occasion to look forward on how the past could guide the future.
Recalling the important United Nations resolutions adopted on the Holocaust, including the three-year-old resolution aimed at the remembrance of the Holocaust, he stressed that political leaders had a responsibility to remember and be guided by those events. Israel stood willing to engage with the international community to combat racism and believed the capacity of the human spirit to overcome the darker impulses was great. Turning to self-determination, he said Israel recognized the aspirations of the Palestinian people in relation to that right. But it could only be realized through the establishment of two States. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had confirmed this in a speech on 14 June 2009. At the same time, the Palestinian people must recognize the right of the State of Israel to exist. He, thus, called on his Palestinian colleague to refrain from repeating condemnations as part of its rhetoric. It was hoped the two sides could soon return to the negotiating table.
Regarding the support by Iran for the Palestinians’ right to self-determination, he pointed to the denial of that right to the Jewish people and his President’s repeated call for the destruction of Israel, a fellow Member State. Israel hoped that the Palestinian people had better friends than that one.
Mr. HARIPRASAD (India), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that conscious of the destructive impact of racism, India’s leaders in its freedom struggle had made sure to establish a Constitution that enshrined the principle of equality before the law, as well as equality of opportunity and status. The Constitution also prohibited discrimination based on religion, caste, sex and place of birth. Its independent judiciary was at the forefront of safeguarding those rights, as were the free media and civil society.
He said the fight against racism was a cornerstone of India’s foreign policy after independence. At the United Nations, India had played a major role in drafting the convention on racial discrimination, and its citizens had served on the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It shared the concern of others at the increase of racist incidents and welcomed the outcome of the Durban Review Conference. However, it was important that efforts focus on addressing racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and other related intolerance as specified in the mandate.
He expressed support for the rights of Palestinian people to self-determination and said India remained committed to doing all it could to assist them in building their capacity and institutions. The solution to the question of Palestine should be based on United Nations resolutions, the Arab peace plan, and the Quartet Road Map. The right to self-determination was sacrosanct and fundamental in the lives of Non-Self-Governing Territories and trust colonies, but it could not be used for subversive political agendas, and could not be extended to component parts of groups within independent sovereign States.
He regretted the representative of Pakistan’s reference to Jammu and Kashmir, reiterating that the two regions were an integral part of India and participated regularly in India’s elections. The representative of Pakistan should focus, instead, on taking action against terrorists and their support base, and to create conditions for a meaningful dialogue. He requested the representative of Pakistan not to sow detraction for the support of Palestinian people by bringing up such matters. India was proud of its democratic traditions. Some 700 million voters had participated to elect its Members of Parliament.
AMMAR HIJAZI, of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine, said that at the core of his people’s journey of pain was a racist ideology that had institutionalized discrimination and oppression against an entire nation, in order to ensure advancement and socio-economic superiority of another. More recently, that racist policy had translated into a reality of walls, multi-layered siege and starvation. Indeed, Israel’s 42-year occupation had transformed into an illegitimate, institutional system of colonization and racial discrimination. In his United Nations-commissioned report, Judge Richard Goldstone had highlighted various ways in which Israel had institutionalized racism. In particular, he had concluded that application of Israel’s domestic laws throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory had resulted in “institutionalized discrimination against Palestinians” to the benefit of Israeli settlers, whose presence in the Occupied Territory was a violation of international law of itself.
The occupying Power reserved exclusive benefits for Jews, based on a two-tiered civil status under Israel’s legal regime, which was based on “Jewish nationality”, he continued. Israeli laws identified Palestinians, the indigenous inhabitants of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, as “alien persons”, prohibiting them from building on, or renting large portions of, land designated as “State land” by Israel. Among other things, Israel’s established racist regime manifested itself through the movement restrictions, which were imposed on Palestinians on the basis of ethnicity. The Goldstone Report agreed that it was “unlawful discrimination”, contrary to several international instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Geneva Conventions. Israel’s extremist and racist right wing party, Yisrael Beiteinu, had also submitted several fascist-like bills to the Knesset against Palestinians. Israel’s recent attempts to force Palestinians and Arab States to recognize its supposed Jewish nature was another manifestation of its inherent racist attitude.
In conclusion, he reminded the Committee that the Outcome Document of the Durban Review Conference had highlighted the need for greater resolve and political will to rid the world of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and all related intolerance. “We must muster the will and strength to combat these dangerous ideologies”, he said.
Regarding the statement by the Israeli delegate, he said he hoped his superiors in Tel Aviv would refrain from all illegal activities, including, among others, the freezing of movement and ongoing construction of the separation wall. Rhetoric would not end the conflict in the Middle East. Indeed, the basis of a two-State solution that he had referred to would not see light if Israeli policies -- particularly those of the current administration -- continued to infringe on the human rights of the Palestinian people. This alone would give peace a chance. As for the effects on future generations, he asked the Israeli delegate, whom he said might have served on the hundreds of checkpoints, what environment was better for educating future generations?
KARINE KHOUDAUVERDIAN ( Armenia) said the right to self-determination was fundamental to international law, and the right by which people could freely pursue their development. It was enshrined in the United Nations Charter and in numerous resolutions and conventions. There was a growing understanding that individual rights could not be guaranteed unless self-determination was first exercised. The practical realization of that right required political will and a courage to implement it. Regretfully, that right was being suppressed in some parts of the world, so that efforts in that regard were not satisfactory. Claims to self-determination should be given thorough consideration against the legal background of each case. The human rights approach could be useful in that regard, to ensure that the outcome was not detrimental to democracy.
She said the right to self-determination was non-conditional and common to all people. In the Nagorno-Karabakh region, the people had sought their right to self-determination in a peaceful manner and through negotiation. Azerbaijan had rejected that process 20 years ago and continued to do so. The use of mercenaries was no news in the region; 16 years ago, Azerbaijan had retained 2,000 mercenaries in its war with Nagorno-Karabakh, which was seeking its cessation from Azerbaijan through legal, peaceful and just means in the form of a referendum, carried out in accordance with the principles of international law and the Soviet legislation of the time. No misconstruing of events or rewriting of history could change the current course of events. Today, Nagorno-Karabakh, having exercised its rights, was trying to democratize its society through presidential and local elections. There was no one-size-fits-all solution to the issue of self-determination, and each case would require negotiation. Political will could and must prevail in solving issues linked to self-determination.
LUCA DALL’OGLIO, Observer for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said “migrants are the human face of globalization” and, in the current financial crisis, could be perceived as a source of strain in societies by competing with the native labour force, particularly in low-skilled sectors. Some Governments had a tendency to think about migration in counter-cyclical terms, to harden attitudes about migrants and send them home. In reality, legal migrants were essential to the recovery of economies. Attitudes, regulations and legislation were difficult to alter, but Governments would be wise to give close consideration to integration of policies and approaches. Discrimination risked igniting marginalization and xenophobia, which would have major impacts on both migrants and hosting societies.
He said integration was a dynamic two-way process of mutual adjustment and accommodation by migrants and host communities. It was shaped, to a large extent, by integration policies and practices of authorities, both national and local. His organization had worked in that field for many years in 44 countries, conducting programmes in areas from language and cultural training for migrants to preparing refugees for the challenges of resettlement in new societies. Diversity training had also been carried out at local and regional levels. In southern Africa and Europe, for example, mass media campaigns have been conducted to directly tackle issues of xenophobia.
In an increasingly diverse world, he concluded, migration was often perceived as a threat to national identities and social cohesion. The positive impact that migration engendered in host societies must be underscored in terms of workforce wealth-creation, global poverty reduction, innovation and creativity. Integration policies were an important element in migration governance, and they should always accompany management of migratory flows.
HARIF WALABI ( Syria), aligning her delegation with the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, expressed concern about the incitement of religious hatred, which was a sign of public discrimination. Among other things, that disrespect, which was often disseminated by the Internet, distorted certain religions. That approach was alarming, since it led to the illusion of superiority of one religious group over others. It also threatened international peace and stability. The situation that Arabs and Muslims faced under the pretext of combating terrorism was one of the primary areas that should be challenged and ended. She further called for full implementation of paragraph 2 of article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Noting that the situation in the Middle East was deteriorating at a serious pace, she said murders targeting the Palestinian people occurred on a daily basis. Foreign settlers were also being allowed to settle the illegally constructed settlements, which were aimed at changing the demographic fabric of the Palestinian Territories. There was a desperate need for concerted efforts by the international community to express further determination to end those serious manifestations of racism. The occupying Power should be forced to respect all human rights in the Occupied Territories.
She went to say that the Syrian Government had, last year, ratified the international convention on the use of mercenaries. Regarding the right of peoples to self-determination, her delegation was deeply concerned over Israeli violations, which were mentioned in a number of reports of Special Rapporteurs and fact-finding missions, including on the mission on Beit Hanoun and in the Goldstone Report. Stressing that the occupying Power did not uphold its obligations, including the right of peoples to self-determination, she recalled the repeated affirmations of that right by the United Nations and said it was regrettable that the United Nations was unable to stop the violation of that sacred right.
Rights of Reply
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the Russian Federation said that the statement by the Georgian representative had been inaccurate. The European Commission report on the conflict contained a finding that an aggression against South Ossetia had taken place on 8 August, and had been unleashed by the Georgian leadership. The aggressor was now trying to transfer blame for the consequences of their military adventure and was seeking to present itself as a victim. That was unacceptable. Further, her Government did not agree with Georgia’s efforts to bring the matter before the International Court.
The representative of Pakistan exercised his right of reply in response to the representative of India’s comments regarding Jammu and Kashmir. He rejected the statement that Jammu and Kashmir were an integral part of India, when those areas were internationally recognized as disputed territory. The Security Council demand for a plebiscite under United Nations auspices was yet to be implemented. As for the supposed exercise of the people’s right to self-determination through elections, it was known that elections in that territory had been rejected by the Council and by the people of Kashmir and the Kashmiri leadership. The representative of India had further tried to link the dispute to terrorism. Pakistan’s role as a frontline State fighting terrorism was acknowledged by the international community, and it was resolved to continue that fight. However, people’s legitimate struggle for the right to self-determination could not be equated with terrorism. Pakistan had agreed to address the question of Jammu and Kashmir bilaterally and had advanced several ideas to that end and was awaiting a response. Also, the Pakistan Government reserved the right to refer to that issue at the United Nations, as necessary.
Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Iran said he was responding to the “regime of the occupied territories”.
Interrupting, the delegate of Israel asked why he was referring to Israel this way. Could he explain what regime he was talking about?
The CHAIR asked if Israel was taking the floor on a point of order, and when he said it was not a point of order he gave the floor to Iran.
Iran’s representative said he rejected as baseless the comments by the “regime of the occupied territories” against the Islamic Republic of Iran and its officials. His Government, along with other States, had always condemned incidences of waging war against any country or the destruction of any entity, as well as genocide against any race or ethnic group. Indeed, the actions of the Israeli regime could never be justified, including the genocide committed by the occupying Power in its recent 22-day campaign against Gaza, which resulted in the brutal massacre of many innocent women and children. The long-lasting occupation and brutality against Palestinian people and the violations of their basic human rights on a daily basis did not establish any kind of legitimacy or any basis to claim a right to self-determination.
Responding to Armenia, the representative of Azerbaijan said Armenia bore the primary responsibility for the events in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which survived only through Armenia’s military and other support. The right to self-determination represented a legitimate process within identified limits. The critical factor in addressing self-determination with respect to the conflict in Azerbaijan and Armenia were the acts that violated international law, such as the rule prohibiting the use of force. Moreover, Armenia’s revisionist claims were contrary to international law. Regarding increased membership in the United Nations after its establishment, Armenia had no moral or legal rights on which to compare its situation to that expansion.
He further noted that the report by the Secretary-General addressed the use of mercenaries in violating human rights, and stated that there were unquestionable facts establishing the use of such mercenaries against Azerbaijan. He reminded the Committee that the referendum referred to by the Armenian delegation had not been recognized as legal by the international community. His delegation viewed Armenia’s statements to be propaganda and an open challenge to a settlement of the conflict between the two countries. Rather than putting an end to the protracted conflict, Armenia made bellicose statements that indicated it was far from engaging in the search to peace.
Also exercising a right of reply, the representative of Georgia stressed that findings of the independent fact-finding mission to the region under dispute had found that, during the conflict and after ceasefire, South Ossetian forces had conducted deliberate violence against ethnic Georgians, in cooperation with Russian forces. The mission had confirmed cases of summary executions, rape, ill-treatment and torture, including of detained combatants, arbitrary arrests and hostage-taking, discrimination against minorities, and limiting people’s freedom of movement and denying them education in their mother tongue. There was also widespread looting and destruction of civilian property in areas populated by ethnic Georgians. Ethnic Georgians were known to have left their homes because of shelling. In short, people were displaced as a result of actions committed by Russian and South Ossetian forces. There had also been reports of beatings, kidnapping and detention in the course of displacement.
The representative of Israel, in exercise of his right of reply, said the observer for Palestine had advised against rhetoric. And yet, his statement was filled with rhetoric. It was also totally one-sided. He had not heard mention of the long struggle of the Palestinian people to destroy Israel through terror, the pullout of Israel from Gaza in 2005, and the taking of control of Gaza by Hamas, a terror organization that launched missiles into Israeli cities. He had bashed the Israeli Foreign Minister and misquoted him deliberately. That was exactly the kind of rhetoric to avoid if the two were to achieve peace. In response to the representative of Syria, its own citizens could stand to enjoy more freedom. It could well extend civil rights to Palestinians that lived in Syria today, but did not. As for the representative of Iran, he had failed to mention the name of the State of Israel, which was a Member of the United Nations. That refusal confirmed Iran’s denial of right to self-determination of the Jewish people of Israel. It was a pity that the representative of Palestine did not distance himself from Iran’s support.
The representative of Armenia said she would not answer the rhetoric of Azerbaijan on a point-by-point basis, but it was no news that the situation in the region was the result of the mass killings and military aggression that were unleashed against Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh. Only a negotiated settlement could bring stability to the region and its peoples.
The representative of the Observer Mission for Palestine said he wanted to respond to what had just been said by the Israeli delegate, particularly about the misquotation of his Foreign Minister. What he had said in his statement was not unfounded, but rather a well-documented reality. It had been documented by such Israelis as Uri Davis in his book Israel: An Apartheid State. There had also been world leaders like former United States President Jimmy Carter who, after years of efforts to end the racism in the region, had broken their silence. Many other groups had realized that racism and discrimination was at the heart of the suffering of the Palestinian people. That was also documented in the report of the Goldstone fact-finding mission. The Palestinian struggle was a long one, but it had international law on its side. Meanwhile, Israel had the distinction of being the most frequent violator of international and United Nations resolutions. It remained the only occupation on the face of the earth. He himself had not alluded to the internal Israeli situation, such as the arming of settlers who harmed and tortured Palestinian people on a daily basis or the Israeli mafia. Regarding the pull-out from Gaza, he said it amounted to a big lie, even if it was not recognized as such, since food and fuel and other basic necessities were still not allowed to enter Gaza.
The representative of Syria said she categorically rejected allegations made by a State who questioned Syria’s treatment of human rights, even as that State was occupying the territory of another State, and which practised racism, killed citizens and deprived people of their economic, social and cultural rights. In contrast, Syria had never occupied another country or launched aggression against its neighbours. She highlighted the report by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which noted that her country was home to 500,000 Palestinian refugees, and had adopted rules treating them on an equal basis with Syrian citizens, while protecting their Palestinian citizenship until they were able to return to their country. Her country welcomed refugees and protected their rights, whether Iraqi or Palestinian.
The representative of Iran, exercising his right of reply, said the issue was not in the name of the regime that was occupying the Palestinian Territories. The main point was that it was trying to distort facts, spread disinformation and was raising irrelevant issues to evade its main dilemma: its lack of legitimacy emanating from more than 60 years of occupation of Palestinian Territories.
Responding to the Armenia delegation, which had mentioned “ethnic cleansing”, the representative of Azerbaijan said Armenia fundamentally disregarded the most authoritative documents adopted by the international community on the conflict, including the United Nations Security Council documents which recognized that Nagorno-Karabakh was a part of Azerbaijan and called for the withdrawal of all Armenian forces from the territory.
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