‘Cornerstone’ Security Council Resolutions on Counter-Terrorism Should Be Replaced by Single Text Not Adopted Under Charter’s Chapter VII, Third Committee Told

26 October 2010
GA/SHC/3988

‘Cornerstone’ Security Council Resolutions on Counter-Terrorism Should Be Replaced by Single Text Not Adopted Under Charter’s Chapter VII, Third Committee Told

26 October 2010
General Assembly
GA/SHC/3988
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fifth General Assembly

Third Committee

30th & 31st Meetings (AM & PM)

‘Cornerstone’ Security Council Resolutions on Counter-Terrorism Should Be Replaced

by Single Text Not Adopted Under Charter’s Chapter VII, Third Committee Told

Rapporteur Says Neither of Existing Regimes Has Proper Legal Basis;

Committee Also Hears Experts on Freedom of Opinion; Human Rights and Corporations

Two cornerstones of United Nations action against terrorism have no proper legal basis in the organization’s Charter today, since international terrorism was not “a permanent threat to peace” and did not justify the Security Council’s supranational powers over individuals or Member States, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) was told today.

Martin Scheinin, in his final appearance before the General Assembly as the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, referred to Chapter VII of the Charter, which gives the Security Council extraordinary powers “to determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression”, and sets out what measures should be taken in response to restore peace (Article 39).

Mr. Scheinin said the “two cornerstones” of United Nations action against terrorism are the listing of individuals and entities such as Taliban or Al-Qaida terrorists through resolution 1267 (1999), and an entire framework of measures required by resolution 1373 (2001), including the fields of financing of terrorism, border controls and exchange of information.  But he took the view that neither one of those had a proper legal basis in Chapter VII of the Charter in the world of today.

“To put it bluntly, while international terrorism remains a very serious threat and constitutes a category of atrocious crime, it is not generally and on its own a permanent threat to the peace within the meaning of Article 39 of the Charter and does not justify exercise by the Security Council of supranational quasi-judicial sanctioning powers over individuals or of supranational legislative powers over Member States,” he said.

He added: “The current situation of the two cornerstones being ultra vires poses risks to the protection of human rights and the international rule of law.  What is equally important is this situation weakens the legitimacy, acceptability and acceptance of the UN counter-terrorism framework, hence constituting a threat to an effective and efficient fight against terrorism.”

To address this situation, particularly as the tenth anniversary of resolution 1373 draws near, Mr. Scheinin proposed that the 1267 and 1373 regimes be replaced by a single resolution, not adopted under Chapter VII, which would systemize the counter-terrorism measures by States under a single framework.  Rather than listing terrorists, the role of the United Nations would be to extend advice and assistance to States, including the collection of evidence.

The Committee also heard today from Frank La Rue, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, who expressed his deep alarm at the fact that the number of journalists and media personnel killed in 2009 was the highest recorded since 1992, with the overwhelming majority being targeted killings.  Despite the risks of reporting from armed conflict zones, Mr. La Rue said more journalists had been killed in non-conflict situations.

Journalists who reported on organized crimes and drug trafficking were among those particularly at risk.  In 94 per cent of the killings in 2009, perpetrators had enjoyed “total immunity”, feeding a vicious circle in which killings that went unpunished only encouraged more killings.  Mr. La Rue also drew attention to the number of journalists who felt it necessary to flee their countries, and to the special situation of citizen journalists.

The Committee also heard presentations from John Ruggie, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises;and Ivan Šimonović, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, who introduced a number of reports from the Secretary-General, including country-specific reports on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran.

During the conclusion of a dialogue that began the day before with Manfred Nowak, the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, questions and comments were put by the representatives of Kazakhstan, Algeria, Sudan, Norway, Zimbabwe, Austria, Brazil, Denmark, China, the United Kingdom and Jamaica.

Questions and comments for the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism were put by the representatives of Switzerland, the United States, the European Union, Norway, the Russian Federation, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Peru.

The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the rights to freedom of opinion and expression took questions and comments from the representatives of Norway, Mexico, Ethiopia, United States, Canada, Maldives, Guatemala, the European Union, Sweden, Pakistan, Iran, Switzerland, Germany, the United Kingdom, Algeria, the Russian Federation, the Philippines, Iraq and Denmark.

In the afternoon, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprisesheard questions and comments from the representatives of Norway, Canada, the European Union, Denmark, Sweden and South Africa.

Questions and comments for the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights were made by the representatives of Iran, the United States, the European Union and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Also speaking this afternoon, as the Committee once again began its general discussion on the promotion and protection of human rights, were the representatives of Belgium (on behalf of the European Union) and of Suriname (on behalf of the Caribbean Community).

The representatives of China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 27 October, to continue its general discussion on the promotion and protection of human rights.

Background

The Third Committee met today to continue its discussion of the promotion and protection of human rights.  (For more information, please see Press Release GA/SHC/3983 of 19 October 2010.)  It was also expected to hear the introduction of draft resolutions on indigenous issues and implementation of human rights instruments.

It had before it the note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (document A/65/258).  This final report submitted to the General Assembly by the Special Rapporteur, Martin Scheinin, takes stock of and assesses the role and contributions of, among others, the Assembly, the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, the Human Rights Council, the Security Council and its subsidiary bodies, and United Nations field presences in the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of their counter-terrorism activities.

The main recommendation contained in the report is that the Security Council should seize the opportunity of the approaching tenth anniversary of its resolution 1373 (2001) to replace resolutions 1373 (2001), 1624 (2005) and 1267 (1999) (as amended) with a single resolution, not adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, in order to systematize States’ counter-terrorism measures and reporting duties of States under one framework.  That proposal is motivated by the assessment of the Special Rapporteur that Chapter VII does not provide the proper legal basis for maintaining the current framework of mandatory and permanent Security Council resolutions of a quasi-legislative or quasi-judicial nature.  The report also addresses ways and means of improving the human rights accountability of the United Nations for its field operations, including in the context of countering terrorism, as well as the contributions of various actors in the implementation of the 2006 United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

It also had before it the report of the Secretary-General on protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (document A/65/224).  The report refers to recent developments within the United Nations system in relation to human rights and counter-terrorism, including through the activities of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Human Rights Council and its various special procedures mandates, the human rights treaty bodies, the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force and its Working Group on Protecting Human Rights while Countering Terrorism, the Counter-Terrorism Committee and the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate.  It outlines the consideration by the United Nations human rights system of issues, including compliance of legislation, policies and practices for countering terrorism with international law, including international human rights law.

The report concludes that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the human rights treaty bodies, the Human Rights Council and its various special procedures continue to express grave concerns regarding practices of torture and ill treatment of detainees, the vague and broad definition of terrorism in national legislations, the lack of safeguards related to due process and fair trial, and incommunicado detention.  Member States are urged to fully implement the Global Strategy on Counter-Terrorism, and to promote respect for human rights and the rule of law as the fundamental basis of all counter-terrorism measures, in particular by ensuring respect for the absolute prohibition of torture, guarantees under international law for persons deprived of liberty, and legality in the criminalization of acts of terrorism.

The Committee also had before it the note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression (document A/65/284).  This is the first report to the General Assembly of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, containing an overview of his activities.  Devoting a section of the report to the issue of the protection of journalists and other media professionals, the Special Rapporteur examines trends regarding violence against journalists worldwide and the obligation of States under international human rights law to guarantee their protection.  He explores trends regarding violence against journalists in situations of armed conflict and the protection afforded to them under international humanitarian law, in addition to international human rights law.

Additionally, the report sheds light on difficulties faced by “citizen journalists” and identifies applicable State obligations to ensure their protection.  Expressing alarm and concern that the number of journalists and media personnel killed in 2009 was the highest since 1992, that 81 per cent of those killings were deliberate and targeted, and that perpetrators had enjoyed total impunity in 94 per cent of cases in which journalists were murdered in 2009, the Special Rapporteur concludes with numerous recommendations for Member States, the United Nations, and journalists and non-governmental organizations to enhance the protection of journalists and citizen journalists alike, in both conflict and non-conflict situations.

Also before the Committee was the report of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises (document A/65/310).  The report provides an overview of the main developments related to the work of the Special Representative in implementing his mandate, with a focus on the period since the presentation of his latest report to the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/14/27) in June 2010.  As discussed with the Council at that time, the Special Representative will submit two products at the end of his mandate in June 2011:  a set of guiding principles for the implementation of the “protect, respect and remedy” framework and an options paper outlining possible ways the Council might follow up on the mandate.  The present report notes the consultative process that the Special Representative will pursue in elaborating the guiding principles, addresses some of the challenges posed by the issue of extraterritorial jurisdiction in the context of business and human rights, discusses the scope and application of the corporate responsibility to respect human rights in the supply chains of business enterprises and provides an update on activities and developments related to the Special Representative’s work to promote the framework.

Special Rapporteur on Torture

The Committee first continued its questions and comments period with the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, MANFRED NOWAK.  Several representatives inquired about rehabilitation centres for victims of torture, as well as ways to counter immunity for those who carry out torture.  The representatives of Algeria, Sudan and Zimbabwe were among those who spoke critically of the remarks that Mr. Nowak had made about their countries in his report, including his description of them as “hostile” environments.

Mr. Nowak replied that his missions as Special Rapporteur were not intended to criticize, but to help States confront torture and improve conditions of detention.  He expressed appreciation for the statements of support made by several representatives, and singled out that of the United States; despite differences during the Bush Administration and “the so-called war on terror”, relations between the United States and the Special Rapporteur had always been diplomatic. 

At the same time, Mr. Nowak said he was surprised by the “defensive” remarks by other representatives.  Referring to the representative of Jamaica, he said there had been misunderstandings, and that they had been clarified during a one-on-one meeting yesterday morning, but they were repeated by the representative yesterday afternoon in the Committee.  What the Special Rapporteur had said in his report was no different from what he had told the Government and media:  that on his visit to Jamaica he had found a high level of police brutality and “isolated” cases of torture; the main problems were extrajudicial killings by police officers, as well as conditions of detention.  Mr. Nowak said he had had an excellent working relationship with the Government; he thought the remarks of the representative of Jamaica had not reflected those of his Government, but rather an inability on his part to deal with criticism.

In response to the representatives of Egypt, Algeria and Sudan, he said he had never received invitations from those countries to visit.  To their counterpart from Zimbabwe, he said that, although the Prime Minister wanted to see him, the President of that country had stopped his visit, leaving him to stay overnight at the Harare airport.  A private visit by the Special Rapporteur a year earlier had been fully notified to the Government.

In response to the representative of the European Union, he said that traumatized victims of torture needed a safe place to go, but rehabilitation centres were either non-existent in countries where torture was practised, or torture survivors did not use their services.  The provision of such centres was a responsibility for Governments and global civil society alike.  To the representative of Pakistan, who asked about the intolerance faced by survivors of torture when they sought asylum abroad, he said that xenophobia and mistrust of asylum-seekers in destination countries were often the result of too many migrants misusing the asylum system.  During his visit to Greece, he had met many refugees from many places who, instead of protection, encountered difficulties.  The European Union and its member States had to rethink their general migration and asylum policies.

In response to those who inquired about impunity, Mr. Nowak said the Convention against Torture was the first human rights treaty that imposed a clear obligation on States to criminalize torture and to put into place long prison sentences for those convicted of torture.  Universal jurisdiction was called for; the number of people who has been subjected to universal jurisdiction in connection with torture could be counted on the fingers of one hand.  One example was in the United Kingdom where a former war lord from Afghanistan had been prosecuted.  The majority of States parties to the Convention had not implemented their obligation to criminalize torture and make it punishable by adequate sanctions.  Given that torture might be carried out by a police officer, there should also be independent police mechanisms with full powers to investigate such officers.  Responding to the representative of Norway about health professionals and rehabilitation centres, he said there were doctors who were very knowledgeable when it came to recognizing, documenting and treating torture.  At the same time, however, health professionals in many countries were involved in torture.

Responding to the representative of Denmark, he said he was “disappointed” by the support that independent experts had been receiving from the Human Rights Council.  States should recognize that if they were elected to the Council, they were not there to defend their States’ interests, but to defend human rights.  The Council used independent experts to do independent fact-finding; but time after time, dialogue with the Council had been misused, with members of the Council making accusations, rather than taking up his recommendations.  The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had provided excellent assistance, but there were now so many special procedures, especially those with thematic mandates, that it was “very difficult” for them to carry out their work on a worldwide scale, and on a voluntary basis, without the necessary professional support.  Many mandate holders were using help from the places where they were based; there was thus need to increase the level of support from the Office.

RAYMOND WOLFE ( Jamaica) said that, as a former Chair of the Committee, he was used to robust discussion in an atmosphere of mutual respect.  Everything that he had said yesterday represented the view of his Government.  For the Special Rapporteur to allege that they were not was “highly offensive”.  The Government of Jamaica was concerned by inaccuracies in fact and law in Mr. Nowak’s report and it would be preparing a detailed response.

MICHEL TOMMO MONTHE ( Cameroon), the Chair of the Committee, said there was no doubt in his mind for whom the representative of Jamaica spoke.

SARAH BHOROMA ( Zimbabwe) said the Special Rapporteur’s visit to Harare had been postponed due to “an emergency subregional meeting taking place there at that time”.  He had been informed of that well before his departure for Harare and it was not clear what he was trying to achieve by bring up that point.  Zimbabwe was opposed to the use of information from non-governmental organizations when States were unable to give their point of view.

Turning first to the representative of Jamaica, Mr. Nowak said he fully respected the statement he had made.  To the representative of Zimbabwe, he said her remarks were “not true”.  His staff had already been in Johannesburg at the time and he had been sitting on a flight from Vienna to Johannesburg.  He immediately got in contact with the Government, and the Prime Minister clearly confirmed that he wished to meet him, as originally scheduled.  He was told he would be picked up by protocol officers from the foreign ministry, but instead he was detained at the airport and sent back.  Even the secretary of the Prime Minister who had tried to pick him up at the airport had been denied access to him.

Special Rapporteur on promoting human rights while countering terrorism

MARTIN SCHEININ, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, in his sixth and final appearance before the General Assembly, said he had chosen as a thematic focus for his current report the United Nations compliance with human rights while countering terrorism.  Many of the issues in the report concern counter-terrorism measures by the Security Council, in particular those exercised under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, which gave the Security Council extraordinary powers “to determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression”, and what measures should be taken in response to restore peace (Article 39).  Two cornerstones of United Nations action against terrorism are the listing of individuals and entities as Taliban or Al-Qaida terrorists through resolution 1267 (1999), and an entire framework of measures required by resolution 1373 (2001), including the fields of financing of terrorism, border controls and exchange of information.

Mr. Scheinin took the view that neither one of those had a proper legal basis in Chapter VII of the Charter in the world of today, saying, “To put it bluntly, while international terrorism remains a very serious threat and constitutes a category of atrocious crime, it is not generally and on its own a permanent threat to the peace within the meaning of Article 39 of the Charter and does not justify exercise by the Security Council of supranational quasi-judicial sanctioning powers over individuals or of supranational legislative powers over Member States.”

Mr. Scheinin explained that the sanctions against the Taliban were introduced in 1999 by resolution 1267 as a form of smart sanctions against a defined group of persons in limited time and space, with the concrete aim of compelling the Taliban to hand over terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.  It was only through resolution 1390 (2002) that the regime became open-ended without any link to a specific territory or State.  While 1267 could be seen as a temporary emergency measure, “using its Chapter VII powers to maintain a permanent list of terrorist individuals and entities anywhere in a world and to impose its application upon all Member States as a legally binding Charter obligation goes beyond the powers of the Security Council”.  Similarly, resolution 1373 was adopted in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 9 September 2001 in a situation when only four States had ratified the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.  It was “a shortcut, an emergency measure” to impose upon States the rules of the convention already.  Today there are 173 parties to the Convention and there was no justification for the position that the supranational powers of the Security Council would have to be resorted to in order to have a normative framework for action against terrorism.  Those were the factors that motivated his assessment that 1267 and 1373 were outside the scope of powers granted by the Charter, he said.

He noted, however, that adverse consequences could be mitigated by improving the de-listing mechanisms under the 1267 regime, including through the creation of the office of the de-listing ombudsman or through national courts exercising judicial review over the implementation of sanctions against person listed.  “The current situation of two cornerstones of the United Nations counter-terrorism architecture being ultra vires poses risks to the protection of human rights and the international rule of law,” he said, adding that the situation weakened the legitimacy of the United Nations counter-terrorism framework.

He presented the proposal of replacing the current 1267 and 1373 regimes with one single resolution, not adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter, in order to systematize the counter-terrorism measures by States under one framework.  Instead of itself listing terrorists, the United Nations would provide advice and assistance, including in collecting evidence for States so that they could do it properly, he said.  Instead of focusing on formal reporting, the Counter-terrorism Committee needed to engage in a dialogue with Member States in order to find optimal measures in each situation.  His report also addressed the issue of human rights compliance by United Nations peacekeepers and other field presences whenever they were engaged in counter-terrorism measures, stating that the conduct of United Nations operations must comply with norms enshrined in international human rights instruments.  The report acknowledged and commended the increased attention given by the General Assembly to the promotion of human rights while countering terrorism.  Listing his numerous visits to countries, he also sought the support of the General Assembly for continuing the programme of country visits. He concluded by saying that, as reaffirmed in the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategies, “effective counter-terrorism measures and the protection of human rights are not conflicting goals, but complementary and mutually reinforcing”.

Question and Answer Session

The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism then fielded questions from the delegates.

Responding to the question of the representative of Switzerland about alternatives for a World Court of Human Rights to address breaches, he said that his proposal was geared towards extending accountability so it covered international organizations.  States were subject to a range of mechanisms, but still missing were mechanisms addressing actors other than States.  In today’s age of globalization, which meant that actors of equal weight and significance had the capacity to enjoy human rights anywhere, an accountability gap existed, because accountability was geared towards only States.  Beyond the World Court, there were other things that could be done, such as paying attention to the question of the listing of individuals and to improving due process guarantees or fairness at the United Nations level through the ombudsman.

One important factor would be taking the findings of the ombudsman seriously, so that the ombudsman’s powers would impact justice even without independent decision-making abilities.  One major obstacle was also the requirement of consensus decision-making regarding de-listing.  As long as that existed, international courts hesitated in accepting that there was fairness in due process at the United Nations level.  A national or regional judicial review over the implementation of sanctions was needed.  The Special Rapporteur also noted a distinction between the imposition and implementation of sanctions regarding States.

With regard to the statement of the United States about disagreements concerning the scope of Chapter VII, he said that differences of opinion would remain and that the question of legal parameters and responsibilities of international bodies could not be closed quickly.  A resolution was the creation of mechanisms regarding the accountability of international organizations, such as the World Court of Human Rights.  Problems with the current regime regarding Chapter VII included being faced with a “straightjacket” of being reactive to threats to peace.  It was hard to react against evolving trends if one had to go through legal arguments that a given response was because something was a threat to peace.  It was necessary to move beyond Chapter VII, so that reaction was easier, more legitimate and addressed the evolving trends of terrorism.

Concerning the questions of the representative of the European Union about major challenges to mainstreaming human rights efforts and global trends relating to human rights, he said the global trend was negative, because Governments sought to balance human rights and countering terrorism, when the necessary response was to find a way to counter terrorism within human rights law.  He noted that, within the counter-terrorism task force, there was a gut reaction that, when they heard the human rights view, they wanted to then balance it out by hearing the security view.  However, the reverse should be done — to hear the security view and then the human rights view, so that counter-terrorism would always comply with human rights.  As to the question of how to involve other agencies not dealing with counter-terrorism, he said that conditions conducive to counter-terrorism could be enhanced, including in the field of economic and social development.  It was necessary to help build societies where human rights were fully enjoyed and, hence, any conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism were eliminated at the outset.

Regarding the request by the representative of Norway to elaborate on the reform of such resolutions as 1267, he spoke about replacing Chapter VII authority with the role of advisory and technical assistance by the United Nations.  The current system did not result in equal application in every country of the world and lacked uniformity.  It would likely take a while before the replacement with advice was in place, but, meanwhile, a lot could be done to introduce fairness in the system.

Concerning the statement of disagreement by the representative of the Russian Federation, he noted the country’s clear words and said that they had disagreements as to some of the legal issues, but that he took into account the critical views presented.  It was true that the proposal of the World Court of Human Rights was not likely to be implemented rapidly; however, it was necessary to address the accountability gap and ultimately create momentum to introduce something new at the United Nations level, which might be the World Court or might be something else.  He noted interest in hearing more opinions from the Member States about that issue.

Regarding the question of the representative of Denmark about challenges to institutions such as the counter-terrorism committee, he said that he saw a clear trend towards moving to a targeted and tailored approach with respect to individual countries.  The blunt approach of Chapter VII could be counterproductive, and a proactive approach, which the counter-terrorism committee was capable of providing, was necessary.  He said he was positive that they would deliver results in counter-terrorism only through compliance with human rights.  Also, counter-terrorism institutions were doing a better job than their image currently showed, because the news did not provide a nuanced approach regarding country situations.  He was convinced that moving towards a non-Chapter VII approach would improve results in counter-terrorism.

Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression

The Committee then heard from FRANK LA RUE, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, who discussed his report (document A/65/284) which focused on the protection of journalists and press freedom.  It was deeply alarming that the number of journalists and media personnel killed in 2009 was the highest recorded since 1992, with the overwhelming majority being targeted killings, he said.  While reporting from situations of armed conflict involved more risk, more journalists had been killed in non-conflict situations than in armed conflict.  Particularly at risk were journalists who reported on social problems, including organized crime or drug trafficking; criticized the Government or the powerful; or reported on human rights violations, environmental matters, electoral processes, civil order or corruption.  The six most dangerous countries for journalists in 2009 were the Philippines, Somalia, Iraq, Pakistan, Mexico and Russian Federation.

Impunity was one of the biggest factors that exacerbated the risk of threats and actual acts of violence against journalists, he said.  Failure to investigate and prosecute those who attacked journalists emboldened others to follow suit, perpetuating a vicious cycle.  Perpetrators enjoyed “total immunity” in 94 per cent of cases in which journalists were murdered in 2009.  Iraq, Somalia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Colombia were, in descending order, States with the highest number of unresolved murders of journalists.  Confronted with attacks, threats and possible imprisonment, journalists had fled their home countries; between 1 June 2009 and 31 May 2010, at least 85 journalists fled abroad, or double the number recorded the previous year.  In addition, at least 29 editors, reporters and photographers had fled Iran since June 2009, the highest number from a single country in a decade, while the number from Africa had allegedly tripled in the past year, with at least 42 journalists fleeing, mostly from Ethiopia and Somalia.

Under international human rights law, including Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, States had an obligation not to commit any violations against journalists, to protect journalists from violations committed by non-State actors, and to take measures to prevent violations, he said.  Combating impunity, and making it clear that attacks against journalists would not be tolerated, were the most effective ways to ensure their overall protection.  During armed conflict, journalists should be protected from direct attack by virtue of their status as civilians under international humanitarian law, and it was important to recall Security Council resolution 1738 (2006), which reiterated the obligation of all sides to protect journalists as civilians and to respect their independence.  With no lack of legal standards already in place for the protection of journalists, there was no need for new treaties or the granting of special status to journalists; to do so might significantly decrease protection for journalists, if they were to be required to be duly accredited by some public authority.

Mr. La Rue, who will be submitting a full thematic report to the Human Rights Council next year on the issue of freedom of expression on the Internet, also spoke of citizen journalists, which he described as independent reporting, often by amateurs at the scene of an event, disseminated globally through the Internet.  Citizen journalists often faced the same risks as their professional counterparts, including acts of reprisal.  Many cases of harassment and intimidation of citizen journalists had been received by the Special Rapporteur, including physical attacks, arbitrary arrest and detention, prison sentences and fines, “and even assassination”.  Such measures created a chilling effect on the right to freedom of expression, to the detriment of society as a whole.  More isolated by nature, citizen journalists were more vulnerable, with less protection than their counterparts in traditional media and no support from media organizations.

Question and Answer Session

The Special Rapporteur then heard questions and comments from a number of representatives.  To those who had challenged remarks he had made about their countries, he said that nothing would make him happier than to find himself mistaken.  Noting that a majority of States had enshrined the freedom of expression in their Constitutions, he added that problems lay not with the lack of guarantees or legal framework, but rather with the effectiveness of implementing the law.  Impunity grew out of the absence of law enforcement; it was a problem raised by all special procedure mandate holders, and one that should not be allowed.  It was not being implied that States have been ordering the killing of journalists; rather, such killings were not being investigated, and States had a responsibility to ensure both protection and justice.

Elaborating on an “emergency mechanism” that he had proposed, Mr. La Rue said it had been attempted in Colombia for both human rights defenders and journalists.  Such a mechanism was not an alternative to the justice system, but rather a place where threatened journalists could turn to and feel safer.  In Colombia, the emergency mechanism included a budget to pay for the evacuation of a journalist in a bullet-proof car, or to pay for travel out of the country.  Such a mechanism was worth putting into practice.  In response to the representative of Ethiopia, who asked for more precise details about journalists who had left that country, he cited the case of an Ethiopian journalist named Dawit Isaak who had fled to Sweden, taken up citizenship there, then returned; he was subsequently imprisoned.  The Special Rapporteur would be interested in visiting Ethiopia and seeing Mr. Isaak.

Among his replies to other representatives, he noted “deep-seated efforts” towards democratization in Maldives, pointed out that his trip to Mexico had been carried out jointly with the Organization of American States, and stated that he would very much like to go to Algeria, although he would have to finance his own visit.

The Chair recognized the representative of Ethiopia, who suggested that Mr. La Rue should consult his records.  Mr. Isaak was not from Ethiopia, but from Eritrea, where he was being held.

Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, Transnational Corporations

JOHN RUGGIE presented his final report as Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, stating that his mandate was to map and recommend effective means for addressing the global challenges of business and human rights.  Noting that businesses could contribute to economic growth and realization of human rights, but that the human rights consequences of some businesses had become a global concern, he said “it did not take long to figure out that there is no single silver bullet solution to bridging these gaps in the business and human rights domain”.  The only viable solution was to identify ways whereby all actors — States, businesses and civil society — began to do things differently.

His one recommendation to the Human Rights Council was to endorse a conceptual and policy framework — the “Protect, Respect and Remedy” framework — which could become a common foundation on which thinking and action by all stakeholders could build over time.  The Council had been unanimous in welcoming it, and extended his mandate to 2011 with the task of operationalizing and promoting it.  The framework rested on three pillars:  the States’ duty to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including businesses; the corporate responsibility to respect human rights; and greater access by victims to effective judicial and non-judicial remedy.  He noted that he was also preparing draft “Guiding Principles” for the implementation of the framework, which would be sent to all delegations and posted on the Internet for comment in a few weeks, before being finalized early next year.  He was also preparing an options paper for the Council on how it might most effectively follow up on his mandate when it ended next June.

Key areas that required improvement included widespread legal and policy gaps and incoherence, such as the failure to enforce existing laws, and the Guiding Principles would recommend ways for States to improve upon current performance.  Areas affected by conflict required special consideration, as the worst corporate-related human rights abuses tended to occur in those contexts.  He had convened a group of States to generate approaches to that problem, and the lessons learned would be reflected in the Guiding Principles.  Turning to companies’ need to show their respect for human rights, he said:  “The major area requiring improvement is that business must come to realize that the era of declaratory CSR is over. The corporate responsibility to respect human rights cannot be met by words alone.”  The Guiding Principles would elaborate upon steps companies could take to ensure human rights, map out obstacles to judicial remedies concerning corporate responsibility, and further elucidate effective grievance mechanisms that served as early warning signs for companies about their human rights impact.

The mandate’s work had already enjoyed considerable uptake, even before its conclusion, he said.  For example, States had drawn on it in their policy assessments, corporations had announced realignment of their risk management systems to include human rights diligence, and there was interest in the framework in regional human rights organizations around the world.  Stating that the mandate had established the solid foundation needed for continued progress, he expressed his belief that the follow-up to the mandate should include a mixed portfolio of activities, with the aim of ensuring that momentum was sustained and the most critical gaps were closed.

Question and Answer Session

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises then fielded questions and comments from the delegates.

Regarding the question of the representative of Norway about States’ policies towards state-owned enterprises and export credit agencies, he said, where there was a State nexus or an entity related to the State, that brought into play the primary role of protecting against human rights abuses.  States had greater leverage over such entities, as they typically appointed chief executives or board directors, or executives reported to ministries.  Those individuals reflected the reputation of States; therefore, the State, as a trustee of the international human rights regime, had a special role regarding entities related to it and had additional policy rationale that it might not have with companies at large.

As to the desire of export credit agencies not to put companies at a disadvantage, he noted that the Export Credit Group had developed common approaches and was discussing the need for them to take human rights issues into account.  A working group had also been established under the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to look into best approaches to pursue that objective.

Concerning preventing corporate abuses in situations of conflict, he said that it depended on the position of the Governments.  Host Governments might not be in a position to do much because of the conflict.  Home Governments should not to make the situation worse.  In surveys of missions of home Governments, they found that virtually every embassy or mission had the capacity to promote protection of human rights, but few were equipped to deal with adverse consequences.  So, providing assistance to companies would go some distance in making companies aware of conflict-sensitive business practices.  If home countries refused to cooperate, there was no reason to continue to provide them with advantages.

There was also increasing divergence regarding what standards of international criminal law were applicable to companies as legal persons, he added.  It was his belief that Governments needed to pay attention to that issue, because as standards diverged, the ability of victims to determine where and how they could find remedies, or of companies to predict where they would be hit with lawsuits, decreased.  Standards of international criminal law required the attention of Governments.

Regarding the question of the representative of Canada about what would happen at the end of the Special Rapporteur’s mandate in 2011, he said that they were still determining a set of options for the Human Rights Council, but that a number of functions were important.  First, development of the framework and Guiding Principles was welcomed, but it was stated that time was needed to internalize them and to interpret specific principles in a particular context, and that sudden change was not wanted.  Second, there was a need for capacity-building at the local level, for Governments to deploy the tools they had available to them or to develop new tools.  On the part of civil society, local capacity-building was also a huge challenge.  It was also needed at the level of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, as, for example, there was no help desk which companies could contact for advice.

With respect to the question of the European Union about whether the Guiding Principles would cover small and medium enterprises, he said that he was aware that most people did not work for large companies, but small or medium enterprises, and that tools appropriate for transnational companies with 300,000 people did not mean much for small and medium enterprises.  Therefore, everything proposed in the Guiding Principles was subject to the proviso that the scale and impact needed to be taken into account.  At the root, business and human rights were about “changing the way we think” and treating people with dignity.  Businesses did not need large apparatuses to do that; a corner grocer could think about the impact that his business activities had on the surrounding neighbourhood.  Regarding OECD guidelines, he said that a human rights chapter was going to be added and that the Chair had put forward proposals of what the chapter would look like, based on the United Nations framework.

As to supply chain issues, he said they were complex.  Companies might have 80,000 suppliers, but they did not need exhaustive due diligence, because they would never have time for anything else.  Provisos were suggested that took into account the operating context.  If suppliers were sourcing from an area engaged in conflict, greater due diligence would be required than if the product or service was procured from a stable or well-functioning environment.

Regarding new institutions for non-judicial remedy, he noted a pilot study to explore the feasibility of establishing a global network of mediators, including people in various countries who might be retired judges, for example.  The study explored whether that was possible and what it would take to launch and sustain the network.  The Government of the Netherlands would be hosting a meeting to discuss the findings.

Concerning the question of the representative of Sweden about the follow-up process and how the international community could best support the work, he said that the phase of having a single individual embodying the mandate was over; it was too complex for any one individual.  He had the support of donor Governments, had put together a large team, worked with 22 law firms that were doing pro bono research and had many volunteers.  It would be impossible to transfer such resources to an individual.  The roles that were required, from interpretation and policy creation to local implementation, were too much for just one individual.  So, a portfolio of follow-up measures would be required.

As to the question of the representative of South Africa about abuses occurring in conflict areas, he reiterated that there was an assistance role for Governments and that consequences must follow when there was a lack of cooperation from companies.

Introduction of Draft Resolutions

The Committee then heard the introduction of draft resolutions on indigenous issues and the promotion and protection of human rights.

The representative of Bolivia introduced a draft resolution entitled Indigenous issues (document A/C.3/65/L.22).  The adoption of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007 was a landmark in the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples worldwide.  An important component of the draft resolution would see the General Assembly decide to convene a United Nations conference on indigenous peoples in 2014, coinciding with the end of the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.  The idea of such a concept had been accepted at a Latin American Summit in 2007, and it was hoped that the draft resolution would be adopted by consensus.

The representative of Denmark then introduced a draft resolution entitled Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment (document A/C.3/65/L.26).  Recalling the need to protect freedom from torture under all circumstances, she said that the draft resolution addressed the importance of national and international preventative and monitoring bodies, the elimination of incentives to commit torture, and the need for victims to have full access to rehabilitation services.  It also addressed the importance of States cooperating with the Special Rapporteur on torture, the Committee against Torture and the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, as well as their need for adequate staff and facilities.  It was expected that, once negotiations are completed, the draft resolution would be adopted with strong support.

The same representative took the floor again to introduce a draft resolution on the Committee against Torture (document A/C.3/65/L.25).  The Secretary of the Third Committee noted that Denmark, the main sponsor, had erroneously been deleted from the list of sponsors.  The draft resolution would authorize the Committee against Torture to meet for an additional week per session as a temporary measure, from May 2011 until the end of November 2012.  She noted that the Committee was “in dire need” of additional meeting time and, on behalf of the co-sponsors, she encouraged States to support its work.

Finally, the representative of Croatia introduced a draft resolution entitled Moratorium on the use of the death penalty (A/C.3/65/L.23).  She explained that it sought to build on the momentum of previous resolutions adopted by the General Assembly which called upon States which still maintain the death penalty to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.  The draft resolution dealt with “very sensitive issues”, but it was hoped that ongoing informal meetings would foster fruitful discussion.  So far, the draft resolution had gathered 77 co-sponsors.

Statement by Secretary-General for Human Rights

IVAN ŠIMONOVIĆ, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, then returned before the Committee to introduce nine reports of the Secretary-General relating to the promotion and protection of human rights.  These reports, which he briefly summarized, dealt with the promotion and protection of human rights, including ways and means to promote the human rights of migrants (document A/65/156), globalization and its impact on the full enjoyment of all human rights (document A/65/171), protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (document A/65/224), right to development (document A/65/256), combating defamation of religions (document A/65/263), draft programme of activities for the International Year for People of African Descent (document A/65/277 and addendum 1), moratorium on the use of the death penalty (document A/65/280 and Corr.1), missing persons (document A/65/285), as well as the report of the United Nations Inter-Agency Coordinating Committee – final evaluation of the implementation of the first phase of the World Programme for Human Rights Education (document A/65/322).

He also introduced reports by the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran (document A/65/370) and the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (document A/65/391).  On the former, he said that it surveyed developments in Iran’s engagement with the international human rights system, and outlined developments with regard to such issues as the death penalty, notably for juvenile offenders, torture, women’s rights, rights of minorities and due process.  It encouraged the Government to address the concerns highlighted in the report and to respect fully its human rights obligations.  Noting the successful completion of Iran’s Universal Periodic Review, it welcomed the Government’s invitation to the High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit Iran, and called upon the Government to receive special procedures of the Human Rights Council as per the standing invitation issued by Iran in 2002.

On the latter report, he said it provided “an overview of continued human rights concerns and indicators of the deteriorating humanitarian situation” in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  It underlined chronic food insecurity, a declining health system, lack of access to safe drinking water, and a deteriorating quality of education.  The situation was seriously hampering the fulfilment of basic human rights.  Improved provision of humanitarian assistance was welcomed, but the Government’s “limited level” of engagement with international human rights mechanisms, and its refusal to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, were deplored.  The Secretary-General urged the Government to allow access to the Special Rapporteur; he also called on the international community not to constrain humanitarian aid on the basis of political and security concerns.

Question and Answer Session

The Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights then fielded and responded to comments and questions from the delegates.

The representative of Iran said that the resolution regarding Iran was adopted because of the political ambitions of certain countries and was voted against by Iran and a number of United Nations members.  Iran believed that the adoption of the resolution was a manipulation of the United Nations human rights system and that the content of the report was unjustified and unwarranted.  Despite Iran’s strong position concerning the report, the Government expressed readiness to provide the necessary information to provide an impartial, accurate report, free from prejudice or bias.

The report was not a faithful reflection of the reality of human rights in the country, but resembled a catalogue of outdated allegations that were exaggerated.  The report noted negative developments, while turning a blind eye to achievements.  It suffered from partiality and a lack of balance, and adopted a selective approach.  Iran had always manifested a sincere commitment to the promotion of human rights at national and international levels, which emanated from its religious obligations, provisions of its Constitution and international treaties.  Notwithstanding its criticism of the report, Iran would continue its efforts to promote human rights, which was deeply rooted in its beliefs and values and was intertwined with its hopes for a brighter, happier future and desire to work for the betterment of its citizens.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said there was no change in his Government’s position — it did not recognize the report of the Special Rapporteur or the Secretary-General, not to speak of the resolution.  The reason was clear — the resolution was a document of a political plot by hostile political forces to stifle the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s system and nothing more than a tool used to serve that purpose.  He stated that the European Union preferred a confrontational approach, and had thus presented the resolution.  That approach sought power politics and to change the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s ideology.  Under the principle of the United Nations Charter, every country had the right to choose its political, economic and social system.  All countries should respect that right.  The type of system chosen was up to the Korean people, and intervention in internal affairs was an act of subversion.  If the European Union and the United States wanted genuine protection of human rights, they should pursue cooperation and leave the resolution aside.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s position that human rights issues should be dealt with through genuine dialogue remained unchanged.

Responding to the issues in the report and presentation that were raised by Iran, the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights said that there were a number of positive references concerning Iran, but also some negative comments.  To clarify, he made an overview of the positive trends indicated in Iran, as well as disturbing ones.  It was positive that Iran had engaged fully with the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism and that it had sent a high-level delegation for the review.  Regarding recommendations made, he said that 188 recommendations were presented and that Iran had accepted 123, as well as partially accepting 46 and taking note of others.  It was also a positive element that Iran had ratified a list of core human rights documents.

Iran had also submitted long-standing reports relating to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.  Those were the first reports from Iran regarding those two covenants in more than a decade, which was to be welcomed.  He stated, however, that even though special procedures mandate holders had sent 42 communications, the authorities of Iran had responded in only two cases and Special Rapporteurs had not been let in to the country, despite communication.

He then responded to issues raised by the delegates and noted the question of the European Union about new technologies and cyber methods used by Iran, stating that interference with broadcasts and online coverage was certainly a serious breach of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.  Iran was a member of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and, therefore, interference with broadcasts was a case of stifled freedom of expression and a violation of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in accordance with the Covenant.

Concerning the issue raised regarding the death penalty, he said that, in line with the convention on the abolition of the death penalty and reducing the exercise of the death penalty, it could only be imposed in situations of the most serious crimes.  Situations related to expressions of opinion or freedom of religion could not be considered such a serious crime.

He also added that, with regard to Iran, there was an ongoing dialogue with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  He hoped that dialogue would continue and that there would be an exploratory visit to Iran.

He stated that, on the other hand, when addressing the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the essential problem was a lack of communication.  He had been unable to engage the Government in substantive dialogue about the field of human rights, which meant the rejection of technical assistance offers from the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  He said that the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review should provide new opportunities for the Government to seek the Office’s expertise and support.  However, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had reiterated that the Government did not recognize resolutions adopted concerning the situation of human rights in the country, which limited the possibility to communicate and cooperate.  In 2009, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was reviewed within the Universal Periodic Review framework, with 117 comments referenced by the Government orally and about half of them rejected orally.  However, there was no written reply.  Only at the time of the report’s adoption did the delegation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea state that the Government took note of the recommendations, but then it failed to submit any written position.

Regarding the situation of social and economic rights, the Office welcomed the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s involvement with the World Food Programme and the assessment mission on food and agriculture.  He hoped that the report of that mission would be issued during the course of the week.  He also welcomed the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s cooperation with the World Health Organization regarding monitoring activities and health issues.  The Office encouraged the country to allow visits of Special Rapporteurs on health and the right to food, in order to get a full picture and to have a better overall impression of the situation in the country.

He also addressed the question of the representative of the United States regarding the Baha'i religious minority in Iran, referring to treaties to which Iran was a party and to special procedures and treaty bodies that had addressed the issue.  He said that, consistent with Iran’s long-standing invitation, Iran should allow the visit of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education and the right to freedom of religion, which could assist with addressing that important issue.

Lastly, on the issue of judiciary standards, he stated that he hoped that this year, they would be able to have joint seminars on justice issues.

Discussion

The Committee then began its discussion on the promotion and protection on human rights.

THOMAS LAMBERT ( Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said no country had an irreproachable human rights record.  But, all countries were bound to respect and fulfil obligations arising from the international laws to which they had signed up.  All human rights situations could be improved upon, if States and political decision makers had the will to do so.  Such will had been seen in a number of States, for example, in Mongolia and Djibouti which had both declared a moratorium on the death penalty.  In South-East Asia, States had created a new regional mechanism for the promotion of human rights.  But, there were also situations that required particular attention from the international community due to their gravity and seriousness.

In “Burma/Myanmar”, the legitimacy and credibility of the elections to be held on 7 November depended on the possibility of the opposition and ethnic groups participating in them, but the European Union regretted to see that arrangements ran counter to international norms for democratic elections.  Aung San Suu Kyi was among 2,100 political opposition figures in detention; the European Union called for the immediate release of all political prisoners.  The authorities should act urgently, if necessary with assistance from the United Nations, to investigate with transparency and impartiality all alleged human rights violations, as called for last year by the General Assembly.

Turning to other countries, he said that non-respect for nearly all human rights was the problem in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The European Union was concerned in particular by public executions, hasty trials, forced labour camps, torture, the lack of any form of freedom of expression and association, and the State’s oppressive control over its citizens.  A major humanitarian crisis was undermining the realization of economic, social and cultural rights.  In Iran, the repression of the political opposition had intensified.  The media was muzzled, the Internet had been put under surveillance, and the judiciary was apparently an instrument of the Powers that be.  Prison sentences given to seven Baha’i leaders indicated the persecution of religious minorities.  The European Union, which opposed the death penalty, was monitoring the situation of two men sentenced to execution for crimes committed when they were minors.

Mr. Lambert went on to express the concern of the European Union regarding human rights in Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, and Democratic Republic of the Congo where it had been “shocked” to learn of collective rapes carried out in August in Nord-Kivu province, which were crimes that could not go unpunished.  Political activists had been harassed in Zimbabwe.  Constitutional changes in Sri Lanka that extended the power of the President were a matter of concern.  The Union was also concerned by the deterioration of the human rights situation in Belarus.  With regard to China, it welcomed initiatives there to reduce the number of crimes subject to the death penalty.

On a point of order, the representative of China asked if her counterpart from Belgium had exceeded the 15-minute limit for statements from delegations on behalf of groups.  He replied that he would conclude in two minutes.

He expressed the European Union’s concern at a deterioration in the situation regarding the rule of law, freedom of the press, freedom of expression including new technologies, and restrictions on human rights defenders.  He called upon China to release Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate for 2010, and other prisoners of conscience, and expressed concern about members of ethnic and religious minorities.  Elsewhere, the detention of parliamentarians and journalists in Eritrea, and the situation of human rights defenders in Ethiopia, were issues of concern.

HENRY MAC-DONALD (Suriname), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said it was undeniable that human rights were part of everyday life, and impacted on the individual lives of people around the world.  He reiterated the group’s strong support for the human person as the central subject and the main beneficiary of the development process.  With the implementation of the “right to food” in mind, the Caribbean Week of Agriculture was held under the theme “eat Caribbean/eat what you produce”, during which the week-long activities highlighted the importance of energizing the agriculture sector in the region as a contributor for eradicating hunger, guaranteeing food security, and achieving economic development.

Recent successes in the region, such as progress in fields ranging from education to youth development to the fight against HIV/AIDS, should not however be misconstrued so as to conclude that CARICOM States had reached their objectives with regard to the right to development.  Aspects such as decreasing levels of revenues in a variety of sectors, restricted access to credit, and climate change threatened to halt — and, in some cases, reverse — economic growth in the countries of the Caribbean region.  He went on to say that the Human Rights Council was well under way in fulfilling its mandate to work constructively with Member States on the promotion and protection of all human rights, for all people.

The CARICOM countries, most of which were not represented in Geneva, had genuine difficulties as small countries, and were often faced with the very real challenge of matching their commitment to the work of the Organization.  The process in New York provided an opportunity to participate in the discussions of the Human Rights Council review.  Barbados, Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Grenada and Guyana had already undergone the Universal Periodic Review.  Given their limited resources regarding Haiti, many still lived in temporary housing without adequate access to water and sanitation, a situation that was now compounded by water-borne diseases that claimed the lives of many Haitians.  In this regard, he called on the international community to continue making good on its promises to the Government of Haiti and the Haitian people and support the reconstruction efforts to ensure that all Haitians enjoyed their universally recognized human rights.

Rights of Reply

Three delegations spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The representative of China said her delegation objected to the “unreasonable allegations” made by the European Union.  They did not square with the facts and misled the international community.  They had been politically motivated.  It was well known that the Chinese Government paid great attention to the promotion and protection of human rights.  Democracy and the rule of law had been strengthened.  The Government supported the development of minorities.  Liu Xiaobo was a criminal who had been convicted by the judicial authorities in accordance with the law; his actions had run counter to the purposes of the Nobel Peace Prize.  Giving him that prize showed no respect for the Chinese judiciary and it demonstrated the politicization of the Nobel.  China was a country based on the rule of law, and its judiciary handled cases independently and in accordance with the law.  The European Union had turned a blind eye to the progress made by China in the field of human rights, while ignoring its own serious problems, such as the violation of the rights of immigrants, Muslims and Roma.  China appealed to the European Union to squarely face its own problems and to adopt a constructive attitude in order to promote dialogue and cooperation in human rights.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said the European Union had stereotyped the human rights situation in selected countries, including his own.  It was part of a premeditated political attempt to tarnish the image of the Republic in the eyes of the international community and to politicize its human rights situation, in order to bring about a systems change.  If the European Union was so concerned about the promotion and protection of human rights, it should start with its own countries, where there have been grave violations of human rights, including racism, xenophobia, discrimination and police brutality.  Why had the European Union not spoken of human rights in countries regarded as its friends?  It was critical of the situation in weak countries, but silent on the appalling situation in strong ones.  It would be presenting a confrontational resolution against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The representative of Iran said the European Union had demonstrated a disregard for human rights violations in its part of the world, while maintaininga policy of stereotyping other countries.  Special procedures of the Human Rights Council had drawn attention to the violations of the rights of migrants, Muslims, Arabs and those of African descent.  The representative went on to speak of the case of an asylum-seeker from Cameroon who had committed suicide while in detention in Belgium; police brutality had been alleged.  At the same time, many people of African descent were to be found sleeping in the streets in European countries.

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