|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
47th & 48th Meetings (AM & PM)
Third Committee Approves Resolutions on Human Rights in Myanmar, Iran,
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Also Approves Tests on Human Rights Council Report, Missing Person,
Protection of Migrants, Convention on Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Draft resolutions that would have the General Assembly address the human rights situations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran and Myanmar were approved by the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today, but not before delegations debated the validity of such country-specific motions.
By a vote of 100 in favour to 18 against, with 60 abstentions, the Committee approved a draft that would have the Assembly express “very serious concern at the persistence of continuing reports of systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights” in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, despite some recent developments, such as a cross-border reunion of separated families and improved cooperation between the Government and some United Nations agencies. Its main sponsor was Belgium, on behalf of the European Union and Japan. It was categorically rejected by the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Pak Tok Hun, who called it a “political plot” instigated by the United States and its supporters.
A draft resolution whereby the General Assembly would strongly condemn “the ongoing systematic violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Myanmar” was approved by a vote of 96 in favour to 28 against, with 60 abstentions. With Belgium, on behalf of the European Union, as its main sponsor, it had been revised to take into account general elections held on 7 November, as well as the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, which it welcomed. The representative of Myanmar, U Than Swe, said his country would not be bound by the resolution, which had “no moral authority”.
The third country-specific resolution of the day, on the human rights situation in Iran, was approved by a vote of 80 in favour to 44 against, with 57 abstentions, after a procedural motion to adjourn debate — known as a “no-action motion” — was rejected. It would have the General Assembly express “deep concern at serious ongoing and recurring human rights violations”. Its main sponsor was Canada, whose Permanent Representative John McNee noted a “very regrettable” deterioration in the human rights situation in Iran over the past year. The representative of Iran, Mohammad Javad Larijani, Secretary-General of the High Council of Human Rights of Iran, noting that Israel was among the co-sponsors, said the United States was the mastermind and main provocateur behind a text that had nothing to do with human rights. His country’s only crime was not to be a “Xerox copy” of a Western democracy.
The representatives of Egypt, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, led opposition to each of the resolutions. They said that the Human Rights Council and its Universal Periodic Review Mechanism had been established “to eliminate selectivity, politicization and double standards”, and that there was no need to duplicate its work, particularly with resolutions that only targeted developing countries. During action on the resolution concerning Iran, the representative of Iceland, on behalf of six others countries, argued that the Third Committee — in which all 192 Member States were represented — was entrusted with the responsibility to debate human rights issues; it would be unable to fulfil that mandate if it was prevented by a no-action motion from doing so.
Among other drafts it acted upon today, the Committee approved a resolution on the report of the Human Rights Council by a recorded vote of 119 in favour to 2 against (Israel, Marshall Islands), with 55 abstaining. Israel — noting that half the statements in the report were targeted at it — requested the vote, saying the resolution demonstrated the Council’s failure of non-selectivity and called into question the credibility of the Geneva-based body.
Other texts approved today, without a vote, concerned missing persons, protection of migrants, and the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Also making statements and explanations of vote today were representatives of Mali (on behalf of the African Group), Azerbaijan, Mexico, El Salvador, United States, Belgium (on behalf of the European Union), Belarus, Japan, Cuba, Costa Rica, Sudan, Libya, Viet Nam, Venezuela, China, Zimbabwe, Malaysia, Nepal, Brazil, Benin, Indonesia, India, Singapore, Russian Federation, Philippines, Thailand, Bangladesh, Georgia, Syria, Tajikistan (Organization of the Islamic Conference), Bolivia, Barbados, Ecuador, Morocco (on behalf of OIC), Turkey, Chile, Norway, Belize and Slovenia.
The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 19 November, to take action on more draft resolutions. Another meeting has been planned for the afternoon of Monday, 22 November, as well as two additional meetings on Tuesday, 23 November.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to take action on the following draft resolutions: Report of the Human Rights Council (document A/C.3/65/L.57); International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (document A/C.3/65/L.53/Rev.1); Missing persons (document A/C.3/65/L.31); Protection of migrants (document A/C.3/65/L.34/Rev.1); Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (document A/C.3/65/L.47); Situation of human rights in Myanmar (document A/C.3/65/L.48/Rev.1, with programme budget implications contained in document A/C.3/65/L.64); and Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran (document A/C.3/65/L.49).
Action on Draft Resolutions
The Committee then took up the draft resolution on Report of the Human Rights Council (document A/C.3/65/L.57).
That draft would have the Assembly take note of the report of the Human Rights Council and the addendum thereto, and acknowledge the recommendations contained therein.
The Secretary, OTTO GUSTAFIK, read an oral statement of programme budget implications.
The representative of Mali, the main sponsor, said the African Group would appreciate that consideration of the draft be postponed until the afternoon meeting.
The Committee then took up the draft resolution on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (document A/C.3/65/L.53/Rev.1).
By the text, the General Assembly would take note of the reports of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and call upon States parties to fulfil their obligation under the Convention to submit their periodic reports on measures taken to implement the Convention in due time. It would also encourage States parties to include information on measures to prevent and combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in their national reports to the universal periodic review mechanism of the Human Rights Council. Noting the persistent backlog of reports of States parties awaiting consideration, it would decide to extend the authorization of the Committee to meet, on a temporary basis, starting from 2012 until the end of 2013, an additional week per session.
Regarding the financial situation of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the draft would have the Assembly express its profound concern at the fact that a number of States parties to the Convention have still not fulfilled their financial obligations, and strongly appeal to all States parties that are in arrears to fulfil their outstanding financial obligations. It would also strongly urge States parties to the Convention to accelerate their domestic ratification procedures with regard to the amendment to the Convention concerning the financing of the Committee.
Concerning the status of the Convention, the Assembly would urge States parties to comply fully with their obligations under the Convention and to take into consideration the concluding observations and general recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It would also urge those that have not yet become parties to the Convention to ratify or accede to it as a matter of urgency. Finally, it would decide to consider, at its sixty-seventh session, under the item entitled “Elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance”, the reports of the Committee on its seventy-eighth and seventy-ninth and its eightieth and eighty-first sessions, the report of the Secretary-General on the financial situation of the Committee and the report of the Secretary-General on the status of the Convention.
The Secretary said that a statement of program budget was not yet available. The Chair stated that they could not proceed without that statement.
The Committee then took action on a draft resolution on Missing persons (document A/C.3/65/L.31).
By its terms, the General Assembly would urge States to strictly observe and respect and ensure respect for the rules of international humanitarian law, as set out in the Geneva Conventions. It would also call upon States that are parties to an armed conflict to take all appropriate measures to prevent persons from going missing, account for persons reported missing and ensure the effective investigation and prosecution of offences linked to missing persons. The right of families to know the fate of their relatives reported missing in connection with armed conflicts would be reaffirmed.
The Assembly would also reaffirm that each party to an armed conflict, as soon as circumstances permit and, at the latest, from the end of active hostilities, shall search for the persons who have been reported missing by an adverse party. It would call upon States that are parties to an armed conflict to take all necessary measures, in a timely manner, to determine the identity and fate of persons reported missing and, to the greatest possible extent, to provide their family members with all relevant information they have on their fate. In that regard, the need for the collection, protection and management of data on missing persons would be recognized, and States urged to cooperate with each other and with other concerned actors, by providing all relevant and appropriate information related to missing persons.
The representative of Azerbaijan, the main sponsor, said the draft was based on previous resolutions of the General Assembly and relevant decisions by the Commission on Human Rights and the Human Rights Council. Those had had broad support from Member States and contributed to international understanding of the issue. The draft noted that the issue of persons reported missing in armed conflicts still had a negative impact on ending those conflicts and inflicted grievous suffering on relatives of the missing. The right of families to know the fate of missing persons, and the importance of ending impunity, was reaffirmed, and the need to address the issue from a human rights perspective stressed. It was hoped that, as in the past, the draft would be adopted by consensus.
The Committee then approved the draft without a vote.
The Committee then took action on a draft resolution on the Protection of migrants (document A/C.3/65/L.34/Rev.1).
The draft would have the Assembly express concern about the large and growing number of migrants, especially women, youth and children, who place themselves in a vulnerable situation by attempting to cross international borders without the required travel documents, and recognize the obligation of States to respect the human rights of those migrants. The Assembly would underline the importance for States, in cooperation with non-governmental organizations and other relevant stakeholders, to undertake information campaigns aimed at clarifying opportunities, limitations and rights in the event of migration, so as to enable informed decision-making. Further, it would call upon States to protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants, regardless of their migration status, and to address international migration through international, regional or bilateral cooperation, recognizing the roles and responsibilities of countries of origin, transit and destination in promoting and protecting the human rights of all migrants.
The Assembly would also call upon States to ensure that their laws and policies, including in the areas of counter-terrorism and combating transnational organized crime, such as trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, fully respect the human rights of migrants; to consider signing and ratifying or acceding to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, for those that have not done so; and to put an end to arbitrary arrest and detention, reviewing detention periods, in order to avoid excessive detention of irregular migrants and adopting alternative measures to detention, where applicable.
The representative of Mexico, the main sponsor, said that his country was convinced of the importance of cooperation regarding migrants and that it was necessary to recognize the challenges concerning the issue, including protecting the fundamental rights and freedoms of migrants. There were trends, such as xenophobia, that were unacceptable. The issue of human rights for migrants was tied to other rights. There was an ongoing dialogue about that in the recent Fourth World Congress in Mexico. The text reaffirmed the anniversary of the assembly’s adoption of the convention concerning migrant workers and their families, and the way in which the convention had impacted migrants. He expressed appreciation for those who had added to their names to the list of co-sponsors, which showed confidence in, and solidarity with, the resolution. He informed the Committee that Guyana and Portugal had also added their names to the list, and expressed hope that that spirit would prevail in the coming years.
Making a statement in connection with the draft resolution, the representative of El Salvador said that the resolution was very important, and that the impact of migration on society was seen in the makeup of families, consumption patterns, and the marketing and commercialization of goods. The ongoing presence of migrants was seen through cultural links, and had made El Salvador a transnational society. In the world, there were 200 million migrants. Some 150 million of those migrants sent assistance to their countries of origin. Migrants from El Salvador who went abroad maintained links with their place of origin, and there was a constant flow of remittances from migrants abroad. That was just the high point of the pyramid, as below was a huge movement of goods and services. Remittances played a big role for many migrant workers and their families, as they helped lift families above poverty and realize the dreams of parents, spouses and children. That was one of the reasons that El Salvador wished to support the resolution.
The representative of Mexico, then, added that Brazil had also added its name to the list of co-sponsors.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution on the protection of migrants without a vote.
Delivering a statement after the adoption, the representative of the United States said that it had joined after negotiations, and was pleased that all had been able to work together to improve the text with regard to rights and responsibilities. He reiterated the points that the United States raised during negotiations, emphasizing the principle that under international law all States had sovereign rights over its national borders, but that there should be respect for migrants under international law. The United States fulfilled its obligations by providing rights to aliens within the country, regardless of immigration status. The United States took that seriously and urged others to, as well. The draft resolution sought to find common ground among Member States, and crucial concerns among the international community would continue to be addressed in the coming years. That should not be sidetracked by bilateral discussions, as it was inappropriate to make reference to a bilateral legal matter between two States that had been previously addressed. Doing so did not advance cooperation regarding human rights. The United States had a long tradition of welcoming immigrants, and urged its own citizens to observe all laws when in other countries. The United States was committed to protecting the rights of immigrants within its borders.
The representative of Belgium, on behalf of the European Union, said as in previous years, the European Union had joined the consensus. Migration policies in the European Union were consistent with those of other Member States and were based on law. The Union welcomed the resolution as valuable for spelling out norms for the treatment of migrants. The Union shared the view that the protection of human rights for migrant children was important, given their vulnerability. Ensuring the best interests of children was of primary consideration, and the Union upheld their rights, regardless of status. Access to education, healthcare, housing, and social security or pension treatments was allowed. The Union maintained a distinction between regular and irregular migrants and combated irregular migrants. To better do that, the Union had introduced penalties for breaches of law, and migrants charged with such breaches had the same rights as others charged. The Union would stay actively engaged in the issue.
Prior to taking action on draft resolutions on human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives, the representative of Egypt made a statement on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement regarding the draft resolution entitled Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (document A/C.3/65/L.47). It was the belief of the Movement, she said, that human rights and fundamental freedoms should be addressed through a cooperative and non-confrontational approach based on enhancing the national capacities of States to implement their international obligations nationally and without interference. It was for that purpose that the General Assembly, in 2005, had established a clear framework for dealing with human rights situations in all States, starting with Universal Periodic Review within the Human Rights Council.
At their Summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, the Heads of State and Government of the Movement emphasized the role of the Human Rights Council as the United Nations body responsible for considering human rights situations in all countries; they had also expressed deep concern over the continued practice of selective adoption of country-specific resolutions in the Third Committee. The Movement did not recognize any need for a parallel track to the Human Rights Council; the institutional approach approved by the General Assembly should be fully respected. Country-specific resolutions were contrary to international good governance, and member States of the Movement would vote against the draft in question.
The Committee then took up the draft on the Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (document A/C.3/65/L.47).
That draft would have the Assembly express its very serious concern at: the persistence of continuing reports of systematic, widespread and grave violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; the continued refusal of the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to recognize the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in that country or to extend cooperation to him; and the refusal of the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to articulate which recommendations enjoyed its support following its Universal Periodic Review at the Human Rights Council, and to take actions to implement the recommendations contained in the final outcome. It would also reiterate very serious concern at unresolved questions relating to abductions in the form of enforced disappearance and call upon the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to resolve these questions. Additionally, it would express very deep concern at the precarious humanitarian situation in the country, partly as a result of frequent natural disasters, compounded by the misallocation of resources away from the satisfaction of basic needs, and urge the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to take preventive and remedial action.
It would strongly urge the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to respect fully all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including by putting an end to the systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights; protecting its inhabitants; tackling the root causes leading to refugee outflows; extending its full cooperation to the Special Rapporteur and granting him full, free and unimpeded access; engaging in technical cooperation activities in the field of human rights with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and her Office; engaging in cooperation with the International Labour Organization; reinforcing its cooperation with United Nations humanitarian agencies; ensuring full, safe and unhindered access to humanitarian aid; and improving cooperation with the United Nations country team and development agencies so that they can directly contribute to improving the living conditions of the civilian population.
Additionally, the Assembly would decide to continue its examination of the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at its sixty-sixth session and request the Secretary-General to submit a comprehensive report and the Special Rapporteur to continue to report his findings.
The representative of Belgium, on behalf of European Union and Japan, said the number of co-sponsors had grown from 49 at the time of introduction of the draft to 51, with the addition of Palau and Turkey. Japan, the co-author, was thanked for its cooperation. Resolutions on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had been adopted by the General Assembly since 2005, with substantial majorities. Grave widespread systematic violations of human rights still prevailed there. Some positive elements registered in the past year were taken into account in the draft, but they were very few, and substantive changes had yet to be seen on the ground. Violations of economic, social and cultural rights that had led to severe malnutrition and health problems were noted in the draft.
No substantial efforts had been made by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to meet earlier requests by the international community and the suffering of the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea could not be ignored by the General Assembly, which had to assume its responsibility and speak out for victims. Not reacting would send a signal that the concerns of the international community had decreased, or that the situation had improved. It was regretted that the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had refused to cooperate with special procedures, including the Special Rapporteur, who should have full, free and unimpeded access to the country. A negotiation process with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would have been preferred by the European Union; the delegation of that country had been informed of the draft, but it had refused to engage in discussions. It was hoped that the text reflected the concerns of countries wishing to give a voice to the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. It was understood that there would be a vote; his delegation would be voting yes.
In a general statement, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea categorically rejected the draft resolution. It was the outcome of a political plot of the United States and its followers. It was an illegal document that impinged on his country’s sovereignty. It slandered its system with fabricated information and it recklessly infringed on its sovereignty. It was nothing but a pretext to intervene in its internal affairs. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had started a bilateral dialogue on human rights with the European Union in June 2001 and there had been various instances of cooperation in the field of human rights. That dialogue broke down after one and a half years, and the European Union had presented anti-Democratic People’s Republic of Korea resolutions to United Nations forums two months after the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s withdrawal in January 2003 from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. By the time the first resolution went into force, the European Union had made the poor excuse that there had been no change in the human rights situation. Had the European Union thought that the system in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea could be changed overnight? That was a gross miscalculation. A Korean-style socialist system was in place in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which had been able to advance vigorously along its chosen road, despite more than 60 years of foreign military pressure and blockades. The worst human rights violation was the armed occupation of one country by another; how could such countries dare talk about the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea? A roll call vote on the draft was requested, and he hoped that all countries that aspired to justice, truth and peace would vote against the politically motivated draft resolution.
The representative of Belarus noted that there was a technical problem and he did not wish to be a co-sponsor of the draft resolution. Unfortunately, the Committee had failed to avoid the politicization of human rights in given countries, and continued to adopt country-specific resolutions, seemingly ignoring the process in Geneva. There was not a single country in the world that was free of problems in guaranteeing human rights. Such resolutions duplicated the Human Rights Council’s work, and it was unlike what occurred in Geneva, where there was a mutually respectful dialogue that helped bolster human rights mechanisms. Country-specific resolutions in New York did not respect countries’ idiosyncrasies, and that led to barriers regarding dialogue between stakeholders. Belarus, in principle, did not support country-specific resolutions, which should be replaced with dialogue regarding human rights, and he would be voting against the resolution.
The representative of Japan said that 52 Member States, including Japan and the European Union, had cosponsored the draft resolution. For its part, Japan believed that human rights issues should be addressed through dialogue and cooperation. However, the international community had consistently expressed concern over the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and that country continued to refuse to engage in dialogue with the Special Rapporteur or the High Commissioner on Human Rights. Last December in Geneva, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had rejected 50 recommendations made, and gave no indication of whether it would accept the remainder of recommendations. That country also continued to reject calls to put an end to the grave human rights violations it had committed. Additionally, it had taken no concrete actions regarding the abduction of Japanese citizens, which was a human rights violation. The matter was a legitimate concern of Japan, which had worked to return the abductees. The matter remained unresolved, and Japan had called on that country to investigate the abduction victims, who had been retained for a long time, and urged it to resolve the issue comprehensively.
As a member of the Human Rights Council, Japan had worked for human rights around the world and felt the Universal Periodic Review was a good mechanism. However, the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea had not reacted to the Review; therefore, Japan was concerned that the Review was not working effectively regarding the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. It was important not only for the Human Rights Council to express concern, but also for the whole international community to do so in the General Assembly, as it represented hundreds of Member States. Japan, therefore, urged all delegates to support the draft resolution, and believed that its adoption could help the situation in the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea in general, and the abduction issue in particular. Japan called for the implementation of the concrete issues raised in the resolution.
The representative of the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea asked, on a point of order, asked whether the main co-sponsor was allowed to make a statement, to which the Chairman replied that yes, it could, because they were in the phase of general statements.
Delivering a statement in explanation of the vote before the vote, the representative of Cuba said his country would like to join Egypt’s statement on behalf of the Non-aligned Movement. Cuba maintained its stance against resolutions specific to countries, as there was a selective abuse of nations of the South, based on political motivations not related to the defence of human rights. That was politicization and a double-standard, which had resulted in the discrediting of the former Human Rights Commission and had led to its dissolution. Applying principles of impartiality and non-selectivity was the only suitable way to effectively promote human rights for all. The creation of the Human Rights Council and the Universal Periodic Review provided the opportunity and tools to consider human rights based on constructive dialogue. For that reason, Cuba would vote against this draft resolution.
The representative of Costa Rica expressed the country’s concern about the human rights situation in specific countries, as reflected in the resolutions put forth. His country would vote in favour of all draft resolutions. Costa Rica maintained the principle of voting against all no-action motions, because that was a mechanism that prevented the international community from examining issues of interest to nations, as well as actions undertaken by countries to improve the human rights situation. The Human Rights Council had jurisdiction over the issue and had the necessary tools available to review specific matters of concern that required special handling. Further, the Universal Periodic Review was an appropriate tool for looking at the universal coverage of human rights and for providing reliable information. Costa Rica also agreed that constructive dialogue should be the main path for effective results.
The representative of Sudan recalled that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had undergone Universal Periodic Review before the Human Rights Council. It was encouraged to follow suit and to continue with the promotion and protection of human rights. In that context, Sudan regretted that resolutions which targeted certain countries were being considered by the Third Committee. It was a trend that should be corrected. Such drafts were sticks for political pressure; it was the Human Rights Council that had competence for dealing with such questions. Sudan would vote against the draft resolution.
The representative of Libya expressed deep regret and concern over the insistence of some countries to impose laws and ideologies on other countries under the pretext of human rights. Human rights issues were being used by some countries in order to apply pressure on others and realize some political objectives. Human rights violations could happen anywhere in the world; no country was immune. It could not be categorically stated that any country was perfect in respecting human rights. It was high time to stop submitting such resolutions before the Third Committee and to halt the politicization of human rights.
The representative of Viet Nam said her country would vote against the draft. Such resolutions were counter-productive. The most appropriate way forward was the Universal Periodic Review, and the most legitimate forum for discussing the situation of a Member State was the Human Rights Council. In such a discussion, her country stood ready to share its experiences on agricultural development and building food security.
The representative of Venezuela said her country would vote against the draft, because it opposed the practice of selectivity observed by some countries, with political purposes. For some countries to use human rights as a weapon to pressure other countries, and to criminalize and accuse other countries was inadmissible. The General Assembly should not be used to validate such deplorable practices. The way to address the human rights situation was through the Human Rights Council and the Universal Periodic Review mechanism. Venezuela demanded an immediate end to accusatory resolutions submitted in the Committee.
The representative of China said her delegation would vote against the draft. Human rights should be addressed through dialogue and cooperation. Her country was opposed to country-specific resolutions and human rights mechanisms. Politicizing human rights issues and exerting pressure would only provoke unnecessary confrontation. Cooperation between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and relevant United Nations agencies was welcome; there should be more focus on helping the country’s development.
The representative of Zimbabwe expressed deep concern with resolutions that targeted some developing countries and aimed at advancing the political interests and power of developed countries. Polarization between States was entrenched by such resolutions. All country-specific resolutions put before the Third Committee would be opposed by Zimbabwe.
The representative of Malaysia said human rights should not be exploited for political purposes and his delegation would vote against the draft. It urged countries to take advantage of the Universal Periodic Review process and to promote human rights in a fair, transparent and constructive manner. Also, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was urged to resolve outstanding bilateral issues with its neighbouring countries.
The representative of Nepal said the country supported the concerns expressed, particularly regarding the abduction of foreigners and forced disappearances. Nepal called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to resolve those concerns. However, as the Universal Periodic Review was in operation, the matter could be expressed in the Human Rights Council, which could engage more constructively in those matters. In view of that, Nepal would abstain in voting on this resolution, and would also abstain from all country-specific human rights resolutions.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution on human rights in Democratic People’s Republic of Korea by a recorded vote of 100 in favour, to 18 against, with 60 abstaining.
Due to technical difficulties, the votes of Somalia, Chile and Tuvalu — all of which were “yes” — were not registered by the voting machine, so the Chair stated that they would be properly recorded.
Giving a statement after the vote, the representative of Brazil noted some positive developments in the field of humanitarian assistance with regard to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and stated that such support was essential and urged further United Nations activities in that field. In spite of positive developments, however, Brazil still noted concern about reports of human rights violations, particularly with regard to food, water, sanitation and health, and restrictions of civil and political rights. Brazil believed cooperation should be improved between the United Nations and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Regarding the abduction of Japanese citizens, Brazil urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to fully cooperate with the relevant authorities and to take concrete steps, including by allowing the immediate return of abductees. Brazil believed the resolution was part of a process that must be improved. Country-specific resolutions were the only ones that did not go through open and transparent consultations. The manner in which some human rights matters were addressed could only reinforce the argument that human rights issues were selective and politicized. The Human Rights Council was best equipped to resolve human rights matters in a way that was holistic and depoliticized.
The representative of Benin stated that, for the first time, the delegation voted in favour of a country-specific resolution, not because of a change of position or because the paradigm had changed, but because it wanted to express support to a friendly country when it came to abduction. Benin believed that country-specific resolutions remained selective, were not constructive and could not contribute in any way to improving conditions on the ground. There was not a single country that could be called exempt from human rights violations. In that respect, Benin did not think that any country could truly hand out lessons to another in the field of human rights. The Human Rights Council was created to deal with the issue, and Benin had full confidence in it. Benin was convinced that a different approach would lead the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the negotiating table and to the improvement of the situation on the ground.
The representative of Indonesia expressed full support for the efforts of the international community to protect human rights in all countries. Indonesia believed it should be based on full respect, recalling the reason for reforming the United Nations’ human rights machinery, particularly that the Human Rights Council was supposed to be less political and to review all Member States on an equal basis. It was important that the mechanism be full optimized. Indonesia, therefore, was not in a position to support the draft resolution. However, Indonesia recognized that the draft resolution reflected some issues that needed to be addressed through dialogue. Indonesia decided to abstain.
The representative of India said that abduction of residents of one country by another was unacceptable, and the issue needed to be resolved.
The representative of Singapore said that, as a matter of principle, the country did not agree with country-specific resolutions, which were often driven by political and not human rights issues, and were counterproductive. Country-specific issues should be taken up under the Universal Periodic Review. For that reason, Singapore had abstained, and would adopt a similar approach for the other resolutions. That should not be taken as support for the human rights situation in the countries concerned, though, as Singapore called upon all countries to respect human rights.
The Committee took up the draft on the Situation of human rights in Myanmar (document A/C.3/65/L.48/Rev.1).
The draft would have the Assembly strongly condemn the ongoing systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Myanmar. It would also welcome the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from her arbitrary house arrest and, noting that her release is unconditional, call on the Government of Myanmar ensure that no restrictions be placed on the exercise of all her human rights and fundamental freedoms in the future. It would strongly urge the Government to release all other prisoners of conscience, currently estimated at more than 2,100, including the Chairman of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, U Hkun Htun Oo, the leader of the 88 Generation Students Group, U Min Ko Naing, and one of the founders of that Group, Ko Ko Gyi, without delay or conditions. It would strongly regret that the Government did not hold free, fair, transparent and inclusive elections and call on the Government to lift restrictions on the freedom of assembly, association, movement and freedom of expression, including for free and independent media, and ending the use of censorship.
It would request the Secretary-General to continue to provide his good offices and to pursue his discussions on the situation of human rights, the transition to democracy and the national reconciliation process with the Government and the people of Myanmar; to give all necessary assistance to enable the Special Adviser and the Special Rapporteur to discharge their mandates fully and effectively; and to report to the General Assembly at its sixty-sixth session, as well as to the Human Rights Council, on progress made. Additionally, it would decide to review progress of the implementation of the present resolution when continuing the consideration of the question at its sixty-sixth session, on the basis of the reports of the Secretary-General and the Special Rapporteur.
A statement submitted by the Secretary-General (document A/C.3/65/L.64/Rev.1) on programme budget implications of the draft resolution states that additional requirements of $1.2 million net ($1.4 million gross) would be required for the period from 1 January to 31 December 2011 for the continuation of the efforts of the good offices of the Secretary-General relating to the situation in Myanmar.
The representative of Belgium, on behalf of the European Union, said the draft had been revised to take into account the election of 7 November and the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Resolutions on the situation in Myanmar had been adopted by the General Assembly for a number of years. The current draft was based on reports by the Special Rapporteur and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, which confirmed that the overall situation of human rights in that country was still a matter of deep concern. The release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was a significant development, but the situation of more than 2,100 prisoners of conscience could not be ignored; many of them were sick, elderly and far from their families, and the draft urges their immediate release.
The resolution was an important part of international engagement with Myanmar regarding human rights, he said. It was a matter of deep regret that, despite calls from the international community, steps had not been taken by the Government to ensure free, fair and inclusive elections on 7 November. There had been a number of irregularities. Without progress on human rights, there could not be reconciliation in Myanmar. Regular discussions had taken place with the country concerned, and parts of the text were revised accordingly. A consensual approach would have been preferred, but such an outcome could not be achieved.
The representative of Egypt, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated the statement that she gave earlier in the meeting about country-specific resolutions. She repeated that the Movement saw no need to create a parallel track to the Human Rights Council or for the Third Committee to address human rights situations with resolutions that only targeted developing countries.
The representative of Myanmar said that the draft was seriously flawed in both substance and procedure. It was totally unbalanced and unacceptable. It was based on hearsay and allegations from disparate groups opposed to the Government and from remnants of insurgents. It was intended to put pressure on Myanmar with language akin to that of previous years. Myanmar had made progress on a number of fronts over the past two decades; peace and stability now prevailed in almost all corners of the country. The general election on 7 November had taken place smoothly and peacefully, with no reports of violence. The majority of eligible voters had turned out to elect representatives of their own choice. The election had been acknowledged by Myanmar’s neighbours and friendly countries as a step forward in the implementation of its seven-step roadmap to democracy.
The places where the election had been cancelled due to security reasons amounted to only 0.5 per cent of all constituencies, and to date no formal complaint about irregularities had been received by the electoral commission, he said. Accusations of vote-rigging were a clear attempt to discredit the election. In terms of procedure, the draft is deficient. Myanmar attached great importance to the Universal Periodic Review process that it will undergo in January 2011, after having submitted its country report on time. Differences would not be resolved by finger-pointing and pressure. If the European Union had concerns, it would be better to use cooperation and engagement. Myanmar was now in the final stages of its transformation into a democratic state; immoral and unjust pressure, as well as naming and blaming, would only be a disservice. It was unreasonable to turn a blind eye to developments and to put forward such an intrusive resolution that infringed on Myanmar’s sovereignty. The draft was essentially a Western-sponsored resolution that obviously attempted to interfere in the internal affairs of a developing country. It did not represent the views of all Member countries. A recorded vote was requested.
Presenting a general statement, the representative of the Russian Federation said that his country had repeatedly highlighted its disagreement with bringing unilateral resolutions against countries. The Russian Federation believed that to be ineffective, and it could only compound confrontations. It was the absence of true dialogue that had discredited the effectiveness of the former Commission on Human Rights. The Russian Federation believed that the creation of the Human Rights Council and the Universal Periodic Review created new possibilities for constructing mutually respectful solutions. The Russian Federation believed that the human rights situation in specific countries should be the focus of the Universal Periodic Review, and that was applicable to all the draft resolutions considered today. The Russian Federation also drew attention to positive developments in Myanmar, including the release of Aung San Suu Kyi. The adoption of the draft resolution could send an erroneous signal to the authorities in Myanmar. He intended to vote against it, and called on other States to do likewise.
The representative of China said that country regretted to see that, once again, a country-specific resolution concerning Myanmar has been submitted. Dialogue was the only way to promote human rights, and finger-pointing would not help to solve problems. The Human Rights Council provided an appropriate forum and should be fully utilized to facilitate dialogue. Elections had been held in a smooth and calm manner, which was critical concerning Myanmar’s roadmap to democracy. China welcomed and acknowledged that step. The draft resolution failed to reflect that progress, and the text continued to adopt a critical finger-pointing approach. As a close neighbour of Myanmar, China was for strengthening constructive dialogue and would provide constructive assistance to Myanmar. China would vote against the resolution, and called upon all Member States to vote against it, as well.
The representative of Viet Nam said he welcomed the general elections that were held in Myanmar as a significant step forward in the road towards democracy. Viet Nam had taken note of positive developments in the country, including the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, and hoped that the trend to promote peace and stability for the people of Myanmar would continue. Viet Nam regretted that the resolution failed to integrate positive developments, while continuing to politicize human rights in the country. Viet Nam was concerned about the resolution’s reference to the Special Rapporteur’s unbalanced and biased reports. For those reasons, and based on the principle of not supporting country-specific resolutions, Viet Nam would vote against the resolution. As a neighbour of Myanmar, Viet Nam reconfirmed its support for the Secretary-General and support for Myanmar’s work with the United Nations concerning stability in the country, and stood ready to support Myanmar, if required.
The representative of Venezuela associated with the statement made by Egypt on behalf of the Non-Aligned countries. Venezuela was firmly committed to the principles of self-determination and sovereignty, and would vote against the resolution due to its politicized and selective nature, the application of which was contrary to the principles set forth in the United Nations Charter. The Human Rights Council was the body that should review the situations of countries, basing itself on reliable information. It was unacceptable that some countries used human rights as a political weapon. Venezuela would vote against the draft resolution and exhorted others to do likewise.
The representative of the Philippines said the Government did not support country-specific resolutions, as a rule. It was hoped that efforts regarding Myanmar could bear fruit, and the Philippines believed that Myanmar should stand by its people by providing full democratization. The Philippines welcomed the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and considered it a positive development. However, it should be followed by other measures regarding human rights, the foremost of which was the release of over 2,000 remaining political prisoners. There were also concerns that the recent elections were not credible. Myanmar was encouraged to build on the release of Aung San Suu Kyi to create a stable system in the long-term.
The representative of Malaysia reiterated the country’s position that human rights should be promoted through non-confrontation. Human rights should not be exploited for political purposes. Malaysia, thus, stated that it would vote against the resolution.
The representative of Cuba joined in the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned countries, saying that it was against country-specific resolutions and believed that the Universal Periodic Review was the appropriate tool for considering human rights through constructive dialogue. Resolutions based on political motivations ran counter to international cooperation. Cuba was opposed to selectivity, double-standards and using human rights as an instrument of political pressure, which was why Cuba would vote against the resolution.
The representative of India said his country believed that human rights could be achieved through dialogue. Peace and stability in Myanmar were crucial, and the Government was aware of Myanmar’s positive developments and need for reforms. India had not only welcomed the United Nations mission, but made all efforts to support it. India was in favour of assisting the United Nations good office process, but the resolution was not compatible with the good offices process. India believed that recent elections in Myanmar were an important step, welcomed the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and was confident that her release would contribute to a more inclusive approach towards change that would be gradual and sustained. The resolution was not in line with that approach, and an unhelpful resolution would not be useful. So, India would vote against it.
The representative of Thailand said his Government would abstain from voting for the resolution because, first of all, the advancement of human rights should be through dialogue, and Thailand believed that the Universal Period Review was the appropriate forum. Second, the holding of elections in Myanmar and the release of Aung San Suu Kyi were important steps in the country’s democratization process. Thailand hoped that that would lead to positive steps, and felt strongly that the topic of political development could not be discussed in a vacuum, separate from economic development. Thailand wished to reiterate that it would work with Myanmar through the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), and was ready to assist in any way possible to ensure human rights for Myanmar’s people. Third, Thailand supported the United Nations offices and encouraged Myanmar to work with the United Nations regarding democratization. Thailand hoped that engagement between Myanmar and the United Nations would be strengthened.
The representative of Libya said his Government would like to support the statement made by Egypt, and expressed its deep concern vis-à-vis the fact that some countries continued to impose their beliefs on others under the pretext of human rights. The issue of human rights, in this case, was not a legal or moral commitment, but a political pretext to achieve political objectives. Violations of human rights could occur in any part of the world, so no country was perfect in protecting human rights, and it was high time to stop country-specific resolutions. Therefore, in order not to target certain countries, Libya would vote against the draft resolution.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar by a vote of 96 in favour to 28 against, with 60 abstentions.
In an explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of Brazil said that, while his delegation had abstained, the human rights situation in Myanmar was still a matter of concern, particular with regards to issues underlined in the report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and that of the Special Rapporteur, notably with regards to prisoners of conscience, right to due process and fair trial, conditions of detention and freedom of assembly. He praised the elections of 7 November and expected that they would bring about reforms leading to democracy. There should be a level playing field for all in the electoral process. He noted the release of Aug San Suu Kyi, but said it was unfortunate that it had taken place after the elections. The Human Rights Council was best equipped to address human rights issues in a holistic, non-politicized and non-selective manner.
The representative of Japan said it was important for the international community to put out a united message on the situation in Myanmar. It was also important not only to express concern, but also to welcome those developments which deserved recognition. In that regard, Japan had put forward a number of proposals that had been incorporated into the draft. It was deeply disappointing that the elections had not been conducted in a fair and open manner, but the released of Aug San Suu Kyi was a step forward. More positive measures from the Government were expected.
The representative of Myanmar said that, despite political pressure, only 96 of the 192 Member States had supported the resolution. He reiterated his country’s opposition to blanket attempts to interfere in its internal affairs and its home-grown political process. Myanmar would not be bound by the resolution; “The resolution has no moral authority,” he said. Politicization of human rights would not be tolerated. Human rights were to be addressed in a global context on the principles of objectivity and respect for national integrity and sovereignty. He thanked the Chair for the balanced manner in which he addressed the issue.
The representative of Indonesia, explaining his delegation’s abstention, said his country had been a firm supporter of the good offices mission of the Secretary-General. Important developments over the past year, including the elections and the release of Aug San Suu Kyi, had the potential of contributing to democratization and reconciliation. While it had some concerns about the human rights situation in Myanmar, it was the firm conviction of Indonesia that the Universal Periodic Review was the most appropriate mechanism to review human rights situations in all Member States in a non-selective and non-politicized way.
The representative of Bangladesh, which voted against the draft, welcomed the release of Aug San Suu Kyi and took note of the first election to have taken place in two decades. Myanmar would soon be undergoing the Universal Periodic Review at the Human Rights Council, which was the appropriate body to review human rights in all countries. Adoption of the resolution would not add positive value to the seven-step roadmap in Myanmar.
Referring to the earlier vote on the draft resolution on the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the representative of Georgia said her delegation had not been in the room; had it been, it would have voted in favour.
At the afternoon session, the Committee took up the draft on the Situation of human rights in Iran (document A/C.3/65/L.49).
By its terms, the draft would have the Assembly express deep concern at serious ongoing and recurring human rights violations in Iran, including, among others, torture; the high incidence in carrying out the death penalty, including against persons under the age of 18; violence against women; persecution against ethnic minorities; and increased persecution against members of the Bahai faith.
The Assembly would also express particular concern at the failure of the Government of Iran to conduct any comprehensive investigation or to launch an accountability process for alleged violations in the period following the presidential elections of 12 June 2009, and reiterate its call upon the Government to launch a process of credible, independent and impartial investigations into reports of human rights violations and to end impunity for such violations. The draft would also call upon the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to address the substantive concerns highlighted in the report of the Secretary-General and the specific calls to action found in previous resolutions of the General Assembly, and to respect fully its human rights obligations, in law and in practice.
Additionally, it would call upon the Government of Iran to strengthen its national human rights institutions; to consider ratifying or acceding to and effectively implementing the international human rights treaties to which it is not already a party; and to cooperate fully with all international human rights mechanisms, encouraging the continued exploration of cooperation on human rights and justice reform with the United Nations. It would express deep concern that Iran has not fulfilled any requests from special mechanisms to visit the country in five years, strongly urging the Government of Iran to fully cooperate with these special mechanisms and to seriously consider all of the recommendations put forward at its universal periodic review. The draft would also strongly encourage the thematic special procedures mandate holders to pay particular attention to, with a view to investigating and reporting on, the human rights situation in Iran. Finally, it would decide to continue its examination of the situation of human rights in Iran at its sixty-sixth session under the item entitled “Promotion and protection of human rights”.
The Chair, MICHEL TOMMO MONTHE ( Cameroon), gave the floor to the representative of Canada, the main sponsor, whereupon the representative of Iran, invoking Rule 116 of the Rules of Procedure of the General Assembly, proposed a motion of no action. Iran believed that country situations should be discussed under the Universal Periodic Review mechanism of the Human Rights Council and not in the Third Committee as a country-specific resolution. Iran had just finished its Review in Geneva, where experts had said it was among the most successful of such reports. Of the 190 recommendations that had been made, the majority had been adopted, and others were being acted upon. By comparison, the United States had not accepted any of the 220 recommendations that had been made to it during its review. Six Special Rapporteurs had visited Iran and two would be visiting within two weeks.
Interrupting, the Chair reminded the representative of Iran that he had raised a point of order. The Chair read the text of Rule 116, after which the floor was offered to two delegations to speak in favour of the motion and two to speak against it. He asked the representative of Iran if his delegation wished to speak in favour of the motion; he replied that he would defer to others to do so.
Speaking in favour of the motion, the representative of Venezuela said that, as a matter of principle, his delegation opposed specific resolutions proposed for political reasons, which had nothing to do with human rights. Universal Periodic Review was an opportunity to consider the human rights situation in all countries in a just, fair and balanced way based on constructive dialogue. Consideration by the Third Committee and the General Assembly Plenary was not only unjustified, but it should be suspended and even removed in a definitive way.
Also speaking in favour of the motion, the representative of Syria drew attention to a brief delay at the start of his remarks due to technical problems with translation equipment. He said the delay, which caused some colleagues to laugh, affected the substance of the matter at hand. Such “technical imbalances” that occurred when important matters were put to a vote, must be investigated. Dealing with human rights in specific countries at the Third Committee in New York was a selective matter that affirmed the fears of many delegations that some States were dealing with very important questions in a politicized matter. It was on that basis, and for procedural reasons, that the motion was supported by his delegation. No-action motions were procedural in nature; they had nothing to do with the substance of the matter at hand. Matters of human rights had to be treated at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, where it had been agreed that human rights questions would be looked at equally, with no exceptions for anyone. It was an important issue, but it should be addressed without politicization.
The representative of Canada said that the Committee was set to consider the resolution on human rights in Iran, which was an important action. One of the responsibilities of the Committee was to debate serious human rights concerns wherever they might arise. That was what the 42 co-sponsors of the resolution were seeking — debate and discussion — but that was precisely what the opponents would deny. In last year’s resolution, the Committee called for a report of the Security-General on the situation of human rights in Iran, as well as continued discussion in the 65th session. It would be highly unusual not to consider a report that the Committee itself requested. It would be contradicting and undermining itself through a no-action motion. As a matter of principle, any human rights resolution should be considered on its individual merit. The Member States might have different opinions about the gravity of the human rights situation in Iran, but the Committee had the duty to consider it. Canada urged the Committee members to vote against the no-action motion based on this principle by voting “no”.
The representative of Iceland, speaking also on behalf of Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Liechtenstein, Palau and San Marino, said they would vote against the no-action motion. The Committee was entrusted with the responsibility to debate human rights issues. The no-action motion introduced would prevent the Committee from fulfilling that mandate. The responsibility to address human rights issues did not sit exclusively with the Human Rights Council. Any motion to preclude discussion was not only unjustified, but also undermined the credibility of the Committee. One hundred and ninety-two delegations could enrich the human rights dialogue, but that could take place only provided that every issue put forward was considered and debated on its merits. Iceland was keen to know the opinions of others, and would vote “no” and encouraged others to do the same.
The Committee then rejected the motion to take no-action on the resolution by a vote of 51 in favour, to 91 against, with 32 abstaining.
The representative of Canada said that, since last year there had been a “very regrettable” deterioration in the ability of the Government of Iran to ensure the human rights of its people. The decision to propose the resolution had not been taken lightly. Human rights challenges were faced by all countries and genuine steps had been taken by the vast majority of them. It was clear, however, that the Government of Iran had made no such effort, despite repeated calls for it to do so from the international community. Such a persistent attitude had demonstrated a fundamental lack of respect for the United Nations and its human rights instruments and procedures. Stonings, floggings, amputations, executions of juveniles, executions by strangulation, and discrimination against women and minorities could not be ignored by the Third Committee. Every effort had been made to prepare a text that was accurate and objective, drawing from the report of the Secretary-General.
It called upon the Government to fully respect its human rights obligations in law and in practice. So long as human rights violations persisted in Iran, it was up to the Third Committee of the General Assembly, the only United Nations body with universal membership, to encourage positive steps. It had an obligation to examine serious human rights situations. The day when the people of Iran could enjoy their human rights — and when such a resolution would no longer be necessary — was being awaited by all. One day, it was hoped, Iranians would be able to openly discuss human rights without fear of persecution. In the meantime, the Third Committee should give Iranians the voice that has been denied to them.
The representative of Egypt, on behalf of Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated the statement given by her delegation in the morning meeting against country-specific motions.
The representative of Iran said that the draft resolution was a continuation of a malicious trend that was harmful for peace in the multicultural world, and would inflict damage to the United Nations’ reputation for dealing with global issues. Elaborating on the draft resolution to uncover its meaning, he said that, even though Canada was sponsoring the draft, the United States was the mastermind and main provocateur. The text did not have anything to do with human rights, but was intended to serve as part of the United States’ hostile policy. Canada said it was concerned about human rights violations, but when there was a past resolution to stop the Israeli slaughter in Gaza, Canada voted “no”. That was a double standard, obvious from the beginning of the draft. Canada said it was concerned about minority rights, but everyone knew that Canada had an abysmal record in that regard, and nobody had forgotten about its aboriginal issues.
The resolution was unprofessional and full of malicious allegations, which would take years to verify one by one. In the second paragraph regarding the imposition of death penalty, it discussed the concept of “Moharabeh”, which was related to fighting terrorism. He asked how countries could promote a war against terrorism, but then question when Iran fought terrorism. He said that the United States and the European Union were the main supporters of terrorism. He named various criminal groups that were supported by United States, Germany and France, stating that they granted them total immunity, generous hospitality and lavish courtesy.
In paragraph 3, concern was expressed at the failure of Iran to conduct any comprehensive investigation or to launch an accountability process for alleged violations of the election on June 2009. One of the greatest rewards of the Islamic Revolution 30 years ago was the creation of a democratic, social and civil order based on Islamic rationality. That had turned Iran into the greatest democracy in the Middle East; the most advanced in science and technology; the first country in the Middle East with a nuclear power plant — like Canada, which produced fuel for nuclear reactors, a country that had put a satellite into space, and number one in stem cell research and clone technology in the whole region. Iran had brought higher education to its women, who occupied more than 65 per cent of the seats in universities, and had eradicated illiteracy from the country.
Iran’s only crime was that it was not a replica or a “Xerox copy” of western democracy. He asked why protests should be disturbing to the authors of the resolution, when countries like the United States had protests. For example, everyone remembered the huge protests in Los Angeles a few years ago, when shops were set on fire and police were beaten, or in France, where, for three months, Paris was in flames like a war zone and thousands of people were detained. He asked what the whole fuss was about and whether it was possible to have democracy without protest, or to prevent all violence.
The draft claimed failure to conduct investigations in the period following elections. However, Iran had conducted an extensive and through investigation, the results of which were not satisfying for the co-sponsoring countries. The reason for the lack of satisfaction was because the Government of the United States was deeply involved in funding, training, leading, agitating and encouraging protests against Iran. More importantly, the United States trained agents in camps and armed them to create violence in Iran. Those investigations revealed that a foreign agent had arrived in Tehran, murdered a young girl, filmed her for a scene, and flew back on the same day to put the pictures on the media. He said that the investigations had made the co-sponsoring countries angry, calling the countries a “black hole of spirituality”. The participation of the ambassador of Germany had encouraged the continuation of the unrest, and Iran had sent proof to the German Government.
The resolution was a great cover-up that had nothing to do with human rights, he said. It was clear that the authors of the malicious draft had hypocritically put it together, because Iran did not want to copy the United States democracy. It was regrettable that the gross violations of human rights in some parts of the world were overlooked by the drafters of country-specific resolutions. The name of the Israeli regime was among the list of co-sponsors, but it was intertwined with the worst forms of human rights violations. The United States was also living through its worst record of human rights. Iran believed that the old, worn-out policy of the co-sponsors was a disservice to the Iranian policy of cooperation. Therefore, Iran asked the Committee not to lend any credence to the claims that had been artificially crafted, and invited delegations to support Iran by voting against the draft resolution.
The representative of Syria said that it had been agreed by all, when the Human Rights Council was established, that the human rights situation in every State would be reviewed equally in a periodic fashion. States large and small, rich and poor, North and South, would be treated equally. The international consensus was to end the politicization of human rights and to develop mechanisms of international cooperation in order to promote and protect such rights everywhere “and I mean everywhere and not selectively”. To go back on all efforts exerted to that end would adversely affect the deliberations of the Human Rights Council and create a bizarre situation whereby the efforts of the international community would be wasted and tension between States created.
Regarding the draft, was it not a reason for deep concern that Israel was a co-sponsor? How could such a draft be granted any credibility whatsoever when the name of Israel was seen side-by-side with other, mostly friendly nations which usually voted against Israel? How could those friendly nations side with Israel on Iran, while disagreeing with Israel on the violation of human rights in Palestine? That substantive observation was addressed to Syria’s friends on the list of co-sponsors. Syria would vote against the draft, not in order to clash with the co-sponsors, most of whom were friendly nations, but in order to protect human rights from any politicization and to entrench the principle of equality in dealing with the noble cause of human rights in a spirit of cooperation, rather than “smashing bones”.
The representative of Tajikistan, on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), expressed opposition to country-specific resolutions that targeted Islamic countries. Any initiative that could lead to the use of human rights as means of political pressure on any developing country was opposed by the Member States of OIC. Country-specific resolutions politicized the work of human rights bodies, and did not contribute to the promotion of human rights. The human rights situation in Iran did not warrant such a resolution. Three periodic reports to relevant United Nations bodies had been submitted by Iran. It was regrettable that, despite Iran’s cooperation and positive developments there, a draft resolution had been submitted to the Third Committee in a selective manner. All States were urged to oppose the draft.
The representative of Sudan welcomed Iran’s report to the Human Rights Council, applauded its willingness to adopt recommendations and encouraged it to continue its cooperation with the Council. The draft resolution, framed negatively, sought to impose some values on Iran in place of dialogue, especially on religious and cultural issues. The appropriate forum was the Human Rights Council and, therefore, Sudan called for resolutions that directly related to the human rights situations in specific countries to be referred to the Council. Duplication by the Third Committee should be avoided. The most suitable mechanism was the Universal Periodic Review and it should be encouraged. If Sudan was insisting on refusing to address the draft, it was because such drafts were being wielded in order to bring political pressure to bear. Sudan would vote against it.
The representative of Cuba, also noting that Iran had recently undergone the Universal Periodic Review, said Iran had demonstrated a commitment to cooperation and frank dialogue in the area of human rights. Resolutions based on political motivations ran counter to international cooperation. The draft at hand was permeated with obvious political motivation. Cuba could not accept the use of human rights to put political pressure to bear on others. It would vote against.
The representative of Bolivia firmly rejected the ongoing practice of condemning specific states on the basis of their human rights situation. Such resolutions were instruments to promote political interests and used for strategic purposes. There was no real genuine interest behind them. Countries that co-sponsored such resolutions also committed human rights violations, yet no draft resolutions had been proposed against them. They had no moral authority to set themselves up as a world court. Bolivia would vote against and it exhorted all delegations to do likewise.
The representative of Libya said her country was very concerned by what was taking place today, and by the fact that some countries were still trying to impose their ideologies and politics on others, under the pretext of human rights. It was the same thing every year and every year States refused to go along. It was a shame to see that human rights issues were no longer a matter of legal or ethnical commitment, but a means to pressure others for political purposes. Violations of human rights could happen anywhere, in any way. The Human Rights Council was the only suitable forum for addressing human rights without politicizing them. Dialogue should prevail, in order to promote human rights based on mutual respect and taking cultural, social and religious dimensions into account. Given that principle, which rejects selectivity, and given Libya’s commitment to positions taken by the Non-Aligned Movement and its firm conviction of non-interference, it would be voting against. Its vote was not to be construed as meaning that Libya supported the violation of human rights.
The Committee approved the draft resolution on human rights in Iran by a recorded vote of 80 in favour to 44 against, with 57 abstaining. The draft resolution was, thereby, adopted.
Making a statement in explanation of the vote after the vote, the representative of Barbados said that it abstained on the draft resolutions concerning Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Myanmar. Barbados’ position on human rights remained unchanged. It continued to be highly concerned about the divisive nature of the debate surrounding those resolutions, in an attempt to name and shame. That was not productive. Human rights issues should be addressed through dialogue, rather than isolation. The Human Rights Council should, and must be, the forum in which the human rights situation of individual countries was addressed. Cooperation and dialogue was needed.
The representative of Japan said his country had voted in favour of the resolution, on the grounds that further improvement was needed concerning the situation in Iran. Japan shared the concerns noted in the draft resolution regarding the restrictions of freedom of peaceful assembly and torture, cruel or degrading treatment of people who, at the time of offence, were under the age of 18. Japan welcomed Iran’s active commitment to improve its human rights situation and, in September, had exchanged views on human rights issues with Iran, agreeing that they would continue their dialogue in the future. Japan hoped that Iran would work to implement the Universal Periodic Review’s recommendations, and welcomed Iran’s signature on the Optional Protocol for the Rights of the Child. For those reasons, Japan supported the resolution without becoming a co-sponsor, and would continue active dialogue with Iran. Japan also hoped that Iran would continue to engage in dialogue with the international community.
The representative of Brazil said that his delegation abstained, but it continued to note concern about human rights, especially the situation of women in Iran. Gender disparities persisted in the country and still existed regarding political participation. Brazil was also concerned about the rights of minorities, particularly the Baha’i community, which continued to be denied employment and basic public services. Brazil emphasized the importance of fully respecting civil and political rights and freedom of expression and opinion, and of protecting defenders and women’s rights leaders. On the other hand, Brazil noted progress made in Iran regarding social, economic and cultural rights, particularly health care. Positive steps had also been taken towards legal reform. Brazil acknowledged that Iran had accepted several recommendations by the Universal Periodic Review, including the abolition of juvenile executions. He reiterated that the resolutions were the product of a process that must be improved, as country-specific countries were the only ones that did not go through open and transparent consultations, which only reinforced arguments for the selective treatment of human rights issues. Brazil was convinced that the Human Rights Council was the best equipped to deal with human rights issues.
The representative of Ecuador said the country fully endorsed the work and institution of the Human Rights Council, which was a specialized and competent mechanism. Respecting the principle of non-selectivity, Ecuador rejected the politicization of human rights and insisted that it was the Council that should be looking at all countries without any geographical distinction or political motivations. Thus, Ecuador did not support the draft resolution and abstained.
Making a general statement, the representative of Iran thanked those who had voted against the resolution and said it was his duty to recognize those delegations that did not support the resolution by abstaining, as well. The high number of votes against and abstaining showed that the majority of Member States continued to reject the resolution put forward by Canada. That pattern showed that appropriate measures needed to be taken to prevent countries like Canada from abusing human rights mechanisms. Iran appreciated the statement by Egypt on behalf of Non-Aligned Movement and by Tajikistan on behalf of OIC. The adoption of such country-specific resolutions was unfortunate, not just because it targeted Iran, but because of its destructive nature and abuse of the whole system by countries that were themselves flagrant violators of human rights. The hidden political agenda of some countries was detached from the reality on the ground.
The representative of Mali, on behalf of the African Group, took up again action on draft resolution A/C.3/65/L.57 entitled “Report of the Human Rights Council”. The African group considered the setting up the Council to be the cornerstone for a framework to promote human rights for all. Since its creation, the Council had witnessed developments to lay foundations for that goal. The action took into account the report and its annexes; the report contains important recommendations, including on trafficking in human beings, access to medicines, and human rights for all. The African group wishes to see it adopted by consensus, to serve the work carried out by the Council.
The representative of Morocco, on behalf of OIC Member States, wished to underline the importance of a number of resolutions on human rights concerning human rights violations by Israel. In view of the importance of the resolution for OIC Group, she kindly asked for representatives to recognize it by consensus.
The representative of Turkey welcomed the report and its addendum, which contained many important resolutions and decisions, including the report of the independent international fact finding mission resulting from the Israeli attack this year on the Gaza humanitarian flotilla. He invited all Member States to support the resolution.
The representative of Israel requested a recorded vote on the resolution.
Making a statement in explanation of the vote before the vote, the representative of Israel said the resolution demonstrated the Council’s failure of non-selectivity and called into effect the Council’s credibility. Half of the statements in the report were targeted at Israel. Israel regretted having to call for a vote, but would vote against the resolution in order to voice its concern.
The representative of Belgium, on behalf of the European Union, said that their concerns were based on procedural grounds. At the beginning of the 65th session, agenda item 63 stated that the report be considered both in the plenary and the Third Committee of the General Assembly. On 2 November, the report was considered in the plenary of the General Assembly. The European Union welcomed the occasion to listen to views regarding the work of the Council in light of its mandate. The plenary of the General Assembly was the right place to hear the report of the Human Rights Council. The Union would have preferred that the report be considered by the General Assembly plenary only, but accepted the compromise. The Union believed that United Nations Member States should be able to consider the report on its own merits and there was no need for a generic resolution, as such a resolution carried no added value and did not respect the compromise reached. The European Union regretted that it was not possible to discuss procedural issues with the main sponsors during the open meeting. For procedural reasons, the Union would, thus, abstain.
The representative of Syria said the delegation added its voice to the statement made by Morocco and wanted to state that, despite numerous resolutions adopted, including in the Human Rights Council, Israel still refused to abide by any of these resolutions and continued to impede tasks entrusted to the fact-finding mission. Israel was the perpetrator of crimes against humanity, boasting about being above accountability and exempt from pursuit of justice. Hence, the United Nations was called upon to shoulder its responsibilities and take all necessary measures to investigate and pursue Israeli violations, which had been documented and authenticated in the Goldstone Report. Israeli officials must be pursued and punished for the crimes they perpetrated in Gaza, in an effort to administer justice and avoid impunity. Accordingly, Syria would vote “yes” on the draft resolution, and urged all delegations to vote in favour.
The representative of Chile regretted the fact that the resolution could not go by consensus. Chile would vote in favour because it believed that the vote in no way prejudiced the report. The substantive debate would take place in the General Assembly, not here in the Third Committee.
The Committee approved the resolution on the report of the Human Rights Council by a recorded vote of 119 in favour to 2 against ( Israel, Marshall Islands), with 55 abstaining.
The representative of Norway, on behalf of Iceland, Lichtenstein, New Zealand and Switzerland, said all of the countries strongly supported the work of the Council. They also believed the Universal Periodic Review could be successful. But, in spite of achievements by the Council, they abstained their vote on procedural grounds — the vote should take place in the plenary, rather than the Third Committee.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said his country did not participate in the voting, because it could not accept the politically motivated resolution contained in the report.
The representative of the United States said the report of the Council reflected both its strengths and weaknesses. The United States had been proud to support a number of the Council’s resolutions over the past year to help protect and promote human rights around the world. But, it did not support its unbalanced treatment of Israel. The United States did not and could not support a number of resolutions which unfairly singled out Israel and excluded violations by Hamas. Israel had mechanisms to investigate alleged violations. When the United States joined the Council last year, it intended to help foster human rights, but pledged to change some of the Council’s practices.
The representative of Belize stated that the Government had tried to get the Chair’s attention earlier in order to say that it had intended to vote, but its vote of “yes” was not represented.
The representative of Costa Rica stated that it had voted in favour, even though issues remained concerning how the Committee reviewed the report. Costa Rica maintained that they must continue to support the work and decisions of the Human Rights Council and believed it was not appropriate to have a discussion of the report in this venue.
The representative of Canada said the Government welcomed many elements of the report, including the elimination of violence against women and equality for women before the law, as well as the renewal of several country mandates. Canada abstained from voting, based on belief that the follow-up report should take place in the General Assembly and not in the Third Committee. Canada also stated that the situation on the Middle East and the resolution concerning the international fact-finding mission also singled out one party as being at fault.
The representative of Mexico said the Government regretted having to abstain on a resolution that concerned a body of the highest importance on a matter of procedure. However, the manner of review was inconsistent with the decision to send the report to the plenary. Mexico believed that the plenary was the appropriate place to review the report and that should be carefully considered next year.
The Committee, then, continued the process, begun in the morning session, of taking action on a draft resolution on International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (document A/C.3/65/L.53).
The Secretary read an oral statement of programme budget implications.
The representative of Slovenia, speaking on behalf of the co-sponsors, said all had worked to accommodate the concerns of delegations. It wished to make a small oral amendment on the fourth page. It was important that the United Nations sent a unified message against racial discrimination. An agreement had been reached to adopt the resolution by consensus, and she said she confident it would help work towards elimination of racism.
The resolution was adopted by consensus.
Providing a statement after the vote, the representative of the United States said that his Government strongly condemned racial discrimination and was a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The United States reiterated its position that treaty body expenses should be funded by States parties and not by the United Nations. The United States stated that it was important that efforts be supported to increase the efficiency of all treaty bodies, so that resources were used effectively. Those efforts helped reduce backlogs.
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