Third Committee Approves Text to Ensure Human Rights Protected in Anti-Terrorism Efforts, Another Stating ‘No Religion Should Be Equated with Terrorism’
Third Committee Approves Text to Ensure Human Rights Protected in Anti-Terrorism Efforts, Another Stating ‘No Religion Should Be Equated with Terrorism’
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
50th Meeting (PM)
Third Committee Approves Text to Ensure Human Rights Protected in Anti-Terrorism
Efforts, Another Stating ‘No Religion Should Be equated with terrorism’
Four Other Texts Approved on Rights to Food, Development;
Trafficking in Women and Girls; Palestinian Self-Determination
On the eve of the completion of its work for this session, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) approved six resolutions today, including one that would have the General Assembly reaffirm that States must ensure that their efforts to combat terrorism comply with their international human rights obligations, and another that would have it emphasize that no religion should be equated with terrorism.
Mexico was the main sponsor of the draft entitled Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, which was approved without a vote. By its terms, the Assembly would reaffirm that counter-terrorism measures should be implemented in accordance with international law — including international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law — with no discrimination on grounds such as race, colour, sex, language, religion or social origin. Specifically, States would be urged to fully respect their non-refoulement obligations and refrain from returning persons — including those in terrorist-related cases — to their countries of origin or third countries where they could face torture or threat to life and freedom.
The draft resolution on the Elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief, would have the Assembly condemn all forms of intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief, as well as any incitement to religious hatred through the use of print, audio-visual or electronic media. It would go on to emphasize that “no religion should be equated with terrorism, as this may have adverse consequences on the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief of all members of the religious communities concerned”. Nicholas Nihon of Belgium, the main sponsor, noted with regret that in order to achieve consensus, the text carried no reference to the right of persons to change their faith, or not to adhere at all to any religion or belief. Action on the draft was preceded by the introduction of another draft by Morocco on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, on combating defamation of religions that would, among several points, have the Assembly express deep concern that Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with terrorism.
Other drafts approved today included texts on Trafficking in women and girls, the right to development and the right to food. Action on a draft on the programme of activities of the International Year for People of African Descent in 2011 was postponed.
An annual draft resolution that would have the Assembly reaffirm the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination was approved by a vote of 174 in favour to 5 against, with 3 abstentions. Israel’s representative, Noa Furman, called for the vote, with its representative saying its offer to talk peace was still valid. Speaking after the vote, the Observer of the Palestinian Authority, Nadya Rasheed, said the outcome spoke for itself, and that Israeli policies were responsible for undermining a two-State solution to the conflict.
The Committee also took note today of reports of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the United Nations Development Fund for Women. The Secretary said that, with action yet to be taken on eight drafts, the Committee was on course to complete its work tomorrow, as scheduled.
Also making statements and explanations of vote today were the representatives of the Philippines, Syria, Egypt, Argentina, United Kingdom, South Africa, Cuba (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), the United States, Canada and Switzerland.
The Committee will reconvene tomorrow, 23 November, at 10 a.m. to conclude taking action on draft resolutions.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to hear the introduction of a draft resolution entitled Combating defamation of religions (document A/C.3/65/L.46/Rev.1).
It was also scheduled to take action on the following drafts: Trafficking in women and girls (document A/C.3/65/L.20/Rev.1); The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination (document A/C.3/65/L.52); Elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief (document A/C.3/65/L.32/Rev.1), programme of activities of the International Year for People of African Descent (document A/C.3/65/L.33/Rev.1, with amendment A/C.3/65/L.67); the right to development (document A/C.3/65/L.41/Rev.1); the right to food (document A/C.3/65/L.42/Rev.1); and Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (document A/C.3/65/L.43/Rev.1).
Action on Texts
The Committee first turned to the introduction of a draft resolution entitled Combating defamation of religions (document A/C.3/65/L.46).
The representative of Morocco, on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said the co-sponsors had noted with growing concern the erosion of the international human rights framework, as it gave status to some fundamental rights over others. That had lead to a legitimization that allowed religious hatred and violence. The co-sponsors believed that a non-discriminatory approach for other beliefs and religious sensitivities was the key to preserving the international order. The OIC deemed it necessary to continue presenting, once again, this year’s resolution on combating the defamation of religions and, thus, responding to emerging calls in reports of Special Rapporteurs and others to combat the increasing trend of defamation of religions and stop acts inciting religious hatred.
The resolution did not shift the focus of the mandate of Special Rapporteurs, but rather complemented them, he said. In order to respond to emerging challenges, the OIC group had made the effort to complement last year’s resolution with a provision that invoked the notion of rights and responsibility and the protection of fundamental rights to freedom from religious discrimination. In that context, the OIC group started consultations with all partners, including meeting with the OIC Troika and regional groups. The co-sponsors decided to continue adopting the most flexible approach through transparent dialogue with all groups and to accommodate all concerns to achieve consensus.
The OIC had introduced amendments to the draft resolution to address the concerns of all partners in order to reach consensus, showing a maximum level of flexibility and compromise. The resolution included constructive amendments, as follows: broadening the scope to include all religions, including a reference to Islamophobia; replacing and changing particular words; adding a reference to Article 27; and emphasizing the international obligations of Member States, while recognizing the need for necessary measures to combat the defamation of religions. The OIC was hopeful that the new amendments met the concerns of all Members and would lead to consensus. Such consensus would strengthen the collective effort to fight all forms of religious intolerance.
The Committee then took action on a draft resolution on Trafficking in women and girls (document A/C.3/65/L.20/Rev.1).
By its terms, the General Assembly would call upon Governments to discourage, with a view to eliminating, the demand that fosters the trafficking of women and girls for all forms of exploitation. It would also call upon Governments to address the factors that increase vulnerability to being trafficked, including poverty and gender inequality, as well as other factors that encourage the particular problem of trafficking in women and girls for prostitution and other forms of commercialized sex, forced marriage and forced labour.
It would go on to urge Governments to devise, enforce and strengthen gender- and age-sensitive measures to combat and eliminate trafficking in women and girls as part of a comprehensive anti-trafficking strategy with a human rights perspective. Governments would be encouraged to take preventative action to eliminate sex tourism demand. They would also be called upon to criminalize all forms of trafficking in persons. At the same time, Governments would be urged to ensure that victims of trafficking are not penalized for being trafficked and that they do not suffer from revictimization.
The draft resolution would have the General Assembly invite Governments to encourage media providers, including Internet service providers, to adopt or strengthen self-regulatory measures to promote the responsible use of media with a view to eliminating the exploitation of women and children. It would also stress the need for a systematic collection of sex- and age-disaggregated data on trafficking and encourage Governments to share information.
The representative of the Philippines, the main sponsor, said scourge of trafficking in persons, especially women and children, was a serious threat to human dignity, human rights and development. She summarized the contents of the draft, which was the product of more than a month of extensive and intensive negotiations. It was a balanced text that represented the widest consensus, and it was hoped that, as in previous years, it would be approved without a vote.
The Committee then approved the draft without a vote.
In a general statement after approval of the draft, the representative of Syria said her delegation had joined consensus out of its belief in the importance of the issue. Strenuous efforts were exerted by her country in order to eliminate trafficking in persons. It was disappointing, however, that the facilitator of the draft had not cooperated with Syria’s concerns, particularly with regard to operative paragraph 6, in which the United Nations system was encouraged to mainstream the issue of trafficking in persons into its broader policies and programmes. The Syrian delegation tried to have that paragraph incorporate a reference to complex emergencies, especially with regard to natural disasters and post-conflict situations which represented fertile ground for trafficking in persons. The region including Syria had been affected by trafficking as a result of foreign occupation and complex emergencies. It was hoped that the facilitator in the future would listen to the concerns of others equally.
The representative of the Philippines extended her heartfelt thanks to everyone who had contributed to the text, which was the product of intensive and extensive negotiations with meetings lasting up to three hours. At some point in time, the resolution had to be closed. The concern of the other delegation was more than adequately addressed in another paragraph in the resolution. It was a serious concern that some delegations were making proposals at the eleventh hour.
Concluding its consideration of the advancement of women, the Committee took note of the Report of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination on its forty-fourth and forty-fifth sessions (document A/65/38) and the Note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report on the activities of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (document A/65/218).
The Committee then took action on the draft resolution on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination (document A/C.3/65/L.52).
That draft would have the Assembly express the urgent need for the resumption and accelerated advancement of negotiations within the Middle East peace process, based on the relevant United Nations resolutions, the Madrid terms of reference, including the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet Road Map, and for the speedy achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement between the Palestinian and Israeli sides. Affirming the right of all States in the region to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders, it would reaffirm the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including the right to their independent State of Palestine; as well as urge all States and the specialized agencies and organizations of the United Nations system to continue to support and assist the Palestinian people in the early realization of their right to self-determination.
The representative of Egypt, the main sponsor, made a statement, saying that the inalienable right to self-determination was enshrined in international agreements and was not a gift to be bestowed on people under foreign occupation, such as the Palestinians, who had been counting on the international community to protect their right to self-determination. It was hoped that the international community would show solidarity by adopting the resolution by consensus. The resolution would enable the Palestinians to establish on their own land a sovereign State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The Chair of the Committee said that a recorded vote had been requested. Egypt asked who had requested the vote, to which the Chair answered that Israel had made the request.
Speaking in explanation of the vote before the vote, the representative of Israel said that, shortly after being sworn in as the Israeli Prime Minister last year, Benjamin Netanyahu spoke about his vision for Israel and Palestine, discussing two free peoples living side by side, with neither threatening the other. Netanyahu had appealed to his Arab neighbours, saying, “let us talk peace”. That simple and genuine offer remained today, just as when it was first made. Israel had called for a vote on the text and would vote against it, as one-sided political resolutions would not result in real progress. Progress would, instead, take place on the ground through direct bilateral negotiations. Israel continued to call on Palestine to return to negotiations without preconditions. Peace could not happen without two sides sitting down to talk. While the resolution called for unity, it failed to discuss Hamas’ separating Gaza from the West Bank. It failed to ensure Palestine’s respect for the security of the State of Israel. Thousands of mortars had been launched at Israel from the Gaza Strip. Real peace could only be based on mutual respect.
The Committee then approved the resolution by a recorded vote of 174 in favour to 5 against (Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Nauru, Marshall Islands, United States) with 3 abstaining (Canada, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo).
In an explanation of the vote after the vote, the representative of Argentina wished to reaffirm the country’s recognition of the inalienable right of Palestine to self-determination. Self-determination required an active subject — if that subject did not exist, there would be no right to self-determination. On the issue of the Malvinas Islands, the United Kingdom had expelled the peaceful Argentine population and replaced it with its subjects. That made it a special case of decolonization and recognized as a sovereignty dispute. The means to resolve it was the renewal of bilateral negotiations to find a fair, peaceful solution. Argentina hoped that the draft resolution would result in a Palestinian State that was independent. Argentina expressed full support for the right to self-determination of people under foreign occupation.
The representative of the United Kingdom said that the Government had no doubt about the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands. The United Kingdom’s relationship with all its territories was based on partnership. Regarding the democratic relationship with those on the Falkland Islands, the people had been informed that they were entitled to self-determination. There were no indigenous people and no people had been removed. The people confirmed that they were, and had been, the only people on the Falkland Islands and did not wish to change their status.
The Observer of Palestine, expressing appreciation to those who had co-sponsored the resolution, said, without a doubt, the denial of the Palestinian people their right to self-determination remained the problem in the Middle East. The reaffirmation of that right, shown by the resolution, was crucial, until the right was realized. The resolution should not be seen as contrary to peace efforts. It was complementary and could only promote peace, not undermine it. Self-determination was not an issue under negotiation, and Palestine must not continue to be robbed of it. The message that Israel sent by casting its vote was that it rejected the creation of a Palestinian State and the idea of two States side by side. Israel violated the crux of the agreement, because it could not reject the recognition of Palestine while recognizing self-determination. The “so-called peace” alluded to by Israel was the continuation of illegal Israeli policies.
The two-State solution for peace was in serious jeopardy and was being undermined by Israel’s policies, he continued. That was unmistakably evident in the colonization of land and the creation of the wall, which were undermining the right to self-determination. That was the real threat to peace, not the resolution. The statement made by Israel merited no response, as the vote spoke for itself, and was only an attempt by a power to continue its occupation. To achieve peace in the Middle East, the recognition of the right of Palestinians to self-determination was the first step. The right of the Palestinians to self-determination would not be surrendered until that right, and the independence of the Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its capital, was a reality.
The Committee then took action on a draft resolution entitled Elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief (document A/C.3/65/L.32/Rev.1).
By its terms, the General Assembly would condemn all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief, as well as violations of freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief. It would stress that right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief applies equally to all persons. It would recognize with deep concern the overall rise in instances of intolerance and violence, including by non-State actors, directed against members of many religious and other communities in various parts of the world, including cases motivated by Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and Christianophobia. It would also condemn any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, whether it involves the use of print, audio-visual or electronic media or any other means.
The Assembly would go on to express concern over the persistence of institutionalized social intolerance and discrimination practised against many on the grounds of religion or belief, and emphasize that legal procedures pertaining to religious or belief-based groups and places of worship are not a prerequisite for the exercise of the right to manifest one’s religion or belief. It would emphasize that States have an obligation to exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate and punish acts of violence against persons belonging to religious minorities; failure to do so may constitute a human rights violation. It would also emphasize that no religion should be equated with terrorism.
The representative of Belgium, the main sponsor, on behalf of the European Union, recalled that similar resolutions had been adopted by consensus in previous years. This year’s draft had been the subject of many rounds of open and transparent informal consultations. It was regretted that, once again, it had not been possible to explicitly state in the resolution that the freedom of religion and belief included the right not only not to have, but also to change or abandon one’s religion or belief; such language had been let go for the sake of a highly valued consensus. Several oral amendments to the text were read out. At the request of the representative of South Africa, he re-read the oral amendments.
In a general statement, the representative of Morocco, on behalf of the OIC, said all forms of intolerance and discrimination based on religion and belief were opposed by that Organization, which condemned all acts of violence carried out in the name of religion. It was the belief of the Organization that all religions shared the same message of peace and respect for others. Terrorism could not and should not be associated with any religion, nationality or ethnic group. The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the issue had been consistently supported by the Organization, which had no problem with the general thrust of the resolution. Many of the Organization’s considerations had been taken into account by the co-sponsors in the final stages of consultations; it was understood that they had had to work very hard with their constituents.
Despite the compromises that had been made, however, it had not been possible to resolve differences on respect for national laws and religious norms regarding changing one’s religion, he continued. Misuse of freedom of expression was a factor in religious intolerance; working with mass media organizations to promote tolerance of religion and diversity was considered important by the Organization. Some people had been made vulnerable by the context in which they lived; it was therefore understood that the reference in the text to the vulnerable included women, children, those living under occupation and refugees, among others. It was also the understanding of the Organization that the freedom to adopt a religion or belief of one’s own choice was applicable to the individual, as well as to the religious community in which that individual belonged. Despite such divergences, it had been decided by the Organization not to oppose the draft; such resolutions ought to be adopted by consensus.
The representative of South Africa, in a “statement of opposition”, said the slanted approach in the text, particularly on the role of the media, was not helpful. It was inconceivable that the text was so silent on monitoring the role of the media vis-à-vis inciting religious hatred. His delegation dissociated itself from the text.
The Committee then approved the draft without a vote.
The Chair of the Committee stated that he had been informed that they would postpone action on the draft resolution on the programme of activities of the International Year for People of Africa Descent (document A/C.3/65/L.33).
The Committee then took up the draft resolution on the right to development (document A/C.3/65/L.41/Rev.1).
The draft would have the Assembly welcome the outcome of the eleventh session of the Working Group on the Right to Development of the Human Rights Council, held in Geneva from 26 to 30 April 2010, endorse the recommendations adopted by consensus by the Working Group and call for their immediate, full and effective implementation by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and other relevant actors. It would also support the realization of the mandate of the Working Group, as well as emphasize the importance of the Working Group taking appropriate steps to ensure practical application of standards, including the elaboration of guidelines on the implementation of the right to development, and to develop the standards into a basis for consideration of an international legal standard of a binding nature through a collaborative process of engagement.
The draft would alsocall upon States to institute the measures required for the implementation of the right to development as an integral part of fundamental human rights, as well as express deep concern about the negative impact on the realization of the right to development owing to the further aggravation of the economic and social situation, in particular of developing countries. It would urgedeveloped countries that have not yet done so to make concrete efforts toward meeting the targets of 0.7 per cent of their gross national product for official development assistance to developing countries and 0.15 to 0.2 per cent of their gross national product to least developed countries.
The draft would call for the implementation of a desirable pace of meaningful trade liberalization, including in areas under negotiation in the World Trade Organization; a review of special and differential treatment provisions, with a view to strengthening them and making them more precise, effective and operational; the avoidance of new forms of protectionism; and capacity-building and technical assistance for developing countries as important issues in making progress toward the effective implementation of the right to development. It would call upon the United Nations funds and programmes, as well as the specialized agencies, to mainstream the right to development in their operational programmes and objectives, and stress the need for the international financial and multilateral trading systems to mainstream the right to development in their policies and objectives.
The representative of Cuba, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), said that the right of development was important to the Movement. Last year in Egypt, the heads of States of the Movement agreed to promote greater acceptance and implementation of the right to development on the international level. States were urged to create policies and measures necessary to implement the right to development as a human right. States were urged to broaden all cooperation that was mutually beneficial and removed barriers, in the context of promoting the achievement of the right to development. The human rights machinery of the United Nations was urged to ensure implementation of the right to development, as a priority. Bearing in mind that right, each year the Non-Aligned Movement presented the draft resolution on the right to development. Cuba wished to underscore the commemoration of the Declaration of Right to Development by the United Nations. There had been a technical updating of the text adopted in Geneva on 1 October 2010, including updated references to the work of the Working Group and the results reflected in the report of that group. Cuba expressed appreciation that States had traditionally supported the right to development and called upon them once again to support the resolution.
Making a general statement, the representative of Egypt, as Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed strong belief that the right to development, as well as rights such as self-determination, territorial integrity of States, and non-interference of States, were all important to laying down friendly relations among nations. The Non-Aligned Movement believed in a constructive approach, democracy and good governance at all levels and that equal treatment should be given to civil and political rights and economic and social rights, including the right to development. The past July Summit had reaffirmed the need to promote that right through constructive dialogue, capacity-building and technical assistance. It further reaffirmed the objective of making the right to development an inalienable right for everyone. The Non-Aligned Movement delegations were mandated to update and introduce the draft resolution on the right to development in the Third Committee.
Noting the interdependence of nations, the heads of States of the Movement reaffirmed the need for a new order aimed at poverty eradication, full employment and social integration, he said. The resulting downturn in economic growth severely affected the economies of developing countries, thereby impacting the right to development. It was important to address the crisis with a view to promoting human development and sustaining growth. It also was essential to promote efforts to combat hunger and foster participation by the poorest members of society in decision-making. Accordingly, all States were urged to expand cooperation with each other in ensuring development and eliminating obstacles to it, bearing in mind that lasting progress required effective development processes at the national and international levels. The international community was also urged to elaborate on a convention. Egypt regretted that some delegations had decided to put the text to a vote and hoped that they would work for consensus in the future.
The Chair of the Committee said that a recorded vote was requested. Cuba asked who requested the vote, to which the Chair answered that the United States had made the request.
Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, the representative of the United States said United States President Barack Obama had announced a new development policy that placed a premium on broad-based economic growth and sustainable systems for meeting human needs. The United States recognized that development was long-term and depended on the quality of institutions in countries. The United States regretted that it had to call a vote, but it did not believe that the text reflected a consensus on the best way to achieve development. The lead sponsor had not conducted discussions in an open manner, or in a way that moved toward consensus. There were no appropriate criteria to be used as the basis for an international legal standard. There were other problems, but it was primarily for that reason that the United States would vote “no” and urged others to do the same.
The representative of Canada said his country supported the concept of the right to development that placed the individual at its core as the main participant and beneficiary. The right to development was a bridge to other rights. Canada supported the 1986 Declaration on the Right to Development and had been engaged in discussions on the issue ever since, including in the Working Group, which had been helpful on many issues. Canada was concerned that the resolution undercut and weakened the international consensus that was built recently. Canada was concerned about a legally binding agreement on the right to development, as there was no international consensus that would justify it at present. It was better to focus on developing and sharing best practices to create favourable conditions for individuals to reach their potential, rather than legal conditions. Canada regretted that its concerns were not considered by the sponsors, and hoped that the views of all partners would be reflected in the future. Canada would vote against the resolution.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution by a recorded vote of 130 in favour to 22 against, with 28 abstaining.
Providing a statement in explanation of the vote after the vote, the representative of Switzerland said that his Government had voted “no” due to the current wording of operative paragraph 8, which was at odds with the same paragraph adopted in Geneva. Switzerland had voted “yes” earlier, but two words made the difference, so it was necessary for the delegation to distance itself. The informal meeting was also absent of negotiations worthy of that name. It was impossible to move forward in this regard, and Switzerland hoped that there would be a more inclusive approach next year.
The representative of Belgium, on behalf of the European Union, expressed its commitment to the right to development of every individual. The European Union believed the right to development was an integral part of human rights, and said it would continue to play an active role through the establishment of partnerships. The European Union had demonstrated the importance of the right to development, and had been the largest provider of development aid to third States. It was primarily the responsibility of States to promote the right to development, with the support of the international economic environment, understanding that human rights instruments addressed the obligation to citizens and not among States. Since the definition of the right to development was ever-changing and ambiguous, it did not imply an international legal nature. The elaboration of criteria and sub-criteria was necessary.
The European Union was also looking forward to contributing to the Working Group on the Right to Development in 2011, and expressed condolences for the recent passing of the former Chair of the Working Group. The European Union had engaged constructively and put forth suggestions to reach a broader consensus, and had actively supported resolutions both in New York and Geneva when the author had truly used a constructive approach, as was the case a few weeks ago in the Human Rights Council. However, this year, like last, that approach was not taken into consideration. The European Union reiterated its suggestion that the Non-Aligned Movement instead consider a procedural resolution on the right to development.
The Committee took up the draft on the right to food (document A/C.3/65/L.42/Rev.1).
That draft would have the Assembly reaffirm that hunger constitutes an outrage and a violation of human dignity that requires urgent measures for its elimination. It would encourage all States to take action to address gender inequality and discrimination against women, in particular where it contributes to the malnutrition of women and girls, including measures to ensure the full and equal realization of the right to food and ensure that women have equal access to resources, including income, land and water and their ownership, as well as full and equal access to education, science and technology, to enable them to feed themselves and their families. It would also encourage the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on the right to food to continue mainstreaming a gender perspective in the fulfilment of his mandate. Recognizing that 80 per cent of hungry people live in rural areas and 50 per cent are small-scale farmholders, and that these people are especially vulnerable to food insecurity, it would state that support by States for small farmers, fishing communities and local enterprises is a key element for food security and the provision of the right to food.
The Assembly would call for the early conclusion and a successful, development-oriented outcome of the Doha Round as a contribution to creating international conditions that permit the full realization of the right to food. It would call upon Member States, the United Nations system and other relevant stakeholders to support national efforts aimed at responding rapidly to the food crises occurring across Africa, and express its deep concern that funding shortfalls are forcing the World Food Programme to cut operations across different regions, including Southern Africa. Supporting the realization of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on the right to food, it would request the Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide all the human and financial resources necessary for the effective fulfilment of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, as well as to call upon all Governments to cooperate with and assist the Special Rapporteur in his task, to supply all necessary information requested by him, and to give serious consideration to responding favourably to the requests of the Special Rapporteur to visit their countries to enable him to fulfil his mandate more effectively.
The representative of Cuba, the main sponsor, said the right to food had been recognized in a number of international instruments, but its full enjoyment remained a utopia. One billion people were thought to be living in hunger, with the majority of them in developing countries. It was noted in the draft that it would not be possible for proper priority to be given to the right to food without a consolidation of the economic climate in a manner that would be conducive to its resolution. Urgent measures had to be taken at all levels to eliminate hunger, including the provision of technical and financial resources from all sources.
The Committee then approved the draft without a vote.
The representative of Argentina said the eradication of hunger was imperative. His country would continue to fight against trade-distorting policies in developed countries which had contributed to acute food insecurity.
The representative of the United States said it was a key foreign policy objective of President Obama and his administration to improve global food security. However, his country did not treat the right to food as an enforceable obligation and it did not recognize conventional or customary international law as it concerned food. The reference to the obligation of Member States was regarded as applicable only to the extent that they had such obligations. While the United States was the biggest food donor, it did not concur that it had extraterritorial obligations arising from the right to food. The United States was committed to international trade liberalization and the conclusion of the Doha Round; opening markets and international trade agreements could generate economic growth that would in turn spur development. By joining consensus, the United States supported the continued implementation of trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPs) as they related to agriculture.
The representative of Belgium, on behalf of the European Union, said the European Union was fully committed to the realization of the right to adequate food. It was the primary responsibility of States to take the necessary measures to meet the vital food needs of their people, and it was important for States to mainstream a human rights perspective in their national strategies aimed at achieving food security. Regarding operative paragraph 15 and food sovereignty, the European Union did not agree that States could adopt policies that ran counter to a rules-based international system. Entitlements had to be strengthened as well as production. The adoption of the text without a vote was welcomed by the European Union, which thanks Cuba for engaging in a constructive dialogue.
The Committee then took action on the draft resolution entitled Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (document A/C.3/65/L.43).
By its terms, the General Assembly would reaffirm that States must ensure that any measure taken to combat terrorism complies with their obligations under international law, in particular human rights, refugee and humanitarian law. It would also express serious concern at violations of human rights, fundamental freedoms and international refugee and humanitarian law committed in the context of countering terrorism. It would reaffirm that counter-terrorism measures must not be discriminatory on grounds such as race, colour, sex, language, religion or social origin. States would be urged to undertake a number of measures, including respecting the right of persons to a fair trial and protecting all human rights, bearing in mind that certain counter-terrorism measures could impact the enjoyment of those rights.
Among other measures, States would be urged to fully respect non-refoulement obligations under international refugee and human rights law, and to refrain from returning persons, including in cases related to terrorism, to their countries of origin or to a third State if their life or freedom would be threatened on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. States would also be urged not to resort to profiling based on stereotypes, and to ensure that interrogation methods used against terrorism suspects are consistent with their international obligations.
The representative of Mexico said the proposals received allowed them to strengthen the text even more and showed the importance the international community placed on protecting human rights while countering terrorism. He made some oral amendments to the text, including a new paragraph as operative paragraph 13 which calls upon the United Nations entities involved in supporting counter-terrorism efforts to continue to facilitate the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as due process and the rule of law, while countering terrorism.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote.
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