Third Committee Approves Eight More Draft Resolutions as Current Session Concludes; Durban Commemorative Meeting, Regulating Private Security Companies among Issues
Third Committee Approves Eight More Draft Resolutions as Current Session Concludes; Durban Commemorative Meeting, Regulating Private Security Companies among Issues
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
51st & 52nd Meetings (AM & PM)
Third Committee Approves Eight More Draft Resolutions as Current Session Concludes;
Durban Commemorative Meeting, Regulating Private Security Companies among Issues
Also Approves Texts on Religious Defamation, Child Rights, World Drug Problem,
UN Crime Prevention, African Refugees, Year of People of African Descent in 2011
Concluding its work for the current session today, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) approved eight draft resolutions involving issues ranging from the follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action to monitoring the use of mercenaries and combating defamation of religions.
These approvals brought the total number of texts that the Committee will forward to the General Assembly for adoption during the sixty-sixth session to 58, focusing on questions of human rights, crime prevention, women, social development, racial discrimination and self-determination.
By the draft resolution entitled global efforts for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, the General Assembly will decide to hold a one-day high-level meeting to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, at the level of Heads of State and Government, on the second day of next session’s general debate.
This high-level meeting will be held under the theme “Victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance: Recognition, Justice and Development”, and will consist of an opening plenary, consecutive round tables and thematic panels and a closing plenary meeting. The President of the General Assembly will be called on to appoint co-facilitators to conduct consultations on the scope, modalities, format and organization of the high-level meeting.
The draft was approved by a recorded vote of 121 in favour to 19 against, with 35 abstentions. Voting against the resolution, the representatives of Belgium (on behalf of the European Union) and the United States expressed regret regarding the choice of the date, which would follow closely the sensitive tenth anniversary of “9/11”, while Switzerland said there was a lack of clear focus on the international legal obligations in the fight against racism.
The draft resolution on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination was approved by a recorded vote of 123 in favour to 52 against, with 6 abstentions. Under its terms, the General Assembly will encourage Member States to carefully consider the draft proposal prepared by the Human Rights Council’s Working Group aimed at a possible new international legal instrument regulating private military and security companies.
Member States will be encouraged to contribute to the work of the open-ended intergovernmental Working Group, which has a mandate to consider the elaboration of an international regulatory framework, including the option of a legally binding instrument on the regulation, monitoring and oversight of the activities of private military and security companies.
Deeply alarmed at the rising trends towards discrimination based on religion or belief, including in some national policies, laws and administrative measures, the Committee also approved a draft resolution entitled combating defamation of religions by a recorded vote of 76 in favour to 64 against, with 42 abstentions.
By the draft, the General Assembly would note with deep concern the intensification of the overall campaign of vilification of religions and incitement to religious hatred. At the same time as the text was approved, the representatives of Brazil and Belgium noted that elements of the draft were at odds with international legislation and that, in the context of international human rights law, the concepts of defamation or vilification were not applicable.
Additionally, adopted without a vote today were draft resolutions on the rights of the child; assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa; international cooperation against the world drug problem; strengthening the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme, in particular its technical cooperation capacity; and the programme of activities of the International Year for People of African Descent. The Committee also adopted its tentative programme of work for the sixty-sixth session of the General Assembly, submitted by the Chair of the Committee.
Also speaking today were representatives of Sierra Leone (on behalf of the African Group), Uruguay (on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group and the European Group), Syria, Chile, Algeria, Cuba, Mexico, El Salvador, Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Italy, Turkey, Morocco (on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference), Argentina, United Kingdom, Singapore, Guatemala, Colombia, South Africa, Yemen, Costa Rica, Israel and the Netherlands.
The Observer of the Holy See also spoke.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to take action on the following draft resolutions: Assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa (document A/C.3/65/L.56), Rights of the child (document A/C.3/65/L.21/Rev.1), Use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination (document A/C.3/65/L.54/Rev.1), Strengthening the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme, in particular its technical cooperation capacity (document A/C.3/65/L.15/Rev.1), International cooperation against the world drug problem (document A/C.3/65/L.16/Rev.1), Global efforts for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (document A/C.3/65/L.60), Programme of activities of the International Year for People of African Descent (document A/C.3/65/L.33/Rev.1, with an amendment thereto A/C.3/65/L.67), Combating defamation of religions (document A/C.3/65/L.46/Rev.1) and Tentative programme of work of the Third Committee for the sixty-sixth session of the General Assembly, submitted by the Chair of the Committee (document A/C.3/65/L.66).
Action on Draft Resolutions
The Committee then took action on a draft resolution on assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa (document A/C.3/65/L.56).
The draft would have the Assembly express grave concern about the deteriorating conditions in some of the refugee camps in Africa. Emphasizing that States have the primary responsibility to provide protection and assistance to internally displaced persons within their jurisdiction, as well as to address the root causes of the displacement problem in appropriate cooperation with the international community, it would call upon African Member States that have not yet signed or ratified the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa to consider doing so as early as possible, in order to ensure its early entry into force and implementation. It would also call upon the international community, including States and the Office of the High Commissioner and other relevant United Nations organizations, to contribute generously to projects and programmes aimed at alleviating the plight of refugees, returnees and displaced persons, as well as to intensify their support to African Governments through appropriate capacity-building activities, such as including training of relevant officers and disseminating information about refugee instruments and principles.
The representative of Sierra Leone, the main sponsor, on behalf of the African Group, said a decrease in the refugee population in Africa in 2009 compared with the previous year was an indication of progress in addressing the problem. However, renewed armed conflict had led to new outflows of refugees and more internal displacement. Cognizant that sexual violence in conflict was a global security concern, the resolution this year had been updated to underline that issue. On the sixtieth anniversary of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the African Group acknowledged the efforts it had undertaken to improve the situation of refugees. Through consultations, an effort had been made to try to streamline the text with a view to sending a stronger message to all stakeholders concerned. A number of oral amendments were made to the text; the African Group looked forward to its adoption by consensus.
The Committee then approved the draft without a vote.
The Committee then took action on a draft resolution on the rights of the child (document A/C.3/65/L.21/Rev.1), a wide-ranging text of.46 operative paragraphs under four sections: implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Optional Protocols; Promotion and Protection of the rights of the Child and non-discrimination; implementing child rights in early childhood; and follow-up.
By the terms, the General Assembly would call upon States to ensure the enjoyment by children of all their civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights without discrimination. It would reaffirm previous resolutions on the rights of the child on such issues as elimination violence against children; prevention and eradication of the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography; and children affected by armed conflict.
The General Assembly would appeal to Member States, the United Nations system, international financial institutions and others to provide speedy, sustainable and adequate support for countries affected by major natural disasters, and for human rights in general - and child rights in particular - to be mainstreamed in such efforts. On child labour, it would call on States to make good their commitment to eliminate child labour likely to be hazardous or to interfere with a child’s education. The right of children to express their views freely in all matters affecting them would be reaffirmed.
By the terms of the draft, the General Assembly would go on to emphasize that full realization of the rights of all children depends on good maternal health, and that any form of discrimination against young children reduces their survival prospects and quality of life. The primary responsibility of the family for the upbringing and development of young children would be recognized, with the State and the community as a whole supporting parents, families, legal guardians and caregivers to care for early childhood.
The representative of Uruguay, on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group and the European Group, which were all co-sponsors, made several oral amendments to the draft resolution. He noted that the revised resolution was the result of 15 informal meetings concerning the protection of the rights of the child. The draft’s scope forced the co-sponsors to consider the concerns of all delegations and to make commitments in sensitive areas of the text. The co-sponsors had carefully considered all proposals to achieve a balanced text, so as to have broad majority support and to be able to call for approval by consensus. He thanked all the participants for their constant support and demonstration of flexibility. He also thanked the delegation of Belgium for its invaluable support.
The representative of Belgium, on behalf of the European Union, thanked all the delegations for their active input. It was pleased to see that so many delegations from so many regions participated in the 15 rounds of informal meetings and one co-sponsors meeting. They felt that the text was significantly improved in the last few weeks. They had tried to balance all suggestions, but realized that they could not include all considerations, which was nearly impossible with so many partners. However, they took into account all views and, even at the last minute, kept discussions open and tried to make improvements. Last year, this resolution was, for the first time, adopted by consensus. Everyone applauded that accomplishment because the rights of the child were dear to all. This year, they believed that the draft merited the same adoption. Therefore, they wished to appeal once more to the sense of compromise and flexibility of all and stated that they would appreciate their support.
The representative of the United States said it was extremely pleased to co-sponsor the draft resolution. Consistent with the principles of the rights of the child, the United States continued its domestic efforts to protect those rights and to pursue ways to ensure that the rights were realized. The United States had worked with countries in the room to improve the rights of children everywhere. The Government recognized that early childhood was important. It had promoted initiatives to support early childhood education through investing greater funds to programs such as, for example, the “Race to the Top” and grant competitions. United States agencies also collaborated in six early learning programs relating to, for example, standards, curriculum assessment, data systems, health promotion and family engagement. The United States looked forward to working on next year’s resolution focusing on children with disabilities. However, the co-sponsors had the understanding that there was no change in current treaties or international law, and that the resolution reaffirmed prior documents, including concerning the abolition of juvenile life imprisonment without parole.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution, as orally revised, and broke into applause as it did so.
Making a statement after the adoption of the draft resolution, the observer of the Holy See said he had to point out that any such resolution should be faithful to the explicit contents of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, to which the Holy See and many other States were party. It was the international normative instrument to protect children. One of the fundamental principles of the Convention was respect for all children, born and unborn. It was dismaying that the present resolution contained various elements that attempted to introduce confusion, in that regard. The Holy See wished to point out that, while the text called upon States to include provisions for early childhood, it introduced ambiguous terms such as “sexual and reproductive health,” to which the Holy See had consistently raised objections, was not found in the Convention and had no place in such a resolution. Another fundamental principle of the Convention was that parents had the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of their child; however, it was disconcerting that the resolution attempted to go beyond what was laid down in the Convention in that regard.
Finally, he said the Holy See had concerns regarding the Committee on the Rights of the Child going beyond its mandate. Such a body could not be excused from adhering to the traditional rules of interpretation of law and undermine the fundamental rationale of law — to protect life. In that regard, studies that the Committee recommended constituted private opinions, which could not create any legally binding commitment. A resolution on children that introduced elements running directly counter to the Convention could not but cause States to question the reason for ratification of such international instruments.
The representative of Syria said that the delegation joined the consensus out of a belief in according special status to children in the interests of the international community. Syria was exerting strenuous efforts in the field of childcare in the framework of considerable national projects covering all aspects of childhood. Syria regretted that the international community had not shouldered its responsibilities and incorporated a reference to the suffering experienced by children under the yoke of foreign occupation. That was particularly so in addressing some challenges faced by children in early childhood. It was important to call upon the occupying power to shoulder its responsibilities and protect those children and care for them, by virtue of Article 38 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and by dint of its other international responsibilities. He wished to state its understanding of Article 43, which called upon States to streamline their policies and programmes relating to children in territories under their tutelage and guarantee the provision of quality services necessary for the welfare of children at their early stages, particularly those who lived under the yoke of Israeli occupation. Syria wished to emphasize its understanding of the section on children affected by armed conflict as applying in full to the situation of children chafing under the yoke of foreign occupation.
The representative of Chile said that members of the Committee had worked for consensus since the previous omnibus resolutions, making it possible to focus on thematic areas. During this session, they had agreed on language not dealt with until now. In accordance with recent meetings, which led to the Moscow Framework for Action and Cooperation, there was now a framework for meeting the challenges of early childhood and the resolution was a turning point in making early childhood a cross-cutting issue.
The representative of Algeria said that the delegation was sorry to have been late, but that it would like to join the co-sponsors.
Concluding its consideration of the promotion and protection of the rights of children, the Committee took note of the report of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (document A/65/41) and report of the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (document A/65/221).
The Committee then took action on a draft resolution on use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination (document A/C.3/65/L.54/Rev.1).
By its terms, the General Assembly – welcoming the establishment of a Working Group of the Human Rights Council with a mandate to consider the possibility of an international regulatory framework for private military and security companies – would reaffirm that the use of mercenaries and their recruitment, financing and training are causes for grave concern to all States and violate the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. It would recognize that armed conflict, terrorism, arms trafficking and covert operations by third Powers, inter alia, encourage the demand for mercenaries. States would be urged to take legislative measures to ensure that their territories and nationals are not used for the recruitment, assembly, financing, training, protection or transit of mercenaries. States would be requested to exercise the utmost vigilance against any kind of recruitment, training, hiring or financing of mercenaries by private companies offering international military consultancy and security services, as well as to impose a specific ban on such companies intervening in armed conflicts or actions to destabilize constitutional regimes.
The Assembly would encourage States that import military assistance, consultancy and security services provided by private companies to establish regulatory mechanisms for the registration and licensing of such companies in order to ensure that human rights are not violated by their services. It would emphasize its utmost concern about the impact of the activities of private military and security companies on the enjoyment of human rights, in particular when operating in armed conflicts, and note that private military and security companies and their personnel are rarely held accountable for human rights violations. It would condemn recent mercenary activities in developing countries in various parts of the world, in particular in areas of conflict, and the threat they pose to the integrity of and respect for the constitutional order of those countries and the exercise of the right of their peoples to self-determination. It would call upon States to investigate the possibility of mercenary involvement whenever and wherever criminal acts of a terrorist nature occur and to bring to trial those found responsible or to consider their extradition, if so requested. It would condemn any form of impunity granted to perpetrators of mercenary activities and urge all States to bring them to justice.
The representative of Cuba, the main sponsor, said attention was drawn in the draft resolution to the severe problem of the use of mercenaries and the ensuing impact on human rights. States were called upon in the resolution this year to consider new international instruments to regulate private security companies and to work with the Human Rights Council to consider an international regulatory framework for supervision and monitoring of such enterprises.
The Chair, MICHEL TOMMO MONTHE (Cameroon), said a recorded vote had been requested. The representative of Cuba asked who had made the request. He replied that the United States had done so.
In an explanation of vote before the vote, the representative of Belgium, on behalf of the European Union, said concerns about the dangers of mercenaries as expressed in the report of the working group were shared by the European Union. However, neither the Third Committee nor the Human Rights Council were the proper forums for addressing mercenary activities. It was an issue that should not be tackled from the perspective of human rights violations and the right of peoples to self-determination. Private security companies were different from mercenaries and those employed by such companies could not usually be considered to be mercenaries. Questions involving such companies touched upon several different aspects of international law. The draft could not be supported by the European Union, which would vote against it.
The representative of Switzerland said his country supported better regulation of security companies. It also supported the drawing up of a code of conduct that such companies could adhere to. It was satisfied that the main sponsor had taken into account its most important concerns and that operative paragraph 18 correctly reflected the mandate of the intergovernmental Working Group set up by the Human Rights Council. While Switzerland did not oppose dialogue between States on an instrument to regulate private security companies, such dialogue must be based on broad international approval. As the Working Group did not have such broad support, Switzerland would abstain.
The draft was then approved by a recorded vote of 123 in favour to 52 against, with 6 abstentions (Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Fiji, Liberia, Mexico, Switzerland).
In a statement after the vote, the representative of Argentina said the right of self-determination for peoples subject to foreign occupation was fully supported by his country. The draft that just been approved had to be interpreted in light of relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the Special Political and Decolonization Committee. In the case of the Malvinas, illegally occupied by the United Kingdom, the existence of a sovereignty dispute had been recognized and the only way to resolve it would be to renew bilateral negotiations, so as to find a fair peaceful and lasting solution, bearing in mind interests of the people.
The representative of the United Kingdom said his country was in no doubt about its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands. There would be no negotiations unless the islanders so wished. The relationship between the United Kingdom and its overseas territories was a modern one, based on whether those territories wished to maintain a link with the United Kingdom. Elected representatives of the Islands had expressed their views in the “Committee of 24”; there was no wish for change among a people whose presence on the Islands, which had no indigenous population, went back eight generations.
The representative of Argentina reiterated his delegation’s position, and recalled the statement made by his country’s Foreign Minister to the Special Political and Decolonization Committee regarding the Malvinas.
The Committee then took up the draft resolution on international cooperation against the world drug problem (document A/C.3/65/L.16/Rev.1).
The draft would have the Assembly express grave concern that the world drug problem continues to constitute a serious threat to public health and safety, the well-being of humanity and national security and sovereignty of States, and that it undermines socio-economic and political stability and sustainable development. The text notes there is a global increase in the abuse of certain drugs, proliferation of new substances and increasing sophistication of transnational organized crime groups engaged in their manufacture and distribution. Conscious of the need to raise public awareness of the risks and threats posed to all societies by the different aspects of the world drug problem, the draft calls upon States to take the necessary measures to implement the actions and attain the goals and targets set out in the Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem.
The draft would also urge the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to increase collaboration with intergovernmental, international and relevant regional organizations involved in combating the world drug problem, as appropriate, in order to share best practices and to maximize the benefits from their unique comparative advantage. It would urge all Governments to provide the fullest possible financial and political support to UNODC by widening its donor base and increasing voluntary contributions, as well as urge States that have not done so to consider ratifying or acceding to, and States parties to implement, as a matter of priority, all the provisions of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 as amended by the 1972 Protocol, the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971, the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988, the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols thereto and the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
The representative of Mexico, the main sponsor, said the draft had been cosponsored by over 50 countries, which showed the consensus of the international community with regard to fighting the drug problem and coming up with strategies. He noted a small editorial mistake in the revised version in paragraph 6. The draft resolution was the result of numerous rounds of consultations, which showed the resolve of the international community. To address the drug problem, the principle of shared responsibility was needed to reduce the supply and consumption of drugs, and to assist consumer and transit countries. There was also concern, because of social and health problems and the need to protect minors. Respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity was reaffirmed while combating the problem. He thanked all delegations and said that it trusted, as in previous years, the draft resolution could be adopted without a vote.
Making a statement in connection with the draft, the representative of Chile said that, as in previous years, the country had co-sponsored the resolution and was grateful that negotiations had allowed them to agree on a substantive text. Chile promoted effective treatments and support for human rights in treating drug addiction. Although the issue was included in the preamble, Chile trusted that an express reference would be included to combat discrimination against those consuming drugs and against drug addicts, as part of a holistic approach. Chile was promoting a 2011 new national drug strategy which would provide social integration to those with a drug problem through work across all sectors.
The representative of El Salvador said his Government was convinced that the strategy to fight drug trafficking and associated crimes should be part of a coordinated national, regional and hemispheric strategy. Central America and Mexico had adopted several conventions, as part of a strategy to fight organized crime, gangs, terrorism and corruption, taking as a framework the international ratified agreements on the issue, as well as regional and global agreements against terrorism. The consequences of the consumption of psychotropic substances and the negative affect on health were alarming. Along with that scourge, there were associated crimes, such as petty crime, corruption, money laundering and trafficking in persons. Organized crime fed on the weakness of laws and corruption, which was the main reason why the problem continued.
The phenomenon of gangs was no longer just a problem of marginalization, but of organized crime, he said. El Salvador had adopted rehabilitation and socialization programs that called for international cooperation. Illicit crimes, transnational crimes and problems derived from them were not restricted to the territory of a single State; hence, there was a need for international cooperation and shared responsibility. A clear example of this was the resolution by Mexico, which included the concern of the international community with regard to the major problems it was now facing regarding that scourge. For that reason, El Salvador fully supported the resolution.
The representative of Venezuela said his Government believed that, in spite of increased efforts made by some States, the world drug problem continued to threaten the well-being of humanity, as well as the stability of many countries. It was of special concern to his country that illegal crops of natural origin had skyrocketed, affecting countries like Iran, which bordered major centres of production. Venezuela was pleased to see that there was a call for Member States to intensify international cooperation with transit countries. The increase in the productivity of illicit drugs of natural origin was a serious problem to be dealt with, and there should be policies to solve that problem. He wished to state that he did not recognize the existence of systematic links between crimes, such as drug trafficking and other transnational crimes, since each had a different motive. That automatic linkage meant that due process and presumption of innocence were not being observed. Links were not automatic, nor were they constant, and they should be studied on a case by case basis. He thanked Mexico for its constructive, open approach in developing the draft resolution and including the concerns of all participants.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution, as orally corrected.
The representative of Belgium, on behalf of the European Union, said that the European Union wished, first, to thank the Mexican delegation for the amount of effort put into the negotiation. The European Union welcomed the initial draft at the co-sponsors’ meeting on 8 October and also welcomed the progress made in the negotiations. The Union would continue to participate in matters aimed at combating the international drug problem.
The representative of Trinidad and Tobago, on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said the Community had been were pleased to have joined the consensus on the issue and to have co-sponsored the text as a bloc, as it remained committed to eradicating the scourge of the illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and the associated criminal activities in the sub-region. The Community was satisfied that some of their concerns had been taken into consideration and reflected in the text, particularly: the impact of the illicit use, production and trafficking of narcotic drugs on children and youth; the importance of international cooperation to more effectively address this pressing problem, including through cross-border cooperation; and the fundamental role of UNODC and its regional offices in assisting States in efforts. However, CARICOM remained deeply concerned about the financial situation of the Office, which had been requested to increase cooperation and continue to provide assistance and support to States without the appropriate financial resources. He hoped that United Nations Member States would collectively review the financial situation of the Office and ensure it had the appropriate resources to effectively fulfil its responsibilities.
The Committee took up the draft on strengthening the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme, in particular its technical cooperation capacity (document A/C.3/65/L.15/Rev.1).
The draft would have the Assembly express deep concern about the increasing challenge to development, peace and security and human rights posed by transnational organized crime, as well as about the increasing connection between transnational organized crime, illicit drugs, illegal arms trafficking, money-laundering and terrorism, calling upon Member States to strengthen their efforts to cooperate, as appropriate, at the bilateral, subregional, regional and international levels to counter effectively transnational organized crime.
The Assembly would request that UNODC enhanced its efforts, within existing resources and within its mandate, in providing technical assistance and advisory services for the implementation of its regional and subregional programmes in a coordinated manner with relevant Member States and regional and subregional organizations. It also would urge UNODC to continue providing technical assistance to Member States to combat money-laundering and the financing of terrorism through the Global Programme against Money-Laundering, and to increase collaboration with intergovernmental, international and regional organizations that have transnational organized crime mandates, as appropriate, in order to share best practices and to take advantage of their unique and comparative advantage.
The draft would also urge Member States that have not yet done so to ratify or accede to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols thereto, the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the international conventions and protocols related to terrorism. Additionally, it would requests the Secretary-General to continue to provide the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime with adequate resources to promote, in an effective manner, the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the United Nations Convention against Corruption and to discharge its functions as the secretariat of the conferences of the parties to the conventions, in accordance with its mandate.
The representative of Italy, the main sponsor, said the draft was the result of several rounds of informal consultations. Transnational organized crime was a global threat that impacted on human rights, economic growth and social development. Crime was a development issue that no State could address alone. The Convention on Transnational Crime (the Palermo Protocol) was unprecedented; its adherence and implementation had to be universal. The resolution had three main purposes: to highlight the fight against transnational crime within the framework of the United Nations; to promote the implementation of all pertinent United Nations instruments, including the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and to confirm the support of Member States for the technical assistance given by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Some essential updates were incorporated into the draft this year, including a connection between transnational organized crime and terrorism. It welcomed the adoption of a United Nations global plan of action to combat trafficking in persons; such important issues as trafficking in cultural property and youth crime were addressed for the first time, as well. He drew attention to preambular paragraph 24 and operative paragraph 35 regarding the financial needs of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
In a general statement, the representative of Turkey, citing mistakes in the report cited in preambular paragraph 11 (The Globalization of Crime – a Transnational Organized Crime Threat Assessment), disassociated his delegation from that paragraph.
The representative of El Salvador called transnational organized crime a severe threat to national and international security. Stressing shared responsibility, he said it was important for States to exchange best practices and strengthen institutions. Like other countries in its region, El Salvador had been affected by drug trafficking and related violence and transnational organized crime. Enormous sacrifices had been made, and enormous costs assumed, in fighting drug trafficking. Work needed to continue at the bilateral and multilateral levels to strengthen cooperation. The draft was fully supported by El Salvador.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote.
The representative of Venezuela said the fight against transnational organized crime should take place in a concerted fashion, with international cooperation and full respect for the sovereignty of States. Although her country had joined consensus, it had reservations over a number of preambular paragraphs. A systematic linkage between crimes was not recognized by Venezuela, as each crime had its own motive. Nor did it believe that a linkage between terror and transnational organized crime was automatic. Crimes should be analysed on a case by case basis. The principle of shared responsibility had not been enshrined in any treaty or convention currently in force against terrorism, and there was no internationally agreed definition of terrorism. Terrorism was an issue that should be dealt with by the Sixth Committee. Excessive references to terrorism in the draft went beyond its scope. The mandate of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime was limited to extending assistance to States that requested it. He expressed sincere gratitude to Italy for the enormous efforts it had made in preparing the draft.
The representative of Trinidad and Tobago, on behalf of CARICOM, said her subregion had been greatly impacted by transnational organized crime. References in the draft to preventing youth crime, illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons, and the role of UNODC and its regional offices were appreciated. The financial situation of UNODC was a strong concern for CARICOM, particularly in light of a growing demand for the services of the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme. CARICOM had hoped for a stronger show of support by Member States in the resolution in reiterating a request to the Secretary-General to submit proposals in his 2012-2013 programme budget to ensure that UNODC has sufficient resources.
Concluding its consideration of crime prevention and criminal justice, the Committee took note of the report of the Secretary-General on technical assistance in implementing the international conventions and protocols related to terrorism (document A/65/91), the report of the Secretary-general on improving the coordination of efforts against trafficking in persons(document A/65/113) and the report of the Secretary-General on the twelfth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (document A/65/92).
Concluding its consideration of social development, the Committee took note of the comprehensive study on the impact of the converging world crises on social development (document A/64/174)
The Committee then took action on a draft resolution entitled combating defamation of religions (document A/C.3/65/L.46).
By its terms, the General Assembly would express deep concern at the negative stereotyping of religions and manifestations of intolerance and discrimination in matters of religion or belief still evident in the world. It would strongly deplore psychological and physical violence and assaults, and incitement thereto, against persons on the basis of their religion or belief, and such acts directed against their businesses, properties, cultural centres and places of worship, as well as the targeting and desecration of holy books, holy sites and religious symbols and venerated personalities of all religions. It would express deep concern at the programmes and agendas pursued by extremist organizations and groups aimed at creating and perpetuating stereotypes about certain religions, in particular when condoned by Governments.
The Assembly would note with deep concern the intensification of the overall campaign of defamation of religions, and incitement to religious hatred in general, including the ethnic and religious profiling of Muslim minorities in the aftermath of the tragic events of 11 September 2001. It would express deep concern that Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism, and reaffirm the obligation of all States to enact the legislation necessary to prohibit the advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence. It would call upon all States to do their utmost to ensure that religious places, sites, shrines and symbols and venerated personalities are fully respected and protected. It would affirm that the Human Rights Council shall promote universal respect for all religious and cultural values and address instances of intolerance, discrimination and incitement of hatred against members of any community or adherents of any religion, as well as the means to consolidate international efforts in order to combat impunity for such deplorable acts.
The representative of Morocco, the main sponsor, on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), together with Venezuela and Belarus, said the resolution dealt with the disturbing increase in violence related to the defamation of religion. Those trends had found their way into political circles. Discrimination based on religion had even found its way into national policies and measures that stigmatized groups belonging to certain beliefs, thereby legitimizing discrimination against them. Those groups did not enjoy freedom of thought, and their ability to observe and manifest religions freely and without coercion, violence or retaliation was impeded. OIC reiterated its belief that all rights were universal, indivisible and interrelated, as stated by the Vienna Declaration.
The importance of freedom of opinion was acknowledged, but it was also important to have a limitation of that right, he said. Freedom of expression was one of the pillars of democratic society, but the foundation of such a society could not be completed without respect for the balance among all human rights, bearing in mind their indivisible and independent nature. Respecting rights to non-discrimination on any basis was essential to building and maintaining a healthy and dynamic society. Democracy and racism were incompatible. Articles 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights called upon States to prevent the targeting of different religions and cultures.
Based on the growing defamation of religion, OIC found it necessary to continue promoting the draft. Many United Nations reports, as well as other stakeholders, noted the need to combat the increasing trend and stop the rise in the number of incitements to religious hatred. Those acts were obstacles to human rights. In that regard, OIC had conducted three rounds of informal consultations, besides organizing meetings with partners and groups in transparency. The co-sponsors had carefully considered all proposals, and had hoped to create a constructive dialogue aiming at cooperation regarding that trend. They had not lost hope and would continue their endeavours. The resolution stressed that vilification of any religions was a serious affront to human dignity. It called for combating such deplorable acts against all religions, without exception. The fact that Islam was at the core did not preclude that other religions could not be targeted. It was worth recalling that all States had agreed that terrorism could not be associated with any religion, civilization or ethnic group. It was a sign of compromise and consensus that they had reduced the concept of “defamation” and replaced it with the term “vilification” to avoid any pretext and encourage all to reach an objective consensus. States should show a higher degree of sensitivity in addressing the abuse of freedom of expression and insulting religions.
The Chair of the Committee stated that a recorded vote had been requested. The representative of Morocco asked who requested the vote, to which the Chair replied that Belgium, on behalf of the European Union, had.
Explaining the vote before the vote, the representative of Belgium, on behalf of the European Union, said that the European Union wished to reiterate its deepest commitment to tolerance, freedom of thought and freedom of religion and belief. The European Union was convinced that the ongoing dialogue on those issues would help to overcome existing differences. The European Union shared the concerns of the co-sponsors regarding all individuals worldwide who were victimized as a result of religion or belief. There should be enhanced efforts to eliminate religious intolerance, while ensuring that legal systems provided for adequate and effective guarantees and conscience for all without distinction.
However, the European Union did not agree with an approach that established a normative human rights concept aimed at religions in such concerns. The European Union believed that such a concept as defamation or vilification of religions was inconsistent with international human rights law. International human rights law protected individuals, and should not protect religions or belief systems. Neither should they be viewed as homogenous entities. Several Special Rapporteurs had addressed the need to address the problem within the international legal framework provided by the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights. Changes in the text, replacing defamation of religions with vilification of religions, did not dispel concerns regarding the establishment of a human rights concept seeking to protect religions instead of individuals.
Further, he said the European Union was concerned that the concept of defamation risked limiting the rights to freedom of expression, as well as religion or belief, and put into question the concept of practicing faith without fear. Limitations inconsistent with Articles 19 and 20 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights regarding blasphemy laws would not address his concerns. The solution rested with the right to free speech and open discussion of issues. Incitement to religious hatred was dealt with in Article 20 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights. The European Union recognized that there were legitimate concerns that the resolution sought to address, and publicly expressed its resolve to fight the phenomenon of intolerance of any individual on the grounds of belief, as well as invited everyone to show similar determination. Despite concerns, the European Union wished to express its sincere appreciation to Morocco and the coordinator of OIC. The European Union had taken note of the desire of the coordinator to look beyond the resolution and appreciated that. For that reasons noted, however, the European Union was calling for a vote and would vote against the draft resolution.
The representative of the United States said his delegation would be voting against. It had been participating for some time in discussions with a view to finding cross-regional solutions; finding common ground was always the goal. Changes to the resolution were appreciated, as was the openness to discussion, but it was disappointing to see that the text failed to bridge differences. The resolution still sought to curtail and penalize speech; it had negative implications for freedom of religion and freedom of expression. Human rights were held by individuals, not by government institutions or religions. Consensus had to be forged not by negotiations within one group, but between groups. The United States would continue to vote against a resolution that could be used to infringe on human rights under the guise of protecting human rights.
The representative of Switzerland said her delegation opposed the explicit definition of defamation as a modern form of discrimination. Doing so would add a religious element to racism. Human rights existed to protect individuals, not religions or other faith systems. Existing systems were sufficient, including articles 18, 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Changes made by OIC to the text did not ally the principled concerns of her delegation, which would vote against.
The draft was then approved by a recorded vote of 76 in favour to 64 against, with 42 abstentions.
In an explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of Brazil acknowledged several positive aspects in the resolution, including recognition of the efforts made by the Alliance of Civilizations. However, elements at odds with international legislation remained in the draft, preventing his country from approving it. In the context of international human rights law, the concepts of defamation or vilification were not applicable. Individuals had the right to practice or not to practice a religion, or to convert. Brazil was proud of its cultural, racial and religious diversity, and while intolerance and incitement to hatred faced by Muslims in many parts of the world was regretted, those who adhered to other religions were similarly affected, including those in Islamic countries.
The representative of the United Kingdom, aligning his delegation with the statement made by Belgium on behalf of the European Union, expressed unease at the term “Judaephobia”. It marked a deviation from the term “anti-Semitism”. There had been insufficient time to consider a change in wording that could have undertones of discrimination.
The representative of Singapore said his delegation had voted in favour on the understanding that the resolution applied to all religions. Free speech could not be exercised at the expense of others, and intolerance and ignorance should be opposed.
The representative of Guatemala, referring to her country’s Constitution, condemned all acts of defamation, incitement and provocation which targeted any religion, including acts in democratic, economically advanced countries in the case of certain religious symbols. Curtailment of the freedom of expression would be a new evil, however. Her delegation chose to abstain.
In a general statement, the observer of the Holy See welcomed efforts to move away from an unclear legal definition of defamation. It was hoped that, in future, more efforts could be made to address the issues raised in the resolution in a consensual way.
The representative of Morocco welcomed the approval of the draft. The intensity of the debate was recognition of the reality of the phenomenon that the draft addressed. A fundamental difference in approaches was not minor, and those differences could not go away overnight; it was a long-term undertaking. Intolerance was the common theme, and respect for human rights, the shared parameter; that is what united people. There had been a shared conviction of all members of OIC to seek a compromise in order to reach consensus. The co-sponsors were determined to come back next year with the same spirit of willingness and determination to reach wording that could be consensual. It was hoped that next year, all minds would be disposed to do likewise.
The Committee then took up the draft resolution on the programme of activities of the International Year for People of African Descent (document A/C.3/65/L.33/Rev.1).
By its terms, the Assembly would take note of the draft programme of activities for the International Year for People of African Descent and request that the Secretary-General establish a voluntary fund for the activities of the Year, to which Member States and relevant donors would be encouraged to contribute. It would request the Secretary-General to close the International Year for People of African Descent with the convening of a high-level thematic debate on the achievement of the goals and objectives of the Year. Member States would be invited to support the implementation of activities for the Year, and to cooperate constructively and decisively to ensure rapid progress and concrete results in the achievement of its objectives of the Year. The Assembly would go on to request the Secretary-General to launch the International Year for People of African Descent with an opening day ceremony on 10 December 2010, and invite the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to facilitate and assist in the implementation of activities, in collaboration with relevant United Nations entities and bodies.
An amendment (document A/C.3/65/L.67) would notably have the Assembly decide to adopt the draft programme of activities of the Year. It would also request the Secretary-General to close the Year with the convening of a global consultation in Geneva on the achievement of the goals and objectives of the Year. The draft programme of activities would be annexed to the resolution.
The representative of Colombia, the main sponsor, said they had attained a resolution regarding activities by Member States that would have a positive impact for people of African descent and promote greater knowledge and understanding of their culture and interests within the international agenda. The draft resolution also involved the United Nations system, with the aim of harnessing efforts throughout the Year for the People of African Descent. It included elements based on the proposal of the Secretary-General, as well as a program of activities. Colombia, then, read a number of oral amendments to the draft. Colombia hoped that the Third Committee would adopt the resolution by consensus and thanked all co-sponsors who contributed to enriching the text with contributions.
Making a statement in connection with the draft resolution, the representative of South Africa thanked the co-sponsors for their flexibility in dealing with issues important to Africa. The representative said South Africa would like to withdraw its formal amendments in draft resolution, L.67, and would lend its support to the revised resolution.
The Chair of the Committee then noted that the Secretary of the Committee needed to inform them of whether there were any budget implications. The Secretary said that the revisions were submitted last night and moved to the budget division that dealt with the provisions of additional resources, so they were now expecting to receive an oral statement any minute with regard to the revisions made to the text.
The Chair then turned to draft resolution A/C.3/65/L.60, asking the representative of Yemen its status. The representative stated that they needed time to reflect on the draft, and that the question should be addressed to their partners. The Chair next gave the floor to the representative of Belgium, who said the group needed additional time and was still waiting for information regarding the final version of the text. The representative suggested a reading of the draft amendments, after which the group would likely request a brief interruption of the meeting in order to respond rapidly.
The Committee then turned to the draft resolution entitled global efforts for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (document A/C.3/65/L.60).
By its terms, the General Assembly would express profound concern about, and its unequivocal condemnation of all forms of racism and racial discrimination, including related acts of racially motivated violence, xenophobia and intolerance, and re-emphasize that international cooperation is a key principle in achieving the goal of their total elimination. It would express grave concern that universal ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination has not yet been reached, despite commitments under the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. It would go on to recognize with deep concern the increase in anti-Semitism, Christianophobia and Islamophobia in various parts of the world, as well as the emergence of racial and violent movements based on racism and discriminatory ideas directed against Arab, Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities, as well as all religious communities, communities of people of African descent, communities of people of Asian descent, communities of indigenous people and other Communities.
The draft would also have the Assembly decide to convene on 21 September 2011, a high-level meeting of the General Assembly to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, at the level of Heads of State and Government, in order to adopt a short and concise declaration aimed at mobilizing political will for the full and effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and the outcome of the 2009 Durban Review Conference. The Secretary General would be requested to establish a programme of outreach to appropriately commemorate the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Durban Declaration, while the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat to launch a public information campaign for the commemoration of the anniversary.
The representative of Yemen, the main sponsor, read a number of oral amendments, copies of which were distributed to delegations. Among the changes, the General Assembly would decide to hold a one-day high-level meeting of the General Assembly to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Durban Declaration at the level of Heads of State and Government on the second day of the General Debate of the sixty-sixth session of the Assembly, under the theme “Victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerances: Recognition, Justice and Development”. That meeting would consist of an opening plenary, consecutive round tables/thematic panels and a closing plenary meeting. The President of the Assembly would be called upon to appoint co-facilitators to conduct consultations on the scope, modalities, format and organization of the Meeting.
The representative of Belgium asked for a 15-minute suspension of the meeting, given the number of oral amendments that had just been made. The Secretary, OTTO GUSTAFIK, said statements on programme budgetary implications relating to draft resolutions on programme of activities of the International Year for People of African Descent and global efforts for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.
The Chair, Mr. TOMMO MONTHE, granted the suspension.
Upon the resumption of the meeting, the Secretary read a statement of programme budgetary implications arising from the draft resolution on programme of activities of the International Year for People of African Descent (document A/C.3/65/L.33/Rev.1) involving a total amount of $58,200.
The draft was then approved without a vote.
The representative of Belgium, on behalf of the European Union, said that despite its doubts about international years and days, the European Union was committed to the full enjoyment of human rights by persons of African descent. However, all victims of racism and discrimination deserved same protection; any suggestion of a hierarchy between such victims should be avoided, as it risked creating new forms of racism. Initiatives should not be restricted to one ethnic group. The revised text was a balanced one. It was deeply regretted that one delegation had tried to reopen the final compromise reached by proposing amendments that had already been thoroughly discussed. The European Union could live with the revised wording of operative paragraph 4, as funding would be drawn from existing resources. It was for those reasons, among others stated, that the European Union had joined consensus on the draft as orally revised by the main sponsor.
The representative of Costa Rica expressed satisfaction that the resolution had been approved by consensus. She thanked the main sponsor and facilitator, Colombia, and all those countries that had participated in consultations.
The representative of Brazil said it welcomed the resolution regarding the International Year for the Peoples of African Descent, which showed the political will of international community. Brazil attached special importance to this initiative and applauded the constructive approach of all those involved, particularly the African Group.
Moving back to draft resolution L.60, the Chair asked about the status of the validity of the amendments. The Chair asked the representatives of Belgium and Yemen whether they were ready to proceed, to which they both responded that they were.
The Secretary of the Committee stated that the budget division would need to provide an oral statement, so it would be necessary to come back tomorrow.
The Chair encouraged the Secretary to contact the budget division once again, given that the draft resolution would be voted a final time in the plenary. After making another phone call to the budget division, the Secretary said that L.60 had been revised, and he understood the pressure of time, but in view of the revisions, the budget division would need to review the draft and the statement, if any, would be made available and provided to everyone.
With that, the issue was left to the Committee. The Chair said that he did not think the situation was so complicated, and that everyone was in agreement regarding what they put in the draft. The final draft would be put forward in the plenary. It had happened on previous occasions, where it had been accepted that any budget implications would be put forward before the final vote taken at the plenary.
The representative of Belgium, on behalf of the European Union, said that the European Union shared the concern that the objective to eradicate racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance had not yet been achieved. The International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racism should remain the basis of all efforts to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The European Union shared the view that the General Assembly must play a role in tangible improvements on the ground. The implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action was an important element in the fight against racism, and many had used it as tool to protect those subject to racism. The European Union had engaged in good faith in the draft resolution, promoting amendments aimed at establishing a clear focus and avoiding any doubt regarding protecting individuals from racism. It regretted, however, that its concerns in that domain had not been addressed. That was not a positive sign for the future.
It was decided to convene a high-level meeting, and the European Union was of the view that the commemoration should not be merely celebratory, but should continue to advance their joint anti-racist agenda. It should not distract from the actual fight against racism, but there had been a lack of reassurance from the co-sponsors in that regard. The European Union also regretted the indication of the day and theme, as well as the reference to negotiations. It was not convinced that the resolution provided a solid basis for commemoration. Many paragraphs also dealt with the follow-up mechanism to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, but the European Union had requested that work not be prejudged. The European Union was also not yet convinced of any normative gap or need for international legal norms. It was of the view that the international community should focus on the implication of the existing legal framework. It was also concerned about the new operative paragraph 5, believing that the list of contemporary forms was not based on legal grounds. The European Union could not agree with operative paragraphs 9 and 12, as racism and its related challenges needed to be fought while respecting other freedoms.
Further, he said the resolution failed to refer to States under international law, and did not recognize the positive role that freedom of expression could play in combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The European Union regretted selective reference to groups and communities throughout text. All individuals should be protected against racism or discriminatory acts. The European Union recognized the efforts of the main sponsor to organize consultative meetings in a timely manner, but did not feel that it had the opportunity to engage in open and transparent discussions. Hardly any of the European Union’s concerns had been taken on board. Additionally, the financial implications of the new draft were unclear; it was assumed that the costs would be absorbed. The European Union was not in a position to support the resolution.
The Chair said a recorded vote had been requested. The representative of Yemen asked who, and was told that Israel had made the request.
The representative of Switzerland, also on behalf of Iceland, Liechtenstein, New Zealand and Norway, said racism was a global problem. They had participated in negotiations in good faith, but a lack of time had not allowed more common ground to be found. Issues of grave concern were still contained in the resolution, and the five delegation felt compelled to abstain. Parts of the draft were not consistent with international humanitarian law, including articles 18, 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. There would be no added value in the political declaration to be adopted at the High-Level Meeting, only a year after the Durban review conference outcome document. The draft also created a hierarchy between groups, when under international law it was individuals who held human rights. The lack of a clear focus on international legal obligations in the fight against racism was regretted. It was also regrettable that the international community had not yet been able to reach consensus and unity on the question of all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance.
The representative of Israel said her country had always been a strong advocate against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance. It had been willing to work with others to that end. Nine years ago, Israel had joined others in Durban only to see its hopes dashed in the face of unabashed hatred and hostility. Deviating from constructive and innovative solutions to racism, the conference was hijacked for the purpose of demonizing Israel. When it was decided by the General Assembly to convene a Durban review conference, Israel reserved judgement, but throughout the preparatory process it became clear to Israel and others that that conference would not renounce the poisonous rhetoric of the Durban conference. Elements in the resolution before the Committee had elements that would have been positive in their own right, but neither Israel nor the entire membership of the United Nations could forget what had happened before. The tenth anniversary of the Durban Declaration would be derailed for political purposes. It was for that reason that Israel had called for a vote, in which it would vote against.
The representative of the United States said the United Nations had to continue to address racism. His country remained deeply concerned by speech that encouraged national, racial and religious hatred. Based on its own experience, it was convinced that the best antidote to offensive speech was robust legal protection, proactive government outreach and a vigorous defence of freedom of expression. The draft resolution had elements that obliged the United States to vote no. In addition to concerns addressed by others, it was deeply troubled by the choice of time and venue. Just days earlier, the tenth anniversary of 9/11 would have been marked. That would be a sensitive time for the people of New York. It was a poor choice of time and venue, but it would place a premium on ensuring a focus on the substantive. Despite differences, it was important to focus on the future. Ten years after Durban, problems of racism and discrimination remained. The United States was deeply committed to thoughtful dialogue to combat racism.
The representative of the Netherlands said his delegation would vote against. He expressed amazement and dismay at the way in which, at the last minute, a whole series of substantive amendments had been introduced, in a way that represented a fundamental disrespect for other delegations based on the idea that “we have a majority, we can do whatever we want”. That was reason enough to vote against. The fight against discrimination was supported by the Netherlands, and its vote today would not change that commitment. The principle of non-discrimination was a cornerstone of the human right system; it was a principle enshrined in his country’s Constitution. The Netherlands had enacted a number of measures to combat racism, but it could not support any effort to redirect attention to other agendas.
The draft resolution was then approved by a recorded vote of 121 in favour to 19 against, with 35 abstentions.
In a general statement after the vote, the representative of South Africa said that, contrary to what some delegations had said, attempts had been made on several occasions to try to accommodate the concerns of partners. For that reason, oral amendments had been circulated earlier in the day, almost all of which had been intended to accommodate their wills and wishes. That some partner would vote against the draft was known, but the fact was that the Group of 77 had tried to take on board all proposals. The Group of 77 was a willing partner in the fight against racism, and it would remain committed to that fight.
Concluding its consideration of the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, the Committee took note of the report of the Secretary-General on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance (document A/65/377) and the note by the Secretary-General transmitting the interim report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance (document A/65/295).
Concluding its consideration of the promotion and protection of human rights, the Committee took note of 28 documents by the Secretary-General and others on the implementation of human rights instruments; human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms; human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives; and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.
The Committee then approved, without a vote, the tentative programme of work of the Third Committee for the sixty-sixth session of the General Assembly, submitted by the Chair of the Committee (document A/C.3/65/L.66), listing 11 agenda items that the Committee would address next year.
The Chair, Mr. TOMMO MONTHE (Cameroon), made a statement in which he noted that the Committee had completed its work on schedule. He congratulated delegations for their determination, their flexibility and the serene and civil manner in which they had debated sometimes passionate questions. The Secretariat, conference officers, press officers, interpreters, engineers and technicians had given the best of themselves. Fifty-two meetings of the Committee had been held, as well as 208 rounds of consultations. More than 500 statements, explanations of vote and introductions of draft resolutions had been heard. Fifty-eight resolutions had been approved, including 33 by consensus and 15 by recorded vote. A great number of those resolutions had been co-sponsored by a very large number of Member States, often surpassing 50 in number. On the day that the President of the General Assembly had visited the Committee, a draft on the Beijing Declaration and Programme of Action on women, introduced by the Chair, had been approved. In an increasingly interdependent world, the General Assembly and the Third Committee were a common home where beneficial decisions regarding social, cultural and humanitarian matters could be initiated in order to bring hope to humanity.
Declaring the meeting officially closed, the Committee heard statements from representatives of regional groups, as well as poems from the representatives of the United Kingdom and Egypt.
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