|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-sixth General Assembly
35th Meeting (AM)
In Third Committee, States Describe National Efforts Made to Meet Human Rights
Obligations; Stress Rights Are Equal, Indivisible, Mutually Reinforcing
Hears from 20 More Speakers as Debate on Promotion of Human Rights Concludes
As the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) concluded its debate on the promotion and protection of human rights today, Member States described national efforts to meet obligations to rights that they described as “equal, indivisible and mutually reinforcing”.
Committee members, many of them developing countries, outlined how they had signed core treaties and cooperated with the review mechanism of the Human Rights Council, while stressing that economic and social rights – such as the rights to life, food and health – should be given equal weight to civil and political rights, without any hierarchy being created in the global human rights conversation.
Swaziland’s delegate said human development and human rights should reinforce each other conceptually and in practice, helping to secure the well-being and dignity of all people. “Sadly, poverty remains a widespread and daunting challenge and, as a result, inadequate economic opportunities and lack of access to basic essential services are further exacerbated,” he said.
Highlighting measures to ensure equality before the law and in the area of justice, Burkina Faso’s delegate said her country had, among other things, increased the number of judicial personnel, signed a moratorium against the death penalty, and set up a national human rights commission with the authority to visit penal institutions.
Zimbabwe’s representative affirmed his country’s commitment to the broad range of human rights, which he maintained were all equal, indivisible and mutually reinforcing. “Our national position is that there is no hierarchy among these fundamental rights,” he said, expressing great concern that civil and political rights had dominated discourse while economic, social and cultural rights were deliberately sidelined, causing “a permanent and grave injury to the human rights edifice”.
Nepal’s delegate said his country had made consistent efforts to improve its human rights situation following its 2006 peace accord and the election of the Constituent Assembly in 2008. That Assembly was now writing a new constitution, which would further consolidate human rights provisions. But, as a least developed country, Nepal confronted significant constraints in mobilizing domestic resources, he said, calling upon the international community to continue to assist its efforts.
Switzerland’s delegate stressed that peaceful protests taking place around the world should be an occasion for an open national dialogue. Such protests should encourage Governments to address the root causes that originally initiated them: inequalities, discrimination, corruption, restrictions to effective participation in public life and other major social challenges. Preventing human rights violations, particularly those committed in the context of peaceful protests, was a priority for her Government.
A number of representatives called for greater cooperation to promote human rights mechanisms. The delegate of the Philippines said, for example, that strengthened cooperation among Governments was vital to protecting the rights of migrants, combating human trafficking and eliminating that violence and exploitation – a particular concern of her country. In the global financial and economic crises, migrants were among the first to lose jobs and means of livelihood, she said, encouraging States to implement the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons and consider ratification and enforcement of relevant human rights instruments.
Also participating in today’s debate were the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iraq, Iran, Cameroon, Viet Nam, Benin, Cuba, Kuwait, Albania, Bolivia, Ethiopia and Ecuador.
Representatives of the International Organization for Migration and the Inter-Parliamentary Union also commented.
Speaking in exercise of their right of reply were the representatives of Cyprus, Japan, Serbia, Libya, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Albania.
The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. Friday, 28 October to begin its joint consideration of elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and the right of peoples to self-determination.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to continue its general discussion on the promotion and protection of human rights.
RI TONG IL (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said the promotion and protection of human rights was directly linked to development. In considering human rights, the international community should fully respect the principle of respect for national sovereignty. Indeed, where sovereignty was exercised, human rights were fully protected by the country involved. Any deliberation of human rights issues without regard for national sovereignty was simply empty talk. The killings of innocents in Afghanistan and in the Occupied Palestinian Territory showed that people fell victims when national sovereignty was infringed on. Further, politicization, selectivity and double standards should not be allowed when dealing with human rights issues. The Human Rights Council operated the Universal Periodic Review, which dealt with the human rights situation of all Member States on a regular basis and on an equal footing. Nevertheless, country-specific resolutions continued to be adopted, despite the fact that they did not contribute to the protection of human rights. It was self-evident that so-called Western values were not the only ones in the world. Using human rights issues as a means to topple the social political systems chosen by the peoples was itself a human rights violation, as well as a criminal act.
Calling for international cooperation to further promote and encourage respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, he stressed that the global problem of past human rights violations should also be addressed. In the past century, Japan occupied Korea and committed crimes against people. One million people had been killed in what constituted a genocide. Further, 8.4 million were forcibly abducted and drafted, while 200,000 comfort women were forced into slavery. Japan should draw lessons from the fact that the countries that had enforced colonial rule over other countries in the past had now settled their past through continued sincere apologies and compensation, and follow their precedent. Finally, he emphasized that human rights were inviolable in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the adoption of laws on the promotion and protection of women’s and children’s rights in December last year served as an example.
YAHYA AL-OBAIDI ( Iraq) said his Government had designed and implemented policies to promote the principles of tolerance, respect for others, multiculturalism and freedom of religion and belief. Appropriate actions were being made to ensure freedom of religion, and to protect women and other vulnerable groups. “Our Government was successful in securing areas that witnessed instability in the previous years due to terrorist groups from outside Iraq and domestic violent armed groups. Our current Government’s policy was based on encouraging the return of refugees to their homes and providing the necessary services to them,” he said. The new Iraq was seeking to fulfil its obligations under international conventions and covenants, submitting reports on the situation of human rights.
The Government had made considerable progress in developing a culture of human rights, through establishment of a national monitoring system to detect all violations, he continued, the violations that sometimes occurred in Iraq did not represent its policies. Time was needed to disinfect society and Government institutions from Saddamism, but the Constitution prohibited promotion and glorification of that culture – it prohibited all forms of violence, hatred, as well as religious and ethnic intolerance. Accountability and justice would protect the society from the epidemic of Saddamism, treating its effects and preventing its spread. “Here we would like to express appreciation for all efforts made by our brothers, friends and all international organizations that support the efforts of the national unity Government in the building of democratic institutions and the promotion of the democratic process,” he said.
MYRIAM POUSSI ( Burkina Faso) said her country’s interest in human rights stemmed from the fact that human development required the development of a democratic culture, as well as a culture of human rights. National systems had, therefore, been strengthened towards that end. The national human rights policy adopted in 2001 and national strategic plan had allowed for significant progress. A framework to operationalize the strategy had been created for the period 2013‑2015. Many measures were being taken to ensure equality before the law and in the areas of justice, health and the participation of citizens in public policy development. Burkina Faso’s national justice policy was being implemented, with a view towards making justice more effective. Among other things, the number of judicial personnel was being increased. The right to life and physical and moral integrity was also protected by a panoply of legislative texts. Burkina Faso had signed a moratorium against the death penalty. Members of the national human rights commission were allowed to visit penal institutions. The State was also working on education and awareness-raising initiatives in that regard, although prison overcrowding remained a concern.
Continuing, she said that the State was working on a law to enable political parties, and a law on quotas had also been adopted. The right to work was being implemented in the public and private sector. For its part, the Government ensured regular payment of salaries. It was also working with trade unions and other parts of civil society. Other Government programmes targeted improvements in the health sector. Higher education opportunities were also expanding, owing to increased capacity and the new private universities. Other efforts were being made to create conducive conditions for more income-generating work for women. Further, awareness-raising campaigns were being used to promote the rights of persons with disabilities.
TAGHI FERAMI ( Iran) said it was highly important for the international community to take into consideration national peculiarities, in order to slow the momentum of the growing trend of racism and intolerance that threatened societies around the globe. He regretted that the trend seemed to be occurring against one particular religion: Islam. Iran believed the adoption of the resolution on human rights and cultural diversity could help pave the way for a constructive dialogue on the benefits of all cultural heritage. Only ensuring cultural diversity and supporting cultural rights could bring lasting peace. Cultural rights should not be used to exacerbate differences, as that lead to violence. While Iran reaffirmed the universality of all human rights, the existing international order continued to be led by selective economic and political exploitation. The international community should take action to address the urgent areas of human rights concern, especially in the Middle East.
The right to development hinged on broader long-term international cooperation, and unilateral sanctions harmed the development of countries, he said. At present, certain countries continued to –- in clear contravention of international law -- prevent countries from determining their political, economic and social systems. The idea of the freedom to live in dignity was far-fetched, if the population did not enjoy equally the benefits of the globalization trend. So far, it had been enjoyed by only a few. Iran believed the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights should keep an independent, unbiased approach, avoiding in its reports and actions issues that were not internationally recognized human rights and standards. Iran had enjoyed working relations with the Office, and had made efforts to cooperate internationally in human rights. Human rights questions, including alternative approaches, were in vital need of being prioritized. Improvement of human rights would not be achieved by naming and shaming and adoption of resolutions; it would only come through negotiation in a unique environment of understanding. He went on to list numerous violations by some of the “self-professed clean countries of the world” -- nations of Europe, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada.
CÉCILE MBALLA EYENGA (Cameroon), affirming her country’s attachment to the principles of universality, indivisibility, interdependence and non-selectivity for all human rights, underlined the importance of promoting on an equal footing all human rights. The full and effective implementation of civil and political rights must be ensured alongside economic, social and cultural rights, as well as the right to development. It was regrettable that the global economic crisis had undermined the State’s ability to meet the needs of its citizens. Cameroon was determined to spare no effort in fulfilling the aspirations of its people. Her Government believed that human rights education was the best way to model values and work towards a culture conducive to peace and sustainable development.
Noting the Secretary-General’s report on the United Nations Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa, she said the Centre’s contributions to democracy were commendable, particularly in terms of advocacy, training and education in human rights. The Centre had helped institutionalize human rights training at all levels of education and helped build the capacity of national institutions throughout the region. As a result, several countries had significantly increased their commitments to human rights mechanisms, including the Universal Periodic Review. Another result was an increase in cooperation between civil society and regional bodies. Following its participation in the Universal Periodic Review on 5 February 2011, Cameroon established a follow-up mechanism to address the recommendations it had accepted. A day of consultations was organized with the Centre’s help to implement its follow-up strategy and timetable.
ZWELETHU MNISI ( Swaziland) said his Government attached great importance to the promotion and protection of human rights as one of its main objectives. Further, while great achievements had been made in international human rights cooperation since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, challenges still existed. As a developing country, Swaziland believed that greater importance should be attached to the right to development. Human development and human rights should reinforce each other conceptually and in practice, helping to secure the well-being and dignity of all people. “Sadly, poverty remains a widespread and daunting challenge and, as a result, inadequate economic opportunities and lack of access to basic essential services are further exacerbated,” he said. For its part, the international community should pay more attention to economic, social and cultural rights, such as the rights to life, food and health.
He outlined the international conventions his country was party to and said it had just completed its review by the Human Rights Council as part of the Universal Periodic Review process. His Government had approached it openly and positively.
Swaziland remained committed to the principle of non-discrimination and thus believed that no human being should be subjected to any form of discrimination as explicitly stated in its Constitution, which was in line with internationally agreed human rights principles. Swaziland was disturbed by the continued usage of undefined notions, including personal sexual preferences, interests and behaviours - which were now being introduced as new human rights, while discrimination based on race, gender, place of origin, colour, religion, creed, age or disability, and other issues such as human trafficking and violence against women and children should demand more attention. He said such notions fell outside the internationally agreed human rights legal framework and constituted expressions of disregard for the universality of human rights.
LE HOAI TRUNG (Viet Nam), aligning with the statement of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said it was gratifying to note that promotion and protection of human rights continued to be a priority, and also that conflicts in a number of countries had ended. The continued and severe impacts of the global economic crisis and events in a number of countries in North Africa and the Middle East had become salient features of this year’s international life. Viet Nam hoped that, together with efforts to deal with the crisis, there would be effective measures to assist people in need. Viet Nam’s advances in rights underlay the achievements and progressive reforms it had achieved over the last 25 years, he said.
Strengthening the State rule of law had protected rights, and new reforms in Viet Nam would address shortcomings and continue efforts in the promotion of democracy, rights and the legitimate interests of the people. Viet Nam also attached great importance to international cooperation for human rights, taking steps to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and taking steps to accede to the Convention Against Torture. The Government had submitted periodic reports to the treaty bodies, and received three United Nations independent experts since the middle of last year. “ Viet Nam has an active dialogue with international partners on human rights and considers it a productive way to exchange experience, discuss differences and broaden mutual understanding and cooperation,” he said.
THOMAS ADOUMASSE ( Benin) said his parliament had recently adopted two bills to abolish the death penalty and prohibit violence against women. Since 1990, Benin had engaged in a peaceful and democratic transition from a totalitarian system to a pluralist one. Separation of powers was stringently observed. All citizens were entitled to seize the constitutional court when their human rights were violated. The Government was working to further the conditions of all rights and to consolidate fundamental freedoms, by focusing on providing for people’s basic needs -- housing, clothing, food and education. But, despite those efforts, gaps remained in achieving the full enjoyment of all human rights. Global barriers had been placed between the North and South, as well as between Muslim and Christian faiths. The new concept of sexual orientation, sexual identity and the right to abortion were considered by some to be of priority importance. However, the majority of people still lived in poverty and the real challenge was in enabling them to live their daily lives. Everyone recognized the catalysing role that all human rights should play, particularly in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
He recalled that the impetus in the establishment of the Human Rights Council was the need to depoliticize the human rights machinery of the United Nations. Benin pledged all support to making sovereignty central in protecting human rights throughout the world. In that regard, he noted that the General Assembly’s recent review of the Council’s work had confirmed the importance of that principle. Turning to the issue of human rights learning, he said it was a life-long process of acquiring knowledge and experience. Human rights learning placed all rights on an equal footing. Moreover, it helped create a degree of harmony between the individual and the community. For these reasons, Benin had embarked on a full-fledged programme of human rights education.
GYAN CHANDRA ACHARYA ( Nepal) said that Nepal has ratified twenty-two international human rights instruments, including the six core instruments. The provisions enshrined in those instruments had been incorporated in Nepal’s Interim Constitution, 2007 and other legal instruments. Nepal has made consistent efforts to improve the human rights situation in the country following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Accord in 2006 and the election of the Constituent Assembly in 2008, which also acted as legislature-parliament of Nepal. The constituent assembly was now engaged in writing a new constitution for Nepal, and that would further consolidate human rights provisions in the constitution. He noted also the importance of the three-year human rights national action plan, as well as the National Human Rights Commission — a constitutional body with full autonomy.
Nepal was party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and its Optional Protocol. Advancement of women remained on top of Nepal’s national agenda for socio-economic development. The Government of Nepal was committed to empowering women politically, economically and socially. One-third of the members in the 601-member Constituent Assembly, including its deputy Chairperson, were women. That was a testimony to Nepal’s commitment to enhance women’s participation in the highest decision-making body. Promotion and protection of the rights of children was also national priority. Nepal was also committed to the protection and promotion of rights of the indigenous nationalities, dalit and marginalized groups. A national action plan on the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 169 was being finalized to ensure effective implementation of the Convention. Wider and effective enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms demanded adequate provision of resources, in addition to national legislations and an institutional framework. Nepal, as a least developed country, confronted significant constraints in mobilizing domestic resources. He called upon the international community to continue to assist Nepal in its efforts towards promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms of all citizens.
PEDRO NÚÑEZ MOSQUERA ( Cuba) said human rights could only be forged through cooperation, solidarity and respect. This year, Cuba again hoped that would be done to meet the urgent challenges of mankind. However, rather than having a sincere dialogue in an effort to promote and protect human rights, some Governments continued to set themselves up as the policemen of the world, promoting a unilateral, exclusive model of social organization. Cuba urged Member States to work together on the major challenges facing mankind — and the right to self-determination should be a cornerstone of all measures. Any endeavour to undermine national heritage, or impose patterns and models from the disdainful power centres of the North, were violations of human rights. Universality remained conspicuously absent from the discourse.
Freedom and democracy were not exclusive to developed countries, he said. It was increasingly necessary to enjoy the right to development, without which peace and security would not be achieved and democracy would remain a fiction. Protecting and promoting human rights could only be furthered in a manner that included full respect for the United Nations Charter. Any way to interpret them that legitimated the unipolar order was an imbalanced approach that only consolidated the power of certain countries. Cuba was ready to engage in cooperation and dialogue on human rights on the basis of mutual respect, and would continue to combat manipulation in the dialogue on human rights. The Committee must not let hypocrites manipulate its work, and Cuba would defend the use of impartiality and non-selectivity in discussing human rights.
ANA MARIE HERNANDO (Philippines), aligning with the statement of ASEAN, said her country played an active role in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and more than sixty years later continued to place promotion and protection of human rights foremost in its national agenda. Its National Human Rights Action Plan 2009‑2014 served as a blueprint for implementing eight international human rights treaties that strengthened national instruments. “We live in a globalized world where national policies and actions are bound to have repercussions that go beyond the border,” she said. “Full and effective implementation of all human rights instruments can thus be only truly achieved when efforts at the domestic front are complemented by bilateral, regional and international cooperation.”
The Philippines was particularly concerned about the situation of migrants, migrant domestic workers and members of their families. In the global financial and economic crises, migrants were among the first to lose jobs and means of livelihood. Migrants, especially women and girls, faced increased vulnerability to violence and exploitation, such as trafficking. Strengthened cooperation among Governments was vital to promote and protect the rights of migrants, combat human trafficking and eliminate that violence and exploitation. She encouraged States to implement the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons and consider ratification and enforcement of relevant human rights instruments. “Protection and promotion of the rights and welfare of all Filipinos overseas forms the third pillar of our foreign policy, and we endeavour to continue to promote and ensure the human treatment of overseas workers, including domestic workers, through, among others, domestic cooperation,” she said.
LOLWA ALRASHEED ( Kuwait) voiced her country’s support for Human Rights Council proposals to raise awareness, promote dialogue between cultures and religions, and take measures to combat intolerance and discrimination, in order to consolidate the culture of tolerance and peace based on the respect and promotion of human rights. Kuwait attached special attention to human rights principles in conformation of its Islamic belief. Indeed, anyone who studied the history of Islam would only find religious tolerance and a commitment to achieving fraternity, equality, peace and justice. Kuwait was also committed to the principles of the United Nations Charter, including those that affirmed the importance of promoting the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the individual. Its constitution sought to preserve and promote human rights, emphasizing the achievement of freedom, justice and equality for all, and granting citizens the right to expression, education and health care, without discrimination based on origin, gender, language or religion.
Noting that Kuwait had joined the Human Rights Council this year, she said it aimed to consolidate the bonds of cooperation among Member States in order to achieve human rights and fulfil their desired goals. Kuwait aimed to always side with what was right. To that end, it emphasized and renewed its commitment to condemning all practices and policies that infringed on the human rights of the Palestinians in their occupied territories. She stressed that the Palestinians had the right to self-determination, despite that right being jeopardized by the long period of Israeli occupation. Noting the report submitted by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, she condemned all acts of violence committed by Israeli settlers, which had significantly increased in 2011.
CHRISTINE LÖW (Switzerland), recalling the vast movement of peaceful protest in the Arab world, said people were ready to face the excessive use of police force and politics of repression by their own Government, notwithstanding the risk to their own lives. The rights to freedom of expression and to freedom of association were fundamental and interdependent rights that should be at the heart of every society. Indeed, it was not possible to have a vibrant society, if individuals did not dare express their opinion out of fear of being hurt, hit, beaten, tortured or even killed. One of the first priorities of the State, which had the primary responsibility to protect the rights and freedoms of people participating in peaceful protests, was to create a public space for dialogue, while guaranteeing individual rights. At the same time, States were required to take public order into consideration. But, any restriction to fundamental freedoms should abide by the principles of legality and proportionality. Restrictions should be strictly limited.
She went on to stress that peaceful protests should be an occasion for an open national dialogue. They should encourage Governments to address the root causes that originally initiated them: inequalities, discrimination, corruption, restrictions to effective participation in public life and other major social challenges. Preventing human rights violations, particularly those committed in the context of peaceful protests, was a priority for her Government. The international community should focus on the protection of specific groups, such as human rights defenders, journalists and bloggers, or on the protection of simple participants. In this, the protection of human rights remained crucial, and she highlighted the discussion that took place on 13 September in the Human Rights Council on the issue.
CHITSAKA CHIPAZIWA ( Zimbabwe) affirmed his country’s commitment to the broad range of human rights, which he maintained were all equal, indivisible and mutually reinforcing. “Our national position is that there is no hierarchy among these fundamental rights,” he said, expressing great concern that civil and political rights had dominated discourse while economic, social and cultural rights were deliberately sidelined, causing “a permanent and grave injury to the human rights edifice”. It was time for the United Nations to enhance its attention and recognition of economic and social rights. Moreover, as the protection of human rights was primarily the responsibility of national Governments, other countries and non-State actors should offer only constructive assistance and advise through dialogue and not proffer “divisive double standards and unwarranted politicization of the issues”, while respecting the sovereignty and the historical and cultural particularities of each country.
He rejected, however, the strategies of “unilateralism, confrontation, military force, sanctions, name-calling and shaming through public criticism” which he said had become “strategies employed by a handful of powerful countries to promote their political agendas in targeted countries”. He called the use of military force as a means of enforcing human rights “a dangerous development”, adding that “those powers that pretend to be paragons in the observance of human rights rent territory in compliant States and egregiously violate all human rights with impunity”. He was also concerned over the growing promotion of human rights concepts that were incompatible with international norms or the cultural realities in different societies, such as issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. Those were private matters, while, at the same time, they should not be a cause of discrimination.
FERIT HOXHA ( Albania) said it was unfortunate that yesterday this body had to listen to a statement by the Permanent Representative of Serbia which contained numerous false accusations, baseless allegations, distortions of truth and flawed conclusions. “After yesterday’s statement we ask ourselves if Serbia has regrettably opted for the well-known philosophy of repeating allegations and false accusations with the hope that, at the end, something will remain,” he said. According to the speech, everything wrong had begun once Kosovo was no longer under Serbian rule. “It is unfortunate we didn’t hear a word yesterday about those more than 11,000 men, women and children and elderly Kosovars that were brutally murdered by the Serbian security forces during 1999,” he said.
Further, he said, the General Assembly had welcomed the International Court of Justice advisory opinion that the Kosovo Declaration of Independence did not violate general international law. While the representative of Serbia underlined allegations regarding alleged traffic of organs and other crimes committed by Kosovo Albanians, he failed to inform that those allegations were not all new; they had been investigated and dropped by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. The delegation of Albania had also recently voted at the Council of Europe parliamentary assembly for a new investigation, even though his Government considered them unacceptable accusations which had no match with reality. “There is no doubt, Mr. Chairman, that all this propaganda is meant to destabilize Kosovo, to hinder its continued progress and stabilization and, above all, its ever-growing international recognition,” he said.
INGRID SABJA DAZA ( Bolivia) said the fundamental rights of all Bolivians were guaranteed in the new constitution on the basis of the principles of universality, non-selectivity, impartiality and objectivity. Noting the process of democratic change unfolding in Bolivia, she said the State had worked in a participatory fashion to prepare a national action plan on human rights, which took a holistic and community focus to combat discrimination and exclusion. That approach was based on the concept of living well, which was in direct contrast to the development models based on capitalist accumulation. The Government was entering into commitments above and beyond those they had agreed to ensure basic human rights, and she urged solidarity and cooperation between nations and cultures to promote rights. Among other things, it was essential to provide drinking water and sanitation for realizing other rights. For that reason, Bolivia had promoted a resolution on the human right to water, which was a major challenge for the United Nations.
Noting continuing obstacles to promoting human rights globally, she said the United Nations had been manipulated this year in terms of the military operations in Libya. Those operations had been made on the claim that they were in the interest of protecting human rights. However, a whole country had been subjected to external aggression. An insurgent army was supported in overthrowing the Government of Libya. Instead of unarmed civilians, heavily equipped groups of rebels had been seen. Moreover, they had then been given credentials to represent the people of Libya in the United Nations, although they were not elected. This should not be allowed to happen again. In addition, Bolivia hoped that the murderers of Colonel Qadhafi would be tried and punished under the rule of law.
WOINSHET TADESSE WOLDEGIORGIS ( Ethiopia) recalled that, in the last 20 years, her country had made a “historic and fundamental transformation” in the promotion and protection of human rights. The 1995 Federal Constitution recognized almost all of the key human rights and fundamental freedoms recognized under the relevant international and regional human rights instruments. It stipulated provisions for the fulfilment of rights set out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and included specific provisions protecting the rights of women and children – in particular with regard to harmful traditional practices. Additionally, Ethiopia had completed and presented overdue reports under the Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the international Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention against Racism and Racial Discrimination and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Moreover, she said, the country had undergone a successful assessment of its human rights performance under the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council. It had accepted many of the Review’s recommendations and was taking efforts to implement them. However, despite that progress, “we know we have to do more – much more”. In that vein, she noted that human rights had frequently served as a cover for promoting other agendas of certain countries, regional organizations and activists. “Politicization of any noble cause is bound to undermine the cause itself”, she warned, adding that Ethiopia’s democratization process had endured challenges, due to such politicization and “double standards”. While Ethiopia acknowledged that it had more to do in the area of consolidating respect for human rights, one thing it had never done was to use legislation introduced for other purposes - such as combating terrorism – as an instrument to undermine democracy and the rule of law, or to suppress the human rights of its people.
KRISTINA TOUZENIS, Head of the International Migration Law Unit of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said all migrants, regardless of their status, were entitled to enjoy all of their human rights without discrimination. Criminalization of irregular migration weakened the human rights protection of migrants and created an atmosphere enabling xenophobic abuse and violence. Administrative detention of migrants should be an option of last resort. Migrant domestic workers, often women, worked in gender segregated sectors such as home, child and elder care. The unregulated and informal nature of their employment and their limited access to support networks offered them little protection from possible exploitation or abuse. In all such cases, States were obliged not only to avoid discrimination but also to fulfil their positive obligations to eliminate all instances of it.
ALESSANDRO MOTTER, Senior Advisor, Inter-Parliamentary Union, said “democracy and human rights are mutually reinforcing concepts and parliaments are at the centre of both”. Last week, the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians examined the situation of 392 parliamentarians in 39 countries, with experience showing that members of parliament were under threat in many parts of the world and that “speaking out is not an exercise without risk”. Strengthening the role of parliaments in the implementation of international human rights norms hinged on how well parliaments ensured that reporting procedures – which took place before the Human Rights Council – were connected to national realities. Describing ways that could be done - such as reviewing draft reports, observing presentations and ensuring recommendations remain on the agenda – he said “such efforts bring the international human rights protection system a little closer to home, which is where human rights matter, ultimately”.
ANDRÉS FIALLO ( Ecuador) said his Government was making huge efforts to protect human rights and its 2008 constitution reflected its progressive struggle in that regard. Further, the State was promoting the concept of universal citizenship and had, among other things, invested funds to protect the rights of refugees living in Ecuador. It was also boosting the ability of migrants who had left their homeland because of the world financial crisis to return. To that end, the Government was investing in social protection. A cross-cutting approach to human rights was being used in public policy.
He noted that Ecuador had made progress in women’s empowerment, children’s rights and ethnic plurality, among other things. It believed the international community should focus on the protection of individual and collective rights. However, the human rights discourse disguised certain violations, in which indiscriminate bombings killed those they were supposed to protect. Extrajudicial actions should not be allowed to continue, he stressed. The Human Rights Council and the Universal Periodic Review were the appropriate mechanisms to promote human rights from an angle of non-discrimination and non-selectivity.
Right of Reply
Exercising the right of reply, the representative of Cyprus said it was pitiful that once again Turkey had yesterday resorted to baseless attacks to divert attention from its ongoing grave violations of human rights. He noted the number of resolutions that condemned its 1974 invasion, as well as other relevant reports and decisions, including by the European Court of Human Rights. Forgoing a point-by-point rebuttal of Turkey’s comments, he said he sought to dispel the myth of the isolation of Turkish Cypriots. They were full citizens of Cyprus and, therefore, European citizens. More than 100,000 or 95 per cent had renewed their Cypriot passports in recent years. That, he stressed, spoke volumes and made the so-called isolation created by Turkish use of force a non-issue.
As passport holders, Turkish Cypriots could move and work anywhere in the Union. They also enjoyed consular assistance, just as any other European citizen. They could participate in sports and other actives. Further, they were employed in the Cyprus-controlled areas irrespective of their residence. As a confidence-building measure, they received free medical care in the Government-controlled areas.
No matter how many well-oiled myths the Government in Ankara fabricated, the truth was clear, he said. Hundreds of thousands of Cypriots continued to be denied their fundamental freedoms and rights because of Turkey, which must respect United Nations resolutions and recall its troops and restore the dignity of the Turkish Cypriots.
Responding to the statement by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Japan’s representative said that as he mentioned yesterday, his country had been facing up to its past with sincerity and consistency since the Second World War. He drew attention to the joint Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration of 17 September 2002, which said: “The Japanese side regards, in a spirit of humility, the facts of history that Japan caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of Korea through its colonial rule in the past, and expressed deep remorse and heartfelt apology.”
He said the numbers referred to in the statement by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were totally groundless. He pointed out that in the Pyongyang Declaration, the leaders of both countries agreed on the basic principle that when the bilateral relationship was normalized both would waive all property claims arising from events prior to 14 August 1945 and would discuss the issue of property and claims concretely in the normalization talks. He reiterated that his Government remained committed to the basic policy of normalizing the relationship according to the terms of the Pyongyang Declaration. He said Japan had been engaged in addressing those issues, and he strongly urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to take concrete actions to address those outstanding issues of concern.
Exercising the right of reply, the representative of Serbia said her delegation was surprised to see Albania on the list of speakers today, as it had not appeared to have registered to speak after the list of speakers was closed. All references to Albania in Serbia’s statement had been based on, or quoted from, relevant reports from the Council of Europe or the report of Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, delivered this year to the Human Rights Council.
Quoting the Special Rapporteur’s report again, he said Serbs had allegedly been taken prisoner and held in Kosovo Liberation Army camps, where they were tortured, killed or were made victims of organ trafficking. Investigations by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia were not pursued, but no subsequent investigations and efforts had received meaningful cooperation from the Government of Albania, which insisted the allegations were politically motivated. That resulted in a game of diplomatic ping pong.
Exercising the right of reply, the representative of Libya said comments about his country in statements had not been well-founded and revealed an ignorance of the sacrifice of the Libyans and was an insult to the country. People like you and me were forced to defend themselves with arms, he said. The representative of Bolivia had not been in Libya and did not know the scale of the dictatorship. Anyone who defended Qadhafi must be suffering from the same megalomania as him. That did not even deserve a response, he said.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said the so-called Government apology was just “lip service” to mislead public opinion whenever the issue was raised. Historical facts showed that Japan had committed as many crimes as he had mentioned earlier, including the sexual slavery of 200,000 comfort women. Japan should make a further apology and compensation to victims. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was willing to normalize relations, if Japan was willing to liquidate the issues of the past and abandon its current approach.
Responding to Serbia, Albania’s representative said that, after 16 years, Serbia had finally complied with the requirements of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. However, that was not sufficient. The wounds inflicted by the Serbs still existed and needed to be healed. Sincere apologies were needed to the nations and families of the victims that had been brutalized. Albania believed the bitter page of history must be turned by all concerned. But, when it heard statements like the ones from Serbia yesterday and today, it was difficult to believe it was really happening. Firmly reiterating all points made earlier, he said his Government could not let baseless allegations be made without comment.
Noting his Government’s support to Kosovo, he said it was adding its voice to the support shown by many States and organizations, including the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the European Union. Serbia must allow the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) to operate and abolish the separate parallel mechanisms it supported in the North. Albania looked forward to a more integrated region at all levels. Only two days ago its parliament voted to lift visa restrictions for Serbian citizens entering the country. The Albanian Government considered Dick Marty’s report to be pure speculation. Its baseless accusations had no foundation in reality. Albania was the most interested party in asserting the truth. Since the beginning it had invited EULEX to investigate all allegations that affected Albanian territory. He noted that the Serbian representative had stopped short, at paragraph 33, in quoting from the report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. He then read out paragraph 34.
Japan’s delegate said he would refrain from a detailed rebuttal, but, as the representative of his delegation to the United Nations, he simply could not accept the characterization of the apology of the Prime Minister of Japan in the joint Pyongyang Declaration as “lip service.” Moreover, it was deeply regrettable that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had not responded with concrete actions to the concerns of the international community.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said he was obliged to respond. His delegation once again rejected the preposterous remarks made by Japan, which were another example of its inferior moral quality. He stressed that many victims had already passed away and it was immoral that Japan would wait to make compensation until all victims died. That was in stark contrast to the example of other countries and he urged Japan to follow their example. Crimes against humanity had no statutory limit and Japan would not escape from its responsibilities.
Serbia’s representative said she again needed to quote the end of a paragraph from the Special Rapporteur’s report – namely paragraph 63: “In December 2010, the Council of Europe noted that the EULEX inquiries have been ‘hampered by a lack of cooperation on the part of Albanian authorities’.” Moreover, paragraph 65 said that “Reversing the onus of proof in this way is entirely incompatible with the function of human rights fact-finding and with the Government’s own responsibility to investigate, prosecute and punish.”
The representative of Albania said suggestions that Albania was not cooperating were deceiving. An investigation was currently underway. Moreover, the Government believed it was the only way to cut short the loud propaganda that had been going on for too long. But Albania, Kosovo and EULEX had not been provided with any proof, beyond mere words. There was no doubt that all that propaganda was meant to destabilize Kosovo and to hinder both its development and its international recognition. The events in the North demonstrated Belgrade’s policy, which was the partition of Kosovo.
* *** *