Draft Text Approved by Third Committee Recognizes Youth as ‘Key Agents for Social Change’, Affirms Investment in Youth Crucial for Sustainable Development

8 November 2011
GA/SHC/4027

Draft Text Approved by Third Committee Recognizes Youth as ‘Key Agents for Social Change’, Affirms Investment in Youth Crucial for Sustainable Development

8 November 2011
General Assembly
GA/SHC/4027
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-sixth General Assembly

Third Committee

42nd Meeting (PM)

Draft Text Approved by Third Committee Recognizes Youth as ‘Key Agents for Social

Change’, Affirms Investment in Youth Crucial for Sustainable Development

 

Texts on Women’s Advancement, Refugees, Self-Determination Also Approved;

Hears Introduction of 15 More Draft Resolutions Addressing Broad Range of Issues

Recognizing that young people in all countries are a major human resource for development and key agents for social change, economic development and technological innovation, the General Assembly would affirm, by a text approved today by the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), that investment in youth development and education was crucial for sustainable, social and economic development.

That text, on policies and programmes involving youth, was one of four draft resolutions approved without a vote today, with the others addressing women’s advancement, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the universal realization of the right to self-determination.

The Committee also heard the introduction of 15 other draft resolutions on questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions; the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; the right of peoples to self-determination and the promotion and protection of human rights.

By the 22-paragraph text on youth policies and programmes, which was tabled by Portugal, the Assembly would urge States to specifically address youth development in their economic and financial recovery measures by emphasizing youth employment and promoting entrepreneurship, volunteerism and the development of formal, informal and non-formal educational and training systems.

The Assembly would, by further terms, urge States to promote the full and effective participation of young people and youth-led organizations in relevant decision-making processes, at all times, especially in times of crisis.  Stressing the potential for information and communications technology to improve young people’s quality of life, the Assembly would also call on States, with the support of the United Nations system, donors, the private sector and civil society, to ensure universal, non-discriminatory, equitable, safe and affordable access to such technology and to remove barriers to bridging the digital divide.

Speaking before action, Libya’s representative said that while her delegation had joined consensus on the text, it regretted that a paragraph jointly proposed by her country, Tunisia and Egypt mentioning the role of youth in the transitions currently underway in their countries had been rejected.  Echoing that position after action, Tunisia’s delegate recalled that several young Tunisians had sacrificed their lives in demanding democracy and change and her delegation felt that those who had served as a catalyst for change should be paid tribute.

Egypt’s representative said her delegation decided not to push for a vote on that paragraph based on its belief that resolutions should be passed by consensus.  However, concerns that naming those countries where youth played a role in bringing change would cause problems in other nations was “merely groundless”.  Young generations would continue to work for those changes and would push for their implementation, whether that paragraph was adopted or not.

By the draft resolution on follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and full implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, which was presented by Vice-Chair Donnette Critchlow (Guyana) on behalf of the Chair, the Assembly would reaffirm its commitment to the full, effective and accelerated implementation of those landmark outcome documents.

It would also call on UN-Women to continue to support gender mainstreaming across the United Nations system as an integral part of its work.  States would be urged to increase funding for the entity’s budget by providing, when legislative and budgetary provisions allowed, core, multi-year, predictable, stable and sustainable voluntary contributions.

By further provisions, the Secretary-General would be asked to review and redouble his efforts to make progress towards achieving the goal of 50/50 gender balance at all levels throughout the United Nations system, while States would be strongly encouraged to identify and regularly submit more women candidates for appointment to positions within the Organization.

By the consensus text on the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, tabled by Denmark, the Assembly would strongly condemn attacks on refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced persons, as well as acts that posed a threat to their personal security and well-being.  The Assembly would also call on all States concerned and, where applicable, parties involved in an armed conflict, to take all measures necessary to ensure respect for human rights and international humanitarian law.

Further by the text, all States and relevant non-governmental and other organizations, in conjunction with the Office, would be urged to cooperate with a view to reduce the heavy burden borne by host countries.  The Office of the High Commissioner would be called on to continue to mobilize assistance from the international community to address the root causes, as well as the economic, environmental and social impact of large-scale refugee populations in developing countries.

By the draft resolution on the universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination, which was introduced by Pakistan, the Assembly would reaffirm that the universal realization of that right was a fundamental condition for the effective guarantee and observance of human rights.  It would also declare its firm opposition to acts of foreign military intervention, aggression and occupation, since these have resulted in the suppression of the right of peoples to self-determination and other human rights in certain parts of the world.  The right of refugees and displaced persons to return to their homes voluntarily in safety and with honour would also be reaffirmed.

The 15 draft resolutions introduced today were presented by the representatives of Azerbaijan, Russian Federation, Egypt, Cuba, South Africa, United Arab Emirates (on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference), Poland (on behalf of the European Union), Germany, Canada, Mexico and Benin.

The representatives of United States, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Poland (on behalf of the European Union), Spain, Argentina and the United Kingdom spoke in explanation of position.

Argentina’s delegate also spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. Thursday, 10 November, to hear the introduction and take action on a number of draft resolutions.

Background

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to hear the introduction of a number of draft resolutions on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; the right of peoples to self-determination; and promotion and protection of human rights.

It was also to take action on four draft resolutions, entitled policies and programmes involving youth (document A/C.3/66/L.7/Rev.1), follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and full implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly (document A/C.3/66/L.59), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (document A/C.3/66/L.63), and universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination (document A/C.3/66/L.30).

Introduction of Draft Resolutions

Introducing a draft resolution on the enlargement of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (document A/C.3/66/L.67), the representative of Azerbaijan noted that his delegation, with the delegation of Rwanda, had requested that body’s enlargement from 85 to 87.  Subsequently, the Economic and Social Council took a decision toward that end on 28 July 2011.  He therefore requested the consensus approval of the draft text.

The representative of Russian Federation then introduced a draft text on inadmissibility of certain practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance (document A/C.3/66/L.60) on behalf of the co-sponsors, noting the broad inter-regional support for this initiative.  He said the traditional draft was devoted to a phenomenon that was, unfortunately, increasing.  Good had triumphed over evil in World War II and the principles arrayed against Nazism had been enshrined in the Nuremburg Tribunal.  However, the cosponsors were alarmed by the increase of certain extremist groups, such as neo-Nazi skinheads.

He noted that special paragraphs had been included to address the contributions of the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.  He also stressed that there was no place to glorify those who were involved in Nazism.  The text’s relevance was confirmed by the commemoration of Nazi actions and philosophies, which spared neither youth nor the elderly, he noted, further arguing that the text looked toward the future rather than past.

Introducing a draft text on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination (document A/C.3/66/L.61) on behalf of 98 co-sponsors, the representative of Egypt said that for over six decades, the Palestinian people had been suffering under Israeli occupation.  This fact compelled this draft to be presented once again.  Except for technical updates, it was the same text as the one adopted last year.  Among other things, the text recalled the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice that the separation wall, along with past actions by Israel, severely impeded the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination.

The operative section reaffirmed the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including their right to their independent State of Palestine.  It called on the United Nations system in their early realization of the right to self-determination.  It was his delegation’s hope that the United Nations membership would send a strong signal of support to the Palestinian people by approving the text by consensus.

Next, Cuba’s representative introduced a draft text on the 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.3/66/L.62), saying the text emphasized the serious problem of the use of mercenaries.  It acknowledged the work carried out by the working group and the need to follow-up on the work done by past Special Rapporteurs.  She underlined the importance to work out specific guidelines to address existing gaps and to further protections for certain rights, including the right to self-determination.  It was also critical to tackle the problems resulting from the use of private military and security agencies.  Thus, among other things, this year’s text voiced serious concerns over human rights violations in contexts were these entities were employed and called for specific actions to address them.

South Africa’s representative then introduced a draft resolution on the universal, indivisible, interrelated, interdependent and mutually reinforcing nature of all human rights and fundamental freedoms (document A/C.3/66/L.31), which was presented jointly by his delegation with India and Brazil.  The draft aimed to highlight the interdependent nature of all human rights, he said, further suggesting that such a perspective was central to properly addressing contemporary challenges.

To that end, the text recognized, he said, the ideal of free human beings enjoying civil and political freedom, and freedom from fear and want, could be achieved only if conditions were created whereby everyone could enjoy her or his civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.  It also noted good governance and the rule of law were essential for sustained economic growth, sustainable development and the eradication of poverty and hunger.  It also called on the United Nations system to take into account the interdependent nature of these rights in their policies and programmes.

Introducing the draft resolution on strengthening United Nations action in the field of human rights through the promotion of international cooperation and the importance of non-selectivity, impartiality and objectivity (document A/C.3/66/L.37), Cuba’s representative underlined the need to promote international cooperation, as well as the principles of non-selectivity, impartiality and objectivity in the work of the Human Rights Council.

Cuba’s representative then introduced a draft on the right to food (document A/C.3/66/L.38), saying it had been recognized in instruments and declarations on human rights that had been widely accepted.  However, the full achievement remained utopian amidst the world food crisis.  More than 925 million people throughout the world were currently suffering from hunger, with most of them living in developing countries.  Without cooperation, it would prove impossible to achieve the result of the draft.  Mobilization and use of technical and financial resources from all quarters were necessary, and she urged all Member States, international agencies and non-governmental organizations to adopt the necessary measures to end the food crisis, achieve food security and the full right to food for everyone in the world.  She appealed for support, so that all could have access to nutritional food and not suffer from hunger.

Cuba’s representative next introduced a draft on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order (document A/C.3/66/L.39).  It took into account the current economic and financial crises, which seriously affected developing countries, even though they had not caused those problems.  It was important for the United Nations to work urgently to establish an economic order based on the democracy and equity, and the current draft referred to the mandate for an independent expert on the issue, calling for all to cooperate in the fulfilment of his remit.

Introducing the draft resolution on globalization and its impact on the full enjoyment of all human rights (document A/C.3/66/L.41), Egypt’s delegate made some oral revisions.  The draft endeavours to realize on human rights and fundamental freedoms in all international instruments.  The resolution was a sincere attempt to overcome the obstacles to promoting human rights, including through addressing the economic food crises, food insecurity, as well as endeavouring to understand cultural and religious diversity.

The introduction of draft resolution on the effective promotion of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities (document A/C.3/66/L.46) was postponed.

Introducing the draft resolution on combating intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons, based on religion or belief (document A/C.3/66/L.47), the representative of the United Arab Emirates, on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said it was based on recommendations by the Human Rights Council in its annual report.  Such an important issue must be addressed through a collaborative approach by all Member States.  The OIC appreciated all who engaged constructively in the ongoing negotiations of the current draft, and was looking forward with confidence to adopting it by consensus.

Introducing the draft resolution on elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief (document A/C.3/66/L.48), Poland’s representative, on behalf of the European Union, said defending freedom of religion or belief and countering intolerance was a priority of the region’s human rights policy.  Celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of the declaration, intensified efforts were needed to eliminate all forms of intolerance based on religion or belief.  The draft strongly condemned all intolerance based on religion or belief, and highlighted the roles of education and dialogue in that regard.  It also acknowledged the vital contribution of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief.  Adopting the resolution by consensus would send a strong message to the world, and he expressed confidence that it would happen.  He concluded by drawing attention to a minor technical correction in the text.

Next, introducing the draft resolution on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (document A/C.3/66/L.49), Germany’s representative said national human rights institutions were an increasingly important actor in human rights cooperation.  Compliance with the Paris Principles was vetted by a peer review and there was strong cooperation between human rights mechanisms within and between different regions.  The draft resolution requested the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly on the issue in its sixty-eighth session, thus keeping its biannual rhythm, he said.

Introducing the draft resolution on International Day of the Girl (document A/C.3/66/L.50), the representative of Canada said it sought to establish the Day of the Girl to help raise awareness on the struggles girls faced every day.  That could then improve their personal lives and the lives in their communities.  The Day of the Girl would help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.

The Day of the Girl would also create an opportunity for multiple stakeholders to come together and reflect on action taken, progress achieved and areas where more specific action was needed for girls.  Girls were the key to a nation’s prosperity and could contribute to its overall prosperity, when given the opportunity.  Together, the world community must make an annual celebration of girls and their potential as agents of change throughout the world, he said.

Introducing the draft resolution on protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (document A/C.3/66/L.51), Mexico’s delegate said the main purpose was to reassert the need to protect human rights when combating terrorism.  One of the areas of major importance for protection of human rights when countering terrorism was that people should never be beyond the protection of the law.  People had the right to be brought before a judge and tried within a reasonable amount of time, or be freed.  Thanks to the cooperation of all delegations, they should very swiftly be able to conclude open discussions so that the resolution could be universally adopted.

The introduction of the draft resolution on protection of migrants (document A/C.3/66/L.52) was postponed.

Finally, Benin’s representative, introducing the draft text on follow-up to the International Year of Human Rights Learning (document A/C.3/66/L.53), said the idea of human rights learning had originated in the World Summit and, in 2007, the African Group had submitted a resolution proclaiming an International year on Human rights learning.  Today’s text was an update of a resolution adopted on 10 December 2009.  The current draft introduced a new paragraph in the preambular section reaffirming that all human rights were universal, indivisible and interdependent and that human rights learning could contribute to an understanding of their connectedness to people’s daily lives.  Human rights learning presented a number of advantages in order to train responsible citizens on their rights and the limits of their rights which strengthened the foundation of human rights in societies.

Action on Draft Resolutions

The Committee first turned to the draft resolution on policies and programmes involving youth (document A/C.3/66/L.7/Rev.1), which was introduced by the representative of Portugal, who noted that youth had a hard time in finding employment under the current global circumstances.  The text did not focus on a particular region and was drafted to apply to all young people worldwide.  It recommended several measures to be taken at the national level to boost protections for youth and to foster their increased participation in political decision-making processes.  Specific recommendations to raise youth participation in the work of the General Assembly were also included.  The text was not procedural and covered a complex array of issues on which the opinions of State delegations diverged.  However, the current draft was balanced and she hoped that it would be adopted by consensus.

Speaking before action, Libya’s representative said her delegation had joined consensus on the text since it addressed a number of issues of concern for her country.  However, Libya regretted that there had been some “extreme and unjustified” positions by certain quarters during consultations rejecting a paragraph proposed by the delegations of Libya, Tunisia and Egypt.  The paragraph mentioned the role of youth in the transitions currently underway in those three countries.

Further stressing that the two International Covenants did not distinguish between human rights and covered civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, she said everyone had the right to enjoy and demand those rights when deprived of them.  The youth of Libya, Tunisia and Egypt had used the right to freedom of expression to criticize the policies used by previous authorities in their countries.  They had demonstrated for peace and equality, as well as decent employment opportunities, decent housing and access to basic services.  Due to a lack of response, the previous regimes were toppled.  Libya was very proud of the actions of its youth in the search for decent employment and living, she concluded.

The Committee then approved the text as orally revised without a vote.

By that text, the Assembly would express deep concern that the attainment of the social development objectives may be hindered by the multiple and interrelated crises, including the ongoing impact of the financial and economic crisis, volatile energy and food prices and ongoing concerns over food security, among other challenges.

Affirming that investment in youth development and education was crucial for sustainable, social and economic development, the Assembly would urge Member States to specifically address youth development in their economic and financial recovery measures by emphasizing youth employment and promoting entrepreneurship, volunteerism and the development of formal, informal and non-formal educational and training systems.  It would also urge Member States to promote the full and effective participation of young people and youth-led organizations in relevant decision-making processes, at all times, especially in times of crisis.

The Assembly would further stress the potential of information and communications technology to improve the quality of life of young people by enabling them to better participate in the global economy and call on States, with the support of the United Nations system, donors, the private sector and civil society, to ensure universal, non-discriminatory, equitable, safe and affordable access to information and communications technology and to remove the barriers to bridging the digital divide.

Recognizing the ongoing impact of the financial and economic crisis on the quality of life and health of young people, the Assembly would also encourage States to promote health education and health literacy among young people.  It would further urge States to increase efforts to improve the quality of education and promote universal access to education, particularly for young women, out-of-school youth, youth with disabilities, indigenous youth, youth in rural areas, youth migrants and youth living with HIV and affected by AIDS.

Speaking after action, the representative of the United States noted the work of the main co-sponsors to achieve consensus, which her delegation had joined.  Nonetheless, she expressed deep disappointment that some States insisted on including a paragraph relating to youth living under foreign occupation, which politicized the text.  She further noted that those same countries blocked the inclusion of a paragraph on the actions by youth to bring transformation to their societies during the Arab Spring.  Underlining the role of the freedoms of assembly, expression and association in that context, she said the Arab Spring was a powerful reminder that the only solution to any political crisis was a political process that addressed the concerns and aspirations of a country’s population, including its youth.

Noting that her delegation had joined consensus, Tunisia’s representative said it had proposed a paragraph that paid tribute to Tunisian youth who had wanted to take hold of their destinies.  Indeed, several young people in Tunisia had sacrificed their lives in demanding democracy and change and her delegation felt that it must pay tribute to those who had served as a catalyst for change.  She thanked those delegations who had supported the paragraph and stressed that the youth who had taken charge of their destiny deserved tribute.

Egypt’s representative said her country had engaged constructively in the negotiations and ultimately joined consensus on the draft text.  Nevertheless, it was disappointing that the proposal presented jointly by Libya, Tunisia and Egypt had not been included.  That proposal had been drafted carefully and aimed to stress support for young generations around the world, particularly in countries where youth played a role in the Arab Spring.  Concerns that naming those countries where youth played a role in bringing change would cause problems in other nations were “merely groundless”.  Young generations would continue to work for those changes and would push for their implementation, whether that paragraph was adopted or not.  However, the Egyptian delegation had decided not to push for a vote on that paragraph based on its belief that resolutions should be passed by consensus.

Syria’s delegate stressed that including the suffering of youth under foreign occupation in the Committee’s drafts had always been, and would always be, a main concern for her country.  Syria did not understand why some countries had objected to the introduction of agreed language in a draft such as this one. She noted that youth under occupation suffered under double situations, deriving from occupation and the ongoing global crises.  Those delegations who objected to any mention of foreign occupation had also objected to including any reference to the global crisis, she noted.

The Committee then turned to the draft resolution on follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and full implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly (document A/C.3/66/L.59), which was presented by Vice-Chair Donnette Critchlow (Guyana) on behalf of the Chair.  She called attention to the gaps in gender equality and women’s advancement and noted how the draft resolution addressed them.  States had agreed that UN-Women must be adequately resourced and the text urged States to provide funding.  In addition, the text recognized the role of non-governmental organizations in implementing the Beijing Platform for Action.

The Chair informed the Committee that the text contained no programme budget implications.  The Committee then approved the text without a vote.

The Assembly would, by that text, reaffirm its commitment to the full, effective and accelerated implementation of the Declaration and its Platform for Action, while also reaffirming its primary and essential role, alongside the Economic and Social Council and the Commission on the Status of Women, in promoting gender equality and women’s he empowerment.  It would call upon States parties to comply fully with their obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Optional Protocol thereto, while urging all States that have not yet ratified or acceded to the Convention to consider doing so and calling on those that have not done so to consider signing and ratifying or acceding to the Optional Protocol.

By other terms, the Assembly would call upon UN-Women to continue to support gender mainstreaming across the United Nations system as an integral part of its work. States would be urged to increase funding for the budget of UN-Women by providing, when legislative and budgetary provisions allow, core, multi-year, predictable, stable and sustainable voluntary contributions, in recognition of the importance of adequate funding in enabling UN-Women to implement its strategic plan promptly and effectively.

The Assembly would also reaffirm that States have an obligation to exercise due diligence to prevent violence against women and girls, provide protection to the victims and investigate, prosecute and punish the perpetrators of violence against women and girls.  Further reaffirming that a failure to do so violates and impairs or nullifies the enjoyment of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and girls, it would call on Governments to elaborate and implement laws and strategies to eliminate violence against women and girls and to encourage and supports men and boys in taking an active part that effort.

The Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to review and redouble his efforts to make progress towards achieving the goal of 50/50 gender balance at all levels throughout the United Nations system, with full respect for the principle of equitable geographical distribution and to ensure managerial and departmental accountability with respect to gender balance targets.  States would be strongly encouraged to identify and regularly submit more women candidates for appointment to positions in the United Nations system.

The Committee then turned to the draft resolution on the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (document A/C.3/66/L.63).  Presenting that text, Denmark’s representative noted that the work of that Office was largely undertaken with the cooperation of States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and civil society.  Outlining the tenor of the negotiations on the text, he noted the shared, common concern for protecting refugees and he hoped it would be approved by consensus, as in years past.

Acting without a vote, the Committee then approved the draft resolution.

By that text, the General Assembly would endorse the report of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on the work of its sixty-second session.  Strongly condemning attacks on refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced persons, as well as acts that pose a threat to their personal security and well-being, the Assembly would also call upon all States concerned and, where applicable, parties involved in an armed conflict, to take all measures necessary to ensure respect for human rights and international humanitarian law.

The Assembly would also strongly reaffirm the fundamental importance and the purely humanitarian and non-political character of the Office of the High Commissioner, while reaffirming that voluntary repatriation, supported, as necessary, by rehabilitation and development assistance to facilitate sustainable reintegration remains the preferred solution.

Urging all States and relevant non-governmental and other organizations, in conjunction with the Office, to cooperate with a view to reducing the heavy burden borne by host countries, the Assembly would call upon the Office to continue to mobilize assistance from the international community to address the root causes as well as the economic, environmental and social impact of large-scale refugee populations in developing countries.

The Assembly would also call upon the Office to further explore ways and means to broaden its donor base, so as to achieve greater burden-sharing by reinforcing cooperation with governmental donors, non-governmental donors and the private sector.

Speaking in explanation of position after action, Jordan’s representative said his delegation had joined consensus despite the deletion of a reference to Iraqi displaced persons in neighbouring countries.  Those countries hosted those persons despite burdens from the global crisis, and their need for assistance from United Nations agencies, including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, remained high.

Syria’s representative said her delegation had joined consensus despite the deletion of operative paragraph 33.  Her country still hosted large numbers of displaced persons, and the Syrian Government had exerted efforts alongside concerned organizations to find the optimal solution to their situation, whether it be repatriation or resettlement in a third country.  Despite having limited resources due to several well-known circumstances, Syria was rich in its sincere desire to relieve the suffering of its brothers and sisters until such time that they could return to their countries following the withdrawal of foreign occupiers.

Iraq’s representative thanked all delegations for their efforts to reach consensus on the draft.  He particularly thanked Syria, Jordan and Lebanon for their understanding and cooperation on deleting operative paragraph 33 on the Iraqi refugees and displaced persons.  His delegation had supported its deletion because, as drafted, it had not conformed to the current circumstances in Iraq, nor to decreases in the number of refugees and displaced persons.

Finally, the Committee turned to the draft resolution on the universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination (document A/C.3/66/L.30), which was introduced by the representative of Pakistan.  He noted the growing number of co-sponsors of the resolution every year reflected the continuing importance of the right to self-determination.  It enjoyed primacy in international law and was the cornerstone of the United Nations Charter and two International Covenants, he said.  The adoption of the resolution also sent a strong message of the international community’s opposition to all acts of foreign aggression and occupation, which were contrary to human rights and humanitarian laws, he said, expressing hope that it would again be adopted by consensus.

The text was then approved by consensus.

By that draft, the Assembly would reaffirm the importance of the universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and embodied in the International Covenants on Human Rights, as well as in the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples contained in General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960.

Taking note of the report of the Secretary-General on the right of peoples to self-determination, the Assembly would reaffirm that the universal realization of the right of all peoples, including those under colonial, foreign and alien domination, to self-determination is a fundamental condition for the effective guarantee and observance of human rights and for the preservation and promotion of such rights.

The Assembly would also declare its firm opposition to acts of foreign military intervention, aggression and occupation, since these have resulted in the suppression of the right of peoples to self-determination and other human rights in certain parts of the world.  Deploring the plight of millions of refugees and displaced persons who have been uprooted as a result of such acts, the Assembly would reaffirm their right to return to their homes voluntarily in safety and with honour.

Speaking in explanation of position after action, the representative of Poland, on behalf of the European Union and its Members States, said the right to self-determination was firmly entrenched.  Respect for the right to self-determination required holding free, democratic and fair elections and respect for human rights were also essential.  The European Union and its Member states, therefore, would have preferred that the draft contained a more clear description of the practice of self determination under international law.

The draft also had a number of inaccuracies; self-determination was a right of peoples, not nations; it was also not correct that self-determination was a precondition for enjoyment for other human rights.  The European Union would have preferred to discuss the draft before its introduction, as all would have benefited and achieved a better text.  He expressed the hope that next year’s text would be more effective, and that its main sponsors would make greater efforts to address concerns raised by other delegations.

Spain’s representative, aligning with the statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States, said that self-determination was the condition for the exercise of full political rights.  But, the rights of people were not violated in all territories or areas of decolonization.  There were certain cases where the principle of territorial integrity applied and one of those cases was Gibraltar, where the original population was forced to abandon the territory so they could not claim to be colonized.  The right to self-determination was for colonized people, he said.

Argentina’s representative said that for self-determination to be exercised, it required an active subject.  If the subject did not exist, the right to self-determination was not of consequence.  In the case of the Malvinas Islands, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, there was a sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom, and negotiations should be resumed for a fair resolution to the dispute.  The areas were illegitimately occupied by the United Kingdom, affecting the territorial integrity of Argentina.  The only solution was bilateral negotiations, as mandated by United Nations resolutions, taking into account the interests of the population.

The representative of the United States said that, although the resolution was adopted by consensus, it contained many misstatements of international law and was inconsistent with current State practice.

The representative of the United Kingdom said his country’s position on the sovereignty of Gibraltar was well-known, and it did not accept that the principle of territorial integrity applied there.  His Government also confirmed that it would not enter into a process of sovereignty negotiations, as it had no doubt of its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands and others.  There could be no negotiation on the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands unless the residents of the islands so wished, he said.

Right of Reply

Speaking in right of reply, the representative of Argentina fully reiterated that the Malvinas Islands, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas were part and parcel of Argentina’s territory.  The illegal occupation by the United Kingdom had led the Assembly to adopt many resolutions acknowledging the sovereignty dispute over them and had urged resumption of negotiations to find a peaceful, lasting solution to the dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom.  Thus, the Malvinas Islands, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas were party to a sovereignty dispute, as recognized by several international bodies and resolutions.  The Special Political and Decolonization Committee had repeatedly expressed the same position, he said.

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