Third Committee Approves Draft Resolutions on Human Rights Situations in Iran, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Myanmar
Third Committee Approves Draft Resolutions on Human Rights Situations in Iran, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Myanmar
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-sixth General Assembly
47th & 48th Meetings (AM & PM)
Third Committee Approves Draft Resolutions on Human Rights Situations in Iran,
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Myanmar
Also Approves Text Designating 11 October Day of the Girl Child, Eight Other
Drafts on Such Issues as Women Migrants, Africa’s Displaced, UN Child Protection
The Third Committee today approved three resolutions that would have the General Assembly address human rights situations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Myanmar and Iran, even as delegations debated the legitimacy of country‑specific resolutions.
Through a vote of 112 in favour to 16 against, with 55 abstentions, the Committee approved a draft resolution that would have the Assembly urge the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to immediately end all violations of human rights and give voice to victims. The representative of Poland — the main sponsor, on behalf of the European Union, of the text — said his delegation would have preferred to negotiate with the Government on concerns outlined in the draft, but it had refused. Responding, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s representative said his Government totally rejected the draft text, which he called an extreme manifestation of the politicization of human rights and confrontation.
Next, the Committee approved by a vote of 98 in favour to 25 against, with 63 abstentions a draft resolution whereby the General Assembly would express grave concern about ongoing systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Myanmar, while recognizing the Government’s commitment to implementing reforms. The representative of Myanmar said the resolution failed to show the entire situation, and he accused its main sponsor, the European Union, of exploiting human rights for political purposes. “At this juncture, we do deserve warm welcome, kind understanding and sincere encouragements of the international community, rather than an unconstructive approach by adopting such a resolution,” he said.
The Committee then approved by a vote of 86 in favour to 32 against, with 59 abstentions its third country‑specific draft resolution, which would have the Assembly express deep concern at serious recurring human rights violations in the Islamic Republic of Iran, expressing particular concern at its Government's failure to launch an accountability process for alleged violations in the period following the presidential elections of 12 June 2009. The representative of Iran called the draft text a shameful fabrication, stressing that the United Nations should be the safe refuge of all Member States, not a “playhouse or theatre” for those who claimed superiority over other States.
The representative of Cuba, on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement, led opposition to the country‑specific resolutions, saying all human rights situations should be considered in the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review mechanism, rather than in the Third Committee. The draft texts before the Committee today ran against the clear principles of impartiality and non‑selectivity, which should prevail in considering human rights situations, she said. During his tabling of the draft resolution on human rights in Iran, Canada’s representative argued that, so long as egregious violations persisted, it was left to the Third Committee to encourage positive change.
The Committee today also approved by consensus the draft resolution that would designate 11 October as the International Day of the Girl Child, beginning in 2012. By that text, the Assembly would invite all Member States, relevant organizations of the United Nations system and other international organizations, as well as civil society, to observe the International Day and to raise awareness of the situation of girls around the world.
Other texts approved today without a vote were draft resolutions on woman migrant workers, displaced persons in Africa, strengthening United Nations child protection, promotion and protection of human rights, national institutions for human rights, human rights while countering terrorism, crime prevention and criminal justice, and international drug control.
It also heard the introduction of the draft resolution on the situation of human rights in Syria, presented by the representative of Germany, who said at least 3,500 people had been killed and violations continued since the crisis began in that country eight months ago. The Assembly could not, and should not, remain silent in the face of those events, he said. Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, Syria’s representative said the text had been tabled to declare a political, media and diplomatic war on his country.
The Committee today also heard the introduction of two other draft resolutions: assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa; and promotion of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
Also making statements and explanation of vote today were representatives of Sierra Leone (on behalf of the African Group), Norway (also on behalf of Liechtenstein and Switzerland), Nicaragua, Japan, China, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Nepal, Malaysia (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Indonesia, Brazil, Belarus, Viet Nam, Costa Rica, Turkey, India, Thailand, Botswana, Singapore, Kazakhstan (on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation), Uruguay, Ecuador, Fiji, Pakistan, Chile, Angola (on behalf of the Southern African Development Community), Mexico, Italy and Switzerland.
The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 22 November, to finish action on draft resolutions.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to hear the introduction of three draft resolutions: assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa (document A/C.3/66/L.69/Rev.1), promotion of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (document A/C.3/66/L.44/Rev.1), and the situation of human rights in Syria (document A/C.3/66/L.57/Rev.1).
Action was also expected on several others, including: situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (document A/C.3/66/L.54); the situation of human rights in Myanmar (document A/C.3/66/L.55/Rev.1) and programme budget implications of draft resolution A/C.3/66/L.55 (document A/C.3/66/L.70); situation of human rights in Iran (document A/C.3/66/L.56); on violence against women migrant workers (document A/C.3/66/L.18/Rev.1); assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa (document A/C.3/66/L.69/Rev.1); and strengthening collaboration on child protection within the United Nations system (document A/C.3/66/L.22/Rev.1).
Also: promotion of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (document A/C.3/66/L.44/Rev.1); national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (document A/C.3/66/L.49/Rev.1); International Day of the Girl (document A/C.3/66/L.50/Rev.1); protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (document A/C.3/66/L.51/Rev.1); protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (document A/C.3/66/L.51/Rev.1); strengthening the United Nations crime prevention and criminal justice programme, in particular its technical cooperation capacity (document A/C.3/66/L.15/Rev.1); and international cooperation against the world drug problem (document A/C.3/66/L.16/Rev.1).
Introduction of Draft Resolutions
Introducing the draft resolution on assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa (document A/C.3/66/L.69/Rev.1), the representative of Sierra Leone, on behalf of the African Group, said that in addition to technical updates, the text contained updates to address the particular situation in Africa, especially the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa and North Africa. She also noted a number of oral revisions to the text.
Introducing the draft resolution on promotion of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (document A/C.3/66/L.44/Rev.1), Norway’s delegate said the draft text expressed concern about gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms around the world. It re‑emphasized the Declaration, which was adopted 9 December 1998. The draft called on all States to promote and give full effect to the Declaration. It aimed to support the implementation of the Declaration on human rights defenders and to support the mandate of the Special Rapporteur.
Action on Draft Resolutions
Before the Committee took up any specific draft text, the representative of Cuba, speaking on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement, reiterated the firm stance taken by Heads of State and Government of the Movement, which was expressed in the outcome of the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit in 2009 and reiterated in Bali in 2011, regarding the double standards entailed in country‑specific texts. Indeed, paragraph 9 of the Bali text emphasized the role of the Human Rights Council as the body responsible for the human rights situation in all countries around the world without distinction. The Council’s Universal Periodic Review was the appropriate mechanism to consider all human rights situations without distinction.
She further noted that the Bali document expressed concern about the specific resolutions considered in the Assembly’s Third Committee. Such texts, as well as their consideration, ran against the clear principles of impartiality and non‑selectivity which should prevail in considering human rights situations. The draft texts before the Committee today were based on the political motivations of some states and had a negative impact on the human rights situation in the countries they targeted. For those reasons, the member States of the Non‑Aligned Movement called for all States to vote against all country‑specific texts.
Following those comments, the Committee took up the draft resolution the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (document A/C.3/66/L.54), which was presented by the representative of Poland, on behalf of the European Union. Noting that the text now had 52 co‑sponsors, he said the Assembly, driven by shared concerns, had adopted texts on the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with a substantial majority since 2005. Today’s text noted some positive steps taken by the country in the last year. He regretted, however, to note that those positive developments were few, and substantive changes had not yet been seen on the ground.
He further noted that the text expressed equal concern about the violations of cultural, economic and social rights, which had led to gender‑based discrimination, malnutrition and violations of worker’s rights, among others. The draft also expressed serious concern about the failure of the Government to indicate which recommendations resulting from the country’s Universal Periodic Review in 2009 enjoyed its support. He said the Government had made no effort to meet the previous concerns expressed by the Assembly. “If we do not react, the signal the Assembly gives would be that our concerns had decreased or the situation had improved,” he said, stressing that this was not the case.
He said the Assembly would, with this resolution, urge the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to immediately end all violations of human rights and give voice to the victims of these violations. His delegation would have preferred to undertake negotiations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on the concerns outlined in the draft. Despite being informed of the text, the country had, however, refused to engage in such a dialogue. Noting that he understood a recorded vote had been called, he urged all delegations to vote in favour of the draft.
Speaking on a point of order, Nicaragua’s representative said her delegation would like to make a general statement.
The Chair said he would come to that point in a moment.
Making a general statement before the vote, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said his Government totally rejected the draft text, which was an extreme manifestation of the politicization of human rights and confrontation. Dialogue and confrontation were incompatible and his country could not compromise with the confrontational approach embodied in this text. Political pressure and confrontation could not bring change to a system, he stressed, saying that today’s action was another typical example of selectivity and double standards.
Today, only developing countries were selected as the target of country‑specific resolutions, he continued. Regrettably, the Committee was not addressing the mass killings committed by the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq. In addition, it did not call into question the discrimination, including sexual violence against women, discrimination against indigenous peoples and torture, among other human rights violations, of developed countries. Further, economic aid was a measure of putting pressure on developing countries.
Stressing that today’s resolution was a political plot that was neither recognized nor accepted by this Government, he thanked those delegations that had voted against the text in the past. He hoped that other countries would join them this time by voting against the draft text and called for a vote on the text.
Nicaragua’s delegate said her country wished to take the floor not only on the current draft text, but on all three country‑specific draft texts being acted on today.
Japan’s representative said the promotion and protection of all human rights were the legitimate concern of all States and his Government believed they would be addressed through genuine dialogue and cooperation. The situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, however, required the Assembly to strongly urge that country to improve the human rights situation. While the Universal Periodic Review was an opportunity toward that end and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had joined the Universal Periodic Review in 2009, its Government had not accepted to date any of the 167 recommendations made. Further, it refused any dialogue and cooperation with the special procedures mandated by the Council, which complemented the Universal Periodic Review.
The abduction issue also remained outstanding, he said, noting that, of the 17 outstanding citizens identified by his government as having been abducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, 12 had not been returned. In August 2008, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea agreed to the overall objectives of the abduction issue. But, in September 2008, it had suddenly informed the Japanese Government of a suspension of the investigation and had taken no action since then. He urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to take action in accordance with the 2008 agreement without further delay.
He further noted that a discussion on improving human rights situations in all countries was taking place in the Council, highlighting the Universal Periodic Review as an effective tool towards that end. Yet, the failure of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to take any action in that regard prompted concerns that the country was not cooperating. Thus, it was important not only for the Council to express its concern on the matter, but for all United Nations Member States to do so through the draft resolution before the Committee today. He urged all delegations to support the text, the adoption of which would contribute to finding a solution to the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in general, and the abduction issue, in particular.
Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, China’s delegate said countries should address differences in the arena of human rights through dialogue and cooperation. Her Government opposed country‑specific texts on the basis that politicization, finger‑pointing and pressuring could not improve the human rights situation in any country. She called for United Nations agencies to promote more effective humanitarian assistance in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. China would vote against the draft text.
Syria’s delegate said her country would vote against the draft resolution and expressed regret over the insistence of some States to present country‑specific texts on the human rights situations in other countries. Those texts threatened to undermine international consensus on international human rights machinery, she said, reaffirming her country’s principled position based on its full refusal to use human rights matters selectively. Such actions were designed to interfere in the internal affairs of States, which was contrary to the United Nations Charter. Further, all country‑specific texts created double standards in dealing with human rights questions, which must be treated in the appropriate forum — namely the Human Rights Council. Syria would vote against the draft.
Venezuela’s representative, associating with the statement made by the Non‑Aligned Movement, said her delegation would vote against the draft text. It was inconceivable that some countries used human rights as a political weapon against others. The Assembly should not be used for such despicable practices. The Universal Periodic Review was charged with looking at human rights situations based on impartiality and non‑selectivity. She requested an immediate cessation of the practice of bringing country‑specific texts in the Assembly. Venezuela would vote against the text.
The representative of Zimbabwe said his country believed that while human rights had become a universal pursuit, the promotion and protection of those rights was, first and foremost, the priority of the State. Any consideration of human rights must be undertaken according to the principles of non‑selectivity and impartiality. Name calling and shaming were not appropriate. The presentation of country‑specific resolutions was contrary to the principles behind the promotion and protection of human rights and further undermined cooperation. Zimbabwe would vote against all country‑specific texts presented to the Committee.
Cuba’s representative said her delegation maintained a traditional principled position against country‑specific texts. Such texts were responsible for the discrediting of the former Commission on Human Rights. The ideal path for the promotion and protection of human rights included impartiality and non‑selectivity. Thus, Cuba would vote against the draft text on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Nepal’s representative said his delegation supported concerns presented in the draft text, particularly those included in operative paragraph 2. He called on the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to resolve those concerns. However, the Nepalese Government believed the situation of human rights should be addressed in the context of the Human Rights Council.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution by a vote of 112 in favour to 16 against with 55 abstentions.
By that text, the Assembly would express its very serious concern at the persistence of continuing reports of systematic, widespread and grave violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. It would express further serious concern at the Government's continued refusal to recognize the mandate of the Special Rapporteur or to extend cooperation to him. Serious concern would be expressed for the Government's continued refusal to articulate which recommendations enjoyed its support following its Universal Periodic Review by the Human Rights Council or to express its commitment to their implementation. The Government would be urgently called on to resolve questions of international concern relating to abductions in the form of enforced disappearance.
Expressing deep concern at the precarious humanitarian situation, including a serious deterioration in the availability of and access to food in the country, partly as a result of frequent natural disasters, compounded by structural weaknesses in agricultural production and the increasing State restrictions on the cultivation and trade in foodstuffs, the Assembly would urge the Government to take preventive and remedial action, cooperating where necessary with international donor agencies and in accordance with international standards for monitoring humanitarian assistance.
By further terms, the Government would be urged to respect fully all human rights and fundamental freedoms. To that end, it should immediately put an end to the systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights by implementing fully measures set out in relevant resolutions of the General Assembly, the Commission on Human Rights and the Human Rights Council, and the recommendations made by the Council in the context of the Universal Periodic Review and by the United Nations special procedures and treaty bodies.
The Government should also protect its inhabitants, address the issue of impunity and ensure that those responsible for violations of human rights are brought to justice before an independent judiciary; tackle the root causes leading to refugee outflows and prosecute those who exploit refugees by human smuggling, trafficking and extortion; extend its full cooperation to the Special Rapporteur; engage in cooperation with the High Commissioner for Human Rights and her Office and the International Labour Organization. Cooperation should also be continued and reinforced with United Nations humanitarian agencies and the full, safe and unhindered access to humanitarian aid ensured.
Lastly, the Assembly would decide to continue its examination of the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at its sixty‑seventh session and would request the Secretary‑General to submit a comprehensive report on the situation there and request the Special Rapporteur to continue to report his findings and recommendations.
Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of Malaysia said it was a firm believer in the non‑confrontational approach in all inter‑State matters, including human rights. In principle, Malaysia did not believe in resolutions targeting specific countries, and had decided to abstain from the resolution. It also took note of positive developments in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and also the challenges faced by the country and the United Nations with respect to human rights mechanisms, and encouraged further dialogue.
Indonesia’s representative said it fully supported the international community in its address of human rights, but believed that it had to be conducted with mutual respect and dialogue. The Universal Periodic Review provided a mechanism for monitoring the human rights situation in countries on an equal basis, eliminating selectivity and double standards in the promotion and protection of human rights. Indonesia was not in a situation to support country‑specific resolutions. However, the resolution did recognize that the human rights situation needed to be addressed in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and he hoped its Government would give the situation due review. Indonesia had abstained from the vote, he said.
The representative of Brazil said his country’s support of the draft resolution had been due to the lack of cooperation between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the United Nations human rights mechanisms. But its vote should not be read as a condemnation; rather it should be seen as an encouragement of the Government to further address human rights. He urged all Member States to take note of positive developments in the country. But, Brazil also took note of the reports of the Special Rapporteur, highlighting the abduction of Japanese citizens. He called for an immediate return of abductees, and also called for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to resume family reunions on its border. Expressing regret that its Government did not clarify its position on the Universal Periodic Review, he hoped it would implement all recommendations from the process, and urged it to fully cooperate with all human rights bodies of the United Nations.
The representative of Belarus, endorsing the statement of Cuba on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement, said it had always opposed country‑specific resolutions, which called into question the Universal Periodic Review as an objective mechanism. The resolution was selective and politically motivated; the results of the Universal Periodic Review showed no country had an ideal picture on human rights and all had to improve. Pointing out what was good and bad through a resolution would not work. As a result, the Belarus delegation voted against the resolution and would continue to vote against country‑specific resolutions.
The representative of Lao People’s Democratic Republic said her country shared the view of the Non‑Aligned Movement against country‑specific resolutions. The Universal Periodic Review must serve as the primary forum for addressing those issues. Therefore, her delegation had abstained in the vote.
Viet Nam’s representative said it had to vote against the resolution, because it opposed country‑specific resolutions. There were many mechanisms, such as the Universal Periodic Review, to deal with such issues. On the issue of the abduction of Japanese citizens, he expressed concern and sympathy with the families of the victims and hoped it could be resolved through mutual dialogue.
The representative of Myanmar said his delegation stood on the principle that it was not appropriate to address the situation of human rights for any country in the Committee. The Universal Periodic Review was the best mechanism for addressing such issues. Myanmar believed that human rights issues must be addressed through a constructive dialogue‑based approach, and for that reason his delegation had cast a negative vote.
Making a general statement, the representative of Costa Rica said her delegation believed the Human Rights Council was the main body with competence to examine the issue and should play the predominant role for the issues before the Committee today. The Universal Period Review was the appropriate mechanism for providing objective and reliable information, but that should not mean that we were not responsible for looking at systematic abuses wherever they occurred, she said, calling upon all States to truly commit to human rights.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea expressed deep concern on the “escalating” issue. Dialogue and political pressure could not be compatible, he said. His delegation neither recognized nor accepted the resolution, which was a product of political pressure and plot. It insisted that crimes against humanity committed in the past must also be acknowledged by Japan before the Committee. Without liquidating those past crimes, Japan had no authority or duty to talk about rights.
Next, the Committee took up the draft resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar (document A/C.3/66/L.55/Rev.1), which was presented by the representative of Poland, on behalf of the European Union. He noted that, in the past month, some important steps had been taken by the Government to address the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Myanmar. In that vein, this year’s text sought to welcome the positive steps taken by the Government, including the recent release of political prisoners and talks with members of the political opposition, such as Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Nonetheless, a wide range of human rights violations continued to be perpetrated with impunity in Myanmar.
To that end, he noted that regular discussions had been held with the delegation of Myanmar since the draft text had been tabled. Changes had been made to preambular paragraphs 5 and 12 to reflect suggestions by the country. While co‑sponsors had worked hard to achieve a consensual text, it was his understanding that a recorded vote had been called for. The European Union would vote in favour of the text and urged all delegations to do so.
Making a general statement before the vote, the representative of Myanmar said his Government was working tirelessly towards building a flourishing democratic society by implementing policies and guidelines laid down by the President in his inaugural statement. Myanmar’s Government had been receiving foreign dignitaries from numerous countries and international organizations and would be receiving the United States Secretary of State early next month — the first such visit in over 50 years. It was firmly committed to promoting and protecting human rights through close collaboration with the international community, particularly with the Human Rights Council and the Special Rapporteur, while the Secretary‑General recently accepted an invitation to visit within the next few months.
In January and June 2011, Myanmar participated actively in the universal periodic review process and constructively accepted numerous recommendations. To effectively promote and protect human rights, Myanmar had established the National Human Rights Commission, while the Government had opened a window of opportunity to those outside the constitutional process and democratic elections. The National League for Democracy had recently decided to re‑register as a legal political party and contest in the forthcoming elections. “This is clearly a positive development marking a more inclusive political process in Myanmar’s political arena. The Government has also shown its sincere good will for the national interest by holding out an olive branch to the national race armed groups that have not accepted the constitution yet,” he said. The President had also granted amnesties for prisoners on 16 May and 11 October.
That progress was part of the constructive and cooperative measures taken by the Government of Myanmar within the past eight months, he said. “It is an undeniable fact that Myanmar has been moving toward further positive changes and the international community has already witnessed our goodwill,” he said. “At this juncture, we do deserve warm welcome, kind understanding and sincere encouragements of the international community, rather than an unconstructive approach by adopting such a resolution.” Although the draft resolution by the European Union reflected some positive development, it failed to show the entire true situation on the ground. It was obvious the European Union wished to maintain its selective targeting of individual countries for extraneous motivations and exploitation of human rights for political purposes. “In this light, I would like to appeal to member countries, as a matter of principle, to stand in solidarity with Myanmar and vote against this country‑specific draft resolution,” he said.
The Chairman then said a vote had been requested.
The representative of Poland asked who had requested the vote.
The Chairman said Myanmar had requested the vote.
Making a general statement before the vote, the representative of Turkey said it appreciated the recent efforts by the Government of Myanmar and was hopeful that the reform process would continue.
Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said human rights could not be imposed from outside and the resolution only served to undermine the partnership with the United Nations. Only through dialogue and engagement could the situation of human rights be advanced. Because of those reasons, and in support of the Non‑Aligned Movement position, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would be voting against the resolution.
The representative of India said his delegation was traditionally not in favour of country‑specific resolutions, which had historically been found counterproductive. It would ask the co‑sponsors of the resolution not to pursue it, particularly in light of recent reforms in the country. India would be voting against the resolution, he said.
Venezuela’s representative said her delegation reiterated that it fully endorsed the statement of Cuba on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement. Country‑specific resolutions such as this were proof of selectivity, she said. It was clear that certain countries were using human rights as a political tool to accuse other countries, and her delegation would vote against the resolution and urge all other delegations to do the same.
The representative of Thailand said his delegation would abstain from the vote because the advancement of human rights should be made through constructive engagement and dialogue. The universal periodic review mechanism, which Myanmar had recently undergone, was the appropriate way to address such issues. Thailand was also encouraged by recent developments in the country, including the release of political prisoners, and greater international openness. Thailand was also pleased to express support for Myanmar’s bid for chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). If Myanmar proceeded on that path, there would be no need for the resolution in the future, he said.
Cuba’s representative said it maintained its principled position against those who aimed to accuse countries through human rights mechanisms. It would vote against the resolution, she said.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution on human rights in Myanmar by a vote of 98 in favour to 25 against, with 63 abstentions.
By that text, the Assembly would, while encouraging the continued cooperation of the Government of Myanmar with the international community to achieve concrete progress, express grave concern about the ongoing systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Myanmar, while recognizing the commitment made by the Government to implement reforms to address those violations.
It would welcome recent talks between the Government and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and opposition parties, and encourage the Government to develop the current talks into a substantive and regular dialogue while comprehensively engaging with the democratic opposition and political, ethnic and civil society groups and actors in order to begin an all‑inclusive and democratic reform process leading to national reconciliation and lasting peace in Myanmar.
The Assembly would also welcome the release on 12 October 2011 of more than 200 prisoners of conscience, and would strongly urge the Government to release, without further delay and without conditions, all prisoners of conscience to allow their full participation in the political process, emphasizing that their unrestricted release is fundamental to national reconciliation. It would also note the stated intention and first initiatives of the Government to carry out media reform and open up space for the press, and would strongly call upon the Government to lift restrictions on the freedom of assembly, association and movement and the freedom of expression, including for free and independent media, to improve the availability and accessibility of Internet and mobile telephone services, and to end the use of censorship.
Acknowledging with appreciation the formation of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission, the Assembly would encourage the Government to ensure that it is established and mandated in such a way as to be an independent, credible and effective institution. The Government would be urged to undertake a full, transparent, effective, impartial and independent investigation into all reports of human rights violations and to bring to justice those responsible in order to end impunity for violations of human rights.
By other terms, the Assembly would express deep concern about the resumption of armed conflict and the breakdown of long‑standing ceasefires in areas including Kachin and Shan States. It would strongly call upon the Government of Myanmar to take urgent measures to put an end to continuing grave violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including the targeting of persons based on their belonging to particular ethnic groups, the targeting of civilians as such in military operations, and rape and other forms of sexual violence, and to end impunity for such acts.
The Assembly would, by other provisions, strongly call upon the Government of Myanmar to end the practice of systematic forced displacement of large numbers of persons within their country and other causes of refugee flows into neighbouring countries. It would also strongly call upon the Government of Myanmar to put an immediate end to the continuing recruitment and use of child soldiers by the armed forces and other armed groups.
Acknowledging the participation by Myanmar in the Universal Periodic Review in January 2011, the Assembly would, by the text, strongly encourage the Government to implement the recommendations accepted, including the recommendations to consider acceding to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other core human rights treaties.
Finally, the Assembly would request the Secretary‑General: to continue to provide his good offices and to pursue his discussions on the situation of human rights, the transition to democracy and the national reconciliation process with the Government and the people of Myanmar, involving all relevant stakeholders, including democracy and human rights groups, and to offer technical assistance to the Government in this regard; to give all necessary assistance to enable the Special Adviser and the Special Rapporteur to discharge their mandates fully, effectively and in a coordinated manner; to report to the General Assembly at its sixty‑seventh session, as well as to the Human Rights Council, on the progress made in the implementation of the present resolution; and to decide to continue the consideration of the question at its sixty‑seventh session, on the basis of the reports of the Secretary‑General and the Special Rapporteur.
The draft on programme budget implications of draft resolution A/C.3/66/L.55 (document A/C.3/66/L.70) reports that, should the Assembly adopt draft resolution A/C.3/66/L.55, additional requirements amounting to $1.2 million net ($1.36 million gross) would be required for the period from 1 January to 31 December 2012 for the continuation of the efforts of the good offices of the Secretary‑General relating to the situation in Myanmar. Those requirements would be charged against the provision for special political missions under section 3, Political affairs, of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2012‑2013.
The text further notes that approval for those requirements was being sought in the context of the report of the Secretary‑General on estimates in respect of special political missions, good offices and other political initiatives authorized by the General Assembly and/or the Security Council (A/66/354/Add.1 and Corr.1) currently before the Assembly for consideration.
Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, China’s representative said all human rights questions should be addressed through dialogue and cooperation. Her Government was against all country‑specific texts. She further noted that the current situation in Myanmar said that, at the end of the day, its affairs should be resolved by its people. This was why China had voted against the text.
Indonesia’s representative said his country had, for many years, supported the work of the Secretary‑General’s good offices in Myanmar. Highlighting the recent positive changes in Myanmar, he said his Government was encouraged by the establishment of a national human rights commission. The fact that Aung San Suu Kyi had been granted the opportunity for dialogue at the highest levels was a particularly encouraging sign. He regretted the missed opportunity of the text’s main sponsor to recognize those developments and its decisions to take actions that could be counterproductive to the changes in the Myanmar. Moreover, Indonesia was convinced that the Universal Periodic Review provided the best tool for addressing the human rights situation in the country. That was why Indonesia had abstained in the vote.
Malaysia’s representative said his Government believed the international community should look into providing support to Myanmar to allow it to develop its capacity to implement the road map. Human rights should not be exploited for political purposes, as that was contrary to the principles of the Charter. For that reason, his delegation had abstained during the vote. Malaysia favoured constructive dialogue and cooperation with an intention to improve human rights and it looked forward to the planned changes to transform Myanmar.
The representative of Viet Nam said that, as a neighbouring country, her Government had welcomed the recent changes in Myanmar. Her delegation noted the incorporation into the draft text of elements that largely reflected the changes on the ground there. That showed that cooperation and confidence‑building was the only path toward improving the human rights situation in that country. For those reasons, and in conjunction with her Government’s principled position against country‑specific resolutions, Viet Nam had voted against the draft resolution.
Botswana’s delegate said his delegation had voted in favour of the draft resolution. It welcomed what seemed to be an opening of a democratic space for different actors and parties to engage in the political process there. An inclusive dialogue with all relevant parties on the broad reforms necessary was required to develop a credible system of Government to address the political and socio‑economic problems facing Myanmar.
Botswana was encouraged, he said, by the ongoing dialogue between the Government and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and stressed that it was in the national interest of the Government to seize the opportunity to achieve a durable peace. His delegation also welcomed Myanmar’s re‑engagement with the international community and its cooperation with the United Nations system and human rights mechanisms. However, Botswana remained concerned about the human rights issues that remained to be addressed.
Brazil’s representative said his Government had been following the current transition in Myanmar with interest and welcomed the steps taken by the country. He encouraged the Government of Myanmar to address the issue of justice, accountability and access to truth with a view to promoting national reconciliation. In light of the ongoing political process, the international community should strengthen its cooperation with the Government in order to promote national reconciliation and the enjoyment of human rights for all. Brazil encouraged the two parties to pursue their dialogue in a transparent manner. It welcomed country visits by the special envoy of the Secretary‑General.
Continuing, he said the Universal Periodic Review of Myanmar signified a positive degree of dialogue between the country and the human rights mechanisms. However, Brazil noted the room for further improvement, particularly regarding the situation of prisoners of conscience and sexual abuses committed by members of the armed services. Finally, he called on proponents of the draft resolution to act in support of the signals of political change in the country.
Japan’s representative said his delegation had voted in favour of the text. At the same time, it was important for the international community to welcome what merited attention and to encourage further steps forward. Based on that view, Japan had submitted several amendments to the text to make it more balanced. He welcomed a series of positive steps taken by Myanmar, including the release of prisoners and the revisions of the political parties' registration law. Japan expected that the Government would continue to address further challenges. It was hoped that the upcoming elections would unfold in a more cooperative environment.
Singapore’s delegate said his country did not agree with country‑specific resolutions, which were inherently divisive. His country believed that all human rights considerations should be undertaken in the Human Rights Council through its Universal Periodic Review. For those reasons, his Government had abstained on the draft resolution. At the same time, it was encouraged by recent positive changes in Myanmar
Myanmar’s delegate said this country had requested a vote on the draft resolution in line with the principled approach taken by the Heads of State and Government of the Non‑Aligned Movement regarding country‑specific resolutions, which only led to a politicized approach. The draft resolution had been introduced at a time when his Government was strengthening its cooperation with the international community, including the Human Rights Council. “The country‑specific resolution could only undermine the trust and complicate more the cooperation between Myanmar and potential partners,” he said.
The encouragement and understanding of the international community was truly required as Myanmar sought democratic reform, he said, underscoring that the country’s constitutional Government was striving hard to uplift the social condition of the people and to fulfil their fundamental rights. At the same time, no country, regardless of power or size, could claim to be perfect in terms of their human right record. Member States should, thus, oppose selectivity and double standards regarding the exploitation of human rights for political purposes. Myanmar would continue to oppose any country‑specific resolutions, he said, and disassociated from the draft resolution, stressing that it would not be bound by the text’s provisions. It would, however, continue to cooperate with the United Nations, as well as the good offices of the Secretary‑General and the Human Rights Council.
Making a general statement after the vote, Australia’s representative noted recent positive developments in Myanmar, including the release of political prisoners, dialogue between the Government and Aung San Suu Kyi, and reforms relating to trade unions. However, a range of serious human rights questions remained to be addressed. Noting the pledges of Myanmar’s President to promote human rights and the rule of law, she affirmed her country’s support for those efforts. Respect for human rights, good governance and the rule of law, as reflected in the draft resolution, could only enhance Myanmar’s further reform, she concluded.
Next, the Committee took up the draft resolution on the situation of human rights in Iran (document A/C.3/66/L.54), which was tabled by the representative of Canada. He said that since the draft’s introduction, the human rights situation in Iran had further deteriorated. The text’s co‑sponsors did not take the action of bringing a country‑specific text lightly. But, given the circumstances in Iran, it was necessary to do so. Indeed, the Secretary‑General’s report detailed many issues of great concern, including a spike in the number of executions undertaken in the last year, severe restrictions on the right to peaceful assembly and association and persistent failures to uphold due process rights.
He further noted that the Human Rights Council had decided to mandate a Special Rapporteur to consider the human rights situation in Iran. The Special Rapporteur’s subsequent report detailed a number of violations. Every effort had been made to present a draft resolution that accurately reflected human rights violations in the country. So long as egregious violations persisted, it was left to the Third Committee to encourage positive change. The Committee had an obligation to address serious human rights situations and must hold Iran accountable for the continued violation of the human rights of its people.
At the same time, all countries looked forward to the time when such a resolution would no longer be necessary, he said. But, until that time, it was necessary to call attention to the human rights violation there and to give voice to those whose rights were being violated.
Iran’s delegate said it was the ninth consecutive year that the United States, member States of the European Union and Canada had submitted a draft resolution on his country with the alleged purpose of addressing the human rights situation in Iran. That move was procedurally unwarranted, substantially unfounded and intentionally malicious. The Human Rights Council had been created in the place of the Human Rights Commission to prevent Member States from being singled out for selective human rights criticism. Such resolutions would only reduce human rights concerns to manipulative devices of political rivalry.
He noted that Iran had historically opposed and rejected any such resolutions. This year it had an additional point of argument in doing so — namely the creation by the Human Rights Council of a Special Rapporteur to evaluate the human rights situation in the country. In that context, he stressed that the Rapporteur should be given the time and opportunity to prepare his reports without external pressure or induced prejudices.
He further noted that Iran had long supported human rights scrutiny of all Member States based on the principle of universality. As the head of Iran’s delegation to the Universal Public Review in February 2010, he had cooperated and actively participated in the deliberations on the country’s report. On 17 and 18 October 2011, Iran had also defended its third periodic report on the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. A judicial colloquium had been conducted with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in December 2010 in Tehran. Furthermore, Iran had had the highest number of visits by the special mandate holders in the regions, he said. The preparatory delegation of OHCHR would visit Iran on 17 and 18 December 2011. Together, these and other examples, fell within the category of “meaningful and genuine cooperation” with the United Nations human rights mechanisms, he said.
He said that while Iran strongly believed the universal periodic review mechanism was the best possible way to promote the human rights situations in any country, it also believed the mechanism had been misused. Further, the reports of the Secretary‑General and the Special Rapporteur were “unprofessional, unbalanced, [and] impartial”.
Stressing that the substance of the text was absolutely unfounded and constituted a shameful fabrication of baseless and totally preposterous allegations, he said his rigorous review showed it contained more than 157 allegations. He wondered why they did not include more than 1,000 allegations, since it seemed no degree of professionalism was required and vulgar language was permitted.
He said those countries that had historically supported the dictatorships across the Arab world were the same co‑sponsors of the draft text today. Moreover, they had also repeatedly ignored and even supported the gross violation of the most basic human rights of the Palestinian people by the Israeli regime. That brought to light the true nature and hidden agenda of such countries’ approach to human rights issues, which ultimately amounted to a mockery of human rights.
As a result of its revolution, Iran had been transformed into the most advanced State in the region, he said. Far beyond the Western expectations, it had emerged as a unique democracy in the Middle East where leaders acquired all seats of power and were removed by the vote of the people. In that context, he called for a comparative study of human rights in the region in place of tabling malicious human rights resolutions. Such study would, he said, uncover that the main problem with his country was not its human rights situation, but its rejection of secular liberal ideology.
Concluding, he underlined that the United Nations and all of its institutions should be the safe refuge of all Member States, not a “playhouse or theatre” for those who claimed superiority over other States. Iran’s experience in building a democratic polity was a contribution to social and political developments around the world, especially for the uprisings in neighbouring Muslim States. He requested a recorded vote on the draft resolution, and, in order to preserve the integrity and credibility of the human rights mechanisms, he called for other States to vote against it.
Making a general statement before the vote, the representative of Kazakhstan, on behalf of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in New York, said it opposed the practice of country‑specific resolutions on human rights situations, which were selectively targeting developing and Islamic countries. That practice transformed the work of human rights bodies into a political exercise, rather than advancing the cause of human rights, she said. The draft resolution on Iran, as last year, contradicted the spirit of cooperation and the situation of human rights in Iran. Iran had been fully cooperating with the universal periodic review mechanism of the Human Rights Council by submitting a detailed and substantiated national report and sending a high‑level delegation to the Council on a regular basis. Despite Iran’s cooperation with United Nations human rights mechanisms and positive developments in the country, the draft resolution against it was submitted to the Third Committee in a targeted manner. She urged all States to oppose the draft resolution submitted against Iran.
Nicaragua’s representative said that her delegation had been prevented from making a general statement before any action was taken this morning, and such treatment was inadmissible. Addressing the Secretariat, she asked if it could be verified that in previous years such statements had been allowed. She also noted that her Government expected an official response.
Continuing with her general statement, she said the promotion and protection of human rights was a fundamental position of her Government. While it supported the international community’s efforts to defend and promote human rights throughout the world, Nicaragua endorsed the statement on behalf of Non‑Aligned Movement and rejected the injurious practices of introducing country‑specific texts. The Human Rights Council remained the proper forum for considering human rights situations, she said.
Given the floor by the Chair, Secretary OTTO GUSTAFLIK said the Committee’s practice had been for several years to allow the representative of the Non‑Aligned Movement to make a statement before any action. He was not aware of any wish by Nicaragua to make a similar statement. He had understood that the delegation of Nicaragua had wished to make a general statement.
Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, the representative of Syria said his delegation opposed interfering with Member States under the guise of defending human rights — a noble cause that needed to be dealt with in the consensual forum in Geneva. The United Nations Charter explicitly stipulated the principle of sovereign equality between Member States and called upon them to uphold human values and not interfere in the internal affairs of countries. Unfortunately, some Member States in the Organization were no longer pleased with the provisions of the Charter, and were seeking to put forward new standards to apply political pressure on one country, or another.
Responsible, objective dialogue and understanding based on mutual respect for sovereignty, non‑selectivity and transparency was the right path to build bridges between countries and to safeguard everyone’s enjoyment of human rights and freedoms, while giving due to national cultural and religious specificities. Syria supported the position of the representative of Iran: human rights matters should be addressed in the appropriate forum — the Human Rights Council, not the Third Committee. Country specific resolutions put forward for political reasons known to all threatened the field of international relations and undermined consensus on human rights matters. More importantly, the politicization weakened international consensus reached on review in the Human Rights Council. Human rights issues were sensitive and needed dialogue, not name calling, and for that reason Syria encouraged opposition of initiatives such as the resolution. It would be voting against the draft resolution, he said.
Venezuela’s representative said it once again aligned with the statement of the Non‑Aligned Movement and firmly objected to the practice of country‑specific resolutions. Draft resolutions on specific countries had become a means to promote specific political interests, and the outcome was incoherent and illegitimate. The promoters of the resolution had violated human rights themselves — none of them had moral authority. She reaffirmed that those issues should be addressed within the Human Rights Council. For those reasons, Venezuela would be voting against the resolution. Dialogue, mutual respect and cooperation were essential for the promotion and protection of human rights, she said, urging all delegations to vote against the resolution.
Cuba’s representative said her country maintained its position against country‑specific resolutions, which contributed nothing to the cause of human rights and had discredited the Human Rights Commission. The establishment five years ago of the Human Rights Council and the Universal Periodic Review provided the mechanism for treating those issues. Unfortunately, that was not the goal of the text. The draft resolution was full of clear and undoubted political motivation, and that was why Cuba would vote against it.
The Committee then approved the orally revised draft resolution on the situation of human rights in Iran by a vote of 86 in favour to 32 against, with 59 abstentions.
Expressing deep concern at serious ongoing and recurring human rights violations in Iran, the Assembly would, by that text, express particular concern at the Government's failure to conduct any comprehensive investigation or to launch an accountability process for alleged violations in the period following the presidential elections of 12 June 2009. It would reiterate its call for Iran to launch a process of credible, independent and impartial investigations into reports of human rights violations and to end impunity for such violations.
Further to the text, the Assembly would strongly urge the Iranian Government to ensure free, fair, transparent and inclusive parliamentary elections in 2012 that reflect the will of the people and call on it to allow independent observation, including by civil society and candidates, of the electoral process and to allow independent local and international journalists to freely observe and report on the elections and subsequent political developments.
By other provisions, the Government would also be called on to, in law and in practice: eliminate amputations, flogging and other forms of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; abolish public executions and other executions carried out in the absence of respect for internationally recognized safeguards; eliminate all forms of discrimination and other human rights violations against persons belonging to religious, ethnic, linguistic or other minorities, recognized or otherwise; end restrictions placed on Internet users and Internet providers that violate the rights to freedom of expression, association and privacy; and end restrictions on the press and media representatives, including the selective jamming of satellite broadcasts.
The Assembly would also call upon Iran to positively avail itself of the opportunity to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur and other international human rights mechanisms. It would express deep concern that, despite Iran's standing invitation to all thematic special procedures mandate holders, it has not fulfilled any requests from those special mechanisms to visit the country in six years and has left unanswered the vast majority of the numerous and repeated communications from those special mechanisms. In that context, it would strongly urge the Government to fully cooperate with the special mechanisms. The thematic special procedures mandate holders would be encouraged to pay particular attention to, with a view to investigating and reporting on, the situation of human rights in Iran.
Finally, the Assembly would decide to continue its examination of the situation of human rights in Iran at its sixty‑seventh session.
Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of Brazil said his country continued to follow with interest and concern the situation of human rights in Iran. It regretted that, despite some cooperation between Iran and United Nations human rights mechanisms, requests for country visits had remained outstanding since 2005. Brazil encouraged Iran to receive the Special Rapporteur, whose mandate was established in the Human Rights Council with Brazil’s support. Brazil further emphasized the importance of protecting civil and political rights, including freedom of assembly. His Government remained concerned by restrictions imposed on human rights defenders, journalists and people of different faiths, among others.
Brazil also advocated a universal ban on the death penalty and would have preferred that the draft do so as well, he said. At the same time, his delegation believed that the Secretary‑General’s reports, as well as the draft resolution, should have been more balanced and acknowledged positive steps taken by Iran such as increased access to higher education and political participation by women, among other things. Brazil considered the Human Rights Council to be the body best equipped to handle consideration of human rights situations, he emphasized.
Iran’s delegate thanked those who had voted against the draft resolution. He said deliberations on human rights issues should be safeguarded from vulgar language and making countries the target of draft resolutions. He regretted that the delegate from Brazil, despite the record of indigenous people in that country, felt he could criticize the human rights situation in Iran. The United Nations should be safeguarded from that kind of game.–
The representative of Uruguay said her delegation did not share the view of Iran on Israel, nor its position on the Holocaust. It radically disagreed with Iran’s refusal to cooperate with justice in Argentina and its policy on the death penalty, especially with regard to minors and execution by stoning. Nevertheless, Uruguay favoured cooperation and dialogue with the delegation at hand before a draft resolution, and for that reason Uruguay had abstained in the vote on the draft on Iran. Uruguay considered the invitation for the High Commissioner to visit Iran to be a step toward achieving respect for human rights in that country. Yet, while preparations were underway for that visit, her delegation had concerns regarding the delay in finalizing those plans.
Japan’s delegate said he had voted in favour of the draft text on the grounds that improvement was needed in many areas related to human rights in Iran. Japan appreciated that Iran agreed to continue dialogue and believed that was a positive sign. Japan had supported the text without becoming a co‑sponsor. It expected Iran to continue its dialogue with OHCHR and in the context of the Universal Periodic Review.
Malaysia’s representative said his delegation had abstained. Country‑specific resolutions were susceptible to politicization and his Government preferred constructive and respectful dialogue and cooperation to make progress on human rights. He noted that Iran had taken steps to deepen its engagement with the international community to improve human rights. Those efforts deserved the international community’s support.
Indonesia’s delegate expressed full support for the international community’s efforts to promote and protect human rights, which must be conducted on the basis of mutual respect and cooperation. Turning to the resolution at hand, he said a strong political stance had resulted in a lack of meaningful dialogue with the country in question. That had prevented the text from achieving any concrete goals on the issues it sought to address. For that reason, Indonesia had abstained in the vote.
Ecuador’s delegate, noting that his delegation had joined with the Member States in creating the Human Rights Council, stressed that that body was the appropriate mechanism to address human rights within the United Nations system on the basis of impartiality, objectivity and non‑selectivity and respect for national sovereignty. Country‑specific texts had, in some cases, been levied against States in order to justify subsequent intervention in them, he noted.
Speaking on a point of order, Fiji’s representative said her delegation had intended to vote in favour of the draft resolution on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea earlier in the day and requested the Secretariat to reflect that position in the meeting’s records.
Introduction of Draft Resolutions
In the afternoon, the Committee heard the introduction of the draft resolution on the situation of human rights in Syria (document A/C.3/66/L.57/Rev.1). Presenting that text and noting that the number of co‑sponsors had reached 61 as of now, the representative of Germany said the crisis in Syria began eight months ago and, despite repeated calls by the international community including the United Nations and the Arab League, human rights violations continued. The death toll was mounting; the latest United Nations estimate indicated that at least 3,500 had been killed. At the same time, Syria had so far failed to implement the Plan of Action agreed with the Arab League and it was essential for the international community to continue to respond to those atrocities.
In that context, he said the draft text was a cross‑regional “one‑off” text submitted on the basis of the belief that the Assembly could not and should not remain silent in the face of those events. Moreover, it signalled the co‑sponsors’ support for the stance of the Arab League. Thus, the draft text called for full implementation the League’s Plan of Action in its entirety without delay. It also called for cooperation by the Syrian authorities with the commission of inquiry established by the Human Rights Council.
Noting that the text did not establish any new mechanisms, he said it was a unique response to the critical events taking place in Syria, even as he spoke. It had substantial support from Arab League member States. It was timely and important that the Third Committee, as the universal forum within the United Nations for consideration of human rights, show that the international community would not let the appalling atrocities taking place in Syria go unchallenged. Germany hoped the text would send a strong signal that ongoing human rights violations and violence in Syria must come to an end.
Right of Reply
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, Syria’s representative said the text had been tabled not with the aim of defending and bolstering human rights in Syria, but to declare a political, media and diplomatic war on his country. It was a declaration of war that aimed to affect the independence of Syria’s decision‑making processes. Yet, it was not suitable to declare such a war against Syria under the roof of this important international organization, which should defend Member States rights of sovereignty, territorial integrity and political stability. For its part, Syria would not perform the kinds of provocative actions such as those of the text’s co‑sponsors. Instead, he would present a set of questions that would help expose the true motivations behind the tabling of the draft text.
To that end, he asked if the suffering of Syrian citizens as a result of unilateral sanctions was aimed at entrenching human rights in his country. Similarly, was the arming of opposition groups and hosting their leaders in the capitals of some the co‑sponsors a defence of human rights in Syria? Was the smuggling of arms to Syria aimed at protecting Syria’s civilians? Noting that some co‑sponsors had occupied Member States, manipulated Security Council resolutions and deceived the international community — ultimately killing millions of citizens in those States — he asked if their actions were aimed at protecting human rights.
Continuing, he asked if the statements made by the Heads of State and Governments of some of the text’s co‑sponsors respected international law and the United Nations Charter? Was lying at the United Nations about the number of civilian casualties in Syria aimed at defending human rights? Drawing attention to a “unique phenomenon” — namely, that the number of civilian casualties roughly equals the casualties of the armed forces, he asked if it did not prove the existence of armed terrorist groups. In addition, did the blessing by many of the text’s co‑sponsors of secret prisons in other countries aim to defend human rights? Was the continued presence of British, French and United States colonies, with their military bases in countries throughout the world, aimed at defending human rights? Was the blind eye that the co‑sponsors were turning to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including in the occupied Syrian Golan, in the spirit of human rights? Was the threat of vetoing Palestine’s application for membership in the United Nations aimed at supporting human rights? Was the discrimination of Roma in Germany and France’s demolition of housing units and the ejection of the Roma people a defence of human rights?
He further stressed that the draft text’s aim was to undermine — and eventually end — the United Nations, just as the European forces had ended the League of Nations owing to their colonial greed and their rush to plunder the developing world. The example set by those countries was not an example for the world regarding human rights. Otherwise, those countries would have helped Syrian civilians in the Syrian Golan. Those countries were only concerned by attacks inside Syria, he stressed, while emphasizing that they should have helped with the implementation of resolutions on Palestine. He also noted that the three main co‑sponsors were the direct cause of two bloody world wars that had killed millions.
Noting that Syria’s parliament was formed in 1918 and female doctors had existed in the country since 1920, he said that, almost 100 years later, some States co‑sponsoring the draft text did not even have a Parliament and their female residents had no citizenship rights. Moreover, no European colonial power had apologized for its dark history and no reparations had been paid. Together, those facts proved that the main co‑sponsors had no credibility in the area of human rights.
He suggested the draft’s proper title should be “the illness of Syria‑phobia.” In that case, it would also be appropriate to refer those who had the disease of hostility against his country to a specialized hospital to avoid the infection of other members. Further, despite its negativity, the draft text would not stop Syria from moving ahead with its process of political, economic, social and cultural reform. He underlined the popular consensus in support of that path of action, stressing that the Syrian Government would not be sidelined by pressures of economic sanctions and declarations of war against it.
Action on Draft Resolutions
The Committee then approved by consensus the draft resolution on violence against women migrant workers (document A/C.3/66/L.18/Rev.1), which was presented with oral revisions by the representative of Indonesia.
By that text, the Assembly would call upon all Governments to incorporate a human rights, gender‑sensitive, and people‑centred perspective in legislation, policies and programmes on international migration and on labour and employment, consistent with their human rights obligations and commitments under human rights instruments, for the prevention of and protection of migrant women against violence and discrimination, exploitation and abuse.
Other provisions would call on Governments to consider expanding dialogue among States on devising innovative methods to promote legal channels of migration and urge them to strongly encourage all stakeholders, especially the private sector, including employment agencies involved in recruiting women migrant workers, to strengthen the focus on, and funding support for, the prevention of violence against women migrant workers. They would be further called to recognize the right of women migrant workers to have access to emergency health care, to ensure that women migrant workers are not discriminated against on the grounds of pregnancy and childbirth and, in accordance with national legislation, to address the vulnerabilities to HIV experienced by migrant populations.
The Assembly would also urge States that have not yet done so to adopt and implement legislation and policies that protect all women migrant domestic workers and call on them — in particular those of the countries of origin and destination — to put in place penal and criminal sanctions in order to punish perpetrators of violence against women migrant workers and intermediaries and gender‑sensitive redress and justice mechanisms that victims can access effectively. It would further urge all States to adopt effective measures to put an end to the arbitrary arrest and detention of women migrant workers and to take action to prevent and punish any form of illegal deprivation of the liberty of women migrant workers by individuals or groups.
The Committee then took note of the Secretary‑General’s note transmitting the report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women (document A/66/215).
Next the Committee approved by consensus the draft resolution on assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa (document A/C.3/66/L.69/Rev.1), which was tabled with oral resolutions by the representative of Sierra Leone , on behalf of the African Group.
Noting with great concern that, despite all of the efforts made so far by the United Nations, the African Union and others, the situation of refugees and displaced persons in Africa remains precarious, and the Assembly would, by the text, call upon States and other parties to armed conflict to observe scrupulously the letter and spirit of international humanitarian law, bearing in mind that armed conflict is one of the principal causes of forced displacement in Africa.
Condemning all acts that pose a threat to the personal security and well‑being of refugees and asylum-seekers, the Assembly would call upon States of refuge, in cooperation with international organizations, where appropriate, to take all measures necessary to ensure respect for the principles of refugee protection. It would also deplore the continuing violence and insecurity which constitutes an ongoing threat to the safety and security of staff members of the Office of the High Commissioner and other humanitarian organizations and an obstacle to the effective fulfilment of their mandates, urging States, parties to conflict and all other relevant actors to take all measures necessary to protect activities related to humanitarian assistance.
By further terms, the international donor community would be called on to provide material and financial assistance for the implementation of programmes intended for the rehabilitation of the environment and infrastructure affected by refugees in countries of asylum, as well as internally displaced persons, where appropriate. The Assembly would further express grave concern about the plight of internally displaced persons in Africa, and, noting the efforts of African States in strengthening the regional mechanisms for the protection of and assistance to internally displaced persons, call upon States to take concrete action to pre‑empt internal displacement and to meet the protection and assistance needs of internally displaced persons.
Next, the Committee turned to the draft resolution on strengthening collaboration on child protection within the United Nations system (document A/C.3/66/L.22/Rev.1), which was presented by the representative of Thailand.
The representative of Malaysia, on behalf of ASEAN, said it firmly believed the draft resolution was a milestone for seeking organizational improvements for child protection worldwide. Further strengthening child protection was a logical and necessary exercise, especially in light of new developments around the world. It hoped that other regional organizations would carry its purposes and principles and lent full support to the draft resolution today, hoping other Member States would do the same.
The representative of the United States asked for a brief suspension of the meeting to consult with the text’s main sponsors.
The Chair then suspended the meeting for five minutes.
The meeting then resumed and the Committee approved the draft text by consensus.
By that text, the Assembly would reiterate the importance of all relevant actors of the United Nations on child protection to continue to exercise their functions in a fully independent manner and to act in full observance of their respective mandates. It would further underline the importance of sustained, adequate resources and support for the work of the United Nations system on the promotion and protection of the rights of the child, including child protection, and strongly encourage enhanced voluntary contributions to support technical assistance and capacity‑building in the area of child protection. The Secretary‑General would be requested to submit a report to the Assembly at its sixty‑eighth session on the current collaboration within the United Nations system on child protection.
Speaking in explanation of position after action, the representative of the United States said that throughout the process of negotiations for the draft resolution it had worked with its sponsors, and it had joined consensus, but had significant reservations about the text. The United States rejected any interpretation of the resolution that jeopardized the work of the United Nations on child protection. Also, not all actors for child protection were under control of the General Assembly, so it was inappropriate for it to say how they should go about their work. The United States believed the wording of operative paragraph six of the draft text was “infelicitous to say the least” and hoped that it would be cleared up in future resolutions. The paragraph also ignored the role of other United Nations bodies, and the United States applauded their work. Child protection was often broader than the rights of the child, and collaboration often already occurred regularly within the Organization. Finally, he stressed that operative paragraph four of the draft resolution should not be read as State interference in the child protection system.
The representative of Norway, speaking also on behalf of Liechtenstein and Switzerland, said those countries highly valued the role of special mandate holders protecting children’s rights and were concerned the draft text might serve to undermine those mandate holders. They did not find the draft text an appropriate message to send to mandate holders on child protection. While joining consensus, they wished to underline that they strongly supported the mandate holders on child protection and their interpretation of operative paragraph two was that mandate holders should exercise their function in a fully independent manner.
China’s representative said it had always attached great importance to the work of the United Nations in the area of child protection, and believed the resolution was of positive significance. It supported the Committee’s adoption of the resolution by consensus.
Poland’s representative, on behalf of the European Union, said it attached great significance to the promotion and protection of children’s rights. From the outset, it had serious concerns about the text and the value of the resolution, but it had engaged in constructive negotiation to make the text clear and give it a more positive tone. The text still raised concerns. However, members of the European Union decided to join consensus out of the spirit of compromise. Great progress had been made in the field of children’s rights thanks to the tireless work of United Nations actors, and the European Union wished to extend its gratitude to them. It would also like to underline the importance for all Member States to respect the work of the mandate holders and not undermine their work. The European Union did not see the urgency of tasking the Secretary‑General with another report, as requested in the draft resolution, as in its view it would not serve as a protection mechanism.
The representative of Costa Rica said it interpreted this resolution, particularly operative paragraph two, as not to harm the position of the Special Rapporteur.
Pakistan’s representative thanked the delegation of Thailand for its initiative, and said his delegation believed the language in the draft resolution was very appropriate and reflected the expectation of all of the Membership. The controversy raised in the discussion was completely unnecessary — all mandate holders must fully adhere to their mandates, which had been given to them by Member States who had all approved the resolution.
The representative of Chile said his country understood that the resolution did not in any way harm the impartiality of the mandate holders for special procedures.
The Committee then took up the draft resolution on the promotion of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (document A/C.3/66/L.44/Rev.1), tabled by Norway.
Acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft resolution.
By that text, the Assembly would call upon all States to promote and give full effect to the Declaration and, condemning all human rights violations committed against persons engaged in promoting and defending human rights and fundamental freedoms around the world, urge States to take all appropriate action, consistent with the Declaration and all other relevant human rights instruments, to prevent and eliminate such human rights violations. States would be further called on to ensure that human rights defenders can perform their important role in the context of peaceful protests, in accordance with national legislation consistent with the Charter of the United Nations and international human rights law. In that regard, they would be called on to ensure that no one is subject to excessive and indiscriminate use of force, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, enforced disappearance, abuse of criminal and civil proceedings or threats of such acts.
By other provisions, the Assembly would urge States to ensure that any measures to combat terrorism and preserve national security comply with their obligations under international law, in particular under international human rights law, and do not hinder the work and safety of individuals, groups and organs of society engaged in promoting and defending human rights. It would also urge States to take appropriate measures to address the question of impunity for attacks, threats and acts of intimidation committed by State and non‑State actors, including cases of gender‑based violence, against human rights defenders and their relatives, including by ensuring that complaints from human rights defenders are promptly investigated and addressed in a transparent, independent and accountable manner.
Further to the text, the Assembly would urge States to cooperate with and assist the Special Rapporteur in the performance of her mandate. It would call on States to give serious consideration to responding favourably to the requests of the Special Rapporteur to visit their countries, and urges them to enter into a constructive, follow‑up dialogue with the Special Rapporteur.
The Committee then turned to the draft resolution on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (document A/C.3/66/L.49/Rev.1), which was introduced by the representative of Germany, who said it highlighted the increasing role played by Paris Principle‑compliant institutions in promoting and protecting human rights. Noting that the revised text resulted from a series of constructive discussions, particularly with respect to operative paragraphs 7, 10, 16 and 18, he expressed hope that the text would enjoy consensus.
The Committee then approved the draft text without a vote.
By the terms of the text, the Assembly would take note with appreciation of the report of the Secretary‑General and the conclusions contained therein, reaffirming the importance of the development of effective, independent and pluralistic national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights, in accordance with the Paris Principles.
The Assembly would also welcome the growing number of States establishing or considering the establishment of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights. In that context, it would particularly welcome the growing number of States that have accepted recommendations to establish national institutions compliant with the Paris Principles made through the Universal Periodic Review and, where relevant, by treaty bodies and special procedures. It would encourage such national institutions to continue to play an active role in preventing and combating all violations of human rights as enumerated in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action and relevant international instruments.
It would also welcome the important role played by the International Coordinating Committee, in close cooperation with OHCHR, in assisting Governments, when requested, in the establishment and strengthening of national human rights institutions, in assessing the conformity of those institutions with the Paris Principles, and in providing technical assistance to strengthen them in that regard. It would also encourage all States to take appropriate steps to promote the exchange of information and experience concerning the establishment and effective operation of national human rights institutions, and to support the work of the International Coordinating Committee and its regional coordinating networks.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution on International Day of the Girl Child (document A/C.3/66/L.50/Rev.1), which was presented by the representative of Canada on behalf of its other main sponsors, Turkey and Peru. He said that when girls had a solid foundation in life they could become a key component to a nation’s prosperity. He read out a number of revisions to the text, including adding the word “girl” to the title of the draft.
Speaking in explanation of position before action, the representative of Angola, on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said children constituted central elements of society and were key elements to a nation’s future. However, the inclusion of the resolution under agenda item 69, which addressed human rights questions, was not appropriate. It should have been included under agenda item 65, which dealt with the promotion and protection of children’s rights. Many issues affected children and human rights were just one part of them. As it stood now, the current draft text could stand in parallel to the SADC-sponsored text. Notwithstanding these concerns, the SADC delegations thanked the co‑sponsors for their amendment to the title of the draft text.
Acting without a vote, the Committee approved the text as orally revised, by which the Assembly would decide to designate 11 October as the International Day of the Girl Child, to be observed every year beginning in 2012 and would invite all Member States, relevant organizations of the United Nations system and other international organizations, as well as civil society, to observe the International Day and to raise awareness of the situation of girls around the world. It would request the Secretary‑General to bring the resolution to the attention of all Member States and United Nations organizations.
Next, the Committee took up the draft resolution on protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (document A/C.3/66/L.51/Rev.1), which was presented by Mexico’s delegate. Among other things, he stressed that the text would provide complementarity to the text his delegation had tabled in the Human Rights Council.
The Committee approved the text without a vote.
The text would have the Assembly reaffirm that States must ensure that any measure taken to combat terrorism complies with their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law. States would be urged, while countering terrorism, to ensure that no form of deprivation of liberty places a detained person outside the protection of the law; to take all steps necessary to ensure the right of anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge to be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power; to refrain from returning persons, including in cases related to terrorism, to their countries of origin or to a third State whenever such transfer would be contrary to their obligations under international law; and to ensure that the interrogation methods used against terrorism suspects are consistent with their international obligations and are regularly reviewed to prevent the risk of violations.
By further terms, the Assembly would welcome the entry into force of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, the implementation of which will make a significant contribution in support of the rule of law in countering terrorism, including by prohibiting places of secret detention, and encourages all States that have not done so to consider signing, ratifying or acceding to the Convention. It would also call upon States and other relevant actors, as appropriate, to continue to implement the United Nations Global Counter‑Terrorism Strategy, which reaffirms respect for human rights for all and the rule of law as the fundamental basis of the fight against terrorism.
The Assembly would also, by the text, urge relevant United Nations bodies and entities and international, regional and subregional organizations, including the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), within its mandate related to the prevention and suppression of terrorism, to step up their efforts to provide, upon request, technical assistance for building the capacity of Member States in the development and implementation of programmes of assistance and support for victims of terrorism in accordance with relevant national legislation. International, regional and subregional organizations would also be called on to strengthen information sharing, coordination and cooperation in promoting the protection of human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law while countering terrorism.
The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism would be requested to continue to make recommendations, in the context of his mandate, and continue to report to and engage in interactive dialogues on an annual basis with the Assembly and the Human Rights Council in accordance with their work programmes. All Governments would be requested to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur in the performance of his mandated tasks and duties, including by reacting promptly to the urgent appeals of the Special Rapporteur and providing the information requested, and to give serious consideration to responding favourably to his requests to visit their countries.
The Committee then took up the draft resolution strengthening the United Nations crime prevention and criminal justice programme, in particular its technical cooperation capacity (document A/C.3/66/L.15/Rev.1), which was introduced by the representative of Italy, who underlined the global threat posed by transnational organized crime. He stressed that attacking the business‑side of those criminal organizations would curb their reach, noting that strong international cooperation was needed in dealing with the threat.
Acting without a vote, the Committee approved the text, by which the Assembly would reaffirm the importance of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols thereto as the main tools of the international community to fight transnational organized crime. It would further note with appreciation that the number of States parties to the Convention has reached 164, and urge those States that have not yet done so to consider ratifying or acceding to the Convention and the Protocols thereto.
Further to the text, the Assembly would note with appreciation the convening of an open‑ended intergovernmental expert group to conduct a comprehensive study of the problem of cybercrime and responses to it, with a view to proposing new national and international, legal or other responses to cybercrime. It would also call upon 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 also urge UNODC to continue to provide technical assistance to Member States to combat money‑laundering and the financing of terrorism through the Global Programme against Money‑Laundering. States would be urged to strengthen bilateral, regional and international cooperation to enable the return of assets illicitly acquired from corruption to the countries of origin, upon their request, in accordance with the provisions of the Convention against Corruption for asset recovery, and request UNODC, within its existing mandate, to continue providing assistance to bilateral, regional and international efforts for that purpose.
The text would also have the Assembly urge UNODC to continue to assist States, upon request, in combating the illicit trafficking in firearms, their parts and components and ammunition, and to support them in their efforts to address its links with other forms of transnational organized crime. The Secretary‑General would be requested to continue to provide UNODC with adequate resources to promote, in an effective manner, the implementation of the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime as well as Convention against Corruption and to discharge its functions as the secretariat of the conferences of the parties to the conventions, the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.
Making an explanation of position, Switzerland’s delegate said her delegation was not in a position to co‑sponsor the text because, despite productive negotiations on the text, delegations had not been able to agree on a direct reference to the Task Force on Transnational Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking as Threats to Security and Stability. Her Government believed the task force’s work would be extremely useful to that of UNODC.
Venezuela’s representative said her country had joined consensus, but had reservations on several preambular paragraphs – namely, 11, 14 and 16 — in which imprecise statements were made. Her Government recognized the impact that transnational organized crime could have on stability and law, but could not agree on its impact on international peace and security. Venezuela did not recognize the systematic links between transnational organized crime and other crimes, including arms trafficking, which were not automatically linked. In addition, the links between terrorism and transnational organized crime were not automatic and must be analyzed on a case‑by‑case basis. Nor was there a common and shared responsibility in fighting terrorism because, among other reasons, there was no common definition for terrorism. The 16th preambular paragraph went against the Bangkok Declaration. Finally, she stressed that terrorism should be dealt with in the context of the Sixth Committee (Legal).
The Committee then took of the report of the Secretary‑General on the follow‑up to the Twelfth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (document A/66/91) and the note by the Secretary‑General transmitting the report of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime on its fifth session (A/66/92).
Finally, the Committee turned to the draft resolution on international cooperation against the world drug problem (document A/C.3/66/L.16/Rev.1), which was introduced by the representative of Mexico, who reiterated that the world drug problem was a global scourge and the activities of the United Nations would continue to be key in addressing it under the principle of shared, but common responsibility.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote.
By that text, the Assembly would be gravely concerned that, despite continuing increased efforts by States, relevant organizations, civil society and non‑governmental organizations, the world drug problem continues to constitute a serious threat to public health and safety and the well‑being of humanity. It would note with grave concern the global increased abuse of certain drugs and the proliferation of new substances, as well as the increasing sophistication of the transnational organized criminal groups engaged in their manufacture and distribution. The Assembly would also note with grave concern the global increased abuse and manufacture of amphetamine‑type stimulants, as well as the proliferation of chemical precursors used in the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, and the emergence of new methods of diversion used by organized criminal groups.
Reaffirming that the world drug problem remains a common and shared responsibility that requires effective and increased international cooperation, the Assembly would undertake to promote bilateral, regional and international cooperation, aimed at countering the world drug problem more effectively. Noting with great concern the adverse consequences of drug abuse for individuals and society as a whole, the Assembly would reaffirm the commitment of all Member States to tackling those problems in the context of comprehensive, complementary and multisectoral drug demand reduction strategies.
It would also note with great concern the alarming rise in the incidence of HIV/AIDS and other blood‑borne diseases among injecting drug users, reaffirming the commitment of all Member States to working towards the goal of universal access to comprehensive prevention programmes and treatment, care and related support services, and request the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to carry out its mandate in this area in close cooperation with relevant organizations and programmes of the United Nations system.
By other provisions, the Assembly would request UNODC to continue providing technical assistance to Member States so as to enhance capacity in countering the world drug problem, and invite the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, as the central policymaking body of the United Nations system on drug‑related matters, to strengthen the capacity of UNODC to collect, analyse, use and disseminate accurate data and to reflect such information in the World Drug Report.
It would also call upon the relevant United Nations agencies and entities and other international organizations, and would invite international financial institutions, to mainstream drug control issues into their programmes, and call upon UNODC to maintain its leading role by providing relevant information and technical assistance. Finally, it would take note of the report of the Secretary‑General, and would request the Secretary‑General to submit to the General Assembly at its sixty‑seventh session a report on the implementation of the present resolution.
Speaking in explanation of position after action, Venezuela’s delegate said that despite efforts undertaken by many States, the world drug problem continued to affect countries. The efforts made to decrease demand fell short of what was required. Transit countries such as hers had experienced severe impacts owing to the production of illicit crops and her delegation was pleased to see operative paragraph 16 in the draft text. Operative paragraphs 18 and 19 were also important. Nonetheless, Venezuela did not recognize systematic links between the mentioned crimes and considered automatic linking to be counter to due process. In addition, terrorism and transnational organized crime was not automatically linked to drug trafficking. Concerted efforts were needed to grapple with that common problem, without interfering with the internal affairs of States.
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