|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-seventh General Assembly
41st & 42nd Meetings (AM & PM)
General Assembly Will Condemn in Strongest Terms Use of Extrajudicial Executions,
Demand States End Practice, Under Terms of Text Approved by Third Committee
Texts Also Approved on: Human Rights in Administration of Justice, Human Rights
Council Report, Ombudsman Role, Committee against Torture, Anti-racism Convention
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today approved a draft resolution that would have the General Assembly strongly condemn all extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and demand States ensure that such practices were brought to an end.
The draft resolution — one of six passed today — was approved by a recorded vote of 108 in favour to 1 against (Iran), with 65 abstentions, amid rigorous debate over two draft amendments that would have omitted language related to capital punishment and the notion of sexual identity.
By the text, introduced by Sweden’s representative, the Assembly would reiterate States’ international legal obligation to conduct thorough, prompt and impartial investigations into all suspected cases of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. It would urge States to take all measures to prevent the loss of life during detention and arrest, among other things, and to protect the right to life of all persons under their jurisdiction.
By other terms, States would be urged to investigate all killings, including those targeted at specific groups of persons, such as racially motivated violence and the killing of persons because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, among other reasons. They also would be urged to ensure that persons deprived of their liberty were treated humanely, with full respect for international humanitarian and human rights law.
The first amendment, sponsored by Singapore, which would have removed the reference to capital punishment, was defeated by a recorded vote of 78 against to 50 in favour, with 38 abstentions. The second amendment, sponsored by the United Arab Emirates, on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which would have removed language related to sexual orientation and gender identity, was defeated by a recorded vote of 86 against to 44 in favour, with 31 abstentions.
In the debate during action on the texts, delegates voiced concerns about including concepts in resolutions that had no legal basis in international conventions. Egypt’s delegate said he was alarmed at attempts to create new rights or standards which seriously jeopardized the entire human rights framework. He therefore abstained in the vote.
Taking a different view, Sweden’s delegate said that at the core of the text was the right to life, the precondition for enjoyment of all other rights. Still others said the taking of a life was the ultimate violation of human rights, and while they had objected to the inclusion of capital punishment, and a perceived suggestion that extrajudicial executions and the death penalty were one and the same, they voted in favour of the text.
Also today, the Assembly approved as orally revised a consensus draft on human rights in the administration of justice, introduced by Austria’s delegate, which would have the Assembly reiterate its call for States to spare no effort in providing for effective legislative and other mechanisms to ensure the full implementation of the United Nations standards on human rights in the administration of justice.
As regards juveniles, the text would have the Assembly recognize that every child and juvenile in conflict with the law must be treated in a manner consistent with his or her rights, and encourage States that had not yet integrated children’s issues into their overall rule of law efforts to do so. It would urge States to ensure that neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without the possibility of release, nor corporal punishment was imposed for offences committed by persons under 18 years of age, and invite States to consider repealing all other forms of life imprisonment for offences committed by persons under that age.
Other draft resolutions approved today focused on: the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, introduced by Belgium’s representative, also on behalf of Slovenia; the role of the Ombudsman, mediator and other national human rights institutions in the promotion and protection of human rights, introduced by Morocco’s representative; the Report of the Human Rights Council, introduced by the representative of Cape Verde; and the Committee against Torture, introduced by Denmark’s representative.
In morning business, the Committee heard the introduction of eight draft resolutions concerning the issues of older persons, refugees, Nazism, racism, use of mercenaries, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, missing persons and the freedom of religion or belief.
Introducing those draft resolutions were the representatives of El Salvador, Liberia, Russian Federation, Algeria (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China), Cuba, Slovenia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus (on behalf of the European Union), Cape Verde (on behalf of the African Group), Belgium (also on behalf of Slovenia) and Morocco.
Speaking during action on the text concerning the report of the Human Rights Council were the representatives of Syria, Cape Verde, Cyprus (on behalf of the European Union), Belarus, United States, Iran, Israel, Switzerland (also on behalf of Iceland, Liechtenstein, New Zealand and Norway), Costa Rica, Sri Lanka and Canada.
Speaking during action on the texts concerning the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and human rights in the administration of justice was the representative of the United States.
Speaking during action on the first proposed amendment to the draft resolution on extrajudicial executions were the representatives of Sweden, Egypt, Sudan (on behalf of the Arab Group), Italy, Trinidad and Tobago, Switzerland and Norway.
Speaking during action on the second proposed amendment were the representatives of Sweden, Ireland, United States, Brazil and South Africa.
Speaking during action on the draft resolution itself were the representatives of Sweden, Iran, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Singapore, Egypt, Grenada, India, Jamaica, United States, Japan, China and Brunei Darussalam.
The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. Monday, 26 November, to hear the introduction of several resolutions and take action on others.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to hear the introduction of several draft resolutions on social development, refugees, elimination of racism, right of peoples to self-determination and promotion and protection of human rights.
It also was expected to take action on a number of draft resolutions entitled, Report of the Human Rights Council (document A/C.3/67/L.59), International Convention on the elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (document A/C.3/67/L.57), The role of the Ombudsman, mediator and other national human rights institutions in the promotion and protection of human rights (document A/C.3/67/L.28), Human rights in the Administration of Justice (document A/C/67/L.34/Rev.1), Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (document A/C.3/67/L.36) and amendments thereto (documents A/C.3/67/L.67 and A/C.3/67/L.68), Committee against Torture (document A/C.3/67/L.45) and its programme and budget implications (document A/C.3/67/L.60), and the Situation of human rights in Myanmar (document A/C.3/67/L.49/Rev.1) and its programme and budget implications (document A/C.3/67/L.70).
Introduction of Draft Resolutions
Kicking off the meeting with the introduction of the draft resolution entitled, Towards a comprehensive and integral international legal instrument to promote and protect the rights and dignity of older persons (A/C.3/67/L.9/Rev.1), the representative of El Salvador said that only half a century ago, old age was considered a miracle. Today, the move towards old age had changed and the total number of persons aged 60 years or over would reach over 200 million in 2050. The population of older persons was primarily female, as women lived around eight years longer than men. He underlined the importance of an international legal instrument that promoted and protected their rights, encouraging all States to support the draft and approve it by consensus.
The representative of Liberia, on behalf of the African Group, introduced the draft resolution on Assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa (document A/C.3/67/L.61), which she said referred to crises in Mali, among other places, and the implications on the Sahel region. The text welcomed the most recent decisions of the African Union Executive Council vis-à-vis refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons. Thorough negotiations had been conducted on the text in Geneva and the African Group preferred that they not be reopened. With that, she looked forward to the text’s adoption by consensus.
Continuing, the representative of the Russian Federation introduced the draft resolution on Glorification of Nazism: Inadmissibility of certain practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance (document A/C.3/67/L.55/Rev.1), saying that the draft had become a traditional resolution. 65 years after World War II, the victory of the United Nations was one over nationalist socialism and a doctrine of racial supremacy. He was concerned about extremist groups, such as neo-Nazis and skin heads, who today carried out acts of violence against others, including minorities. The modern fascist movement must be combated. He called on all States – especially those which supported the 1945 victory over Nazism and xenophobia – to support today’s initiative.
The draft resolution on Global efforts for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (document A/C.3/67/L.56) was introduced by Algeria’s representative, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China. He said the 2001 Durban Declaration and Programme of Action morally bounded States to commit to eradicating the scourge of racism. A lack of political will had led to an inability to address the pertinent issues, such as those of remedies and reparations.
As such, the draft resolution took into account the challenges facing the Ad Hoc Committee of the Human Rights Council on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards, he said, in line with the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. Noting that sport was central to intensifying the fight against racism, he welcomed that Brazil would host the World Cup in 2014. The text also called on the Secretary-General and the General Assembly to ensure that the Decade for People of African Descent, starting in 2013, was a success.
Next, Cuba’s delegate introduced the draft resolution on Use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination (document A/C.3/67/L.58), noting that it was important to introduce standards and guidelines for ensuring greater protection of human rights, including those to self-determination. It also was important to deal with current threats, especially of private military enterprises. As such, the text voiced concern at the impact of such enterprises on human rights, especially in armed conflict. He called on all States to support the text’s adoption.
Slovenia’s delegate introduced the draft resolution on Committee on the Rights of the Child (document A/C.3/67/L.35), saying that, due to the near universal ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, there was a “crisis of backlog”. The parallel chamber system to consider reports, used in 2010, had allowed the Committee to prevent the backlog from growing beyond 80 reports. Since the end of that system, however, the backlog had increased and now stood at 101 reports. Thus, the draft resolution would allow the Committee to meet in parallel chambers for nine working days, among other things, in order to consider State reports. Without a change, it was estimated that in two years the backlog would be the same length as the reporting cycle: five years.
Azerbaijan’s delegate introduced the draft resolution entitled Missing persons (document A/C.3/67/L.46), saying it contained a number of new elements based on the Secretary-General’s report on that topic. Four open-ended consultations had been held to discuss the text. The draft noted with concern that armed conflict resulted in serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. It also recognized that implementation of such law could reduce the number of missing persons. It invited States to cooperate to solve cases of missing persons, reaffirming families’ rights to know the fate of those missing. Azerbaijan would appreciate continued support for today’s text.
Rounding out the introductions, Cyprus’ delegate, on behalf of the European Union, introduced the draft resolution on Freedom of religion or belief (document A/C.3/67/L.48), saying that the traditional text was a follow-up action on the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. It reaffirmed the importance of the freedoms of thought, conscience and religion or belief, stressing that such rights applied equally to all persons. It highlighted the role of education and dialogue to enhance knowledge and understanding, and expressed support to the Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. He expressed hope that it would be adopted by consensus, as in previous years.
Action on Draft Resolutions
The Committee then turned its attention to the draft resolution entitled Report of the Human Rights Council (document A/C.3/67/L.59), which was introduced by the representative of Cape Verde, on behalf of the African Group. The establishment of the Human Rights Council was a milestone in the serious developments of foundations towards universal respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms, he said. The cooperative approach towards dealing with human rights questions helped Governments promote and protect them for all of their citizens. The report contained details on a number of human rights issues, including trafficking in persons, migrants and all kinds of racism. The African Group looked forward to adoption of the draft resolution by consensus. He also requested that the resolution be amended to add the number 1 to the last paragraph of the draft resolution, to indicate that it was an operative paragraph.
Speaking before action, the representative of Syria asked to postpone adoption for 10 minutes of consultations with the co-sponsors the African Group.
The Chair said that he would not postpone the meeting, but would give the representative of Syria five minutes for consultations before proceeding.
The Chair then announced that the sponsors of the draft resolution would ask for a postponement of the draft resolution until the afternoon session.
Taking the floor to clarify its position, Cape Verde’s representative said the African Group requested to postpone adoption until the afternoon to accommodate the position of Syria to re-draft the general statement.
The Chair said adoption of the draft resolution would be postponed until the first item of the afternoon.
The Committee then turned to the draft resolution on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (document S/C.3/67/L.57), which was introduced by the representative of Belgium, also speaking on behalf of Slovenia. He expressed appreciation for all delegations that engaged in constructive discussions on the draft resolution, and made oral revisions.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution as orally revised by consensus.
By that text, the Assembly would take note of the reports of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, on its seventy-eighth, seventy-ninth and eightieth sessions.
Speaking after adoption, the United States representative said her country strongly condemned discrimination, but had not approved aspects concerning financing. Also, it strongly supported efforts to increase efficiency of the treaty bodies, so that resources were used as efficiently as possible.
Next, the Committee turned to the draft resolution on The role of the Ombudsman, mediator and other national human rights institutions in the promotion and protection of human rights (document A/C.3/67/L.28), which was introduced by the representative of Morocco. The draft resolution was a collective endeavour, reflecting a joint desire on human rights, he said.
By that text, the Assembly would welcome the rapidly growing interest throughout the world in the creation and strengthening of the Ombudsman, mediator and other national human rights institutions, and recognizing the important role that these institutions can play, in accordance with their mandate, in support of domestic complaint resolution.
It would encourage Member States to consider the creation of such institutions at the national and, where applicable, the local level, and encourage the Ombudsman, mediator and other national human rights institutions, where they exist, to operate, as appropriate, in accordance with the principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights and other relevant international instruments, in order to strengthen their independence and autonomy and to enhance their capacity to assist Member States in the promotion and protection of human rights.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution by consensus.
The Committee then took up the draft resolution on Human rights in the Administration of Justice (document A/C/67/L.34/Rev.1). The Secretary made an oral statement that additional allocation of $50,900 for documentation services in 2013 would be required for the request under operative paragraph 31. Should the General Assembly adopt the resolution, all possible efforts would be made to absorb the additional requirements within existing resources.
Introducing the draft resolution, the representative of Austria said two of the most vulnerable segments of society were addressed in this year’s draft resolution: persons deprived of liberty and children under contact with the law. Austria was confident that the Secretariat would be able to absorb the additional allocation of resources in 2013, since it would not be necessary in 2014.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution by consensus.
By that text, the General Assembly would call attention to the numerous international standards in the field of the administration of justice, and be convinced that independence and impartiality of the judiciary and the integrity of the judicial system as well as an independent legal profession were essential prerequisites for the protection of human rights, the rule of law, good governance and democracy, as well as for ensuring that there is no discrimination in the administration of justice, and should therefore be respected in all circumstances.
The Assembly would also invite States to make use of technical assistance offered by the relevant United Nations entities and programmes in order to strengthen national capacities and infrastructures in the field of the administration of justice, and would appeal to Governments to include in their national development plans the administration of justice as an integral part of the development process.
By other terms, the Assembly would encourage States to pay attention to the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-Custodial Measures for Women Offenders. As regards juveniles, the Assembly would recognize that every child and juvenile in conflict with the law must be treated in a manner consistent with his or her rights, and encourage States that had not yet integrated children’s issues into their overall rule of law efforts to do so.
Further, it would urge States to ensure that neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without the possibility of release, nor corporal punishment was imposed for offences committed by persons under 18 years of age, and invite States to consider repealing all other forms of life imprisonment for offences committed by persons under 18 years of age. It would encourage States not to set the minimum age of criminal responsibility at too low a level, and to collect information concerning children within their criminal justice systems, so as to improve their administration of justice, while bearing in mind children’s right to privacy.
Finally, the Assembly would underline the importance of rebuilding and strengthening structures for the administration of justice and of respecting the rule of law and human rights, including in post-conflict situations, as a crucial contribution to building peace and justice and ending impunity. In that respect, it would request the Secretary-General to ensure system-wide coordination and coherence of programmes and activities of the relevant parts of the United Nations system, including through the Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group, chaired by the Deputy Secretary-General and supported by the Rule of Law Unit of the Secretariat, and in cooperation with the Peacebuilding Commission, including assistance provided through United Nations field presences.
Speaking after adoption, the representative of the United States said her delegation was pleased to have been able to join consensus, welcoming the emphasis on women and children in the justice system. As in the past, it was not able to sponsor the resolution because it called on States to comply with various principles that the United States had not undertaken. The United States interpreted these provisions as urging treaty body applications to the extent that States had accepted them. Given today’s economic situation, the United States hoped the Secretariat would be able to absorb the modest cost from this resolution.
The Committee then approved as orally revised the draft resolution entitled Report of the Human Rights Council (document A/C.3/67/L.59), which was introduced by the representative of Cape Verde, on behalf of the African Group. By that text, the General Assembly would take note of that report, including the addendum and recommendations.
Speaking after action, Syria’s delegate said her country had participated actively in the Human Rights Council, always having taken a positive approach. Human rights were related to Syria’s foreign policy. She regretted that the report contained resolutions on the human rights situation in Syria, which had been drafted in the “misleading language of hatred” and were unprecedented in nature. Those resolutions only denounced Syria. In no paragraph did they call for disarmament of terrorist groups and a return to the negotiating table.
Moreover, the sponsors did not refer to the deteriorating economic and humanitarian situation in Syria due to unilateral coercive measures, she said. The report of the independent inquiry committee had referred to the negative impact to Syrians’ living conditions. Those measures breached the principle of State independence. Despite the fact that Syria had joined the compromise on the text, her Government rejected politicized resolutions on the situation in Syria and was not committed to implementing them.
Cyprus’ delegate, on behalf of the European Union, said his concerns were largely based on procedural grounds. He did not deem it necessary to note Human Rights Council resolutions in a generic manner. Asking the Committee to note the report ignored the report’s allocation to the Assembly plenary and the Third Committee. It was enough to consider the report on 14 November in the plenary. Nonetheless, the Union had joined consensus.
Belarus’ delegate said her Government had not joined consensus on the text because the Council report, among other things, had been seen as politically motivated by the Special Rapporteur on Belarus, whose decision had nothing to do with the real situation in her country and was seen as intervening in her country’s internal affairs. She was concerned about the broadening of discriminatory activities intended to pressure any given State. Also, it was inadmissible for the Universal Periodic Review to be used with double standards. Belarus would continue to work with the special procedures and other States in striving to bring the Council “back on the path” as the main human rights body.
The United States’ representative said her country was proud to pass resolutions pressing country-specific human rights issues, and had joined consensus on the text. She had seen significant improvements in Council’s ability to promote and protect human rights. The United States was pleased to have been elected to a second term on the Council.
Iran’s delegate disassociated his Government from the text, due to the fact that the report contained resolutions and recommendations that were a great concern, as they pursued politicized objectives. Country-specific resolutions, especially vis-à-vis Iran, would lead the Council to take the same futile path as the former Commission on Human Rights.
Israel’s delegate said the Council was created six years ago and Israel had been actively involved in those negotiations, in order to renew public confidence in that body. The founding resolution clearly stated that the Council’s work should be guided by universality and non-selectivity, among other principles. However, agenda item 7 constituted institutional discrimination against a Member State, defying the principles on which the Council was founded. It cast a dark shadow on the United Nations as a whole. Resolution 19/17 (2012), especially, showed the Council’s bias against Israel. For that reason, Israel could not support today’s resolution and disassociated itself from it.
Switzerland’s delegate, speaking also on behalf of Iceland, Liechtenstein, New Zealand and Norway, said it was up to the plenary, not the Third Committee, to take action on the Council’s report. She was disappointed that the resolution disregarded that understanding. All recommendations should be considered on individual merits, not collectively. There was no added value in the text just adopted.
Costa Rica’s delegate said the Council report should be considered in the plenary, not the Committee. That position was based on paragraph 5(j) of General Assembly resolution 60/251 (2006). Only the recommendations should be considered by the Committee.
Sri Lanka’s delegate said her Government had joined consensus on the draft resolution. The promotion and protection of human rights should be based on genuine cooperation to assist States in complying with their obligations. That cardinal principle, however, had been violated. Sri Lanka had strengthened its democratic institutions and processes and was promoting human rights through a national strategy.
Further, she said Sri Lanka had engaged with the Council and its mechanisms, and had been steadfast in its treaty reporting. Despite such commitments, Council resolution 19/2 (2012) on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka was ill-conceived. It set a negative precedent that challenged the Council’s core values. In keeping with established international procedures, domestic processes must be exhausted before proceeding to external review. Countries convulsed by terrorism must be given time to renew their systems of rights and freedoms.
Canada’s delegate welcomed many elements of the Council’s report, saying her Government had joined consensus on the resolution. She expressed concern, however, about the establishment of a fact-finding mission on Israeli settlements.
The Committee then turned to the draft resolution on Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (document A/C.3/67/L.36).
Speaking on a point of order, the representative of Cape Verde, speaking on behalf of the African Group, asked for a five-minute suspension of the meeting to discuss the draft text.
The Chair suspended the meeting for a brief period.
The draft resolution was then introduced by the representative of Sweden, who said that it aimed to protect individuals from extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and bring perpetrators of such acts to justice. At its heart stood two principles: the right to life and the fight against impunity, she said.
By that text, the General Assembly would note with deep concern that impunity continued to be a major cause of the perpetuation of violations of human rights, including extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. It would also note with deep concern continuing instances of the arbitrary deprivation of life, as a result of the imposition and implementation of capital punishment in a manner that violates international law. Further, it would be deeply concerned about acts that could amount to extrajudicial summary or arbitrary executions committed against persons exercising their rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression in all regions of the world.
The Assembly would be convinced of the need for effective action to prevent, combat and eliminate the abhorrent practice of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, which represented flagrant violations of international human rights law, strongly condemning once again all the extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions that continue to occur throughout the world; demanding that all States ensured that the practice of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions was brought to an end and that they take effective action to prevent, combat and eliminate the phenomenon in all its forms and manifestations.
The Assembly would reiterate the obligation of all States under international law to conduct thorough, prompt and impartial investigations into all suspected cases of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, to identify and bring to justice those responsible. The Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to provide the Special Rapporteur with adequate human, financial and material resources to enable him to carry out his mandate effectively, including through country visits.
Two draft amendments were proposed to the text. The Committee took action on the draft amendments in the order in which they had been tabled. The first, sponsored by Singapore (document A/C.3/67/L.67), would delete the eighth preambular paragraph, which noted with deep concern the continuing instances of the arbitrary deprivation of life, as a result of the imposition and implementation of capital punishment in a manner that violated international law.
Introducing the amendment, the representative of Singapore said he was also speaking on behalf of Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, China, Iran, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Uganda and Viet Nam. The death penalty was not arbitrary and there was no international consensus on capital punishment, as many countries maintained it in law and practice. There was nothing arbitrary about prescribing the death penalty to the most serious offences, and they saw no reason to include it in this resolution.
Sweden’s representative, speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, said her delegation had done its utmost to explain and clarify the reasoning of this paragraph.
Speaking on point of order, Egypt’s representative asked to clarify procedure on whether Sweden could speak.
The Chair said that a recorded vote had been requested on the draft amendment, and before proceeding to vote he would give the floor to any delegation wishing to make a general statement.
Sudan’s representative, on behalf of the Arab Group, said all human rights were mutually reinforcing. Sudan refused categorically to include in resolutions concepts that had no legal basis in any international Convention, which allowed for certain exploitation by general bodies. The Arab Group expressed firm condemnation of human rights being used for political agendas, including introducing controversial discussion with non-objective content. These attempts had come for more than ten years. The Arab Group would be voting in favour of this and the following proposed amendment.
Sweden’s representative said her delegation, on behalf of the Nordic countries, had held four informal consultations on the draft resolution. The paragraph in questions did not claim that capital punishment did not conform to international law, she said.
Speaking on point of order, Egypt’s representative asked the Secretariat to read the content of article 128 on meetings.
The Secretary read the article, but noted the meeting was not yet at that juncture.
Egypt’s representative asked to confirm whether the meeting was at the stage of explanation of vote or not.
The Chair said they were at the stage of explanation of vote before the vote and he had granted the floor to Sweden.
Egypt’s representative said that, as the main sponsor of the draft resolution, in the explanation of vote before the vote before an amendment Sweden should not be allowed to vote.
Speaking on point of order, Italy’s representative said Sweden was not the proposer of the amendment, so he did not understand the position of Egypt.
Sweden’s representative said her country had done its utmost to clarify that the draft resolution focused on when capital punishment was not in conformity with international law, and could be an arbitrary deprivation of life. Surely all could agree that capital punishment should be carried out within international agreements. She asked the Committee to vote no to the proposed amendment.
The representative of Trinidad and Tobago said the sentence of death in her country was reserved only to the most serious crimes committed; however, the paragraph said that capital punishment and arbitrary deprivation of life could be regarded as an attempt to delegitimize the position, and was not accepted by her country. Her country would vote in favour of the proposed amendment.
Switzerland’s representative said her delegation regretted the amendment; it was very clear that if the death penalty was not implemented in concert with human right guidelines, then it was arbitrary.
Norway ’s representative said her delegation took the floor to oppose the proposed amendment. The right to life was a supreme right, and no other right could be enjoyed without it. For states where the death penalty continued to be used, international law had stringent applications. The paragraph in question did not claim that capital punishment was not in conformity with international law, and Norway called on Members to vote no on the proposal.
The Committee then rejected the amendment contained in A/C.3/67/L.67, by a recorded vote of 78 against to 50 in favour, with 38 abstentions.
Next, the Committee took up action on the amendment to the draft resolution contained in document A/C.3/67/L.68, sponsored by the United Arab Emirates, which would in operative paragraph 6 (b), replace “or because of their sexual orientation or gender identity” in the fifth and sixth lines with “or for any other reason”.
Introducing the amendment, the representative United Arab Emirates, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, reaffirmed that all human rights were interdependent and mutually reinforcing, and it could not be claimed in any country or territory that all human rights had been realized for all. In that context, the United Arab Emirates was gravely concerned by attempts to introduce concepts that were not legal notions in human rights instruments. Its alarm did not merely stand from lack of legal grounds; the notion of sexual identity was undefined and should not be linked to international human rights instruments. He called on Member States to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination and intolerance, and also to avoid positive discrimination at the expense of others’ rights.
A recorded vote had been requested on the proposed amendment, the Chair said.
Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, Sweden’s representative said as the main sponsor of the resolution, her country objected to the proposed amendment. The sad reality was that sexual orientation and gender identity had often been behind extrajudicial killings, and the proposed amendment could help keep countries from looking the other way when such incidents occurred. Denying the right to life and disregarding the plight of persons who were vulnerable could never be acceptable. She respectfully called on others to vote no to the proposed amendment.
Ireland’s representative said his country would vote against the proposed amendment. This was a grave and continuous situation that deserved to be highlighted in the resolution, and in no way diminished Ireland’s commitment to fight other human rights violations as well.
The representative of the United States said her country was strongly opposed to the proposed amendment and urged other delegations also to vote against it. Surely no country would condone the extrajudicial execution of any one person based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, she said.
Brazil’s representative said the original reference in the proposed resolution addressed vulnerable persons, and the call must be clear: no State could accept any form of execution motivated by discriminatory reasons. The clear mention of this phenomenon was of utmost importance, and Brazil would vote against the proposed amendment, urging others to do likewise.
South Africa’s representative said the principle of non-discrimination and equality was part of its Constitution - including sexual orientation and gender identity, which was a segment of the population that was very vulnerable. His delegation would vote against the proposed amendment, and respectfully appealed to all delegations to do the same.
The Committee then rejected the amendment contained in A/C.3/67/L.68, by a recorded vote of 86 against to 44 in favour, with 31 abstentions.
Next, the Chair invited the Committee to take action on the draft resolution entitled Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (document A/C.3/67/L.36). A recorded vote had been requested.
Making a general statement before the vote, Sweden’s representative said the core of the resolution was the right to life, the precondition for enjoyment of all other rights. On behalf of the Nordic countries, she respectfully asked all delegations to vote yes.
Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, Iran’s representative said his country was fully committed to its international obligations, and completely shared the main message of the resolution at hand, but the method of negotiations by the main sponsors had not adequately taken into account the opinions of other delegations. Lack of flexibility on the part of the sponsors of the resolution could overshadow the main objective of the draft resolution and should be avoided in the future. Iran would vote against the resolution.
South Africa’s representative said his delegation supported the proposed draft resolution; the killing of a human being could not be justified in any way whatsoever. The taking of a life was the ultimate violation of human rights. He called on all members to vote in support of the draft resolution.
The representative of Trinidad and Tobago said her country strongly condemned the violation of the right to life of any person, and for that reason voted in favour of the proposed amendments, to maintain the focus at hand. Although it was unable to support preambular paragraph 8 of the text and expressed its reservations in that regard, it would vote in favour of the resolution. The law as it currently stood afforded equal protection to persons with alternative lifestyles, she said.
Singapore’s representative reiterated his country’s unequivocal condemnation of extrajudicial killing. His country had voted in support of the resolution in 2010, but it was surprised by the attempt to draw a link between capital punishment and arbitrary execution. A number of key parts in the resolution would put those who practiced capital punishment alongside those who committed genocide and war crimes. Singapore could not accept that and would abstain in the vote.
Egypt’s representative said his country had voted in favour of both proposed amendments to try to make sure the draft resolution would reflect international practices. Egypt was gravely alarmed at the systematic attempts to reinterpret internationally agreed human rights instruments. Egypt was also alarmed at attempts to create new rights or standards that seriously jeopardized the entire human rights framework, which was founded on dialogue and not to achieve narrow gains. Egypt would reject attempts to impose undefined concepts or notions that fell outside the international framework, which disregarded the universal nature of rights. Egypt, unfortunately, would continue to abstain from the resolution.
Grenada’s representative said today it had voted to remove the arbitrary deprivation of life and capital punishment in preambular paragraph 8, but would vote in favour of the draft resolution on the important matter of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
The Committee then voted in favour of the draft resolution, by a recorded vote of 108 in favour to 1 against ( Iran), with 65 abstentions.
Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, India’s representative said his delegation attached great importance to the resolution, however firmly it believed that the issue of capital punishment had no place in the text. In India, the death penalty was used in rare circumstances, with jurisprudence. India went along with the resolution, but looked for more open discussion next time to have a broader consensus.
Jamaica’s representative said his country condemned all extrajudicial executions whenever or wherever they occurred. It had voted in favour of the draft resolution. However, in its view the resolution suggested extrajudicial executions and the death penalty were one and the same, an analysis that Jamaica did not share. Jamaica also held the view that a more holistic view was necessary in categories of vulnerable persons, he said.
The representative of the United States said her country agreed that all countries had obligations to protect human rights, and countries such as hers with capital punishment should follow due process. It nonetheless had concerns about the text in several areas, and therefore abstained. The applicable rules on extrajudicial killing in international armed conflict were found in international humanitarian law, she said.
Japan’s representative said his country also had concerns about operative paragraph 5, which went beyond international standards. His country had voted in favour of the proposed amendment of Singapore, but nevertheless voted for the resolution.
The representative of China said that it was regrettable that references to capital punishment found their way into the draft resolution. China abstained on the resolution, and strongly urged the co-sponsors stop confusing concepts and imposing their views on others.
The representative of Brunei Darussalam said her country had to abstain for the draft resolution, as it was of the view that capital punishment was a criminal justice issue, not one of human rights.
Next, Denmark’s representative introduced the draft resolution on the Committee against Torture (document A/C.3/67/L.45), saying that the Convention against Torture laid down the fundamental principle of the absolute prohibition of torture. To monitor that important principle, the Committee was established and sufficient time was needed for it to consider State parties reports and individual complaints. She read out a minor oral revision to the text.
The Committee then approved as orally revised the draft resolution on the Committee against Torture (document A/C.3/67/L.45).
Speaking after adoption, the United States delegate said her Government was strongly committed to the abolition of torture, through domestic action and strong international measures. She strongly supported the Committee’s work. At the same time, the current economic situation meant that States must be attentive to financial constraints. As such, the United States disassociated itself from the text because of operative paragraph 2, emphasizing the need to enhance the effectiveness of all treaty bodies, including through the treaty body strengthening process.
United Kingdom’s delegate, also on behalf of Japan, said her delegation had joined consensus on the draft text, underlining its serious concerns with the approach taken in the resolution to a much wider problem. She valued the Committee’s work and appreciated its genuine problems with its workload. Indeed, the Committee was a victim of its own success, and thus, she underlined the need to solve the backlog problem. While welcoming steps the Committee had taken to make its working methods more efficient, she said temporary extensions of meeting time did not solve the problem. The High Commissioner in her report had spoken of the limits of ad hoc solutions.
She said her delegation was disappointed that such concerns had not been taken into account and that compromise proposals had not been properly considered. The wider treaty body process aimed to tackle the roots of the backlog problem and that was where attention should focus.
Japan’s delegate said it was essential to seek a long-term solution to the backlog problem. He had serious concerns from a perspective of financial discipline and he urged the secretariat to minimize additional resource requests. He asked the Committee to further improve its working methods.
* *** *