General Assembly Adopts 68 Resolutions, 7 Decisions as It Takes Action on Reports of Its Third Committee

18 December 2013
GA/11475

General Assembly Adopts 68 Resolutions, 7 Decisions as It Takes Action on Reports of Its Third Committee

18 December 2013
General Assembly
GA/11475
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-eighth General Assembly

Plenary

70th Meeting (PM)

General Assembly Adopts 68 Resolutions, 7 Decisions as It Takes Action

 

on Reports of Its Third Committee

 

‘Country-Specific’ Texts Draw Strong Opposition from Member States Concerned

The General Assembly today adopted 68 draft resolutions recommended by its Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) on a range of issues relating mainly to human rights, social development and crime prevention, while deferring action on three texts until the issuance of their budgetary implications.

A total of 55 drafts were passed without a vote, including a text on the emerging question of cyberspace privacy.  By the terms of that text, titled “Right to privacy in the digital age”, the Assembly established, for the first time, that human rights should prevail irrespective of the medium, and therefore the need for protection both offline and online.

Delegates remained deeply divided over an African-led text titled “Report of the Human Rights Council”, which was eventually adopted by a recorded vote of 94 in favour to 71 against, with 23 abstentions.  By its terms, the Assembly would defer consideration of and action on Human Rights Council resolution 24/24 of 27 September 2013 on cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights, in order to allow time for further consultations.  The Assembly rejected a European-led counterproposal by a recorded 83 votes against to 80 in favour, with 18 abstentions.

Many delegates said they opposed the African proposal because it would reopen the decision made by the Human Rights Council.  Those supporting it pointed out that the latter was a subsidiary of the General Assembly and the parent body could therefore discuss further the issues contained in the text.

So-called country-specific draft resolutions on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Myanmar and Syria also drew strong opposition from States insisting that the Human Rights Council’s universal periodic review was the appropriate mechanism to deal with individual countries.

The other draft resolutions that required recorded votes were: “Combating glorification of Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance”; “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”; “Use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination”; “The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination”; “The right to development”; “Human rights and cultural diversity”; “Promotion of equitable geographical distribution in the membership of the human rights treaty bodies”; “Human rights and unilateral coercive measures”; “Globalization and its impact on the full enjoyment of all human rights”; “Promotion of a democratic and equitable international order”; “Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic”; and “Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran”.

The Assembly also passed seven draft decisions, in taking note of relevant documents, and adopted the Third Committee’s work programme for the sixty-ninth session.

Speaking during today’s action were representatives of Costa Rica, Switzerland, Norway, United States, Gambia (on behalf of the African Group), Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Liechtenstein, Lithuania (on behalf of the European Union), Brazil, Australia, Qatar, Syria, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, China and Belarus.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 19 December, to hold a special meeting in tribute to Nelson Mandela.

Background

The General Assembly met this afternoon to take action on draft resolutions and decisions contained in reports of its Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural).

Introduction of Reports

ADRIANA MURILLO RUIN (Costa Rica), Rapporteur of the Third Committee, introduced that body’s reports as follows: “Social development” (document A/68/448); “Advancement of women” (document A/68/449); “Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions” (document A/68/450); “Report of the Human Rights Council” (document A/68/451); “Promotion and protection of the rights of children” (document A/68/452); “Rights of indigenous peoples” (document A/68/453); “Elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance” (document A/68/454); and “Right of peoples to self-determination” (document A/68/455).

She also presented the Committee’s reports on “Promotion and protection of human rights” (document A/68/456); “Implementation of human rights instruments” (document A/68/456/Add.1); “Human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms” (document A/68/456/Add.2); “Human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives” (document A/68/456/Add.3); “Comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action” (document A/68/456/Add.4); “Crime prevention and criminal justice” (document A/68/457); “International drug control” (document A/68/458); “Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly” (document A/68/486); and “Programme planning” (document A/68/459).

Action on Drafts

The Assembly first took up the Third Committee’s report on “Social development” (document A/68/448), containing seven draft resolutions and one draft decision.  Acting without a vote, it adopted the following draft resolutions: “Policies and programmes involving youth”; “Promoting social integration through social inclusion”; “Literacy for life: shaping future agenda”; “Cooperative in social development”; "Follow-up to the Second World Assembly on Ageing”; “Implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly”; and “Preparations for and observance of the twentieth anniversary of the International Year of the Family”.

The Assembly also adopted a draft decision by which it took note of the Secretary-General’s report titled “The way forward: a disability-inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond”.

It then turned to the Third Committee’s report “Advancement of women” (document A/68/449), containing four draft resolutions and a draft decision.  Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted the following draft resolutions:  “Violence against women migrant workers”; “Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women”; “Improvement of the situation of women in rural areas”; and “Follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and full implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly”.

The Assembly went on to adopt a draft decision by which it took note of documents pertaining to women’s advancement.

It then took up the Third Committee’s report “The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions” (document A/68/450), containing three draft resolutions.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted draft resolutions: “Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees”; “Enlargement of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees”; and “Assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa”.

The Assembly then took up the Third Committee’s “Report of the Human Rights Council” (document A/68/451), containing a synonymous draft resolution.

The representative of Switzerland introduced an amendment (document A/68/L.33) to the text, proposing the deletion of operative paragraphs 2 and 3 as their inclusion would affect the more than 100 resolutions adopted annually by the Human Rights Council and undermine the United Nations human rights institutional architecture.

The representative of Norway, speaking in explanation of position, said she would vote in favour of the proposed amendment to protect that architecture.

The representative of the United States expressed her support for the amendment, stressing that the draft, if passed without the revision, would set a damaging precedent.

The representative of Costa Rica said she would vote in favour of the proposed amendment, noting that the work of the Human Rights Council should be preserved.

The representative of Gambia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said it was supportive of the Human Rights Council and had tabled the draft resolution to allow more time for consideration of a sticking point regarding the creation of a senior focal point.  Those States that had voted against the amendment in the Third Committee should do the same in plenary, he urged.

The representative of Cameroon said the African Group was not breaking any new ground.  A text identical to the amendment defeated in the Third Committee should not be presented to the Assembly in the first place.

The representative of Zimbabwe stressed that the General Assembly could correct the work of the Human Rights Council, a subsidiary of the 193-nation body, describing the proposed amendment as a disguise for the defeated text.

The representative of Cuba recalled that the Assembly had created the Human Rights Council and therefore had full authority to review its work.

The Assembly then rejected the proposed amendment by a recorded 83 votes against to 80 in favour, with 18 abstentions, before turning to the main text.

The representative of Liechtenstein, speaking in explanation of position, said his delegation would oppose the text because singling out a specific resolution of the Human Rights Council was not appropriate, and the main sponsors had not conducted open consultations in the Third Committee.

The representative of Lithuania, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said she had reached out to the main sponsors but had had no choice but to table the amendment.  She urged all delegates to vote “no” on the main text.

The representative of Brazil said that his delegation would abstain, noting the importance of recognizing systematic implications and the need for a balanced and democratic discussion.

The representative of Australia expressed regret over the deferral of the critical Human Rights Council resolution 24/24, which needed urgent United Nations attention.

By a recorded vote of 94 in favour to 71 against, with 23 abstentions, the Assembly adopted the text.

The representative of Qatar , speaking in explanation of position, said she had abstained, adding that her delegation had supported the African Group’s stance on the Human Rights Council resolution 24/24, but the text just adopted would reopen an issue that had already been decided.

The Assembly then turned to the Committee’s report on “Promotion and protection of the rights of children” (document A/68/452), containing four draft resolutions and a draft decision.  Acting without a vote, it adopted the following texts: “Strengthening collaboration on child protection within the United Nations system”, “The girl child”, “Rights of the child” and “Child, early and forced marriage”.

Acting again without a vote, the Assembly also adopted a draft decision titled “Reports considered by the General Assembly in connection with the question of the promotion and protection of the rights of children”, by which it took note of relevant documents.

The Assembly then took up the Third Committee’s report on “Rights of indigenous peoples” (document A/68/453), adopting the synonymous draft resolution contained therein without a vote.

It then turned to the Third Committee’s report on “Elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance” (document A/68/454), containing two draft resolutions and a draft decision.  A recorded vote was requested on a draft resolution titled “Combating glorification of Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance”.

The Assembly adopted the text by a recorded vote of 135 in favour to 4 against ( Canada, Kiribati, Palau, United States), with 51 abstentions.

In a recorded vote on a draft resolution titled “Global efforts for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action”, the Assembly adopted the text by a recorded 134 votes in favour to 11 against, with 46 abstentions.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly then adopted a draft decision by which it took note of relevant documents.

The Assembly then took up the Third Committee’s report on “The right of peoples to self-determination” (document A/68/455), containing three draft resolutions.  With a recorded vote having been requested on the draft “Use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination”, the text was adopted by a recorded vote of 128 in favour to 55 against, with 8 abstentions ( Colombia, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Switzerland, Tonga).

Acting without a vote, the Assembly then adopted a draft resolution on “Universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination”.

After a recorded vote was requested on a draft titled “The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination”, the Assembly adopted the text by a recorded vote of 178 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 4 abstentions (Cameroon, Paraguay, Tonga, Vanuatu).

The Assembly then turned to the Third Committee’s report “Implementation ofhuman rights instruments” (document A/68/456/Add.1), containing three draft resolutions.

It then deferred consideration of a draft resolution on “Human Rights Committee” until the Fifth Committee issued its programme budget implications.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly then adopted the draft resolutions “International Covenants on Human Rights” and “Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.

It then took up the Third Committee’s report “Human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms” (document A/68/456/Add.2), containing 26 draft resolutions.

The Assembly deferred its consideration of a draft resolution titled “United Nations Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South-West Asia and the Arab Region” until the Fifth Committee issued its programme budget implications.

Acting without a vote, it then adopted a draft resolution on “The human right to safe drinking water and sanitation”.

By a recorded vote of 158 in favour to 4 against ( Canada, Israel, United Kingdom, United States), with 28 abstentions, it then adopted a draft titled “The right to development”.

Also by a recorded vote — 136 in favour to 54 against, with no abstentions — it adopted a text titled “Human rights and cultural diversity”.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted a draft on “Enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights”.

By a recorded vote of 135 in favour to 54 against, with 1 abstention ( Chile), the Assembly adopted a draft resolution on “Promotion of equitable geographical distribution in the membership of the human rights treaty bodies”.

In another recorded vote — 135 in favour to 55 against, with no abstentions — it adopted a draft on “Human rights and unilateral coercive measures”.

It went on to adopt, without a vote, draft resolutions, respectively titled: “The safety of journalists and the issue of impunity”; “Strengthening the role of the United Nations in enhancing periodic and genuine elections and the promotion of democratization”; “Right to the Truth”; “International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance”; and “The right to privacy in the digital age”.

By a recorded vote of 136 in favour to 55 against, with no abstentions, the Assembly adopted a draft on “Globalization and its impact on the full enjoyment of all human rights”.

Acting without a vote, it adopted draft resolutions, respectively titled: “Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons, based on religion or belief”; “Freedom of religion or belief”; “National institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights”; "Effective promotion of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities”; "Follow-up to the International Year of Human Rights Learning”; and “Subregional Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa”.

By a recorded vote of 132 in favour to 52 against, with 6 abstentions ( Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, Palau, Peru, Samoa), the Assembly adopted a draft on “Promotion of a democratic and equitable international order”.

Acting without a vote, it then adopted drafts, respectively titled: “Strengthening United Nations action in the field of human rights through the promotion of international cooperation and the importance of non-selectivity, impartiality and objectivity”; “The right to food”; “Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism”; “Protection of migrants”; “Protection of and assistance to internally displaced persons”; 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: protecting women human rights defenders”.

The Assembly then turned to the Third Committee’s report “Human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives” (document A/68/456/Add.3), containing four draft resolutions.  It deferred consideration of the draft “Situation of human rights in Myanmar” until the issuance of the pertinent Fifth Committee report.

The representative of Syria, speaking in explanation of position, referred to the draft on the situation of human rights in his country, saying that, because the international legal framework was based on non-interference in the internal affairs of States, such politicized resolutions targeting specific States were in violation of the United Nations Charter and impeded dialogue.  They also served the agendas of specific States that were trying to make the Geneva II conference fail.  Armed terrorist groups linked to Al-Qaida had been brought into Syria by the Saudi regime and other States, he asserted, adding that the Saudi position would only lead to the proliferation of terrorism.  For those and other reasons, Syria requested a recorded vote on the draft resolution and requested delegates to oppose it.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said human rights could not be “imposed from the outside” and for that reason, his delegation would vote against the text.

The representative of Iran urged delegates to vote against the draft, which did not correspond to the situation on the ground and ignored Syria’s cooperation.  It also distorted the situation in Iran and was based on a selective, discriminatory and punitive approach, he said.

The representative of Cuba said his delegation would oppose the draft on Syria, emphasizing that dialogue and compromise were the only ways to summon a solution to the situation.  The text was an example of a politically motivated examination of a State, and the Cuban delegation would also vote against the text on Iran because it excluded important progress.

A recorded vote was requested on the draft concerning the “Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic”.

The Assembly adopted the text by a recorded vote of 127 in favour to 13 against, with 47 abstentions.

It went on to adopt, without a vote, a draft on the “Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”.

A recorded vote was requested on the “Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran”.

The Assembly adopted it by a recorded vote of 86 in favour to 36 against, with 61 abstentions.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in explanation of position, said his delegation totally rejected the text, emphasizing that its adoption would impede dialogue.  Its main sponsors had invaded other States, and before criticizing human rights in other countries, they should examine their own records.

The representative of China said his delegation opposed country-specific resolutions and stressed that problems could only be solved through dialogue.  For that reason, China had voted against those texts.

A representative of Belarus said country-specific resolutions were unacceptable and her delegation had thus also voted against them.

The Assembly then took note of the Third Committee’s report “Comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action” (document A/68/456/Add.4), which contained no proposed action.

It then took up the Third Committee’s report on “Promotion and protection of human rights” (documents A/68/456), adopting a draft decision by which it took note of relevant documents.

The Assembly took up the Third Committee’s report on “Crime prevention and criminal justice” (document A/68/457), containing 11 draft resolutions and one draft decision.

Acting without a vote, it adopted the following texts: “Follow-up to the Twelfth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and preparations for the Thirteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice”; “Strengthening crime prevention and criminal justice responses to protect cultural property, especially with regard to its trafficking”; “Technical assistance for implementing the international conventions and protocols related to counter-terrorism”; and “The rule of law, crime prevention and criminal justice in the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015”.

It further adopted, without a vote, the following drafts: “Model strategies and practical measures on the elimination of violence against children in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice”; “Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners”; “Taking action against gender-related killing of women and girls”; and “Improving the coordination efforts against trafficking in persons”.

Acting once again without a vote, the Assembly adopted the following resolutions: “Strengthening the United Nations crime prevention and criminal justice programme, in particular its technical cooperation capacity”; “United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders”; and “Preventing and combating corrupt practices and the transfer of proceeds of corruption, facilitating asset recovery and returning such assets to legitimate owners, in particular to countries of origin, in accordance with the United Nations Convention against Corruption”.

The Assembly also adopted a draft decision by which it took note of relevant documents.

It turned to the Committee’s report on “International drug control” (document A/68/458), containing two draft resolutions.  Acting without a vote, it adopted both texts, respectively on “United Nations Guiding Principles on Alternative Development” and “International cooperation against the world drug problem”.

The Assembly then took up the Third Committee’s report on “Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly” (document A/68/486) recommending that it adopt a draft decision contained therein, on the Committee’s programme of work for the sixty-ninth session.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted the draft decision.

Finally, the Assembly took note of the Third Committee’s report “Programme planning” (document A/68/459), which contained no proposed action.

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