|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-eighth General Assembly
37th Meeting (AM)
Delegates Stress Need to Engage with United Nations Human Rights Mechanisms
as Third Committee Concludes General Discussion
Delegates stressed today the importance of seeking constructive engagement with United Nations human rights mechanisms, as the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) concluded its general discussion on the promotion and protection of human rights.
Swaziland’s representative said the Universal Periodic Review mechanism was the main intergovernmental system for ensuring universal coverage and equal treatment of all States in fulfilling their human rights obligations and commitments. For that reason, he explained, Swaziland rejected any additional country-specific mechanisms that could lead to politicization, double standards and selectivity when dealing with human rights issues.
Iran’s representative noted that “a biased approach towards human rights situations in some countries and turning blind eyes to situations in others” eroded the credibility of United Nations human rights mechanisms and undermined national capacities for genuine promotion and protection of human rights.
The representative of the Maldives said his Government had found it difficult to implement fully all the recommendations it had received through the special procedures system given the country’s small size and population. However, he encouraged Member States to make use of the Universal Periodic Review process.
Also participating today were speakers representing Syria, Viet Nam, Trinidad and Tobago, Sri Lanka and the International Organization for Migration.
Representatives of Qatar and Syria spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The Third Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Monday, 4 November, to begin its general discussion on racism and self-determination.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this morning to conclude its general discussion on the promotion and protection of human rights. For background information, see Press Release GA/SHC/4076 of 23 October.
MONIA Alsaleh ( Syria) said the crisis in her country made clear that the terrorist organization Al-Qaida was supported by Saudi Arabia and Qatar and received financial support from Turkey and France. The terrorists were “eating the hearts” of those they killed, whose only sin was to stand against them. Every day they violated the Syrian people’s right to life and livelihood, targeting their historical heritage. “If anyone does not belong to them, they will be destroyed under a distorted interpretation of Islam,” she said. Arms were smuggled through Syria’s border with Turkey, under the direct supervision of Turkey, which had opened 900 kilometres of it border to Al-Qaida. It had also become evident that the United States, Qatar and Saudi Arabia were strongly involved in terrorizing the Syrian people while accusing their Government through “immoral” use of the media. She said that an article yesterday in the French newspaper Le Figaro reconfirmed that the United States intelligence service was smuggling arms alongside Qatar, which was also bringing chemical weapons into Syria with Turkey’s knowledge. Despite ongoing events, however, Syria was undertaking reforms to promote and protect human rights, including the guarantee of secure and full access to humanitarian organizations, she said, stressing that Syria had nothing to hide.
VU ANH QUANG (Viet Nam), aligning himself with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that despite being a key national priority for all states and a primary concern of the international community, the promotion and protection of human rights faced global challenges, especially in light of the recent economic and financial crisis. They included unemployment, public debt, disease and poverty, which were harming the human rights of minorities and marginalized groups in particular. Worsening violence and discrimination in some regions threatened the exercise of human rights, and for that reason, the international community must step up its coordination, he said, adding that the pivotal role of United Nations human rights mechanisms in that respect were widely recognized. Viet Nam was in compliance with all human rights mechanisms, believing that human development was possible through national development.
Forouzandeh Vadiati ( Iran) asked whether any M ember State, including so‑called champions of human rights, could claim that their perfect records placed them beyond international scrutiny. “We believe that a biased approach towards human rights situations in some countries and turning blind eyes to situations in other countries erodes the credibility of United Nations human rights mechanisms and undermines the capacity of States for genuine promotion and protection of human rights at a national level,” she said. It was regrettable that the present human rights-monitoring system opened doors for selective and counter-productive treatment by a group of countries claiming to champion human rights. Among them was Canada, which had a questionable human rights record, particularly in respect of the rights of indigenous peoples as well as aboriginal, religious, linguistic and ethnic minorities, including those of African, Muslim and Asian descent, she said. Iran called upon Canada to draw up a new human rights agenda in order to establish a formal mechanism for transparent, effective and accountable implementation of its international human rights obligations. Iran also invited the European Union to take a new approach based on dialogue, constructive engagement, cooperation, mutual respect and understanding in the field of human rights, she said, expressing concern over increased violations in some of the bloc’s member countries.
AHMED SAREER ( Maldives) recalled that three years ago, when his country had won election to the Human Rights Council as the smallest country to occupy a seat on that body, it had stood for the voiceless and marginalized. Today, the Maldives was proud to have created a voice for small island developing States within the Council. It had advocated for a platform to support countries that were unrepresented in Geneva to continue with their Universal Periodic Review presentations, he said. Turning to all the country reports on the Maldives under special procedures, he said that his Government had found it difficult to fully implement all the recommendations at once. Given the country’s small size and population, technical expertise and capacity was not readily available. “Meaningful change does not come with fulfilling a checklist of recommendations,” he said, adding: “It comes in time, with cultivating values; the value of respect for human rights.”
Melissa Ann Marie Boissiere(Trinidad and Tobago), associating herself with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said her Government had ratified many international instruments, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and had put several social programmes in place that were also based on the constitution. Citizens enjoyed respect for their families and private life, parents could choose the schools to which they would send their children, and the people enjoyed freedom of expression and of the press. Endeavours had been undertaken to align national legislation with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. Laws had been enacted to support single-parent households and different forms of family. She said secondary education was free of charge, and a recent focus had been broadening access to information and communications technology.
ZWELETHU MNISI ( Swaziland) said his country sought constructive engagement with United Nations Human Rights mechanisms, including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), special thematic procedures and the Universal Periodic Review mechanism. As a member of the Non-Aligned Movement, Swaziland considered the latter as the main intergovernmental mechanism for reviewing national human rights issues in all countries, and thus rejected the creation of additional country-specific tools that led to politicization, double standards and selectivity. Turning to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, he said the deregistration of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland was not linked to the 2013 electoral process but was due to the fact that the parties concerned had not followed all due processes of law, he said.
DHAMMIKA SEMASINGHE ( Sri Lanka) said her country’s debilitating terrorist conflict was over, and every effort was now being made to consolidate the peace by further strengthening democratic institutions while proactively seeking reconciliation and promoting human rights. Sri Lanka had strengthened the human rights protection framework by, among other measures, giving domestic effect to seven core human rights treaties. On the budgetary challenges faced by OHCHR, she asked that the bulk of its financing come from regular United Nations budget in order to enhance the predictability and transparency of planning and funding its activities. Sri Lanka was available to cooperate with the international community, she said, calling for constructive, fair, non-selective and objective assessments of the country’s post-conflict situation.
CHRIS RICHTER of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) agreed with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants that migrants’ human rights were not a separate, free-standing set of rights but expressed concern over certain observations in his report about IOM. On the relevant report of the Secretary-General, he said that in order to include migrants’ human rights in the post-2015 development framework, it must address all their experiences of discrimination, violence, abuse and exploitation while keeping track of their human development outcomes in comparison to those of the general population. Regarding the report of the Special Rapporteur on protection and assistance to internally displaced persons, he said IOM’s efforts in that area was conducted through a wide variety of emergency response activities with a special focus on people displaced by conflict or natural disasters. Among other things, it provided shelter, distributed non-food items and health assistance, launched population-stabilization and livelihood-recovery initiatives and helped former combatants reintegrate. The multifaceted character of internal displacement required strong partnerships and coordination with Governments and international organizations that had different types of expertise, he said.
Right of Reply
The representative of Qatar, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said the false allegations made by the Syrian delegate were intended to distract from the human rights violations committed by the regime against its own people.
The representative of Syria responded by emphasizing Qatar’s “resentful” policies towards her country while expressing artificial sympathy for its people. One family ruled over a country that had exiled more than 250 citizens who had opposed the regime, she said, adding that grave human right violations had been committed not only against Qatar’s people but also against migrants and women through human trafficking. “It is a terrorist regime that pretends to be a democracy,” she said.
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