Highlighting Youth Skills, Refugees, Regional Human Rights Centre, Third Committee Sends 3 Texts to General Assembly

GA/SHC/4120
13 November 2014
Sixty-ninth session, 44th Meeting (AM)

Highlighting Youth Skills, Refugees, Regional Human Rights Centre, Third Committee Sends 3 Texts to General Assembly

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) approved three draft resolutions today, among them, a new text designating 15 July as a World Youth Skills Day.

Approved without a vote, that draft text pointed at high levels of youth unemployment, estimated globally at 74.5 million in 2013, the majority of whom live in the developing countries.  Recognizing that fostering the acquisition of skills by youth would enhance their ability to make informed life and work choices and empower them to gain access to changing labour markets, the General Assembly would, by the terms of the draft text, invite all Member States and international, regional and United Nations system organizations to commemorate World Youth Skills Day in an appropriate manner.

The Committee also approved a draft text on the United Nations Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South-West Asia and the Arab Region, by a recorded vote of 161 in favour, 1 against (Syria) and 3 abstentions (Angola, South Africa and Zimbabwe).  By its terms, the General Assembly would note with appreciation the successful assistance that the Centre had provided through human rights capacity-building activities and technical assistance and training programmes.  The Assembly, by the text, would also encourage the continued engagement of the Centre to work with other United Nations regional offices to strengthen its work.

Before the vote, several delegates explained their positions.  A representative of Syria said her delegation had requested a vote on the draft text because the Centre had not accomplished enough to warrant more resources and had failed to promote regional cooperation.

A representative of Qatar said it was unfortunate that the Syrian delegation had again requested a vote despite not having been engaged in the constructive negotiations that had preceded the text.

By the terms of the third draft text approved today, without a vote, on the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the General Assembly would call upon the Office to continue to play its catalytic role in mobilizing assistance from the international community to address the root causes, as well as the economic, environmental and social impact, of large-scale refugee populations in developing and least-developed countries and others with economies in transition.

The Committee also heard the introduction of a package of draft texts on key agenda items:  enlargement of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa; combating bullying and other types of violence against children; a global call for concrete action 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; and the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.

In relation to human rights questions, the following draft resolutions were introduced:  protection of migrants; the role of the Ombudsman, mediator and other national human rights institutions in the promotion and protection of human rights; globalization and its impact on the full enjoyment of all human rights; enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights; human rights and unilateral coercive measures; the right to development; human rights and extreme poverty; and migrant children and adolescents.

Speaking during the Committee’s action on the draft resolutions were representatives of Canada, Italy, United States, Kuwait, Syria and Qatar.

Presenting draft resolutions for the Committee’s consideration were representatives of Uruguay, Liberia, Mexico, Bolivia, Egypt, Morocco, Cuba, Peru and El Salvador.

The Third Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Monday, 17 November, to begin its consideration of the report of the Human Rights Council.

Introduction of Draft Resolutions

Considering the Committee’s agenda item relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions, a representative of Uruguay introduced a draft text on the enlargement of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (document A/C.3/69/L.60).  Liberia’s delegate introduced, on behalf of the African Group, a draft text on assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa (document A/C.3/69/L.61).

Turning to the agenda item on the promotion and protection of the rights of children, Mexico’s delegation presented a draft text on combating bullying and other types of violence against children (document A/C.3/69/L.25).

On the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, a representative of Bolivia, on behalf of the “Group of 77” and China, tabled a draft resolution on a global call for concrete action 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.3/69/L.59).  Egypt’s representative also introduced a draft resolution on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination (document A/C.3/69/L.58).

In relation to human rights questions, draft resolutions were introduced by representatives of Mexico, Morocco and Egypt.  The draft texts were, respectively, protection of migrants (document A/C.3/69/L.29), the role of the Ombudsman, mediator and other national human rights institutions in the promotion and protection of human rights (document A/C.3/69/L.30) and globalization and its impact on the full enjoyment of all human rights (document A/C.3/69/L.38).

Cuba’s representative introduced, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, three draft resolutions: enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights (document A/C.3/69/L.44); human rights and unilateral coercive measures (document A/C.3/69/L.45); and the right to development (document A/C.3/69/L.46).

Representatives of Peru and El Salvador introduced two draft texts.  The former was on human rights and extreme poverty (document A/C.3/69/L.48) and the latter on migrant children and adolescents (document A/C.3/69/L.52).  

The introduction of a draft resolution on the rights of indigenous peoples (document A/C.3/69/L.27) was postponed.

Action on Draft Resolutions

The Committee then took action on three draft resolutions.

Acting without a vote, it approved a draft text on World Youth Skills Day (document A/C.3/69/L.13/Rev.1).

Following that action, a representative of Italy, on behalf of the European Union, said the draft text touched upon the need for the youth to acquire skills, which should be done in a holistic and comprehensive manner.  Believing in the need to avoid duplication of international days, he reiterated the Union’s position that their proclamation should be done in line with agreed international guidelines of the Economic and Social Council.

The Committee then took up a draft text on the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (document A/C.3/69/L.54), approving it without a vote.

A representative of Canada expressed her regret about the draft text regarding the lack of specific language on the persecution and violence committed against religious minorities.

The Committee also took action on a text titled United Nations Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South-West Asia and the Arab Region (document A/C.3/69/L.36/Rev.1).

Making a general statement before the vote, a representative of the United States said that institutions such as the Centre played an important role for countries seeking to build capacity on human rights issues.  Her delegation thanked Qatar for its commitment to human rights and expressed disappointment that a recorded vote had been requested since only one country had seen fit to oppose the draft resolution.

A representative of Syria said that Qatar had made a commitment to cover all expenses when first proposing to host the Centre.  The change of attitude of the Qatar delegation in that regard was regrettable, given the declining resources of the United Nations.  Further, the Centre had not done enough to justify giving it more resources.  While Syria supported regional cooperation, she said “in our region, there was hardly any regional cooperation.  What we see is hostility against my people, my country.”  She said it was “far from being a regional centre”, as it was being used by the authorities as a national Qatari institution.  Due to those reasons, her delegation had requested a vote.

A representative of Kuwait, speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, called on all Member States to vote in favour of the draft resolution.  It was regrettable that a vote had been requested regarding a centre that served the region.

A representative of Qatar said it was unfortunate that the Syrian delegation had yet again requested a vote at a time when the number of co-sponsors was increasing.  Several delegations had participated constructively in the negotiations for the text, unlike the Syrian delegate, she said. Despite not engaging, they were now asking for a vote.

The text was then approved by a recorded vote of 161 in favour, 1 against (Syria), with 3 abstentions (Angola, South Africa and Zimbabwe).

For information media. Not an official record.