Intensely Debating Targeted Country Reviews, Third Committee Approves Draft Texts on Iran, Syria, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

18 November 2014
GA/SHC/4122

Intensely Debating Targeted Country Reviews, Third Committee Approves Draft Texts on Iran, Syria, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Sixty-ninth session,
46th & 47th Meetings (AM & PM)

Dialogue, Not Politically Driven Actions, Triggers Human Rights Advancements, Delegates Hear During Day-Long Discussions

Differences on human rights issues should be resolved through constructive dialogue and not confrontational politically motivated actions, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) heard today as it concluded its discussion on the Human Rights Report and took action on a package of draft resolutions on human rights questions and situations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Syria and Iran.

During a heated debate on a draft resolution on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which was approved by a recorded vote of 111 in favour to 19 against, with 55 abstentions, many delegates voiced strong positions against the text.  Of particular concern were operative paragraphs 7 and 8.

By the terms of operative paragraph 7, the General Assembly would acknowledge the commission’s finding that the body of testimony gathered and the information received provide reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed in the Democratic People’s Republic.  The latter operative paragraph would have the Assembly decide to submit the report of the commission of inquiry to the Security Council, and encourages the Council to consider the relevant conclusions and recommendations of the commission and take appropriate action to ensure accountability, including through consideration of referral of the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the International Criminal Court and consideration of the scope for effective targeted sanctions against those who appear to be most responsible for acts that the commission has said may constitute crimes against humanity.

Prior to voting on that draft text, the Committee rejected a draft resolution, by a recorded vote of 40 in favour to 77 against, with 50 abstentions.  That draft text, tabled by Cuba, contained a proposal to replace the two abovementioned paragraphs with the a text that would have the Assembly decide to adopt a new cooperative approach to the consideration of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that will enable:  the establishment of dialogues by representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with States and groups of States interested in the issue; the development of technical cooperation between the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; and the visit of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the country.

Ensuing discussions saw a range of positions among delegates.  Emphasizing that human rights should not be a pretext for political gains as country-specific resolutions undermined state sovereignty, a representative of Venezuela said the focus should be on taking a constructive approach to human rights issues. 

Representing a view held by a number of countries and the European Union, Japan’s representative said the Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry had submitted an unprecedented and historic report on the human rights situation in the country, where systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations were being committed.

Rejecting those claims as well as the draft resolution, a delegate of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said the Commission’s report was a compilation of groundless political allegations and had no credibility as an official United Nations document.  Ecuador’s representative said country-specific resolutions did not improve human rights situations, calling on all countries to make positive contributions to human rights mechanisms.

Representatives of India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia said that they preferred constructive dialogue that respected the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, which was the reason their delegations had decided to abstain on the vote.

Similar points were raised when the Committee approved a draft text on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, by a vote of 78 in favour to 35 against, with 69 abstentions.  Agreeing with the Non-Aligned Movement’s position, a number of speakers said the use of country-specific resolutions violated the principles of non-selectivity and objectivity based on the United Nations Charter.  Indeed, China’s representative said country-specific resolutions jeopardized trust and provoked confrontation among Member States.  However, Canada’s representative noted that there were extremely troubling developments in the human rights situation of Iran that had justified the draft text.

Iran’s representative said the draft text ignored the readiness of his country to cooperate with the United Nations human rights mechanisms as well as its readiness to report and implement recommendations received through the Council’s universal periodic review.  Politically motivated vendettas were counterproductive and pointless, he said.

Delegates continued to debate the validity of country-specific reports when the Committee turned to a draft text on the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic, which was approved by a recorded vote of 125 in favour to 13 against, with 47 abstentions.  Speakers, including those from the Belarus, Ecuador and the Russian Federation, spoke out against targeting countries.  One delegate mentioned that all States had human rights issues to contend with.

Syria’s delegate said the universal periodic review was the mechanism to deal with human rights, as it respected the national sovereignty and territorial integrity.  She said the politicization of the work of the Third Committee would result in its failure to work effectively on human rights issues.

Several delegates said the atrocities in Syria demanded a response and those responsible for those crimes should be held accountable.  Condemning the systematic and flagrant human rights violations perpetuated in Syria, a delegate of United States said their estimated total number of detainees was over 215,000, including some 35,000 political prisoners.

Expressing another view, some delegates said as the crisis continued to unfold in Syria, a military solution would not end the conflict.  A number of speakers advocated for a Syria–led political dialogue to end the violence inside the country.  Several speakers noted that the draft text made no mention of the continued unprecedented acts of violence committed by terrorists and armed groups against Syrian people.

In other business, the Committee heard the introduction of a draft resolution on International Albinism Awareness Day.  With many delegates praising Somalia for carrying out inclusive and transparent negotiations on the draft text, the Committee approved it by a vote of 160 in favour to 0 against, with 16 abstentions.

Concluding the general debate on the report of the Human Rights Council, delegates of the Third Committee strongly supported the Council, which had a leading role in addressing human rights violations.  A delegate of Argentina reminded that human rights made up one of the fundamental pillars of the United Nations.  He added that every step the international community took towards upholding human rights would encourage further peace and development around the world.

Participating in today’s debate were speakers representing Albania, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Palau, Spain, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Somalia, Italy (on behalf of the European Union), Panama, Cuba, Venezuela, South Africa, Switzerland, Uruguay, Myanmar, Thailand, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Lao People’s Republic, Viet Nam, Singapore, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Syria, France, Côte d’Ivoire, Chile, Turkey, Egypt and Guatemala.

The Third Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 19 November, to continue its consideration of the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran and take action on a number of draft resolutions.

Background

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this morning to continue and conclude its general discussion on the report of the Human Rights Council (documents A/69/53 and A/69/53/Add.1).  For background, see Press Release GA/SHC/4121.

The Committee would hear the introduction of a draft resolution on the rights of indigenous people (A/C.3/69/L.27).  It was then expected to take action on the following draft texts:  the right of peoples to self-determination (A/C.3/69/L.55) and International Albinism Awareness Day (A/C.3/69/L.35/Rev.1).

Under its agenda item on human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives, the Committee would take action on a draft resolution on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (A/C.3/69/L.28/Rev.1) and amendments on the aforementioned draft text contained in document A/C.3/69/L.63.  It would also take action on draft resolutions on the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic (A/C.3/69/L.31) and the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran (A/C.3/69/L.33).

Statements

ERVIN NINA (Albania) said the universal periodic review mechanism was of key importance in the promotion and protection of human rights.  His country was committed to the mechanism, which was charged with addressing all issues relating to that matter.  Further, he noted that Albania had presented its national report under the second cycle of the mechanism, which provided an opportunity to, among other things, shape policy frameworks for the promotion and protection of human rights, specifically of children, women and people with disabilities.  Concluding, he said Albania strongly supported the Human Rights Council, which had a leading role in addressing human rights violations.

JOSÉ LUIS FERNANDEZ VALONI (Argentina) said that his country had worked diligently to create the Human Rights Council and was convinced that human rights made up one of the fundamental pillars of the United Nations.  The relationship between development and human rights should not be hierarchical, but cross-cutting.  Every step the international community took towards upholding human rights would further encourage peace and development around the world.  The Council’s work could be further enriched in some areas, especially in operationalizing some of its decisions.  Further, it was evident that the Council recognized the interdependence between human rights and development as reflected in its resolution on foreign debt and other related financial obligations of States and how those affected the enjoyment of human rights.

PALITHA KOHONA (Sri Lanka) said current developments in the Human Rights Council suggested that its credibility was gradually eroding as a result of its increasing politicization.  A handful of countries had been selected for adverse attention by the Council, while others in similar circumstances were ignored, he added.  Turning to the Council’s resolution related to his country, he said the text had infringed on the fundamental principles of international law, which required that national mechanisms needed to be exhausted before resorting to international measures, and had challenged its sovereignty and independence.  He then emphasized that the Government’s rejections of the Council’s investigation did not amount to concealing information, but rather underlined its own abilities to conduct the necessary investigations.  Recommending that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) budget be provided from the regular United Nations budget, he said it would strengthen its financial independence and contribute positively to de-politicization of its work.

OLENA PETRENKO (Ukraine), associating ligning his/her delegation with the statement delivered on behalf of the European Union, said that the eighth cycle of the Human Rights Council was an extraordinary one for her country as that bodye Council was one of the major international platforms for monitoring the situation in Ukraine.  The first steps of the democratically elected President of Ukraine in May this year were aimed at the recovery of peace, stability and rule of law in the countryUkraine.  She Expressing appreciatedion for the solidarity demonstrated by the Human Rights Council, s/he and added that the monthly reports of the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission had contributed to provideding truthful information, not only to the Council, but also to the international community.

Right of Reply

Exercising the right of reply, a representative of Russian Federation said the statement delivered by the Ukrainian delegation was based on unfounded accusations.  Indeed, the human rights situation in Ukraine should deserve more attention, he underlined, adding that there had been several cases of the disappearance of persons and a disproportionate use of force against civilians.

Introductions of and Action on Draft Resolutions

A representative of Bolivia introduced a draft text on the right of indigenous peoples (document A/C.3/69/L.27).

First the Committee took up a draft resolution on the universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination (document A/C.3/69/L.55).

Making a general statement, a representative of Ukraine reiterated his delegation’s support to the right to self-determination, saying that territorial integrity and non-use of force were the principles of the United Nations Charter.  He criticized the Russian Federation for supporting illegal armed groups in his country.  People of Ukraine had already exercised their right to self-determination, in accordance with the international law, he said.

Also making a general statement, a representative of Palau said that the right to self-determination was a very important right and that his country still awaited its enjoyment of it.

The Committee then approved the draft resolution by consensus.

After the approval of that text, several delegations delivered statements.  A representative of Spain said that the right to self-determination was key in promoting and protecting human rights.  Regarding the issue of Gibraltar, he emphasized that a number of people had been forced to leave the territory during the military occupation.  In that regard, his delegation supported the decolonization of autonomous territories, ensuring dialogue between stakeholders.

A representative of Argentina said that his country was in full support of the right to self-determination.  That right should be interpreted in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter and relevant resolutions of the General Assembly.

A representative of the United Kingdom recalled her country’s sovereignty over Gibraltar and surrounding waters.  Gibraltar enjoyed the rights accorded to it under the Charter.  The people of Gibraltar enjoyed the right to self-determination and there existed a modern and mature relationship between the United Kingdom and Gibraltar.

A representative of United States said that her country supported the right to self-determination and had joined in the consensus but wished to note that the draft resolution contained many misstatements of international law and was inconsistent with current practices.

Moving to its next action, a representative of Somalia introduced a draft text on International Albinism Awareness Day (document A/C.3/69/L.35/Rev.1).

A representative of the United Republic of Tanzania then proposed an oral amendment to “L.35/Rev.1”.  Her Government had wanted to see global action that supported national efforts, an element that she said was “glaringly lacking” in the current draft text.  Therefore, her country was proposing to add an operative paragraph to the text that would recognize the need to continue supporting efforts at the regional and national levels.

Somalia’s representative said that his delegation had never agreed on that proposed operative paragraph.  “Our concerns about the paragraph remain intact,” he said, noting that his delegation did not support the amendment and would vote against it.

Making a general statement, a representative of Italy, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that his delegation had contributed to discussions to facilitate consensus on the draft yesterday.  Shortly after midnight, an amendment had been circulated, but his Government had not had a chance to review it.  For this reason, the member States of the European Union would vote against the amendment.

The Committee then took action on the amendment, rejecting it by a recorded vote of 17 in favour to 66 against, with 75 abstentions.

Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, a representative of Canada called upon Member States to work together for progress on this issue.

The United Republic of Tanzania‘s representative then requested a recorded vote on “L.35/Rev.1”.

The Committee approved that text by a recorded vote of 160 in favour to 0 against, with 16 abstentions.

In an explanation of position after the vote, a representative of Panama said that her country had voted in favour of the text, given the importance of the issue to her country, whose indigenous people, the Kuna, had the highest incidence of albinism in the Western hemisphere.

Italy’s representative, explaining his delegation’s position after the vote, said that hundreds of millions of people continued to suffer from prejudice and his delegation was concerned about the discrimination they suffered.  He also praised Somalia for carrying out an inclusive and transparent negotiation.

A representative of the United States, explaining her delegation’s vote after the vote, said that international instruments were useful for addressing the stigma facing people with disabilities.  She regretted that an amendment to the draft text was proposed at such short notice.

A representative of Spain stated that his delegation had voted in favour of the resolution, but an error had been made because his vote was not recorded.

Somalia’s representative thanked all delegations, which had shown interest in the draft resolution, and had made a long-held dream came true.

The Committee then turned to its agenda item on the situation of human rights and reports of the special rapporteurs, first taking up draft texts on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

A representative of Cuba, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that politicization and double standards were evident in the adoption of resolutions against countries that were part of the Movement.  The universal periodic review mechanism was the primary tool for considering human rights issues and such discussions should take place in an atmosphere of constructive dialogue.  The continued selectivity of some resolutions that targeted specific countries had violated the principles of universality and objectivity.  He called for all countries to vote against such politically motivated resolutions.

The Committee then took up a draft text on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (document A/C.3/69/L.28/Rev.1), introduced by Italy’s representative, on behalf of the European Union and Japan.

Regarding a proposed amendment to “L.28/Rev.1”, contained in document A/C.3/69/L.63, Cuba’s representative said that his country wished to maintain the first part of the proposed amendment.  Having said that, he added, Cuba would vote against the resolution.  Cuba was not trying to prevent the Council from looking at the report of the Commission of Inquiry.  Rather, his delegation wished to take a principled position on the matter.  A number of delegates had referred to the trigger mechanism by which the Human Rights Council was becoming a tool for some countries, who were not interested in dialogue, to use to attack other countries.  The resolution was being used to establish a pattern that would permanently endanger all developing countries.  Cuba called for a greater spirit of cooperation and an opportunity for the country in question to clarify matters.  “We are trying to ensure that a precedent is not being set here,” he stressed.

Making a general statement, a representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea reiterated his delegation’s support for the statement delivered by Cuba’s representative.  He said that his country had consistently maintained its commitment to promoting and protecting its people’s rights and had fulfilled its obligations by taking sincere measures.  Unfortunately, he said, the European Union and Japan had chosen to seek confrontation by enforcing a draft text that had no relevance whatsoever.

Also making a general statement, a representative of China said that his country had maintained that differences on human rights issues should be resolved through constructive dialogue.  China was opposed to making human rights a pretext for political gains.  The Council was not the right forum for dealing with such issues and China would support the amendment [“L.63”] tabled by Cuba.

Italy’s representative said that the amendment was not agreeable to the co-sponsors and, therefore, his delegation called for a vote on the amendment.

Japan’s representative also called for a vote on the amendment.

A representative of Belarus expressed support for the Non-Aligned Movement and said that her country rejected resolutions that had resulted in interferences in the internal affairs of a country.  Country-specific resolutions, such as the one currently before the Committee, undermined sovereignty and, therefore, Belarus would vote in favour of Cuba’s amendment.

A representative of Venezuela said that his delegation supported the proposed amendment.  The focus should be on taking a constructive approach to human rights issues. As a result, his country did not support politically motivated draft resolutions.

A representative of the Russian Federation said that the draft resolution was not a balanced document and the amendment proposed by Cuba would give it a more balanced nature.  He reiterated his delegation’s opposition of country-specific resolutions.  “This method of work is ineffective and is only likely to exacerbate conflict between Member States,” he concluded.

A representative of South Africa expressed support for the Cuban proposal and said the draft resolution was in itself contradictory.  Politicization and referring matters to the Security Council were two issues of concern, he stressed, adding that the Security Council did not need to be advised by the General Assembly to discuss any issue related to peace and security.

Italy’s representative, also making a general statement before the vote on “L.63”, said that a lack of accountability at the national level left no option but to carry the issue to the international level.  He pointed out that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had shown no willingness to cooperate with the human rights mechanisms.

In a general statement, Japan’s representative stated that there were systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Therefore, his delegation could not agree with the amendment proposed by Cuba, which he said was a huge step backwards.

A representative of Iran said that the draft resolution could create a dangerous precedent.  Paragraphs 7 and 8 were against the United Nations Charter and the principle of cooperation.  The Security Council was not the place for considering human rights issues, she said.  For its part, Iran would vote in favour of the amendment.

The United States representative, speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, said that her delegation was opposed to the proposed amendment, which would strip the resolution of crucial language regarding accountability.  The United States had listened to recent overtures for dialogue by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, she said, “but we have heard this before.”  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must stop committing human rights violations instead of offering words, she stressed, calling on all Member States to vote against the amendment.

A representative of Albania, also speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, said that the amendment would eliminate two important paragraphs based on the fact that the Commission of Inquiry had not made a visit to the country.  But as the Commission itself had reported, despite numerous efforts, the Commission had received no response from the country.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was a country with a dark past, he said, and its violations had no parallel in the contemporary world.  He invited all countries to vote against the amendment.

A representative of Switzerland, speaking on behalf of Australia, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, said they would vote against the amendment proposed by Cuba and encouraged all Member States to do so.

A representative of Ecuador, also speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, said that the position of Ecuador on the amendment did not prejudice his country’s principled position on human rights.  “We reject human rights violations wherever they occur,” he stressed.  Nevertheless paragraphs 7 and 8 ran counter to the principle of cooperation in human rights.  Therefore, Ecuador would vote in favour of the proposed amendment.

Taking action, the Committee then rejected the draft amendment “L.63” by a recorded vote of 40 in favour to 77 against, with 50 abstentions.

Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, Uruguay‘s representative said that her country had decided to co-sponsor the draft resolution on the human rights situation in Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  While Uruguay supported the work of the Commission of Inquiry, her country understood that the approval of that resolution [“L.28/Rev.1”] would not constitute a precedent in terms of referring issues to the Security Council.

Next the Committee turned to a draft resolution on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (document A/C.3/69/L.28/Rev.1).

Japan’s representative said the Commission of Inquiry had submitted an unprecedented and historic report on the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The findings were based on public hearings involving more than 80 victims and on 240 confidential interviews with witnesses, he said, which had concluded that systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations were being committed.  One of the cases identified was the abduction of persons from foreign countries, he said, urging the secure and immediate return of those abductees and for those responsible for human rights violations to be held to account.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea‘s representative said that his delegation was profoundly grateful to those delegations that had supported the amendment [“L.63”].  Turning to the draft resolution under consideration [L.28/Rev.1”], he rejected it categorically and said that it had no relevance to genuine human rights protection.  The report of the Commission of Inquiry was based on fabricated testimonies by a handful of defectors who had fled the country after committing crimes.  The report was a compilation of groundless political allegations and had no credibility as an official United Nations document.  His country had consistently prioritized dialogue, but the European Union and Japan were provoking confrontation by pushing ahead the draft resolution.  People around the world remembered how the United States unleashed a “war against Yugoslavia” in the name of “humanitarian intervention”.  The sponsors of the draft should be held responsible for destroying the opportunity for human rights cooperation, he said, calling on all Member States to vote against the draft.

Syria’s representative, speaking before the vote and associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed regret that some States had imposed resolutions for political reasons.  Some States had used pressure on others, threatening the foundations of their relations and destroying the common understanding on human rights, he added.  He rejected the selective approach taken and efforts made to interfere in the affairs of other States, he said, describing them as actions that were incompatible with the United Nations Charter.  Politicized resolutions were creating fewer opportunities to reinforce human rights around the world, he said, noting that the universal periodic review was the only mechanism to analyse human rights.  He said his delegation would vote against the resolution.

Also speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, Iran’s representative said that the practice of country-specific resolutions and the exploitation of that mechanism for political ends were violations of the United Nations Charter.  Her delegation would vote against all country-specific resolutions.

Also speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, Cuba’s representative said that his delegation had maintained a principled position against country-specific resolutions, especially when they had targeted developing countries.  The application of double standards in considering human rights issues was what led to the disintegration of the Human Rights Commission.  The Council and the universal periodic review provided a mechanism for genuine dialogue on human rights issues.  His delegation would not be complicit in referring that issue to the Security Council and the International Criminal Court.

Also speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, a representative of Belarus said country-specific resolutions were not in line with the United Nations Charter and principles.  The sponsors of such resolutions should not impose their own vision of implementing human rights, she added, saying her delegation would vote against the resolution.

Venezuela’s representative said he did not support politically motivated resolutions, as they were violations of the United Nations Charter.  The practice of adopting politically motivated resolutions that were country-specific ignored the principle impartiality that should govern human rights mechanisms, he added.  The submission of politically motivated resolutions was undermining the mandate of the Human Rights Council, he said, underlining that his delegation would vote against the resolution.

A representative of Ecuador reaffirmed the validity of the universal periodic review as the sole mechanism to analyse human rights situations as it was carried out in an equal and non-political footing.  Targeting some States through country-specific resolutions did not improve the human rights situation and did not contribute to dialogue, he added, calling on all countries to make positive contributions to human rights mechanisms.  He expressed his solidarity with the victims of human rights abuses and said Ecuador had abstained each year on the vote.  However, the current draft resolution was not consistent and his delegation would, therefore, vote against it.

The Committee then approved the draft text by a recorded vote of 111 in favour to 19 against, with 55 abstentions.

Speaking in explanation of position after the vote, a representative of India said that his delegation had abstained from voting on the resolution as a whole.  India had voted in favour of the amendment proposed by Cuba.  India was also unable to sign the statute of the International Criminal Court because the statute did not allow the Court to be free from political interference.  It also gave the Security Council powers that went beyond international laws.  In the current resolution, operative paragraphs 7 and 8 were the very reasons that had prevented India from joining the Rome Statute.  It was unfortunate that matters relating to human rights had been taken to a vote.  The United Nations should be a venue for cooperation on this matter, not confrontation.

Speaking in explanation of position after the vote, a representative of Pakistan said that as a firm believer in the universality of human rights, his country emphasized that efforts to advance the agenda of human rights at the global level should be pursued in a spirit of dialogue and cooperation.  Human rights violations were not confined to a single country.  Pakistan was opposed to the practice of “naming and shaming” through country-specific resolutions.  Referring matters to the International Criminal Court would further complicate the situation.  Therefore, Pakistan had abstained from the vote.

Indonesia’s representative, speaking in explanation of position after the vote, said that the resolution could have been adopted without a vote as in the past years.  There was a window of opportunity to achieve a consensus, but a lack of willingness from relevant parties had prevented that.  His country recognized the importance of the Human Rights Council and of dialogue in addressing human rights issues.  Therefore, his delegation had abstained from the vote.

Speaking in explanation of position after the vote, a representative of Myanmar said that his delegation, as a member of the Non-Aligned Movement, was opposed to country-specific resolutions.  The universal periodic review process was the most dependable and uncontroversial mechanism for advancing human rights around the world.  In line with that principled position, Myanmar had voted against the resolution.

Also speaking in explanation of position after the vote, a representative of Thailand said that her delegation had voted in favour of the draft resolution due to a concern for the worsening human rights situation, as reported by the Special Rapporteur.  She welcomed the willingness of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to work with the human rights mechanism and receive the visit of the Special Rapporteur.  She raised concerns on access to food, saying humanitarian assistance should be provided to all people without conditions.  Despite its vote in favour of the draft text, she reaffirmed her support for genuine dialogue and positive engagement with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

A representative of Zimbabwe, also speaking in explanation of position after the vote, said that she did not agree with country-specific resolutions nor that the Security Council was the appropriate body to discuss human rights issues.  She had voted in favour of the amendment of the text as she had rejected the precedent that would have been set by the operational paragraphs under discussion.

Also speaking in explanation of position after the vote, a representative of Malaysia said that he preferred constructive dialogue that respected the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity.  As the text of the draft resolution called for the Security Council to refer the situation of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the International Criminal Court, Malaysia believed constructive dialogue should take precedence before any punitive measures were sought, which was the reason his delegation had decided to abstain on the vote

Also speaking in explanation of position after the vote, Brazil’s representative said that his delegation had voted in favour of the resolution.  The text had recognized that while the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had made progress in a deeper engagement with the United Nations human rights system, there was room for more improvement.  While praising the Government’s decision to invite the Special Rapporteur to the country, Brazil was concerned at the conclusions in the report of the Commission of Inquiry and hoped that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would make further progress towards the enjoyment of human rights.

In explanation of position after the vote, a representative of Lao People’s Republic said that his delegation shared the position that country-specific resolutions were not the right method for advancing human rights.  The current resolution went against the principles of non-politicization and respect for national sovereignty.  The universal periodic review was the best mechanism for reviewing human rights in any country.  Therefore, his delegation had voted against the resolution.

Also speaking in explanation of position after the vote, a representative of Viet Nam said that his delegation had voted against the resolution because constructive dialogue and discussion, through the universal periodic review mechanism, was the only and most appropriate way to examine a country’s human rights situation.  Viet Nam would continue to condemn all acts of abduction and send sympathies to victims.  His delegation called on the parties concerned to find a satisfactory solution through mutual dialogue.

Also speaking in explanation of position after the vote, Singapore’s representative said that her delegation had maintained a principled position against country-specific resolutions.  Singapore’s abstention, however, did not mean her country condoned the mistreatment of citizens.

In explanation of position after the vote, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s representative said there was no further need for human rights dialogue with the European Union, as its only political objective was to eliminate the ideal social system of his country.  Despite hostile forces, he added, the country would continue to safeguard its social system by all means.

Making a general statement, Norway’s representative said her delegation had supported the resolution due to deep concerns of human rights violations.  Welcoming the cooperation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with the Special Rapporteur, she called on the country to follow through on it.

Next, the Committee turned to the draft text on the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic (document A/C.3/69/L.31).

A delegate of Saudi Arabia, introducing the draft resolution, condemned the deteriorating situation in the Syria, and called on all countries to assist the Syrian people who were confronting murders, displacement and terrorism that recalled situations of genocide in Rwanda and Cambodia.  His delegation called on those in Damascus to address that.  Despite previous resolutions, the Syrian authorities had continued their bloody acts, such as bombings and use of chemical weapons and sexual violence against men and women, he said.  Voting in favour of the draft resolution was a vote for being on the right side of history, he said.

Syria’s representative, making a statement on the draft resolution, said that Saudi Arabia’s delegate had said he was speaking on behalf of Arab countries, but that was a non-ethical manoeuvre because Arab States were not all co-sponsors of that draft text.  There had been a division in the Arab Group.  In addition, Saudi Arabia’s delegate had kept referring to the delegate of Syria as “my brother,” but that could not be true, he said.  Hearing the preaching on the human rights was like witnessing the theatre of the absurd, he said, adding that Beckett and Kafka could not have imagined that.  Hundreds of reports had shown the scope of the Qatari and Saudi regimes’ involvement in promoting violence in Syria, he said, calling for a recorded vote on the draft resolution.

Making a general statement, a representative of France said the Syrian regime had been killing its own people for over three years in an atmosphere of complete impunity.  Recognizing that the Syrian people were enduring difficult situations, including sexual violence, he condemned the systematic and flagrant human rights violations perpetuated in Syria.

A representative of the United States said the Assad regime was committing human rights and humanitarian law abuses, including mass killings, torture, abduction and rape, for which the present draft resolution was seeking accountability.  On detainees, she said their estimated total number was over 215,000, including some 35,000 political prisoners.  The atrocities in Syria demanded a response and those responsible for those crimes should be held accountable, as called for the draft resolution.

Also making a general statement, Iran’s representative said that his delegation believed that the adoption of country-specific resolutions undermined international cooperation.  The crisis in Syria was gaining new dimensions and a Syrian–led political dialogue was necessary for ending the violence inside that country.  The draft resolution did not make any reference to the continued unprecedented acts of violence committed by terrorists and armed groups against Syrian people.  The draft demonstrated a confrontational approach and also did not acknowledge that the unilateral economic sanctions against Syria were worsening the humanitarian situation and had resulted in increasing displacement.  His delegation would vote against the draft resolution, he said.

Making a general statement, a representative of Belarus said that her delegation endorsed the statement made by the Non-Aligned Movement and underscored the unacceptability of country-specific resolutions.  The sponsors of the draft resolution were undermining the fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter and, therefore, her delegation would vote against it.

Saudi Arabia’s representative said that Syria’s delegate was a great thinker while he himself was a simple diplomat and “should recognize the brotherhood”.  His own comments on the grave human rights situation in Syria were based on reports including from the Commission of Inquiry and the United Nations Secretary-General.  The comments of his Syrian counterpart were based on reports given by the media and other unknown sources, showing the difference in their interventions.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s representative said that country-specific resolutions had nothing to do with genuine promotion of human rights; they were manifestations of double standards.  His delegation would vote against the draft.

Syria’s representative said that the son of the king of Saudi Arabia had prevented female doctors from driving their own electric cars in a hospital compound.  He welcomed the news of Saudi Arabia being prepared to receive the visit of the special envoy, hoping it would bring to an end to the influx of terrorists into Syria.

Venezuela’s representative, in explanation of vote before the vote, said that without prejudice to the current situation, his delegation rejected the targeting of countries through politically motivated resolutions.  Therefore, his country would vote against this resolution.

The Russian Federation’s representative said that his delegation would vote against the draft resolution because the text was an attempt to turn the Third Committee into a politicized body with an aim of exerting pressure on one of the Member States.  That approach was unacceptable.  The international community needed to consolidate its efforts to achieve a peaceful solution to the crisis.  There were also numerous crimes by armed groups, but those were not mentioned in the document.

A representative of Côte d’Ivoire said that his delegation reaffirmed its commitment to promoting human rights and would vote in favour of the draft resolution.

Ecuador’s representative said that the deteriorating human rights situation in Syria was a matter of great concern.  Those who had committed those crimes and those who had supplied weapons to them should be held accountable.  Ecuador expressed solidarity with the people of Syria.  The draft resolution did not take into account all parties responsible for the crisis, causing greater polarization.

The Committee then approved the text by a recorded vote of 125 in favour to 13 against, with 47 abstentions.

Making a statement of explanation after the vote, China’s representative said human rights issues should be addressed in an equal and fair manner, without politicization.  Opposing the use of pressure on countries under the guise of protecting human rights, he said, his country had voted against the resolution.

Also speaking in explanation after the vote, Brazil’s representative said that her delegation had voted in favour of the resolution based on the recognition of the persistence of grave human rights violations on the ground.  However, the current text was unbalanced in addressing the violations committed by armed groups opposing the Syrian Government.  She also expressed concern over the consequences of the indiscriminate use of the term “armed groups” to refer to terrorists.  Believing that there should be no military solution to the conflict, she called on all parties involved to engage to find meaningful solutions, respecting humanitarian law and guaranteeing unhindered access to humanitarian assistance.

Also making a statement of explanation after the vote, a representative of Chile said that defending human rights was a priority for his country.  Therefore, he joined other States in condemning the human rights violations in Syria.  Armed non-State actors were committing crimes in Syria and the report should have reflected that in a more detailed manner.  Calling for the international community to uphold Security Council resolutions, Chile reiterated the need for accountability for these crimes and justice for the victims.

Also making a statement of explanation after the vote, a representative of Argentina said that his delegation had voted in favour of the draft resolution, but wished to add that his country had emphasized the need for all parties to end human rights violations.  All those responsible for atrocities must be held accountable.  The militarization of the conflict had led to the current catastrophe because several groups had access to an increasing flow of weapons.  The flow of weapons must be stopped, he said, adding that it was unfortunate that the resolution just approved did not make any specific reference to that.  “We do not agree with paragraph 19,” he said, but the draft resolution was not open for suggestions.  The process could have been more inclusive, he concluded.

Also making a statement of explanation after the vote, Malaysia’s representative said that the number of innocent victims in Syria had been increasing for three years.  All parties concerned, inside and outside Syria, must refrain from actions that were prolonging the conflict.  The draft resolution reflected a call for all parties to respect international laws.  His delegation welcomed the condemnation of the extremist groups in Syria.  Malaysia had supported the draft resolution because of its belief in the multilateral system.

Also making a statement of explanation after the vote, Indonesia’s representative said that her delegation was concerned about the use of country-specific resolutions.  The ongoing conflict in Syria was a matter of alarm and it was imperative that all parties to the conflict demonstrated respect for international law and pursued the objective of peaceful resolution through an inclusive, Syrian-led process.  Indonesia welcomed the resolution’s focus on immediately ending of the violence.

A representative of Singapore said she did not agree with country-specific resolutions, as they were counterproductive.  Believing that human rights issues should be taken up in the universal periodic review and in the Human Rights Council, she said her delegation had abstained from voting.  The abstention should not be seen as condoning the mistreatment of Syrian citizens, she added, calling on all parties to respect their human rights.

Cuba’s representative said the Human Rights Council and the universal periodic review were the forms in which human rights issues should be discussed in a genuine and constrictive manner.  He underlined his opposition to country-specific resolutions and would continue to vote against them.

Making a general statement, Turkey’s representative said the international community had proven the relevance and justification of the draft resolution.  She underlined her country’s commitment to stand by the people of Syria, who were collectively being punished.

A representative of Egypt said that his delegation had joined the list of co-sponsors because of the continued violations of international human rights by the Syrian authorities and all parties to the conflict, which were occurring on an unprecedented scale.  At the same time, it was of paramount importance to avoid politicizing the issues under discussion.  There was no military solution to the crisis and all parties must come to a negotiated solution, he said.

The Committee then turned to the draft text on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran (document A/C.3/69/L.33).

Introducing the draft, Canada’s representative said that there was little improvement and extremely troubling developments in the human rights situation of Iran.  Those realities had been reported in meticulous detail by the Secretary-General and special rapporteurs.  The draft resolution [“L.33”] reflected the international community’s concerns.

Making a general statement before the vote, Iran’s representative said the draft resolution represented a hostile act by Canada.  Canada was not preoccupied with human rights and individual rights, as proven by that country’s position on the atrocities committed against civilian populations in Gaza by Israel.  That inconsistency in Canada’s record in the field of human rights was one of many, which proved the prejudicial nature of the action at hand.  The draft text ignored the readiness of Iran to cooperate with the United Nations human rights mechanisms, he added, as well as its readiness to report and implement recommendations received through the universal periodic review.  Believing that politically motivated vendettas were counterproductive and pointless, he called for a recorded vote on the draft resolution.

Also making a general statement, a representative of Belarus endorsed the position of the Non-Aligned Movement, questioning the validity of country-specific resolutions.  She said that the current draft did not recognize that Iran was implementing recommendations of the universal periodic review.  Therefore, her delegation would vote against the resolution.

Also making a general statement, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s delegate would vote against the draft text because his delegation did not support country-specific resolutions.

China’s representative said he had a set position on country-specific resolutions, as they violated the purpose and principles of the United Nations Charter.  They were also not practical, jeopardizing trust and provoking confrontation among Member States.  Those were the reasons for his delegation’s vote against the draft resolution.

A representative of Venezuela, agreeing with the Non-Aligned Movement’s position, said his country was against the use of country-specific resolutions, especially since they were politically motivated and went against the United Nations Charter.  They violated the principles of non-selectivity and objectivity, he said, noting that the adoption of politically motivated resolutions undermined the mandate of the Human Rights Council.

Ecuador’s delegate said he believed country-specific resolution considered by the Third Committee did not improve the situation in the country in question and undermined cooperation and collaboration among States, highlighting his delegation’s vote against the draft resolution.

Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, Syria’s representative reiterated her rejection of interference in a State’s affairs under the pretext of human rights.  The universal periodic review was the mechanism to deal with them, she added, as it respected the national sovereignty and territorial integrity.  The politicization of the work of the Third Committee would result in its not working seriously on human rights issues, she added, underlining her delegation’s vote against the draft resolution.

Also speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, the Russian Federation’s representative said that his delegation was consistently against one-sided country-specific resolutions.

Also speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, Cuba’s representative said that his delegation did not support the politicization of resolutions and the application of double standards.  His delegation called for international cooperation based on the principles of objectivity and impartiality and would vote against this draft.

The Committee then adopted the draft text on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran approving it by a vote of 78 in favour to 35 against, with 69 abstentions.

Speaking in explanation of position after the vote, a representative of Myanmar said that as a member of the Non-Aligned Movement, his delegation had always opposed country-specific resolutions that targeted Member States.  “We have chosen a path of cooperation and engagement to promote the human rights of our people,” he said, calling for a genuine dialogue.

Also speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, a representative of Japan said that his delegation had voted in favour of the resolution and recognized that confidence-building between Iran and the international community was necessary.  There were many issues that needed further improvement, such as limitations on freedom of expression and juvenile justice.

Also speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, a representative of Chile said that his country was convinced of the universality of all human rights.  All countries must use the universal periodic review and other human rights mechanisms.  Chile was convinced that increased cooperation from Iran would help normalize the situation.  For its part, Chile had voted in favour of the resolution.

Also speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, a representative of Iran thanked the delegations who had rejected the draft resolution and the politicization of human rights issues.  Believing that that approach was ineffective in promoting human rights, he underscored his country’s continuous cooperation with the United Nations on promoting and protecting human rights.

A representative of Uruguay highlighted the Secretary-General’s report regarding positive progress made in Iran, calling on the Government to translate them into concrete action.  Noting with concern the violations of fundamental freedoms, including public executions, floggings and amputations, and a constant attempt to restrict freedom of expression in the media, she urged the Government to further its cooperation with OHCHR.  Based on those reasons, she said her delegation had abstained from voting.

Also speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, a representative of Indonesia said that his delegation believed the Government of Iran had undertaken various actions to improve the human rights situation in the country.  Nevertheless, there was room for improvement and Indonesia encouraged Iran to accelerate progress.  The international community must give sufficient space to Iran to promote human rights in the country.  His delegation had voted against the draft resolution.

Also speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, a representative of Guatemala said that his country had condemned the human rights violations in Iran.  His delegation had abstained on voting on the current draft, recognizing the signs of positive progress made by the Government.

For information media. Not an official record.