Heatedly Debating Girls' Rights, Third Committee Sends 10 Drafts, Including New Text on Children, to General Assembly

21 November 2014
GA/SHC/4124

Heatedly Debating Girls' Rights, Third Committee Sends 10 Drafts, Including New Text on Children, to General Assembly

Sixty-ninth session,
49th & 50th Meetings (AM & PM)

Some Delegates Insist National Sovereignty, Traditions, Must Be Respected, Urge Against Politicizing Child Rights

Politicization of children’s rights should be avoided and national sovereignty and values should be respected, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) heard today as it approved 10 draft texts, including a new one on the rights of the child.

Although seven of the draft texts were approved without a vote, intense exchanges through the day-long discussions were triggered by language relating to girls and reproductive health and rights.  Heated debate ensued over an operative paragraph of a draft text on the rights of the child, which was approved without a vote.

“This resolution should never be voted on”, the representative of Djibouti, speaking on behalf of the African Group, told the Committee.  Her reservations, alongside those of many others, were related to operative paragraph 48 (l) of the draft text, which would have the General Assembly call upon States referred to education programmes to promote gender equality and human rights.  At task was the inclusion of “comprehensive evidence-based education for human sexuality” and of a reference to modifying the “social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women of all ages” in order to eliminate prejudice.

Echoing a similar view heard through the discussion on that draft text, she said the African Group could not take a back seat on that matter when national values were not being respected, especially if certain Member States were trying to impose their values and views on others.

Expressing another view, Norway’s delegate said that comprehensive evidence-based education for human sexuality did not go against the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and did not impose obligations on States which were against State sovereignty.  She pointed out that Member States were interpreting the term in different ways.  As one of the facilitators of the draft text, Barbados’ representative underscored that General Assembly resolutions were not legally binding, reminding that negotiation processes existed to advance proposals in good faith and gain consensus.

Some delegates pointed out that national sovereignty, as well as cultural and religious views, should be respected with regard to language in a draft text on child, early and forced marriage, also approved without a vote.  By the terms of operative paragraph 5 of that text, the General Assembly would urge Governments to promote and protect the human rights of all women and girls, including, among other things, their right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health.

A number of delegations supported removing “girls” from that paragraph.  Speaking on behalf of the Gulf Group, Kuwait’s delegate said child marriage must end, while respecting the sovereign rights of States.  Iran’s representative said that using new language in the text was not in the best interests of women and girls.

To the representative of the United Kingdom, however, the language used in the draft text was “clear and balanced”.  If the Committee did not recognize the rights of girls, he said, they would continue to suffer from those harmful practices and be vulnerable to abuse, sexual harassment, early marriage and unintended pregnancies.

The intertwined nature of reproductive health and rights continued to foster debate regarding other draft texts.  Child and forced marriage was a root cause of obstetric fistula, the representative of Italy, speaking on behalf of the European Union, told the Committee, as it discussed a related draft text, which was approved without a vote.  There was a clear need for comprehensive evidence-based sexual education as a preventive measure.  Fistula was an outcome of gender inequality, he said, as well as of lack of information on reproductive health.  Adolescent girls were most at risk, he emphasized, expressing his regret that those issues could not be included in the draft resolution.

The Committee also approved a draft text on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, by a recorded vote of 114 in favour, 36 against, and 34 abstentions.  By the terms of that text, the General Assembly would urge Member States to progressively restrict the use of the death penalty and not impose capital punishment for offences committed by persons below 18 years of age, on pregnant women and on persons with mental or intellectual disabilities.

A related draft amendment was rejected by a vote of 55 in favour, 85 against, with 22 abstentions.  By that text, the General Assembly would reaffirm the sovereign right of all countries to develop their own legal systems, including determining appropriate legal penalties, in accordance with their international law obligations.

A draft text on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, by a record vote of 170 in favour, 7 against (Israel, Canada, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau, United States, Nauru), with 6 abstentions (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Kiribati, Paraguay, Rwanda, South Sudan).

A draft text on combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices was also approved by a record vote of 115 in favour, 3 against (Canada, Ukraine, United States), with 55 abstentions.

Other draft resolutions approved today without a vote were on journalists’ safety; implementing the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the General Assembly’s twenty-fourth special session; celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the International Year of the Family; and the situation of human rights in Myanmar.

Delegates also heard the introduction of a draft text on the Report of the Human Rights Council.

Speaking today were representatives of Togo, Qatar, Russian Federation, Bolivia (on behalf of the “Group of 77 developing countries” and China), Saudi Arabia, Libya, Nigeria, Palau, United States, Pakistan, Zambia, Australia, Brazil, Sudan, Iraq, Mauritania, Yemen, Australia, Uruguay, Yemen, Costa Rica, Senegal, Russian Federation, Ukraine, Belarus, Liechtenstein, Equatorial Guinea, Egypt, Israel, Argentina, Zimbabwe, Greece, Chile, Benin, Albania, Trinidad and Tobago, New Zealand, Micronesia, Morocco, Bahamas, Myanmar, Indonesia, Viet Nam, Japan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, India, Bangladesh, Cuba, as well as of the State of Palestine, the European Union and the Holy See.

The Third Committee will meet next at 10 a.m. on Monday, 24 November, to take action on a number of draft resolutions.

Background

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this morning to continue its consideration of a draft resolution on the rights of the child (document A/C.3/69/L.24/Rev.1).  For background, see Press Release GA/SHC/4123 of 19 November.

The Committee was then expected to take action on draft resolutions on: child, early and forced marriage (document A/C.3/69/L.23); implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly (document A/C.3/69/L.11/Rev.1); celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the International Year of the Family (document A/C.3/69/L.12/Rev.2); intensification of efforts to end obstetric fistula (document A/C.3/69/L.20/Rev.1); combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance (document A/C.3/69/L.56/Rev.1); the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination (document A/C.3/69/L.58); and the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity (document A/C.3/69/L.50/Rev.1).

It would also take action on a draft resolution on the moratorium on the use of the death penalty (document A/C.3/69/L.51/Rev.1) and a draft amendment thereto (document A/C.3/69/L.66).  The Committee would also take up a draft resolution concerning the situation of human rights in Myanmar (document A/C.3/69/L.32) and its programme budget implications (document A/C.3/69/L.62).

The Committee was also expected to hear the introduction of a draft resolution on the report of the Human Rights Council (document A/C.3/69/L.65).

Introduction and Action on Draft Resolutions

The Committee continued its discussion on the draft text titled Rights of the child (document A/C.3/69/L.24/Rev.1).

Making a general statement, the representative of Togo requested to be withdrawn from the list of co-sponsors.

The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote.

Speaking after the vote, Qatar’s delegate said national legislation had been implemented in line with the Convention on the rights of the child.  Calling for all religious and traditional views to be taken into consideration, she expressed her reservation regarding operative paragraph 48 (l), by which the General Assembly would call upon all States to include the relevant provisions to protect children from discrimination and overcome inequalities and, in particular, to, among other things, “develop and implement educational programmes and teaching materials, including comprehensive evidence-based education for human sexuality, based on full and accurate information, for all adolescents and youth, in a manner consistent with their evolving capacities, with the appropriate direction and guidance from parents and legal guardians, with the involvement of children, adolescents, youth and communities, and in coordination with women’s youth, and specialized non-governmental organizations, in order to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women of all ages, to eliminate prejudices, and to promote and build decision-making, communication and risk reduction skills for the development of respectful relationships based on gender equality and human rights, as well as teacher education and training programmes for both formal and non-formal education”.  Her reservation, she added, was based on national sovereignty, as well as commitments made to promote and protect the rights of the children.

The representative of Iran expressed her disassociation with operative paragraph 48 (l), as it was not agreed language and did not have the best interests of the child.

Djibouti’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said operative paragraph 48 (l) was of grave concern.  The Group opposed the language contained therein, as it was not in line with the principles of the United Nations.  The proposed amendment to that paragraph, she added, was a matter of principles, and the Group had communicated its concerns several times to the facilitators, who had decided not to consider the sensitive issues outlined in the paragraph.  The Group had, therefore, been pushed to make an amendment to the paragraph.  Since African delegations valued the importance of the draft resolution on the rights of the child, the group refrained to call a vote on the draft resolution, she added.  “This resolution should never be voted on,” she strongly emphasized.  When national values were not being respected, the Group could not take a back seat on the matter.  As certain Member States were trying to impose their values and views, she disassociated her delegation with operative paragraph 48 (l), and the Group’s members would not implement anything related to it.

Making a general statement, the representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See welcomed the recognition of the role of the family in the draft resolution, as it had primary responsibility in the cultural and spiritual development of children.

The Russian Federation’s representative said promoting and protecting the rights of the child were priorities for her delegation.  Noting that the text should be an outcome of negotiations based on collective efforts, she appealed to the European Union and the Latin American and Caribbean States not to politicize the issue.  For that reason, the Russian Federation could not sponsor the text.

Also making a general statement, the representative of Saudi Arabia thanked Uruguay and Italy for facilitating consultations.  However, her delegation rejected some operative paragraphs as they failed to take a religious outlook on matters.

The representative of Libya said her country attached great importance to the issue.  However, she regretted that the draft text included some concepts that did not respect cultural and religious values of certain countries.

Nigeria’s representative said her delegation was concerned about the operative paragraph 48 (l), which failed to respect customs, religious beliefs and family structure.  Acknowledging States as sovereign entities and families as basic social units, she emphasized that Member States should not accept values that were alien to them.

The representative of Palau said children were the world’s future leaders and it was a universal responsibility to provide a protective environment for them.  His country would continue to make efforts to promote and protect the rights of the child, giving priority to traditional practices.

A delegate from the United States noted that domestic efforts had been made to strengthen existing mechanisms to protect the rights of child.  Each country had its own responsibility with regard to social development, she said.

The representative of Pakistan entered a reservation on operative paragraph 48 (l), saying its interpretation and implementation would be subject to national law and views governing the education of children.

Brazil’s representative welcomed the adoption of the draft resolution, but expressed her regrets on the manner of its adoption.  Underlining the importance of promoting and protecting the human rights of children, she hoped that the situation would be avoided in the future.

A delegate of Sudan disassociated himself from operative paragraph 48 (l), saying issues of reproductive health should not be mentioned in the draft text.  Recognizing the importance of protecting children affected by armed conflict, he also underscored his disassociation from the reference to the International Criminal Court.

The representative of Iraq expressed her reservation on operative paragraph 48 (l), saying that cultural views on sexual education should to be taken into account.

Djibouti’s delegate took the floor to reiterate her reference to operative paragraph 48 (l) in her previous statement.

The representative of Mauritania said the promotion and protection of the rights of children were important, affecting the future of society.  He welcomed the adoption of the draft resolution by consensus, but expressed his reservation on operative paragraph 48 (l), as the language it contained countered national values and Sharia law.

Yemen’s representative expressed reservations on operative paragraph 48 (l), saying it was not in accord with national legislation.

Norway’s representative said comprehensive evidence-based education for human sexuality did not go against the Convention on the Rights of the Child and did not impose obligations on States that were against State sovereignty.  She then noted that States had interpreted that term in different ways.

The representative of Barbados said General Assembly resolutions were not legally binding, reminding delegates that the negotiation process existed to advance proposals in good faith and to gain consensus.

The Committee then heard the introduction of draft text on the Report of the Human Rights Council (document A/C.3/69/L.65) by the representative of Djibouti, on behalf of the African Group.

The Committee took action on 11 draft texts.  It approved, without a vote, a draft text on the implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly (document A/C.3/69/L.11/Rev.1).

The representative of Italy, speaking on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the acceptance expressed in the draft texts that social development could only be achieved with a human rights-based approach.  He then expressed his regret that delegations had failed to agree on macroeconomic and financial implications of social development.

The representative of the United States called on all national Governments to remove all obstacles in the way of addressing the population’s needs.  She also asked delegations not to ignore internal and external factors influencing social development, as the primary responsibility for social and economic development rested with the national Governments.

Turning to the agenda item on social development, the Committee took action on a draft resolution on celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the International Year of the Family (document A/C.3/69/L.12/Rev.2), approving it without a vote.

The representative of the United States said that families played an important role in society, as they provided a nurturing environment for their members.  It was also essential to recognize various forms of family, including single parents and parents of the same gender.

Italy’s representative recognized the important role of family and encouraged Governments to strengthen family-centred policies and programmes.  Noting that families were dynamic entities, he stressed the need to recognize various forms of families, with inclusive approaches.  Accordingly, he encouraged all stakeholders to engage in constructive dialogue.

Australia’s representative said the international community must recognize different forms of families, without any discrimination.

Uruguay’s representative said the concept of family was extremely important to her delegation.

On the advancement of women, the Committee approved, without a vote, a draft text on the intensification of efforts to end obstetric fistula (document A/C.3/69/L.20/Rev.1).

The representative of Italy, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said obstetric fistula was an outcome of gender inequality, as well as of a lack of information on reproductive health.  Adolescent girls were most at risk, he said, noting that child and forced marriages were the root cause of obstetric fistula.  To prevent it, comprehensive evidence-based sexual education was needed, as it would allow women to make informed decisions.  He then expressed his regret that those issues could not be included in the draft resolution.

The representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See said the key to overcoming obstetric fistula was to respect the human rights of all women, underscoring his delegation’s position on sexual and reproductive rights.  He then expressed a reservation on the recourse to abortion for family planning, and underscored that by the term “gender”, his delegation meant female and male.

The representative of Costa Rica said the initiative was extremely important, and thanked Senegal for facilitating consultations among Member States.  Her delegation hoped to see more inclusive dialogue in the future with greater “flexibility”.

The Committee then took up a text on approving a text on child, early and forced marriage (document A/C.3/69/L.23/Rev.1), without a vote.

Senegal’s representative, as the main sponsor of the draft text, made an oral amendment to operative paragraph 5 in the draft text.  The oral amendment would delete the reference to girls in the following paragraph, by the terms of which the General Assembly would “urge Governments to promote and protect the human rights of all women and girls, including their right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination and violence, and to adopt and accelerate the implementation of laws, policies and programmes that protect and enable the enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including reproductive rights, in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences”.

The representative of Kuwait, on behalf of the Gulf Group, said child marriage must end, while respecting the sovereign rights of States.

Iran’s representative, making a general statement prior to voting, said Canada needed to be impartial.  Raising her delegation’s concerns, she said using new language in the text was not in the best interests of women and girls.  She requested that her statement was reflected in the records.

After the adoption, the representative of the United Kingdom said the language used in the draft text was “clear and balanced”.  Noting that a “lack of respect” was at the core of the issue, he said girls were left vulnerable to abuse, sexual harassment, early marriage and unintended pregnancies.  If the Committee did not recognize the rights of girls, girls would continue to suffer from those harmful practices.

The representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See said children must be protected from abuse, recognizing poverty as one of the main challenges to address the issue.

Sudan’s representative requested his delegation’s position on operative paragraph 5 to be reflected in the records.

The Committee then took up a text on combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance (document A/C.3/69/L.56/Rev.1).

Speaking before the vote, the representative of Ukraine said Stalinism had killed many people in the Gulag, condemning Hitler and Stalin alike as international criminals.  Calling on the Russian Federation to stop glorifying and feeding Stalinism, he said he could not support the draft text.  Any intolerance should be dealt with in an appropriate and balanced manner, he added.  The manipulation of history for one’s own political agenda was wrong, he said, noting that the Russian Federation was supporting neo-Nazi groups and terrorist groups in Crimea.  The proposed draft resolution sent the wrong message, he added, saying he would vote against it.

A delegate of Belarus noted the growth of neo-Nazi movements that was occurring under the pretext of freedom of speech.  She then expressed her concern over the use of the Internet and social media to propagate national superiority.  As every fourth inhabitant of her country had died in the Second World War, she reiterated the importance of the draft resolution, and encouraged Member States to support it.

The representative of the Russian Federation, making a correction to the draft, said that in the text distributed by the Secretariat, some words had been omitted in the second line of the last preambular paragraph.  The words were “over Nazism”, and should be included in the draft.  He took the floor again to ask who had requested a vote on this draft.

The Chair responded that it was the delegation of the United States.

Speaking in explanation of vote before vote, the representative of the United States said she had joined other countries in expressing abhorrence for attempts to promote Nazi ideology, and condemning all forms of religious or ethnic hatred.  Her delegation was concerned about the overt political motives that had driven the main sponsor of the current resolution.  That Government had employed those phrases in the current crisis in Ukraine.  That was offensive and disrespectful to those who had suffered at the hands of Nazi regimes.  Therefore, the United States would vote against the resolution.

The text was then approved by a record vote of 115 in favour, 3 against (Canada, Ukraine, United States), with 55 abstentions.

Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of Italy, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Union was committed to fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance with comprehensive efforts at national, regional and international levels.  While States were free to decide what to include in the draft text, he noted that the Union was concerned about the sincerity of the text, as the main sponsor had violated the human rights.

Also speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of Liechtenstein, speaking on behalf of Iceland, Switzerland and her country, said they were against all sorts of extremist political parties, movements and groups, including neo-Nazis and skinhead groups, as well as racist extremist movements and ideologies.  However, they had decided to abstain from voting.

Also explaining his country’s position after the vote, Equatorial Guinea’s representative said African countries knew well about racism and apartheid.  His delegation had voted in favour of the text, and wanted all sorts of Nazi groups to be labelled as terrorists.

The representative of Norway stated that her delegation had aligned itself with the European Union statement delivered on behalf of the representative of Italy.

The Committee then took up a draft text on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination (document A/C.3/69/L.58).  By the terms of that text, the General Assembly would reaffirm the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including the right to their independent State of Palestine, and urge all States and the specialized agencies and organizations of the United Nations system to continue to support and assist the Palestinian people.

The representative of Egypt said that the resolution had garnered wide support from the Member States.  The Palestinian people had, for six decades, counted on that support.  Member States should send a strong message of solidarity by adopting this draft by consensus and endorsing the long overdue right to self-determination.  Taking the floor again, he asked who had requested the recorded vote.

The Chair responded that it was the delegation of Israel.

Explaining his position before the vote, the representative of Israel said that peace must be negotiated; it could not be imposed from outside.  Only Palestinians and Israelis sitting at a table could make the difficult compromises necessary for a lasting peace.  The Palestinian authorities were sabotaging the genuine efforts for peace by taking unilateral actions, such as the draft resolution.  Israel had consistently demonstrated its willingness to make peaceful compromises.  But the Palestinians did not recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people.  It was much easier to speak at the United Nations podium rather than at the negotiating table, he said.  Israel believed that the solution to the conflict did not lie in New York.  Therefore, Israel would vote against the draft resolution.

The Committee then took action, approving the text by a record vote of 170 in favour, 7 against (Israel, Canada, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau, United States, Nauru), with 6 abstentions (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Kiribati, Paraguay, Rwanda, South Sudan).

Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of Argentina said the Palestinian people had their right to self-determination, including the right to their independent State of Palestine.  That was why his delegation voted in favour of the draft text.

The representative of Zimbabwe said that her vote had not been recorded.

Making a general statement, the representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine thanked Member States for the overwhelming support, and said the text had been adopted to promote peace based on the international law.  However, the reality would change when the occupation ended.  Despite Israel’s rejection of the draft text, Member States called for the need for respect for and preservation of the territorial unity, contiguity and integrity of all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.  Accordingly, she said the Israeli occupation must be brought to an end.

Zimbabwe’s representative stated that she wished her vote to be recorded as a vote in favour.

On the promotion and protection of human rights, the Committee took action on several draft texts.  The first was the draft resolution on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity (document A/C.3/69/L.50/Rev.1).

Making a general statement, the representative of Greece stated that the extensive negotiations had addressed issues brought up by various delegates.  The current resolution was being considered in a climate of increasing violence against journalists and attempts to silence them.  The draft resolution highlighted additional steps that needed to be taken.  States should enable a safe environment for journalists to work independently.  The resolution also highlighted the issue of impunity, which remained one of the main causes of attacks.  Another important focus of the resolution was the growing threat from non-State actors.

That text was approved without a vote.

Making a statement after the draft text’s approval, the representative of the Russian Federation said that his delegation had joined the consensus on the resolution.  In the internal conflict in Ukraine, both Russian and foreign journalists had died.  Further, Russia did not regard the provisions of the resolution as extending to bloggers/people from so-called social media.

Next, the Committee took up a draft resolution on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty (document A/C.3/69/L.51/Rev.1).  By the terms of the resolution, the General Assembly would call upon States to progressively restrict the use of the death penalty and to reduce the number of offences for which the death penalty may be imposed.

Making a general statement, the representative of Chile said that since 2007, this was the fifth time that the question of moratorium on death penalty had been brought before the Committee.  There were positive developments in many regions and countries.  The text was not prescriptive; it identified steps.  There was also a broader appeal to not impose death penalty on certain groups, such as those with mental illness.

The Committee then took up the draft amendment to the resolution, contained in document A/C.3/69/L.66.  The amendment would insert a new operative paragraph in the text of the resolution that would have the General Assembly reaffirm the sovereign right of all countries to develop their own legal systems.

Making a statement, the representative of Saudi Arabia said that the amendment proposed by her delegation and others had reaffirmed the principle of sovereignty of the Member States.  That principle was universal and represented a cornerstone of the United Nations.  The sponsors of the draft resolution on the death penalty had reassured her and the co-sponsors of the amendment that the resolution itself was guided by the principles of the Charter.  “We beg to differ,” she said. “If the resolution was in fact guided by the principles of the Charter, we would not be tabling this amendment.”  The text included strong language, and the proposed amendment sought to inject more balance into the text, by reaffirming the principle of sovereignty.

Explaining his position before the vote, the representative of Benin said that the amendment was regrettable.  The main sponsors of the draft resolution had tried to have an inclusive negotiation process and had demonstrated enormous flexibility.  “The national approach could not prevail,” he said.  States could develop their own legal statutes only in accordance with international law.  The principle of sovereignty required that.  Therefore, Benin would reject the amendment and support the draft resolution.

Also explaining her position before the vote, the representative of Uruguay said that the informal consultations had clarified the objective of the draft resolution, which was based on the protection of human rights for all people.  The text did not interfere with the sovereign rights of States to develop their own legal systems.  General Assembly resolutions, including the current draft text, did not interfere with the States’ sovereign rights.  They were recommendations rather than legal obligations. Therefore, Uruguay would vote against the amendment, and respectfully called on other Member States to do so as well.

The representative of Albania said the sponsors of the draft resolution did not try to interfere in the domestic jurisdiction of Member States, but called upon States that still maintained the death penalty to establish a moratorium on executions, with a view to abolishing it.

A delegate of Saudi Arabia asked which country called for the vote.

The Chair said the delegation of Chile had called for the vote.

The Committee then returned to its consideration of the draft resolution on the moratorium of the death penalty.

The representative of Bahamas asked who had decided what was right and wrong on the issue.  Noting that the United Nations was a world organization, not a world Government, she said it was up to the Governments to decide what to implement and not to implement.

Making a general statement before the action on the draft text, Italy’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the draft resolution dealt with an issue very important for his group.  The current resolution did not ask for an abolition of the death penalty, but a moratorium on executions, respecting the individual differences between countries.  The member States of the European Union and the co-sponsors of the draft resolution hoped for the broadest possible support for it.

Making a general statement, the representative of China said that every country had the right to decide to maintain or abolish the death penalty.  Pushing the draft resolution through the General Assembly would only politicize the matter.  Therefore, China would vote against it.

Also making a general statement, the representative of Singapore said that the co-sponsors had held five informals that her delegation had participated constructively in.  However, her delegation’s fundamental concerns were not addressed.  There was no international consensus regarding the death penalty.  When imposing the penalty, Singapore fully complied with all legal safeguards.  The draft resolution did not recognize that the death penalty was given when a most serious crime had been committed and the State had the responsibility to protect its citizens.  Therefore, Singapore had requested a recorded vote and would vote against the resolution.

The representative of Argentina said the text was a product of a long consultation process, which was made possible in order to hear different views on the issue.  The purpose of the draft resolution was not to prefer one country over another, but to encourage the establishment of a moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

Papua New Guinea’s delegate said the draft resolution was not about the abolishment of the death penalty, but also the State sovereignty.  Noting that the right to life was guaranteed by his country’s penal code, he said Papua New Guinea had not exercised the death penalty since 1954, when it had been under the British colonial rule.  Further, according to international law, the death penalty was not illegal.  As the text was highly biased, his delegation would vote against it.

Also making a general statement, the representative of Egypt said that the text of the draft resolution lacked balance and ignored the great diversity of legal, social and cultural conditions in the world.  While some Member States had voluntarily abolished the death penalty and others had not, neither was more right or more wrong.  Neither side should give itself the right to impose its views on others.

Also making a general statement, the representative of Sudan said that every State had the right to develop its national laws in accordance with international laws, as well as the religious, cultural social traditions of the country.  Any attempt to infringe on that right was contrary to the principle of the sovereignty of States.  The judicial system in Sudan was fully competent and able to apply justice in accordance with international instruments.  The implications of the draft resolution on the safety and security of societies had to be considered.  Therefore, Sudan would vote against the draft resolution.

Also making a general statement, the representative of Botswana said that every human being had the inherent right to life.  His Government took its obligations seriously and used every opportunity to live up to its international commitments.  There was compliance with due process and national legal instruments involved in the application of death penalty.  Therefore, Botswana took serious exception with the insistence of the sponsors of the resolution on imposing conditions on the applicability of death penalty.  That prerogative lay with the sovereign State and the citizens of that State.  Further, the draft resolution made an unjustified linkage between the death penalty and human rights.  The death penalty was a criminal justice issue, not a matter of human rights.

Also making a general statement, the representative of Pakistan said his country had established a moratorium on the use of the death penalty in 2010.  Stressing that the abolishment of the practice had its implications on States, his country would vote against the draft resolution.

Trinidad and Tobago’s delegate said as a co-facilitator of the draft resolution, their fundamental concerns had not been accommodated.  In that regard, her delegation would vote against the text.

New Zealand’s representative said it was not about the abolishment of the death penalty, but about the establishment of a moratorium on executions.  Therefore, his delegation called upon all Member States to vote in favour of the text.

Also making a general statement before the vote, the representative of Micronesia said that the draft resolution was designed to be a useful guide for countries.  Countries could compare their situations and exchange information.  His delegation hoped all countries would use it in that spirit, and invited all countries to vote in favour of the draft text.

The Committee then put the draft resolution to vote, approving it by a recorded vote of 114 in favour, 36 against, and 34 abstentions.

The representative of the United States, explaining her delegation’s position after vote, said that the ultimate decision on the death penalty must lie with the State.  Capital punishment was not prohibited by international laws.  Further, the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibited execution that constituted cruel or unusual punishment.  The United States Supreme Court had further narrowed the class of individuals and the type of offences that were given death penalty.  She also urged supporters of the draft resolution to focus on addressing human rights violations stemming from the improper use of the death penalty.

Also explaining his country’s position after vote, the representative of Morocco said that since 1993, Morocco had been committed to a de facto moratorium on the death penalty.  Further, the new Constitution safeguarded the right to life of every person.  Morocco was in the process of a fruitful dialogue on keeping the death penalty in the criminal code.

Also explaining her country’s position after vote, the representative of the Bahamas said the matter should be addressed in the context of sovereignty.  Her country’s commitment to the protection of human rights was unwavering.  The death penalty fell under the rubric of criminal justice, and not human rights.  Therefore, her delegation had voted against the resolution.

The representative of Myanmar said that as a sovereign State, his country always complied with international law.  Although the death penalty was not prohibited, Myanmar had not exercised the death penalty since 1988.

Indonesia’s representative said the right to life was guaranteed by legislation.  The system ensured that the death penalty was exercised as a last resort.  She appreciated the restriction on the death penalty.  However, it was important not to impose on countries to accept the text.  For that reason, her country had abstained from the vote.

Viet Nam’s representative said depending on the case, the death penalty might be a necessary measure.  For that reason, his delegation had abstained from the vote.

Also explaining his country’s position after vote, the representative of Japan said that the death penalty only applied to the gravest crimes in his country.  His Government made public relevant data on executions.  Thus, the system in Japan met international requirements, and the death penalty was applied in a very careful manner.  It was up to each State to decide about the death penalty, and Japan had voted against the resolution.

The representative of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, explaining his vote after the vote, said that his country had practiced a moratorium on the death penalty for several years.  However, each United Nations Member State had the right to develop its own judicial system.  Therefore, his delegation had abstained in the recorded vote on the draft resolution.

The representative of India, also explaining his vote after the vote, said that the death penalty was exercised in his country only in the rarest of cases.  Further, Indian law provided all legal and procedural safeguards necessary in the application of death penalty.  Juvenile offenders could not be sentenced to death, and death penalty sentences must be confirmed by a superior court.  His delegation had voted against the resolution because it went against India’s statutory law.

Also speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of Bangladesh said that the death penalty was not prohibited under any universally agreed international law.  Capital punishment was part of the criminal justice system of Bangladesh, and its application was restricted only to the most heinous crimes.  Extreme caution was exercised to avoid any miscarriage of justice.  It was the sovereign right of a State to decide whether to retain or abolish the death penalty.

Cuba’s representative said his country had decided not to exercise the death penalty.  It was each State’s own sovereign decision to use or not to use the death penalty.  Thus, his delegation had decided to abstain from the vote.

Qatar’s representative said her delegation had voted against the draft resolution, as it interfered in the legislation and sovereignty of States.

Chile’s representative supported the draft resolution, saying the text had contributed to the achievement of a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, thanks to civil society and Member States.

The Committee then took up a draft resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar (document A/C.3/69/L.32).

Italy’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that there were continued positive developments in Myanmar.  The draft resolution encouraged the Government to take further steps to consolidate that progress and deal with outstanding issues, such as political reform, human rights violations, accountability, and impunity.  He also orally revised the draft resolution.

That text, as orally revised, was approved without a vote.

Explaining his country’s position after adoption, the representative of Myanmar said that despite his delegation’s opposition to country-specific mandates, his country had cooperated with the Organization, and had refrained from calling for a vote on the resolution.  His country had come “a long way in a short time”.  However, the resolution still carried certain misleading language, such as “attacks against Muslims and other religious minorities”.  The country-specific issue of Myanmar should not remain under the United Nations General Assembly any longer, he concluded.

For information media. Not an official record.