General Assembly Adopts 64 Third Committee Texts Covering Issues Including Migrants, Children’s Rights, Human Rights Defenders

GA/11745
17 December 2015
Seventieth Session, 80th Meeting (PM)

General Assembly Adopts 64 Third Committee Texts Covering Issues Including Migrants, Children’s Rights, Human Rights Defenders

Delegates See Four Actions Postponed Due to Possible Programme Budget Implications

Acting on the recommendation of its Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), the General Assembly adopted 57 draft resolutions and seven draft decisions today, tackling a wide range of issues from the global refugee crisis to the rights of the child, as well as human rights defenders and country-specific human rights situations.

Also today, the Assembly took direct plenary action to unanimously adopt draft resolution titled “Global health and foreign policy:  strengthening the management of international health crises”.  By its terms, the 193-member body urged Member States, in accordance with their obligations under relevant provisions of international human rights law, to promote equal access to health services.  It further called for the development by Member States of resilient and sustainable health systems capable of responding effectively to outbreaks and emergencies, and of implementing effective responses to the broader dimensions of outbreaks and emergencies, including food security and access to basic health services.

By other terms of the text, the Assembly decided to hold a high-level meeting on antimicrobial resistance in 2016, and requested that the Secretary-General, in collaboration with the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) and in consultation with Member States, determine options and modalities for the conduct of such a meeting, including potential deliverables.

In a resolution titled “Protection of migrants”, the Assembly called upon States to promote and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants, regardless of their status.  It also urged States to prevent and punish any form of illegal deprivation of liberty relating to migrants, and requested that they prevent violations of the human rights of migrants in transit.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly also adopted resolutions on “Violence against women migrant workers”, “Assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa”, “Protection of and assistance to internally displaced persons” and “Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees”.

Among country-specific resolutions, a text on the “Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” — adopted by a recorded vote of 119 in favour to 19 against, with 48 abstentions — saw the Assembly express its “very serious concern” over persistent reports of human rights violations emerging from that country, among them torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including inhuman conditions of detention, rape and public executions, as well as extrajudicial and arbitrary detention.

A text on the “Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran” — adopted by a recorded vote of 81 in favour to 37 against, with 67 abstentions — saw the Assembly express serious concern about Iran’s use of the death penalty.

By a recorded vote of 127 in favour to 14 against, with 41 abstentions, the Assembly also adopted a draft resolution titled “Human rights defenders in the context of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of individuals, groups and organs of society to promote and protect universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms”.  By its terms, the Assembly strongly condemned violence against and intimidation of human rights defenders, underscoring the responsibility of Member States and business enterprises in that regard.

For the first time since 2009, a recorded vote was requested on the “Rights of the child”.  By that text — adopted by a vote of 141 in favour to 1 against (Botswana), with 42 abstentions — the Assembly called upon States to give full effect to the right of all children to education, including comprehensive evidence-based education on human sexuality.  Acting without a vote, it also adopted a text on “The girl child”, which strongly called upon States and the international community to create an environment ensuring the well-being of girls.

Acting again without a vote, the Assembly adopted resolutions on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; Taking action against gender-related killing of women and girls; Follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and full implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly; and Improvement of the situation of women and girls in rural areas.

Several resolutions adopted without a vote addressed the concerns of the most vulnerable segments of populations.  They included texts on:  The safety of journalists and the issue of impunity; Measures to enhance the Promotion and Protection of the Human Rights and Dignity of Older Persons; Effective promotion of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities; Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol thereto; and Towards the full realization of an inclusive and accessible United Nations for persons with disabilities.

Other texts related to combating racial and religious discrimination.  “Combating glorification of Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance” was adopted by a recorded vote of 133 in favour to 4 against (Canada, Palau, Ukraine, United States), with 49 abstentions.  By its terms, the Assembly expressed deep concern about the increased number of representatives of extremist parties in national and local parliaments.  By 133 recorded votes in favour to 11 against, with 44 abstentions, it adopted a draft titled “A global call for concrete action for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action”.  The Assembly also adopted — by a recorded vote of 133 in favour to 54 against, with no abstentions — a draft titled “Human rights and cultural diversity”.  Acting without a vote, it adopted texts on “Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons, based on religion or belief”, and “Freedom of religion or belief”.

Recorded votes were requested on a number of drafts, reflecting varying views on a range of topics.  They included texts on “The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination”; “Use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination”; “Promotion of a democratic and equitable international order”; “Human rights and unilateral coercive measures”; “The right to development”; and “Globalization and its impact on the full enjoyment of all human rights”.

Recorded votes were also requested on draft resolutions relating to “Strengthening the role of the United Nations in enhancing periodic and genuine elections and the promotion of democratization”, “Report of the Human Rights Council”, “Promotion of equitable geographical distribution in the membership of the human rights treaty bodies”, and the “United Nations Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South-West Asia and the Arab Region”.

Acting without a vote, the General Assembly adopted the following draft resolutions:  “Integrating volunteerism into peace and development:  the plan of action for the next decade and beyond”; “Promoting social integration through social inclusion”; “Policies and programmes involving youth”; “Cooperatives in Social Development”; “Universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination”; “International Covenants on Human Rights”; “Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”; “Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism”; “Strengthening United Nations action in the field of human rights through the promotion of international cooperation and the importance of non-selectivity, impartiality and objectivity”; “Enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights”; “The right to food”; “International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance”, “National institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights”; “Subregional Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa”; and “The human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation”.

Also adopted without a vote were texts on the “Thirteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice”; “United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Mandela Rules)”; “Technical assistance for implementing the international conventions and protocols related to counter-terrorism”; “Strengthening the United Nations crime prevention and criminal justice programme, in particular its technical cooperation capacity”; “Improving the coordination of efforts against trafficking in persons”; “United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders”; “Special session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem to be held in 2016”; and “International cooperation against the world drug problem”.

Finally, the Assembly adopted the Third Committee’s report on “Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly”, and took note of the Committee’s report on “Programme planning”, which contained no proposed action.

The Assembly postponed action on four draft resolutions pending a review of their programme budget implications by the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).  Those texts were titled:  “Persons with Albinism”; “Rights of indigenous peoples”; “Situation of human rights in Myanmar”; and “Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic”.

In other business today, the Assembly elected El Salvador and Montenegro as members of the Peacebuilding Commission’s Organizational Committee, replacing Bosnia and Herzegovina and Guatemala.  The new members will start their two-year terms on 1 January 2016.

Presenting the Third Committee’s reports was its Rapporteur, Adele Li (Singapore).

Other speakers on Third Committee matters were representatives of South Sudan (on behalf of the African Group), Luxembourg (on behalf of the European Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Burkina Faso, Botswana, United Republic of Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, El Salvador (on behalf of the Group of Friends of Older Persons), Madagascar, Japan, Mauritania, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran.

Speaking on the Assembly’s agenda item on global health and foreign policy were representatives of Senegal, Malaysia (on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Thailand, Russian Federation, Israel, Zambia, United States, United Republic of Tanzania, United Kingdom, Cambodia and Germany.  A representative of the European Union also addressed the Assembly.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 22 December, to consider the integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields (follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit), and to consider reports of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial).

Election to Peacebuilding Commission Organizational Committee

The General Assembly began the meeting by electing El Salvador and Montenegro as members of the Peacebuilding Commission’s Organizational Committee, which establishes the parent body’s work agenda.  They replaced Bosnia and Herzegovina and Guatemala, and will start their terms on 1 January 2016.

The Committee comprises seven members of the Security Council (Chad, Chile, China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States); seven members of the Economic and Social Council elected from regional groups (Brazil, Croatia, Italy, Nepal, Republic of Korea, South Africa and Trinidad and Tobago); five top contributors of assessed contributions to United Nations budgets (Canada, Germany, Japan, Netherlands and Sweden); five top providers of military and civilian police personnel to United Nations missions (Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria and Pakistan); and seven additional members elected by the Assembly, with due consideration to representation from all regional groups (El Salvador, Montenegro, Colombia, Egypt, Kenya, Malaysia and Morocco).  The two new members will serve renewable terms of two years as applicable.

Action on Third Committee Draft Resolutions

ADELE LI WEI (Singapore), Rapporteur of the Third Committee, introduced the following reports of that body: Social development (document A/70/481); Advancement of women (document A/70/482); Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions (document A/70/483); Report of the Human Rights Council (document A/70/484); Promotion and protection of the rights of children (document A/70/485); Rights of indigenous peoples (document A/70/486); Elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance (document A/70/487); and Right of peoples to self-determination (document A/70/488).

She went on to present the Committee’s reports on Promotion and protection of human rights (document A/70/489); Implementation of human rights instruments (document A/70/489/Add.1); Human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms” (document A/70/489/Add.2); Human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives (document A/70/489/Add.3); Comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (document A/70/489/Add.4); Crime prevention and criminal justice (document A/70/490); International drug control (document A/70/491); Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly (document A/70/522); and Programme planning (document A/70/523).

The Assembly first took up the report on Social development (document A/70/481), which contained five draft resolutions and a draft decision.

Acting without a vote, it adopted the following draft resolutions:  “Integrating volunteerism into peace and development: the plan of action for the next decade and beyond”; “Promoting social integration through social inclusion”; “Policies and programmes involving youth”; and “Cooperatives in Social Development”.  It went on to adopt a draft decision by which it took note of documents pertaining to social development.

The Assembly postponed action on a draft resolution titled “Persons with Albinism” until a later date, pending review of its programme budget implications by the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).

Taking up the report “Advancement of women” (document A/70/482), containing four draft resolutions and a draft decision, it adopted the following texts without a vote: “Violence against women migrant workers”; “Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women”; “Improvement of the situation of women and girls in rural areas”; and “Follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and full implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly”.  The Assembly then adopted a draft decision by which it took note of documents pertaining to women’s advancement.

The Assembly then turned to the report “The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions” (document A/70/483), containing two draft resolutions.

Without a vote, it adopted draft resolutions on “Assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa” and “Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees”.

The Assembly then took up the “Report of the Human Rights Council” (document A/70/484), which contained an eponymous draft resolution.

The representative of South Sudan, speaking on behalf of the African Group, introduced the text, saying the African Group was concerned about attempts to impose new notions and concepts such as sexual orientation and gender identity that had no reference in international human rights law.  The African Group strongly rejected any attempt to undermine the international human rights system by seeking to impose concepts or notions pertaining to social matters, including private individual conduct that fell outside the internationally agreed human rights legal framework, taking into account that such attempts constituted an expression of disregard for the universality of human rights.

By a recorded vote of 121 in favour to 2 against (Belarus, Israel), with 60 abstentions, the Assembly adopted the text.

As the Assembly turned to the report “Promotion and protection of the rights of children” (document A/70/485), containing two draft resolutions, a recorded vote was requested in relation to a draft resolution titled “Rights of the Child”.

The representative of South Sudan, speaking on behalf of the African Group, presented an oral amendment (document A/70/L.35) to replace Operative Paragraph 46U, saying it was identical to Operative Paragraph 6 of the draft titled “The Girl Child”, which had been adopted by consensus.  The elements in the actual Operative Paragraph 46U set a very negative precedent for the work of the United Nations because certain Member States sought to impose their cultural and social preferences on others, he said, emphasizing that there should never be a vote on the text, and urging Member States to vote in favour of the oral amendment.

The representative of Luxembourg, speaking in explanation of position on behalf of the European Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), expressed surprise that the same amendment had been tabled again after it had been rejected in the Third Committee.  Reviewing the reasons why the provision was useful, he noted that it would have a positive impact on the realization of adolescent and youth rights, adding that the European Union and the Latin American and Caribbean States would oppose the amendment and strongly urging everyone else to do the same.

By a recorded vote of 73 in favour to 86 against, with 18 abstentions, the Assembly rejected the proposed amendment.

Turning to another oral amendment, proposing the deletion of Operative Paragraph 49U from draft resolution A/70/L.36, the Assembly rejected the amendment by a recorded vote of 61 in favour to 92 against, with 16 abstentions.

The representative of Burkina Faso, speaking in explanation of position before the vote on the draft in its entirety, deplored the actions taken on such an important issue, pointing out that the text was being put to the vote in the General Assembly for the first time in history.  She expressed hope that lessons would be learned from the past, saying that the language being discussed could be replaced.  Burkina Faso had decided to vote in favour, but was concerned about the paragraph under discussion.

The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution “Rights of the Child” by a recorded vote of 141 in favour to 1 against (Botswana), with 42 abstentions.

The representatives of Botswana and the United Republic of Tanzania said they had intended to abstain.

The representative of Saudi Arabia, speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), expressed regret that co-sponsors did not respect the terms used in international resolutions with respect to human sexuality.  That was incompatible with articles 28 and 29 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries had therefore abstained.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted the text titled “The girl child”.

It then decided to postpone action on a draft resolution titled “Rights of indigenous peoples” (document A/70/486), pending consideration of its programme budget implications by the Fifth Committee.

As the Assembly turned to the report “Elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance” (document A/70/487) — containing two draft resolutions and one draft decision — a recorded vote was requested on a draft titled “Combating glorification of Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance”.

The Assembly adopted that text by a recorded vote of 133 in favour to 4 against (Canada, Palau, Ukraine, United States), with 49 abstentions.

A draft resolution titled “A global call for concrete action for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action” was adopted by a recorded vote of 133 in favour to 11 against, with 44 abstentions.

The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, a draft decision by which it took note of related documents.

Turning to the report “The right of peoples to self-determination” (document A/70/488), the Assembly considered three draft resolutions.

A recorded vote having been requested on a draft titled “The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination”, the Assembly adopted the text by a recorded vote of 177 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 4 abstentions (Cameroon, Honduras, Tonga, South Sudan).

The Assembly next took up a draft titled “Use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination”, adopting it by a recorded vote of 130 in favour to 53 against, with 6 abstentions (Colombia, Liberia, Kenya, Mexico, Switzerland, Tonga).

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

The Assembly next took up the report on “Promotion and protection of human rights” (document A/70/489) and adopted, without a vote, the draft decision contained therein, by which it took note of related documents.

It then turned to the report on “Implementation of human rights instruments” (document A/70/489/Add.1), containing three draft resolutions.

Without a vote, the Assembly adopted the following draft resolutions: International Covenants on Human Rights; Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol thereto; and Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The Assembly considered next the report on “Human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms” (document A/70/489/Add.2), which contained 25 draft resolutions.

Acting without a vote, it adopted the following draft resolutions: Protection of migrants; Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism; Strengthening United Nations action in the field of human rights through the promotion of international cooperation and the importance of non-selectivity, impartiality and objectivity; Enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights; The right to food; Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons, based on religion or belief; Freedom of religion or belief; and International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

Without a vote, the Assembly also adopted draft resolutions on The safety of journalists and the issue of impunity; National institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights; Measures to enhance the Promotion and Protection of the Human Rights and Dignity of Older Persons; Protection of and assistance to internally displaced persons; Effective promotion of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities; Subregional Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa; The human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation; and Towards the full realization of an inclusive and accessible United Nations for persons with disabilities.

The Assembly went on to adopt – by a recorded vote of 130 in favour to 53 against, with 5 abstentions (Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, Samoa) — a draft titled “Promotion of a democratic and equitable international order”.

By a recorded vote of 135 in favour to 54 against, with no abstentions, it then adopted a text titled “Human rights and unilateral coercive measures”.

The Assembly then adopted – by a recorded vote of 134 in favour to 54 against, with no abstentions, a draft resolution on “Promotion of equitable geographical distribution in the membership of the human rights treaty bodies”.

In another recorded vote — 148 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Israel, Japan, Palau, United Kingdom, United States), with 33 abstentions — the Assembly adopted a draft on “The right to development”.

The Assembly then adopted a text titled “Human rights and cultural diversity” by a recorded vote of 133 in favour to 54 against, with no abstentions.

In another recorded vote — 135 in favour to 53 against, with 1 abstention (Greece) — it then adopted a draft titled “Globalization and its impact on the full enjoyment of all human rights”.

Also by a recorded vote, of 127 in favour to 14 against, with 41 abstentions, the Assembly adopted a draft on “Human rights defenders in the context of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of individuals, groups and organs of society to promote and protect universally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms”.

The Assembly went on to adopt — by a recorded vote of 168 in favour to none against, with 15 abstentions — a draft resolution titled “Strengthening the role of the United Nations in enhancing periodic and genuine elections and the promotion of democratization”.

In another recorded vote — 184 in favour to 1 against (Syria), with 1 abstention (Angola) — it adopted a draft titled “United Nations Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South-West Asia and the Arab Region”.

The representative of El Salvador, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Older Persons, expressed awareness of the different views on measures to enhance the promotion and protection of the rights of older persons, saying the Group recognized the importance of strengthening the implementation of current provisions.  However, an international legal instrument was needed to fully guarantee the rights and dignity of older persons, he said, adding that such an instrument would also strengthen their monitoring and realization, and help to foster national policies to better define the responsibilities of States on that important matter.

The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania said her delegation had voted in favour of the draft resolution “Strengthening the role of the United Nations in enhancing periodic and genuine elections and the promotion of democratization”.

The representative of Madagascar said her delegation had voted in favour of the draft resolution “Human rights and cultural diversity”.

The Assembly then turned to the report on “Human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives” (document A/70/489/Add.3), containing four draft resolutions.

The representative of Japan took the floor to explain that his delegation had intended to abstain on the right to development.

The representative of Mauritania said that under item 5, his delegation’s intention had been to abstain on that resolution.

A representative of the Secretariat announced that, pending a review of their programme budget implications by the Fifth Committee, action on the drafts “Situation of human rights in Myanmar” and “Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic” would be postponed until a later date.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said he “categorically” rejected the draft titled, “Resolutions on the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”, saying it had no relevance to genuine promotion and protection of human rights.  The text was a product of a hostile policy, political plots and sinister conspiracy against his country on the part of the United States, Japan and other forces, in their attempts to break down the State and social system of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  He said the text pursued the political objectives of eliminating the socialist system that was the “cradle of life” of his people, while denying them sovereign equality.  Requesting a recorded vote, he said that his delegation expected that all United Nations Member States would vote against it, in conformity with the true spirit of the United Nations Charter.  He also strongly rejected the country-specific resolutions on Iran, Syria and Myanmar.

The representative of Iran also rejected the “politicalized distortion” of facts, saying it reminded the Iranian people of the prevalence of “Islamophobia”.  The county had repeatedly tried to speak to the sponsors of the draft resolutions, the majority of whom rejected the politicization of human rights within the United Nations.  However, there were examples of situations in which the international community had ignored true human rights violations, leading to the rise of terrorist groups such as Da’esh, she said.  The draft had been tabled at a time when Iran had been working in a constructive manner with many countries throughout the world.  Looking to the future, the Organization should begin to pursue a policy of dialogue on human rights and “give diplomacy a chance” rather than resorting to coercive approaches, she said, requesting a recorded vote on the text “Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran” and expressing hope that all Member States would vote against it.

The Assembly then adopted — by a recorded vote of 119 in favour to 19 against, with 48 abstentions — the draft resolution “Situation of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea”.

In another recorded vote — 81 in favour to 37 against, with 67 abstentions — it adopted a draft “Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran”.

The Assembly then took note of the report “Comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action” (document A/70/489/Add.4), which contained no proposed action.

Turning to the report “Crime prevention and criminal justice” (document A/70/490), the Assembly considered the seven draft resolutions and draft decision contained therein.

Acting without a vote, it adopted the following draft resolutions: Thirteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice; United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Mandela Rules); Taking action against gender-related killing of women and girls; Technical assistance for implementing the international conventions and protocols related to counter-terrorism; Strengthening the United Nations crime prevention and criminal justice programme, in particular its technical cooperation capacity; Improving the coordination of efforts against trafficking in persons; and United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders.

The Assembly then took action on a draft decision titled “Reports considered by the General Assembly in connection with the question of crime prevention and criminal justice”, adopting it as recommended by the Third Committee.

It went on to take up the report on “International drug control” (document A/70/491), containing two draft resolutions and a draft decision.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted draft resolutions on the “Special session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem to be held in 2016” and “International cooperation against the world drug problem”.

It went on to adopt a draft decision by which it took note of a document considered in connection with the question of international drug control.

The Assembly then took up the report on “Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly” (document A/70/522), which recommended that it adopt a draft decision on the “Programme of work of the Third Committee for the seventy-first session of the General Assembly”, contained therein.

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

In its final action, the Assembly took note of the report “Programme planning” (document A/70/523), which contained no proposed action.

PIERRE FAYE (Senegal) introduced the draft resolution titled “Global health and foreign policy: strengthening the management of international health crises”, saying the text called for the creation and bolstering by Member States of resilient health systems that could be responsive during emergencies.  The World Health Organization (WHO) was invited to provide technical support to Member States, and to bolster their capacities to deal with such emergencies, with a special emphasis on developing countries and with a view to bolstering their health-care systems in relation to infectious diseases.  The text also highlighted the need to engage Member States in bolstering regions, where appropriate, in terms of disaster risk reduction.  In the interests of bolstering awareness, the draft resolution called upon WHO to organize a meeting of the General Assembly on antimicrobial resistance, the modalities of which would be determined by the Secretary-General in consultation with Member States.  In addition to drawing the international community’s attention to the security impact of international sanitary crises, the draft ultimately called for bolstering international cooperation with a view to making national health-care systems more resilient, he said.

RAJA REZA BIN RAJA ZAIB SHAH (Malaysia), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the protection of health workers was imperative in ensuring health systems’ responses to emergencies.  Describing the increasing number of attacks against medical personnel, health-care facilities and patients as alarming, he commended WHO for developing the methodology and tools for collecting data on such attacks in complex humanitarian emergencies, and expressed hope that they would promote the safety and protection of personnel and patients.

He recalled that Malaysia, as Chair of the tenth East Asia Summit on 22 November 2015, had issued a statement addressing global health, including by extending the Plan of Action to implement the Phnom Penh Declaration on the East Asia Summit Development Initiative until the end of 2017.  The statement also reaffirmed Malaysia’s commitment to an Asia-Pacific free of malaria by 2030, as well as to strengthening regional mechanisms to contain and prevent the spread of pandemics such as the Middle East respiratory syndrome-coronavirus (MERS).  That would be achieved through increased surveillance, coordinated investigations into outbreaks and timely sharing of information, he said.

MATHIEU REMOND, European Union, said the 2014 Ebola virus disease outbreak was a tragic reminder of why it was important to take action and accelerate progress.  The International Health Regulations were the cornerstone of global health security and their implementation and review must be a continuous process as part of a longer-term approach.  Such a commitment required better assessment tools in order to ensure a real understanding of its implementation in national jurisdictions, he said.  To that end, the European Union and its member States called for more solid, transparent and reliable instruments to assess core national capacities, such as objective external assessment and certification processes.

He went on to highlight how the European Union had worked closely with WHO at the technical level to ensure that the “European Medical Corps” would be able to operate as part of a future global health emergency workforce.  WHO would remain the leading player in outbreaks and emergencies, one whose role must be enhanced to provide further expertise and guidance to Member States, he said.  That leading role still needed improvement and strengthening, including by building administrative structures to deliver on humanitarian responsibilities, he said, highlighting the “pressing” modern challenge of coordinating essential international action to tackle antimicrobial resistance.

KITTITHEP DEVAHASTIN (Thailand), associating himself with ASEAN, said it was necessary to address national capacity gaps in responding to health crises and issues.  When addressing emerging infectious diseases, regional and global cooperation was critical for preventing, controlling and preparing through improved surveillance and outbreak investigation, particularly in relation to transboundary control.  To that end, Thailand had hosted the ASEAN Plus Three Health Ministers’ Special Meeting on Ebola Preparedness and Response in December 2014.  Emphasizing that sustainable development was not possible without a healthy population, he said the international community’s commitment to that end was demonstrated in Goal 3 of the 2030 Agenda.  Priority must be given to ensuring good health for the world’s population, to developing resilient health systems and to attaining universal health coverage through existing initiatives and multi-stakeholder partnerships, he said.

SERGEY B. KONONUCHENKO (Russian Federation) said the recent Ebola outbreak called for a comprehensive approach to ensuring the safety of medical staff and building the capacity of health-care facilities because medical staff were on the front line.  The Russian Federation’s $60 million assistance package to West Africa was aimed at strengthening the weaknesses of their health-care systems and ensuring the protection of health-care workers and capacity.  The St. Petersburg Institute for Epidemiology and Microbiology held regular training sessions for Guinean specialists and Russian specialists travelled to Africa to hold training seminars, he said, adding that his country’s assistance was not limited to West Africa but also extended to Central Asia and Eastern Europe.

DAVID ROET (Israel) said that Bloomberg ranked his country as the world’s sixth healthiest in 2015, with one of the most efficient health systems.  Its universal health-care system extended quality care to all Israeli citizens, Jewish and Arab alike.  MASHAV, Israel’s agency for international development cooperation served as a bridge between the medical community and the developing world, he said, noting that Israeli medical teams had set up an “eye camp” in Zambia that had trained local medical personnel and screened more than 1,000 patients with cataracts and various other eye ailments.  Israel also focused on maternal and reproductive health, he said, recalling that in 2014, MASHAV and the Millennium Cities Initiatives had launched two neonatal special care units in a rural city in Ghana.

SILVESTER MWANZA (Zambia) reaffirmed his country’s commitment to reducing maternal mortality to less than 70 per 100,000 live births, ending preventable deaths of new-borns and children under 5 years of age and eradicating AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, waterborne diseases and other communicable diseases.  Child and maternal health indicators had improved significantly, he said, adding that the maternal mortality ratio had declined from 591 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2007 to 398 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2014.  The under-5 mortality rate had dropped from 119 per 1,000 live births in 2007 to 75 per 100,000 in 2014.  Infant mortality rates had also fallen, from 70 to 45 per 1,000 live births over the same period, he said, adding that neonatal mortality rates had also declined from 37 per 1,000 live births to 24 in that same timeframe.  The HIV/AIDS prevalence rate had been reduced from 15.6 per cent to 13 per cent.  In addition, the Government was constructing health centres with modern equipment and providing mobile clinics for those in remote, hard-to-reach rural areas.  He called for partnerships “across the board” as well as concerted efforts to achieve universal health coverage.

LAURIE SHESTACK PHIPPS (United States) said her delegation had joined the consensus and co-sponsored the draft resolution.  However, its reaffirmation of human rights instruments, documents, positions or rights were only applicable to the extent that countries had affirmed them initially, and did not imply that States must implement obligations under human rights instruments to which they were not signatories, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.  The United States did not recognize the creation of any new right that it had not previously recognized, she emphasized, stressing that the text did not alter any World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement or decision, including the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs).  The term “equitable”, used in references to access to health services and inherently subjective, might be defined by each country through its own processes and did not connote any national or international obligations, she said, adding that the United States endorsed fully the importance of promoting equal access to health services.

NOEL KAGANDA (United Republic of Tanzania) said his delegation could not agree more that there was a definite mismatch between demand and supply in terms of health and social care workers, which was acute in developing countries, especially those in Africa.  Success in addressing that shortfall hinged on other factors, such as poverty eradication, the attainment of quality education for all, and the building of peaceful, secure and prosperous societies.  Until those objectives were met, Africa-trained doctors, nurses and other skilled workers would continue to flee the continent in search of better opportunities elsewhere, he said, emphasizing that, going forward, important lessons must be drawn from outbreaks of the recent past in order to build international, regional and national resilience.

MARTIN SHEARMAN (United Kingdom), associating himself with the European Union, said anti-microbial resistance posed a threat to livelihoods and economies.  If the growth of resistance to modern medicine was left unchecked, an unstoppable problem could develop because effective antimicrobial medicines were the base of modern medicine.  Emphasizing that antimicrobial resistance threatened attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said the engagement of the United Nations on that issue had grown in 2015, but much more must be done.  The United Kingdom welcomed the decision, contained in the draft resolution, to hold a meeting on the matter in 2016.

RY TUY (Cambodia), aligning himself with ASEAN, said recent years had seen the emergence of such pandemics as avian influenza, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Ebola, which were fatal and transnational in nature.  That had been a test for national and international health sectors to work in a more collaborative and efficient manner to ensure rapid responses to outbreaks of disease.  The lessons learned were that countries struck by pandemics were hesitant to reveal them for fear of negative economic impacts.  In that light, collaboration between Governments and health-related agencies on regulations, warning systems and the transfer of modern technology was essential, he stressed.  Cambodia was on track to achieve the “Three Zeros” target on HIV/AIDS by 2020 and had endorsed strategies to improve women’s health by strengthening girls’ education.

NADINE SKALE (Germany) associated herself with the European Union, saying her delegation attached great important to strengthening health systems and global health security.  Global health was a top priority, she said, outlining how the Government of Germany had aimed to increase global health security and prevent future outbreaks of diseases like Ebola.  Germany remained the third largest bilateral donor in the health sector, and in responding to the Ebola crisis, had launched a special programme to promote health in Africa.  Yet, the international community remained insufficiently prepared to cope with public health crises of the same magnitude.  WHO must therefore be properly resourced and fundamentally reformed if it wanted to re-establish its role as the guardian of global public health, she emphasized.

Action on Plenary Text

A representative of the Secretariat then read out a statement on the financial implications of adopting the draft resolution.

The General Assembly then adopted, without a vote, the draft resolution “Global health and foreign policy: strengthening the management of international health crises” (document A/70/L.32).

For information media. Not an official record.