Human Rights Crucial, but Exploited for Political Aims, Interference in Internal State Affairs, Third Committee Told as It Debates United Nations Mandate Holders

GA/SHC/4181
31 October 2016
Seventy-first Session, 37th & 38th Meetings (AM & PM)

Human Rights Crucial, but Exploited for Political Aims, Interference in Internal State Affairs, Third Committee Told as It Debates United Nations Mandate Holders

While conflict, climate change and chaotic migration had reinforced the world’s need for the United Nations human rights machinery, that system was at risk of abuse due to the many pressures arising from concurrent crises, delegates warned the Third Committee today (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), as they debated the Organization’s special procedures and mandates today.

Canada’s representative said exceptional or unique circumstances continued to erode the universal nature of human rights, a trend that often led to greater inequality, injustice, violence and death.  Egypt’s representative, too, said the world was witnessing an escalation of human rights violations, with huge numbers of people fleeing conflict and crossing borders.  But countries failing to protect human rights were using related instruments for political aims, and intervening in States’ domestic affairs.

The politics surrounding human rights instruments was also addressed by India’s representative, who noted that nearly half of the thematic mandate holders came from one region, while the reliance on voluntary funding to support the Special Procedures system privileged some mandates over others, and could have adverse impacts on their perceived independence.  He expressed concern that the United Nations human rights machinery had divided States and was being used as a political tool.

Turning from the broader political context in which it was operating to the specific situations that United Nations special procedures sought to address, the European Union’s representative singled out events in Syria for attention.  Excessive and disproportionate attacks against civilians, humanitarian and health care personnel and infrastructure must be brought to justice.  She condemned mass killings and other atrocities by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) terrorists.  “Religious belief should not justify the use of terrorism and violence,” she said, encouraging religious leaders to do all in their power to prevent such acts.

The observer for the Holy See, meanwhile, cautioned that “religion becomes a source of discrimination when it is used and abused to define national identity and unity”.

Espousing a practical, rather than ideological approach to realizing human rights, Singapore’s representative noted that a one-size-fits-all approach could not address human rights issues, adding “just as no two people are exactly alike, no two societies, communities or States are exactly alike”.

Along those lines, China’s representative urged respect for countries’ choice of rights protection modalities that were tailored to their national circumstances.  He opposed double standards on human rights issues, and interference in State affairs under their pretext.  Dialogue should be conducted on the basis of equality and mutual learning pursued in an open, inclusive manner.

Also speaking were representatives of the United States, Colombia, Russian Federation, Libya, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Norway, Viet Nam, Qatar, Iraq, Cyprus, Myanmar, Greece, Eritrea, Nepal, Japan, Rwanda, Kazakhstan, Iran, Australia, Algeria, Palau, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Serbia, Bangladesh, Ukraine, Liechtenstein, Cuba, Venezuela, Azerbaijan, Malawi, Morocco, Kuwait, and Philippines, as well as an observer of the State of Palestine.

An official of the Food and Agriculture Organization also addressed the Committee.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of Bahrain, Turkey, Russian Federation, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ukraine, Cyprus, Israel, and Japan.  An observer of the State of Palestine also spoke.

The Third Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 1 November, to begin its discussion on racism and self-determination.

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to continue its debate on the promotion and protection of human rights.  For further information, see Press Release GA/SHC/4172.

Statements

JOANNE ADAMSON, European Union, stressing that the Syrian regime had the primary responsibility to protect civilians, condemned the excessive and disproportionate attacks against them, as well as humanitarian and healthcare personnel and infrastructure.  The perpetrators of such war crimes must be brought to justice.  In the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Government deprived its people of political, economic, social and cultural rights, while refusing to engage with the international community.  She urged the Government to implement recommendations by the Commission of Inquiry.  On Burundi, she expressed regret over the Government’s decision to suspend cooperation with the Office of the High commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and intention to withdraw from the Rome Statue.

She went on to remind China of its international human rights obligations, notably to allow human rights defenders and lawyers to pursue their activities and ensure an enabling environment for civil society.  In the Russian Federation, the space for independent civil society was shrinking while human rights defenders and independent journalists faced harassment.  Turning to Da’esh, she condemned the atrocities, mass killings, use of sexual violence and other abuses perpetrated by the terrorist group against civilians.  “Religious belief should not justify the use of terrorism and violence,” she said, encouraging religious leaders to do all in their power to prevent such acts.

SARAH MENDELSON (United States) deplored human rights violations in a number of countries, including in Syria and called on the Syrian Government to stop such violations and attacks immediately.  Further, she called on other countries in conflict to guarantee humanitarian access, also urging them to better protect minorities and civil society.

MIGUEL CAMILO RUIZ BLANCO (Colombia), recalling his country’s achievements in ending its protracted conflict said peace had resulted in less displacement and greater education and development.  Further, redress had been provided to victims of the conflict and the rule of law had been strengthened.  No amnesty had been granted to perpetrators of serious crimes

Ms. SHLYCHKOVA (Russian Federation) said the disproportionate use of force by police and the issue of solitary confinement were among those that the United States had yet to address.  Those authorities had been silent amid an increase of neo-Nazi groups.  In the European Union, there had been an increase in “Waffen-SS legionnaires” and memorials to Holocaust victims had been desecrated.  The Russian Federation had seen an increase in child trafficking, sexual violence, child pornography, domestic violence and the baseless removal of children from mixed families, she said, adding that in Norway, the rights of children to freedom of belief was being violated, with Muslims being forced to eat pork and attend church.  In the United Kingdom, violence against children had increased, while in Ukraine and the Baltic States, Germany and the United Kingdom, the freedom of speech had been violated.

IBRAHIM K. M. ALMABRUK (Libya) said that despite difficult circumstances, his country was keen to protect human rights, citing its commitment to international instruments as the guiding principle.  During the transitional period, Libya had felt instability and therefore urged the Human Rights Council to provide further support to the relevant bodies, which would help Libya promote its legal frameworks, and thus, justice.  Libya had become a transit country for migrants crossing to Europe and it was making every effort to prevent illegal trafficking, supporting activities whereby migrants could be voluntarily repatriated.  But Libya could not achieve any of those objectives without international cooperation

Ms. YOTDAMNOEN (Thailand), associating herself with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said progress had been made in mainstreaming human rights at the national level, in line with international obligations.  Achievements included laws on anti-trafficking and access to justice.  She attached great importance to the follow‑up of recommendations by the Universal Periodic Review, expressing support for increased regional and international cooperation, particularly of technical nature, and capacity building.

Mr. RAFEE (United Arab Emirates), outlining measures being taken at the national level to promote human rights and tolerance, pointed to achievements in economic development and women’s empowerment.  The Government attached great importance to gender equality and had strengthened women’s political participation, including at the ministerial level.  Progress had been made in protecting children’s rights, he said, citing an increase in school enrolment.

CARLOS SERGIO SOBRAL DUARTE (Brazil), stressing that human rights were crucial for the implementation of all Sustainable Development Goals, said universal enjoyment of human rights meant that no one was left behind.  However, serious human rights violations persisted, including around gender identity, migration and privacy.  He urged updating protection of the right to privacy in collaboration with the private sector to take into account the latest technological advances.

IHAB MOUSTAFA AWAD MOUSTAFA (Egypt) said the world was witnessing an escalation of human rights violations, with huge numbers of people fleeing conflict and crossing borders.  Countries failing to protect human rights were using human rights instruments for political aims, intervening in States’ domestic affairs.  The United States, for example, had abused the use of force, not only against migrants, but against citizens of African origin.  It also had the largest number of detainees and there was racial discrimination in the criminal justice system.  He expressed deep concern at the European Union’s practices in defiance of international humanitarian law, using force against refugees in certain countries.

MAY-ELIN STENER (Norway) stressed that “conflicts and crisis can never be an excuse for ignoring human rights violations”.  Impunity must end, while efforts to address violent extremism must be in line with international legal obligations.  Freedom of expression was necessary for realizing other human rights and a prerequisite for democracy and good governance.  She expressed dismay that the situation for human rights defenders continued to be difficult and, in some places, was worsening, urging States to protect those who protected the rights of others.  Education was a fundamental human right and Norway had initiated the independent Commission on Financing Education Opportunity, which had submitted its report to the Secretary‑General this year.  Norway also had hosted the sixth World Congress against the Death Penalty in June and urged all States to take a stand against that practice.

BERNARDITO AUZA, Observer of the Holy See, expressed regret that the right to life continued to be debated rather than prioritized.  He welcomed the report by the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate living standard and reiterated his opposition to the death penalty, which he said fostered vengeance, not justice.  The report of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief had shown that the freedom of religion was being trampled on and ridiculed in many parts of the world, including by religious communities themselves.  “Religion becomes a source of discrimination when it is used and abused to define national identity and unity,” he said, calling for renewed and sustained action to protect and promote freedom of religion or belief.

NGUYEN PHUONG NGA (Viet Nam), while noting that political, economic, social and cultural rights must be treated equally, said promoting such rights at the international community required respect for States’ sovereign rights and greater mutual understanding, trust and cooperation.  At the national level, Viet Nam had done its best to preserve the environment of peace and stability, promote sustainable development and safeguard human rights.  Placing people at the centre of policies, the Government had strengthened the legal system and institutions.  However, Viet Nam suffered from the impact of drought, salinization and floods, hindering people’s right to food, health, education and adequate housing, she said, calling for international assistance.

TERRENCE TEO (Singapore) noted that a one-size-fits-all approach could not address human rights issues, adding “just as no two people are exactly alike, no two societies, communities or States are exactly alike”.  His Government’s approach had been to build a fair and inclusive society preserving social harmony, and taking a practical, not ideological, approach to realizing human rights.  At times, the Government had had to intervene for the common good, taking steps unpopular with a section of the community.  Singapore was determined to foster a multi-racial, fair and just society and was therefore tough on racial and religious extremists.  Its laws stressed that freedom of expression came with accompanying responsibilities.  Race and religion remained very sensitive matters, and now, more than ever, the Government must engage with different groups and their competing interests deeply and pragmatically.

ALANOUD QASSIM M. A. AL-TEMIMI (Qatar) said her country’s vision of human rights was underpinned by the international conventions to which it had acceded, stressing that Qatar ranked first among Arab States on the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) human development index.  Qatar recognized its challenges as opportunities rather than obstacles.  She expressed concern at tension in Palestinian territories, as the occupying Power continued to confiscate lands and deprive Palestinians of the right to practice their religion.  The Syrian people had endured atrocities for the past five years as a result of the Syrian regime’s violation of all aspects of international law, and continued policy of torture, detention and killing.

MICHAEL GRANT (Canada) said crises and “exceptional” or “unique” circumstances continued to erode the universality of human rights.  That trend often led to greater inequality, injustice, violence and death.  Impunity was a major impediment to the realization of human rights and achievement of sustainable development, he said, expressing concern about a growing lack of recognition and appreciation for diversity, as well as an increasing number of restrictions imposed on civil society.

Mr. AL-HUSSAINI (Iraq) said the Government had allowed international media to establish offices in the country, and women were permitted full rights in the political and diplomatic fields.  Iraq had also taken measures to implement the rights of the child and had acceded to two voluntary protocols.  The right to belief was assured in Iraq, and at a time when it was working to promote human rights, it was also waging war against the Da’esh terrorist group.  That war, however, did not distract from providing for all citizens, he said, thanking those who had supported Iraq’s membership of the Human Rights Council

MENELAOS MENELAOU (Cyprus), associating with the European Union, said that protecting cultural heritage was imperative in protecting human rights.  He recalled that the International Criminal Court’s decision in Prosecutor v. Al Mahdi had established the precedent of prosecuting attacks on religious sites as war crimes.  He also expressed concern about rights violations against Cypriots living under Turkish occupation, where textbooks were censored, churches and cemeteries vandalized and worshippers intimidated.  The issue of missing persons was a major concern, as more than two thirds of the 2,001 missing persons were still unidentified.  He called on Turkey to provide full access to all areas and to release information concerning deliberate removal of the remains of missing persons.

THANT SIN (Myanmar), associating himself with ASEAN, said every country had the right to choose its economic and social path, although collective effort was needed to face common challenges and seize opportunities in dealing with human rights issues.  The international community’s work to promote and protect human rights should be carried out through dialogue in a fair and equal manner with objectivity, impartiality and respect for national sovereignty.  As a nation emerging from internal strife, Myanmar believed that conflict, discrimination and injustices would only end when rule of law and justice flourished.  In that respect, the Government was reviewing outdated laws, and in September, had abolished provisions of the Ward and Village Track Administration Law, which had required citizens to report overnight guests to authorities.  The Government also had prioritized ratifying several core international human rights treaties and their protocols.

GEORGIOS POULEAS (Greece), endorsing the European Union’s position, stressed the importance of a strong multilateral human rights system that encouraged cooperation.  Greece had adopted a human rights-based approach to sustainable economic growth, prioritizing the most vulnerable people.  Greece would continue its coordinated response to the migrant/refugee crisis, he said, while emphasizing the need for burden sharing and addressing root causes.  He expressed great concern over the human rights situation in Cyprus, particularly the situation of missing persons and violations of property rights.  The widespread looting and destruction of cultural sites in the occupied part of the island was a grave concern.  Recent events had reinforced Greece’s position that full withdrawal of the Turkish occupation forces and elimination of the anachronistic system of guarantees were fundamental conditions for resolving the issue.

ZEBIB GEBREKIDAN (Eritrea) said his country had strengthened its partnership with OHCHR, and in May, signed an agreement with the United Nations to enhance its national capacity in the implementation of Universal Periodic Review commitments.  Human rights must be addressed through genuine dialogue and engagement, he said, calling country-specific mandates politicized, confrontational and counterproductive.  He voiced concern over double standards in the region and globally, noting that States which had harassed Eritrea over its human rights record had given the green light to a regime in the region to commit grave human rights violations.  Discussions on human rights could not be meaningful without addressing poverty, instability, occupation and unjustified sanctions.

ILLA MAINALI (Nepal) said her country had implemented comprehensive national policies and action plans to protect the rights of children and persons with disabilities.  A zero tolerance policy was in place for violence against women, and efforts to protect civil society and human rights defenders had been strengthened.  Further, the Government had created the Commission of Investigation on Disappeared Persons, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  Recognizing the importance of the Universal Periodic Review, Nepal had made progress in implementing its recommendations, she said, stressing the need to protect migrants’ rights.

JUN SAITO (Japan), noting that the human rights situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea had not improved, said his country and the European Union would table a draft resolution on that issue for the twelfth year.  The abduction of foreign nationals was among the most serious human rights violations of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.  The deteriorating humanitarian and human rights situation in Syria was also of deep concern, as was the situation in Yemen, amid alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws.  Japan supported United Nations efforts to mediate in that conflict and bring about peace and stability.

JEANNE D’ARC BYAJE (Rwanda) expressed concern about human rights violations that had arisen from the high number of migrants and displaced persons.  Recalling the grave human rights violations experienced during the genocide against the Tutsi, she attached great importance to the protection of all human rights.  Rwanda had made progress in realizing the right to development and providing basic social services, as well as in promoting the right to freedom of expression, with a significant increase in the number of newspapers and radio stations in the country.  The number of online media outlets had grown, she said, citing other gains made in strengthening the freedom of association of civil society organizations, human rights defenders and political parties.

Ms. IZANOVA (Kazakhstan), underscoring that the Government worked closely with the international human rights mechanisms, stressed the importance of realizing the right to freedom of expression.  Kazakhstan had implemented recommendations of the special procedures, she said, emphasizing the importance the Government attached to promoting and maintaining interreligious and interethnic peace.

MAYANK JOSHI (India) reiterated the need for mandate holders to remain independent and to focus on strengthening national capacities.  They also must represent diverse geographic areas, per Human Rights Council resolution 5/1.  Regrettably, nearly half of the thematic mandate holders came from one region, while the reliance on voluntary funding to support the Special Procedures system privileged some mandates over others and could have adverse impacts on their perceived independence.  He expressed concern that the United Nations human rights machinery had divided States and was being used as a political tool.  He welcomed the establishment of a new mandate on the right to development, which was essential for the enjoyment of all other human rights.  Special procedures also had a moral and legal obligation to strengthen national and international accountability for eliminating poverty in a time-bound manner, as there was no point in pursuing freedom from fear without achieving freedom from want.  Finally, he emphasized the impact of fair and equitable international trade, finance, investment and intellectual property on human rights, which could only be achieved if developing countries could participate in global decision making and norm setting on an equal footing with developed countries.

Mr. GHAEBI (Iran) cited rampant human rights violations by the United States, including involuntary disappearances, secret CIA detention centres, the Guantanamo centre and drone strikes.  The devastating impact of unfair migration policies also could not be overlooked, while inside the country, the justice system was plagued with systematic incarceration of a disproportionate number of minorities.  Anti-immigrant sentiment and xenophobia were prevalent in European countries, he said, expressing alarm at the lack of safeguards in asylum procedures.  Thousands of migrant children were at grave risk of sexual abuse and trafficking.

GILLIAN BIRD (Australia) said that, if elected to the Human Rights Council, her country would continue to demonstrate its strong commitment to promoting and protecting human rights.  Expressing concern about growing violence and rights violations based on a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, she said that while such matters were sensitive for many, no one should face stigmatization, discrimination or violence on any grounds.  Working with a range of partners was important to address international rights violations.  Australia had supported the application of the Youth Coalition of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights during a recent session of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations.  While it was regrettable that the matter had been brought to a vote, its passage had shown the commitment by many to increase civil society engagement in the United Nations.

IDRISS BOUASSILA (Algeria) reaffirmed the need to realize all human rights and fundamental freedoms, notably the right to development.  For those deprived of the rights to food, health and education, the invocation of civil and political rights was an empty slogan.  Noting that rights violations persisted worldwide, he said the right to development implied the full realization of the right to self-determination, including full sovereignty over all their natural wealth and resources.  Substantial progress had been made in Algeria to broaden the space for human rights through a series of economic, social and institutional reforms, including laws criminalizing violence against women and children and protecting divorced women.

CALEB OTTO (Palau) said the right to health was enshrined in a number of instruments, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  The world had committed to achieving universal health coverage through the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, yet efforts to promote mental health lagged.  In too many countries, resource allocation for mental health and psychosocial services represented a small percent of total health expenditures.  Palau challenged the international community to a global commitment toward ensuring that persons needing mental health services received them.

RWAYDA IZZELDIN HAMID ELHASSAN (Sudan) said the importance her country attached to human rights was visible in its accession to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, among other instruments.  Further, national legislation was in line with such international commitments.  For example, Sudan had established legislative and institutional frameworks to promote human rights domestically.  Military law now included a provision against recruiting children, while bodies to protect women and children in armed conflict had been created.  Foreign debt undermined efforts to ensure human rights for all.  Only human rights which enjoyed consensus could be taken into consideration, she said, and the Universal Periodic Review was the best way to understand State concerns in that regard.

MADHUKA WICKRAMARACHCHI (Sri Lanka) said the country was working to advance the transitional justice process and cited efforts to coordinate with the international human rights mechanisms in that context.  A Task Force had been set up to ensure the participation of civil society, as well as accountability and mechanisms for reparations.  Further, a Permanent and Independent Office on Missing Persons had been set up as an essential element in the truth-seeking process.  The Government was working on a Constitution that reflected the country’s diversity, he said, and had worked with the special procedures to address involuntary disappearances, ensure non-recurrence and protect minorities.

Mr. TUMBARE (Zimbabwe) said the country had made progress in promoting economic rights through various measures, including by broadening access to means of production, which allowed more citizens to participate in the mainstream economy.  Recalling that the promotion and protection of human rights was the Government’s primary duty, he reiterated his rejection of interference with State sovereignty under the veil of human rights protection.  He also stressed the importance of respecting countries’ cultures and traditions in the realization of human rights.

RI SONG CHOL (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said that “human rights mean the sovereignty and the right to independence of countries”.  However, human rights were misused to infringe on State sovereignty, notably in the campaign conducted against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea by the United States.  The July report of the Department of State and subsequent special list of sanction targets was “the most hostile act ever” committed by that country.  The United States would use economic sanctions to stifle the rights of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s overseas workers, even though those people worked in line with labour laws of his own country and those of the country concerned.  People enjoyed full rights under the warm care and love of Comrade Kim Jong Un.  The United Nations should prioritize actions of the United States vassal forces, which had plunged the Middle East into chaos under the guise of human rights and democracy.

ANA ILIĆ (Serbia) reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to cooperate with United Nations human rights mechanisms, noting that Serbia had welcomed visits by Special Rapporteurs, cooperated with treaty bodies and was fulfilling its reporting requirements.  She expressed regret that there had been no progress in the protection of the rights of ethnic communities in the Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija.  Serbia was committed to dialogue with Pristina, but was concerned that the latter was not engaging in good faith.  In Croatia, too, the Serbian minority was under more frequent attack.  She expected that Croatia would take seriously the criticism of the Council of Europe Advisory Committee opinion on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, and implement its recommendations.  For its part, Serbia would continue to advance legislation that promoted the status of its minorities, non-discrimination and human rights.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) said his country’s commitment to human rights flowed from the Constitution, which embodied the principles and provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  The legal and institutional framework in Bangladesh sought to ensure that people enjoyed their rights.  However, like many other least developed countries, Bangladesh faced challenges such as poverty, which prevented people from achieving their economic, social and cultural rights.  Government efforts, such as social safety nets, microfinance and programmes for women’s empowerment and education, had broadened the spectrum of rights to be enjoyed by all.  Citing the principles of universality, non-selectivity and impartiality, he said country-specific resolutions did not improve human rights situations in developing countries.  Rather, the Universal Periodic Review generated dialogue and cooperation.

IHOR YAREMENKO (Ukraine), recalling the aggression his country had been subjected to by the Russian Federation, expressed concern about the detention and interrogation of Ukrainian citizens and the violence and torture they had been made to suffer.  He voiced grave concern about the human rights situation in the Russian Federation, notably the expanded use of surveillance and crackdown on both civil society and the press.  He called for the immediate release of all political prisoners.

KATHRIN NESCHER (Liechtenstein), speaking also on behalf of Australia, Iceland, New Zealand and Switzerland, said the Sustainable Development Goals and indicators were linked to international human rights obligations.  She pointed out that the right to development shared a number of commonalities with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Both recognized the centrality of people in development and sought to create an enabling environment for the full realization of all human rights.  They also reaffirmed States’ responsibility to ensure equal opportunities for all citizens.  She called for realizing the right to development in all its facets, stressing that opportunities could be found in exploring the relationship between human rights and sustainable development.

KATHRIN NESCHER (Liechtenstein), speaking also on behalf of Australia, Iceland, New Zealand and Switzerland, said the Sustainable Development Goals and indicators were linked to international human rights obligations.  She pointed out that the right to development shared a number of commonalities with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Both recognized the centrality of people in development and sought to create an enabling environment for the full realization of all human rights.  They also reaffirmed States’ responsibility to ensure equal opportunities for all citizens.  She called for realizing the right to development in all its facets, stressing that opportunities could be found in exploring the relationship between human rights and sustainable development.

VILMA THOMAS (Cuba) said the United Nations must be objective in its approach to human rights.  The statement by the United States delegate was arrogant and confrontational, an approach that did not promote or protect human rights.  Cuba’s rights record, by contrast, had been exemplary.  In Cuba, unlike in the United States, the Government did not stifle protesters with teargas or execute people of colour.  Cuba did not abandon homeless people and all of its inhabitants were guaranteed medical care.  The international community must prioritize ending extreme poverty, which had been exacerbated by an unjust global order.  Reaffirming Cuba’s commitment to human rights for all, she said cooperation was needed to bring about the principles of universality and non-selectivity, and to ensure genuine dialogue among countries of the North and South.  In that regard, it was important to do away with double standards in country resolutions.

ROBERT ALEXANDER POVEDA BRITO (Venezuela) said the Government promoted respect for human rights through its legislative and legal practices.  In recent years, it had strengthened the legal order and human rights system.  This year, it would present its Universal Periodic Review, he said, noting that Venezuela had also been re-elected to the Human Right Council — a recognition of its achievements.  Eradicating poverty was a particular focus and the Government had made strides toward that goal.  It had increased school enrolment, reduced maternal mortality and combatted malaria and HIV.  He reiterated the importance of objectivity, non-selectivity and non-politicization in the protection of human rights, condemning country-specific resolutions and reports.

HABIB MIKAYILLI (Azerbaijan) focused on the detrimental effects of armed conflict on cultural heritage and the enjoyment of cultural rights.  He expressed his concern that religious and cultural heritage was often targeted during armed conflict and condemned all such intentional destruction.  The protection and preservation of cultural heritage was not only a legal obligation but also a moral one.  Expressing concern about the increased police killings of African-Americans in the United States, he urged that country to collaborate with relevant international human rights mechanisms.

NECTON D. MHURA (Malawi) said his country had a longstanding commitment to human rights, reflected in its customary laws and teachings. Recognizing the role of good governance and democracy in the realization of human rights, the Government had integrated a rights-based approach in its laws and policies.  It also had recognized the importance of nutrition and quality education in that context, he said, noting that climate change had profoundly affected the economy.  Among other efforts, Malawi had introduced a progressive disability law and addressed attacks on people living with albinism through amendments to the Anatomy Act and Penal Code.

Mr. EL KADDOURI (Morocco) said the Government was committed to promoting and protecting human rights in their universality and totality.  Morocco had undertaken far-reaching reforms as part of a gradual process to establish a culture of rights.  The country had integrated international law into its Constitution, which recognized and enshrined respect for local cultures and criminalized torture.  In 2011, Morocco had set up an inter-ministerial delegation for the coordination of public policy on human rights.  It also had carried out structural reforms and consolidated and multiplied democratic reforms.

WU HAITAO (China), stressing that cooperation must respect States’ sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, said he opposed the politicization and double standards on human rights issues, as well as interference in internal State affairs under the pretext of human rights.  Dialogue should be conducted on the basis of equality and mutual learning pursued in an open, inclusive manner.  Stressing the right to inclusive development, he said States should capitalize on the opportunity provided by implementation of the 2030 Agenda, prioritizing assistance to developing countries to eliminate poverty and realize the rights to life and development.  In addition, the international community must respect people’s choices, understanding that there was no universally applicable development pathway or human rights standard.  Respect should be given to countries’ autonomous choice of human rights protection modalities that were tailored to their national circumstances.

NADYA RIFAAT RASHEED, observer of the State of Palestine, reiterated her strong support for the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied since 1967 and called for United Nations action to hold Israel accountable and address its long record of non-cooperation.  The persistence of that situation, without consequence or remedy, had inflicted immense human suffering and undermined efforts to realize a just peace based on a two-State solution.  Given Israel’s unwillingness to investigate its violations, she called upon the international community to end the culture of impunity, which sent the message that Palestinian lives did not matter.  Seventy years had passed since the question of Palestine was placed on the agenda and it was high time for action to compel Israel to respect its international legal obligations.

Ms. ALZOUMAN (Kuwait), sharing achievements, said the Government had acceded to a number of international human rights instruments and engaged with the related mechanisms.  She deplored the rights violations perpetrated against Palestinians, in breach of international human rights and humanitarian law.  Expressing grave concern about the conflict in Syria, she said Kuwait expressed its support for Syria by hosting refugees and by holding donor conferences.

LOURDES O. YPARRAGUIRRE (Philippines) stressed the need to protect migrants’ rights and maintain the momentum generated by the adoption of the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants.  The Global Compact take a human rights-based approach to ensure safe and regular migration, as well as a long-term developmental perspective.  On the concerns expressed about alleged extrajudicial killings in connection with drug-related offenses, she said expressed the Government’s commitment to uphold the rule of law, underscoring the threat that illegal drugs posed to society.

CARLA MUCAVI, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), while recognizing achievements in reducing hunger, drew attention other food-related challenges, such as obesity and malnutrition.  The right to food was a foundation for realizing other human rights, she said, noting that discrimination against women, which restricted their access to land, had detrimental effects on food security.  For its part, FAO provided support to States to improve food systems and to ensure food security.

Right of Reply

The representative of Bahrain, responding to remarks by the United States delegate, reaffirmed her Government’s commitment to the highest standards of human rights protection and cooperation with the United Nations.  Bahrain was committed to an open democratic process that promoted a strong sense of national identity, but had put in place measures to protect the political arena from sectarianism.  Revocation of citizenship occurred in accordance with law.  No person, including those named, had been prosecuted for freedom of expression.

Turkey’s representative, responding to comments by Greece’s delegate, rejected the latter’s recollection of history as selective and one-sided.  Turkish Cypriots had been forced out of Government institutions in 1963 and Turkey had intervened in 1974 to protect Turkish Cypriots from a military coup initiated by Greece.  While supporting the Secretary-General’s efforts to reach a just settlement, he said Greece was exploiting a humanitarian issue for political purposes.  The Immovable Property Commission provided recourse to Greek Cypriots, while cultural heritage issues were addressed by a joint committee.  To the United States delegate, he said his Government had followed due process in addressing the fallout from the coup attempt, and he called for the extradition of the coup’s leadership, who were living abroad.

The representative of the Russian Federation regretted that the representative of the United States had introduced issues to the Third Committee that were not part of its mandate.  The people of Crimea had acceded to the Russian Federation by referendum.  Ukraine’s delegate would be more honest to mention the Ukrainian radicals who had carried out an economic blockade of Crimea, or the situation of the Tatars, who had been ignored by authorities throughout Ukraine’s independence.  She urged the delegates of the United States and the European Union to familiarize themselves with her Government’s position on East Aleppo.

China’s representative opposed the politically motivated and groundless allegations and attacks on the human rights situation in his country by his counterparts from the United States and the European Union, who were using human rights as a geopolitical tool, while remaining silent about their own abuses and those of their allies.  In the United States, guns were ubiquitous, police used force on ethnic minorities, race-based hate crimes continued and the Government violated citizen privacy through surveillance.  Meanwhile, in the European Union, racism against migrants was a serious concern.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, rejecting allegations by the United States and the European Union representatives, said the United States had slaughtered children and women abroad under the guise of democracy.  The same applied to the European Union, where refugees were discriminated against and exploited.  To comments by Japan’s representative, he said the issue of abducted citizens had been addressed.  Japan should address its own crimes and apologize.

Ukraine’s representative drew attention to international agreements regarding the unlawfulness of occupation.

The representative of Cyprus expressed concern about the Turkish occupation of territories in Cyprus and called on Turkey to end the occupation immediately.

Israel’s representative deplored the choices made by Palestinians, including the hosting of a terrorist organization and discrimination against women.  Palestinians should promote health and education, rather than incite hate.

Japan’s representative said the question of abducted citizens had not been resolved and called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to implement relevant agreements immediately.  Japan was a democratic Government committed to the rule of law.

An observer of Palestine, in response to comments by Israel’s delegate, dismissed claims of incitement.  The cause of violence was the occupation.  It was an outrageous claim that Palestinian children were taught to hate.  The human rights violations outlined were not a Palestinian story, but rather, recognized by the international community.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea’s delegate rejected comments by Japan’s delegate, urging Japan to apologize for its crimes against humanity and to end rights violations against Korean residents of Japan.

Japan’s delegate responded that his country had no intention of breaking the Stockholm Agreement.  It was regrettable that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had not responded to the concerns raised by the Special Rapporteur.

Israel’s representative, responding to comments by the observer of the State of Palestine, said she looked forward to reciting the findings of Palestinian non-Governmental organizations and courts on the use of children for terror.

For information media. Not an official record.