25 November 2013
General Assembly
GA/SHC/4093

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-eighth General Assembly

Third Committee

50th Meeting (AM)


Third Committee Approves Texts on Youth Policies, International Cooperation

 

On Human Rights, Protection against Enforced Disappearance

 


The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) approved three draft resolutions today, including a text on “policies and programmes involving youth”, as it entered the final week of its session.


By the terms of that text, adopted without a vote, the General Assembly would reiterate that primary responsibility for implementing the World Programme of Action for Youth lay with Member States.  It would urge Governments, in consultation with youth and youth-led organizations and other relevant stakeholders, to develop holistic and integrated youth policies based on the Programme of Action, and to evaluate them regularly as part of the follow-up action on and implementation of the Programme of Action at all levels.


However, a number of delegations expressed concerns about the description of, or lack of language on, the responsibility of youth, as well as the role of the family and reproductive health.


The representative of Belarus warned that United Nations documents could be used deliberately or inadvertently “as a smokescreen for covering up really burning issues” that must be addressed as a matter of priority.  He said he had planned to propose amendments to the draft resolution regarding the responsibility of youth and the role of family, but had decided not to do so in order to ignite a constructive discussion among Member States.


Among several delegates who said they were concerned that the text made no mention of the role of family was the observer for the Holy See, who said the creation of new generations was the responsibility of the family, not the State.


Taking up another draft resolution, the Committee approved, again without a vote, a text on “Enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights”.  By its terms, the General Assembly would recognize that, in addition to their separate responsibilities to their individual societies, States had a collective responsibility to uphold the principles of human dignity, equality and equity at the global level.


Acting once again without a vote, the Committee approved a draft titled “International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance”, by which the Assembly would call upon States that had not yet done so to consider signing, ratifying or acceding to the Convention as a matter of priority.


In other business, the representative of Cameroon introduced a draft resolution on the “Report of the Human Rights Council”.


Also speaking today were representatives of El Salvador, United States, Brazil, Bahrain, Gabon, Nigeria, Iran and Qatar.


The Committee will reconvene on Tuesday, 26 November, to take action on outstanding draft resolutions.


Background


The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this morning to hear the introduction of one draft resolution and to take action on others.


At the outset, the representative of Cameroon introduced the draft resolution “Report of the Human Rights Council” (document A/C.3/68/L.75).


Action on Drafts


The Committee took up three draft resolutions, the first titled “Policies and programmes involving youth” (document A/C.3/68/L.10.Rev.1).


The representative of Belarus expressed concern that United Nations documents could be deliberately or inadvertently used as “a smokescreen for covering up really burning issues that have to be addressed as a matter of priority”.  He said he had wished to propose an amendment relating to:  the responsibility of young people for the future of mankind; the family’s pivotal role in society; and the need to promote and foster respect for family values.  “What Governments cannot do is to change the fact that advances in the field of sexual liberation is regarded by the majority of the world’s population as being, if not vile then deeply wrong,” he said, adding that not all human desires were rights, nor did they deserve to be acknowledged as such.  There were two basic international views of family values that were in critical disagreement with each other, but Belarus appreciated the “constructive potential of our uniqueness and of the vital power of diversity”, and had decided against introducing the proposed amendment, preferring to ignite a constructive discussion among Member States, instead.


Acting without a vote, the Third Committee then approved the draft resolution.


The representative of El Salvador, speaking on behalf of a cross-regional group of countries, said he recognized the importance of sexual and reproductive rights, noting that global youth forums were increasingly discussing them with their Governments.  There was a need for information on early pregnancy, gender-based discrimination and violence, child marriage and the spread of HIV/AIDS, he added, welcoming the text’s recognition of the sexual and reproductive rights of young people as human rights.


The representative of the United States said she recognized the definition of sexual and reproductive rights adopted by the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, and noted their importance as vital factors in enabling young people to make decisions in their development towards adulthood.  She expressed concern over the text’s reference to “incitement”, saying it could be used against anti-Government speech.


The observer for the Holy See underlined the responsibility of the family, rather than the State, for creating the new generation, while expressing concern that the text did not mention the family’s role.  There was also a need to recognize the “ethics of life”, especially in relation to sexual and reproductive rights and the recourse to abortion.  The family had a right to determine its own development, including the kind of education and religion to transfer to its children.  In conclusion, he emphasized that “gender” was defined as referring only to male and female.


The representative of Brazil said she had joined the consensus but had expected to see her delegation’s ideas reflected in the text, including the need for a comprehensive understanding of young people; on creating equal opportunity for all; and on discrimination against young people.  While welcoming the recognition of youth participation, Brazil was disappointed by the lack of a permanent mechanism enabling youth delegates to engage with the United Nations.


The representative of Bahrain, speaking on behalf of the Arab countries of the Gulf, said they were trying to satisfy the aspirations of young people, in cooperation with international partners.


The representative of Gabon, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the continent’s youth made up about 60 per cent of its population and faced myriad challenges, including illiteracy, unemployment, exposure to violence, need for health care and juvenile delinquency.  In relation to the draft resolution, he said he would have preferred a more action-oriented text that paid particular attention to education, employment, hunger and poverty.


The representative of Nigeria, associating herself with the African Group, said full attainment of the Millennium Development Goals would not be possible without young people.  Quoting Nelson Mandela, she said: “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”


The representative of Iran said that the draft should have included a discussion on the family.


The representative of Qatar echoed that sentiment, expressing regret for the absence of additional language on family and its important role in guiding young people.


Taking up a text on “Enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights” (document A/C.3/68/L.37), the Committee approved it without a vote, as orally corrected.


The representative of the United States said she had joined consensus because her Government recognized the importance of international cooperation in promoting and protecting human rights.  However, the text’s description of the food crisis as “global” was inaccurate, she said, adding that her country would continue its efforts to ensure international food security.


The Committee then took up a text titled “International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance” (document A/C.3/68/L.44), approving that text without a vote.


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For information media • not an official record