|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-second General Assembly
1st & 2nd Meetings (AM & PM)
REJECTING HIGH COMMISSIONER’S RECOMMENDATION, SOCIAL COMMITTEE DECLINES
TO TAKE UP HUMAN RIGHTS REPORTS ON NEPAL, NORTHERN UGANDA
Opponents, Speaking of ‘Ambush’, Say Human Rights Council is Proper Forum;
United States , European Countries Favour Consideration by General Assembly
The General Assembly’s Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) began its work today by voting to remove two reports, on the human rights situations in Nepal and northern Uganda, from its work programme, before it launched into its debate on social development issues with a statement from Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, which drew attention to economic insecurity in global labour markets.
In what would otherwise have been a routine approval by the Committee of its organization of work for the coming weeks, Benin on behalf of the African group challenged the inclusion of two reports in the Committee’s agenda: the Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Nepal (document A/62/346) and the Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Uganda (A/62/347). Benin’s representative said such reports could only go before the Human Rights Council, while Uganda asserted that it had been the target of an “ambush” by the High Commissioner, as its Government had not yet seen the report relevant to Uganda, and that for procedural reasons it had to be removed.
An impassioned discussion ensued, led by the United States and Portugal, on behalf of the European Union, who initially asked for the matter to be suspended to allow time for consultations, then requested that deletion of the two reports be put to a vote. Several delegations argued for time to consult their national capitals, and for the opportunity for the High Commissioner to explain why she had sought to put the two reports before the committee.
By a vote of 65 in favour to 71 against, with 13 abstentions, the Committee voted not to suspend the meeting. (See annex I.) Then, by a vote of 76 in favour to 54 against, with 20 abstentions, it voted to delete both reports from its programme of work. (See annex II.)
In his first statement to the Committee since taking up his post, Mr. Sha reminded delegations of some of the key issues it would be addressing, including poverty and unemployment, and the situations of youth, older persons, women, persons with disabilities, and indigenous peoples. “Recent developments in global labour markets have created economic insecurity and inequality, adversely affecting efforts to cut extreme poverty in half by 2015,” he said. “The quantity of jobs created has failed to match the demand for employment, and the quality of employment itself has also deteriorated in many countries, especially for workers with low education and low skills.”
Mr. Sha also underlined the urgency to act to combat violence against women, telling the Committee that the Secretary-General was launching a multi-year initiative across the United Nations system to ensure a consistent and comprehensive response to the problem, especially in supporting action at the national level. Member States were urged to assign similar priority to the issue.
The Committee also heard from Johan Scholvink, Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development, who introduced a report on the emerging issue of youth employment that emphasized that job creation for youth should be seen in the broader context of reducing poverty. He also noted that the recent adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities represented a crucial opportunity to consolidate disability-related activities within the United Nations. He recalled the Secretary-General’s statement at the start of the current General Assembly session that, at the mid-way point for the Millennium Development Goals, “the rising tide of globalization has not lifted all boats”.
In the debate on social development issues, statements were made by the representatives of Pakistan (for the Group of 77 developing nations and China), Portugal (on behalf of the European Union), Saint Lucia (for the Caribbean Community, CARICOM), Botswana (for the Southern African Development Community), Cuba, the Netherlands, Sudan, Japan, Columbia and the Republic of Korea.
The Committee was to resume Tuesday at 10 a.m. to continue its general debate on social development.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to begin its general discussion on social development.
The Committee had before it the report of the Secretary-General on follow-up to the implementation of the World Summit for Social Development and of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly (A/62/122), containing an overview of the discussion held on the priority theme “Promoting full employment and decent work for all” by the Commission for Social Development. The report also highlighted the emerging issue of youth employment, and examined several key challenges for the achievement of decent work, including labour mobility and corporate social responsibility.
In its recommendations, the report said that social impact should be taken into account when devising and implementing labour market policies; stability and peace would be threatened if prospects for social development were jeopardized. Employment and poverty reduction strategies should target marginalized and vulnerable groups, such as older workers, those with disabilities, indigenous peoples and migrants. Also recommended were coherent and coordinated economic and social policies leading to decent and productive employment for youth.
Other recommendations called for a balance to be struck between idealism and practice when shaping evolving global governance, as society and sustainable development depended on responsible behaviour by all actors -– including States and companies -– to a much greater extent than that resulting from detailed legislation and complex regulations. Finally, the report suggested that migration policies be more socially responsive and inclusive; that there be a better understanding of the nexus between migration, investment patterns and consumption; that the positive contributions of migrants be recognized; and that stronger partnerships be forged between the countries that migrants come from and the ones they go to.
It also had before it a summary of the report on the World Social Situation 2007: The Employment Imperative (document A/62/168), to be presented in full later this year. Intended as a basis for discussion and policy analysis of socio-economic issues at the intergovernmental level, the report suggested that high priority be given to socio-economic stability. Only in such a context could people make choices and have the option of refusing to put up with degrading or debilitating labour. Its key findings pointed out that, in the current phase of globalization, labour markets had been evolving towards greater insecurity and greater levels of inequality. Many young people lived in poverty, and 130 million of them were illiterate. Standardized and collective contracts were giving way to individualized contracts, shifting the balance of power towards employers. Further undermining labour security was the globalization of financial markets and the emergence of a globalized labour supply.
Among its recommendations, the report said that policies and strategies to promote full employment and decent work should also address income and inequality issues. Steps towards greater equality among ethnic groups, cultures, genders and age groups were also essential, and the universality of social protection coverage was more important. Decent work for all should be put at the heart of policymaking, the report concluded.
In addition, the Committee had before it a letter dated 4 April 2007 from the Permanent Representative of Spain to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General (document A/62/71-E/2007/46), summarizing the proceedings of the Intergovernmental Conference on Middle-Income Countries, held in Madrid on 1 and 2 March 2007 and attended by more than 80 delegations, including 51 from middle-income countries.
Before the Committee was the Secretary-General’s report titled Follow-up to the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond (document A/62/61-E/2007/7), addressing the progress made and the constraints that young people faced in relation to the global economy. Possible indicators to assess the implementation of the World Programme of Action are also discussed, and recommendations to the General Assembly made.
The Committee had before it the addendum to the Secretary-General’s report on goals and targets for monitoring the progress of youth in the global economy (document A/62/61/Add.1). The addendum elaborates on goals and targets for monitoring the progress of youth in areas of globalization, poverty, hunger, education and employment. To minimize the negative impact of globalization on youth, it says, youth must have access to adequate social protection. Harnessing young people’s potential as a major force to shape the present and future of society means providing them with the information, capacities, resources and opportunities necessary to take action, the report says.
Youth are finding it difficult to enter the labour market, all around the world, and one in three is unable to find work, has given up the search, or is living on less than two dollars a day despite being in work. Youth inactivity rates are climbing, due in large part to world-wide discouragement among youth. In order to achieve the goals set by the World Programme of Action for Youth, “business as usual” will not suffice, the report says. Among other recommendations, it concludes by urging countries to learn from each other how best to achieve the proposed goals and targets through sharing good practices, while recognizing that national specificities will require adaptation of successful policies.
The Committee had before it the Secretary-General’s report on the follow-up to the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family and beyond (document A/62/132). The report addresses the issues of integrating a family perspective into policymaking. It also notes “actions and experiences” which Member States submitted concerning family issues. An Austrian ministry commissioned studies on issues like positive fatherliness, male identity and the reconciliation of family and work from a men-specific point of view, while Nigeria has embarked on a programme of material support to families headed by women, in order to enhance their earning capacity.
The report concludes by encouraging Governments to continue their efforts to integrate a family perspective into policymaking, and also to support families by developing a sustainable family-work system geared at reconciling work and family life, among other recommendations.
Also before the Committee was the Secretary-General’s report on cooperatives in social development (document A/62/154). Cooperatives are formed in order to meet the needs of their members, and the employment they generate is the product of meeting those objectives, the report says. By uniting under a cooperative enterprise, rather than operating individually, production workers and artisans increase their odds of success and improve their chances for sustainable employment. Notable worker cooperatives include the manufacture of tile-making machines in Italy and women’s dairy cooperatives in India, the report adds.
The report concludes by recommending the promotion of cooperatives as business enterprises that can contribute to sustainable employment and livelihoods in various economic sectors in urban and rural areas. The report also recommends raising public awareness about the contributions of cooperatives to socio-economic development.
The Committee had before it the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons: the Millennium Development Goals and synergies with other United Nations disability instruments (document A/62/157). The report includes an overview of the integration of disability issues in development efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. In conclusion, it recommends the General Assembly to consider promoting the harmonization and updating of language used for disability within the United Nations system, from “disabled persons” to “persons with disability,” thus placing the stress on the person rather than the disability.
Also before the Committee was a letter dated 21 September 2007 from the Permanent Representative of Qatar to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General (document A/62/357) conveying information on the efforts made by Qatar in relation to the follow-up to the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family and of the work of the Doha International Institute for Family Studies and Development.
Finally, the Committee had before it the Secretary-General’s report on follow-up to the Second World Assembly on Aging (document A/62/131 and A/62/131/Corr.1), which highlights efforts being made at the national level in light of ageing populations. It also discusses activities related to the review of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing and analyzes international cooperation vis-à-vis helping Member States to implement the Madrid plan. Several recommendations to the General Assembly conclude the report.
Statement by Chairman
RAYMOND WOLFE ( Jamaica), the Chairman of the Committee, extended a warm welcome to all delegations and others. It was indeed a great honour and privilege to assume the chairmanship, he said, thanking the Latin American and Caribbean group for having supported his candidacy. The Third Committee was an interesting, exciting yet challenging committee that dealt with issues at the heart of the United Nations Charter -– issues that were important and relevant to all Member States. Mr. Wolfe promised to serve as “chairman to all”, without selectivity or partiality. He said he and his vice chairmen were committed to the smooth functioning of the Committee. He acknowledged the Secretary of the Committee and the other Secretariat members working for the Committee, including conference officers, interpreters, sound engineers, security staff “and others who work behind the scenes”. There was much work to be done, the Chairman said, adding that, as he had stated at the organizational briefing, it was his intention to be as prompt as possible. He concluded by wishing everyone an “exciting, fruitful and memorable” session.
Adoption of Organization of Work
The Chairman informed the Committee that the number of agenda items had changed, and that a new sub-item entitled Celebration of the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights had been added to the Committee’s programme. He also advised that allocation of General Assembly item 65, entitled Report of the Human Rights Council, was still under consideration by the General Committee of the Assembly.
He stressed the importance of punctuality and respect of deadlines; given the heavy workload, meetings would begin at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. sharp. In the past three years the utilization rate factor of time allocated to the Third Committee had fallen below the 80 percent benchmark set by the General Assembly; all delegations were called upon to redress that unfortunate situation.
The Committee then extended invitations to Special Rapporteurs and Independent Experts to address the Committee, including: Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, Independent Expert directing the Secretary-General’s in-depth study on violence against children and Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar; Rodolfo Stavenhagen, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people; John Dugard, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967; Paul Hunt, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; Bernard S. Andrew Nyamwaya Mudho, Independent Expert on the effects of economic reform policies and foreign debt on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights; Jean Ziegler, Special Rapporteur on the right to food; Hina Jilani, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders; Leandro Despouy, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers; and Yakin Erturk, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences.
Also invited were Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Asma Jahangir, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion of belief; Jorge A. Bustamante, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants; Vitit Muntarbhom, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; Akich Okola, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Burundi; Titinga Frédéric Pacéré, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo; and Manfred Nowak, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Invitations were also extended to: Walter Kälin, Representative of the Secretary-General on the human rights of displaced persons; Martin Scheinin, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism; Sima Samar, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Sudan; Arjun Sengupta, Chairperson-Rapporteur, Working Group on the right to development; Doudou Diėne, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; and José Gomez del Prado, Chairperson of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination.
The representative of Benin, speaking for the African group, recalled that last year a report on the human rights situation in Nepal had been put before the Committee, together with matters of procedure regarding the Human Rights Council. This year, two other human rights reports were foreseen, dealing with Nepal and northern Uganda. While the Secretary-General, in putting forward these reports, was acting within his prerogative under the Charter, he was also encroaching on the terms of reference of the Human Rights Council, which was the only organ through which country reports could be submitted. Yesterday it was Nepal; today Nepal and the north of Uganda; tomorrow it could be Nepal, the north of Uganda and perhaps somewhere else. That was the concern of the African group that requested that these two reports this year not be included on the list of documents being put before the Committee.
The representative of Cuba first expressed the wish that the Committee allow itself the latitude to hold additional meetings if needed, to allow flexibility for all delegates to speak. Regarding the reports on Nepal and northern Uganda, he said his delegation had serious doubts as to the need for the Committee to take decisions on them. Usually such reports had been considered on the basis of an intergovernmental decision. If that were not the case, then the Committee should take no decision on the reports.
The representative of Uganda fully aligned himself with the statement by Benin. It was unfortunate and unusual for the Committee to begin its work in such a manner, and it had been surprising that the report of the High Commissioner on northern Uganda had been included in the Committee’s work. What the High Commissioner had done was to “spring an ambush” that had no grounding in the procedures of the General Assembly. She had no right to ambush without informing concerned Member States. It could only be hoped that there was no hidden agenda. The reason for setting up the Human Rights Council had been to avoid politicization of human rights issues. In the case of Uganda the matter was even more disturbing, as talks had been under way in Juba to end a conflict with the Lord’s Resistance Army and the situation in northern Uganda was returning to normal with people returning to their homes. Uganda quested the motive behind bringing the situation in northern Uganda to the attention of the Committee; it was more surprising in that Uganda had cooperated with the Office of the High Commissioner. It did not matter that the report was positive or negative; the issue was one of procedures. It was asked that the report be thrown out of the work of the Committee.
The representative of Portugal expressed surprise at the interpretation that any report could be considered only through the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and expressed a principled position of support for the work of the High Commissioner of Human Rights. Portugal then requested if the Secretariat could indicate whether there was a mandate by the High Commissioner to present this report, and if they had been regularly submitted on previous occasions.
The representative of Pakistan said that the mandate was to assist Member States, not lead them as to what required attention. Pakistan supported Benin and Uganda in seeking to delete the items, as they were not “desirable” to include in the work of the Committee.
The representative of Nepal said they fully supported the statement made by Benin on behalf of the African Union, and said both reports should be discussed in the Human Rights Council rather than in the General Assembly. As both were of a similar matter, both should be treated in a similar manner.
The representative of the United States said it disagreed with the previous speakers, and said it was appropriate for the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) to receive reports from the High Commissioner for Human Rights, if she believed there was a situation which needed to be brought to world attention in a universal body with universal membership. The United States expressed a wish to use the Committee for universal oversight of the human rights situation around the world, and was not in favour of bypassing these two reports.
The Secretary of the Committee, responding, said that the fact that the Secretariat had decided to put the documents of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Nepal and on northern Uganda on the list submitted reflected the considered view of the Secretariat that the Committee had a mandate to submit reports even if the reports were not subject to a specific mandate based on resolution 48/141/par.4b. The Secretariat concluded that the High Commissioner for Human Rights had the necessary authority to submit those two reports to this Committee.
The representative of Uganda said that his country was not shying away from discussing human rights, but it was insisting on proper procedure. If anyone had been sensitive to what had been happening in northern Uganda, he would be fully in support of what had been going on in Juba. It would be wrong to undermine the atmosphere there. The High Commissioner had no right to bring up the matter in the manner in which it had been done. Uganda would not accept that the report on northern Uganda be put before the Committee unless it were decided by a vote.
The representative of Benin said he understood the prerogative of the Secretary-General to bring urgent issues to the attention of the international community. But what was the added value of having these reports before the Committee, and what was their added value if those reports did not follow the procedure of the Human Rights Council? It was extremely dangerous and it was requested that these two reports not be presented to the Committee.
The representative of Cuba said the debate had left him very dissatisfied. It was not the usual thing. Usually the Committee worked on the basis of information and documentation that had previously been decided intergovernmentally. It might have been that, at some point, the Committee had taken a decision to consider a report not previously approved for consultation intergovernmentally. This time it was clear that a large number of delegations were not willing to consider these reports, as they had been submitted in an unusual manner. Citing the resolution that set out the mandate of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the representative said it clearly established that all activities undertaken by the High Commissioner be guided by the decisions of intergovernmental bodies. What Uganda and others had said was very valid.
The representative of the Sudan said the Secretariat had been irresponsible in presenting documents to the Committee and telling it to accept them. That was unacceptable.
The representative of Portugal thanked the Secretariat for the explanation that had been provided. She suggested that a decision on including the two reports on the Committee’s agenda should be deferred to allow more time for consultations through the Bureau and the different groups.
The representative of Benin said the African group was not in favour of deferment. It wanted the deletion of the two reports from the Committee’s work programme.
The Chairman then said that Benin, on behalf of the African group, supported by other delegations, had proposed the deletion of documents A/62/346 and A/62/347, being reports by the High Commissioner on Human Rights on the situations in Nepal and northern Uganda respectively.
The representative of the United States said her delegation was not in favour of deletion at this point, and supported European Union suggestions as they would give time to deliberate on the matter and to get instructions so that the idea could be attacked “a little more advisedly”.
The representative of Canada supported Portugal’s request. Further consideration needed to be given to such a complicated matter.
The representative of Norway also supported Portugal’s proposal.
The representative of the Russian Federation said a compromise ought to have been worked out with the delegations that were directly involved. The Committee had to take its decisions efficiently if it wanted to complete its work by 21 November.
The representative of Benin then asked for a suspension for Portugal’s proposal to be discussed by the African Group.
The Chairman announced a five-minute suspension.
When the Committee resumed after the five-minute recess, Benin ’s representative said the group had decided to maintain its position to request the removal of these two reports -- A/62/346 and A/62/347.
The Secretary asked for Portugal’s clarification on their position.
The representative of Portugal responded that they had had the opportunity to consult with the European Union, and that they still needed some time before taking action. Since the proposition was a new one, Portugal would like to request that the Committee not take action now.
The representative of Switzerland joined the European Union in saying that it was too early to take action, and said it would be a good thing to follow Portugal in referring to the Bureau, as this was its role.
The Secretary then asked if Portugal was referring to rule 120, then cited the rule, asking if it was Portugal’s intention to invoke that rule or not. If her intention was to move under rule 120, the Committee ought to take immediate action on that motion, he said.
Clarifying, the representative of Portugal said their intention was to invoke rule 120, to stress that this was a new proposal, and that the Committee needed twenty-four hours to consider it.
The representative of Cuba then took the floor to emphasize that the proposed procedure was registered on 4 October, and that delegations had had sufficient time to consider their actions.
The representative of Portugal took the floor again to say that the proposal of Benin on behalf of the African Union that the two reports not be included in the list of documents being put before the Committee, had not been known to delegates in advance.
The Secretary said that he had discerned that there was no agreement as to what has been proposed by Portugal. He then asked if he could take it that the Committee wished to delete references to A/62/346 and A/62/347.
Again attempting to clarify, the representative of Portugal quoted rule 120. She said that they were faced that morning with a request on behalf of the African Union to exclude two reports from the High Commissioner on Human Rights. She said that on behalf of the European Union, Portugal was not prepared to take a vote on this action. They wanted twenty-four hours to consider. Wanting the substantive views of the Secretariat, Portugal also wanted to hear the reasons of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for presenting these reports.
The representative of Switzerland spoke again to support once more the move by Portugal to be given twenty-four hours to take action on the issue.
The representative of the Republic of Korea said that after carefully listening, his delegation was not in a position to make a decision right away, and needed to consult.
The representative of Japan said the seriousness of the issue before the Committee made the delegation wish to have some time to reflect on the issue and ask for instructions. They would also like to hear the reasoning of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The representative of Uganda said Portugal was selectively quoting rule 120, and asked that the Committee move forward with action through a motion, rather than deferring the matter.
The Secretary said the Committee would have to make a clear decision, one way or another.
The representative of Liechtenstein said the word “ambush” had been used, and although they did not like that word, Liechtenstein’s delegation felt ambushed by today’s proposal, that would change the rules that his Committee had adopted last year, when taking a decision on a report by the High Commissioner on Nepal. Now, the Committee was asked to change precedent, and Liechtenstein was not in a position to take action now. As Switzerland had proposed, the Bureau should try to find out why the Committee came to last year’s solution.
The representative of Mexico said that his delegation was not in a position to take a decision on the matter today, and agreed with Portugal in seeking further information from the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights as to the rationale for submitting those two reports to the General Assembly. Mexico wanted to make a well-informed decision on what was a delicate issue.
The representative of San Marino said they joined the proposition of the European Union, and the proposal by Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
The representative of Uruguay also requested more time to take a decision on the matter, as the proposition was an important one, and his delegation would like to consult with its capital.
The representative of the United States said it was questionable whether the Committee wished to delete the two items. It was not the consensus of the Committee to delete them, so more time was needed to sort the matter out.
The representative of Norway said his delegation agreed with the conclusion that there was no agreement on Benin’s proposal to delete the reports; extra time was needed to allow consultation with capitals.
Stating that this was clearly a complex and difficult issue, the representative of Canada said Benin’s proposal meant the Committee reversing precedent. The views of OHCHR, and of delegations’ capitals and the bureau were needed. Canada strongly supported the request for deferral.
The representative of Nepal said they did not object to this process last year, and the issues were allowed to come into the General Assembly. Just because it was precedent did not mean it needed to be kept and Nepal supported the suggestion of Benin.
The representative of Syria supported the African Union’s proposal, saying it would be wrong to undermine the work of the Human Rights Council so early. Every delegation had had its instructions, so the Committee should proceed.
The representative of Chile said that the issue should be considered carefully. It would be good to have the information of OHCHR whose mandate Chile had supported. Chile wanted more time to resolve the issue.
The representative of Benin then said discussion on the item must be concluded, and called on the Secretary to take action quickly, according to what he had decided.
The Secretary said that having heard all the points of view expressing positions on Benin’s proposal supported by Uganda and others on the removal of the reports A/62/346 and A/62/347 the Committee should move to a decision.
The representative of the United States asked for a suspension of the debate so that delegations could carry out consultations and get instructions from their capitals. The chairman invited two delegations to speak in favour of that motion, two to speak against, with a vote to follow.
The representative of Portugal spoke in favour of the motion, but was interrupted by the Chairman, who asked the Secretary to speak. The Secretary explained that under Part 118 of the Rules of Procedure, there was no need to give the floor to two delegations, and that the Committee could immediately proceed to a vote.
The representative of the Sudan said that what was happening was “very confusing”. There had to be a clear understanding of the Rules of Procedure. It would be better to give the floor to the Secretary to make clear how delegations will proceed.
The Secretary said he had contributed to confusion. The United States had ruled under Section 118 of the Rules of Procedure for the meeting to be suspended. The Committee was thus invited to vote on a motion to suspend the meeting.
The motion was rejected by a vote of 71 against to 65 in favour, with 13 abstentions. (See annex I.)
The representative of the United States, explaining that her delegation was not in favour of deleting the two documents, said it would call for a vote on the motion to delete.
The representative of Portugal supported this request. The European Union had been requesting more time to consider the issue, as Benin’s proposal had only just been presented to the Committee today, and it would have been important to hear the views of OHCHR vis-à-vis the reasons for putting the reports before the Committee. The proposal of Benin would also be a disturbing reversal of the precedent set last year, with the inability to consult and to get instructions from national capitals. The European Union would vote against deletion of the two reports.
The representative of France, adding to the statement by Portugal on behalf of the European Union, expressed disappointment at what had been happening. Every country or group was free to propose the deletion of documents. More than two hours had been spent discussing the matter, but it was unknown why the reports had been put before the Committee. A principle that all delegations should respect was that, if a proposal were put forth, a request for time to consider that proposal should be respected.
The representative of Germany called for a spirit of fairness.
Every delegation should have a chance to consult their national capital on important issues, and the authors of reports should be given a fair chance to explain themselves. Germany would vote against.
The representative of Cuba said there was no mandate for the two reports to be put to the Committee. Cuba would vote in favour of the African Group’s proposal.
The representative of Liechtenstein, remarking on the small size of his delegation, said that with no time to get instructions, it felt forced to vote against deletion of the two reports. Had there been time to discuss the matter, it might have taken a different position.
The representative of the Netherlands said the Committee was facing a very difficult issue. It was legitimate for some delegations to raise their concerns; it was also legitimate for others to express concerns about moving to a vote immediately. There needed to be consultation with capitals and it also would have been good to have consulted OHCHR. The way the procedure was evolving was very disturbing. The Netherlands would be forced to vote against deletion.
The representative of New Zealand voiced disappointment that the Committee was moving to a vote; his was a small delegation, it could not consult with other delegations or hear reasons given by OHCHR. His country would vote against, though had it had the time, it might have voted otherwise.
The representative of the Republic of Korea recalled her explanation of why more time was needed. All delegations should have been informed well in advance before being asked to make substantial decisions. Her country would be forced to vote against.
The representative of Canada said it was disappointing that a vote was being forced without getting the views of OHCHR beforehand. It was also difficult for her to consult with her national capital, as it was Thanksgiving Day in Canada and there was no one there to consult with. Canada would be forced to vote against.
The representative of Japan expressed disappointment. Listening to reasons from the OHCHR was crucial. If a vote was taking place today, Japan would be forced to keep to its previously expressed position. Moreover, it was also a holiday in Japan.
The representative of the United Kingdom joined colleagues in expressing disappointment that, so early in proceedings, a vote had been called. Her delegation had actually quite enjoyed the last two hours of discussion, and found the arguments compelling; it would have been good to have conveyed those arguments to national capitals. The United Kingdom would vote against.
The representative of Italy said the request to delete had been legitimate, and so was the matter of what documents go before decision. It would have been important to hear the views of OHCHR. The representative also felt the need to consult with his capital. If a vote were held today, Italy would vote against.
The representative of Gabon, rising on a point of order, said the positions were clear and known. The United States had requested a vote and therefore, to save time, the Committee should proceed to a vote.
The representative of Hungary said his was a small delegation and it would like to have consulted with its capital on such an important matter. With more time, moreover, a compromise could have been reached. With no other option, Hungary would vote against.
The representative of San Marino, “a very, very small delegation”, would have at least liked to have consulted the ambassador at the United Nations, let alone its capital, and the cellphone did not work in the conference room. It would vote against.
The representative of Mexico expressed disappointed not to have had more time to speak on such a matter of substance. The OHCHR had been created by a mandate of the General Assembly; it was not subordinate to the Human Rights Council. It would have been preferable to have had it address the Committee. As it seemed that a forced vote would be held, Mexico would vote against.
The representative of Ireland said OHCHR had a clear mandate to bring the information contained in the two reports before the Committee. The rationale for bringing the reports before the Committee should have been heard. Ireland regretted that the matter had been brought to a vote at its first meeting. More time would have been appreciated. It would be forced to oppose the motion.
The representative of the Russian Federation said that all organs of the United Nations should abide strictly by their mandates. As Nepal had explained, a similar report had been presented last year in different circumstances that did not create a precedent. If there were a desire to receive more info on the issue, that was legitimate. No less legitimate was the need to resolve that issue and for the Committee to move on with its work. His delegation regretted having to vote on this; it believed that eliminating the two reports could have been done without a vote.
The representative of Latvia deeply regretted that on the first day of its deliberations, the Committee would hold a vote. Latvia felt compelled to vote against; it would have liked more time to examine the matter and hear explanations. It did not think that OHCHR would carelessly submit reports without considering the legality of doing so.
The representative of Switzerland said it would have been preferable to have had a discussion within the Bureau, which would have in turn reported to the Committee and proposed a solution. Switzerland would have liked to have had a vote deferred for 24 hours. It would vote against. The High Commissioner had a right to inform the Committee of her actions on the ground in any place. That the Committee was starting its work in such a way did not favour a genial ambience.
The representative of Syria said the High Commissioner had no mandate to submit such reports. Syria would vote in favour of deletion.
The representative of Belgium regretted that the High Commissioner could not express her views on the matter. Had she been able to, Belgium could have perhaps supported Benin’s proposals. Like Switzerland, Belgium would have liked the issue to have been dealt with within the Bureau.
The representative of Slovenia said that what had happened was a total surprise that disappointed his delegation. Considering the time difference between New York and Europe, there was no time to consult Slovenia’s capital. It was not the way that business had been conducted. Slovenia would vote against.
The representative of Slovakia deeply regretted how the Committee had been working. Already his delegation had missed the earlier vote. Had it voted, it would have been in favour of suspension. More time was needed to consider such an important decision.
The representative of Spain joined others in regretting the way in which the Committee had started its work. It would vote against.
The representative of the United States said she profoundly regretted the working methods that were being established. It was not understood why there had to be such a rush to precipitous action. It was already well past 1:00 p.m. when the interpreters would have gone to lunch and delegations to consultations. There seemed to be a “steamroller movement” to vote, even though many delegations had spoken in favour of more time and consultations. When it was time for explanations prior to voting, she would have more to say. There was no reason why the Committee had to move so quickly in its first morning session. Why could this vote not happen in the afternoon session? Many delegations still wanted to speak. If a vote were held, the United States would vote against, and reserve the right to make an explanation of vote. This was an issue that went to the heart of the purpose of the Committee, to oversee human rights matters.
The representative of Bosnia said its delegates had a right to consult their capital. Bosnia supported Liechtenstein and was forced to vote against the motion.
The representative of Lithuania said his delegation, in case of a vote, would be against this motion.
The Czech Republic said the Chairman might need their wishes of good luck with this Committee. Expressing deep regret at the unnecessary rush, he said the delegation could not see any damage in waiting a day or two, and that the informal search for a compromise was essential to the Third Committee’s work. The Czech Republic wanted to hear the OHCHR’s information, and as the Czech Republic’s was a small delegation, they could not get in touch with the capital, and if forced to vote, would vote against the African group.
The representative of Bulgaria said deleting the two reports from his Committee’s agenda without sufficient time to consult or listen to the arguments of OHCHR seemed a very disturbing thought for the Third Committee. Bulgaria would be compelled to vote against the proposition.
The representative of Austria said they failed to understand the time pressure, and that since there was a precedent from last year, they wanted time to seek views from the capital, but could not. Austria wanted to hear more from OHCHR, and had to vote against the measure.
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia said they were unsure whether to offer their congratulations or their remorse today, and fully agreed with Portugal stating that his delegation would have to vote against the proposition, even if, given more time, they might have voted differently.
The representative of Sweden expressed regret that this Committee’s first day had resulted in this long process of discussions, and there was no possibility for consultations on the issue. Furthermore, Sweden had no cellphone connection (and so couldn’t call their capital). Sweden stood beside Portugal, and would be forced to vote against the deletion.
The representative of Romania regretted that they had no possibility to consult their capital, and if a vote was forced, the delegation would vote against the African proposition.
The representative of Albania said they too had no mobile connection, and could not consult their capital on a serious matter which they needed time to consider. They were therefore forced to vote against this proposal.
The representative of Estonia said that he hoped the Chairman would not have many days like this, and that the issue was sensitive and important. Estonia wanted to reach an informed and rational and consensual decision, but with no chance to do so, was forced to vote against.
The representative of Denmark said they would defer congratulating the Chairman until next time. Denmark could not accept pushing through in this manner, and would have to vote against the proposal.
The representative of Uruguay said its delegation found itself in an extremely difficult situation, waiting with her cellphone for instructions. Requesting a pause, she took a call, explaining that it might be the instructions she was waiting for.
The Chairman then said that Uruguay’s was the last statement, and the Committee would now move to a vote.
Noting the time, the Committee Secretary said that since it was 1:30 p.m., translation services would shortly end. It was in the rules that the voting process should not be interrupted, but that the Committee nevertheless would be compelled to interrupt and infringe on procedure. He then explained the practice of the Committee in delegations’ rights to make statements as relating to votes.
The Committee then voted on the proposal, put forth by the delegation of Benin on behalf of the African Group, for the reports on human rights in Nepal and Uganda to be deleted from the Committee’s programme. The recorded vote was 76 in favour to 54 against, with 20 abstentions. (See annex II.) (For technical reasons, Gabon and Liberia registered oral votes in favour; Liberia was told by the Secretary that under the Rules of Procedure, it was not entitled to vote.)
When the Committee resumed this afternoon, the Chairman gave the floor to any delegation which might want to make a statement on the vote.
Explanations of votes
The representative of Turkey said it was very unfortunate that the Committee had started its session by voting. Its delegation wanted more time to consider the two reports, and more time to study the resolution, as well as more time to consult its capital. Accordingly, Turkey abstained from voting.
The representative of Mexicosaid it was regrettable to have had to decide so hastily on this initiative. They would have liked an explanation from OHCHR. This Committee’s work was too important for hasty decisions. There was a need to review the procedure by which these reports were submitted. He was sure the Chairman would do everything to avoid another situation like that one.
The representative of Jordan said they abstained today on the understanding that a very important issue must not be decided as it was today. Its delegation needed to talk with the capital, and expressed a wish to add their explanation to their official vote.
The representative of the United States said the hasty manner in which the decision had been taken in the morning meeting was disappointing. The United States had voted against deletion. He noted that General Assembly Resolution 48/141 had reaffirmed the need for ongoing adaptation of United Nations human rights machinery to defend and promote human rights. The OHCHR should be allowed, even encouraged, to bring any human rights issue before the Committee. Moreover, the Governments of Uganda and Nepal had signed memoranda of understanding with the OHCHR under which these reports had been drafted. Moreover, as the Committee that dealt with human rights issues, it was more than a little troubling that the Committee would consider deleting two such agenda items, particularly without having allowed delegations the opportunity to consult with capitals.
The representative of Brazil, explaining its abstention, said the proposal to consider the two reports had been received with surprise. It would have been preferable to have had more time for debate, as important institutional issues were at stake.
The representative of Uganda said the vote in favour of deletion had not been a victory for her country, but a victory for respect for procedure. Uganda had been ambushed by the High Commissioner, who had not had the courtesy to show her report to her country. It was to be hoped that she would respect procedure. Uganda subscribed to observance of human rights, under its Constitution and under international human rights instruments.
The representative of France said he failed to understand why the Committee should decide not to consider reports from the outset. Delegations and committees were free to decide on such reports. It could not be taken seriously when some delegations referred to sanctions or the peace process in Uganda vis-à-vis the inclusion of the reports in the Committee’s work. Moreover, why did past practice have to be changed without justification? An irrational decision had been taken. France had voted against deletion, and the decision did not auger well for the Committee’s work. France was ready to immediately forget what had unfolded in the morning, and it hoped that others would as well.
The representative of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia said that if the day could be judged by the morning, this morning was not very encouraging. Matters should not be forced, he said. The delegation of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia wanted more time to consult with its capital. Having no instructions, they were compelled to vote against the motion, he said. His delegation “sure hopes it will not continue like that,” he concluded.
The representative of Benin said most delegations this morning who seemed to say they needed more time did vote against it, without waiting for instruction from their capitals. Respect for procedure was important for the African countries. Referring to the Human Rights Council, he said every time procedure was not respected, the African group would oppose that.
The representative of St. Vincent and the Grenadines said it was unfortunate that it came to a vote in the morning, but it was Saint Vincent’s desire that human rights issues were aired. However, that desire could not be allowed to derail this Committee’s work. The morning’s discussion was not a substantive matter, but was jurisdictional. It went to OHCHR’s ability to co-opt the agenda of this Committee by imposing reports on it. Paragraph 4 spoke of being subject to the discretion of the Secretary-General to carry out assigned tasks, he said. An action beyond the resolution and a looming vote made St. Vincent’s only “fair choice” a vote in favour, to avoid Member States being “ambushed by sudden additions”.
The representative of Qatar said his delegation understood the African group’s position, as well as the important role undertaken by OHCHR. His delegation could have voted in favour, but did not have time to consult with its capital, and therefore decided to abstain from voting.
SHA ZUKANG, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said the work of the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) in promoting development and human rights was a crucial pillar to support the other work of the United Nations in peace and security.
Among other key issues the Committee would address were the challenge of poverty and unemployment and the situations of women and youth, older persons, indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities.
Recent developments in global labour markets had created economic insecurity, he said, and adversely affected efforts to cut extreme poverty in half by 2015. Youth had to be integrated into the global economy, as the problem of youth unemployment was becoming acute with youth making up half of the world’s total unemployed, although they formed only one quarter of the total working-age population. Youth faced other challenges as well: Young women in countries severely affected by HIV/AIDS bore a heavy burden of care for their households.
Older persons such as himself also faced new obstacles in today’s globalized world, he said. Healthy ageing and the ability of older persons to participate in the labour force contributed to the welfare and development of societies. Mechanisms were needed to prevent age discrimination in labour markets.
He said violence against women was a serious impediment to gender equality, social inclusion and development, as well as being a serious violation of women’s human rights. This crucial issue had the Secretary-General’s attention, and he was launching a United Nations system-wide, multi-year initiative to ensure a consistent and comprehensive response, supporting national-level action in particular. He added that the Department of Economic and Social Affairs –- an institutional milestone in the work of the United Nations for the advancement of women -– would be transferred to OHCHR in Geneva, where it would join the six human rights treaty bodies already based there.
On issues concerning persons with disabilities, he said the adoption at the Assembly’s previous session of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was a “major achievement” that responded to the needs of the world’s 650 million persons with disabilities. Of those, 80 per cent lived in developing nations, he said, where they experienced denigration and discrimination. The Convention was a human rights tool with a clear social development dimension.
With the General Assembly’s adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a “historic point” had been reached in United Nations efforts to address the rights of indigenous peoples.
He hoped that the work of the current session would move decisively to implementation and action at every level -— national, regional and global.
JOHAN SCHOLVINK, Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development, drew the Committee’s attention to agenda item 62(a) entitled “Social development: implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly”.
He said the report highlighted the emerging issue of youth employment and examined labour mobility and corporate social responsibility. It emphasized that employment creation for youth should be seen in the broader context of reducing poverty and contributing to social integration, adding that socially responsive and inclusive migration policies were crucial. Also, companies should go beyond financial philanthropy to solve social problems. Commenting on the report “Follow-up to the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and beyond”, he noted that the report proposed indicators for measuring youth development.
Commenting on the recent adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, he said it represented a crucial opportunity to consolidate disability-related activities within the United Nations. With one comprehensive, issue-based report on disability and development, rather than the current instrument-based reporting system, streamlining the reporting mechanism may be possible. Observing that the United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability was functioning under a mandate from 1981, he said the mandate should be updated. The General Assembly should make integration of disability a fundamental principle of existing and future development assistance programmes.
He said the Secretary-General’s report on the follow-up to the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family contained first-hand information received by the United Nations Secretariat from 25 Member States on their recent actions taken and experiences gained.
Addressing the subject of cooperatives, he said that as economic and social enterprises, cooperatives helped create employment in many areas worldwide through their self-help enterprises and their commitment to members and their communities. On ageing, he said that many more countries had instituted coordinating mechanisms in the form of Government-appointed focal points and commissions. In a positive move, he noted, many of these coordinating and oversight bodies included civil society, academia and older persons themselves.
In conclusion, he quoted the Secretary-General’s opening remarks at the beginning of the current session of the General Assembly: “This year marks the midpoint for our Millennium Development Goals. We have had successes… yet the rising tide of globalization has not lifted all boats.”
During the ensuing question-and-answer session, the representative of the Philippines expressed concern about the United Nations disability programme; it appeared that there had been a suggestion to contract its mandate. The Philippines did not agree with streamlining the work of the Secretariat vis-à-vis disabilities, with an explicit focus on the Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities. He said previous instruments were equally important and relevant. The representative also suggested a review of the mandate that created the United Nations Voluntary Disability Fund, as it needed to be strengthened.
The representative of the Sudan said it was very important to address the issue of debt cancellation, which was an obstacle for States in tackling poverty and promoting employment.
The representative of China said he shared concerns of the delegate of the Philippines. The three main disability instruments had to be more complementary, but they each had its own different emphasis. A holistic and comprehensive role was important. In addition, the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on disability needed to be reviewed.
The representative of Cuba said most recommendations had focused more on national efforts on social development. Were there not other, international elements -- including the work of international financial institutions -- that could play an important role in social development in developing countries?
Responding to the questions, Mr. SCHÖLVINCK said the report contained only proposals, not final answers. Re-naming the Secretariat that oversaw the Convention did not take away its prior activities. Regarding the trust fund, a new mandate was not sought, but it would be better if the mandate were strengthened to better address the implementation of the Convention. On the points raised by Cuba, international cooperation will be required to help them comply with the Convention, and it followed that international financial institutions would be involved. On debt cancellation, that was more an issue addressed by the Second Committee, and it might be better in that regard for the work of the Second and Third Committees to be better integrated.
FARUKH AMIL (Pakistan), speaking for the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said employment had a central role in promoting prosperity, poverty eradication, social inclusion and enhanced stability, peace and social harmony. Everyone had the right to employment, and there had been no greater challenge to humanity, nor greater threat to world peace, than the failure to realize the United Nations Charter’s vision of promoting better standards of life and larger freedoms. Stability and prosperity could not be sustained while poverty afflicted so many, he said. Youth employment was particularly vital for social development.
Unless the benefits of social and economic development were extended to all countries in an equitable manner, he said, a growing number of people in many countries and entire regions would remain marginalized from the benefits of globalization. Developing countries would continue to be marginalized in international economic decision-making if negative trends continued. He recommended the implementation of specific measures to incorporate the informal sector in social protection programmes. In conclusion, he reiterated the principles that the Group of 77 and China wished to highlight in order to promote full employment and decent work for all: the global partnership for development set out in the Millennium Development Goals, and labour mobility that raised global incomes.
MARIA VIRGINIA BRAS GOMES, (Portugal), speaking on behalf of the European Union, restated the Union’s commitment to the full and effective implementation of the goals set out in the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action, as well as to the spirit of the Millennium Declaration as a basis for the time-bound Millennium Development Goals. In spite of some positive developments, she said, the key goals of poverty eradication, full employment, decent work and social integration remained major challenges for the development of stable, safe and just societies, based on the promotion and protection of human rights and the participation of all, including women and men as well as the disadvantaged and marginalized persons and groups.
She said States needed to move away from a needs-based approach to combat poverty to a rights-based approach to social inclusion in order to overcome the lack of policy articulation and coordination that allowed individuals and families to fall through the cracks of sectoral policies. In order to overcome those challenges, policies had to be based on the comprehensive and integrated approach of social development, as laid out in the Copenhagen documents.
There was the need to focus on the goals of full and productive employment and decent work. The European Employment Strategy had been launched 10 years ago and, since then, there had been significant developments in employment and social protection, as well as in policies and instruments at the European level. Most recently, those had been associated with developments in the context of the reformed agenda of the Lisbon Strategy, seen through the delivery of stronger, lasting growth and the creation of more and better jobs. The responsiveness of European labour markets to the challenges of globalization and ageing remained critical issues. Though an increasing number of Member States were opening up their labour markets to citizens of new Member States, labour market integration of legal migrants needed to become a more explicit dimension of employment policies.
The European Union was committed to the review of the implementation of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing. It would continue to contribute to further initiatives in mainstreaming the issues of ageing in national and regional policies, as well as to the changes of public awareness concerning the potentials of older persons to the advantage of the economy and of society as a whole.
MICHELLE JOSEPH (St. Lucia), speaking for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said the Community concurred with the relevant recommendations contained in the Report of the Secretary-General on Follow-up to the Implementation of the World Summit for Social Development endorsed recommendations on the importance of equal opportunities for employment and on the critical linkage between youth employment and the promotion of poverty reduction, social integration and intergenerational solidarity.
She said CARICOM took special note of the conclusion that labour mobility was an indispensable feature of the world economy. Within the Caribbean Single Market and Economy, CARICOM had created the provision for free movement of labour in order to facilitate the further economic integration of the region, and had recognized the importance of maintaining and further enhancing relations with the diaspora, whose skills, remittances and investments contributed to the development process of the region.
She added that the focus areas of globalization, poverty and hunger, education, and employment, as identified in the World Programme of Action for Youth, served as an important framework for Member States in the acceleration of the youth development agenda. The Caribbean Community had always recognized youth as a valued and equal partner in the development and integration processes in the region. It had continued to devise mechanisms to provide a facilitating environment to that end. In March, the CARICOM Commission on Youth Development was launched in implementation of the 2006 mandate of the CARICOM Heads of Government to “provide a full-scale analysis of the challenges and opportunities for youth in the CARICOM Single Market and Economy, and to make recommendations on how to improve their well-being and empowerment”.
She said that the issue of ageing brought to light the demographic trends in the Caribbean, which indicated an increasing population over 65 years of age. The future impact to regional development had motivated CARICOM, as far back as 1998, to design a coordinated and systematic approach to ensuring the health and full integration of older persons in Caribbean society. The Community reaffirmed its support for the implementation of measures at the national, regional and international levels aimed at strengthening the family, consistent with the tenth Anniversary of the International Year of the Family and Beyond.
BOOMETSWE MOKGOTHU ( Botswana), speaking for the Southern African Development Community (SADC), aligned that organization with the statement delivered by Pakistan on behalf of the Group of 77 and China. He said that international support was critical for implementing the outcome of the SADC Conference on Poverty and Development, to be held in April next year.
In the SADC region, he said, poverty had been exacerbated by persistent drought and flooding and the community intended to combat the resulting food insecurity with the programme it adopted in Dar Es Salaam in 2006. In addition, the co-operation of the developed countries was needed to mitigate the negative impacts of globalization by expediting the reform of international financial and trade institutions. For development, social integration and the fight against poverty, full and productive employment for all was critical. For that reason, the community was committed to universal, high-quality education as well as small-scale credit programmes.
Saying that little had been done as yet to “mainstream” the Madrid Plan of Action on Ageing into the global agenda, he urged speedy and concerted action in that area. He welcomed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and looked forward to its universal ratification.
CLAUDIA PEREZ ALVAREZ ( Cuba) said none of the commitments made during the Social Development Summit in Copenhagen had been fulfilled, because of the unjust international order where rich countries grew increasingly richer and where the inequalities among countries also continued to grow. Millions of people were suffering because of a lack of development.
The Cuban political system, by contrast, had furthered the idea of achieving economic growth with equity and social justice for all. She said Cuba had had many achievements in population employment, health and social initiatives, including some 83,600 working mothers each year enjoying an 18-month maternity leave at 60% of their salary, she said. Cuba contributed to training human resources in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. The third world’s problem of external debt, she said, was a problem that required an urgent solution. Northern countries had to fulfill their promises of Official Development Assistance (ODA) and eliminate agricultural subsidies to developed countries, so that Cuba could have access to their markets. True social development required doing away with “the prevailing egoism”, she said.
SANDRA VAN BEEST, ( Netherlands), speaking for youth, said she was disheartened at the situation of young people around the world. Their rights were being denied on a vast scale, she said, notably in the field of education. Contradicting the target of the Millennium Development Goals of equal numbers of boys and girls in school by the year 2005, two thirds of the children not in school were girls. The Goals on maternal mortality, HIV/AIDS, infant mortality and gender equality could not be achieved without addressing sexual and reproductive health.
Women were greatly underrepresented in decision-making bodies, she said. The General Assembly should adopt the supplement to the World Programme of Action for Youth. Commenting on the notable absence of other women youth delegates like herself, she called on all countries to fulfil their responsibilities to those absent delegates by ensuring equal access to education, enforcing sexual and reproductive rights, and equal voting rights. She concluded by looking forward to a world in which the Millennium Development Goals would have been achieved.
MOHAMED ALI SAEED ( Sudan) said his country aligned itself with the statement made by Pakistan and the G77 and China. The Copenhagen summit, he added, was global, and examined issues of poverty and social commitments. The Millennium Development Goals were a framework for development, he added. The economy of the Sudan had reached a high level of development, which should make it possible to eliminate poverty. This would allow the Sudan to face the problems of the poor and vulnerable groups.
All national groups in the Sudan had targeted programmes, he said, noting his country’s 1998 constitution of a group to carry out a project for young unemployed persons. The Sudan had also created cooperatives, he said. The Sudan had made many efforts to deal with limiting unemployment. The adoption by the General Assembly of the Convention on the rights of disabled persons was a step forward in this area, and the Sudan expressed a will to include the spirit of the Convention into national programmes. He called for expanded cooperation through an effective and productive partnership to provide assistance and debt cancellation, so that countries could achieve the Millennium Development Goals for their people.
NOBUKO KUROSAKI ( Japan) drew attention to the vulnerability of older persons, those with disabilities, and children vis-à-vis natural disasters. Many of the oldest members of Japanese society were disabled, putting them in particular peril, he said. Japan intended to pay more attention to such vulnerability and to share information on the topic with its humanitarian partners. For Japan, human security was a key part of its foreign policy, and it faced an alarming risk from natural disasters. In recent years, many older persons had been victims of earthquakes. While the average life expectancy was going up, many of the oldest in Japanese society were disabled, and their lives were imperilled when natural disasters occurred. Human security was a key part of Japan’s foreign policy; it was implementing assistance that empowered people and communities to address such threats as environmental degradation, conflict, landmines, refugees, illicit drugs and infectious diseases.
Japan had been promoting comprehensive measures for people with disabilities, such as a law to support their independence, enacted in October 2006, the representative said. Educational law was amended in April this year to provide education tailored for children with multiple disabilities. Japan also signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 28 September 2007. Regarding ageing, Japan was among those States whose population was ageing with unprecedented speed. In 2005, one in five people in Japan was over 65 years of age; the proportion was due to grow continuously. To respond to that trend, the Government was formulating and implementing a range of measures, including an undertaking for work and income, health and welfare, learning social participation, as well as provision of good quality housing.
CLAUDIA BLUM ( Colombia) said Colombia joined the statement made by Pakistan on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and the statement by the Dominican Republic on behalf of the Rio Group. For Colombia, job creation was a central instrument of the State in the construction of a society with more equity and social inclusion. She listed achievements by Colombians on the economic front.
In order to promote decent work, she said, States must implement actions to expand social security, strengthen labour qualifications, reduce informal work and promote workers’ rights. Colombia agreed with the Secretary-General in considering the promotion of corporate social responsibility to be another prerequisite for decent work. Generating opportunities for employment and decent work were essential to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
PARK YURI ( Republic of Korea) said that despite a many-fold increase in world wealth, and the long-term trend towards democracy, a number of social problems remained unsolved, and were even deepening. She said that, given the central role of employment in achieving both poverty eradication and social integration, the Government of the Republic of Korea considered it highly pertinent that the Commission for Social Development, as well as the International Labour Organization (ILO), were focusing on the promotion of full employment and decent work for all.
Youth unemployment was emerging as a big concern in the Republic of Korea, as were concerns regarding the aged. Her country was one of the most rapidly-ageing societies, she said, so the Government had developed national policies to implement the 2002 Madrid Action Plan on Ageing. It had also continued to pursue economic and labour policies simultaneously, encouraging the fair distribution of income and sustainable growth in order to address the polarization of society since the 1997 financial crisis. Enhancing the welfare of vulnerable groups, as well as other approaches, would lead to the social development so urgently needed.
Vote on Motion to Suspend Third Committee Meeting
The motion to suspend the meeting of the Third Committee was rejected by a recorded vote of 71 against to 65 in favour, with 13 abstentions, as follows:
In favour: Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Mexico, Monaco, Mozambique, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela.
Against: Algeria, Angola, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, China, Colombia, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Dominica, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Abstain: Antigua and Barbuda, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Belize, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Palau, Suriname, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago.
Absent: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Luxembourg, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Micronesia (Federated States of), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.
Vote on Deleting Reports on Nepal, Uganda from Committee Work Programme
The proposal to delete reports on Nepal and Uganda from the Third Committee work programme was adopted by a recorded vote of 76 in favour to 54 against, with 20 abstentions, as follows:
In favour: Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Against: Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States.
Abstain: Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Jordan, Mongolia, Oman, Qatar, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uruguay.
Absent: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Burundi, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Gabon, Georgia, Grenada, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Micronesia (Federated States of), Montenegro, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.
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