|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-sixth General Assembly
41st Meeting (PM)
Third Committee Approves Draft Resolution on Women’s Anti-Discrimination
Convention; Hears Introduction of 11 Texts on Wide Range of Issues
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today approved a draft resolution on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and heard the introduction of 11 other draft texts, as the Chair urged delegates to conclude negotiations on some 60 outstanding drafts proposals.
By the concise, four-paragraph text on the Women’s Anti-Discrimination Convention, the Assembly would welcome the Secretary-General’s report on the status of that international treaty, as well as the report of the Committee overseeing the Convention’s implementation on its forty-fourth and forty-fifth, and forty-sixth to forty-eighth sessions.
By further terms, the Assembly would invite the Chair of that committee to address and engage in an interactive dialogue at its sixty-seventh and sixty-eighth sessions. It would also request the Secretary-General to submit at its sixty-eighth session a report on the Convention’s status.
Introducing the text, Sweden’s representative noted that it had been largely unchanged for decades and no longer fit with current needs and conditions. Thus, it had been revised into a short, technical format that allowed the Committee to consider how best to transform the annual resolution, including by reflecting forthcoming reforms to the treaty-body system, while also keeping the issue on the agenda.
Also today, the Committee heard the introduction of eight draft resolutions related to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, as well as human rights questions. Three country-specific drafts on the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Myanmar and Iran were also introduced.
Committee Chair Dato' Hussein Haniff (Malaysia) reminded delegations that nine plenary meetings remained over the next three weeks during which action would be required on over 60 outstanding draft texts. Only six draft resolutions — four of which were forwarded by the Economic and Social Council — had been acted on to date. He appealed to all main sponsors to bring their negotiations to an end to ensure the Committee could conclude its work by 22 November, as planned.
The representatives of Denmark, Cuba (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), France, Burundi and Poland (on behalf of the European Union) introduced today’s draft texts.
The representative of the United States spoke during action on the draft text.
Delegates of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran exercised their right of reply.
The Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 8 November, to hear the introduction of, and take action on, several draft texts.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to hear the introduction of several draft resolutions on the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, human rights questions and situations and reports of Special Rapporteurs and representatives.
It was also expected to take action on two draft resolutions entitled: policies and programmes involving youth (document A/C.3/66/L.7/Rev.1) and Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (document A/C.3/66/L.21).
Introduction of Draft Resolutions
The representative of Denmark introduced the draft resolution on Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (document A/C.3/66/L.63). The primary purpose of the Office is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees, and it is also authorized to be involved with people who are stateless or whose nationality is disputed, former refugees who have returned home and, where appropriate, internally displaced persons. Throughout discussions on the text, there was clearly a shared common concern for the world’s refugees and other vulnerable people who were protected or assisted by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and he was confident the Committee would aim to adopt the draft resolution by consensus, as it had done in previous years.
The representative of Cuba, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, then introduced five texts. On the text concerning enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights (document A/C.3/66/L.32), she said it was introduced annually, and its purpose was to acknowledge cooperation in the field of human rights was needed to enhance the Organization’s promotion of human rights.
On promotion of equitable geographical distribution in the membership of the human rights treaty bodies (document A/C.3/66/L.33), she said it promoted the overarching objective of equitable geographical membership to contribute to better understanding of issues, such as gender balance in the participation of treaty bodies. The draft expressed the importance of continuing efforts to reduce the imbalance of some treaty bodies, she said.
On human rights and cultural diversity (document A/C.3/66/L.34), she said the draft acknowledged how important it was to protect human rights by promoting peace among all cultures. Among its initiatives, it called for dialogue and cooperation among cultures from different civilizations.
On the right to development (document A/C.3/66/L.35), she said it emphasized efforts to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the declaration of the right to development and described efforts in that regard.
On human rights and unilateral coercive measures (document A/C.3/66/L.36), she said under no circumstances could a people be denied their development. The resolution says Member States should live up to international law and abstain from unilateral measures that prevent the full achievement of economic development and rights in certain countries.
Introducing the draft resolution on the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (document A/C.3/66/L.40), the representative of France noted that the Convention entered into force on 23 December 2010. With that event, the framework for victim protection had been significantly improved. Noting that 90 States had signed the Convention, while 30 States had ratified or acceded to it, the draft appeals to all States that have not yet done so to sign or ratify the Convention. It also noted the work of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.
The representative of Burundi then introduced the draft resolution on the Subregional Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa (document A/C.3/66/L.42). She said the text’s aim was to ensure that the Centre could continue its work in the field. It conducted activities in human rights and democracy in order to support national institutions. She noted that working groups and seminars had been held, while training scholarships had been provided. The text was based on the resolution adopted two years ago, with a number of updates and additions. Among other things, the draft recognizes the activities commemorating the Centre’s tenth anniversary and encourages regional meetings to ensure coordination among relevant nations.
Introducing the draft resolution on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (document A/C.3/66/L.54), Poland’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Assembly had adopted resolutions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea based on its grave concerns about the widespread violations of human rights in that country. Those violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights had been documented in the reports of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as well as the reports of the Secretary-General.
He said the text noted a few positive developments, including some cooperation with United Nations entities in conducting a rapid food security assessment. However, they were few, and the international community had yet to see substantive changes on the ground. Among other things, the text continued to express very serious concern about the continuing use of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, including inhuman conditions for detention, public executions and extrajudicial and arbitrary detention, as well as the absence of rule of law, the use of the death penalty for religious and political reasons, the large number of prison camps and the extensive use of forced labour. Sanctions were also imposed on repatriated citizens.
He said the text expressed further concern about systematic violations of conditions protecting economic, social and cultural rights, which had led to severe malnutrition and widespread health problems and other hardships for the population, as well as gender-based discrimination, including impunity and violations of worker’s rights. The draft expressed serious concern about the refusal of the Government to indicate which recommendations from its Universal Periodic Review enjoyed its support.
He said the text also expressed regret that the Government refused to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur and urged it to recognize his mandate, including by granting him full and free access to the country. It called for further access to be granted to all United Nations bodies. It called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to address the chronic and acute nutrition of its people, particularly the most vulnerable groups.
Continuing, he said the text also called on the Government to resolve questions of international concern relating to the abductions in a transparent manner, including by ensuring the immediate return of abductees. The co-sponsors had informed the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea about the draft, but the delegation had refused to engage in discussion.
Poland’s representative, again on behalf of the European Union, then introduced the draft resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar (document A/C.3/66/L.55). Recalling that the Assembly had, for a number of years, adopted resolutions on the situation there, he noted that the mandate of the Secretary-General’s Special Advisor, Vijay Nambiar, derived from the current text, which was based on the report by the Secretary-General, as well as by the Special Rapporteur on the situation for human rights in Myanmar.
He said that over the past few months some important steps had been taken by the Government towards reconciliation, including talks with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The text took note of those steps and welcomed the release of a number of political detainees, while also calling for further releases. It also welcomed the visits by the Special Rapporteur and the Special Advisor.
He said the text also addressed, however, continuing concerns regarding the human rights situation in Myanmar, including the situation of ethnic minorities. Indeed, a wide range of human rights continued to be violated with impunity and the text urged the Government to address justice and accountability as central elements to national reconciliation and a transition to democracy.
He noted that discussions had been held with the delegation of Myanmar and expressed hope that those consultations would continue through the end of the negotiations on the text. The co-sponsors preferred a consensual approach to the text and had drafted it accordingly. “This is a key moment in the country’s history. However, the recent trend still needs to be confirmed and encouraged. The continued engagement of the international community is vital. The good offices of the Secretary-General will be crucial at this important stage to enable and encourage further cooperation,” he said.
The representative of Canada introduced the draft resolution on situation of human rights in Iran (document A/C.3/66/L.56), saying that last year the General Assembly adopted a resolution on the human rights situation in Iran and called for a report of the Secretary-General on developments in the country. The Human Rights Council also called for the Special Rapporteur to look into Iran’s human rights situation. The Secretary-General’s report, released in October, highlighted the intensification of arbitrary detention, discrimination against minorities, restrictions on public assembly, torture, executions, and the widespread failing of due process in Iran. Considering the grave human rights situation in Iran, it clearly needed continued international attention. The resolution was carefully drafted to reflect accuracy, using information from the Secretary-General’s and Special Rapporteur’s reports; it calls on Iran to fully respect its human rights obligations in law and practice, calling for the release of all arbitrarily-detained prisoners, the elimination of discrimination against women and minority groups, ensuring free and fair elections in 2012 and cooperation with all human rights mechanisms. He called on the Third Committee to live up to its responsibility, consider the resolution and take action on it.
Right of Reply
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, responding in right of reply, said his delegation categorically rejected the draft resolution tabled by the European Union, which was nothing more than a political plot aimed at stifling and isolating his country. No country could claim to be perfect in human rights issues, but most of the human right violations raised and debated in that Committee had no relevance to the reality on the ground in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, be they discrimination and violence against women and children, or freedom of expression, opinion, religion and others.
The main sponsors of the draft resolution should reflect on the records of human rights of their own countries, where social evils and violations in all their manifestations were prevalent, and immediately take measures to address them before criticizing other countries. It was advisable that the European Union ponder the merits and demerits of tabling the draft resolution; country-specific resolutions were anachronistic acts that abused human rights and ran counter to the spirit and purposes of the United Nations Charter. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would not give in to such pressure and confrontation. As in the past, and so also in the future, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea firmly defended and safeguarded its socialist-style system, chosen by its people, as it guaranteed full enjoyment of their human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Also responding in right of reply, Iran’s representative said the resolution tabled by Canada against his country had been issued every year to satiate the mean desires against the Government and people of Iran. If Canada was really concerned about human rights situations, it was for sure on the very wrong track, he said. He reminded the Committee of concerns over treatment of minority groups in that country, and that the Independent Expert on minority issues expressed concerns on issues there, such as use of racial profiling and systemic forces on young black males. The right track lay in the sincere willingness of countries to work together to build a favourable environment based on a common understanding to promote human rights on all levels. Naming and shaming country-specific resolutions and manipulating of United Nations mechanisms would not bring progress. Sponsors of the resolution should begin house-cleaning their own mentality, he said, calling on the Committee to consider the politicization of the move and save its reputation from attempts at manipulation.
Action on Draft Resolutions
The Chair first informed the Committee that negotiations were still under way and action on the draft resolution entitled policies and programmes involving youth (document A/C.3/66/L.7/Rev.1) would be postponed.
The Committee then turned to a draft resolution on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (document A/C.3/66/L.21), which was introduced by Sweden’s representative on behalf of the five Nordic countries and the co-sponsors. She noted that the text had always enjoyed wide co-sponsorship and consensual adoption. For decades it had been largely unchanged. However, the text no longer fit with current needs and conditions. Consequently, this year’s text was short and technical to give the Committee time to consider how best to transform the annual resolution, while keeping the issue on the agenda. She hoped delegations would opt for wide co-sponsorship today.
Acting without a vote, the Committee then adopted the draft resolution.
By that text, the Assembly would welcome the report of the Secretary-General on the status of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, as well as the reports of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on its forty-fourth and forty-fifth and forty-sixth to forty-eighth sessions.
It would, by further terms, invite the Chair of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women to address and engage in an interactive dialogue at the Assembly’s sixty-seventh and sixty-eighth sessions and request the Secretary-General to submit at its sixty-eighth session a report on the status of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
Speaking in explanation of position after adoption, the representative of the United States said the Obama Administration was a strong supporter of the Convention and was committed to United States ratification. However, by joining consensus on the text, which welcomed the report of the Committee, the United States was not indicating agreement on all parts of that report. At the same time, she reiterated that while her country had concerns about some aspects of that report, it was a strong supporter of the Committee.
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