Print
GA/SHC/4127
26 November 2014
Sixty-ninth session, 55th Meeting (AM)

Concluding Its Session, Third Committee Sends 62 Draft Texts to General Assembly, Including New Calls Aimed at Protecting Children from War, Bullying

Keeping with Third Committee Tradition, Speakers from Japan, United Kingdom, Egypt Recite Jocular Poems Reflecting Two Months of Intense Negotiations

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) concluded its work today, approving a total of 62 draft resolutions, which were expected to be taken up by the General Assembly the following month.

In today’s meeting, the Committee passed three draft texts, including one on a global call for concrete action for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.  By the terms of that text, the General Assembly would decide to adopt the programme of action for the International Decade for People of African Descent.

Lengthy negotiations followed an oral amendment proposed by the representative of South Africa on the portion of the draft resolution related to the International Decade for People of African Descent, which was subsequently withdrawn.

The draft resolution was then approved by a recorded vote of 121 in favour to 9 against (Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Marshall Islands, United Kingdom, United States), with 42 abstentions.

Some delegations expressed concerns over the budgetary consequences of approving the text and called for a more inclusive and transparent negotiation process.

In another action, the Committee took up a text on the rights of indigenous peoples, which was approved without a vote.  By its terms, the General Assembly would encourage States and the United Nations system to strengthen international cooperation for the solution of problems faced by indigenous peoples in such areas as lands, territories, resources, education, culture, health, housing, water and sanitation, including the environment, and social and economic development, and to increase technical cooperation and financial assistance in that regard.

The Committee was divided over preambular paragraph 9, by which the General Assembly would take note of the regional review conferences on population and development, including the Regional Conference on Population and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, held in Montevideo from 12 to 15 August 2013, which included text on interculturalism and rights of the indigenous peoples, which was part of the Montevideo Consensus on Population and Development adopted at the Conference.

Some delegates disassociated themselves from that paragraph, saying that the outcome of the regional review conferences on population and development, including the Regional Conference on Population and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, could not be accepted.

Also approved without a vote was a draft resolution on assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa.  By its terms, the General Assembly would note the need for African Member States to address resolutely the root causes of all forms of forced displacement in Africa and to foster peace, stability and prosperity throughout the African continent so as to forestall flows of refugees.

“It is not the time to copy-paste the text from last year,” Norway’s delegate said, while underscoring the absence of consultations and an intergovernmental process held for the draft text.  Since sub-Saharan Africa hosted the highest number of internally displaced persons, there was a need to find durable solutions to displacement.

Before concluding its work, the Committee approved a tentative programme of work for the General Assembly’s seventieth session in 2015.

Delegates then heard from the representatives of Egypt, Japan and the United Kingdom, who each, according to Third Committee traditions, recited humorous poems that reflected their work during the session.

Also speaking today were representatives of Italy, (on behalf of the European Union), Russian Federation, Canada, Jamaica, Norway, Djibouti (on behalf of the African Group), France, United Kingdom, Kuwait, Yemen, Nigeria, Bolivia (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), South Africa, Singapore and Israel.

Background

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this morning to conclude its consideration of a draft resolution on international cooperation against the world drug problem (document A/C.3/69/L.15/Rev.1) and to take action on several draft resolutions.  The draft texts were on assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa (document A/C.3/69/L.61), the rights of indigenous peoples (document A/C.3/69/L.27), a global call for concrete action for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (document A/C.3/69/L.59) and on the tentative programme of work of the Third Committee for the seventieth session of the General Assembly (document A/C.3/69/L.68).

Action on Draft Resolutions

The Committee resumed its consideration of a draft resolution on international cooperation against the world drug problem (document A/C.3/69/L.15/Rev.1), which had been approved the day before, without a vote, as orally revised.

In explanation of position after the action, the representative of Italy, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said 2016 would be a very important year as the United Nations General Assembly would hold a special session on drugs.  The Union would constructively engage in the special session, which would provide a platform for broad consultations with all relevant stakeholders.

The representative of Russian Federation said that, despite continuing increased efforts by States, relevant organizations, civil society and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the world drug problem continued to constitute a serious threat to public health and safety and the well-being of humanity.  However, his delegation was concerned about the preparation of the upcoming 2016 special session.

The representative of Canada said her delegation supported addressing the problem in an effective manner.  Noting that the 2016 special session needed to deliver meaningful outcomes, she encouraged all relevant stakeholders to redouble their efforts.

The representative of Jamaica welcomed the adoption of the draft text, thanking all States for their cooperation.  However, there was no specific reference to drug use in prison populations.

The Committee then took note of the Report of the Chair of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs on the outcome of the high-level review by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs at its fifty-seventh session of the implementation by Member States of the Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem (document A/69/87-E/2014/80).

Next, the Committee approved, without a vote, a draft text on assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa (document A/C.3/69/L.61).

In explanation of position after the action, the representative of Italy, speaking on behalf of the European Union, called for truly inclusive and transparent negotiations for the following year, which would result in a stronger draft resolution.

The representative of Norway, making a general statement, said sub-Saharan Africa hosted the highest number of internally displaced persons, underlining the need for durable solutions.  She then underscored the absence of consultations and an intergovernmental process held for the draft text, saying that, in light of the many conflicts taking place on the continent, “it is not the time to copy-paste the text from last year.”  Those were the reasons why her country did not co-sponsor the draft text.

The Committee then approved, without a vote, a draft text on the rights of indigenous peoples (document A/C.3/69/L.27), for which possible programme budget implications were read out.

In explanation of position after the action, the representative of Canada said his delegation had joined the consensus to promote and protect the rights of indigenous people.  Recognizing aboriginal rights, the Government of Canada had a legal duty to consult with aboriginal people.

The representative of Djibouti, speaking on behalf of the African Group, supported the draft resolution.  However, the Group was concerned about preambular paragraph 9, as it had not been negotiated.  Disassociating herself from that paragraph, she requested that her statement was reflected in the records.

France’s delegate reiterated her delegation’s support for the promotion and protection of indigenous peoples’ rights, and encouraged all Member States to address the challenges facing them.

The representative of United Kingdom said her Government was fully committed to protect indigenous peoples’ rights and recognized the full protection of human rights.

Kuwait’s delegate welcomed the draft resolution’s approval as well as the cooperation seen between all Member States.  However, her delegation could not accept the outcome of the regional review conferences on population and development, including the Regional Conference on Population and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean.  She requested that her statement was reflected in the records.

Yemen’s representative said her Government continued to ensure the promotion and protection of all individuals.  Nevertheless, she did not accept preambular paragraph 9, which was a reference to the outcome of a regional conference.

The representative of Nigeria said the outcome of the regional review conferences on population and development did not represent a consensus document of the United Nations.  Therefore, her delegation was disassociating itself from preambular paragraph 9.

Making a clarification, Bolivia’s delegate said that paragraph was an outcome of lengthy negotiations and meetings.

The Committee then took action on a text entitled “A global call for concrete action for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action” (document A/C.3/69/L.59).

The representative of Bolivia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, made oral revisions to the draft text.

The representative of South Africa said she would withdraw from the co-sponsorship of the draft resolution and then introduced an amendment, which related to the International Decade for People of African Descent.

The delegation of Bolivia called for a recorded vote on the oral amendment.

The delegation of Singapore then called for a five-minute break to discuss the recent developments.

When the meeting resumed, the representative of South Africa withdrew her amendment and reinstated her co-sponsorship of the draft resolution.

In explanation of position before the action, the representative of Israel said his people had always been the victims of racism.  Despite an urgent need to tackle racism, certain countries had politicized the issue.  Hence, his delegation had no choice but calling for a vote and voting against the draft resolution.

The representative of Italy, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said no region was racism-free.  She regretted that the text remained too focused on meetings, reports and negotiations rather than taking concrete actions.  If countries really wanted to contribute to the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, they should focus on the full implementation of the Convention.

The draft resolution was then approved by a recorded vote of 121 in favour to 9 against (Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Marshall Islands, United Kingdom, United States), with 42 abstentions.

Speaking after the action, Switzerland’s delegate said the fight against racism and racial discrimination was the primary responsibility of States.  The draft resolution should have focused more on the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action at the national level, she said, underlining her delegation’s abstention from the vote.

The representative of the United States said her delegation was firmly committed to the fight against all forms of racial discrimination.  Further, she said gaps existed in the implementation of existing treaties.  Her delegation was concerned about the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.  Therefore, she could not support the text.

The Committee took note of two documents, the Progress report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the realignment of work and name of the Anti-Discrimination Unit (document A/69/186), and the Report of the Secretary-General on the global efforts for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (document A/69/354).

Finally, the Committee took action on the tentative programme of work of the Third Committee for the seventieth session of the General Assembly (document A/C.3/69/L.68).

Ending its session in line with the Third Committee’s tradition, the representatives of Japan, United Kingdom and Egypt recited poems about their work over the past weeks.

For information media. Not an official record.