The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), acting without a vote, concluded its work today by approving five draft resolutions, part of a package of 51 texts to be sent to the General Assembly for adoption.
Those drafts pertained to persons with disabilities, trafficking in women and girls, migration and drugs and crime. A draft on preventing trafficking in women and girls was approved despite efforts by Sudan’s representative to amend it. The proposed amendment would have removed reference to the International Criminal Court from the preamble on the grounds that its inclusion was an attempt to universalize the Rome Statute, to which not all States were party.
The proposed amendment was defeated - by a recorded vote of 106 against, to 19 in favour, with 32 abstentions - and the draft resolution, which would encourage incorporation of the issue of trafficking in women and girls into the United Nations’ broader policies and programmes, was then approved without a vote.
A draft resolution titled “Assistance to refuges, returnees and displaced persons in Africa” would have the General Assembly reaffirm States’ primary responsibility to ensure refugee protection, and call for greater international and regional cooperation to meet the needs of refugees, returnees, displaced persons and their host communities. Despite approving the text without a vote, several delegates expressed reservations about a lack of transparency in the informal consultations, with speakers from the European Union, Japan, Mexico and the United States registering disappointment that consultations had not been open to the entire membership.
A draft resolution encouraging States to address the needs of those affected by drug-related violence and crime, and to strengthen international and regional cooperation to counter illicit drug production and trafficking garnered widespread support despite reservations by Iran’s delegate about its preambular paragraphs.
Finally, the Committee approved a draft resolution on “Inclusive development for persons with disabilities” calling for integrating accessibility and inclusion into monitoring and evaluation of the Sustainable Development Goals. It would also have the United Nations facilitate the compilation of national and regional data on persons with disabilities.
The Committee also took note of a number of documents and approved its tentative programme of work for the seventy-second session of the General Assembly.
Ending the session according to tradition, the representatives of the United Kingdom and Egypt recited poems about the Third Committee’s work, noting with humour several topics of particular contention, such as gender identity and State sovereignty.
The representative of the Philippines, also on behalf of the United Republic of Tanzania, presented a draft resolution titled “Inclusive development for persons with disabilities” (document A/C.3/71/L.8/Rev.1). After orally revising certain preambular and operative paragraphs, she stressed that inclusive development for persons with disabilities was more important than ever within the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. More must be done to integrate their rights, participation, well-being and needs into all aspects of development.
The Committee approved the draft resolution, as orally revised, by consensus.
By its terms, the General Assembly would urge Member States, United Nations agencies, international and regional organizations, regional integration organizations and financial institutions to integrate the principles of accessibility and inclusion into the monitoring and evaluation of the development goals. It would urge States and regional and local governments to promote measures in cities and other human settlements that facilitated access for persons with disabilities. It would further request the United Nations to facilitate technical assistance, within existing resources, including for capacity-building and the compilation of national and regional data on persons with disabilities.
The representative of New Zealand, also speaking for Australia, Canada, Liechtenstein and Norway, said the draft resolution sent an important message that the global community had moved beyond seeing persons with disabilities as objects of care, and paid attention to their contributions. The draft aimed to remedy the lack of reliable statistics on persons with disabilities, recognizing their contributions to development and respecting their call of “nothing about us without us”.
The representative of the United States said preambular paragraph 13 should refer to a commitment towards an international normative framework, rather than a duty.
The representative of Bangladesh said his country had taken a lead role in addressing the situation of persons with autism, having tabled a draft resolution and promoted World Autism Awareness Day. In celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, he stressed the importance of including persons with disabilities in efforts to end poverty.
The Committee then took note of a Secretariat note titled “World Social Situation 2016: Leaving No One Behind — the Imperative of Inclusive Development” (document A/71/188).
The Committee then took up a draft resolution titled “Trafficking in women and girls” (document A/C.3/71/L.14/Rev.1), by which the Assembly would encourage incorporation of the issue of trafficking in persons, especially women and girls, into its broader policies and programmes aimed at addressing economic and social development, human rights, rule of law, good governance, education, health and natural disaster and post-conflict reconstruction. It would also request the Secretary-General to submit at its seventy-third session a report on successful interventions, gaps and recommendations for addressing the gender dimensions of human trafficking.
The representative of the Philippines, introducing the draft, said it recognized the heightened vulnerability to trafficking of women and girls in humanitarian crises. It also urged Governments to ensure that laws on migration, labour and trafficking protected the rights of migrant women and girls. She expressed hope it would be approved by consensus, as had been done since 1994.
The representative of Sudan proposed an amendment (document A/C.3/71/L.55) that would delete the draft’s fifteenth preambular paragraph referring to the International Criminal Court. The paragraph portrayed the Court as the only body mandated to take up gender-based crimes, he said, even though not all countries were party to the Rome Statute which had established it. As such, 65 per cent of the world population was not subject to the Court’s jurisdiction. There were national, regional and international mechanisms that could take up the matter. He had tried to introduce amendments to resolution during informal negotiations, but those efforts had fallen “on deaf ears”. Hence, he proposed the amendment to delete the paragraph in question.
An official from the Secretariat clarified that the paragraph cited by the amendment circulated was paragraph 14, whereas the delegate of Sudan had referred in his oral statement to paragraph 15. He therefore noted the oral amendment, which would call for the deletion of paragraph 15 referring to the ICC (International Criminal Court).
The representative of the Philippines supported inclusion of the reference to the Rome Statute. The inclusion of gender-related crimes in the Rome Statute indicated the seriousness of those crimes. Preambular paragraph 14 had been in the resolution since 2002. Moreover, the paragraph in question did not require action by Member States; it was a factual statement. She called on delegates to reject the amendment and retain the draft resolution as proposed.
An official from the Secretariat clarified again that the paragraph in question was preambular paragraph 15, noting that the representative of the Philippines had mistakenly referred to paragraph 14.
The representative of Lichtenstein, speaking on behalf of Australia, Canada, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland in explanation of the vote before the vote, said human trafficking and modern slavery affected every country. Women and girls were particularly vulnerable to what she called the one of the most scandalous crimes of our time and also the most profitable. The paragraph had been part of draft resolution for a number of years, and simply acknowledged that the Rome Statute included reference to gender-related crimes. The amendment was an attempt to undermine consensus on a topic of high importance. She would vote against it and called on others to do the same.
The representative of Slovakia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed his regret at the proposed amendment. Paragraph 15 was a simple factual statement and nothing in the language compelled States to cooperate with the Court. Many other international instruments that did not enjoy universal membership were mentioned in the report, he recalled, stressing that the bloc would vote against the amendment and called on others to do the same.
The representative of Chile thanked the representative of the Philippines for her efforts to achieve consensus and said he would vote against the proposed amendment. The paragraph in question was a statement of fact and had been included in the resolution for 13 years.
The Committee rejected the orally revised draft amendment by a recorded vote of 106 against, to 19 in favour, with 32 abstentions.
Speaking after the vote, the representative of the Russian Federation said he supported the amendment because his country was not a party to the Rome Statue.
The representative of Egypt said the issue of trafficking was a priority for her country, which had condemned human trafficking since 2005. She had voted for the amendment, as she did not wish to politicize the issue. Just because paragraph 15 had been included in previous versions of the resolution did not mean it should be included now.
The representative of Morocco explained that she had supported the amendment because the paragraph in question did not enjoy consensus. Nonetheless, if a vote had been called on the entire draft resolution, she would have voted in favour of it. Morocco had sponsored the draft resolution and would join consensus on it.
The representative of Sudan, speaking before the vote on the draft resolution, said gender-related crimes were included in myriad international and regional instruments and he therefore did not understand why the draft resolution referred specifically to the Court. He would not request a vote on it because Sudan had made significant efforts to combat human trafficking, having hosted in 2014 a regional conference on combatting trafficking in persons in the Horn of Africa, which had led to the adoption of the Khartoum Process. Moreover, Sudan had promulgated various laws on the topic and was a place of asylum and transit.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote.
The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking in explanation of position, said that while he agreed with many aspects of the draft resolution, he did not agree with its emphasis on preambular paragraph 15 and thus dissociated from that reference.
The representative of Burundi commended the draft’s approval, noting that she had supported the proposed amendment to delete paragraph 15, recalling the recent position Burundi had adopted on the Court.
The Committee took note of the report of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on its sixty-first, sixty-second and sixty-third sessions (document A/71/38), as well as three reports of the Secretary-General on the intensification of efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women (document A/71/219); intensifying global efforts for the elimination of female genital mutilations (document A/71/209) and a note transmitting the report of the Special Rapporteur on the intensification of efforts to eliminate all forms violence against women (document A/71/398).
The representative of Mexico presented the draft omnibus resolution titled “International cooperation to address and counter the world drug problem” (document A/C.3/71/L.10/Rev.1). Revising the text almost in its entirety had been necessary, he said, underlining that developing a new text had allowed for producing a balanced, robust text allowing Governments to tackle the drug problem with a modern perspective. Underscoring the need to strengthen cooperation, he urged States to turn commitment into reality and ensure compliance with the Special Session of the General Assembly.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution by consensus.
By its terms, the General Assembly would call on States to consider measures, programmes and actions that addressed the needs of those affected by drug-related violence and crime, and to strengthen international and regional cooperation to counter illicit production and trafficking in drugs. The Assembly would decide to follow up on the operational recommendations set out in the outcome document of the thirtieth special session of the General Assembly.
The representative of Venezuela said she did not endorse consensus on preambular paragraph 25 or operative paragraph 24. Regarding preambular paragraph 25, whereas international cooperation was desirable, States were not bound to cooperate on psychotropic substances. There was no expressed obligation in that area and it was crucial to underscore its voluntary nature. As the wording stood, the text perhaps conveyed ideas of an obligation which did not exist.
The representative of Australia, also speaking on behalf of Canada, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Switzerland and Norway, expressed support for a balanced approach, noting that the Special Session outcome document represented a step towards a balanced approach. There was scope for more balance in the draft, and her group would continue to promote effective and humane criminal justice policies. Expressing disappointment that the text did not call for an end to the death penalty for drug crimes, she said the group considered the death penalty to be inhumane punishment. There was no evidence it deterred drug-related crimes. The practice was not an answer to the world drug problem.
The representative of Bahamas, speaking on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said he had joined consensus, adding that the global drug problem required multifaceted approaches, as it was a shared responsibility. To ensure broad participation, the General Assembly should continue to address the world drug problem. As the Organization’s main deliberative body, it was a suitable forum for discussions on follow-up to the Special Session outcome document.
The representative of Colombia said he had supported Mexico’s move to fully update the text, underscoring that there was still much work to be done and that the United Nations must ensure there would be an inclusive process beyond 2019.
The representative of Iran thanked Mexico for the open and transparent manner in which it had conducted negotiations. The three international drug control conventions shaped the drug control system. The Assembly should observe its law of providing specialized agencies with policy directions and avoid micromanagement, while the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) should be granted space for follow-up.
The representative of Ghana introduced a draft resolution titled “Assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa” (document A/71/C.3/L.51/Rev.1), announcing several oral revisions. Those revisions would revert the language of preambular paragraph 12 to its pre-revision version and delete several paragraphs that had been introduced to this year’s draft resolution, namely preambular paragraphs 15, 16 and operative paragraphs 2, 4, 5, 16, and 10. He also proposed additional language to be inserted to preambular paragraph 20.
By its terms, the General Assembly call upon African States that had not yet signed or ratified the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa to consider doing so, and also note the need for African 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. The Assembly would request the Secretary-General to submit a report on assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa at its seventy-second session, taking into account efforts made by asylum countries.
The draft resolution was approved by consensus as orally revised.
The representative of Slovakia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the content and purpose of the draft resolution was important. However, the bloc would have welcomed the opportunity to participate in consultations on the text. He called for a transparent and consultative process next year, which he believed would strengthen the text.
The representative of Japan said his delegation traditionally had cosponsored the draft resolution, as more international attention on the issue was needed. However, he expressed regret that Japan and others had been excluded from consultations, and as such, it had not cosponsored the text this year.
The representative of Australia, speaking on behalf of Canada, Iceland, Lichtenstein, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland, expressed regret that oral revisions had been introduced from the floor without giving delegates an opportunity to review them. Because informal consultations had not been held on the draft resolution, States had been unable hear the views of others.
The representative of Mexico supported consensus on draft resolution, but expressed hope that in the future it would be the outcome of a constructive and transparent negotiation process.
The representative of Cuba expressed support for preambular paragraph 20 relating to the World Humanitarian Summit, recalling that there had been no intergovernmentally agreed outcome of the meeting.
The representative of the United States explained that she had joined consensus because of the need to address the important issue, but expressed regret about the lack of transparency and the “last minute” manner in which oral amendments had been presented.
The Committee then approved, without a vote, the “Tentative programme of work of the Third Committee for the seventy-second session of the General Assembly” (document A/C.3/71/L.56).
The representative of the United Kingdom, in keeping with tradition, read a poem on the work of the Committee.
The representative of Egypt, responding, also read a poem.