Third Committee Approves 16 Drafts with Friction Exposed in Contentious Votes on Glorification of Nazism, Cultural Diversity, Right to Development

GA/SHC/4221
16 November 2017
Seventy-second Session, 47th & 48th Meetings (AM & PM)

Third Committee Approves 16 Drafts with Friction Exposed in Contentious Votes on Glorification of Nazism, Cultural Diversity, Right to Development

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) approved 16 draft resolutions today, tackling a wide range of issues including human rights in Myanmar, elimination of racism, the Human Rights Council and unilateral coercive measures.

The Committee began its action approving — by a recorded vote of 135 in favour to 10 against (Belarus, Cambodia, China, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Philippines, Russian Federation, Syria, Vietnam, Zimbabwe) with 26 abstentions — what would be the most contentious draft of the day on the human rights situation in Myanmar.  Introduced by Saudi Arabia’s delegate on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the draft resulted in several delegations once again questioning the merit of country-specific resolutions.

Saudi Arabia’s delegate noted the deterioration of human rights in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, stressing that the draft called on the Government to protect the rights of Rohingya Muslims and all other minority groups.

For his part, Myanmar’s representative said the draft’s approval marked a sad day for his country.  Its politically motivated nature failed to account for ongoing efforts to address issues in the region and underscored the discriminatory treatment levelled against certain States.  Questioning the appropriateness of considering the issue in both the General Assembly and Security Council, he made a plea before the vote for Member States to reject it.

Throughout deliberations, States lauded Bangladesh’s efforts to assist people fleeing neighbouring Rakhine State, with the representative of the Russian Federation citing its extensive efforts to host refugees.  The representative of Bangladesh meanwhile called for efforts to address deep-rooted discrimination against the Rohingya and lamented that Myanmar had refused to grant humanitarian agencies and independent media outlets access to the Rakhine region.

As they had earlier in the week, a number of States expressed their principled rejection of country-specific resolutions.  Representatives of China, Belarus and Singapore rejected the politically driven nature of such texts, while Venezuela’s representative affirmed States’ responsibilities in protecting their citizens and called for genuine dialogue.

Iran’s representative, in a right of reply, said that consulting Saudi Arabia on human rights matters was akin to someone “consulting the angel of death on a matter of life”.  In response, Saudi Arabia’s delegate reiterated his commitment to cooperation and pointed to Iran as a source of global instability.

In other action, the Committee approved a draft introduced by the representative of the Russian Federation on combating the glorification of Nazism, by a recorded vote of 125 in favour to 2 against (Ukraine, United States), with 51 abstentions.  The draft was a response to pro-Nazi demonstrations and a marked increase in xenophobic rhetoric around the world, he stressed.

Following the draft’s introduction, the United States representative proposed a far-reaching amendment to the text that would change all sections deemed to violate individual freedoms of speech, thought, expression and association.

The amendment was rejected by a recorded vote of 81 against, to 3 in favour (Israel, Ukraine, United States), with 73 abstentions, and several delegations expressing dissatisfaction that such extensive changes had been orally proposed.  Argentina’s delegate said he had abstained for that reason and urged all Member States to cooperate in a transparent manner during the drafting of proposals.  Similarly, Estonia’s delegate, on behalf of the European Union, said the bloc had abstained as it had not been given enough time to consider the content of the amendment.

Speaking after the draft, as a whole, was approved by a vote of 125 in favour to 2 against (Ukraine, United States), with 51 abstentions, several States commended efforts to combat Nazism, yet expressed concern over the scope of the draft.  Estonia’s delegate, on behalf of the European Union, said all contemporary forms of racism should be addressed in an impartial manner.  Switzerland’s delegate expressed regret that recommendations to broaden the draft’s scope had gone unheeded.

Concerns over politicized approaches to human rights spilled over into consideration of a draft titled “Report of the Human Rights Council”.  Approved by a recorded vote of 117 in favour to 2 against (Belarus and Israel), with 66 abstentions, it would have the Assembly take note of the Council’s report, including the addendum, and its recommendations.

Several delegates abstained over what they considered procedural redundancies, with Costa Rica’s representative explaining that the Council’s report must be considered by the Assembly plenary, and not the Third Committee.

The Committee also approved by a recorded vote of 128 in favour to 53 against, with no abstentions a draft on unilateral coercive measures.  Cuba’s delegate, who introduced the draft on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said such measures ran counter to international law and carried harmful consequences.

The United States’ delegate rejected the draft’s premise, insisting it did not advance human rights. Both unilateral and multilateral sanctions were non-violent means to promote national interests.

Clear divisions on interpretations of the nexus between cultural diversity and human rights also emerged during the approval of a draft on that matter, by a recorded vote of 128 in favour to 52 against, with no abstentions.

Cuba’s delegate assured that respect for cultural diversity contributed to promoting global peace and progress.  However, representatives of the United States and Estonia, on behalf of the European Union, said promotion of diversity must not infringe on other rights, with the latter stressing that cultural rights could only be protected when other rights, such as freedom of information and assembly, were safeguarded.

The Committee also approved drafts on:  women and girls in rural areas; the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; the use of mercenaries; the right to self-determination; the International Day of Sign Languages; the right to development; international cooperation in the field of human rights; and on strengthening United Nations action in the field of human rights.

It also approved drafts on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order; the right to food and on an equitable geographical distribution in the membership of the human rights treaty bodies.

The Third Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 17 November, to take action on proposals.

Myanmar

The Committee opened the day by considering a draft resolution introduced by Saudi Arabia, on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), titled “Situation of human rights in Myanmar” (document A/C.3/72/L.48).  He said the era of torture and religious hatred had not come to an end, with Rohingya Muslims remaining the victims of human rights violations.

The OIC remained deeply concerned by the escalation of violence towards minorities in Myanmar, he said, noting that following “massacres” in the region, certain parties had referred to the victims as “roaches”.  The draft underscored the need for a peaceful solution and to acknowledge the legitimate rights of Muslims in Myanmar.  He called for an end to all violence against the Rohingya and for humanitarian organizations to be granted access to the region.  He thanked Bangladesh for welcoming thousands of refugees and told Myanmar that the Nobel Peace Prize could never be used as a pretext for its actions.

The representative of Syria said in a point of order that the sponsors had included his country as a co‑sponsor as an OIC member.  However, he had not been consulted before being included as a co‑sponsor of the draft and requested that his country be removed from the list.

A Secretariat official said Syria had been removed and that the draft was now not deemed as being submitted by all OIC members.

The representative of Egypt, also in a point of order, said the draft was still presented by the OIC, adding that Syria’s sponsorship was removed but not that of the Organization.

Syria’s representative said in a point of order that his country had been included in the draft as an OIC member when sponsors had known that Syria did not participate in the work of that group.

A Secretariat official said his comment from earlier stood and that Syria would be removed from the list of co‑sponsors.

The representative of Myanmar said his delegation requested a recorded vote on the draft and consistently had opposed any politically motivated country-specific resolutions.  Human rights must be discussed while upholding the principles of non‑selectivity, objectivity, impartiality and respect for national sovereignty, he stressed.  Tabling country-specific drafts at the General Assembly was “procedurally unwarranted”, he said, pointing to the Human Rights Council and universal periodic review as the proper avenues to address human rights issues.

Calling for an end to discriminatory treatment of Member States, he said Myanmar was a nascent, fragile democracy struggling to overcome daunting challenges.  While Myanmar was not afraid of human rights scrutiny, it would not accept coercive measures aimed at exerting political pressure under the guise of human rights.  Referring to the draft as “flawed” and “dubious”, he said its sponsor had failed to recognize his Government’s “relentless efforts” to find a lasting solution to the human rights situation in Rakhine State.  The primary causes of the issue were unprovoked and premeditated terrorist attacks against police stations and a military base.  The extremist group behind the attacks, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, was led by a man not native to Rakhine State, but who instead had been born in Pakistan and raised in Saudi Arabia.  He said the group was led by people in Saudi Arabia and trained abroad and its goal was to undermine efforts to resolve the issue in Rakhine State.

Far from ignoring the situation, the Government had made it a top priority and established development committees, he said, launched a process to address statelessness and was working to grant citizenship to all those eligible.  To promote religious harmony, interfaith groups had been established across the country.  The situation in Rakhine State was not a religious matter, but rather, related to migration issues stemming from British colonialism.

Human rights violations were taken seriously, he assured, adding that efforts to address the matter adhered to strict judicial norms.  He recognized the suffering of all those caught up in the conflict and forced to flee their homes.  Myanmar was working in a neighbourly spirit with Bangladesh to provide assistance to those fleeing the region, with repatriation arrangements being considered.  Myanmar also had created a body to handle repatriation and the provision of humanitarian assistance, assist with resettlement and work towards establishing sustainable peace in the region.  Bringing the issues of Rakhine State before the Assembly and Security Council contravened the United Nations principle to avoid duplication of work, he said, calling on Member States to stand with the people of Myanmar and vote against the draft.

The representative of Iran said in a general statement that indiscriminate attacks against Muslims in Myanmar had led to a significant loss of life and that forcing the Rohingya from their homeland did not resolve the deep-seated crisis.  The situation in Myanmar underscored that extremism created a breeding ground for violence.  He called for the dignified, safe return of refugees, and for a peaceful solution to the crisis in Rakhine State.  The repeated abuse of the Third Committee for political purposes was not constructive, which was why Iran had not taken part in the draft resolution.  However, it did not condone crimes against the Rohingya.

The representative of the United States, in a general statement, expressed grave concern over atrocities committed by Myanmar security forces against the Rohingya.  The United States called on Myanmar authorities to protect the rights of all their citizens and to hold accountable the perpetrators of human rights abuses.  She also called on the Government to provide access to the United Nations fact-finding mission.

The representative of Bangladesh said his country had strived to provide shelter for 618,000 people who had fled Rakhine State since 25 August, stressing that another 4,000 people continued to cross the border into his country every week and that more were waiting.  Indeed, human rights violations in Rakhine State offered a compelling case for the resolution, he said, noting that Myanmar had not granted access to that area for the Human Rights Council fact-finding mission or independent media.

His country remained committed to the safe and voluntary return of the refugees.  Yet, there had not been any progress on repatriation.  While the memorandum of understanding between Bangladesh and Myanmar covered security and border management, it did not address issues of citizenship and refugee return.  The deep-rooted discrimination against the Rohingya must be addressed so that a sustainable solution could be found.  The extremist version of nationalism in Myanmar also had the potential to stoke fires in other parts of the region, he said, calling on Member States to support the draft in order to find a sustainable solution to the crisis in Rakhine State.

The representative of Turkey said the country supported the draft resolution to end the horrifying episode in Myanmar.

The representative of Somalia expressed alarm over violence in Rakhine State against the Rohingya.  Somalia condemned human rights violations by the Government, stressing that people had been killed with impunity.  He called on Myanmar to stop its military operations, and for safe, unhindered access for United Nations organizations and aid organizations.

The representative of Egypt said his country was following with great concern the situation in Rakhine State.  The promotion of human rights in all countries was best achieved through international cooperation and dialogue and the universal periodic review was the best tool to achieve progress.  While Egypt preferred not to take part in country-specific resolutions, the situation in Myanmar had prompted it to make an exception.  He called on Myanmar to resolve the crisis, so as to avoid country-specific resolutions from being tabled.

The representative of China, speaking in explanation of vote, said human rights issues must be addressed through cooperation and his Government opposed such country-specific resolutions.  The situation in Myanmar was complicated and that Government was taking steps to stabilize it.  He commended Bangladesh for assistance provided to those fleeing the region, adding that China would vote against the draft.

The representative of Belarus said she had always objected to country-specific drafts at the United Nations.  While Belarus shared concerns over the crisis, it could not support politicized mechanisms as they did not facilitate progress. She would vote against the draft and called for cooperation.

The representative of the Russian Federation attached great significance to cooperation when addressing human rights.  Noting Bangladesh’s efforts to host refugees, he said the issues required real assistance to Myanmar to eradicate the causes of “thorny issues”.  Country-specific drafts did not help establish constructive dialogue and as such the Russian Federation would vote against the draft.

The Committee then approved the draft by a recorded vote of 135 in favour to 10 against (Belarus, Cambodia, China, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Philippines, Russian Federation, Syria, Vietnam and Zimbabwe) with 26 abstentions.

By its terms, the Assembly would call on Myanmar authorities to end the ongoing military operations that had fuelled tensions among the communities and had led to the systematic violation and abuse of human rights of persons belonging to the Rohingya community, and other ethnic minorities, and to hold perpetrators accountable.

It would further call for the authorities to grant full, unrestricted and unmonitored access for the fact-finding mission of the Human Rights Council, other human rights mechanisms and the United Nations to independently monitor the situation.  The Assembly would request the Secretary-General to continue to provide his good offices and to pursue discussions relating to Myanmar, involving all relevant stakeholders, and in that context, to appoint a special envoy on Myanmar and to offer assistance to the Government of Myanmar.

The representative of Thailand, in explanation of vote, said his country had abstained as it was understood that the Assembly’s seventieth session would be the last at which such a draft would be tabled.  He underlined the need to resolve the crisis and called for continued engagement and dialogue among all concerned parties.  He encouraged Myanmar to continue efforts to improve the well-being of its people.

The representative of Singapore said his Government had always opposed country-specific resolutions as they were driven by political, rather than human rights, considerations.  He encouraged all parties to engage in dialogue and noted an urgent need to restore harmony among all communities in Rakhine State.  Humanitarian assistance was essential to eliminate suffering in Myanmar.

The representative of Nepal, noting his abstention from the vote, expressed deep concern over the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar and cited Bangladesh’s efforts to assist those affected by conflict.  Welcoming the readiness of Myanmar to address the issue, he said every refugee should have the right to return to his or her homeland.

The representative of Japan, condemning violence in the region, expressed concern over the killing and displacement of civilians.  Calling on Myanmar to restore security in line with the rule of law, he commended Bangladesh’s efforts to receive displaced persons and respond to humanitarian needs.  Fact-finding efforts were needed in the region, he said, work which must be undertaken in a manner acceptable to Myanmar.  Japan’s comments on the draft had not been considered by sponsors and as such he had abstained.

The representative of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said his Government opposed all country-specific resolutions.  Yet, he abstained due to a sincere wish that the humanitarian issue be resolved promptly.

The representative of Argentina said he had voted in favour of the draft, citing the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims.  Any position adopted on the matter should respect the rights and freedoms of the people of Rakhine State and avoid increasing the fragility of the situation.

The representative of the Philippines said her country had voted against the draft resolution, as the crisis in Rakhine was complex with deep historical roots.  Myanmar faced many challenges on many fronts, and the Philippines recognized the initiative made by the Government to resolve them.  Isolation and censure would only add to the difficulties that Myanmar’s Government faced.

The representative of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, in explanation of vote, said his country followed developments in Myanmar closely.  The crisis could only be resolved through constructive dialogue and he welcomed the positive steps taken by the Government to find solutions.  Country-specific resolutions would not improve the situation, he said, and as such, he had voted against the draft.

The representative of Cambodia had voted against the draft resolution, as addressing human rights on a country-specific basis contravened the principle of non‑interference outlined in the Charter of the United Nations.  He urged Myanmar to cooperate with United Nations agencies to find a solution to the crisis.

The representative of Venezuela said it was up to States to guarantee the human rights of their citizens.  Genuine dialogue with the consent of States would foster the sustainable protection of human rights.  Venezuela had abstained from the vote.

The representative of Ecuador expressed concern over the deterioration of human rights in Myanmar and condemned any violation of such fundamental freedoms.  However, country-specific mandates would not improve the situation.  Indeed, countries should not be singled out in resolutions, and as such, his country had abstained from the vote.

The representative of Viet Nam did not support country-specific resolutions and had voted against the draft.  She said it was important to have a balanced resolution reflecting the perspectives of all parties, including Myanmar.  She called on all parties involved to engage in dialogue.

The representative of Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the positive steps Myanmar had made to resolve the crisis.  It was vital for the country to uphold democracy and to maintain socioeconomic progress.  He called on Myanmar to offer the Human Rights Council fact-finding mission and other humanitarian actors full access to Rakhine State, and to bring to justice those who had committed rights violations.

The representative of Nigeria, in a general statement, said his country always abstained on country-specific resolutions, as the universal periodic review was the adequate approach to address those matters.  Yet, this time, Nigeria had joined consensus in solidarity with all those condemning the situation in Myanmar.  Nigeria joined the OIC in calling on Myanmar to improve conditions for its people and commended Bangladesh for assistance provided to those in need.  He reiterated Nigeria’s position against country-specific drafts.

The representative of Indonesia said his Government had been fully engaged in the discussion of the draft.  Condemning all violence, he called for all refugees to be allowed to return home.  The draft must be given focus and push States to act so that the situation did not further deteriorate.  He welcomed Myanmar’s engagement with regional partners and said Rohingya Muslims must be able to return home.  Myanmar’s success was vital to regional stability, he assured.

The representative of Canada thanked the OIC for tabling the draft, noting that violations against minorities in Myanmar persisted.  Sexual violence and displacement remained major concerns, she said, adding that States had the primary responsibility to protect their citizens.  The international community could not remain in silence in the face of human rights violations, she assured, stressing that all Rohingya required access to their civil and political rights.  She welcomed the draft as an effort to focus further attention on the matter.

The representative of Myanmar said today was a sad day, as the ill-intentioned draft would not help resolve issues in his country, but rather, only intensify tensions.  The draft demonstrated a lack of coherence among the Non‑Aligned Movement.  As the draft held no moral authority, Myanmar would not be bound by it.  Thanking those who had voted against the draft, he said the text was clearly politicized and ethically unacceptable.  The people of Myanmar would not relent in building a country where all enjoyed prosperity, he assured.  Democratic change did not happen overnight.  The Government was working to address all obstacles in the way of a sustainable democratic transition.

Right of Reply

The representative of Iran, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said consulting Saudi Arabia on human rights matters was akin to someone “consulting the angel of death on a matter of life”.  Saudi Arabia was selling fanaticism and sectarianism as a vision for promoting human rights.  Saudi takfiri ideologies acted as an “invasive species”, he said, adding that Saudi entities were busy supporting extremists around the world.

The representative of Saudi Arabia said the success of the Saudi Kingdom in cooperating with the international community had caused pain for Iran.  That Government had ignored the principle of cooperation.  Iran’s comments on terrorism were ridiculous, as that country was the main sponsor of terror around the world.  They were merely expressions of ignorance and absurdity, he concluded.

The representative of Iran said he would avoid personal attacks and lies, stressing that deceptive remarks by his counterpart from Saudi Arabia did not change facts.  Saudi Arabia “pumped out a bigoted ideology” that targeted openness and perpetuated mass attacks.  Saudi remarks in defence of human rights were blatant mockeries of peace, he stressed, adding that Saudi Arabia could not keep playing its “Iran card” to engage in conflict.

The representative of Saudi Arabia said it was regrettable that today’s discussions had deteriorated because of Iran’s delegate.  Iran’s Constitution promoted sectarianism and there were no Sunni mosques in that country.  Further, Iran used children as human shields in conflict, he said, refusing to respond to allegations made against his country.

The representative of Syria, to comments by his counterpart from Saudi Arabia that Syria and Iran were cooperating, said a joint defence agreement with Iran was in place and he expressed pride over such cooperation with both Iran and the Russian Federation in combating groups sponsored by Saudi Arabia.  He expressed hope that Saudi Arabia would not insult Arabs and Muslims.

The representative of Saudi Arabia said he would like to use his right of reply.

A Secretariat official said the rules of procedure outline that the number of times a Member State could speak in exercise of the right of reply should be limited to two per item.

The Committee Chair then gave the floor to Saudi Arabia to speak in point of order.

The representative of Saudi Arabia in a point of order objected to the rule as it was unfair for a Member State to be denied the right of reply after another Member State had spoken.

The Chair said the rule was clear and his ruling stood.

The representative of Syria, in a point of order, thanked the Chair for his position, and said Member States should learn how to use the procedures.

The representative of Saudi Arabia said he accepted the ruling and congratulated Syria for its alliance with the Persians.

The representative of Syria said it was his country’s honour to be allies with Iran.

The Chair of the Committee ended the discussion.

Advancement of Women

The representative of Mongolia introduced a draft resolution titled “Improvement of the situation of women and girls in rural areas” (document A/C.3/72/L.22/Rev.1).  He said protecting the rights of rural women and girls was crucial to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  The resolution aimed to improve the situation of rural women and girls by providing them with access to quality healthcare services, education and economic opportunities.  He noted that rural women and girls were particularly vulnerable to violence and urged Governments to eliminate all forms of violence against women and offer comprehensive health and legal services to all victims.  He said poverty among rural women and girls had often resulted because of lack of access to education and economic resources.  To improve access to education, the resolution called for the building of safe and inclusive educational facilities.  He hoped that the draft resolution would receive the wide support of Member States.

The draft resolution was adopted without a vote.

By its terms, the Assembly would urge Member States, in collaboration with the United Nations and civil society, to attach greater importance to improving the situation of rural women and girls in national, regional and global development strategies.  That should be done by mainstreaming a gender perspective into decision-making and governance of natural resources; leveraging women’s influence in managing natural resources; and enhancing the capacities of Governments, civil society and development partners to better address gender issues in such management.  The Assembly would invite Governments to promote the economic empowerment of rural women, including through entrepreneurship training, and to adopt gender-responsive and climate-sensitive rural development strategies and agricultural production, including budget frameworks and relevant assessment measures.

The representative of the United States said her country was pleased to join consensus on the draft resolution.  The United States did not consider abortion a form of family planning or support it in its assistance.  The United States recognized the importance of voluntary choice in maternal health and family planning and was the largest donor to family health planning assistance in the world.

The representative of Mexico stressed the importance of recognizing rural women’s rights, expressing concern that the multiple reasons for discrimination against rural women had not been addressed in the text.  Member States should be aware that the challenges rural women faced were caused by many factors other than gender, such as age and ethnic origin.  The absence of a reference to reproductive and sexual rights demonstrated that the international community had a long way to go to ensure that women had autonomy over their bodies.  Nonetheless, Mexico had joined consensus on the draft but called on States to consider the issues he had highlighted.

UNHCR

The representative of Zimbabwe introduced a draft resolution titled, “Enlargement of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees” (document A/C.3/72/L.60), through which she said Zimbabwe wished to be admitted to the Executive Committee.  Noting her country’s participation in relevant international mechanisms, she said Zimbabwe had hosted a large number of refugees from the region.  By planning to join the Executive Committee, Zimbabwe hoped to expand its engagement on the matter.

The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote.

By its terms, the Assembly would decide to increase the number of members of the Executive Committee from 101 States to 102 States, and request the Economic and Social Council to elect the additional members at a coordination and management meeting in 2018.

Elimination of Racism

The representative of the Russian Federation introduced a draft resolution titled “Combating glorification of Nazism, neo‑Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance” (document A/C.3/72/L.56/Rev.1).  He said the draft focused on an issue of increasing relevance.  Despite a victory over Nazism after the Second World War, there were still people looking to disregard history.  Following the war, a system of rights protections had been enshrined as a response to the trampling of human dignity.  Still, attempts had been made to deny a common history and dilute principles of international law and security.

The draft addressed relevant human rights issues, he assured, pointing to increasing xenophobia stemming from restrictive immigration policies.  He said he was appalled by pro‑Nazi demonstrations which stood as reminders of mobs during [Adolf] Hitler’s Germany.  Co‑sponsors of the draft deemed it unacceptable to glorify those complicit in Nazi crimes.  More than 70 years ago, people had summoned their strength to counter a common evil.  States had a duty to adopt the draft to respect not only those who had fought Nazism but also future generations.

The representative of Belarus, speaking also on behalf of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and the Russian Federation, among others, condemned attempts to rewrite history.  Advocating strict compliance with the outcomes of the Nuremberg process, she said the lessons of Nuremberg were relevant and that all States must commit to fighting Nazism, hate speech and xenophobia.  It was important to ensure that monuments to those who had fought against Nazism were protected.

The representative of the United States offered an amendment to draft resolution “L.56/Rev.1”.  She suggested a series of deletions and revisions to preambular paragraphs 2, 5 and 9, as well as to the following operative paragraphs: 1, 4, 7, 8, 8bis, 9, 10, 13, 14, 16, 19, 24, 30, 31, 34, 37, 38, 40, 41 and 47.

The representative of the Russian Federation said he did not agree with the proposed amendments, as the draft resolution was the fruit of intensive discussions in which the United States had not participated.  The changes proposed would fundamentally alter the substance of the draft.  It was necessary to make a clear distinction between voicing racist perspectives and freedom of expression.

The representative of the United States said her country had expressed concern over the resolution each year since its 2005 introduction.  This year, it proposed amendments addressing every part of the text that violated individual freedoms of speech, thought, expression and association.  While the amendment did not fix every problem, it addressed the free speech issues that glaringly made the draft a “reprehensible red line” for the United States, and others.

 The United States did not need to defend its position against Nazism.  Calling the draft a cynical exercise and an annual power play by one country against its sovereign neighbours, which attempted to criminalize free speech and expression without any genuine effort to combat Nazism, discrimination or anti‑Semitism, she said the solution to hate was not censorship.  It was the freedom for goodness and justice to triumph over evil and persecution.  The proposals would remove overtly problematic portions of the draft resolution which violated the freedom of expression and which had inappropriately misstated historical fact.  She urged all delegates to vote in favour of the amendment.

A recorded vote was then requested on the proposed amendment.

The representative of South Africa, in explanation of vote, said her country did not support any of the proposed amendments and considered them hostile.  She expressed appreciation to the Russian Federation for its openness in drafting the resolution.

The representative of Syria said he would vote against the amendments as they were provocative, hostile and late.

The Committee then rejected the amendments by a recorded vote of 3 in favour (Israel, Ukraine, United States), to 81 against, with 73 abstentions.

The representative of Argentina, speaking in explanation of vote, said he had abstained, noting that oral amendments should not propose such extensive changes to a draft.  He urged all Member States to cooperate transparently in the drafting process.

The representative of Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, reiterated the bloc’s priority to fight contemporary forms of extremist ideologies.  He expressed regret that the draft as a whole focused on issues far from the matter at hand, and shared the United States’ view that matters of racism should be addressed in an impartial way.  The draft restricted the freedom of assembly and he acknowledged the attempt through the amendment to address shortcomings in the draft as a whole.  Still, proposed changes had not been provided far enough in advance to give them due consideration.  As such, the European Union had abstained.

A recorded vote was then requested on the draft as a whole.

The representative of the Russian Federation asked who had requested the recorded vote.

The Chair responded that the United States had requested the recorded vote.

The representative of the United States said the reasons her delegation had called for the vote were reflected in the amendments.

The representative of Senegal said his delegation was not a co‑sponsor of the draft.

The Committee then approved the draft as a whole by a recorded vote of 125 in favour to 2 against (Ukraine, United States), with 51 abstentions.

By its terms, the Assembly would express deep concern about the glorification, in any form, of the Nazi movement, neo‑Nazism and former members of the Waffen SS organization.  It would encourage States, civil society and other stakeholders to use all opportunities to counter, in accordance with international human rights law, the dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred while also deciding to remain seized of the issue.

The representative of the United States said her country condemned all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and regretted having had to call a vote on the resolution.  Her country’s concerns centred around the focus on criminalizing free speech and vague references to extremism.  The United States was a partner in promoting remembrance of the Holocaust, but due to the draft resolution’s overly narrow nature, the United States could not support it.  It would propose an alternative approach next year, which would emphasize that Governments should speak out against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and employ tools including proactive Government outreach and defence of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The representative of Estonia, on behalf of the European Union, said the fight against neo-Nazism must be a priority.  All contemporary forms of racism should be addressed in an impartial, balanced manner, with a focus on human rights.  The European Union had engaged with the drafters to strengthen the human rights aspect of the text, he said, yet several important concerns had not been included.  Focusing the fight against racism around history-teaching or erroneous references to politically motivated issues were outside the scope of the human rights agenda.  The European Union would continue to engage with the co-sponsors to address the issue in a balanced manner, and for that reason, had abstained.

The representative of Switzerland, also speaking on behalf of Australia, Liechtenstein, Norway and another country, expressed strong support for the fight against Nazism and neo-Nazism.  The draft resolution contained some important elements in the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, yet she expressed regret that some suggestions to broaden the text had not been taken on board.  Concerns also persisted with paragraphs de facto restricting the rights to freedom of opinion and expression.  For those reasons, the countries on whose behalf she spoke had abstained during the vote.

The representative of Canada condemned racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, including Nazism and neo-Nazism, urging States to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racism.  She expressed regret that changes proposed to broaden the resolution and ensure its alignment with internationally recognized human rights had not been included, and as such, Canada had abstained from voting.

The representative of Belarus, in a general statement, said it was necessary to keep the important matter at hand on the United Nations agenda.  The pernicious ideology of Nazism had endured, she said, adding that forces still used the freedom of opinion and expression to provoke hatred.  Belarus rejected efforts to glorify Nazism and militant nationalism, and stood against campaigns to denigrate those who had paid a high price during the Second World War.  Belarus valued peace and had therefore voted in favour of the resolution.

The representative of Azerbaijan, in an explanation of vote after the vote, said the emergence of Nazi-inspired parties raised serious concern.  The draft resolution expressed concern about erecting monuments and memorials, he said, noting that such actions negatively influenced children and young people.  He reiterated concern about Garegin Nzhdeh, who had collaborated with Nazis, saying that the younger generation in Armenia was being raised in that spirit.

The representative of Armenia said her country was a traditional co-sponsor of the resolution, committed to the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.  The most dangerous form of hate was the institutionalization of racism, she said, adding that Armenia understood well the consequences of racism and ideology, having suffered the first genocide of the twenty‑first century.  Armenia would continue to promote the prevention of genocide.

The representative of Ukraine said in a general statement that his country had paid a high price to defeat Nazism, with more than 8 million Ukrainian lives lost during the Second World War.  The draft’s objective was not about fighting Nazism but sought to twist the objectives of the Nuremberg Tribunal.  During the negotiations, Ukraine had suggested edits, such as honouring all victims of totalitarian regimes and those who had perished from genocide.  Despite that the Russian Federation stated that the text aimed to stop the spread of Nazism, it continued to occupy areas in Ukraine.  Radicalism, neo-Nazism and xenophobia were on the rise in the Russian Federation and Ukraine had voted against the resolution.

Human Rights Council Report

The representative of Gabon, speaking on behalf of the African Group, introduced a draft resolution titled “Report of the Human Rights Council” (document A/C.3/72/L.62).  The Human Rights Council’s establishment marked a milestone in global efforts to promote and protect all human rights in a constructive way that avoided selectivity and double standards.  The universal periodic review was the most distinct mechanism to help States fulfil their obligations, as it ensured equal treatment of every country.  He expressed concern over the modest funding of its trust fund for financial and technical assistance, stressing that it was critical that recommendations be properly resourced.  He also expressed concern over attempts to introduce notions that had no legal foundations into international human rights instruments, reiterating the importance of the 1993 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action and welcoming the decision to appoint a Special Rapporteur on the right to development.

The representative of Belarus said country-specific mandates diminished the role of the Human Rights Council, which had become a machine for rubber stamping values that were foreign to many States.  The report contained information that undermined the principles of friendly international cooperation.  Her country requested a vote on the draft and would vote against it.

The representative of Liechtenstein, also speaking on behalf of Australia, Canada, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland, said the group was a strong supporter of the Human Rights Council, calling it an authority on human rights, including through its universal periodic review and special procedures.  She cited relevant resolutions through which States had agreed to the institutional arrangements between the Council and the General Assembly.

The representative of Israel, speaking in explanation of vote, said the Council’s numerous special agenda items and resolutions targeting Israel had demonstrated its bias against her country.  The Council focused on Israel rather than on pressing human rights situations in other parts of the world.  She urged it to address those real and urgent matters, stressing that Israel would vote against the draft resolution.

The representative of Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed concern over the draft resolution on procedural grounds.  Asking the Third Committee to take note of the entire report was not appropriate.  Rather, it should only consider or take action on recommendations in the report, as its consideration of the report as a whole in early November had sufficed.  For those and other reasons, it would abstain from the vote.

The draft resolution was approved by a recorded vote of 117 in favour to 2 against (Belarus and Israel), with 66 abstentions.

By its terms, the Assembly would take note of the report of the Human Rights Council, including the addendum thereto, and its recommendations.

The representative of the United States said in explanation of vote that the draft resolution was procedurally unnecessary.  The United States also objected to the Human Rights Council’s focus on Israel.  The Council’s membership of countries with especially poor human rights records undermined its work, which was in need of serious reform.  As such, the United States had abstained from the vote on the resolution.

The representative of Costa Rica expressed support for the Human Rights Council and its universal periodic review.  Nevertheless, her country had abstained on the resolution, as the Council’s report must be considered by the General Assembly in plenary and not by the Third Committee.

The representative of Eritrea in a general statement said her delegation had supported the resolution.  Eritrea opposed any politically motivated mandates, and dissociated from the part of the report containing documents on the human rights situation in Eritrea.

The representative of Iran in an explanation of vote expressed appreciation to the African Group for presenting the resolution, saying the exercise was a valid one.  Iran recognized the work of the Human Rights Council within its Universal Periodic Review mechanism, he said, adding that Iran had abstained from the vote.

The representative of Myanmar dissociated from the adoption in Geneva of Human Rights Council resolution A/HRC/34/L.8/Rev.1 on the human rights situation in Myanmar.

Self-Determination

The representative of Cuba introduced the draft resolution titled, “Use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination” (document A/C.3/72/L.34), which he said reaffirmed that mercenaries threatened all human rights.  He made an oral amendment, expressing hope that the draft would be adopted without a vote and asking all Member States to support it.

The Chair said a request had been made for a recorded vote.

The representative of Cuba said he knew who asked for the vote but asked the Chairman of the Committee to inform Member States who called for the vote.

The Chairman of the Committee said it was Estonia who called for the vote.

The draft resolution was then approved by a recorded vote of 127 in favour to 52 against, with 4 abstentions (Colombia, Mexico, Switzerland, Tonga).

By its terms, the Assembly would condemn recent mercenary activities in developing countries and stress the need for the Working Group on the use of mercenaries to look into both sources and root causes, as well as the political motivations of mercenaries and related activities.  It would request States to exercise utmost vigilance against any recruitment, training, hiring or financing of mercenaries by private companies offering international military consultancy and security services.  It would condemn recent mercenary activities in developing countries, particularly in conflict areas, and the threat they pose to constitutional order.  The Assembly would also request the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), as a matter of priority, to publicize the adverse effects of mercenary activities on the right of peoples to self-determination and, when requested and necessary, to render advisory services to States affected by those activities.

The representative of Argentina, speaking in explanation of the vote after the vote, expressed full and unwavering support for the right to self-determination.

The representative of Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, thanked Cuba for holding discussions on the draft resolution.  However, the Working Group should focus on the role of mercenaries, rather than on private military and security companies.  He expressed hope that such concerns would be addressed in future discussions, stressing that the bloc could not support the resolution.

The representative of Pakistan introduced a draft resolution titled “Universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination” (document A/C.3/72/L.58).  Self-determination had provided hope to people in their struggle against foreign occupation, a right that had been upheld by all major summits of the United Nations, Non-Aligned Movement and OIC.  The exercise of that right had closed the dark chapter of colonization, she said, adding that the draft resolution opposed all acts of alien domination resulting in the suppression of the right to self-determination.

The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote.

By its terms, the Assembly would declare its firm opposition to foreign military intervention, aggression and occupation which had suppressed the right of peoples to self-determination and other human rights in certain parts of the world.  It would call on those States responsible to cease immediately their military intervention in and occupation of foreign countries and territories, and all acts of repression, discrimination, exploitation and maltreatment.  The General Assembly would also deplore the plight of millions of refugees and displaced persons uprooted due to such acts, and reaffirm their right to voluntary return.

The representative of Spain said the colonial situation in Gibraltar affected the territorial integrity of his country.  Spain had asked for decades for a dialogue-based solution and had proposed co-sovereignty as a way to address the socio-economic well-being of the territory.  Underscoring the need for dialogue to find a solution in line with United Nations principles.  Where there was political will, decolonization was possible.

The representative of the United States said self-determination was important and her country had therefore joined consensus.

The representative of Argentina expressed support for the right of peoples to self-determination, saying that right must be interpreted in line with relevant resolutions of the United Nations.  Self-determination required an active subject, and if the subject was not in existence there was no right to self-determination.  The resolution must be implemented in line with the Special Committee on decolonization.

Right of Reply

The representative of the United Kingdom recalled its sovereignty over Gibraltar, saying the people of Gibraltar had enjoyed the right of self-determination.  The constitution endorsed by the people of Gibraltar had provided for a modern relationship, and the United Kingdom reiterated its commitment to the people of Gibraltar.  The United Kingdom also confirmed it would not enter into sovereignty negotiations with which Gibraltar was not content, she said, also expressing regret that Spain had withdrawn from talks in 2012.

Promotion and Protection of Human Rights

The representative of Antigua and Barbuda introduced a draft resolution titled “International Day of Sign Languages” (document A/C.3/72/L.36/Rev.1), noting that it aimed to designate 23 September as the International Day for such.  He called on States to support the draft resolution.

The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote.

Under its terms, the General Assembly would designate 23 September as the International Day of Sign Languages, to be observed each year beginning in 2018.

The representative of the United States thanked Antigua and Barbuda for taking up the issue.

Human Rights Questions, Alternative Approaches to Their Enjoyment

The representative of Cuba, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, introduced a draft resolution titled “The right to development” (document A/C.3/72/L.26/Rev.1), which he said underscored the importance of that right and the urgent need to resolve poverty, which also affected people in developed countries.

The Chair said a recorded vote had been requested.

The representative of Cuba asked who had requested the vote.

The Chair replied that the United States had requested the vote.

The representative of the United States in explanation of vote before the vote, said her country was committed to eliminating global poverty.  The United States had collaborated with other donor countries, the private sector and organizations to ensure development in countries around the world.  However, it had longstanding concerns on the definition of the right to development, she said, stressing that any definition must include human rights.  The right to development had been framed to promote the interests of States, rather than individuals.  As the United States had reservations on the draft, it would vote against it.

The Committee then approved the draft resolution by a recorded vote of 133 in favour to 10 against (Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Netherlands, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States), with 38 abstentions.

By its terms, the Assembly would acknowledge the need to strive for greater acceptance, operationalization and realization of the right to development at the international level, while urging all States — at the national level — to undertake the necessary policy formulation and to institute measures required to implement that right as an integral part of all human rights.  It would stress that the views, criteria and corresponding operational subcriteria, once considered, revised and endorsed by the Working Group, should be used in the elaboration of comprehensive and coherent standards to implement the right to development.  The Assembly would request the Secretary-General to submit a report at its seventy-third session and an interim report to the Human Rights Council on the implementation of the present resolution.

The representative of New Zealand, speaking on behalf of Australia among other countries in explanation of vote, said the group had abstained from the vote.  She welcomed that the resolution had included language from the Vienna Declaration, noting nonetheless that economic development did not lead to promotion and protection of human rights.  A human rights-based approach could help address challenges to development.

The representative of Mexico said he had voted in favour of the resolution.  However, there was a need to devise criteria for implementing that right and Mexico would follow up on the work of the Special Rapporteur on the right to development.

The representative of Liechtenstein said the promotion and protection of human rights was at the basis of realizing the fundamental tenet of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that the person should be the beneficiary of the right to development.  Discussions about that right had been challenging.  Some of the changes to this year’s resolution had taken the international community away from broadening consensus on the right to development and Liechtenstein had therefore abstained.

The representative of Estonia on behalf of the European Union reiterated support for the right to development as based on the universality of all human rights.  The right to development required the full realization of all rights, he said, adding that the primary responsibility for ensuring that right was realized was owed by States to their citizens.  He suggested that the main sponsors of the resolution seek common ground, adding that the European Union did not favor an instrument of a binding nature as that would not ensure the right to development.  The resolution had selectively quoted from internationally agreed documents, he noted.  The European Union took a rights-based approach to development; human rights were central to the 2030 Agenda and the right to development could not be given primacy.

The representative of Cuba introduced on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement a draft resolution titled “Human rights and unilateral coercive measures” (document A/C.3/72/L.27), which he said underscored that unilateral coercive measures contravened international law and breached international humanitarian law.  Unilateral coercive measures created harmful consequences for countries’ social and economic development, as well as extraterritorial effects.  Cuba, as coordinator of the Non-Aligned Movement’s Working Group on human rights, called on Member States to vote in favour of “L.27”.

The representative of Cuba, in a general statement, asked the Secretariat who had requested a recorded vote, suggesting that the formal request was an unnecessary step.

The Chair responded that Estonia on behalf of the European Union had requested the vote.

The representative of the United States in explanation of vote said her country would vote no because it categorically rejected the premises of the resolution, which did not advance human rights.  It was the responsibility of States to protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms, she said, noting that unilateral and multilateral sanctions were non-violent means of achieving objectives.

The Committee then approved the draft by a recorded vote of 128 in favour to 53 against, with no abstentions.

By its terms, the Assembly would strongly urge States to refrain from promulgating and applying any unilateral economic, financial or trade measures not in accordance with international law and the Charter.  It would call on States that had initiated such measures to abide by international law and the Charter, among other documents, and commit to their responsibilities arising from international human rights instruments by revoking such measures.  It would also decide to examine the question on a priority basis at its seventy-third session.

Next, the representative of Cuba introduced on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, a draft resolution titled “Enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights” (document A/C.3/72/L.28/Rev.1).  He thanked countries that took part in the formulation of the draft text.  He said he hoped that the resolution would be adopted without a vote as it was in previous years.

The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote.

By its terms, the Assembly would urge all actors on the international scene to build an international order based on inclusion, justice, equality and equity, human dignity, mutual understanding and respect for both cultural diversity and universal human rights.  It would also urge States to take measures to enhance bilateral, regional and international cooperation to address the adverse impacts of consecutive and compounded global crises.

The representative of United States underscored States’ primary responsibility to protect the human rights of their citizens.  Such efforts were not contingent on international cooperation.  The draft resolution contained inaccurate language on a global food crisis.  The United States did not believe that a global food crisis was taking place, as the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) had made clear that, although food prices were rising, the current situation did not constitute a food crisis.

The representative of Cuba on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement introduced a draft resolution titled “Human rights and cultural diversity” (document A/C.3/72/L.29/Rev.1), which acknowledged that respect for cultural diversity could contribute to peace, well-being and progress around the globe.

The Chair said a recorded vote had been requested by the United States.

The representative of the United States said in explanation of vote before the vote that all Governments were responsible for ensuring the fundamental freedoms of all their citizens.  The United States was concerned that the concept of cultural diversity could be used to legitimize human rights abuses.  Efforts to promote cultural diversity should not infringe on human rights, she said, adding that the draft misrepresented the relationship between cultural diversity and human rights laws.  The United States would vote no and asked others to do the same.

The representative of Estonia on behalf of the European Union said respect and appreciation of other cultures was essential to maintaining peace.  However, cultural rights could only be protected when rights, such as freedom of information and freedom to assembly, were safeguarded too.  It was the duty of States to promote the fundamental freedoms of their citizens and he expressed concern about the draft resolution’s reference to universally accepted human rights, as that could lead to misinterpretation that some human rights were not universal.  The bloc would vote against the resolution.

The draft resolution was adopted with 128 in favour to 52 against, with no abstentions.

By its terms, the Assembly would emphasize the important contribution of culture to development and the achievement of national development objectives and internationally agreed development goals.  It would urge States to ensure that political and legal systems reflected the multicultural diversity of their societies, and relevant international organizations to conduct studies on how respect for cultural diversity fostered international solidarity.

The representative of Cuba introduced the draft resolution titled “Strengthening United Nations action in the field of human rights through the promotion of international cooperation and the importance of non-selectivity, impartiality and objectivity” (document A/C.3/72/L.30).  He said the draft reaffirmed the importance of non-selectivity, impartiality and objectivity on the part of the Special Rapporteurs, adding in an oral amendment to operative paragraph 1, the title of a report.

The Committee then approved the draft resolution as orally amended without a vote.

By its terms, the Assembly would invite Member States to consider adopting measures that they deemed appropriate for achieving progress in international cooperation in encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The representative of Cuba then introduced a draft resolution titled “Promotion of a democratic and equitable international order” (document A/C.3/72/L.31), noting that the international order should be based on interdependence and international cooperation among all States, whatever their economic systems.  The text affirmed that all people had a right to a democratic order which was equitable, adding that all peoples must have the right to development and the right to peace.

The representative of Estonia, on behalf of the European Union, in explanation of vote before the vote, said it was necessary to work towards a democratic and equitable international order, yet noted that as several defining elements of the resolution went beyond the agenda, the bloc would therefore vote against it.

The representative of the United States said democracy, human rights and the rule of law were critical elements of her country’s foreign policy.  Because the United States had reservations about the fundamental premise of the draft resolution, it would call a vote and vote against the text.  She urged others to do likewise.

The Committee then approved the draft by a recorded vote of 123 in favour to 53 against, with 5 abstentions (Armenia, Chile, Costa Rica, Peru, Mexico).

By its terms, the Assembly would affirm that a democratic and equitable international order fostered the full realization of all human rights for all while also calling on Member States to fulfil their commitment expressed during the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.

The representative of Cuba next introduced the draft resolution titled “The right to food” (document A/C.3/72/L.32/Rev.1), orally amending preambular paragraph 31.  As more people suffered from hunger, sound economic environments were essential to ensuring that the right to food was protected.  Organizations other than the United Nations, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), should promote policies to ensure the right to food was upheld.  Cuba had held a number of informal consultations on the draft and included suggestions in the text.

The Chair said a recorded vote had been requested by the United States.

The representative of the United States said 20 million people in South Sudan, Yemen and the Lake Chad Basin faced starvation due to conflict.  The Committee should be outraged that so many people were in that predicament due to man-made crises.  However, the draft resolution did not offer meaningful solutions to hunger and malnutrition.  The United States did not treat the right to food as an enforceable obligation.

Each State was responsible for protecting the human rights of their citizens, she said, regardless of external factors, such as the lack of assistance.  The draft contained unbalanced language that did not reflect the need to protect intellectual property rights for innovations in agriculture, as well as references to trade-related issues which fell outside the Committee’s purview.  The draft had inaccurately linked trade negotiations to the right to food and the United States could not accept the United Nations shaping the agenda of the World Trade Organization (WTO).  Thus, it would vote against the draft resolution.

The draft resolution was approved by a vote of 177 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 1 abstention (Chile).

By its terms, the Assembly would consider it intolerable that an estimated 45 per cent of the children who died every year before age 5 died from undernutrition and hunger-related illness, and that — as estimated by the FAO — 815 million people suffered from chronic hunger owing to the lack of food.  It would request all States, private actors and international organizations to fully consider the need to promote the right to food for all.  It would urge States to give adequate priority in their development strategies to the realization of that right.

The representative of Canada supported the right to food as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living.  In operative paragraph 35 there was no link between the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights and the right to food.  Canada’s interpretation of operative paragraph 35 was that Member States should consider how they implemented that Agreement.  Canada saw nothing in that accord preventing countries from pursuing the right to food or food security.

The representative of Switzerland said in a general statement the right to food was a priority for her country which had therefore co-sponsored the draft resolution.  Yet, Switzerland supported the multilateral trade system, and operative paragraph 28 in the current version did not reflect the 2015 ministerial declaration of a conference in Nairobi, she said, adding that Switzerland’s proposals in that regard had not been retained in the draft resolution.

The representative of Cuba introduced on behalf of Non-Aligned Movement a draft resolution titled “Promotion of equitable geographical distribution in the membership of the human rights treaty bodies” (document A/C.3/72/L.33), which he said also underscored the need for more equitable gender distribution.

The representative of Estonia on behalf of the European Union in explanation of vote before the vote recognized the principle of equitable geographical distribution but opposed the draft resolution because the human rights treaties themselves prescribed the composition of their treaty bodies.  Some treaties did refer to equitable geographical distribution and some did not.  It was not up to the General Assembly to modify treaty provisions, he said, adding that experts to those bodies were elected in their personal capacities and not as representatives of their groups.  Decisions on who should be elected to serve as experts should be based on the candidates themselves; the European Union opposed a quota system.  For those reasons the European Union had requested a vote and would vote against the draft resolution.

The Committee then approved the draft by a recorded vote of 127 in favour to 51 against, with no abstentions.

By its terms, the Assembly would recommend, when considering the possible allocation of seats on each treaty body on a regional basis, the introduction of flexible procedures that encompassed three criteria:  that each of the five regional groups established by the Assembly were allocated seats on each treaty body in equivalent proportion to the number of States parties to the instrument in that group; provision for periodic revisions of the allocation of seats in order to reflect relative changes in the level of treaty ratification in each regional group; and automatic periodic revisions should be envisaged in order to avoid amending the text of the instrument when the quotas were revised.

For information media. Not an official record.