Approving 8 Draft Resolutions, Third Committee Names 4 January World Braille Day, Also Tackling Intolerance, Illiteracy, Threats to Religious Freedom

GA/SHC/4250
6 November 2018
Seventy-third Session, 44th Meeting (PM)

Approving 8 Draft Resolutions, Third Committee Names 4 January World Braille Day, Also Tackling Intolerance, Illiteracy, Threats to Religious Freedom

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) sent eight draft resolutions to the General Assembly today, covering a range of topics, from literacy and volunteering, to the annual designation of 4 January as World Braille Day beginning in 2019.

Three of today’s drafts fell under the broad theme of crime prevention and criminal justice, recommended for approval by the Economic and Social Council.

Under a draft on the follow‑up to the Thirteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (document A/C.3/73/L.3), the Assembly would decide to hold the Fourteenth Congress in Kyoto, Japan, from 20 to 27 April 2020, with advance consultations on 19 April 2020.  A single declaration would be adopted and submitted to the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.

By a draft on enhancing the Commission’s role in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (document A/C.3/73/L.2), the Assembly would invite Member States and United Nations entities to offer their views on that topic.  A draft on the rule of law (document A/C,3/73/L.2) would have the Assembly urge States to mainstream crime prevention strategies into all economic and social policies related to protecting children from exclusion.

In terms of social development, the Committee approved two drafts, one on volunteering (document A/C.3/73/L.13) — which would have the Assembly encourage Governments to integrate volunteerism into national development strategies — and another on literacy (document A/C.3/73/L.14), by which the Assembly would express deep concern that 750 million adults lack basic literacy skills and call on Governments to scale up such programmes.

A draft on “World Braille Day” (document A/C.3/73/L.5/Rev.1), would invite all Member States, United Nations entities and others to observe that Day on 4 January by raising public awareness of braille as a means of communication.

More broadly on human rights questions, the Committee approved a draft resolution on combating intolerance (document A/C.3/73/L.28), which would have the Assembly condemn any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, whether involving the use of print, audiovisual or electronic media or any other means.  It would also call on all States to foster a domestic environment of religious tolerance, notably by creating a Government mechanism to identify and address potential areas of tension between different religious communities.

By a final draft on “Freedom of religion or belief” (document A/C.3/73/L.45), the Assembly would urge States to step up efforts to protect and promote freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief.  It would further call on them to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, to respond favourably to his requests to visit their countries and to provide all information and follow‑up necessary for the effective fulfilment of his mandate.

At the meeting’s outset, representatives of the Russian Federation introduced two draft resolutions, the first on “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.3/73/L.53); and the second on “Countering the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes” (document A/C.3/73/L.9/Rev.1).

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural) will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 8 November, to take further action on draft resolutions.

Action

Turning first to the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, the representative of the Russian Federation introduced a draft resolution on “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/C3/72/L.56).  He recalled that more than 70 years have passed since States came together, celebrating a victory over Nazism, to create the United Nations.  And yet, in many parts of the world, there are resurgent groups using freedom of expression to promote an anti‑Semitic and fascist ideology, he said, denouncing attempts at whitewashing the actions of Nazi organizations.

The representative of the Russian Federation, noting the revised version of draft resolution “L.9/Rev.1” said the use of information and communication technology for criminal purposes has turned into a global threat.  The only United Nations platform for dealing with cybercrime issues is the Intergovernmental Expert Group in Vienna, whose mandate does not provide for legal discussions on combating and preventing such criminality.  Noting that the text’s operative section is as concise as possible and that the draft as a whole is brief and clear, he invited all States to co‑sponsor and support the draft.

The Committee then turned to a draft resolution titled “Volunteering for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (document A/C.3/73/L.13).

The representative of Brazil introduced the draft saying it seeks to commend volunteers’ efforts and contributions.  Its adoption will increase the awareness of volunteerism and encourage more people to volunteer, he added.

The representative of Japan, speaking in explanation of vote, said the resolution seeks to renew the international community’s commitment to work closely with volunteers in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Committee then approved the text without a vote.

While acknowledging the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development can serve as a global framework and as such contribute to global peace, the representative of the United States underscored that the Agenda is non‑binding and does not create any new financial commitments.  Each country must work towards implementation in accordance with its own priorities, she stressed, adding that the 2030 Agenda does not create a commitment to provide new market access for goods, for instance.

Next, the representative of Mongolia introduced a draft resolution on “Literacy for Life: Shaping Future Agendas” (document A/C.3/73/L.14), underscoring that education is a crucial element in human development.  According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), more than 617 children and adolescents do not achieve minimum proficiency in reading and mathematics.  He stressed the importance of developing State capacities in the areas of policies, programme delivery and literacy assessment, and of reinforcing innovative models of literacy delivery through information and communications technology.  He read out an oral amendment to preambular paragraph 5bis, adding:  “recognizing that literacy is crucial in a lifelong learning perspective as a continuum of different proficiency levels that are developed throughout life and across different life contexts”.

The Committee then approved the resolution without a vote, as orally revised.

The Committee then turned to a draft resolution titled “World Braille Day” (document A/C.3/73/L.5/Rev.1).

A Secretariat official said the activities envisaged in operative paragraph 5 would be carried out provided voluntary contributions are made available, and the resolution’s adoption would not give rise to any budgetary implications under the programme budget for the biennium 2018‑2019.

The representative of Antigua and Barbuda introduced the draft, saying the support that the text received is a testament to Member States’ commitment to leave no one behind.

The Committee then approved the text without a vote.

Turning to the draft resolution titled “Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons, based on religion or belief” (document A/C.3/73/L.28), the Chair said the draft contains no programme budget implications.

The representative of Egypt, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, introduced draft “L.28”, saying that, in a spirit of consensus, she wished to add new language that would send a positive message to promote tolerance.  She called on all States to co‑sponsor and support the draft, adopting it by consensus.

The representative of Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the text called on States to respond to intolerance and discrimination with full respect for international human rights law.  He stressed the importance of freedom of opinion and expression, which are intrinsically linked to freedom of religion or belief, as well as to other rights and freedoms.  He underscored the crucial role of dialogue in countering religious hatred, which is primarily a threat to the human rights of individuals at local and national levels, stressing that no one may invoke cultural diversity or religious traditions to infringe on rights guaranteed under international law, or limit their scope.

The Committee then approved the resolution without a vote.

The Committee then turned to a draft resolution titled “Freedom of religion or belief” (document A/C.3/73/L.45).

The representative of Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, introduced the draft saying the bloc is guided by the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights in promoting the freedom of religion or belief.  Further efforts are needed to provide adequate constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief, he stressed, calling on States to step up their efforts and implement universal periodic review recommendations in that regard.

The representative of Egypt, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said that, initially, the group had concerns regarding elements of the original resolution, but they were addressed thanks to the flexibility demonstrated by the European Union.

The Committee then approved the text without a vote.

The Committee then turned to a draft resolution titled “Enhancing the role of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in contributing to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (document A/C.3/73/L.2).

The Committee then approved the resolution without a vote.

The representative of the United States, in explanation of position, said the 2030 Agenda was not legally binding.  It neither created new obligations under international law nor financial obligations.  She welcomed its call for shared responsibility.  Recalling its operative paragraph 58, she said the Agenda’s implementation should be carried out without prejudice to other mandates and cannot serve as a precedent for decisions taken in other fora.  Similarly, the 2030 Agenda cannot set a precedent for access to goods or services nor alter or replace World Trade Organization (WTO) decisions, including those relating to trade‑related intellectual property rights.

The Committee then turned to a draft resolution titled “Follow‑up to the Thirteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and preparations for the Fourteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice” (document A/C.3/73/L.3).

A Secretariat official said resource requirements related to operative paragraphs 8, 9, 14, 16 and 20 will not entail any additional appropriation under the programme budget for the biennium 2018‑2019.

The Committee then approved the text without a vote.

Turning to a draft resolution titled “The rule of law, crime prevention and criminal justice in the context of the sustainable Development Goals” (document A/C.3/73/L.4), a Secretariat official said that activities related to operative paragraph 19 would be carried out, provided that extrabudgetary resources of $382,700 are made available.  The text’s approval would not entail any additional appropriation under the programme budget for the biennium 2018‑2019.

The Committee then approved the resolution without a vote.

For information media. Not an official record.