In Inaugural Action, Third Committee Vows to Fight Organ Trade, Urges Respect for Human Rights in Justice Administration, Approving 2 Draft Resolutions

GA/SHC/4251
8 November 2018
Seventy-third Session, 45th Meeting (AM)

In Inaugural Action, Third Committee Vows to Fight Organ Trade, Urges Respect for Human Rights in Justice Administration, Approving 2 Draft Resolutions

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) approved its first‑ever draft resolution on combating trafficking in human organs today, with Spain’s delegate introducing it as a “novel” approach to crime prevention.

Titled “Strengthening and promoting effective measures and international cooperation on organ donation and transplantation to prevent and combat trafficking in persons for the purpose of organ removal and trafficking in human organs”, it was one of two approved without a vote.

“With this initiative we try to address the three perspectives from which these crimes should be analysed:  human rights, health and criminal justice,” he said also on behalf of Guatemala.  “Only as a result of this combination can we develop national policies and collaborative frameworks in the international and regional spheres that are effective in the fight against them.”  The draft seeks to promote cooperation among various agencies involved through a multidisciplinary approach.

On that point, the representative of Belarus said organ trafficking is becoming more relevant, due to the increase in armed conflict and migration fluxes.  The text is largely based on resolutions, adopted in Vienna, that were submitted by her country.  The next step is to consider the adoption of a universal, legally binding document.

By its terms, the Assembly would urge States to consider strengthening legislative frameworks to criminalize human trafficking for the purpose of organ removal and trafficking in human organs, as well as adopt legislative measures guaranteeing that organ donation is guided by clinical criteria and ethical norms, based on donors’ informed and voluntary consent.  It would urge States to ensure that the removal and transplantation of human organs exclusively take place in centres authorized by national health authorities, enhance regulatory oversight, and establish data registries on each organ recovery and transplant procedure.

Introducing the second draft titled, “Human rights in the administration of justice”, Austria’s delegate welcomed delegates’ constructive spirit in negotiating the text which had led to consensus in a short period of time.

Before its approval without a vote, the representative of the United States said that while her delegation joined the consensus, it could not be a co-sponsor as the draft calls on States to comply with or implement obligations outlined in treaties to which the United States is not subject.  She cited its stipulation to not impose life imprisonment, without the possibility of release, on individuals under the age of 18 in that context.

Under its terms, the Assembly would appeal to States to apply individual criminal responsibility and refrain from detaining persons based solely on their family ties with an alleged offender.  It would further call on them to ensure a proper file and data management system on prisoners and pay special attention to the conditions of detention or imprisonment of persons who are in vulnerable situations or marginalized as well as to their particular needs.

Also today, Cuba’s delegate introduced draft resolutions 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.3/73/L.37); “Promotion of a democratic and equitable international order” (document A/C.3/73/L.34); “Promotion of peace as a vital requirement for the full enjoyment of human rights by all” (document A/C.3/73/L.35); and “The right to food” (document A/C.3/73/L.36).  Bolivia’s delegate introduced a draft resolution titled, “United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas” (document A/C.3/73/L.30).

The Third Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 13 November, to take further action.

Action

Turning first to the right of peoples to self‑determination, the representative of Cuba introduced a draft resolution on the “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.3/73/L.37).  The draft devotes attention to the grave problem of the use of mercenaries, he said, recognizing efforts by the Working Group on that matter.

Next, the representative of Bolivia introduced a draft resolution titled “United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas” (document A/C.3/73/L.30), by which the General Assembly would adopt that Declaration, following six years of open, detailed and participatory negotiations on the matter.  The Declaration will play a fundamental role in ending poverty, she assured.

The representative of Cuba then introduced a draft resolution titled “Promotion of a democratic and equitable international order” (document A/C.3/73/L.34), which would have the Assembly reiterate the need to promote the full enjoyment of human rights by all, he said, stressing the importance of broadening enjoyment of the benefits of globalization.

The Committee then turned to a draft resolution titled, “Promotion of peace as a vital requirement for the full enjoyment of all human rights by all” (document A/C.3/73/L.35).

The representative of Cuba introduced the draft, saying that the text will ensure States promote the right to peace through policies that call for the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means.  He underscored its respect for the principles of sovereignty and non‑intervention in internal State affairs, stressing that peace is a requirement for the protection of all human rights.

He then introduced a draft resolution titled, “The right to food” (document A/C.3/73/L.36), stressing that food is a human right and expressing alarm that the number of hungry rose to more than 800 million in 2017.  Despite that the world has sufficient food, 46 per cent of children in developing countries who die before age 5 do so from hunger‑related maladies, and without consolidating national and international support, ending hunger will be impossible.  The draft underscores that the State must protect the right to food and that the international community must coordinate its response.  When requested, it should also provide necessary support.

The Committee then turned to a draft resolution titled, “Human Rights in the administration of justice” (document A/C.3/73/L.46).

The representative of Austria, introducing the draft, welcomed that it had been negotiated in a constructive spirit and expressed hope it would be approved by consensus.

The representative of the United States said that while her delegation joined the consensus, it could not co-sponsor the draft as it calls on States to comply with or implement various obligations — for example, not to impose life imprisonment without the possibility of release on individuals under the age of 18 — under treaties to which the United States is not subject.  Further, the obligations outlined in the text are not consistent with United States law, federal sentencing guidelines or practices that ensure just outcomes.  For example, in emphasizing the best interests of the child in the administration of justice — including when deciding sentencing of a parent or primary caregiver — the draft resolution weighs a single factor against another.  She also took issue with wording around pretrial detention of children and the lack of definition of “overincarceration,” among other elements.

The committee adopted the resolution without a vote.

Turning to crime prevention and criminal justice, the Committee then took up a draft resolution titled, “Strengthening and promoting effective measures and international cooperation on organ donation and transplantation to prevent and combat trafficking in persons for the purpose of organ removal and trafficking in human organs” (document A/C.3/73/L.12/Rev.1).

The representative of Spain, introducing the draft also on behalf of Guatemala, said three different perspectives must be combined to address these offenses, namely:  human rights, health and criminal justice.  The draft seeks to promote cooperation between the various agencies involved, with a multidisciplinary approach, he stated.

The representative of Belarus, speaking in explanation of vote, said the topic of trafficking in organs is becoming more relevant, due to the increase in armed conflicts and migration fluxes, among other factors.  The text is largely based on resolutions adopted in Vienna that were submitted by her country, she said, noting that the next step is to consider the adoption of a universal, legally binding document.

The Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote.

For information media. Not an official record.