The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) approved 11 draft resolutions today, amid heated debate around the call for a moratorium on use of the death penalty.
Approved as amended by a recorded vote of 123 in favour to 36 against, with 30 abstentions, the draft would have the Assembly call on all States to respect international standards on the rights of those facing the death penalty — in particular the minimum standards set out in the annex to Economic and Social Council resolution 1984/50 — and ensure that the death penalty is not applied on the basis of discriminatory laws or as a result of discriminatory or arbitrary application of the law.
Brazil’s representative, introducing the draft, said its language had been adjusted to further align with international human rights law.
Its passage followed intense debate — and the Committee’s ultimate approval of an amendment reaffirming States’ sovereign right to develop their own legal systems, by a recorded vote of 96 in favour to 73 against, with 14 abstentions.
Introducing the amendment on behalf of 34 countries, Singapore’s delegate decried the draft resolution’s “one-size-fits-all” approach to a delicate question, which seeks to impose a particular vision of the world onto others. The amendment meanwhile aims to ensure respect for the diversity of views. It is simple and neutral: it does not take a position on the substance of the draft resolution, nor make judgments about State policies.
Canada’s delegate was among the many expressing her position, calling the amendment unnecessary and unhelpful. The draft resolution’s sponsors worked to ensure great balance in the text by “weaving State sovereignty into the very fabric” of the text.
Egypt’s delegate said he opposed the draft resolution because no matter its stance on death penalty, no country is wrong or right. Each chooses the path that corresponds to its social, cultural and legal needs. Papua New Guinea’s delegate meanwhile said the tabling of the amendment testifies to the sensitive, contentious and highly divisive issue. The draft resolution was crafted to suit those opposed to the death penalty. It deliberately omits that the practice is not illegal under international law.
In other action, the Committee approved — by a recorded vote of 111 in favour to 3 against (Belarus, Israel, Myanmar), with 65 abstentions — a draft by which the Assembly would take note of the Human Rights Council report, including its addendum and recommendations. Representatives of Burundi, Eritrea and Venezuela spoke in favour of the motion while criticizing the Council’s country-specific resolutions and mandates. The representative of Belarus, explaining her vote against, said the Council had become a repressive body that conducts public political chastisement.
Another notable draft, on the use of mercenaries, was approved by a recorded vote of 131 in favour to 52 against, with 7 abstentions (Colombia, Fiji, Liberia, Mexico, Palau, Switzerland, Tonga). Cuba introduced it, saying mercenaries and mercenary-related activities pose a threat to peace, security and the right to self-determination. Austria’s delegate, on behalf of the European Union, cited a lack of conceptual clarity around the definition of mercenaries to explain his vote against the draft.
By its terms, the Assembly would urge all States to take legislative measures to prevent the recruitment, assembly, financing, training, protection or transit of mercenaries for the planning of activities designed to impede the right of peoples to self-determination.
Acting without a vote, the Committee approved a resolution on protecting children against bullying, which would have the Assembly call on Member States to continue to invest in education that fosters tolerance and respect for dignity. Introducing the draft, Mexico’s representative thanked delegations that had used #endbullying in social networks.
In other business, the Committee approved resolutions on the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; human rights and unilateral coercive measures; the enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights; the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order; peace as a vital requirement for the full enjoyment of human rights; the use of information and communication technologies for criminal purposes; and the United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders.
The Third Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 14 November, to take further action on draft resolutions.
Turning to the topic of refugees, the representative of Sweden requested that action be postponed on the draft resolution titled “Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees” (document A/C.3/73/L.59).
Turning to the report of the Human Rights Council, the Committee then took up a draft resolution titled, “Report of the Human Rights Council” (document A/C.3/73/L.56).
The representative of Comoros, introducing the draft on behalf of the African Group, said the bloc subscribes to the principle of constructive dialogue and reaffirms the Third Committee’s mandate to examine the work of the Human Rights Council. She expressed concern about attempts to submit the Council’s reports directly to the General Assembly, without prior submission to the Committee.
The representative of Liechtenstein, speaking on behalf of five other countries, said the Human Rights Council has established itself as an authoritative voice on the protection and promotion of human rights. It is the responsibility of the Assembly plenary to take up the Council’s reports. This resolution disregards General Assembly resolution 65/281, undermining the Council’s mandate, he stated.
The representative of Venezuela, reaffirming the importance of the Human Rights Council, rejected the selective manner in which this topic is discussed. Stressing the need for dialogue, she expressed support for resolutions put forward by the Non-Aligned Movement and reiterated her opposition to resolutions targeting specific countries.
The representative of Eritrea said it is imperative for the Committee to discuss the reports of the Human Rights Council. However, Eritrea’s vote should not be construed as an endorsement of politically motivated mandates. Some parts of the report on Eritrea go against the principles that should underpin the Council’s mandate.
The representative of Burundi said her country is committed to human rights despite the challenges it faces. Stressing that the Universal Periodic Review is the ideal forum to address human rights issues without political motivation, she said Member States have used the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms to advance their interests while turning a blind eye to mass violations in countries that are protected. She expressed opposition to all resolutions that target specific countries, notably Burundi.
The representative of Syria said some are using human rights issues to serve the political interests of a few countries. When dealing with human rights issues, it is important to be professional, credible and objective to ensure non-politicization and avoid double standards, he added. Human rights must not be used as tool to target certain countries.
Israel’s representative, making a general statement, said the Council’s biased approach had reached new lows when it called for the boycott of Israel by creating a database of Israeli companies. Such a resolution is an attempt to expand the Council’s power where it has no authority. He urged delegates to vote against the resolution.
The representative of Belarus, in explanation of vote, said great hopes were placed on the Human Rights Council when it was created. While recognizing its important role, she said it has become a repressive body that conducts public political chastisement and adopts resolutions serving the narrow political interests of some countries.
The representative of Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Committee should only consider the recommendations included in the reports. It is disappointing that the resolution disregards the common understanding that the Council’s overall performance should be discussed in the plenary, he added.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution by a recorded vote of 111 in favour to 3 (Belarus, Israel and Myanmar) against, with 65 abstentions.
By its terms, the Assembly would take note of the Human Rights Council report, including the addendum thereto, and its recommendations.
The representative of the United States, pointing out that a vote on this resolution was not necessary, said the Council’s disproportionate focus on Israel is concerning. The membership of some States with particularly poor human rights records undercuts the Council’s reputation.
The representative of Myanmar said the report references three resolutions about his country that are politically motivated. Emphasizing that the Council has been manipulated by some countries to achieve their political agendas, he categorically rejected those resolutions.
The representative of Iran said, despite the proper functioning of the Universal Periodic Review, some countries continue their worn-out politics of confrontation, politicizing human rights by introducing country-specific resolutions. He dissociated from resolutions on the so-called human rights situation in Iran.
The representative of Costa Rica, expressing full support for the work of the Human Rights Council, said her country abstained because General Assembly resolutions clearly state that reports should be presented to the Assembly. Only recommendations should be considered by the Committee, she stressed.
Turning to the rights of children, the Committee took up the draft resolution titled “Protecting children from bullying” (document A/C.3/73/L.25/Rev1).
The representative of Mexico, introducing the draft resolution, said bullying is a global phenomenon and has long-term consequences. Two out of three children are victims of such behaviour, which occurs in schools as well as in the digital sphere. The draft made good use of multilateralism, he said, thanking delegations which also had made use of #endbullying in social networks.
The Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote.
By its terms, the Assembly would recognize the importance of international, regional and bilateral multi-stakeholder partnerships and initiatives to promote the rights of the child. Recognizing that bullying, including cyberbullying, can take both direct and indirect forms, the Assembly would call upon Member States to continue to take all appropriate measures to protect children from such violence by promptly responding to such acts, and to provide support to children affected by and involved in bullying. The Committee then turned to a 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.3/73/L.37).
The representative of Cuba introduced the draft, urging the Committee to approve it without a vote. Mercenaries and mercenary-related activities pose a threat to peace, security and the rights of peoples to self-determination, as well as impede the enjoyment of all rights.
The representative of Equatorial Guinea said that on four occasions his country had suffered from mercenaries, which were thwarted thanks to the support of friendly countries. He stressed that mercenaries are used by some States to take advantage of other countries’ resources.
Cuba’s representative, in a general statement, asked which delegation had requested the vote.
The Chair replied that Austria’s delegate had requested the vote.
The representative of Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the bloc engaged constructively in consultations on the draft resolution and shares the concerns highlighted by the working group on the use of mercenaries. However, there is a lack of conceptual clarity in the draft and in the working group’s mandate. A change in its mandate to focus more on mercenaries would be better. The working group should be placed by a United Nations Independent Expert on the issue of regulation, monitoring and oversight of private military and security companies. Further, wording around operative paragraph 14 is controversial and has no relevance to the subject of the draft. He will vote against it.
The Committee then approved the draft by a recorded vote of 131 in favour to 52 against, with 7 (Colombia, Fiji, Liberia, Mexico, Palau, Switzerland, Tonga) abstentions.
By its terms, the Assembly would urge all States to exercise the utmost vigilance against the menace posed by mercenary activities and to take legislative measures to ensure that their territories are not used for — and that their nationals do not take part in — the recruitment, assembly, financing, training, protection or transit of mercenaries for the planning of activities designed to impede the right of peoples to self-determination. It would condemn recent mercenary activities in developing countries and the threat they pose to the exercise of the right of their peoples to self-determination. The Assembly would recommend that all Member States — as contracting States, States of operations, home States or States whose nationals are employed by a private military and security company — contribute to the work of the open-ended intergovernmental working group.
The representative of Argentina, while expressing full support for the right to self-determination, said self-determination is only valid as a right when there is an active subject exercising that right. The draft resolution should be interpreted and applied in conjunction with the relevant resolutions of the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization), he added.
Turning to human rights, the Committee had before it the draft resolution titled “Human rights and unilateral coercive measures” (document A/C.3/73/L.32).
The representative of Cuba, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed his opposition to all unilateral measures as tools of pressure. Unilateral coercive measures run counter to humanitarian law and the Charter of the United Nations. Their extraterritorial effects create new obstacles to the enjoyment of human rights and he thus requested all delegations to vote in favour of the draft. He asked which country had requested a recorded vote.
The Chair replied that the representative of Austria, on behalf of the European Union, had requested the vote.
The representative of the United States said she will vote “no” on the draft as her delegation rejected its premise. The content of the draft has no basis in international law and does not advance human rights, she said, reiterating that States are responsible for protecting human rights.
The Committee then approved draft resolution “L.32” by a recorded vote of 133 in favour to 53 against, with 3 abstentions (Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Palau).
By its terms, the Assembly would strongly urge States to refrain from applying any unilateral economic, financial or trade measures that impede the full achievement of sustainable economic and social development, particularly in developing countries. It would condemn the inclusion of Member States in unilateral lists under false pretexts, which are contrary to international law, including false allegations of terrorism sponsorship, and strongly object to the extraterritorial nature of those measures which, in addition, threaten the sovereignty of States.
Next, the Committee took up the draft resolution titled “International Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights” (document A/C.3/73/L.33).
The representative of Cuba, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement said cooperation and genuine dialogue were needed to comply with human rights obligations to the benefit of all people. A constructive spirit of dialogue must be maintained and he requested that the draft by approved by consensus.
The Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote.
By its terms, the Assembly would urge States to take measures necessary to enhance bilateral, regional and international cooperation aimed at addressing the adverse impact of consecutive and compounded global crises, such as financial and economic crises, food crises, climate change and natural disasters, on the full enjoyment of human rights. It would also request that the Secretary-General, in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, consult States and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations on ways, means, obstacles and challenges to the enhancement of international cooperation and genuine dialogue in the United Nations human rights machinery, including the Human Rights Council.
The representative of the United States said her delegation disassociates from preambular paragraph 5, which states that the enhancement of international cooperation is key for the implementation of human rights. While international cooperation is useful in promoting human rights, each State has the primary responsibility in that regard. State commitments are not contingent upon international cooperation. The absence of such cooperation may not be invoked as a failure to honour such obligations. Further, the United States does not believe there is a global food crisis.
The Committee then took up a draft resolution titled, “Promotion of a democratic and equitable international order” (document A/C.3/73/L.34).
The representative of Cuba said the text affirms that all people have a right to international democratic and equitable order. He made oral revisions to operative paragraphs 12 and 22, asking delegations to support the draft by consensus.
The Chair, replying to Cuba’s delegate, said the representative of the United States had requested a recorded vote.
The representative of the United States, in explanation of vote, stressed the importance of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, expressing reservations about the draft resolution and urging delegates to vote against it.
The representative of Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the important issues outlined in the resolution require careful action. While having appreciated the open nature of negotiations, he said a significant number of issues do not fit into the Third Committee’s mandate, and thus he would vote against the draft.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution as orally revised by a recorded vote of 129 in favour to 53 against, with 8 (Armenia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Liberia, Mexico, Peru) abstentions.
By its terms, the Assembly would declare that democracy includes respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms and is a universal value based on the freely expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems and their full participation in all aspects of their lives. It would affirm that a democratic and equitable international order requires, among other things, realization of the right to self-determination, to permanent sovereignty over natural wealth and resources, and to development. By other terms, the Assembly would reaffirm the need for universal adherence to and implementation of the rule of law at both the national and international levels. It would urge States to enhance international cooperation towards the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, and call upon the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to build upon the issue.
Moving on, the Committee took up the 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, introducing the draft, orally revised operative paragraph 1, noting that the right to peace invites non-governmental organizations and others to promote universal respect and understanding thereof. The text stated that peace is fundamental to human rights for all. However, this language was not contained in the resolution of the Assembly’s sixty-ninth session, which is deplorable. The approval of today’s draft by consensus would send a message.
The representative of Austria, in explanation of vote on behalf of the European Union, said the bloc is committed to the protection of human rights and the rule of law. The absence of peace cannot justify the failure to respect human rights. While today’s draft is similar to that approved four years ago, it only elaborates on relationships among States and fails to touch upon State responsibility to fully respect human rights. It also fails to consider the core mandate of the Third Committee and the Human Rights Council, he said, noting that no one declaration on the right to peace has been supported. Thus, the European Union will vote against the draft as it has in the past.
The Committee approved the draft resolution by a recorded vote of 134 in favour to 53 against, with 2 abstentions (Liberia, Tonga).
By its terms, the Assembly would welcome the adoption of the Declaration on the Right to Peace, reaffirming that “the peoples of our planet” have a sacred right to peace, the preservation of which constitutes a fundamental State obligation. The Assembly would emphasize that the preservation and promotion of peace demands that State policies be directed towards eliminating the threat of war, and invite States to pay attention to the importance of mutual cooperation, understanding and dialogue in ensuring the promotion and protection of all human rights.
The representative of Sweden, introducing the draft resolution titled, “Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees” (document A/C.3/73/L.59) said the omnibus text, traditionally facilitated by Nordic countries, is purely humanitarian and non-political in nature. The draft was negotiated in Geneva, the United Nations Headquarters for such issues, and is especially important as it dovetails with the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. The global compact on refugees is a comprehensive plan to strengthen the international community as a whole. Today’s draft represents a compromise, and while no delegation is entirely pleased with it, the text is always adopted by consensus.
The representative of Pakistan, in a general statement, recalled that his country is the second largest host of refugees. Burden sharing has helped Pakistan continue to look after refugees. Despite constraints, the presence of refugees has not fostered anti-refugee resentment and Pakistan had positively engaged with the process to evolve the global compact on refugees. Expressing reservations about loan modalities proposed by the World Bank, he said loans for refugees would put pressure on host countries, including fiscal imbalances. While Pakistan joined the consensus on the draft resolution, he urged stakeholders to ensure the new financing modality does not impact the economic development of refugee hosting countries.
The representative of Algeria, in explanation of vote, said her country will support the draft resolution, citing national legislation and recalling that Algeria is a host country.
The representative of the Russian Federation said his Government will vote for the draft resolution, expressing support for UNHCR. He reaffirmed his country’s position on the term “responsibility sharing”, which it interpreted under the 1951 Refugee Convention and the Protocol thereto. The decision to host refugees should be taken by the host State, in line with its internal conditions. States must provide the right to work and assistance to refugees who are lawfully in a country’s territory. The global compact provisions are not legally binding and do not place legal and financial obligations on the Russian Federation.
The representative of Venezuela, noting that she will vote in favour of the draft, welcomed support for the voluntary return of refugees to countries of origin, actions which should not be prevented by unilateral coercive measures.
The representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, registering support for the draft, said “this is the most consistent measure States can take”. The international community should protect the rights of refugees and host countries alike.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution by a recorded vote of 176 in favour to 1 against (United States), with 3 abstentions (Eritrea, Liberia, Libya).
By its terms, the General Assembly would re-emphasize that the protection of refugees is primarily the responsibility of States, as is the prevention and reduction of statelessness. Underlining the centrality of international cooperation and recognizing the burden that large refugee movements place on refugee-hosting countries, the Assembly would call for a more equitable sharing of the burden and responsibility. It would underscore its importance to the global compact on refugees, as presented by the High Commissioner in part II of his annual report, as an expression of political will to activate the principle of burden- and responsibility-sharing.
By other terms, the Assembly would urge States to uphold the civilian and humanitarian character of refugee camps, and call on them to consider solutions for refugees through humanitarian admission or transfer, family reunification, skilled migration, labour mobility, scholarships and education mobility. The Assembly would call on States to process asylum applications by identifying those in need of international protection, and in so doing, strengthen the refugee protection regime.
The representative of the United States, speaking in explanation of vote, said her Government had called for a vote and voted against the draft, as its concerns remained unaddressed. Expressing support for many of its primary objectives, she said the United States is the largest humanitarian aid donor. She voiced regret that the draft contains elements that are inconsistent with United States immigration policy.
The representative of Australia said she had voted for the draft as her country is among the top three permanent resettlement States. It will not shirk its responsibilities to its citizens, continuing to focus on those most in need: persecuted minorities, vulnerable women and children. Yet, she voiced concern over aspects of the global compact on refugees referenced in operative paragraphs 23 and 24, noting that States must be able to flexibly manage their resettlement programmes. Their sovereign prerogative to determine border and migration settings must also be respected. On UNHCR assistance to internally displaced persons, international humanitarian law holds that, in armed conflict, States must meet the basic needs of people under their control. State consent for assistance must not be withheld on arbitrary grounds. Australia will continue to help countries hosting large numbers of displaced people, and to work in the Bali process [Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime], in line with its migration and border policies.
The representative of Iran called for the inclusion of a robust consultation mechanism and expressed regret that the text presents no formula on specific targets. In recent negotiations in Geneva, an element has been incorporated into the draft resolution, constituting a first step "on the right path to end the unfair practice of keeping refugees in some developing countries". Voting in favour, he reiterated that no remarkable improvement will be achieved until there are effective mechanisms to consider the needs of refugees and stressed that some countries aggressively shut their doors to refugees.
The representative of Indonesia, expressing support for the draft, said modalities for equitable burden sharing should be elaborated. Shared responsibility does not mean responsibility is divided equally, he said, underscoring the importance of support for host countries without creating new responsibilities beyond those States’ capacities. Indonesia will work through all avenues, including the United Nations, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Bali Process to address the refugee crisis.
The representative of Thailand commended UNHCR for the inclusive and transparent process that governed the development of the global compact. As a host country, Thailand firmly supports a more equitable burden sharing, now outlined in the global compact on refugees, noting she had voted in favour of the draft resolution.
The representative of Austria, speaking in a general statement on behalf of the European Union, commended the inclusive and transparent process to elaborate the global compact, which itself is a catalyst. While looking forward to its implementation, he stressed the important shift to work on refugee protection.
The representative of Canada expressed her dismay that a vote was called for the first time ever. Expressing Canada’s strong support for UNHCR through timely, multi-year and unearmarked funding, she commended its efforts to find solutions for refugees. This year’s resolution is particularly important, given the recent conclusion of the global compact. Underlining the opportunity for burden and responsibility sharing, she emphasized the health and rights of women refugees.
Next, the Committee took up the draft resolution titled, “Moratorium on the use of the death penalty” (document A/C.3/73/L.44).
The representative of Brazil, introducing the draft on behalf of several countries, said the proposed language was adjusted so that it further aligns with international human rights law and relevant trends. The language addresses a sensitive issue and respects States’ rights to take their own stance on the death penalty.
The representative of Singapore, on behalf of 34 countries, introduced an amendment (document A/C.3/73/L.57) to the draft containing a new operative paragraph before operative paragraph 1 that reaffirms the sovereign right of all countries to develop their own stances and legal systems in keeping with their international law obligations. The amendment is simple and neutral in its formulation; it does not take a position on the substance of the draft resolution, and neither questions nor makes judgments about countries’ policies. Rather, it reaffirms the principle that all States have the sovereign right to develop their own legal systems. It is compatible with the draft resolution. Singapore and others had no alternative but to table the amendment. Its language is not new; it was taken from the previous resolution on the death penalty moratorium. It does not defend the death penalty. It respects the diversity of views on this topic.
He said the moratorium resolution is deeply flawed and imbalanced, as it fails to acknowledge that international law allows for use of death penalty for the most serious crimes under due process. It fails to acknowledge that the death penalty is an issue of criminal justice, not human rights. He expressed disappointment that the draft resolution contains a “one-size-fits-all” approach to a delicate question, imposing a particular vision of the world onto others. The Committee must question why its proponents are so keen to shape the world in their image. Should it accept those attempts, “where will they stop?” he asked. The amendment is about demonstrating respect for the multilateral system. It reaffirms the fundamental principle of sovereign equality, that decisions to establish a moratorium are sovereign, and that mutual respect among nations is needed.
The representative of Brazil said language in the amendment is not acceptable, both for substantive and systemic reasons explained before, during and after the consultation process. Attempts to find compromise proposals could not bridge the gaps. He called for a recorded vote on “L.57”.
The representative of Egypt voiced support for the amendment and calls to retain operative paragraph 1 of last year’s resolution, calling sovereignty the bedrock of the United Nations.
The representative of Argentina, in explanation of vote, cautioned against accepting a sovereignty clause, noting that he would vote against the amendment and urging others to do the same.
The representative of Austria, on behalf of the European Union, said nothing in the draft resolution asserts that imposition of the death penalty contravenes international law. Its first paragraph states that the important topic is guided by the principles of the United Nations, which include sovereignty. The amendment is unnecessary. “No one is imposing anything,” he said. References to machineries imposed on small States are nothing but conspiracy theories. The amendment sets a dangerous precedent, singling out the draft resolution for particular treatment. “We listened to all arguments and adjusted our position accordingly, where we thought substantive arguments were well-founded,” he said. The amendment is an answer to a problem that does not exist and he urged all to vote against it.
The representative of Canada expressed regret over the introduction of the amendment. It is unnecessary, as a preambular paragraph of the draft resolution outlined that efforts are guided by the United Nations principles. It is unhelpful because the draft resolution’s sponsors worked to ensure great balance in the text. Many compromises were made to preserve that balance. State sovereignty is “woven into the very fabric of this resolution,” she said, noting that Canada will vote against the amendment.
The Committee then approved the amendment by a recorded vote of 96 in favour to 73 against, with 14 abstentions.
By its terms, the Assembly would reaffirm the sovereign right of all countries to develop their own legal systems, including determining appropriate legal penalties, in accordance with their international law obligations.
The representative of Chile, in explanation of vote after the vote, said he had voted against the amendment because adding a new paragraph allows language that had been deleted in informal meetings and weakens the progressive development of human rights. Similar proposals on use of the death penalty have been rejected in other forums, he said, expressing regret that the amendment had been approved. The Committee is rolling back earlier decisions and taking a more restricted restrictive view of human rights.
The representative of El Salvador said her country is committed to human rights and since 1973 has carried out no executions. Irrespective of the civil war, there has been a de facto abolition of the death penalty. For such reasons, she would vote in favour of “L.44” and invite others to do likewise.
The representative of Sudan, in a general statement, said States are culturally, ethnically and religiously different, but all belong to humanity. He rejected the draft resolution and said the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights does not ban the death penalty, but rather provides guidelines, which reduces the incidence of death penalty use.
The representative of Rwanda said his country had abolished the death penalty, even in light of the worst genocide in the twenty-first century, which required sacrifice by the genocide survivors. It was the only way forward for Rwanda, a decision taken as a sovereign State in the nation’s best interest. Thus, he voted for the amendment.
The representative of the Philippines said the country had voted for the amendment because countries can repeal the death penalty if need be.
The representative of Albania did not support the amendment because the draft resolution covers the issue through existing language.
The representative of Saudi Arabia said he had voted in favour of the amendment as each State should be able to develop its own laws. Capital punishment in Saudi Arabia is only for the most serious crimes, after a transparent trial. Saudi Arabia would vote against the draft resolution, as attempts by some States to impose their values on other countries is not acceptable, he said, pointing to social and religious values as pillars of sovereignty.
The representative of Singapore, in a general statement, said “deep in your heart you agree with the amendment” and that while he has the deepest respect for abolishing the death penalty, the amendment is a step forward for multilateralism. Operative paragraph 1 is not to be ignored. Recalling the struggle to reinstate language, he asked about the lack of empathy to hear Singapore’s views.
The representative of Canada, speaking also on behalf of Australia, Iceland and Norway, opposed use of the death penalty in all cases. Where it is used, they urged respect for due process and fair trial, stressing that while no justice system is infallible, the miscarriage of justice cannot be reversed. She expressed regret that the amendment has been approved.
The representative of Papua New Guinea said there are several core issues in the draft resolution — notably the right to life and national criminal justice systems — which require careful consideration. Calls by proponents of a moratorium remain highly insensitive to States’ realities. The tabling of the amendment testifies to the sensitive, contentious and highly divisive issue at the United Nations. He encouraged dialogue and mutual respect. Draft “L.44” suffers, yet again, from fundamental flaws: it was crafted to suit those opposed to the death penalty. It deliberately omits that, under international law, the death penalty is not illegal, and that the second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights leaves the question to be decided through domestic processes. He disassociated Papua New Guinea from “L.44” and welcomed that “L.57” had passed.
The representative of Equatorial Guinea said he will vote in favour of the draft resolution “L.44” as his country is taking steps to abolish the death penalty.
The Committee then approved draft resolution “L.44” as amended by a recorded vote of 123 in favour to 36 against, with 30 abstentions.
The representative of Egypt, in explanation of vote, said he had voted against the draft resolution as it failed to alleviate concerns over the principle of sovereignty. Recognizing that some countries had decided to abolish the death penalty, others applied a moratorium, and still others retained the practice in their constitutions and penal codes, he said: “Neither is more right than the other. Neither is wrong.” Both sides have decided to choose a path that corresponds to their social, cultural and legal needs. Arguments against the death penalty focus on the rights of the offender but must be weighed against the rights of victims and their families.
By its terms, the Assembly would express deep concern over the continued use of the death penalty. It would call on all States to respect international standards on the rights of those facing the death penalty — in particular the minimum standards set out in the annex to Economic and Social Council resolution 1984/50 — and ensure that the death penalty is not applied on the basis of discriminatory laws or as a result of discriminatory or arbitrary application of the law.
The representative of India, in explanation of vote, said she voted against the draft resolution as a whole, as it is not in line with India’s Constitution. Indian law provides for the right to a fair trial, with special provisions for cases of pregnant women and offenders with mental health issues. She also said the Supreme Court adopted guidelines on clemency.
The representative of Viet Nam said the retention or abolishment of the death penalty is a sovereign right. Discussions of a moratorium should not be part of human rights debate. It is regrettable that many concerns had not been included, he said, stressing that the amendment improved the draft resolution. Viet Nam had abstained from the vote.
The representative of Indonesia, in explanation of vote, said every country has the sovereign right to establish the rule of law. Expressing opposition to the amendment, he said the death penalty should be a last resort; States have a responsibility to protect their citizens. He had abstained in the vote.
The representative of Japan said she had abstained in the vote on the amendment and had voted against the resolution as a whole. Stressing the importance of careful consideration of various factors, such as public opinion, she said Japan does not apply the death penalty against criminals under age of 18 years. Its practice meets the Convention’s requirements.
The representative of Iran said his country proactively takes measures to minimize offences, citing a new narcotics law. Within the legal framework, countries have the sovereign right to develop their own legal systems. Any moratorium or abolition is viewed as a voluntary measure.
The representative of Myanmar said the death penalty could be imposed, but has not been carried out since 1988. States should develop their own legal systems, she said, noting that she had abstained in the vote on draft resolution as a whole.
The representative of United States said her country cannot agree with an international moratorium, as decisions on the death penalty are left to individual States. International human rights has established that Member States may use this form of penalty. She urged delegates to support the draft resolution, noting that capital offenders must be provided fair trial.
The representative of the Democratic Republic the Congo voted in favour of the draft resolution and welcomed the amendment. His country had applied a de facto death penalty moratorium for 15 years.
The representative of Mexico, in a general statement, underscored his country’s commitment to protect human rights and abolish the death penalty. On 14 November, Roberto Ramos Moreno will be executed in the United States state of Texas. Stressing that the death penalty is an irreparable rights violation, he said the draft resolution urged that the practice not be applied arbitrarily. Due process and access to justice are preconditions for human rights, he asserted.
The representative of New Zealand, speaking also on behalf of Liechtenstein and Switzerland, expressed opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances. He welcomed the General Comment No. 36 on the right to life, stressing that the death penalty cannot be reconciled with that fundamental freedom. Noting that international obligations also stem from customary law, he said the death penalty is a form of torture.
The representative of Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed disappointment that there was no consensus, despite the text’s inclusion of the principle of sovereignty. Calling the draft resolution contradictory “is tantamount to questioning the real objective” of the text’s opponents.
The Committee next considered a draft resolution titled, “Countering the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes” (document A/C.3/73/L.9/Rev.1*).
The representative of the Russian Federation, introducing the draft, said it addresses a contemporary global threat. As no substantive discussions on cybercrime were under way, this initiative would create such an opportunity and he suggested that the Russian Federation could host the first discussion on preventing cybercrime during the Assembly’s seventy-fourth session. The draft resolution is concise and clear, and does not prejudge any subsequent actions, he said, calling on all to support the text.
A recorded vote was requested.
The representative of Australia, in explanation of vote, said cybercrime is a growing threat. The appropriate forum is in Vienna and the Economic and Social Council has already been given a mandate for this discussion. The draft sought to undermine consensus and multilateralism, he said, expressing concern that many delegations were not heard on the topic. He would vote against the text.
The representative of United States expressed profound disappointment that the Russian Federation is pressing forward with its initiative and paying lip service to building consensus. This draft resolution has a singular clear objective of politicizing the topic and undermining the ability of law enforcement. There is no consensus around a new cyber treaty. Drawing attention to a cyberattack by the Russian Federation, she wondered why delegates would “put the fox in charge of the henhouse” and said the United States would vote “no” on the draft resolution.
The representative of Austria, in explanation of vote, expressed regret that the draft resolution would lead to duplication of discussions and would not add value. Moreover, many delegations could not participate in the relevant discussions. While the draft resolution was presented as a simple technical initiative, the ultimate goal is a new convention and he will vote against it.
The representative of Japan said she would vote against the draft resolution as it would hamper the ongoing process in Vienna. Japan expects active discussions in Vienna.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution by a recorded vote of 88 in favour to 55 against, with 29 abstentions.
The representative of Peru, in explanation of vote, said he had abstained from the vote, citing the European Union Convention on Cybercrime, also called the Budapest Convention. New threats require a coordinated global response, and States must work together to create a regime that addresses the concerns of all.
The Committee then turned to a draft resolution titled, “United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders” (document A/C.3/73/L.10) introduced by the representative of Uganda, on behalf of the African Group. He said the text contains specific ideas for crime prevention and justice in African countries, stressing that a strengthened Institute would help combat crime and foster development gains on the continent.
The Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote.
By its terms, the General Assembly would reaffirm the need to strengthen the Institute’s capacity to support national crime prevention and criminal justice mechanisms. In that context, it would urge States members of the Institute that have failed to meet their financial pledges to pay all or part of those outstanding arrears, and request the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to continue to work closely with the Institute.