29 October 2019
Seventy-fourth Session, 36th & 37th Meetings (AM & PM)

Third Committee Experts Tackle Privacy Rights around Sensitive Health Data, Reparations for Racism, as Delegates Explore Issues of Consent, Compliance

Guiding Principles Offer Global Standard for Addressing Adverse Human Rights Effects from Business Activities, Working Group Member Says

United Nations mandate holders tackled a range of issues today, from the privacy rights implications of collecting sensitive health‑related data to the updated legal frameworks needed to punish modern forms of racism and xenophobia, as Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) delegates continued their interactive dialogues with human rights specialists.

One of six experts to present their reports, Dainius Puras, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, said that a rights‑based approach to health education would help address a system that is currently failing poor people.  He proposed that mental health education be updated in a manner that considers alternatives to institutionalization.

He also remarked that the line between mental health and ill‑health often depends on culture and context, while treatment is often exclusively pharmacological in nature.  The mainstreaming of human rights in medicine would shift this focus onto the preconditions for good health — such as food and water — through the lens of discriminatory practices that too often impede access.

During the interactive dialogue, several delegates asked how Member States could work with the United Nations in mainstreaming human rights into health care, with the representative of Bangladesh enquiring how national health authorities can work more effectively with the World Health Organization, given that doctors do not often share decision‑making with others.  Mr. Puras replied that such collaborations are often fragmented.  He suggested updating the training for health workers to ensure that “five‑star” doctors not only fix disorders but are also equipped to serve as ethical decision‑makers.

Joseph Cannataci, Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy, likewise offered guidance for the protection and use of health‑related data.  “The sensitive nature of health‑related data and its high value commercially means that the largely hidden industry of collection, using, selling and securing health data — and its impact on our privacy — is of enormous concern,” he said.

During the ensuing interactive dialogue, Brazil’s delegate asked how Member States could ensure that companies comply with national legislation on data privacy if the databases of those firms are based in other countries.  In response, Mr. Cannataci highlighted the importance of jurisdiction and encouraged States to develop international law in that area.

Several experts shared their perspectives on racial discrimination.  E. Tendayi Achiume, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, focused on the topic of reparations.  Noting that the “firmest State resistance to reparations arises from a lack of political will or genuine commitment to undoing the legacies of slavery and colonialism”, she said that such opposition cannot be blamed on a lack of requisite knowledge or expertise.  History offers a host of examples, such as those given for acts carried out by Nazi Germany.  Reparations are not unusual; they are already an established remedy under international law.

Also speaking today were Dante Pesce, Member of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises; Craig Mokhiber, Director, New York Office, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); Ahmed Reid, Chair of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent; and Noureddine Amir, Chair of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

The Third Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 30 October, to continue its consideration of the promotion and protection of human rights.


The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) continued its debate on the promotion and protection of human rights today (for background, see Press Release GA/SHC/4266).

Interactive Dialogues — Privacy

JOSEPH CANNATACI, Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy, said his report (document A/74277) focuses on surveillance, gender and health‑related data.  Among its recommendations are the guiding principles for minimum data protection standards for health‑related data, which should serve as an international baseline.  “The sensitive nature of health‑related data and its high value commercially means that the largely hidden industry of collection, using, selling and securing health data — and its impact on our privacy — is of enormous concern,” he said.   Everyone has the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, and of protection for their health‑related data.

He said work on surveillance progressed with the holding of the International Intelligence Oversight Forum, where 170 delegates from more than 40 countries shared best practices for promoting and improving the protection of privacy through the surveillance.  As some States have called on companies to weaken or halt the availability of strong encryption to citizens — a well‑intentioned but fatally flawed appeal — he launched a multi-stakeholder initiative on the reinforcement of encryption.  Throughout the year, 31 communications — in the form of letters and statements — were issued on such matters as practices that appeared to be inconsistent with the right to privacy.  He is receiving a growing number of requests to assist Member States in the drafting of new laws relating to privacy, including those dealing with both data protection and surveillance carried out by law enforcement and intelligence services.

When the floor was opened for comments and questions, the representative of Liechtenstein, noting that large amounts of data are being collected, stored and used by artificial intelligence algorithms, said human rights must be respected in the use of these technologies.  He asked the Special Rapporteur to discuss the ways that artificial intelligence impact the right to privacy.  The representative of Germany, following up on that question, asked how the Special Rapporteur views artificial intelligence and privacy concerns in relation to the health system.  The representative of the Republic of Korea asked for best practice in using artificial intelligence as related to health data, while ensuring the right to privacy.

An observer for the European Union asked how Member States could better protect genetic data and the health‑related data of children.  The representative of Brazil asked how Governments can ensure that companies comply with national regulations when corporate databases are located in other countries.

Mr. CANNATACI replied to questions about artificial intelligence by drawing attention to his report’s chapter VIII, where artificial intelligence algorithm transparency and big data receive special attention.  Medical algorithms should be regulated transparently and predictably, he said, noting that the chapter lays out requirements for all medical treatments to be monitored for outcome efficacy.  All algorithms should be monitored for adverse effects, while processes and systems must be implemented to identify and address algorithmic bias.

Explaining that the report also contains recommendations on genetic data, he said that all the recommendations are applicable to children, and that he is working on separate guidance on the topic of children and privacy.  To questions about jurisdiction, he encouraged States to develop international law on the subject, as the answer is not the localization of data.

Also speaking was the representative of the Russian Federation.

Physical and Mental Health

DAINIUS PURAS, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, urged Member States to invest strategically and substantively in the global health workforce with a rights‑based approach to achieve universal health coverage, a goal they committed to at the first‑ever United Nations High‑level meeting on the topic in September.  Mainstreaming human rights in health education would enrich a conventional medical education underpinned by an outdated medical hierarchy, a predominant biomedical paradigm and an overreliance on tertiary care hospitals.  Such an approach also examines crucial preconditions for health, such as food and water, and the role of discrimination in impeding access to them.  Emphasizing the need for well‑distributed primary health care centres, and empowering and training mid‑level health care workers, he said that not doing so would give rise to problems such as over‑medicalization, power asymmetries between doctors and other health care workers and an exacerbated focus on medical specialization.  Mid‑level care workers are “undervalued and under‑used”, he said, calling on States to train and make better use of them, as they can deliver care as effectively as physicians and respond better to patient expectations.  A rights‑based education would make health systems more inclusive and non‑discriminatory and would foster a more resilient workforce.

Turning to mental health, where demarcations between health and ill‑health hinge on culture, context and determinants such as poverty and inequality, he pointed out that mental health education over-relies on the biomedical model and pharmacological treatment.  He called for the mental health workforce to be adapted in a way that emphasizes social determinants.  A rights‑based approach to health education would help address a system that is currently failing vulnerable, marginalized and poor people, he said, calling on foster States to adapt curricula that focuses on such competencies as human rights, community and social medicine, and medical ethics and law.  Moreover, candidates from vulnerable situations should be given health education training at all levels, and mental health education should be recalibrated and explore alternate models that are non‑coercive and prevent institutionalization.

In the ensuing dialogue, the representative of Bahrain asked how Member States can benefit from United Nations health care training in line with human rights.  The representative of Bangladesh asked how human rights bodies and the World Health Organization (WHO) can work better together and noted that physicians do not often share decision‑making power with anyone, unlike the report suggests.

An observer for the European Union stressed the importance of consent and shared decision‑making between physicians and users, especially in mental health, and asked for practical steps to facilitate this shift in paradigm.  The representative of the Maldives asked for specific recommendations for small island States such as hers, noting that the Maldives must rely on innovative techniques such as telemedicine to close the health disparity gap.  The representative of Morocco, meanwhile, asked how developing countries can work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals with respect to their health care systems.

The representative of Iran registered his disapproval of the United States’ sanctions, which impact medical supplies and affect Iranians, especially the most vulnerable.  The representative of Lithuania asked how States’ accountability can be enhanced, with respect to health care education.

Mr. PURAS, on the role United Nations agencies can play in training the health care workforce, replied that the response to the HIV epidemic and movement demonstrates how the global community, including the United Nations, can be effective in applying a human rights- and evidence‑based approach to a global problem.  International agencies’ involvement can also help facilitate investment, but there must be more political will to tackle challenges faced around the world in the realms of mental and reproductive health, which are exacerbated by humanitarian situations, he said.

Turning to the role of States in health care education, he said medical schools and colleges train doctors to fix disorders; they are not so interested in human rights.  He called for a revitalization of workforce training, and increased investment in training “five‑star” doctors, who go beyond fixing disorders and serve as leaders, manager, and ethical decision‑makers.  To the question on State accountability, he said States should demonstrate willingness to change and push for change, as their medical education systems are rigid and allergic to change.

Similarly, in response to the question on how States can facilitate a paradigm shift, especially in mental health, he said Governments should prioritize change towards empowering health care workers and users, adding that the mental health field is presently paralyzed by its “paternalistic approach”.  Medical schools should not overuse the principle of academic autonomy, as it is currently not in the public’s interest.  In efforts to achieve the Goals, developing countries have a “paradoxical advantage”, he said, as they are less dependent on traditions and do not have strong infrastructure.  They can make important changes in the field of mental health, as attempts to push for change would not face as great a resistance, when compared to developed countries.

In reply to Bangladesh’s delegate, he said he wished for the Human Rights Council and WHO to go beyond their present “fragmented attempts to work together”, and said that his remark on the tendency of doctors to prevail in decision‑making is a “warning signal” aimed at protecting them from the pretence that they know everything.  Medical professions are a risk group for suicide, he said, adding that they should share their tasks with other professionals.

The representative of Lithuania also spoke.

Business and Human Rights

DANTE PESCE, Member of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, said businesses can have a significant impact on the entire spectrum of human rights.  Consequently, States have a duty to protect individuals and communities from business‑related abuses, requiring coherent policy and action across all Government ministries.  Also, States have the greatest leverage to ensure that relevant legislation and regulations concerning respect for human rights are implemented effectively.  Pointing to a lack of coherence between procurement policy and laws, on the one hand, and the State’s international human rights obligations, on the other, he stressed the potential for State‑owned enterprises to lead by example, acknowledging that allegations of abuses by such enterprises can occur.  Similarly, export and trade promotion entities do not systematically develop effective guidance on how business should respect human rights in cross‑border trade.

Stressing that human rights defenders, women and girls, indigenous peoples, workers in low‑wage sectors and migrants are at heightened risk of business‑related abuse, he said their vulnerability is compounded by multiple barriers to accessing effective remedies.  A growing number of States are recognizing the need for greater policy coherence on business and human rights, and for practical steps, including through the development of national action plans, an essential policy tool for States to protect against human rights abuses by businesses, in line with the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.  However, national action plans must not be a “tick‑box” exercise or a pretext for inaction; rather, they should serve as a catalyst for change and provide effective mandatory measures for companies to respect human rights.  The Working Group’s report (document A/74/198) identifies elements that are critical for improving policy coherence, including high‑level political commitment, adequate funding and awareness‑raising across State actors.

When the floor opened for comments and questions, the representative of Spain asked about improving the general training of personnel to implement public policy so that “they all speak the same language” and use that shared language among all involved.  The representative of the United States welcomed the Working Group’s efforts to encourage Governments to develop national action plans on business and human rights.  He asked what steps countries can take to coordinate with businesses to protect rights defenders.

The representative of Norway asked about measures that States can take to ensure a more efficient use of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.  The representative of the Russian Federation said the way to implement the Guiding Principles might vary depending on existing legal bases and traditions of each country.

Mr. PESCE, in response, said there is huge room for improvement in the field of business and human rights, in part because of Government inaction.  To improve the implementation of nation action plans, he recommended identifying indicators and building them up in a participatory way, including the expectation of stakeholders including business and civil society.  More broadly, steps are being taken to strengthen collaboration among Governments, businesses and civil society, he said, noting that all stakeholders should be kept onboard to co‑create solutions based on a common understanding of challenges.

Also speaking was an observer for the European Union.

Rights to Development, Self-Determination

CRAIG MOKHIBER, Director, New York Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), presented three reports, the first of which — “Implementation of the activities of the International Decade for People of African Descent” (document A/74/308) — focuses on the right to development for people of African descent.  The right to development is an inalienable human right, meaning that every human is entitled to participate in, contribute to and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development.  In many countries, people of African descent are among the major contributors to development, but their contribution often is not fully recognized.  The report recommends that States recognize racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia as structural and systemic barriers to sustainable development for groups facing discrimination, including people of African descent.  It also calls for special measures, such as affirmative action, to meet the Sustainable Development Goals and address inequality in accessing human rights.

He then introduced the report titled “A global call for action for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action” (document A/74/312), stressing that stronger political will and more concerted action are needed to reverse the rising trends of racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia.  In particular, Member States are encouraged to enhance the recognition, monitoring and collection of data and analysis of hate speech, in order to best address or mitigate its impact.  He then presented the report titled “Right of peoples to self‑determination” (document A/74/309), which outlines efforts to realize that right within the framework of the United Nations.  It also summarizes activities in the Human Rights Council, as well as observations made by Special Procedures and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

People of African Descent

AHMED REID, Chairperson of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, said the attack on two mosques in Christchurch and mass shootings in Texas and Ohio in August were reminders of the deadliness of racism and xenophobia, and the role of divisive language against minorities in fomenting such violence.  Such incidents are stark reminders to the international community to take swift action, since no country is free of racism.  Turning to the report (document A/74/274), he said that mapping and analysis of disaggregated data are crucial to design policies that promote equality, and he urged Member States to ensure that social media platforms do not reinforce historical bias or lend credence to data reflecting racially based practices and policies.  The report analyses the detrimental impact of misperceptions on the human rights of people of African descent, mediated through misperceptions spread through cultural production such as advertising, as well as through political theatre, which is linked to inciting hate crimes.  Such negative stereotypes and false characterizations must be dismantled in order to guarantee respect, protection and fulfilment of human rights for people of African descent.

He called on Member States to unequivocally reject and condemn hate speech and hate crimes targeting people of African descent, to counter their stigmatization and profiling by law enforcement officials and politicians, and take measures against incitements to violence, including on the Internet.  Moreover, he said Member States should modify school curricula, which presently contributes to indirect racism against children, by removing harmful stereotypes and imagery and ensuring the inclusion of histories and cultures of people of African descent and the history of the transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans.  He also called on States to join forces with United Nations bodies, particularly the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), promote the culture and intangible heritage of people of African descent, form research programmes to dismantle misrepresentations, and consider proclaiming a national day to celebrate their heritage, culture and contributions.

In the ensuing discussion, an observer for the European Union concurred with the report’s observation that States have a solid legal obligation to dismantle racism and negative stereotypes, mentioned the European Commission’s High‑Level group on combating racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance, and asked the Chair to elaborate on how race and gender impact women of African descent.

The representative of South Africa observed “glaring realities” facing people of African descent around the world, who experience worse economic, social, and health outcomes and are at higher risk of incarceration.  She asked about the value of reparations in combating negative stereotypes and promoting and protecting the rights and freedoms of people of African descent.

The representative of Angola asked how the United Nations Strategy on Hate Speech and the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee on racial equality can help address issues faced by people of African descent, given the upcoming midterm review of the International Decade.

The representative of Brazil asked about measures that can be taken on an international level to combat stereotypes and their damaging effects.

Mr. REID, responding to the question on reparations, said he endorses the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) 10‑point plan for Reparatory Justice, which has a holistic approach that goes well beyond the financial context, and touches on aspects like technology transfer, public health and psychological repair.  Access to historical and cultural archives is of “fundamental importance” to help people traumatized by the trade in enslaved Africans to develop and move forward.

Replying to the question on the upcoming midterm review, he called on States to reach a consensus to set in motion a targeted forum, which did not exist five years after the International Decade for People of African Descent, adding that 18 years after the Durban Declaration, signed by 136 countries, many Member States still do not have a national action plan to eliminate racism.  In addition, States could collaborate with UNESCO to highlight the history and contributions of peoples of African descent to science and culture, which could help stem negative stereotypes globally.

On intersectionality, he mentioned the example — noted in the report — of a Muslim woman who is discriminated against due to gender, religion, race and ethnicity.  This overlapping discrimination hinders her access to the labour market.  States must remove systemic barriers; working towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is “threatened in this context”.

He went on to note the critical importance of the United Nations Declaration on the Promotion and Full Respect of the Human Rights of People of African Descent and reiterated his call for disaggregated data on marginalized groups who face fundamental challenges.

Also speaking was the representative of Mexico.

Contemporary Forms of Racism

E. TENDAYI ACHIUME, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, said her report (document A/74/253) addresses the need for “States to recognize their obligations to provide reparations for racial discrimination rooted in slavery and colonialism”.  Such reparations concern not only justice and accountability for historic wrongs, but also the eradication of persisting structures of racial inequality that have resulted from the failure to provide redress.  Member States should recall that reparations are a fundamental and established remedy under prevailing international law, she said, noting that that too often, debates about reparations begin from the premise that they are an inherently exceptional or unusual remedy.  States routinely provide reparations for wrongful acts and violations to one another and their own citizens.

A serious barrier to reparations remains ignorance and lack of awareness among the public — and even among national leaders — about the persisting racially discriminatory legacies of slavery and colonialism, she said.  In many countries, education curricula contain partial histories that erase the fundamental role that enslavement and colonial domination played in securing the past and present prosperity of enslaving and colonial powers.  State opposition to reparations cannot be attributed to a lack of necessary technical knowledge.  Numerous States and communities have mobilized the requisite political will.  To carry out reparations, States can rely, for example, on the experience and knowledge of those who designed, administered and received reparations for acts carried out by Nazi Germany, for British violations against the Mau Mau of Kenya and for Canada’s violations against indigenous peoples subjected to the Residential Schooling Programme.  Her report concludes that the firmest State resistance to reparations arises from a lack of political will or genuine commitment to undoing the legacies of slavery and colonialism.  Turning to the “Report on Implementation of Resolution 73/157 and on the Sharp Resurgence in Antisemitism and Antisemitic Violence”, she said it addresses the implementation of that resolution, as well as the widespread resurgence of anti‑Semitism and rise in reports of anti‑Semitic violence, hate crimes and hate speech.  It also outlines recommendations, including on best practices from the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and civil society organizations.

During the interactive dialogue, the representative of Belgium, recalling the Working Group’s visit, said a victim‑centred approach is a necessity. Recalling Belgium’s history of colonization, she described efforts to fight all forms of discrimination and xenophobia.  The representative of Mexico pointed to the rise in anti‑Semitism by white nationalists, captured in the Special Rapporteur’s report.  He asked about best practices for collecting disaggregated data.  The representative of South Africa underscored the urgent need to address historical injustices resulting from slavery and colonization, highlighting many contemporary practices of racial discrimination.

An observer for the European Union asked the Special Rapporteur about a platform for reparations, while the representative of Iran said racial disparities are a legacy of colonialism and slavery and asked the Special Rapporteur whether there has been any change in national attitudes.  The representative of Romania, associating with the European Union, stressed the importance of adopting and consolidating a legal framework on combatting anti‑Semitism.  The representative of Brazil said his country has the world’s largest population of African descents. He described national assistance systems to tackle racism, noting that racism‑related crimes are not a subject to statutory limitation.  He asked the Special Rapporteur about best practices she has seen during country visits.

Ms. ACHIUME replied that best practices for collecting disaggregated data should ensure that such efforts do not result in stigmatization and targeting, notably in the context of migration.  Regarding a future platform for reparations, she said global action is a fundamental aspect of national initiatives to make reparations.  Global coordination is necessary.  To the query from Iran’s delegate, she said she has observed a shift in national views about reparations in some countries.  While the conversation is opening, the wider debate around reparations is “impoverished” and she stressed the importance of education in this context.  Concerning legal mechanisms for achieving reparations, she said the way towards human rights is not exclusively legal; and that even outside the legal framework, serious challenges occur.

Also speaking were representatives of the United States and Azerbaijan.

Racial Discrimination

NOUREDDINE AMIR, Chairperson of the Committee on the elimination of racial discrimination, said racist hate speech is now easily spread through the Internet and social media.  Racist speech by public figures and politicians often fuels hatred against migrants, refugees and asylum seekers — most of whom are undocumented — as well as national or ethnic minorities, people of African descent and indigenous peoples.  Objecting to legislation that leaves room for impunity and the ineffective application of law, he drew attention to the obligations under article 4 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.  He expressed alarm over the existence of organizations that openly promote racial discrimination and racial superiority, as well as incite racial hatred and violence, stressing that article 4 obliges States to declare these groups illegal.  He also expressed deep concern over the situation of non‑citizens — including persons under international protection — highlighting the challenges faced by migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in accessing employment, education, housing and health care.

Women and girls belonging to ethnic minorities, indigenous women, Afro‑descendent women and refugee women also face obstacles to accessing these services, notably reproductive services, and are often victims of sexual violence.  He called on States to pay particular attention to their situation.  Turning to the Committee, he said it held three sessions and examined 18 reports over the last year.  During its ninety‑ninth session, the Committee adopted decisions on its jurisdiction and on the admissibility of communications submitted by Qatar vs. the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Qatar vs. the United Arab Emirates.  The Committee decided that it has jurisdiction regarding those communications and declared them admissible.  The Committee also simplified its reporting procedures and continues to support national human rights institutions and non‑governmental organizations.  He expressed concern over alleged reprisals against some non‑governmental groups because of their cooperation with the Committee.  Groups working to protect victims of racial discrimination are especially targeted, he said, calling on States to refrain from reprisals against them or their members.

When the floor was opened for discussion, the representative of Belarus, on behalf of 54 countries, objected to the policy of applying public pressure on certain countries and “naming and shaming” them.  He highlighted China’s “remarkable achievement” in restoring safety to the Xinjiang region, where it undertook deradicalization measures to combat terrorism.  He commended China for its transparency, pointing out that it had invited diplomats to witness progress in the region, and condemned the media for publishing unconfirmed information without visiting the area.  The representative of the Russian Federation likewise expressed concern that certain members’ biases are affecting the quality of the Third Committee’s work, as reflected in cases which it designated as requiring the rapid response procedure.

On similar lines, many representatives including the representatives of Cameroon, Cuba, Syria and Burundi commended China’s anti‑extremism measures, and voiced regret over the politicization of human rights and interfering with countries’ sovereignty.  The representative of Cambodia said interference in China’s domestic affairs would create “confrontation and confusion”.

Such concerns were also echoed by the representatives of Viet Nam, Venezuela, Kyrgyzstan, Equatorial Guinea, Myanmar, Guinea, Kenya, Armenia, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Algeria, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Congo and Zimbabwe.

The representative of Eritrea agreed with their stance and asked what could be done to combat false messages and hate speech spread through social media.

A contrasting perspective was voiced by the representative of the United Kingdom, on behalf of 23 countries, who expressed concern about the peace, security and humanitarian concerns raised about the situation in Xinjiang.  She called on China to uphold its human rights commitments, to urgently implement all eight recommendations made by the Committee, to refrain from arbitrary detention, and to allow unfettered, meaningful access to United Nations special procedures.  She asked the Chair to elaborate on measures China should undertake to address concerns outlined by the Committee.  An observer for the European Union echoed this stance, as did the representative of the United States, who condemned the human rights violations occurring in the province.

The representative of China said he firmly rejected the “baseless confrontation” by the representative of the United States, motivated by the need to impose hegemony and “relentlessly defame” his country’s stability.  As for the rest of the countries aligned with that stance, “their argument is unpopular,” he said, adding that countries with the blood of minorities on their hands have no right to speak.

The representative of Qatar expressed concern about discrimination and violations against citizens and expatriates from her country in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, noting that the “supreme judicial organ”, the International Court of Justice, had issued two orders on this matter.

Mr. AMIR, in response, underscored the 50 years’ experience of the Committee, for whom impartiality is the fundamental rule.  While the Committee is “legally made; one that’s made of lawyers”, and their judgment is based on the law, it does not constitute a court, he stressed.  “When the Committee draws its final conclusions, they are not court rulings or laws to be applied.  As we say continually:  We are not a court.  Questions are raised, that’s all.”  He added that when final conclusions are adopted, they are “recommendation, not rulings”.  They are made by the Special Rapporteur, who is impartial, and adopted by consensus.

In response to the representative of Eritrea, he agreed that information communications and videos have a significant role to play in racism, adding that they feed people hatred, not information.  His objective is to protect victims — including women, children, migrants — in intolerable situations, not to play politics.  He said that concerns involving Qatar and Saudi Arabia can be alleviated if they speak, adding that the same is true for other Member States.

Also speaking were representatives of Kuwait, Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey, Iran, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, the Republic of Korea, and Tunisia.

For information media. Not an official record.