Third Committee Approves 13 Drafts on Persons with Disabilities, Ageing, Human Trafficking amid Protracted Votes on Human Rights in Syria, Myanmar
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) expressed itself on human rights situations in Myanmar and Syria, as well as on human trafficking and inclusive development for persons with disabilities, approving 13 draft resolutions on those and other topics in an action filled day.
A draft resolution on human rights in Syria � approved by a recorded vote of 106 in favour to 16 against, with 58 abstentions � would have the General Assembly strongly condemn the indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks in civilian areas. It would also demand that Syrian authorities immediately end all attacks on their own people and take all precautions to avoid incidental loss of civilian life.
Cuba’s delegate was among many decrying the Committee’s continued use of country specific resolutions, stressing: The draft resolution favours a punitive approach. Venezuela’s delegate added that the Committee’s selective approach to human rights goes beyond its mandate. The Universal Periodic Review is the appropriate tool for addressing human rights issues. Underscoring the importance of negotiations in Geneva and Astana, Argentina’s representative called for political dialogue as the legitimate pathway to peace.
The Committee’s approval of a draft on the human rights situation in Myanmar was similarly marked by intense debate, with Myanmar’s delegate totally rejecting the text as procedurally unwarranted and hopelessly unconstructive in its attempt to exert pressure on a soft target. There is no mention of Myanmar’s efforts to foster national reconciliation and build a democratic federal union.
Passed by a recorded vote of 142 in favour to 10 against (Belarus, Burundi, Cambodia, China, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Philippines, Russian Federation, Viet Nam, Zimbabwe), with 26 abstentions, it would have the Assembly condemn all rights violations in Myanmar and call for an independent investigation into them, including against Rohingya Muslims, to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable. The Assembly would advocate international support for the underfunded 2018 joint response plan for the Rohingya humanitarian crisis.
Introducing the draft on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Turkey’s delegate pressed Myanmar to end the vicious cycle of violence against the Rohingya. We must work tirelessly to urge Myanmar to address the root causes of the crisis, he asserted.
The Committee approved some of the day’s drafts by consensus, among them one to combat trafficking in women and girls, introduced by the Philippines delegate, who said that 80 per cent of trafficking victims are women and girls who are used as articles of commerce.
By its terms, the Assembly would urge Governments to fully implement the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons. It would call on them to intensify efforts to prevent the demand which fosters such trafficking, put in place or enhance punitive measures to deter exploiters of trafficked persons, and strengthen measures to eliminate sex tourism.
In other notable action, the Committee approved a draft on inclusive development for and with persons with disabilities. Under its terms, the Assembly would affirm that children with disabilities have the right to equitable education and urge Governments to ensure such access through the provision of information in alternative communication formats.
Also without a vote, the Committee passed a draft resolution on ageing which would have the Assembly call on Member States to address adequate health care services for older persons, as well as cases of neglect and violence against older women by designing better prevention strategies and stronger laws.
Other draft resolutions approved today focused on social development, the International Year of the Family, the Durban Declaration, extreme poverty, the right to development, the right to food, missing persons, and corruption.
The Third Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Monday, 19 November, to take further action on draft resolutions.
The Committee first turned to the draft resolution titled Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic (document A/C.3/73/L.50).
The representative of the United Kingdom, making a general statement, urged delegates to support the draft resolution to condemn the human rights violations taking place in Syria and said the text is not politically motivated. Those responsible must be held to account, he said, stressing that the regime and its backers have conducted further attacks on civilians since last year.
The representative of Syria, in a point of order, said official country names should be used and delegates should refrain from using the word regime to refer to countries.
The representative of Canada said that seven years into this conflict, it is important to condemn the violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law taking place in Syria. Canada supports the text. It is important to ensure accountability for crimes committed during this conflict, including the use of chemical weapons.
The representative of Venezuela reiterated her country’s position against country specific resolutions, a practice which goes beyond this Committee’s mandate and reflects a selective approach to human rights. Calling for collaboration and dialogue, she said the Universal Periodic Review is the appropriate tool to address human rights issues.
The representative of the United States said her country strongly supports justice and accountability for the Syrian people. Syria’s Government is responsible for the vast majority of the killings and destruction inflicted on the Syrian people. The resolution rightly draws attention to the International Impartial and Independent Mechanism and reminds the international community of the Government’s brutal assault on citizens. Drawing attention to the plight of those who have been killed by barrel bombs or chemical attacks, she said the United States remains firm in its support of the United Nations led negotiation process.
The representative of Turkey said there is only one way out of this carnage: a politically negotiated resolution, in line with Security Council resolution 2254 (2015).
The Chair reiterated that delegates should use official country names.
The representative of Saudi Arabia recalled that, last year, a legal opinion from the Secretariat confirmed that the word regime could be used in debates since it had been included in General Assembly resolutions.
The representative of the Russian Federation asked for clarity on the situation regarding the use of the word regime. It seems that the representative of Saudi Arabia challenged the Chair’s authority, he said, calling on delegates to use official country names.
The representative of Turkey said Syrians have been punished brutally by barrel bombs, chemical weapons and sexual violence. Human rights are violated with increasing severity and impunity. Adoption of the draft will not be sufficient to heal the Syrians’ suffering, but it will show the international resolve to stand by them.
The representative of Iran, speaking in explanation of vote, said this is another instance of politicization of human rights mechanisms and the use of double standards. The draft resolution fails to recognize that the Government and people of Syria are facing terrorism, aggression and unilateral coercive measures. Saudi Arabia is worried about the billions of dollars it spent to support terrorist groups, aiming to destabilize a legitimate Government.
The representative of Saudi Arabia recalled that the topic under discussion is the human rights situation in Syria. He asked the Chair to remind delegates not to go off topic.
The Chair reiterated that delegates should use official country names. They should remain focused on the resolution, he added.
The representative of Iran said Saudi Arabia’s investment in terrorist groups was lost, and this explains the draft resolution’s desperate language. Exploitation of the Committee for political ends contravenes the principles of non selectivity, universality and objectivity. For these reasons, Iran will vote against the resolution.
The representative of Belarus recalled that her country has always been against country specific resolutions. This practice should be ended, and human rights issues should not be used as a pretence to intervene in sovereign States.
The representative of Brazil said concerns about accounts of rights violations in Syria led him to vote in favour of the draft resolution, even though it fails to recognize the responsibility of all parties involved in the conflict. He expressed hope that forthcoming resolutions on this matter would be more balanced and constructive. It is paramount that the situation on the ground be assessed in an objective, fact based manner, he added.
The representative of Mexico expressed support for the text, urging all parties to the conflict to abstain from perpetrating attacks against civilians and to negotiate in good faith to end the conflict. The text must reflect the Commission of Inquiry report and not refer to the actions of one party or another to avoid politicization, he added.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, reiterating its opposition to country specific resolutions, said human rights issues should be discussed in an atmosphere of collaboration and dialogue. The Universal Periodic Review provides a forum for such discussions, and thus, he will vote against the draft.
The representative of Syria called on Member States to vote against the Saudi resolution.
The Chair recalled delegates to use a country’s official name.
The representative of Syria, replying to the Chair, said he used Saudi as an adjective. Saudi authorities usually resort to fatwa to cover their violations of human rights, he stated, adding that they violated Syrian Muslims’ rights by preventing them from making a pilgrimage to Mecca. Stressing that Saudi Arabia is attempting to use this Committee for propaganda purposes, he urged delegates to vote against the draft resolution, abstain or not attend the meeting. Rather than fan the flames of conflict in Syria, the United States should form an international coalition to extinguish the fires in California, he added.
The representative of Cuba said the draft resolution favours a punitive approach. Voicing support for the search for a negotiated settlement, he said the Third Committee should seek to foster cooperation with respect for Syria’s sovereignty.
The Committee then adopted draft resolution L.50 by a recorded vote of 106 in favour to 16 against, with 58 abstentions.
By its terms, the Assembly would strongly condemn the systematic, widespread and gross violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law committed in Syria, as well as the indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks in civilian areas and against civilian infrastructure. It would demand that all parties comply with their international humanitarian law obligations, and that Syrian authorities immediately end all attacks on their own people, take all precautions to avoid incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects, and immediately implement Security Council resolutions 2254 (2015), 2258 (2015) and 2286 (2016). It would reaffirm that there can only be a political solution to the conflict, reiterating its commitment to Syria’s national unity and territorial integrity.
The representative of Argentina, in explanation of vote, stressed the importance of negotiations in Geneva and Astana, calling for political dialogue as the legitimate pathway to peace. He expressed support for referring the situation to the International Criminal Court. Condemning human rights violations in Syria, he stressed that all parties must respect human rights laws. He also absolutely rejected the use of chemical weapons. Argentina is ready to continue hosting Syrian refugees.
The representative of Switzerland expressed grave concern over the systematic violation of human rights and called for those responsible to be held accountable. He expressed support for the International Impartial and Independent Mechanism and urged respect for humanitarian law commitments, especially in Idlib. While draft resolution L.50 mentions the protection of a medical mission, he expressed regret over its lack of balance and selective references to parties to the conflict. He called for all parties to return to the negotiation table.
The representative of Egypt said her abstention from the vote is an expression of Egypt’s principled position on country specific resolutions. She stressed the importance of the Universal Periodic Review as the proper forum to advance constructive dialogue.
The representative of Ecuador condemned the violations of international law committed by all parties in Syria. He reiterated his country’s solidarity with all the victims and their families and deplored all use of chemical weapons.
The representative of Iran said countries should only be able to speak once, either before or after action on the vote. He called on the Committee to adhere to this long-standing practice.
The Chair reminded delegations that only one statement can be made, either before or after the vote.
The Secretary of the Committee said Saudi Arabia had not made a general statement this morning and is therefore entitled to make one.
The representative of Iran said although Saudi Arabia presented the draft resolution, the Committee is now taking action, and Saudi Arabia’s statement should therefore be considered a general statement.
The Chair replied that a delegation is entitled to make one general statement. Saudi Arabia’s earlier comments were points of order.
The representative of Saudi Arabia, thanking everybody for participating in the discussion on the draft resolution, said justice will prevail even if it takes time. Saudi Arabia welcomes pilgrims from all countries, including Israel, he assured.
The representative of Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, condemned in the strongest possible terms the repeated use of chemical weapons by Syria and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh). All those responsible for breaches of international laws must be brought to justice, he stated, stressing that impunity is unacceptable. Emphasizing that the situation in Syria should be referred to the International Criminal Court by the Security Council, he expressed concern about the ongoing destruction of the country’s cultural heritage. The use of chemical weapons anywhere by anyone is contrary to international law. He expressed the bloc’s full support for the Special Envoy to establish a Constitutional Committee and urged all parties to contribute in good faith to United Nations led efforts. He called for a negotiated settlement in line with Security Council resolution 2254 (2015) and the 2012 Geneva communique.
The representative of Japan expressed hope that violence will end as soon as possible and that is why Japan co sponsored the resolution and voted in favour of it.
The representative of Syria, in a point of order, said the negotiations that Saudi Arabia led prior to tabling the draft resolution lacked transparency. Most of the negotiation sessions took place at Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic mission, he stated, noting that Syrians were unable to make the pilgrimage to Mecca for eight years, prevented by Saudi Arabia.
The representative of Saudi Arabia said the statement made by the representative of Syria was not a point of order.
Next, the Committee took up a draft resolution titled Situation of human rights in Myanmar (document A/C.3/73/L.51*).
The representative of Turkey, introducing the draft on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, expressed deep concern over serious human rights violations in Myanmar against the Rohingya. Without a comprehensive strategy, it is impossible to find solutions for the crisis. To end the vicious cycle of extensive and systematic attacks against the Rohingya, Myanmar must create the conditions for peaceful life, he said, stressing the need to implement human rights laws and bring perpetrators to justice. He underlined the importance of a full and independent investigation of such violations, noting that Myanmar signed a Memorandum of Understanding and established a commission of inquiry. Welcoming Bangladesh’s efforts to address the humanitarian crisis, he said the voluntary and safe return of Rohingya is the only lasting solution, cautioning against transferring refugees from camps in one State to those in the other. We must work tirelessly to urge Myanmar to address the root causes of the crisis, he stressed, expressing the organization’s readiness to work with the United Nations and engaged parties.
The representative of Austria, on behalf of the European Union, said the draft articulates the grave international concern over the suffering of the Rohingya. The Independent International Fact Finding Mission results point to the commission of the gravest crimes under international law, such as torture, rape, killings and enslavement. Commending Bangladesh for its generosity, he said the text sets out what must happen to ensure redress for those who have suffered. It underscores deep concern over the persecution of minorities in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States and recognizes steps by Myanmar to improve conditions in Rakhine. It calls for unhindered access to humanitarian assistance, robust steps forward on accountability � including the entry into operation of a mechanism to collect evidence of crimes committed in the country � and recalls the Security Council’s authority to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court. Urgent steps must be taken to address root causes and find viable solutions. Moreover, only implementation of recommendations on Rakhine, including on statelessness, will ensure stability and peace. He urged support for the draft.
The representative of Myanmar, in explanation of vote, totally rejected the draft, calling the tabling of a country specific resolution on any country that is under active consideration by the Human Rights Council procedurally unwarranted and an abuse of human rights procedure. The one sided, biased and hopelessly unconstructive draft is a politically driven attempt to exert pressure on select countries, as well as a clear manifestation of the hostility and dictatorial intent of the co sponsors towards a soft target. Ninety per cent of its content is about the rights of Muslims in Rakhine, while ignoring Myanmar’s positive political and socioeconomic developments. There is no mention of Myanmar’s efforts for national reconciliation and building a democratic federal union. The text also ignores the threat of terrorism, the real cause of the humanitarian crisis, he said, noting that the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army is linked to ISIL/Da’esh.
Despite visits by Independent Experts and Special Rapporteurs, Myanmar is treated unfairly under the pretext of human rights, he said, citing country specific resolutions over the last 26 years and scrutiny by at least seven United Nations mechanisms. He drew attention to bilateral agreements with Bangladesh on the issue of repatriation, stressing that adopting this draft will not contribute to solving the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State. It will only worsen the complicated situation and hinder the Government efforts for the early repatriation of displaced persons.
The representative of Syria reiterated his country’s position of rejecting decisions and mandates targeting select countries, associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement.
The representative of Saudi Arabia said events in Myanmar continue to cast shadows of suspicion on positive political developments in the country. Such developments cannot be complete without including all people of Myanmar. Authorities deny the existence, identity and rights of more than 1 million Rohingya Muslims, among other oppressed groups, as well as their right to exist in their homeland, citing expulsions and house burnings that had forced the Rohingya to cross the border into Bangladesh. We see no glimmer of hope for the return of those refugees, he said. Calling the draft resolution balanced and objective, he advocated solutions which include recognition of the right to citizenship. He called for urgent implementation of the Advisory Commission’s recommendations, noting that Myanmar’s leadership must prove it is worthy of international respect.
The representative of Bangladesh stressed that the comity of nations must redeem itself for failing to prevent crimes against the Rohingya by heeding their call for identity, security and justice, and ensuring that the most persecuted minority in the world is at least no longer the forgotten one. Rohingya must be allowed to return home or to their place of choice. On the option of return, the Rohingya were not convinced by Myanmar’s assurances, as not a single one had accepted that option. They wanted guarantees for a pathway to citizenship and land ownership, and dispensation of justice � legitimate demands to which Myanmar must respond. Myanmar’s support for today’s draft resolution would be a step in that direction. Bangladesh’s Prime Minister stated that the Rohingya will return only if they wish. His country will continue to adhere to international humanitarian and human rights law. There is no gain for Bangladesh by either holding back the Rohingya or forcing their return.
The representative of the United States expressed deep concern about serious human rights violations in Burma and Rakhine State. She welcomed the Government’s commitment to implement the Advisory Commission recommendations and the Memorandum of Understanding. However, commitments are not enough; Myanmar must take actions. She stressed the importance of ensuring the return of displaced persons to their place of origin, while welcoming the establishment of an independent mechanism to collect and analyse data, echoing the call to immediately make it operational. She also voiced support for efforts to achieve accountability, commending the Special Rapporteur on developing insightful reports, despite Myanmar’s restrictions.
The representative of Myanmar, in a point of order, requested delegates to show respect by referring to his country by its official name.
The representative of Belarus, in explanation of vote, said her country rejects country specific resolutions, as they only encourage confrontation. She expressed concern about the involvement of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in the Rohingya issue. The Third Committee is not the place to improve the situation of Rohingya Muslims and she advocated for the removal of this item from the agenda, noting that Belarus will vote against the draft.
The representative of China said different human rights needs must be addressed through constructive dialogue and cooperation, recalling complex historic and ethnic issues. In October, Myanmar and Bangladesh had agreed to start a repatriation process; they both have all the capacities to address this issue. China stands ready to support this endeavour. The United Nations and the international community should remain patient rather than complicating the situation, noting that China will vote against the draft resolution.
The representative of the Russian Federation attached great importance to positive inter State cooperation in protecting human rights. Neither criticism nor politicized country specific resolutions resolve such problems. The Russian Federation has consistently rejected such texts. The concept of genocide referred to in the draft varies from the accepted definition, and the bodies cited have no competency to interpret them, which undermines trust. Country specific resolutions contain offensive language against the United Nations. For such reasons, the Russian Federation will vote against the draft.
The Committee then adopted draft resolution L.51* by a recorded vote of 142 in favour to 10 against (Belarus, Burundi, Cambodia, China, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Philippines, Russian Federation, Viet Nam, Zimbabwe), with 26 abstentions.
By its terms, the Assembly would strongly condemn all violations of human rights in Myanmar and call for a full and independent investigation, including on those against Rohingya Muslims and persons belonging to other minorities, to ensure that those responsible are held accountable. It would further call for the expeditious entry into operation of the independent mechanism established by the Human Rights Council, as well as steps to secure its effective functioning as soon as possible. The Assembly would urge the international community to support the underfunded 2018 joint response plan for the Rohingya humanitarian crisis to ensure adequate resources to address the humanitarian crisis.
The programme budget implications prepared in connection with this draft ARE contained in document A/C.3/73/L.58.
The representative of Nepal, in explanation of vote, expressed gratitude for Bangladesh’s assistance and for the fact that displaced persons have the right to return home. Nepal abstained from the vote.
The delegate of Viet Nam said his country does not support country specific resolutions, calling the draft politically motivated, one sided and discriminatory. Myanmar is currently under the scrutiny of at least seven United Nations mechanisms. The newly created Independent Mechanism requires 62 staff with an annual budget of more than $26 million, he said, asking why the United Nations is spending so much.
The representative of Thailand said that, as an immediate neighbour, his country abstained from the vote. He welcomed Myanmar’s cooperation and the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, encouraging the country to engage in dialogue. Thailand recognizes efforts by Bangladesh and Myanmar on the repatriation of displaced persons but cautioned against rushing the process, as the sustainability of such returns must be considered. He underscored the need to promote accountability through a credible investigation and said addressing challenges requires international and national collaboration.
The representative of Singapore said he had abstained, taking an even handed approach to country specific resolutions that are often politicized. The situation in Rakhine is rooted in history and there is no easy solution. Reconciliation can occur through positive dialogue and he welcomed the potential return of displaced persons from Bangladesh, which must be carried out in a voluntary, safe and dignified manner. The most immediate priority is ensuring humanitarian assistance reaches all in need.
The representative of Japan expressed concern over the human rights situation in Myanmar, urging that country to carry out a credible investigation. For such reasons, Japan abstained from the vote.
The delegate of Lao People’s Democratic Republic said his delegation had voted against the draft resolution.
The representative of Iran, in a general statement, said his country has been a target in the Third Committee, which is not a suitable platform for addressing human rights at the country level. His vote should be viewed in the context of a situation in which the rights to life and citizenship of Muslims in Myanmar have been violated. He took positive note of Myanmar’s steps and commitments to make safe, dignified and voluntary return possible, and voiced hope for their full implementation.
The delegate of Nigeria said country specific resolutions are the purview of the Human Rights Council, noting that he had abstained from the vote.
The representative of Egypt condemned all violations against the Rohingya and registered her country’s reservations on certain preambular and operative paragraphs of the draft. The resolution welcomes the Human Rights Council decision to establish an independent mechanism, however that decision does not fall within its mandate. The General Assembly should not welcome or call for its speedy entry into force, as it was not created according to the right procedure. She voiced regret about the overlap of various initiatives, mandate holders and commissions, and the lack of cohesion in their work, which the draft fails to tackle. Efforts should focus on the means to expedite humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya, ensuring their voluntary return, and the Government’s measures to protect them, provide redress and end impunity.
The representative of Indonesia condemned all acts of violence. Since the beginning, the resolution should help address the question of repatriation. Indonesia is committed to providing a durable situation and stands ready to work with Myanmar.
The representative of Liechtenstein, also on behalf of Iceland, said that the Independent International Fact Finding Mission had found consistent patterns of violations in several Myanmar states perpetrated on a massive scale, apparently a policy of its authorities. He voiced regret that the resolution fails to acknowledge the International Criminal Court Pre Trial Chamber ruling that the Court could exercise its jurisdiction related to forced expulsions, and that it fails to recall the Security Council’s authority to refer the situation to the Court.
The representative of Canada said the draft resolution sends a message that crimes should not go unpunished. Refugee repatriation must be sustainable, safe and voluntary, the conditions for which do not exist. Canada will continue to call on Myanmar to allow monitoring and reiterate the need for informed consent.
The representative of Myanmar said the resolution is ill intentioned and will not help resolve issues in Rakhine State. It will only foster politicization and aggravate mistrust. The people of Myanmar are united as ever in the relentless pursuit of peace for all 54 million people.
Moving on, the Committee then took up a draft resolution titled, Implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the outcome of the World Summit of Social Development and of the twenty fourth special session of the General Assembly (document A/C.3/73/L.17/Rev.1).
The representative of Egypt, introducing the draft on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, described it as action oriented and seeking to address inequalities in efforts to implement the World Summit for Social Development outcome. It highlights the situation and specific needs of young people, older persons, people with disabilities and families, among others. The text also prioritizes youth employment and women’s economic empowerment, she said, welcoming the spirit of collaboration and cooperation that allowed agreement on the important issues addressed by the draft resolution.
The representative of Egypt asked which delegation requested a recorded vote.
The Chair replied the representative of the United States requested a recorded vote.
The representative of the United States said she will vote against the resolution as several issues remain that are not related to sustainable development or the Committee’s mandate. Noting that portions of the resolution attribute negative impact to vague reference to trade and trade barriers, she said demands that the international community increase market access and calls on international financial institutions to provide debt relief are unacceptable. Regarding the presence of the phrase right to development in the resolution, she emphasized that it doesn’t have an international meaning that the United States recognizes.
The Committee then adopted the draft resolution L.17/Rev.1 by a vote of 181 in favour to 2 (Israel, United States) against, with no abstentions.
By its terms, the General Assembly would welcome Governments’ reaffirmed commitment to implementing the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development and the Programme of Action, adopted at the 1995 World Summit for Social Development. Against that backdrop, it would outline various actions to address inequality in access to opportunities; to basic services; to nutrition and food; to social protection; to employment and decent work; to technologies; and to infrastructure; as well as related to urban rural/special inequality; environmental inequality; social development actors; international cooperation; and follow up.
The representative of Hungary, drawing attention to operative paragraph 14z, said migration and labour should not be linked, as the latter falls within national jurisdiction. Stressing that international efforts should aim to fight irregular migration flows and address their causes, she assured that Hungary remains committed to protecting and supporting those in vulnerable situations.
The Committee next turned to the draft resolution titled Inclusive development for and with persons with disabilities (document A/C.3/73/L.6/Rev.1).
The representative of the Philippines introduced the draft also on behalf of the United Republic of Tanzania, noting that people with disabilities comprise 15 per cent of the global population. They are agents and recipients of development. He urged respect for their rights, including to lifelong learning on an equal basis. Barriers to their access to water, sanitation and hygiene must be removed, and their need for assistive technologies recognized.
The Committee approved draft resolution L.6/Rev.1 without a vote.
By its terms, the General Assembly would urge Member States and United Nations agencies, among others, to design and implement policies and programmes that fully address the rights of women and girls with disabilities, as well as to harmonize laws, policies and programmes for the equal and full participation of persons with disabilities in society. The Assembly would request the Secretary General to submit a follow up flagship report on disability inclusive Sustainable Development Goals to its seventy eighth session.
The representative of the United States, in explanation of vote, underscored the importance of not promoting the rights of persons with disabilities from an outdated charity model.
Turning to the draft resolution titled Follow up to the Second World Assembly on Ageing (document A/C.3/73/L.18/Rev.1), a Secretariat official said the requirements in meeting services in 2019 related to operative paragraphs 5 and 6 would be met from existing resources. Therefore, the draft would not generate additional requirements under the programme budget for the biennium 2018 2019.
The representative of Egypt, introducing the text on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said the draft resolution aims to include inputs from the Secretary General’s report to notably support care workers for older persons. The consequences of social exclusion are highlighted, she added, stressing that the text encourages the international community to support national efforts to fund research and data collection on ageing.
The representative of the United States said her country is pleased to join consensus on this draft resolution.
The Committee then approved draft resolution L.18/Rev.1 without a vote.
By its terms, the Assembly would call on States to participate in global efforts towards an age inclusive implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as to promote equitable and affordable access to basic physical and social infrastructure, such as affordable serviced land, housing, modern and renewable energy, safe drinking water and sanitation, and adequate food. It would recommend that States involve older persons in the formulation, implementation and monitoring of policies that affect them, and collect data in order to better assess their situation. It would also call on States to develop their national capacity for monitoring and enforcing the rights of older persons.
The Committee turned to the draft resolution titled Follow up to the twentieth anniversary of the International Year of the Family and beyond (document A/C.3/73/L.19/Rev.1).
The representative of Egypt, introducing the draft on behalf of the Group of 77, reaffirmed the importance of the International Year of the Family and stressed that the draft can promote well being for all, empower women and girls, and end violence against them. It encourages Governments to make every effort to fulfil the International Year, focusing on quality education and lifelong learning for all, full and decent work, social security, livelihood and social cohesion.
The representative of Mexico said that while the family, as a fundamental core, has a variable composition depending on the country, in Mexico there are a multiplicity of families that make up society. The Government fully respects gender diversity, where all families have state protection.
The Committee then approved draft resolution L.19/Rev.1 without a vote.
By its terms, the Assembly would encourage Governments to enact family oriented policies for poverty reduction, promote work family balance as conducive to the well being of children, invest in family policies that promote strong intergenerational interaction, provide universal and gender sensitive social protection systems, support the United Nations trust fund on family activities, and strengthen cooperation with civil society in the implementation of family policies.
The representative of Austria, on behalf of the European Union, attached importance to the family, noting the crucial role of caregivers and the value of intergenerational relationships. Families strengthen society. They are living, evolving entities. Various types of families exist. It is critical that nobody is left behind.
The Committee then took up a draft resolution titled Trafficking in women and girls (document A/C.3/73/L.7/Rev.1).
The representative of the Philippines, introducing the text, said human trafficking, particularly of women and girls, is a scourge that robs people of their dignity. Approximately 80 per cent of victims are women and girls, who are used as articles of commerce. The draft considers the positive and negative role played by technology.
The representative of Belarus said her country was pleased to co sponsor the draft resolution. Human trafficking is an important problem, she said, stressing that women and girls are most vulnerable to this scourge. Urging delegations to combat demand, she called for strengthened partnerships among all those fighting against trafficking.
The representative of Sudan then introduced an amendment (document A/C.3/73/L.60) to the draft resolution, which would remove a preambular paragraph from draft resolution L.7/Rev.1 referencing the International Criminal Court. That reference disregards national, regional and international mechanisms addressing this question. Sudan’s efforts to include amendments during informal consultations, to achieve consensus and balance, and propose appropriate language did not bear fruit. The pursuit of selective methods left Sudan with no option but to introduce an amendment. He affirmed that combating impunity is among Sudan’s priorities and he expressed concern over attempts to globalize the Court as a legal system to be imposed on all States. Reference to the Court politicizes the Committee. He requested deletion of the paragraph and support from Member States.
The representative of Austria, on behalf of the European Union, expressed regret that Sudan is attempting to remove the paragraph, which includes gender related crimes. Various international legal instruments, which are not universal, are also referenced in the draft. The fight against impunity for the most serious crimes is critical to ensuring a just society. Peace and justice are not mutually exclusive. All perpetrators must be held accountable. The Court’s creation offered victims the possibility of being heard and receiving redress. For such reasons, he will vote against the amendment.
The representative of Iceland, on behalf of several countries, said preambular paragraph 16 has been the operational language for years. Adopted in 1998, the Rome Statute was among the first to address conflict related sexual and gender based violence. It has a key role to play in ending impunity for those crimes where national courts are unable or unwilling to exercise their jurisdiction. She will vote against the text and encouraged others to do likewise.
The draft amendment was then rejected by a recorded vote of 101 against to 19 in favour, with 34 abstentions.
The representative of Burundi, in explanation of vote, said her country had withdrawn from the Court, due to its politicization, which is why she had voted for the amendment. However, the paragraph in question is not relevant to Burundi.
The representative of Sudan said in a general statement that his country had sought to join consensus on the draft resolution, especially as it addresses human trafficking in women and girls, a topic in which Sudan has taken a stake. Associating with the statement by the Philippines that trafficking has no place in the civilized world, he said Sudan nonetheless finds contradiction, due to the paragraph in question.
The Committee then approved draft resolution L.7/Rev.1 without a vote.
By its terms, the General Assembly would urge States, the United Nations, civil society and others to fully implement the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons. It would call on Governments to intensify their efforts to prevent and address the demand that fosters trafficking of women and girls, and to put in place or enhance legislative and punitive measures to deter exploiters of trafficked persons. The Assembly would also urge Governments to strengthen measures to eliminate sex tourism and ensure coherence among the laws responding to migration, labour and trafficking to protect the rights of migrant women and girls.
The representative of Austria said she could not support preambular paragraph 10 of the draft resolution, but nonetheless joined consensus on this resolution.
The representative of Hungary said her country had joined consensus as it is committed to fighting the trafficking. She nonetheless expressed concern over preambular paragraph 10, adding that irregular migration flows are causing human smuggling. It is critical to tackle the cause of this abuse. She registered concern over paragraph 34, which creates odd links between labour and migration.
The representative of the United States said her Government has worked with an advisory council to guide anti trafficking efforts and submitted amendments regarding sexual and reproductive health. She disassociated the United States from operative paragraph 31.
The Committee then turned to the draft resolution titled Global call for concrete action for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation and follow up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (document A/C.3/73/L.52/Rev.1).
The representative of Egypt, introducing the text on behalf of the Group of 77, expressed concern about the resurgence of racial discrimination. She reiterated the bloc’s condemnation of all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, on any grounds and against any persons, as they constitute serious violations of human rights. The bloc looks forward to Member States making valuable contributions to the implementation of this resolution.
The representative of Brazil expressed support for the draft resolution and urged all delegations to support it. Welcoming the proposed creation of the permanent forum of people of African descent, he stressed the need to establish it in a way that fosters coordination and efficiency.
The representative of Egypt asked which delegation requested a recorded vote.
The representative of Israel, recalling that the Jewish people have been victims of racism for thousands of years, said her country has been an outspoken advocate in the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. However, a small group of States use the Durban Conference to defame and delegitimatize Israel, and thus, she will vote against the text.
The representative of the United States, speaking in explanation of vote, said her country is committed to fighting racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Acknowledging that this fight remains a challenge, she pointed out that her country continues to implement the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The draft resolution is not genuinely focused on fighting racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance as it endorses the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and advocates excessive restrictions on freedom of speech. It has no effect as a matter of international law, she stressed, rejecting the call for former colonial powers to provide reparations.
The representative of Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the bloc remains committed to the eradication of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. While appreciating the informal consultations conducted by South Africa, he regretted that only a handful of the bloc’s words were accepted; none of its substantive proposals were taken on board. There is no evidence that the International Convention has gaps or fails to address contemporary forms of discrimination, he stated, stressing that resources should be primarily devoted to fighting discrimination on the ground. States have a common duty to fight racism by overcoming divisions related to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, but given that the resolution does not sufficiently contribute to that end, the European Union cannot support it.
A Secretariat official said the representative of Israel requested a recorded vote on the draft resolution.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution by a recorded vote of 128 in favour to 10 against (Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Marshall Islands, United Kingdom, United States), with 42 abstentions.
By its terms, the Assembly would take various actions related to: the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; the International Decade for People of African Descent; the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); the Group of independent eminent experts on the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action; the Trust Fund for the Programme for the Decade for Action to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination; the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; and follow-up and implementation activities.
The representative of Japan reiterated his country’s commitment to the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, and xenophobia through the International Convention. However, Japan has certain concerns on the creation of an international forum for people of African descent, as its activities are not clearly defined in the draft resolution. There was not enough time to examine the details of the forum’s creation or its budgetary implications.
The representative of Israel, making a general statement, stated that her country had requested a recorded vote on this draft resolution.
The representative of Nigeria, noting the broad support garnered by the draft, expressed regret that the Third Committee has had to vote on it every year. He called for adequate resources to be made available for the Working Group of Experts.
Next, the Committee turned to the draft resolution titled Human rights and extreme poverty (document A/C.3/73/L.27/Rev.1).
The representative of Peru, introducing the text, noted the importance of eradicating poverty – the world’s greatest challenge – and acknowledged the flexibility shown by Member States during informal consultations.
The Committee approved draft resolution L.27/Rev.1 without a vote.
By its terms, the Assembly would reaffirm that extreme poverty, deep inequality and exclusion constitute a violation of human dignity and that urgent national and international action is required to eliminate them. It would take note of the guiding principles on extreme poverty and human rights, adopted by the Human Rights Council, as a useful tool for States in the formulation and implementation of poverty reduction and eradication policies.
The representative of the United States said not all aspects of the guiding principles may be appropriate for implementation in all circumstances under States’ domestic laws. The United States joined consensus with the understanding that States are not obliged to become parties to instruments to which they have not acceded. The United States does not recognize any change in the status of treaty or customary international law.
The Committee then turned to the draft resolution titled The right to development (document A/C.3/73/L.31/Rev.1).
The representative of Cuba, on behalf of the Non Aligned Movement, said the right to development is a human right which includes the right to free self determination and exercise of sovereignty. He urged support from Member States.
The representative of the United States called for a vote on the resolution, expressing concern about the right to development as there is no international consensus on its meaning. She voiced concern that such a right would protect States and not individuals. The United States continually encourages Governments to respect their human rights commitments, regardless of their level of development. She cannot accept the phrase to expand and deepen mutual beneficial cooperation, and therefore will vote no and urged others to do the same.
The representative of Liechtenstein said that discussing the right to development has been challenging and conceptual inaccuracies related to the right persist. Expressing hope that future discussions will allow his country to join the group of supporters, as in the past, he said Liechtenstein will abstain.
The Committee then approved draft resolution L.31/Rev.1 by a recorded vote of 141 in favour to 10 against (Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Israel, Netherlands, Sweden, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States), with 33 abstentions.
By its terms, the Assembly would recognize that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is among the critical elements in realizing the right to development, which is the greatest global challenge. The Assembly would urge States, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and other relevant specialized agencies, funds and programmes to provide the Special Rapporteur on the right to development with all the assistance and support necessary.
The representative of New Zealand, speaking in explanation of vote on behalf of several countries, recognized the right to development in line with the declaration on the right to development. He expressed concerns with operative paragraph 17, noting that strong economic development may contribute to, but does not imply, the enjoyment of all rights.
The representative of Mexico said that, while this resolution is a good reference for human rights, there is no added value in a legally binding instrument on the right to development. Cautioning against duplicated efforts, he stressed the need to follow up on efforts by the Special Rapporteur on the right to development.
The representative of Austria, making a general statement on behalf of the European Union, reiterated support for the right to development. While acknowledging that a rights based approach to development is important, he said the draft contains certain elements that prevent consensus. The European Union does not believe an international legally binding standard is appropriate. For too long, development was considered separately from human rights, but the 2030 Agenda seeks to correct that approach.
Moving on, the Committee took up a draft resolution titled The right to food (document A/C.3/73/L.36/Rev.1).
The representative of Cuba, introducing the text, said the number of people suffering from hunger increased in 2017 even though there is enough food produced in the world to feed everybody. This global problem should be tackled by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, through policies in line with the right to food, he said, describing the draft resolution as a global call to action.
The representative of Switzerland called for open negotiations in the future, noting that her country supports the content of the draft resolution, as the right to food is among its priorities.
The representative of Cuba asked which delegation requested a recorded vote.
The representative of the United States said hunger is on the rise for the third year in a row after a decade of progress. The draft resolution contains unbalanced, inaccurate and unwise provisions the United States cannot support: it inappropriately mentions trade issues which fall outside the Committee’s remit and inaccurately links negotiations at the World Trade Organization to the right to food. For these reasons, the United States will vote against it.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution by a recorded vote of 179 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions.
By its terms, the Assembly would call on all States to implement policies to reduce and eliminate preventable mortality and morbidity due to malnutrition among children under 5 years of age. It would call for a development oriented outcome of World Trade Organization negotiations, notably on the remaining issues of the Doha Development Round, in fostering global conditions permitting the full realization of the right to food. The Assembly would also urge States to give priority in their development strategies and expenditures to realizing the right to food.
The representative of Canada, speaking in explanation of vote, said there is no established link between WTO Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreements and the right to food. Operative paragraph 35 simply asks countries to consider the manner in which they implement the TRIPS Agreement.
The representative of Cuba expressed regret that the United States delegate had called for a vote and thanked those who voted in favour of the draft.
The Committee had before it a draft resolution titled Missing persons (document A/C.3/73/L.47/Rev.1).
The representative of Azerbaijan introduced the draft, underscoring that States must address the issue holistically, while urging utmost attention be given to missing children and stressing the importance of focusing on victims’ families.
The representative of Armenia, in a general statement, stressed the importance of humanitarian action during armed conflict. Armenia traditionally co sponsors the resolution. She expressed regret that important proposals by her country were not duly reflected in the final draft. Joint humanitarian action is crucial for confidence building in armed conflict, she stated, while opposing the destruction of schools and citing the Safe Schools Initiative in that context.
The Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote.
By its terms, the Assembly would call on States to prevent persons from going missing in connection with armed conflict, including by implementing their international law obligations. It would further call on States parties to an armed conflict to take all necessary measures, in a timely manner, to determine the identity and fate of persons reported missing, and to provide their family with all relevant information, including their whereabouts or circumstances around and cause of death. The Assembly would also stress the need to address the issue of missing persons as a part of peacebuilding processes, on the basis of transparency, accountability and public involvement and participation.
The representative of the United States, on the issue of avoiding harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure, said there is no obligation under international law to minimize the military use of civilian infrastructure.
Turning to crime prevention and criminal justice, the Committee took up a draft resolution titled Preventing and combating corrupt practices and the transfer of proceeds of corruption, facilitating asset recovery and returning such assets to legitimate owners, in particular to countries of origin, in accordance with the United Nations Convention against Corruption (document A/C.3/73/L.15/Rev.1).
The representative of Colombia, introducing the draft, said it was based on the achievements of the Conference on Corruption, held in November 2017 in Vienna. It calls on Member States to continue to enforce preventive measures and encourages States parties to the Convention against Corruption to participate in the second review cycle. Corruption is an obstacle to the effective protection and promotion of human rights, he said, calling for redoubled efforts and encouraging delegates to approve the text by consensus.
The Committee then approved draft resolution L.15/Rev.1 without a vote.
By its terms, the General Assembly would condemn corruption at all levels and in all its forms, including bribery, as well as the laundering of corruption proceeds. It would urge States to penalize corruption in all its forms, as well as the laundering of corruption proceeds. States parties to the Convention against Corruption should designate a central authority for international cooperation and appoint focal points to ensure mutual legal assistance in asset recovery.
Source: United Nation