ECOSOC ADOPTS TEXTS RECOMMENDED BY COMMISSIONS
ON CRIME PREVENTION, NARCOTIC DRUGS, STATUS OF WOMEN
Also Adopts Resolutions on UNAIDS, World Summit on Information
Society, Programme of Action in Favour of LDCs, and Genetic Privacy
(Reissued as received.)
GENEVA, 22 July (UN Information Service) -- The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) this afternoon adopted resolutions and decisions recommended to it by the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, and the Commission on the Status of Women. One of the resolutions on the situation of Palestinian women was adopted by a vote. The Council also adopted four resolutions relating to the Joint United Nations Programme on Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (UNAIDS); the World Summit on the Information Society; the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs); and genetic privacy and non-discrimination.
In the resolution on UNAIDS, the Council urged UNAIDS and the organizations and bodies of the United Nations system to intensify their support to governments, with a view to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as well as the goals and targets contained in the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS.
Concerning the World Summit on the Information Society, the Council invited countries to be represented at the highest political level at the two phases of the Summit and requested the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), in close cooperation with the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat and other information offices of the United Nations system, to intensify its public information campaign to raise global awareness of the Summit.
With regards to the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries, the Council called upon the Secretary-General to take appropriate measures to strengthen the advocacy, monitoring and coordination actions of the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Land-locked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, as well as its management and staffing.
And concerning genetic privacy and non-discrimination, the Council decided to postpone consideration of the question to its substantive session of 2004.
Introducing the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was Kamel Morjane, Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees, who described the challenges faced by UNHCR in 2002 and its responses in attempting to find the most appropriate and effective solutions for strengthening international protection of refugees worldwide, as well as in implementing operational activities, developing coordination mechanisms and partnerships with other actors, and managing and overseeing standards that had been particularly intense.
Philip O. Emafo, President of the International Narcotics Board, presented the Board's report, saying that it examined the impact of drugs on overall economic development and debunked the myth that illicit drug production and trafficking could improve the economic situation of a country.
The ECOSOC took note of the report of the Secretary-General on the preparations of the Eleventh United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (E/2003/82); the report of the Secretary-General on Preparations for the Eleventh United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (A/58/87-E/2003/82); the report of the Secretary-General on Regional Cooperation (E/2003/15 and Add. 1); and the reports presented by the five regional economic commissions (E/2003/16 to 20).
Egypt and Zambia presented, respectively, draft resolutions on increasing the number of members of the Executive Board of UNHCR.
During its general discussion, speakers expressed concerns about the slow implementation of the Programme of Action for the Third Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination, and stressed the need for States to increase political will in order to ensure that the provisions of the Durban Declaration became a reality. Other speakers raised issues related to the important role of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the rules of procedure for non-governmental organizations with consultative status with ECOSOC.
Speaking this afternoon were representatives of Ukraine, Egypt, Azerbaijan, United Republic of Tanzania, Argentina, Jamaica, France, Cuba, Sudan, United States, Morocco (on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China), Australia, Israel, Senegal, and Japan. Representatives of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the International Federation for Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies also spoke.
The ECOSOC will reconvene tomorrow at 10 a.m. to continue with its general debate on a number of items and to take action on reports of its functional commissions.
Before the Council there is a report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (E/2003/68), which provides an account of the activities undertaken by UNHCR between January 2002 and April 2003. It describes major developments and challenges with respect to international protection, assistance activities and the search for durable solutions worldwide. It also covers a number of management and oversight issues, the financing of activities in 2002, and partnerships and cooperation within and beyond the United Nations system. More detailed information on regional and country activities is available in UNHCR’s Global Report of 2002.
There is a report of the Secretary-General on the preparations for the Eleventh United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (E/2003/82) which highlights the views of Member States, relevant specialized agencies and other entities of the United Nations system, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and other bodies and the institutes of the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme network on the agenda items and workshops topics for the Eleventh Congress. The report also highlights the organizational arrangements for the Congress, followed by a summary of the proceedings and action taken by the Commission at its twelfth session on the preparations for the Congress.
There is a report of the Secretary-General on information and comments received from governments and relevant international organizations and functional commissions pursuant to Economic and Social Council resolution 2001/39 (E/2003/91) which includes information and comments received by one Member State and various entities of the United Nations system pursuant to ECOSOC resolution 2001/39 entitled “Genetic privacy and non-discrimination”. These comments and information highlight the potentials and dangers of new developments in the genetic field and refer to initiatives taken to provide a framework for ensuring respect for genetic privacy and non-discrimination, including the UNESCO draft international declaration on human genetic data. The report concludes with recommendations on how ECOSOC could proceed on this matter. The addendum to the report (E/2003/91/Add.1) contains the information and comments provided by Argentina.
There is a report of the Secretary-General submitted according to General Assembly resolution 57/195 (E/2003/71) which requests the Secretary-General to prepare, through the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, an analytical report on the extent of implementation of the Programme of Action for the Third Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination. Such a report of the High Commissioner was submitted to the fifty-ninth session of the Commission and summarized all Third Decade activities carried out during the 10 years of the Decade.
There is a note verbale from the Permanent Mission of Zambia to the Secretary-General (E/2003/77), which expresses Zambia’s interest in becoming a member of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
There is a note by the Secretariat on honorariums payable to members of the International Narcotics Control Board (E/2003/96).
Action on Resolutions and Decisions
The Council adopted, without a vote, a resolution on genetic privacy and non-discrimination (E/2003/L.36) by which it decided to postpone consideration of the question of genetic privacy and non-discrimination to its substantive session of 2004 to allow for a thorough review of this matter and its implications on ethical, legal, medical, employment-related and other aspects of social life, on the basis, inter alia, of the report of the Secretary-General requested by the Council in its resolution 2001/39 of 26 July 2001.
Within the context of the report on the twelfth session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (E/2003/30), the Economic and Social Council recommended the adoption of four draft resolutions by the General Assembly, concerning variously “Strengthening international cooperation in preventing and combating trafficking in persons and protecting victims of such trafficking”, “International cooperation in the fight against transnational organized crime: assistance to States in capacity-building with a view to facilitating the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols thereto”, “Strengthening international cooperation and technical assistance in promoting the implementation of the universal conventions and protocols related to terrorism within the framework of the activities of the Centre for International Crime Prevention”, and “Preparations for the eleventh United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice”.
The Council, also within the context of the report of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, adopted, without a vote, eight resolutions and two decisions. The first of these resolutions adopted concerned the “Work of the Centre for International Crime Prevention, including the management of the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Fund”; the second, “International cooperation, technical assistance and advisory services in crime prevention and criminal justice”; the third, “Prevention of urban crime”; the fourth, “Illicit trafficking in protected species of wild flora and fauna”; the fifth, “International cooperation in the prevention, combating and elimination of kidnapping and in providing assistance to victims”; the sixth, “Prevention of crimes that infringe on the cultural heritage of peoples in the form of movable property”; the seventh, “United Nations standards and norms in crime prevention and criminal justice”, by which it decided to group United Nations standards and norms in crime prevention and criminal justice in the following categories: standards and norms related primarily to persons in custody, non-custodial sanctions and juvenile and restorative justice; standards and norms related primarily to legal, institutional and practical arrangements for international cooperation; standards and norms related primarily to crime prevention and victim issues; and standards and norms related primarily to good governance, the independence of the judiciary and the integrity of criminal justice personnel; and the eighth, “Functioning of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.” The two decisions adopted concerned the “Report of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice on its twelfth session and provisional agenda and documentation for its thirteenth session” and the “Appointment of members of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute.”
Within the context of the report of the forty-sixth session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (E/2003/28), ECOSOC adopted, without a vote, ten resolutions. These included a resolution on “Training in precursor control, countering money-laundering and drug abuse prevention”, in which ECOSOC urged relevant international organizations to provide financing and other support for the training of experts in various subjects related to the fight against the world drug problem, as well as resolutions on the “Reduction of illicit drug demand”; “International assistance to the States affected by the transit of illicit drugs”; “Strengthening the prevention and suppression of illicit drug trafficking”; and “Establishment of national networks to counter money-laundering in the framework of national and international drug control plans”.
Also contained in the report of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs was a resolution adopted on “Strengthening alternative development through trade and socio-environmental preservation”, by which ECOSOC called on Member States to share their experience in programmes to eliminate or reduce illicit crop cultivation, thereby taking into account common socio-economic and environmental factors, and to encourage the participation of local inhabitants in such programmes. Further resolutions adopted concerned “Funding of travel for participants in meetings of heads of national drug law enforcement agencies”; “Strengthening systems of control over chemical precursors and preventing their diversion and trafficking”; “Demand for and supply of opiates for medical and scientific purposes”; and “Efforts to counter the trend towards the legalization of drugs for non-medical use”.
The ECOSOC also adopted, without a vote, two decisions on the “Report of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs on its forty-sixth session and provisional agenda and documentation for the forty-seventh session of the Commission”, and a “Report of the International Narcotics Board”.
The ECOSOC also adopted the recommendations contained in the report of the Commission on the Status of Women (E/2003/27). One of them concerned a resolution, adopted in a roll-call vote of 42 in favour, with 2 against (United States, Georgia), and with 4 abstentions (Germany, Nicaragua, Peru, Australia), on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women. Through the resolution, ECOSOC demanded that Israel, the occupying power, comply fully with the provisions and principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and called upon the international community to continue to provide urgently needed assistance and services in an effort to alleviate the dire humanitarian crisis being faced by Palestinian women and their families.
Also, within the report of the Commission on the Status of Women, ECOSOC adopted, without a vote, a resolution on the situation of women in Afghanistan, as well as the agreed conclusion of the Commission on participation in and access of women to the media, and information and communications technologies and their impact on and use as an instrument for the advancement and empowerment of women. In addition, ECOSOC adopted a decision on the report of the Commission on its forty-seventh session and the provisional agenda for the forty-eighth session.
The Council adopted, without a vote, a resolution on the Joint United Nations Programme on Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (UNAIDS) (E/2003/L.25/Rev.1), which urges the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the organizations and bodies of the United Nations system to intensify their support to governments, with a view to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as well as the goals and targets contained in the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS. It also calls upon the Chairperson of the United Nations Development Group to ensure, through the resident coordinators, the inclusion of the country coordinators of the Programme as members of United Nations country teams and urges Governments, bilateral and multilateral donors, civil society, the private sector and other partners to increase their funding for HIV/AIDS-related activities, including funding of the unified budget and work plan of the Programme, in order to ensure a level of financial and other resources that are fully commensurate with the multisectoral challenges of the epidemic.
The Council adopted, as orally corrected and without a vote, a resolution on the World Summit on the Information Society (E/2003/L.30), by which it invites countries to be represented at the highest political level at the two phases of the Summit. It requests the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), in the context of its role in the preparatory process for the Summit, in close cooperation with the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat and other information offices of the United Nations system, to intensify its public information campaign to raise global awareness of the Summit, within existing resources and through voluntary contributions. It also invites the international community to continue providing extra budgetary resources, in particular through voluntary contributions, to the special trust fund established by the ITU to support the preparations for and the holding of the two phases of the Summit and to facilitate the effective participation of representatives of developing countries, in particular the least developed countries, in the third meeting of the intergovernmental Preparatory Committee, to be held in Geneva from 15 to 26 September 2003, as well as in future meetings of the Preparatory Committee and in the two phases of the Summit.
Additionally, with the adoption, as orally amended and without a vote, of a resolution on the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) (E/2003/L.15), the Council expresses its deep concern over the weak implementation of the Programme of Action and calls upon the Secretary-General to take appropriate measures to strengthen the advocacy, monitoring and coordination actions of the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Land-locked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, as well as its management and staffing. It also calls on all development partners of the LDCs to honour their commitments regarding the effective and expeditious implementation of the Programme of Action and to effect their support in terms of official development assistance, foreign direct investment, debt relief, capacity-building, market access and supply-side support to reforms.
It further urges developed countries that have not yet done so to make concrete efforts to effectively implement their commitments on official development assistance to the LDCs, calls on the forthcoming Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to adopt further measures to effectively address the marginalization of the LDCs in the multilateral trading system and calls on the members of the WTO to implement the guidelines to facilitate and accelerate the accession of the LDCs to the WTO. Finally, it calls on the Secretary-General to submit his annual progress report on the implementation of the Programme of Action so as to put greater emphasis on concrete results and indicate the progress achieved in implementation.
Comments on Resolution Concerning Palestinian Women
Before the vote, the United States said his delegation was deeply concerned about the impact of the crisis on Palestinian women and Palestinian people. In fact, the United States was the single largest donor to the United Nations Works and Relief Agency (UNWRA). At the same time, no mention had been made of the suffering of Israeli women. The United States would, therefore, vote against this resolution, since the final settlement of the issue must be negotiated by the two parties. One-sided resolutions as the one before the Council just made it more difficult for the United Nations to play a credible role in the peace process.
The representative of Morocco, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said that his delegation had asked for a vote on this draft resolution. The draft stressed the economic difficulties faced by Palestinian women as a result of the crisis and occupation. Members were called upon to support the draft as they had done during the Commission on the Status of Women.
The Australian representative said Australia remained concerned about the situation of Palestinian people, however this draft resolution contained biased language and the Australian delegation would, therefore, abstain.
After the vote, the representative of Morocco, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, thanked the members of ECOSOC for their very broad support and hoped the resolution would help the situation.
The representative of Israel reiterated that the resolution singled out Israel and was one-sided. It failed to recognize the terror and suffering endured by Israeli women.
Comment on Resolution on Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)
In a statement after the adoption of the resolution, the representative of Senegal said that he would like to take this opportunity to express his gratitude to those kind enough to cosponsor the draft resolution. Its adoption by consensus reflected the unanimity in negotiations surrounding it. As Senegal considered HIV/AIDS to be a real threat to development, he believed that the scope of the pandemic and its devastating effects across sectors called for worldwide initiatives aimed at fighting it, and Africa did not wish to lag behind in this respect. Finally, he appealed for additional resources to be allocated to the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Comment on Resolution on World Summit on Information Society
After the adoption of the resolution, the representative of Japan thanked all of the resolution’s cosponsors and thanked the Swiss delegation for all its work.
Introduction of Reports
KAMEL MORJANE, Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees, speaking on behalf of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), presented the report of UNHCR and described the main challenges faced by the agency in 2002 and its responses in attempting to find the most appropriate and effective solutions for strengthening international protection of refugees worldwide, implementing operational activities, developing coordination mechanisms and partnerships with other actors and managing and overseeing programmes. The challenges of sustaining and improving international protection standards had been particularly intense: there was an increasingly negative perception of asylum-seekers and refugees, frequently tinged with xenophobia in northern and southern hemispheres alike. UNHCR’s efforts to develop measures and means to build upon and buttress the 1951 Convention were now taking form through the High Commissioner’s Convention Plus initiative, which sought to promote fairer responsibility and burden sharing, to improve access to and timely realization of durable solutions and to reduce migratory pressure on asylum sectors.
He said that among initiatives undertaken by UNHCR in Africa, which the General Assembly had especially asked UNHCR to review, voluntary repatriation operations had been begun in Angola in June 2003, while activities for the voluntary repatriation of refugees from Sierra Leone and Rwanda also continued. However, the situations in Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of the Congo remained causes for concern. Moreover, as a number of speakers noted during the humanitarian segment of the Council’s session, the “CNN phenomenon” was a danger of which UNHCR was acutely conscious. Refugee situations tended to receive attention in different degrees depending on the amount of media coverage; forgotten crises remained forgotten and as new crises placed additional demands on funding, protracted situations slipped even further into stagnation, with the result that standards of basic assistance also slipped, rendering the vulnerable even more so.
PHILIP O. EMAFO, President of the International Narcotics Board, said that in February 2003, the annual report of the Board had been officially launched in more than 30 countries. It had examined the impact of drugs on overall economic development and debunked the myth that illicit drug production and trafficking could improve the economic situation of a country. Illicit drug production and trade impacted negatively on economic development as they destabilized the political system by strengthening insurgency groups and terrorism, distorted the economy through inflow of illicit profits and undermined civil society through rising levels of crime, violence and drug abuse. The Board was committed to cooperating and collaborating with international and intergovernmental organizations in trying to identify and find solutions to the world drug problem. The Board remained concerned about the widespread illicit opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan. Since last year, Afghanistan had remained steadfast in its drug control efforts and had committed itself to eliminate drug production by 2013. However, the Government of Afghanistan could not resolve such enormous problems on its own, and the Board therefore welcomed the support expressed by the Security Council. He stressed that country missions were an important part of the dialogue between governments, as well as administrative and legislative measures adopted by Governments to implement the provisions of the international drug control conventions. He assured ECOSOC of the Board’s preparedness to continue to serve the international community in combating the world drug problem, since no country working alone, could solve the drug problem.
M. SKURATOVSKYI (Ukraine) said that a global spread of organized crime posed growing threats to all governments and societies. Ukraine, therefore, gave its resolute support to the endeavours of the international community and collateral efforts of the United Nations Member States in finding new modalities of how to combat corruption and organized crime in the most efficient way. Ukraine recognized that efficient anti-corruption measures taken recently at international levels had reduced to some extent the level of corruption and had limited its expansion. In this respect, Ukraine welcomed activities of the Ad Hoc Committee convened in Vienna to negotiate an effective international anti-corruption legal instrument. Touching upon the topic of international drug control, a problem of global dimension, he stressed that it needed to be tackled in a concerted and well-balanced manner. Ukraine strongly supported the strategy pursued by the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs, in particular as it had been outlined during its last session. Priority must be given to full implementation of internationally agreed commitments of Member States aimed at countering drug problems and carrying out the relevant programmes and action plans.
NAELA GABR (Egypt) said that the report highlighted the pioneering role of UNHCR under the leadership of the current High Commissioner. The Convention Plus initiative was commendable and took into account the real situation of refugees. However, among the issues that should be reviewed with an eye to further activating the role of the High Commissioner, she said, were the provision of sustainable financing for the work of the High Commissioner; burden sharing; adequate development assistance to protect refugees in host developing countries; enhancing national capacity-building to help host countries discharge their responsibilities; ending restrictive policies on the reception of refugees; respect for current legal and procedural rules when developing new rules in the context of transparency and the multilateral framework; and the interaction of free flows of refugees and migration. Egypt had made a request to accede to the Executive Board of the UNHCR and had always contributed effectively to international work on the issue of refugees; Egypt also did its utmost to provide for refugees.
GEORGES MALEMPRE (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)) said that completion of the sequencing of the human genome had paved the way for extensive improvements and advancement in, among others, areas such as medicine and genetics. Yet UNESCO considered that genetic data gathered for scientific purposes must be used for lawful means, and it should not be used to label persons and stigmatize them, which was a threat, particularly if genetic information was communicated to third parties not authorized to possess it. The future international instrument, which aimed to uphold the principles of the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights, established a clear distinction between the ends for which genetic material were harvested and used and the means of their collection, treatment, use and conservation.
On the subject of the removal of the consultative status of Reporters Without Frontiers with ECOSOC, he said that it was not his place to decide if their offences had violated the rules sufficiently for this sanction to be imposed, but he did wish to recall the important role played by the non-governmental organization. For example, it had played an all-important role in the establishment of the International Day for Freedom of the Press.
MALIKA AÏT-MOHAMED PARENT (International Federation for Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) referred to the follow-up to the World Conference against Racism and stressed that the basic principles of the Federation provided a sound basis to reduce discrimination and violence in the community. The Federation had embarked on many regional programmes to increase awareness on racism and discrimination, including in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Experiences were being shared about these regional initiatives in order to learn from other programmes’ success rates. The Federation had also been involved with programmes on HIV/AIDS, asylum seekers and immigrants. The Federation believed that all actors had a role to play in eliminating discrimination and racism and stressed the needs of States to strengthen their commitment.
HUSNIYYA MAMADOVA (Azerbaijan) said that the report of UNHCR depicted and analysed the situation of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) comprehensively, and provided detailed information on UNHCR activities in all regions. Of special interest for Azerbaijan was the item related to protracted refugee and IDP situations; the Government deeply regretted the protracted refugee and IDP situation within Azerbaijan, which was a result of Armenia's aggression. In the view of her Government, complex humanitarian problems resulting from armed conflict could only be solved on the basis of norms and principles of international law, with particular respect for the principles of territorial integrity and sovereignty. The current situation of “no peace, no war” between Armenia and Azerbaijan was a time bomb and a source of despair for the region’s people, especially displaced persons. Moreover, although there had been some progress in addressing refugees’ problems, there was a decline in humanitarian aid and an intention to reduce activities due to the continued lack of progress in conflict resolution.
On the report of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, she said that favourable climatic and geographical factors made Azerbaijan attractive to international drug traffickers as a transit route. However, the Government had undertaken a number of measures to counteract the drug problem and valued its cooperation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The threat of conflict “spillover” was also real in the South Caucasus, in which context particular attention should be given to uncontrolled zones of territory, in which the cultivation of illegal drugs and arms trafficking were among activities giving cause for concern. Thus, one of Azerbaijan’s strategic goals was the creation of an appropriate infrastructure to strengthen the prevention and suppression of these phenomena.
R. N. MSUYA (United Republic of Tanzania) said Tanzania, having hosted millions of refugees for decades, was only too familiar with the plight of refugees and the enormous responsibility of UNHCR and refugee hosting communities, particularly when a permanent solution seemed to be ever evasive. Records showed that Tanzania had made different efforts to alleviate the situation of refugees over four decades, including granting them citizenship. To date, a permanent solution remained a mirage. Tanzania believed a solution depended to a very large extent on the countries of origin; the rest could only provide temporary sanctuary to their fleeing populations. Tanzania reiterated its commitment to the 1951 Convention as an important regime of international protection for refugees, however, due to changes which had taken place in the last 50 years, it might be advisable and desirable that additional measures be undertaken to take into account current realities. One of the most lacking components in the existing regime was the burden-sharing aspect. The Convention was silent on this important aspect. Lack of predictable resources jeopardized refugee protection, particularly because the bulk of the world refugees were hosted in developing countries with very limited resources. These issues needed to be addressed.
NORMA NASCIMBENE DE DUMONT (Argentina) said that the agenda item on genetic privacy had been intended to address the issue of scientific uses for genetic material and the prevention of its use for labelling and stigmatizing persons. There was a clear risk that some individuals might be denied education, work or social services because of genetic traits that predisposed them to certain diseases. The potential discrimination might even affect the families or ethnic groups to which such persons belonged. It was regrettable that delays had prevented the delivery of a comprehensive and detailed report from the Secretary-General on this issue, and it was for this reason that Argentina had proposed the deferral of the consideration of this item to the Council’s next session.
STAFFORD O. NEIL (Jamaica) referred to issues related to the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Third Decade against Racism and Discrimination. He would have preferred to see a more rigorous report which examined the overall impacts of activities aimed to ensure that the momentum achieved at the Durban Conference would not be lost. A number of concrete recommendations had been made on the use of the Internet and the incitement of violence. The report could have mentioned the progress of the implementation of such recommendations. With regard to discrimination against migrants, an analysis of the status of implementation would have been useful. This would be particularly important at a time when there seemed to have been a resurgence of racism targeting migrants and refugees. It was also necessary to combat racial profiling, a point that had not been explicitly mentioned in the report. Concerning national reporting, he asked what measures could be taken to improve reporting procedures.
BERNARD KESSEDJIAN (France) said that regarding the draft decision concerning the suspension of the consultative status of Reporters Without Frontiers, France could not wholly support the Committee’s recommendation from the procedural point of view. As the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations had not completed its work, the explanatory report was not available; moreover Reporters Without Frontiers had been unable to respond to the complaints lodged against it. France thus requested that the decision on the status of Reporters Without Frontiers be postponed and reconsidered.
MOHAMED MOUNIR LOUTFY (Egypt) referred to the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Third Decade against Racism and said that the international community had expressed the need for efficient follow-up to the Durban Conference. The Commission on Human Rights was responsible for monitoring this follow-up and then to report to ECOSOC. He expressed concern about States that showed reluctance to implement the Durban Declaration. In this context, he welcomed the activities of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. It was not enough for the international community to hold meetings on racism and discrimination, implementation was of key importance. In this connection, he stressed the human rights of migrants and encouraged States to play the role they had agreed to in order to combat racism and discrimination. Egypt was making efforts to combat racial discrimination, and had set up a work plan to implement a work programme encouraging tolerance and understanding.
RODOLPHO REYES RODRIGUEZ (Cuba) said that like all developing countries, Cuba attached great importance to the work of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and their contribution to the work of the United Nations. The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations had made considerable progress, such as the introduction of computerization. The members of the Committee all deserved the commendation of the Council. However, selectivity in assessing the work of the Committee was unacceptable. This was particularly the case with the status of Reporters Without Frontiers. A very serious incident had occurred this year; a number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) had tried to convert the session of the Human Rights Commission into a session for slander and the abuse of individuals. Non-governmental organizations were allowed to present written contributions and to take the floor during the Commission, which granted to those wishing to generate scandal every possibility to do so. However, NGOs should not be allowed to turn the Commission into a forum for slander and to misuse their position to destabilize the legitimacy of the Human Rights Commission. Not only had Reporters Without Frontiers been notified of the decision to be taken against them, they had failed to submit any communication questioning the validity of the Committee’s decision. Cuba could not accept the French proposal as it would only inculcate an atmosphere of impunity and lead to worse cases. The freedoms of expression and opinion must not be invoked to disturb the work of the Commission.
OMAR BASHIR MANIS (Sudan) said that he had not intended to intervene, however after the comments from the representative of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defending an NGO that a committee of the United Nations had adopted a decision about, he had to speak out.
He reminded the representatives of UNESCO that the Members States that had been victims of the actions of this NGO had been members of UNESCO since its inception. Respect for rules that governed the work of NGOs in the Council was paramount. Did the statement made by the UNESCO representative reflect the official view of UNESCO, he asked.
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