|For information only - not an official document.|
|2 November 2000|
| No Country Immune to Criticism in Area of Human Rights,
Say Speakers in Third Committee
NEW YORK, 1 November (UN Headquarters) -- No country’s human rights record was perfect, and States should offer help rather than blame when it came to ensuring human rights for the world's vulnerable, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) was told this afternoon as it continued discussing human rights issues.
The representative of Canada said that the Millennium Summit had reinforced the role of the United Nations in protecting vulnerable people by reinforcing humanitarian law and building a culture of respect for human rights in all States.
The representative of Indonesia, however, pointed out that his country's multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious makeup had complicated the transition from authoritarianism to democracy. Unrest stemmed from rapid social, cultural, economic and demographic changes, which meant that democratic ideals flourished alongside economically-linked intolerance. Only bolder institutions and infrastructure could protect human rights under such conditions. States should lend a bilateral hand rather than demand better performance from beleaguered countries.
The representative of Hungary said the situation of the Roma in his country demonstrated the persistence of racial discrimination. They were an important ethnic minority, but the problems involving them were of a social nature. Integrating them into society was a question of bridging the gap between minorities and implementing conventional social policy to reduce inequality and combat prejudice. That entailed strengthening the identity of Roma cultures. An Ombudsman had been appointed. The upcoming Conference against racism would mobilize international efforts to end such discriminations.
The representative of Pakistan said poverty was the major impediment to the enjoyment of human rights. Lack of resources hampered efforts of developing countries to invest in infra-structure, training and capacity building. Responding to a statement by the representative of Canada, he said that while Canada had its own problems with exploitation of women and a past history of extrajudicial killings, it had appointed itself the custodian of human rights, while remaining silent on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
Allegations about the human rights situations in their countries were also questioned during the exercise of the right of reply by the representatives of China, Iraq, Belarus, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Viet Nam.
Making statements on general aspects of human rights were the representatives of Cameroon, Turkey, Pakistan and Mexico.
In addition, the Committee this afternoon heard the introduction of five draft resolutions. One, on the elimination of crimes against women, was introduced by the representative of the Netherlands. Another, on the elimination of violence against women, was introduced by Pakistan's representative. The representative of Nigeria introduced a draft text on the situation of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women. Finally, the representative of Uruguay introduced a resolution on the rights of the child, while Canada’s representative introduced one on the effective implementation of human rights instruments.
The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Thursday, 2 November, to continue considering issues related to human rights, including approaches, human rights situations, the 1993 Vienna Declaration and the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Committee Work Programme
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this afternoon to continue its deliberation of human rights issues, including approaches, human rights situations, the 1993 Vienna Declaration and the High Commissioner's report. (For background, see Press Release GA/SHC/3603 of 24 October.)
The Committee also has before it a number of revised draft resolutions expected to be introduced.
A resolution on working towards the elimination of crimes against women committed in the name of honour (document A/C.3/55/L.11/Rev.1) would have the Assembly express its concern at women continuing to be victims of violence, including the many forms of crimes committed in the name of honour. It would also express concern that some perpetrators assumed they had justification for such crimes.
Also by that draft, the Assembly would call upon States to take certain actions. Those would include implementing obligations under human rights law, intensifying efforts to prevent crimes against women committed in the name of honour, promote the increase of knowledge about the causes and consequences of such crimes, provide support services and institutional mechanisms for the relief and recourse of victims. The Assembly would invite the international community, including the United Nations system, to assist States in those efforts, through such means as technical assistance and advisory services. It would encourage human rights treaty bodies to address the issue and would request the Secretary-General to report on progress.
The resolution is sponsored by Afghanistan, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, United Kingdom, Tanzania, Uruguay and Venezuela.
The Committee also had before it a draft resolution on the elimination of all forms of violence against women (document A/C.3/55/L.13/Rev.1). The revised draft would have the Assembly express deep concern at the persistence of violence and crimes against women in all parts of the world, especially all forms of commercial sexual exploitation and economic exploitation. It would stress that all forms of violence including crimes against women were obstacles to the advancement and empowerment of women, and would stress the need to treat all forms of violence against women as a criminal offence punishable by law. It would reaffirm the increased awareness of and commitment to preventing and combating such crimes and would urge States to strengthen awareness and preventive measures for the elimination of all forms of violence and crimes against women through such means as media and educational campaigns.
Further by the draft, the Assembly would call on States to fulfil their obligations under the relevant human rights instruments and to implement the Beijing Platform for Action as well as the outcome document of the special session. It would further urge relevant entities of the United Nations system to assist countries in their efforts aimed at prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against women.
The draft is sponsored by Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chad, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Tanzania, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
By a draft on the critical situation of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) (document A/C.3/55/L.16/Rev.1) sponsored by Nigeria (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China) and Mexico, the Assembly would express grave concern that revitalization and fund-raising had not raised enough contributions to keep INSTRAW operating beyond 31 December. It would also express grave concern over the lack of resources to ensure the future of the only research and training institute for the advancement of women in the United Nations system. It would decide that the Institute's core activities would be funded from the regular budget as of 1 January 2001. It would request the Secretary-General to ensure continuity of the Director's role and would urge all States and organizations to contribute to the INSTRAW Trust Fund.
By a draft resolution on the rights of the child (document A/C.3/55/L.18/Rev.1), the Assembly would stress the importance of integrating child-related issues into the work of the upcoming World Conference against racism, as well as the United Nations Conference on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and the special session on the problem of HIV/AIDS. By Part I of the draft, on implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Assembly would urge States that have not yet done so to sign and ratify or accede to the Convention as a matter of priority. It would also call upon them to fully implement the Convention, to cooperate closely with the Committee on the Rights of the Child and to comply in a timely manner with their reporting obligations. It would also request the Secretary-General to ensure the provision of the necessary staff and facilities for the effective and expeditious performance of the functions of the Committee.
By Part II of the draft, on protection and promotion of the rights of children, the Assembly would call upon States to intensify efforts to ensure the registration of all children immediately after birth and to undertake to respect the right of the child to preserve his or her identity. It would also urge States to ensure, as far as possible, the right of the child to know and be cared for by his or her parents and not be separated from them against the child’s will. The exception would be when competent authorities, subject to judicial review, determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures, that such separation is necessary for the best interest of the child and where alternative care is necessary. It would also call upon States to address the number of illegal adoptions and adoptions in the context of armed conflict situations.
By Part III of the draft, on the protection of the rights of children in vulnerable situations, the Assembly would call upon governments to seek comprehensive solutions to the problems causing children to work and/or live on the streets, and to implement appropriate policies and programmes for the protection and rehabilitation of children. It would also call on States to ensure that basic social services, notably education, are provided for children to divert them from and to address the economic imperatives for involvement in harmful, exploitative or abusive activity. It would also strongly urge governments to guarantee respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms, and to take urgent measures to prevent the killing of children working or living on the streets as well as combat torture, abusive treatment and violence against them. It would also call upon States to protect the human rights of migrant children and children with disabilities.
By Part IV of the draft, on the prevention and eradication of the sale of children and their sexual exploitation, the Assembly would call upon States to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children and to give full consideration to her recommendations. It would request the Secretary-General to provide the Special Rapporteur with all necessary human and financial resources to enable her to discharge her mandate. It would call upon States to criminalize and penalize effectively all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse of children, including within the family or for commercial purposes. It would also encourage Governments to include child victims of abuse or sexual exploitation in the development of strategies to protect children from such abuses.
By Part V of the draft, on the protection of children in armed conflict, the Assembly would call upon the Secretary-General and all relevant parts of the United Nations system to further intensify cooperation in their efforts to continue developing a concerted approach to the rights and welfare of children in armed conflict. It would urge all States and other parties to armed conflict to respect international humanitarian law and to put an end to any form of targeting of children and to respect the provisions of the Geneva Conventions. It would also urge States and all other parties to armed conflict to end the use of children as soldiers, to ensure their demobilization and effective disarmament, and to implement effective measures for their rehabilitation, physical and psychological reintegration into society.
By Part VI of the draft, on progressive elimination of child labour, the Assembly would call upon all States that have not done so to consider ratifying the conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO). It would also call upon States to translate into concrete, time-bound action their commitment to the progressive and effective elimination of child labour contrary to accepted international methods. It would also urge them to eliminate the worst forms of child labour.
By Part VII, the draft the Assembly would decide to request the Secretary-General to submit, at its fifty-sixth session, a report on the rights of the child containing information on the status of the Convention and the problems addressed in the resolution. It also would decide to request the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict to submit to it and to the Commission on Human Rights reports containing relevant information on the situation of children affected by armed conflict. It would also decide to continue its consideration of this question at its fifty-sixth session.
The draft is sponsored by: Andorra, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Cape Verde, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Gambia, Germany, Greece, Guinea, Hungary, Iceland, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Tanzania, Uzbekistan and Zimbabwe.
The Committee also had before it a draft resolution on the effective implementation of the international instruments on human rights, including reporting obligations under international instruments on human rights (document A/C.3/55/L.31/Rev.1). The draft would have the Assembly encourage each treaty body to continue to give careful consideration to the relevant conclusions and recommendations contained in the reports of the meetings of the chairpersons of the human rights treaty bodies. In that context, it would encourage cooperation between the human rights treaty bodies. It would also call upon the Secretary-General to seek, in the next biennium, the resources within the United Nations regular budget necessary to give the human rights treaty bodies adequate administrative support and better access to technical expertise, without diverting resources from the development programmes and activities of the Organization. It would further encourage ongoing efforts to identify measures for more effective implementation of the United Nations human rights instruments.
Further by the draft, the Assembly would urge States parties to contribute, individually and through meetings of States parties, to identifying practical proposals and ideas for improving the functioning of the treaty bodies. It would also urge States parties whose reports have been examined by treaty bodies to provide adequate follow-up to the observations and final comments of those bodies on the reports. It would urge States parties to translate, publish, and make widely available in their territories the full texts of the concluding observations on their reports to treaty bodies.
The draft is sponsored by: Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Greece, Guatemala, Lithuania, New Zealand, Norway, Romania and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Before the Committee heard the introduction of drafts, the Chairwoman drew attention to items for action under the agenda heading “the Advancement of Women”. The Millennium Summit had identified the empowerment of women and the achievement of gender equality as effective ways to combat poverty, hunger and disease and to stimulate truly sustainable development. Another critical issue was to combat all forms of violence against women. She was certain that the Committee would agree that those were consensus issues for the new millennium. In that regard, she suggested that at the very least, the Third Committee could deliver to the new millennium a set of policy proposals that were consensus proposals relating to the role of women in the future.
Introduction of Drafts
The representative of the Netherlands introduced the draft resolution on working towards the elimination of crimes against women committed in the name of honour (document A/C.3/55/L.11/Rev.1).
The following were added as co-sponsors: Botswana, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Monaco, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Ukraine.
The following were added as co-sponsors: Oman, Cape Verde, Turkmenistan, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kyrgyzstan and Yemen.
The representative of Nigeria (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China) introduced a revised draft resolution on the critical situation of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) (document A/C.3/55/L.16/Rev.1).
The representative of Uruguay introduced the draft resolution on the rights of the child (document A/C.3/55/L.18/Rev.1)
The following were added as co-sponsors: Armenia, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea, Hungary, Iceland, Iraq, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Liberia, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Moldavia, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Sudan, Thailand, Tunisia, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Viet Nam, Mozambique, Israel, Ethiopia, Morocco, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
The representative of Canada introduced the draft resolution on the effective implementation of the international instruments on human rights, including reporting obligations under international instruments on human rights (document A/C.3/55/L.31/Rev.1).
MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon) said human rights would remain an ongoing quest for a long time in many countries. Human rights belonged to everyone. Their benefits should not be reserved for those belonging to any political or ethnic group. They should not be exploited for any purpose, whether to reward or punish. The United Nations should work with States which had sovereignty and which upheld international principles. It should also work to eradicate poverty, which nullified all rights.
Cameroon had met all its legal obligations under the international instruments to which it was party, he continued. It had filed its reports, including with regard to the conventions against racial discrimination and torture. At the national level, the Government had instituted many laws showing a remarkable commitment to human rights. Cameroon’s new constitution also provided for institutions to oversee protection of those rights. The preamble itself carried a paragraph specifically prohibiting torture, which was punishable by a term of up to life imprisonment.
He said Cameroon's situation demonstrated a deep commitment to human rights, backed up by specific legislative provisions. However, socio-economic conditions impacted on the situation of human rights at a level beyond State control. Therefore, inasmuch as the international community stigmatized omissions in the field of human rights, it should reward the steps that developing countries took to correct such deficiencies. For example, even if the conditions of detention were deficient, comments about the condition should note the efforts that had been expended to improve them. At heart, it should also be kept in mind that education in human rights was a guaranteed investment in promoting them.
HAKAN TEKIN (Turkey) said that at the dawn of a new millennium, one of the most positive aspects of globalization was that the boundaries between nations on issues of good governance and human rights were rapidly crumbling. But much remained to be done for the full implementation of the universal principles of human rights worldwide. As the High Commissioner for Human Rights highlighted in her report, despite over 50 years of constructive development of international human rights norms, there was still only modest progress in key areas such as the prevention of gross violations of human rights. There was also scant progress in the practical implementation of human rights awareness at the grass-roots level. Thus it was both the duty and responsibility of the international community to stand by its commitments and work towards furthering human rights at the global level. On the other hand, the world community should take care not to use human rights issues to cause unrest or destabilize other countries. In the field of human rights, there was no perfection. Every country had room for improvement. Therefore, every single government had the duty to work towards the highest standards of human rights.
Turkey had assumed a consistent role in promoting and protecting human rights since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It had also contributed to the development of international instruments in the field of human rights. Its Government and Parliament continuously reviewed legislation pertaining to human rights, with a view to ensuring that citizens enjoyed the highest standards of human rights. Efforts in that regard had gained momentum in recent years. Human rights courses were now included in primary and high school curricula, as well as in the preparatory training programmes for civil service employees. A high-level inter-ministerial human rights coordinating body constantly monitored human rights issues. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were increasingly engaged in dialogue with the country’s official bodies for the further improvement of human rights. Turkey continued to take steps towards becoming a signatory to the core international human rights instruments. It had signed the two Optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.
ROSS HYNES (Canada) said the Millennium Summit had reinforced the vital role of the United Nations in serving the people of the world. At that historic event, the Secretary-General spoke of the Organization’s mandate to protect vulnerable people by finding better ways to enforce humanitarian law, and by helping to build a culture of respect for human rights in all States. The world’s people were telling the United Nations to do more, Canada’s representative said. Human rights were in particular jeopardy in situations of armed conflict. Ensuring freedom from fear required the international community to tackle the threat of violence at every stage, including taking preventive action and measures to build sustainable respect for human rights in the aftermath of conflict. The greatest impact of armed conflict was on children. That was why Canada had convened the Winnipeg Conference last April, the first truly global meeting on war-affected children.
He next turned to highlight the human rights situations in a number of countries. Canada was gravely concerned at the indiscriminate bombings of villages, particularly schools and hospitals, in southern Sudan by Government forces. The widespread use of child soldiers, forced abductions and displacement were also of concern. He called on the parties to the conflict to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law. He went on to note that Canada was deeply concerned by the plight of civilians in Chechnya. While the scale of fighting in the region had diminished, civilians remained at risk from terrorism and landmines. He called on Russia to cooperate more closely with international experts, including the United Nations, in investigating allegations of human rights violations. He also said that in the Great Lakes region of Africa, most notably Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, gross violations of human rights were still regular occurrences. He strongly encouraged all the signatories to the Lusaka Agreements to respect their undertakings and to respect the human rights of civilian populations.
He then highlighted his delegation’s deep concern about the humanitarian situations in Sierra Leone, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Colombia, the Balkans, the Middle East, Malaysia, Haiti and Iraq, among others. He strongly urged the Government of Viet Nam to respect the political and religious freedoms set out in its constitution. He was also concerned about the increased use of the death penalty in Viet Nam as well as Saudi Arabia. He welcomed the policy shift toward greater international engagement by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with respect to human rights issues. To assist that country to integrate itself into international affairs, Canada had recognized it as a State and would engage its Government in dialogue to encourage the implementation of the rule of law. Finally, he said that no country, including his own, was beyond criticism for its human rights record. No country could argue that it had done everything in its power to fulfil its international human rights obligations or to ensure the fullest possible enjoyment of human rights. He hoped that the international community would be inspired by the outcome of the Millennium Assembly and the words of the Secretary-General and strive to do more and to do it better.
ANDRE ERDOS (Hungary) said he would focus his intervention on an aspect of some interest to his country. Hungary knew well the evils of violence, psychological suffering and material devastation wrought by human rights violations, racial discrimination and intolerance and aggression, which had shaken Central and Eastern Europe more than once. Thus, his country and region were also aware that the adoption of necessary measures to cope with human rights violations should be at the core of governments’ efforts to ensure universal protection and promotion of human rights. Combating modern forms of racism presented one of the most serious challenges facing the international community today.
In his country, the situation of the Roma minority was most depressing. The Roma were an important ethnic minority in Hungary. Owing to their complex situation, addressing their problems would not be easy. Their problems were of a social nature, so the question of their integration into society was a question of minorities and social policy. His Government had introduced a set of medium-term plans aimed at reducing social inequality and combating prejudice and discrimination. Those plans would also strengthen the identity of Roma cultures. He was pleased to report that the Government had also appointed an Ombudsman for minority issues at the disposal of all minorities in the country to monitor human rights violations and allegations of discrimination, and to ensure that such violations would not go unpunished. He welcomed the upcoming Conference against racism as a noble event in the move toward mobilizing international efforts to end discrimination and achieve universal promotion of human rights.
Hungary was actively working with the Council of Europe and other regional organizations to address the situation of the Roma. Concerned countries in the region had recently held a meeting in Prague to discuss the situation of Roma communities. That gathering had, in cooperation with independent Roma representatives, identified support programmes aimed at promoting tolerance and understanding. The high priority of dealing with the issue was also recognized. He was pleased to note that the Secretary-General’s recent visit to Budapest had also included a meeting with representatives of the Roma Parliament. That in itself spoke to the importance of the issue at the national and international level.
He went on to stress the importance of education in building a tolerant society. Hungary had integrated minority issue into its school curricula and had designated 18 December “the day of minorities” to draw attention to minority issues and promote tolerance. That day had not been chosen at random: it coincided with the date in 1996 when the General Assembly adopted the Declaration on ethnic religious minorities. Sadly, he said, manifestations of intolerance and xenophobia were still a part of European reality. Not to realize that would be to bury one’s head in the sand. For countries in his region attempting to gain entry to the European Union, he noted that the Union stressed adherence to international humanitarian law at all levels. Expansion of the Union would be most helpful to the United Nations, as it would give the Organization a broader base from which to promote respect for human rights. Finally, he welcomed the recent election in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and hoped that that triumph for democracy and the will of the people would lead to great success.
SHAMSHAD AHMAD (Pakistan) said his country had held a national human rights convention in April. Numerous initiatives had been implemented as a result. Those included the abolition of the death penalty for juveniles below 18 at the time of the crime, amendment of the citizenship law to encompass rights for women, improvement of the penal detention system, and establishment of institutions for women's rights. A national human rights commission was in the process of being established.
He said poverty was the major impediment to the enjoyment of human rights. Lack of resources hampered efforts of developing countries to invest in infrastructure, training and capacity building. The widening income gap should be studied in terms of human rights, as should the effect of external shocks on those rights. Still, the development compact as proposed by the Independent Expert on the Right to Development attached conditionalities to the concept that were totally unacceptable. They were intended to legitimize discriminatory international trade regimes that imposed cross-conditionality on developing countries.
Most serious violations of human rights occurred under foreign occupation. The situation in the occupied Palestinian territories was of grave concern. In South Asia, some most atrocious human rights violations were occurring in occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
In Canada, on the other hand, women were used as objects of trade, entertainment and all forms of exploitation. In addition, Canadian law-enforcement authorities until recently left native peoples accused of minor crimes to freeze to death as a form of extrajudicial killings. Despite that, Canada had set itself up as the custodian of human rights the world over, and remained silent on the situation in Kashmir. The delegate's attention should be drawn to the fact that the first qualification for a human rights defender was to place principle before expediency.
YANERIT MORGAN (Mexico) said her country had a national programme for strengthening human rights which encouraged the participation of civil society. It was party to 58 human rights instruments. During the present administration, it had ratified nine international conventions. It had also accepted the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. It had accepted the optional protocol to the Convention on discrimination against women, as well as the International Court. The fight against torture had been diligent, including through the training of police. The judiciary had been strengthened and its independence secured. National institutions had been strengthened and enhanced to lend support for human rights.
She said her country remained concerned about the fate of migrants and the abuse to which they were vulnerable simply because they sought to earn a living. Xenophobia was increasingly apparent in many countries. A prompt entry into force of the resolutions on the protection on migrants, along with the establishment of 18 December as the Day to commemorate them, would be solid first steps in securing protection for them.
SUDJANAN PARNOHADININGRAT (Indonesia) said significant progress in the field of human rights had been achieved. Democratic institutions had been set up, such as the Ombudsman and the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights. The National Commission on Human Rights continued to be active at the operational level. The democratically elected parliament was discharging its constitutional mandate to check and balance the operations of the executive branches. Finally, the media were functioning independently and freely.
He recalled that his country was the fourth largest in the world in terms of population. With its multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious makeup, the transition from an authoritarian system to a democracy had been a complex, multi-dimensional operation. The roots of unrest in some parts of the country stemmed from swift social, cultural, economic and demographic changes. Every effort was being made to maintain peace, protect the environment and achieve sustained development as part of the national programme to promote and protect rights. While every individual was allowed to advance, it should not be at the expense of the society's collective rights.
All around the country, he said, democratic ideals were flourishing even as threats of intolerance were coupled with economic discrepancies. To protect human rights under such conditions, bolder institutions and infrastructure were needed. Certain countries should lend a hand in finding solutions at a bilateral level, instead of exhorting better performance from beleaguered countries.
In that vein, it should be kept in mind that the right to development required not only effective development policies at the national level but also a favourable economic environment at the international level. The Independent Expert on the right to development had touched on the responsibilities and obligations involved in implementing that right. His outline of the international dimension in the report had been notable.
Rights of Reply
The representative of China said that in the space of 10 minutes, the United States had accused a host of developing countries of human rights abuses without including its allies among the abusers. That was an odd position for a country with the poor human rights record of the United States, filled as it was with constant police brutality and inequalities against women. The United States should look at its own record and withdraw its reservations to human rights instruments. It should stop taking actions against its own religious groups and stop hurling accusations when China protected itself against a supposedly religious group which had clearly subversive intentions.
Iraq's representative said the United States was guilty of some of the worst acts against humankind. It had dropped the first nuclear bomb, had used chemical warfare against people in Viet Nam, and had used excessive force against numerous peoples. The embargo against Iraq and the military actions taken against his country had violated the human rights and the environment of the whole region. The balance of powers in the world was shifting. One day, the United States would be brought to justice for its own crimes against humanity.
In response to the statement of the United States, the representative of Belarus said its recent elections had been in conformity with international standards. More than 140 international observers had concluded that the elections had been regular. How could a civilized democratic Member State of the United Nations call for the ouster of another democratic State's governing system? That sort of attitude gave rise to the kind of confrontation that was now outdated.
Sudan's representative said Canada's accusations against his country had been irresponsible. It was not true that Sudan was bombing civilians. Rebels were using civilian settlements as cover. The people of Southern Sudan had chosen independence. Hopefully Canada would be more coherent and logical in the future. It claimed that Sudan was exporting citizens from areas containing natural resources for the purpose of exploiting those resources. But in fact, the living standards of the people in the oil region had risen, and the people had not been deported.
The representative of Saudi Arabia expressed great surprise at the charges Canada had made against his country’s judicial system without any attempt to understand Saudi Arabia’s culture. He reiterated that his country’s judicial system was based on the sharia and the constitution flowed from the Koran. Canada had persisted in attacking anything Islamic, without trying to understand the essence of a religion which brought together over 1 billion people throughout the world. His delegation rejected Canada’s statement. With respect to criticism of judicial procedure, he suggested that the Canadian delegation visit Saudi Arabia’s web-site to become better acquainted with the laws and policies of the country. Perhaps the representative of Canada could better spend his time commenting on the murders perpetrated against the Palestinian people.
The representative of Viet Nam addressed Canada’s comments on his country’s policy toward political and religious freedom, as well as its continued employment of the death penalty. Regarding the death penalty, he said that while that was a sensitive issue, it was not a human rights issue. In any event, application of the death penalty was strictly controlled by law to ensure the safety of society at large. It was used only in cases where serious crimes had been committed. As for political and religious freedoms, those principles were not only enshrined in the constitution but were elaborated in other laws and documents as well. It was the policy of the State to strictly respect those rights. He hoped that in the spirit of fruitful cooperation in the area of human rights, nations would refrain from giving themselves the right to pass judgement on other nations.
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