27 November 2001


Discussion of Racism, Racial Discrimination Postponed

NEW YORK, 26 November (UN Headquarters) -- The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural) met this morning to discuss its organization of work for the final phase of its substantive session, and to hear the introduction of several draft resolutions. The two remaining/open items on the 2001 agenda had raised the Bureau’s concern: consideration of items related to the elimination of racism and racial discrimination and consideration of two draft resolutions on crime prevention and criminal justice.

Traditionally, delegations have taken up matters related to racial discrimination concurrently with those related to the rights of peoples to self-determination, but this year, because of on-going negotiations surrounding the outcome of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, delegations agreed to segment the debate -- discussing self-determination from 31 October to 5 November, and postponing consideration of racial discrimination until the relevant documentation could be completed.

Chairman Fuad Mubarak Al-Hinai (Oman) informed delegations this morning that the consultations taking place in Geneva on that item remain inconclusive. He noted that once the official text of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action was agreed upon, the Secretariat would require at least 48 hours to issue the document. The Committee would therefore not commence its consideration of matters related to racism and racial discrimination today. The Bureau would report to the Committee tomorrow on the remaining possibilities for deliberations on that important item, following consultations with regional groups.

On matters related to crime prevention and criminal justice, the Chairman informed delegations that the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice had held a resumed session and drafted two more resolutions for action by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the General Assembly. However, those texts had been issued after the Committee had concluded its consideration and action on that item. Since those drafts must first be approved by ECOSOC, which was not expected to meet for some time, the Assembly would keep the item open pending action by the Council. If necessary, action could be taken directly in the Assembly’s plenary.

Introduction of Draft Resolutions

Also this morning, the Committee heard the introduction of five draft resolutions on human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, human rights situations and the reports of special rapporteurs and representatives.

The representative of Suriname introduced a draft resolution on human rights education (document A/C.3/56/L.40) by which the Assembly would invite all Governments to reaffirm their commitments and obligations to develop national strategies for human rights education which are comprehensive, participatory and effective, and which can be embodied in a national plan of action for such education as part of their national development plan.

The Committee also heard the introduction of a draft on the elimination of all forms of religious intolerance (document A/C.3/56/L.51). By that text, introduced by the representative of Ireland, the Assembly would reaffirm that freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief was a human right derived from the inherent dignity of the human person and guaranteed to all without discrimination. The Assembly would therefore urge all States to ensure that their constitutional and legal systems provided effective guarantees of that freedom including the provision of effective remedies in cases in which it is violated.

The representative of India introduced a draft resolution on the National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (document A/C.3/56/L.52), by which the General Assembly would urge the Secretary-General to continue to give high priority to requests from Member States for assistance in establishing and strengthening national human rights institutions as part of the programme of advisory services and technical assistance in the field of human rights.

The representative of Australia introduced a draft resolution on the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education (document A/C.3/56/L.66). By that draft, the Assembly would urge all Governments to promote the development of comprehensive and sustainable national strategies for human rights education and to establish and strengthen, as a priority in education policies, knowledge of human rights, both in its theoretical dimension and practical application.

The Assembly would further urge Governments to contribute to the Plan of Action for the Decade, in particular by encouraging the establishment, in accordance with national conditions, of broadly representative national committees for human rights education responsible for the development of comprehensive, effective and sustainable national plans of action for human rights education and information.

The representative of the United States introduced a draft resolution on The Situation of Human Rights in Parts of South-Eastern Europe (document A/C.3/56/L.54), by which the General Assembly would urge all authorities in the region to cooperate fully with the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, and in particular to comply with their obligation to immediately arrest and transfer to the custody of the Tribunal all indicted persons, as well as to comply with requests by the Tribunal for access to information and witnesses.

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