Fifty-eighth General Assembly
Third Committee
1st Meeting (AM)


30 September 2003


Third Committee Elects Vice-Chairs; Will Begin Substantive Work on 6 October

NEW YORK, 29 September (UN Headquarters) -- At its organizational session this morning, the Third Committee of the General Assembly (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) elected Juraj Priputen of Slovenia, Michiel Maertens of Belgium and Beatriz Londono of Colombia, as its Vice-Chairpersons. Abdullah Eid Salman Al-Sulaiti of Qatar was elected Rapporteur.

The Committee also adopted its programme of work for the current session (document A/C.3/58/L.1), with its target date for conclusion set for 21 November.

Before the Committee began its work, a minute of silence was held for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was killed in Iraq as well as for all those people suffering from human rights violations.

Committee Chairman Martin Belinga-Eboutou of Cameroon, elected by the General Assembly in early June, said that all members of the Committee were infused with the commitment to free people from fear, hunger and suffering. The Third Committee was entrusted with focusing on social, humanitarian and cultural issues to ensure that human rights and fundamental freedoms became a reality.

He stressed that the happiness and dignity of future generations lay in the results of present-day negotiations on human rights and fundamental freedoms. In this connection, there could be no significant improvement in the world social situation unless further attention was paid to tools of prevention of human rights abuses. The Committee had a pivotal role to play in attaining the goals of the United Nations. By freeing people from fear and hunger and ensuring the right to development, it would contribute to human dignity and peace.  

During the coming session, the Committee will consider agenda items related to social development, crime prevention and criminal justice, international drug control, advancement of women, promotion and protection of the rights of children, indigenous peoples, elimination of racism, the right of peoples to self-determination, refugees and internally displaced persons, and human rights questions.

As in previous years, the Committee will examine the reports of and hold interactive discussions with special rapporteurs, special representatives and other senior Secretariat officials.

Also this morning, the representative of Egypt requested a written legal interpretation of a General Assembly rule related to voting on resolutions.

The substantive work of the Committee will begin on Monday 6 October, at 10 a.m., when it will consider issues related to social development, including questions on the world social situation and to youth, ageing, disabled persons and the family.


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