18 November 2003


Draft Resolutions Introduced on Human Rights along
With Amendment to Draft on Family

NEW YORK, 17 November (UN Headquarters) -- Speakers stressed the need to respect all human rights -- civil, political, economic, social and cultural -- in order to effectively fight terrorism, achieve the Millennium Development Goals, and establish a culture of peace, as the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) concluded its general discussion of alternative approaches for improving the enjoyment of human rights, and specific human rights situations.

Several speakers, noting the tenth anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, emphasized that human rights were inalienable, interrelated and indivisible.  Human rights must therefore be promoted and protected in every part of the world as a legitimate concern of the international community.  Furthermore, speakers said that the effective promotion and protection of human rights was a collective responsibility of governments, the United Nations, civil society and all individuals in society. 

Over the last few days, delegations condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, stressing that terrorism was a major obstacle to the enjoyment of human rights.  Today, the representative of Turkey said that the cowardly attack on two synagogues in Istanbul last Saturday was another sobering reminder in that regard.  Other speakers also stressed the need to ensure that States respected human rights as they carried out anti-terrorist strategies.  

The importance of the work of human rights defenders in protecting human rights and in holding governments accountable was also highlighted during the general discussion, with almost all delegations condemning the terrorist attack in Baghdad that killed the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Sergio Vieira de Mello, as well as his colleagues.  Those people were human rights defenders working to improve human rights, speakers said, stressing the need to strengthen national legislation for the protection of human rights defenders around the world. 

The need for international cooperation to allow the enjoyment of human rights was stressed by several speakers, including the representative of Kenya and Brazil, who expressed concern at the lack of progress on some of the critical issues in the realization of economic, social and cultural rights, particularly the operationalization of the right to development.  States needed to be enabled to meet the aspirations of their people through a favourable international economic environment. The representative of Brazil was committed to the fight against poverty, since rights had no meaning if people were starving.

Other speakers over the last few days stressed the need for dialogue on human rights, rather than confrontation and condemnation of other countries.  Today, representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Cuba, Belarus, Indonesia, and Syria raised their concerns about the politicization and polarization of human rights issues, stressing the need for international cooperation in achieving the global enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.  The representative of Brazil said that human rights were too important to be seen as a tool of foreign policy and that double standards increased the risk of enfeebling the international system for the promotion and protection of human rights.  

Also today, an amendment to a draft resolution on the preparations for the observance of the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family in 2004 was introduced by the representative of Benin.

The Committee heard the introduction of draft resolutions on human rights and cultural diversity by the representative of Iran, and on strengthening United Nations action in the field of human rights through the promotion of international cooperation and the importance of non-selectivity, impartiality and objectivity by the representative of Cuba. 

Also speaking today were representatives of Viet Nam, Cameroon, Haiti, Cuba, Malaysia, Uganda, Cyprus, San Marino, Greece, Armenia, Côte d’Ivoire, Jordan, Timor-Leste, Latvia, and Turkmenistan. 

Representatives of the European Community, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference also spoke today.

Exercising their right of reply were representatives of China, Japan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Colombia, Ethiopia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Greece, Eritrea, Republic of Korea, and Armenia.


The Committee will reconvene tomorrow, at 10 a.m., to take action on draft resolutions.



The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) will continue its consideration of human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights, as well as human rights situations and the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

For further background information, see Press Release GA/SHC/3766 of 14 November 2003.

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