21 November 2003


Recorded Votes Taken on Drafts Concerning Self-Determination,

Right to Health, Coercive Measures, Terrorism, Access to Medication

NEW YORK, 20 November (UN Headquarters) -- The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) approved 10 draft resolutions today on human rights questions, the right to self-determination and on the elimination of racial discrimination.  Out of those approved, five were adopted by recorded votes.

Several draft resolutions were also introduced today on issues related to alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights, as well as specific human rights situations.

Deeply concerned at the continuation of acts or threats of foreign military intervention and occupation that are threatening to suppress, or had suppressed, the right to self-determination of peoples and nations, the Committee approved a draft resolution on the universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination by a vote of 88 in favour with 64 abstentions, to 3 opposed (Bhutan, India, Mauritius) (see Annex I).  The draft would have the General Assembly declare its firm opposition to acts of foreign military intervention, aggression and occupation, and call upon those States responsible to cease immediately their military intervention in and occupation of foreign countries and territories.

Many speakers said it appeared that the universal principle of self-determination had been used to refer to the specific situation between India and Pakistan.  Believing that the context that had prevailed was not appropriate or within the spirit of the universal principle of the right to self-determination, some delegations, including Benin, Dominican Republic, Kenya, Botswana and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines withdrew their co-sponsorship of the draft resolution.

Explaining his vote, the representative of India said that the statement made by the main sponsor -- Pakistan -- while introducing the draft resolution, had challenged the unity and territorial integrity of India.  The right to self-determination must not be construed to condone any action that would disrupt or threaten the territorial integrity of a State.  India would oppose any attempts to misuse the principle of the right to self-determination for ulterior motives.

The representative of Pakistan expressed his gratitude to all delegations that had reaffirmed their commitment to the principle of self-determination.  A vote for this principle was not a vote in favour of any specific issue -- it was a vote for the principle of self-determination -- a principle central to the United Nations Charter.

In a text that expressed concern about the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures in the field of international relations, trade, investment, and cooperation, the Committee approved a draft on human rights and unilateral coercive measures by a vote of 118 in favour to 50 against, with 1 abstention (Georgia) (see Annex II).

By the terms of the draft, the General Assembly would urge all States to refrain from adopting any unilateral measures not in accordance with international law and the Charter of the United Nations.  States would also be urged to refrain from adopting any unilateral measures that impeded the full achievement of economic and social development by the population of the affected countries.

Also connected to international peace, security and human rights, the Committee approved by a vote of 111 in favour to 39 against, with 17 abstentions (see Annex IV), a draft resolution on human rights and terrorism.  The draft would have the General Assembly profoundly deplore the increasing number of innocent persons killed, massacred and maimed by terrorists in indiscriminate acts of terror that could not be justified under any circumstances.  The international community would be called upon to enhance cooperation at all levels in the fight against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and States would be called upon to take all necessary measures to prevent, combat and eliminate terrorism and to strengthen their legislation to combat it.

In a draft resolution approved on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, in a vote of 166 in favour to 1 against (United States), with 5 abstentions (Australia, Czech Republic, Jordan, Sweden, United Kingdom) (see Annex III), the international community would be called upon to assist developing countries in promoting the full realization of the right to physical and mental health.

Under the text, States would be called upon to guarantee that this right be exercised without discrimination and to pay special attention to the situation of vulnerable groups.  In addition, States would be called upon to place a gender perspective at the centre of policies affecting women’s health, and to protect and promote sexual and reproductive health as integral elements of the right to health.

In a vote of 167 in favour to 1 against (United States) (see Annex V), the Committee approved a draft on access to medication in the context of pandemics such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, which would have the General Assembly call on States to implement national strategies to realize access for all to prevention-related goods, services and information, as well as access to comprehensive treatment, care and support for all individuals infected and affected by pandemics such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

In other action today, the Committee approved draft resolutions, without votes, on the incompatibility between democracy and racism, the enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights, on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights, on the Subregional Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa, and on the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

Several draft resolutions were also introduced to the Committee today.  The representative of Austria introduced drafts on the effective promotion of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National, Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, as well as on human rights and the administration of justice.

Representatives of Ireland, Netherlands, Cuba and Mexico introduced drafts on the elimination of all forms of religious intolerance, on an in-depth study on all forms of violence against women, on the right to food, and on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.

The representative of Cuba also introduced a draft on respect for the purposes and principles contained in the Charter of the United Nations to achieve international cooperation in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms in solving international problems of a humanitarian character.

Under questions relating to human rights situations and the reports of special rapporteurs, the representative of Canada introduced a draft resolution on the situation of human rights on in Iran.

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


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