27November 2003



Recorded Votes Taken on Texts Concerning INSTRAW,

Right to Development, UN Role in Promoting Democracy

NEW YORK, 26 November (UN Headquarters) -- The Third Committee (Social, Cultural and Humanitarian) today approved nine draft resolutions, three by recorded votes, on the advancement of women, the rights of children, the rights of persons with disabilities, and on human rights questions related to the right to development and human rights education.

Among other issues addressed in the drafts considered by the Committee today were the role of the United Nations in promoting democracy, the future of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), follow-up to the Second World Assembly on Ageing, and budgetary concerns related to the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.

The representative of Israel withdrew a draft resolution his delegation had proposed on the situation of Israeli children, saying hostile changes to the draft had been proposed by Egypt and other delegations.  Israel’s draft would have had the General Assembly stress the need for Israeli children to live a normal life free from terrorism, destruction and fear.  He said Israel had proposed its draft only after a similar draft had been presented on Palestinian children.  Israel had voted against that draft, as it did not believe that one group of children should be singled out over other groups.

He said the changes proposed to Israel’s draft were shameless attempts to deny to Israeli children the attention that Palestinian children had already received in the Committee.  The delegations sponsoring the amendment had demonstrated the double standard that animated their conduct at the United Nations. 

The representative of Egypt said there was nothing hostile about the amendment his delegation had proposed.  That amendment called for changing the title of the draft presented by Israel to “the situation of and assistance to children in the Middle East region” and for the General Assembly to stress the need for all Middle East children to live a normal life free from occupation, deprivation, terrorism, destruction and fear.

He noted there were countless killings of Palestinian children by Israeli forces and said Israel’s denial to Palestinian children of their basic rights to food, health care and education necessitated a resolution to address the need for the protection and promotion of their rights.  The United Nations did not have double standards, he said, urging Israel to retract its withdrawal and table the resolution.

A draft resolution addressing the future of INSTRAW was approved by a recorded vote of 126 in favour to 5 against (Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the United States), with 33 abstentions (see Annex I).  The draft would have the General Assembly urge Member States to make voluntary financial contributions to the United Nations Trust Fund for the Institute and would have the General Assembly continue to provide its full support to current efforts to revitalize the Institute.

A draft resolution on the right to development, stressing that States held primary responsibility for the protection of human rights and for economic and social development, was approved by a recorded vote of 158 in favour to 2 against (United States and Israel), with 6 abstentions (Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Republic of Moldova and Sweden)(see Annex II).

Recognizing the need for strengthening democratic processes, the Committee approved a draft resolution on strengthening the role of the United Nations in enhancing the effectiveness of the principle of periodic and genuine elections and the promotion of democratization by a vote of 156 in favour, to none against, with 7 abstentions (Brunei Darussalam, China, Cuba, Libya, Myanmar, Syria, Viet Nam) (see annex III).  The draft would have the General Assembly commend the electoral assistance provided upon request to Member States by the United Nations, recognizing that the fundamental responsibility of organizing free and fair elections lies with governments.


Draft resolutions approved without a vote included texts on the follow-up to the Second World Assembly on Ageing, follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and full implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education, 1995-2004, the Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities, preparations for the observance of the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family in 2004, and, following a rejection of an amendment by vote (see Annex IV), a draft resolution on the girl child.

Also reviewed by the Committee was a draft resolution on the Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, addressing concerns about the financial instability of the Office and its adverse impact on the implementation of that Office’s mandate.  The draft would have the General Assembly decide to support, through regular budgetary funding, the activities under the mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.  Due to concerns expressed by many delegations about the manner in which the estimated programme budget implications had been assessed and the lack of official documentation on the matter, the Committee deferred action on the draft until its next meeting.

Also today, the Committee took note of the following reports:  a note by the Secretary-General on the Activities of the United Nations Development Fund for Women, a report of the Secretary-General on the Future operation of the International Research, and a note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report on the preparations for the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family in 2004.

The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 28 November, to take action on remaining draft resolutions and to conclude its work for the main part of the fifty-eighth session of the General Assembly.

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