RIGHTS OF CHILDREN, RACISM, PROTECTING HUMAN RIGHTS
WHILE COMBATTING TERRORISM AMONG ISSUES ADDRESSED
IN TEXTS APPROVED BY THIRD COMMITTEE
Decides to Take No Action on Draft Concerning Role of Parents
NEW YORK, 28 November (UN Headquarters) -- Continuing taking action on draft resolutions today, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) in two meetings approved four draft resolutions, with 11 recorded votes being requested, on issues related to the promotion and protection of the rights of children, racism and racial discrimination, and protecting human rights while fighting terrorism.
Much of the day was spent addressing draft resolutions dealing with issues concerning the promotion and protection of children. An omnibus draft resolution on the rights of the child was approved by a recorded vote of 159 in favour and the United States against (See Annex VI). The draft would have the General Assembly call upon all States to end impunity for perpetrators of crimes committed against children, and recognize the contribution of the International Criminal Court as a way to prevent violations of such human rights.
By terms of the same text, States would be called upon to translate into action their commitment to the progressive and effective elimination of child labour and to criminalize and effectively penalize all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children. The independent expert for the United Nations study on violence against children would be requested to conduct the study as soon as possible and to seek the participation of children in the study, taking into account their age and maturity. Before its approval, operative paragraphs 26(b) and 41(c) concerning corporal punishment were put to the vote. They were approved in votes of 117 in favour and 10 against, with 23 abstentions (see Annex V) and 123 in favour and 6 against, with 24 abstentions (see Annex VI), respectively.
Through a motion of no-action, approved in a recorded vote of 66 in favour to 63 against, with 13 abstentions (see Annex IV), the Committee decided to discontinue consideration of a draft on the importance of the role of parents in the care, development and well-being of children. Had the draft resolution and its amendments been approved, it would have been the first United Nations text addressing that issue.
Before the motion of no-action was approved, as a direct result of disagreement about the content of the draft, the Committee held two recorded votes on amendments, the first a change to the title and the second on changes to several preambular and operative paragraphs. These amendments were approved in votes of 72 in favour to 54 against, with 25 abstentions (see Annex II) and in a vote of 77 in favour to 48 against, with 26 abstentions (see Annex III), respectively.
A draft resolution on the Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict was approved by a recorded vote of 106 in favour to 21 against, with 29 abstentions (see Annex I). Adressing concerns about the financial instability of the Office and its adverse impact on the implementation of its mandate, the draft would have the General Assembly recommend that the activities under the mandate of the Special Representative be supported through regular budgetary funding.
In other action, the Committee approved, in a recorded vote of 157 in favour, with India abstaining (see Annex XI) a draft on protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism. The draft reaffirmed that States must ensure that measures taken to combat terrorism complied with their obligations under international law, in particular human rights, refugee and humanitarian law. States would be encouraged, while countering terrorism, to take into account relevant United Nations resolutions and decisions on human rights. In addition, the High Commission for Human Rights would be requested to submit a study on the compliance of national counter-terrorism measures with international human rights obligations. Before its approval, operative paragraphs 10 and 11 were retained in a separate vote of 136 in favour, to 1 against (India), with 15 abstentions (see Annex X).
In a vote of 155 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 2 abstentions (Australia, Canada) (see Annex IX), the Committee approved an orally amended draft on the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and related Intolerance and the Comprehensive Implementation of and follow up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.
Before its approval, the Committee decided to retain operative paragraph 31 of the draft in a vote of 105 in favour to 40 against, with 8 abstentions (see Annex VIII). The draft would have States review and revise their immigration laws so that they are free of racial discrimination and compatible with international human rights instruments. The General Assembly would further condemn the misuse of print, audiovisual and electronic media, including the Internet, to incite violence motivated by racial hatred.
In other action, the Committee took note of the report of the Secretary-General on progress towards implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS (document A/58/329), the report of the Human Rights Committee (document A/58/40), and reports of the Secretary-General on the status of the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery (document A/58/306), the status of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (document A/58/326), and the report of the chairpersons of the human rights treaty bodies on their fifteenth meeting of June 2003 (document A/58/350).
It also took note of the report of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (document A/58/18) and the report of the High Commissioner on the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and related Intolerance (document A/58/324).
The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. Monday, 1 December, to continue taking action on remaining draft resolutions.
Action on Texts
Before the committee was a draft resolution on the Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict (document A/C.3/58/L.28), as orally revised, addressing concerns about the financial instability of the Office and its adverse impact on the implementation of its 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.
A recorded vote was requested.
In a general statement before the vote, the representative of Gabon said the many conflicts shaking many areas of the world, particularly Africa, had led to the use of children as combatants and soldiers. Children must be spared from the traumatizing effects of armed conflict. Because of the Office’s full dependence on voluntary contributions, it had to cope with an unprecedented situation in the Secretariat. No other department was funded solely through voluntary contributions. With the renewal of the mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, there was a need for greater financial stability of the Office in order to enable it to carry out its mandate. If the resolution was delayed, it would not be possible to provide the Office with the necessary resources because the biannual budget was currently being considered by the Fifth committee. He urged delegations to support the resolution.
The representative of Guinea Bissau said his delegation was thunderstruck by the fact that the debate that took place during the Committee’s last meeting was not taken into consideration by the Budget Division. Delegates had expressed their broad desire to have the figures necessary to make their decision, as stipulated in the rules of procedure. His delegation was shocked and perplexed and not satisfied by the position of the Budget Division, which was not in conformity with their obligations to provide the data necessary for delegations to make their decision. He emphasized that it was necessary and indispensable that the Budget Division absolutely respect that.
The representative of Nigeria said her delegation supported the draft resolution. The issue of children in armed conflict was too serious to be trivialized, as it was being trivialized in the current discussion.
In explanation of vote before the vote, the representative of the United Kingdom, speaking also on behalf of Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Netherlands, Finland, Belgium and Luxembourg, said the delegations were committed to helping the United Nations system respond effectively to reach the children with greatest need. However, they could not support the resolution because it would serve to undermine the effectiveness of the United Nations response. It prejudged and undermined the forthcoming report of the Secretary-General on children. There was no urgency or need for the resolution at the current time. The resolution narrowly focused on one part of the United Nations response and could promote divisions. The proper place to consider the resolution, whose essence involved budgetary issue considerations, was in the Fifth Committee. The resolution was well intended, but misplaced and, therefore, they felt compelled to vote against the resolution.
The representative of the United States said his delegation regretted that the sponsors of the draft were unwilling to await the report of the Secretary-General that would provide the necessary data and a comprehensive response to the problem of children in armed conflict. The action requested by the sponsors of the draft was premature. Furthermore, such budgetary issues should be addressed by the Fifth Committee. In view of those considerations, the United States would vote against the draft.
The representative of Japan said her delegation would vote against the draft because Japan could not support any resolution that prejudged the activities of any office before the submission of the comprehensive assessment of the Secretary-General. Her delegation regretted that the draft was introduced in the first place and would vote no.
The representative of Uganda said her delegation attached great importance to all efforts made to address the problems of children in armed conflict. However, her delegation was disappointed that the draft ignored the plight of children in northern Uganda and that the language proposed by her delegation had been withdrawn. It was a tragedy that the United Nations would fund the operations of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children in Armed Conflict and not call on him to visit areas he had so far ignored. For that reason, Uganda would abstain from voting on the draft.
The representative of Canada said that her country was deeply concerned by the plight of children in armed conflict. Last year, the Third Committee had recognized the importance of this issue and the progress that had been made since the establishment of the mandate of the Special Representative. The Committee had also committed itself to ensuring the effectiveness and strengthening of his Office. The Secretary-General had been requested to provide an assessment of the situation. Since such a report had not been completed, the Committee was forced to take action without a thorough knowledge of the situation. That undermined efforts made to respond to the plight of children in armed conflict. The delegation of Canada would, therefore, vote against the draft, since the plight of children must be approached in a comprehensive manner.
A representative of Mexico said that his Government supported the work of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Olara Otunnu. He would vote in favour of the draft resolution, but expressed concern about the inadequate conditions under which the Committee was taking the decision. The financing by the regular budget of the Office of the Special Representative must not exclude the possibility of voluntary contributions.
The representative of Switzerland said that she supported the statements made by Canada and the United Kingdom.
The draft resolution was approved in a recorded vote of 106 in favour to 21 against and 29 abstentions (see Annex I).
After the vote, a representative of Norway underscored that Norway’s abstention was not to be understood as a lack of support for the work of the Special Representative. In principle, Norway believed that imperative tasks within the United Nations system should be supported within the regular budget. However, no decisions could be taken before the completion of the comprehensive assessment of the Secretariat.
The representative of Venezuela said she had abstained in the vote of the draft, even though her country had always supported the work of the Special Representative. She hoped that the issue would be considered in the Fifth Committee.
A representative of Liechtenstein said that he had voted in favour of the draft resolution, but expressed concern about the manner in which the draft had been put before the Committee.
The representative of Portugal said that the draft resolution had suffered from bad timing, since the assessment was not yet completed. For that reason, Portugal had abstained.
A representative of Slovenia said that she had voted in favour of the draft. However, she expressed concern about the procedures used with regard to its approval.
The representative of Egypt asked who requested the vote, and was informed that the United States and Japan had requested the vote.
A representative of Gabon, in a general statement, thanked those delegations that had voted in favour of the draft and expressed their commitment to children suffering in armed conflict.
The Committee had before it a draft resolution on the importance of the role of parents in the care, development and well-being of children (document A/C.3/58/L.23/Rev.1) that would have the General Assembly urge all States to render appropriate assistance to parents and legal guardians in the performance of their child-rearing responsibilities and to ensure the development of institutions, facilities and services for the care of children. In addition, States would be called upon to take special measures to support children living without parental support, including orphans, children working and/or living on the street, internally displaced and refugee children, as well as institutions that care for them.
Also before the Committee was an amendment (document A/C.3/58/L.83) to draft resolution L.23/Rev.1 that would have the title change to “the importance of the role of parents, legal guardians and other caregivers in the promotion and protection of the rights of the child and the care, development and well-being of children”. In addition, new operative paragraphs would reaffirm that States shall respect the responsibilities, rights and duties of parents and, where applicable, to members of the extended family or community as provided for by local custom, legal guardians or other persons legally responsible for the child.
The representative of Benin, the main sponsor of draft L.23/Rev.1, urged delegates to vote against the amendment and for sponsors of the amendment to withdraw the amendment.
The representative of New Zealand, the main sponsor of the proposed amendment, said his delegation regretted that the sponsors of the amendment had been accused of sabotaging the draft. The amendments were proposed because of concerns about elements that were absent from the draft. It seemed sensible the draft should include language regarding the rights of parents. However, the amendments took note of the fact that, in many societies, the rights and responsibilities of extended family members, not just parents, were applicable in the raising of children.
A recorded vote was requested on the amendment.
In a general statement before the vote, the representative of the United States said the amendments were aimed at corroding the core principles of the resolution on the role of parents, which was intended to identify the role of parents. The draft was necessary and long overdue. The United States would like to see resolution adopted by consensus, without the amendments proposed.
The representative of Egypt said his delegation could not agree with many things stated by the representative of New Zealand. The amendments did not reflect negotiations in good faith. It was not a draft on family or children. There were separate draft resolutions on family and children. His delegation objected to diluting the reference to parents. It was the first time that any United Nations resolution specifically addressed the role of parents.
The representative of Guinea-Bissau said his delegation had difficulty understanding the changes proposed, which tended to diminish the importance of the role of parents. The idea behind the draft was not to define the role of parents but to reaffirm and highlight the primary role that falls on parents in the education and growth of children.
The representative of Chile said his delegation supported the amendment because it agreed with the general approach of resolution L.23, but agreed with the delegation of New Zealand that some elements were missing. The purpose of the amendment was to complement the draft to strengthen the text, and in no way did it undermine or sabotage the text. It sought to maintain language that was important and if left out would constitute a step backwards.
The representative of Switzerland said the intention of the amendment was in no way to dilute the draft but was to give it a strong framework in conformity with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The representative of Lesotho said Lesotho wished to withdraw its co-sponsorship of the draft resolution.
The representative of Guatemala said her delegation wished to express that at no time was it the intention of the sponsors of the amendment to sabotage the role of parents, but to complement and strengthen the draft. Guatemala urged delegations to vote in favour of the amendments.
The representative of Fiji said her Government had just adopted new legislation reflecting the indigenous nature of families and parenting. The inclusion of caregivers and legal guardians did not detract from the rights of children. Fiji regretted that any resolution pertaining to the rights of children and importance of family as the bedrock of society must be put to a vote.
The representative of El Salvador wished to express support of statements made by New Zealand, Guatemala and Fiji. It was important to take into account language already agreed upon by everybody in the conventions mentioned. El Salvador called on delegations to maintain that spirit of coherence by approving the amendments.
The representative of Sierra Leone said the proposed amendments complicated the issue and raised a conflict between the roles of family and parents. In his society, there was a special respect for the role of the extended family, which was recognized in the draft. The amendments in document L.83 complicated the issue and Sierra Leone hoped other delegations would recognize that and reject them.
The representative of Nepal said his delegation was committed to implementation of those human rights instruments to which it was a party. It appreciated the initiative of Benin and also appreciated the merits of the amendments sponsored by New Zealand. His delegation regretted that the very important topic of the role of parents in raising their children had been put into question. He urged that both sides show flexibility, since there was not much difference in their positions. Nepal would like to see the draft adopted by consensus.
In explanation of vote, the representative of Egypt said his delegation would vote no to the amendment, both because it was opposed to the amendment and because a vote against the amendment was the only way to have the draft approved by consensus.
The representative of the Sudan said her delegation was saddened that the draft on the importance of the role of parents was being diluted by the amendments proposed. Her delegation would vote against all amendments to the draft.
The representative of Iran said his delegation would vote against the amendments because they deviated from the core concept of the draft and would complicate its content, instead of complementing it.
The first amendment of document L.83, proposing a change in title, was approved in a vote of 72 in favour to 54 against, with 25 abstentions (see Annex II).
The representative of Benin said her delegation regretted the vote approving the change in title.
The Committee then approved the other amendments in document L.83 by a vote of 77 in favour to 48 against, with 26 abstentions (see Annex III).
The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania said her delegation regretted that the Committee was compelled to vote on agreed language in document L.83. She had abstained. The draft was about the role of parents, and not the rights of the child.
The representative of Pakistan said his delegation attached great importance to the well-being of children and the role of parents. Since they were taken out of context by the amendments, which had changed the orientation of the draft, Pakistan withdrew its co-sponsorship from the draft resolution now that amendments had been incorporated in the draft. It would abstain from a vote on the draft.
The representative of Syria said her delegation voted against the amendments.
The representative of Qatar said his delegation had joined the sponsors of the draft resolution, but would like to withdraw its sponsorship of the draft resolution in light of the amendments just approved.
The representative of the Niger said his delegation had voted against the amendments because they distorted the spirit of the draft resolution. The amendments were a mask to advance the agenda of its sponsors. Niger had, therefore, withdrawn its sponsorship of the draft resolution and would abstain in a vote on the draft.
The representative of Bangladesh said her delegation was committed to protecting rights of children and believed in the role of parents in guaranteeing the well-being of children. However, it voted against the amendments and would like to withdraw its co-sponsorship of the draft.
Given the amendments just adopted, the representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo said he wished to be withdrawn from the list of co-sponsors. The representatives of Gabon, Congo, Dominica, Madagascar, Burundi, Cameroon, Libya, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, United States, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Azerbaijan, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Zimbabwe, Haiti, Senegal, China, Eritrea, Myanmar, and Rwanda similarly, said that they would like to be withdrawn from the list of co-sponsors.
The representative of Lebanon said that he had abstained in the block vote of amendments.
The representative of Guinea-Bissau said that he had voted against, since the amendments were out of place. He called on members of the Committee to really think about what had just happened. This had been a true hijacking of a draft resolution, he said.
The representative of Rwanda said that the amendments had completely transformed the meaning of document L.23/Rev.1. He had voted against all the amendments.
The representative of the United States proposed amendments to preambular paragraphs one and two of draft resolution L.23/Rev.1, as amended.
The representative of Pakistan also proposed amendments to the amended draft L.23/Rev.1.
The representative of El Salvador asked that those proposals be given to delegates in writing. A representative of Sierra Leone endorsed the idea of having all these proposals and amendments handed out in writing.
The representative of Egypt proposed a no-action motion on draft resolution on document L.23/Rev.1, as amended.
In a recorded vote of 66 in favour to 63 against, with 13 abstentions, the Committee approved the no-action motion (see Annex IV).
The Committee had before it an omnibus draft resolution on the rights of the child (A/C.3/58/L.29/Rev.1) that would have the General Assembly urge States that had not yet done so to sign and ratify or accede to the Convention on the Rights of the Child as a matter of priority, and to the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. The text would further have the General Assembly call on all States to end impunity for perpetrators of crimes committed against children.
States would also be called upon to take all necessary measures to address the problem of children growing up without parents, in particular orphaned children and children who were victims of family and social violence, neglect and abuse. The General Assembly would further call upon States to give support and rehabilitation to children and their families affected by HIV/AIDS, and to involve children and their caregivers, as well as the private sector, to ensure the effective prevention of HIV infections.
States would be called upon to recognize the right to education on the basis of equal opportunity by making primary education free and compulsory for all, without discrimination, as well as to take all appropriate measures to prevent racism and discriminatory and xenophobic attitudes and behaviour through education.
The General Assembly would call upon States to translate into concrete action their commitment to the elimination of all forms of child labour. In addition, States would be called upon to protect children deprived of their liberty from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Under a section on the prevention and eradication of the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, the General Assembly would call upon States to criminalize and effectively penalize all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children, including within the family or for commercial purposes, child pornography and child prostitution, child sex tourism, the sale of children and their organs, and the use of the Internet for these purposes. In addition, States would be called upon to combat the existence of a market that encouraged such criminal practices against children.
The General Assembly would also request the independent expert for the United Nations study on violence against children to conduct the study as soon as possible and to seek the participation of children in the study.
The representative of Italy, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the text expressed the commitment of the international community to promote and protect the rights of the child.
A recorded vote had been requested by Singapore. The representative of Singapore said, despite extensive consultations, her delegation regretted that its requests for the elimination of corporal punishment from the draft had not been met. Because of that, her delegation had asked for separate votes to be taken on operative paragraph 26(b) and on the words “corporal punishment” in the eighth line of operative paragraph 41(c). Her delegation would vote no on those two points.
The representative of Barbados said her delegation was withdrawing its co-sponsorship of the draft. It had hoped it could co-sponsor, but the draft contained elements regarding issues, which did not enjoy international consensus and which made co-sponsorship not possible at the current time.
The representative of Guyana said Guyana would withdraw its co-sponsorship in light of the fact that there were aspects of the resolution with regard to corporal punishment that did not enjoy international consensus.
In a general statement before the vote on operative paragraph 26(b), the representative of Nigeria said her delegation would vote against the paragraph because corporal punishment was an integral part of education in her country and was part of Nigerian culture.
The Committee approved the text of operative paragraph 26(b) in a vote of 117 States in favour, 10 against (Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Botswana, Guyana, Malaysia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Singapore, United Republic of Tanzania and the United States), with 23 abstentions (see Annex V).
After the vote, the representative of Sierra Leone said his delegation voted against the paragraph because his delegation considered corporal punishment as an instrument of discipline, not as violence against the child. Corporal punishment was carried out not to hurt, but to discipline a child.
The Committee approved the words “corporal punishment” in operative paragraph 41 (c) in a vote of 123 in favour, 6 against (Malaysia, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Suriname and United Republic of Tanzania), with 24 abstentions (Annex VI).
In a general statement the representative of the Republic of Korea said his delegation believed that there was a difference between corporal punishment in the classroom and correctional facilities. His delegation had abstained from voting on operative paragraph 26(b). However, his Government prohibited the use of corporal punishment in correctional facilities. For that reason, his delegation could not join in co-sponsorship of the draft.
The representative of Pakistan said it was regrettable that his delegations could not join as co-sponsor of the draft. Pakistan had abstained from voting on operative paragraph 26(b) and voted against including the words “corporal punishment” in operative paragraph 41(c). Corporal punishment was part of his country’s legal system and part of the punishment given in correction facilities. Corporal punishment was discouraged in classrooms, but was not forbidden.
In a general statement before the vote on the draft resolution as a whole, the representative of Bangladesh said her delegation attached the highest importance to the promotion and protection of human rights for children. Her delegation had the intention of co-sponsoring the draft, but its concerns were not accommodated and she did not regard the reason offered as satisfactory. Therefore, her delegation would not co-sponsor the draft, despite its continued commitment to the cause of children’s rights everywhere.
The representative of Sudan said her delegation was fully committed to protecting and promoting the rights of children. However it had been obliged this year not to co-sponsor this draft for the first time ever, due to the fact that its concerns were not taken on board by the main co-sponsors of the draft. The draft did not take a holistic approach on the rights of the children, but was partial in its focus solely on the rights of the child, while leaving out the well-being of the child. That rendered the draft unbalanced. Her delegation would vote in favour of the draft, despite its refusal to co-sponsor the draft.
As the main co-sponsor of the draft on behalf of the European Union, the representative of Italy said her delegation regretted that one delegation had asked for a vote and that the draft would be put to a vote.
The representative of Malaysia said her delegation questioned the wisdom of tabling the resolution, which it deemed unnecessary. Her delegation was committed to working towards the protection and promotion of the rights of children, but was unable to co-sponsor the draft. However, it would vote in favour of the draft, not because of its content, but in favour of its spirit to protect and promote children’s rights.
The representative of Nigeria said her country attached great importance to the draft resolution. Nigeria would vote in support of the draft as a whole.
The draft resolution was approved in a vote of 159 in favour and the United States against (See Annex VII).
After the vote, the representative of Singapore explained that her country supported the general spirit of the Convention of the Rights of the Child. However, sovereign States were entitled to decide on their own domestic system. Some countries took the view that no form of corporal punishment be allowed. However, Singapore reserved the right to make up its own opinion on the matter. She also stressed that it was inappropriate for the draft to urge States to assess and re-assess their reservations to the Convention of the Rights of the Child with a view to withdrawing them. Countries should be encouraged to join treaties, with or without reservations.
The representative of the United States said that a more transparent and inclusive drafting process was needed with regard to the resolution. Small groups should not hold closed negotiations before and during the first several weeks of the General Assembly or Commission on Human Rights, and then emerge relatively late in the session with a lengthy and detailed text, with limited time and flexibility for other delegations to seek changes. She regretted that on a subject as important as the rights of children, consensus had not been reached.
She stressed that there was no requirement in international law that a State ratify any particular multilateral convention, since that was a sovereign decision for each State to make. For similar reasons, no one treaty or statute set the exclusive standard for defining the rights and protection to be accorded a nation’s children. The United States had repeatedly made clear that the Convention on the Rights of the Child raised concern under the United States system of federalism. Many of the activities covered by the Convention in such areas as education, health and criminal justice were primarily the responsibility of state and local governments in the United States. The United States could not accept the overemphasis given to the Convention and the assertion that it must constitute the standard in the promotion and protection of the rights of the child.
Delegations present in the room would find as no surprise the position of the United States on the juvenile death penalty, she said. The juvenile death penalty was a matter for judicial and legislative processes in the United States.
The representative of Egypt said that she had voted in favour of the draft but did not agree with the manner in which the negotiations had been handled. Negotiations had been secretive and there had been a limited level of flexibility on the part of the main sponsors.
A representative of Iran said that he had voted in favour of the draft. However, he hoped that imbalances in the draft would be addressed in the future.
The representative of Italy, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that she regretted the statement made by the representative of Egypt on the negotiations of the draft. There had been at least eight open informal negotiations, and the main sponsors had aimed to take into consideration all the concerns of other delegations. The representative of Uruguay, speaking on behalf of the Group of Latin American States, supported the representative of Italy in her description of the negotiations.
The representative of Egypt said the eight meetings that were held had been towards the end of the Committee, and at a very late stage.
The representative of Malaysia said that the concerns of many delegations had not been addressed within the negotiations for the draft resolution.
The Committee had before it a draft resolution on the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (document A/C.3/58/L.34). The draft would have the General Assembly urge all States to review and revise their immigration laws, policies and practices to make them free of racial discrimination and compatible with their obligations under international human rights instruments. The General Assembly would further condemn the misuse of print, audio-visual and electronic media, and new communications technologies, including the Internet, to incite violence motivated by racial hatred, and would call on States to take all necessary measures to combat this form of racism. It would further condemn political platforms and organizations based on racism, xenophobia or doctrines of racial superiority.
All States would be urged to consider ratifying or acceding to the international human rights instruments that combat racism and called upon all States to formulate and implement without delay at the national, regional and international levels policies and plans of action to combat racism and racial discrimination, including their gender-based manifestations. Furthermore, the General Assembly would call upon States to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and to give serious consideration to his requests to visit their countries. The draft would also request the Commission on Human Rights to examine the possibility of the development of a racial equality index as proposed by the Group of Independent Experts in a meeting they held in Geneva from 16 to 18 September 2003.
The representative of Italy said, on behalf of the European Union, that with regard to the request for a vote on operative paragraph 31, the European Union had stressed that follow up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action should be agreed by consensus. The European Union had made every attempt to apply a consensual approach to the draft. Negotiations had been conducted in a spirit of cooperation, but its concerns about operative paragraph 31 had not been taken on board. The Union was fully committed to implementing the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, but it could not accept without strong reservations the use of a racial equality index proposed in that paragraph. However, in view of the fact that many of its other concerns had been taken on board, the Union would support the text as a whole.
The representative of the United States said his delegation wanted to clarify that his delegation had requested a vote on the entire draft.
The representative of Morocco said his delegation regretted that a vote had been called on the draft. Addressing the statement of the European Union, he said the racial equality index was included in the outcome documents of the first session of the independent eminent experts. He called on delegations to vote in support of the draft resolution.
The Committee approved operative paragraph 31 in a vote of 105 in favour to 40 against, with 8 abstentions (Armenia, Iceland, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Lichtenstein, Ukraine, Switzerland, Norway) (Annex VIII).
The Committee then approved the entire draft resolution in a vote of 155 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 2 abstentions (Australia, Canada)( Annex IX).
The United States, in explanation of vote, said that because of its well-known concerns about the World Conference against Racism, his delegation could not vote in favour of the draft. However, it should be noted that the United States was fully committed to the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
The representative of Israel said her delegation had voted against the draft because of the events which transpired at the Durban conference, which did a great disservice to those who it might have benefited. Israel regretted that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was repeatedly invoked at the Conference and wished to reiterate that the conflict was not a racial conflict, but a political conflict, whose discussion had no place in a conference for addressing racial discrimination issues. It was because of its opposition to racism that Israel could not support the outcome of the Durban Conference.
The representative of Morocco thanked those delegations that had voted in favour of the draft resolution.
The Committee then had before it a draft on protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (document A/C.3/58/L.71), which would have the General Assembly reaffirm that States must ensure that any measures taken to combat terrorism complies with their obligations under international law, in particular human rights, refugee and humanitarian law. States would be encouraged, while countering terrorism, to take into account relevant United Nations resolutions and decisions on human rights, and encouraged to consider the recommendations of the special procedures and mechanisms of the Commission on Human Rights and relevant comments and views of United Nations human rights treaty bodies.
The High Commission for Human Rights would be requested to submit a study taking into account the views of States on the extent to which the human rights special procedures and treaty monitoring bodies are able to address the compatibility of national counter-terrorism measures with international human rights obligations in their work, and provide examples of best practices by States in ensuring the compatibility of their counter-terrorism measures with their obligations under international human right law.
A separate vote had been requested on operative paragraphs 10 and 11 together.
The representative of Mexico asked who had asked for the separate vote and was informed that the representative of India had asked for the vote.
Explaining his vote before the vote, the representative of India said that the changes in the text this year had made it difficult for India to go along with it. There was no reference to the human rights violation suffered by the victims of terrorism. India believed that, in that sense and in other ways, the draft was imbalanced and incomplete. Turning to the two paragraphs to be voted on, he said that operative paragraph 9 expressed the purpose of operative paragraphs 10 and 11, that being the request of the High Commissioner to undertake a study in the area of counter-terrorism measures and adherence to international human rights law. With regard to operative paragraph 11, he said that no time frame had been provided by the co-sponsor. That paragraph, therefore, by-passed the work of the Commission on Human Rights. India would vote against those two paragraphs and would abstain on the draft resolution as a whole.
The representative of Spain said that countering terrorism was a top priority for Spain. Her country chaired the Counter-Terrorism Committee set up by the Security Council. Counter-terrorism needed to be done with scrupulous respect for the rule of law. Spain preceded in that manner in countering the scourge of terrorism. Any study of terrorism from the standpoint of human rights must take into account the reality of the impact of terrorism on its victims. The human rights of victims of terrorist measures and acts were the rights that were the most seriously trampled on. It was hoped that in future drafts on the issue, due account would be taken of the victims of terrorism. Spain would vote in favour in all votes on the draft, but was unable to co-sponsor.
Operative paragraphs 10 and 11 were retained by a vote of 136 in favour and India against, with 15 abstentions (See Annex X).
Making a general statement, the representative of Egypt said his country was a co-sponsor of the draft, since human rights must be considered in counter-terrorism measures. He, therefore, regretted that the draft could not be approved by consensus.
The draft was approved by a recorded vote of 157 in favour, with India abstaining (See Annex XI).
Explaining his delegation’s vote after the vote, the representative of Cuba welcomed the initiatives undertaken by Mexico. However, his delegation wished to clarify that the mechanisms responsible for human rights were independent, which explained the particularity of their work and their principle of confidentiality.
The representative of Pakistan said that while Pakistan did not join the list of co-sponsors, it regretted that India had put the resolution to a vote. He reiterated his delegation’s view that fighting terrorism did not give any country the right to violate human rights.
The representative of Liechtenstein said his delegation was of the view that it was imperative for the Committee to address the relationship between the fight against terrorism and the need to protect human rights. Liechtenstein was grateful for the increasing awareness of the link between the respect for human rights standards in counter-terrorism strategies.
The representative of Colombia regretted its proposals were not taken fully into account and hoped that next year its recommendations would be considered.
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