Third Committee Approves 5 Draft Resolutions on Situations in Syria, Iran, Crimea, Introduces 5 Others Concerning Self-Determination, Enhanced Cooperation

| November 16, 2016

In Recorded Vote, Delegates Reject Motion to Suspend Debate on Country-specific Texts Criticized as Flawed ‘Instruments of Coercion’

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) approved five draft resolutions today, four of which pertained to human rights situations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Syria, Iran and Crimea, while one focused on crime prevention.

At the meeting’s outset, Belarus’ delegate, objecting to the practice of country-specific human rights resolutions, called for a vote on a motion to adjourn debate on the entire agenda item.  His position was reiterated by Venezuela’s representative on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, who decried the arbitrary and politicized nature of country-specific mandates.

With 32 votes in favour, to 101 against and 37 abstentions, the unprecedented motion was defeated, but the issue of politicization of human rights — and the Third Committee’s role in issuing country-specific resolutions — remained a point of contention throughout day.

Although a draft resolution on the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was approved by consensus, 11 delegations dissociated from the text.  By its terms, the General Assembly would call on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to engage with international interlocutors through dialogue and official visits, and extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur.

Several dissenting delegations argued that dialogue would be better fostered through the Human Rights Council’s universal periodic review.  The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea rejected the resolution, which he said represented extreme politicization, selectivity and double standards.  Recalling the United States’ hostile policy towards his country, he said the text was designed to bring about the collapse of the State and its social systems.

The Committee then approved a draft resolution on the human rights situation in Syria by a vote of 116 in favour, to 15 against with 49 abstentions.  By its terms, the Assembly would call upon “the Syrian regime” and so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) to cease using chemical weapons, and request procedures for stringent verification of the complete destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons programme.  It would demand that all the parties, most notably the Syrian regime, stop their attacks on civilians.

Speaking before the vote, Syria’s representative urged States to vote against “this sinful draft resolution”, which, he warned, aimed to prolong the terrorist war on Syria and undermine any prospect for a political solution.  He also objected to use of the term “regime” to refer to the “Government”, saying that such language was indicative of a politicized resolution and the Secretariat itself.  Speaking on behalf of the European Union ahead of the vote, Slovakia’s representative acknowledged the importance of objectivity and non-selectivity in resolutions and explained that the primary purpose of the draft was to urge respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians.

Some delegates, including those who had abstained or voted in favour of the resolution, expressed concern about paragraphs that politicized human rights, with the representative of Hungary, which had sponsored the resolution, objecting to operative paragraphs 24 and 26 on foreign fighters.  Greece’s delegate also objected to paragraph 24, and had thus abstained in the vote despite concern about the humanitarian situation in Aleppo.

The draft resolution on the human rights situation in Iran was approved by a vote of 85 in favour, to 35 against with 63 abstentions.  By its terms, the Assembly would, among other things, call for greater accountability for human rights abuses and for the Iranian Government to ensure transparent and inclusive presidential elections in 2017.  Iran’s representative rejected the text, saying that its sponsors were themselves guilty of human rights violations and had targeted his country because it had not succumbed to political pressure.

The draft resolution on the human rights situation in the temporarily autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol was approved by a vote of 73 in favour, to 23 against with 76 abstentions.  By its terms, the Assembly would call for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a thematic report on the human rights situation in that area.  Ukraine’s delegate said the resolution was not a country-specific resolution, since it concerned a territory of Ukraine — a position with which the Russian Federation’s representative disagreed.

In final action, the Committee approved a consensus resolution on the United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, by which the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to enhance regional cooperation, coordination and collaboration in crime prevention.  It would also require him to submit a biennial report on the Institute’s structural, financial, administrative and operational aspects at its seventy-third session.

Also today, five drafts were introduced, among them, one entitled “universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination”, by Pakistan’s delegate, who said it called upon occupying States to cease their military interventions in foreign countries and territories and all acts of repression, discrimination, exploitation and maltreatment.  Cuba’s representative, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, introduced three draft resolutions on “the tight to development”, “human rights and unilateral coercive measures” and “enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights”.  Finally, Botswana’s representative, on behalf of the African Group, introduced a draft resolution to defer consideration of Human Rights Council resolution 32/2 of 30 June 2016 on protection against violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Third Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 17 November, to continue introductions and actions on proposals.

Action

The representative of Pakistan introduced a draft resolution entitled “universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination” (document A/C.3/71/L.49), saying it encapsulated universally acknowledged norms and principles, such as the right to self-determination as a fundamental human right, as well as firm opposition to all acts seeking to undermine that right.

The representative of Cuba, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, introduced three draft resolutions, the first of which was entitled “the right to development” (document A/C.3/71/L.32).  She said that the second, “human rights and unilateral coercive measures” (document A/C.3/71/L.33), highlighted the fact that unilateral coercive measures contravened international law, the Charter of the United Nations and the norms underlying peaceful relations among States.  Introducing the draft resolution entitled “enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights” (document A/C.3/71/L.34), she said it aimed to enhance the role of international cooperation in human rights mechanisms.

The representative of Venezuela, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement ahead of action on draft resolutions on human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives, expressed concern over the proliferation of country-specific resolutions in the Third Committee.  He stressed that the Human Rights Council’s universal periodic review should remain the main intergovernmental cooperative mechanism to review human rights issues at the national level in all countries.

The representative of Belarus, speaking on a point of order, introduced a no-action motion, challenging the “deeply flawed” method of acting on human rights issues through country-specific resolutions.  Such resolutions constituted an arbitrary instrument of coercion.  He moved for adjournment of the debate and for that motion to be put to a vote.

No-action Motion

An official from the Secretariat then invited two delegations to speak in favour of the no-action motion presented by the representative of Belarus, and two to speak against it.

The representative of China said countries should work to resolve their differences through constructive dialogue.  As country-specific resolutions aggravated such dialogue, China would vote in favour of the motion.

The representative of Cuba objected to delaying discussion of human rights situations.  Her country favoured dialogue that allowed situations to be addressed and the only mechanism for that was the universal periodic review.  In line with Cuba’s position, which was against country-specific resolutions, she supported Belarus’s proposal.

The representative of Saudi Arabia said a collective no-action motion on an entire agenda item was unprecedented and would stifle debate on situations of concern to the international community.  A no-action motion on any agenda item deprived Member States of the ability to deliberate on the merits of individual motions.  He opposed the no-action motion, stressing that the Third Committee had a responsibility to consider human rights issues, and the removal of an item from its agenda would damage the coherence of its work.  To remove all four resolutions, which had garnered more than 160 co-sponsors, would be an unconscionable step, and he urged all to vote against the collective no-action motion.

The representative of Norway, also speaking on behalf of Australia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, New Zealand and Switzerland, called a no-action motion against an entire agenda item an attempt to stifle debate.  The General Assembly had entrusted the Third Committee with a mandate to debate and act on human rights issues, notably by addressing reports of Special Rapporteurs and representatives.  Motions to preclude discussion would set a dangerous precedent, and a no-action motion deprived States of an important opportunity to deliberate human rights issues.  Any individual resolution must be considered on its merits, she said, objecting to all no-action motions in all instances.  To remove the item from consideration was unacceptable and “we will vote against,” she said.

By a recorded vote, the Committee rejected the no-action motion presented by Belarus, with 32 votes in favour, 101 against and 37 abstentions.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

The representative of Japan supported the draft resolution on the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (document A/C.3/71/L.23), expressing concern that that country had diverted its limited resources to develop weapons of mass destruction.  The draft called for dialogue with that Government, as had all previous resolutions, yet the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had rejected that dialogue.  He expressed support for the Special Rapporteur and other United Nations mechanisms in securing accountability for rights abuses.

The representative of Slovakia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, called attention to a small amendment to the draft resolution added on 8 November, referring to access to humanitarian aid and detention facilities.  He urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to act on the resolution’s recommendations to address the issue of impunity and to cooperate with humanitarian agencies.  He expressed hope that the Government would continue dialogue with international interlocutors.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea rejected the draft resolution, which he said represented extreme politicization, selectivity and double standards in human rights.  He recalled the United States’ persistently hostile policy toward his country, which was designed to bring about the collapse of the State and its social systems.  The draft resolution was illegal and he therefore urged delegates to vote against it.

The representative of Australia, speaking also on behalf of Canada, New Zealand, Lichtenstein and Switzerland, called for a two-track strategy that ensured accountability and continued to seek engagement with authorities, as a way to bring relief to people in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  She urged all Governments to ensure that workers from that country were treated in accordance with international human rights and labour standards.

The representative of the United States said the draft resolution would send a message to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea regime that human rights violations must stop and that those responsible would be held accountable.

The resolution was then approved, as orally amended, without a vote.

By the text, the Assembly would call on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to engage with international interlocutors through dialogue and official visits.  The Assembly would continue to examine the human rights situation at its seventy-second session, requesting the Secretary-General to submit a report on the situation and the Special Rapporteur to continue his work.

The representative of Syria, explaining his vote, said he had not joined a consensus on the draft from a belief that tabling such a text threatened the credibility of political and legal references aimed at promoting and protecting human rights within context of international relations.  The only consensus in that regard had been on the establishment of the Human Rights Council’s universal periodic review.  His objection also applied to the other draft resolutions to be tabled.

The representative of the Russian Federation objected to the practice of tabling draft resolutions on country-specific human rights situations.  Such initiatives did not promote dialogue; rather, they increased tensions among States.

The representative of Cuba dissociated herself from consensus on the draft, in line with her country’s position against politically motivated and selective resolutions.  She supported use of the universal periodic review to promote non-confrontational debate and cooperation and to avoid the dangerous intervention of the Security Council in issues that fell outside its mandate.

The representative of China said human rights should be addressed through constructive dialogue, rather than through imposition and politicization.  He therefore dissociated himself from consensus on the text.

The representative of the Republic of Korea said the draft resolution sent a clear message to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to put an immediate end to its human rights abuses and violations.  The number of Koreans who had fled the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to his country had exceeded 30,000.  He expressed regret that there had been no improvements in the human rights situation in recent decades and urged that Government to pay attention to people’s livelihoods, rather than divert scarce resources to develop weapons of mass destruction.

The representative of Egypt said the promotion of human rights should be based on constructive dialogue, cooperation and exchange of expertise.  Egypt dissociated itself from the resolution, which he said politicized human rights issues.

The representative of Singapore rejected country-specific resolutions, stressing that the universal periodic review was the best mechanism to address human rights abuses.

The representative of Brazil, while recognizing positive steps taken by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, such as the submission of reports to human rights treaty bodies, said tangible and major improvements in its human rights situation were needed.  He supported the resolution.

The representative of Iran dissociated himself from consensus on the draft due to a belief that country-specific resolutions rejected the principles of non‑selectivity and objectivity in human rights issues.

The representative of Venezuela dissociated himself from consensus, decrying the politicization of human rights issues.  He expressed support for the universal periodic review as the main mechanism for dealing with human rights abuses.

The representative of Myanmar objected to country-specific mandates and resolutions, which were counterproductive.  The Committee should be guided by the principles of universality, impartiality, non-selectivity, he said, calling the universal periodic review the most appropriate mechanism for addressing countries’ human rights situations.

The representative of Belarus reiterated her opposition to country-specific topics and dissociated herself from the consensus.

The representative of Burundi dissociated herself from the resolution, as her country rejected politicization and use of coercive measures under the pretext of human rights.  The resolution was politically motivated and aimed to destabilize existing regimes in specific countries.  The universal periodic review should be the primary mechanism for addressing the human rights situation in all countries.

Syria

The representative of Saudi Arabia, which had introduced the draft resolution and was its main sponsor, said the human rights situation in Syria continued to deteriorate, with millions of people requiring humanitarian assistance.  Noting that the Syrian representative would make accusations against the text’s sponsors, he called on States to shoulder their humanitarian responsibilities and vote in favour of the draft.

The representative of Syria asked rhetorically how Saudi Arabia, “this primitive statelet”, which was not a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, could propose a draft resolution against Syria on human rights.  He urged States not to fall into “the traps of the Saudi-Qatari intellectual perversion” and to vote against “this sinful draft resolution” which he said aimed to prolong the terrorist war on Syria and undermine any prospect for a political solution.

The representative of Slovakia, speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general statement before action, condemned the systematic, widespread and gross violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law by all parties, including by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and other United Nations-designated terrorist groups.  It was important that resolutions remained objective and were not overtly politicized.  The primary purpose of the draft was to urge respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians.

The representative of the United Kingdom urged delegates to support the draft resolution which condemned human rights violations in Syria, voicing support for the Commission of Inquiry.  The international community must send a strong signal and allow humanitarian access to besieged areas.

The representative of the United States strongly supported the resolution, which drew attention to the Commission of Inquiry finding that there had been widespread attacks against civilians.  The international community must support victims of torture and perpetrators must be held accountable.

The representative of Turkey said the human rights situation in Syria continued to deteriorate, and while the draft resolution could not heal the Syrian people, it could underline the importance of holding perpetrators accountable.  Turkey stood with the Syrian people and supported the draft resolution.

The representative of Qatar, drawing attention the tragic situation in Aleppo, said States must send a unified message and deliver humanitarian assistance without delay while also ensuring accountability for crimes in Syria.  She called on all States to support the draft resolution.

The representative of Iran, speaking in explanation of vote, opposed the draft resolution, which contained provisions that contravened international law.  Paragraph 24, for example, blurred the line between terrorists and those fighting United Nations-designated terrorist groups.  Syrians would defeat terrorists and foil the tricks of their allies, who were trying to send an encouraging message to their forces in Syria through the adoption of the resolution.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said his country maintained its principled stand against country-specific resolutions.  Noting that the most realistic and useful mechanism was the universal periodic review, he said he would vote against the draft resolution.

The representative of Syria said some colleagues had insisted that the draft was not politicized and swore that they had good intentions.  He objected to the draft’s use of the term “regime” rather than “Government” of Syria, and asked for a legal opinion from the Secretariat on whether such language was acceptable.

An official from the Secretariat said he had consulted with the deputy legal counsel.  The words “Syrian regime” were not new, and there had been precedent for adopting resolutions with that language.  The question was not one of a legal nature, per se.  Based on that clarification, provided by the Secretariat, he recommended that the proceedings continue.

The representative of Syria said he had not expected politicization to reach the level of the legal counsel.  His question had been a test of whether there was an independent, autonomous Secretariat, and “you failed the test” because it was an amateurish, illegal opinion that did not express the rules of procedure.  He expressed regret at the “morally degraded level” that had made the legal counsel justify such State behaviour.

The Committee then approved the draft resolution by a vote of 116 in favour, with 15 against and 49 abstentions.

By the text, the Assembly would demand that the Syrian regime and so-called ISIL/Da’esh cease using chemical weapons, and that the Syrian regime adhere to its international obligations, including the requirement to fully declare its chemical weapons programme.  The Assembly would request additional procedures for stringent verification to ensure the complete destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons programme and prevent any use of those arms.  It would also call for a cessation of hostilities and demand that all parties, most notably the Syrian regime, stop their attacks on civilians.

Further, the Assembly would demand that Syrian authorities cooperate with the Commission of Inquiry and meet their responsibility to protect the Syrian population.  Foreign terrorist fighters would be required to withdraw immediately from the country.  The Assembly would call on the international community to involve women in all efforts to reach a political solution to the crisis, as per Security Council resolutions 1325 (2000), 2122 (2013) and 2242 (2015).

The representative of Iran, explaining his vote after the vote, said intolerance was the source of extremism.  It was unfortunate that the structure of the United Nations human rights machinery allowed it to pass such resolutions.  However, such moves would not dissuade Iran from fighting violent extremism.

The representative of Cuba said the resolution favoured a condemnatory approach.  However, the political situation in Syria required that the international community set aside an interventionist agenda.  The emphasis should be placed on steps that would end the massacres and terrorist attacks.

The representative of Lebanon said she had abstained from all resolutions on the Syrian crisis.  However, Lebanon’s abstention should not be mistaken for disengagement from the crisis.

The representative of Japan expressed concern about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria, stressing that action was needed to address the situation in Aleppo.

The representative of Mexico said the escalating conflict in Syria was unacceptable and all parties must ensure unrestricted access, as established under international human rights law.

The representative of Paraguay, noting that he had abstained from the vote, expressed solidarity with the victims of the conflict, condemned human rights abuses and appealed to parties to respect the lives of civilians.

The representative of Venezuela rejected selectivity in addressing the issue at hand, stressing that the universal periodic review was the appropriate forum for cooperation.

The representative of Brazil said he had voted in favour of the resolution, and expressed deep concern about the humanitarian situation.  With more than 400,000 people killed in a conflict where children had been exposed to unbearable violence, he felt particularly disturbed by the political polarization which had stalled negotiations and paralyzed the Security Council.

The representative of Hungary said the situation in Syria had caused unbearable suffering for the Syrian people and called on all parties to respect humanitarian law.  Hungary disagreed with operative paragraphs 24 and 26 referring to foreign fighters, which were not relevant and went beyond the scope of the resolution.

The representative of Egypt said politicization and double standards must be avoided in order to preserve the credibility of international forums.  Noting that Egypt had supported the resolution, he said the authors should adopt a comprehensive balanced reading of the Syrian scene when drafting the text next year.

The representative of Argentina expressed concern about the humanitarian situation in Syria and rejected attacks on aid convoys.  Condemning terrorism in all its forms, especially by ISIL, he noted that any supply of arms to parties to the conflict only worsened the violence.

The representative of Chile said the resolution was a condemnation of human rights abuses in Syria, but it did not contain all the necessary elements.  Violence in Syria was used by all parties and he condemned that violence, irrespective of the circumstances or players involved.  All those responsible for human rights violations should be brought before justice.

The representative of Russian Federation said he had voted against the resolution.  Each year, the resolution on the situation in Syria had become more removed from reality, excluding mentions of crimes by those identifying themselves as the opposition.  Only those countries playing a dangerous geopolitical game aiming at regime change in Syria benefited from such actions.

The representative of Greece, associating himself with the European Union, expressed grave concern at the humanitarian situation in Aleppo.  Greece did not agree with operative paragraph 24 and therefore had abstained from the vote.

The representative of Belarus said her country had voted against the resolution as it undermined objectivity.  Country-specific resolutions created barriers to dialogue among States.  The universal periodic review was the instrument that allowed for a balanced examination of human rights in individual countries.

The representative of Singapore said his country’s consistent position was against country-specific resolutions and he thus had abstained in the vote.  The universal periodic review was the correct forum.  Although Singapore would abstain from all country-specific resolutions in the Third Committee, that should not be interpreted as a comment on the substance of those texts.

The representative of Nicaragua, in a general statement, regretted that the Third Committee had directed attention at specific countries, as human rights should be addressed in a framework of cooperation and mutual respect.  The universal periodic review was the best mechanism, as it ensured objectivity.  Country-specific resolutions only focused on developing countries; Nicaragua called on fellow developing countries to work together to protect and promote human rights though undertaking development assistance.

The representative of Costa Rica, noting that the Human Rights Council was mandated to consider specific issues, said the universal periodic review was the appropriate tool for considering the situation, and ideally, work on country situations should be done in that context.

The representative of Bolivia said it was necessary to have a constructive dialogue with the concerned country, based on principles of non-selectivity and impartiality.  As such, Bolivia would vote against all country-specific resolutions.

The Committee then took up a draft resolution on the “situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran” (document A/C.3/71/L.25).

The representative of Canada made two minor oral revisions to paragraphs 15 and 16 which had been shared with delegations and the Secretariat. He expressed his disappointment that a no-action motion had been called under the agenda item, reiterating his concern about the serious human rights situation in Iran and stressing that the resolution was not political.  Rather, it was an important tool for helping to realize human rights for the Iranian people.

The representative of Iran, clarifying that his country had not been involved in the negotiations, said the draft resolution lacked honesty.  Iran did not deserve to be targeted by such a biased text, whose sponsors were human rights violators.  Iran had been targeted because it had not succumbed to political pressure.  However, the Government believed in human rights and had held free elections.  Stressing that the human rights machinery had been misused for political reasons, he said that, contrary to the text, Iran had made progress in realizing human rights and had never closed its borders to refugees or shirked its humanitarian responsibilities.  Meaningful engagement was the way forward, as the nuclear talks had shown.  He called on States to reject the political resolution.

The representative of Saudi Arabia, in a general statement before the vote, said his country had always abstained from participating in the vote.  Today, however, it would take a different approach out of consideration for the Iranian people, as human rights violations had reached unprecedented numbers.  He would vote in favour of the text.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in explanation of vote, reiterated his rejection of country resolutions as they were misused for political purposes.  Interventions in internal affairs must always be rejected and he therefore would vote against the text.

The representative of Syria, in his explanation of vote, deplored the politicization and selectivity of the draft resolution on Iran. He rejected interference with the internal affairs of a country and voted against.

The representative of Cuba, also explaining his vote, reiterated his rejection of country resolutions based on double standards and politicization, as well as of manipulation of human rights for political reasons.  The universal periodic review was the best mechanism to address human rights challenges.

The representative of Pakistan, explaining his vote, said the draft was not justified as Iran had engaged with international human rights mechanisms.  He would vote against the resolution.

The Committee then approved the text as orally revised by a vote of 85 in favour, to 35 against with 63 abstentions.

By the text, the Assembly would call upon Iran to ensure that no one was subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. It would urge that Government to cease enforced disappearances and systematic use of arbitrary detention, and to uphold procedural guarantees to ensure fair trial standards, including timely access to legal representation.

Further, the Assembly would also call upon Iran to guarantee freedom of expression, opinion, association, and peaceful assembly, and to eliminate discrimination and other human rights violations against women and girls, as well as persons belonging to ethnic, linguistic or other minorities.  Iran would also be called upon to implement its obligations under those human rights treaties to which it was a party and to address concerns highlighted in reports of the Secretary-General and the Special Rapporteur.

The representative of Mexico, speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, reiterated concern about a range of human rights violations in Iran and expressed hope for the country’s strengthened engagement with international human rights mechanisms.  Incorporating technical cooperation would have made the resolution more balanced, he said, noting that he had abstained in the vote.

The representative of Iran, in explanation of vote after the vote, expressed surprise about the concern expressed for the Iranian people by Saudi Arabia when that country itself had no consideration for human rights, democracy or the rule of law.  He suggested that Saudi Arabia give up its support for terrorists and for attacks at home and abroad.

The representative of the Russian Federation, also in explanation of vote, rejected politically motivated resolutions, stressing that the universal periodic review was the appropriate forum for human rights and that he had voted against the resolution.

The representative of Brazil, explaining his vote, commended women’s strengthened political participation in recent elections and Iran’s engagement with international human rights mechanisms.  While he had abstained in the vote, he expressed concern over ongoing human rights violations, including against minorities.

The representative of Venezuela reiterated his rejection of the selectivity and politicization of country resolutions, noting that he therefore had voted against the text.

The representative of Japan said he had voted in favour of the resolution.  He welcomed that the Iranian President had made human rights a priority and that progress had been made, adding that bilateral efforts had helped to advance good governance and the rule of law.

The representative of Yemen, while noting he had voted for the draft, expressed his reservation about paragraph 9 on use of the death penalty in Iran. The text’s wording about the death penalty was wrong, as there was no international agreement on that matter.  States had the right to choose the death penalty for serious crimes and there could be no interference in internal affairs.

The representative of Myanmar, rejecting the politicized approach, explained that he had abstained from the vote.

The representative of Chile, urging that more efforts be made to engage in dialogue with countries concerned, said he had voted in favour of the text in order to advance the human rights in Iran.

The representative of Belarus said she had voted against the resolution, as country resolutions created artificial barriers, stressing that the universal periodic review was charged with monitoring human rights.

The representative of Hungary said she had supported the resolution and that the protection of minorities deserved more attention.  The text had not addressed efforts made by Iran to engage internationally, and as such, Hungary had not co-sponsored it.

The representative of Saudi Arabia, thanking his Iranian colleague for the advice, drew attention to a weak spot for Iran concerning the situation of the Sunni.  Iran supported terrorism and war itself.

The representative of Singapore reiterated her opposition to country-specific resolutions, explaining that she had abstained.

The representative of the United Kingdom, in a general statement, welcomed the text’s approval, but expressed serious concern about the increasing number of executions, violations of women’s rights and weak rule of law.  The resolution provided a useful tool for further dialogue. While recognizing the success of the nuclear deal, he called for a focus on human rights and expressed disappointment about the no-action motion under the agenda item.

The representative of the United States, also in a general statement after the vote, reiterated her concern about human rights violations against minorities and minors, calling on Iran to allow the Special Rapporteur to visit the country.

The Committee then turned to the draft resolution entitled “situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)” (document A/C.3/71/L.26).  The Committee Secretary read an oral statement by the Secretariat specifying that carrying out the terms of the draft resolution would not give rise to any programme budget implications.

The representative of Ukraine, introducing the draft resolution said those places had since February 2014 been occupied by the Russian Federation.  Serious human rights violations had been reported, including extrajudicial killings, violence, harassment, arbitrary detentions and transfer of detainees from Crimea to the Russian Federation.  The resolution urged the Russian Federation to comply with its obligations as an occupying Power according to international law.  Each word of the text was based on existing United Nations documents, in particular reports of the Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine.  The draft was not country-specific, as it concerned only the territory of Ukraine.

The representative of the Russian Federation said he opposed country-specific resolutions, yet had been forced to waste time discussing propaganda leaflets rather than human rights.  The resolution did not have anything to do with the real situation in Crimea or the mandate of the Third Committee.  The sponsors of country-specific texts were discrediting the Committee.  The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) report noted that Ukrainian journalists had complained of reprisals, which Ukrainian authorities did not seem to want to investigate.  Promoting and protecting human rights was important and while the committed to that ideal, the Russian Federation would refute attempts to “mentor us” on that issue.  The Russian Federation called for a vote on the draft and urged all States to vote against it.

The representative of the United Kingdom said the deteriorating human rights situation in Crimea had been well documented by the High Commissioner’s Office.  Restoring access for monitoring bodies was the primary goal of the resolution, and he urged all States to support it.

The representative of the United States spoke about the situation for human rights in Crimea, noting that OHCHR reports had found a pattern of harassment.  Supporting the resolution was a vote in favour of the rule of law.

The representative of Azerbaijan condemned separatism and extremism and reaffirmed his country’s support for the independence of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.  Azerbaijan called for the settlement of all conflicts among States through dialogue.

The representative of Georgia expressed strong support for the draft resolution and deep concern for the human rights of citizens living under Russian occupation.  The people of Crimea had faced extrajudicial killings, intimidation and torture, while their freedom of religion and belief had been restricted.

The representative of Syria, speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, rejected the draft resolution as politicized and asked for the reasoning behind such selectivity against certain countries.

The representative of Chile said the protection of human rights was an essential part of Chile’s foreign policy, as was cooperation with multilateral mechanisms.  States controlling territories must meet their obligations under human rights law.  The Human Rights Council was the fundamental forum for considering such issues, and as such, Chile would abstain, as it wanted to respect that body’s procedures.

The representative of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea reiterated its position against all country-specific resolutions, which continued to serve as a tool for unjust political purposes and interference in States’ internal affairs.

The representative of Belarus objected to country-specific resolutions which were divisive and wasted time and resources, burdening the agenda.  They had never been useful, always creating barriers to discussion.  The Human Rights Council should be used to address any existing issues.

The representative of Venezuela said country-specific resolutions violated the principle of non-selectivity, stressing that the universal periodic review should be used to address such situations.

The representative of China said all countries should use dialogue to address differences on human rights.  Using such issues to exert pressure on States served no purpose and would exacerbate confrontation.  As such, he would vote against the resolution.

The Committee then approved the draft resolution by a vote of 73 in favour, with 23 against and 76 abstentions.

By its terms, the Assembly would call upon the Russian Federation to comply with its obligations under international law, namely to cease abuses against residents of Crimea, release unlawfully detained Ukrainian citizens, hold perpetrators to account for abuses, allow journalists to work independently, permit the reopening of cultural and religious institutions, revoke the decision to declare the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people extremist and cooperate with international and European bodies on human rights.

Further, the Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to ensure safe and unfettered access to Crimea by established regional and international human rights monitoring mechanisms.  The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights would be requested to prepare a thematic report on the human rights situation in the temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.  The human rights situation in Crimea would be included in the agenda of the Assembly’s seventy-second session.

The representative of Mexico, stressing that respect for State borders was fundamental for peace and security, said he had voted in favour of the resolution.  However, the text did not reflect in an appropriate manner the need to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

The representative of Brazil said he had abstained on the resolution.  Brazil had supported efforts to achieve a solution to the issue and urged parties to engage in talks to bring the crisis to a peaceful solution, believing that the imbalanced nature of the draft resolution would not contribute to resolving the situation.

The representative of Cyprus said he had voted in favour of the draft and reiterated support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine.  Cyprus dissociated itself from portions of the text referring to certain ethnic groups.

The representative of Kyrgyzstan said his country was committed to implementing human rights and freedoms in line with the Charter of the United Nations.  However, country-specific resolutions did not reflect a balanced approach and only politicized the Committee’s work.  As such, he had abstained in the vote.

The representative of Kazakhstan said the situation in Ukraine was sensitive for Kazakhstan.  It was important that Ukraine remained a State where all human rights were upheld.  But, Kazakhstan was against selectivity in assessing human rights situations and using human rights to pressure States for political purposes.  The text was not related to the Third Committee, and thus, he had voted against it.

The representative of Myanmar said the promotion and protection of human rights should be based on dialogue, impartiality and non-selectivity.  The universal periodic review was the correct forum to discuss human rights issues, and as such, Myanmar had abstained from the vote.

The representative of Guatemala said he had voted in favour of an earlier resolution which defended Ukraine’s territorial integrity, expressing concern over the human rights situation in affected areas.  Guatemala had abstained in the vote due to procedural difficulties that could weaken the Human Rights Council’s functioning.

The representative of Cuba said he had voted against the resolution in line with the Government’s position against country-specific resolutions.

The representative of Greece reiterated his country’s commitment to human rights, explaining that he had voted in favour of the resolution, but shared the concerns raised by Cyprus regarding certain minorities.

The representative of Switzerland, also speaking on behalf of Liechtenstein, said he had supported the text from a belief that the human rights violations should be addressed by the Committee.  Resolutions considered by the Committee should not move away from its core mandate, as the present resolution did.

The representative of Argentina urged that the human rights of all people in Crimea be respected and that all those responsible for human rights violations be brought to justice.

The representative of Algeria said he had abstained in the vote, but reiterated his country’s support for Charter provisions referring to territorial integrity and sovereignty, among other principles considered the cornerstones of international relations.

The representative of Armenia said his country had always supported equal rights and self-determination.  References to the principles of territorial integrity were selectively applied and went beyond the declared intentions of the resolution.  Also, the text referenced a resolution to which Armenia had voted against, and as such, he had voted against it.

The representative of Singapore reiterated its position against country-specific resolutions which should be taken up under the Universal Periodic Review in the Human Rights Council.

The representative of Pakistan said he had abstained in the vote, noting that issues taken up by the draft should be left to the appropriate forums.

The representative of Iran said continued adoption of country-specific resolutions breached the United Nations Charter and undermined cooperation as the essential principle for protecting human rights.  Such resolutions could only lead to further politicization, and Iran had therefore had voted against it.

Right of Reply

The representative of Saudi Arabia, exercising his right of reply, clarified a remark made earlier and stressed that his Government always took “the high road” when others did not.

The representative of Iran said that repeating false accusations did not give any legitimacy to those claims.  To comments by Saudi Arabia’s delegate, he said there must be willingness to live in peace.

The representative of Syria said many delegations had spoken about the suffering of the Syrian people, which was beyond the Committee’s scope.

The Committee took up a draft resolution on the “United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders” (document A/C.3/71/L.4/Rev.1).

By its terms, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to enhance regional cooperation, coordination and collaboration in crime prevention, as well as to submit a biennial report on the structural, financial, administrative and operational aspects of the Institute at the seventy-third session.

The representative of Uganda, on behalf of the African Group, asked the Committee to adopt the draft resolution by consensus.

The Committee then approved the draft resolution as orally revised without a vote.

The representative of Botswana, speaking on behalf of the African Group, introduced a draft resolution entitled “report of the Human Rights Council” (document A/C.3/71/L.46).  There was no international agreement on the definition of “sexual orientation and gender identity”, and with no definitional basis in international human rights law, he wondered on what foundation the mandate of the Independent Expert would be defined.  He read an oral amendment to operative paragraph 2 specifying that consideration would not just be deferred indefinitely, but rather, to the Assembly’s seventy-second session.

By the terms of the text, the Assembly would defer consideration of and action on Human Rights Council resolution 32/2 of 30 June 2016 on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (document A/C.3/71/L.46).  The proposed delay would allow time for further consultations to determine the legal basis upon which the mandate of the special procedure established by the Council resolution would be defined.

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