SAMI SELF-DETERMINATION<br>
LAND, RESOURCES AND TRADITIONAL LIVELIHOODS SELF-DETERMINATION AND THE MEDIA.
SAMI SELF-DETERMINATION
AUTONOMY AND SELF-GOVERNMENT: EDUCATION, RESEARCH AND CULTURE
SAMI SELF-DETERMINATION. AUTONOMY AND ECONOMY – THE AUTHORITY AND AUTONOMY OF THE SÁMEDIGGI IN THE HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES SECTOR
Indigenous Children’s Education as Linguistic Genocide and a Crime Against Humanity? A Global View
The Convention on the Rights of the Child and Sámi children in Norway
 
 
 
 
Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil,
political, economic, social and cultural rights,
including the right to development
Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous
peoples, James Anaya
Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human
rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people
State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

 
THIRD COMMITTEE APPROVES DRAFT RESOLUTIONS ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN MYANMAR, BELARUS; REJECTS TEXTS ON CANADA, UNITED STATES
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

General Assembly
GA/SHC/3877

    Sixty-first General Assembly

    Third Committee

    51st & 52nd Meetings (AM & PM)

    Other Drafts Approved on Action against Racism, Israeli Military

    Operations, Violence against Women, Unilateral Coercive Measures, Children’s Rights

    While rejecting draft resolutions aimed at censuring the United States and Canada over human rights, the Third Committee (Social, Economic and Cultural) today approved drafts aimed at underscoring the rights of the child and at paving the way to a review conference in 2009 on the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

    It also adopted drafts that would see the General Assembly taking two Member States –- Myanmar and Belarus -– to task over their human rights situations.  Drafts were also approved regarding the human rights consequences of Israeli military operations in Lebanon and on the use of unilateral coercive measures.

    Drafts on the new international humanitarian order, violence against women, and international cooperation on human rights were adopted by consensus, while the draft on human rights and unilateral coercive measures was adopted by a vote of 122 in favour to 53 opposed, with no abstentions (annex IV).

    The draft resolution on the human rights situation arising from the recent Israeli military operations in Lebanon was adopted by a vote of 109 in favour to 7 against, with 59 abstentions.  Its main sponsor, Cuba, said the aim was to condemn all acts of violence against Lebanese civilians by the Israeli armed forces; the Israeli representative, however, said that it was just another cynical attempt to vilify his country.  Several delegations, including some that had supported the draft, pointed out that human rights in the north of Israel had also been violated by attacks from non-State actors operating in the south of Lebanon.

    In its morning session -- the Committee adopted, by a vote of 174 in favour to 2 against, with 3 abstentions -- a resolution on global efforts for the total elimination of racism, racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance that would have the Assembly envision a review conference in 2009 on the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action that had been adopted in 2001 (annex II).  The sponsor of the draft was South Africa, whose representative underlined its core goal of ensuring an effective follow-up of the Durban initiatives.

    Opposing the draft were the United States and Israel, with the representative of the latter recalling that the Durban conference had been hijacked by certain delegations to demonize his country, rather than to combat racism.  His counterpart from the United States said the draft served to endorse Durban’s deeply flawed and divisive outcome; he also rejected the proposed use of the Human Rights Council as the review conference’s preparatory committee.  Australia, Canada and Marshall Islands abstained.

    The United States alone voted against an omnibus draft resolution on the rights of the child, which received 176 voted in favour, with no abstentions (annex I).  The representative of Uruguay, the main sponsor, explained that the draft -- the product of extensive consultations –- focused on children living in poverty who had no access to nutrition or sanitation facilities, and threw down a challenge to the international community to make good on its pledges to eradicate extreme poverty.

    The United States’ representative, speaking prior to the vote, said, however, that while the Convention on the Rights of the Child had many positive aspects, there were a number of outstanding concerns, particularly regarding conflicts with the authority of parents and with state and local United States law.  At 14 pages, it was also felt that the draft was too long.

    The representative of Finland, on behalf of the European Union, regretted that it had not been possible to include a clear call for the prohibition of corporal punishment in schools and places of detention in the draft -- a remark that prompted the representative of Singapore to state that, in his country’s opinion, corporal punishment was an acceptable mode of discipline that was only used as a last resort.

    Draft resolutions critical of the human rights situation in Myanmar and Belarus were adopted in the afternoon session following the rejection of no-action motions.  Many delegations used the opportunity to renew a debate over such country-specific resolutions, disagreeing over whether they helped or hindered the development of human rights.  The draft regarding Myanmar was adopted by a vote of 79 in favour to 28 against, with 63 abstentions (annex VI), leading its representative to draw attention to the fact that the number of votes against, and abstentions, was markedly greater than the number of votes in favour.  That, he said, was a clear message that the international community would no longer tolerate country-specific resolutions.

    The draft concerning Belarus –- whose main sponsor was the United States -- was adopted by a vote of 70 in favour to 31 opposed, and 67 abstaining (annex VIII).  Its representative said he regretted the outcome despite appeals from prominent Member States for dialogue.

    Belarus was the lone sponsor of a resolution critical of the United States record on human rights, with its representative acknowledging its slim chances for success.  He said his country was proud to sponsor an honest, truthful and decent document that would be like “a life-saving medicine” in the wake of debate over the merits of country-specific resolutions.

    The representative of the United States said his country made no claim to perfection, but that its free press, free elections and independent judiciary distinguished it from those States that had been the subject of other country-specific resolutions.  The resolution went on to be rejected by a vote of 114 against to 6 in favour, with 45 abstaining (annex IX).

    Iran then spoke in support of the draft it had introduced to criticise the human rights situation of indigenous peoples and immigrants in Canada, a day after the Committee adopted a draft critical of Iran’s human rights situation whose main sponsor had been Canada.  Its representative said the move was intended to send a clear message to the Government of Canada to live up to its human rights obligations, which, she added, had been well documented by the United Nations human rights machinery and others.

    The Canadian representative responded that his country did indeed have human rights challenges that it had to address, and that as a vibrant and plural democracy founded on respect for human rights and the rule of law, it engaged in open and frank discussions with an active civil society, including aboriginal communities.  The draft went on to be rejected by a vote of 107 against to 6 in favour, with 49 abstentions (annex X).

    The representatives of Jordan, Japan, Sudan, Syria, Sri Lanka, France (also on behalf of the Netherlands), Mexico, Qatar, Azerbaijan, Russian Federation, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Lebanon, United Kingdom, China, Norway, New Zealand, Sudan, Venezuela, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Algeria, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Georgia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Australia (on behalf of New Zealand) and Kuwait also spoke today.

    The Committee was expected to reconvene Monday, 27 November, with a view to taking action on its last remaining draft resolutions.

    While rejecting draft resolutions aimed at censuring the United States and Canada over human rights, the Third Committee (Social, Economic and Cultural) today approved drafts aimed at underscoring the rights of the child and at paving the way to a review conference in 2009 on the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

    It also adopted drafts that would see the General Assembly taking two Member States –- Myanmar and Belarus -– to task over their human rights situations.  Drafts were also approved regarding the human rights consequences of Israeli military operations in Lebanon and on the use of unilateral coercive measures.

    Drafts on the new international humanitarian order, violence against women, and international cooperation on human rights were adopted by consensus, while the draft on human rights and unilateral coercive measures was adopted by a vote of 122 in favour to 53 opposed, with no abstentions (annex IV).

    The draft resolution on the human rights situation arising from the recent Israeli military operations in Lebanon was adopted by a vote of 109 in favour to 7 against, with 59 abstentions.  Its main sponsor, Cuba, said the aim was to condemn all acts of violence against Lebanese civilians by the Israeli armed forces; the Israeli representative, however, said that it was just another cynical attempt to vilify his country.  Several delegations, including some that had supported the draft, pointed out that human rights in the north of Israel had also been violated by attacks from non-State actors operating in the south of Lebanon.

    In its morning session -- the Committee adopted, by a vote of 174 in favour to 2 against, with 3 abstentions -- a resolution on global efforts for the total elimination of racism, racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance that would have the Assembly envision a review conference in 2009 on the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action that had been adopted in 2001 (annex II).  The sponsor of the draft was South Africa, whose representative underlined its core goal of ensuring an effective follow-up of the Durban initiatives.

    Opposing the draft were the United States and Israel, with the representative of the latter recalling that the Durban conference had been hijacked by certain delegations to demonize his country, rather than to combat racism.  His counterpart from the United States said the draft served to endorse Durban’s deeply flawed and divisive outcome; he also rejected the proposed use of the Human Rights Council as the review conference’s preparatory committee.  Australia, Canada and Marshall Islands abstained.

    The United States alone voted against an omnibus draft resolution on the rights of the child, which received 176 voted in favour, with no abstentions (annex I).  The representative of Uruguay, the main sponsor, explained that the draft -- the product of extensive consultations –- focused on children living in poverty who had no access to nutrition or sanitation facilities, and threw down a challenge to the international community to make good on its pledges to eradicate extreme poverty.

    The United States’ representative, speaking prior to the vote, said, however, that while the Convention on the Rights of the Child had many positive aspects, there were a number of outstanding concerns, particularly regarding conflicts with the authority of parents and with state and local United States law.  At 14 pages, it was also felt that the draft was too long.

    The representative of Finland, on behalf of the European Union, regretted that it had not been possible to include a clear call for the prohibition of corporal punishment in schools and places of detention in the draft -- a remark that prompted the representative of Singapore to state that, in his country’s opinion, corporal punishment was an acceptable mode of discipline that was only used as a last resort.

    Draft resolutions critical of the human rights situation in Myanmar and Belarus were adopted in the afternoon session following the rejection of no-action motions.  Many delegations used the opportunity to renew a debate over such country-specific resolutions, disagreeing over whether they helped or hindered the development of human rights.  The draft regarding Myanmar was adopted by a vote of 79 in favour to 28 against, with 63 abstentions (annex VI), leading its representative to draw attention to the fact that the number of votes against, and abstentions, was markedly greater than the number of votes in favour.  That, he said, was a clear message that the international community would no longer tolerate country-specific resolutions.

    The draft concerning Belarus –- whose main sponsor was the United States -- was adopted by a vote of 70 in favour to 31 opposed, and 67 abstaining (annex VIII).  Its representative said he regretted the outcome despite appeals from prominent Member States for dialogue.

    Belarus was the lone sponsor of a resolution critical of the United States record on human rights, with its representative acknowledging its slim chances for success.  He said his country was proud to sponsor an honest, truthful and decent document that would be like “a life-saving medicine” in the wake of debate over the merits of country-specific resolutions.

    The representative of the United States said his country made no claim to perfection, but that its free press, free elections and independent judiciary distinguished it from those States that had been the subject of other country-specific resolutions.  The resolution went on to be rejected by a vote of 114 against to 6 in favour, with 45 abstaining (annex IX).

    Iran then spoke in support of the draft it had introduced to criticise the human rights situation of indigenous peoples and immigrants in Canada, a day after the Committee adopted a draft critical of Iran’s human rights situation whose main sponsor had been Canada.  Its representative said the move was intended to send a clear message to the Government of Canada to live up to its human rights obligations, which she added had been well documented by the United Nations human rights machinery and others.

    The Canadian representative responded that his country did indeed have human rights challenges that it had to address, and that as a vibrant and plural democracy founded on respect for human rights and the rule of law, it engaged in open and frank discussions with an active civil society, including aboriginal communities.  The draft went on to be rejected by a vote of 107 against to 6 in favour, with 49 abstentions (annex X).

    The representatives of Jordan, Japan, Sudan, Syria, Sri Lanka, France (also on behalf of the Netherlands), Mexico, Qatar, Azerbaijan, Russian Federation, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Lebanon, United Kingdom, China, Norway, New Zealand, Sudan, Venezuela, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Algeria, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Georgia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Australia (on behalf of New Zealand) and Kuwait also spoke today.

    The Committee was expected to reconvene Monday, 27 November, with a view to taking action on its last remaining draft resolutions.

    Background

    The Third Committee met today to continue taking actions on draft resolutions, with a view to complete its work by the end of the day.  For more background information, please see press release GA/SHC/3876 of 21 November.

    A draft on the intensification of efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women (document A/C.3/61/L.10/Rev.1) would have the Assembly strongly condemn all acts of violence against women, whether those acts were perpetrated by the State, by private persons or by non-State actors, and urge States to take action to eliminate all forms of violence against women by means of a more systematic and sustained approach.  It would also urge States to ratify all human rights treaties and remove all laws that discriminated against women.  It would also call upon the international community to support efforts to promote the empowerment of women and gender equality and strongly encourage States to increase significantly their voluntary financial support for activities related to the empowerment of women and gender equality and preventing and eliminating all forms of violence against women, carried out by the United Nations specialized agencies, funds and programmes.

    A draft on the situation of Lebanese children (document A/C.3/61/L.12) would see the General Assembly strongly condemn attacks and unwarranted killing of Lebanese children by Israel during its last invasion of Lebanon, which resulted in the death of more than 1,100 civilians, one-third of whom were children.  It expresses deep concern about the mental and psychological impact of the military actions on the well-being of Lebanese children and condemns what it calls the deliberate use by Israel of cluster bombs in Lebanon.  It calls upon the international community to urgently provide the Government of Lebanon with financial assistance in support of the national early recovery and reconstruction process, including the rehabilitation of victims, the return of displaced persons and the restoration of essential infrastructure.

    The Committee was expected to take action on a draft resolution on the human rights situation arising from the recent Israeli military operations in Lebanon (document A/C.3/61/L.13/Rev.1), by which the Assembly would condemn all acts of violence against civilians, immense destruction of homes, properties, agricultural lands and vital civilian infrastructure, and the displacement of up to 1 million Lebanese civilians and outflows of refugees fleeing heavy shelling and bombardment directed against the civilian population.  It would express deep concern over the negative consequences of the Israeli military operations for the well-being of Lebanese children and condemn the killing of children, women, the elderly and other civilians in Lebanon, while underlining that there should be no impunity for such acts and calling particularly upon Israel to abide scrupulously by its obligations under human rights law.

    The draft would further deplore the death of more than 1,100 civilians as a result of the Israeli military operations in Lebanon, strongly condemn the deliberate use by Israel of cluster munitions in Lebanon and deplore the environmental degradation caused by Israeli air strikes against power plants and their adverse impact on the health and well-being of children and other civilians.  It would call upon the international community to urgently provide the Government of Lebanon with financial assistance in support of the national early recovery, reconstruction and enhancing the national economy.

    A draft resolution on the inadmissibility of human rights violations through the practice of secret detention and unlawful transfers while countering terrorism (document A/C.3/61/L.30/Rev.1) would have the Assembly express its grave concern at the numerous human rights abuses committed through the practice of secret detention; the involvement of countries in that practice and illegal transfers of persons; the deprivation of detainees of their basic human rights; transportation of detainees; the use of civilian airports or military airbases as platforms for transfers of detainees, and cases of ill-treatment, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of persons secretly detained.

    Further to the draft, the Assembly would urge Member States to fulfil the commitments undertaken under the International Covenants on Human Rights and other international human-rights instruments and to eliminate the practice of secret detention centres and unlawful inter-State transfers of alleged suspects.  It would also urge them to ensure that no one was detained arbitrarily or secretly on the national territories of Member States or on the territories within their effective control; to put an end to the cases of ill-treatment, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of alleged suspects, and to ensure that any person responsible for human rights violations in connection with secret detention or unlawful transfers was brought to justice.

    A draft resolution on the enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights (document A/C.3/61/L.33) would have the Assembly urge all actors on the international scene to build an international order, based on inclusion, justice, equality, human dignity, mutual understanding and promotion of and respect for cultural diversity and universal human rights, and to reject all doctrines of exclusion based on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.  Further to the draft, the Assembly would call upon Member States, specialized agencies and intergovernmental organizations to continue to carry out a constructive dialogue for the enhancement of understanding and the promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, and encourage non-governmental organizations to contribute actively to that endeavour.

    A draft resolution on the right to development (document A/C.3/61/L/34) would have the Assembly call upon the Human Rights Council to ensure that its agenda promoted and advanced sustainable development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and to agree on a programme that would lead to the elevation of the right to development to the same level as all other human rights and fundamental freedoms elaborated in the human rights instruments.  The draft would also stress that the primary responsibility for the promotion and protection of all human rights lay with the State, and reaffirm that States had the primary responsibility for their own economic and social development.

    Further to the draft, the Assembly would urge developed countries that had not yet done so to meet the targets of 0.7 per cent of their gross national product for official development assistance to developing countries and 0.15 to 0.2 per cent of their gross national product to least developed countries, while encouraging developing countries to ensure that such assistance was used effectively to help to meet development goals and targets.  The draft would also have the Assembly call for the implementation of a desirable pace of meaningful trade liberalization, a review of special and differential treatment provisions, avoidance of new forms of protectionism, and capacity-building and technical assistance for developing countries.

    A draft on human rights and unilateral coercive measures (document A/C.3/61/L.35) would have the Assembly reject unilateral coercive measures with all their extraterritorial effects as tools for political or economic pressure against any country, in particular against developing countries, because of their negative effects on the realization of all the human rights of vast sectors of their populations, in particular children, women and the elderly.  It would further have the Assembly call upon Member States that had initiated such measures to revoke such measures at the earliest possible time.

    The Committee was to take action on a draft resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar (document A/C.3/61/L.38/Rev.1), which would have the Assembly express grave concern at ongoing systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Myanmar; the continuing use of torture; deaths in custody; political arrests and continuing imprisonment and other detentions, denial of freedom of assembly, association, expression and movement, and the prevailing culture of impunity.

    It would also express grave concern at attacks by military forces on villages in Kayin state and other ethnic states; continued severe restrictions on the National League for Democracy and other political parties, including the extension of the house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi and her deputy, Tin Oo; the absence of progress towards genuine democratic reform; the inability of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar to visit the country for almost three years, and the denial of freedom to human rights defenders.

    It would have the Assembly strongly call upon the Government of Myanmar to end human rights violations, military operations that targeted civilians in ethnic areas, the recruitment and use of child soldiers, and forced displacements.  It would further call for the release of all political prisoners, immediately and unconditionally; the lifting of all restraints on peaceful political activity, and ensuring safe and unhindered access to the entire country to the United Nations and international humanitarian organizations.

    It would further call upon the Government of Myanmar to permit all political representatives and representatives of ethnic nationalities to participate fully in the political transitional process without restrictions; to end the conflict with all ethnic nationalities in Myanmar and to restore the independence of the judiciary and due process of law.

    In tandem with the draft was a statement from the Secretary-General on its programme budget implications (document A/C.3/61/L.56), anticipating additional requirements amounting to $198,400 net for the period 1 January to 31 December 2007.

    A draft on the situation of human rights in Belarus (document A/C.3/61/L.40) would have the Assembly express deep concern about the failure of the Government of Belarus to cooperate fully with all the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council and the fact that it had again failed to meet its commitments to hold free and fair elections.  It would also express deep concern about continued reports of harassment, arbitrary arrest and detentions of up to 1,000 persons, including opposition candidates, before and after the 19 March 2006 election, as well as the continued and expanding criminal prosecutions, lack of due process and closed political trials of leading opposition figures and human rights defenders.  Further to the draft, it would express deep concern about the continued harassment and detention of Belarusian journalists covering local opposition demonstrations and the fact that senior Government officials were implicated in the enforced disappearance and/or summary execution of three political opponents of the incumbent authorities and a journalist and in the continuing investigatory cover-up.  It would also express deep concern about persistent reports of harassment and prosecutions of individuals, as well as harassment and closure of non-governmental organizations, national minority organizations, independent media outlets, religious groups, opposition political parties and independent trade unions and youth and student organizations.

    By the draft’s terms, the Assembly would urge the Government of Belarus to bring the electoral process and legislative framework into line with international standards and cease politically motivated prosecution, harassment and intimidation of political opponents and pro-democracy activists and human rights defenders, students, independent media, religious organizations, educational institutions and civil society actors.  It would also urge the Government to respect the rights of freedom of speech, assembly and association; to immediately release all political prisoners and other individuals detained for exercising those rights; to suspend from their duties officials implicated in any case of enforced disappearance, summary execution and torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and to investigate such cases and to bring the alleged perpetrators to justice.

    The Assembly would also urge the Government to investigate and hold accountable those responsible for the mistreatment and detention of domestic and foreign journalists, as well as civic and political activists, in connection with the 19 March 2006 election and post-election demonstrations, and to release immediately and unconditionally all political prisoners.  Lastly, it would insist that the Government of Belarus cooperate fully with all the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council.

    A draft on the situation of democracy and human rights in the United States of America (document A/C.3/61/L.42) would have the Assembly express deep concern and dismay at reports from credible resources on systematic violations of fundamental rights and freedoms in the United States and at the fact that the country had failed to reform its electoral system since 2000, which remained fundamentally flawed and could disenfranchise some eligible voters and allow manipulation of election results.  It would further express deep concern and dismay that the United States continued to violate international standards in its use of the death penalty with respect to minors and the mentally ill; that legislative measures to enhance security had led to the limitation and abuse of vital civil rights and freedoms of its own nationals, as well as nationals of other countries; and that massive human rights abuses committed while waging the war on terror had led to the erosion of the international framework of human rights principles.  Under the draft’s terms, the Assembly would also express deep concern and dismay regarding information on the deprivation of the rights of persons detained as a result of military operations in Afghanistan and being held in detention camps in Guantanamo; that unwillingness to apply the Geneva Conventions to the detainees there violated international human rights law; and at reports of ill treatment, torture, death in custody and excessive use of force by police and prison officers.

    By the draft, the Assembly would urge the United States to put an end to violations of human rights, become a party to all core international human rights instruments, and fully cooperate with special procedures of the Human Rights Council.  It would also urge the United States to bring its electoral process and legislative framework into line with international standards and grant the residents of the District of Columbia an effective remedy to guarantee them the right to participate in their federal legislature.  It would further urge the United States to abolish the death penalty, to end the practice of secret detentions, and urgently undertake all measures necessary for detainees of Guantanamo to be granted a fair and just hearing before the court.

    In addition, the Assembly would urge the United States to implement a zero-tolerance policy on torture; invite all relevant human rights monitoring mechanisms to visit all places of detention and to grant them unlimited access to all detention camps; and to bring legislation on national security and actions of its police and security forces into conformity with its obligations under relevant international standards.  Lastly, it would insist that the United States cooperate fully with all the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council.

    A draft resolution on the situation of indigenous peoples and immigrants in Canada (document A/C.3/61/L.43) would have the Assembly express grave concern at the situation of persons deprived of their liberty in Canada while awaiting trial or sentencing, the inappropriate use of chemical and other weapons by law enforcement authorities in the context of crowd control and the absence of effective measures to compensate victims of torture.  It would also express concern at systematic discrimination against indigenous peoples in the Canadian criminal justice system, and at disparities between aboriginal people and the rest of the population in employment, access to water, health, housing and education, as well as the Government’s failure to fully acknowledge the barriers faced by African Canadians in the enjoyment of their rights.

    The draft notes, with particular concern, that poverty rates remain very high among aboriginal peoples, African Canadians and immigrants, and expresses dismay with the Government’s negligence to address the specific needs of aboriginal women.  It deplores the worrying situation of women prisoners, and expresses concern at several aspects of Canadian immigration law that give immigration offices wide discretion in detaining aliens.

    The draft calls upon the Government of Canada to change its immigration law regarding unjustified detention of migrants and asylum-seekers, and to intensify its measures to close the human-developing indicator gaps between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians.  It requests the Government to implement recommendations of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council and to have the Assembly continue consideration of the human rights situation in Canada at its next session.

    A draft resolution on the Working group of the Commission on Human Rights to elaborate a draft declaration in accordance with paragraph 5 of General Assembly resolution 49/214 of 23 December 1994 (document A/C.3/61/L.18/Rev.1) would have the Assembly adopt the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as recommended by the Human Rights Council.

    The Declaration states that indigenous peoples have the right to the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, and affirms some of those rights in more detail and the corresponding obligations of States to uphold them.  According to the Declaration, the rights outlined in the text constitute the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world.  The Declaration includes provisions on the right to self-determination; the right to maintain distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions, and the right to the lands, territories and resources traditionally owned or occupied by indigenous peoples.  States, in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples, shall take effective measures to ensure the implementation of these rights.

    A draft resolution proposed by Namibia, on the working group of the Commission on Human Rights to elaborate a draft declaration in accordance with paragraph 5 of General Assembly resolution 49/214 of 23 December 1994 (document A/C.3/61/L.57/Rev.1), would amend the above draft (L.18/Rev.1) to have the Assembly decide to defer consideration and action on the Declaration, to allow time for further consultations and to conclude consideration of the Declaration before the end of the Assembly’s sixty-first session.

    A draft decision on the Report of the Human Rights Council (A/C.3/61/L.58) would have the Assembly welcome the establishment of the Human Rights Council and decide to take note of its report to the Assembly at its sixty-first session.

    Finally, the Committee had before it its programme of work for the sixty-second session of the General Assembly (document A/C.3/61/L.61).

    Action on Draft Resolutions

    The Chair began the day’s proceedings by suggesting that delegations limit their interventions to a maximum of three minutes, otherwise the Committee would have to sit again on Friday.

    The Committee then took action on the draft resolution on new international humanitarian order (document A/C.3/L.54/Rev.1).  The representative of Jordan, the main sponsor, said that, since the draft’s introduction, Kenya had joined the co-sponsors.  Oral amendments were read aloud.  It was hoped that, like the 17 previous resolutions, the draft would be adopted by consensus.

    The draft, as orally revised, was adopted without a vote.

    Speaking on a draft on the intensification of efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women (document A/C.3/61/L.10/Rev.1), the Secretary said that he had just been informed that the draft would give rise to budgetary implications.  For that reason, he requested a deferring action on it until the afternoon.

    Speaking on a draft on the situation of Lebanese children (document A/C.3/61/L.12), the representative of Cuba said that, due to last-minute consultations, he wished to postpone action on the draft until later in the day.

    Speaking on a draft on the rights of the child (document A/C.3/61/L.16/Rev.1), the representative of Uruguay said that the draft had been the result of extensive consultations.  The current year’s version focused on children living in poverty who had no access to nutrition or sanitation facilities.  The draft included a strong call to the international community to respond to the challenge of eradicating poverty.  Attempts were made to make the draft as broad as possible, touching on all relevant issues, though it was obvious that all delegations were not completely satisfied with the result.

    The Secretary then announced that a recorded vote had been requested on the draft.

    The representative of Uruguay asked who had requested the recorded vote.

    The Secretary said that the United States had asked for the vote.

    The representative of United States said that the protection of children was fully integrated into his country’s foreign policy, so he supported many principles in the resolution.  The Convention on the Rights of the Child had many positive principles; however, there were a number of concerns, particularly regarding conflicts with the authority of parents and with state and local United States law.  Many of the activities mentioned, such as health, education and criminal justice, were primarily the responsibility of state and local governments in the United States.

    He said that the stress on the degree to which children could make decisions affecting their own lives also set up a tension between the rights of children and parental authority.  United States laws placed greater emphasis on the duty of parents to care for the children and apportioned parental and children’s rights in a different manner from the Convention.  He did not accept the draft’s overemphasis on that Convention and its failure to address the applicability of other conventions.  The broad and evaluative -- rather than factual -- reference to the International Criminal Court, was also unacceptable.  The draft was weak on issues on custody and international parental and familial child abduction, particularly the need for the legal enforcement of rights.  At 14 pages, the draft was also much too long; it needed to be targeted on critical issues that were not covered in other resolutions.  For that reason, he would vote against the draft.

    The Committee then approved the draft by a vote of 176 in favour to 1 against ( United States), with no abstentions (See annex I.)

    Explaining his delegation’s vote, the representative of Japan said it was his country’s understanding that there was no conflict between operative paragraph 16(c), which referred to child abduction, and existing Japanese legislation.

    The representative of the Sudan said informal consultations on the draft had been very broad, and that his country had sought to ensure that it was focused on the rights of the child without having those rights linked to other bodies of the United Nations that had their own agenda in that area.  Operative paragraph 39 referred to Security Council resolution 1612 (2005); it was known that the Security Council had been trying to encroach upon areas that came under the responsibility of the General Assembly, rather than on conflicts.  Everyone was aware that the Council was highly politicized and it had been trying to raise issues affecting children in the context of conflict.

    The representative of Syria said his country reserved the right to interpret operative paragraphs 8, 10, 11 and 28 in a way that conformed with national legislation.

    The representative of Sri Lanka said that, in supporting the draft, it was not his country’s intention to endorse the report of the Secretary-General’s special representative for children and armed conflict, as his country had reservations about sections of that report.

    The representative of Finland, on behalf of the European Union, thanked the delegation of Uruguay for its extensive efforts on the draft.  It was regrettable that it had not been possible to include a clear call for the prohibition of corporal punishment in schools and places of detention, which was outlawed in all European Union Member States.  The language in operative paragraph 17(e) indicated the unacceptability of such punishment; the European Union would pursue in future the abolition of such punishment.

    The representative of Uruguay, on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group, said that there had been wide-ranging updates to the current year’s draft, including a special section on poverty and a strengthened section on violence, which existed in all countries and so required a common objective to eliminate all types of violence.  No form of violence was justified.  There had been far more co-sponsors of the draft than in previous years, and for the first time, there had not been numerous rounds of voting.  That affirmed that a similar approach of negotiations should be used in subsequent years.

    The representative of Singapore said that, in light of the broader consensus reached during negotiations on the draft than in previous years, the statement by the representative of Finland was regrettable.  To say that operative paragraph 17 referred to capital punishment was at odds with the intent of the negotiations and represented grandstanding at the expense of cooperation.  The European Union’s statement was about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.  “All forms of physical and mental violence and abuse in schools” did not refer to corporal punishment, which was an acceptable mode of discipline, only used as a last resort and under defined guidelines.  Each society must judge what was best for its own people.  It was worrying that some nations wanted to impose their views on others.  It was unclear why they felt they had been anointed the world’s standard-bearers.

    Speaking on a draft on the intensification of efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women (document A/C.3/61/L.10/Rev.1), the representative of France, also speaking on behalf of the Netherlands, read out amendments to the English version of the text, as well as revisions to the text.  He said that the draft built on previous ones, taking into account various reports before the Third Committee that recognized that such violence occurred in all countries.  The draft was the result of long negotiations.  He expressed the hope that it would be approved by consensus.

    The Committee then approved the draft, as corrected and revised, without a vote.

    The representative of Japan said that, seeing that there were no programme budgetary implications, his intervention would be short.  Regarding operative paragraph 71, he referred to his intervention on the draft on the rights of the child, explaining that in Japanese law, as in other countries, prosecutors did not necessarily prosecute all perpetrators if that was in the interests of their  rehabilitation.

    The representative of the United States said his country was deeply committed to action, by Governments and at the multilateral level, to combat violence against women.  Such violence was a basic affront to human dignity.  The United States reaffirmed the goals and objectives of the Beijing documents, on the understanding that those documents did not create new binding obligations on States, nor any new international rights, including any so-called right to abortion.  It was moreover understood that the use of the phrase “reproductive rights” did not create any rights or suggest an endorsement of abortion.

    The representative of Mexico requested more clarity in procedure, as agenda item 63(a) (promotion and protection of the rights of children) had not been completed when the Secretary had intervened.

    The Committee then took note of the report of the Secretary-General on the improvement of the status of women in the United Nations system (document A/61/318); the report of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on the work of the thirty-fourth, thirty-fifth and thirty-sixth sessions (document A/61/38), and note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report on the activities of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (document A/61/292).

    The Chair went on to ask the representative of Mexico if she wished to make a declaration.  She replied no; she only wanted to be clear on procedure for the rest of the session.

    The Committee then considered the draft resolution on global efforts for the total elimination of 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.3/61/L.53/Rev.1).  The Chair reminded delegations of the statement regarding financial provisions that had been read out by the Secretary the day before.

    The representative of South Africa, the main sponsor, said that the aim of the draft was to ensure an effective follow-up and implementation of the Durban commitments.  It proposed the convening of a review conference in 2009, which would bring the conference in line with other United Nations conferences and focus on present-day racism.  Adoption of the draft would send out a clear message that political will could be mastered to advance a global anti-racism agenda.  The draft would also ensure that the intergovernmental working group on racism could continue its work, based on its mandate.  That element was of paramount importance to the Group of 77 and China.  The representative read out a number of oral amendments.  It was hoped that the draft would be adopted by consensus.

    The Chair announced that a recorded vote had been requested.  The representative of South Africa asked who had requested the recorded vote; the Chair replied the United States.

    The representative of United States said that his country opposed racism, xenophobia and intolerance; however, while it supported the stated objectives of Durban, its outcomes were deeply flawed and divisive.  The present draft endorsed that flawed outcome, making it problematic.  Follow-up activities to Durban were duplicative of the work of the Third Committee, the Human Rights Council and other bodies.  Further, the Human Rights Council should not be the preparatory committee for the review conference, but rather should address emerging human rights situations in the world.  States should focus on implementing their existing commitments and should ratify and implement the existing Convention on racism.

    The representative of Finland, on behalf of the European Union, said that Finland had repeatedly stressed that the Durban follow-up should be agreed to on consensus.  The main sponsors of the draft had made further proposals and his delegation had actively engaged in negotiations.  It had agreed to operative paragraph 33; that the review would be conducted in a high-level General Assembly framework and that focus on implementation would not involve reopening the Durban Programme of Action.  Any Human Rights Council preparatory work would not entail a new mechanism, but rather use the governmental working group.  She thanked delegations for their flexibility and said she would vote in favour of the draft.

    The representative of Canada said that his country was taking initiatives across all levels of government to address issues of racism, xenophobia, and intolerance.  He supported many elements of the present draft; however, he had difficulty with references to the implementation of the Durban conference.  Under international law, there was no right to a remedy for historical acts that were not illegal at the time that they occurred.  Since the draft continued to contain language contrary to that view, he would abstain from the vote.

    The representative of Israel said that complete equality for all citizens was a touchstone of Israel’s Government.  Durban had failed to promote those ideals, and the present resolution continued the legacy of that failure.  Certain delegations had used that conference to single out one country with hateful accusations.  Rather than promote tolerance and respect, they had abused the conference and denigrated its noble objectives.  Combating racism was not the purpose of that conference; the demonization of Israel was.  For that reason, she would vote against the present draft.

    The draft, as orally revised, was then adopted by a vote of 174 in favour to 2 against ( Israel, United States), with 3 abstentions ( Australia, Canada, Marshall Islands).  (See annex II)

    The Committee then considered the draft resolution on the human rights situation arising from the recent Israeli military operations in Lebanon (document A/C.3/61/L.13/Rev.1).  The representative of Cuba, the main sponsor, said the draft aimed to condemn all acts of violence against civilians by Israeli forces in Lebanon.  The recent military operations had cost the lives of more than 1,100 civilians, one-third of them children.  The draft incorporated elements of draft resolution A/C.3/61/L.12 entitled the situation of children in Lebanon, which the Non-Aligned Movement had decided not to present.  The draft at hand was very pertinent for the work of the Third Committee, and the Non-Aligned Movement hoped that it would be supported by all Member States.

    The representative of Qatar, on behalf of the Arab Group, said the draft had satisfied various groups and sought a middle ground.  Its focus was on the plight of civilians scarred by conflict.  The draft condemned unnecessary and excessive Israeli military operations.  It did not castigate any one side, but rather called upon the international community to provide Lebanon with all the assistance that it could.  The human dimension of the draft should transcend any politicization.

    The representative of Israel requested a recorded vote.

    The representative of Azerbaijan said that, at the time of its introduction, the draft had been co-sponsored by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, but there was no such mention of that fact in the revised document.

    The representative of Israel said that her country was deeply concerned by the killing of innocent civilians, and that its military went to great lengths to avoid such casualties.  Its ability to do so had been complicated by Hizbollah hiding among civilians.  The draft resolution did nothing to address the issues that gave rise to last summer’s conflict.  It did not put blame on Syria and Iran for encouraging Hizbollah to engage in war with Israel.  The resolution was another cynical attempt to vilify Israel.

    Disarming Hizbollah and ending its terrorist activity in south Lebanon had to be the priority for the international community and the Lebanese Government, the representative said.  Had Security Council resolution 1559 (2004) been fully implemented by Lebanon, the conflict never would have occurred; that had not been reflected in the resolution, which also carried no mention of the human suffering in Israel.  Israel would vote against the draft, as it blatantly distorted history and belittled reality.  Its passage would tell Hizbollah that it would not be stopped by the international community.

    The representative of the Russian Federation said he supported the main thrust of the draft resolution and would vote in favour, but it was necessary to concentrate on achieving a just and sustainable peace in the region, particularly based on Security Council resolution 1701 (2006).  Actions by the Israelis had led to many casualties in Lebanon and had destroyed much of its civilian infrastructure.  Those actions had not been selective and had also damaged United Nations and non-governmental infrastructure.  All parties must observe Security Council resolution 1701, especially since many of its provisions had not been implemented.  All wanted normalization of post-conflict life and reconstruction of the economy.  His country advocated sovereignty and territorial integrity for Lebanon and would work toward achieving sustained peace there.

    The Committee then approved the draft by a vote of 109 in favour to 7 against (Australia, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, , Palau, United States), with 59 abstentions.  (See annex III)

    The representative of United States said that his country remained committed to helping the people of Lebanon.  The present imbalanced resolution was counterproductive to that aim.  The continued use of the hostilities in Lebanon as a divisive political tool in the United Nations must stop, as it further polarized an already difficult climate and threatened the credibility of institutions.  The draft condemned Israel for doing what countries were allowed to do, which was to protect their populations from external attack.

    Hizbollah had triggered the hostilities with its unprovoked attack on Israel, he said.  In defending itself, Israel should comply with its obligations under international humanitarian law, not human rights law.  Hizbollah had adopted a policy of endangering civilians, deliberately concealing itself in civilian areas of Lebanon, thereby endangering the civilian population.  The High Commissioner for Human Rights had recognized that factor in any legal assessment of Israel’s actions.  Failure to address Hizbollah’s role in the conflict was a grievous error.  He could not support such a one-sided resolution that ignored basic facts.

    The representative of Canada said that he was concerned that the resolution did not adequately recognize civilian suffering in both countries.  Due to its one-side nature, his country had voted against the resolution.

    The representative of Finland, on behalf of the European Union, said that the draft did not address the circumstances that had led to the outbreak of the hostilities; for that reason, she had abstained.  Both parties to the conflict had an equal responsibility to protect civilian populations and to refrain from actions that violated international humanitarian law.  She deplored all loss of civilian life during the conflict, both as a result of Hizbollah rocket attacks on Israel and Israeli military operations in Lebanon.

    She reiterated the European Union’s call for the immediate release of the two abducted Israeli soldiers.  The European Union continued to be committed to support the legitimate and democratically elected Government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.  In light of the brutal assassination of Lebanese Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, she called on all countries in the region to refrain from any violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.  The political aspects and the root causes of the crises must be dealt with.  She called on all parties in the region to comply with the Security Council resolution 1701.

    The representative of Australia, explaining her delegation’s decision to vote against, said that the resolution had been one-sided and unbalanced, and contained nothing that would advance the cause of peace.  Her country had been deeply concerned by the impact of the conflict on both sides, to whom it had extended funds.

    Mexico’s representative recalled his country’s solidarity with the people of Lebanon and repudiation of any actions that violated international human rights and humanitarian law.  Mexico had supported the Security Council resolution that called for a total and permanent cessation of hostilities and urged the parties concerned to seek a long-term political solution.  Mexico had abstained from voting because it contained no proposals that could launch a process towards peace, stability and understanding in the region.  Such language should be in future resolutions.

    Separately, the representative express his delegation’s concern at the violation of article 128 of the rules of procedure of the General Assembly, saying that after the Chair had announced the beginning of voting, no one could interrupt without a point of order being made.

    The representative of Brazil said his delegation had voted in favour, but regretted that the resolution did not contemplate the violation of human rights in Israel resulting from attacks by non-State actors operating from Lebanon.  Such attacks were equally to be regretted and denounced.

    Uruguay’s representative said his delegation had voted in favour, and pointed out that the resolution at hand included a call for the international community to provide financial assistance for the reconstruction of Lebanon.  His country also understood that the humanitarian crisis had affected the north of Israel; for the conflict to be solved, safe and secure borders for Israel had to be ensured.

    The representative of Lebanon, making a general statement, said his delegation was not pleased to have had to revert to the Committee to address violations of human rights and humanitarian laws by Israel against his country.  What the Israeli war machine had inflicted on Lebanon had gone beyond anyone’s cruellest imagination.  It was a machine that lacked restraint and control.  Whole neighbourhoods had been carpet-bombed, and schools hit.  It appeared that no one knew who gave the order for cluster bombs to be fired.  Everyone was aware of Israel’s massive arsenal of conventional and unconventional weapons.  Lebanon could not match that arsenal, but it had the power of legitimacy, a just cause and the support of international community and world public opinion.  Disseminating information and awareness of Israeli aggression would put pressure on the Israeli war machine to refrain from such further actions.

    It had been extremely sad and disturbing to hear the concerns expressed by the Israeli delegation, he said.  Hizbollah had not existed before the first invasion of Lebanon in 1978; it had emerged later as a popular movement to resist occupation.  In less than two years, Lebanon had implemented more than 60 or 70 per cent of Security Council resolution 1559, which was more than Israel had done.  One of the founding fathers of Israel had once been labelled a terrorist by the British authorities.  Lebanon had long been a victim of terrorism, and more than ever, it needed the support of the international community.  Lebanon was thankful to the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Arab Group.  It respected the position of those delegations that had voted against the resolution, but it was sorry that a number of States had abstained despite no effort having been spared to accommodate their concerns.

    Syria’s representative said he had voted in favour of the draft as an expression of the need for a clear signal to human rights violators and to clarify the violations committed by Israel during its barbaric acts of aggression against Lebanon.  Those who continually perpetrated crimes and resorted to false pretexts had only revealed the truth of an aggressive policy that aimed to mislead the international community in human rights and other fields.  The 17 November General Assembly vote on illegal Israeli actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory was a clear message to that occupying Power from the international community.  Israel’s claims in that meeting were clearly opposed to the international consensus.

    Speaking on a draft resolution on the inadmissibility of human rights violations through the practice of secret detention and unlawful transfers while countering terrorism (document A/C.3/61/L.30/Rev.1), the representative of Belarus noted that the draft was a new one.  Differences on the text remained, and more work was needed.  By raising the issue, the Committee’s attention had been drawn to the issue and impetus had been given to further study.  For that reason and at the request of many delegations, Belarus was withdrawing the resolution for further consultations during the sixty-second session of the General Assembly.

    Speaking on a draft on the enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights (document A/C.3/61/L.33), the representative of Cuba said that international cooperation in the field of human rights should contribute to preventing violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms.  All those elements were included in the resolution.  The initiative should have the support of the whole of the United Nations.  He then read out a number of corrections.

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

    Speaking on a draft resolution on the right to development (document A/C.3/61/L/34), the representative of Cuba said that he wished to postpone its consideration until the afternoon because of ongoing consultations on the draft.

    Speaking on a draft on human rights and unilateral coercive measures (document A/C.3/61/L.35), the representative of Cuba said that such measures prevented the full enjoyment of economic and social development, especially by women.  It was hoped that all Member States would support the resolution.  In the past, it had been voted on; he called on all delegations to vote in favour.

    The Chair said that a recorded vote had been requested.

    The representative of Cuba asked who had requested the vote.

    The Chair said that it was the representative of the United States.

    The Committee then approved the draft by a vote of 122 in favour to 53 against, with no abstentions.  (See annex IV.)

    Speaking on a draft on the situation of Lebanese children (document A/C.3/61/L.12), the representative of Cuba said that he was prepared to withdraw the resolution because significant elements were already contained in the draft resolution on the human rights situation arising from the recent Israeli military operations in Lebanon (document A/C.3/61/L.13/Rev.1), which had been adopted in the morning.

    The Committee then considered the draft resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar (document A/C.3/61/L.38/Rev.1), with the Chair recognizing the representative of Cuba to speak.

    Raising a point of order, the representative of the United Kingdom said it was his understanding that the list for making general statements had closed, and could not be reopened.  He asked that the Third Committee return to its normal practice of giving the floor to the main sponsor of a draft resolution, followed by statements and explanations of vote by others.

    The Chair said that, once an agenda item had been opened for consideration, any country could ask for the floor.  Therefore the floor was being given to the representative of Cuba.

    The representative of Cuba thanked the Chair for a correct interpretation of the rules.  On behalf of the member States of the Non-Aligned Movement, he recalled that heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement had called for the prohibition of country-specific draft resolutions and had opposed and condemned selectivity and double-standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.  Cuba, as Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, encouraged all Members of the Movement to adhere to those principles when voting on the draft resolution at hand.

    The representative of Myanmar, referring to the Committee’s adoption of draft resolution A/C.3/61/L.31/Rev.1 and the position of the Non-Aligned Movement, called for a no-action motion under rule 116 of the General Assembly.

    The representative of Canada, rising on a point of order, said she would very much like to make a general statement on the item at hand.

    The Chair said it was not possible to give such a statement, as Myanmar had raised its flag on a point of order.  He asked the Secretary to explain the rules of procedure.

    The Secretary said that, from the vantage point of the podium, the representative of Myanmar had raised a point of order and moved under rule 116 for an adjournment of debate.  Unless there was a counter-motion, the adjournment motion had to be put to a vote before any other delegation could speak.  Myanmar had prece


Published: 23.11.2006
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