THIRD COMMITTEE APPROVES DRAFT RESOLUTION ON RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT; VOTES TO DEFER ACTION CONCERNING DECLARATION ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York
Sixty-first General Assembly
53rd Meeting (AM)
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today adopted a draft resolution that would see the General Assembly defer consideration and action on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, with the aim of concluding consideration of the Declaration before the end of its current sixty-first session.
The Committee, nearing the end of its work, also adopted a draft resolution on the right to development that would have the Assembly call upon the Human Rights Council to ensure that its agenda promotes sustainable development and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. It would also remind developed countries to meet the target of 0.7 per cent of gross national product for official development assistance and call for implementation of a desirable pace of meaningful trade liberalization.
Adopted on 29 June by the Human Rights Council in Geneva, which then recommended it to the Assembly, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples asserts that “indigenous peoples have the right to the full enjoyment, as a collective or as individuals, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms” as set out in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights law.
Under a revised draft resolution, whose main sponsor was Peru, with a number of European and Latin American countries listed as co-sponsors, the full text would have been adopted by the Assembly in relatively short order.
But an initiative led by Namibia, co-sponsored by a number of African countries, resulted in the draft being amended. In its new form, the draft would have the Assembly decide “to defer consideration and action on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to allow time for further consultations thereon”. Furthermore, the Assembly would also decide “to conclude consideration of the Declaration before the end of its sixty-first session”.
The amendments were adopted by a vote of 82 in favour to 67 against, with 25 abstentions (annex II). The amended draft was then adopted with a vote of 83 in favour to none against, with 91 abstentions (annex III), with the latter notably including countries that had been co-sponsors of the original motions.
Prior to the vote, the representative of Peru -– recalling that it had taken 24 years for the Declaration to be hammered out -- said the original draft had been revised to address the concerns of many delegations, particularly regarding the principle of self-determination of peoples and respect for national sovereignty.
However, his counterpart from Namibia, explaining the proposed amendments, said that some provisions ran counter to the national constitutions of a number of African countries and that the Declaration was of such critical importance that it was only “fair and reasonable” to defer its adoption by the Assembly to allow for more consultations.
Among developed countries, Finland, on behalf of the European Union, urged a vote against deferral, saying it would amount to a groundless delay. The representatives of New Zealand, Australia and Canada, on the other hand, spoke in favour of a delay, with the latter country being among several to underline the need for indigenous peoples to be part of the process.
The representative of Mexico, echoing the views of many Latin American colleagues, said it seemed strange to seek more time for consultations on a Declaration that had already been the subject of 24 years of negotiations. The real delay, he said, would be in paying due attention to the rights of indigenous peoples themselves.
The draft resolution on the right to development, whose main sponsor was Cuba, was adopted with oral amendments by a vote of 126 in favour to 51 against, with 1 abstention (annex I). Among those voting against were the United States and Finland, again on behalf of the European Union, after their representatives voiced concern about the prospect of the right to development becoming legally binding.
Statements were also made today by representatives of Cuba, Japan, Costa Rica, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, Guatemala, Bolivia, Fiji, Chile, Turkey, Russian Federation, Colombia, Norway, Indonesia, Jamaica, Ukraine, Guyana, Benin, Botswana, Myanmar, Kuwait, Kenya, Cameroon, the Congo, Rwanda, Ecuador, Uruguay, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Iraq, Venezuela and Brazil.
The Committee was expected to meet again at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 30 November.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to conclude its work for the current session by taking action on all remaining draft resolutions.
A draft 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 (ODA) 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 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, capacity-building and technical assistance for developing countries, and avoidance of new forms of protectionism.
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 Committee considered the draft resolution on the right to development (document A/C.3/61/L.34), with the representative of Cuba, its main sponsor, reading aloud a number of amendments. Intense negotiations had been undertaken on the draft; however, he said, it had not been possible to come up with a draft that would enjoy the support of the overwhelming majority of Member States, as the specific priorities of the Non-Aligned Movement had not been sufficiently addressed and accommodated by other delegations. As explained when the draft was introduced, it was intended to provide guidance for the forthcoming working group on the right to development. That right was particularly important in the field of human rights and it had to be implemented on an equal footing with all other human rights. It was felt that that commitment was not shared by other delegations. China had joined the list of co-sponsors.
The representative of Finland, on a point of order, asked for a five minute recess so that delegations could go through the amendments, in light of the number of changes proposed and the importance attached to the draft.
The representative of Cuba, on a point of order, noted that the amendments had been distributed last Wednesday and that all delegations were thus acquainted with them. That said, Cuba would be willing to allow more time.
The Chair said that, if it would help, and if there were no objections, the meeting would be suspended for five minutes.
Upon the resumption of the meeting, the Chair said that a recorded vote had been requested on the draft as orally revised.
The representative of the United States said his country opposed the resolution and had requested the vote. It understood “right to development” to mean that each individual should enjoy the right to develop his or her intellectual or other capabilities to the maximum extent possible through the exercise of the full range of civil and political rights. The draft contained several initiatives that had been found objectionable in the past, such as asking the Task Force and working group to consider a legally binding instrument on the right to development. The United States would continue its long-standing commitment to international development and help nations achieve sustainable economic growth, but it did not believe the draft would help advance such goals.
The representative of Finland, on behalf of the European Union, thanked the Chair for its flexibility and indulgence. The European Union was firmly committed to the right to development and believed that the issue should be addressed with as broad a consensus as possible. It had taken a constructive approach and made a number of proposals on the draft; indeed, negotiations had continued “until this very moment”. But regretfully no agreement could be found with the main sponsor on the issue of the mandate of the working group on the right to development; the European Union would have liked full quotes, but that had not been acceptable to the other side.
The right to development was inextricably linked to other rights and it was the primary responsibility of Governments to implement those rights. A legally binding international instrument was not an option; it would be wise to look at other options that would favour international cooperation in development. The European Union had voted in favour of drafts on the right to development in the past, but it was with regret that it would vote against the draft on the table.
The draft was then adopted, as orally amended, by a vote 126 in favour to 51 against, with 1 abstention ( Bosnia and Herzegovina). (See annex I.)
The representative of Japan said his Government was firmly committed to development and had contributed greatly to that end. It was the primary obligation of the State to realize that right. Attempting to realize the right to development through a convention, as envisioned in operative paragraph 7, would only make it more difficult for States to discharge that obligation. International cooperation among States was important, but it was inappropriate to prescribe it as a legal obligation among States. For that reason, he had voted against the draft.
The representative of Canada said that his country viewed the right to development as an important bridge between civil, political, cultural and other rights. The working group had been successful at building consensus on difficult issues. He was very concerned that the draft undercut the spirit of international consensus that had been built upon recently. It drew language directly from the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, where only one group of States had been represented. A proposed legally binding instrument on the right to development was also of concern, as there was no international consensus on that. Existing practices should be strengthened rather than new obligations created. For that reason, he had voted against the draft.
The representative of Costa Rica said that he welcomed the adoption of the draft but deplored such a divisive pattern of voting. Operative paragraph 7(d) seemed significantly improved by the recent amendments. It was important to continue to make progress in elaborating a convention on the right to development. Through consensus, the best possible results could be achieved, so he had voted in favour of the draft. The current draft was not a mandate as such but rather an invitation for further consideration of elaborating such a convention.
The representative of Cuba said that the resolution was a very significant one for the Non-Aligned Movement and it was important to reaffirm its elements. The Non-Aligned Movement had worked for the broadest support and had held many consultations, but commitment to the right to development was not shared by all delegations. He hoped that in the future a clear commitment would be made by all countries, particularly developed countries, to support that important right within the family of human rights. There had not been the same degree of commitment during the present session among partners to achieving that right. He hoped for different voting results in the future. That should not discourage the Non-Aligned Movement, which was doing the most to support the right to development.
After discussion of several procedural matters, the representative of Cuba then took the floor to clarify that his vote last Wednesday on the situation of indigenous people and immigrants in Canada (document A/C.3/61/L.43) did not reflect a position on substantive matters since country-specific resolutions were not the best way forward. His vote in favour of that resolution was in keeping with the systematic support given by Canada for successive resolutions against Cuba. He repeated his country’s resolve to cooperate within the framework of dialogue and called for end to country-specific resolutions.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said his country categorically rejected anti-DPRK resolutions that had been forcibly adopted. Its firm and unchanged principled position was that it would never accept the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Such resolutions served the purpose of a hostile United States policy that had nothing to do with human rights. This year again, the Third Committee had seen the adoption of country-specific resolutions that mainly targeted developing countries. If anyone expected the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to change as a result of such country-specific resolutions, it would be a miscalculation. The delegation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea asked that its statement be reflected in the official record of the meeting.
The Chair said that it was not the time to make statements on resolutions that had been adopted. He expressed thanks for cooperation.
The Committee then took action on the draft on the working group of the Commission of 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). The representative of Peru, the main sponsor, said the revised text had been geared to addressing matters of significant concern for many delegations, namely the principle of self-determination of peoples and respect for the territorial integrity of States. It had also been thought worthwhile to add a reference to good faith in international obligations. The objective of the Declaration, paving the ground for a sound relationship between indigenous peoples and States, would be very clear. The situation of indigenous peoples worldwide was not uniform; therefore the Declaration would apply in light of the specific situation of indigenous peoples in different countries. It was hoped that the revisions would enable adoption hopefully by consensus.
Taking action on proposed amendments to the draft (document A/C.3/61/L.57/Rev.1), the representative of Namibia said the African Group welcomed the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Notwithstanding that, some provisions in the draft declaration contradicted the national constitutions of a number of African countries. The Group therefore asked for a deferment of the draft declaration to allow for more consultations with a view to achieving consensus before the end of the current sixty-first session of the General Assembly. That was a fair and responsible request. It was of critical importance to Member States that such an important Declaration enjoyed the widest possible consensus.
The representative of Peru said that he wished to request a recorded vote on L.57/Rev.1. Namibia’s amendments ran counter to the central spirit of proposals in L.l8/Rev.1, which was the adoption here and now of the Declaration. He was far from happy to request a vote. The situation was unexpected because, at the Human Rights Council in June, the African States had stated that they concurred with the Declaration, gave it their full support and called for States to withdraw reservations. Proposals by the African Group were contained in the revised version of L.18.
It was not a perfect text, he said. No text could account for the diverse situations of indigenous peoples, but indigenous peoples had actively participated in drafting it. He could not support an initiative that did not provide for their continued participation in consultations, such as envisioned in L.57/Rev.1. States might have concerns, but they could have them without postponing debate or standing in the way of consensus. There was no justification for a further deferral after 24 years of work. A no-action motion, which L.57/Rev.1 essentially was, made no sense. He would vote against it and called on other States to do the same.
The representative of Namibia thanked the representative of Peru for his statement and for the cooperative spirit of consultations between Peru and the African States; however, he wished to note that the revisions applied only to the draft resolution, not to the Declaration itself. He found it difficult to agree to adopt a declaration that contradicted his own country’s constitution and which Namibia would not be able to honour. He added that Peru’s quote of Algeria at the Human Rights Council left out the fact that when the matter came to a vote, 10 out of the 14 African Member States on the Human Rights Council had abstained. If that did not send a message, then Peru was engaging in a dialogue of the deaf. He appealed for a deferral of L.18/Rev.1 so that an instrument all were fully committed to implementing could be adopted.
The representative of Egypt said that what was being discussed was why the Human Rights Council should push such an important declaration to a vote. The matter should have been left on the Human Rights Council’s agenda until next year, or discussed by the General Assembly, among the widest possible membership. There should be no exclusivity in discussing issues of indigenous peoples. The General Assembly had the full right to look into any declaration before it.
The Human Rights Council had exceeded its limit by proposing a draft resolution to the General Assembly, he said. He had never before seen at the United Nations a situation where a subsidiary organ proposed that a higher organ adopt a text voted on by a subsidiary organ and then commend the subsidiary organ for doing so. Some kind of evaluation should have been done in the Human Rights Council. It should not have voted on the Declaration and put the Assembly in such a difficult situation. The remedy was to have time to discuss the Declaration and finish discussions before the end of the current session of the General Assembly.
The representative of Mexico said it seemed strange to ask for more time, as 24 years’ worth of negotiations had taken place. What really had been delayed was the paying of due attention to the rights of indigenous peoples. There was a wide array of international instruments that touched upon the interest of indigenous peoples; such expressions of commitment, made over decades, had to be put into specific action. Deferral would not overcome gaps that had existed over the last 24 years; negotiations had concluded and the time had come to adopt the Declaration. Mexico would not be supporting the proposed amendments; if such a no-action motion were to be adopted, it would jeopardise the viability of the Declaration and send a signal of inability to act on the issue.
The representative of Guatemala supported the comments made by his counterparts from Peru and Mexico and commended the work their delegations had undertaken. All delegations truly concerned about the rights of indigenous peoples should vote against the proposed amendments that undermined the efforts that had been made over the years. Deferral would plunge the Declaration into an open-ended process unlikely to produce positive results.
The Chair said that a recorded vote had been requested on the proposed amendments.
Explaining how his delegation would vote, the representative of Bolivianoted that a large proportion of his country’s population consisted of indigenous peoples. The main draft resolution was a step in the right direction in recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples. The representative recalled the experience of the March for Life movement in his country as an example of indigenous peoples campaigning for their rights. The mere acknowledgement of indigenous peoples was not enough. Under the current Government, indigenous peoples had received proper attention from the State, including in matters regarding land ownership. Bolivia had also been seeking to implement the International Labour Organization convention recognizing indigenous-held land.
The representative of Finland, on behalf of the European Union, said that the Declaration was the best achievable outcome of a long process of work, in which Governments and indigenous peoples had participated on an equal footing. He fully supported adopting the Declaration without delay. Voting for the amendment proposed by Namibia would lead to a groundless delay. He would vote against it and urged others to do the same.
The representative of Fiji said that Namibia’s amendment attempted to address particular concerns not addressed in draft resolution L.18. The Declaration was essential for the survival and well-being of indigenous peoples. Any move to delay its adoption would prolong the suffering of peoples, jeopardize work already undertaken and delay the achievement of a final document. The Declaration had been endorsed by the Human Rights Council; any attempt to delay action undermined the Council’s credibility. Any vote for the amendment was a vote for a no-action motion. Indigenous people had suffered long enough. The time to make a difference was now or never. He would vote against the amendment proposed by Namibia.
The representative of New Zealand said that she supported the call at the Human Rights Council in June to reflect further, so she supported the call for further consultations. The text of the Declaration was fundamentally flawed and was the product of an unsatisfactory process. The text was only placed open for discussion four years ago. New Zealand was one of the few countries to address indigenous issues. It wanted a declaration that could be held up as a standard for action of all States. In the face of such widespread reservations, adopting the Declaration now was problematic. Voting for Namibia’s amendment held out the hope for reaching consensus, which would make a real difference.
The representative of Chile said that he would vote against Namibia’s amendment, as a way to show solidarity with his country’s indigenous people, with the Latin American community and with all those in the room, including civil society, who saw the Declaration as a mechanism for progress for 300 million human beings. The main legal reason to vote against the amendment was that the process it would open would marginalize indigenous peoples, who had been involved in drafting the Declaration. That political heritage could not be sidelined. The Declaration was far from perfect, but international law provided mechanisms to safeguard national positions and allow each Member State to interpret the scope of the instrument.
The representative of Turkey said that he regretted it had not been possible to reach consensus on the text at the Human Rights Council, due particularly to the concerns of States with large indigenous populations. Concerns not addressed included a lack of a definition of “indigenous” and self-determination provisions that had been misconstrued as giving the unilateral right to secession, which would destabilize the States concerned. Those issues should have been given more consideration, so he supported deferring action on the Declaration. For that reason, he would vote for the amendment.
The representative of Australia said that she supported the Declaration but had serious substantive concerns about its current form. States had not had the opportunity to respond to the current text before the Human Rights Council adopted it. A declaration with universal support was desired; for that reason, she would vote for deferral of considering the Declaration.
The representative of Canada said that he supported Namibia’s proposed amendments. Further consultations were needed. The concerns of Member States should be addressed before the Declaration was adopted. He would vote for the amendment proposed by Namibia.
The representative of the Russian Federation said his country had taken an active part in drawing up the Declaration. It believed that its adoption by consensus would be an important step forward. It would vote in favour of the proposed amendments from the African Group, as it would allow consensus to be achieved.
Colombia ’s representative said that his country would support the proposed amendments, as there needed to be consensus among the Member States. Only in that way could the full scope of the Declaration be ensured. The national Constitution of Colombia had been recognized as one of the most advanced in the world and the country’s commitment to indigenous peoples remained unwavering. Progress therefore had to be made through consensus.
The representative of Norway said his country supported the Declaration and the spirit of compromise that had been shown by the main resolution’s main sponsor. It therefore intended to vote against the proposed amendments.
The proposed amendments were then adopted by a vote of 82 in favour to
67 against, with 25 abstentions. (See annex II.)
Explaining his delegation’s vote in favour of the amendments, the representative of Indonesia said it valued the opportunity for further consultations with a strict time frame. Each and every Member State should have equal rights to participate in the decision-making process. The draft declaration had been decided by 47 Member States at the Human Rights Council; it was only through the General Assembly that the Declaration could finally be adopted with wide acceptance and legitimacy.
Jamaica ’s representative said that the Declaration was of extreme importance, in that it addressed injustices long experienced by indigenous peoples. However, some parts of it were problematic for her country. There was no clear definition of the term “indigenous peoples”, leaving open the possibility that any minority group could assert its rights, and the extension of the right of self-determination could have serious implications vis-à-vis the territorial integrity of States. Allowing more time for discussion would bring everyone to a more acceptable outcome.
The representative of Ukraine said that his country had abstained, as it had at the Human Rights Council, out of concern that a decision would undermine the work of the Council.
The representative of Canada said it was important that future consultations on the draft declaration include the participation of indigenous peoples. It also had to be a time-limited process, with an outcome by the end of the sixty-first session.
The representative of Guyana said that he had voted in favour of the amendment, which was a reasonable request on such an important matter. The Declaration had given rise to legitimate concerns. Questions of self-determination were among those items that deserved further clarification.
Benin ’s representative said that he had voted for the amendment because it was a procedural issue to allow all delegations to achieve a document that would gain in terms of legitimacy. What was most important was to achieve a framework for work on the document to accomplish its adoption as soon as possible.
The representative of Botswana thanked those delegations that had voted for Namibia’s amendments, which were made in good faith. Botswana was not hostile to the Declaration since the country was made up of indigenous people, who could not be against themselves. If a shoe did not fit, only the person wearing the shoe would feel the pain. He was grateful for the goodwill and accommodation displayed.
Myanmar ’s representative said that there were more than 100 races in his country. There were no early-comers and no latecomers. All had been living together and all were indigenous. No other claim or interpretation could be accepted. Myanmar had always supported the self-determination of people under colonial rule and accepted the right of all peoples under colonial domination to exercise that right. It could not accept any other interpretation of that right. Those living in a sovereign State were strictly governed by laws in country.
The representative of Kuwait said that, while the Declaration was
non-compulsory, it would become part of customary law. The lack of a definition of “indigenous” thus created a problem, as did questions of implementation. For that reason, he had voted in favour of the amendment.
Kenya ’s representative said he had voted for the amendment because he opposed the Declaration. He could not support what was not defined, i.e., “indigenous”. Self-determination only applied to those under colonial rule. Any group could claim self-determination. Property rights were already defined in Kenya’s Constitution. The Declaration contained contradictions.
The representative of Cameroon said that indigenous people had suffered considerably, and their suffering continued. Since it would become part of legal nomenclature, the Declaration would restore their dignity and contribute to their development. He hoped that the Declaration would enjoy the broadest support and be adopted by consensus. Unfortunately, no consensus had been reached yet, so he had voted for the amendment, which simply provided further time to account for reservations and would allow the Member States to speak with one voice.
Congo ’s representative said he had voted in favour of the amendment. With time a consensus could be reached, thereby giving the Declaration greater legitimacy. It was important, however, for deadlines to be established and respected.
The representative of Rwanda said that he had supported the amendment. The concept of self-determination and social, political and economic mechanisms was counter to the concept of integrating indigenous peoples into societies. The Declaration established divisive policies and set a bad precedent. It isolated groups and incited them to establish their own institutions alongside central existing ones. That would weaken States as a whole and hinder their recovery processes. For that reason, he had supported the amendment.
Colombia ’s representative said his country understood that the decision that had been taken was an opportunity for Member States to reach a consensus. As a multicultural and ethnic community, Colombia had national policies regarding its indigenous peoples, including their participating in the political process. Any declaration must take into account the opinions of indigenous communities; it was hoped that the forthcoming consultations would ensure their participation.
The Chair then called for a vote on the draft resolution (A/C.3/61/L.18/Rev. 1) as amended.
The representative of Peru said that, until a few minutes ago, a number of delegations had approached him, including some co-sponsors, asking whether there could be a three minute recess for a quick meeting that would facilitate the process of adopting the draft at hand.
The Chair responded by saying that he could not allow such time. He then asked if any delegations wished to withdraw co-sponsorship of the draft as amended.
Raising a point of order, the representative of Peru said that, given that no recess had been granted, and that the Chair had asked if there were any more co-sponsors, his delegation was withdrawing its co-sponsorship. He then asked the Chair to ask the Committee if any other countries wanted to withdraw as well.
The Chair pointed out that that was what he had just done.
The following delegations then withdrew their co-sponsorship of the draft resolution as amended and orally corrected: Hungary, Guatemala, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Bolivia, Moldova, Germany, Mexico, Belgium, Slovenia, France, Malta, Finland, Fiji, Estonia, Portugal, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Peru, Paraguay, Panama, Liechtenstein, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Dominica, Latvia, Denmark, Austria, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Switzerland, Honduras, Cyprus, Cuba, Croatia, Costa Rica, Albania, Spain, the Congo, Haiti, Cameroon and Armenia.
The following delegations then presented themselves as co-sponsors: Gambia, Gabon, Togo, Nigeria, Namibia, Botswana, Tanzania, Malawi, Madagascar, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Angola, Guinea, Djibouti, Lesotho, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Morocco, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, the Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Libya, Tunisia and Mauritania.
Explaining how his delegation would vote, the representative of Peru said that the draft resolution, as amended, was severely restricted and his country was unable to support it. It provided for a consultative mechanism that did not ensure the participation of indigenous peoples. Peru and other co-sponsors had never been against dialogue, but Peru could not support a draft resolution that, at a late stage, provided for consultations only between States. Peru would abstain and invited other co-sponsors to do so as well.
The Chair asked if Peru was asking for a vote. Its representative replied that yes, his delegation would be grateful for a recorded vote.
In an explanation prior to the vote, the representative of Chile said that in no way could a consultative process be supported that would not provide for the participation of indigenous peoples. His delegation would abstain.
The representative of Ecuador deplored the fact that the Declaration had not been adopted in the Third Committee. Her delegation would abstain in solidarity with other former co-sponsors. So long as the participation of indigenous peoples was not guaranteed in the consultative process, her country would not support the draft as amended.
The representative of Guatemala announced the intention to abstain. A different outcome would have been preferable, but it could not support the resolution as amended.
The representative of Bolivia, with regret, said his delegation would abstain from voting on the draft as amended, as it marginalized the key beneficiaries of the Declaration, namely indigenous peoples.
The representative of Uruguay said that she regretted that L.18 had been amended. She supported the Declaration and found it impossible to vote for the new amended text, which lacked clarity as to the form of final consultations. She also had misgivings on the new operative paragraph 3 and whether it would result in the adoption of the Declaration before the end of the current Assembly session. For that reason, she would abstain.
The representative of Namibia thanked delegations that had supported the amendment. The upcoming consultative process was not necessarily defined in the resolution. He was open to consultations with all interested parties and had asked for the additional time to consider the Declaration so that all interested parties could be consulted. That was the essence of the resolution, not to cut consultations short.
The representative of Nicaragua said that, given that there was no provision for the participation of indigenous peoples in the upcoming consultations, he would abstain on the vote.
The Committee then approved the draft, as amended and orally corrected, by a vote of 83 in favour to none against, with 91 abstentions. (See annex III.)
The representative of the Philippines said her country was committed to the rights of indigenous peoples. She was prepared to support the text, subject to the understanding of the right to self-determination, which would not lead to actions that impaired the territorial integrity of independent States with Governments that represented the people of the territory. Support of the Declaration was premised on the understanding that land and resource ownership was governed by the State. She had abstained because she would have preferred immediate consideration of the Declaration.
The representative of Finland, on behalf of the European Union, said that he could not support the resolution as amended. Despite the agreement reached by the Human Rights Council and the continued efforts of the Third Committee, it had not been possible to find common ground. He fully supported the Declaration and welcomed its adoption at the Human Rights Council. It was the best achievable outcome of a thorough process of work. The current amendments disregarded that and paved the way for a further delay in establishing the Declaration, which would be a positive addition to the United Nations toolbox. For that reason, he had abstained.
The representative of Japan said that he supported the early adoption of the Declaration and regretted the delay. He had been concerned by the procedure in approving the Declaration, but L.57 corrected that procedure and might lead to consensus later on. For that reason, he had abstained. Japan was ready to actively participate in consultations to achieve broad consensus by the deadline.
The representative of Mexico said she lamented that it had not been possible to adopt the Declaration. She had abstained on the amended draft because she was unable to support a decision that would result in the adoption of the Declaration without providing for the participation of indigenous peoples. The negotiating process was unclear; no mechanisms were provided for in the draft just adopted and that was not acceptable. She understood the new operative paragraph 3 to imply that the General Assembly was obliged to adopt the Declaration before the next session began. She hoped that Member States would not use any further time-saving techniques to stand in the way of the Declaration’s adoption.
The representative of Iraq had voted in favour of the amended draft. The Declaration was the fruit of long efforts. He had reservations about article 4 of the Declaration, article 26 on land ownership and also about the right to exploit subsoil resources when that violated the rights of the State.
The representative of Venezuela said the issue of the rights of indigenous peoples was too important to be reduced to a simple matter of land ownership; it was a matter of collective rights and of compelling States to adopt structures responding to the needs of indigenous peoples. In his country, there had been an ongoing process to enhance the visibility of indigenous communities. On 12 October a day of indigenous resistance had been celebrated, promoting the recognition of the prior existence of indigenous peoples. Venezuela had supported the draft resolution, feeling that it would have a positive impact and help other countries make progress regarding their indigenous populations.
The representative of Cuba reasserted his country’s commitment to the rights of indigenous peoples. It had participated actively in the drafting of the Declaration and it was prepared to continue to do so in the forthcoming consultation, in order for the Declaration to be adopted as soon as possible. It was certain that brother countries would take into account the views of indigenous peoples, as had been the case thus far.
The representative of Brazil, explaining her country’s abstention, regretted that the Committee had not adopted the Declaration as recommended by the Human Rights Council. Brazil supported the Declaration as a reaffirmation by the international community of the rights of all indigenous peoples.
During its meeting today, the Committee took note of reports of the Secretary-General on the right to development (document A/61/211), human rights and unilateral coercive measures (document A/61/287), the question of enforced or involuntary disappearances (document A/61/289), combating defamation of religions (document A/61/325), the activities of the United Nations Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South-West Asia and the Arab Region (document A/61/348), missing persons (document A/61/476), the situation of human rights in Turkmenistan (document A/61/489), the situation of human rights in Uzbekistan (document A/61/526), the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture (document A/61/226), the status of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (document A/61/279), and the status of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Optional Protocols to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (document A/61/354).
The Committee also took note of notes by the Secretary-General transmitting reports on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (document A/61/267), human rights defenders (document A/61/312), the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health (document A/61/338), elimination of all forms of religious intolerance (document A/61/340), civil and political rights, including the questions of independence of the judiciary, administration of justice, impunity (document A/61/384), effects of economic reform policies and foreign debt on the full enjoyment of all human rights (document A/61/464), human rights and extreme poverty (document A/61/465), protection of and assistance to internally displaced persons (A/61/276), the situation of human rights in Burundi (document A/61/360), the report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation and the activities of her office, including technical cooperation, in Nepal (document A/61/374), the situation of human rights in Myanmar (document A/61/369/Corr.1), the situation of human rights in the Sudan (A/61/469), the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 (documents A/61/470 and A/61/470/Corr.1), torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (document A/61/259), and effective implementation of international instruments on human rights, including reporting obligations under international instruments on human rights (document A/61/385).
The Committee also took note of a note by the Secretariat transmitting the progress report by the independent expert on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (document A/61/475), the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (document A/61/36), and the report of the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (document A/61/48). It also took note of a 22 November letter from the General Assembly President noting that agenda item 67(b) would be taken up by the plenary.
The Chair announced that simultaneous interpretation would be stopping and asked the Committee to conclude its proceedings in English.
Raising a point of order, beginning in Spanish and continuing in English, the representative of Cuba said that, without interpretation, the meeting could no longer be considered as official.
The Secretary explained that the status of a meeting was not determined by the provision of interpretation services. It would be up to the Committee to decide if it wished to continue in English only, or to reconvene at a later date, with the next opportunities being Thursday morning or Friday afternoon.
The Chair, hearing no objections, adjourned the meeting to Thursday, 30 November.
Vote on Right to Development
The draft resolution on the right to development (document A/C.3/61/L.34) was approved by a recorded vote of 126 in favour to 51 against, with 1 abstention, as follows:
In favour: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, the Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, the Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Against: Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Marshall Islands, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States.
Abstain: Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Absent: Bahamas, Burundi, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, Kiribati, Micronesia (Federated States of), Palau, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Somalia, Tuvalu.
Vote on Amendments to draft on Indigenous Declaration
The amendments to the draft resolution on the Declaration on Indigenous Peoples (document A/C.3/61/L.57/Rev.1) were approved by a recorded vote of 82 in favour to 67 against, with 25 abstentions, as follows:
In favour: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Australia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Belarus, Benin, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Colombia, Comoros, the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Indonesia, Iraq, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Micronesia (Federated States of), Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, the Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Against: Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Nauru, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, United Kingdom, Uruguay.
Abstain: Antigua and Barbuda, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bhutan, China, Georgia, India, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, United States, Vanuatu, Venezuela.
Absent: Belize, Cambodia, Chad, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Somalia, Tajikistan, Tuvalu, Viet Nam.
Vote on Amended Draft on Indigenous People
The draft resolution, as amended, on the draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (document A/C.3/61/L.18/Rev.1) was approved by a recorded vote of 83 in favour to none against, with 91 abstentions, as follows:
In favour: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Colombia, Comoros, the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Indonesia, Iraq, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Micronesia (Federated States of), Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, the Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Abstain: Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Vanuatu.
Absent: Belize, Cambodia, Chad, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Maldives, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Somalia, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu.
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