Girl Child, Eliminating Racism, Protecting Human Rights while Countering Terrorism Among Issues, as Third Committee Approves Five More Texts, Concludes Session
Alarmed at the increase in racist violence and xenophobic ideas in many parts of the world, the General Assembly would express unequivocal condemnation of all forms of racism and racial discrimination by one of five draft resolutions approved today as the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) concluded its work for the current session.
(PressZoom) - Alarmed at the increase in racist violence and xenophobic ideas in many parts of the world, the General Assembly would express unequivocal condemnation of all forms of racism and racial discrimination by one of five draft resolutions approved today as the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) concluded its work for the current session.
The five-part 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, was one of three passed by recorded vote.Â Together with two other drafts approved without a vote -- which addressed the situation of the girl child and proclaimed the International Year for People of African Descent for 2011 -- they brought the total number of texts the Committee is forwarding to the General Assembly for adoption during the sixty-fourth session to more than 60.
With 122 votes in favour to 13 against and 45 abstentions, the text on eliminating racism and following up on the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action would have the Assembly reaffirm its role as the highest intergovernmental mechanism for formulating and appraising policy related to the economic, social and related fields.Â It would also reaffirm that, together with the Human Rights Council, it shall constitute an intergovernmental process for implementing the outcome of the World Summit in Durban in 2001.Â (For further details of the vote, see Annex I).
By other provisions, the Assembly would decide that the implementation of the Durban Review Conference’s outcome shall be undertaken in the same framework and by the same mechanisms as the outcome of the World Conference.Â It would also call on States to take all necessary measures to combat incitement to violence, including through the misuse of various media and communications technologies and to promote the use of those technologies in the fight against racism.
Following the text’s approval, the representative of Sweden, speaking on behalf of the European Union –- whose members did not support the draft either by voting against it or by abstaining -- stressed that racism could be fought even as other freedoms were upheld.Â To this end, the Union would have liked to see stronger language on the potential of freedom of expression to aid the fight against racism and intolerance.
Noting that the text’s main co-sponsors had cancelled consultations planned for yesterday, she also expressed doubt that some of the “major players” were interested in keeping the relations related to the Durban process on a consensus basis.Â Indeed, the Union felt it had not been included in any good-faith and transparent efforts in this regard and, given its desire for a consensus text, it deplored the way this important issue had been handled.
Of the two other texts requiring recorded votes today, the draft resolution on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism proved divisive as presented.Â Although it eventually passed with 181 votes in favour to none against, with the abstention only of St. Kitts and Nevis, its approval was secured only after two amendments proposed by the African Group were made. (Annex IV).
The amendments, approved by recorded votes of 77 in favour to 73 against, with 23 abstentions on the first amendment, and 81 in favour to 73 against, with 20 abstentions on the second, revised references in the text to the work and report of the Special Rapporteur, both of which had proved controversial throughout the Committee’s session (See Annexes II and III).
Introducing the amendments on behalf of the African Group, the representative of Zambia said the Special Rapporteur’s report reflected an attempt to introduce notions of sexual orientation and gender identity that had no foundation in international human rights law.Â In so doing, it marginalized relevant issues in the context of counter-terrorism and redefined notions around gender, thereby re-classifying women and men.Â Moreover, the Special Rapporteur had engaged in activities that fell beyond the scope of his mandate, which would, if left unchecked, undermine the credibility of the special procedures system.
In contrast, several delegations pointed out that the resolution used neutral language and did not refer to the controversial aspects the African Group found alarming.Â Several of them particularly underlined the need for and value added by the principle of independence in the special procedures system.
Speaking on behalf of the text’s co-sponsors, the representative of Mexico said the strong preference of the group would have been to include a neutral reference to the report.Â Nevertheless, they stood by the resolution as a whole. The group of co-sponsors did not understand the text as a motion of censorship, and was still persuaded that the work of the Rapporteur continued to be a powerful way to advance a constructive human rights agenda.Â
Debate before and after the approval of the draft text on human rights and cultural diversity -- which passed by a vote of 122 in favour to 50 against, with 4 abstentions (Armenia, Fiji, Japan and Timor-Leste) -- centred on the European Union’s proposal during earlier consultations to insert a paragraph reaffirming the prescription of the UNESCO Declaration on Cultural Diversity that “no one may invoke cultural diversity to infringe upon human rights guaranteed by international law, nor limit their scope.”
Expressing regret that this proposal had not been accepted, Canada’s representative strongly defended the idea that cultural diversity and the universal promotion and protection of human rights were mutually supportive, while emphasizing her delegation’s strong view that cultural diversity must not be invoked to infringe upon or limit the scope of universal human rights.Â Echoing this, the United States delegate voiced the additional concern that the term “cultural diversity” could be used to legitimize human rights abuses and stressed that human rights were universal.
The representative of Egypt, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, which had tabled the resolution, stressed that respect for cultural diversity contributed to the full respect of States’ obligations to the protection and promotion of human rights.Â He agreed that efforts to this end should not infringe on the full enjoyment of human rights or justify limitations on their scope.Â He noted, however, that the global community must treat them in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing and with the same emphasis.Â
By the terms of the draft resolution on the girl child, which the Committee approved by consensus, the Assembly would call on States to place enhanced emphasis on quality education for the girl child, including catch-up and literacy education for those who did not receive formal education.Â States would also be called on to recognize the equal right to education, which would entail making good quality primary education compulsory and freely available to all children. They would also be urged to improve the situation of girls faced with limited nutrition, water and sanitation facilities, basic health care and shelter, among other things.
The text on the International Year for People of African Descent would have the Assembly set 1 January 2011 as the beginning of that observation.Â Among the goals of that Year would be the strengthening of national actions, and regional and international cooperation for the benefit of people of African descent in relation to their full enjoyment of economic, cultural, social, civil and political rights, their participation and integration in all political, economic, social and cultural aspects of society.
Also today, the Committee approved its programme of work for the sixty-fifth session and took note of 16 reports related to its work on notes transmitting such reports.
In concluding remarks, the Committee Chairman Normans Penke of Latvia, quoted the English author Albert Pine, who said “What we do for ourselves dies with us.Â What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.”Â He paid tribute to the Committee for its ability to know not just how to vote, but also how to negotiate a distinct outcome.
The Committee’s Rapporteur also made closing remarks, while the delegations of the United Kingdom and Egypt respectively presented a look back on the session’s work in rhyme.
Speaking during consideration of the various draft texts were the representatives of Israel, Norway (also on behalf of Iceland), Argentina, New Zealand, Syria, Saint Lucia, Venzuela, Pakistan, Cuba and Benin.
The delegations of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cape Verde, United Kingdom, the Republic of Congo and Niger spoke on procedural matters.
The Third Committee met this morning to conclude its work for the sixty‑fourth session.Â Before it were 6 draft resolutions for action:Â the girl child (document A/C.3/64/L.20/Rev.1), under “rights of children”; 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.3/64/L.54/Rev.1) under “elimination of racism and related intolerance”; protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (document A/C.3/64/L.43/Rev.1), United Nations Decade for People of African Descent (document A/C.3/64/L.44/Rev.1) and human rights and cultural diversity (document A/C.3/64/L.49) under “human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the enjoyment of rights and freedoms”; and one resolution under “revitalization of the work of the General Assembly” (document A/C.3/64/L.64).
Action on draft resolutions
The Committee first turned to a text on the girl child (document A/C.3/64/L.20/Rev.1), introduced by the representative of Nambia, on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), who made some oral revisions to the text that were circulated in the room.
The draft would have the Assembly urge all States to sign and ratify or accede to International Labour Organization Conventions concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment, 1973 (Convention No. 138) and concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour, 1999 (Convention No. 182).Â It would urge Governments and the United Nations system to strengthen efforts with each other and with international organizations and private sector donors to achieve the goals of the World Education Forum, in particular that of eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005, which have not been fully met.Â It would urge Governments to implement the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative as a means of reaching that goal.
The text would also have the Assembly call on States to place enhanced emphasis on quality education for the girl child, including catch-up and literacy education for those who did not receive formal education.Â It would call on States to recognize the equal right to education, which would entail making good quality primary education compulsory and freely available to all children.Â
By further provisions, the Assembly would urge States to improve the situation of girls deprived of nutrition, water and sanitation facilities, and with limited or no access to basic health care services, shelter, education, participation and protection.Â In doing so, States were urged to account for the fact that a lack of goods and services was most threatening and harmful to girls, leaving them unable to enjoy their rights, to reach their full potential and to participate as full members of society.
By other terms, the Assembly would urge States to ensure that the applicable requirements of the International Labour Organization for the employment of girls and boys were respected and effectively enforced and that girls who were employed had equal access to decent work and equal remuneration, and were protected from economic exploitation, discrimination, sexual harassment, violence and abuse in the workplace.Â States were also urged to ensure that girls were aware of their rights and had access to formal and non-formal education, skills development and vocational training, and further urge States to develop gender-sensitive measures, including national action plans where appropriate, to eliminate the worst forms of child labour, including commercial sexual exploitation, slavery-like practices, forced and bonded labour, trafficking and hazardous forms of child labour.
Further by the text, States would be urged, in cooperation with non-governmental organizations, to give priority to both formal and informal educational programmes that support and enable women to develop self-esteem, acquire knowledge, make decisions on and take responsibility for their own health, achieve mutual respect in matters concerning sexuality and fertility and educate men regarding the importance of women’s health and well-being.
Further provisions would have the Assembly call on States to address the factors that encourage early and forced marriage, by strengthening existing legislation.Â It would further call on States, with the support of international and non-governmental organizations, to generate social support for the enforcement of laws on the minimum legal age for marriage, in particular by providing educational opportunities for girls.Â States would be further urged to enact and enforce legislation to protect girls from all forms of violence and exploitation, including female infanticide and prenatal sex selection, female genital mutilation, rape, domestic violence, incest, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, child prostitution and child pornography, trafficking and forced migration, forced labour, early and forced marriage and marriages under legal age, and to develop age-appropriate safe and confidential programmes and medical, social and psychological support services to assist girls who are subjected to violence and discrimination.
It would have States deplore sexual exploitation and abuse of women and children, especially girls, in humanitarian crises, including those cases involving humanitarian workers and peacekeepers.Â It would also deplore all acts of sexual exploitation, abuse of and trafficking in women and children by military, police and civilian personnel involved in United Nations operations.Â It would welcome United Nations efforts to implement a zero-tolerance policy in this regard, and would request the Secretary-General and personnel-contributing countries to continue to take all appropriate action necessary to combat abuses by such personnel, including through the full implementation without delay of those measures adopted in the relevant General Assembly resolutions based on recommendations of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations.Â
The draft would have the Assembly request the Secretary-General, as Chairman of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination, to ensure that all United Nations entities, in particular the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the World Food Programme, the United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations Development Fund for Women, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Development Programme, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Labour Organization, to account for the rights and needs of girls in country programmes, in line with national priorities, including through the United Nations Development Assistance Framework.Â It would request human rights treaty bodies and human rights mechanisms of the Human Rights Council, including the special procedures, to report on violations of the human rights of women and girls.
The Assembly would, by other provisions, request States to ensure that programmes designed to provide comprehensive HIV/AIDS care give particular attention to girls at risk, infected with and affected by HIV, including pregnant girls and young and adolescent mothers, as part of global efforts to achieve universal access to comprehensive prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010.
The representative of Sweden, speaking also on behalf of Switzerland, said he was pleased to join consensus.Â As regards new additions in operative paragraph 19, the two countries understood that when defining “marriage under legal age”, States would do so in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The Committee adopted the resolution, as orally revised, without a vote.
After its approval, the representative of Chile said the draft constituted an advance in the rights of girl children.Â She awaited the Secretary-General’s report regarding early marriage and hoped that it would contribute to the implementation of Convention on child rights, which was celebrating its 20th anniversary.Â She endorsed what was said by the European Union, saying the phrase mentioned was intended to accommodate the needs of delegations with legislation on child marriage.
Following that action, and in line with General Assembly resolution 55/488, the Committee took note of the following documents under agenda item 65:
·Â Â Â Â Report of the Secretary-General on the girl child (document A/64/315)
·Â Â Â Â Note by the secretariat on the promotion and protection of the rights of children (document A/64/182-E/2009/110)
Under agenda item 66, the Committee also took note of the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedom of indigenous people (document A/64/338).
It then turned to a five-part draft text 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.3/64/L.54/Rev.1), which was introduced by the representative of Sudan, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
By Part I, on outcomes of the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance and the 2009 Durban Review Conference, the Assembly would reaffirm that it was the highest intergovernmental mechanism for formulating and appraising policy relating to the economic, social and related fields and that together with the Human Rights Council, it shall constitute an intergovernmental process for the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action.
It would, by further terms, call on all States that have not yet elaborated their national action plans on combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance to comply with their commitments undertaken at the World Conference.Â States would also be called on to formulate and implement, at the national, regional and international levels, policies and plans of action to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, including their gender-based manifestations.
The Assembly would further urge States to support the activities of existing regional bodies or centres that combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and recommend the establishment of such bodies in all regions where they do not exist.Â It would also call on those States that have not yet done so to consider signing and ratifying or acceding to the instruments enumerated in paragraph 78 of the Durban Programme of Action.Â It would decide that the implementation of the Durban Review Conference’s outcome shall be undertaken in the same framework and by the same mechanisms as the outcome of the World Conference.
By Part II, on general principles, the Assembly would express its profound concern about and its unequivocal condemnation of all forms of racism and racial discrimination, including related acts of racially motivated violence, xenophobia and intolerance, as well as propaganda activities and organizations that attempt to justify or promote racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in any form.
Among other provisions, it would also express deep concern at inadequate responses to emerging and resurgent forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance and urge States to adopt measures to address these scourges vigorously with a view to preventing their practice and protecting victims.Â It would stress that States and international organizations have a responsibility to ensure that measures against terrorism do not discriminate in purpose or effect on grounds of race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin.Â It would urge all States to review and, where necessary, revise their immigration laws, policies and practices to ensure they are free of racial discrimination and compatible with their obligations under international human rights instruments.
States would be called on, in accordance with their commitments under paragraph 147 of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, to take all necessary measures to combat incitement to violence, including through the misuse of various media and communications technologies and to promote the use of such technologies in the fight against racism, in conformity with international standards of freedom of expression and taking all necessary measures to guarantee that right.
By Part III, on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Assembly would express grave concern that universal ratification had not yet been reached, despite commitments under the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.Â It would call upon those States that have not yet done so to accede to the Convention as a matter of urgency and urge the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to regularly issue a list of countries that have not yet ratified the Convention and to encourage such countries to do so.
By Part IV, on the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and follow-up to his visits, the Assembly would reiterate its call to all Member States, intergovernmental organizations, relevant organizations of the United Nations system and non-governmental organizations to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur.Â It would also urge the High Commissioner to provide States, at their request, with advisory services and technical assistance to enable them to implement fully the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations.
By Part V, which is a general section, the Assembly would recommend that the meetings of the Human Rights Council focusing on the follow-up to the World Conference and the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action be scheduled in a manner that allows broad participation and that avoids overlap with the meetings devoted to the consideration of this item in the General Assembly.
The Committee Secretary, MONCEF KHANE, informed the Committee that, should it approve the draft resolution, there would be no requirement of additional provisions under the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011.
Making a statement in connection to the draft resolution, the representative of Israel said her delegation’s position on the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action and the Durban Review Conference was expressed yesterday.Â Accordingly, she called for a recorded vote on the text.
Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, the representative of the United States said his country was deeply committed to fighting racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance at home and abroad.Â Its founding commitment to the principle that all people were created equal was manifested in its own legislation and its work around the world.Â Among other things, the United States had, in October, presented an action plan during the meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee on the elaboration of complementary standards.
He said the United States had been unable to support the Durban Review Conference because it supported the 2001 World Conference, in toto.Â The United States was deeply concerned about hateful speech, but did not agree that the best way to combat such speech was by its prohibition.Â Rather, the United States believed an effective approach was based on three key elements, including robust legal protections against hate crimes, outreach to religious groups and vigorous defence of freedom of expression.Â It regretted having to vote “no” on this text and looked forward to working together with the international community.Â It remained deeply committed to ongoing, thoughtful dialogue on combating racism and racial discrimination.
Norway’s representative, speaking also on behalf of Iceland, said that the two countries were fully committed to fighting racism, racial discrimination and related intolerance.Â Last year, they had voted in favour of this resolution.Â It had also participated in the Durban Review Conference and had never questioned the need to fight racism.Â It had also co-sponsored yesterday’s resolution on this text.Â It had again engaged in negotiations on the current text and appreciated that some of its amendments had been accepted by the co-sponsor.Â It deeply regretted, however, that more negotiations were not held and hoped that, in future years, a wider discussion would be possible.Â For this reason, Iceland and Norway regretted that they would have to abstain on the draft text.
The representative of Sweden, speaking on behalf of the European Union, reiterated the Union’s full commitment to the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, which were in direct contrast to the principles on which the Union was founded.Â Throughout the European Union, the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance was aided by non-governmental organizations through a number of independent reporting and monitoring procedures, research and support for legal reforms.
Nevertheless, there was no room for self-righteousness, she said.Â The Union was well aware of the problems facing its region and was determined to fight them. The Union called for the universal ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and for all States to fully cooperate with that Convention’s Committee.Â It supported the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.Â As he had said, the Union supported anchoring the debate in the existing legal framework.Â The Union had participated in the World Conference in 2001.Â Since then, the Union had focused on fully implementing the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action.Â It had also participated in the preparations for the Durban Review Conference, and saw its outcome as the basis for future work in this Committee and all follow-up mechanisms.
She said the Union hoped that streamlining and making the work of these mechanisms more efficient would be of added value to Member States.Â Yet, the current operative paragraph 16 clearly went against the discussion on streamlining the Durban follow-up mechanisms.Â Regarding the Ad Hoc Committee on complementary standards, the Union was unconvinced of gaps and the need for new legal norms.Â If new norms were called for, they should arise from fact-based considerations and the recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The Union could not accept the positive references to the Working Group contained in the resolution.
Continuing, she stressed that racism could be fought while also upholding other freedoms, namely that of expression, and the Union would have liked to see stronger language on the potential of the freedom of expression to do so.Â Further, it would have preferred the text to provide more clarity on the project of commemoration for the tenth anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action and future budget implications of that event.Â The Union would like to be included in further planning for it.Â
She went on to say the Union was deeply disappointed by the decision of the Group of 77 to cancel consultations planned for Monday.Â Had negotiations continued, the Union believed a stronger draft text would have resulted.Â It doubted if some of the major players were interested in keeping the relations related to the Durban process on a consensus basis.Â Nor did the Union feel it had been included in any good-faith and transparent efforts in this regard.Â Since it wanted a consensual outcome to this process, and since it attached great importance to combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, the Union deplored the way this important issue had been handled in the Third Committee.Â Any attempt to combat racism must be on a consensual approach and, for all these reasons, the Union could not lend support to this draft resolution.
The Committee then approved the text by a vote of 122 in favour to 13 against, with 45 abstentions.Â (For further details of the vote, please see Annex I.)
Before closing the item, the Committee decided to take note of the following report:Â Report of the Secretary-General on global efforts for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of the follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (document A/64/309).
The Committee then prepared to take up the draft resolution on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (document A/C.3/64/L.43/Rev.1), which fell under item 69 (b).Â
The representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina raised a point of order in connection with item 69 (b), stating that his delegation had been absent from a vote on 12 November on the draft resolution regarding the promotion of equitable geographical distribution in the membership of the human rights treaty bodies (document A/C.3/64/L.48).Â Had they been present, they would have voted “no”.
The Committee turned in earnest to draft resolution A/C.3/64/L.43/Rev.1, which was introduced by the representative of Mexico.Â He made several oral amendments to the text, to add a new preambular paragraph 17, “Recalling also Human Rights Council resolution 6/28 of 14 December 2007, by which the Council decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism.”Â In operative paragraph 6(f), he proposed that the word “those” be replaced with “these”, to read “enjoyment of these rights”.Â He proposed to replace operative paragraph 6(j) with:Â “in so far as such an act runs contrary to obligations under international law, and not expose individuals to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment by way of return to another country.”Â He proposed to switch operative paragraphs 17 and 18 around, and in operative paragraph 17, to replace “policies” with “programmes,” and after “terrorism” to add “in accordance with relevant national legislation.”
That text would have the Assembly express serious concern at occurrences of human rights violations, and of international refugee and humanitarian law, committed in the context of countering terrorism.Â It would also reaffirm that counter-terrorism measures should not discriminate on grounds such as race, colour, sex, language, religion or social origin.Â It would also reaffirm States’ obligation, in accordance with article 4 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to respect certain rights as non-derogable in any circumstances.Â It would recall in regard to all other Covenant rights, that any measures derogating from the provisions of the Covenant must be in line with that article in all cases, while underlining the exceptional and temporary nature of any such derogations.
The draft would have the Assembly urge States, while countering terrorism, to:Â fully comply with their obligations under international law, in particular human rights, refugee and humanitarian law with regard to the absolute prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; ensure that persons deprived of liberty, regardless of the place of arrest or detention, benefit from the guarantees to which they are entitled; ensure that no form of deprivation of liberty placed a detainee outside the protection of the law; treat all prisoners in all places of detention in accordance with international law; respect the right of persons to be equal before the law, courts and tribunals and the right to a fair trial; and protect all human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights.
By further terms, States would ensure that guidelines and practices in all border control operations and other pre-entry mechanisms were clear and fully respected their obligations towards persons seeking international protection.Â If credible and relevant evidence came to light indicating that the person had committed criminal acts falling under the exclusion clauses under international refugee law, including terrorist acts, the Assembly would have States review the validity of an individual’s refugee status with full respect for non-refoulement obligations and other legal safeguards.Â States would refrain from returning persons to their countries of origin or to a third State where there were substantial grounds for believing that they might be subjected to torture, or where their life or freedom would be threatened on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion -- though bearing in mind that States might be obliged to prosecute individuals not returned.
The draft would call for States to ensure that:Â their laws criminalizing acts of terrorism were accessible, precise, non-discriminatory, non-retroactive and in accordance with international law; profiling based on stereotypes founded on grounds of discrimination including on racial, ethnic or religious grounds were not used; interrogation methods used were consistent with international obligations; that any person whose rights had been violated had access to effective remedy; that due process guarantees were ensured; and counter-terrorism measures were shaped and implemented in accordance with the principles of gender equality and non-discrimination.
Further, the Assembly would, by the draft, recognize the need to enhance the efficiency and transparency of the United Nations terrorism-related sanctions regime.Â In that connection, it would welcome the Security Council’s efforts to review individuals and entities in the regime.Â States would be urged toensure the rule of law and adequate human rights guarantees in their national procedures for the listing of individuals and entities with a view to combating terrorism.Â It would request the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism to contribute to the work of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, by raising awareness about the need to respect human rights and rule of law while countering terrorism.Â The Task Force would be further requested to continue ensuring that the United Nations better coordinate its support to Member States, while countering terrorism, to comply with their obligations under international human rights law, refugee law and humanitarian law.
At the same time, the resolution would urge relevant United Nations bodies and entities and international, regional and subregional organizations, including the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, to step up their efforts to provide, when requested, technical assistance for building Member States’ capacity to develop and implement policies to assist and support victims of terrorism.
The representative of Cape Verde announced that he would withdraw his co-sponsorship of the text.
The representative of Zambia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the group had followed consultations on the text closely.Â It had serious concerns regarding the report of the Special Rapporteur, as articulated on 26 October 2009.Â The report reflected an attempt to introduce notions of sexual orientation and gender identity that had no foundation in international human rights law.Â It was concerned by the Rapporteur’s departure from the code of conduct for special procedures, and by his interpretation of paragraphs in resolutions establishing his mandate, in which he had been asked to “integrate gender perspective in his mandate.”Â The Group was alarmed that his report had marginalized relevant issues in the context of counter-terrorism, and that it had redefined notions around gender, thereby re-classifying women and men.Â He had engaged in activities that fell beyond the scope of his mandate, which would undermine the credibility of the special procedure system, if unchecked.Â
She said the Group felt deep regret that he had disregarded articles 3, 6(a) and 6(b), 7, 8(c) and 8(d), and 13 of the code of conduct.Â It was disturbed that he had exceeded his mandate by propagating the Yogyakarta Principles in violation of article 12, which said that, given the public nature of their mandate, special mandate holders should not express their personal and political opinions in a way that would prejudice their mandate, which would undermine the independent nature of their mandate.Â
She said the Group noted, with appreciation, efforts by the co-sponsors to accommodate the concerns of the African Group at the last minute, to bridge the gap.Â But they had not taken into consideration its most serious concerns, and had insisted on retaining references to the report.Â In response, the Group had tried to table their amendments on Friday, but for various reasons, it had not been issued as L-documents.Â However, they were put on Quickplace and were currently being circulated.
The first set of amendments would have the Committee delete references in operative paragraph 12 to the report of the Special Rapporteur and replace it with a reference to the “previous work of the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism undertaken according to his mandate, based on the Commission on Human Rights resolution 2005/80 of 21 April 2005, and the Human Rights Council resolutions 5/1 and 5/2 of 18 June 2007, and 6/28 of 14 December 2007.”Â
The second set of amendments would have the Committee delete the phrase “to continue” in operative paragraph 19, so that the amended text would read: “Requests the Special Rapporteur to make recommendations within the context of his mandate, with regard to preventing, combating and redressing violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the context of countering terrorism.”
On the CHAIR’s invitation to respond, the representative of Mexico requested a separate vote on the amendments proposed by Zambia on behalf of the African Group.
The CHAIR said a vote had been requested on the separate amendments.
The SECRETARY said the Committee was called on to delete, in operative paragraph 12 in L.43/Rev.1, the words:Â “the report of the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism” and to insert at the end of the same paragraph the words:Â “the previous work of the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism undertaken according to his mandate, based on the Commission on Human Rights resolution 2005/80 of 21 April 2005, and the Human Rights Council resolutions 5/1 and 5/2 of 18 June 2007, and 6/28 of 14 December 2007.”
He said that delegations wishing to vote in favour of the amendments should vote “yes” by pressing the green button.Â Those wishing to vote against the amendment should vote “no” by pressing the red button.Â Those wishing to abstain should push the orange button.
Making a general statement in connection with the draft, the representative of Zambia said the African Group was disappointed with the report of the Special Rapporteur.Â It had followed his previous work and supported it, even when it did not agree with his recommendations.Â The African Group was concerned with his attempt to redefine gender.Â This clearly fell beyond the scope of his mandate. While it was appreciated that there was no agreed definition of gender, his work was a clear departure from the code of conduct of the special procedures mandate holders.Â This was in stark violation of article 12 of the code of conduct, which stressed that the personal opinions of the Special Rapporteur should not enter into his or her work, and should, thus, avoid undermining the recognition of the objective nature of his or her mandate.
She stressed that the African Group considered the system of special procedures to be the cornerstone of the objective approach to human rights that accompanied the founding of the Human Rights Council.Â For these reasons, the amendment had been introduced to ensure that the necessary focus on the mandate was not lost.Â The African Group hoped that the entire membership would support the amendments being introduced.
The representative of Argentina said that her delegation was traditionally a co-sponsor of the text in the belief that protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism was an important issue.Â Her delegation had followed closely the diverging opinions being expressed following the submission of the Special Rapporteur’s report.Â Argentina had subsequently worked to achieve a difficult balance between Member States, hoping that the result would be a sound text.Â It sought to find a balanced formula on the most controversial aspects of the document.Â Not all concerns had been addressed, however.Â Argentina considered the reports of the Special Rapporteur to be useful tools in discussing issues involved in countering terrorism.Â The Special Rapporteur’s report had been addressed and debated before the Committee.Â The current matter was an area where neutral language was needed.Â Argentina would vote for maintaining operative paragraph 12, which did not refer to the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur.Â She invited States that had traditionally supported the text to vote in favour of keeping the text as presented.
The representative of Mexico urged all co-sponsors and all delegations to consider voting against the amendments.Â He added that at no point had there been any effort to include the controversial aspects referred to by the African group. Rather, the most neutral language had been used.Â Mexico would vote against the proposed amendment and urged all other delegations to vote against it.Â
Sweden’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the European Union, echoed the representative of Mexico, who had noted that, despite multiple attempts to reach out a hand, no compromise with the African group could be reached on this text, which was very dear to many Member States.Â The Union recognized that there could be different opinions on the reports of the Special Rapporteurs.Â The debate this year had allowed all delegations to express their feelings and it had been quite frank.Â The Union had made its views on the independence of Special Rapporteurs clear at that time.Â As Mexico’s representative had indicated, the report’s language had been significantly weakened and the Union hoped that delegations would be able to present a defence of the text as it now stood.Â The Union would vote against the amendment.
The representative of New Zealand did not necessarily endorse the report of the Special Rapporteur.Â There were many texts taking note of reports.Â That was done to accommodate diverging opinions.Â The text put forward by the delegation of Mexico had used that formulation for that purpose.Â The Government of New Zealand supported the independence of the special procedure system, and the amendments being proposed by the African Group would set a poor precedent for dealing with such reports.Â For that reason she would vote “no” and encouraged other States to do the same.
Syria’s delegate said she would vote in favour of the amendments and against initial wording, because the Rapporteur distanced himself from the code of conduct prepared by the Human Rights Council and the mandate given him, in so much as the Rapporteur tried to interpret the text adopted by States by consensus, in line with his own concepts and interpretations that had nothing to do with international law and international instruments.Â That was why she refused that state of affairs.Â The interpretation had nothing to do with his mandate.Â For that reason, she would vote in favour.
The first amendment proposed by the African Group was approved by a vote of 77 in favour to 73 against, with 23 abstentions (Annex II).
The Committee then moved to take action on the second amendment proposed by the African Group.Â The representative of Zambia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, voiced appreciation for the support given by States for the first amendment. As she had stated before, the Group had been disappointed in the report of the Rapporteur, and so had proposed the second amendment to ensure that his recommendations “came in context of his mandate”.
Offering an explanation before the vote, the representative of Saint Lucia noted that the resolution had been traditionally adopted by consensus, unlike this year.Â When the report was presented on 26 October, the Government of Saint Lucia had expressed its opposition to the incorporation of the Rapporteur’s personal ideas about what gender perspective meant in the context of his mandate.Â He had exceeded his mandate, had unilaterally attempted to change universally accepted terminology, based his definition on premises that did not exist in international human rights law, and made undefined terms the focus of his work.Â Her Government had requested real guidance from the Rapporteur on counter-terrorism measures from a gender perspective, and reiterated that request.Â It was of the view that the Special Rapporteur’s failure to adhere to the subject matter, while discussing ideas outside the scope of his assigned mandate, had consequences for all States, as well as for men and women subject to gender discrimination.
In the context of their work at the Untied Nations, States tried to ensure that words used were understood and agreed upon by all, and varying perspectives were heard and incorporated in outcome documents.Â Accepting and taking note of the Rapporteur’s definition of gender without serious discussion about the meaning of the term would undermine States’ efforts.Â Her country believed in the importance of the resolution and the significance of the work of the Rapporteur, and was willing to recognize his past efforts.Â It awaited a true report on the protection of fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, within the context of his mandate.Â Saint Lucia would vote in favour of the amendment.
The second amendment proposed by the African Group was approved by a vote of 81 in favour to 73 against, with 20 abstentions (Annex III).
The representative of Republic of Congo said she had voted in favour of the first amendment but it appeared as an abstention, which was duly noted by the Secretary of the Committee.
In a general statement after the vote, the representative of Venezuela said that, as a co-sponsor, she would have liked for States to have taken note of the report.Â Although believing that not referring to the text would set a dangerous precedent, she had voted in favour of the amendments because her country did believe the Rapporteur had exceeded his mandate, which could not be ignored.Â But, she regretted that the discussion had eclipsed a substantive discussion on that agenda item.
The representative of Pakistan said the resolution was, needless to say, important, and all States seemed to agree on its thrust.Â But, the Rapporteur had violated his mandate.Â Because of his controversial report, the Committee had not been able to reach consensus and the African Group had had to propose its amendments, which he supported.Â In the future, he hoped that special mandate holders would respect intergovernmentally agreed mandates, so that the Committee would not have to come to such a point on such an important resolution.
The representative of United Kingdom announced that he would withdraw from the list of co-sponsors.
Before moving to a vote on the text as a whole, the representative of Zambia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, voiced appreciation for support given by States for its amendments.Â It was now satisfied with the text and would vote in favour of it.
Also before the vote, Mexico’s representative read a statement prepared on behalf of the co-sponsors, in which they expressed disappointment at the amendments made to the text, as voted for by the Committee.Â Their strong preferences had been to include a neutral reference to the report in the text.Â Nevertheless, they stood by the resolution as a whole, and would vote in favour of it.Â The issue was too important to call into question its support, which included valuable elements from previous consensus resolutions, as well as new developments.Â The co-sponsors did not understand the text as a motion of censorship, and was still persuaded that the work of the Rapporteur continued to be a powerful way to advance a constructive human rights agenda.Â With that understanding, he encouraged all States to vote in favour of the resolution as a whole.
The draft was approved by a vote of 181 in favour to none against, with 1 abstention (St Kitts and Nevis) (Annex IV).
Making a statement in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of Cuba said her delegation had voted for the amendments, considering that it was important to ensure adherence to the code of conduct of the special procedures in human rights.Â It had also voted for the text as a whole.Â Its vote in favour did not imply in any way acceptance in granting to the Security Council faculties and programmes not established in the United Nations Charter.
Making a general statement after the vote, the representative of Sweden, speaking on behalf of the European Union, deeply regretted that the Committee had been divided on a text that should have enjoyed consensus.Â It had voted for the text, but stressed that the text’s language did not correctly reflect the Union’s view on special procedures.Â Those special procedures had to have independence, especially since they had been created to promote vigorous debate among Member States to ensure the protection and promotion of human rights for all.Â It hoped that, in the future, the special procedures would continue to do so.
The representative of Mexico reaffirmed, despite the difference of opinion, the importance of the resolution in protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.Â He further affirmed his delegation’s commitment to the activities of the Human Rights Council.Â Mexico insisted on that Council’s impartiality to uphold human rights around the world and its commitment in this regard had been expressed during an earlier dialogue.
Next, the Committee turned to the draft resolution on the International Year for People of African Descent (document A/C.3/64/L.44/Rev.1), introduced by the representative of Colombia.
By that text, the Assembly would proclaim the year beginning on 1 January 2011, the International Year for People of African Descent, with a view to strengthening national actions, and regional and international cooperation for the benefit of people of African descent in relation to their full enjoyment of economic, cultural, social, civil and political rights, their participation and integration in all political, economic, social and cultural aspects of society, and the promotion of a greater knowledge of and respect for their diverse heritage and culture.
According to the draft, the Assembly would encourages Member States, the United Nations specialized agencies, within their respective mandates and existing resources, and civil society to make preparations for and identify possible initiatives that can contribute to the success of the Year.Â The Secretary-General would be requested to submit to the Assembly at its sixty-fifth session a report containing a draft programme of activities for the International Year, taking into account the views and recommendations of Member States, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent and other relevant United Nations agencies, funds and programmes.
Acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft text.
Making a statement after action, the representative of Sweden, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Union was pleased to join consensus despite its concern on the effectiveness of international years and decades.Â The Union considered that this initiative would contribute to the enjoyment of human rights by all persons of African descent and recognized its added value.Â The Union appreciated the response of the co-sponsors to take account of its concerns that the Year would address the rights of all persons of African descent and would also incur no programme budget implications.Â Given operative paragraphs 1 and 2, the Union anticipated that the draft programme of activities would conform to these principles.
The representative of Benin said his delegation had joined consensus without joy.Â It had been concerned since the resolution had been proposed that Black people would once again be seen through the prism of past history; among other things, slavery.Â The time had passed for Africa to be identified through that prism.Â It was the primary responsibility of national Governments to ensure the enjoyment of human rights by its citizens.Â But, the negotiations had allowed a consensus to be reached so that the resolution did make an appeal to the international community to aid efforts at the national level.
The Committee then turned to a draft resolution on human rights and cultural diversity (document A/C.3/64/L.49), upon which the Secretary, MONCEF KHANE, informed Members that the text’s adoption by the Assembly would entail no additional budget requirements.
The text was introduced by the representative of Cuba, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.Â By its terms, the Assembly would urge all actors on the international scene to build an international order based on inclusion, justice, equality and equity, 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.Â It would also urge States to ensure that their political and legal systems reflect the multicultural diversity within their societies and, where necessary, to improve democratic institutions so that they are more fully participatory and stress the necessity of freely using the media and new information and communications technologies to create the conditions for a renewed dialogue among cultures and civilizations.
In her introduction of the text, the representative of Cuba noted that a small group of States had boycotted the negotiation process, in an attempt to impose their view on others.Â She pointed out that the Committee’s work must reflect the positions of 192 countries, in all their inherent diversity.Â Today, she had intended to announce oral amendments to the draft resolution, emanating from negotiations.Â But, given the possibility that a vote that might be requested by that small group of countries, she had had no alternative but to return to the original language contained in document A/C.3/64/L.49 as tabled by the Non-Aligned Movement a few weeks ago.Â She regretted the inflexibility of the limited group of countries, which, in rejecting the proposals submitted by the Non-Aligned Movement, had caused it to re-table the original resolution.Â In the event that a vote was requested, she requested States of the Non-Aligned Movement, and all other States, to vote in favour.
The Secretary, Mr. KHANE, noted that it was unusual for the Assembly to “request” entities not under their jurisdiction to conduct various initiatives.Â With regard to operative paragraph 16, he suggested using the term “urges” or “invites” in connection with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The representative of Cuba said she did not have the capacity to decide alone on the insertion of the word “invites”; such a decision rested on the will of all 192 countries.Â As a country, Cuba had no difficulty with that proposal, but she asked that the Secretariat direct that question to the rest of the Committee as well.
Mr. KHANE made clear that he was not submitting a draft proposal, which, in the context of a formal meeting, was unorthodox practice.Â Again, he explained that the General Assembly could request things of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, but it was not customary for it to make requests of specialized agencies over which it had no direct jurisdiction.Â He suggested that the insertion of the word “urges” or “invites” appear after the words “High Commissioner and” and before mentioning UNESCO.Â It would amount to a slight technical adjustment.Â Should there be any difficulties with that suggestion, the Secretariat would not insist on it.
To make even clearer what those changes were, the representative of Cuba read out the entire text as proposed:Â “Requests the Office of the High Commissioner and invites the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to support initiatives aimed at promoting intercultural dialogue on human rights.”
After consulting with the Committee, the Chair, NORMANS PENKE (Â Latvia), said there would be no difficulty in making those changes to the text.
The representative of Sweden, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, as well as Canada, Australia and New Zealand, said that in light of comments from the representative of Cuba, it was even more pertinent that she read her statement.Â As stated during consultations, the Group attached great importance to the promotion of cultural diversity.Â UNESCO had already clarified that cultural diversity referred to the many ways in which the cultures of groups and societies found expression.Â According to relevant UNESCO instruments and declarations, cultural diversity could be protected only if human rights and freedoms such as freedom of expression, information and communication, and the ability of individuals to choose cultural expressions, were guaranteed.Â Media pluralism, freedom of assembly and association were essential for the expression of cultural diversity.Â While significant national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds must be borne in mind, States must promote and protect the human rights of all individuals regardless of their political, economic and social systems.Â Human rights, which were universal, should not be entangled in relativism.
She said that, with that in mind, the European Union had proposed to insert a paragraph reaffirming the fundamental guiding prescription set out in the UNESCO Declaration on cultural diversity:Â “no one may invoke cultural diversity to infringe upon human rights guaranteed by international law, nor limit their scope.”Â The European Union did not understand why that proposal could not be accommodated.Â It was concerned, as well, by the draft’s references to “universally accepted human rights”, which could imply that there might be rights that were not universal.Â She regretted that its drafting proposal, aimed at avoiding misinterpretations, had not been retained, which comprised agreed language in many resolutions, including resolutions of the Human Rights Council where the phrase “universally accepted human rights” had been withdrawn for the very reason she was articulating.
She expressed concern, as well, at paragraphs such as preambular paragraph 9, which referred to an event from two years ago held outside the United Nations framework and pertaining to only a group of States.Â The European Union was disappointed that none of its concerns had been taken on board by the main sponsors.Â It was not prepared to join consensus, and would call for a recorded vote, in which it would vote against the text.Â She would encourage everyone to press the red button.
The CHAIR said a recorded vote had been requested.
Making a general statement before action on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Egypt’s representative said respect for the political, economic and cultural diversity of peoples was among the guiding principles of the Movement, which had been reaffirmed by the declaration adopted at its 14th summit in Havana. The Movement was both cognizant of the inextricable nexus between development, peace and security and the promotion and protection of human rights, and aware that the present global scenario presented grave challenges in consolidating peace and security, economic development and human rights, among other things.Â New areas of concern and challenges were emerging and warranted the renewal of the international community’s commitment to the United Nations Charter and the principles of international law, in parallel to promoting respect of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
He said the Movement strongly believed in the importance of promoting tolerance, understanding and friendship among humans in all their diversity.Â It recognized that in each culture there was a dignity that demanded respect and preservation.Â All cultures formed parts of a common heritage belonging to all humankind.Â Respect for and observance of cultural diversity was, thus, essential to deepening democracy and peace at the national and international levels.
Continuing, he stressed that respect for cultural diversity contributed to the full respect of States’ obligations to the protection and promotion of human rights.Â Efforts to this end should not infringe on the full enjoyment of human rights or justify limitations on their scope that are not in accordance with international human rights law, based on the conviction that all human rights were universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated.Â The world community must treat them on an equal footing and with the same emphasis.Â While significant national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds must be borne in mind, it was the duty of all States, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, to promote all human rights.
The Non-Aligned Movement had, at its XV Summit in Sharm el Sheikh, reaffirmed the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of Diversity of Cultural Expressions by UNESCO.Â It had also called on United Nations Member States to consider becoming party to that Convention.Â The Non-Aligned Movement delegations had also been mandated to contribute to implementations of the Tehran Declaration and Programme of Action on Human Rights and Cultural Diversity, including by promoting an initiative on that topic in the Human Rights Council or the General Assembly.Â The current text came in fulfilment of that call.
He stressed that the Non-Aligned Movement had made every effort to accommodate the concerns of other delegations and deeply regretted that they could not appreciate that, and had insisted on language for a resolution on a different issue, with a different title, from a different context.Â He called on all States to vote in favour of the current resolution.
Canada’s representative said her country supported the protection and promotion of cultural rights, cultural diversity and th
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