General Assembly Adopts 59 Third Committee Draft Resolutions, Defers Action on 4 Closely Watched Texts, amid Discord over Agreed Language
Acting on the recommendations of its Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), the General Assembly adopted 59 resolutions and six decisions today on a range of issues, from women’s rights, terrorism and refugees, to self‑determination and the human rights situations in individual countries.
The Assembly deferred action, however, on some of the more closely‑watched questions, including a draft resolution on the human rights situation in Myanmar, which would have had it request the Secretary‑General to appoint a special envoy on Myanmar and to offer assistance to that Government.
Most of the resolutions adopted today were adopted by consensus and without discussion, whereas they in Committee were subjects of intensive debate, as was the case with a resolution on policies and programmes involving youth. By that text, the Assembly urged States to address gender stereotypes that perpetuated discrimination and violence against girls and young women, notably by encouraging men and boys to take responsibility for their behaviour.
The Assembly’s votes on other texts revealed enduring divisions between Member States, such as on four country‑specific resolutions taking up the rights situations in Syria, Iran, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The Assembly deferred action on a fifth such text on human rights in Myanmar to allow time for the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) to review its programme budget implications.
The Assembly adopted without a vote the resolution on the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, yet several countries took care to disassociate themselves with that outcome. Pyongyang’s representative called the text a product of the political and military confrontation, plot and conspiracy pursued by the United States and other hostile forces against his country. Calling for sincere dialogue and cooperation to resolve outstanding issues, he said his country would not call for a vote on the text, “which is not worth consideration”. Instead, he called on delegates to oppose the text’s adoption by disassociating from consensus.
As in the Committee, Sudan’s representative took issue with resolutions mentioning the International Criminal Court, proposing oral amendments to remove those references. The General Assembly, by subsequent recorded votes, overwhelmingly rejected all three attempts at deletion, retaining the references to the International Criminal Court in resolutions on torture and on assistance to internally displaced people.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Denmark, Norway, Mexico, Estonia, Iran, China, Syria, Russian Federation, Ukraine, Cuba, Venezuela and Indonesia.
Speaking in exercise of the right to reply were representatives of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Syria.
The General Assembly will reconvene at a date and time to be announced.
Action on Third Committee Draft Resolutions
ANDRÉS MOLINA LINARES (Guatemala), Rapporteur-designate of the Third Committee, introduced the following reports of that body: Social development (document A/72/431); Advancement of women (document A/71/432); Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions (document A/72/433); Report of the Human Rights Council (document A/72/434); Promotion and protection of the rights of children (document A/72/435); Rights of indigenous peoples (document A/72/436); Elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance (document A/72/437); and Rights of peoples to self‑determination (document A/72/438).
He went on to present the Committee’s reports on Promotion and protection of human rights (document A/72/439); Implementation of human rights instruments (document A/72/439/Add.1); Human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedom (document A/72/439/Add.2*); Human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives (document A/72/439/Add.3); Comprehensive implementation of and follow‑up to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (document A/72/439/Add.4); Crime prevention and criminal justice (document A/72/440); International drug control (document A/72/441); Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly (document A/72/480); and Programme planning (document A/72/485).
The Assembly began by taking up the report on Social development (document A/72/431), which contained seven draft resolutions and one draft decision.
Acting without a vote, it first adopted draft resolution I, “Persons with albinism”, expressing concern that those persons were disproportionately affected by poverty, and that women and girls, in particular, were targets of witchcraft‑related attacks.
It then adopted draft resolution II titled, “Implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the twenty‑fourth special session of the General Assembly” by recorded vote of 184 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions. By its terms, it urged States to strengthen social policies, focusing on the specific needs of disadvantaged social groups, and invited them to develop comprehensive and integrated strategies to address the structural causes of poverty and inequality.
The Assembly adopted the remainder of its texts without a vote, namely: draft resolution III, “Promoting social integration through social inclusion”, stressing that States should prioritize the creation of a society for all, based on respect for all human rights and principles of equality, and calling on them to promote more equitable participation in and access to economic growth gains;
Draft resolution IV titled, “Cooperatives in social development”, inviting Governments, relevant international organizations and others to observe the International Day of Cooperatives annually, on the first Saturday of July, as proclaimed by Assembly resolution 47/90;
Draft resolution V titled, “Follow‑up to the Second World Assembly on Ageing”, calling on States to address the well‑being of and health care for older persons, as well as cases of neglect, abuse and violence, notably by implementing more effective prevention strategies and stronger laws;
Draft resolution VI titled, “Follow‑up to the twentieth anniversary of the International Year of the Family and beyond”, inviting States to invest in family‑oriented policies and programmes, and requesting the Secretary‑General to submit a report at its seventy‑fourth session, through the Commission for Social Development and the Economic and Social Council.
And draft resolution VII titled, “Policies and programmes involving youth”, stressing the need to strengthen the capacity of national statistical offices to collect and analyse age‑disaggregated data in reporting on the youth dimensions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It urged States to address gender stereotypes that perpetuated discrimination and violence against girls and young women, notably by encouraging men and boys to take responsibility for their behavior.
By its draft decision, adopted without a vote, the Assembly took note of the report titled “World Social Situation 2017: Promoting inclusion through social protection”.
Next, the Assembly took up the report on the Advancement of women (document A/72/432), containing three draft resolutions and one draft decision.
It adopted without a vote draft resolution I titled, “Follow‑up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and full implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty‑third special session of the General Assembly”, requesting the Secretary‑General to accelerate his efforts to achieve the 50/50 gender balance at all levels throughout the United Nations, and calling on the Organization to significantly increase its efforts towards that goal.
It adopted without a vote draft resolution II titled, “Improvement of the situation of women and girls in rural areas”, urging States to mainstream a gender perspective into decision‑making and governance of natural resources; leverage women’s influence in managing natural resources; and enhance the capacities of Governments, civil society and development partners to better address gender issues in such management.
Adopting without a vote draft resolution III on “Violence against women migrant workers”, the Assembly called on all Governments to incorporate a human rights, gender‑sensitive and people‑centred perspective into legislation, policies and programmes on international migration and on labour and employment. It urged States to take measures to end the arbitrary arrest and detention of women migrant workers, and ensure that legislative provisions and judicial processes were in place for them to access justice.
It then adopted without a vote a draft decision, taking note of the report of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, and the Secretary‑General’s report on the status of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
The Assembly then turned to the “Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions” (document A/72/433), which contained three resolutions.
Acting without a vote, it adopted draft resolution I titled, “Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees”, inviting the High Commissioner to coordinate an effort to measure the impacts of hosting, protecting and assisting refugees, with a view to assessing gaps in international cooperation and promoting burden‑ and responsibility‑sharing that was more equitable, predictable and sustainable, and to begin reporting on the results to Member States in 2018.
By other terms, it strongly condemned attacks on refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons, strongly reaffirming the Office’s purely humanitarian and non‑political character in providing protection to refugees and in seeking durable solutions, which included voluntary repatriation, the preferred solution.
It then adopted draft resolution II on “Enlargement of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees”, deciding to increase the number of members of the Executive Committee from 101 States to 102 States, and request the Economic and Social Council to elect the additional members at a coordination and management meeting in 2018.
Adopting without a vote draft resolution III on “Assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa”, the Assembly requested the Secretary‑General to submit a report on assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa to the seventy‑third session, taking into account efforts made by countries of asylum and those aimed at bridging funding gaps.
The Assembly next turned to the report titled, “Report of the Human Rights Council” (document A/72/434) containing an eponymous draft resolution.
The Assembly then took action on the text as a whole, adopting it by a recorded vote of 123 in favour to 2 against (Belarus, Israel), with 58 abstentions. By its terms, the Assembly took note of the report of the Human Rights Council, including the addendum thereto, and its recommendations.
Turning to the report on “Promotion and protection of the rights of children” (document A/72/435), which contained two draft resolutions, the Assembly first took up draft resolution I, titled “The Girl Child”.
Adopting the text without a vote, the Assembly called on States to create an environment where the well‑being of the girl child was ensured. It urged States to improve the situation of girl children living in poverty, acknowledge the different needs of girls and boys, and make adapted investments that were responsive to their changing needs.
It called on States, with the support of international organizations, civil society and non‑governmental organizations, to develop policies that prioritized formal, informal and non‑formal education — including scientifically accurate and age‑appropriate comprehensive education — relevant to cultural contexts. Among other things, such education would provide adolescent girls and boys and young women and men in and out of school with information on sexual and reproductive health and HIV prevention to enable them to build self‑esteem and make informed decisions.
Next, the Assembly turned to the report on “Rights of indigenous peoples” (document A/72/436) which contained an eponymous draft resolution, which the Assembly adopted without a vote. By its terms, the Assembly urged Governments and the United Nations to consult indigenous peoples, and implement measures to achieve the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It also stressed the need for them to mainstream indigenous rights into development policies and programmes at national, regional and international levels.
As the Assembly took up the report on “Elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance” (document A/72/437), which contained two draft resolutions and one draft decision, a recorded vote was requested on draft resolution I titled, “Combating glorification of Nazism, neo‑Nazism and other practices that contribute to fueling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.”
The Assembly then adopted the text as a whole by a recorded vote of 133 in favour to 2 against (Ukraine, United States), with 49 abstentions, expressing deep concern about the glorification of the Nazi movement, neo‑Nazism and former members of the Waffen SS organization. It encouraged States, civil society and others to use all opportunities to counter the dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred.
The Assembly next turned to draft resolution II titled, “A global call for concrete action 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”.
The Assembly then adopted the text by a recorded vote of 133 votes in favour to 10 against (Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, United Kingdom and United States), with 43 abstentions, outlining various actions related to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, among other international instruments, offices, mandate holders and activities.
The Assembly then adopted without a vote a draft decision, taking note of the reports of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on its ninetieth, ninety‑first and ninety‑second sessions; and of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
It next turned to the report titled “Right of peoples to self‑determination” (document A/72/438), which contained three draft resolutions.
With a vote requested for a draft resolution I titled, “Use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self‑determination”, the Assembly adopted that text by a recorded vote of 128 in favour to 51 against, with 6 abstentions (Andorra, Colombia, Mexico, Solomon Islands, Switzerland, Tonga).
By its terms, the Assembly condemned recent mercenary activities in developing countries and stressed the need for the related Working Group to look into sources and root causes, as well as the political motivations of mercenaries. It requested States to exercise utmost vigilance against any recruitment, training, hiring or financing of mercenaries by private companies offering international military and security services.
The Assembly then adopted without a vote draft resolution II titled, “Universal realization of the right of peoples to self‑determination”, declaring its opposition to foreign military intervention, aggression and occupation which had suppressed that right. It also deplored the plight of millions of refugees and displaced persons uprooted due to such acts, reaffirming their right to voluntary return.
Turning to a text titled, “The right of the Palestinian people to self‑determination,” the Assembly adopted the text by a vote of 176 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 4 abstentions (Cameroon, Honduras, Togo, Tonga). By its terms, it reaffirmed the right of the Palestinian people to self‑determination, including the right to their independent State of Palestine. It urged all States and specialized United Nations agencies to continue to support Palestinians in the early realization of their right to self‑determination.
Turning to the report titled “Promotion and protection of human rights” (document A/72/439), the Assembly adopted without a vote a resolution titled, “International Day of Sign Languages”, designating 23 September as the International Day to be observed each year beginning in 2018. It also adopted a draft decision, taking note of several related documents.
It then turned to the report on “Implementation of human rights instruments” (document A/72/439/Add.1), containing two draft resolutions.
Turning to draft resolution I on “Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol thereto: situation of women and girls with disabilities”, the Assembly adopted it with a unanimous recorded vote of 187 in favour. By its terms, the Assembly urged States to repeal any law or policy that restricted women with disabilities from their full and equal participation in political and public life. States should ensure the equal access of those women to decent work in the public and private sectors, that labour markets were open and accessible to persons with disabilities, and take measures to both increase the employment of those women and to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability.
Next, the Assembly turned to draft resolution II titled, “Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”, and two draft amendments.
The representative of Sudan reiterated his country’s strong commitment to fighting torture. However, the use of language in preambular paragraph 7 and operative paragraph 4, referring to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, had forced him to request votes on those paragraphs. Emphasizing that the Court had been a major impediment to peace in Sudan, he said the Court was, at best, a threat to the peace and stability of his country and others around the world.
“The Court is not an organ of the United Nations, despite the fervent attempt by some parties to paint it otherwise,” he stressed. Recalling that, last week, the Assembly of the States Parties to the Rome Statute had decided to activate the “Kampala amendments” on the crime of aggression, he expressed deep concern that the principle of “opt‑in” — which was not applicable in other jurisdictional cases — was indeed allowed in cases of the crime of aggression. The inclusion of language referencing the Court in the present text would only create discord and disunion between nations, he said, adding that it aimed to use the resolution to exert unacceptable pressure and force Member States to recognize the Court’s jurisdiction.
The Assembly then voted to retain preambular paragraph 7 by a recorded vote of 110 in favour to 17 against, with 31 abstentions.
The representative of Denmark, speaking before the vote on operative paragraph 4, expressed regret that the vote had been called, and urged all Member States to vote in favour of retaining the paragraph.
The Assembly then voted to retain operative paragraph 4 by a recorded vote of 109 in favour to 19 against, with 31 abstentions.
Acting without a vote, the Assembly then adopted draft resolution II, condemning torture and any action or attempt by States or public officials to legalize or authorize that practice under any circumstance. It called on States to adopt a victim‑oriented approach in combating such behavior.
Next, the Assembly took up the report titled, “Human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms” (document A/72/439/Add.2*), containing 26 draft resolutions.
The Assembly first turned its attention to draft resolution I titled “Strengthening the role of the United Nations in enhancing periodic and genuine elections and the promotion of democratization”.
The Assembly then adopted draft resolution I, as a whole, by a vote of 175 in favour to 0 against, with 13 abstentions. By its terms, the Assembly strongly condemned any manipulation of election processes, coercion and tampering with vote counts, particularly by States. It called on all Member States to respect the rule of law, the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons and the will of voters.
Next, the Assembly turned to draft resolution II titled, “International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism”, adopting it without a vote. By its terms, the Assembly proclaimed 21 August as the International Day, inviting all Member States, United Nations bodies and others to observe it within existing resources.
The Assembly then adopted draft resolution III titled, “United Nations Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South‑West Asia and the Arab Region”, by a recorded vote of 188 in favour to 0 against, with 1 abstention (Syria), noting with appreciation the Centre’s capacity‑building, technical assistance and training programmes.
By another recorded vote — 140 in favour to 10 against (Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Netherlands, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States), with 38 abstentions — the Assembly adopted draft resolution IV, “The right to development”.
By its terms, the Assembly acknowledged the need to strive for greater international acceptance and realization of the right to development, while urging all States — at the national level — to undertake the necessary policy formulation and to institute measures required to implement that right as an integral part of all human rights.
The Assembly then adopted draft resolution V titled, “Human rights and unilateral coercive measures”, by recorded vote of 134 in favour to 53 against, with 0 abstentions. By its terms, the Assembly strongly urged States to refrain from applying any unilateral economic, financial or trade measures not in accordance with international law and the Charter of the United Nations. It called on States that had initiated such measures to revoke them.
Next, the Assembly adopted without a vote draft resolution VI, “Enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights”, urging all actors on the international scene to build a global order based on inclusion, justice, equality and equity, human dignity, mutual understanding and respect for cultural diversity and universal human rights.
The Assembly then adopted — by a recorded vote of 136 in favour to 53 against, with 0 abstentions — draft resolution VII, titled, “Human rights and cultural diversity”. In doing so, it urged States to ensure that their political and legal systems reflect the multicultural diversity within their societies, and relevant international organizations to study how respect for such diversity fostered global cooperation.
The Assembly then adopted draft resolution VIII titled, “Strengthening United Nations action in the field of human rights through the promotion of international cooperation and the importance of non‑selectivity, impartiality and objectivity”, inviting States to consider adopting measures deemed appropriate to achieving progress on the matter.
By a recorded vote of 129 in favour to 54 against, with 5 abstentions (Armenia, Chile, Costa Rica, Peru, Mexico), the Assembly then adopted draft resolution IX titled, “Promotion of a democratic and equitable international order”.
By its terms, the Assembly affirmed that such a world order fostered the full realization of all human rights for all, while also calling on States to fulfil their commitment expressed during the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.
Draft resolution X, titled, “The right to food”, was adopted by a vote of 187 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 0 abstentions.
By its terms, the Assembly considered it intolerable that 45 per cent of children who died every year before age 5 died from undernutrition and hunger‑related illness, and that an estimated 815 million people suffered from chronic hunger owing to the lack of food. It urged States to give priority in their development strategies to the realization of that right.
Turning to draft resolution XI, “Promotion of equitable distribution in the membership of the human rights treaty bodies”, the Assembly adopted it by a recorded vote of 134 in favour to 52 against, with 0 abstentions. By its terms, the Assembly recommended, when considering the allocation of seats on each treaty body, the introduction of flexible procedures that encompassed three criteria: that each regional group was allocated seats in equivalent proportion to the number of States parties to the instrument in that group; periodic revisions of seat allocation to reflect relative changes in treaty ratification; and automatic periodic revisions to avoid amending the instrument when quotas were revised.
The Assembly then adopted without a vote draft resolution XII titled, “The safety of journalists and the issue of impunity”, condemning all violence against journalists and media workers, such as torture, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrest and arbitrary detention. Such attacks also included intimidation threats and harassment, including through attacks on, or the forced closure of, their offices.
Adopting without a vote draft resolution XIII on “Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons, based on religion or belief”, the Assembly condemned any advocacy of religious hatred that constituted incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence. It called on States to create an appropriate mechanism within Governments to identify and address potential areas of tension between religious communities
The Assembly then adopted draft resolution XIV, titled, “Freedom of religion or belief”, stressing that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief, and urging States to ensure that their constitutional and legislative systems provided effective guarantees of such to all without distinction.
Next, the Assembly turned to draft resolution XV titled, “The human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation”.
The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution as a whole by a recorded vote of 183 in favour to 1 against (Kyrgyzstan), with 2 abstentions (South Africa, Turkey), reaffirming that the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, as components of the right to an adequate living standard, were essential for the full enjoyment of the right to life and all human rights. States should identify patterns of failure to respect, protect or fulfil the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation for all persons without discrimination.
The Assembly went on to adopt without a vote draft resolution XVI on “Protection of migrants”, calling on States to respect the human rights and inherent dignity of migrants; draft resolution XVII, “Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism”, urging States in such efforts to comply with their international legal obligations regarding the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; and draft resolution XVIII, “National institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights”, reaffirming the importance of independent and pluralistic national human rights institutions.
The Assembly then turned to draft resolution XIX titled, “Protection of and assistance to internally displaced persons”.
The representative of Sudan expressed concern about any reference to the International Criminal Court, and use of the resolution to refer to that Court. That jeopardized efforts to safeguard internally displaced persons in Sudan. Since 2003, the International Criminal Court had impeded peace in Sudan by creating an imaginary conflict and concocting discord between peace and justice. The Court was not an organ of the United Nations, despite fervent attempts to paint it as such. Sudan distanced itself from the Court and requested a recorded vote to delete preambular paragraph 26.
The representative of Norway said he understood that Sudan’s representative had called for a vote on deleting preambular paragraph 26.
The representative of Mexico asked whether the draft amendment had withdrawn or whether the Assembly would be voting on that amendment, as well as if the Assembly would also be voting on the oral amendment.
A Secretariat official clarified that Sudan’s proposed written amendment had been withdrawn, and an oral amendment to delete preambular paragraph 26 had been submitted. There had been no official call for a vote on that amendment.
The representative of Estonia asked for a recorded vote on the proposal by Sudan’s delegate.
The representative of Sudan called for a recorded vote on deletion of the paragraph.
The Assembly rejected the oral amendment to delete preambular paragraph 26 by a recorded vote of 22 in favour to 111 against, with 32 abstentions.
The representative of Sudan said he had done his best to develop accommodating language and approached the sponsors, working cooperatively and with all good intentions. Having exhausted other options, Sudan reverted to the position of its Government, he said.
Approving draft resolution XIX as a whole without a vote, the Assembly recognized that internal displacement was not only a humanitarian but a development challenge and called on States to address possible obstacles in that regard.
Next, the Assembly took action on draft resolution XX titled, “International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance”. Adopting it without a vote, the Assembly expressed deep concern over enforced or involuntary disappearances, including arrest, detention and abduction, and reports of harassment, ill‑treatment and intimidation of witnesses or relatives of persons who have disappeared.
The Assembly then postponed action on draft resolution XXI titled, “Effects of terrorism on the enjoyment of human rights” and draft resolution XXII titled, “Twentieth anniversary and promotion of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms”, to allow time for the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) to review programme budget implications.
Taking up draft XXIII, “Effective promotion of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities”, the Assembly adopted the text without a vote. By its terms, the Assembly called on States to ensure the protection of children belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities who were at risk of, or had experienced violence, and to give special attention to the specific needs of older persons and persons with disabilities belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities.
By a recorded 129 in favour to 53 against, with 3 abstentions (Greece, Mexico, Tuvalu), the Assembly then adopted draft resolution XXIV titled, “Globalization and its impact on the full enjoyment of all human rights”.
By its terms, the Assembly called on States, the United Nations and civil society to promote inclusive, equitable and environmentally sustainable economic growth for managing globalization. It underlined the need to establish an equitable, transparent and democratic international system to strengthen and broaden the participation of developing countries in global economic decision‑making and norm‑setting.
The Assembly then went on to adopt draft resolution XXV titled, “The role of the Ombudsman, mediator and other national human rights institutions in the promotion and protection of human rights”, encouraging States to endow such national human rights institutions with an adequate constitutional and legislative framework, financial and all appropriate means; and draft resolution XXVI titled, “Subregional Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa”, requesting the Secretary‑General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide additional funds and human resources to the Centre.
Next, the Assembly took up the report on the “Human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives” (document A/72/439/Add.3), containing five draft resolutions.
Action on draft resolution V titled, “Situation of human rights in Myanmar” was postponed to allow time for the Fifth Committee to review its programme budget implications.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, explaining his delegation’s position, rejected the draft resolution titled, “Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”, which was a product of the political and military confrontation, plot and conspiracy by the United States and other hostile forces. Decrying the “extreme manifestation of politicization, selectivity and double standards”, he said the United States sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had reached a vicious and barbarous level, while it consistently attempted to violate the nation’s sovereignty, and the rights and dignity of its people. Calling for sincere dialogue and cooperation to resolve outstanding issues, he said his country would not call for a vote on the item, “which is not worth consideration”. However, he called on Member States to oppose the text’s adoption by disassociating from the consensus.
The representative of Iran said the greatest atrocities in recent history had been committed by allies of Canada. The cause of human rights was being advanced by nations with hegemonic attitudes. The Assembly’s credibility was being eroded; the greatest threat to human rights came from the hypocrisy of Governments criticizing their political foes. Canada should have realized that such a futile exercise was a disservice to human rights. Observing Canada’s voting record was helpful to understanding its stance on human rights, he said, noting that Ottawa supported Israel, a level of hypocrisy and double standards that was “mind‑boggling”. Iran had never practiced slavery nor advocated racial supremacy. Iran viewed the protection of human rights for all its citizens as essential, and had proven that human rights were part of its national security policy. The situation of human rights in Iran did not warrant a special resolution.
The representative of China said constructive dialogue should be carried out on the basis of equality, rejecting the practice of exerting pressure on other countries. China opposed country‑specific resolutions on human rights and would vote against them.
The representative of Syria said the resolution had been presented by those who could not be trusted, who spread chaos in the world and invaded sovereign countries. Those who spread lies and lacked any respect for human rights should not be allowed to abuse the notion of promoting and protecting human rights, as that would undermine machineries set up to protect those rights. Syria would vote against all the country‑specific draft resolutions, he said, adding that their promoters were allied in terrorism. Qatar’s terrorism had reached Syria, and in Yemen, a humanitarian crisis had been met with silence. For Saudi Arabia to present the resolution was an irony; the country should be the last to speak of human rights given its own record of backwardness. Saudi Arabia was spreading Wahhabi notions “by the sword,” he said, adding that it had established the practice of chopping off hands and feet “like ISIS”. Turkey had joined Saudi Arabia and Qatar in sponsoring terrorism by allowing foreign fighters into Syria. He called on all Member States to vote against the text on human rights in Syria.
The representative of the Russian Federation, noting that his delegation regularly voted against country‑specific resolutions which frequently sought to pursue political agendas or “settle scores”, added that such texts also eroded the Organization’s credibility and had never led to an actual improvement of a human rights situation on the ground. On the draft related to human rights in eastern Ukraine, he said any Member State which supported that text should understand they were enabling and sharing in the responsibility for human rights abuses committed there. The resolution was hypocritical, he said, citing “obvious” attempts to maintain trade and energy links. Citing Ukraine’s adoption of a scandalous law prohibiting students in the east of the country from receiving education in their own language, he said support for the draft would send the wrong signal to Kiev and he urged States to vote against it.
The representative of Ukraine, thanking those delegations that planned to vote in favour of the draft concerning Crimea, recalled that 42 countries had helped to initiate that resolution in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural). The situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol continued to worsen, and there was no sign that the Russian Federation would comply with Assembly resolution 71/205. Recent United Nations reports, released in compliance with that resolution, revealed a significant deterioration of the human rights situation under the Russian Federation’s occupation, he said, adding that the latter’s violations disproportionately affected Crimean Tatars. The international community must ensure the full expression of human rights, he said, noting that residents of Crimea were Ukrainian citizens despite the occupation. Calling on all States to unite around common values to protect Crimea residents against “the tyranny of their invaders”, he urged them to vote in favour of the text.
The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, draft resolution I titled, “Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”, condemning long‑standing and gross rights violations in that country.
By a recorded vote of 81 in favour to 30 against, with 70 abstentions, the Assembly adopted draft resolution II, “Situation of human rights in Iran”. By its terms, the Assembly expressed serious concern over use of the death penalty and urged Iran to eliminate all discrimination and rights violations against women and girls.
Next, the Assembly adopted, by a recorded vote of 70 in favour to 26 against, with 76 abstentions, draft resolution III titled, “Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)”. In so doing, the Assembly urged the Russian Federation to uphold all its international legal obligations as an occupying Power and requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare the second thematic report by the end of the current session.
By a recorded vote of by a recorded vote of 109 in favour to 17 against, with 58 abstentions, the Assembly adopted draft resolution IV titled, “Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic”, urging States, especially members of the International Syria Support Group, to create conditions for negotiations on a political solution to the conflict, and demanding that Syrian authorities meet their responsibilities to protect citizens.
The representative of Cuba, in explanation of vote, disassociated from consensus on the resolution on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Only genuine international cooperation was suitable for the effective promotion and protection of all human rights. The universal periodic review was the appropriate forum for such discussion, he said, stressing that Cuba could not join consensus on a draft seeking to uphold punishments of the Security Council in situations which did not threaten peace.
The representative of Iran said in explanation of position that he disassociated from consensus on the resolution on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Regarding draft resolution IV, he said those outside the United Nations questioned how the Organization could both condemn terrorism and those effective in fighting such violence.
The representative of Venezuela, disassociating himself from the resolution on the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, rejected the adoption of country‑specific human rights‑related resolutions, which were selective in nature and violated the Charter of the United Nations. Associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, he said the Human Rights Council and the universal periodic review were the forums for promoting cooperation on human rights. Passing country‑specific resolutions in the Assembly only weakened those mechanisms.
The representative of Sudan said his country had abstained in the vote on the draft related to the human rights situation in Syria for the same reasons as it had previously stated. Moreover, the reference to the International Criminal Court in this year’s version of that text was a “step backward” and he disassociated himself from that language. That the resolution had not been adopted by consensus demonstrated that his country’s position had not been taken into account during its drafting.
The representative of Indonesia, expressing concern about the deteriorating situation in Syria, voiced support for the ceasefire agreement and called for unhindered humanitarian access to all those in need in the country. All parties including the Syrian Government must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, including refraining from indiscriminate attacks. Also citing with concern the findings of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ report on chemical weapons use, he called on all parties to refrain from using such weapons. Nevertheless, his country respected Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Calling for the creation of conditions conducive to an inclusive, Syrian‑led political process to the conflict, he said that, for those reasons, his delegation had abstained in the vote on that text.
The representative of Syria stressed the principled stance of the Non‑Aligned Movement which was against using practices which went against the Charter of the United Nations. “North Korea” had cooperated with the United Nations, and had also signed a number of conventions, including optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and conventions on women’s rights. Syria disassociated from consensus on the resolution and rejected the draft resolution on the situation of human rights in Iran, which jeopardized the reputation of the Iranian government. The resolution was a new violation of the mandates of the agencies dealing with the issues in question, he said. The question of human rights must be exclusive to the Human Rights Council. Syria also rejected the “political” resolution on Crimea, rejecting attacks on specific countries for specific motives. The General Assembly was wasting its time discussing propaganda, and the resolution did not reflect reality; the resolution was an attempt at interfering in the affairs of the Russian Federation.
Right of Reply
The representative of Saudi Arabia, speaking in exercise of the right of reply to comments by Syria’s delegate, said his country was hosting over two million refugees. Comments about the position of Palestine were beside the issue. Saudi Arabia had never sold its territory, as Syria had done with the occupied Golan.
The representative of Turkey rejected allegations made by Syria’s delegate and attempts to distract from that regime’s violations against its own people.
The representative of Syria, outlining a series of historical events that included millions of deaths perpetrated by Saudi Arabia across the Middle East, said today’s situation in Yemen reflected that history. Saudi Arabia’s actions included cooperating with Israel to conduct an illegitimate war, creating the Al‑Qaida terrorist group and its deployment to Afghanistan, as well as efforts to put down a civil demonstration in Bahrain. Saudi Arabia sponsored terrorist attacks across the Middle East and pursued a “scorched earth” policy in Yemen, while the Wahhabi group it supported spread an ideology of hatred throughout the Arab world.
Under the agenda item of “Comprehensive implementation of and follow‑up to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action” (document A/72/439/Add.4), the Assembly took note of the eponymous report of the Third Committee.
The Assembly then turned to the report on “Crime prevention and criminal justice” (document A/72/440), containing five draft resolutions and one draft decision.
Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted draft resolution I titled, “Follow‑up to the Thirteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and preparations for the Fourteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice”, deciding that the main theme of the Fourteenth Congress would be “Advancing crime prevention, criminal justice and the rule of law: towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda”;
Draft resolution II, “Promoting the practical application of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules)”, by which it encouraged States to improve prison conditions and promote application of the Rules as the universally acknowledged updated minimum standards;
Draft resolution III titled, “Technical assistance for implementing the international conventions and protocols related to counter‑terrorism”, urging States to consider becoming parties to such instruments, and requesting the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to enhance its assistance related to legal and judicial cooperation in such efforts, including regarding foreign terrorist fighters;
Draft resolution IV titled, “Improving the coordination of efforts against trafficking in persons”, calling on States, international organizations, civil society and the private sector to increase prevention efforts in countries of origin, transit and destination by focusing on demand, and the goods and services produced as a result of trafficking in persons; and
Draft resolution V titled, “Strengthening the United Nations crime prevention and criminal justice programme, in particular its technical cooperation capacity”, inviting its President to hold a high‑level debate marking the fifteenth anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
The Assembly also adopted a draft decision taking note of the report of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime on its eighth session, held in Vienna from 17 to 21 October 2016.
Next, the Assembly turned to its report on “International drug control” (document A/72/441), containing two draft resolutions.
It adopted without a vote draft resolution I titled, “Promoting the implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Alternative Development and related commitments on alternative development and regional, interregional and international cooperation on development‑oriented, balanced drug control policy addressing socioeconomic issues” without a vote.
By its terms, the Assembly urged States to strengthen regional and international cooperation to support sustainable alternative development programmes, as well as to consider devising sustainable urban development initiatives for those affected by illicit drug‑related activities.
The Assembly then adopted omnibus draft resolution II titled, “International cooperation to address and counter the world drug problem” without a vote. By its terms, it called on States to intensify efforts to address the drug problem based on the principle of common and shared responsibility, and through a comprehensive and balanced approach.
The Assembly then took up the report on “Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly” (document A/72/480), adopting without a vote the draft decision therein on the “Programme of work of the Third Committee for the seventy‑third session of the General Assembly”.
In its final action, the Assembly took note of the report “Programme planning” (document A/72/485), which contained no proposed action.