Third Committee Approves Resolutions on Human Rights in Myanmar, Iran, Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
47th & 48th Meetings (AM & PM)
Also Approves Tests on Human Rights Council Report, Missing Person, Protection of Migrants, Convention on Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Draft resolutions that would have the General Assembly address the human rights situations in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iran and Myanmar were approved by the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today, but not before delegations debated the validity of such country-specific motions.
By a vote of 100 in favour to 18 against, with 60 abstentions, the Committee approved a draft that would have the Assembly express "very serious concern at the persistence of continuing reports of systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights" in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, despite some recent developments, such as a cross-border reunion of separated families and improved cooperation between the Government and some United Nations agencies. Its main sponsor was Belgium, on behalf of the European Union and Japan. It was categorically rejected by the representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Pak Tok Hun, who called it a "political plot" instigated by the United States and its supporters.
A draft resolution whereby the General Assembly would strongly condemn "the ongoing systematic violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Myanmar" was approved by a vote of 96 in favour to 28 against, with 60 abstentions. With Belgium, on behalf of the European Union, as its main sponsor, it had been revised to take into account general elections held on 7 November, as well as the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, which it welcomed. The representative of Myanmar, U Than Swe, said his country would not be bound by the resolution, which had "no moral authority".
The third country-specific resolution of the day, on the human rights situation in Iran, was approved by a vote of 80 in favour to 44 against, with 57 abstentions, after a procedural motion to adjourn debate - known as a "no-action motion" - was rejected. It would have the General Assembly express "deep concern at serious ongoing and recurring human rights violations". Its main sponsor was Canada, whose Permanent Representative John McNee noted a "very regrettable" deterioration in the human rights situation in Iran over the past year. The representative of Iran, Mohammad Javad Larijani, Secretary-General of the High Council of Human Rights of Iran, noting that Israel was among the co-sponsors, said the United States was the mastermind and main provocateur behind a text that had nothing to do with human rights. His country's only crime was not to be a "Xerox copy" of a Western democracy.
The representatives of Egypt, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, led opposition to each of the resolutions. They said that the Human Rights Council and its Universal Periodic Review Mechanism had been established "to eliminate selectivity, politicization and double standards", and that there was no need to duplicate its work, particularly with resolutions that only targeted developing countries. During action on the resolution concerning Iran, the representative of Iceland, on behalf of six others countries, argued that the Third Committee - in which all 192 Member States were represented - was entrusted with the responsibility to debate human rights issues; it would be unable to fulfil that mandate if it was prevented by a no-action motion from doing so.
Among other drafts it acted upon today, the Committee approved a resolution on the report of the Human Rights Council by a recorded vote of 119 in favour to 2 against (Israel, Marshall Islands), with 55 abstaining. Israel - noting that half the statements in the report were targeted at it - requested the vote, saying the resolution demonstrated the Council's failure of non-selectivity and called into question the credibility of the Geneva-based body.
Other texts approved today, without a vote, concerned missing persons, protection of migrants, and the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Also making statements and explanations of vote today were representatives of Mali (on behalf of the African Group), Azerbaijan, Mexico, El Salvador, United States, Belgium (on behalf of the European Union), Belarus, Japan, Cuba, Costa Rica, Sudan, Libya, Viet Nam, Venezuela, China, Zimbabwe, Malaysia, Nepal, Brazil, Benin, Indonesia, India, Singapore, Russian Federation, Philippines, Thailand, Bangladesh, Georgia, Syria, Tajikistan (Organization of the Islamic Conference), Bolivia, Barbados, Ecuador, Morocco (on behalf of OIC), Turkey, Chile, Norway, Belize and Slovenia.
The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 19 November, to take action on more draft resolutions. Another meeting has been planned for the afternoon of Monday, 22 November, as well as two additional meetings on Tuesday, 23 November.