MEMBER STATES CALLED ON TO TAKE ALL NECESSARY STEPS TO PREVENT OBSTETRIC FISTULA, INCLUDING ENSURING PRENATAL, POST-NATAL CARE, IN TEXT APPROVED BY THIRD COMMITTEE
Sixty-third General Assembly
31st Meeting (AM)
MEMBER STATES CALLED ON TO TAKE ALL NECESSARY STEPS TO PREVENT OBSTETRIC FISTULA,
INCLUDING ENSURING PRENATAL, POST-NATAL CARE, IN TEXT APPROVED BY THIRD COMMITTEE
Committee Also Concludes Debate on Promotion, Protection of Human Rights
The General Assembly would call on States to take all necessary measures to ensure the right of women and girls to the highest attainable standards of health, paying special attention to securing appropriate prenatal and post-natal care for the prevention of obstetric fistula, according to a draft resolution approved unanimously today by the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), which broke off from its discussion on the promotion and protection of human rights to take action on the text.
That draft resolution, sponsored by the Government of Senegal and co-sponsored by over 120 countries, would call on the United Nations and Member States to mobilize funds to provide free or subsidized repairs for obstetric fistula ‑‑ tears to the birth canal during childbirth. It would further call on States to develop means of transportation and financing for women and girls wishing to obtain obstetric care and treatment, and have the Assembly provide incentives to secure the presence of qualified health professionals in rural areas who were able to perform interventions to prevent fistula.
Recognizing that early pregnancy and early childbearing entailed complications during pregnancy and delivery, the text would also have the Assembly urge States to enact and strictly enforce laws to ensure that marriage is entered into only with the consent of the intending spouses and, in addition, to enact and strictly enforce laws concerning the minimum legal age of consent and marriage, and to raise the minimum age for marriage where necessary.
Following action on that draft, the Committee concluded its discussion on the promotion and protection of human rights, touching on social issues that some said were “often overlooked”, such as health. For instance, a representative of the International Organization for Migration talked of health in relation to migration and human rights, saying that, while under normal circumstances migration of itself is not a risk factor to health, conditions surrounding the migration process could, in some instances, increase vulnerability to ill health. Further, problems arose when host societies began perceiving outsiders as bearers of disease, or when migrants could not contribute to the social fabric of life due to ill health.
He said the International Organization for Migration was working with policymakers on a range of health issues, including to develop guidelines for health providers on managing the health consequences of trafficking in persons. It was also seeking to address HIV/AIDS risks in terms of labour migration and mobility, with the help of Governments, employers, organizations of workers and communities. It was also engaged with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)-created Task Team on HIV-Related Travel Restrictions, which was mandated with reviewing national legislation and regulations applying to people living with HIV/AIDS who sought to enter and stay in another country.
The representative of Mexico also spoke on migration and stressed its positive side, saying migration could enrich societies by making them more pluralistic and diverse, and would help build tolerant and “more human” communities if supported by appropriate policies. Speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, she called on all Member States to abstain from adopting any measures that stigmatized any group of individuals, regardless of the migratory situation. The Rio Group considered cooperation and dialogue to be indispensable elements of any debate on the situation of migrants.
On the subject of dialogue, a representative of the Inter-Parliamentary Union noted that human rights, which he said was “cross-cutting” and essential to democracy and development, was not given the priority on the political agenda that it deserved. In the previous year, the Union had launched a project to involve members of parliaments, in francophone African countries in particular, in drawing up the periodic country reports to the treaty bodies and to help them effectively take ownership of human rights questions. Participants at seminars held in Togo, Mali, Mauritania and the Congo addressed a wide array of topics including torture, slavery, female genital mutilation, impunity and human trafficking. A subregional seminar in Togo, scheduled for January 2009, would focus on the role of women parliamentarians in promoting women’s rights and the rights of the child.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Qatar, Iran, Indonesia, Republic of Moldova, Republic of Korea and Zimbabwe, as well as an observer from the International Labour Organization.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Japan, United States, Syria, Iraq, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Cyprus, Cuba and the Russian Federation.
Before taking action on the draft resolution, the representatives of Senegal, United States and Saint Lucia spoke, as did the observer for the Holy See. After action, the representatives of Iran and Chile spoke.
The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. Friday, 31 October, to begin consideration of the report of the Human Rights Council.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to conclude its discussion on the promotion and protection of human rights (for background, see press release GA/SHC/3925 of 22 October).
It was then expected to take action on a draft resolution on supporting efforts to end obstetric fistula (document A/C.3/63/L.15/Rev.1).
Action on Draft Resolution
Before resuming its discussion on the promotion and protection of human rights, the Committee took action on a draft resolution on supporting efforts to end obstetric fistula (document A/C.3/63/L.15/Rev.1).
Its main sponsor, the representative of Senegal, said more than 500,000 women died during childbirth each year due to obstetric fistula, which was unheard of in industrialized nations, but affected more than 2 million women in Africa, Asia, and the Latin American and Arab regions. Around 50,000 to 100,000 new cases were detected each year, and most women with obstetric fistula faced marginalization and often fell into depression.
She added that, to achieve the Millennium Development Goal on maternal health, the international community must commit itself to providing everyone with full access to high-quality health care, promote good nutrition and make education accessible to all, as well as reform and disseminate legal texts with respect to the rights of women and ensure their application ‑‑ topics which are touched upon in the text. She voiced hope that the resolution would be adopted by consensus.
She added that the Government of Saint Lucia had chosen to withdraw co-sponsorship at the last minute.
Before taking action on the draft, the representative of the United States, who announced that he would join consensus, explained some of his concerns regarding certain provisions in the text, namely that references to the Beijing Declaration was understood not to suggest the creation of new rights, such as the right to abortion. Similarly, it was understood that the term “sexual and reproductive health” did not constitute abortion, or support endorsement or the promotion of abortion. By agreeing to approve the resolution, States were not implying that they had obligations to instruments to which they were not party. States who were party to them, in particular the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, were not obliged to alter domestic laws consistent with the Convention, such as those protecting unborn children, even if recommended to do so by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. Language on goals to eliminate obstetric fistula by 2015 were not interpreted to mean the creation of a new Millennium Development Goal or indicator.
The representatives of the Observer Mission of the Holy See and Saint Lucia, who welcomed Senegal’s efforts to sponsor such a resolution, also explained that they did not interpret support for the resolution to mean support for the right to abortion, or the endorsement of funding for abortion. The representative of Saint Lucia further explained that concerns with term “sexual and reproductive health” and other references to maternal health had caused her Government to withdraw its sponsorship of the resolution, though she would continue to support the cause of ending obstetric fistula worldwide.
The draft was then approved without a vote.
After that action, the representative of Iran reiterated the right of each State to decide whether or not to accede to various United Nations Conventions, and their right to interpret issues relating to family planning and sexual and reproductive health in ways that were consistent with national law.
The representative of Chile expressed appreciation for emphasis in the text to the importance of medical staff, in light of the shortage of midwives around the world.
As the Committee then continued its human rights debate, HANADI WALID AL-JASSEM ( Qatar) said, in her country, significant steps had been taken to further involve and integrate persons with developmental disabilities into the community. In particular, the Government was keen on working within the international frameworks and conventions related to persons with disabilities to fully harness the potential of those persons in the development process. A new law on persons with disabilities had been issued in Qatar in an effort to provide special care and adequate legal protections for persons with disabilities. That law also required the State to impose sanctions against any individual or group of individuals who discriminated against persons with disabilities, and enabled persons with disabilities to exercise their rights on an equal footing with other members of society.
A national strategy to safeguard the rights of persons with disabilities and further integrate them into society had also been developed, she said. That strategy included integration into the education system and a national capacity-building programme for the rehabilitation of workers with special needs. Attention was also being paid to building and facilities access issues for persons with physical disabilities. To that end, two workshops would soon be organized by the Government to address that issue, entitled “ Qatar for All” and “Equal Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities”. Both workshops would discuss how to make existing buildings or those under construction more accessible to persons with disabilities and would help find real and practical solutions to provide easy access to those facilities. In closing, she called on Member States to accelerate the process of ratifying the International Convention, as it represented the “real guide” and legal basis for the needs of persons with disabilities.
SEYED HOSSEIN REZVANI ( Iran) said that human rights were a central component of international affairs and, since its inception, the United Nations had assumed a “great role” in the promotion and protection of those rights throughout the world. No part of the world was free from human rights violations, and the United Nations human rights system, in particular, was bound to be mindful of global human rights upheavals and trends. As such, human rights could not be a domain monopolized by a few, nor could they be subject to selectivity, politicization or double standards. The abuse of the available machinery for the protection of human rights for “short-sighted political expediencies of a dominant minority” seemed to suggest that human rights had become “tools of foreign policy”.
The work of the former Commission on Human Rights had been impeded by politicization and political manipulation, he continued. Human rights and matters regarding its system of protection became a matter of intense international debate and, at one point, the subject of a North-South divide. The creation of the Universal Periodic Review was a breakthrough in the human rights work of the United Nations, as it was aimed at ensuring universality, objectivity, non-selectivity and impartiality in the work of the Human Rights Council. Yet, there was reason to believe that the review mechanism would also be at risk of being perverted, over time, in the same manner as the Commission. The real challenge for the Council was to ensure that the monitoring system was truly a universal mechanism. As such, it should adopt a balanced and integrated approach to enforce a unified set of criteria and terms of reference in all situations. Iran had made unprecedented strides in the field of democracy, prosperity and the rule of law, as part of a genuine process of national reform and not because of politically motivated external pressures.
MARTY M. NATALEGAWA ( Indonesia) said Indonesia was pleased to note the significant progress achieved by the Council, particularly in regard to the institution-building package that had been adopted by the General Assembly and which was now being put into practice. The review of the Special Procedures was being conducted in a frank and productive manner, based on the objective assessment of the merits that each procedure could provide to the international community. The Universal Periodic Review mechanism was one of the most significant and promising innovations, not only within the Council, but for the international community as a whole. As one of the first countries to be reviewed by the mechanism, Indonesia was pleased that the outcome reflected the significant progress that Indonesia had achieved in the field of human rights and democracy, and with the degree of “constructive frankness” in discussions.
It was now time for the Third Committee to pay greater attention to the division of labour between the Committee and the Council, he said. The Committee needed to focus on policy-oriented discussion, to provide strategic policy recommendations to the General Assembly that would guide the international community and the Council on human rights. In that context, country-based reviews needed to be addressed by the Council, through its established mechanism. Turning then to the human rights situation in his country, he said that, as part of a national human rights plan of action, the Government had committed itself to establishing a network of human rights societies in 476 cities in the country. Currently, 436 were fully operational and local committees had been established around them. In addition, national efforts were being strengthened to achieve fully fledged democracy and fundamental freedoms and, regionally, Indonesia was playing an instrumental role in the process to establish an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) human rights body.
ANA RADU (Republic of Moldova), aligning herself with the European Union, said she had taken note of the report presented by the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and considered the practice of country visits to be helpful in building a better understanding of what was happening on the ground. While noting the Rapporteur’s assessment of his own country in that area, his Government also found it necessary to point out that a broad range of concrete measures had been taken to minimize gaps between the normative framework and certain realities, and was making an effort to implement its laws in ways that would improve the situation. Lack of funding stood in the way of full implementation of those laws, however. Despite that, the Administration of Penitentiaries, with support from non-governmental organizations, was seeking to improve conditions of detention, including to make them cleaner, and to improve heating and the water supply. Cells for juvenile detention were being renovated.
She acknowledged that overcrowding in penitentiaries was a problem, as pointed out by the Rapporteur. A new amnesty law was introduced to the Criminal Code, helping bring down the prison population from 10,633 in 2002 to 7,444 in 2008. Young offenders were being rehabilitated to ensure their integration into society and to reduce recidivism rates. Problems relating to medical assistance for detainees had also been tackled, resulting in a decrease in morbidity rates to 12.9 per cent, which was lower than the morbidity rate of 2001. A new project, “Support to Moldova in Prison System Upgrading and Penal Reform” would help the country to implement European Union standards with regard to penitentiary reform.
CHONG HOON KIM ( Republic of Korea) said the United Nations should, given its universal and global character, enhance its level of commitment to shoulder the responsibility of human rights protection. The Organization had been, and should continue to be, the main proponent of the noble mission of protecting human rights, which encompassed not only civil and political rights, but also economic, social and cultural rights. The Universal Periodic Review had been criticized for being, potentially, a “no action, talk only” mechanism, due to a lack of enforcement tools and techniques. However, the meaning of the review process did not lie solely in its enforceability, but also in the dialogue and cooperation that took place among the diverse participants. The Universal Review was also noteworthy because it enabled participants in the dialogue to reach a consensus as to the goals and perspectives in the collective pursuit of human rights.
Turning to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, he said that it reflected the growing global attention to the issue and underlined the fact that his Government was in the midst of ratifying the Convention. In accordance with the recommendations of the World Human Rights Conference in 1993, a national plan of action had been implemented successfully, with a view to establishing a systematic human rights protection mechanism. The plan had also been successful in expanding the scope of understanding on human rights among the general public, and it was the Government’s belief that it would also lead to the proliferation of a human rights culture in Korean society. In February 2007, his Government had accepted the standing invitation of the Rapporteur of the Special Procedures and, in May, had been subjected to the Universal Periodic Review. The responsibility to protect human rights was no longer a matter of choice, it was a “sacred duty” of the members of the international community.*EOB*
SOPHIA NYAMUDEZA ( Zimbabwe) said her country was fully aware of its obligations under the United Nations Charter and other human rights instruments that it had signed, ratified or acceded to. Zimbabwe subscribed to an all-inclusive definition of human rights that emphasized the compatibility and indivisibility of civil and political rights, on the one hand, and the social, economic and cultural rights on the other. It was disheartening to note how far the international community was from achieving a socio-economic and international order in which the rights of every person were protected. The continued unregulated implementation of neoliberal formulas would not enable the realization of all human rights, particularly the right to development. Developed countries should honour their commitments to, and avail the world of their resources in, the pursuit of the right to development, instead of using human rights issues to settle political scores and engaging in arms races.
She said Zimbabwe was victim to “incessant meddling” in its internal affairs, including through declared and undeclared sanctions, simply because the Government had embarked on a process of equitable distribution of land. The British and their allies had portrayed Zimbabwe as lawless, disorderly, and undemocratic. The root causes of the crisis, land ownership, were lost in “verbiage” about so-called human rights violations. The United Kingdom continued to impose its social values on Zimbabwe in the name of promoting so-called human rights defenders and minorities in that country. Media laws were being criticized, even though they were passed by a democratically constituted multiparty Parliament, with a view to safeguarding national interests. Some so-called human rights defenders, believed by her to have been sponsored by those opposing the Government of Zimbabwe, had consistently defied those laws. Giving awards to non-governmental organizations that had vilified the Government of Zimbabwe confirmed suspicions that Zimbabwe’s detractors were bent on destabilizing the country. If Western countries genuinely desired progress in the promotion and protection of human rights, they should seek engagement through a non-confrontational approach. For Zimbabwe, the intergovernmental process as espoused by the Human Rights Council remained the way forward.
ANDA FILIP, Inter-Parliamentary Union, said that human rights was a cross-cutting issue and essential to democracy and development. It was also a topic that did not get the attention or priority on the political agenda that it deserved. In the previous year, the Union had launched a project to involve members of parliaments, in francophone African countries in particular, in drawing up the periodic country reports to the treaty bodies and to help them effectively take ownership of human rights questions. Given the delicate nature of the topic and the implications of carrying out that project, success was by no means guaranteed. However, the approach -- which aimed to include all relevant stakeholders and experts -- had already managed to capture the interest of participants and had elicited valuable contributions.
The seminars held as a part of that project were aimed at familiarizing parliamentarians and other participants with regional and international treaties, and encouraged parliaments to take stock of their activities in the area of human rights, shecontinued. Participants of the seminars held in Togo, Mali, Mauritania and the Congo had approached certain problems, such as torture, slavery, female genital mutilation, impunity and human trafficking, with an openness and political will that could only be saluted. One of the unique features of those events was the synergy created among parliamentarians, members of national human rights commissions and civil society. In essence, the initiative was aimed at creating a framework of concerted action and reflection, with a view to proposing solutions in a spirit of transparency and dialogue. Among the outcomes of those seminars was a decision to hold a subregional seminar in Togo, in January 2009, on the role of women parliamentarians in promoting women’s rights and the rights of the child.
LUCA DALL’OGLIO, International Organization for Migration, said, to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 14 member agencies of the Global Migration Group embarked on a collaborative effort to analyse the challenges to protecting the rights of international migrants. Focusing on one aspect often overlooked in the global migration debate, the representatives then turned to the issue of health, as it related to migration and human rights. Discrimination, xenophobia and marginalization were exacerbated when host societies perceived migrants as vectors of disease, or when migrants could not contribute to the social fabric of life due to ill health. Earlier in the year, the World Health Assembly had adopted a resolution on the health of migrants, which called on all Governments to address the risk factors and vulnerabilities to the health of migrants, their families, and host communities. While in normal circumstances, migration was not, itself, a risk factor to health, conditions surrounding the migration process could increase vulnerability to ill health.
The International Organization for Migration worked on a range of health issues, including the management of the migration of human resources for health, responding to the health needs of vulnerable migrants, and policy dialogue related to health, he said. There was an increasing international awareness of the link between migration and derived health outcomes, also in the context of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Effectively addressing HIV/AIDS risks in terms of labour migration and mobility required the joint effort of multiple partners at origin and destination countries, including Governments, employers, organizations of workers and communities. The International Organization for Migration was engaged with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and had created a Task Team on HIV-related travel restrictions to address the issue. It had also been mandated with reviewing national legislation and regulations as applied to people living with HIV/AIDS who sought to enter and stay in another country. In addition, through an “expert group initiative”, the Organization was also developing guidelines for health providers on managing the health consequences of trafficking in persons, in partnership with international organizations, universities, civil society and Governments.
JANE STEWART, International Labour Organization (ILO), said that people with disabilities were overrepresented among poor people in developing and developed countries alike. As such, the ILO had undertaken several recent initiatives to contribute to the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and ILO Convention No. 159, concerning the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment of Disabled Persons, adopted in 1983. In collaboration with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Bangkok and with several universities, the ILO had organized regional meetings in Asia and Southern Africa on legislation related to decent work for persons with disabilities. As well, a curriculum on disability legislation, recently piloted by the ILO and selected universities in Asia and Africa, would soon be incorporated into a programme on disability and the law, and offered at the ILO International Training Centre in Turin.
Entrepreneurship was an important avenue for decent work for persons with disabilities, especially in developing countries, she continued. Over the past 3 years, the ILO had developed and tested a strategy for the inclusion of women with disabilities in mainstream entrepreneurial activities, with a view to demonstrating that women did not need catering to in separate training programmes. Building on that experience, guidelines for an inclusive approach had been prepared and were now an integral part of the ILO strategy for promoting women’s entrepreneurship development. The ILO would continue to collaborate with Governments, social partners and civil society, including disabled persons’ organizations, to improve the effectiveness of legislation and policy concerning vocational training and employment of people with disabilities. In conclusion, she called for greater support for making development and poverty reduction strategies more disability-inclusive, since development goals would not be met if persons with disabilities were not taken into account.
SOCORRO ROVIROSA (Mexico), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said that the composition of societies today was a result of migration flows, both in the past and in the present. Migration could enrich societies, making them more pluralistic and diverse, and, if supported by appropriate policies, would help build more open, tolerant and “more human” communities. As such, the Rio Group was disappointed to note the ongoing application of laws that penalized undocumented migration. As a general rule, undocumented migrants should not be detained and, as such, she called on all Member States to put an end to those excessive detentions and to abstain from adopting any measures that stigmatized any group of individuals, regardless of the migratory situations. The overall trend to criminalize the situations of those most vulnerable members of the community was particularly alarming, as the overwhelming majority had migrated only to seek better opportunities for themselves and their families, at great personal risk.
The Rio Group considered cooperation and dialogue to be indispensable elements of any debate on the situation of migrants, she continued. Through cooperation, it would be possible to ensure that the potential benefits of migration were fully enjoyed by all members of society. Any response should also be based on the fact that migration was not an intangible issue but, instead, was an issue that was made up of real human beings. Therefore, the person should be at the core of all international considerations on the issue. Fighting racism, xenophobia and defending all the rights of migrants were also essential. Finally, as the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights approached, it was important to highlight the fact that the full respect of the rights of migrants was an essential condition for all societies to enjoy the benefits of migration.
Right of Reply
The representative of Japan spoke in response to comments made by the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea yesterday, who had made the allegation that Japan was refusing to settle issues of the past. That was not true. Japan was committed to normalization and establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries, and continued to work towards it. For its part, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should take steps to advance normalization talks. Japan would continue to do so, based on the Pyongyang Declaration, and by seeking a resolution to the issue of abductions, as well as to nuclear issues. He said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should initiate new investigations into the abductions issue. Further, it was not possible for that country to justify ongoing violations of human rights with allegations that Japan was “denying the past”. Japan had taken steps to ensure that Korean residents led normal lives, with their rights fully protected. Japan strived to achieve a society free of ethnic and racial discrimination.
The representative of the United States expressed regret that he had not been allowed to complete his statement yesterday. Numerous other people had exceeded the time limit and were not interrupted. He respected the right of all to speak openly and freely regardless of whether he agreed with them, a principle which had been violated by a small minority yesterday. He informed the Committee that the full text of his statement was available on the website of the United States Mission, should they wish to refer to it. In addition, he said he “waived the merits” of country-specific resolutions. The Third Committee should not seek to restrict debate, but to ensure that rights were being respected.
The representative of Syria responded to comments made by the representative of the United States yesterday, who seemed to be unaware of the basic facts regarding human rights. The human rights record of the United States was well known. It was known to intervene in the affairs of other countries in a provocative manner. The current Government was believed to have been involved in the kidnapping of citizens of other countries, trying them outside legally acceptable frameworks, and trampling on their human dignity at Guantanamo prison. It was involved in the murder of innocent civilians through air strikes within the borders of Member States. It encouraged targeted assassinations and gave a wide latitude to private security companies in Iraq and other countries. Its acts were based on erroneous political grounds, as well as fragile moral grounds, which were widely rejected by the international community. For instance, a large number of States had voted against their blockade on Cuba.
The representative of Iraq, responding to the statement made by the observer from the Holy See regarding the situation of Christian citizens attacked in Iraq, said that his Government sincerely regretted those attacks. Those attacks and other similar threats were terrorist acts by criminal groups and constituted an attack against the Iraqi spirit of tolerance and brotherhood, as well. Extremist groups, in collusion with criminal elements that were remnants of the collapsed regime, had attacked many different groups of Iraqis and, in that case, they had chosen to attack Christians. In response, the Government had set up a commission of inquiry at the ministerial level, in an effort to undertake a comprehensive review of the conditions that led to the attack, to find those responsible and to bring those persons to trial. As well, it would also provide financial and humanitarian assistance to the victims, as needed, and would establish fixed and mobile patrols in the area and, especially, around the churches. It was his Government’s hope that those attacked would be able to return to their homes and to live in safety. Indeed, the safety and security of all minority groups and all individuals in Iraq was a top priority for the Government.
In response to the statement made by Japan’s delegate the previous day, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that, once more, Japan had tried to mislead the Committee as to the situation between the two countries. The core issue between his country and Japan was not the abduction issue, it was the liquidation of Japan’s past crimes. In addition, the lack of normalized relations between the two countries was due to the hostile policy that Japan had pursued towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and that situation would continue until Japan addressed the crimes committed in the past. He added that the delegate from Japan had only addressed the abduction issue in his statement, which involved only about 10 persons, whereas he completely disregarded the 8.4 million Koreans forcibly taken away by Japan during that same period in the past. Following the Pyongyang Declaration in 2002, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had conducted a nation-wide investigation into the abduction issue and had confirmed that 13 Japanese had been abducted. His Government had expressed its regret over those abductions and all 5 survivors and their children had been allowed to return to Japan. However, Japan had done nothing to fulfil its responsibility under that Declaration, and he asked to be informed of what concrete steps Japan had actually taken.
Turning then to the statement by the representative of the United States, he said that the allegations made were part of a wider campaign to intervene in his country’s internal affairs, in an effort to bring down the current Government and to increase United States domination in the strategically important area. In addition, he said that there were no human rights problems in his country, as alleged by the delegate from the United States.
The representative of Cyprus, responding to statements made by the representative of Turkey yesterday, expressed regret over the false accusations lobbed at his country to divert attention from the essence of the problem to the conflict in Cyprus, for which Turkey was largely responsible. Cyprus was divided because the Turkish Army occupied a significant part of its territory and promoted the establishment of an illegal secessionist identity, as condemned by the Security Council. A solution to the problem must be found by Cypriots, for Cypriots, such that rights were fully restored to the people based on principles contained in existing high-level agreements, rulings of the European Court of Human Rights, and European Union values. Any settlement must place primary importance on upholding human rights standards, regardless of ethnic or religious background. In addition, Turkey must withdraw its occupying troops from the island.
The representative of Cuba noted that the representative of the United States had left the room, and so expressed regret that he would not hear replies being made to his comments of yesterday. That speaker’s speech, which had been “full of hatred”, had demonstrated the kind of arrogance for which his country was known. Cuba rejected every statement made by the United States and would not recognize its authority to judge anybody, especially Cubans, given that its Government bombed civilians, sought to destroy entire societies, and was responsible for torturing people in Guantanamo Bay. Further violations included electoral fraud, environmental degradation by transnational companies, not providing adequate education to children, and recruiting mercenaries to carry out American annexation policies. Cuba supported forms of democracy that promoted widespread progress, and rejected the American blockade against Cuba, which had been rejected by a large number of States yesterday at the General Assembly. The United States made war to enrich its military industrial complex.
The representative of the Russian Federation responded to comments made by the representative of the United States regarding the human rights situation in Russia. The tone of the United States representative had been that of a mentor, even though his own country had a poor human rights record; indeed, its Government had voted against the creation of the Human Rights Council and was boycotting and undermining that body’s work. A majority of non-governmental organizations in the Russian Federation had American roots. If those organizations did not observe the laws of their host countries, surely it was understandable that they would be asked to end their activities. Further, United States servicemen in Iraq had detained 12 journalists without any proof of their guilt and without observing procedural norms. Finally, he called on all delegations to observe the rules and procedures of the General Assembly, including time frames given for statements.
Speaking for the second time in exercise of the right of reply, Japan’s delegate said that his country did not intend to avoid any issue of the past. Japan would normalize relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, based on the Pyongyang Declaration and by addressing the issue of past crimes. He pointed out that he had not said that the abduction issue was the only issue that needed to be addressed. Rather, it was a very serious issue in Japan and such abductions violated human rights. Indeed, the issue had been specifically addressed in a number of international human rights documents and, as such, warranted attention.
In reply, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, also speaking for the second time, said that those remarks were irresponsible and he emphasized, once more, that his Government had done everything to resolve the abduction issue. Further, he asked whether Japan had ever given any consideration to the 8.4 million Koreans that had been taken by the Japanese Imperial Army. He reminded the Japanese delegation that honestly settling Japan’s past crimes would help that country win the trust of the world’s people and truly become a member of the international community.
* *** *