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Seventieth Session,
35th & 36th Meetings (AM & PM)
GA/SHC/4147

Demand for United Nations Electoral Help Remains Strong, Top Political Affairs Official Says, as Third Committee Continues Rights Debate, Tabling 10 Texts

Expressing concerns about elections marred by misconduct, demand for United Nations electoral assistance had remained strong throughout the world, the Organization’s political affairs chief told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today, as it continued its consideration of the promotion and protection of human rights, tabling 10 draft resolutions.

Presenting a report from the Secretary-General on the role of the United Nations vis-à-vis elections and the promotion of democratization, Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, highlighted the cooperation among United Nations agencies for providing electoral assistance.  His presentation was focused on improved cooperation and coordination of electoral assistance, the promotion of gender equality and the political nature of elections.

Efforts were being made to strengthen cooperation among United Nations agencies and with regional actors to ensure coherent and consistent electoral assistance, Mr. Feltman said.  However, some elections had been marred by widespread misconduct and the refusal of some candidates to accept legitimate outcomes, he said.  Such attitudes could lead to polarization, unrest, the breakdown of political dialogue and the outbreak of violence, he said, adding that the overriding responsibility for successful elections lay with political leaders.

Some delegates agreed, calling human rights and freedoms the cornerstones of democracy that supported the pillars of development.  During the day-long debate, speakers also provided examples of action taken to promote and protect rights nationally and regionally.  They also raised a range of concerns.

Several delegates noted the situation of migrants in various contexts, saying their human rights needed to be respected regardless of their status.  The representative of Ecuador, on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, called for a better understanding of migration patterns, while his counterpart from the Philippines called upon Member States to ensure decent and favourable working conditions for migrant domestic workers.

Nigeria’s delegate condemned violent attacks on migrants and noted that receiving developed countries had yet to sign the International Convention on the Protection of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.  The representative of Greece reiterated the importance of protecting the rights of migrants, particularly women and children.

The speaker from the United States drew attention to the human rights situation in several countries, which she identified by name, while her counterpart from the Russian Federation expressed a number of concerns that included the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and large-scale surveillance operations.

In other business, draft resolutions on social development were introduced on topics that ranged from persons with albinism and the situation of women and girls in rural areas to the rights of indigenous peoples and international cooperation in addressing the world drug problem.

Also delivering statements were representatives of Suriname (for the Caribbean Community), Qatar, Indonesia (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Ukraine, Singapore, Colombia, Tunisia, Mexico, Egypt, Brazil, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Liechtenstein, Algeria, Switzerland, Iraq, Iran, Viet Nam, Norway, Cyprus, Kyrgyzstan, India, Japan, Kuwait, Eritrea, Sudan, Nepal, El Salvador, Myanmar, Gabon, Libya, Sri Lanka, China, Botswana, Cuba, Costa Rica, Malawi, Argentina, Tonga, as well as the Holy See.

Speaking in exercising of the right of reply were delegates from Turkey, Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, China, Japan, Russian Federation and Ukraine.

The Third Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 2 November, to continue its work.

Background

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) continued today discussions under its agenda item on the promotion and protection of human rights.  For further information, see Press Release GA/SHC/4139.

Statements

LUIS XAVIER OÑA GARCÉS (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), acknowledged the complexity of migratory flows and international movements and called for a better understanding of patterns and realities across and with regions and subregions.  Migration should be properly and systematically addressed by countries of origin, transit and destination through international, regional and bilateral cooperation and dialogue, and through a comprehensive and balanced approach.  The appointment of focal points for coordination was important to address human trafficking.  He reaffirmed the need to promote and protect the rights of all migrants, regardless of their migration status and especially those of women and children.  Of particular concern was the current tendency towards the exploitation of migrants, which required States to take all measures to protect them from criminal groups, including through channels capable of ensuring regular and orderly migratory flows.

The Community strongly condemned acts of racism, including towards migrants, and encouraged States to refrain from adopting measures that discriminated or stigmatized any group of people.  It expressed deep concern at the overall situation of vulnerability of migrant children in detention and encouraged States to address irregular migration flows from a humanitarian perspective, paying particular attention to the principle of the best interest of children and their rights to education and health.  The Community also discouraged States from adopting provisions that criminalized migrants in irregular situations and encouraged the implementation of gender-sensitive policies and programmes for women migrant workers.

KITTY SWEEB (Suriname), on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), called the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development a strong foundation on which to implement the right to development.  As development, peace, security and human rights were interlinked and mutually reinforcing, it was indispensable for the United Nations to address those three pillars in a holistic way.  The right to development was universal and indivisible.  It was time for debates to move from political and ideological concepts to concrete implementation of that right.  The continued political impasse within the Working Group on the Right to Development was unhelpful.  The time had come to consolidate political will and undertake genuine discussions on implementation.

The adverse impacts of climate change were a perpetual threat to small island developing and low-lying coastal States and had significantly undermined efforts to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development, she said.  For example, development in Dominica had been set back by an estimated 20 years due to the devastation that had resulted from tropical storm Erika a few weeks ago.  “The urgency of an effective global response to climate change cannot be overstated,” she said.  In that vein, she said the Special Rapporteur on the right to food had recently informed the Third Committee that harm resulting from climate change was felt predominantly by people and regions minimally responsible for it and had called for policies designed in a way to minimize if not overcome such injustices.  Climate change was a priority for CARICOM, whose leaders had called for the widest possible cooperation by all States to urgently accelerate the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions.

ALANOUD QASSIM M. A. AL-TEMIMI (Qatar), speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, reiterating the commitment to protect human rights in accordance with the teachings of Islam, said members would continue their efforts to ensure access to health care, employment and education.  The Council was also committed to the empowerment of women and ensuring their access to the job market and decision-making processes.  Attaching special attention to education as a means to ensure political stability, he said the Council would continue its work to promote a culture of peace, tolerance and a rejection of extremism.

For its part, the Council condemned illegitimate Israeli practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including illegal settlements and the disproportionate use of force.  The Council also called for strengthened efforts by the international community to ensure peace and the rule of law, as well as for accountability for perpetrators of violations of international law.

DESRA PERCAYA (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), summarized the initiatives undertaken in the region.  Since its establishment in 2009, the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights had made significant progress as the region’s overarching human rights institutions.  It had adopted a five-year work plan for 2016-2020 that would ensure that its efforts were relevant and useful.  Very recently, the Commission and other ASEAN human rights-related bodies met with their European Union counterparts, with a view to capacity-building and exchanging good practices.  Underscoring the role of regional mechanisms and institutions, he expressed confidence that integrated and cohesive regional mechanisms and institutions would continue to contribute to human rights progress in the region.

ASEAN was committed to ensuring the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms through a non-confrontational and constructive approach that considered regional particularities, including historical, cultural and religious backgrounds.  It was ASEAN’s fervent hope that constructive dialogue and meaningful engagement would continue to be utilized to pursue progress on human rights issues, he said.

ANDRIY TSYMBALIUK (Ukraine) delivered a statement on behalf of Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States.  He said that the international community remained deeply concerned by the situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and supported the territorial integrity, political independence, unity and sovereignty of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.  Reports by internationally-recognized human rights monitors reflected the serious and systematic human rights abuses there, including the forced implementation of the legal system of the Russian Federation, politically motivated persecutions and increasing impediments to free expression and freedom of press.  Human rights abuses also encompassed police-led brutality against ethnic Ukrainians, Crimean Tatars and other ethnic groups, the effective proscription of the Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian languages, the transfer of persons in detention to the Russian Federation and the seizure and violation of property of non-Russian citizens.

The group strongly condemned those abuses committed by the Russian Federation in exercising de facto control over the peninsula.  It called upon the authorities of the Russian Federation, as the occupying Power, to take all necessary measures to bring to an immediate end all human rights abuses, including against minorities, to immediately release Ukrainian citizens Oleg Sentsov, Oleksandr Kolchenko, Ahtem Chiygoz and other activists who had been seized in Crimea then transferred to the Russian Federation and detained and judged in violation of elementary standards of justice.  The killing of Crimean Tatar Reshat Ametov and enforced disappearances of Crimean civil society and human rights activists Timur Shaimardanov, Seiran Zinedinov, Leonid Korzh and Vasyl Chernysh and others must be investigated, he said.  The Russian Federation must also reopen Crimean Tatar cultural and religious institutions, cooperate fully and immediately with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the situation in the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, and allow unconditional and immediate access of international and regional human rights mechanisms to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.

QUEK SHEI TING (Singapore) said her country’s approach to human rights was pragmatic and its principles were at the centre of social and economic development.  Singapore would actively pursue the 2030 Agenda objectives, among them the rule of law, which gave its citizens confidence and assurance.  Lacking in natural resources, human capital was the most precious asset for that country and it was committed to creating a high-quality education system for boys and girls.  It had also managed to achieve a widely accessible and affordable health care system.  The ultimate goal of human rights was the protection of human welfare, without which neither rights nor dignity were viable.  Singapore’s path to that objective had been ensuring the establishment of the rule of law, the rejection of corruption and a dedication to improving citizens’ lives.

DIANA SANTAMARÍA RAMÍREZ (Colombia) said coordinated action on cross-border migration was needed in an increasingly globalized world.  Human rights had to be guaranteed so as to address the vulnerability of migrants.  Humane treatment of migrants, regardless of their status, was recognized in the 2030 Agenda.  The time had come to work towards a system of international mobility that was safe, transparent and recognized the position and contribution of migration while addressing inequalities between States.

LOURDES O. YPARRAGUIRRE (Philippines) reiterated her Government’s commitment to addressing the needs of internally displaced persons through providing permanent, safe and decent homes and to ensuring their return to normal life as soon as possible.  Attacks and violence against journalists and activists were condemned by the Philippines, which valued freedom of the press as a hallmark of a healthy democracy.  Human rights violations would be investigated and prosecuted “with determination”.  With regard to migrant domestic workers, Member States must ensure that they enjoyed their right to decent work and to just and favourable conditions of work.

KARIMA BARDAOUI (Tunisia) recalled the indivisibility and universality of human rights and called on the international community to strengthen its efforts and mobilization for peace, security and prosperity.  Since 2011, she said, Tunisia was engaged on the path of human rights promotion and had achieved considerable progress in that regard.  Tunisia would continue its efforts to consolidate those gains, including through strengthening civil society space, combating corruption and achieving sustainable development.  Challenges remained, she said, underlining that terrorism constituted a global threat that had to be combated while fully respecting human rights standards.  Additionally, combating poverty and guaranteeing opportunities for youth had to be ensured to address the root causes of that scourge.

JEFFREY FELTMAN, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, presenting the report of the Secretary-General on strengthening the role of the United Nations in enhancing the effectiveness of the principle of periodic and genuine elections and the promotion of democratization (document A/70/306), highlighted that the demand for United Nations electoral assistance remained strong.  He highlighted the cooperation among United Nations agencies for providing electoral assistance and emphasized that such activities were based on the fundamental principle of State sovereignty.  He focused his presentation on three areas discussed in the report: improved cooperation and coordination of electoral assistance, the promotion of gender equality and the political nature of elections.

With regard to the coherence and consistency of electoral assistance, he noted efforts being made to strengthen cooperation among United Nations agencies and with regional actors.  Concerning the promotion of gender equality, he called for further efforts to overcome structural constraints and to ensure women’s full participation at all decision-making levels.  Finally, he expressed concerns about electoral processes that were marred by widespread misconduct and elections in which candidates had refused to accept legitimate outcomes.  Such attitudes could lead to polarization, unrest, the breakdown of political dialogue and the outbreak of violence.  Responsibility for a successful election remained with all electoral stakeholders, he concluded, including administrators, civil society and voters.  But, the overriding responsibility lied with political leaders.

ALBERTO CEPEDA (Mexico) said greater complementarity was required in the work being done in New York and Geneva with regard to migrants.  It was important to consider the situation of migrants and their contribution to development.  With regard to terrorism, Mexico recognized the legitimate concerns of States vis-à-vis terrorist groups, and it was important to strengthen international consensus on that scourge and to ensure that laws, policies and measures were fully in line with human rights standards.  In addition, such measures had to be transparent, with accountability ensured, he concluded.

SARAH MENDELSOHN (United States) drew attention to the current situation in a number of countries.  In Syria, many people had been imprisoned by the [Bashar] Al-Assad regime, including doctors and human rights defenders and detainees faced torture, sexual violence and inhumane conditions.  The “barbaric onslaught” of ISIS demanded a response.  Iran was called upon to fulfil its human rights obligations and Sudan to choose peace and enact genuine reform.  In Eritrea, there had been gross violations of human rights that could also be considered as crimes against humanity.  In China, several hundred lawyers and activists had been detained since July, she said, urging that country to respect religious freedom.  Arbitrary detentions were also continuing in Cuba, critics of the Government were being punished in Venezuela and increasing authoritarianism was being seen in the Russian Federation, she said.

OSAMA ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD (Egypt) said that intolerance, violence and terrorism were on the rise and that occupation had threatened security and peace.  Challenges demonstrated the importance of promoting development to improve such situations.  The enjoyment of all human rights was essential and the United Nations must give equal attention to all of them, including civil, political, economic, social and cultural.  The United Nations human rights machinery should also adopt a consensual approach rather than a confrontational one.  It should avoid selectivity and double standards and must respect the cultural identities of States.  There was a need to address the development gaps between Member States, he said, while opposing attempts by human rights mechanisms to elaborate new norms outside of the intergovernmental framework.

ANTONIO DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA (Brazil), aligning with CELAC, said prolonged conflicts had had a negative impact on civilians, particularly women, children and the elderly.  He condemned violence against civilians, which had led to the largest refugee flows since the Second World War, and recalled that all States had the responsibility to protect the rights of all under their jurisdiction.  The implementation of the 2030 Agenda had the potential to make the world a better place.  As the Human Rights Council would celebrate its tenth anniversary in 2016, it was important that States contributed to the fulfilment of its mandate and engaged fully with the universal periodic review process.  The credibility of the United Nations human rights system relied on appropriate funding.  Concluding, he expressed Brazil’s commitment to promote and protect the right to privacy and welcomed the Council’s appointment of a Special Rapporteur on that issue.

CHOE MYONG NAM (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said that arbitrary military actions against sovereign States and the massacre of civilians continued under the pretext of the war on terror.  His delegation was also concerned about the current refugee crisis in several parts of Western Europe, and its xenophobic and intolerant nature.  The United States and other Western countries continued to “pretend to be human rights judges” and, in particular, imposed collective sanctions and pressure on countries that maintained different ideas and social systems.  The human rights campaign against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was one such example.  Also, Japan had committed “egregious” crimes against humanity in the past, but had not yet officially acknowledged, apologized or compensated victims in relation to those crimes.  He urged Japan to address those crimes instead of accusing others groundlessly.

CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said the 2030 Agenda could only be implemented with the full involvement of the United Nations system.  It required concrete action taken by all stakeholders, including the Third Committee.  The 2030 Agenda provided an opportunity to advance the discussion on various topics, including women’s access to economic resources, human trafficking and ensuring legal identity.  His delegation supported the work of the OHCHR, underlining the need to address its funding situation.  Adjusting the Office’s budget required bold decisions, yet it was an achievable goal that all Member States should commit to.  His delegation was ready to discuss flexible and effective mechanisms to enhance the dialogue and accountability between all stakeholders.

BAKHTA SELMA MANSOURI (Algeria) expressed her country’s commitment to cooperate with United Nations human rights mechanisms and called for the strengthening of the human rights pillar of the Organization.  The ability of the OHCHR to address more and more complex situations had to be enhanced through additional budget allocations.  The right to development had to be mainstreamed throughout the work of human rights mechanisms and through the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  She then reaffirmed Algeria’s conviction that the right to self-determination of people living under foreign occupation was fundamental.  She also urged States to protect the rights of migrants through policies and programmes aimed at strengthening their integration in society and addressing racism and discrimination against them.

TATYANA SHLYCHKOVA (Russian Federation) expressed regret that some States had adopted a biased and unilateral approach to human rights.  A shift towards approaching human rights in a thematic and geographic way was unacceptable.  In different parts of the world, there were worrying signs of Nazism and aggressive nationalism alongside threats to the right to life, security and children’s moral development, as well as gross violations of human rights resulting from the principle of extraterritoriality.  Human rights defenders and the media had been the targets of telephone wiretaps and political rights were being artificially prioritized at the expense of economic, social and cultural rights.  With regard to specific situations, she said Ukraine’s delegate was welcome to say what measures were being taken to observe human rights in that country.  Her delegation had a number of concerns, including the closing of the Guantanamo prison, large-scale surveillance operations, arbitrary police activity, the right of migrants, and the death penalty.  European partners also had human rights problems that had reached a critical point.  It was hoped that next year, the Committee would be able to focus on timely and important human rights issues.

LAETITIA KIRIANOFF CRIMMINS (Switzerland) said the situation of human rights defenders was deteriorating in many parts of the world.  It was essential for them to be given space to carry out their work without fear of reprisals.  The use of the death penalty anywhere in the world, for any reason, was opposed by Switzerland, which was also very concerned by the large number of children held in detention for long periods, in some instances in connection with terrorism.  No country, including Switzerland, had completely eliminated discrimination and violence against women, but doing so was a priority for Swiss domestic policy, and other States were called upon to follow suit.

LAETITIA KIRIANOFF CRIMMINS (Switzerland) said the situation of human rights defenders was deteriorating in many parts of the world.  It was essential for them to be given space to carry out their work without fear of reprisals.  The use of the death penalty anywhere in the world, for any reason, was opposed by Switzerland, which was also very concerned by the large number of children held in detention for long periods, in some instances in connection with terrorism.  No country, including Switzerland, had completely eliminated discrimination and violence against women, but doing so was a priority for Swiss domestic policy, and other States were called upon to follow suit.

BANKOLE ADEOYE (Nigeria) expressed deep concern with the issue of migrants and their families, who had continued to be subjected to discrimination and xenophobia in many countries.  Violent attacks on migrants were condemned in the strongest terms and more had to be done in countries where such attacks occurred to protect the human rights of migrants and to ensure them a life of dignity and freedom from fear.  Less than 50 States had signed, ratified or acceded to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.  Noting that developed countries, which had been largely migrant-receiving, however, were not among the signatories, he said it was an important instrument that should be signed expeditiously.  For too long, attention had been focused on civil and political rights, to the detriment of economic and social rights.  It was imperative that an agreeable balance be found between the two, otherwise discussions of human rights would be meaningless to the vast majority of people around the world.

MOHAMMED AL-OBAIDI (Iraq) presented his country’s efforts to protect women from violence and discrimination, implement the women, peace and security agenda and ensure the rights of persons with disabilities.  He reiterated his country’s commitment to collaborate with United Nations human rights mechanisms, including related treaty bodies.  Iraq, he said, continued to face violence and heinous crimes.  He said Da’esh [Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham (ISIL/ISIS)] had perpetrated barbarous crimes in his country, and Iraqi security forces were fully committed to combat such threats.  To date, the Government had managed, with the help of the international coalition, to free some parts of the seized territory.  He then expressed his satisfaction with countries that had supported Iraq in combating the threat of terrorism.

MOHAMMAD HASSANI NEJAD PIRKOUHI (Iran) said that respect for cultural diversity was an ethical imperative and indispensable for the protection of human dignity and rights.  Cultural diversity implied a commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities and those of indigenous communities.  The Vienna Declaration itself called upon all States to refrain from any unilateral measures as they clearly impeded the full realization of the human rights set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights instruments, in particular the right of everyone to a standard of living that was adequate for their health and well-being, including food and medical care, housing and social services.  His delegation remained deeply concerned about the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the basic human rights.

NGUYEN PHUONG NGA (Viet Nam), associating with ASEAN, said that despite the universal goal of human rights and fundamental freedoms, differences remained in the perception and assessment of human rights due to the diversity of historical, social, cultural and development backgrounds.  As a responsible member of the Human Rights Council, Viet Nam had substantially contributed to its work and was actively implementing its recommendations.  The Government had also continued to conduct regular constructive bilateral human rights dialogues with partners and participated in regional efforts, particularly the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children.

BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said the “very foundation of human rights continued to be challenged, ignored and even despised” around the world.  The common good required not only juridical protection for all life from conception until natural death, but also a sound political system capable of protecting the environment and providing for essential needs.  A selective prioritization of human and civil rights often clouded discussions and came at the expense of those whose fundamental rights were being trampled upon.  The most heinous crimes against religious freedom were being committed, including executions and forced conversions among others, and religious and ethnic minorities were disproportionately affected.  A recent report had confirmed that acts of violence committed in the name of religion were widespread and increasing.

GEIR O. PEDERSEN (Norway) said the promotion and protection of human rights was the responsibility of all Member States.  It was important to support individuals, organizations and networks that were promoting human rights.  The well-being, safety and freedom of human rights defenders, he continued, were instrumental in the promotion of peace, prosperity and sustainable development in every country.  However, his delegation was concerned about the alarmingly high number of internally displaced persons caused by armed conflicts, violations of human rights and natural and human-made disasters.  On the protection of internally displaced persons, his delegation would table a draft resolution in the Committee during the session.  In that regard, he appreciated the constructive consultations with Member States and civil society, and looked forward to its adoption.

MONIKA PACHOUMI (Cyprus), aligning with the European Union, said her country enjoyed a high record of human rights.  Its policies were guided by the European Union’s positions and its gains were connected to and accelerated by societal progress and civil society activism.  Cyprus worked towards the protection of the rights of children and of persons with disabilities.  It was also making inroads in the areas of gender equality, the protection of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, freedom of religion and belief and combat trafficking, racism, and xenophobia.  Unfortunately, the Government could not apply its human rights policies in the north.  Human rights violations had continuously been taking place there since 1974, and approximately 170,000 Greek Cypriots were internally displaced, denied their right to return to their homes and deprived of their property rights.  The north also faced widespread destruction and looting of its religious and cultural heritage.  She called on Turkey to launch an effective investigation into the humanitarian issue of missing persons.

TALAIBEK KYDYROV (Kyrgyzstan) said ensuring the basic rights of migrants and their families should be a priority for States.  The global migration crisis required a more effective policy to combat illegal migration, human trafficking and labour exploitation.  To that end, Kyrgyzstan supported the further strengthening of international cooperation with Governments and international organizations.  In April 2015, his country had presented its national report to the United Nations Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.  In its concluding recommendations, the Committee had welcomed the implementation of bilateral and multilateral agreements, he said, calling on States to ratify that Convention.

GEORGIOS POULEAS (Greece) expressed his country’s support for human rights and highlighted its cooperation with United Nations relevant mechanisms, including its special procedures, treaty bodies and the universal periodic review.  He then referred to the migrant crisis and reiterated the importance of protecting the rights of migrants, particularly women and children.  With regard to the issue of continued violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the occupied parts of Cyprus, he called for the implementation of European and United Nations decisions regarding that issue.  Of particular importance for Greece was the resolution of the fate of missing persons, he said.

MAYANK JOSHI (India) regretted the lack of progress in reaching consensus on the right to development and the strengthening of the international framework on that regard.  The scourge of terrorism continued to threaten lives and the enjoyment of human rights.  Human rights should not be used as political tools, he said, and should be addressed in full respect of the principle of non-selectivity, objectivity and non-interference, with the consent of the country concerned.  He underlined that India had rejected all kinds of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance.  India had also made efforts to strengthen its legislation in the field of access to water, sanitation, education and health care, and remained committed to pursuing efforts and reforms in that regard.

Introduction of Draft Resolutions

Considering the Committee’s agenda item relating to social development, the representative of Malawi introduced a draft resolution on “Persons with albinism” (document A/C.3/70/L.14).  Brazil’s delegate introduced a draft text, titled, “Integrating volunteering into peace and development: the plan of action for the next decade” (document A/C.3/70/L.15).

The representative of Peru then introduced a draft text on “Promoting social integration through social inclusion” (document A/C.3/70/L.9) and Mongolia’s representative introduced a draft resolution, titled, “Cooperatives in social development” (document A/C.3/70/L.12).

Turning to the agenda item on the advancement of women, the representative of Mongolia presented a draft text on “The improvement of the situation of women and girls in rural areas” (document A/C.3/70/L.24).

In relation to the promotion and protection of the rights of children, the representative of Luxembourg, on behalf of the European Union and the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, tabled a draft resolution on the “Rights of the Child” (document A/C.3/70/L.28).  Botswana’s representative, on behalf of the Southern African Development Community, introduced a draft resolution on “The girl child” (document A/C.3/70/L.29).

Bolivia’s representative then introduced a draft text on the “Rights of indigenous peoples” (document A/C.3/70/L.26).

The representative of Italy introduced a draft resolution, titled, “Strengthening the United Nations crime prevention and criminal justice programme, in particular its technical cooperation capacity” (document A/C.3/70/L.8).

In relation to international drug control, Mexico’s representative tabled a draft text, titled, “International cooperation against the world drug problem” (document A/C.3/70/L.10).

JUN SAITO (Japan) said it was the primary responsibility of States to promote and protect human rights.  His delegation expressed concern over the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Despite international efforts, there had been no sign of improvement on the ground.  His country attached great importance to the issue of abductions, which was among the most serious human rights violations conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Accordingly, that situation must be resolved at the earliest possible date.  On Myanmar, he appreciated the Government’s efforts towards democratization and national reconciliation.  Expressing hope that the upcoming elections in the country would be held in a free and fair manner, he said Japan remained fully open to bilateral human rights dialogue with Myanmar.

ALIA ABDULLAH A Y ALMUZAINI (Kuwait) thanked the United Nations for its efforts in enhancing the promotion and protection of human rights.  While doing so, she stressed, it was important to take into account the cultural and religious backgrounds of countries.  For its part, Kuwait had attached great importance to the issue and national legislation had fully ensured fundamental freedoms.  To that end, the Parliament had recently passed a bill to establish a human rights department in line with the relevant resolutions and the Paris Principles (principles relating to the status of national institutions).

ZEBIB GEBREKIDAN (Eritrea) said human rights were not just an abstract notion, but a belief engraved in the psyche and history of the society, and were expressed and codified in the national legislation.  The Government had renewed its commitment to ensure the promotion and protection of the political, economic, social and cultural rights of all and had taken measures to raise awareness among enforcement agencies, local officials and the general public on the implementation of recently published civic and penal codes and their procedures.  Moreover, the Government had embarked on a four-year medium-term development programme that related to development efforts, public institutions and the mainstreaming of human rights.  She then underlined the importance of international cooperation on the basis of non-politicized, non-selective, non-confrontational, transparent and constructive dialogue.  The universal periodic review mechanism had proven to be the best mechanism in addressing human rights situations in all countries.  Finally, she insisted that discussions on human rights should also address conditions that impeded their full enjoyment, including poverty, instability, occupation and unjustified sanctions.

MOHAMED IBRAHIM MOHAMED ELBAHI (Sudan) provided an overview of gains made, including the establishment of a juvenile justice system that was in accordance with international standards.  With regard to the rights of women, Sudan was ensuring their involvement in political affairs and representation in Parliament and at high levels in the military.  The Government had established a council on persons with disabilities and had sought to ensure their political involvement and participation in all aspects of society.  Furthermore, Sudan was party to several international human rights instruments and had established a national human rights institution.  It was involved with human rights organizations and cooperated with international mechanisms.  Other gains had been made with regard to combating human and weapons trafficking and preventing the recruitment of children in armed conflicts.  No State had a perfect human rights record, even the United States, he said, calling for human rights to be addressed in a constructive manner, without selectivity, politicization or double standards.

ILLA MAINALI (Nepal) said human rights, nationally and globally, were central pillars of democracy, governance and sustainable development.  Nepal’s Constitution reaffirmed that commitment, as had efforts to implement national action plans to promote equity, equality and social justice with greater transparency and accountability in the governance system.  The Government considered the protection of the human rights of women, children and persons with disabilities as a priority and had been intensifying efforts to implement international standards on those issues.  To address human rights-related violations during the conflict period, Nepal had established the Commission on Investigation of Disappeared Persons and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, with members appointed in February 2015.  Those commissioners would be instrumental in healing the wound of the conflict and usher in an era of durable peace, progress and prosperity.  Nepal was committed to cooperating with United Nations human rights mechanisms and implementing the 2030 Agenda, she said.  In closing, she called for strengthened international cooperation to address migrations.

HECTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERÓN (El Salvador) said migration was a cross-cutting issue and the international community needed to carefully analyse its root causes.  Better job opportunities, family reunifications and natural disasters were the main causes of migration.  His delegation acknowledged that, in 2014, there had been a surge of “irregular” migrants, in particular women and children.  Improving their living conditions was key to providing a better future for children.  With that in mind, he said, at the General Assembly’s sixty-ninth session, his country had introduced a resolution that had requested the Organization to follow up on the situation of accompanied and unaccompanied children crossing borders.

LYNN MARLAR LWIN (Myanmar) said it was unfortunate that country-specific mandates and resolutions had continued to hinder the common goal of promoting and protecting human rights.  Like many other States, Myanmar believed that the universal periodic review was the most reliable mechanism for that task.  Working methods and modalities of country-specific mandates had led to polarization and disagreement.  The Government had undertaken various measures to ensure freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly.  Further, Myanmar had enacted new laws in line with the international standards.  From 2011 to 2015, Myanmar had signed four international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, on the involvement of children in armed conflict.

BAUDELAIRE NDONG ELLA (Gabon) said promoting and protecting human rights were a national priority, as illustrated by the country’s full adhesion to most international human rights instruments on the matter.  Human rights and dignity were prerequisites for the achievement of harmonious development based on the well-being of all populations without discrimination.  Highlighting some national gains, he said Gabon had always welcomed refugees and asylum seekers on its soil and was committed to providing them with education, health and cultivable land, with a view to facilitate their integration and financial autonomy.  Gabon had abolished the death penalty in 2010 and would co-sponsor a resolution on that issue.  Attaching great importance to cooperating with the United Nations in the field of human rights, he said Gabon held the Presidency of the Human Rights Council in 2014 and would continue engaging with the universal periodic review mechanism, special procedures and treaty bodies.

IBRAHIM O. A. DABBASHI (Libya) said terrorism, extremism, armed conflicts, diseases and disasters constituted threats to the promotion and protection of human rights.  The current instability in his country stemmed from activities by armed groups that had been further fuelled by the armed forces’ inability to act due to the current arms embargo.  Extremist groups had undertaken kidnappings, arbitrary detentions and summary executions, he said.  The Government was, however, committed to investigate all allegations of human rights abuses and supported efforts to ensure accountability.  It would be impossible for the Government to fully exercise its human rights duties while its capital was still under occupation by armed groups.  Despite those challenges that were exacerbated by the arms embargo, the Government was committed to cooperating with United Nations human rights mechanisms and to continuing efforts to combat trafficking of migrants in cooperation with the European Union.  Concluding, he regretted attempts by certain States to impose concepts and ideas that were contrary to Islamic Sharia and the values of the Libyan society.

AMRITH ROHAN PERERA (Sri Lanka) said accountability was essential to uphold the rule of law, which guaranteed human rights.  The Government fully recognized that the process of reconciliation involved addressing the areas of truth-seeking, justice, reparation and non-recurrence.  To that end, the Government had proposed to establish a commission for truth, justice, reconciliation and non-recurrence and an office for missing persons.  In addition, the Government was committed to strengthening the National Human Rights Commission through various measures in line with the Paris Principles.  It was also looking forward to signing and ratifying the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance without delay.  Reconciliation was a process and would take time, he stressed.

LIU JIEYI (China), noting that this year marked the seventieth anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, said unrelenting efforts were needed on the part of the international community to promote and protect human rights.  To that end, respecting national sovereignty was a basic precondition.  Development was the sole route towards the realization of human rights and in that regard, the 2030 Agenda was a new starting point.  Dialogue and cooperation had to be kept up and countries should respect the diversity of human rights development paths.  Major initiatives announced by President Xi Jinping at summits marking the Organization’s anniversary had demonstrated how China was a driver of, and contributor to, the international human rights cause.  China had found a human rights development path that was tailored to its national conditions and, as a result, its people were enjoying a better level of human rights protection than ever before, with more democratic rights and freedoms.

NKOLOI NKOLOI (Botswana) recalled his country’s continued commitment to human rights and their contribution to national development.  Botswana, as a member of the Human Rights Council, was fully committed to participating actively in the work of that body and strongly supported the work of OHCHR.  He then expressed deep concerns about worsening reports of human rights abuses presented before the Third Committee during the session and noted that conflicts and systematic abuses had constituted fertile ground for terrorism to incubate and humanitarian emergencies to develop.  He emphasized the need to ensure that the functions and roles of all actors, particularly those of the special procedures mandate holders and other mechanisms of the OHCHR, were well defined for improved coordination and efficiencies in resource utilization.

DAYLENIS MORENO GUERRA (Cuba), aligning with CELAC, reaffirmed her country’s commitment to human rights, mutual respect, international cooperation, objectivity and non‑selectivity.  She regretted to say that some powers had continued to accuse developing countries of human rights violations, which was, in itself, a violation of the Charter of the United Nations and an attempt to advance their hegemonic views.  Some of those countries, such as the United States, were judging others and yet were forgetting about their own human rights violations, including arbitrary detention, extrajudicial executions and torture.  She then referred to the current migrant crisis in Europe that had resulted from conflicts that those powers had themselves initiated.  She regretted that the right to development was still not being respected and implemented, years after the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the matter.  Cuba was committed to collaborating with the universal periodic review and the treaty bodies, and to engaging with partners in a spirit of openness and constructive cooperation.  Human rights efforts should focus on addressing poverty, illiteracy, hunger and a lack of access to education and health.  It must also respect cultural diversity and political, economic and social systems.

JUAN CARLOS MENDOZA-GARCÍA (Costa Rica) reiterated his country’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, including civil, cultural, economic, social and political.  Drawing attention to the 2030 Agenda, he said the international community needed to take into account the needs and rights of indigenous people, persons with disabilities and migrants.  States must take all necessary measures to address sexual violence and give priority to ensure access to sexual and reproductive health.  In conclusion, he noted that Costa Rica had advocated the idea of nominating a woman to become the next United Nations Secretary-General.

LOT THAUZENI PANSIPADANA DZONZI (Malawi) acknowledged the linkages between human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals.  Education was central to the 2030 Agenda, he said, adding that the Government was committed to providing education as a public good.  While Malawi was ensuring that the right to education was respected, protected and fulfilled, particular emphasis was given to girls and children with disabilities.  Further, the Government was working towards the realization of the right to water and sanitation.  To that end, relevant policies and programmes had been developed in partnerships with local authorities and non‑governmental organizations (NGOs).

FERNANDO ANDRÉS MARANI (Argentina), aligning with CELAC, affirmed his country’s commitment to oppose all forms of discrimination, including against LGBT persons.  Argentina would table a draft resolution on the rights of elder persons and noted that the current international human rights framework was not sufficient to prevent violations of their rights.  Indeed, only a specific legally binding instrument would ensure that the rights of older persons were protected.  Moving forward, he stressed the importance of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and said that Argentina, together with France and Morocco, would present a draft resolution on that issue.

MAHE’ULI’ULI SANDHURST TUPOUNIUA (Tonga) said his Government had continued to advance the protection of human rights following the country’s first democratic elections.  That commitment had been cross-cutting, he said, highlighting the importance of the rights to development, an adequate standard of living and social protections.  He reaffirmed the importance of the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies as integral to the protection of human rights and the attainment of sustainable development.  Moving forward, he said the threat that climate change posed to small islands extended to the enjoyment of human rights by their populations, including their right to food.  He pointed out that Tonga was considered the country second most at risk in the world in terms of facing the constant interrelated threats of tsunamis, tropical cyclones and other climatic hazards.

Right of Reply

Exercising the right of reply, the representative of Turkey said the representative of Greece had portrayed a selective and one-sided interpretation of the history.  He said the atrocities against Turkish Cypriots were well documented in the United Nations archives.  His country had intervened in Cyprus in 1974 to protect Turkish Cypriots and prevent the annexation of the island.  Turkish Cypriots had proven their political will for a solution by voting in favour of the United Nations Comprehensive Settlement Plan in 2004.  However, sadly, today, people continued to live in an unacceptable isolation.  To that end, his delegation expected the international community to end the injustice without further delay.

The speaker from Cyprus, exercising the right of reply, responded to the statement made by Turkey’s delegate, saying, “Turkey’s invasion of the island is a violation of international law”.

Also exercising the right of reply, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said Japan was attempting to “name and shame” his country.  Looking at the history, he said that Japan had invaded many countries in Asia, causing suffering.

China’s speaker, exercising the right of reply, rejected ungrounded allegations made by the United States on the human rights situation in his country.  The United States had no qualms about criticizing others, but showed no intention to improve its own terrible human rights record, including systematic discrimination against minorities, torture of detainees, appalling detention conditions and violations of the right to privacy.

Also exercising the right of reply, the representative of Japan responded to remarks made by the speaker from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, urging that country’s authorities to provide full accounts on abduction cases and to extradite those responsible.  The acts of abduction were without doubt a human rights issue, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should accept recommendations in that regard that were made by the Commission of Inquiry.  Remarks made by the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with regard to Japan’s past crimes were based on false information, he said, while reiterating that Japan had expressed deep regrets for past crimes.

The delegate from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, taking the floor for a second time, rejected comments just made by the speaker from Japan and insisted that Japan had never resolved past crimes against humanity perpetrated during the Second World War.  In addition, he called on Japan not to politicize the issue of abductions.

The representative of Japan, taking the floor a second time, reiterated the position of his country regarding those issues.

Also exercising the right of reply, the delegate of Russian Federation said that what happened in Crimea was the result of the wishes of the people of Crimea, including the Tatars.  National human rights institutions had continued to work to improve the situation in the region.  To that end, the Government had recognized the Tatar language and strengthened the Tatars’ educational and cultural institutions.

Ukraine’s delegate, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said the Russian Federation had taken over Crimea and Sevastopol with no legal basis.  Russia’s annexation was not recognized by the international community, he said.

For information media. Not an official record.