Tabling 1 Draft, Third Committee Approves 4 Texts, Addressing Human Rights, Gender Equality, Finding Durable Solutions for Refugees, Asylum Seekers
A draft resolution that would see the General Assembly address the global refugee crisis and the role of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was among four texts approved today without a vote by the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural).
The draft resolution on UNHCR would have the General Assembly strongly condemn attacks on refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons, deplore their refoulement and unlawful expulsion and express concern at arbitrary detention. The text would also have the Assembly express concern at the large number of asylum seekers who have lost their lives at sea, encourage international cooperation to strengthen search and rescue mechanisms and commend “the great lifesaving efforts and actions” that had been taken by a number of States.
By the text, the Assembly would urge States to uphold the civilian and humanitarian character of refugee camps and settlements by preventing the infiltration of such camps by armed elements and to create opportunities for resettlement as a durable solution for refugees and asylum seekers. The Assembly would, by the text, welcome the work of UNHCR and encourage its promotion of durable solutions, particularly in protracted refugee situations, and urges Governments and other donors to respond promptly to UNHCR’s annual and supplementary appeals.
Among other drafts approved today, one on the International Covenants on Human Rights would have the General Assembly hold a plenary at its seventy-first session to mark the fiftieth anniversary of their adoption. Other texts addressed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Subregional Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa.
The representative of Madagascar presented a draft resolution on “Assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa”.
Delivering statements were representatives of Denmark (for Nordic countries), United States, Sweden (for Nordic countries), and Cameroon.
The Committee will meet again at a date and time to be determined.
Action on Draft Resolutions
Under the Committee’s agenda item relating to the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions, the representative of Madagascar introduced a draft resolution on “Assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa” (document A/C.3/70/L.62).
By its terms, the resolution would see the General Assembly express “serious concern” about an expected reduction of the budget allocated to provide humanitarian assistance to refugees and internally displaced persons in Africa. It would also call upon the international donor community to provide material and unearmarked financial assistance for the implementation of programmes directed at refugees and internally displaced persons.
The Committee then took up the draft text on the “Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women” (document A/C.3/70/L.22).
The representative of Denmark, speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), said the draft was a short procedural text inviting the Chair of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women to engage in an interactive dialogue with the General Assembly in forthcoming sessions and requesting the Secretary-General to submit another report on the status of the Convention. Apart from technical updates, no other changes were made in the resolution compared to the one that had been adopted two years before.
The text was approved without a vote.
Speaking after its approval, the representative of the United States said her country strongly supported the Convention. The Obama Administration was committed to its ratification. Although there were aspects of the report with which the United States did not agree, it was joining consensus as it was a strong supporter of the goals of the Convention.
The Committee then took up a text on the “Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees” (document A/C.3/70/L.63).
The representative of Denmark, on behalf of the Nordic countries, said the objective of that text was to reiterate the support of the General Assembly to the work of the Office of UNHCR. The resolution had been updated to include current challenges resulting from mass displacement and the migration crisis.
The text was then approved without a vote.
The Committee then turned to the draft resolution on “International Covenants on Human Rights” (document A/C.3/70/L.21).
The representative of Sweden, on behalf of the Nordic countries, said “L.21” was a short procedural text mainly with technical updates. It would have the Assembly welcome the forthcoming fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The text’s adoption would demonstrate the broad support for those two widely-ratified core human rights treaties and acknowledge the highly valued work of the Human Rights Committee and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
The representative of the United States said that, while her country disagreed with some aspects of the report, it was joining consensus in order to underscore its strong support for the goals of the Covenants and the work of the United Nations generally.
Again, without a vote, the text was approved.
Finally, the Committee took up the text on the “Subregional Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa” (document A/C.3/70/L.53).
The representative of Cameroon, presenting the draft resolution, said the purpose of the text was to enable the Centre to report on its activities and to continue to seek the support of Member States. The draft text was based on a resolution adopted in 2013, with some technical updates added.
New paragraphs had been added to take into account the current subregional humanitarian and security context, with references to attacks, exactions, crimes and massive human rights violations against civilian populations by Boko Haram. In that regard, she underlined the importance for the international community to support efforts to combat Boko Haram and to unequivocally condemn atrocities and terrorist activities by that group. Referring to the draft text, she said the Centre, 14 years after its creation, had succeeded in reaching some of its objectives in the subregion. Its activities were being more and more solicited, which required international actors to continue supporting its work and procure sufficient resources for the fulfilment of its mandate.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote.