In a Rare Call for Vote over ‘Rights of Child’ Resolution, Third Committee Delegates Heatedly Debate Sex Education, Approving Package of 13 Texts
For the first time since 2009, delegates today requested a recorded vote on a draft resolution on the rights of the child, as the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) sent a package of 13 texts to the General Assembly on a range of issues, from preventing violence and women migrant workers to involving youth in paving a way to a sustainable future.
By a vote of 128 in favour to none against, with 44 abstentions, the Committee sent to the General Assembly a text that would have the world body urge all States to respect and promote the rights of children and to protect them from all forms of violence, including by exercising due diligence, investigating, prosecuting and punishing the perpetrators.
Prior to that action, separate recorded votes were taken for elements of the text. Under discussion was operative paragraph 49u, which called upon States to give full effect to the right to education for all children to develop and implement educational programmes and teaching materials, including comprehensive evidence-based education on human sexuality.
Many speakers, including those from Egypt and the United States, expressed deep disappointment that the text, which had traditionally been approved by consensus, had been subjected to a vote. Agreeing, Uruguay’s representative, on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group, highlighted that tireless efforts had been made towards achieving a compromise. The 108 paragraphs in the resolution were guided by a spirit of protecting the rights of all girls and boys to benefit the poorest and the most vulnerable.
The representative of Sierra Leone said that operative paragraph 49u went against the spirit of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. He emphasized that certain Member States had sought to impose their cultural and social preferences on others.
He then made an oral amendment to replace that operative paragraph with the following text: “To develop and where appropriate with the support of international organizations, civil society and non-governmental organizations, policies and programmes, giving priority to formal, informal and non-formal education programmes, including age-appropriate sex education, with appropriate direction and guidance from parents and legal guardians, that support adolescents and enable them to acquire relevant and adequate knowledge and information in a manner consistent with their evolving capacities, develop self-esteem and take responsibility for their own lives, and to place special focus on programmes to educate women and men, especially parents ,about the importance of children’s physical and mental health and well-being and the need to develop and maintain respectful relationships between girls and boys”.
The Committee rejected that amendment, by a recorded vote of 67 in favour to 84 against, with 15 abstentions. The Committee also rejected, by a recorded vote of 63 in favour to 90 against, with 11 abstentions a proposed oral amendment to delete the operative paragraph in question.
Drawing attention to the lack of consensus, the speaker from Belarus said the recorded vote was putting pressure on the weak. Raising similar concerns, the Russian Federation’s delegate said the Committee was concentrating its time and energy on discussing sexual education rather than addressing the issue of violence against children.
Speaking in explanation of the vote after the vote, some representatives, including those from Iran and Pakistan, said that even though their delegations had cast a favourable ballot for the text, they were disassociating their countries from the operative paragraph under discussion. Also disassociating his country from that paragraph, India’s delegate said that the United Nations should not be used to advance controversial values that impeded States’ sovereign rights to advance human rights issues in accordance with their social and cultural background.
Representing another view, a number of speakers stressed that comprehensive evidence-based education for human sexuality for all adolescents and youth would positively impact their lifelong well-being. Palau’s speaker said such education enabled young people to make informed decisions about their sexuality and health.
In other business, the Committee approved, without a vote, draft texts on youth, violence against women migrant workers, refugees in Africa, persons with albinism, indigenous peoples and the protection of migrants. Also without a vote, the Committee approved texts on the right to food, on measures to enhance the promotion and protection of the human rights and dignity of older persons and on international cooperation against the world drug problem. It also approved, without a vote, a text on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation.
The Committee approved by a recorded vote of 111 in favour to 2 against (Belarus and Israel), with 59 abstentions a draft resolution on the report of the Human Rights Council. It also approved a text on the right to development by a vote of 136 in favour to 4 against (Canada, Israel, United Kingdom, United States), with 34 abstentions.
The delegate of Iran spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 25 November, to continue its work.
Action of Draft Resolutions
The Committee first took up a draft resolution on “Policies and programmes involving youth” (document A/C.3/70/L.11/Rev.1).
By its terms, the Committee would have the General Assembly urge Member States to promote equal opportunities for all, to eliminate all forms of discrimination against young people and to foster social integration for social groups such as young persons with disabilities, young migrants and indigenous youth on an equal basis with others. The world body, by the text, would encourage Member States to promote health education and health literacy among young people and to increase the access of youth to affordable, safe, effective, sustainable and youth-friendly health care and social services.
Also by the text, the Assembly would urge Member States to develop accessible, available and affordable primary health-care services of high quality, including sexual and reproductive health care. Further by the text, the Assembly would urge Member States to address gender stereotypes that perpetuate discrimination and violence against girls and young women and to strengthen policies and programmes that improve, ensure and broaden the full and equal participation of young women in all spheres of political, economic, social and cultural life. The text would also address the situation of youth in armed conflict situations, young people living under foreign occupation, as well as youth in marginalized groups affected or exploited by terrorism and incitement.
The delegate from Portugal, one of three main co-sponsors, said the world was witnessing the largest generation ever of young people, numbering 1.8 billion. Youth issues affected all Member States. The text had been drafted to be relevant for young people worldwide. It focused on the nexus between World Programme of Action for Youth, adopted 20 years ago, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It was time, more than ever before, to improve investments in policies and programmes that enabled youth to prosper, enjoy their human rights and engage in society as responsible actors. The text noted the positive contributions of youth to the work of the General Assembly by recognizing young delegates’ efforts during the drafting process.
The representative of the Republic of Moldova, another main co-sponsor, said that as oral revisions had been presented and innumerable proposals from many delegations had been considered, it was essential not to lose sight of the overall purpose of the draft. Only a constructive approach to improving the text in a consensual manner would make it possible to move forward to truly benefit the youth of the world.
The delegate from Senegal, the third main co-sponsor, said that informal consultations on the text had put a special accent on poverty eradication, health, HIV/AIDS, climate change, empowerment of women, gender equality, decent employment, globalization and armed conflict. The goal of the text was to promote a generation of prosperous societies for and with young people.
The Committee then approved the text without a vote, as orally revised.
The representative of Denmark, on behalf of a number of countries, said young people around the world had increasingly been discussing and highlighting sexual and reproductive health and rights as a priority issue. Such rights were integral to preventing maternal deaths, HIV infections, early pregnancy and the protection of girls from violence, abuse and discrimination. Young people’s sexual and reproductive rights needed to be recognized, respected, protected and fulfilled as human rights. The explicit reinforcement of young people to have their sexual and reproductive rights upheld in future resolutions would be welcomed and supported.
Nigeria’s delegate said that the draft resolution, which was considered biennially, should, in the future, highlight the importance of the family in providing guidance to youth. The role of the family should be emphasized by States and the role of parents in the moral development of their children recognized. Parental autonomy could not be overemphasized. Youth participation was key to the implementation of any sustainable development goals.
The representative of Qatar, on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, said the role of young people in social and economic life was a matter of wisdom that was in line with national policies and youth programmes. Relevant agreements were implemented in line with the religious precepts, laws and national guidelines of the countries on whose behalf she was speaking.
Next, the Committee considered a draft resolution on “Violence against women migrant workers” (document A/C.3/70/L.7/Rev.1).
By that text, the General Assembly would call upon all Governments to incorporate a human rights, gender-sensitive and people-centred perspective in legislation, policies and programmes on migration, labour and employment for the prevention of and protection of migrant women against violence and discrimination, exploitation and abuse. The world body would urge Governments to enhance bilateral, regional, interregional and international cooperation to address violence against women migrant workers, to adopt minimum wage policies and employment contracts, to facilitate effective access to justice and to exchange information and good practices in combating violence and discrimination and fostering sustainable development alternatives to migration in countries of origin. Further, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to provide a comprehensive, analytical and thematic report to the General Assembly at its seventy-second session on the problem of violence against women migrant workers.
The representative of the Philippines, speaking on behalf of Indonesia, made oral revisions to the draft text. She expressed concerns over the many migrant women who were vulnerable to abuse and exploitation and underlined the obligation of States to protect their human rights. The text emphasized the need for objective comprehensive and broad-based information, including sex- and age-disaggregated data and statistics, and gender-sensitive indicators for research and analysis. In addition, the text recognized the need for a wide exchange of experience and lessons learned by individual Member States in the formulation of targeted policies and concrete strategies. The draft would also encourage Governments to seek to address the push and pull factors for women’s irregular migration, she said.
Acting without a vote, the Third Committee then approved the text, as orally revised.
The Committee then took up a draft text on the “Assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa” (document A/C.3/70/L.62/Rev.1).
By the terms of that text, the General Assembly would call upon African Member States to consider signing or ratifying the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa. It would also call upon the international community to take concrete action to meet the protection and assistance needs of refugees, returnees and displaced persons. By its terms, the world body would also condemn all acts that pose a threat to the personal security and well-being of refugees and asylum seekers and call upon States of refuge to take all measures necessary to ensure respect for the principles of refugee protection.
Further to the text, the Assembly would call upon the international community to intensify their support of African Governments through appropriate capacity-building activities, in particular those that had received large numbers of refugees and asylum seekers. Expressing serious concern about the expected reduction of the budget allocated to provide humanitarian assistance to refugees and internally displaced persons in Africa in 2016 and 2017, the Assembly would, by the text, urge the international community to continue to fund the refugee programmes of the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees.
Making a general statement, the representative of Sierra Leone, speaking on behalf of the African Group, thanked delegations for their constructive engagement and introduced oral revisions to the draft text.
The Committee then approved without a vote the draft text, as orally revised.
The Committee took up a draft resolution on the “Report of the Human Rights Council” (document A/C.3/70/L.66), by which the General Assembly would take note of the report of the Human Rights Council (document A/70/53) and its recommendations.
The representative of Sierra Leone, the main sponsor on behalf of the States Members of the United Nations that are members of the Group of African States, reiterated the importance that the African Group attached to the draft resolution. The African Group was mindful that the Human Rights Council was created by the General Assembly and, hence, there was a need for the Council to report on its work to the world body.
The Group considered the creation of the Council as a milestone in the promotion and protection of human rights while avoiding selectivity and double standards. Reports of the Council touched upon issues of utmost importance for the African Group and others, among them the protection of the family, female genital mutilation and the impact of toxic waste on human rights. The African Group was strongly concerned by attempts to address sexual orientation and gender identity which had no reference in international human rights law. Focusing on notions on which there was no international agreement or consensus would undermine a balanced and egalitarian approach to human rights.
The delegate of Belarus said there had been a growing trend for the Human Rights Council to take decisions by vote. Her country was against the use of country-specific mechanisms that enabled States with the resources to do so to legitimize their own unilateral measures. Items that went against the principle of an intergovernmental approach had been included in the report of the Council. A recorded vote was being requested by her country, she said.
Israel’s representative said that, every day, around the world, human rights were being violated in the worst ways. However, the Human Rights Council had demonstrated a fixation with his country, the only free democracy in the Middle East. The Council had not addressed the actions of Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups and it did not care for the human rights of Israelis. Hamas had never been mentioned in its resolutions. Further, the Council had been taken over by some of the worst human rights violators in the world and it had completely abandoned its founding principles. As such, he said Israel would vote against the draft.
Syria’s delegate said his country had always voted in favour of the resolution. However, the political trends in some countries had shown that they did not want anything good for Syria and its people. Resolutions at the Human Rights Council with regard to Syria had ignored the presence of terrorism and the need to disarm terrorist groups. While his delegation would abstain from voting, he said that decision did not change Syria’s position with regard to the Israeli occupation of the Golan and the Palestinian territories.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said his delegation supported Belarus’s request for a recorded vote.
Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, the delegate of Luxembourg, on behalf of the European Union, expressed reservations, saying it was unnecessary for the Committee to note resolutions of the Human Rights Council in a generic manner. The Committee should only consider and take action on individual recommendations in the Council’s report. It was enough to have considered that report on 16 November in an interactive dialogue in the plenary of the General Assembly, where, like others, the European Union had expressed its views. It was regrettable that it had not been possible to discuss the procedural and other implications of the draft resolution with its main sponsors and all interested parties in an open meeting and in a timely matter. The member States of the European Union would therefore abstain from the vote on the draft resolution.
Liechtenstein’s representative said her country and a number of others on whose behalf she was speaking were compelled to abstain on procedural grounds. It was up to the plenary of the General Assembly, and not the Third Committee, to take action on the report of the Human Rights Council.
The United States’ speaker said her delegation would also abstain. Her country was deeply concerned about the Human Rights Council’s disproportionate focus on Israel. However, the Council had taken other important actions in fulfilling its mandate, including “strong resolutions” on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Iran, South Sudan, Sudan and Syria. The draft resolution was procedurally unnecessary. In past years, it had been used by some delegations to undermine decisions of the Human Rights Council.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution by a vote of 111 in favour to 2 against (Belarus, Israel), with 59 abstentions.
Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, Iran’s representative said it was regrettable that some countries had been politicizing human rights issues with country-specific resolutions while turning a blind eye to their own dire human rights situations and those of their allies. Her delegation had abstained from the vote and disassociated itself from the part of the Human Rights Council report that included a resolution concerning her country, she said.
The delegate of Costa Rica, which abstained from the vote, said reports of the Human Rights Council should be adopted by the General Assembly and not by the Third Committee. That was absolutely essential.
Myanmar’s representative said there should be no more country-specific resolutions at the Human Rights Council or the Third Committee. With that in mind, he said his delegation had abstained.
Making a general statement, Malawi’s delegate said he had not been able to vote before the “locking” of the voting machine. He wished to indicate that his delegation would have voted in favour.
Right of Reply
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Iran responded to comments made by her counterpart from the United States. She referred to double standards, the politicization of human rights issues and the rejection by the United States of recognizing the human rights situation with regard to its allies.
Continuation of Action
The Third Committee then took up a draft text on the “Rights of the child” (document A/C.3/70/L.28/Rev.1).
By the terms of that text, the General Assembly would welcome the fifteenth anniversary of the adoption of the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as the increasing number of ratifications of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The world body would, by the text, urge all States to respect, protect and promote the right of girls and boys to express themselves freely and to protect children from all forms of violence, including by exercising due diligence, investigating, prosecuting and punishing the perpetrators. The Assembly would also express the commitment to protect the human rights of migrant children, particularly unaccompanied migrant children, and to provide for their health, education and psychosocial development, ensuring that the best interests of the child are a primary consideration in policies of integration, return and family reunification.
Further by the text, the Assembly would express its deep concern about attacks against schools and hospitals and about the lack of progress on the ground in some situations where parties to armed conflict continue to violate the rights and protection of children with impunity. The text would also have the General Assembly call upon all States to give full effect to the right to education for all, including those with disabilities and indigenous children. Finally, the General Assembly would request the Secretary-General to submit to the body at its seventy-first session a report on the status of the Convention, with a focus on migrant children.
The representative of Luxembourg, speaking on behalf of the European Union and the Latin American and Caribbean Group, presented an oral revision to the text concerning operative paragraphs 11, 48, and 49. She said that the draft addressed a comprehensive range of issues while focusing on Section III of the resolution on the right to education. In particular, the text called for the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against children and condemned in the strongest terms all violations and abuses committed against children in armed conflict.
Continuing, she said the text also urged States to ensure that the views of children were heard in all matters affecting them and recognized that violence and bullying could severely hamper their right to education. The text was the result of extensive negotiations with interested delegations and would provide a good basis for the Committee’s consideration of the promotion and protection of the rights of the child in the upcoming years. She hoped that the resolution, as orally amended, would be adopted by consensus.
The representative of Sierra Leone made an oral amendment to replace the operative paragraph 49u as the elements in the actual paragraph went against the spirit and the letter of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The language in the paragraph called upon States to develop educational programmes and teaching materials in order to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women of all ages. The purposes of education programmes called upon by that paragraph were not in line with the obligations of Member States reflected in the Convention in articles 28 and 29 related to children’s education.
He said the amendment presented was a matter of principle and should not be seen as a way of blocking negotiations. The adoption of that language in the operative paragraph 49u set a very negative precedent for the work of the United Nations as certain Member States sought to impose their cultural and social preferences on others. He then urged Member States to vote in favour of the oral amendment.
The representative of Russian Federation made a point of order, asking which rule prohibited delegations, which co-sponsored a resolution, from becoming authors of other amendments or resolutions to the same text.
The Secretary of the Committee MONCEF KHANE noted that, as a long-standing practice, amendments were considered to be “hostile” changes to draft resolutions if they had not been accepted immediately by its main sponsors.
The representative of Luxembourg then requested a vote on the oral amendment proposed by Sierra Leone’s delegate.
Making a general statement, the representative of Egypt noted that there was no rule prohibiting the African Group from co-sponsoring the amendment presented by Sierra Leone.
Taking the floor again, Mr. KHANE noted that three countries of the African Group had co-sponsored the draft resolution. To resolve that conflict, those countries might withdraw their co-sponsorship, he suggested.
Committee Chair Mr. DEMPSEY suspended the meeting for five minutes, under the rules of procedure.
After the break, the delegate from Sierra Leone proposed the same amendment on behalf of 51 countries in Africa instead of on behalf of the African Group.
Egypt’s speaker noted that what was being done was against the rules of procedure. She wished that her statement was reflected in the records. She then listed 51 countries as co-sponsors of the amendment presented by Sierra Leone.
The representatives of Rwanda and Guinea believed that the amendment presented by Sierra Leone improved the overall draft resolution. Therefore, her delegation would support it.
The speaker from Liberia supported the statement delivered by Luxembourg, noting that it was important to address the issue of comprehensive evidence-based education in the text.
Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, the delegate from Luxembourg, on behalf of the European Union and the Latin American and Caribbean Group, said the amendment tabled by Sierra Leone to alter the language in operative paragraph 49u would delete several important elements. As such, the States she had spoken on behalf of would vote against that amendment, she noted, strongly encouraging everyone to do the same.
Also speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, Albania’s representative echoed the statement delivered by Luxembourg and noted that it was important to address the issue of comprehensive evidence-based education for human sexuality in that draft resolution.
Uruguay’s speaker thanked countries for working tirelessly to make progress towards the protection and promotion of the rights of the child. However, due to similar reasons raised by Luxembourg, her delegation would vote against the amendment, she said.
The oral amendment to replace operative paragraph 49u in “L.28/Rev.1” was rejected by a recorded vote of 67 in favour to 84 against, with 15 abstentions.
Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of Indonesia said his delegation had voted in favour of the amendment to bridge the gaps between delegations.
Echoing previous statements, Nauru’s delegate noted that her delegation had supported the amendment.
Following that action, the representative of Luxembourg read out the oral revision concerning operative paragraph 11.
The speaker from Yemen proposed an oral amendment to delete paragraph 49u from the draft resolution.
Expressing her disappointment, the speaker from Luxembourg requested a recorded vote on the oral amendment proposed by Yemen’s representative.
Making a general statement, the delegate from Belarus noted that there was no consensus on the wording. The recorded vote, to that end, was putting pressure on the weak, she stressed.
Palau’s speaker, regretting the proposal of the oral amendment, noted that her country valued comprehensive sexuality education as it enabled young people to make informed decisions about their sexuality and health.
Pakistan’s delegate asked the main sponsors of the text to show some flexibility in order to maintain consensus on the issue.
The representatives of Luxembourg and Uruguay urged all Member States to vote against the oral amendment presented by Yemen.
The speaker from Algeria asked countries not to impose their religious, moral and cultural values on others, but to respect the request made by Yemen.
Nigeria’s delegate said her delegation would vote in favour of the deletion of operative paragraph 49u as it was completely against the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The Russian Federation’s speaker said it was disappointing to see that the Committee was concentrating its time and energy on discussing sexual education, but not on addressing violence against children.
The representative of United States said his delegation would vote against the oral amendment proposed by Yemen.
New Zealand’s delegate urged delegations to read the draft resolution again and vote against the oral amendment that was “hostile” to that text.
Barbados’ speaker said her delegation was a proud sponsor of the draft resolution, which reflected a delicate balance on various concerns. To that end, she would vote against the oral amendment.
The oral amendment to delete operative paragraph 49u in “L.28/Rev.1” was then rejected by a recorded vote of 63 in favour to 90 against, with 11 abstentions.
The Committee then returned to the full text of draft resolution “L.28/Rev.1” on the rights of the child.
The representative of Trinidad and Tobago, on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), expressed appreciation to the European Union and Uruguay for the way in which consultations on the text had been carried out.
The representative of the Maldives withdrew her delegation’s co-sponsorship of the draft resolution, but would either join consensus or, if necessary, vote in favour of the text.
Vice-Chair, Mr. DEMPSEY, said a recorded vote had been requested by the delegation of Yemen.
The representative of Yemen, on behalf of Oman, Syria, Mauritania and Saudi Arabia, said all means and options had been exhausted. For that reason, a recorded vote had been requested. Objections to operative paragraph 49u had been expressed, but they had not been taken into consideration.
The speaker from Luxembourg, on behalf of the European Union and the Latin American and Caribbean Group, deeply regretted that a vote had been called on a text that had always enjoyed consensus. The signal that sent was alarming. The draft resolution was about so much more than any one paragraph or one issue. Delegations were urged in the strongest possible terms to vote yes. “Our children deserve no less.”
The delegate of Uruguay, speaking for the Latin American and Caribbean Group, regretted to say that the text would be subjected to a vote. Tireless efforts had been made towards achieving a compromise. The 108 paragraphs in the resolution were guided by a spirit of protecting the rights of all girls and boys. It was a resolution that would benefit the poorest and the most vulnerable.
The representative of Nigeria noted, with great concern and alarm, the introduction of a resolution with tendencies that could undermine the family structure of societies. An agenda was being thrust upon Member States by special interest groups. States should not be forced to accept values that were alien to them.
Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, the delegate of Egypt, aligning with the statement of Sierra Leone from the morning session, said it was a pity that the Committee was voting on the text for the first time in the text’s history. That it was doing so was the result of the co-sponsors imposing their social and cultural norms on other countries in clear breach of the Charter of the United Nations. Egypt would abstain, he said, calling upon all delegations to do so as well, as the issues in operative paragraph 49u were not universally acceptable or reflected in any international human rights instrument.
The representative of the United States said it was disappointing that the draft resolution would not be adopted by consensus for the first time in many years. His delegation would be voting “yes” and understood that the reference in the resolution to an end to child labour by 2025 did not refer to children who did work in their own families’ homes, farms and businesses, he said, adding that reservations were an accepted part of treaty practice.
The representative of New Zealand, on behalf of a number of countries, deeply regretted to say that a vote had been called, after the Committee had voted on two amendments. All delegations were encouraged to vote in favour of the text.
His counterpart from Jamaica said he was disturbed by the call for a vote. He said the Committee Vice-Chair had said that, as a main sponsor, the country that had called for the vote was not allowed, under the procedural rules, to speak in explanation of vote prior to the vote.
Israel’s delegate said his country would vote in favour of the text, as it was committed to making sure that no child was left behind. Israel strongly supported the right to education as the theme of the text in 2015. Politicization of the resolution was regretted, however, as important aspects and concerns raised by her delegation had not been addressed or given sufficient attention. A more productive and balanced approached was needed in the coming years.
The representative of Sudan said operative paragraph 49u did not take into account the cultural and religious aspects of a number of countries, nor was it mentioned in the Convention. He said his country would abstain from voting on the entire text. It was not obliged to implement operative paragraph 49u and it disassociated itself from references to the International Criminal Court. Referring to comments made by the delegate of the United States, he said there was no need to disregard his country.
Gambia’s delegate said it was unfortunate that traditional consensus would not be achieved just because of operative paragraph 49u. To vote “no” would be to say no to the rights of children, but to vote yes would be to approve of things with which one did not agree. As such, Gambia’s delegation would abstain.
Yemen’ speaker said, on a point of order, that the floor had been given to New Zealand even though it was a main sponsor of the draft.
Committee Secretary Mr. KHANE, acknowledging an error, said it was not easy to maintain discipline, noting that the statement by New Zealand would be considered to be a general statement and not an explanation of vote before the vote.
The representative of Ethiopia regretted to say that the draft resolution was being subjected to a vote. Responsibility lied with the main sponsors for not taking sufficient time to address concerns, particularly with regard to operative paragraph 49u. Thus, her delegation would abstain from voting, she said.
Rwanda’s representative said that, in order to preserve unity within the African Group, her delegation would vote in favour, while disassociating itself from paragraph 49u, which was quite controversial.
The Committee then approved “L.28/Rev.1” by a vote of 128 in favour to none against, with 44 abstentions, along with its related programme budget implications contained in document A/C.3/70/L.109.
Speaking in explanation of the vote after the vote, the delegate from Pakistan said that he voted in favour of the resolution, but would disassociate from operative paragraph 49u.
The speaker from Iran said that the paragraph in question was incompatible with agreed international standards and was contrary to the principle of the best interests of the child, as recognized by the Convention. Iran therefore disassociated itself from that paragraph, even though it had voted in favour of the resolution, he said.
India’s delegate said that the United Nations should not be used to advance controversial values that impeded States’ sovereign rights to advance human rights issues in accordance with their social and cultural background. India therefore disassociated from operative paragraph 49u.
The representative of Kenya said that her country attached great importance to the rights of the child, but regretted that she was forced to abstain from voting on the text owing to the ambivalent phrasing of some of its paragraphs.
The speaker from the Russian Federation said that her delegation attached great importance to the rights of the child, but recalled that it had not co-sponsored the text in many years because of the co-facilitators’ unwillingness to come up with wording that would address the concerns of all States. She expressed concern also at the fact that the text submitted today was the outcome of the work of two regional groups only, and stressed the need to take the views of all groups into account in the future.
Namibia’s delegate regretted to say that the main co-sponsors of that resolution had chosen to include controversial provisions on “education on human sexuality”, which had compelled her delegation to abstain during the vote on that text.
The representative of Zimbabwe said her delegation had been unable to support operative paragraph 49u, which would not benefit the children. She said her delegation had abstained during the vote.
Singapore’s speaker said that although his delegation had voted in favour of the resolution, it had reservations. He hoped that the text could be adopted by consensus again in the future.
Algeria’s representative regretted that the main interests of the child had not been taken into consideration by some delegations which sought to impose controversial elements to the text, in contradiction with some States’ cultural backgrounds. As such, she said Algeria disassociated itself from operative paragraph 49u.
The delegate from Mauritania said that operative paragraph 49u ran contrary to his country’s domestic legislation and religion.
The representative of Afghanistan disassociated his country from operative paragraph 49u.
Making in general comment, the representative of Jamaica regretted to say that a vote had been called on the text. He underlined the importance of consensus within United Nations bodies. He lamented that a few delegations were determined not to exercise flexibility, and reaffirmed Jamaica’s full commitment to work in a collaborative and constructive spirit on the rights of the child in the future.
The speaker from Libya, in an explanation of vote after the vote, reiterated her country’s commitment to the rights of the child, including the right to education. Libya had abstained during the vote, she said, because of the provisions the text contained that ran counter to national legislation and social and religious values. Libya therefore disassociated itself from operative paragraph 49u, she said, regretting to add that some delegations had not been willing to take into account the views of all.
The representative of Egypt, speaking on behalf of the group of countries that had presented draft amendments, said that the elements in operative paragraph 49u ran contrary to both the spirit and letter of the Convention and was in clear opposition with the provisions of articles 28 and 29 of the Convention. The resolution did not refer to any minimum age for sexual education and the elements of that paragraph affected the innocence of the child as well as its psychological and physiological balance. She welcomed those delegations that had voted in favour of the draft amendment to the resolution and, in the name of those countries, formally disassociated from operative paragraph 49u which provisions would not be implemented. She requested that her statement be annexed to the draft resolution.
Qatar’s delegate regretted to say that her delegation had to abstain for the vote, as delegations had not shown the willingness to take cultural diversity into account. Qatar’s implementation of that resolution would be made in line with its own domestic legislation.
The representative of the Holy See underlined that parents had the primary responsibility for their children’s education. He affirmed that the Holy See would interpret that resolution as not recognizing a right to abortion, and disassociated from operative paragraph 49u.
The representative of Luxembourg took the floor to ask what rule of procedure would allow the Egyptian delegate to have their statement annexed to the resolution.
The representative of Egypt said that such a procedure had been made in the past, with regard to resolution A/53/144.
The speaker from the Secretariat then took the floor to confirm that statements from delegations could not be annexed to the text of resolutions.
The Committee then took note of the Report of the Secretary-General on the Status of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (document A/70/315), before closing its agenda item on the Promotion and protection of the rights of children.
The Committee took up next a draft resolution on “Persons with albinism” (document A/C.3/70/L.14/Rev.1).
By its terms, the General Assembly would encourage Member States to continue meeting their obligations to uphold the rights of persons with albinism, including the rights to life, liberty, security of person, education, work and an adequate standard of living. Further by the text, it would request the Secretary-General to submit a report on the various social development challenges faced by persons with albinism, taking into consideration the specific needs of women and children.
The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania said the central role of Member States in upholding the rights of persons with albinism was underscored in the draft resolution. The text also requested that the Secretary-General present a comprehensive report during the seventy-second session of the General Assembly on the social development challenges that such persons faced. Albinism was a grave public concern that required lifelong management.
The Third Committee then approved without a vote the draft and its programme budget implications (document A/C.3/70/L.108).
Making a general statement, the representative of the United States expressed appreciation at the efforts of all States involved. The root causes of discrimination should be addressed. Joining consensus did not imply adhering to instruments to which her country was not party to.
Canada’s delegate noted that operative paragraph 2 requested a report from the Secretary-General. The Independent Expert was best placed to speak to the challenges and obstacles of persons with albinism. It was trusted that the Secretary-General would draw heavily on her work.
The representatives of Switzerland and Iceland said they supported Canada’s statement.
The representative of Japan also expressed concern about operative paragraph 2, which requested a report from the Secretary-General, while the Independent Expert was mandated to present a report as well to the General Assembly on practically the same subject. Further coordination between the Secretary-General and the Independent Expert was expected in order to address the situation in a holistic and effective manner.
The representative of Luxembourg, speaking on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the reporting on the social development challenges experienced by persons with albinism. However, she urged caution against creating duplicative reporting streams on the issue. Thanking the main sponsors for their efforts, she said that the text would raise international awareness about discrimination and stigmatism against persons with albinism.
The United Republic of Tanzania’s delegate expressed gratitude to those who had joined in co-sponsoring the text and to the Committee for approving by consensus. He noted that the resolution would set a mandate for the Secretary-General. Resources for preparing a report were open-ended and did not exclude reaching out to the Independent Expert.
The Committee then took note of four documents: the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly (document A/70/173); the report of the Secretary-General on the preparations for and observance of the twentieth anniversary of the International Year of the Family in 2014 (document A/70/61); the report of the Secretary-General on ways to promote effective structured and sustainable youth participation (document A/70/156); and the report of the Secretary-General on the follow-up to the International Year of Older Persons: Second World Assembly on Ageing (document A/70/185).
The Committee then concluded its agenda item 28 on social development.
Continuing its consideration of draft resolutions, the Committee took up next a text titled “Rights of indigenous peoples” (document A/C.3/70/L.26/Rev.1).
By that text, the General Assembly would reaffirm the decision to convene a high-level event to mark the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to be held during its seventy-first session in 2017, to assess the remaining challenges for the rights of indigenous peoples and to consider the further follow-up to the Declaration, including the consideration of a third International Decade.
The General Assembly would also decide to expand the mandate of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples so that it could assist representatives of indigenous peoples to participate in the consultation process on steps that would enable their participation in meetings of relevant United Nations bodies on during the seventieth and seventy-first sessions of the General Assembly. In that regard, the General Assembly would request its President to prepare a compilation of good practices regarding indigenous peoples’ participation within the United Nations, to be finalized and adopted by the Assembly during its seventy-first session.
The speaker of Bolivia, also speaking on behalf of Ecuador, said that the draft was the fruit of broad consultations. It was a balanced text that reflected the concerns of delegations, he said, voicing hope that it would be adopted by consensus, as in previous years.
The Committee then approved without a vote draft resolution “L.26/Rev.1” along with its related programme budget implications contained in document A/C.3/70/L.109.
The representative of Mali, in explanation of position after action, pointed out that there were no indigenous peoples in his country, and no discrimination among any communities in Mali. The international community had to be vigilant to ensure that the notion of indigenous peoples was not misused to advance views in contradiction with States’ sovereignty or territorial integrity.
The delegate of Luxembourg, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said she regretted that the budgetary implications of that resolution had just been made public the day before approval. The approval of that resolution would not prejudice the discussions within the Fifth Committee.
The representative of the United Kingdom expressed his Government’s commitment to protect indigenous individuals’ human rights on an equal basis as all other individuals. She stressed that, with the exception of the right to self-determination, the United Kingdom did not recognize collective rights as a matter of principle.
The delegate of Japan, while welcoming the approval of that resolution by consensus also voiced regret that the budget implications had been provided too late.
The speaker of France, also speaking on behalf of Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia and aligning with the European Union, said that her Government did not recognize collective rights. However, she stressed her commitment to ensure the protection of the human rights of all indigenous individuals.
The speaker from the United Republic of Tanzania said that her Government had adopted measures to redress unbalances among all of its people and communities, including minority groups.
The representative of New Zealand, also speaking on behalf of Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua and Norway, expressed their support to the resolution and the rights of indigenous peoples.
The Committee then considered the draft text on the “Protection of migrants” (document A/C.3/70/L.20/Rev.1).
By that text, the General Assembly would call upon States to promote and protect effectively the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants, regardless of their migration status, especially those of women and children. It would further request States to address international migration through international, regional or bilateral cooperation and dialogue, and a comprehensive and balanced approach, recognizing the roles and responsibilities of countries of origin, transit and destination in promoting and protecting the human rights of all migrants.
The Assembly would also urge all States to adopt effective measures to prevent and punish any form of illegal deprivation of liberty of migrants by individuals or groups, and would request States to adopt concrete measures to prevent the violation of the human rights of migrants while in transit. Further, States would be urged to ensure that repatriation mechanisms allow for the identification and special protection of persons in vulnerable situations, including unaccompanied children and persons with disabilities. All States, international organizations and relevant stakeholders would be requested to give due consideration to international, regional and bilateral cooperation in that field.
The representative of Mexico said the draft emphasized the protection of the human rights of migrants in transit, bringing a complementary focus to the resolution of the Human Rights Council on the same theme. The text also updated language on migrants as agents of development, in line with the 2030 Agenda, and reasserted that all Member States should recognize migration as a multidimensional reality. In addition, the draft contained a formula for the biannual consideration of the human rights of migrants that should be taken up on a biannual basis by the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council. Doing so would enhance dialogue between New York and Geneva on an important issue.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote.
The delegate of the United States, speaking in explanation of position after action, said it was the responsibility of States to respect the human rights of all persons on their territory, including migrants. The United States fulfilled its obligations by providing substantial protections under its Constitution and other laws. It was the sovereign right of all States to determine who entered their territories. Reference to the situation cited in preambular paragraph 9 was highly inappropriate. Operative paragraph 3(a) regarding hate crimes against migrants could not be misinterpreted as limiting freedom of expression.
The Committee then considered a draft resolution on “The right to food” (document A/C.3/70/L.36/Rev.1).
By that draft, the General Assembly would express its concern at the fact that the effects created by the world food crisis still continue to have serious consequences for the poorest and most vulnerable people, particularly in developing countries, and that women and girls are disproportionately affected by hunger, food and nutrition insecurity and poverty. The text would also have the Assembly urge States to give adequate priority in their development strategies and expenditures to the realization of the right to food and stress that improving access to productive resources and public investment in rural development is essential for eradicating hunger and poverty.
The Assembly would also stress that States should make all efforts to ensure that their international policies of a political and economic nature, including international trade agreements, do not have a negative impact on the right to food in other countries, and that States parties to the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights should consider implementing that agreement in a manner that is supportive of food security, while being mindful of the obligation of Member States to promote and protect the right to food.
The representative of Cuba thanked those who participated in negotiations and expressed the hope that it would be adopted by consensus.
The Committee then approved without a vote draft resolution L.36/Rev.1.
The delegate of the United States, speaking in explanation of position after action, reiterated her Government’s to combat hunger and poverty. She expressed concern, however, that the text continued to include references to trade agreements or intellectual property, which fell beyond the mandate of the Third Committee. She underscored her disagreement of the use of the term “food crisis”, which did not accurately depict the reality. By joining the consensus on that text, she stressed that she did not recognize any change with regard to international customary law related to the right to food. Further, stating that she did not believe that the right to food was an enforceable right, she rejected extraterritorial obligations.
The representative of Canada said that her delegation had joined the consensus on that text with the understanding that it would not interfere with the World Trade Organization’s trade agreements.
The Committee then turned to a draft resolution on “The right to development” (document A/C.3/70/L.37/Rev. 1).
By its terms, the General Assembly would reaffirm the recommendations of the Working Group on the Right to Development and recall a request made to that group to consider a set of standards to implement the right to development based on relevant United Nations resolutions, international conventions and internationally agreed goals. Concern would be expressed about human rights violations and abuses by some transnational corporations, and developed countries that had yet to do so would be urged to meet official development assistance targets. The Assembly would also, by the text, decide to convene a one-day meeting next year to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development.
The delegate of Iran, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, underscored the need for a new global order aimed at reversing a growing disparity between rich and poor. The right to development should be central to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. It was regrettable that some delegations had decided to put the draft to a vote.
Vice-Chair Mr. DEMPSEY said a recorded vote had been requested by the United States.
The delegate of the United States said her country had long been committed to alleviating poverty and promoting development. There was a strong link between human rights and development work. There was, however, no commonly agreed definition of such a right, and it was a matter of concern that the right to development had been framed by some in ways that would protect States rather than individuals. Thus, her delegation would vote against, she said.
The text was then approved by a vote of 136 in favour to 4 against (Canada, Israel, United Kingdom, United States), with 34 abstentions.
Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of Canada said her Government supported the concept of the right to development with the individual at its core. However, consideration of a legally-binding instrument on the right to development was a matter of concern. Her Government also disagreed that the 2030 Agenda entailed a right to development assistance.
The representative of Mexico, which had voted in favour of the draft, said it was important to promote inclusive development. It would have been desirable, however, for the text not to have referred to a convention on the right to development. Any discussion of an instrument should come after a set of norms were established through a collaborative process.
Making a general statement, the representative of Luxembourg, speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed full commitment to a rights-based approach to development that encompassed all human rights. It was the primary responsibility of States to ensure the right to development for their citizens. Fundamental differences remained on such issues as the role of indicators. The European Union was not in favour of the elaboration of an international legal standard of a binding nature, as it did not believe that that was an appropriate mechanism for realizing the right to development. It was also important to avoid pre-empting existing processes in the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda.
The Committee considered next a draft resolution on “Measures to enhance the promotion and protection of the human rights and dignity of older persons” (document A/C.3/70/L.50/Rev.1).
By the terms of that text, the General Assembly would call upon all States to promote and ensure the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms of older persons. It would also encourage Governments to actively address issues that affect older persons and to ensure that the social integration of older persons form an integral part of development policies at all levels. Further, the Assembly would invite Member States to continue to share their national experiences in developing and implementing policies and programmes on the issue.
The representative of Argentina highlighted the importance of continuing efforts towards the full respect of the rights of older persons, as well as towards the elimination of negative stereotypes against them. The draft was negotiated through an open dialogue and reflected the views of all delegations. It made reference to the challenges facing older persons to their effective enjoyment of all human rights, in both developed and developing countries. It called for the full implementation of already existing international instruments, and also encouraged discussions on how to reinforce the international legal framework.
The Committee then approved that draft resolution L.50/Rev.1 without a vote.
The representative of Japan, in explanation of position after action, said that his country has been doing its best to cope with the aging of its population, and expressed support to the adoption of that resolution by consensus.
The delegate of Slovenia said that aging was an important issue that needed to be addressed within the United Nations, and underlined the importance of approving that resolution by consensus.
The representative of the United Kingdom said that her delegation had engaged in discussions within the United Nations on aging issues, and therefore welcomed that the resolution acknowledged the need to strengthen already existing mechanisms. Nonetheless, she underlined that divergent views remained as to how to proceed forward, and stressed that many of the issues relating to aging were already addressed in the existing international legal framework.
The representative of Switzerland, also on behalf of Australia and Canada, welcomed efforts by the co-sponsors to reach a consensus. However, she said that she regretted that she could not join the list of co-sponsors because of different approaches dealing with aging. Indeed, there was a lack of due attention to the needs of the elderly more than there was a normative gap at the international level. Strengthening already existing mechanisms would fill the implementation gap.
The delegate of Albania underlined the importance of consensus on that issue, and reiterated his delegation’s position that what was needed was the implementation of already existing international instruments.
The Committee then turned to a resolution on “The human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation” (document A/C.3/70/L.55/Rev.1).
By that text, the Third Committee would have the General Assembly call upon States to ensure the progressive realization of the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation for all in a non-discriminatory manner, to give due consideration to the commitments regarding the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation when implementing the 2030 Agenda, to identify patterns of failure to respect, protect or fulfil the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation and to provide for effective accountability mechanisms for all water and sanitation service providers.
Further to the text, the world body would reaffirm that States had the primary responsibility to ensure the full realization of all human rights and to endeavour to take steps with a view to progressively achieving the full realization of the rights to safe drinking water and sanitation by all appropriate means, including, in particular, the adoption of legislative measures. Further, the Assembly would, by the text, stress the important role of international cooperation and technical assistance and urge development partners to adopt a human rights-based approach when designing and implementing development programmes in support of national initiatives and plans of action related to the rights to safe drinking water and sanitation.
The representative of Germany, speaking also for Spain, introduced the draft resolution, underlining the importance of recognizing drinking water and sanitation as special and separate rights. However, the current resolution would not create any new obligations or procedures. Further, the draft resolution had a strong gender component as the lack of access to sanitation put women and girls at risk.
South Africa’s delegate stated that water was life and sanitation was dignity. However, the traditional language of the draft resolution had been “watered down” in the current text and her delegation found it difficult to co-sponsor the current resolution.
The Committee then approved that resolution without a recorded vote.
Speaking after the vote, the representative of India stated that it was regrettable that common ground could not be reached on some pertinent issues relating to the draft resolution. The international community should not continue to look at the issues of water and sanitation as belonging to separate silos.
The speaker from the United States stated that her country had made access to drinking water and sanitation a priority in its development aid assistance. The current resolution’s references to the right to drinking water and right to sanitation must be understood as the right to safe drinking water and safe sanitation. Further, transboundary waters fell outside the scope of the right to sanitation and the right to drinking water.
Uzbekistan’s delegate stated that his country had supported the current resolution.
The representative of Argentina said that it was a State’s responsibility to give citizens access to safe drinking water and sanitation. It was also important to respect the permanent sovereignty of States over their natural resources.
The Committee then considered a draft resolution on “International cooperation against the world drug problem” (document A/C.3/70/L.10/Rev.1).
By the terms of that text, the General Assembly would call upon Member States to engage in effective cooperation aimed at addressing the world drug problem on the basis of the principle of common and shared responsibility. It would also urge Member States to address the relevant socioeconomic factors that relate to the world drug problem through a comprehensive, integrated and balanced approach. By the text, the world body would also highlight the special session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem to be held in 2016
The representative of Mexico said that the draft recognized that the drug problem affected entire communities all over the world. It referred to the need to address the negative impact of drugs through gender-sensitive approaches. He regretted to say that several changes had been made to the text without consulting the sponsors of the text, some of which had challenged the content of the text, he made several oral amendments to the text.
The Committee then approved that draft resolution, as orally amended, without a vote.
The delegate from the Russian Federation, in explanation of position after the vote, said that the topic of that text was highly important in light of the forthcoming special session of the General Assembly. She regretted that the text contained a provision welcoming Human Rights Council resolution 28/28. Indeed, the Human Rights Council was not a body in charge of dealing with drug related issues. The Commission on Narcotic Drugs was competent to deal with such topic, including its human rights implications. She also expressed her lack of agreement with the method used by the co-sponsors in conducting the negotiations on that text.
The Third Committee then took note of the note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the Commission on Narcotics Drugs on the progress made in preparation for the special session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem to be held in 2016 (document A/70/87) before concluding its consideration of its agenda item on international drug control.