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Seventy-third Session,
23rd & 24th Meetings (AM & PM)

Stand Firm in Denouncing Enforced Disappearances, Protecting Internally Displaced, Third Committee Experts Stress amid Calls to Respect Human Rights Defenders

Abductions ‘A Lethal Virus’, Says Working Group Chair, Advocating Urgent Remedies

The recent “shocking” case of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is only one of thousands of enforced disappearances and the international community must stand firm in denouncing such crimes, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) heard today as it continued its debate on human rights.

Bernard Duhaime, Chair of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, said it transmitted 802 new cases to 42 States this year alone — 264 of which under its urgent procedure.  And yet, many other cases will likely never reach the Group.  They should nevertheless be thoroughly documented and investigated.  That States continue to resort to enforced disappearance is appalling.

“This has to stop,” he said, emphasizing that enforced disappearance is a crime similar to “a lethal virus, which changes shape and form and is very difficult to eradicate”.  In recent years, the Working Group has expressed concern over the use of short-term disappearance to gather evidence, especially in counterterrorism operations.

Another concern is the extra-territorial abduction of individuals in a foreign country through undercover operations, with or without the acquiescence of the host State.  While victims in most cases reappear in detention in their home countries, in other cases, they remain disappeared, as is the case for Saudi journalist Mr. Khashoggi.

Noting that families of the disappeared are at times the only voices calling for truth and justice, he paid tribute to all those untiringly toiling for the rights of victims.  Even so, the responsibility to conduct investigations on disappearances lies with States, even in the absence of formal complaints.

Also briefing the Committee, Janina Suela, Chairperson of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances, spotlighted the “very valuable” cooperation and support of civil society, especially associations of relatives of disappeared persons.  Human rights defenders should be able to act freely and without interference, intimidation, abuse, threat, violence, reprisal or undue restriction.  She strongly condemned acts of intimidation or reprisal against those who seek to cooperate, are actively cooperating or who have cooperated with the treaty bodies.

For her part, Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, regretted that transitional justice has not addressed internal displacement as squarely as it has other types of abuses.  Internal displacement is increasingly protracted, lasting on average 20 years — a fact that calls for peacebuilding and development in the search for lasting solutions.

Ahmadou Fall, Chair of the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families and Felipe Gonzalez Morales, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, also briefed the Committee today.

Also speaking today in the general debate on human rights were representatives of Mexico, Argentina, Japan, European Union, Iraq, United States, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Syria, China, Norway, Libya, Switzerland, Austria, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Viet Nam, Qatar, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Morocco, Georgia, Nigeria, El Salvador, Saudi Arabia, Colombia, Brazil, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Germany, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Ukraine, Iran, Burkina Faso, Monaco, Gabon, Rwanda and Jamaica.

The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 19 October, to continue its debate on the promotion and protection of human rights.


The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural) met today to continue its consideration of the promotion and protection of human rights.  For more information, please see Press Release GA/SHC/4235.

Interactive Dialogues — Enforced Disappearances

SUELA JANINA, Chairperson of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances, said the number of enforced disappearances is not decreasing.  As of 9 October, there are 541 registered cases of urgent action procedure.  Several States have cooperated with the Committee as it analysed these procedures — a collaboration which led to the location of some alleged victims.  It would be helpful to increase interaction with, and training of, national authorities, victims and civil society actors on the procedures and objectives of urgent actions.  Regarding overdue reports, the Committee sent a note verbale to Brazil, Mali and Nigeria stating that it would review them despite the absence of a report, should they fail to submit one by 23 October.

She said only 22 out of 59 States parties have accepted the Committee’s competence to receive individual communications under Article 31 of the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances, a fact which does not facilitate the Committee’s work to support victims and accompany State parties. More broadly, the cooperation and support of civil society, especially associations of relatives of disappeared persons, has been valuable.  Human rights defenders should be able to act freely and without any interference, intimidation, abuse, threat, violence, reprisal or undue restriction.  She strongly condemned acts of intimidation or reprisal against those who seek to cooperate, who do cooperate or have cooperated with the treaty bodies.

When the floor was opened for questions, the representative of Mexico acknowledged the invitation for a dialogue to follow-up on actions, noting his country’s efficient and advanced system complied with international high standards.

The representative of Argentina, said the importance of enforced disappearance is reflected in the establishment of an international and sophisticated system.  France and Argentina welcome the conclusion of the recent meeting on enforced disappearance and creation of a Working Group.  He asked how State parties will work with this new directive.

The representative of Japan said enforced disappearance is a grave violation of human rights and must be tackled universally, noting that Japan submitted its initial report to the Committee and is looking forward to a constructive dialogue.

The representative of the European Union called for continuous efforts to increase the number of State parties to the Convention, asking about methods that would strengthen and broaden dialogue.  He also requested details on the planned creation of a Working Group.

The representative of Iraq said the report does not answer several allegations, noting that his country has sent the results of its investigation into presumed cases of disappearance to the Committee.  Issuing an invitation to visit Iraq, he emphasized the importance of establishing a detailed mechanism to support his Government’s efforts to fight disappearances.

Ms. JANINA replied that universalization of the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances would allow for addressing this issue globally.  More collective steps can be taken to double the ratification rate by 2022, notably at the regional level in identifying the concerns of States that have yet to ratify the Convention.  The notion that disappearances are a phenomenon of the past must be dispelled. The Committee stands ready to collaborate with stakeholders who wish to promote the Convention.

The search for, and location of, disappeared persons is an obligation of State parties, she continued, noting that the Committee is analysing the different approaches taken by States to outline best practices.  It will elaborate guiding principles to assist States in fulfilling their obligations.  For instance, the search should be made independently, effectively and in cooperation with the families of disappeared persons and on the basis that they are still alive.

The Committee appreciates Mexico’s willingness to engage in a new phase of dialogue.  She expressed hope it will be fruitful in helping the Government address issues that were identified.  On urgent action procedures, she stressed the importance of fast reactions and said States should coordinate with local authorities to conduct searches effectively.

BERNARD DUHAIME, Chair of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, said that this year alone the Working Group has transmitted 802 new cases of enforced disappearance to 42 States, 264 of which were communicated under its urgent procedure. And yet, there are many other cases that will likely never reach the Group, but that should be thoroughly documented and investigated.  That States continue to resort to enforced disappearance is appalling.  “This has to stop,” he said.  “Enforced disappearance is like a lethal virus, which changes shape and form and is very difficult to eradicate.”  States must find remedies to weed it out.  In recent years, the Working Group has expressed concern over the short-term disappearances being used to gather evidence, especially in counterterrorism operations and often under physical and/or psychological duress or coercion.  There is no time limit for an enforced disappearance to occur.

He described another worrying phenomenon, the extra-territorial abduction of individuals in a foreign country through undercover operations, with or without the acquiescence of the host State.  While in most cases victims reappear in detention in their countries after a short disappearance, in other cases, they remain disappeared, as in the recent “shocking” case of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.  He called on States to urgently search for people who have been subjected to enforced disappearances, stressing that investigation is not simply an option:  it is required under international law.  For that reason, the Working Group this year presented to the Human Rights Council an interim report on standards for investigation, outlining the main elements around this issue with the aim of assessing which rights and State obligations arise from the duty to investigate.  He detailed country visits to Gambia, where he said little subsequent progress had been made to advance investigations, and Ukraine, and looked forward to visiting Mali at year-end.  Noting that families of the disappeared are at times the only voices calling for truth and justice, he paid tribute to all those untiringly toiling for the rights of victims.  While much attention has been drawn to the enforced disappearance of Mr. Khashoggi, his is one among thousands of cases. The international community must stand firm to denounce these practices.

When the floor was opened for questions, the representative of the United States expressed concern about enforced disappearances in various countries and asked about steps to take to increase pressure on Governments to investigate cases.

The representative of the European Union expressed concern over the large number of urgent action cases, asking about further dialogues with States to encourage visits by the Working Group.

The representative of the Russian Federation said the Working Group requests about the alleged cases do not contain sufficient information for the relevant agencies to respond.  He urged that changes be made within the Working Group to make it more effective.

The representative of Syria called the intervention by the representative of the United States “hypocritical”, as it ignored the sanctions put in place by that country.

The representative of China rejected acts of enforced disappearance, attaching great importance to the role of human rights mechanisms.  He also expressed his opposition to the negative and inappropriate comments by the Working Group, stressing “This is serious interference in internal affairs” and noting that China is governed by the rule of law.

Also speaking were representatives of Ukraine and Iran.

Mr. DUHAIME replied that families and civil society organizations are subject to threats and harassment due to their work on enforced disappearance. Their contribution is extremely important:  they are often the only ones shedding light on disappearances.  Yet, States have the responsibility to conduct investigations on disappearances even in the absence of formal complaints.  The Committee’s next thematic report will outline specific recommendations on State-led investigations.

The Committee’ role is not to assign blame, but rather to assist States in implementing the 1992 Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, he stressed, citing its work with Gambia, Mexico and Chile.  Country visits allow the Committee to engage with families that it could not have reached otherwise.  They also allow for carrying out measures to end disappearances.  It is important that documented cases of enforced disappearances receive proper follow-up, and the Committee stands ready to assist families in this respect.  The Committee discharges its mandate in line with the Declaration and relevant Human Rights Council resolutions, although obtaining all the information it requires sometimes proves difficult.

Internally Displaced Persons

CECILIA JIMENEZ-DAMARY, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, expressed regret that transitional justice has not adequately addressed the issue of internal displacement as squarely as it has other types of abuses.  Citing an estimated 40 million such persons globally at the end of 2017, she said transitional measures and practitioners must better address internal displacement, engaging with the displaced and responding to their justice claims.  With her report as a guide for implementing existing frameworks and guidelines, she said transitional justice measures — among them, criminal accountability for internal displacement and justice-sensitive security reforms — can prevent the violations leading to displacement from occurring.  On reparations — such as the return of housing, land or property, or appropriate compensation — she encouraged States and stakeholders to use the United Nations Principles on Housing and Property Restitution in the context of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons as a core guide.

Describing the importance of internally displaced persons participating in transitional justice approaches, she pointed to opportunities for stronger cooperation and coordination across all sectors.  Recalling the twentieth anniversary of the Guiding Principles of Internal Displacement, she cited a three-year multi‑stakeholder Plan of Action for Advancing Prevention, Protection and Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons.  The strategy focuses on the participation of displaced persons and provision of adequate resources for such efforts.  Describing country visits to Libya, Niger, Mexico, Honduras and Colombia, she said non-State armed groups or de facto authorities are obliged under international law to protect civilians in the territories they control and to ensure that arbitrary displacement does not occur.  In Libya, for example, people were forced to leave due to a lack of human rights protection.  In Niger, Government institutions are responding to crises to the extent possible, given their limited human and financial resources and capacity, she said, underscoring the need to designate a focal point at State level.

When the floor was opened for questions, the representative of Norway stressed the need for best practices related to the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and welcomed the call for a gender-sensitive approach.  Stressing the need for a long-term perspective, she asked how agencies can engage in a meaningful way to achieve transitional justice for internally displaced persons.

The representative of the United States enquired about the focus of the 2019 United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report and about the specific needs of children in this regard.

The representative of the European Union asked about the best practices to ensure meaningful participation in the design and implementation of measures to address the situation of internally displaced persons.  He also asked about the role of regional organizations in implementing the action plan.

The representative of Libya, reaffirming his country’s continued cooperation with the Special Rapporteur, highlighted the creation of a special ministry for displaced persons and refugees.

The representative of Switzerland asked the Special Rapporteur how to ensure that best practices are shared among States and about creating a mechanism for that purpose.

The representative of Austria stressed the importance of participation of internally displaced persons in transitional justice.  He asked about the role of Member States in New York in the Action Plan launched to reinforce engagement around the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, and further, how to ensure that the action plan is at the centre of transitional justice efforts.

The representative of Azerbaijan said it is unacceptable that the issue still does not receive sufficient international attention.  He encouraged the Special Rapporteur to explore all avenues for addressing internally displaced persons.

The representative of the Russian Federation said transitional justice will only be truly effective if part of a broader measures to react to internally displaced persons, stressing the need for prevention and political settlement in that regard.

The representative of Syria said his country deploys all Government levels to address the situation of internally displaced persons, underscoring the need to respect sovereignty in this context.

The representative of Armenia stressed the need for international organizations, United Nations agencies and Special Rapporteurs to have unhindered access to populations and areas.

Also speaking were representatives of Iraq and Georgia.

Ms. JIMINEZ-DAMARY, responding, said it is important that the entire development community is involved in transitional justice; and consequently, the involvement of development agencies is no accident.  She noted that the Sustainable Development Goal on Justice for All includes transitional justice.  She hoped to present her report on internally displaced children’s rights on the day commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of Child, under the rights of the child framework.

She underscored the importance of involving many stakeholders and noted that she attended an interfaith meeting on 17 October.  The issue of displaced persons cuts across many areas; it is not simply a workstream in the Guiding Principles Plan of Action.  On reparations, she said that, in terms of critical accountability, she said forced displacement is a war crime and crime against humanity.  Displaced persons are left out of many initiatives but there is much to learn from them.  She underscored the importance of humanitarian access to internally displaced persons, and of both State and regional cooperation in that regard, to ensure their protection.

Migrants and Migrant Workers

AHMADOUD TALL, Chair of the Committee on the Protection of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, said the rights of migrant workers are often trampled.  Their work conditions are dangerous, with a high prevalence of injury, death and sickness.  The abuse intensifies when their migratory status is irregular.  Yet, migrants will become increasingly necessary to address labour market needs and ensure sustainable development.  He pointed out that migration is not only due to economic conditions:  poverty, absence of development, bad governance, food insecurity, environmental degradation and climate change are also factors of displacement.  The Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families is a legal framework to ensure the rights of migrant workers in origin, transit and destination countries.  The current migration crisis underlines the need to overcome obstacles preventing the ratification of the Convention.

He said migration should be a choice, not a decision motivated by despair.  With over 258 million migrants — half of whom are women, and including 30 million children — the international community must act.  Long-term solutions are needed to address the factors causing people to place their lives at risk to find security and decent work.  The Convention’s potential has not been fully realized, despite that significant changes were affected on the ground.  Amid the most important migration flows in history, the absence of political will to prioritize the protection of migrants’ human rights is difficult to understand.  He called on all States that have not done so to ratify the Convention, so migrant workers and their families may enjoy the same protection as other vulnerable groups.

When the floor was opened for questions, the representative of Indonesia referring to 9 million foreign workers abroad, noted the adoption of Law 18/2017 concerning migrant workers abroad.  On a regional level, she encouraged consensus among ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] countries, calling all States to ratify the Convention on Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.

The representative of the European Union stressed the need to place children at the forefront of the human rights agenda, requesting the Committee to assess the value of the action plan and about how the Convention could provide guidance in creating sustainable and resilient societies.

The representative of Morocco said the Convention has registered the slowest progress between its adoption and entry into force, recalling Morocco’s diplomatic engagement since 1979.  Referring to national policies on migration and asylum, he asked how rights will be protected under the Global Compact and how the Committee will engage in implementing that upcoming instrument.

The representative of Nigeria said migrant children and women are most vulnerable. The Government put in place web-based mechanisms regarding alleged abuses, he said, citing the creation of a national migration database to collect and share information.

The representative of Libya condemned the abuse of workers’ rights and poor treatment of migrants.  Recalling the number of migrants in his country, he said the security situation is fragile.  On human trafficking and international crime, he firmly rejected the report’s accusations against Libya, noting that such cases can also occur in neighbouring countries.  He stressed the need to work together and ramp up efforts to resolve issues related to migrant workers.

The representative of El Salvador, addressing issues related to children and adolescents, said State parties have a bad habit of approaching each convention, treaty or instrument in silos.  He urged the Committee to work with other committees in ensuring that State parties understand these connections.

The representative of Saudi Arabia rejected claims that his country has been confiscated official documents of migrants and not provided them with interpreters, which is illegal.  The report did not outline the situation on visa issues, stressing the need to respect the States’ sovereign right to establish their own laws.  Highlighting the need to examine factors leading to migrant flows, he said Saudi Arabia is committed to respecting human rights, as well as international human rights instruments and labour law.

Mr. TALL replied that the Committee has always respected States’ sovereignty, but the enjoyment of sovereignty should never run counter to human rights.  The Committee has neither friends nor enemies; its work is solely based on facts.  It only submits its views after verifying the information it receives and is obliged to draw international attention to violations of human rights, he stressed.

The Committee is developing recommendations on migrant children, to provide guidance to all States parties, regardless of their economic status or geographic location, he continued.  States have a legitimate right to protect their borders, but this must be done while respecting fundamental human rights.  The Global Compact — which the Committee considers to be a great step forward — will not contradict the Convention nor provide a license to violate human rights.  People risk their lives to cross borders because, somewhere, there is demand for this migration, he added.  Morocco is undertaking significant initiatives to protect the rights of migrants, which can serve as an example for other States.

FELIPE GONZALEZ MORALES, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, advocated efforts to improve the situation of migrants around the world, as they endure discrimination, criminalization and xenophobia.  Multilateralism is critical to addressing these global trends.  Describing recent developments, he said he had conducted country visits to Nepal and Niger.  In recent years, Nepal has adopted a set of regulations and created an extensive institutional framework on migration which can be strengthened by taking advantage of the ongoing federalization process.  He called on the Government to repeal the migration prohibition affecting women based on their age and to enhance measures to combat trafficking.  During his visit to Niger, a major transit country, he called on international donors to help strengthen national institutions and capacities to create a human rights compliant framework for managing large movements of migrants.

He said a crucial point made during the presentation of his report to the Human Rights Council was on return and reintegration.  No return should be carried out without individual screenings to determine the vulnerability of migrants.  Effective access to justice for migrants means that everyone has the right to access the system provided for conflict resolution.  It implies that anyone can approach the courts to seek protection of his or her rights.  He addressed two main areas of concern:  the obstruction of access to justice for migrants and the need for “firewall” protections.  Among the report’s main conclusions is that a person’s migration status is a significant factor in his or her effective access to justice.  The situation of migrants worldwide is increasingly difficult and requires coordinated responses by the international community, notably the adoption of the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in December.

The representative of Qatar, referring to expatriate labour, said his country has made efforts to strengthen executive and legislative measures to guarantee the human rights of those workers.

The representative of El Salvador said justice for migrants is an essential part of national policy, extending an invitation to the Committee to visit.  As a country of origin, transit, host and return, El Salvador urged all countries to open doors for visits.  He asked for any input the Committee considers important in that regard.

The representative of Colombia, noting the growing migratory flows from Venezuela, cited programmes to ensure education and health for migrants, such as an inoculation programme.  Everyone seeking to exploit migrants will be punished, he said, drawing attention to penalties on companies hiring foreigners on an irregular basis.

The representative of Brazil pointed to provisions guaranteeing access to basic services in his country, regardless of migrants’ status.  The Global Compact is a milestone for due process and judicial access, he said, stressing its importance in cases of labour issues and hate crimes.

The representative of Switzerland underscored the primacy of law and judicial access as related to the Global pact on Migration, asking about the Special Rapporteur’s mandate in the implementation and monitoring of the pact.  While noting difficulties around the protection of migrant women and children, she asked about activities in 2019 to foster access to justice for migrants.

The representative of Canada said the approach to migration must be reconsidered, with protection forming an integral part of this effort.  Returns must be conducted in a less harmful manner.  He asked for best practices in the protection of women and girls.

The representative of Germany said migrants and refugees face difficulties in host countries, in part due to their inability to speak local languages.  Stressing the importance of safe and legal migratory pathways, he said it is crucial to ensure properly handled issues around the proof of legal identity.  He asked how best to address the needs of migrants working illegally as domestic workers.

The representative of the United Arab Emirates noted his country’s comprehensive legal framework, which for example, makes the confiscation of passports a punishable offence.

The representative of South Africa said the report should better address the challenges of migrants in transit and origin countries, noting a lack of reference to the causes of migration.  The protection of women and children is a State responsibility, he said, adding that their detention should be prohibited.  He asked for information on best practices.

The representative of the European Union said access to justice is a human right.  He asked for examples on how State authorities and civil society can better achieve such access for migrants.

The representative of Morocco asked for recommendations related to human mobility.

Mr. GONZALES MORALES replied that access to justice is crucial to the exercise of all human rights.  The principle of non-discrimination is important:  access to justice must be ensured for migrants regardless of their migratory status.  In that regard, the situation of domestic workers could be improved, and appropriate measures should be taken in both host and origin countries.  States should provide consular services in countries hosting their nationals to ensure judicial access, for instance.

On best practices, he cited legislation providing legal recourse to women who are victims of domestic violence irrespective of their migratory status.  He urged action on migratory detention of children, which contravenes international law.  Further, migrants must have legal representation when they face deportation and determination of refugee status.  All States must also recognize migrants’ freedom of association and the right of migrant workers to organize as a body.  Regarding the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, he stressed the importance of special procedures’ participation to ensure that human rights have their due place in the follow-up process.


DANG DINH QUY (Viet Nam) said it is shocking that every five minutes a child dies due to violence, that 1 million children are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation and that 750 million people still live in extreme poverty.  While all States are required to strengthen solidarity and cooperation, there is a rise in confrontation, coercion and imposition of one-sided views.  Some delegations take advantage of general debates to criticize and spread groundless allegations against others, using double standards or blame.  He expressed concern over that worrying trend and emphasized the need to preserve the United Nations as a forum for good‑faith cooperation.

Ms. AL-TEMIMI (Qatar) citing several measures and policies to promote human rights, underlined the adoption of a law safeguarding the rights of migrant workers, ending issues of guarantees and defining the duties and obligations of employers.  He noted the right to education and services for children in armed conflict situations, stressing that Qatar joined the Human Rights Council and will host the United Nations regional human rights centre.  It will also carry out plans to protect rights at all levels.  On the challenges Qatar faces due to sanctions, he called those measures a violation of human rights, stressing nonetheless that his country will spare no effort to fulfil its responsibilities and support human rights mechanisms.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) said that the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights have been enshrined in the Constitution.  Accordingly, Bangladesh is committed to safeguarding the human rights of its own people and those around the world.  To uphold that pledge, Bangladesh opened its borders to shelter helpless Rohingyas who had been forced to flee Myanmar due to egregious human rights violations.  Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has stood beside these “most persecuted” people of the world and restored the core values of the Constitution, reinforcing respect for human rights.  Under her leadership, Bangladesh is marching towards people’s empowerment and a society, free from poverty, hunger, inequality and fear.  Bangladesh did its Universal Periodic Review this May, and with the engagement of all concerned actors, will follow up on its recommendations.

Mr. ALDAHHAK (Syria) said coercive measures are imposed on millions of civilians in the service of specific interests.  Some Governments violate human rights while being commended for their fight against terrorism.  Human rights are noble principles used for political manipulation, he said, stressing that the international coalition has claimed many lives in Syria, particularly women and children.  He urged States that care for the Syrian people to leave this coalition.

Ms. SHAHEEN (United Arab Emirates) stressed its continued commitment to human rights.  Noting the adoption of progressive policies based on tolerance and aligned with the view of the Head of State, she said that United Arab Emirates’ commitment to this end is an ethical duty.  On climate, digital area demands, she said that non-government organizations, Governments, the United Nations and civil society must view issues from all angles.  The promotion of human rights is the response to extremism.  The protection and promotion of human rights is first and foremost the responsibility of States.  National institutions should be aligned with human rights principles. Given the importance of individuals, States must ensure that young people and children can live in dignity and participate in public life, she said, adding that it is in the interest of the United Arab Emirates to further tolerance.  Crimes against human rights must to be punished, she said, noting the adoption of instruments in labour law to prevent human trafficking.

Mr. TIARE (Burkina Faso) said this session is an excellent opportunity to be inspired by the achievements made by Member States.  The Government is party to almost all international human rights instruments.  It has recently abolished the death penalty through the adoption of a new criminal code, despite recurrent terrorist attacks and other security issues that complicate the implementation of human rights.  Regarding international and regional bodies, he assured that Burkina Faso met its reporting obligations.

Ms. PICCO (Monaco) said nothing proves that the death penalty deters criminals more than other forms of sanctions.  Monaco has abolished the death penalty and supports the texts and initiatives put forward in multilateral contexts in that spirit.  In 2016, it made a voluntary contribution of €10,000 to support the organization of the Sixth World Congress Against the Death Penalty.  All individuals have a right to life, she stressed.

Mr. NANGA (Gabon) aligning himself with the African Group and the “Group of 77” developing countries and China asserted its membership to most international legal human rights instruments.  The protection of human rights is a precondition for development.  Gabon intends to become an emerging country by 2025, focusing on the protection of women, children, persons with disabilities and elderly.  He noted the social protection networks for elderly and the allocation of funds for persons with disabilities.  Citing legislative and regulatory provisions for widows and orphans to combat their ill-treatment, he said a national day for widows had been launched.  Gabon has always hosted refugees and asylum seekers from the subregion, he said, noting access to education and health care.  “The right to live is sacred principle”, he stressed.

Mr. RUMONGI (Rwanda) said that his country recently launched its first national action plan for human rights, building on the extensive work by the Government to create an inclusive society that addresses its realities in a manner and pace that allows for stability, development and the empowerment of all, especially the most marginalized.  The plan identifies priority areas that Rwanda will focus on for the next four years through a range of programmes and laws geared to strengthen human rights protections.  These areas include civil and political rights, economic, social and cultural rights, the protection of vulnerable groups and various cross-cutting issues.  Rwanda has also ratified most human rights instruments, which have since been integrated into the domestic legal system.  Ratified treaties have the force of law as national legislation in accordance with the Constitution.

DMITRY ROBERTSON (Jamaica), aligning himself with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said his country is fully committed to providing the protection of the law and the State to all people.  Having ratified seven out of nine core human rights instruments, the Government has employed an inter-ministerial approach to the preparation of reports and responses regarding its obligations.  It is working assiduously to submit all outstanding reports without further delay.  He urged all States to redouble efforts to improve the efficacy of reporting.  The Government’s national development plan is fully aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals, he assured.  Jamaica condemns universal coercive measures as they are contrary to the United Nations Charter, violate international law, and prevent States from achieving the Goals.

Ms. MOUTCHOU (Morocco) said her country has put in place innovative and impressive institutional and normative reforms, aiming to perfect its adhesion to the international human rights system.  Morocco has worked to raise awareness on human rights issues, notably by including human rights values in school curricula.  On gender equality, which is enshrined in article 19 of the Constitution, significant advances were made, such as an increased representation of women in decision-making positions.

Mr. SITUMORANG (Indonesia) reiterated his country’s commitment to constructively engage with human rights instruments, noting that in February, Indonesia hosted the Human Rights High Commissioner.  Indonesia will take part in the commemoration of seventieth anniversary of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and twenty‑fifth anniversary of the Vienna Declaration. Emphasizing that all human rights bodies should carry out their responsibilities in a holistic manner, he stressed the importance of respecting sovereignty and national ownership, adding that human rights bodies must maintain independence and accountability.

For information media. Not an official record.