Third Committee Concludes Intense Session, Passing 8 Drafts as Children’s Rights, Reproductive Health, International Criminal Court Dominate Discussion
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) concluded its work today, approving eight draft resolutions on a range of topics from protecting children’s rights to ending judicial killings to respecting privacy in the digital age.
The Committee approved a draft resolution on extrajudicial killings by a recorded vote of 110 in favour to none against, with 67 abstentions. By its terms, the Assembly would call on States to ensure an end to that practice. It would urge them to protect the right to life of all persons, conduct prompt, exhaustive and impartial investigations into all killings, and bring perpetrators to justice before a competent, independent and impartial judiciary.
During discussion on the topic, Argentina’s representative stressed the importance of universality, emphasizing that States must provide a guarantee of human rights for all, including for persons with different gender identities and sexual orientations. Finland’s delegate drew attention to the resolution’s core — the right to life — which is a precondition for enjoying other rights.
In other action, the Committee’s approval of a draft on peaceful assembly and freedom of association — by a recorded vote of 143 in favour to none against, with 38 abstentions — would have the Assembly urge States to end the arbitrary arrest and detention of human rights defenders for exercising their rights to free expression, peaceful assembly and association, including in relation to cooperation with the United Nations. It would further urge the release of persons detained or imprisoned in violation of State obligations under international human rights law.
The representative of the United States, introducing the draft, said this resolution draws attention to Governments violating fundamental freedoms. Pointing out that these violations also take place online, she added that the draft seeks to highlight the victims. However, Syria’s delegate said the draft ignores the link between the right to peaceful assembly and the right to be free from occupation. Some countries prescribe use of certain rights which they consider legitimate while dissuading the use of others, a hypocritical approach.
A draft resolution on the right to privacy in the digital age, approved without a vote, would have the Assembly call on all States to prevent violations of that right by ensuring that national legislation complies with international human rights law. It would also call on businesses to inform users “in an intelligible and easily accessible” manner about the collection, use, sharing and retention of their data that may affect their right to privacy.
The Committee adhered to tradition in approving its annual draft resolution on the rights of the child without a vote. By its terms, the Assembly would take a number of actions related to, among other topics, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, non-discrimination, child labour, violence against children, protecting children in difficult situations, and ending the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
Its passage followed extensive discussion over references to the International Criminal Court and reproductive health — and the ultimate failure of two proposed amendments. The first, suggested by Sudan’s delegate to remove a reference to the Court, was defeated by a recorded vote of 105 against to 20 in favour, with 37 abstentions. The second, an oral amendment proposed by Mexico’s delegate to include a reference to sexual and reproductive rights, failed by a recorded vote of 74 against to 11 in favour, with 81 abstentions.
The Committee approved other resolutions on terrorism and human rights, strengthening the United Nations crime prevention and criminal justice programme, and the special session of the General Assembly against corruption.
Having approved its tentative work programme for the seventy-fourth session, the Committee concluded its work on a lighter note as representatives of the United Kingdom, Egypt and Myanmar took the floor to recite poems about the body’s work over the past weeks.
The Committee first turned to the draft resolution titled “Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions” (document A/C.3/73/L.39/Rev.1) and a related draft amendment (document A/C.3/73/L.65).
The representative of Egypt, taking the floor in a point of order as coordinator of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation working group on humanitarian and human rights issues, expressed support for the Secretariat’s approach a day earlier, that it was possible to co‑sponsor amendment “L.65” on behalf of a group, even if some countries had disassociated. “This is the established practice of the Committee,” he said, noting that no member of the organization had broken consensus on the text. He called for adjusting the name on the amendment to reflect its submission on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, minus those countries that had disassociated.
A Secretariat official clarified that this is not a matter of disassociation. Four delegations had formally withdrawn their co‑sponsorship of the amendment, and as such, the amendment was no longer deemed as being on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
The representative of Tunisia asked whether Egypt’s delegate had spoken in his national capacity or as coordinator of the working group.
The Chair replied that Egypt’s delegate had spoken as coordinator.
The representative of Tunisia stressed that everyone shall speak in a national capacity, and in a point of order, said the explanations by the Secretariat and the Chair were clear, which is why Tunisia had withdrawn its co‑sponsorship.
The representative of Argentina, on behalf of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mexico and Uruguay, stressed the importance of the principle of universality, noting that States must guarantee human rights for all, and referred to persons with different gender identity and sexual orientation in that context. On paragraph 7(b), it is crucial to urge States to guarantee the right to life. Not including the expressed group would have weakened the resolution, he said, stressing that the principle of universality should not be used to deny rights to certain people. For such reasons, Argentina voted against amendment “L.65”.
The representative of France said that he voted against the amendment to operative paragraph 7(b) presented by Bangladesh’s delegate, as it suppresses one of the most important paragraphs in the draft. It is crucial that the draft continues to underline the importance of protecting the right to life of those most threatened, including refugees, migrants, internally displaced persons, human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists, as they are victims of discrimination, racist violence or abuse based on their sexual orientation. They are often victims of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and he called for rejecting the amendment.
The representative of Comoros, in a general statement on amendment “L.65”, expressed deep concern over attempts by some groups to undermine the Committee’s work. It is not up to the Secretariat to decide what is a group proposal. She expressed hope that the events from a day earlier would not compromise the Committee’s future work.
The Chair replied to a question from Finland’s delegate that Egypt’s representative had called for a vote.
The representative of Finland expressed deep regret that a vote had been called. He highlighted the draft resolution’s core: the right to life, which in itself is a precondition to the enjoyment of other fundamental rights. He stressed the importance of bringing those who are responsible for extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary killings to justice. On behalf of Nordic countries and co‑sponsors, he urged support for the draft resolution.
The representative of Egypt, on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said that “while we 50 member States believe extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary killings must not take place on any discriminatory reason, we sternly reject any attempts to undermine the human rights system.” He advocated support by consensus.
The representative of the United States condemned extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary killings, stressing that all States have an obligation to protect fundamental freedoms. Underscoring the importance of punishing perpetrators, she expressed strong support for the text’s language and explained she would vote “yes”. The United States supports a balanced approach to the use of less‑than‑lethal devices during conflict situations; some are fact specific. She does not endorse the report mentioned in operative paragraph 5 and does not recognize the principle of legal proportionality.
The Committee then adopted draft resolution “L.39/Rev.1” by a recorded vote of 110 in favour to none against, with 67 abstentions.
Under its terms, the Assembly would call on all States to ensure that the practice of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions is ended. It would call on Governments, and invite non‑governmental organizations, to pay greater attention to the work of national commissions of inquiry into such crimes, so they contribute to accountability. The Assembly would also urge States to ensure protection of the right to life of all persons; to conduct, when required by international law, prompt, exhaustive and impartial investigations into all killings; to bring those responsible to justice before a competent, independent and impartial judiciary at the national or international level; and to ensure that such killings are neither condoned nor sanctioned by State officials or personnel.
The representative of Sudan, in a general statement, noted his disassociation from references to the International Criminal Court and called on delegates to distance themselves from its jurisdiction, as it operates on the premise of “feasibility and possibility”, charting a deplorable path of discrimination. He also disassociated from the reference to ending capital punishment.
The Committee took up the draft resolution titled “The promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of association” (document A/C.3/73/L.41/Rev.1).
The representative of the United States, introducing the draft, said the resolution draws attention to Governments violating fundamental freedoms. Pointing out that these violations also take place online, she added that the resolution seeks to highlight the victims, including student protesters and human rights defenders.
The representative of Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said this is a welcome initiative in a context where the space for civil society is being restricted. The draft resolution highlights challenges that affect all countries. Under the guise of maintaining public order, abusive restrictions on freedom of association and assembly often target individuals based on their opinion, sexual orientation or gender identity, he said, urging respect for international human rights law. The exercise of individual freedoms contributes to the development of peaceful societies, he stated.
The representative of Syria deplored the fact that the United States did not consider the views and comments of various delegations, including his own. The draft ignores the link between the right of peaceful assembly, and the right to be free from occupation and the right to self‑determination, which both provide the framework for people to enjoy other fundamental freedoms. Some countries prescribe the use of certain rights which they consider legitimate while dissuading the use of others. This hypocritical approach is unacceptable, he said, pointing out that the draft resolution does not reflect consensus. Syria will therefore request a vote and abstain.
The representative of Ukraine recalled that the exercise of the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of association constitute a fundamental pillar of democracy. He urged support for the draft resolution.
The representative of Argentina said the promotion of a safe, enabling environment where people can exercise the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of association is fundamental. Stressing that operative paragraph 7 should not violate the rights of third parties, he expressed support for human rights defenders.
The representative of Costa Rica expressed regret that a vote was requested. Freedoms of association and of assembly play a crucial role in democracies. Costa Rica will vote in favour, he said, inviting delegates to do the same.
The representative of Canada, making a general statement, expressed disappointment that a vote was requested. Most of the language is from, or based closely on, previous resolutions which were approved by consensus. The draft’s approval would send a valuable message, she said, urging support for it.
The representative of Australia, welcoming the draft’s inclusion of Human Rights Council language and references to people whose rights are violated, urged delegates to vote in favour of the draft.
The representative of the United States, voicing regret that a vote was requested, said the text was rooted in fundamental human rights documents. She deplored cynical efforts to undermine the rights that all people should enjoy.
The representative of the Russian Federation said participants in peaceful assemblies must be able to fully exercise their rights. Simple participation in peaceful protest should not be grounds for prosecution. However, the right to peaceful protest is not absolute, as the State must also ensure public order. Moreover, enjoyment of the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of association should not allow actions that flout the rights of others. Stressing that all parties have rights and duties, he said that, due to these concerns which were expressed by a number of delegations, the Russian Federation will abstain.
The representative of the United States asked which delegations requested a recorded vote.
The Chair replied to a question by the United States delegate that China, the Russian Federation, Venezuela, Iran, Syria, Bolivia, Belarus and Nicaragua had requested a vote.
The representative of China, expressing support for the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of association, said the primary responsibility to promote and respect such rights lies with Governments. When exercising these rights, individuals should comply with national laws, including those that are necessary for the protection of public order and for ensuring the rights of others, as the Charter of the United Nations and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provide. Due to the many loopholes in the draft resolution, China will abstain.
The representative of Algeria said her country is committed to protecting and promoting all fundamental rights, in line with its international obligations. However, given that the draft does not include the situation of people living under foreign occupation, Algeria will abstain.
The representative of Iran said thousands of protests have been held recently in his country, most of them peacefully. As long as participants do not resort to violence or attack public property, the Government is committed to protecting the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of association. The International Covenant defines the scope of these rights and provides for restrictions that are necessary in democracies to protect public safety and public order, among other things. Further, the draft mentions “online peaceful assembly” but does not define it clearly. Iran will therefore abstain, he said, urging others to do the same.
The representative of Venezuela said her country shares the principles the draft seeks to promote. However, proposals and comments aiming to bolster the spirit of the text, to balance and broaden its support, were ignored. Rather than mirror the pluralism of opinion, the draft reflects the political agenda of certain Governments and fails to address human rights issues objectively and without selectivity. Venezuela will therefore abstain.
The representative of Syria said the United States delegation’s tabling of amendments for various draft resolutions has exhausted delegations. And yet, it now accuses another delegation of hindering the Committee’s work. Recalling that the United States left the Human Rights Council, he asked how it is possible for those who claim to defend human rights to prevent their enjoyment by people who seek independence and freedom from occupation. Syria will abstain, he said, urging others to do the same.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution by a vote of 140 in favour, to none against, with 38 abstentions.
By its terms, the Assembly would call on States to prevent and end the arbitrary arrest and detention of peaceful protesters and human rights defenders. It would urge the release of persons detained or imprisoned, in violation of State obligations under international human rights law, for exercising their human rights and freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association, including in relation to cooperation with the United Nations. The Assembly would call on all States to protect these rights online and offline, notably by not shutting down the Internet or restricting its content.
The representative of South Africa, speaking in explanation of vote, expressed support for the draft, but said it could have been strengthened. Invoking the 1993 Vienna Declaration, adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights, she emphasized that freedom of assembly and other rights are equally important. People who take part in protests have both rights and responsibilities, she stated, citing the South African Bill of Rights and the International Covenant, which place restrictions on the exercise of the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of association.
The representative of Iraq said paragraph 4 neglects the role of Governments to address media that incite violence and extremism, leading to terrorism. Referring to the damage caused by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), he said his country has suffered from such practices. Iraq abstained and will cooperate with the negotiations coordinator so its concerns will be included in future sessions.
The representative of Indonesia said that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant stipulate that the exercise of rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of association are not without limits. Rights and responsibilities are two sides to the same coin, he added, expressing regret over the draft’s omission of substantial proposals put forward by his country and others. Indonesia abstained for that reason.
The representative of Cuba said his delegation abstained due to the text’s unbalanced and selective approach. He said the United States deliberately changed agreed language whereby the right to development was recognized. Cuba will continue to guarantee the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of association.
The representative of Viet Nam, reiterating her country’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, said the draft could have been more balanced. It should have acknowledged that the exercise of the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of association should not hinder national interest and the rights of others. Because the draft resolution fails to refer to public health, order, safety or morals, Viet Nam could not support it and abstained.
The representative of Pakistan recalled that his country recognizes fundamental freedoms, which are critical for democratic space and society. Human rights standards and national laws are both relevant and should be pursued independently. Pakistan and other States had made proposals that would have made the text more balanced, but they are not reflected in the draft. For procedural and substantial reasons, Pakistan abstained.
The representative of Kuwait, underscoring the importance of the draft resolution, said it does not run counter to her country’s national laws and international conventions to which it is party. Kuwait therefore voted in favour.
The representative of Singapore, explaining her abstention, said the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of association are not unqualified. Expressing disappointment that constructive proposals were not considered, she stressed that the rights of individuals must be balanced with the society of which they are a part. Singapore abstained because the resolution ignores the importance of this balance.
The representative of New Zealand, making a general statement, said the text reflected an accurate and balanced approach to the issue. It is critical that views can be expressed without fear of reprisal, threats or violence. New Zealand supports the draft resolution and regrets that a vote was requested.
The representative of Nigeria said his country is a firm believer in the universality of human rights and will continue to support any initiative that supports them, even in the fight against terrorism. Underscoring that Nigeria created a body to ensure prompt response to allegations of violations, he said there is no hierarchy of rights, as they are all interdependent and interrelated. Enjoyment of the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of association should not infringe on national security or the rights of others, he added.
Next, the Committee took up the draft resolution titled “Terrorism and human rights” (document A/C.3/73/L.43/Rev.1).
The representative of Mexico, also on behalf of Egypt, introduced the draft, making oral revisions to preambular paragraph 7, and operative paragraphs 4 and 20. The draft resolution uses previously agreed language. It addresses terrorism from a human rights perspective, outlining that fundamental freedoms should not be restricted while combating such violence. Expressing hope that the Committee could agree on “a common voice”, he said that while the text does not address all concerns expressed by delegations, with political will and compromise, some of the differences of perspective on terrorism and human rights can be bridged. He urged delegates to support the draft resolution.
The representative of the Russian Federation asked about the specific changes made in the oral amendment to operative paragraph 20.
The representative of Mexico then clarified the wording of operative paragraph 20.
The representative of the United States proposed that operative paragraph 14 be deleted.
The representative of Mexico said that while his country and Egypt rarely see eye to eye on most issues, they had made great efforts to come to an understanding on this topic by merging two resolutions to create a balanced text. He expressed regret over the United States proposal to delete operative paragraph 14. This is agreed language, he said, adding that the paragraph does not create any obligations and outlines plenty of caveats, which should be acceptable. He called on delegates to vote against the United States amendment.
The representative of the United States said she had tabled the amendment because she had concerns over the language in operative paragraph 14, which is contradictory to United States law. Expressing support for the vital role of human rights actors, she clarified that if the Committee does not approve the amendment, the United States will still support the draft resolution as a whole.
The Committee then rejected the oral amendment proposed by the United States to “L.43/Rev.1” by a recorded vote of 116 against to 3 in favour (Israel, Senegal, United States), with 28 abstentions.
The representative of the Russian Federation, in a point of order, made an oral amendment. He questioned the last‑minute decision of the co‑sponsors to remove the word “incitement” from operative paragraph 20. He proposed reintroducing this word.
The representative of Egypt replied to the Russian Federation’s question, noting that the word “incitement” was not agreed language, which is why Egypt and Mexico had reverted to language agreed upon in the Human Rights Council. Inclusion of the word “incitement” had failed to garner wide support, he said, asking for withdrawal of that amendment.
The representative of the Russian Federation said he was not convinced by Egypt’s explanation that there was not wide support for the Russian proposal. According to his information, a large number of States supported inclusion of the word “incitement” and he objected to this “corridor agreement”. He requested that the issue be voted upon, urging support for the proposal to reintroduce the word “incitement” to operative paragraph 20 and calling it strange to vote against “condemnation of incitement of terrorism”.
The representative of Mexico urged delegates to vote “no” on the Russian Federation’s proposed amendment.
The Chair, replying to a question by Pakistan’s delegate, said the Committee will vote on whether to re‑insert the word “incitement” into operative paragraph 20.
The representative of the Russian Federation proposed a vote on operative paragraph 20 as it currently stands in draft resolution “L.43/Rev.1”, recalling that Mexico had removed the word “incitement”.
The Committee then rejected the Russian Federation’s proposal to include the word “incitement” in operative paragraph 20 by a recorded vote of 80 against to 23 in favour, with 35 abstentions.
The representative of Algeria clarified that, had her voting button functioned properly, she would have abstained.
The representative of Sudan, recalling the difficulty of the main sponsor to drop the word “incitement”, said he voted for the amendment.
The representative of Austria, in a general statement on behalf of the European Union, expressed full support for a single text on this topic. He stressed the importance of the international legal framework in times of pressure on human rights. Human rights are “no zero‑sum game” in the fight on terrorism, he asserted, underscoring the need to protect the rights of everyone during that fight. Calling the resolution a compromise, he would have wanted it to contain more human rights measures.
The representative of Canada, on behalf of Iceland, Liechtenstein, New Zealand and Switzerland, expressed support for efforts to streamline the Committee’s work to avoid duplication. However, today’s exercise occurred in a year that the Committee was not meant to consider the topic. She voiced deep concern over the merging of two resolutions adopted last year. Today’s draft resolution is not a successor to resolution A/RES/72/180, and such reasoning cannot be used as an excuse to eliminate language. She called for revisiting resolution A/RES/72/180 during the seventy‑fourth session when it is due to come before the Assembly. For such reasons, Canada reluctantly joins consensus.
The representative of Senegal asked that her vote be corrected. She had wanted to vote against the United States amendment and for the draft resolution as a whole.
The Chair clarified that the Committee had just rejected the Russian Federation’s amendment.
The representative of the Russian Federation, in a general statement on the draft resolution, said counterterrorism security guarantees and the protection of human rights are matters of a similar nature. “We cannot oppose them,” he said, expressing surprise that the concept of preventing violent extremism was placed at the same level as the fight against terrorism. Recalling that the Committee is not a specialist on terrorism, he expressed hope that the bodies responsible for that issue would continue their work. The Committee must protect the right to life by all means, while preventing the misuse of that right to the detriment of others.
The Committee approved draft resolution “L.43/Rev.1” as orally revised without a vote.
By its terms, the Assembly would reaffirm that States must ensure that any measure taken to combat terrorism complies with their international law obligations. It would call on States to adopt rehabilitation and reintegration strategies for returning foreign terrorist fighters through a comprehensive approach that includes the development of national centres for counsel and the prevention of radicalization to violence. The Assembly would invite all relevant United Nations bodies to focus on the negative impact of terrorism on the enjoyment of all human rights, as well as on alleged violations related to efforts to counter terrorism and violent extremism, and to report regularly to the Human Rights Council.
The representative of the United States said she joined consensus on the text and expressed support for the broad principles underlying it, notably the desire to create a balanced document. She echoed concerns expressed by Canada’s delegate about dropping human rights provisions that would have better protected human rights. She disassociated from operative paragraph 14, stressing that States must respect freedom of opinion and expression when countering terrorism. She also disassociated from operative paragraph 30, as its language does not align with the United States Constitution or the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. “This is a Committee that does have expertise on human rights,” she said, stressing that its resolutions must reflect that fact. “With questions of balance, the balance should be for human rights,” she said.
The Committee took up the draft resolution titled “The right to privacy in the digital age” (document A/C.3/73/L.49/Rev.1).
The representative of Brazil, also introducing the draft on behalf of Germany, said it builds on previous resolutions by including further analysis on the issue of artificial intelligence. It also recommends gender‑responsive policies by acknowledging that the protection of the right to privacy and the fight against gender‑based violence are linked.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote.
By its terms, the Assembly would call on all States to end violations of the right to privacy and to prevent them, including by ensuring that relevant national legislation complies with international human rights law. It would also call on businesses to inform users in “an intelligible and easily accessible way” about the collection, use, sharing and retention of their data that may affect their right to privacy, and to establish transparency policies, as appropriate.
The representative of China said privacy‑related elements of the draft resolution should be interpreted in conjunction with relevant provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Warning against oversimplified and overly subjective wording, he expressed reservations about preambular paragraph 11 and operative paragraph 4.
The representative of the United States said data flows and data analytics can create great benefits for economies, and in many commercial contexts, the use of opt‑out agreements can be reasonable. The United States understood “consent” as representing a context where explicit consent is important, she said, reaffirming that State obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights apply only on its territory and subject to its jurisdiction. The United States understands preambular paragraphs 22 and 28 as consistent with its long‑standing views on the International Covenant. While the draft resolution references a view on “principles of legality, necessity and proportionality,” she said States are not required to take those aspects into account under International Covenant article 17. For this reason, the United States disassociates from the draft’s operative paragraph 4. The United States understands that the draft’s language on human rights instruments does not imply that States must join instruments to which they are not parties or are bound by them. She expressed hope that future work can touch on privacy rights beyond the digital environment.
The Committee then took note of several reports.
The Committee then turned to the draft resolution titled “Rights of the child” (document A/C.3/73/L.26/Rev.1).
The representative of Uruguay, introducing a draft amendment, said the draft resolution refers to the rights to education, health and food, and issues such as child labour, violence against children (including migrant children), ending the sale of children, armed conflict and pornography. This encompasses a large body of issues. The oral revision ensures that children can be heard, and their voices amplified. He expressed hope it would be approved by consensus.
The representative of Austria, on behalf of the European Union, said the resolution “sums up” resolutions of the past four years and has an omnibus feature. Children, especially girls, are often left without a voice. He expressed hope that the rights of the child will be at the forefront. The Convention on the Rights of the Child has 196 States parties, making it the most universally recognized instrument. It is crucial to stand behind it.
The representative of Mexico withdrew his country’s co‑sponsorship of the amendment after many years of being a co‑sponsor. This was not an easy decision nor one taken lightly. These are complex times in which various principles, values and beliefs, which had not been a topic of controversy for years, are once again. The Committee had reopened discussions and taken steps backwards in many areas which have a profound social impact. “We understand the realities of every country,” he said, adding, “but there are limits to our beliefs and responsibility, particularly when speaking about children.”
Upon hearing oral amendments by the representative of Uruguay, Mexico’s delegate questioned whether children’s rights were being respected. His impression was that they are not. At best, there are profound contradictions. Excluding children’s access to sexual and reproductive health is unacceptable and below the threshold for respecting their rights. Needing to explain why such access is critical is tragic. Consensus is an aspiration and should be maintained. He then proposed an oral amendment to include sexual and reproductive health before the words “is respected”. Expressing regret that the majority of delegates would abstain or vote against it, he explained that Mexico’s approach is not procedural. Nor is it about winning or losing, but rather defending the rights of children without limits.
The representative of Sudan, introducing a draft amendment to operative paragraph 53 (document A/C.3/73/L.61), said the International Criminal Court is at best a threat to peace and stability to her country. Recalling that the Court is not an organ of the United Nations, she deplored its targeting of African leaders.
The representative of Uruguay, speaking on behalf of the main co‑sponsors of the draft resolution, said operative paragraph 53 has been agreed language for more than 10 years. Pointing out that the draft urges States to protect children affected by armed conflict and ensure they receive timely and effective humanitarian assistance, he said the Court is a key instrument to guarantee that those accused of heinous crimes are brought to justice. Given that a clear reference to the Court is timely and relevant, Uruguay will vote against the amendment.
The representative of Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the reference to the Court must be maintained to ensure that crimes committed against children are duly prosecuted. The European Union continues to support the Court, he said, emphasizing that the Lumumba case attests to the relevance of such a reference. He urged delegations to vote against the amendment.
The representative of Liechtenstein, speaking on behalf of several countries, said the draft amendment attempts to change a paragraph that has been agreed language for more than 10 years. As stated in the Rome Statute, Court investigations seek to end impunity and contribute to crime prevention. He called on all delegations to vote against the amendment.
The Committee then rejected the amendment by a vote of 105 against to 20 in favour, with 37 abstentions, which would have deleted the words “and calls upon the international community to hold those responsible for violations accountable, inter alia, through the International Criminal Court”.
The representative of Syria, expressing support for the amendment, said the Court has become a political tool used by certain countries against others.
The representative of Uruguay expressed regret that an oral amendment had been made over substance and form. The Committee had included references to sexual and reproductive health in the original draft. “We have defended this to the end,” he said, urging States to make fully effective the right to the highest level of physical and mental health, including sexual and reproductive health. He requested a vote on Mexico’s amendment and discouraged approval of it.
The representative of Comoros, in explanation of vote on behalf of the African Group, said the bloc had deliberated to have an agreement as it is orally revised. It decided to omit the phrase “reproductive and sexual health” as it contradicted the Convention of the Rights of the Child. She rejected Mexico’s last-minute oral amendment.
The representative of Austria, on behalf of the European Union, said the bloc was a staunch supporter of reproductive health, but it will abstain on procedural grounds.
The representative of Australia said she will vote yes to Mexico’s amendment. Procedurally, she expressed disappointment that the text was amended after negotiations. The amendment to operative paragraph 21 refers to a text tabled last week, which had Australia’s support. It is important to uphold children’s right to access high-quality sexual and reproductive health services. Access to such information and services fosters healthy decisions and she urged support for Mexico’s amendment.
Mexico’s oral amendment was rejected by a recorded vote of 74 against to 11 in favour, with 81 abstentions.
The representative of Iceland, explaining her vote also on behalf of Liechtenstein and New Zealand, said she had abstained.
The representative of Canada underscored the importance of sexual and reproductive health as a key element of mental and physical health, explaining that he had abstained from the vote.
The representative of South Africa, noting that children are inherently vulnerable, said she voted for inclusion of the phrase “reproductive and sexual health,” adding her vote is consistent with South Africa’s prior positions.
The Committee then approved draft resolution “L.26/Rev.1” without a vote.
The representative of the Russian Federation did not agree with imposing onto United Nations documents those that had been elaborated outside of its purview. Thus, she disassociated from the Paris Principles cited in paragraph 55.
The representative of the United States said she had joined consensus, but disassociated from operative paragraphs 18, 22 and 49, over concerns that sexual and reproductive health references had accumulated connotations that appear to promote abortion, which the current administration finds unacceptable. She disassociated from preambular paragraph 8 and operative paragraph 36, as the United States does not support a compact on safe and orderly migration and objects to such references. While children should have the ability to be heard, there is no general right for such. Further, as the United States will withdraw from the Paris Agreement, she understands the draft’s language on climate change as without prejudice to the United States position. References to consular notifications under the Vienna Convention are understood to refer to arranging for legal assistance, not providing it directly. Corporal punishment is that which rises to level of child abuse. Not all forms of bullying rise to the level of violence, she clarified, adding that there are no international humanitarian law obligations that place primary responsibility on parties to armed conflict to protect children.
The representative of Hungary reaffirmed her country’s commitment to promote children’s rights. Preambular paragraph 8 and operative paragraph 36 and other references to international migration that do not reflect Hungary’s position, she said, noting that her country had not joined the global compact on migration. Nevertheless, she had joined consensus.
The delegate of Egypt said she joined consensus, however, she expressed reservations on language concerning children’s sexual and reproductive health. Services for those under 18 years old must be provided by parents or legal guardians. Egypt also objected to references to the Paris Principles.
The representative of Singapore expressed support for the draft resolution’s goal to protect children, noting that her country had been a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child since 1995. She expressed reservations over preambular paragraph 43 and operative paragraphs 19, 26, 33 and 44, noting that Singapore had joined consensus on the text nonetheless.
The representative of Myanmar said Parliament is in the middle of adopting a revised law on children’s rights, in line with existing international norms. He expressed reservations over a paragraph referring to the International Criminal Court, as his country is not party to the Rome Statute.
An observer of the Holy See said paragraphs on health, education and the rights of children, including in the current draft, have never been consensual and yet reappear year after year. The draft resolution must consider the national policies of every State and avoid politicization. She expressed reservations on various aspects, notably over access to abortion.
The representative of Iran objected to the draft’s language on HIV/AIDS, which was not in the interests of the child.
The representative of Iraq said he had joined consensus but disassociates from any language mentioning sexual or reproductive health or abortion.
The Committee then took note of the report of the Committee of the Rights of the Child (document A/73/41).
Turning next to the topic of crime prevention and criminal justice, the Committee took up a draft resolution titled “Strengthening the United Nations crime prevention and criminal justice programme, in particular its technical cooperation capacity” (document A/C.3/73/L.8/Rev.1).
The representative of Italy, introducing the draft, noted the importance of effective criminal prevention and criminal justice, especially of the rights of persons, and said all policies upholding human rights must encompass criminal justice. The draft advances the commitment of States to implement the Palermo Convention and urges States parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption to strongly support its review mechanism. Further, the text invites the Assembly President to organize a high-level debate on the role of regional organizations in strengthening and implementing crime prevention initiatives and criminal justice responses as there are many benefits from sharing best practices. She encouraged all delegations to co-sponsor the text.
The Committee approved draft resolution “L.8/Rev.1” without a vote.
By its terms, the Assembly would urge States that have not yet done so to consider ratifying or acceding to the international conventions and protocols concerning transnational organized crime, narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances, corruption and terrorism. It would also urge States and relevant international organizations to develop national, subregional, regional and international strategies and other necessary measures ‑ including designated central and competent authorities and effective points of contact ‑ to effectively address transnational organized crime. Further, it would call on States to address the threat posed by radicalization to terrorism in prisons. Expressing concern about the overall financial situation of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the need for predictable, stable resources to effectively carry out its mandate, the Assembly would urge all Member States to widen UNODC’s donor base and increasing voluntary contributions.
Moving on, the Committee took up the draft resolution titled “Special Session of the General Assembly against Corruption” (document A/C.3/73/L.16/Rev.1). By the text, the General Assembly would decide to convene in the first half of 2021 a special session of the Assembly on challenges and measures to prevent and combat corruption and strengthen international cooperation, and to adopt an action-oriented political declaration.
The representative of Colombia, introducing the draft, said corruption represents a threat to the stability and security of societies, and jeopardizes sustainable development and the rule of law. The draft resolution aims at achieving international cooperation on this issue, he said, emphasizing that the General Assembly is the most suitable forum to establish guidelines to eradicate the scourge of corruption.
The representative of Peru said it is necessary for the Assembly to be involved actively in the fight against this scourge because it erodes institutions, the rule of law and good governance. Corruption must be tackled at all levels, he said, calling on the General Assembly to adopt a concise, substantive and direct resolution to strengthen the commitment of Member States in that regard.
The Committee then approved draft resolution “L.16/Rev.1” without a vote.
The representative of the United States underscored the leading role played by the Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which should serve as the foundation for the special session.
The representative of the Japan urged continued efforts to fight against corruption and emphasized the importance of avoiding the duplication of processes. It is important to prepare the special session in close cooperation with the Conference of State Parties to the Convention.
The Committee then took note of the Secretary-General’s note on crime prevention and criminal justice and his reports on the follow-up to the thirteenth United Nations congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and on technical assistance in implementing the international conventions and protocols related to terrorism.
Turning to the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly, the Committee then took up the draft resolution titled “Tentative programme of work of the Third Committee for the seventy-fourth session of the General Assembly, submitted by the Chair of the Committee” (document A/C.3/73/L.67).
The Committee then approved draft resolution “L.67”, as orally revised, without a vote.