Third Committee Approves 10 Drafts on Refugees, Indigenous Peoples, Women Migrant Workers as Delegates Denounce Attempts to Exploit Crises for Political Gain
Russian Federation, United States Trade Barbes over Text on Trafficking in Persons Presented by Belarus
In an intensive stretch of action, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural) sent 10 draft resolutions to the General Assembly today, as delegates engaged in lengthy dialogue over the rights of migrants, indigenous peoples, internally displaced persons, ethnic minorities and efforts to combat the glorification of Nazism.
Four draft resolutions passed by the Committee focused on aspects of migration or the global movement of peoples, more broadly. Three of them — on violence against women migrant workers, on internally displaced persons and on improving coordination of efforts against human trafficking — were approved by consensus.
Indonesia’s delegate, introducing the draft on women migrant workers, highlighted the compounding effect of the COVID-19 crisis on the ability of these women to access health and other essential services. Several delegates joined consensus on the draft as a whole but disassociated from mentions of the 2018 Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. Among them, Algeria’s representative said the causes of migration should be tackled, while Hungary’s delegate disputed the idea that migration is a human right, stressing that all States have a right to protect their borders.
The text would have the General Assembly call on States to address the root causes of violence against women migrant workers and urge them to develop legislation on the prevention of femicide.
Similarly, the text on internally displaced persons would have the Assembly call on Governments to provide for the protection of and assistance to these communities, including for reintegration.
The third consensus draft — on improving coordination in the fight against human trafficking — was approved amid protracted dialogue around its introduction by the representative of Belarus, with numerous representatives, including from the United States, Canada, Liechtenstein, Denmark, Germany, Croatia and elsewhere denouncing President Alexander Lukashenko for exploiting the refugee crisis on his country’s borders for political purposes. An observer for the European Union condemned such behaviour as inhumane, while Poland’s delegate called it a cynical attempt to blackmail the bloc.
By the terms of the text, the Assembly would decide to convene a high-level meeting on the progress achieved in implementing the 2010 United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, at its eightieth session, no later than December 2025.
Meanwhile, the annual omnibus draft on the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was approved by a recorded vote of 173 in favour to 0 against, with 5 abstentions (Eritrea, Hungary, Iran, Libya, Syria). The Assembly would condemn attacks on refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons and internally displaced persons, while deploring the rise in incidents of refoulement — the forcible return of refugees to countries where they might be liable to prosecution — and the denial of access to asylum.
Several delegates from countries with large numbers of their populations displaced outside their borders commented on the draft, with several disassociating from it entirely or from certain provisions. Among them, Syria’s delegate said she requested the recorded vote, as her delegation’s views were not addressed during the negotiations. Venezuela’s representative noted that while he voted in favour of the draft, he did not approve of the mention of “Venezuelans displaced abroad”, while Poland’s delegate denounced the use of refugees at her country’s border as a threat to the European Union.
In other action, the Committee approved a draft resolution on combating the glorification of Nazism by a recorded vote of 121 in favour to 2 against (Ukraine, United States), with 53 abstentions. The text would have the Assembly express deep concern over the glorification of the Nazi movement, neo-Nazism and former members of the Waffen SS organization.
Introducing the text, the Russian Federation’s delegate said it contains new elements on human rights that have deteriorated over the last year. However, several delegates took to the floor to express concerns, with the United States representative explaining that it contains provisions that attempt to promote the Russian Federation’s disinformation campaigns. Ukraine’s delegate, meanwhile, decried the text’s “clear manipulation of historical narratives”, including in relation to the glorification of the Stalin regime.
The Committee went on to approve a consensus draft on the rights of indigenous peoples, which would have the Assembly continue to observe the International Day of Indigenous Peoples annually on 9 August. Bolivia’s representative, introducing the text, said it urges States to address the susceptibility of indigenous peoples to climate change and extreme meteorological events. Peru’s representative took the opportunity to highlight the Government’s provision of information on COVID-19 vaccines in indigenous languages to the country’s 5 million indigenous peoples.
Other drafts approved by consensus today were on the promotion of the declaration of the rights of persons belong to national, ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities; terrorism and human rights; national human rights institutions; and promoting social integration through social inclusion.
The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Monday, 15 November, to continue its work.
The Committee first took up the draft resolution titled “Promoting social integration through social inclusion” (document A/C.3/76/L.13/Rev/1), which the Chair said contained no programme budget implications.
The representative of Peru, introducing the text, said that it recognizes the importance of social integration and inclusive societies where everyone can exercise their fundamental rights and freedoms. It is geared to closing unjust social gaps and acting to promote societies with great social cohesion. Many people cannot participate in the social and economic life of their countries and are excluded to the detriment of themselves, their family and the nations concerned.
The Committee then approved “L.13/Rev.1” without a vote, with the Assembly stressing that Member States should prioritize the creation of a “society for all”, based on respect for human rights and the principles of equality among individuals. Against that backdrop, it would call on Member States to advance bold actions to address the social, economic and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, promote more equitable participation in and access to economic growth gains through policies that ensure inclusive labour markets, and to accelerate efforts to close the digital divide.
The representative of Egypt drew attention to “the content on the marginalized segments that cannot be interpreted except in the consensus context that is recognized in the General Assembly”.
The Committee then turned to the draft resolution titled “Violence against women migrant workers” (document A/C.3/76/L.23/Rev.1), which the Chair noted contains no programme budget implications.
The representative of Indonesia, introducing the draft resolution, cited specific challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, whose impact is felt strongly by migrant workers and women, notably in accessing affordable health services, including the COVID-19 vaccine.
The representative of Algeria, expressing her country’s full commitment to the protection of women against all forms of violence, said that while her delegation joined consensus on the draft, Algeria abstained from paragraphs referencing the 2018 Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. She suggested that the international community address the root causes of migration.
The Committee approved the resolution by consensus, which would have the Assembly urge States to develop and implement legislation and policies to prevent and respond to gender-related killing of women and girls, including femicide, while also considering the particular difficulties faced by women migrant workers in accessing justice. Among other actions, the Assembly would call on States to address the structural and underlying causes of violence against women migrant workers, including through education and dissemination of information, raising awareness of gender equality issues, promoting their economic empowerment and access to decent work and, where relevant, their integration into the formal economy, in particular in economic decision-making. In addition, the Assembly would urge all States to end the arbitrary arrest and detention of women migrant workers, and take action to prevent and punish any form of illegal deprivation of the liberty of women migrant workers by individuals or groups.
The representative of Egypt emphasized his country’s position on the non-intergovernmental nature of preambular paragraph 10, while advocating for national priorities.
The representative of Slovenia, on behalf of the European Union, acknowledged the role of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), citing its strategic plan for 2022-2025. She voiced the preference for an explicit reference to sexual and reproductive health care services, as COVID-19 has severely impacted people on the move, including women and migrant workers. He cautioned against instrumentalizing migrant workers and women for pollical purposes, strongly condemning the Alexander Lukashenko regime in Belarus for deliberately placing people’s lives in danger.
The representative of Chile expressed reservations on all paragraphs referencing the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, adding that Chile is updating its law to ensure that migration is indeed safe and orderly.
The representative of Libya said that, while his delegation joined consensus on the draft resolution, this does not indicate any change to its position related to resolution 73/195 on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. In 2018, Libya did vote for this resolution for reasons explained at that time, he said, dissociating from operative paragraphs 8, 5 and 25. Migration must be governed by practical laws, he added.
The representative of the United States expressed regret over the decision to remove language on sexual and reproductive health services, which is a critical element, especially in a text focused on COVID-19. Pointing to the rise in violence against women migrant workers, he referenced preambular paragraph 13 and stressed that harassment, while condemnable, is not necessarily violent.
The representative of Hungary stressed that migration should not qualify as a basic human right. Stressing that all States have the right to defend their migration policies, protect their borders and fight against criminal human trafficking and smuggling networks, which are exploiting those in vulnerable situations. Rather than promoting migration, the international community should focus on addressing its root causes, including through conflict prevention. Migration policy falls under a national competence. Hungary did not vote in favour of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, she said, disassociating from paragraphs referencing the 2018 Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and the International Migration Review Forum.
The representative of Malaysia, noting that migrants play an important role in his country’s development, said the Government deployed COVID-19 vaccines for all migrants. It is important to consider the interests of Member States, he stressed, disassociating from the term “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination” in preambular paragraph 33 and operative paragraph 2. He said his delegation joined consensus on the draft.
An observer for the Holy See welcomed that the text recognizes the significance of migrant women and workers. He stressed the importance of ensuring that migrant women have access to vaccines, regardless of their migrant status, adding that migrant workers are in a situation of particular vulnerability.
The Committee then considered the draft resolution titled, “Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees” (document A/C.3/76/L.59).
The representative of Finland, introducing draft resolution “L.59” on behalf of the Nordic countries, described the text as having a balanced multilateral approach, which is much needed given the growing humanitarian needs around the world. The draft required substantive negotiations, which led to consensus among a majority of Member States.
The representative of Syria, explaining her country’s position, requested a recorded vote and expressed regret that comments raised by her delegation during the negotiations were not addressed.
The representative of Switzerland underscored that the text represents the best possible compromise, welcoming the strengthening of the language on climate action.
The representatives of Slovenia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, as well as the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, expressed regret over the request for a recorded vote, given the humanitarian nature of the draft resolution.
The representative of Australia reiterated the importance of working together to address global displacements.
At the same time, the representative of Singapore expressed concerns about the new language introduced into the text that does not recognize the context of each country. Her delegation remains committed to supporting UNHCR through voluntary contributions, and it will vote in favour of the draft resolution.
The Committee then approved draft “L.59” by a recorded vote of 173 in favour to 0 against, with 5 abstentions (Eritrea, Hungary, Iran, Libya, Syria).
By the text, the Assembly would urge States that are parties to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol to respect their obligations, while calling on States and other stakeholders to broaden the support base in a spirit of international solidarity by contributing to the sharing of burdens and responsibilities.
By other terms, the Assembly would strongly condemn attacks on refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons and internally displaced persons, and similarly deplore the growing number of incidents of refoulement and unlawful expulsion of refugees and asylum seekers, as well as the denial of access to asylum. As such, it would call on States to respect the principles of refugee protection. It would ask them to uphold the civilian and humanitarian character of camps and settlements for refugees and internally displaced persons through effective measures to prevent the infiltration of armed elements. In addition, the Assembly would call upon States to process asylum applications by identifying those in need of international protection, and to ensure that the humanitarian needs of persons of concern are addressed as components of humanitarian response.
The representative of Venezuela, in an explanation of vote, said his delegation voted in favour of the draft resolution as a demonstration of international solidarity. However, he objected to the inclusion of a category of “Venezuelans displaced abroad” and the politicization of UNHCR by several States to promote their national policies.
The representative of the Russian Federation, while underlining his delegation’s support for the draft, said the term “responsibility sharing” should be used in line with the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.
The representative of Iran underlined that her delegation abstained, as the draft does not address unlawful measures taken by several countries.
The representative of Poland considered the use of refugees at the border of her country unacceptable as it threatens the European Union and the international community. Poland does not identify itself with the provisions of the 2018 Global Compact on Refugees. Rather, it prefers cooperation with countries of origin and transit.
The representative of Hungary, explaining his country’s abstention, expressed concerns about the 2018 Global Compact on Refugees and underlined the need to address the root causes of migration.
The representative of Bahrain, speaking also for the United Arab Emirates, said that while his delegation voted in favour of the draft, it believes sexual and reproductive health provisions should be aligned with national country approaches.
The representative of Azerbaijan expressed concerns about paragraph 58, stressing that the Nagorno‑Karabakh no longer exists and inviting Member States to use the official name.
An observer for the Holy See said the draft resolution recognizes the severe impact of COVID‑19 on refugees, calling for additional measures to build resilience against climate change and prevent displacement. He expressed reservations about sexual and reproductive health care provisions, stating that abortion should not be considered a dimension of these terms.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution titled “Rights of indigenous peoples” (document A/C.3/76/L.22/Rev.1), which the Chair noted contained no budget implications.
The representative of Bolivia, introducing the text, said it underscored the importance of States’ commitment to protect the rights of indigenous peoples, maintaining a global perspective. Together, delegations have achieved significant progress, including on the need for States to reduce the vulnerability of indigenous peoples to climate change and extreme meteorological events, as well as to ensure their full participation in decision-making related to climate change. The text invites States to consider establishing mechanisms to implement the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-2032).
The Committee then approved “L.22/Rev.1”, without a vote.
By its terms, the Assembly would decide to continue to observe the International Day of Indigenous Peoples every year on 9 August and request the Secretary-General to support its observance from within existing resources. It would urge Governments and the United Nations, in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples through their representatives and institutions, to continue to implement national measures, including legislative measures, to achieve the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Stressing the urgent need to enhance the adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience and reduce the vulnerability of indigenous peoples to climate change, the Assembly would also support their leadership, knowledge, technologies, practices and efforts to address such phenomena.
The representative of Peru said that more than 5 million people identify as indigenous or first persons living in Peru. Noting that the draft reiterates the need for States to protect indigenous peoples from COVID-19, he said Peru has produced vaccine information in indigenous languages and reiterated the need for States to protect defenders of environmental rights and the rights of indigenous peoples. Any violations must be investigated, with perpetrators brought to justice and reparations provided.
The representative of Libya said his delegation joined consensus from a belief in the importance of indigenous peoples and their rights. However, Libya’s position on the 2018 Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration remains the same, she said, recalling that it had voted against that text for reasons that were set out at the time. Libya therefore distances itself from preambular paragraph 9, which references the Compact.
The representative of France, speaking for a group of countries, said that human rights are universal and applicable to all. Noting that the pandemic has had major consequences for indigenous peoples, he said their rights must be protected without discrimination.
The representative of Canada, stressing that the pandemic has exacerbated the inequalities experienced by indigenous peoples globally, underlined the need to advance discussions on the participation of indigenous peoples at the United Nations on issues impacting them.
The representative of Hungary, referencing preambular paragraph 9, said that his country had voted “no” on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and will therefore disassociate from this paragraph. It will also disassociate from operative paragraph 18.
The representative of Malaysia dissociated from references to “multiple and intersecting forms” in preambular paragraphs 10 and 11, as well as operative paragraph 18, as they are inconsistent with Malaysia’s position.
The representative of the United Kingdom, recognizing that indigenous individuals are entitled to the full protection of their human rights under international law, said her delegation does not accept the concept of collective human rights and that the rights of the group should not supersede the rights of individuals.
The representative of Egypt said his country joined consensus on the draft resolution but dissociated from the term “multiple intersecting forms of discrimination”, due to its ambiguity and lack of definition.
The representative of Japan, noting that indigenous individuals are entitled to protection of their human rights on an equal basis with all other individuals, said Japan will continue to promote a society where the rights of all, including indigenous peoples, are respected.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution titled “Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance” (document A/C.3/76/L.57/Rev.1).
The representative of the Russian Federation, presenting the draft, said the victory against Nazism was decisive for the entire modern system of human rights. Noting that the international human rights instruments adopted were a response by the United Nations to the crimes of Nazism, he said the text addresses distinct human rights issues that have been exacerbated over the last year, and that the draft will bolster efforts to end racism and racial discrimination.
A recorded vote was then requested.
The representative of Armenia recalled the tens of millions of dead on the front line under falling bombs, occupation and concentration camps, noting that the victory during the Second World War was achieved thanks to joint efforts by the anti-Hitlerian coalition. The safeguarding of truth and memory is a sacred duty and meaningful tool to counter the resurgence of Nazism, he stressed, objecting to attempts to bury the lessons of this horrific war.
The representative of the United States, condemning the glorification of Nazism, recalled that his country fought for the freedom, dignity and human rights of all individuals during Nazism. Expressing his country’s opposition to the draft, he criticized attempts to legitimize Russian disinformation campaigns that denigrate neighbouring countries and promote the Soviet narrative. The United States will vote against the text and calls on others to do the same, he said.
The representative of Ukraine said sacrifices by Ukrainians made an enormous contribution to the victory over Nazism. Recalling their struggle for the liberation of their native soil, he reaffirmed Ukraine’s strong condemnation of all forms of Nazism, stressing that the text represents a clear manipulation of historical narratives, including the glorification of the Stalin regime. For this reason, Ukraine will vote against the draft.
The representative of Belarus, associating with the Collective Security Treaty Organization, said the question of preventing Nazism has always been of paramount importance. Stressing that the Nazis perpetrated genocide against the Belarusian people, he said the fight against Nazism remains relevant.
The Committee then adopted draft resolution “L.57/Rev.1” by a recorded vote of 121 in favour to 2 against (Ukraine, United States), with 53 abstentions.
By its terms, the General Assembly would express deep concern about the glorification of the Nazi movement, neo-Nazism and former members of the Waffen SS organization, including by erecting monuments and memorials, holding public demonstrations in the name of the glorification of the Nazi past, the Nazi movement and neo-Nazism, and declaring or attempting to declare such members and those who fought against the anti-Hitler coalition, collaborated with the Nazi movement or committed war crimes and crimes against humanity “participants in national liberation movements”.
Further, the Assembly would urge States to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination by all appropriate means, including through legislation, urging them to address new and emerging threats posed by the rise in terrorist attacks incited by racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance, or in the name of religion or belief. It would call on States to ensure that education systems develop the necessary content to provide accurate accounts of history as well as promote tolerance and other international human rights principles. It likewise would condemn without reservation any denial of or attempt to deny the Holocaust, as well as any manifestation of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities on the basis of ethnic origin or religious belief.
The representative of Slovenia, speaking on behalf of the European Union in explanation of vote after the vote, proposed strengthening human rights language by outlining a more inclusive approach. He expressed regret that this draft resolution does not reference all discriminatory forms of racist extremism in an impartial manner.
The representative of Jordan, expressing support for the objectives of the resolution, reaffirmed that Islamophobia goes beyond discrimination on the basis of belief or religion and encompasses hatred directed by entities and individuals against adherents of Islam.
The representative of Canada, speaking also on behalf of other countries, condemned any form of racism, including Nazism and neo-Nazism. He welcomed the establishment of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent. Racism divides communities, breeds fear and animosity and remains a lived reality for many people globally, he said, calling for an intersectional approach to human rights. He expressed concern that the text miscategorises the obligations of Member States.
The representative of the Russian Federation voiced regret over the position of those who voted against the draft. Contrary to allegations, the Russian Federation does not misuse the victory against Nazism, he said, emphasizing that it is a common achievement for all Member States and the anti-Hitler coalition.
The Committee then considered the draft resolution titled, “Protection of and assistance to internally displaced persons” (document A/C.3/76/L.26/Rev.1).
The representative of Norway, introducing draft “L.26/Rev.1”, described the text as a humanitarian resolution. He thanked Member States for their participation in negotiations and consultations, which led to agreements on several provisions, including on COVID-19 and statistics.
The Committee then approved draft “L.26.Rev.1”, without a vote.
By its terms, the Assembly would call on Governments to provide protection and assistance to internally displaced persons, including for reintegration, and to facilitate safe, unhindered access for humanitarian personnel and the delivery of supplies and equipment, notably by maintaining the civilian and humanitarian character of camps and settlements.
Further, the Assembly would express concern about the full range of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law facing internally displaced persons, in particular, sexual and gender-based violence, and sexual exploitation and abuse, trafficking, forced recruitment and abduction. It would call on all parties to armed conflict to comply with their legal obligations with a view to preventing forced displacement and promoting the protection of civilians. In addition, it would call on Governments to respect and protect the rights of all internally displaced persons, without distinction.
The representative of the Philippines disassociated from paragraph 26 referring to the International Criminal Court, as her country does not recognize its jurisdiction.
An observer for the Holy See pointed to the humanitarian impact of COVID-19 on displaced people, while welcoming the text’s reference to the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement.
The Committee then considered the draft resolution titled, “Effective promotion of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities” (document A/C.3/76/L.33/Rev.1).
The representative of Austria promoted the consensual approach through the negotiation of the resolution, considering the Declaration remains the most important document for the protection of minority groups. Minorities were wrongly accused of spreading COVID-19 during the pandemic and they must be protected.
The Committee then approved draft “L.33/Rev.1”, without a vote, with the General Assembly requesting its President to convene a high-level meeting to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, during the general debate of the seventy-seventh session.
By other terms, the Assembly would call on States to ensure the protection of children who belong to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, and likewise promote the empowerment of all women and girls who belong to these communities. All States should promote and protect the rights of persons belonging to these minorities, as set out in the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities.
The representative of Egypt asked Member States to consider replacing the term “intersecting forms of discrimination” with “all forms of discrimination”.
The representative of Iraq similarly requested delegations to consider replacing the phrase “intersecting forms of discrimination” with “all forms of discrimination”.
The representative of Malaysia said she joined consensus on the text, in a spirit of solidarity, despite her delegation’s reservations.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution, “Terrorism and human rights” (document A/C.3/76/L.50), which the Chair said contained no programme budget implications.
The representative of Mexico said the draft contains technical updates from the resolution in 2019, describing the text as a combination of previous resolutions on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism and on the effects of terrorism on the enjoyment of all human rights. “Terrorism is a scourge that tests the values and principles that define humanity,” he said, underscoring that human rights must be protected when counter-terrorism activities are undertaken. The purpose of the draft is to help prevent violations committed by States and the undermining of human rights by terrorist groups.
The Committee then approved “L.50” without a vote.
By the text, the General Assembly would urge States to fully comply with their obligations under international human rights law, international refugee law and international humanitarian law with regard to the absolute prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Further, the Assembly would strongly condemn terrorist acts and all acts of violence committed by terrorist groups, including trafficking in persons, kidnapping and hostage-taking with demands for ransom and/or political concessions, as well as the systematic and widespread abuses perpetrated by such groups. It would call upon all Member States to prevent terrorists from benefiting from ransom payments and political concessions, and to secure the safe release of hostages, while noting the Algiers Memorandum on Good Practices on Preventing and Denying the Benefits of Kidnapping for Ransom by Terrorists in this context.
The representative of the United States expressed concern that the draft resolution does not reflect important updates from other United Nations bodies charged with addressing these issues. The United States therefore disassociates from operative paragraph 15, he said, noting that while it supports humanitarian actors assisting those displaced and victimized by terrorism, it is essential that terrorists cannot use a “humanitarian” guise to bolster their own operations. The United States also disassociates from operative paragraph 31, given that it could hinder the freedom of expression guaranteed under the United States Constitution.
The representative of Switzerland, on behalf of a group of countries, said her delegation usually supports efforts to streamline topics in the way this resolution has done. However, she expressed concern over the merging of two resolutions that address two types of violations. Switzerland does not support the shifting of focus away from State responsibilities and towards the abuse of human rights by terrorists, she explained, noting that technical updates are not a sustainable solution and that the text should be updated.
The Committee then took up the draft resolution titled, “National human rights institutions” (document A/C.3/76/L.54), which the Chair said contained no programme budget implications.
The representative of Germany, introducing the text, said national human rights institutions are essential actors in safeguarding fundamental freedoms. They have a distinct and complementary role to that of States, civil society and United Nations bodies.
The Committee then approved “L.54” without a vote.
By its terms, the Assembly would stress the importance of the financial and administrative independence and stability of national human rights institutions and note the efforts of those States that have provided their national institutions with more autonomy and independence ‑ including by giving them an investigative role or enhancing such a role. The Assembly would encourage other Governments to consider taking similar steps, stressing that the members and staff of national human rights institutions should not face reprisals or intimidation ‑ notably in the form of political pressure, physical intimidation, harassment or unjustifiable budgetary limitations ‑ as a result of activities undertaken in accordance with their mandates.
The representative of the United States said that the Paris Principles Relating to the Status of National Human Rights Institutions are not legally binding and do not necessarily reflect international law. He also referred to the general statement made on 5 November by his delegation.
The representative of Serbia said that his delegation wished to withdraw from co-sponsorship of “L.50” on terrorism and human rights.
The Committee then considered the draft resolution titled, “Improving the coordination of efforts against trafficking in persons” (document A/C.3/76/L.10/Rev.1).
The representative of Belarus, introducing the text, said COVID-19 has compounded the vulnerability experienced by the victims of human trafficking and created new problems in combatting this crime. The draft welcomes the conduct of high-level events to assess implementation of the 2010 United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, he said, stressing the importance of upholding the international consensus in countering these crimes.
Draft resolution “L.10/Rev.1” was then approved by consensus.
By the text, the Assembly would decide to convene a high-level meeting on the progress achieved in implementing the 2010 United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, at its eightieth session, no later than December 2025. Expressing solidarity with and compassion for trafficking victims and survivors, the Assembly would call for the full respect of their human rights and provision of victim-centred care.
By other terms, the Assembly would invite regional organizations to join the Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons and request the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) — as fund manager of the United Nations voluntary trust fund for trafficking victims — to encourage contributions by States and others. The Assembly would encourage States to take legislative or other measures to eradicate trafficking in persons in the context of international migration, notably by strengthening capacities to prosecute the crime, discouraging demand and ending impunity.
In addition, the Assembly would urge Member States that have not yet done so to consider ratifying or acceding to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons. It would also call on Member States, international organizations, civil society and the private sector — through partnerships — to increase prevention efforts in countries of origin, transit and destination.
The representative of the United States, in explanation of position, voiced concern over Belarus’ facilitation of irregular migrant flows across its borders, creating vulnerabilities for human trafficking. He condemned the Lukashenko regime and its political exploitation of vulnerable persons, which undermines peace and security in Europe.
The representative of Canada, speaking also for other countries, stressed the importance of international cooperation with civil society and the private sector. Condemning discrimination against the most vulnerable, he called on the Belarus regime to immediately stop the practice and allow access for humanitarian aid.
An observer for the European Union stressed the importance of breaking the criminal business model of traffickers and called for human rights-based and victim-centred approaches to combat trafficking. He went on to reiterate the importance of General Assembly resolutions on the trafficking of persons. He accused Belarus of instrumentalising migration for political purposes, revealing the cynicism of its regime. He condemned this inhumane behaviour and opposed any attempt to either instrumentalize the trafficking of persons or hinder aid access. He disassociated the bloc from operative paragraph 3, which is the result of an acceptable change.
The representative of Eritrea reiterated her country’s commitment to combatting human trafficking and underscored the significant role of this draft resolution in such efforts. Drawing attention to the root causes of human trafficking, she welcomed the update to the text, especially its references to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The representative of Liechtenstein, on behalf of Australia and the Netherlands, said the issue of human trafficking requires active engagement from all relevant stakeholders. He encouraged respect for the human rights of all people, regardless of their migratory status.
The representative of Denmark, associating with the European Union, said all human rights are universal and victims of trafficking are entitled to the enjoyment of all human rights. Reiterating the importance of addressing root causes of human trafficking, he condemned the practice of instrumentalising migration. He noted that the situation at the Belarusian border is deteriorating every day.
The representative of Poland, associating with the European Union, said the main author of the draft is instrumentalizing migration for political purposes. Condemning the hypocrisy of Belarus, she noted that the European Union suggested adding a paragraph that would respond to such attempts and expressed regret that the facilitator decided to not include this suggestion. Instead, it is cynically using migrants to blackmail the European Union and she called on Belarus to respect its own draft resolution.
The representative of Croatia opposed the instrumentalization of migrants for political purposes and called on Belarus to immediately end these activities, stressing that they endanger people’s lives. She called for a human rights-based and victim-centered approach.
The representative of Germany, associating with the European Union, drew attention to the hundreds of people at the Belarusian borders, a situation for which the Lukashenko regime is responsible. The shameful power games of Belarusian forces are intended to divert attention from their human rights violations. While subscribing to the draft’s content, he said perpetrators must be held accountable and pointed to the irony of Belarus facilitating a draft on human trafficking while risking the lives of hundreds of people at home.
The representative of Estonia, associating with the European Union, said it is highly concerning that the main sponsor of the draft resolution engages in State-sponsored human smuggling. He condemned human smuggling and brutal repressions by Belarus authorities against their own people and called on them to provide unhindered access to humanitarian organizations.
The representative of Cuba said it is inappropriate to use the adoption of a thematic resolution on the complex topic of trafficking in persons to attack specific countries.
The representative of Finland, associating with the European Union, called for a human rights-based, victim-centered approach. Pointing to the Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, which places particular importance on the protection of victims, she strongly condemned any attempt to instrumentalize trafficked persons and called on the Belarus regime to immediately stop these practices.
The representative of the Russian Federation said human trafficking poses a major threat to the security of regions, cynically transforming human beings into merchandise. He condemned the insulting statements by the European Union, United States and Canada as attempts to achieve a political score settling. The voicing of blame for the unfolding migration crisis on Minsk is unacceptable, he said, adding that the absurdity of the accusations is evident. The European Union is not striving to resolve the humanitarian crises, but rather to gain an upper hand against its opponents, he noted.
The representative of the United Kingdom, endorsing Canada’s statement, reiterated her country’s full commitment to eradicating human trafficking and said international cooperation is essential in that regard. She denounced the cynical behaviour of Belarus as an attempt to undermine Poland and other countries in the region, stressing the importance of holding the Lukashenko regime accountable.
The representative of the Czech Republic, on behalf of the European Union, said Belarus uses migrants as an instrument to increase tensions at the borders — a practice which amounts to human trafficking and must be stopped. He disassociated from operative paragraph 3.
The representative of Latvia, aligning with the European Union, said Belarus forces people to cross illegally to neighbouring countries and engages in a misinformation campaign. He called on Belarus to stop the instrumentalization of migrants and instead to comply with its international obligations.
The representative of Austria, associating with the European Union, condemned the instrumentalization of trafficking in persons, especially for political purposes.
The representative of Luxembourg, associating with the European Union, expressed alarm over the use of human beings for political purposes. By forcing their illegal entry into the European Union, Belarus is endangering their lives for political purposes. Expressing solidarity with Member States experiencing this attack, he called for the establishment of regular migration to reduce the vulnerability of migrants.
The representative of the Netherlands, associating with the European Union, expressed shock that the State facilitating the draft resolution, in fact, forces people to illegally cross borders, luring them into a trap and placing their wellbeing at risk. Belarus authorities should understand that exerting such pressure on European borders will not succeed.
The representative of Slovakia condemned the orchestrated instrumentalization of human beings for political purposes, expressing Slovakia’s full solidarity with fellow Member States and calling on Belarus to immediately end this dangerous behaviour.
The representative of Slovenia, associating with the European Union and reiterating her country’s commitment to preventing trafficking in persons, opposed the instrumentalization of human beings. The practice is unacceptable and should be condemned in the strongest terms, he said.
The representative of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea voiced concern over the politicization of United Nations efforts and called for the promotion of constructive relations between countries.
The representative of Lithuania, associating with the European Union, expressed regret that Belarus did not accept the important paragraph proposed by the European Union. She condemned the cynical instrumentalization of the most vulnerable people for political purposes — behaviour that amounts to a crime against humanity — and called for it to end.
The representative of Syria suggested that the Committee consider other drafts to advance its work, denouncing the targeting of specific countries. Pointing to delegations whose statements were written by a single individual, she called for lasting solutions to the issue of migration. Syria joined consensus on the draft resolution, she added.
The representative of Venezuela said his country places “maximum priority” to fighting trafficking in persons. Describing the text as balanced, he said the issue of migration must not be politicized. Instead, he called for pursuing effective solutions to help victims. He also recognized the leadership of Belarus on this sensitive issue.
The representative of China called on States to avoid politicizing the Committee’s work and instead to implement practical measures to combat trafficking in persons.
The representative of Greece, associating with the European Union, opposed the instrumentalization of migration flows for political purposes. Noting that Greece experiencing similar challenges and dynamics, she condemned the use of migrants as a means to increase pressure on the European Union.
An observer for the Holy See recognized the crucial role of international cooperation and multilateralism in responding to the many challenges experienced by trafficking victims.
Right of Reply
The representative of Belarus, exercising the right of reply, said attempts by Western States to impose their views of human rights have resulted in the destruction of living standards of entire countries. The European Union is trying to demonize Belarus with economic sanctions, he said, underlining that migrants do not see Belarus as a place of residence. Noting that Belarus is willing to engage constructively with Member States on the draft resolution, he urged Western countries to stop using the word “regime” when referring to his country’s Government.
The representative of Lithuania said remarks by the representative of Belarus cannot be taken seriously, based on the situation in that country. The humanitarian crisis there is the result of a deliberate attack by Belarus against the European Union.
The representative of Poland stressed that Belarus instrumentalizes migrants to achieve political goals. Up to 4,000 migrants have attempted to enter Poland with the support of Belarus, she stressed, pointing to the lack of humanitarian assistance provided to refugees. The Belarus “regime” uses vulnerable persons to create a new hotspot for refugees, she concluded.
The representative of Belarus said the Government will address the issues at hand without support from Western States. The rights to education and medicine are respected in his country, he clarified, stressing that the Third Committee is an inappropriate forum in which to discuss this situation.