Third Committee Approves Nine Draft Resolutions, Including Texts on Gender-Based Violence, Right to Development, Unilateral Coercive Measures
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) approved nine draft resolutions today covering human rights issues ranging from mercenaries to the right to food, as well as the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls.
The draft on elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls was approved in a recorded vote of 166 in favour, none against, with 14 abstentions. Its approval followed a heated debate and 10 rejected amendments proposed by Guatemala, the Russian Federation, Egypt, Libya, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. The draft resolution would have the General Assembly express alarm that marital rape and other forms of violence against women, including femicide, are among the least punished in the world and reaffirm that tradition or religious custom do not exempt States from eliminating that violence.
Introducing the text, the representative of the Netherlands said she hoped the resolution would be adopted by consensus, adding that the amendments undermine the text itself. She presented an oral revision put forward by the African Group, condemning any advocacy of national racial or religious hatred in a context of increasing discrimination and violence against women and girls.
The representative of Argentina said that all States should be voting for this resolution because “no means no”. Undermining consensus in this text sends a terribly wrong signal to victims and survivors of sexual violence, she said.
To counter, the representative of the Russian Federation noted that the resolution has become increasingly contradictory due to a group of countries inserting their own national priorities, adding that his delegation would abstain from the vote.
The representative of Guatemala said abortion is not codified in any of the many women’s rights instruments her country is a party to. Although she will vote “yes” to the draft, no one will say the text was approved by consensus.
Many delegates disassociated from terms such as “intersecting forms of discrimination” and “women in all their forms”, lamenting that the text includes terms not agreed on by consensus, with Iraq’s representative underscoring that her country only recognizes biological women.
Meanwhile, the representative of Mexico welcomed the inclusive language of the text, making visible oft-excluded groups such as migrants, indigenous women and women and girls with disabilities. She reiterated her Government’s commitment to defending women’s sexual and reproductive health and a life free from violence. The representative of Canada hailed language on accountability for persons in positions of authority.
In other action, the Committee approved a draft on the right to development by a recorded vote of 128 in favour to 24 against, with 28 abstentions. By that text, the Assembly would express concern over human rights abuses committed by trans-national corporations and the need for accountability. It would also express concern over the global economic crisis and urge developed countries to meet the 0.7 per cent target of their Gross National Product (GNP) for Official Development Assistance (ODA).
Addressing that draft, the representative of the United States said that the right to development is not recognized in any core United Nations document, unlike human rights as a legal term. He expressed concern that the concept protects States rather than people and is even used to abridge human rights.
Czechia’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the European Union said his bloc supports the right to development, noting that it provides 43 per cent of global development assistance. Along with the delegate from New Zealand, he expressed concern about unclear language in the draft, with the former citing “mutually reinforcing cooperation”, which he said has no precedent in international human rights law.
The Committee also approved a draft resolution on unilateral coercive measures by a recorded vote of 123 in favour to 53 against, with 1 abstention (Brazil). The text would have the Assembly express deep concern that unilateral coercive measures worsen the impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic and condemn the use of such measures under false pretexts like terrorism sponsorship.
The representative of Venezuela condemned the increasing use of unilateral coercive measures that prevent access to food, medicine and medical treatment, noting that developing countries are particularly targeted. Conversely, the representative of the United States stressed that sanctions are an effective tool to promote peace and accountability for human rights violations, adding that the resolution undermines the international community’s ability to respond to such abuses.
Echoing the representative of the United States, the United Kingdom’s delegate said that sanctions are a legitimate tool of foreign policy, adding that her government uses them judiciously to prevent weapons proliferation and conflicts. The representative of Belarus said that his delegation is against all unilateral measures, stressing that without a General Assembly decision, they are illegitimate.
Draft resolutions on the enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights; the right to food; and torture and other cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment were approved by consensus.
Additional resolutions on promotion of a democratic and equitable international order; promotion of peace as a vital requirement for the full enjoyment of all human rights by all; and the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination were adopted by recorded votes.
The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 11 November, to continue its action on draft resolutions.
Action on Draft Resolutions
The representative of the United States, in explanation of position for the remaining agenda items of the session, noted that the Third Committee resolutions do not change the current state of conventional or customary international law and do not create new legal obligations. Her country understands that any reaffirmation of prior instruments and resolutions applies only to those States that affirm them initially. Noting that the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development is a non‑binding document that does not create rights or obligations under international law, she stressed that the right to development does not have an agreed international meaning, adding that her country opposes references to this “right”.
Recalling that the United States is not a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, she said the rights contained in it are not justifiable in her country’s courts. Further, she asserted that the language in these resolutions does not inform the United States’ understanding of its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. When resolutions call on Member States to strengthen education, her country understands that these texts are consistent with its federal state and local authorities. In addition, the United States opposes any attempts to unduly limit the exercise of the freedoms of expression and religion or belief. Adding that her country does not accept that sanctions are tantamount to violations of human rights, she said that “among other legitimate purposes, targeted sanctions can play a valuable role in discouraging human rights violations and abuses, promoting accountability and addressing threats to peace and security”.
The Committee then took up the draft resolution titled “Intensification of efforts to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls: gender stereotypes and negative social norms” (document A/C.3/77/L.21/Rev.1) which the chair noted contains no programme budget implications.
The representative of the Netherlands, introducing draft resolution “L.21/Rev.1”, which was facilitated with France, stressed that one in three women across the world are subjected to violence at least once in their lifetime. “We cannot accept gender stereotypes and social norms that portray women as being subordinate and that contribute to condoning violence and discrimination,” she said. Expressing hope that the Committee could have adopted the resolution with consensus, she pointed to the introduction of amendments that undermine the process and substance of a balanced resolution. She presented an oral revision and a new paragraph, preambular paragraph 14, put forward by the African group, which reads: “Expressing its concern that an incidence of racial and religious intolerance, discrimination and related violence against women and girls because of negative racial and religious stereotyping continue to rise around the world, and condemning in this context any advocacy of national racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, and urging States to take effective measures consistent with their obligations under international human rights law to address and combat such incidents.”
The Committee then addressed ten proposed draft amendments to the text “A/C.3/77/L.21/Rev.1”.
Turning to draft amendment “L.56”, the representative of Guatemala said it contains terms that have not been codified in international law. It is not the first time several delegations have insisted on excluding non‑consensus‑based wording or that a country has tried to eliminate that paragraph, she said. Adding that her State protects and guarantees human life from conception, in addition to the integrity and security of the person, she urged States to vote in favour of the amendments.
Turning to draft amendments “L.57” to “L-60”, the representative of the Russian Federation said that the authors of draft resolution “L.21/Rev.1” used non‑consensus‑based wording that has not been agreed upon in an intergovernmental format. Pointing to the terms “femicide” and “female infanticide” that are “not universally recognized”, he proposed wording from one of the previous consensus‑based resolutions on violence against women. Adding that draft amendment “L.59” returns the definition of the term violence against women and girls to the wording agreed upon by States in article 1 of the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, he encouraged delegations to vote for these amendments.
Introducing draft amendments “L.61” to “L.65”, the representative of Egypt, also speaking on behalf of Libya, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, said her group’s calls went unheard. “Now regrettably this Third committee has before it a text that is the product of attempts to impose terms that are divisive and do not stem from international consensus,” she asserted, adding that it rejects internationally agreed instruments, all of which were negotiated with respect to different positions. While it's natural for delegations to come to the negotiating table with different views, she called “intolerable” attempts to pursue this agreement, instead of building consensus. Adding that the amendments seek to restore balance to the draft resolution and bring back compromise language, she invited delegations to vote for them.
The representative of France, who presented the draft resolution with the Netherlands, noting that one woman out of three is a victim of violence, stressed the need to address the root cause of this violence, something she believes there is consensus on. She expressed regret at the presentation of many hostile amendments and that their supporters did not consult the authors before submitting them. Adding that France and the Netherlands oppose all the hostile amendments, she encouraged States to “support our common priority” and vote against them.
The representative of Czechia said that “there should not be anything controversial about the call to eliminate violence and to ensure all women and girls can live their lives fully enjoying all their human rights”. Recognizing the authors’ attempts to accommodate different views to promote consensus, he deeply regretted the decision of a small group of countries to present amendments and “undermine consensus on such an important issue”. Ready to continue discussions with all partners to achieve consensual approaches, he said he will vote against all amendments and called on others to do the same. He also spoke on behalf of the European Union member States.
The representative of Indonesia, speaking in explanation of vote, said that the final draft of the resolution still contains elements that are yet to enjoy the full universal agreement among Member States. These include references to “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination”, the “Generation Equality Forum”, “intimate partner violence”, “women in all their diversity”, as well as comprehensive sexual commodities, information and education. The amendments presented on those elements are reflections that those parts have not enjoyed consensus. His country will vote in favour of the amendments on those elements, he said.
The representative of Argentina expressed concern about the presentation of last‑minute amendments that seek to undermine the agreed language and said her country will vote against them. “As an Organization, we cannot allow ourselves a step back on these issues,” she asserted, adding that countries must think about women on the ground, who are fighting for their lives, who are suffering from violence daily, and require States’ actions.
The representative of Finland, speaking on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries, stressed that the draft resolution reflects more than 22 hours of consultations, adding that finalizing the text required compromises. She deeply regretted that “a handful of delegations have presented multiple amendments on paragraphs that were discussed at length during negotiations”. She urged all delegations to support women and girls’ full enjoyment of human rights and vote against all the amendments that seek to limit these rights as well as for the resolution.
The representative of Japan, speaking in explanation of vote, said the resolution addresses the root causes of violence against women and girls in a comprehensive manner and is based on previous resolutions adopted by the Third Committee and the General Assembly. Moreover, the language to which amendments are proposed is widely used in the Organization and international community at large. He called on Member States to support the resolution and vote against all the amendments.
The representative of the United Kingdom expressed disappointment over the proposed amendments. Her country will not accept efforts to undermine international consensus on protecting women and girls around the world and progress on gender equality. She regretted that delegations have been forced to vote on these issues and urged all to vote against the amendments.
The representative of the United States expressed disappointment that some delegations decided to table amendments on issues that were thoroughly discussed throughout the negotiations. These amendments are not in the spirit of good faith and attempt to undermine an otherwise transparent process, she said, adding that her country will vote against them, and ask others to vote “no” as well.
The representative of Sudan, said that the resolution in hand contains non‑consensual terminologies and controversial language, which do not accommodate national realities. Noting that her country will vote in favour of the amendments, she said implementation of this resolution must observe the sovereign right of each member State to implement policies consistent with national legislations and in line with religious and cultural values.
The representative of Iraq said her country will vote in favour of the amendments.
The representative of Senegal pointed to the terms “multiple and intercepting forms of discrimination”, “all that diversity”, “intimate partner violence”, “control over and to decide freely and responsibly on matters relating to sexuality”. Dissociating from such terms, she said her country will vote against all related amendments.
The representative of Australia, also speaking on behalf of Canada, Ireland, Lichtenstein, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland, regretted that multiple amendments have been or will be tabled, including on agreed language, targeting paragraphs that have been discussed at length in the negotiations. She rejected amendments which seek to remove or weaken references to sexual and gender‑based violence, intimate partner violence, marital rape and multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. Stressing that these issues are core to efforts to eliminate violence and should be retained in the text, she said “it is unacceptable for women and girls to experience any form of violence under the pretense of intimacy and marriage”. Further, she supported the reference to comprehensive sexual and reproductive healthcare services, adding that the group will vote against the amendments and support the resolution.
The Committee then took up draft amendment “L.56”, for which a recorded vote was requested. The Committee rejected the amendment to “L.21/Rev.1” contained in document “L.56”, by a recorded vote of 36 in favour to 95 against, with 31 abstentions.
The Committee then took up draft amendment “L.57”, for which a recorded vote was requested. The Committee rejected the amendment to “L.21/Rev.1” contained in document “L.57”, by a recorded vote of by a recorded vote of 30 in favour to 96 against, with 35 abstentions.
The Committee then took up draft amendment “L.58”, for which a recorded vote was requested. It rejected the amendment to “L.21/Rev.1” contained in document “L.58”, by a recorded vote of 37 in favour to 99 against, with 27 abstentions.
The Committee then took up draft amendment “L.59”, for which a recorded vote was requested. It rejected the amendment to “L.21/Rev.1” contained in document “L.59”, by a recorded vote of 41 in favour to 104 against, with 18 abstentions.
The Committee then took up draft amendment “L.60”, for which a recorded vote was requested. It rejected the amendment to “L.21/Rev.1” contained in document “L.60”, byb a recorded vote of 49 in favour to 95 against, with 18 abstentions.
The Committee then took up draft amendment “L.61”, for which a recorded vote was requested. It rejected the amendment to “L.21/Rev.1” contained in document “L.61”, by a recorded vote of 38 in favour to 95 against, with 26 abstentions.
The Committee then took up draft amendment “L.62”, for which a recorded vote was requested. It rejected the amendment to “L.21/Rev.1” contained in document “L.62”, by a recorded vote of 49 in favour to 95 against, with 17 abstentions.
Noting that amendment “L.63” was withdrawn, the Committee then took up draft amendment “L.64”, for which a recorded vote was requested. It rejected the amendment to “L.21/Rev.1” contained in document “L.64”, by a recorded vote of 57 in favour to 88 against, with 14 abstentions.
The Committee then took up draft amendment “L.65”, for which a recorded vote was requested. It rejected the amendment to “L.21/Rev.1” contained in document “L.65”, by a recorded vote of 61 in favour to 86 against, with 14 abstentions.
The Committee then considered draft resolution “L.21/Rev.1” as a whole.
Addressing the draft as a whole, the representative of the Netherlands said that despite many hours of open and transparent negotiations and unsuccessful amendments, Russia felt the need to undermine the consensus on this whole text. She called on States to vote in favor of the resolution and show common commitment to end violence against women and girls.
The representative of Argentina said all States should be voting for this resolution, rejecting gender violence and femicide because “no means no”. The right to live a life free of violence and to live autonomously is an indispensable condition. People must live in more just societies that respect the human rights of all persons, she said, urging all delegations to vote in favour of the resolution.
The representative of Czechia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, deeply regretted the decision to call this draft resolution to a vote. Undermining consensus in such an important text sends a terribly wrong signal to victims and survivors of violence around the world, who have been disproportionately impacted by current crises. European Union States underline the importance of eliminating violence against women and girls and call for the broadest possible support.
The representative of the Russian Federation noted that over the years the resolution on this topic has become ever more contradictory, due to attempts by a well‑known group of countries to cement in it their politicized approaches and national priorities. The co‑sponsors of the draft resolution have neglected the positions of other States, he said, adding that his country will abstain in the vote.
The representative of Colombia said that for public policies to work they must respond to the needs of those who face many different obstacles due to their identity or origin, among other things, and so including intersectionality is more than relevant. Adding that intimate partner violence is one of the most common forms of violence against women and that femicide must be fully criminalised, she said her country will vote in favour of the resolution.
The representative of Chile said that the focus of this resolution enriches international discussions and, through the adoption of it, States recognize that violence against women happens continuously. Through it, States are focusing on historic and structural inequalities, unequal power relations, gender stereotypes and negative social protections and norms, and the fight for the autonomy and dignity of women and girls in all their diversity. Further, they recognize that all of this perpetrates multiple and interrelated forms of discrimination against women and girls throughout their lives, she said, adding that the resolution marks new milestones.
The representative of the United Kingdom said that, in every region of the world, sexual and gender-based violence is on the rise, which the Secretary‑General has called a shadow pandemic. She noted with deep regret that, rather than joining consensus on tackling this issue, one Member State has called a vote. Adding that her country will vote in favour, she urged others to do the same.
The representative of the United States welcomed the focus on diversity in the resolution, underlining that women and children with disabilities are subject to disproportionate violence, including from caregivers. She expressed deep disappointment that the Russian Federation called a vote, adding that eliminating violence against women in all its forms is something States should not have to agree upon.
The representative of Uruguay said that references to multiple and intersecting forms are examples of the co‑facilitators including all opinions. Noting a 45 per cent upswing in violence reported by women since the COVID‑19 pandemic, he said his delegation will vote against the amendments, but for the resolution.
The representative of Guatemala said her country has ratified all instruments on women and girls, but in none of them is abortion codified. Expressing strong objections to this reference, she said her delegation will vote in favour of the resolution, adding that no one will be able to say that it was adopted by consensus.
The representative of Iran said her Government gives great importance to the empowerment of women, but a proliferation of controversial and non-consensual terms weaken the resolution. Her delegation voted for the amendments, she said, adding that it disassociates itself from several preambular and operational paragraphs it objects to. Iran will abstain from voting, she said.
The Committee then adopted the draft resolution “L.21.Rev.1” by a recorded vote of 166 in favour, none against with 14 abstentions.
By its terms, the Assembly would express deep concern that violence against women and girls is underreported, reinforcing gender inequality and corresponding impunity, and that historical inequalities and disregard for women’s dignity are primary causes of marital rape and other forms of physical and psychological violence that reinforce the lower status of girls and adolescent girls in society. It would further express alarm that violence against women and girls, including femicide, is among the least punished crimes due to gender bias in the judiciary and law enforcement. The Assembly would also strongly condemn any act of sexual and gender‑based violence resulting in physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm.
Also, by the text, the Assembly would urge States to strongly condemn all forms of violence against women and girls on and off-line, and would reaffirm that tradition or religious custom do not exempt them from its elimination. It would urge States to implement legislation empowering women through guaranteeing full and equal access to education and health services. By further terms, the Assembly would request that the Special Rapporteur submit an annual report to the General Assembly at its seventy-eighth and seventy-ninth sessions and that the Secretary‑General submit a report at the seventy-ninth session focusing on the United Nations Bodies and States’ follow-up activities.
The representative of Eritrea, speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, said her delegation voted in favour of the resolution because of its firm belief that international cooperation is necessary to achieve the elimination of violence against women, adding, however, that penholders could have made greater efforts to obtain consensus. She reiterated her delegation’s opposition to the Generation Equality Forum and asked that future negotiations take all perspectives into account.
The representative of Malaysia expressed concern over attempts to distort language in legal instruments, such as paragraph 96 of the Beijing Declaration and Programme of Action. He said that amendments were a last-minute attempt to find agreement and rejected the terms “intersecting and multiple forms” and “women in all their forms”, disassociating his country from several preambular and operative paragraphs in this regard.
The representative of Saudi Arabia, on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, said that her delegation voted “yes” to the draft resolution and remains convinced of its importance. Highlighting the importance of reproductive health, she pointed to a conflict in terms, which are perceived in different ways depending on cultural specifics of countries.
The representative of Libya said the need to address violence against women and girls should not be used as a pretext to adopt ambiguous concepts that have not been agreed on through intergovernmental debate. He said that the text is replete with controversial concepts and his delegation abstained from the vote. He called on States to respect the specifics of other States by avoiding everything that is not consensus-based.
The representative of Australia, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, expressed regret that a vote was called on this widely supported resolution. Voting does nothing to help survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, she said.
The representative of Iraq said the text includes ambiguous and controversial terms. Her delegation voted for it but disassociates itself from the terms “Multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination” as well as “women in all their forms”, underscoring that Iraq only recognizes biological women. Further, her delegation prefers the term “domestic violence” to “intimate partner violence” she said, adding that Iraq understands that the resolution will be interpreted within the framework of national legislation.
The representative of Nicaragua said her delegation disassociates itself from controversial language in the preambular section of the draft resolution. Abortion cannot be considered a human right and should not be promoted in family planning or considered as birth control. Recalling the principle of non‑interference, she said that it is the sovereign right of each State to decide legislation on the issue.
The representative of Indonesia said his delegation voted in favour of the draft because its agenda is important, underscoring his country’s commitment to the issue and its implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) as well as its participation in negotiation processes. He lamented that negotiations focused on divisive issues, however, citing the Generation Equality Forum, and terms such as “women in all their diversity”.
The representative of Mali said his delegation voted in favour of the draft, expressing his country’s commitment to eliminating violence against women and girls, but disassociated from “certain terms” in the text.
The representative of Pakistan reiterated his country’s commitment to ending violence against women, citing its policies against domestic violence and discrimination. He said that reproductive rights are for States to determine, however, adding that women and girls’ equality in the context of equal access to health care, bodily autonomy, and to decide freely in matters of sexuality are not in line with States obligations under international human rights law. He disassociated his delegation from several preambular and operative paragraphs in this respect.
The representative of Egypt rejected any unilateral attempts to redefine commitments to eliminating violence against women, adding that the women’s agenda belongs to global populations. Dialogue on differing views should be accepted, she said, and, in this respect, disassociated her delegation from language in several preambular paragraphs and operational paragraphs.
The representative of Belarus lamented that delegates were not able to achieve consensus on the text of the resolution. Problematic terminology undermines the unity of nations and violates multilaterals, she said, disassociating from preambular paragraphs 6, 10, 13, 17 and 37 as well as operative paragraph 2, 4 and 5a, 5i and 6c.
The representative of Bangladesh stressed that certain provisions are incompatible with her country’s national laws, including references to marital rape, used in preambular paragraph 10 and operative paragraph 5a. His delegation voted in favour of the resolution, while disassociating from the aforementioned paragraphs.
The representative of Cameroon noted that the draft contains language that does not enjoy consensus among Member States and does not comply with her country’s national legislation. Referring to operative paragraph 5, she said that, according to her country, abortion is not a human right. She disassociated from preambular paragraphs 6, 10, 17, and 37 as well as operative paragraph 2, 5a and 5i. The term gender is understood by Cameroon as only referring to boys and girls, she added.
The representative of Mexico welcomed the inclusive language of the text and the reference to traditionally excluded groups, such as migrants, indigenous women and girls and women with disabilities. She reiterated her Government’s determination to continue to defend the rights of women to sexual and reproductive health and a life free of violence.
The representative of Canada welcomed the inclusion in the draft of root causes of violence against women, including historical and structural inequalities. She also commended language on accountability of persons in positions of authority. However, she expressed disappointment by the amendments tabled to remove references to sexual and reproductive health and rights.
The representative of China said that human rights defenders should not be regarded as a special group and given special legal status. To this end, she disassociated from references to “human rights defenders” in the resolutions.
The representative of Ethiopia, noting that his delegation voted in favour of the resolution as well as the amendments, disassociated from operative paragraph 5a, which contains a reference to intimate partner violence, 4, 6c as well as preambular paragraphs 10, 13 and 37. Ethiopia recognizes practices to terminate pregnancy only in exceptional circumstances, she noted, adding that gender is understood by his delegation as the male and female sexes.
The representative of Gambia said that his country could not vote for the resolution and instead voted for the amendments. Condemning all forms of violence against women and girls, his delegation abstained from the main resolution due to its controversial paragraphs that the amendments seek to address.
The representative of Yemen, noting that her delegation voted for the draft, stressed that the draft did not include the values of most countries and only reflected interests of certain countries. She dissociated from preambular paragraph 17 as well as from the terms “women in all diversity”, “the different forms of discrimination”, and “marital rape”, which are not in line with Sharia law or national laws of her country.
The representative of Nigeria, condemning violence against women, underscored that the negotiating process lacked transparency. He voiced regret over the term “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination” in preambular paragraph 13 and operative paragraph 4 and the term “intimate partner violence” in preambular paragraph 10 and operative paragraph 5a.
The representative of Sudan said her delegation voted in favour of the resolution. However, she dissociated from non-consensual and controversial terminology.
The representative of Mauritania, noting that her delegation voted in favour of the resolution as well as the tabled amendments, dissociated from the term “safe abortion”, which is not considered a human right by his country. She also disagreed with the use of the terms “different types of discrimination”, “intimate partner violence” and “women in all diversity” ‑ categories not recognized by her country’s national policies.
The observer for the Holy See welcomed recognition in the text of the harm done by negative stereotypes about women who are pregnant and mothers. Regrettably, the text contains many controversial and ambiguous terms, which lack agreement, despite consistent objections by numerous delegations. He further noted that sexual and reproductive rights are understood by his delegation as a holistic concept of health and the term gender is understood as male and female. Moreover, reference to safe abortion should never be promoted as a means of family planning or any legislation which gives legal recognition to abortion, he asserted.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution titled “Use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self‑determination” (document A/C.3/77/L.30), which the chair noted contained no programme budget implications.
Introducing the resolution, the representative of Cuba said that use of mercenaries impedes the enjoyment of human rights and threatens peace and self‑determination. He noted that the text is a technical update to the resolution adopted at the sixty‑sixth session of the General Assembly and should be adopted by consensus. In the event of a vote, however, he called for the draft resolution’s passage to address the use of mercenaries impeding peoples’ right to self‑determination.
In a statement before the vote, the representative of the United States said his country condemns the threat that non‑state armed groups pose to State sovereignty. However, he said his delegation recognizes a difference between “destabilizing mercenaries’ activities” and the “proper role that private military and security companies can play. Recalling his Government’s innovative and effective approaches and guidelines relating to private military and security companies, he called on the Working Group on Mercenaries to focus solely on this topic. He said his country will vote no and encouraged other delegations to do the same.
The Committee then adopted draft resolution “L.30” by a recorded vote of 122 in favour to 50 against, with 5 abstentions.
By its terms, the General Assembly would urge States to take legislative measures to ensure their territories and others under their control are not used for, and that their nationals do not take part in, the recruitment, financing or transit of mercenaries for activities designed to impede the right of peoples to self‑determination, destabilize or overthrow Governments or impair the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign States.
Further, the Assembly would request States to exercise vigilance against any kind of hiring or financing of mercenaries by private companies offering international military consultancy and security services, and to impose specific bans on companies intervening in armed conflicts to destabilize constitutional regimes. It would also call on States that have not yet done so to consider acceding to or ratifying the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries as well as condemn recent mercenary activities in developing countries.
In a statement after the vote, the representative of Argentina expressed support for the right to self‑determination of all people subject to foreign and colonial occupation. Self‑ determination cannot be exercised when this right is compromised, she said. The present resolution should be approved and implemented pursuant to relevant General Assembly resolutions as well as those related to the Special Committee on Decolonization, she added.
Next, the Committee took up the draft resolution titled “The right to development” (document A/C.3/77/L.24), which the chair noted contained no programme budget implications.
The representative of Cuba, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, introduced the resolution, noting that the text is a technical update on a resolution adopted at last year’s General Assembly that addresses effects of the COVID‑19 pandemic on the right to development and unequal access to vaccines. He said that the text is in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and invited delegations to vote in favour of the draft, thus recognizing that the right to social, political, and cultural development are human rights for all peoples.
In a statement before the vote, the representative of the United States said that, although the country is committed to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the right to development is not recognized in any core United Nations documents, unlike human rights, which is a legal term. He expressed concern that the right to development protects States and not people and should not be used to abridge human rights. Taking issue with language integrated into the text by a single Member State that he described as political, he added that his country recognizes immunization as a global public good, but not medicine or vaccines themselves. Underlining that this language has no relevance for trade agreements, he said his delegation requested the vote and would vote against the resolution.
The representative of Armenia spoke on both “L.24” and “L.25”, saying that they refer to language in an outcome document from a conference in Baku containing language his delegation does not agree with. He added that Armenia attaches great importance to the right to development and self-determination, which is at the heart of the 1986 Declaration on the right to development, but disassociated his delegation from preambular paragraphs in both resolutions.
The Committee then adopted draft resolution “L.24” by a recorded vote of 128 in favour to 24 against, with 28 abstentions.
By its terms, the General Assembly would stress the need to increase the participation of developing countries in international decision-making. It would also stress the need to ensure operationalization of the right to development as a priority, including in recovery from the COVID‑19 pandemic. Further, the Assembly would express concern about increasing cases of human rights abuses by transnational corporations, underline the need to ensure justice, and underscore that these entities must contribute to the right to development.
Also, by the text, the Assembly would express its deep concern about the negative impact that the aggravated economic and social situation has on the right to development, particularly in developing countries. It would urge developed countries to meet the targets of 0.7 per cent of their gross national product (GNP) for official development assistance (ODA) to developing countries and 0.15 to 0.2 per cent of their GNP to the least developed countries. Further, it would emphasize the urgent need to take measures to combat corruption at all levels.
The representative of Czechia, in a statement after the vote and speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the right to development is based on the inalienability of all human rights, which his bloc supports, as its contributions represent 43 per cent of development assistance. He expressed concern that the resolution contains unclear concepts such as “mutually reinforcing cooperation”, which has no precedent in international human rights law. He reiterated the bloc’s commitment to pursue more discussions to obtain a consensual outcome for all.
The representative of New Zealand, delivering an explanation of vote also on behalf of Switzerland, welcomed the new preambular paragraph reaffirming the universality of human rights. However, she expressed concern that this resolution also includes “unclear concepts that risk undermining this fundamental principle and that suggests a hierarchy of rights”. Her group is not in favour of developing a legally binding instrument on the right to development, as it does not believe it would be an appropriate and effective mechanism for progress. She expressed hope that a consensual approach can be found in future years.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution titled “Enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights” (document A/C.3/77/L.25), which the Chair noted contained no budget programme implications.
Introducing the resolution, the representative of Cuba, on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that the text is largely a technical update of a resolution adopted during the sixty‑sixth General Assembly session. Noting the robust cooperation in writing the text, he said that if a vote is called for, he asks for the Committee’s full support for the draft.
The Committee then approved the resolution without a vote.
By its terms, the General Assembly would urge all actors on the international scene to build an international order based on justice, equity, the promotion of human rights and to reject all doctrines of exclusion based on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. It would emphasize the importance of the Universal Periodic Review as a mechanism based on cooperation, the need for a constructive approach by all stakeholders to resolve human rights issues in international forums, as well the role of international cooperation in increasing the capacities of Member States in human rights. By further terms, the Assembly would urge States to take measures necessary to enhance bilateral, regional and international cooperation to address the adverse impact of compounded global crises on human rights.
The representative of the United States said his country continues to support increased international cooperation to further the protection and promotion of human rights. However, it dissociates itself from preambular paragraph 5 because of the incorrect assertion that the enhancement of international cooperation is essential in the effective promotion and protection of all human rights. International cooperation is a helpful instrument to promote implementation of human rights, but each individual State maintains the primary responsibility to promote and protect human rights. States' human rights obligations and commitments are not contingent upon international cooperation. The absence of cooperation does not justify or excuse the failure to honor these obligations and commitments. The United States and others have long‑standing concerns with particular elements of the 2001 Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and the 2009 Durban Review Conference that we consider to be either antisemitic or that single out the State of Israel, and over broad restrictions on freedom of expression.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution titled “Human rights and unilateral coercive measures” (document A/C.3/77/L.26), which the chair noted contains no programme budget implications.
The representative of Cuba, introducing the draft on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, warned that unilateral coercive measures impact the enjoyment of all human rights. In firm opposition to the use of this practice as a tool of economic and political oppression or against developing countries, he requested all delegations to support the draft, voting in favour.
A recorded vote was requested.
The representative of Venezuela reaffirmed his country’s strong condemnation of ever‑increasing applications of unilateral coercive measures aimed at advancing interventionist and destabilizing agendas that impact the full enjoyment of human rights by preventing access to food, medicine and medical treatment, financial services, technological advances. Unilateral coercive measures have become the preferred tool of some States to exert pressure, particularly on developing countries, he cautioned.
The representative of the United States stressed that sanctions are an effective tool to promote peace and accountability for human rights violations and abuses. The draft resolution undermines the ability of the international community to respond to human rights violations. Moreover, the United States aims to minimize the potential humanitarian impact of its sanctions on vulnerable communities, ensuring that such sanctions impact intended targets, while limiting unintended consequences on innocent people. For this reason, the United States requests the vote and will vote against the resolution.
The Committee then approved draft resolution “L.26” by a recorded vote of 123 in favour to 53 against, with one abstention (Brazil).
By its terms, the Assembly would express deep concern that unilateral coercive measures continue to be implemented, creating obstacles to the full enjoyment of all human rights, and about the situation of States facing both unilateral coercive measures and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It would urge all States to cease adopting unilateral measures not in accordance with international law and to refrain from applying unilateral trade measures that impede sustainable economic development. Further, the Assembly would condemn including Member States in unilateral lists under false pretexts, such as terrorism sponsorship, and strongly object to the extraterritorial nature of measures threatening the sovereignty of States. It would also condemn measures having negative effects on children, women and persons with disabilities.
Also by the text, the Assembly would request the Secretary‑General and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide necessary resources for the Special Rapporteur’s mandate, and that the Rapporteur submit a report on implementation of the present resolution and the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures, with a focus on the COVID‑19 pandemic and access to vaccines in targeted countries, to the General Assembly at its seventy‑eighth session.
The representative of the United Kingdom said he voted against the draft resolution, stating that sanctions are a legitimate tool of foreign policy used to preserve peace and the rule of law, uphold human rights, and strengthen international security. The sanctions her Government uses are carefully targeted and proportionately focused, particularly on deterring and constraining serious human rights violations, weapons proliferation, preventing conflicts, and other situations of international concern. They are also lawful, transparent, and allow for due process protections. The UK therefore voted no on the resolution.
The representative of Belarus said his country is categorically against unilateral coercive measures against United Nations Member States. Any unilateral measures without the decision of the General Assembly are illegitimate with regards to international law, he added. Despite the many yearly resolutions by the Assembly and the United Nations Human Rights Council, which has condemned the use of unilateral coercive measures, certain countries continue to use these illegitimate instruments against sovereign countries. He urged States to fully, unreservedly and irreversibly condemn the use of such measures.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution titled “Promotion of a democratic and equitable international order” (document A/C.3/77/L.27), which the Chair noted contained no programme budget implications.
The representative of Cuba, presenting the text, said the current order produces wealth and privileges for rich countries, but poverty and exclusion in the South. The COVID‑19 pandemic and other global challenges that the international community must grapple with eloquently demonstrate this reality and the need for a more democratic and equitable international order. The text, he noted, which is largely what was adopted in the previous session, examines the impact of COVID‑19, looks at the capacities of all countries to recover and introduces the need for increasing efforts to fulfil commitments under the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.
The representative of the United States reiterated his country’s concerns with the general premise of the draft resolution as well as specific aspects of the text. He requested a vote on the draft resolution and explained that the United States will vote “no”.
The Committee then approved “L.27” by a recorded vote of 117 in favour to 54 against, with 10 abstentions (Armenia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Liberia, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Uruguay).
By its terms, the Assembly would stress that all nations share responsibility for managing worldwide issues, such as pandemics and threats to international security, which should be exercised multilaterally with the United Nations playing the central role. It would express deep concern that the current global economic, climate and food crises widen the gap between developed and developing countries.
By further terms, the Assembly would express deep concern about uneven access to COVID‑19 vaccines for developing countries, emphasizing that an equitable approach enhances the capacities of all countries to have equal access to vaccines. It would urge all actors to build an order based on inclusion, solidarity, mutual universal human rights and to reject all doctrines of exclusion based on racism, xenophobia and related intolerance. Further, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide necessary resources for the mandate of the Independent Expert.
The Committee then took up the draft resolution entitled “Promotion of peace as a vital requirement for the full enjoyment of human rights by all” (document A/C.3/77/L.28), which the Chair noted contained no programme budget implications.
The representative of Cuba, introducing draft resolution “L.28”, said it constitutes a technical update of the text adopted during the seventy‑fifth session of the General Assembly and is based on the foundational idea of the United Nations to preserve the right to live in peace. Given that it fully corresponds with the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, he expressed hope that it will be adopted by consensus, adding that its adoption will send a clear message in favor of peace and the promotion and protection of human rights for all people.
A recorded vote was requested.
The representative of the United States said he called for a vote on the draft as he does not agree with the notion of a collective right to peace, as it stifles the exercise of existing human rights, which are held by individuals. Therefore, he will vote against the draft and encouraged other countries to vote against it as well.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution by a recorded vote of 128 in favour to 53 against, with one abstention (Brazil).
By the text, the Assembly would stress that the deep fault line that divides human society between the rich and poor and the ever‑increasing gap between the developed and developing worlds pose a major threat to global prosperity, peace and security and stability. It would also emphasize that the promotion of peace demands that policies of States be directed towards the elimination of the threat of war, particularly nuclear war, the renunciation of the use or threat of use of force in international relations and the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means. By further terms, the Assembly would urge States to respect the United Nations Charter in their relations with other States, irrespective of their political, economic or social systems, and their size, geographical location or level of economic development.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution titled “The right to food” (document A/C.3/77/L.29), which the Chair noted contained no programme budget implications.
The representative of Cuba, introducing “L.29”, said the text looks at the impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic on the exercise of the right to food. Additionally, it introduces some new elements to address the current international context marked by an increase of food, cereal, fertilizer, fuel and energy prices. The draft resolution also strengthens language around the impact of armed conflict on the right to food.
The representative of Canada stated that this resolution is a reminder that everyone has the right to a standard of living, adequate for their health and well‑being, including to food. Conflict remains one of the main drivers of food and insecurity, he added, combined with the adverse effects of climate change and extreme weather events, and compounded by the consequences of the COVID‑19 pandemic, as projections estimate that millions more will be pushed into food insecurity in the coming year. She expressed deep concern over the negative effect of Russia's unjust, unjustifiable and illegal invasion of Ukraine. The war in Ukraine has put an upward pressure on exceptionally elevated food and energy prices with international food. Commodity prices experienced their highest peak on the United Nations food price index since its inception in 1990. It is often the most marginalized individuals and communities that are affected as well as persons in vulnerable situations.
The representative of the United States stated that the world is facing an unprecedented level of food insecurity and a humanitarian crisis worsened by the impacts of Russia's aggression against Ukraine. More than 300 million people are unable to access clean water, emergency medicine, shelter, and food. More than a hundred million are forcibly displaced and hundreds of millions more are experiencing hunger. Food insecurity is a global challenge and this resolution rightfully acknowledges the hardships millions are facing. Although the United States will not block consensus, it is disappointing that the resolution contains problematic language that is not focused on human rights, notably in preambular paragraph 13 and operative paragraph 20.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution titled “Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” (document A/C.3/77/L.45), which the Chair noted contained no programme budget implications.
Introducing the text, the representative of Denmark emphasized its importance in the continued and joint fight against torture. It reconfirms that the United Nations speaks with one voice on the topic and serves as a practical tool in the daily work of practitioners and institutions to eradicate torture around the world. He then highlighted the text’s new elements, including the references to the Méndez Principles on effective interviewing and obtaining reliable information without resorting to torture, the Istanbul Protocol manual on the effective investigation and documentation of torture and the recently published report of the United Nations Group of Government Experts on torture-free trade.
The Committee then approved “L.45” without a vote, by which the Assembly would condemn all forms of torture and other cruel treatment, including through intimidation, and any attempt to legalize such acts, including on grounds of national security, counter-terrorism or through judicial decisions. It would also emphasize that acts of torture and cruel treatment in armed conflict are serious violations of international humanitarian law constituting war crimes, that acts of torture can constitute crimes against humanity and that the perpetrators must be prosecuted. It would also urge States not to transfer a person to another State where they would be in danger of being subjected to torture.
By further terms, the Assembly would call on States to adopt measures to prevent torture and cruel treatment, particularly in the context of the use of force by law enforcement officials and in places of detention. It would also urge States to ensure that prolonged incommunicado detention and secret places of detention and interrogation are abolished. Further, the Assembly would urge States to ensure that no authority tolerates sanctions or reprisals against any person, group or association seeking to contact any stakeholders combating torture as well as ensure accountability for such acts.
The representative for the Philippines expressed support for the resolution but disassociated from preambular paragraph 7 and operative paragraph 4 for referencing the International Criminal Court. The Philippines withdrew from the Rome Statute and does not recognize its jurisdiction, she pointed out. Reaffirming that freedom from torture is a non-derogable right, she condemned all forms of torture and all other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.
The representative of Nicaragua similarly disassociated from the references to the International Criminal Court. Criminal justice must be impartial and international and not complementary to national systems of justice, she said. It should also be without politicization and double standards, she added.
The representative of the Russian Federation, dissociating from preambular paragraph 7 and operative paragraph 4, noted that his country does not share the positive view of the International Criminal Court, its activities and vision.
The representative of Argentina commended the inclusion of the Méndez Principles in operative paragraph 16. They should be recognized as a tool for the progressive development of international law and human rights, she encouraged, while highlighting their contributions to strengthening the universal system for the promotion and protection of human rights.