Third Committee Approves 10 Draft Resolutions, Including Texts on Persons with Disabilities, Female Genital Mutilation, Organ Trafficking
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) approved 10 draft resolutions today on a range of topics, including the rights of persons with disabilities, eradicating female genital mutilation, protecting children from bullying and ending organ trafficking.
Although delegates approved the drafts by consensus, several distanced themselves from recurring language in the texts on gender and sexuality, as well as references to “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination”, stressing that including such terms is unconstructive.
In the morning, the Committee approved a draft on inclusive development for persons with disabilities, which would have the Assembly express concern that such persons continue to experience intersecting forms of discrimination and stress its resolve to build inclusive societies. Further, it would urge Member States to facilitate access to cities, as well as to all public services, for people with disabilities.
Addressing that text, the representative of the United States, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, expressed disappointment over the lack of agreement on language regarding access to health services and sexual and reproductive health. Stressing that persons with disabilities have the same needs as those without them, she said access remains impeded due to discrimination, sometimes leading to forced sterilization.
In other action, the Committee approved a draft on protecting children from bullying, which would have the Assembly call on States to invest in education and digital literacy for children that would ensure child safety online, as well as adopt legislation to prevent bullying.
Malaysia’s delegate expressed grave concern over cyberbullying, which he termed “a silent killer of children”. The representative of Israel welcomed the draft’s focus on the circulation of sexually explicit images of minors, adding that “it is only through clearly recognizing these threats that we can implement gender-responsive measures to counter these violations”.
In the afternoon, the Committee approved a draft on early, forced and child marriage, which would have the Assembly urge States to address root causes of gender inequality and violence, and tackle poverty and other root causes of early and forced marriage. On that draft, the representative of El Salvador welcomed references to menstrual health and the feminization of poverty, as they are factors leading to early, forced and child marriage. Argentina’s delegate highlighted gender and intersectional approaches, noting that multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination address challenges that women and girls face worldwide.
New Zealand’s delegate, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said the language “acknowledges compounding vulnerabilities that increase the risk of child, early and forced marriage”. The representative of Uruguay emphasized that child or forced marriage can lead to complicated pregnancies and a higher risk of maternal death.
Other draft resolutions approved by consensus today included texts on trafficking in women and girls; eliminating female genital mutilation; administration of justice; extreme poverty; preventing and combating corruption; combating trafficking in human organs; the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme; and ending obstetric fistula.
The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 16 November, to continue its action on draft resolutions.
Action on Draft Resolutions
The Committee first took up the draft resolution titled “Inclusive development for and with persons with disabilities” (document A/C.3/77/L.9/Rev.1), which the Chair noted contains no programme budget implications.
Speaking at the meeting’s onset, the representative of Guatemala reiterated her country’s commitment to the spirit of several resolutions to be discussed in today’s session, including those on eliminating female genital mutilation and ending obstetric fistula. She expressed reservations on some language in the resolutions, as Guatemala guarantees the protection of life starting at conception, she said. As “reproductive rights” are mentioned, those terms could be misinterpreted as abortion, she stressed, adding that her delegation is no longer a co-sponsor for any resolution with its mention.
Introducing the draft, the representative of the Philippines, also speaking on behalf of Tanzania, highlighted that the resolution recognizes persons with disabilities as agents in all development. The draft mentions human rights and other instruments related to persons with disabilities and recognizes their role in economic growth through small‑ and medium-sized businesses, he said. It stresses the importance of access to education and technology for persons with disabilities’ enjoyment of human rights.
The representative of El Salvador pointed out that certain delegations are opposed to collecting quality and disaggregated data on persons with disabilities, specifically the need for data on elements such as sex, age and immigration status. Pointing out that operative paragraphs in the draft text call for responses to challenges such as the COVID‑19 pandemic, she stressed that this data is needed. She called on delegations opposed to the need for data to uphold their commitments to the resolution and all legal instruments, nonetheless.
The representative of Brazil said that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is integrated into his country’s constitutional framework. Detailing supportive and inclusive frameworks to raise awareness and empower persons with disabilities in his country, he said his delegation will gladly join consensus.
The representative of Senegal said that, although his country prioritizes the rights of people with disabilities, his delegation will not co-sponsor the resolution because it rejects certain terms in the text, including “multiple and intersecting forms”.
Supporting Senegal’s statement, the representative of Mali added that the controversial term should only be interpreted in its original well-known context.
The Committee then approved the resolution without a vote. By its terms, the Assembly would express grave concern that persons with disabilities continue to experience intersecting forms of discrimination. It would stress its resolve to build inclusive societies and the importance of mainstreaming the rights and participation of persons with disabilities into all relevant strategies and programmes for sustainable development. Further, the Assembly would urge Member States to ensure that persons with disabilities and their families have access to support services and information on how to recognize and report exploitation, violence and abuse.
Also by the text, the Assembly would urge Member States to promote measures in cities facilitating access for persons with disabilities to public services in rural and urban areas. It would request the Secretary-General to submit to the General Assembly at its seventy-eighth session information to the General Assembly at its seventy-ninth session on the implementation of the present resolution.
Speaking after the vote, the representative of Malaysia reiterated his Government’s commitment to the rights of persons with disabilities, adding that the country has acted to make cities more accessible to persons with disabilities. He noted that his delegation joined consensus, but expressed reservations about the term “multiple and intersecting forms”.
The representative of Indonesia said than more than 22.9 million persons with disabilities in her country have been beneficiaries of Government initiatives providing financial or social assistance. Pointing to Indonesia’s engagement at the global level, she highlighted its contribution to the draft through the need for three elements: to ensure protection for migrants, especially migrant workers with disabilities; optimize the contribution of persons with disabilities in micro-small and medium-sized enterprises; and ensure disability inclusiveness in the United Nations’ facilities and employment. She expressed reservations over the term “intersecting form of discriminations” in the draft.
The representative of the United States, speaking on behalf of a group of countries and urging for consensual adoption of the resolution, expressed disappointment that there was no agreement over language, including on access to health services and sexual reproductive health. She said this is particularly disappointing, given that there has been agreement on this language since 2017. Stressing that women and girls with disabilities account for over one fifth of the world’s population, she stressed that they have the same sexual and reproductive needs as those without disabilities. However, due to discrimination, they are unable to fully access sexual reproductive health services, with detrimental effects, including forced sterilizations.
The representative of Iran said that implementation of the provisions in the draft must be based on States’ laws. Pointing to the “proliferation” of non-consensual language throughout the text, she said this will prevent States from finding common ground for further implementation. She dissociated from controversial language in the text, particularly in preambular paragraph 30.
The observer for the Holy See expressed great concern that, due to irresolvable disagreements, it was impossible to confirm that every human being has the inherent right to life. All necessary measures should be taken to ensure the enjoyment of this right by persons with disabilities on an equal basis. He expressed regret that recognition in the text that children with disabilities have equal rights with respect to family life could not be included. Moreover, exclusion in the text of persons with disabilities’ access to home and residential support services and the need to prevent isolation remains unexplained. He pointed to ambiguous controversial language on discrimination, interpreting gender in terms of biological difference.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution titled “Trafficking in women and girls” (document A/C.3/77/L.6/Rev.1), which the Chair noted contains no programme budget implications.
The representative of the Philippines, introducing the draft, said it encourages Member States to cooperate and coordinate in dismantling criminal networks involved in the trafficking of women and girls, including by collaborating with financial institutions. It also urges Governments to facilitate access to justice and protection for victims of trafficking that is not conditional on their participation in criminal proceedings. Further, the draft emphasizes the need to establish firewalls between immigration checks and labour inspections, ensuring that the latter do not put potential victims of trafficking in fear of immigration authorities or offences. Highlighting efforts to produce a strong document that could guide efforts to eradicate trafficking in women and girls, he also noted that his State does not recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.
The representative of Senegal said the term “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination” throughout the text does not receive her country’s support, and thus disassociated from it. Further, the concept of gender and all associated terms do not apply to social relations between men and women in her State, she stressed.
The representative of Australia said that millions of people continue to be trafficked worldwide for the purpose of sexual and labour exploitation, organ removal, forced marriage or forced criminality. Noting that women and girls are disproportionally affected and represent the majority of victims and survivors globally, she appreciated the focus of this year’s resolution on them. She hoped that its next iteration will incorporate a gender-responsive approach, including victim and survivor language.
Without a vote, the Committee then approved draft resolution “L.6/Rev.1”. By its terms, the Assembly would be seriously concerned that an increasing number of women and girls are being trafficked to both developed and developing countries for sexual exploitation and organ removal. It would recognize that trafficking disproportionately affects women and girls, but that men and boys are also trafficked. Further, the Assembly would be concerned about the use of the Internet for forced child labour, marriage or any form of child sexual exploitation as well as the increasing activities of transnational criminal organizations profiting from human trafficking.
Also by the text, the Assembly would urge Governments to devise and enforce measures to combat and eliminate all forms of trafficking in women and girls as part of human rights-informed anti-trafficking strategies and ensure that prevention and responses to human trafficking are tailored to the needs of and be devised with the participation of women and girls. It would strongly urge Governments to ensure coherence between laws and measures related to migration, labour and human trafficking to protect the human rights of migrant women and girls throughout migration, employment and repatriation processes.
The representative of Belarus stated that the work of the international community to combat trafficking in persons is still far from complete. What is particularly sad is that women and girls suffer the most from human trafficking, which is a flagrant violation of human rights and rightly qualifies as one of the most serious forms of violence. According to current data, out of every 10 victims of human trafficking, about four are women and two are girls. Amongst victims of human trafficking for sexual exploitation, women account for two thirds, while girls account for one quarter. This resolution is sending a strong signal to the international community on the need to ultimately eradicate this criminal practice, as well as giving comprehensive, practical recommendations on how to better solve the problem.
The representative of Hungary joined consensus on the draft and expressed his deep commitment to the prevention and elimination of all forms of trafficking in persons, with special regard to women and girls. Hungary did not join the Global Compact for Migration and is not taking part in its implementation, he said, emphasizing that, instead of promoting migration, international efforts must focus on tackling the root causes of it.
The representative of Italy explained that the country decided not to break consensus on the resolution. However, referring to preambular paragraphs 9 and 10 of the text, the delegate said its stance on the Global Compact’s focus on safe, orderly and regular migration, and the International Migration Review Forum, remains the same.
The representative of Saudi Arabia stated that he joined consensus around the resolution to reiterate the importance of the topic that the draft is addressing. However, in terms of reproductive and sexual health referenced in operative paragraph 31, this is not in line with his country’s cultural considerations and priorities.
The representative of Yemen reiterated the importance of combating trafficking, particularly against women and girls. His country is committed to fighting this crime and supporting, rehabilitating and reintegrating victims, as well as prosecuting perpetrators. However, he raised concern over any concepts that do not enjoy international consensus, stating that health care and services for women and girls will be provided according to his country’s national plans. He also disassociated himself from terms alluding to multiple and intersectional kinds of discrimination.
The representative of Indonesia attached great importance to the protection and prevention of women and girls from trafficking in persons. His country joined consensus for the draft, he said, but expressed regret that it contains references that do not enjoy universal agreement, expressing reservations over references to multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination.
The representative of Malaysia supported the spirit of consensus in approval of the draft. However, he expressed reservations over preambular paragraphs 20 and 32. He disassociated himself from the phrase “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination”, which is inconsistent with Malaysia’s position.
The representative of Iran said trafficking in persons is the darkest manifestation of modern slavery, which reduces human beings to objects for monetary benefit through sexual exploitation, forced labour and removal of body organs. The trafficking industry almost always exploits victims in vulnerable situations. His country joined consensus around the draft but dissociates from preambular paragraphs 20 and 32.
The representative of Algeria said his country joined consensus on the draft, stressing that combating human trafficking requires the bolstering of international and national capacities. Algeria has signed all relevant international instruments, including the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and instruments on human trafficking, notably of women and girls. He also stressed the need to consider cultural, religious and historical specificities of States, adding that Algeria has reservations concerning certain aspects and disassociating himself from the term “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination” in preambular paragraph 32, as well as references to sexual and reproductive health.
The observer for the Holy See said that consensual adoption of this resolution is a sign of the renewed commitment of the international community to preventing and combating trafficking in women and girls. He welcomed new elements included in this year’s text, such as the addition of language about the need to establish firewalls between immigration checks and labour inspection. He further welcomed strengthening of language on the need to address root causes leading to all forms of exploitation of women and girls. However, he regretted inclusion in the text of ambiguous and controversial language on discrimination. The Holy See considers sexual and reproductive health care services as applying to a holistic concept of health, and does not consider access to abortion as a dimension of these terms. The Holy See understands the term to be grounded in biological sexual identity and differences.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution titled “Intensifying global efforts for the elimination of female genital mutilation” (document A/C.3/77/L.18/Rev.1), which the Chair noted contains no programme budget implications.
The representative of Burkina Faso, introducing the draft resolution on behalf of the African Group, stressed that the elimination of female genital mutilation represents a strong concern for African States. Expressing concern over the impact of global crises and conflicts, including the COVID‑19 pandemic, on the effort to eliminate female genital mutilation, he noted that the practice is rooted in cultures and customs. He stressed the need to eliminate this harmful practice due to its disastrous impacts on the physical, psychological and social well-being of women and girls.
The Committee then approved draft resolution “L.18/Rev.1” by consensus.
By its terms, the Assembly would express deep concern that a tremendous gap in resources continues to severely limit programmes on the elimination of female genital mutilation. It would also stress that the empowerment of women and girls is key for protection of human rights, including to sexual and reproductive health. Further, the Assembly would call on States parties to fulfil their obligations under all relevant conventions and action plans and focus on prevention strategies eliminating harmful practices that negatively affect women and girls.
Also by the text, the Assembly would call on States to develop awareness-raising campaigns on the harmful effects of female genital mutilation and to change existing negative social norms that justify gender inequality. It would also encourage States to ensure that female genital mutilation-related protection and care services are mainstreamed in humanitarian and emergency preparedness plans, and condemn female genital mutilation committed within or outside a medical institution, while holding perpetrators to account.
The representative of Saudi Arabia, speaking also on behalf of other countries, underscored that references to sexual and reproductive health and rights in paragraphs 1 and 7 need to be considered in light of national legislations and cultural and religious specificities.
The representative of Mexico emphasized that female genital mutilation is a form of sexual and gender-based violence and torture, grounded in gender stereotypes. To this end, she underscored the urgent need to recognize in the text the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. Warning against the psychological risks of this practice on teenagers and their development, she called for strengthening of the draft’s wording.
The observer for the Holy See called for stopping the practice of female genital mutilation through strengthening legal frameworks and education. He also voiced concern over the impact of female genital mutilation on maternal health. Raising reservations, he said that the Holy See regards references to sexual and reproductive health care services and related terms as applying to a holistic concept of health. Furthermore, the Holy See does not consider abortion or access to an abortion as a dimension of these terms.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution titled “Intensification of efforts to end obstetric fistula” (document A/C.3/77/L.22), which the Chair noted contains no programme budget implications.
The representative of Senegal, on behalf of African States, presented the biennial draft resolution and thanked the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for its collaboration, technical support and updating of data. The 2022 Secretary-General’s report on combating fistula called for intensified efforts, resources and partnerships for broader programmes to improve reproductive health and treatment of fistula. Obstetric fistula affects over 2 million women in Africa and Asia. It is a marker of inequality, as this pathology has been largely eliminated in the Western world. Fistula is often accompanied by other afflictions, like urinary tract infections, neurological difficulties, or social stigmatization and isolation due to discharge. The pandemic drastically impacts health services, having a multiplier effect on inequalities. The draft maintains its relevance and calls for more financing for maternal health care, he said.
The representative of Japan said ending obstetric fistula requires continued global efforts. In recent years, Japan has provided free fistula treatment in Madagascar. This year’s draft highlights initiatives that took place in various regions and countries around the world, as well as challenges due to the impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic. She regretted that the text only contains a technical update, rather than current challenges and efforts, leading Japan to support but not co-sponsor the draft this year. She hoped that the text would be revised at the Assembly’s seventy-ninth session.
The representative of the Republic of Korea said that public health is a human rights issue. His country has implemented obstetric fistula treatment programmes in Côte d’Ivoire in cooperation with UNFPA, mental health counselling for patients to facilitate their reintegration into society, and regional awareness programmes. He called on Member States to reaffirm their commitments in order to reach the goal of ending obstetric fistula by 2030.
The representative of Iran said that her delegation joined consensus, but disassociated from preambular paragraph 13, as non-consensual terms are included in the text.
The Committee approved, without a vote, draft resolution “L.22”.
By its terms, the Assembly would stress the interlinkages between factors, including poverty and forced marriage, as root causes of obstetric fistula, and that it can be a cause of devastating lifelong morbidity if left untreated. It would also express deep concern about the marginalization of women and girls, resulting in various forms of sexual and economic exploitation and abuse, which can increase the risk of obstetric fistula.
Further, the Assembly would be deeply concerned that significant challenges require the intensification of efforts at all levels to end obstetric fistula, and about the insufficient resources for addressing obstetric fistula in high-burden countries. It would request the Secretary-General to submit a comprehensive report with disaggregated data on obstetric fistula and the challenges faced by Member States in implementing the present resolution to the General Assembly at its seventy-ninth session under the item entitled “Advancement of women”.
The representative of Saudi Arabia, on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, said he supported the text, but reiterated that sexual and reproductive rights will be deemed in a manner consistent with the Council countries’ cultures, laws and legislations.
The representative of Mexico said her country joined consensus on the draft, but expressed concern that the Committee was not able to strengthen wording on this issue that seriously impacts the lives of women around the world, only agreeing to a technical update. The Covid‑19 pandemic impacted sexual health care services globally, resulting in millions of women not receiving specialized treatment during childbirth, condemning them to a life with tragic injuries. She urged States to do away with obstacles and prejudices and recognize the scale of the problem. The poorest and most vulnerable are left in the margins, she said, adding that multilateralism is the key to social well-being and social equality. “We must not abandon women,” she said.
The representative of Malaysia said his delegation joined consensus in the spirit of cooperation, but dissociated from the unrecognized term “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination” in preambular paragraph 13.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution titled “Protecting children from bullying” (document A/C.3/77/L.17/Rev.1), which the Chair noted contained no programme budget implications.
Introducing the text, the representative of Mexico said an attack on children’s physical or mental health may have negative effects persisting into adulthood. The text includes updated language reflecting cyberbullying and the dissemination of intimate photos of minors, she said, adding that it also promotes children’s digital skills and empowers them to report bullying. It gives special attention to the gender dimension of bullying. One third of the world’s children experience bullying, she stressed, hence the importance of this draft.
The representative of Senegal noted that his delegation does not support non-consensual terms such as “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination” and recalled that his country understands the “gender concept” as only referring to relations between men and women.
The resolution “L.17/Rev.1” was approved without a vote. By its terms, the General Assembly would call on States to protect children from all forms of violence and provide appropriate support. It would also call on States to invest in education and digital literacy that will ensure children’s safety online, analyse statistical data and provide information on disabilities regarding bullying.
By further terms, the Assembly would call on States to adopt legislation to prevent bullying and strengthen the skills of professionals working with children in early detection and response. It would urge States to ensure that schools address all forms of violence against children, with particular attention to girls. In addition, the Assembly would call on States to support victims with quality care and social reintegration.
Speaking after the approval, the representative of Libya welcomed the draft, but expressed reservations about the term “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination”, adding that his delegation can only take such terms into account if they align with the country’s national legislation.
The representative of Israel welcomed mention of cyberbullying in the draft text and expressed concern over the increasing dissemination of sexually explicit content of minors in the forms of photos or videos. “It is only through clearly recognizing these threats that we can implement gender-responsive measures to counter these violations,” he said.
The representative of Nigeria expressed reservations about the term “multiple and intersecting forms”, adding that its openness to interpretation might mention categories not included in his Government’s national policy framework. Voicing further concern about mention of the child’s right to privacy, he said that this concept should not be interpreted as a limitation on the parent’s priority to bring up their children. Noting that there is no international agreement on the right to privacy for children, he said that this was a “very delicate area”.
The representative of Yemen underscored that parents have the prime responsibility to protect children and ensure their growth in a family environment of happiness and joy. Her delegation disassociates itself from the term “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination”, as it includes categories not recognized in Yemen’s national legislation. She said that children’s right to privacy should not be interpreted as a restriction on the parents’ right to bring up their children, adding that there is no internationally agreed on concept of a child’s right to privacy.
The representative of Iraq said her delegation joined consensus, but stressed that its understanding of “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination” does not refer to any non-consensual concepts and disassociates from it. Further, her country interprets the draft text through the Convention on the Rights of the Child and thanked Mexico’s delegation for reinserting paragraph 27.
The representative of Indonesia, pointing to her country’s engagement regarding protection, prevention and responding to bullying of children, regretted that the draft resolution contains references that do not enjoy universal consensus among Member States. She expressed her country’s reservations on “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination” in the draft.
The representative of Malaysia said that one in three young people in 30 countries have been a victim of online bullying, while one in five report that they have skipped school due to cyberbullying and violence. These statistics indicate that cyberbullying will continue to gradually become “a silent killer of children” if no actions to prevent it are taken. Citing his country’s efforts to promote children’s rights, he expressed disappointment that this year’s text contains the contentious term “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination”. Being inconsistent with Malaysia’s position, he expressed its reservation and dissociated from the term, as contained in preambular paragraph 13.
The representative of Algeria, pointing to preambular paragraph 15 and operative paragraph 2, said that States must not interpret children’s right to privacy as a restriction on the rights of parents to bring up their children. In this regard, he noted that there is no internationally agreed understanding on the privacy rights of children, independent from their parents. Further, he dissociated from preambular paragraph 13 on “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination”.
The representative of Iran noted her country’s commitment to protect children and adolescents, including through the criminalization of interactions with children in cyberspace aimed at sexual harassment. She disassociated from preambular paragraph 13.
The representative of Gambia said “the rights of children cannot be divided from parental guidance”. Noting that his country joined consensus on this important draft, he disassociated himself from preambular paragraphs 13 and 15, and operative paragraph 2.
The representative of Mali disassociated herself from the term “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination” and noted that all controversial terms can be interpreted as contrary to Malian culture and morals. On the protection of children by parents and their sexuality, she said all of this must be in line with her country’s values.
The observer for the Holy See regretted that the text contains contentious terminology related to discrimination and violence. Noting that “a significant amount of time was spent discussing topics which are well-known to be controversial”, he expressed hope that when the resolution is next taken up, discussions do not repeat the focus on contentious issues, but rather concentrate on areas of agreement. He interpreted the term “gender” as grounded in the biological difference of male and female.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution titled “Human rights in the administration of justice” (document A/C.3/77/L.31/Rev.1), which the Chair noted contained no programme budget implications.
The representative of Austria, introducing the draft, said that this year’s draft builds on commitments towards ensuring that the human rights of all persons in contact with the justice systems are protected. The text recognizes the importance of gender‑ and age-sensitive justice systems and the needs of women and girls in detention or imprisonment, she added, pointing to the Bangkok Rules. Further, it looks at possible opportunities and challenges in the administration of justice. With the draft, States recognize that “rapid advances of digital technologies can have an impact on various aspects of criminal justice systems and that adequate safeguards will need to be applied”, she added.
Without a vote, the Committee then approved draft resolution “L.31/Rev.1”.
By its terms, the General Assembly would appeal to Governments to include effective administration of justice and equal access to justice for all as an integral part of the development process and allocate adequate resources for accountable justice systems. It would also urge States to ensure the meaningful participation of women at all levels and equal access to justice, as well as stress the need for national capacity-building in the administration of justice. Further, the Assembly would call on States to ensure that anyone who is deprived of liberty has access to a court with the power to order release if the detention is determined not to be lawful.
Also by the text, the Assembly would call on States to investigate all alleged human rights violations suffered by persons deprived of their liberty, provide remedy, ensure that detention administrations fully cooperate with the investigating authority and preserve all evidence. It would also urge States to reduce pretrial detention and eliminate discrimination in law and practice against persons who are in vulnerable situations or marginalized. In addition, it would urge States to ensure that neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without the possibility of release nor corporal punishment is imposed for offences committed by persons under 18 years of age. Further, it would call on States to ensure effective access to justice for persons with disabilities.
The representative of the United States reaffirmed the importance of ensuring respect for the rule of law and human rights in administration of justice. He highlighted his concerns that the resolution calls on States to comply with or implement obligations under treaties to which his country is not subject to and which are not imposed by customary international law. These include the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The United States understands and agrees that discretionary decisions to deprive individuals of liberty should be reasonable, necessary and appropriate to individual circumstances, he said. International law has left such matters to the discretion of competent courts or administrative authorities within individual States. Further, the assertion that States should consider establishing an independent mechanism to monitor places of detention, including by making unannounced visits, is inconsistent with United States policies and practices. Finally, he was disappointed that important references to gender were removed or watered down in negotiations.
The observer for the Holy See said full respect for human rights in the administration of justice is of crucial importance. He noted with appreciation the inclusion of language that acknowledges the role of new technologies in the criminal justice system, as well as their potential negative impact on the enjoyment of human rights. He welcomes the reference to the specific situation that refugees, internally displaced persons and migrants can face in the administration of justice. The recognition that children require specific support through child protection systems is likewise laudable, he said, adding that children who have committed crimes must not be treated as adults in criminal justice systems. Further, the term survivor-centred remains both ambiguous and contentious, lacking any agreed definition and is not applicable to all victims. For that reason, the Holy See discourages the use of this term, particularly within a criminal justice context.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution titled “Human rights and extreme poverty” (document A/C.3/77/L.46), which the Chair noted contains no programme budget implications.
The representative of Peru, introducing the draft, underscored that 89 million people worldwide suffer from extreme poverty. One of the priorities of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is to eradicate poverty in all its forms, he said, noting that the United Nations, civil society and the private sector have a key role to play through integrative policies. Stressing the need to bolster United Nations activities for development, he said that no one should be discriminated against based on their socioeconomic situation.
The Committee then approved draft resolution “L.46” by consensus.
By its terms, the Assembly would remain deeply concerned that the total number of persons living in extreme poverty remains unacceptably high and the non-income dimensions of poverty, such as access to inclusive and equitable quality education or basic health services, remain major concerns. It would also be deeply concerned that the disproportionate impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic on the social and economic situation of women and girls is deepening existing inequalities.
By further terms, the Assembly would be concerned by the increase of people living in poverty due to food, economic and climate crises and their negative effect on the capacity of States to fight extreme poverty. It would stress that respect for human rights is crucial for all policies and programmes to fight extreme poverty. It would call on Member States to remove obstacles that people in poverty face in areas such as housing, employment, education, health and other social services, as well as legal frameworks that discriminate based on socioeconomic status.
The representative of the United States voiced disappointment over the lack of language in the text explaining how conflicts can lead to extreme poverty. Ongoing conflicts are disrupting access to food, causing severe energy shortages and preventing people from working, he said, highlighting their link to extreme poverty. He echoed the Secretary-General’s concern that Moscow’s unprovoked war in Ukraine can throw 1.7 billion people — over one fifth of humanity — into poverty. His delegation disagrees with the assertion in preambular paragraph 25 that extreme poverty may amount to a threat to the right to life, he said, adding that article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) prohibits the arbitrary deprivation of life by State actors. The guiding principles on extreme poverty and human rights, as referenced in the current draft, articulate useful guidelines for consideration by States in the formulation of poverty eradication programmes. However, the principles were adopted as a useful tool for States to consider, he recalled. Despite perceiving poverty as harmful to human dignity and the enjoyment of human rights, the United States does not believe that such conditions necessarily constitute a violation of State obligations under international human rights law.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution titled “Preventing and combating corrupt practices and the transfer of proceeds of corruption, facilitating asset recovery and returning such assets to legitimate owners, in particular to countries of origin, in accordance with the United Nations Convention against Corruption” (document A/C.3/77/L.7/Rev.1), which the Chair noted contains no programme budget implications.
The representative of Colombia presented draft resolution “L.7/Rev.1”, noting that the scourge of corruption is a threat to the development of countries, undermining people’s trust in institutions. He supported the 2021 political declaration entitled “Our common commitment to effectively addressing challenges and implementing measures to prevent and combat corruption and strengthen international cooperation”, adopted at the first-ever special session of the General Assembly against corruption. He took note of the United Nations Convention against Corruption in Sport and other means of tackling corruption, hailing the role of international cooperation in that regard.
The Committee approved draft resolution “L.7/Rev.1” without a vote. By its terms, the Assembly would be concerned that corruption, especially lacking an adequate national or international response, threatens the stability of societies and that the impact of widespread corruption disproportionately affects the most disadvantaged. It would stress that preventive measures are the most effective means of avoiding combating corruption and, to that end, would call on States parties to the Convention to fulfil their commitments such as criminalizing bribing foreign public officials and preventing the acquisition, transfer and laundering of proceeds of corruption.
Also by the text, the Assembly would urge States parties that have yet to designate a central authority for international cooperation in accordance with the Convention to do so as well as to remove barriers to asset recovery. It would also urge States to develop effective anti-corruption policies that promote the participation of society, reflecting the rule of law and would call on the private sector to remain engaged in the fight against corruption. The Assembly would further request the Secretary-General to continue providing the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) the resources to promote implementation of the Convention and fund the accompanying review mechanism.
The representative of the United States said he supported the goal of the resolution but expressed concern that the Committee was unable to reach consensus on several requested revisions that would correct mischaracterizations of the obligations under the United Nations Convention against Corruption, as well as revisions that would align the text with the political declaration, adopted at the 2021 special session of the General Assembly, against corruption.
The representative of Saudi Arabia said his delegation joined consensus on the draft, adding that his country is committed to ending this scourge, both nationally and internationally. On operative paragraph 21, he said that Article 5 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption does not provide a valuable legal basis, and therefore his delegation disassociates from this paragraph.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution titled “Child, early and forced marriage” (document A/C.3/77/L.19/Rev.1), which the Chair noted contains programme budget implications.
Taking the floor, the Secretary said that programme budget implications of $73,300 will be included as a one-time resource in the form of temporary assistance at the P-4 level for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Introducing the draft, the representative of Zambia said that child marriage is a human rights violation jeopardizing the futures of children around the world, which also keeps women and girls from reaching their full potential. Welcoming progress, he said that 25 million girls have avoided child marriage over the last decade, and called on Member States to redouble their efforts as global crises threaten to reverse progress.
In a point of order, the representative of Japan expressed regret that it would withdraw co-sponsorship of the draft, although still join consensus, objecting to the last-minute manner in which the budget implications were introduced. Adding that, theoretically, he should call for a vote and abstain, he said he would not do so out of respect for the co-facilitator’s work. It is the duty of the United Nations to provide Member States with information, especially if a resolution incurs programme budget implications, he stressed. “The failure of the UN system today forced the Member States to actually change their stance on the very important resolution. This is most unprofessional and totally unacceptable. This must never happen again,” he said.
The representative of the United States echoed Japan’s delegate, adding that her delegation will bring the matter up in the Fifth Committee, addressing the way in which the introduction of budget implications was handled.
Speaking before the approval, the representative of El Salvador reiterated her country’s commitment to protect women and girls, citing a law prohibiting child marriage. She welcomed references in the text to menstrual health and the feminization of poverty, as they are factors that can lead to early or forced marriage.
The Committee then approved the draft by consensus. By its terms, the Assembly would be seriously concerned that an increasing number of women and girls are being trafficked to both developed and developing countries for sexual exploitation and organ removal. It would recognize that trafficking disproportionately affects women and girls, but that men and boys are also trafficked. Further, the Assembly would be concerned about the use of the Internet for forced child labour, marriage, or any form of child sexual exploitation, as well as the increasing activities of transnational criminal organizations profiting from human trafficking.
Also by the text, the Assembly would urge Governments to devise and enforce measures to combat and eliminate all forms of trafficking in women and girls as part of human-rights-informed anti-trafficking strategies, and ensure that prevention and responses to human trafficking be tailored to the needs of, and be devised with the participation of, women and girls. It would strongly urge Governments to ensure coherence between laws and measures related to migration, labour and human trafficking, to protect the human rights of migrant women and girls throughout migration, employment and repatriation processes.
The representative of Canada said early, forced and child marriage is a harmful practice that is fuelled by gender inequality and poverty, adding that no country is shielded from it. Expressing alarm that more than 150 million more girls will marry — more than the population of Canada or the Philippines — he called on Member States to “read the resolution and write home about it”, and encourage others to follow it. He expressed gratitude over consensus, particularly to Japan and the United States, for not pulling out of consensus.
The representative of Libya underscored the importance of the draft resolution, but expressed reservations on the language in certain preambular and operative paragraphs, as they contain references to sexual and reproductive health that is not recognized internationally. His delegation interprets these terms as only referring to medical care and programmes within Libya’s national framework, and does not agree with abortion, which compromises the right to life, he said.
The representative of Argentina acknowledged the higher risk of sexual and gender-based violence for women and girls in humanitarian settings. Her delegation welcomed the gender and intersectional approaches in the draft text, adding that multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination address challenges that women and girls face all over the world holistically.
The representative of New Zealand, speaking also on behalf of Australia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, said that every year, 12 million girls are married before they reach 18 years of age. She noted that efforts to eliminate this practice have been reversed, including by the COVID‑19 pandemic, and that child marriage is on the rise. Stressing the need for the international community to strengthen efforts in this regard, she said her group welcomed references in the draft to “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination”, which “acknowledges compounding vulnerabilities that increase the risk of child, early and forced marriage” for girls, adolescents and women globally. She underlined that this year’s resolution includes strengthened reference to education and calls for the elimination of loopholes in customary laws that perpetrate early and forced marriages. She regretted that stronger language on access to sexual and reproductive health and rights could not be included. Further, she welcomed new language on adolescents as a distinct group of victims of such practices, as well as on gender-responsive measures and sexual and gender-based violence.
The representative of Uruguay stressed that child or forced marriage is a threat to life and the future of women and girls, adding that this practice, accompanied by early and complicated pregnancies, can lead to maternal death that is higher than average. He underlined that gender norms end up imposing forced marriages and expose women and girls to a greater risk of psychological and physical violence, leading to dependency and economic control. Expressing support for the resolution, he said his country understands this should be addressed from a gender perspective, adding that his country was unable to co-sponsor the resolution.
The representative of Egypt said her country continues to co-sponsor the draft and that her nation’s laws are against early and coercive marriage.
The representative of Algeria, noting that his country joined consensus on the draft and was among its co-sponsors, regretted the inclusion of many controversial concepts that do not enjoy consensus. The idea of sexual and reproductive health is confined to his country’s understanding, he said, adding that his delegation believes gender violence to reference violence against women, men, boys and girls. He distanced himself from interpretations of concepts that are not internationally agreed on and from “forms of cross-cutting discrimination” in preambular paragraph 19 and operative paragraph 23.
The representative of Nicaragua, highlighting paragraphs on sexual and reproductive rights, said this cannot be understood as a promotion of abortion in any way, including as a means of family planning. Pointing to the International Conference on Population and Development, he cited the sovereign right of each country to decide its internal legislation on this topic. Further, he reaffirmed his country’s position that every person has a right to life, from the moment of conception.
The representative of Indonesia, citing her State’s commitment at the national level to address child, early and forced marriage, said the resolution contains references that do not enjoy universal consensus. She expressed reservations on such references, including the outcomes of the review conferences of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action in operative paragraph 24, as well as reproductive rights and multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination.
The representative of Saudi Arabia, speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, noted that the group joined consensus. On health care, and social and reproductive health care services discussed in the draft, she said the group views these issues in line with their culture and the rules in those countries.
The representative of Iran said his country expected a text that encompasses concerns and views of all States in a balanced manner. Iran joined consensus, he said, but disassociates itself from preambular paragraphs 20 and 22, operative paragraphs 24 and 25 and other non-consensual language in the text. The content of this resolution will be interpreted in a manner that is consistent with national laws and regulations, including cultural values and religious background, and in line with its international obligations on human rights, he said.
The representative of Yemen, noting that her delegation joined consensus, said that sexual and gender-based violence refers to violence against men, women and children, distancing herself from non-consensual concepts. Reproductive health care has to do with health care in accordance with its national laws and as agreed in the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development. She distanced herself from “intersecting discrimination” and other items in preambular paragraph 19 and operative paragraphs 23 and 24.
The representative of Malaysia regretted that “the spirit of achieving consensus in adopting resolutions of the Third Committee is persistently being abused to inject contentious terminologies”. Noting that this approach is “unconstructive” and creates unnecessary division among Member States on important issues, he expressed disappointment that “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination” has been introduced in this year’s draft, despite many States’ views against such inclusion. Disassociating himself from this term, as contained in preambular paragraph 20 and operative paragraph 25, he said his State does not recognize it as agreed language.
The representative of the Czech Republic, speaking on behalf of the European Union in its capacity as observer, welcomed the focus of this year’s resolution on the most marginalized. She said the bloc will continue to scale up international efforts towards gender equality and take the lead for coordination to eliminate sexual and gender-based violence.
The representative of Senegal, noting that his country joined consensus, pointed to non-consensual terms in the text. These include “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination” and references to sexual orientation and gender orientation, as well as gender-based sexual violence. For his country, gender is interpreted as only male and female. On sexual and reproductive health, he said this must align itself with his State’s legislation.
The representative of the Russian Federation, noting that his country did not want to impede consensus, said the text includes wording not agreed upon at the international level, particularly “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination” and gender-responsive approaches to solving issues. His delegation does not agree with making teenagers a specific legal category and their obligatory participation in decision-making, which is only possible under the guidance of a parent or legal guardian, and when considering their maturity. He disassociated himself from consensus on preambular paragraphs 7, 9, 19, 22 and 31, and operative paragraphs 3, 9, 21, 23, 29 and 32.
The representative of Mali, calling the interpretation of certain terms problematic, noted that expressions considered to be controversial — such as “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination” — will be interpreted in light of the morals of her country.
The representative of Syria, noting that his delegation is strongly opposed to early and forced marriage, joined consensus on the draft.
The representative of Jordan, stressing the importance of eliminating the harmful phenomenon of early and forced marriage, disassociated from the term “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination”.
The representative of Nigeria disassociated from the term “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination” as this phrase is open to misinterpretation. Further, he voiced reservations regarding the term gender used in the draft and rejected the concept of marital rape.
The observer for the Holy See described early and forced marriage as a violation of human rights. He decried the inclusion of unclear, controversial and long-disputed terms, including language related to violence, discrimination and health care. His delegation considers sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as applying to a holistic concept of health and does not consider abortion or access to abortion as a dimension of these terms. Moreover, the Holy See understands the term gender as grounded in sexual biological identity.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution titled “Strengthening and promoting effective measures and international cooperation on organ donation and transplantation to prevent and combat trafficking in persons for the purpose of organ removal and trafficking in human organs” (document A/C.3/77/L.8/Rev.1), which the Chair noted contains no programme budget implications.
Introducing the draft, the representative of Guatemala highlighted human rights, health and criminal rights perspectives, while encouraging a multidisciplinary approach to promote cooperation between agencies and related bodies. As victims of organ trafficking must not be punished, they should be protected and supported with assistance, including psychosocial and medical care, she advocated. On improving data collection and analysis systems, she requested the United Nations system to formulate international guidelines to assist States in this regard.
The representative of Spain said the best way to prevent trafficking is to have a robust system for organ transplants. The text, she noted, emphasizes the need to strengthen and harmonize legislative frameworks. It is also important to have registers with information on each case of organ removal and transplant as well as databases on what has occurred in other countries and jurisdictions.
The Committee then approved “L.8/Rev.1” without a vote.
By its terms, the Assembly would urge States to strengthen legislative frameworks to combat trafficking in persons for the purpose of organ removal and trafficking in human organs, including the criminalization of these practices to ensure accountability. It would also urge them to guarantee that the donation of organs is guided by clinical criteria and ethical norms and that the removal and transplantation of human organs take place in specifically authorized centres. Further, the Assembly would urge the development of regulatory oversight of medical facilities and professionals and of registries regarding each organ recovery and transplantation procedure and outcomes for living donors and recipients, as well as identification systems.
Also by the text, the Assembly would call on States to promote the voluntary contribution of periodic information to international registers for organ donation and transplantation activity. It would also urge States to further develop ways of protecting victims, including by considering remedies for the damage suffered, without fear of facing retaliation. In addition, it would request the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to provide guidelines to States for developing programmes for the acquisition of human organs for therapeutic purposes, with particular attention to low-middle-income countries.
The representative of Belarus, welcoming consensus on the draft, noted that Member States did away with political discord by focusing on identifying necessary decisions and solutions. Technical assistance must be scaled up by the UNODC, WHO and OHCHR, he said, while encouraging enhanced interaction with the Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons.
The representative of the United States reiterated her concern over the rise of a black market in organs. Situations of crisis such as conflicts should not be excluded as an exacerbating factor for trafficking in persons for organ removal, she said.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution titled “Strengthening the United Nations crime prevention and criminal justice programme, in particular its technical cooperation capacity” (document A/C.3/77/L.12/Rev.1), which the Chair noted contained no programme budget implications.
The representative of Italy introduced “L.12/Rev.1,” underlining that it’s the centrality of the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme, including on technical cooperation, and takes stock of new developments in multilateral cooperation in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice. It also incorporates new language, strengthening the role of crime prevention policies related to youth, and invites the General Assembly President to organize a high-level debate on access to justice. The text will also strengthen the role of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in implementing its mandate on issues like access to legal aid, anti-corruption crime prevention related to youth and counter-terrorism.
Draft resolution “L.12/Rev.1” was approved by the Committee without a vote. By its terms, the General Assembly would urge States to develop strategies to effectively address transnational organized crime and strengthen cooperation in accordance with the United Nations Convention against Corruption for asset recovery, with the cooperation of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). It would also call on States to strengthen cooperation to counter foreign terrorist fighters, and address radicalization to terrorism in prisons. Further, the Assembly would call on States to ensure equal access to justice for all, implement the Nelson Mandela Rules and address prison overcrowding through reforms.
Also by the text, the Assembly would call on States to consider ratifying or acceding to, and for States parties to effectively implement, the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air. It would also urge States parties to make use of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime for cooperation in combating trafficking of cultural property, especially in returning such confiscated proceeds to their legitimate owners. Further, the Assembly would urge States to introduce national and international measures to combat illicit trafficking of cultural property and take steps at the national level to eradicate the illegal trade of wildlife.
The representative of Australia, speaking also on behalf of Canada, Iceland, Liechtenstein, New Zealand and Norway, said that strengthening crime prevention and criminal justice responses requires strong cooperation between countries. She hailed use of the term “cybercrime”, in the text, as it has been an established and well-understood term by the international community since at least 2010. The introduction of vague terminology risks undermining the momentum that the international community has built. The Cybercrime Ad Hoc Committee is the appropriate forum to debate and agree on terminology, not this Committee. It is a missed opportunity that language on the COVID‑19 pandemic’s impact on the increased risk of gender-based violence against women is not included, she said.