Third Committee Approves Six Draft Resolutions, Including Texts on Human Rights in Iran, Myanmar, Syria, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Crimea
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) approved six draft resolutions today, five of which focused on country-specific situations, while the last drew attention to the rising number of refugees and displaced persons in Africa.
A draft resolution on the human rights situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol — approved by a recorded vote of 78 in favour to 14 against, with 79 abstentions — would have the Assembly condemn the ongoing temporary occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, as well as its unprovoked aggression against Ukraine.
Ukraine’s delegate recalled that, since 2014, Russian occupying forces have been persistently turning Crimea into a gloomy island of fear and repression. Crimea has been used as a military base for Moscow’s attacks on other parts of Ukraine, including the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, he asserted, adding that the full-scale invasion of Ukraine brought nine months of unspeakable suffering, loss and devastation on a scale not seen in Europe since the Second World War.
The representative of the Russian Federation described the draft as an example of Ukraine’s hate-based policy towards its own population. The current Kyiv regime — under external control — is engaged in anti-Russian activity, while an economic war is being waged against his country, he stressed. Voicing concern over the Russian Federation’s sovereignty, he said that a vote in favour is a vote in support of military escalation.
Several delegations broadly rejected the use of country-specific resolutions, with Venezuela’s delegate noting that the practice of approving politically motivated drafts creates confrontation instead of promoting dialogue. Echoing his concerns, Singapore’s delegate underlined that country-specific resolutions have become selective and driven by politicization.
Syria’s delegate described the approach of targeting one country as an exploitation of human rights for political purposes, as well as a waste of resources. Along similar lines, China’s delegate opposed the establishment of country-specific human rights mechanisms without the consent of the concerned country.
In other action, the Committee approved a draft on the human rights situation in Iran by a recorded vote of 80 in favour to 28 against, with 68 abstentions. Under its terms, the Assembly would express concern at the alarmingly high frequency of the imposition of the death penalty in the country. Further, it would urge Iran to cease the use of excessive force against peaceful protesters, including women and children, such as in the aftermath of Mahsa Amini’s arbitrary arrest and subsequent death while in custody.
Rejecting the draft, Iran’s delegate denounced that the co-sponsors, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, the Israeli regime and Germany, preach human rights despite their record of blatant hypocrisy, brutality, genocide and ethnic cleansing.
A draft resolution on human rights in Myanmar — approved by consensus — would have the Assembly condemn all abuses suffered by Rohingya Muslims perpetrated by Myanmar security and armed forces. It would call on the Myanmar military to end immediately all violations, provide justice to victims and end impunity, starting with an independent investigation.
Myanmar’s delegate stressed that the military junta must be held accountable for its atrocities against the people of Myanmar, triggering a humanitarian crisis, and threatening regional peace and security. Condemning grave violations perpetrated against the Rohingya by the illegal military junta, he called for concrete actions to support their safe and dignified return.
In other notable action, the Committee approved a draft on the human rights situation in Syria by a recorded vote of 90 in favour to 14 against, with 68 abstentions. By its terms, the Assembly would demand that the Syrian regime and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) immediately desist from any further use of chemical weapons and grant unhindered access to the Commission of Inquiry on the country.
Syria’s delegate, describing the process of presenting the deeply politicized draft as “less than transparent”, stressed that the United States has occupied Syrian territory and bombarded civilian infrastructure, preventing the Syrian people from having access to their most basic needs. Moreover, Washington and its Western allies are closing their eyes to the terroristic nature of the thousands of fighters that have infiltrated Syria’s land, he asserted.
A draft resolution on the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — approved by consensus — would have the Assembly express deep concern at the grave human rights situation and pervasive culture of impunity in the country. It would condemn the country for diverting its resources into pursuing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles over the welfare of its people.
The delegate of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea categorically rejected the draft as a political plot aimed at destabilizing his country. Opposing politicization and double standards, he accused the West of abusing human rights issues to overthrow Governments in other countries.
Also today, the Committee approved by consensus a draft resolution on assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 17 November, to take further action on draft resolutions.
Action on Draft Resolutions
At the meeting’s onset, the representative of Azerbaijan, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, emphasized the role of the Human Rights Council for consideration of human rights situations in all countries, in the context of the Universal Periodic Review. She expressed deep concern over the selective adoption of country-specific resolutions in the Third Committee and in the Human Rights Council. She also rejected the ongoing practice in the Security Council of dealing with human rights issues in pursuit of certain States’ political objectives. Further, she reiterated the importance of ensuring the implementation of the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council as an action-oriented, cooperative mechanism based on reliable information and interactive dialogue, with full involvement of countries under review and conducted in an impartial, non-selective, constructive, non-confrontational and non-politicized manner. The Committee then took up the draft resolution titled “Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” (document A/C.3/77/L.32), which the Chair noted contained no programme budget implications.
Introducing the draft, the representative of the Czech Republic, speaking on behalf of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, said the draft reflects the bloc’s deep concern over the severe human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, noting that no improvements have been seen in the past year. He stressed that some updates in this year’s text are related to the COVID‑19 pandemic and cooperation on vaccines, while others reflect the new Special Rapporteur as of August. The text calls for continued actions and engagement by the international community, he said, adding that it is “crucial” that the draft sends a clear message to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to “take immediate steps to improve the human rights situation”. Also stressing the need to voice continued support for the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and its field office in Seoul, he said the bloc “pursues a policy of critical engagement with regard to that country”.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea categorically rejected the draft as a political plot that has nothing to do with the protection of human rights. The adoption of resolutions targeting the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is repeated every year, aimed at destabilizing the country. He stressed the need to reject politicization, selectivity and double standards, and ensure impartiality and objectivity in activities to promote human rights. The United States and Western countries are abusing human rights issues to interfere and overthrow the systems of other countries and misuse the United Nations for their objectives. While his country is ready to make positive contributions to efforts promoting human rights, it will never tolerate the selective attempt of any force to attack its social system, he said. He strongly denounced and rejected the draft as “a grave infringement of the sovereignty of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” and a hostile, provocative confrontation.
The representative of Venezuela, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends in Defence of the Charter of the United Nations, said the presentation of country-specific resolutions, without the prior consent of the State concerned, goes against the principles of impartiality, objectivity, transparency, non-selectivity, non-politicization and non-confrontation, and is at odds with the spirit of the Charter. He expressed concern over “more and more unilateral mechanisms” being deployed, in which affected countries do not participate or have not given their consent to. His group is also against the ongoing practice of the Security Council to deal with human rights issues far beyond its mandate, he said, calling for an end to the politicization of human rights issues. He underscored the role of the treaty bodies, special Procedures of the Human Rights Council and Universal Periodic Review.
The representative of Singapore said his country does not support country-specific human rights resolutions in the Third Committee. They have become highly selective and are driven by political considerations, while being divisive and making no difference to the lives of people on the ground, he added. Country-specific human rights resolutions should be addressed under the Universal Periodic Review process in the Human Rights Council. Noting that his country will maintain its position to abstain from country specific drafts in the Third Committee, if voted on, he stressed this should not be interpreted as taking a position on human rights issues raised in the texts.
The representative of India said that human rights should be pursued with respect to the United Nations Charter, adhering to the principles of non-selectivity and non-interference. He stressed the need for constructive dialogue and cooperation instead. India does not promote country-specific human rights mechanisms without the country’s consent, he said, adding that the selective focus runs counter to the mission in the Charter.
The representative of China said that her delegation stands for cooperation to settle conflicts and is opposed to provoking confrontation or exerting pressure on countries in the name of human rights, especially without the consent of the concerned country. Noting that targeting developing countries does not safeguard their right to development, she added that the draft ignores achievements in promoting human rights and the serious damage done by unilateral coercive measures imposed on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. She said her delegation would not join consensus.
The representative of Zimbabwe said his country is committed to the United Nations Charter’s principles of non-selectivity, genuine dialogue and cooperation. All country-specific resolutions run contrary to those values, he said, adding that his delegation aligns with those countries that have similar positions. Should there be a genuine desire to address human rights gaps where they exist, there should be dialogue, he said. Zimbabwe will vote against all such resolutions that are open to a vote.
The representative of the Russian Federation said that resolution “L.32” amounts to interference in the internal affairs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Adding that the Republic’s rejection of the draft is done in a “manner befitting a self-respecting State”, he said his delegation disassociates from consensus.
The representative of Nicaragua said his country is opposed to the draft. Criticizing the text as non-objective and politicized, he said it does not address the needs of the concerned people. At a time when the country is recovering from consequences of the COVID‑19 pandemic, the international community should show solidarity, he said. He expressed strong opposition to the politicization of human rights.
The representative of Iran said that the continuation of country-specific resolutions undermines the principles of non-selectivity and constructive dialogue. The Universal Periodic Review is the right venue for reviewing human rights situations, with meaningful participation of countries. His delegation disassociates itself from the draft and condemns all unilateral coercive measures against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, especially those implemented by the United States.
The representative of Belarus said her country believes in the principles of objectivity and impartiality and for that reason distances itself from consensus on this draft resolution.
The representative of Japan welcomed the draft resolution, recalling that “many” Japanese students were abducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the 1970s. He welcomed reference in the draft text to the “abduction issue”. The families of victims have since advanced in age and many of them have passed away, he said, urging the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to resolve the abduction issue and return those who were taken.
The representative of Syria said it is unfortunate that reports and resolutions have been established on certain countries without even consultations with those States. It is unacceptable, he said, adding that approving the text leads to confrontation and encourages division between States. It is an attempt to undermine a Member State within the United Nations, he added, disassociating himself from the draft text.
The representative of Eritrea said that such country-specific resolutions are selective, slanted and unfair. They do nothing to help human rights on the ground, she said, adding that steps taken to address human rights should also respect national sovereignty.
The Committee then approved draft text “L.32” by consensus.
By its terms, the Assembly would be deeply concerned at the grave human rights situation, pervasive culture of impunity and lack of accountability for human rights violations and abuses in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. It would condemn the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for diverting its resources into pursuing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles over the welfare of its people. It would stress with grave concern the urgency of the issue of international abductions and of the immediate return of all abductees.
Also by the text, the Assembly would express serious concern about the persistence of continuing reports of violations of human rights, including the detailed findings made by the Commission of Inquiry in its report, by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in its ongoing monitoring work and by the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Such violations include torture; sexual and gender-based violence; extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions; the imposition of the death penalty for political and religious reasons; public executions; extrajudicial and arbitrary detention; the absence of due process and the rule of law; and collective punishments.
By further terms, the Assembly would express strong concern about the existence of an extensive system of political prison camps; enforced and involuntary disappearances of persons by arrest, detention or abduction against their will; the forcible transfer of populations; the situation of refugees and asylum-seekers expelled or returned to the country; and all-pervasive restrictions, further tightened by the COVID‑19 prevention measures, on the freedoms of thought, religion, expression, peaceful assembly and the right to privacy. It would also express deep concern about the prevalence of chronic and acute malnutrition among persons in the most vulnerable situations, which is exacerbated by a lack of access to basic services, including health care, clean water and sanitation.
To this end, the Assembly would strongly urge the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to immediately put an end to systematic and widespread violations of human rights; close the political prison camps and release all political prisoners; and ensure that everyone within the territory enjoys the right to freedom of movement and is free to leave the country. It would decide to continue its examination of the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at its seventy-eighth session, request the Secretary-General to submit a comprehensive report on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and request the Special Rapporteur to continue to report her findings and recommendations, as well as to report on the follow-up to the implementation of the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry.
The representative of Cuba, in explanation of position, said that her country disassociates itself from the text. This kind of resolution does not contribute to improving human rights on the ground. It only exacerbates division. “They are only targeting developing countries,” she said, recalling that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has been a victim of unilateral coercive measures.
The representative of Viet Nam said the Universal Periodic Review should be an opportunity to examine all human rights situations on the ground. On the issue of abduction, he called on parties to open a dialogue and find a mutually satisfying solution.
The representative of the United Kingdom said the resolution sends a strong message to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s regime to take concrete action to end systematic and widespread human rights violations in the country. The government must uphold its responsibilities to its most vulnerable populations, such as women and girls.
The representative of the Republic of Korea urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea “not to turn a blind eye” to the Committee’s repeated approval of the text. The human rights situation of vulnerable populations in the country has worsened during the COVID‑19 pandemic. It is therefore unacceptable that the country continues to spend on weapons rather than its people’s development. He also touched on the “absurd” remarks made by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea over recent events in Republic of Korea. The Government of the Republic of Korea is doing everything in its power to ensure that another incident like that does not happen again.
The representative of the Philippines said his country disassociates from operative paragraph 12 and all others referring to the International Criminal Court. The Philippines withdrew from the Rome Statute in 2019, as a principled stand against those who politicize human rights. The Rome Statute should be a complementary tool, he said, adding that States have the first responsibility to prosecute crimes and violations. The International Criminal Court cannot substitute fully functioning domestic courts, he stressed.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution titled “Situation of human rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar” (document A/C.3/77/L.33/Rev.1), which the Chair noted contained no programme budget implications.
The representative of Saudi Arabia, introducing the resolution on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the European Union, in its capacity as observer, stressed that Rohingya refugees have been subjected to systematic violations of their human rights. Since August 2017, more than 2 million Rohingyas have fled into Bangladesh and hundreds of thousands live in internment camps. The situation of Rohingya refugees became even more dire due to the situation in Myanmar, he said, voicing concern about their voluntary return. This draft resolution aims to prevent human rights violations and help Rohingya refugees return to their homes, he added.
The representative of Myanmar, appreciating the focus of the draft on the Rohingya people, condemned grave violations perpetrated against them by the armed forces of Myanmar, now at the direction of the illegal military junta. He called for concrete actions to support their safe and dignified return, ensuring their equal access to services and opportunities for representation, consistent with their fundamental rights. In this context, he underscored the importance of the International Court of Justice as well as current investigations of the International Criminal Court. However, he emphasized that the draft could have reflected more on deteriorating human rights situations of all people in Myanmar, following the illegal military coup. The military junta must be held accountable for its atrocities against the people of Myanmar, triggering a humanitarian crisis, and threatening regional peace and security. All people in Myanmar have been suffering from inhumane acts of the junta, he said, pointing to the military’s countless atrocities and human rights violations against innocent civilians. Issues related to the Rohingya cannot be addressed in isolation, he said, urging for a holistic approach. He called for decisive actions by the international community to end the military’s impunity.
The representative of the Czech Republic, on behalf of the European Union in its capacity as observer, underlined that the indiscriminate use of violence by the Myanmar armed and security forces across the country and the breaches of international law are intolerable. The international community must act to stop the atrocities, he asserted, condemning the death sentences carried out by the junta in July. Furthermore, he expressed alarm at continued arbitrary detentions and unjustified restrictions to fundamental freedoms in Myanmar. The Rohingya and persons belonging to other minorities in Myanmar continue to face violations of their fundamental rights, he said, adding that the current situation in the country also supresses hopes for the safe and dignified return of 1.5 million Rohingya, who have found refuge in Bangladesh and across the region. He reiterated the urgency of the full implementation of the “Five-Point Consensus” of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The representative of the United States voiced concern over atrocities and human rights abuses in Myanmar, including against journalists and human rights defenders. Humanitarian and human rights catastrophes in the country are rapidly undoing the democratic progress achieved by the Myanmar people over the past decade. The worsening crisis has exacerbated situations for the country’s most vulnerable populations, including the Rohingya, he stressed, urging the international community to pressure the military to cease violence, release the unjustly detained, address human rights abuses, and promote justice and accountability.
The representative of Canada condemned human rights and humanitarian law violations in Myanmar. Calling for accountability for the gravest crimes under international law, she expressed deep concern over the impact of the coup on minorities, including the Rohingya, and incidents of conflict-related sexual violence, particularly against women and girls. Warning against the sale of arms and military equipment and material to Myanmar, she called on the military regime to engage meaningfully with ASEAN in implementation of the “Five-Point Consensus”.
The representative of Indonesia, stressing the importance of restoring peace and stability in Myanmar, noted that the “Five-Point Consensus” should remain a valid reference and be implemented in its entirety. In creating conditions for the safe and voluntary return of the Rohingya, cessation of hostilities and violence is necessary. She called for the delivery of humanitarian assistance without delay and discrimination as well as for women’s meaningful participation.
The representative of Iran said indiscriminate attacks against Muslims have resulted in a significant loss of life and exacerbated a history of discrimination. He called for the cessation of violence, the delivery of humanitarian assistance and safe voluntary return of forcibly displaced persons.
The representative of the United Kingdom observed that Myanmar is plunging even deeper into political, economic, and humanitarian crises. The resolution highlights the continued deterioration of human rights, he said, adding that all human rights violations must end immediately. Recalling the United Kingdom’s comprehensive arms embargo on Myanmar, he called for an immediate end to violence.
The representative of New Zealand condemned the coup in Myanmar and the ongoing violence against civilians and called for the release of all political prisoners. He further highlighted his country’s strong position on the death penalty and condemned the execution of prisoners in the country earlier this year. The coup has exacerbated the humanitarian situation of the most vulnerable, he stressed, expressing support for the role of the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar as well as the International Court of Justice.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution “L.33/Rev.1” without a vote.
By its terms, the Assembly would condemn in the strongest terms all violations of human rights against civilians, including Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar, before and following the unjustified declaration of the state of emergency on 1 February 2021. It would be alarmed by the findings of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar of evidence of serious human rights violations and abuses suffered by Rohingya Muslims and other minorities, perpetrated by the security and armed forces of Myanmar, which amount to the gravest crimes under international law.
The Assembly would further reiterate its deep concern at the excessive use of force by Myanmar security and armed forces, the continuing forced displacement of civilians, the recruitment of children, abductions, arbitrary detentions, killings and maiming, attacks on schools, hospitals and places of worship and large civilian gatherings. It would further express deep concern over the use of facilities functioning as hospitals and schools for military purposes, as well as the use of landmines, making conditions in Rakhine State unsuitable for the voluntary and safe return of all refugees and forcibly displaced persons, including the Rohingya.
Also by the text, the Assembly would express deep concern that, in Rakhine, more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims remain largely segregated and discriminated against in accessing citizenship and other fundamental rights, many of whom remain confined in camps with no freedom of movement. It would be also alarmed at the continued attacks on medical and humanitarian actors and the lack of safe and unhindered humanitarian access. Further, the Assembly would reiterate the urgent call upon Myanmar or the Myanmar Military to end immediately all violations of international law, to ensure the protection of the human rights of all persons in Myanmar, and to provide justice to victims, to ensure full accountability and to end impunity, starting with an independent investigation, and would call for the release of the report of the Independent Commission of Enquiry.
The Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to extend the appointment of the Special Envoy on Myanmar and submit the report of the Special Envoy covering all relevant issues addressed in the present resolution to the General Assembly at its seventy‑eighth session. It would also request the Secretary-General to provide all assistance necessary to enable the Special Envoy on Myanmar to effectively discharge her mandate and to report to Member States every six months, or as warranted by the situation on the ground.
Speaking after the approval, the representative of Singapore encouraged Myanmar to work with relevant United Nations agencies, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), to create conditions for safe and voluntary return of refugees from Bangladesh. ASEAN, including Singapore, has provided humanitarian assistance to refugees, he recalled. However, there must be political stability in Myanmar for stability in Rakhine State to occur, he noted, voicing deep concern over the dire situation in the country following the February 2021 coup. He also expressed disappointment at the lack of progress on implementation of the “Five-Point Consensus” and urged the military authorities to work with Myanmar to implement the Consensus.
The representative of Thailand said his country joined consensus on the draft, emphasizing the need to keep a focus on the resolution’s original scope and include appropriate consultation with all parties, including ASEAN. He expressed concern over ongoing violence and called on relevant parties to engage in meaningful dialogue and ensure human rights are fully respected.
The representative of the Philippines said his country joined consensus, yet dissociated himself from preambular paragraph 29 and operative paragraph 2, and from paragraphs in all resolutions that refer to the International Criminal Court.
The representative of Belarus said country-specific resolutions are a way of exerting political pressure on States. These resolutions being adopted every year just “whip up” additional confrontation. Solutions that are mutually acceptable to all parties are needed. She dissociated herself from the draft.
The representative of the Russian Federation said pressure is pointless, adding that support is necessary for Myanmar to resolve the situation. A depoliticized approach to reach a solution is necessary. Country resolutions do not resolve human rights problems. He dissociated himself from the text.
The representative of Bangladesh thanked Member States, particularly Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom, for their support. There are now 1.2 million Rohingya living in camps in Bangladesh. The presence of such a large number of people is not sustainable. A multilateral approach to enable their safe return is necessary. He welcomed the resolution’s approval, while stressing that the root causes of the crisis must be addressed and that a greater role of regional countries is necessary to avoid a regional crisis.
The representative of Malaysia noted that the situation in Myanmar is deteriorating, expressing disappointment at the lack of real progress in the Five-Point Consensus and calling for its full implementation. He regretted that some Security Council members do not see the urgency of the situation, claiming to have spoken on the part of ASEAN and consulted with them when they have not. The Council should not delegate its responsibilities to ASEAN, he said, adding that the international community must address the root causes of the crisis.
The representative of China said that, as a friendly neighbour, her delegation hopes Myanmar will maintain peace and stability. The international community must respect the sovereignty of the country, she said, adding that a proper solution under a legal framework is necessary. Since the political changes in Myanmar began, China has always been objective and impartial and engaged with all parties. She supported an ASEAN approach and implementation of the Five-Point Consensus. Her delegation is following the situation in Rakhine State and looks forward to continued dialogue between Myanmar and Bangladesh concerning the repatriation of people to Myanmar.
The representative of Myanmar said his State will act on the recommendations of the draft resolution and urged the international community and stakeholders to render assistance in implementing it. He stressed that all efforts to protect the rights of civilians in Myanmar, including Rohingyas, will be in vain if root causes are not well addressed, emphasizing that “the military, as the main perpetrator of all crimes against humanity, must be held accountable as soon as possible”. He said the General Assembly should complement the resolution just approved with another one, addressing the junta’s actions and directing stronger requests at the international community aimed at advancing the people’s will and dismantling the criminal junta.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution titled “Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran” (document A/C.3/77/L.34), which the Chair noted contains no programme budget implications.
Introducing the draft, the representative of Canada said that, despite “deplorable actions by Iranian authorities against protesters, mass peaceful protests continue into their eighth week”. The killing of Mahsa Amini is just one instance of human rights atrocities in Iran, he said, adding that violent implementation of the hijab and chastity laws undermine the human rights of women and girls. Calling for accountability, he expressed deep concern over the authorities’ use of force, expressed support for human rights defenders and expressed deep concern over the spreading application of the death penalty. He pointed to the systemic prosecution of minorities, alarming restrictions on the Internet and mobile data, and the generalized used of arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances. He encouraged delegations to vote in favour of the resolution.
The representative of Iran rejected the text. The sponsors of the resolution, who “claim to be champions of human rights in Iran, have a long record of blatant hypocrisy, double standards and instrumentalization of human rights for their agenda” and are not fit to preach, she said. Some of those who pretended to protect human rights “should be reminded of their own crimes so they do not forget their true face, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, the Israeli regime and Germany”. One thing that all have in common is brutality, callousness, arbitrary killings, genocide and ethnic cleansing, she said. Women and girls in Iran are fully aware of their rights and how to interact with the Government, she emphasized, adding that there is no need for Western countries to advocate for them.
A recorded vote was requested.
Speaking before the vote, the representative of Australia called on Iran to “cease its oppression of women” and expressed concern over the circumstances surrounding the death of Mahsa Amini. She condemned the disproportionate use of force against protesters and supported calls for investigation and accountability. She called on Iran to establish a moratorium on all executions and to cease its long-standing oppression of the LGBTI community and its discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities. “Sovereignty is not a shield” for human rights violations, she added.
The representative of Cuba said her country did not support the draft, which targets countries, especially developing countries, and imposes unilateral coercive measures. She rejected this kind of resolution. She said States must not isolate developing countries while maintaining silence on human rights violations by developed countries. When it comes to examining the human rights situation in Iran, this has been due to political interest, she said, adding that her delegation will vote against the draft.
The representative of Venezuela returned to “L.32” briefly, distancing his delegation from the draft, which was approved by consensus previously. Turning to the text on Iran, he reaffirmed the declaration of the Non-Aligned Movement condemning country-specific mechanisms. Venezuela rejects any instrument or resolution against any country without the consent of its government, which are examples of selectivity, he said, adding that resolutions rely on third-party sources used for political purposes that undermine trust.
The representative of the United Kingdom said the death of Mahsa Amini is a shocking reminder of the oppression faced by women in Iran, adding his condemnation of the enforcement of the hijab and chastity laws by the so-called morality police. Voicing concern that over 14,000 protestors have been arrested and that one has been condemned to death, he welcomed Germany and Iceland’s call for an emergency session of the Human Rights Council to investigate oppression in the country. Expressing support for the Special Rapporteur’s work on Iran’s oppression of minority groups and media freedom, he said “the Iranian people have suffered enough”, stressing the need to uphold their freedoms to assembly and free speech. Reports that Member States attempted to block access to the room today for non-governmental organizations is of further concern, he said. Adding that his delegation will vote “yes”, he invited the Committee to follow suit.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea reiterated its position on country-specific resolutions, which have nothing to do with human rights and only interfere with internal affairs, hindering cooperation. His country rejects all politicized accusations by some countries “to overthrow governments by submitting politicized human rights resolutions under pretexts of human rights”, he said. His delegation will vote against the draft on Iran, he added.
The representative of the United States highlighted the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran since last year and recalled listening to experts tell of egregious violations during a recent Security Council meeting. Detailing the torture of activists and protestors as well as a recent death sentence, she said that Iran obscures its acts by limiting access to the Internet, intimidation and refusing access to the Special Rapporteur. In approving the draft text, the international community will send a message of support to the Iranian people, she said, welcoming specific language on the death of Mahsa Amini. Detailing action inside the United Nations system, she said the United States and other countries will terminate Iran’s membership on the Commission on the Status of Women. She urged other States to vote “yes” on the resolution.
The representative of the Netherlands, aligning with the European Union, voiced concern about the increasing repression of peaceful protestors in Iran. Reiterating the call for investigations into the death of Mahsa Amini and others who have stood up for human rights throughout the years, he said that violence and discrimination against women and girls must end. Voicing concern over the recent death sentence for a protestor and the increase in arbitrary detentions for lawyers, human rights defenders and dual nationals, he called on Iran to release arbitrarily detained prisoners immediately. His delegation will vote “yes”, he said.
The representative of Pakistan said that consideration of human rights situations should be based on impartiality and non-politicization. Selective targeting of countries for economic and strategic objectives in the “garb” of promoting human rights continues, and Iran is simply another example of non-compliance with these principles, he added. He highlighted Iran’s efforts to improve the human rights situation for its people, even in the wake of the COVID‑19 pandemic and continued sanctions. Stressing that States have the primary responsibility to promote human rights in their countries through international obligations, he asserted that the best way to do so is through the Universal Periodic Review, rather than imposing country-specific mandates on developing countries. His delegation will vote against the resolution, he said.
The representative of Nicaragua said these draft resolutions are selective, expressing concern that Iran, the country concerned, did not approve the practice. Any politicization of human rights must be rejected. Unilateral coercive measures are major contributors to human suffering. For the abovementioned reasons, Nicaragua will vote against the draft.
The representative of New Zealand expressed concern over human rights violations in Iran. Bilateral approaches on human rights with Iran are no longer tenable, he said, urging that country to allow access to the United Nations so it can evaluate the situation on the ground. New Zealand is categorically opposed to the death penalty, he said, expressing alarm that an Iranian court recently issued a death penalty sentence to a protestor.
The representative of China said the Committee’s work on human rights must be guided by impartiality. China opposes the politicisation of human rights issues. The international community should view the human rights situation in Iran in an objective light, stop interfering in Iran’s internal affairs and lift unilateral coercive measures that infringe on the rights of the Iranian people.
The Russian Federation said it is very counterproductive to adopt country‑specific texts, which only discredit the reputation of the United Nations. Iran has been submitting exhaustive information regarding its actions to protect human rights. The Russian Federation will be voting against the text. Canada, as one of the main co‑sponsors of the draft text, has a long history of discrimination regarding its indigenous people. Five out of six prison suicides are committed by First Nations individuals, he said, adding that crimes against women and girls and the mass burials of indigenous children has not been sufficiently investigated.
The representative of Syria said that diplomacy and dialogue are the best way to ensure human rights and rule of law. Iran has reiterated multiple times its willingness to cooperate with United Nations human rights mechanisms. The co‑sponsors of the draft are putting a dent in the United Nations human rights mechanisms. This draft resolution does not mention coercive measures that have been imposed on Iran. There are many injustices committed in Canada against the indigenous people, he added.
The Committee then approved “L.34” with a recorded vote of 80 in favour, 28 against with 68 abstentions.
By its terms, the Assembly would express serious concern at the alarmingly high frequency of the imposition of the death penalty and significant increase in carrying out of the death penalty in Iran; disproportionate application of the death penalty to persons belonging to minorities; and continuing disregard for protections under Iranian law or internationally recognized safeguards relating to imposition of the death penalty.
By further terms, the Assembly would strongly urge Iran to eliminate all forms of systemic discrimination and other human rights violations against women and girls; ensure women’s and girls’ equal protection and access to justice, including by prohibiting so-called honour killings and child, early and forced marriage; lift restrictions on women’s and girls’ equal access to primary and secondary education; and remove legal and cultural barriers to women’s equal participation in the labour market and in all aspects of economic, cultural and political life.
The Assembly would also express serious concern that the enforcement of the hijab and chastity law and its violent implementation by the Iranian morality police fundamentally undermines the human rights of women and girls. It would strongly urge Iran to cease the use of excessive force against peaceful protestors, including women and children, such as in the aftermath of Mahsa Amini’s arbitrary arrest and subsequent death while in custody.
Also by the text, the Assembly would call on Iran to eliminate all forms of discrimination on the basis of thought, religion or belief, and launch a comprehensive accountability process, reiterating the importance of independent investigations in response to all allegations of human rights violations, including excessive use of force, arbitrary arrest, detention and torture. It would also call on Iran to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, including by accepting repeated requests by the Special Rapporteur to visit the country to carry out the mandate. Moreover, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its seventy-eighth session on progress made in implementation of the present resolution, and submit an interim report to the Human Rights Council at its fifty-third session.
The representative of France, in explanation of vote after the vote and associating himself with the European Union, said the text outlined the unprecedented situation in Iran. Executions and death sentences are on the rise, which is “alarming”, he said, warning that the human rights situation in Iran has gone from bad to worse.
The representative of the Czech Republic, speaking on behalf of the European Union in its capacity as observer expressed concern that, despite repeated calls for restraint, Iran’s security forces’ efforts to quell protests have resulted in casualties. Iran must allow a full and impartial investigation on what has occurred. The European Union is particularly concerned with Iranian officials expressing willingness to use the death penalty against protestors. Iran must cease all executions. For all the above‑mentioned reasons, the European Union supported the approval of the text.
The representative of Singapore said his delegation abstained to vote on the text. Such resolutions are highly selective and driven by political motivations. “We have always taken the position that all Member States of the United Nations have an obligation to protect and promote human rights,” he said. In response to Australia’s representative, who referred to the Committee’s approval of the draft on moratorium of the death penalty last Friday, he recalled that the Committee the same day also adopted the sovereignty amendment with a record number of votes, to reaffirm the sovereign right of all States to determine their own legal systems and legal penalties, in accordance with international obligations.
The representative of Belarus said it is unacceptable for the Committee to approve country specific resolutions without the involvement and consent of the nation concerned. Progress can only be achieved through dialogue. Human rights issues exist in all countries to some degree. Belarus voted against the resolution.
The representative of Germany, associating himself with the European Union, said his country was deeply disturbed by grave violations of the fundamental human rights of Iranians, scenes of violence and arbitrary detentions. Germany has requested a specific session of the Human Rights Council on the matter to be held in Geneva next week, he said, urging Iran to also put an immediate end to the unjust detention of journalists and human rights defenders, many of them women. The restriction of the internet is a form of repression, he said, emphasizing that Iranian people must be able to enjoy freedom of information and expression.
The representative of Mexico said she voted in favour of the draft, due to the text’s substance and her country’s feminist foreign policy, which aims to promote a global and comprehensive agenda for human rights. Violence based on gender is incompatible with human dignity and value and should be eliminated in all its forms. Condemning other situations of human rights violations, she noted her country strives for coherence and impartiality in situations of obvious violations.
The representative of Saudi Arabia, emphasizing that her vote in favour was due to the importance of “L.34”, also expressed regret over the drafting of operational paragraphs. No single paragraph should be interpreted as against the provisions of Islamic Sharia law, she stressed, while spotlighting the practices listed in operational paragraphs 15 and 24 as those of Iran alone. Contrary to the text’s suggestion, the hijab, she reiterated, has never been a problem of oppression, as millions of women choose to wear it voluntarily. On operative paragraph 9, she restated the sovereign right of States to apply capital punishment.
The representative of Norway voiced her concern over the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran. That country must heed this call from the General Assembly, ensure respect for women’s rights, protect peaceful demonstrators, safeguard the rights to peaceful assembly and freedoms of association and expression and release all those who have been arbitrarily arrested. She then expressed concern over the situation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) persons, ongoing prosecution and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity as well as Iran’s restrictive measures inhibiting communications and information access. Urging Iran to lift all restrictions on the access to and use of the Internet, she called on the Government to fulfil its human rights obligations.
The representative for Nigeria said he abstained from the vote out of his country’s belief that issues must be addressed in a holistic manner through constructive dialogue and mutual respect. In condemning all forms of abuses, suppression and oppression which violate human rights, he said Nigeria opposes the selectivity, lack of objectivity and double standards that have characterized human rights regimes. All States have the responsibility and duty to protect the human rights of its citizens and hold violators to account, he stressed, before calling on Iran to assure that those responsible for the excessive use of force against protestors are brought to book.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution titled “Situation of human rights in the temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine” (document A/C.3/77/L.35), which the Chair noted contains no programme budget implications.
The representative of Ukraine, introducing the draft, recalled that Moscow’s aggression against Crimea started in 2014. Over the years, Russian Federation occupying forces have been persistently turning Crimea into a gloomy island of fear and repression, he said. Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine is responsible for nine months of unspeakable suffering, loss and devastation on a scale not seen in Europe since the Second World War. Such heinous terror cannot be tolerated, he asserted, noting that the already grave human rights situation on the Peninsula has further deteriorated. Moreover, the worst Russian Federation practices and violations spread on an enormous scale to the newly occupied territories of Ukraine. As reflected in the last Secretary‑General’s report, Crimea has been used as a military base for Moscow’s attacks on other parts of Ukraine, including Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.
The representative of the Czech Republic, speaking on behalf of the European Union in its capacity as observer, condemned Moscow’s full‑scale, unprovoked war of aggression and called on human rights institutions to continue to provide credible information on human rights situation in Crimea. He asked delegations to vote in favour of the draft resolution.
The representative of Iran, noting that country-specific resolutions exploit the Committee for political ends, said his delegation will vote against the draft.
The representative of the United Kingdom, expressing support for the draft, said that Moscow has brought untold suffering to the innocent people of Ukraine. Since 2014, the people of Crimea have been facing systematic human rights violations at the hands of the Russian Federation authorities, including unjustifiable restrictions on the freedom of movement. Since the February 2022 invasion, the human rights situation in Crimea has further deteriorated, he cautioned, condemning the conscription and mobilization of Ukrainian civilians in Crimea into the Russian Federation’s armed forces as well as the forced imposition of Russian legislation, further limiting the freedom of expression.
The representative of Georgia, condemning Moscow’s premeditated full-scale aggression against Ukraine, said for years the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has been documenting numerous human rights violations and abuses in the temporarily occupied Crimea. He expressed alarm that a population residing in Crimea continues to suffer from discrimination of basic human rights, including torture, abductions, enforced disappearances, and sexual violence. Calling for full and unhindered access for international human rights monitoring mechanisms to temporarily occupied Crimea and other territories of Ukraine temporarily controlled by the Russian Federation, he supported the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine. His delegation will vote yes, he added.
The representative of Venezuela said the country does not support the resolution and rejects the politicization of human rights issues and creation of any instrument or resolution against a specific country without its consent. The practice of approving politically motivated draft resolutions violates the principles of transparency, creating confrontation instead of promoting dialogue. Human rights should be examined as part of the Universal Periodic Review, an essential instrument in this area, as are treaty bodies and dialogue.
The representative of Azerbaijan said her country strongly condemns extremism in all its forms and opposes the acquisition of territories through use of force. She reaffirmed the sovereignty of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders. Her delegation’s position has been clear that the conflict in the territory of Ukraine must be resolved based on its sovereignty and within its internationally recognized borders, according to the United Nations Charter and relevant resolutions.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said his country rejects the politicization of human rights and the draft resolution. This politicized text has nothing to do with human rights and creates mistrust between Member States. The work of the United Nations should be carried out in an objective and transparent manner. He said he will vote against the draft.
The representative of the Russian Federation said the draft is not about human rights. It is a link in a series of desperate attempts by Ukraine to change the course of events by any means. This text, over the past few years, is an example of Ukraine’s hate-based policy towards its own population. The Kyiv regime acts with impunity. The current Kyiv regime is engaged in anti-Russian Federation activity, while under external control. An economic war is being waged against the Russian Federation. There is a real threat to the Russian Federation’s sovereignty. A vote in favour is a vote in support of military escalation.
The representative of the United States, noting that the Russian Federation is employing the same playbook it used in Crimea in its attempt to illegally annex additional areas of Ukraine, said that today States have “an opportunity to reaffirm that Crimea is Ukraine and that Russia’s attempted annexation of Crimea and other parts of Ukraine’s territory will never be recognized”. She expressed deep concern over the Russian Federation’s repression of Crimean Tatars, ethnic Ukrainians and others who peacefully oppose its occupation. Further, she cited credible reports documenting abuses by Russian Federation forces and puppet authorities in parts of Ukraine under its temporary control. She urged States to support the draft.
A recorded vote was then requested.
The Committee then approved draft resolution “L.35” by a recorded vote of 78 in favour to 14 against, with 79 abstentions.
By its terms, the Assembly would condemn the ongoing temporary occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, reaffirming the non-recognition of its annexation, as well as its unprovoked aggression against Ukraine, in violation of Article 2(4) of the Charter. It would also condemn the imposition and retroactive application of the legal system of the Russian Federation, the imposition of its automatic citizenship on protected persons in Crimea, and the deportation, regressive effects on the enjoyment of human rights and effective restriction of land ownership of those who have rejected that citizenship.
Further, the Assembly would be deeply concerned about continued reports that the law enforcement system of the Russian Federation conducts searches and raids of private homes and businesses in Crimea, which disproportionally affect Crimean Tatars. It would condemn reported violations of international humanitarian law and human rights committed against residents of Crimea, in particular extrajudicial killings, abductions, enforced disappearances, politically motivated prosecutions, discrimination and violence. It would be deeply concerned about restrictions faced by Ukrainians, including Indigenous Peoples of Crimea, in particular the Crimean Tatars, in exercising their economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to work, the ability to maintain their identity and culture, and the right to education in the Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar languages.
In this context, the Assembly would demand that the Russian Federation bring an immediate end to all violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law against residents of the temporarily occupied Crimea, in particular reported discriminatory measures and practices; arbitrary detentions and arrests; violations within the framework of the filtration procedures; enforced disappearances; torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; sexual and gender-based violence; and compelling apprehended persons to self-incriminate or “cooperate” with law enforcement. It would also demand that the Russian Federation ensure fair trial, revoke all discriminatory legislation and hold accountable those responsible for those violations by ensuring independent investigation.
The Assembly would request the Secretary-General to take all steps necessary to ensure the effective coordination of all United Nations bodies regarding implementation of the present resolution, to continue to pursue his discussions relating to the matter, and to report to the General Assembly at its seventy-eighth session on progress made in implementation of all provisions of the present resolution.
In explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of Qatar said her delegation voted in favour of the draft, based on its principled position on the crisis in Ukraine, which has remained unchanged since the beginning. She reiterated the call for all parties in the conflict to demonstrate restraint and avoid military escalation “immediately and definitively”, given serious consequences on the rights of civilians.
The representative of Kazakhstan said this draft leads to further aggravation of the situation in Ukraine, adding that his State does not oppose its substance, but the politicization of human rights. The Universal Periodic Review, treaty bodies and special procedures of the Human Rights Council are the most suitable mechanisms for assessing human rights situations, he said, affirming that the text is beyond the competence of the Third Committee. While his country voted against the resolution, this does not reflect its position on the status of Crimea, other territories and other conflict-related matters.
The representative of Singapore, noting that country-specific human rights resolutions in the Third Committee have become selective and driven by politicization, said her delegation abstained from the draft. However, this should not be interpreted as reflecting a position on the substance of issues raised in the text or derogating from its principled position against the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine, she added. The sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of all countries, big or small, must be respected, she asserted.
The representative of Syria said his delegation voted against the draft, which he defined as a political tool and an attempt to attack the Russian Federation. The approach of targeting one country in particular has negative consequences. Adding that this is an exploitation of human rights for political purposes and a violation of the principle of non-selectivity, he said this draft is a waste of resources. The examination of human rights situations must be carried out under the Universal Periodic Review, he added.
The representative of China opposed politicization, selectivity, double standards, the practice of provoking confrontation and the establishment of country-specific human rights mechanisms without the consent of the concerned country. Based on China’s consistent position on country-specific human rights resolutions, her delegation voted against the draft.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution titled “Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic” (document A/C.3/77/L.36/Rev.1), which the Chair noted contained no programme budget implications.
The representative of the United States introduced the annual draft resolution on the human rights situation in Syria, “L.36/Rev.1,” on behalf of the core group. She noted that, 11 years after the Syrian uprising, daily sporadic violence continues, with civilians caught in the crossfire. Some pretend that the conflict is over, but that could not be further from the truth, as chemical weapons use, bombardments, extrajudicial killings, torture, unjust disappearances, and gender‑based violence still take place. She welcomed the Secretary‑General’s report on the missing and its recommendations that measures should be coherent, inclusive, and centred around the victims and their families. The draft calls for the General Assembly to give attention to detainees and missing persons in early 2023, and includes strengthened language on how women and girls are disproportionally affected, also focusing on their meaningful participation in decision‑making and leadership roles. It highlights the humanitarian situation calls for unhindered aid and reauthorization of the cross‑border mechanism for at least 12 months. She urged all delegations to support this draft and stand up against these brutal atrocities.
The representative of Iran said the submission of this draft indicates that the United States and certain other countries continue to exploit United Nations human rights mechanisms in line with their narrow political interests. Billions have been spent on funding terrorists to destabilize the legitimate Government of Syria, while the United States looted its reserves. The main sponsor is addicted to oil and uses human rights for its own political gain. The text touches on issues well beyond this Committee’s mandate. This politically motivated draft turns a blind eye to all achievements of the Syrian Government in bringing about stability, peace, refugee support, civilian protection, humanitarian assistance, and internally displaced persons’ safe return. In the text, Syria’s cooperation with the United Nations, its efforts against waves of terrorism, unilateral coercive measures, and resistance against aggressions by the Zionist expansionist regime are also not reflected. To preserve the credibility of this body, Iran will vote against this biased text.
The representative of the United Kingdom said the text sets out the international community’s shared concerns and urged Syria to improve its human rights record. He condemned the decade of atrocities, and supported accountability for perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity, human rights violations, arbitrary detention, ill‑treatment, torture, and sexual violence. Tens of thousands have disappeared or been displaced, and increased efforts are needed to ensure accountability and information. “The regime must provide answers,” he said. The humanitarian situation also deteriorated significantly since cross‑border aid is no longer possible, while, especially with the looming winter months, access is vital. The Syrians must not be forgotten and cannot solve this issue alone, he said.
The representative of Canada voiced her strong support for this text, as a member of the core group, which serves as a reminder to those responsible that the world is watching and condemning human rights and international humanitarian law violations. Humanitarian needs are at the highest level and widespread sexual violence is taking place, she said, deploring the closing of the border crossings and reaffirming her commitment to accountability. The international community stands in solidarity with the women and girls in Syria and calls on women organizations to build a more peaceful future for all, she said. Welcoming the Secretary‑General’s report on missing persons, she also expressed grave concern over all cases of arbitrary detention and torture.
The representative of Venezuela said he did not support this text, as he rejects dealing with human rights issues or creating instruments against a specific country without the consent of that State. This text undermines the credibility of the Human Rights Council. Human rights issues should be examined in the Universal Period Review on the basis of dialogue and cooperation with countries concerned. He reaffirmed his commitment to the declaration of the Non‑Aligned States, in which any mandate on human rights situations in specific countries is rejected, because it creates confrontational spaces and does not contribute to dialogue. Adopting politically motivated reports and mechanisms violates the principles of impartiality, transparency, objectivity, non‑politization, non‑confrontation, equality, and mutual respect, as well as political independence, sovereignty, and self‑determination of peoples.
The representative of China said that, 10 years into the crisis, the Syrian people are still mired in poverty and the turmoil of war, for which the United States and other Western countries must take responsibility. Highlighting multiple United States’ military interventions resulting in mass casualties and its imposed sanctions, she added that Washington has also plundered oil and food stocks in Syria, to the general population’s detriment. A political solution that ensures sovereignty is the only way forward, she said, stressing that the international community must not ignore harm caused by illegal military intervention and unilateral coercive measures. She said her delegation would vote against the draft resolution.
The representative of Cuba said that the United States introduced the text with political motives. Expressing concern over the United States’ many human rights violations, he said his delegation would vote against the draft. He noted that these resolutions only target developing countries, calling them punitive. He added that the resolution undermines the territorial integrity of Syria. If there is true will to help solve the conflict, then the international community must leave country‑specific resolutions like this one behind, he said.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that politicization and double standards have no relevance in promoting human rights and opposed attempts to interfere with the internal affairs of a sovereign country. Favouring constructive dialogue, he said his delegation would vote against the resolution.
The representative of the Russian Federation said that the draft is far removed from reality and based on lies and conjecture. Adding that the baseless slander insults the Syrian people who suffer from unilateral coercive measures, he questioned the United States’ concern for Syria, pointing out that Washington attacked the country under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, occupies territory in Syria and loots natural and agricultural resources belonging to the Syrian people. He discouraged the Committee from going along with the United States — “the aggressor State” — and vote against “L.36”.
The representative of Saudi Arabia noted that, after 11 years of crisis in Syria, the UNHCR continues to note increases in hundreds of thousands of civilian victims and over a thousand missing persons. Lamenting serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, he said his delegation would vote in favour of the resolution because Saudi Arabia is convinced that only a political solution under relevant resolutions and the Geneva Process will end such suffering.
The representative of Syria said the draft was presented by the United States, which is “not surprising or even ironic”. The United States administration has occupied Syrian territory and bombarded civilian infrastructure, preventing the Syrian people from having access to their most basic needs. Moreover, the process of presenting the draft was less than transparent. “We were not able to have access to this draft resolution until several days after it was proposed, which is not professional,” he added. This is a deeply politicized draft and is very far from reality. It seeks to undermine Syria’s recent achievements toward peace. The United States and its Western allies are promoting a misguided approach. They are closing their eyes to the terroristic nature of thousands of fighters that have infiltrated Syria’s land. He categorically rejected the draft resolution, called for a recorded vote, and urged Member States to vote against the display of selectivity.
The Committee then approved “L.36” by a recorded vote of 90 in favour to 14 against, with 68 abstentions.
By its terms, the Assembly would strongly condemn the grave human rights situation in the country; the indiscriminate killing of civilians and continued indiscriminate use of heavy weapons and aerial bombardments, which have caused more than 500,000 fatalities, including the killing of more than 29,000 children; the starvation of civilians as a method of warfare; and the use of chemical weapons. It would note with grave concern that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has identified 306,887 civilians who were killed in the conflict in Syria between March 2011 and March 2022, including 26,727 women and 27,126 children.
Further, the Assembly would express grave concern at the remaining presence of violent extremism and terrorist groups, and strongly condemn all violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed in Syria by any party to the conflict, in particular Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), Al-Qaida-affiliated terrorist groups, armed groups and non-State actors, and the Syrian regime and its allies. The Assembly would be alarmed that more than 5.6 million refugees, including more than 3.8 million women and children, have been forced to flee the country, and that 11.1 million people, of whom 6.6 million are internally displaced, require urgent humanitarian assistance, which has resulted in an influx of Syrian refugees into neighbouring countries and other countries in the region and beyond.
Also by the text, the Assembly would demand that the Syrian regime and Da’esh immediately desist from any further use of chemical weapons. It would request that the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons consider additional procedures for stringent verification, pursuant to article IV, paragraph 8, and article V, paragraph 10, of the Chemical Weapons Convention, to ensure the complete destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons programme and prevent its further use. It would demand that the Syrian regime and all other parties to the conflict allow unrestricted humanitarian access, and call for the continuation of cross-border humanitarian support beyond January 2023 and for at least 12 months. The Assembly would also demand that the Syrian regime cooperate fully with the Commission of Inquiry, including by granting it immediate and unhindered access throughout the country.
The representative of the Czech Republic, speaking on behalf of the European Union in its capacity as observer, reiterated calls on the Syrian regime and all parties to the conflict to engage in talks in good faith. His bloc condemns serious breaches of international law by the Syrian regime and other parties. The European Union demands that all parties to the conflict, in particular the Syria regime, allow for the safe and secure transit of the Syrian people. Accountability remains of utmost importance, he stressed, reiterating calls to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court.
The representative of Japan said his delegation voted in favour of the text with the hope that violence in Syria will end soon and human rights will be ensured. On the issue of missing people in Syria, he expressed hope that the text will help make progress on that matter.
The representative of Argentina called on all parties to respect human rights. Solution to the Syrian conflict should be based on the principles of territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence. Lasting peace is not possible in Syria without justice, he added, calling on all parties to prioritize the full application of international law.
The representative of Belarus said country resolutions do not solve problems, but rather promote divisiveness. Country specific drafts are unacceptable, she continued, adding that her delegation voted against the text.
The representative of Singapore said her delegation abstained from the vote. Country specific drafts are highly selective and driven by political considerations.
The representative of Brazil said that his delegation voted in favour of the draft, expressing concern that more than half of the Syrian population is in need of assistance. The cholera outbreak is yet another outcome of the precarious situation on the ground. He appreciated that the text included new paragraphs on the issue of missing persons. He regretted, however, that the text remains long and its negotiating process somewhat opaque. It should be made clear that multiple actors bear responsibility for human rights violations in Syria. Only a Syrian-owned, Syrian-led, United Nations-facilitated process can offer a lasting solution to the conflict.
The representative of Türkiye said the resolution sends a strong message to the Syrian people that the international community is not indifferent to their pursuit of accountability. A sustainable solution can only be achieved through political means. With delays in the political process prolonging the Syrian people’s suffering, she urged the regime to advance on the political track and work with the Syrian Constitutional Committee, which should convene as soon as possible. The impact of Kurdistan Workers’ Party terrorist acts on security has never been more alarming than today. This terrorist organization prevents people, including Syrians and Syrian Kurds, from returning to their homes. The attack last week in Istanbul is another example of the threat to Türkiye posed by this terrorist group.
Right of Reply
Exercising the right of reply, the representative of Iran said this body should be ashamed to use a discourse on human rights as a political weapon. Contrary to claims made by the United States, Iran continues to suffer from its sanctions. The United States, one of the only countries not party to conventions on the rights of children or persons with disabilities, is not qualified to educate others on human rights. Canada, which has exercised ethnic cleansing, should reconsider its policy of launching a smear campaign against Iran. The Universal Periodic Review is the proper instrument to address human rights issues. Women in Iran have the right to education and many other opportunities to advance themselves. The Third Committee’s work should be carried out in an objective, transparent and non-confrontational manner. She rejected falsehoods made by some delegations, particularly the United Kingdom and United States, regarding recent developments in Iran. Further, she expressed astonishment at comments made by the Saudi Arabian delegate, as well as the representative’s inaccurate reading and extensive interpretation of Islamic Sharia.
Also exercising the right of reply, the representative of Canada noted that, when considering the resolution of the human rights situation in Iran, several delegations called out Canada’s long-standing treatment of indigenous people, including women and girls, and the residential school system. This characterization is accurate, he said, adding that the Canadian Government has recognized its wrongdoings. He noted that indigenous women and girls are affected disproportionately by all forms of violence and that the trauma is intergenerational. Canada is working to transform its relationship with indigenous peoples, he said, noting that work is ongoing and the Canadian Government is committed to partnerships to educate communities across the country about historical and present challenges. The Government welcomes scrutiny, he underscored, adding that it does not seek to avoid issues, suggest that others are making political attacks, deflect attention by red herrings or make counterattacks when its delegation works within the United Nations system.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution titled “Assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa” (document A/C.3/77/L.55), which the Chair noted contains no programme budget implications.
Introducing the draft, the representative of Libya, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the draft contains technical updates. Moreover, he noted the African continent hosts more than one third of the world’s forcibly displaced persons, including more than 6 million refugees and asylum-seekers and almost 15 million internally displaced persons. Around 30 million internally displaced persons, refugees and asylum-seekers live in Africa, he said. The text reaffirms the importance of the Global Compact on Refugees and recognizes the centrality of the principle of burden- and responsibility-sharing, he underlined.
The Committee then approved “L.55” without a vote, by which the Assembly would be gravely concerned about the rising number of refugees and displaced persons on the African continent. It would also be gravely concerned about funding gaps in the budgets of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme, leading to deteriorating living conditions in many refugee camps. Further, it would express concern regarding the decreasing trend in resettlement opportunities for displaced persons. It would call on the international community to take concrete action to meet the needs of refugees and contribute generously to projects and programmes to create durable solutions.
Also by the text, the Assembly would condemn all acts that pose a threat to the security of refugees and asylum-seekers, such as refoulement or physical attacks. It would also call on UNHCR, the African Union and all African States to strengthen partnerships to support the protection system for refugees. Further, it would urge the international community to continue to fund generously the refugee programmes of UNHCR and others to ensure that Africa receives an equitable share of resources designated for refugees.
The representative of Hungary expressed deep concern over the rising number of refugees and displaced persons in Africa. Noting that his delegation joined consensus, he pointed to operative paragraph 4, containing a reference to the Global Compact on Refugees, which his State does not endorse. He therefore disassociated from the paragraph.