Seventy-eighth Session,
26th & 27th Meetings (AM & PM)

Third Committee Condemns Brutal Bombing of Gaza Hospital, Enforced Displacement of Palestinian Civilians, Emphasizes Urgent Need for Unimpeded Humanitarian Aid

Committee Also Urges States to Satisfy Educational Needs, Reverse Dangers to Persons with Albinism

Yesterday’s attack on the Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza, which resulted in hundreds of civilian deaths, is a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, delegates told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today, as they also engaged in a series of interactive dialogues on the right to education, cultural rights and the impact of climate change on persons with albinism.

During their general debate, numerous delegates condemned the recent attack on the hospital in Gaza and called for unimpeded and safe humanitarian access. 

The observer for the State of Palestine said that, for 11 days, the world has witnessed epic human suffering, with Israel brutally killing over 3,000 people in the Gaza Strip — over half of them women and children.  “Israel has not spared a single Palestinian family in Gaza,” bombing them in their homes, she said.  Those who are not injured are displaced, and those who thought they found safety in Al-Ahli Hospital were massacred. 

“Hospitals must be sanctuaries to preserve human lives, not scenes of death and destruction,” said Ecuador’s delegate, emphasizing that respect for international humanitarian law is an imperative of the international community. 

Echoing that sentiment, Bolivia’s delegate condemned “the atrocious genocide being conducted against Palestinians in Gaza at this very moment”, with children, women and older persons suffering injustice and human rights violations.

Kuwait’s delegate called on the intranational community to condemn “the brutal shelling of the hospital in Gaza”.

“Israel must immediately stop its collective punishment of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip,” said the representative of Egypt, condemning Israel’s bombing of the hospital in Gaza City.  She categorically rejected attempts to enforce displacement of Palestinians to neighbouring countries.

The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said the blame for the deaths of hundreds of people in the Al-Ahli Hospital is in part with the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Japan, countries that on Monday blocked the adoption of the purely humanitarian draft resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Japan’s delegate, firmly condemning recent terror attacks by Hamas and other Palestinian militants, noted that “attacks against hospitals or civilians cannot be justified on any ground”. 

Germany’s delegate condemned the indiscriminate attacks by Hamas across Israel and expressed horror about the attack on the fully operational Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza.  Adding to that, Canada’s delegate underscored the need to free all hostages immediately and unconditionally and ensure that all parties fully respect international humanitarian law.

The youth delegate of Israel recalled the Hamas terrorist attacks, which resulted in numerous murdered and wounded.  “Israel is in a war against a terror organization called Hamas, she said — not citizens, not individuals.”  Noting Israel’s right to self-defence, she called for the release of Israeli hostages held in Gaza, and warned against Hamas’ politicization of the events.  In the afternoon, the Committee heard from Farida Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, who reported that, to achieve the goal of providing primary and secondary education for all by 2030, 68.8 million more teachers are needed.  States must ensure the right of everyone to inclusive, equitable and quality education, and guarantee internationally recognized rights of teachers, encompassing, inter alia, the right to work, adequate remuneration, decent working conditions and academic freedom.  Additionally, States should allocate a sufficient proportion of the national budget for education and ensure that the money is used effectively and equitably to guarantee education for all, she underlined, calling for meaningful participation of teachers in educational decision-making and reforms through robust dialogue.

Also briefing the Committee today was Muluka-Anne Miti-Drummond, Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, who highlighted the profound impact of climate change on persons with albinism, particularly on their right to life.  Highlighting the disproportionate impact of climate change-related disasters and extreme weather events on persons with albinism, she said that, due to forcible displacement, they fall under the category of “climate migrants”.  In Africa, persons with albinism are up to 1,000 times more likely to develop skin cancer than those without albinism, while 98 per cent of them have died by the age of 40.  This can be effectively prevented by using proper sunscreen, which, however, is often out of the reach of many due its cost.


Ms. CARMELI, youth delegate of Israel, recalled her experience living on the Kerem Shalom kibbutz close to Gaza, where her bedroom was in a bomb shelter.  Recalling sirens sounding as indiscriminate rocket shelling came from Gaza — common in the past 18 years since Israel disengaged from Gaza — she said she chose to live there anyway, choosing life over terror.  This past Saturday, terror chose the kibbutz, she continued, recalling the Hamas terrorist attacks resulting in numerous murdered and wounded people as well as 200 taken hostage.  “Israel is in a war against a terror organization called Hamas, she said — not citizens, not individuals.”  She expressed grave concern for the kidnapped, noting that they are denied their most basic rights.  She urged the international community to unequivocally condemn Hamas, call for the release of Israeli hostages held in Gaza and support Israel’s right to defend itself, and she warned against Hamas’ politicization of events.

JAMES KARIUKI (United Kingdom), on behalf of a group of countries, said Muslim minorities in Xinjiang continue to suffer serious violations of human rights by China.  In this regard, he pointed to an assessment of the situation in the region published by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), which found evidence of large-scale arbitrary detention and systemic use of invasive surveillance based on religion and ethnicity. Furthermore, it found reports of torture, ill-treatment and sexual and gender-based violence, including forced abortion and sterilization.  Arbitrary detention of Muslim minorities may constitute crimes against humanity, he added, calling on China to follow the High Commissioner’s recommendations.

KHALID SALEH SAID AL RUBKHI (Oman), speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), affirmed the right of every country to development and to eradicate poverty, ignorance and illness.  Every country also has the right to fight terrorism and protect peace and security. Terrorism has no religion and no ethnicity, he said, adding that fighting terrorism does not free any country from its obligations under international human rights instruments and international law, including the principles of non-discrimination, proportionality and due diligence.  He called on all countries and regional groups to take proactive steps to discuss human rights matters, emphasizing that constructive dialogue is the basis of stability and understanding between peoples and in all domains.

HEBA MOSTAFA MOSTAFA RIZK (Egypt), associating herself with the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, condemned Israel’s bombing of the hospital in Gaza City.  “Israel must immediately stop its collective punishment of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip,” she said, adding that Egypt categorically rejects attempts to enforce displacement of Palestinians to neighbouring countries in contravention of the right to self-determination and rights of return.  She also expressed concern about limitations in some countries that champion democracy on the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, as well as inaction towards campaigns of misinformation and disinformation and falsified media reports. “It is regrettable to see an escalation in this discourse, talking about double standards and denying the universality of human rights,” she stressed, noting the increase in hate speech and xenophobia against Muslim communities and other religious minorities. 

Mr. ALDAIKAN (Kuwait) said that the brutal shelling of the hospital in Gaza was a flagrant violation of international law that the international community must condemn. Reaffirming Kuwait’scommitment to respect human rights, he said that Islam enshrines the principles of equality and justice, while his country’s Constitution emphasizes the importance of education and health care without discrimination based on origin, language or sex.  The Government will establish a national office for human rights, focusing on respect for public and private rights without contradicting Sharia law.  He also highlighted the leadership role of women in Parliament as they achieve the trust of voters.  In light of extraordinary and transitional threats resulting from new technologies and climate change, there is no path forward except for multilateral action, he said.

FRANCISCO JOSE DA CRUZ (Angola), speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), emphasized the severe consequences of secondary sanctions, such as preventing foreign companies from doing business and the freezing of individuals’ assets.  Noting the extraterritorial nature of these sanctions, he said that in the face of persistent global challenges, including climate change, such measures curtail the capacity of target countries, including Zimbabwe, to respond adequately.  Moreover, when sanctions affect the rights of an entire population, the impact is felt more among vulnerable groups, including women, children, persons with disabilities and refugees.  He also highlighted the impact of sanctions on the enjoyment of human rights in the region and underscored the collective responsibility to engage in constructive dialogue.   

ABDULAZIZ M. ALWASIL (Saudi Arabia) urged the restoration of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, including an independent State with East Jerusalem as its capital, in line with relevant Security Council resolutions.  Saudi Arabia categorically rejects the forced displacement of Palestinians from Gaza and firmly condemns the crime perpetrated by Israeli forces that bombarded the hospital in Gaza, resulting in hundreds of casualties.  This is a serious development, he said, calling out the international community’s double standards.  He called on Israel to immediately lift its siege of Gaza and to open humanitarian corridors as soon as possible.

ANNA KARIN ENESTRÖM (Sweden), aligning herself with the European Union, said the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is not just a vision but a blueprint for achieving that vision.  However, there are more armed conflicts, with an increasing number of extrajudicial executions, torture, sexual and gender-based violence and other conflict-related violations, she said.  “Russia’s ruthless aggression against Ukraine and blatant violation of international law and the UN Charter is an obvious and horrific example,” she stressed.  “The choices we make, how we act towards one another, how we safeguard [the] international rules-based order that we inherited is ultimately what will determine our future,” she said, stressing that the international human rights system is one of mankind’s greatest achievements.  Unfortunately, it requires maintenance to continue to function, she said.   

JOONKOOK HWANG (Republic of Korea), expressing concern about the situation of marginalized people, especially those living under authoritarianism and totalitarianism, highlighted systematic and widespread human rights violations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, established by the Human Rights Council in 2013, concluded that these violations were crimes against humanity, yet there remains no change.  That country has diverted its funds towards nuclear weapons development, he continued, pointing to links between its illicit weapons programme and its human rights violations.  Highlighting the forced repatriation of escapees from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he cited the statement issued by OHCHR on 17 October and called for respect for the principle of non-refoulement, which must be applied to all individuals regardless of migratory status.  That principle is essential protection under various international human rights laws, including the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

MARITZA CHAN VALVERDE (Costa Rica) called on the international community to bolster sustainable and human rights development at all levels, including through producing and monitoring statistics.  The Summit of the Future could provide a forum to that effect. The right to a clean environment is vital to achieving all other rights, she said, noting that the triple environmental crisis is the most existential threat facing humanity today.  Costa Rica has the largest share of migrants among its total population, with more than 270 million current asylum applications.  However, as it is a middle-income country, need has outpaced resources, she said, calling for international support.  Highlighting the important work of treaty bodies, she noted that, while the UN Human rights framework is immense, only 4.3 per cent of the core budget is attributed to it.

AISSATA IBRAHIM MAIGA (Mali), noting that her country is party to almost all international instruments on the promotion and protection of human rights, said it has established a national judicial framework to that end.  Facing security challenges, her Government is determined to minimize or eliminate their impact by strengthening the capacity of law enforcement.  She stressed the importance of the principle of impartiality, non-selectivity and the rule of law, and underlined the need to combat impunity and tackle various crimes related to economic and financial offences. Courts in Mali have been elected to enforce existing frameworks, she said, adding that they are dealing with terrorism, modern-day slavery and violence against women and children.

JOAN MARGARITA CEDANO (Dominican Republic) said her country has actively promoted human rights through the creation of an inter-institutional Human Rights Commission, which seeks to safeguard human rights defenders and maintain a cross-cutting policy within the country’s governance.  In addition, the Dominican Republic has policies on gender, climate change and territorial integrity, as well as an ombudsman whose essential task is to ensure the functioning of public administration.  Her country has a plan with guidelines from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, focusing on the following strategic areas:  civil-political rights; economic and sociocultural rights; human rights and the environment; rights of persons in vulnerable situations; and implementation of international standards. 

RICHARD ARBEITER (Canada) said women’s and girls’ rights are under attack in Afghanistan and that the situation is grim for them in Iran.  “Canada will continue to stand up for their rights and the rights of all marginalized individuals and communities wherever they are threatened,” he emphasized. “Recognition of the inherent dignity of LGBTI persons is growing steadily,” he also noted, applauding those who have eliminated discriminatory laws.  Turning to the situation in the Middle East, he underscored the need to free all hostages immediately and unconditionally and ensure that all parties fully respect international humanitarian law.  He further expressed support for the Sudanese people in their appeal for a democratic transition by civilians.  “The response to all of these challenges is not to run away from them or pretend that they are politicized,” he stressed. 

JÖRUNDUR VALTÝSSON (Iceland), expressing concern about the growing number of civilian deaths and the strike on Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza, as well as the risk of further escalation, stressed the need for safe and unimpeded humanitarian access.  Human rights are a key pillar of Iceland's foreign and development policy, he said, describing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a milestone document and a guiding light.  However, “many of the basic rights we thought had been secured and accepted” are in danger, he said, noting that violent nationalism and racism, including antisemitism and Islamophobia, are on the rise, while homophobia and transphobia are increasing.  Calling on the international community to stand up for the values of democracy, he said that is a primary motivation for Iceland’s decision to seek a seat on the Human Rights Council for the term 2025 to 2027.

SUMAN SONKAR (India) said that her country’s commitment to the rule of law, democracy, development and human rights is as old as the nation.  She underscored the consistent promotion of civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights.  Democratic values are reflected in the importance given to freedom of expression as well as a thriving civil society, she said. Separate national human rights commissions on women and children are responsible for raising awareness, conducting investigations and pursuing complaints.  India has lifted millions out of multidimensional poverty through large-scale initiatives, providing over 500 million people with health care and more than 1.4 million people with housing, she said.  Moreover, a policy passed in 2023 stipulates that one-third of parliamentary representation must be women.  Other legal safeguards protect women from child marriage and harassment at work.  She reiterated India’s commitment to engage with the international community in promoting human rights globally.

NASEER AHMED FAIQ (Afghanistan) appealed to the United Nations and donor countries to step up assistance and deliver critical aid to earthquake-stricken parts of Afghanistan.  The immediate focus should be on providing relief to survivors and helping them rebuild their lives.  Expressing deep concern about the human rights situation in Afghanistan, he said that the Taliban’s denial of fundamental human rights and freedoms is intensifying as they embark on a mission to “purify” society based on a false interpretation of Sharia and Afghan tradition.  The Taliban regime has imposed systematic discrimination and strict gender-based restrictions on women and girls, erasing the hard-won gains achieved by women over the past decades and creating a climate of “gender persecution and gender apartheid”.  He went on to express alarm at widespread extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detentions, torture and ill-treatment in the country, adding that access to justice is “severely limited,” particularly for women and girls.

SOPHEA EAT (Cambodia), aligning herself with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), affirmed her country’s commitment to fundamental human rights and freedoms, and called for ensuring that efforts to promote human rights include the full appreciation of varying political, economic, social and cultural circumstances. States must stand against politicization, double standards, selectivity and interference in the internal affairs of other States on the pretext of protecting human rights and freedoms. She highlighted progress in Cambodia on promoting civil and political rights and gender equality, adding that freedom of expression must be exercised without infringing on the rights of other individuals.  Cambodia remains committed to working with all stakeholders to further promote and protect human rights within the rule of law as it pursues sustainable development and democracy.

JAIME HERMIDA CASTILLO (Nicaragua), associating himself with the Central American Integration System, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of Friends in Defence of the Charter of the United Nations, said that since 2007, his Government has prioritized the restoration of the rights of Nicaraguan families to housing, education, recreation, health, food security, citizen’s security, work, public services, and access to drinking water and sanitation, as well as equal rights for men and women.  “These rights had been denied, postponed or historically violated by neoliberalism,” he said, adding that Nicaragua is also committed to the rights of Indigenous and Afro-descendant Peoples.  “Despite the aggressions of imperialist, colonialist and neo-colonial countries with their corrosive and illegal unilateral coercive measures against our country, our Government continues and will continue to promote the Nicaraguan right to sustainable human development, the right to peace, stability and progress, to the exercise of all rights and fundamental freedoms,” he said. 

ZULEIKHA RUTHA TAMBWE (Tanzania), aligning herself with SADC, stressed the importance of respecting the principles of independence, territorial integrity and non-interference in the internal matters of States.  These well-established principles must be upheld by all Member States, without exception.  Expressing regret that human rights are sometimes used to undermine these principles, she said that Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet relate to China’s domestic affairs and should not be interfered upon.  Further, China has demonstrated its commitment to improving the situation of its people and has been assisting countries around the world to realize their political and economic rights as well as their right to development.  Urging all Member States to uphold the principles of impartiality and non-selectivity in the work of this Committee and other human rights fora, she said there should be no double standards in the application of the Charter.

TIÉMOKO MORIKO (Côte d’Ivoire) said that widening inequalities and conflicts are challenging human rights, making the advent of peaceful societies more distant.  Côte d’Ivoire upholds freedom of expression and has ratified almost all the core instruments on human rights.  To that end, an independent administrative council for human rights, established in 2018, raises citizens’ awareness, provides training for human rights actors and conducts non-judicial investigations.  It also supports the Government by collecting data to review and update its legislative framework.  Noting the adoption of a law to defend human rights advocates, he said that human rights processes must take into account the rhythm at which each society progresses, with a preference for non-interference and permanent constructive dialogue.

CHOLA MILAMBO (Zambia), aligning himself with the African Group and the Group of 77 and China, said that the promotion and protection of human rights is cardinal in enhancing good governance and the rule of law and in ensuring viable peace.  He detailed his Government’s policies and programmes aimed at improving the human rights situation in Zambia and overcoming challenges in the enjoyment of human rights.  In particular, he pointed to the establishment of a National Mechanism for Implementation, Reporting and Follow-Up, mandated to coordinate the preparation of reports and follow-up on implementation of recommendations and decisions of human rights treaty bodies.  Zambia has also extended a standing invitation to special rapporteurs to visit the country, he added.

NUSAIBA HASHIM MOHAMED ALI IDRES (Sudan) highlighted the relevance of the right to life in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, given the ongoing situation in Sudan, where rebel forces are violating human rights and committing crimes against Sudanese society, in addition to destroying infrastructure and hospitals.  Sudan is doing its utmost to protect its people and its army is committed to abiding by the rules set out in relevant Geneva conventions. With regard to ongoing efforts to protect human rights, ensure accountability and curb impunity, she said that a national commission of inquiry into human rights violations has been set up, chaired by Sudan’s main prosecutor.  Among rights violations in Sudan, she highlighted the rape of women and children as well as cases of genocide and ethnic cleansing.  This is a crucial and delicate time for Sudan, which is seeking international support towards a democratic transition with respect for its territorial integrity, she added.

ENIAN LAMCE (Albania), aligning himself with the European Union, condemned Hamas’ unprovoked terrorist attack on Israel.  On Ukraine, he said:  “The human rights situation in Ukraine remains deeply concerning because of the unjustified and illegal Russian aggression against the country,” citing reports that continuously show high numbers of human rights violations by Russian soldiers.  “In Afghanistan, women and girls have become subject to systematic gender-based discrimination and grave human rights violations,” he stated, calling for the development of effective early warning mechanisms and early response abilities.  “Early action in massive human rights violation needs to be taken seriously,” he stressed, adding that advocacy for human rights will be meaningless without the participation of women and girls.  “Grave violations against children continue to be perpetrated on a large scale in most countries affected by war,” he said, urging concrete and decisive action to improve the situation of children worldwide. 

EDNA STEPHANIE WILLIAMS (Ghana), acknowledging international efforts made in advancing fundamental human rights, expressed concern at the persistence of various forms of violations, including hate speech and exploitation of women and youth, both online and offline.  Also pointing to institutional challenges such as heavy caseloads and insufficient financial and human resources, she said it is crucial to strengthen national institutions, while also enhancing international cooperation. Stressing the indispensable role of various human rights treaty bodies and conventions, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, she called for more funding and logistical support to enhance their effectiveness.  Noting that the evolving nature of human rights in the twenty-first century calls for state-of-the-art technologies to enhance cyber security, she said ongoing negotiations to develop the global convention on countering the use of information and communications technology for criminal purposes is a unique opportunity. 

Ms. WAFIUDDIN (Brunei Darussalam), aligning with ASEAN, voiced concern over increased mental health issues following the COVID-19 pandemic, noting the impact that non-communicable diseases have on health systems.  Her country has adopted the Brunei Darussalam Mental Health Action plan 2022-25, including a holistic plan for well-being as anxiety, depression and stress have increased since the pandemic.  The programme works with all stakeholders to end stigma around mental health, promotes the rights of the mentally ill and is in line with Sustainable Development Goal 3, she said.  The Government has also launched a national hotline connecting people with qualified mental health professionals.  It will continue to work with ASEAN in the promotion of mental health for all to ensure that no one is left behind, she said, adding that “there is no health without mental health”.

ONO SHO (Japan), firmly condemning recent terror attacks by Hamas and other Palestinian militants, demanded the early release of hostages.  At the same time, yesterday, Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City was attacked, resulting in numerous casualties, he recalled, stressing that “attacks against hospitals or civilians cannot be justified on any ground”.  It is crucial to minimize the deterioration of humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip and ensure humanitarian access in the area.  Japan will provide emergency humanitarian aid of $10 million in total for citizens in the Gaza Strip through international organizations. Furthermore, he strongly urged the Russian Federation to end its violations of human rights and the UN Charter immediately.  In Myanmar, he warned against the further deterioration of the humanitarian situation, urging its military to take concrete actions to immediately stop the violence.  He also voiced concern about the lack of improvement in the human rights situation in Afghanistan.

SONDOU BAKA (Togo) expressed his country’s firm commitment to promote and protect human rights in line with international instruments to which it has acceded.  The Government has continued working tirelessly to adopt policies and other measures to implement the provisions of these instruments, establishing national institutions, including a Ministry on Human Rights.  Togo has always sought to promote democracy and the rule of law, especially towards strengthening governance and socioeconomic development.  To that end, it has improved the social protection system.  During the COVID-19 pandemic — to mitigate its impact on fragile populations — Togo put together a monetary transfer system to benefit those working in the informal sector.

MARWA JABOU BESSADOK (Tunisia) urged the international community to condemn violations against Palestinians in occupied lands, including the violation of the right to life and international humanitarian laws.  Noting the attack on a civilian hospital in Gaza on 17 October, she asked: “How we can we talk about human rights in light of all these continued violations with total impunity and no deterrence?”  The situation in Palestine is a true test of international human rights law, she said, emphasizing that all forms of terrorism must be condemned, with no link to any specific nationality, religion, culture or civilization in any State.

GOLIBJON GULOV (Tajikistan), condemning the attack on the Al-Ahli Hospital, said that civil facilities such as hospitals should be safe places for people under all conditions.  Calling for an immediate ceasefire and dialogue to stabilize the situation, he said that the protection of human rights is a priority for his country. Noting the many international human rights instruments Tajikistan has acceded to since gaining independence, he added that State institutions are gradually taking steps to implement relevant norms.  Highlighting some concrete measures to protect the rights of children and prevent discrimination against women, he said that the Constitution guarantees the enjoyment of freedom for all, regardless of nationality, race, sex, religion, political beliefs and social status.

SAHAR K.H. SALEM, observer for the State of Palestine, said that, for 11 days, the world has witnessed Israel brutally killing over 3,000 people in the Gaza Strip — over half of them women and children — by direct strikes. “Israel has not spared a single Palestinian family in Gaza,” she said.  Those who are not injured are displaced, and those who thought they found safety in Al-Ahli Hospital were massacred.  “Does this make Israel feel more secure now […] does this fulfill the need for unconditional support for Israel?” she asked, noting that reports from the UN show that families have been bombed in their homes.  Following an evacuation order, they are scrambling for safety with nowhere to go, she said, adding that entire neighborhoods have been razed to the ground, including schools and UN buildings.  There is no power, no water, no fuel, and food supplies are running low, she said, emphasizing that “morgues are overflowing” and bodies are buried in mass graves.  Worse, Israel has ordered the evacuation of 22 hospitals, which the World Health Organization (WHO) has labelled a death sentence for the sick and injured.  Some 2 million people live in Gaza, half of them children, but Israel is bombing it as if civilians deserve to be killed.  This mass destruction must not be seen as so-called collateral damage, she stressed, noting that it is inhumane and undermines the rules of an international law-based order.  She called on the international community to stand against Israel’s crimes and stop the epic human suffering.  “Justice — not vengeance” deserves your support, she said.

DIEGO PARY RODRÍGUEZ (Bolivia), aligning himself with the Group of Friends in Defence of the Charter of the United Nations, condemned “the atrocious genocide being conducted against Palestinians in Gaza at this very moment”.  Children, women and older persons are suffering injustice and human rights violations there while also being deprived of basic services and food.  Further, he highlighted the importance of the draft resolution on the right to development and welcomed general comment No. 26 on the rights of the child, with special attention to climate change, adopted by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, and general comment No. 39 on the rights of indigenous women and girls, adopted by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, which provides guidelines for States to tackle all forms of discrimination against them. 

Ms. RAIVOSO (Mozambique), aligning with the Community of Portuguese Language-speaking Countries, said that, despite strides made globally in promoting social inclusion, gender inequality remains a major heartbreak. Progress in the area is threatened by persistent social exclusion and discrimination against women and girls, whose rights continue to be seriously violated.  Addressing underlying factors preventing groups from benefiting from the right to development and consequently the enjoyment of human rights, is imperative.  The Mozambique Government has put in place several initiatives, among them the National Action Plan for Advancement of Women; a law on domestic violence; and a mechanism for integrative assistance to women victims of violence.  Mozambique also concurs on the urgency of reviewing negative business practices, particularly those that promote social inequalities and discrimination.

İSMAIL AYDİL (Türkiye) said that his country is deeply concerned about the rise of xenophobia, racism and Islamophobia in the world and the ongoing violence in Israel and Palestine.  “We strongly condemn the loss of civilian lives and call on the parties for de-escalation,” he said, reiterating calls for restraint and avoidance of any actions that might worsen the situation.  Indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure in Gaza are unacceptable.  An immediate ceasefire is urgently needed and the international community must step in to facilitate delivery of humanitarian aid.  Türkiye remains committed to Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and the protection of civilians, he said, adding that the situation of the Crimean Tatar Turks remains a priority.  He also spotlighted the rights of the Uyghur Turks and other Muslim minorities in China, the Rohingya in Myanmar, women and girls in Afghanistan, and millions of people in Syrian.

ANTJE LEENDERTSE (Germany), aligning herself with the European Union, said aggression continues to be among the greatest threat to human rights.  Condemning the indiscriminate attacks by Hamas across Israel and expressing horror about the attack on the fully operational Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza, she also voiced concern about the Russian Federation’s continued war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine.  Respect for freedoms of expression, assembly and association are crucial in creating strong and resilient societies, she said, noting that the protection of human rights defenders from repression and reprisal is key. Repression and violation of human rights cannot be considered as internal matters of sovereignty, as they affect international obligations and because their effects transcend borders, she stressed.  Her delegation will be co-facilitating the resolution on the human rights to water and sanitation as well as the resolution on national human rights institutions.  Highlighting the historic and moral responsibility associated with past injustice, she said Germany is committed to constructive dialogue with countries seeking the return of cultural artifacts. 

ANDRÉS EFREN MONTALVO SOSA (Ecuador) sounded alarm over destruction of the hospital in Gaza, where hundreds were murdered. “Hospitals must be sanctuaries to preserve human lives, not scenes of death and destruction,” he asserted, adding that respect for international humanitarian law is an imperative of the international community.  He reiterated his Government’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights through specific actions, including those aimed at strengthening multilateralism.  Voicing support for human rights mechanisms, including those on eradication of poverty, malnutrition, gender-based violence and climate change, he said that, at the local level, Ecuador is working with OHCHR to protect human rights.  Dealing with all facets of migration, Ecuador has measures for safe, orderly and responsible migration, tackling networks and illicit trafficking of migrants.

ANDY ARON (Indonesia), aligning with ASEAN, said his country stands in firm solidarity with the Palestinian people. He condemned the implementation of a collective punishment policy by the occupying Power in Gaza, where horrifying attacks against civilian facilities, including hospitals, have resulted in the tragic loss of at least 500 lives.  “These acts not only go against every grain of humanity, but also defied the very essence of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” he said. Indonesia calls for an urgent immediate ceasefire to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches those in dire need. With ASEAN, Indonesia is committed to fostering dialogue to enhance cooperation for the enduring promotion and protection of human rights.  Domestically, Indonesia remains equally resolute in its commitment.  One significant milestone towards acknowledging historical injustice and fostering reconciliation came earlier this year when Indonesia's President acknowledged past rights violations. 

REIN TAMMSAAR (Estonia), aligning himself with the European Union, said his country is deeply worried about deteriorating human rights situations in many parts of the world, including Afghanistan, Sudan, Syria, Iran, Myanmar and the Middle East.  “Estonia strongly condemns the brutal attacks by the terrorist organization Hamas against Israel,” he said, calling for the immediate release of hostages and underscoring that solving this crisis must be fully in line with international humanitarian law.   “The protection of civilians should be imperative,” he underlined.  Turning to the Russian Federation’s full-scale war against Ukraine, he said it is a severe breach of the Charter of the United Nations. “In March, the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova for the war crimes of unlawful deportation of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia,” he stressed.

Interactive Dialogues – Right to Education

In the afternoon, the Committee further elaborated on the theme “Promotion and protection of human rights”, with interactive dialogues featuring presentations by:  Farida Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on the right to education; Alexandra Xanthaki, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights; and Muluka-Anne Miti-Drummond, Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism.

Ms. SHAHEED, presenting her report on “Right to education” (A/78/364), said it reviews human rights of teachers, their conditions of work and challenges to their crucial role in full realization of the right to education.  She stressed that teachers are too often undervalued and undercompensated and sometimes live below the poverty line, even in some high-income countries. “UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization] estimates we need some 69 million more teachers to achieve the goal of providing primary and secondary education for all by 2030, but 48 per cent of respondents of a major survey do not think teaching is an attractive profession for young people,” she noted, adding that teacher shortage leads to overcrowded classrooms, overworked teachers and lowering of skills required for teaching. 

“Even when resources are very limited, States should allocate a sufficient proportion of the national budget for education and ensure that the money is used effectively and equitably to guarantee education for all and to redress inequalities,” she underscored, recalling that States’ obligations towards teachers derive from international standards that require States to ensure the right of everyone to inclusive, equitable and quality education. This means that teachers — most of whom are public sector employees or civil servants — have a general legal status as public employees and a special legal status derived from their leading role in the realization of the fundamental right to education.  She spotlighted internationally recognized rights of teachers encompassing the right to work, to adequate remuneration, training and professional development, decent working conditions, academic freedom and professional autonomy, access to information and knowledge as well as the right to form trade unions and associations, participate in social and policy dialogues and educational reforms. 

She underlined that the report calls for direct, open and meaningful participation of teachers in educational decision-making and reforms through robust dialogue.  Also, teacher training is a key tool to progressively realize all aspects of the right to education, especially for making education more adaptable, inclusive and responsive to current challenges.  “To boost inclusion in education, teacher diversity must mirror student diversity in terms of gender, disability, language, origin, etc,” she said, adding that teachers are important agents of change and lead by example. 

In the ensuing interactive dialogue, delegates shared positive developments in their countries, expressed concern over the double-edged sword of new technologies and asked how to overcome inequality in education.

The representative of Cuba said that education is a right for everyone in his country.  He asked the Rapporteur about the impact of unilateral coercive measures on education, students, teachers and the right to education itself.

The representative of Morocco detailed her country’s 2022 to 2026 road map to increase inclusive participation in schools.  She asked the expert how best to use new technologies to fight disinformation in the educational environment.

The representative of Romania expressed alarm over students in conflict zones.  Responding to the war in Ukraine, her country has offered online courses for displaced children in their mother tongues.  She asked how States can improve support for refugees and internally displaced teachers.

The representative of Cameroon asked how to improve working conditions for teachers, considering ongoing security challenges.  Further, what role can institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank play in addressing conditions of teachers.

The representative of Kenya spotlighted challenges to teaching, including overcrowded classrooms and lack of access to professional development opportunities.  Worse, often teachers are not even involved in decisions affecting their curricula.  He asked about leveraging the skills of retired teachers to aid in stemming the current teacher shortage?

The representative of Bangladesh said that in 2015 teachers’ salaries were increased in his country by 100 per cent.  Further, a quota was introduced to address parity in schools.  He asked how to address the divide between in-person and digital learning. 

The representative of China said his Government takes fulfilling the right to education seriously, highlighting the country’s historic leap in education in both urban and rural areas.  Expressing concern that in some developed countries higher education opportunities are skewed toward the rich, he asked how inequality in education can be addressed. 

The representative of Israel expressed concern over a report by the non-governmental organization UN Watch, detailing how the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) continues to hire workers who call on students to murder Jews and encourage martyrdom.  This toxic incitement must end now, he said, noting that further funding will only result in more bloodshed.  He asked what measures might be taken by UNRWA and other institutions to combat hatred.

In response, Ms. SHAHEED said that teaching can be made more attractive to younger generations by ensuring that teachers have good compensation, welcoming such developments from some countries.  If teaching is not attractive financially, a teacher shortage will continue.  Further, they must receive continued training and take part in deciding what kind of training they need.  Efforts must also be made to include youth.  While they are often invited to the conversation, they rarely feel listened to and prepared to meet today’s challenges.  A network called Education in Emergencies offers support to teachers and students who have lived through trauma, she added. 

Unilateral coercive measures and austerity must be looked at carefully, as austerity results in a loss of teachers.  While digital education tools have been helpful, they are also problematic, she said, noting that they have been used for data mining, violating children’s right to privacy.  Calling on the international community to bridge gaps between rich and poor, urban and rural, she stressed that teachers receiving minimum pay cannot afford the cost of connecting online, much less new technology itself. Further, all educational material must promote peace and a human rights perspective for all, she said, noting that education is an empowering right, opening access to others.  However, without teachers, there will be no education, she said. 

Development and Cultural Rights

Ms. XANTHAKI presented her second report on “Development and cultural rights:  the international governance” (A/78/213).  It notes that the need for cultural rights in sustainable development is now being mentioned. She said that, while the General Assembly has recognized that such rights are important in implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), messages are still mixed and cultural development is omitted in policies on sustainable development. “Only when States understand the inclusive meaning of cultural rights as ways of life, and the need for them to be prioritised for sustainable development to be achieved, shall we see progress,” she said.  Her study found that some organizations have made tremendous efforts to protect cultures in sustainable development processes, but the protection of cultural development needs more, she said.  Further, organizations must reflect on how their policies affect cultural rights of local populations.  Their processes need to foster full respect for various identities, aspirations and natural resource-based livelihoods.  They need to protect the cultural heritage of all people in seeking development and ask people themselves which living practices for their cultural heritage need to be protected.

Organizations also need to identify the extent to which their policies disrespect cultural rights by using clear methods, expertise and by seeking the real voices of all people concerned, she said.  They should have human rights impact assessments that include cultural rights assessment, and employ experts with knowledge of cultural issues. Moreover, they must ensure that the free, prior and informed consent of the people reached with their policies is ensured.  Organizations need to be explicit about the link between sustainable development policies and cultural rights and the protection of cultural resources.  Some, like the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), apply cultural rights in many of their policies, but do not frame them in a cultural rights manner.  New policies need to be comprehensive, rather than adopt a piecemeal approach.  In addition, organizations must step back and interpret existing documents in a way that is consistent with cultural rights. In this way, international conventions continue to ensure their dynamic nature and stay relevant and reactive to current needs and understandings of our times.

The report also highlights the ongoing reluctance of a few international organizations to engage in a discussion on how their policies may hinder cultural development.  States must work within the remit of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a manner that considers values and aspirations of local populations in devising their policies and in decision-making.  Economic development is not contrary to respect for local values and ways of life. In actual truth, recent history has shown us that economic policies implemented by trade organizations can only be successful if they capture the priorities, wishes and values of the people they try to help, she said. 

When the floor opened for questions and comments, the representative of Cameroon asked Ms. Xanthaki to assess the work of the Third Committee and the Human Rights Council in the field of cultural rights.  What steps could be further taken by these bodies to increase interest in cultural rights? 

The delegate for the European Union, speaking in its capacity as Observer, noted that States and international organizations use human rights indicators in the monitoring and review of progress towards the SDGs and asked Ms. Xanthaki to elaborate on how cultural rights indicators can be used in this regard.

The representative of Ukraine characterized the destruction of cultural heritage in its territory by the Russian Federation as an attempt to destroy Ukraine's identity and part of its history.  In this regard, she asked what the most efficient way to preserve culture in a country in war is.

The delegate for the Russian Federation spoke of the aggressive campaign waged by the West to cancel Russian culture.  Specifically in Ukraine, this leads to a complete ban on Russian literature and TV channels, he said. 

The representative of the United States asked how survivors of attacks on their cultural rights, values and livelihoods can find peace, truth and justice.

The delegate for Malaysia asked for examples of best practices on the promotion and protection of cultural rights, which can be emulated by States as well as international development and trade organizations.

The delegate for Eritrea asked, while recognizing the diversity of cultural backgrounds and its impact on the ability to adequately reflect cultural rights, how it is possible to avoid the sentiments of cultural superiority displayed by some regions and countries during discussions in the multilateral system. 

The International Youth Organization for Ibero America delegate asked how to facilitate cooperation in cultural matters as well as the dissemination of cultural expressions of young people within the framework of the SDGs.

The representative of UNESCO asked how to improve monitoring of the impact of cultural conventions and recommendations on rights.

In her response, Ms. XANTHAKI said that more and more States understand that it is not possible to continue to compartmentalize human rights, development policies and fiscal policies and keep them separate. 

Responding to Cameroon’s question about what she could suggest to the Third Committee to increase interest in cultural rights, she proposed more collaboration among different entities.  In answer to Eritrea’s question on how to avoid sentiments of cultural superiority, she suggested returning to human rights and accepting that identities and ways of life should not be dehumanized.

With respect to the European Union’s question on indicators, she noted an absence of discussions on targets, goals and indicators.  As a consequence, nothing is done.  Everyone is focused on the existing SDGs, and culture and cultural rights are being left aside.  Some discussions, she said, could focus on the rights of vulnerable groups and, for example, Indigenous Peoples, but also on minorities, migrants, refugees and maintaining and developing their ways of life. 

She said she finds it extraordinary that there is no pressure on the World Bank or other organizations to conduct human rights impact assessments before, during and after their projects. Further, there is no pressure on States to structurally reverse these issues.

Finally, with respect to the Russian Federation, she said she has done a lot of work on the participation of Russian athletes in sports and continues to be very interested in the topic.

Persons with Albinism

Ms. MITI-DRUMMOND, presenting her report “Enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism” (A/78/167), highlighted the profound impact of climate change on persons with albinism, particularly on their right to life. Albinism is a rare, genetically inherited condition that affects people all over the world, regardless of ethnicity or gender.  The condition results in a lack of melanin pigment in the hair, skin, and eyes causing extreme vulnerability to sun exposure and visual impairments.  As such, persons with albinism are also considered as persons with disabilities.  Globally, persons with albinism are at much higher risk of developing skin cancer from ultraviolet radiation exposure compared to the general population.  In the African region, it is estimated that persons with albinism are up to 1,000 times more likely to develop skin cancer than those without albinism, she said, adding that an estimated 98 per cent of persons with albinism in the region have reportedly passed away by the age of 40.  Four fifths of these deaths are due to skin cancer. 

With the globally rising levels of UV rays, persons with albinism are even more at risk of contracting skin cancer, she said, emphasizing that it can be effectively prevented by using proper sunscreen and protective clothing and gear — whether it’s a simple wide-brim sunhat or long-sleeved shirt.  Yet, in countries where there are harsh hot and tropical climates, persons with albinism are unable to afford sunscreen and protective gear.  A good sunscreen can be a determinant of a prolonged life for a person with albinism, yet is considered a cosmetic product with a price tag that is out of the reach of many.  Exposure to climate change- related disasters and extreme weather events affect persons with albinism disproportionately, as it does with many people with disabilities. Food scarcity due to climate change is also an issue, particularly affecting children with albinism. Forcible displacement of persons with albinism from their communities by natural disasters are also reported, with environmental migration being now a commonly known phenomenon.  Persons with albinism are known to migrate due to climate-related impacts, thus falling into what are referred to as climate migrants. 

She also voiced concern over myths and misconceptions surrounding the condition, which have led to attacks and murders.  In the aftermath of climate disasters, protection for persons with albinism can be non-existent.  What is worse are when dangerous misbeliefs blame a famine or drought on the presence of persons with albinism in a community.  Killing and use of body parts in rituals have been reported as the result of dangerous false beliefs that this would bring better harvests or more favourable weather conditions.  There have also been reports of increased attacks due to increased poverty resulting from climate change-related disasters and a misbelief that selling the body parts of persons with albinism can provide quick access to wealth. Persons with albinism need to be represented in the climate change dialogue.  Detailing good practices, she noted that some countries are providing free sun protection products, protective clothing, and health screening for persons with albinism; also, some civil society organizations are working to produce sunscreen locally to enable better access for persons with albinism.

When the floor opened for questions and comments, the representative of the European Union, speaking in its capacity as observer, asked how Member States can increase awareness-raising for the specific needs of persons with albinism in the context of various challenges related to climate change.

The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania said that persons with albinism in her country are blamed for famine and drought, which is baseless.  Several measures have been taken to prevent killings of persons with albinism, including establishing a task force with police, investigators and prosecutors.  Awareness-raising campaigns have been conducted across Tanzania, she added.   

The representative of China said countries should take measures to eliminate discrimination against people with albinism, which was listed by China as a rare disease in 2018, providing patients with easy access to medical resources and protecting their rights.

The representative of Syria said that the report was one of the most painful to read, as it depicted the sufferings of people with albinism, mostly in Africa, and asked how the problem with selling human organs and bodies can be tackled.  “Why are we taking the floor?  Because we are suffering as well from that phenomenon,” he said.

Responding, Ms. MITI-DRUMMOND said that to increase awareness-raising with regards to persons with albinism and climate change, it is necessary to include such persons in related discussions and collect country-specific data on them and their needs.  “Listening to voices of people with albinism is essential,” she stressed, adding that many island nations affected by climate change have the highest incidence of people with albinism.  “They are not the only ones affected by climate change, but they are the most affected,” she emphasized, spotlighting increased ultraviolet rays, and not only in Africa. 

Access to sunscreens and sun-protective gear is essential for such persons, she continued, explaining that many countries treat them as a cosmetic product, not medicine, and that  many people with albinism live in poverty.  “I want to reiterate the need to ensure free access to sunscreen for all persons with albinism who cannot afford this — due to the impact of skin cancer on persons with albinism,” she said.  To bring an end to attacks, there is a need for education and awareness-raising to tackle these myths and misrepresentations of persons with albinism, she stated, calling on States to develop a deliberate plan of action.  She also reported that Panama’s law requires the provision of sunscreen to persons with albinism, while Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania also provide access to free sunscreen.

General Debate

BRANISLAV RADOVIĆ (Serbia) said his country is the first Member State that has adopted the “Leave no one behind” principle in its legislative and strategic acts.  “For more than two decades now, Serbia has drawn attention to the problems encountered by the non-Albanian population in its southern province of Kosovo and Metohija,” he stressed, adding that Serbia has over 210,000 internally displaced persons.  He also said his country has been on many refugees’ and migrants’ routes and, owing to experience with suffering endured by forcibly displaced persons, including refugees from wars in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, Serbia has developed good practices for coping successfully with the current refugee and migrant crises.  He also supported international efforts to address the question of forced displacement as a global humanitarian problem. 

MAJDA MOUTCHOU (Morocco) strongly condemned the Israeli bombing of the hospital in the Gaza Strip, which left hundreds dead and injured.  She called on all parties to protect civilians, respect international law and avoid new escalations in the region.  Nationally, the Constitution of her country guarantees human rights, she said, noting that it is based on principles of democracy, co-existence and dialogue.  It underlines the primacy of international instruments signed by the country.  She highlighted Morocco’s work with the treaty bodies.  Moreover, a recent royal letter announced its intention to review the family code to improve the rights of women and children, she said, noting that the preparation of such a reform will be carried out collectively, with many institutional stakeholders, and maintain openness to civil society groups.

BILLEL HASSANI (Algeria), aligning with the Arab Group, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the Group of Friends in Défense of the United Nations Charter, said protection of human rights requires defending oppressed peoples, which includesPalestinians as well as their right to peace and self-determination.  Reiterating his country’s call to end the assault on Palestinians and Gaza infrastructure, he reiterated Algeria’s full solidarity with the Palestinian people, calling on the international community to respond urgently to the situation as well as cooperate to establish an independent state within the 1967 borders.  Underscoring his country’s commitment to the protection of human rights, he said its 2020 Constitution established the Constitutional Court, the National Observatory of Civil Society and the Youth High Council.  Further, the document aims to remove barriers to participation for all, especially for women, addressing their insertion and promotion in the labour market. 

GARIKAI MANYANGA (Zimbabwe), aligning with the Southern African Development Community, with the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter and with China on behalf of a group of States, underscored the importance of cooperation and peer review in the promotion of human rights. Expressing concern that institutions are used for political gains, he said:  “Compromising the impartiality, non-selectivity and universality of the human rights treaty bodies renders them ineffective.”  The treaty bodies are good examples of these qualities, he added, noting that human rights and economic rights should be given equal standing. Zimbabwe reiterates its call to promote human rights, not just for a selected few who then police others, he said, noting that dialogue is the best approach to produce lasting solutions, whereas country-specific mechanisms are divisive.  The Government is committed to both the African Peer Review Mechanism and the Universal Periodic Review in that regard.  Zimbabwe reaffirms its full support and cooperation to the noble endeavors of the human rights architecture, he said.

KYAW MOE TUN (Myanmar) highlighted the devastating human rights situation of his country, stressing that since the coup, the military junta forces have murdered more than 4,100 civilians.  There have been arbitrary executions of democracy activists following the secret sham military trials.  There is currently no rule of law and legal safeguards to guarantee the people’s enjoyment of rights obligated by those international treaties. Just last week, 13 children were among 30 people killed by the military’s aerial attack against a camp for internally displaced persons in Laiza, Kachin State.  The junta forces are conducting indiscriminate airstrikes against the civilian population, brutal mass killings and burning of civilian homes.  In the 2023 report, the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar states: “There is strong evidence indicating that serious international crimes are being inflicted against the people in Myanmar.  There is also strong evidence that crimes against humanity have been committed, including rape in detention among others.”  He further underscored that the repatriation of the Rohingya from Bangladesh will never happen in a sustainable manner under the inhumane military and their safe return largely depends on how quickly Myanmar can get back on a path to democracy and the rule of law.

Ms. AL JARAD (Oman) expressed full satisfaction with Oman’s human rights achievements.  These plans place men, regardless of color and affiliation, at the center of development. She expressed concern over negative developments unfolding in the occupied Palestinian territories, which compromise human rights, especially the rights of Palestinian people under occupation. Hence, the international community needs to take a sincere stand against such dangerous breaches, including collective killing, the policy of starvation as a deterrent weapon to entrench hegemony and subjugation of people. 

GABRIELE CACCIA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, said Pope Francis has appealed to the consciences of men and women of good will to strive to safeguard the rights of those who are weakest and to combat the throwaway culture that affects the unborn, the sick, the disabled and the elderly.  The Holy See stresses that the true litmus test for the protection of human rights is the degree to which people in a country enjoy freedom of religion or belief.  He said the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 75 years ago is unfortunately still contradicted by a painful reality of violations, lack of religious freedom, wars and violence of all kinds.  These include genocides and mass deportations, the spread of new forms of slavery on a virtually global scale, such as trafficking in human beings, child soldiers, the exploitation of workers, illegal drug trafficking and prostitution.  Even in countries with democratic forms of Government, these rights are not always fully respected. 

Right of Reply

In exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Uganda rejected criticisms by the United States and Australia, adding that an explication of her country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act is required.  The law is in response to a recent widespread campaign to promote homosexuality in youth, impacting their education.  No one has been discriminated upon based on their sexuality.  The deliberate promotion of orientation, whether heterosexual or homosexual, is a private matter and will be prohibited, she said.  Moreover, the United States has the greatest number of bills concerning anti-LGBTQ people, including one, similarly informed by public outcry, against the rampant recruitment of children into homosexuality.  Further, the Act does not discriminate against anyone seeking medical care and will not affect progress on eradicating HIV.  She called on the international community to respect the country’s process.

China’s delegate rejected claims made by Western countries, especially the United States and United Kingdom.  He recalled that the assessment report on Xinjiang was rejected by the Human Rights Council, left to the dustbin of history.  The West will not destabilize the region, he said, adding that it has misperceived the current moment in history in trying to contain China.  Attacking his country under the pretext of human rights will not change the West’s track record, he added, recalling a history of racist violence in the United Kingdom and the United States, underscoring the latter’s hypocrisy on Israel and Palestine, which has drawn the anger of the Islamic world.  Western hypocrisy is the greatest obstacle to the protection of human rights. 

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, replying to statements made by the Republic of Korea and Japan, rejected provocative remarks by the Republic of Korea, whose false claims tarnish the image of his country, while continuous groundless claims by Japan on the so-called abduction issue have already been resolved. 

The representative of Iran, replying to the United States, France, Canada, Australia and other countries, said the United Nations is hosted by the most brutal and inhuman violator of human rights, which has no other interest other than to support the Israeli regime.  She also said that she is not surprized by the European Union’s accusations against her country or any other.  “Girls’ right to education is violated in France, since they cannot attend schools with Islamic dress codes,” she stressed.

The representative of Ukraine said the Russian Federation has been trying its best to destroy her country, its culture and anything associated with it.  But Ukraine still exists.  People in the occupied territories of Ukraine tend to hide their ethnic clothes, flags, books written in Ukrainian poetry, inter alia, so the Russian Federation army will not kill them.  Those who had Ukrainian flags in their homes were killed first, even children. Russian culture today means bullets, missiles and mines.  Russian so-called hospitality means death. 

The representative of the Russian Federation, replying to remarks by the United States, said his country, unlike its Western colleagues, attempted to take steps in the Security Council from the start that would have prevented the tragedy of an attack on Al-Ahli Hospital.  He stressed that, on October 16, the Russian Federation presented a short, purely humanitarian draft resolution on a ceasefire, prescribing several urgent measures designed to stop the violence and suffering of civilians, free hostages and prevent the humanitarian catastrophe.  Given the extremely tense situation, action has to be taken without delay, he said, adding that the draft was supported by a number of States, but the United States, United Kingdom, France and Japan voted against it.  Because of the position of these countries, the Security Council was unable to adopt a natural and logical decision, which was an absolute humanitarian imperative and a moral duty of all responsible members of the international community, he emphasized, stating that the blame for the deaths of hundreds of people in the Al-Ahli Hospital is in part with those States that blocked the adoption of the Russian Federation’s resolution in the Security Council on Monday. “But that is not the end of the story,” he said, adding that today Brazil submitted to the Security Council its draft on the humanitarian situation in Gaza.  It was supported by most States and only the United States voted against it once more, he stressed.  “I have to ask the representative of the United States a question: “How many more people must die, how many more innocent women and children must suffer for Washington to stop obstructing the provision of humanitarian assistance to the victims of the conflict and the salvation of people?”  After such votes in front of the whole world, any speculation by the United States sounds empty.  He called on Washington to come to its senses and stop inciting conflicts, covering up crimes and turning a blind eye to the suffering of thousands of innocent people.

For information media. Not an official record.