Third Committee Approves 12 Draft Resolutions, Including Texts on Palestinian Self-Determination, Promoting Democracy, Women Migrant Workers
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) approved 12 draft resolutions today on a wide range of topics, including the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, the role of the United Nations in promoting democratization and violence against women migrant workers.
The Committee approved a draft on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination (document A/C.3/78/L.24) by a recorded vote of 168 in favour to 5 against (Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, United States), with 9 abstentions (Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guatemala, Kiribati, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Togo, Tonga, Vanuatu). By the text, the General Assembly would stress the urgency of achieving without delay an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement between the Palestinian and Israeli sides.
Introducing the draft on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Egypt’s representative said the text demonstrates the international community’s continuous failure to ensure the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination. Against the background of Israel’s “relentless genocidal aggression” in Gaza, killing more than 10,000 civilians, the resolution gains particular significance, she said. However, actions on the ground indicate that the international community is unable to force Israel to respect international law, she added.
“This draft resolution is to confirm our existence and our homeland — our right to remain”, the observer for the State of Palestine said. The resolution demands the end of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land, as thousands of children have been killed, injured and displaced. The Nakba seems never-ending and is ongoing everywhere, she said, in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and beyond.
Israel’s delegate, meanwhile, said the resolution is a tool to undermine her country’s existence, stressing that Hamas is a terror organization that has nothing to do with Palestinian rights or freedom. Violent protests have nothing to do with promoting peace, but rather call for the annihilation of the State of Israel, she added. The 7 October attack was not an act of resistance or self-determination.
In further action, the Committee approved by consensus a draft on violence against women migrant workers (document A/C.3/78/L.21/Rev.1), by which the Assembly would urge Governments to strengthen efforts to reduce their vulnerability by promoting decent work, facilitating access to justice and supporting reintegration assistance for those who return.
The representative of the Philippines, introducing the draft, said that more than 69 million women migrant workers globally are often invisible, while contributing to the efforts of countries of origin and destination to step out of poverty. How the draft will be implemented matters most, he underscored.
Several delegations — including Senegal, Iran, Malaysia and Egypt — disassociated from the phrase “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination”. Egypt’s representative preferred the phrase “all forms of discrimination”, while others opposed any references to gender in the text. On the other hand, the delegates of Colombia and Mexico strongly supported the language, with the latter stressing the need to protect the reproductive rights of women migrants, given the high incidence of sexual assault.
Additionally, the Committee approved a draft on the role of the United Nations in promoting democratization (document A/C.3/78/L.51) by a recorded vote of 146 in favour to 1 against (Mali), with 25 abstentions. By its terms, the Assembly would emphasize that Member States are responsible for respecting the will of voters as expressed through periodic, free and fair elections by universal equal suffrage. The Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to provide the Electoral Assistance Division with adequate human and financial resources for it to carry out its mandate.
The Committee also approved draft resolutions on several other issues: protecting and assisting internally displaced persons; human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation; national human rights institutions; the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance; improving the situation of women and girls in rural areas; improving coordination against trafficking in persons, the thirtieth anniversary of the International Year of the Family; follow-up to the Second World Assembly on Ageing and the UN Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South-West Asia and the Arab Region.
Action on Draft Resolutions
The Committee turned to the draft titled “Preparations for and observance of the thirtieth anniversary of the International Year of the Family” (document A/C.3/78/L.15/Rev.1), which the Chair noted contains no programme budget implications.
The representative of Cuba, introducing the draft on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, noted that it is based on the resolution adopted by consensus last year. The new elements are the outcome of transparent, open negotiations, he said. Family policies and programmes are useful tools to combat exclusion and inequalities and help further the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The Committee then approved by consensus the draft, by which the Assembly would call on Member States, United Nations entities and other stakeholders to offer support to family members, including working parents, and provide access to full and productive employment, as well as effective, inclusive and gender-responsive social protection systems and public services, expanded child and family benefits, paid parental leave and sick leave, improved flexibility of working arrangements and investments in parenting education.
The Assembly would further call on Member States, United Nations entities and other stakeholders to promote preparations for the observance of the thirtieth anniversary of the International Year of the Family in 2024 through practical initiatives, including family-oriented policies and programmes responding to the needs of all families. Addressing that draft, the representative of Mexico, recognizing that the concept of family is subject to society’s evolution, regretted that the text does not go into more detail about diverse forms of family, including grandparents, in-laws, unmarried cohabitating couples, same-sex couples and adopted, divorced or widowed families. All references to the family are under the perspective of diversity. She also regretted that the draft does not emphasize family reunification policies.
The representative of the United States, while supporting the resolution, expressed disappointment that the draft does not include consensus language from the Human Rights Council’s fifty-fourth session proactively recognizing all families. The draft promotes narrow visions of family that impede gender equality, undermine the rights of women and girls and exclude LGBTQI persons and their roles in families. Diverse families exist everywhere in the world, as a fact, not a politicized statement. He hoped that next year’s text and events celebrating the anniversary will be inclusive of diverse families globally.
Uruguay’s delegate, expressing support for the resolution, highlighted the inclusion of references to gender-based violence because it often comes from within the family. A family’s main role should be to protect women and girls, and it is necessary to protect families in all their diversity. This diversity is often a main cause of discrimination, preventing victims from fully living out their rights. Resolutions on the family should consider the various types that exist, such as single-parent families and those led by LGBTQ+ individuals.
The representative of the United Kingdom, reiterating its commitment to the principle of family unity, said the resolution could have been improved by acknowledging countries’ respective immigration laws and systems. In line with the fundamental principle of State sovereignty, States have a right to determine their own migration policies and laws. Regarding her country’s refugee family reunification policy, she emphasized that the child’s best interest is a primary, but not the only, consideration. The United Kingdom is committed to taking an inclusive approach that considers the needs of all families, no matter how they are composed.
The delegate for Belarus, reiterating its commitment to global cooperation on family issues, invited all interested States to join the Group of Friends of the Family to develop coordinated measures to strengthen family-oriented strategies as part of a comprehensive approach to development.
The representative of Spain, speaking on behalf of the European Union, regretted that most of its proposals were not accepted in the text, such as inclusion of quality education, gender-sensitive policies and education about gender-based violence and multiple overlapping forms of discrimination. She also regretted that the draft does not include new language on childcare. Families are living entities and different situations require adapted policies. All debates about family policy should recognize different cultural and economic systems. She regretted that new wording on the “well-being of the family” does not explicitly include diversity. Policies should account for diversity in full respect of human rights.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution titled “Follow-up to the Second World Assembly on Ageing” (document A/C.3/78/L.16/Rev.1), which the Chair noted contains no programme budget implications.
Introducing the draft, the representative of Cuba said “L.16/Rev.1” is based largely on the draft passed last year by consensus. He underscored the value of social development based on the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, recognizing the contribution of older persons to society. The international community should offer a better response to their needs, he added. The Group of 77 and China would welcome an approval by consensus, he said, noting that, if a vote is called, the Group would encourage delegations to vote in favour.
In explanation of position before the action, the representative of Argentina hailed the adoption of the draft by consensus, noting that the draft is relevant to the entire world, as ageing is universal. Recognizing the important support of other delegations and the Group of 77 and China, she welcomed additions to the text, including recognition of care work for adult women, the encouragement of States to ensure meaningful participation in economic life, a call to include older women in UN processes and the possibility of incorporating them into delegations.
The representative of the Russian Federation noted that his country takes the everyday care of older persons seriously. The Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing and the Open-Ended Working Group could further contribute to this work. While operative paragraph 66 proposes to change the format of the Working Group, such changes are premature, he said. Given that there is no consensus on basic issues, it would risk paralysing the Group’s work and its outcomes. His country dissociates from operative paragraph 66.
Approved by consensus, the draft would have the General Assembly voice concern that many health systems are not sufficiently prepared to respond to the needs of the rapidly ageing population. It would also voice deep concern over the increasing number and scale of humanitarian emergencies and their impact on older persons, particularly older women. The Assembly would urge Member States to promote healthy and active ageing and develop health care for older persons as part of primary care in the existing health systems, in addition to strengthening intersectoral policy frameworks for the integrated management of the prevention and control of non-communicable disease.
Speaking after the approval, the representative of Malaysia underscored the importance of the issue for his country, as it will become an “aged nation” by 2030. He dissociated from preambular paragraph 19 and operative paragraph 27, rejecting the term “multiple and intersecting forms”.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution titled “Violence against women migrant workers” (document A/C.3/78/L.21/Rev.1), which the Chair noted contains no programme budget implications.
Introducing the draft “L.21/Rev.1”, the representative of the Philippines, also speaking for Indonesia, noted that the more than 69 million women migrant workers across the globe are often invisible, while contributing to the efforts of countries of origin and destination to step out of poverty. The text highlights the role that digital technology may play in increasing the risk of violence they face and encourages States to establish policies to provide these workers access to technology. The text also expresses concern that women migrants are more likely to be forced to work under deplorable conditions, calling on Governments to put in place zero-tolerance policies towards all forms of violence and harassment, racism and related intolerance against migrant women, he said, adding that how it will be implemented going forward matters most.
The representative of Spain, speaking on behalf of the European Union, highlighted grave risks that migrant workers face, including trafficking and exploitation. She voiced regret that some language suggested by the bloc was not included in the text, specifically on gender-based violence, working conditions that some women migrants face and mental health. The resolution highlights the importance of access to health care, she said, but she lamented changes to language on access to reproductive health care, as interruptions to it can have a negative impact on women migrant workers. The bloc supports its full implementation.
The representative of Egypt welcomed adoption of the draft, considering the positive role that migrant workers play in sustainable development. Egypt stresses the need to enhance regular migration, meeting demands of the labour market and guaranteeing safe and regular migration. The country hosts more than 9 million migrant workers and has 14 million Egyptians working abroad. His country maintains its position that some paragraphs are not updates to previous language, dissociating from preambular paragraph 30 and operative paragraph 2, rejecting the phrase “multiple and intersecting forms” and noting his preference for “all forms of discrimination”.
The representative of Senegal said that, in a world full of violence, particularly against women, all measures to empower them and ensure they have access to justice and impunity must be taken. Highlighting Senegal’s commitments on the issue, she dissociated from the phrases “multiple and intersecting forms” and “marginalized groups of women” throughout the text. She recalled that the “concept of gender” refers only to relations between men and women.
The representative of Iran said that the protection of migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons remains a high priority for her delegation, which joined consensus. Dissociating from preambular paragraphs 31, 32 and 36 as well as operative paragraph 2, she underscored the non-legally-binding nature of the Global Compact for Migration. Her delegation’s position remains the same, she said, welcoming consensus on the draft.
The representative of Niger said that eliminating all violence against migrant workers is important to his country. Niger ratified the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families in 2009 and adopted legislation in line with it. His delegation aligned with consensus but dissociates from the term “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination”. Addressing comments of the treaty bodies, he said that Niger rejects any attempt to legitimize revision of the rights of States, recalling the principles of sovereignty and consent under the law of treaties. Niger does not support ideological attempts to reinterpret “gender” outside the accepted definition of difference between male and female. This statement applies to all references to the term going forward, he said.
The representative of Colombia noted that the discrimination of migrant women is specifically intersecting as they suffer from discrimination as migrants and as women. Her delegation considers this a central term, stressing that delegations will not undermine the Committee’s work.
Approving the draft by consensus, “L.21/Rev.1” would have the General Assembly express deep concern at continuing reports of grave abuses committed against migrant women and girls, including femicide, racism and trafficking in persons. It would also express deep concern that migrant women in informal employment may have limited legal protection and labour rights, increasing the risk of exploitation. It would express further concern over the use of technology for extortion and to broadcast sexual violence perpetrated by smugglers to the community of migrant women, further stigmatizing and degrading them.
Further to the text, the Assembly would urge Governments to enhance all levels of cooperation to address violence against women migrant workers to strengthen efforts to reduce their vulnerability by promoting decent work through measures, including minimum wage policies, facilitating access to justice and supporting enhanced reception and reintegration assistance for those who return, especially for victims of trafficking. It would also urge States to adopt national gender-responsive migration policies and legislation to protect the human rights of all migrant women and girls, regardless of migration status.
Speaking after the approval, the representative of Hungary, associating with the European Union, reaffirmed its commitment to human rights law, and recalled that migration is not a human right. All States have a right to manage the phenomenon as they see fit. Furthermore, the international community should not promote migration as a solution to domestic problems and should address root causes of it instead, especially for women’s migration. Recalling that Hungary voted against the Global Compact for Migration, the delegate said the country dissociates from all paragraphs mentioning it.
The representative of Iraq hailed consensus but emphasized that, according to his country’s legislation, “gender” represents “males and females” and dissociates from any other interpretation. It does not support the outcomes of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, he added, dissociating from all mentions of “intersectionality”.
The representative of Malaysia underscored its commitment to the rights of migrants, dissociating from the term “multiple and intersecting forms”.
The representative of Mexico noted that her country is an origin, destination and return country, adding that migration affects women in a unique way. Welcoming new elements in the resolution addressing violence against migrant workers, she said Mexico joined consensus. Her delegation supports references to multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, she added, noting that persons affected by the draft are both women and migrants. Their reproductive rights must be protected, given the high incidence of sexual assault among women migrants, she stressed, noting that her delegation will continue to advocate for strengthening the resolution to provide women migrant workers in all their diversity with the highest degree of protection.
The representative of Gambia underscored the country’s commitment to human rights for migrant workers, noting that it joined consensus. However, terms such as “multiple and intersecting forms of violence” are not compatible with its values, and Gambia dissociates from the language throughout the draft “in letter and spirit”.
The representative of Libya dissociated from paragraphs containing “multiple and intersecting forms” in multiple paragraphs, noting that the term “gender” in national law refers to the difference between “male and female”.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution titled “Improvement of the situation of women and girls in rural areas” (document A/C.3/78/L.22/Rev.1), which the Chair noted contains no programme budget implications.
The representative of Mongolia, introducing the draft resolution, said that rural women and girls are key to achieving virtually all Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Empowering them contributes significantly to local and national economies, social development, environmental management, and fostering a fair and just world for all. He further added that seven rounds of informal meetings and numerous bilateral meetings were organized to update the resolution’s language; however, the substance of the resolution was changed. He expressed deep concern that, while women contribute more than 50 per cent of food produced worldwide, they account for 70 per cent of the world’s hungry. He went on to encourage Member States to enhance safe, accessible, and inclusive digital connectivity in rural areas to promote the access of rural women and girls to digital services in areas such as health, education and other relevant areas.
Addressing the draft, the representative of Nigeria said sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights should be interpreted in accordance with her country’s national laws. Dissociating from “ambiguous interpretation of discrimination” in the text of the resolution, she added that national interpretation of the term “gender” in this and other resolutions remains as “biological male and female”. She further said that her country would not endorse any outcomes produced within conferences that were not convened under the auspices of the UN General Assembly.
The representative of Iran, detailing national efforts to promote the rights of women and girls in rural areas, said his country joined consensus on the resolution, but opposed the wording “controversial non-consensus-based or ambiguous terminology” and dissociated himself from preambular paragraph 14 and operative paragraph 2S.
The representative of Nicaragua expressed his country’s position regarding the paragraphs on sexual and reproductive rights. He said these rights cannot be understood as promotion of abortion or the use of abortion as family planning, while termination of pregnancy and abortion “could in no way be seen as a control of fertility or birth rate”. He added that, according to Nicaragua’s legislation, “each person has the right to life and it is inalienable from the point of conception”.
The representative of Colombia, as a co-sponsor of the resolution, expressed hope that a new version of the resolution will comprehensively reflect such themes as armed conflicts in the Women, Peace and Security agenda as well as access to healthcare and services for victims of discrimination in rural areas and recognize the role of rural women in ending illicit crops.
The representative of Niger said that, although his country joined consensus on the resolution, it will interpret the term “gender-based sexual health care” in accordance with traditional values, adding that this term does not mean that abortion is a human right or a means of family planning. He further stressed that his country will implement this resolution in line with the values and customs adopted in his country’s society.
The representative of Egypt said that the resolution included terms with vague interpretation, including “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination” coupled with the notion of violence. She added that the term was factually incorrect because violence cannot be multiple and intersecting. Turning to the term “discrimination”, she said that it did not appear in the text as defined in a legal context.
The representative of Mauritania pointed to the interpretation of sexual and reproductive health, emphasizing that it should not be confined solely to health programmes approved by authorities, but should align with frameworks set forth by international conferences, such as the International Conference on Population Development and the Beijing Declaration and Programme for Action. She further expressed regret over the use of the term “intersecting” and the mention of various forms of discrimination in certain paragraphs, fearing potential misinterpretation. On the use of the term “gender” in the resolution, she said her country applies it “strictly to biological males and females” in line with domestic laws and national values.
The representative of Syria said his country supported comments made by the representatives of Egypt and Mauritania.
The Committee then approved the draft by consensus, by which the General Assembly would express deep concern that, globally, a quarter of employed women around the world work in agriculture, yet they are relegated to informal, low-paid, labour-intensive and vulnerable jobs and that, while women contribute more than 50 per cent of the food produced worldwide, they account for 70 per cent of the world’s hungry. It would be further concerned that many rural women continue to be economically disadvantaged because of their limited access to opportunities and disproportionate share of unpaid care and domestic work. The Assembly would emphasize that rural women’s poverty can place them at increased risk of violence that can impede their social and economic development.
The Assembly would urge Member States to attach greater importance to the improvement of the situation of rural women and girls in their national, regional and global development strategies by, inter alia: Pursuing the political and socioeconomic empowerment of rural women and supporting their full and equal participation in decision-making at all levels; provide access to health, including emergency obstetric care, and support for the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, and ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights; and mobilizing targeted programmes that provide women with capital, knowledge and tools that enhance their economic capacities.
Speaking after the approval, the representative of Mexico welcomed emphases on the significant role of women in rural areas, particularly in agriculture, as well as on the differential impact of climate change on women. While endorsing the resolution, she called for stronger references to sexual and reproductive health for rural women, aligning with international frameworks such as the 2030 Agenda, International Conference on Population and Development, and the Beijing Declaration and Programme for Action.
The representative of Spain, speaking on behalf of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, welcomed new elements introduced in the resolution, such as the full, equal, effective and meaningful participation and decision-making of women in the context of climate change, environmental degradation and disaster risk reduction. She regretted the absence of a reference to sexual and reproductive health, considering it a critical component for the well-being of women and girls in rural areas. Looking ahead, she said the European Union anticipates further improvements in the resolution during its renegotiation in two years.
The representative of Iraq dissociated himself with the outcomes of review conferences of the Beijing Declaration and Programme for Action which were not held under the auspices of the United Nations. On the use of the term “gender” in the resolution, he said his country applies it to biological males and females in line with national legislation and dissociated from other interpretation.
The representative of Yemen, raising concerns about certain principles in the resolution that lack international agreement and are inconsistent with Islamic doctrine, said her delegation interprets the concept of sexual and reproductive health and rights according to national health programs and agreements from international conferences. She further emphasized that the term “gender” indicates biological men and women.
The representative of New Zealand welcomed the inclusive language of the resolution, recognizing the diverse needs of women and girls in rural, remote and island areas. Highlighting disparities in accessing sexual and reproductive health services in these regions, she called for stronger language on sexual and reproductive health and rights. She expressed disappointment over the lack of agreement on this issue, noting that human rights violations, including sexual and gender-based violence, are higher for those facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. She also expressed support for language on gender-responsive budgeting.
The representative of Australia, highlighting challenges faced by women and girls in rural areas, cited her country’s disparities in sexual and reproductive health outcomes, such as higher rates of teenage pregnancy as well as maternal and neonatal deaths. In this regard, she called for the inclusion of sexual and reproductive health in the resolution, a proposition consistently rejected by some Member States. She stressed that sexual and reproductive health is agreed language, present in numerous resolutions and global declarations. The rejection of this language is seen as a troubling regression of women and girls’ rights, reinforcing systemic barriers. She expressed hope that she will co-sponsor future resolutions that will promote sexual and reproductive rights for women and girls in rural areas.
The representative of Malaysia, pointing to the term “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination” contained in preambular paragraph 14 and operative paragraph 2S, said his country will interpret this term in line with its national laws, values and customs.
The representative of Indonesia noted that, with the population of Indonesian women and girls reaching more than 136 million people, they are at the core of Indonesia’s development agenda. Emphasizing the need for unity rather than division in the discussions on women and girls in rural areas, he pledged ongoing support for unified efforts in women’s empowerment. He stressed that his country will implement the resolution in alignment with national realities and priorities, while noting a reservation about the term “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination”.
The representative of Oman, speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council — the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait — said it joined the resolution by consensus, but will interpret the term “sexual reproductive health” in line with national laws.
The representative of Senegal encouraged Member States to invest in the fight against poverty and reduction of inequalities, which impede the full implementation of women’s rights and their empowerment in rural areas. She disassociated herself from the term “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination” and added that the concept of “gender” pertains to relations between men and women.
The representative of Burkina Faso, noting that over 80 per cent of the population resides in rural areas, particularly women, welcomed the resolution’s focus on improving the situation of women and girls, especially in the context of climate change. She dissociated herself from “nonconceptual” terms such as “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination”, adding that gender roles are culturally justified and should be interpreted according to national legal framework and culture, without international interference.
The representative of the United States, welcoming references in the resolution to impacts of gender stereotypes, unequal care work, precarious work conditions, malnutrition and food insecurity on rural women and girls, expressed concern over these factors, which compound the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and the sexual and gender-based violence experienced by women and girls in rural areas. She regretted the loss of critical language during the negotiation process, particularly references regarding access to sexual and reproductive health as well as exclusion of references to voluntary guidelines on gender equality and women’s empowerment in the context of food security and the absence of references to Security Council Resolution 1325 and the Women, Peace, and Security agenda.
The representative of Algeria, underscoring the importance of considering the cultural and social context of each State when addressing the needs of women and girls, said that references to health and gender in the resolution should be interpreted within the framework of national legislation. She also disassociated herself from the concept of “multiple and intersecting forms of violence”.
The representative of Gambia emphasized that his delegation will interpret the term “gender” in line with his country’s values, customs and laws. He also rejected alternative definitions such as “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination”, deeming them inconsistent with Gambia’s values and, as such, dissociated from them throughout the resolution.
The representative of Libya, noting that his country joined consensus, pointed to terms such as “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination”, "access to sexual and reproductive health” and “gender”, which his delegation will interpret in line with its national legislation and principles of its Muslim religion.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution titled “The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination” (document A/C.3/78/L.24), which the Chair noted contains no programme budget implications.
The representative of Egypt, introducing the draft on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said that, despite it being only a technical update, the text demonstrates that the international community has continuously failed in ensuring the enjoyment by the Palestinian people of their right to self-determination. The resolution gains a particular significance against the background of the ongoing relentless and persistent genocidal aggression of Israel — the occupying Power — in Gaza, killing more than 10,000 civilians, including more than 4,000 children, more than 3,000 women and more than 600 older persons. The actual numbers amount to more, she added. This is in addition to other violations of the human rights of Palestinians under occupation in Gaza and other occupied Palestinian territories. The violence against civilians in the West Bank and establishment of illegal settlements violates international law and Israel’s genocidal aggression amounts to crimes against humanity, she said. Furthermore, the bombing of civilian infrastructure — including hospitals, schools, places of worship and houses — is a war crime, and the targeting of humanitarian convoys and killing of humanitarian actors and journalists is a violation of international law. So is the forced displacement of civilians, she said.
A recorded voted was then requested.
Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, the representative of Palestine said: “They destroyed my city, they destroyed my beloved Gaza, they destroyed my school and my university, they displaced my family, under the rubble are our photo albums, our birthday songs, our mothers’ comforting prayers, our fathers’ hard work and many shattered souls and bodies.” Four thousand is now the number of Palestinian children killed; furthermore, 1,500 children remain under the rubble, hundreds of children remain unclaimed and thousands of children are injured or displaced, cold and hungry, shocked and scared. “We have reached the last frontier, we have reached the last sky — and this war on Gaza has not ended,” she said, noting that the Nakba seems never-ending; it is ongoing everywhere, in Gaza, in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and beyond. In Gaza, in just a matter of 30 days, “they have erased our lives”, she said, pointing to communication blackouts. “This draft resolution is to confirm our existence and our homeland — our right to remain”, she said — adding that it demands the end of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and reaffirms the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination.
The representative of Indonesia underscored that the right of Palestinians to self-determination is not only a moral imperative but a legal one. The Palestinian people have the inherent right to freely determine their political status. The situation in Gaza, however, tells a different story. The events since 7 October reinforce the illegal actions of Israel, which amount to an invasion. There is no justification for this action, she stressed, adding that the international community must avoid double standards. The cessation of Israel’s illegal occupation is a requirement under international law. It is time to affirm the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination “with more than just words”, ensuring that all nations are held to the same standards when it comes to international law. She called on all States to vote in favour.
The representative of Israel recalled that, in an interview from 24 October, Ghazi Hamad from the Hamas political bureau said that the attacks were just the first time and there will be a second and third, with one objective only — the annihilation of Israel. The 7 October attack was not an act of resistance or self-determination but “an act of savagery by a genocidal terrorist organization which openly calls for the destruction of Israeli people”. Following the attacks, anti-Semitism and delegitimization of Israel have reached unprecedented levels, she said, noting that an orchestrated political lynch affecting all corners of the world has been launched. Stressing that Hamas is a terror organization which has nothing to do with Palestinian rights or freedom, she said this resolution is not about self-determination but a tool to undermine Israel’s very existence. The violent protests, during which the slogan “from the river to the sea” is being called out, have nothing to do with the promotion of peace; instead, they call for the annihilation of the State of Israel. She also reiterated her call for the release of hostages in Gaza.
The representative of Iran spotlighted the long-standing denial of the Palestinian legitimate right to self-determination in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The world is witnessing the intensification of the Israeli regime’s violence and atrocities, including against children, women and journalists, in full view of the international community. Stressing the need to secure the right of Palestinians to self-determination, she encouraged others to show their opposition to Israel’s genocidal regime’s crimes against humanity.
The representative of South Africa said the State of Palestine remains occupied and continues to be denied its right to coexist as a State. The Palestinian people’s right to self-determination must be respected and fulfilled, he said, opposing the excessive retaliation by Israel. Highlighting their 75-year struggle for self-determination, he underlined the importance of international law and rejected selectivity. “The rule of law applies to all, not only to a select few”, he added. Expressing support for the two-State solution, he called on Israel to end illegal settlements.
On a point of order, Egypt’s delegate asked who requested the vote, to which the Chair responded that it was Israel.
The resolution was approved by a recorded vote of 168 in favour to 5 against (Israel, Marshal Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and the United States), with 9 abstentions (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Guatemala, Kiribati, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Tongo, Tonga and Vanuatu).
By its terms, the General Assembly would stress the urgency of achieving without delay an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967, and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement between the Palestinian and Israeli sides, based on relevant resolutions of the United Nations, the Madrid terms of reference, including the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative 10 and the Quartet road map to a permanent two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It would further stress the need for respect for and preservation of the territorial unity, contiguity and integrity of all the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. The Assembly would urge all States, specialized agencies and organizations of the United Nations system to continue to support and assist the Palestinian people in early realization of their right to self-determination.
Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of Cuba said this draft is “more timely than ever”. Before everyone’s eyes and with the blatant complicity of the United States, Israel is committing what can only be described as genocide. Its bombardments of Gaza, forced displacement and collective punishment of Palestinians constitute grave violation of international humanitarian law, war crimes and crimes against humanity. History did not begin on 7 October, he stressed, adding that the Palestinian people have been suffering violations of their rights and property and apartheid against them for decades.
The representative of Malaysia cited the right to self-determination as a core UN principle, noting that his delegation voted in favour. Pointing to the blatant refusal by apartheid Israel to respect the two-State solution, killing more than 10,000 civilians, he said: “The oppressive Occupier does not get the play victim.” Accordingly, he called for the establishment of an independent State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The representative of Germany, voicing support for the two-State solution, said his country stands in solidarity with Israel, which has the right to defend itself in accordance with international law, and condemned Hamas’ acts of terror.
The representative of Argentina, noting that his delegation voted in favour, reaffirmed the right of Palestinians to an independent State.
The representative of the United Kingdom expressed support for the two-State solution and noted that this stance does not undermine his country’s solidarity with Israel after the 7 October attacks. Hamas does not speak in the interest of the Palestinian people, who are experiencing a devastating humanitarian crisis in Gaza, while violence is rising in the West Bank.
The representative of the United States said his country remains committed to the right of Palestinians to self-determination. Regrettably, his delegation cannot support this resolution as it is one-sided and will not help achieve the aspirations of the Palestinian people. Hamas terrorizes Israel and uses Palestinian civilians as human shields, he stressed, adding that visions must be centred around the two-State solution.
The representative of Egypt said actions on the ground indicate that the international community is unable to force Israel to respect international law.
The representative of Bangladesh underscored that Palestinians have been living under Israel’s brutal occupation for over seven decades. Condemning what current military operations have unleashed, she said the killing of 11,000 civilians in just one month demonstrates Israel’s disregard for international law. She further condemned Israel’s attempt to use the right to self-defence for its indiscriminate attacks and denial of humanitarian access. Accordingly, she called for a humanitarian truce and investigation into violations of international humanitarian law and rules of war in Gaza, including by the International Criminal Court, and for the immediate end of Israel’s occupation.
The representative of Syria said the Palestinian people are in desperate need of the right to life, before the right to self-determination. Some 4,000 children have been killed so far; by the time of the adoption of this resolution, the number might be 10,000, he warned.
Right of Reply
In exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Israel said that suffering in Gaza as a result of Hamas’ declaration of war on 7 October against Israel is “heartbreaking”. “This is not a war we wanted,” she added, noting that Hamas declared war with “horrifying cruelty” — mutilating children in front of their parents and burning families alive. Hamas exploits citizens in Gaza, seizing humanitarian aid and firing rockets from densely populated areas, while embedding terror cells in and under hospitals, UN buildings and schools — itself, a war crime. To move civilians out of harm’s way, Israel encouraged civilians in northern Gaza to move “temporarily”, she underscored, until the fighting ceases. Hamas prevented this movement. It is a genocidal terrorist organization, vowing to annihilate the Jewish people, she stressed. Hamas is committing war crimes against its own population, she said, adding: “If you want self-determination and to live in peace, look at your leaders. See where they are bringing you.” Israel does not want this situation but has no other choice than to protect itself and its borders against all threats. There are two sides in this war, and the terror organization can end it.
Next, the representative of Syria said that, if, as his Israeli colleague said, “this is not a war that we want”, then the country does want war in general — just not this one. Recalling her use of the word “temporary” regarding the movement of northern Gazans, he highlighted that today is 10 November. “Temporary” is similar to what Israel said in 1948 and 1967, and yet the crimes have continued from 1948 until today, he said. Noting that Arabs are Semitic people, he asked: “Are we against each other?” Such logic would be similar to the people of Italy being against the people of Italy. Israel is victimizing itself, biding time, and will never allow the return of Gazans. There will be no State of Palestine in this case, he warned.
The observer for the State of Palestine called on the Israeli representative to read the resolution again. The text does not cancel out any nation or reduce any people’s human rights, but rather calls for enabling the Palestinian people to exercise their right to self-determination on their own land. More than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed in 30 days, she said, and 70 per cent were women and children. There is something wrong with Israel’s military conduct in Gaza, she stressed. It is absolutely wrong to suggest that Israel is trying to protect civilians there. Furthermore, hundreds have been killed and displaced in the West Bank by Israel, with 2023 the deadliest year for Palestinians there since 2005. There is an alternative reality, she said, with no occupation or conflict and no Israelis or Palestinians killed, with shared peace and security. “Isn’t that the goal we share?” she asked. “We need to save lives now,” she urged.
Action on Draft Resolutions
Next, the Committee took up the draft resolution titled “National human rights institutions” (document A/C.3/78/L.27), which the Chair noted contains no programme budget implications.
The representative of Germany, introducing the resolution, said it sets the framework for cooperation between the United Nations system, national human rights institutions and the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions. Currently, there are almost 120 national human rights institutions globally, which operate either fully or partially in compliance with the so-called Paris Principles, including 33 in Africa, 18 in the Americas, 28 in the Asia Pacific and 38 in Europe. Underscoring the global presence of national human rights institutions, he said the resolution enjoys strong cross-regional support. Pointing to substantial changes, he said the resolution focuses on the pressing issue of climate change by acknowledging the contributions of national human rights institutions towards combating it. Secondly, the resolution highlights the positive impact of national human rights institutions on successful implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Noting that the pace of progress in establishing national human rights institutions must be increased, he drew attention to the latest SDGs report, which states that the annual growth rate of the number of these institutions in the world should grow from 2 per cent this year to 10 per cent by 2030. The resolution also includes a reference to the thirtieth anniversary of the Paris Principles, he said.
The Committee then approved the text by consensus. By its terms, the General Assembly would urge the Secretary-General to continue giving high priority to requests from Member States for assistance to establish and strengthen national human rights institutions in line with the Paris Principles. It would encourage all Member States to establish and strengthen independent and adequately resourced institutions. The Assembly would also call on States to promptly and thoroughly investigate alleged reprisal or intimidation against members of such institutions or individuals who cooperate with them, as well as bring perpetrators to justice.
Next, the Committee turned to the draft resolution titled “Protection of and assistance to internally displaced persons” (document A/C.3/78/L.31/Rev.1), and the amendment to “L.31/Rev.1” (document A/C.3/78/L.63), which, the Chair noted contains no programme budget implications.
The representative of Norway, introducing the resolution, said that, by the end of 2022, an estimated 71.1 million people were displaced within the borders of their own countries, adding that “this trend must be reversed, yet this can only be achieved with our collective enhanced efforts”. She noted that the proposed resolution acknowledges the Secretary-General’s Action Agenda on Internal Displacement, aiming to address the root causes and provide protection, support, and durable solutions for internally displaced persons. She further said the resolution expresses grave concern about global food insecurity, risks of famine, and the impacts on displacement, emphasizing the need for international support. The resolution recognizes ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on internally displaced people, she said, highlighting references to the mid-term review of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Underscoring the collaborative effort, she expressed hope that the resolution will strengthen commitments for the protection, assistance, and sustainable solutions for millions of internally displaced people.
Introducing the amendment, the representative of the Russian Federation, referring to preambular paragraph 28, said that the resolution retains language giving rise to his country’s legitimate concerns. Noting that this paragraph contains a reference to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, he criticized the Court, adding that it has deviated from its original purpose, becoming a politicized and non-transparent entity that serves the interests of Western countries. Therefore, the Russian Federation proposes an amendment to the draft to eliminate the reference to the Rome Statute from preambular paragraph 28, he said.
The representative of Spain, speaking on behalf of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, expressed regret over the Russian Federation’s decision to propose an amendment to a humanitarian resolution, traditionally adopted by consensus. He emphasized the importance of maintaining previously agreed language, adding that internal displacement is a global issue requiring durable solutions. He further noted that his bloc will vote against the proposed amendment and encouraged all other Member States to do the same, asserting that the resolution is humanitarian in nature and should remain as such.
The representative of Switzerland expressed regret over the Russian Federation’s amendment, emphasizing the importance of the Rome Statute and the International Criminal Court in the international legal architecture and the fight against impunity. The mentioned paragraph was introduced several years ago and adopted by consensus, he said, urging all Member States to vote against the amendment to maintain the resolution’s integrity.
The Committee then voted on the amendment “L.63”, rejecting it by a vote of 13 in favour to 91 against, with 45 abstentions. The proposed amendment to “L.31/Rev.1” would delete from the draft the phrase in preambular paragraph 28 “and recalling the relevant provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court that define the deportation or forcible transfer of population as a crime against humanity and the unlawful deportation, transfer or ordering of the displacement of the civilian population as war crimes”.
In explanation of the vote, the representative of Syria said his delegation voted in favour of the amendment because his country is not part of the International Criminal Court. He further expressed scepticism about the Court’s objectivity and credibility, adding that those targeted by the Court often have issues with Western policies.
Addressing the resolution as a whole, the representative of the Russian Federation said his delegation will join consensus on the resolution, but disassociates itself from preambular paragraph 28.
Speaking on a point of order, the representative of Syria questioned whether, after voting against a particular proposal, it is necessary to disassociate from the related text. The Committee Secretary confirmed that when a delegation votes against a proposal, the position is officially recorded. However, any further statements or disassociation from the proposal are at the discretion of the delegation.
The Committee then approved by consensus draft resolution ““L.31/Rev.1”, by which the General Assembly would call on Governments to provide protection and assistance to internally displaced persons and facilitate efforts of relevant UN agencies and humanitarian organizations by allowing safe and unhindered access. It would call on all parties to armed conflict to comply with international humanitarian and human rights law to prevent forced displacement and protect civilians. The Assembly would also call on Member States, the UN and humanitarian and development organizations to urgently respond to rising global food insecurity affecting millions of people. It would further urge all Governments to continue facilitating the activities of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons.
Speaking after the approval, the representative of Cuba, noting that his country is not a part of the Rome Statute, dissociated himself from the preambular paragraph 28.
The representative of Algeria expressed support for the objectives of the resolution but, as a non-party to the Rome Statute, abstained from voting on the amendment related to the International Criminal Court. Stressing that deportation or forcible transfer of populations is a crime against humanity, and unlawful deportation, and that transferring or ordering displacement of the civilian population is a war crime, he condemned the order issued by Israel, the occupying Power, to evacuate all areas in the Gaza Strip. He called upon the international community to ensure respect for international humanitarian law, by which all parties to a conflict should abide.
The representative of Nicaragua said his country is not a party to the Rome Statute and therefore voted in favour of the amendment tabled by the Russian Federation. He further dissociated himself from the reference to the International Criminal Court.
The representative of Burundi said his country was initially part of the Rome Statute but decided to withdraw in 2017. The delegation of Burundi voted in favour of the amendment proposed by the Russian Federation, he said, noting that the International Criminal Court operates as an instrument of oppression towards certain countries.
Next, the Committee turned to the draft resolution titled “The human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation” (document A/C.3/78/L.47), which the Chair noted contained no programme budget implications.
The representative of Spain, introducing the resolution on behalf of his country and Germany, noted that the draft calls on States to protect aquatic ecosystems and prioritize human rights to water and sanitation in water management policies. New elements include a growing nexus between full enjoyment of the right to water and sanitation and the well-being and sustainability of aquatic ecosystems as a whole, as well as the full alignment of water management policies with international human rights obligations.
The Committee then approved by consensus the draft, by which the General Assembly would call on States to ensure the progressive realization of human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation for all in a non-discriminatory manner, while eliminating inequalities in access. The Assembly would call on States to empower all women and girls to prepare for humanitarian emergencies by implementing gender-responsive policies; to address widespread stigma around menstruation by promoting educational practices in and out of school; and reduce time spent collecting household water to address the negative impact on girls’ educational access.
The representative of Türkiye, while joining consensus, did not align with certain newly introduced language, especially that with no direct relevance to the topic. He expected the resolution to remain within its scope in the future. Türkiye also does not support singling out one of the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 6, which goes beyond the resolution’s scope. All of its targets are mutually reinforcing and should be treated in a holistic manner. His delegation does not align with many aspects of the report by the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation and expects him to work within his mandate. Türkiye disassociated from the first part of operative paragraph 3 of the draft.
Saudi Arabia’s delegate, while joining in consensus, noted that the resolution’s reference to sexual and reproductive services in preambular paragraph 22 is at variance with his country’s national legislative framework.
The representative of the United States, while joining in consensus, clarified that his country is a signatory to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and recognizes its commitments, even though it is not a party and the rights contained are not justiciable in its courts. The United States joins consensus with the understanding that the resolution does not alter current conventional or customary international law, nor does it imply that States must implement obligations to human rights instruments to which they are not a party. He disagreed with any assertion that the right to safe drinking water and sanitation is inextricably related to the enjoyment of other human rights. His delegation does not believe a State’s duty to protect the right to life by law would extend to general conditions in society or nature that may eventually threaten life or prevent individuals from enjoying an adequate standard of living. Furthermore, the United States does not accept all the analyses and conclusions in the Special Rapporteur’s report.
Senegal’s delegate, while joining in consensus, noted the text systematically uses non-consensus-based terms that are contrary to international reality. He disassociated with all non-consensus-based statements, including the reference to sexual and reproductive health services, which are conceptualized differently and have to do with social relations between men and women.
The representative of Cameroon, while joining in consensus, noted that the resolution’s reference to sexual and reproductive health services will be interpreted according to national legislation and with respect to the right to life and word of parents when involving children. Additionally, Cameroon understands “gender” and other related terms as biological sex referring only to male and female. She disassociated with any references to non-consensual references, including “multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination” and “women in all their diversity”, in any resolutions adopted by the Committee.
Mali’s delegate, while joining in consensus, noted that the general comments in preambular paragraph 7 cannot be considered universally or internationally accepted. The Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development should be done entirely under UN auspices. Furthermore, gender and the rights of parents and guardians are non-consensual terms. All non-consensual provisions in this and other resolutions have to do with an understanding of the priorities of development and cultural values.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution titled “International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance” (document A/C.3/78/L.50), which the Chair noted contains no programme budget implications.
Introducing the draft, the representative of Argentina invited all those who have not done so to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. Highlighting aspects of the draft, she said the text highlights the role new technologies can play in preventing enforced disappearances, takes note of recommendations of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances and encourages cooperation between States and legal assistance to facilitate the search for missing persons. Ratifying the Convention is an obligation and a debt the international community owes to the victims of enforced disappearances and their families, she said.
The Committee then approved the draft by consensus, by which the General Assembly would express deep concern at the increase in enforced or involuntary disappearances in various regions of the world, including arrest, detention and abduction, and by the growing number of reports concerning harassment, ill-treatment and intimidation of witnesses of disappearance or relatives of persons who have disappeared. Further, it would urge Member States to address gender-based violence, including as related to cases of enforced disappearance, recalling that Member States should not limit measures taken to prevent and address enforced disappearances.
Speaking after the approval, the representative of the United States said his country supported consensus on the draft, underscoring the gravity of the human rights violation. Highlighting that the United States is not party to the Convention, he stressed that obligations listed in preambular paragraphs 7, 8, and 9 apply only to States who are parties to it, and that the resolution does not create any new rights or obligations.
Next, the Committee turned to the draft resolution titled “Strengthening the role of the United Nations in enhancing periodic and genuine elections and the promotion of democratization” (document A/C.3/78/L.51) and the four amendments to the draft. The Chair noted that the draft resolutions and amendments contain no programme budget implications.
Introducing the draft resolution, the representative of the United States noted the more than 65 co-sponsors of the document and three rounds of open and transparent negotiations. She expressed regret over the amendments tabled, as this year the resolution highlights the importance of media freedom and freedom of expression during elections. She also said she looks forward to the adoption of the resolution by consensus.
The delegate for the Russian Federation, presenting an amendment to the draft (document A/C.3/78/L.66) said that most of his country’s proposals were not accepted. He stressed that the propaganda of war and spread of hatred on national, racial and religious grounds must be prohibited, so his country proposed to include an additional paragraph which will touch upon these aspects of the right to freedom of opinion. Amendment “L.66” will insert a new preambular paragraph emphasizing that the right to freedom of expression carries duties and may therefore be subject to restrictions, while both war propaganda and advocacy of national, racial and religious hatred shall be prohibited by law.
The representative of Egypt presented the other three amendments. Amendment “L.67” (document A/C.3/78/L.67) would delete “in all their diversity” and insert “with men” after “on an equal basis” in the preambular paragraph 10, while “L.68” (document A/C.3/78/L.68) would delete “in particular resolution 76/176 of 16 December 2021” from the preambular paragraph 12 Lastly, “L.69” (document A/C.3/78/L.69) would replace operative paragraph 7 with a different paragraph, leaving out the terms “sexual orientation and gender identity”.
The Committee then proceeded to explanations of vote before voting on the amendments. The representative of Guyana, commenting on the amendments tabled by Egypt, noted that her country wants to be excluded from the list of its supporters. North Macedonia’s delegate said that the aim of the resolution is to promote the universality of elections and therefore spoke against the amendments. The delegate for Indonesia, noting that the current debate is about references to women in all their diversity and similar wording, pledged to support the amendments proposed by Egypt and the Russian Federation. On the contrary, the representative of Chile rejected the amendments, as they lead to backsliding and underscored that the references to vulnerable groups should stay in the resolution as their rights are often denied. In the same vein, Argentina’s delegate said that universality and non-discrimination have no exceptions and all people must have their rights protected and spoke against the amendments.
In her turn, the representative of Egypt explained that her group of countries provided the amendments to make a better text for everybody. Speaking about “L.66,” she noted that this amendment has language similar to the one proposed by her country, since freedom of expression is not absolute and is sometimes used to promote hatred, for example, against migrants. Speaking next, the delegates for Australia and Albania said that the original wording of the resolution is important and fully supported the text introduced by the United States.
The representative of Spain, speaking on behalf of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, said that respect for the diversity of all women and their roles is a long-standing commitment, so the European Union will vote against the amendments, as no one should be denied their ability to participate in elections.
During the subsequent voting, all four amendments were rejected, “L.66” in a recorded vote of 46 votes in favour to 71 against, with 31 abstentions; “L.67” in a recorded vote of 61 in favour to 84 against, with 7 abstentions (Bahamas, Cote d’Ivoire, Lesotho, Namibia, Paraguay, Philippines and Sri Lanka); ”L.68 in a recorded vote of 55 in favour to 85 against, with 12 abstentions, and “L.69” in a recorded vote of 63 in favour to 82 against, with 11 abstentions.
Speaking after the vote on the amendments, the representative of Liechtenstein said that “L.66” misrepresented the right of freedom of expression and restrictions on it, which are limited to two categories — restrictions for respect of the rights of reputations of others and restrictions for the protection of national security or public order or of public health or morals.
Speaking before the vote on the resolution as a whole (“L.51”), the delegate for the Russian Federation said that his country proposed the balancing amendments which were not accepted. In this regard and also because concepts such as “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” are not universally recognized at the international level, his delegation is forced to abstain from voting on “L.51”, he said.
The representative of Iran said that the penholder of the draft resolution, namely the United States, has chosen to follow its political agenda and impose it by exploiting the UN platform, so Iran voted in favour of all four amendments and will abstain during the vote on the resolution.
Colombia’s and Denmark’s delegates, on the contrary, supported the draft resolution promoting the universality and the rights of all women and girls, as well as persons with disabilities. The representative of the United Kingdom also supported the draft resolution and welcomed the inclusion of language in support of a free, independent and pluralistic media.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution “L.51” by 146 votes in favour to 1 against (Mali), with 25 abstentions. By its terms, the General Assembly would emphasize that Member States are responsible for respecting the will of voters as expressed through periodic, free and fair elections by universal equal suffrage. It would stress the importance of respecting the freedoms of peaceful assembly, association and expression in the context of those elections.
By further terms, the Assembly would express deep concern that disinformation, efforts to manipulate voting systems and the use of Internet shutdowns to disrupt access to information online in the framework of elections constitute an urgent problem for democracies around the world. Also by the text, it would express concern at growing threats to freedom of speech including unlawful detention of journalists. It would also strongly condemn any manipulation of election processes, coercion and tampering with vote counts, particularly when done by States, as well as by other actors.
After the vote, the delegate for Oman, speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Countries, expressed reservations on the operative paragraph with the terms of “sexual orientation and gender identity” that these countries do not support and asked to keep this position for the record.
Peru’s representative reiterated the country’s commitment to foster democracy and said that all civil servants in the UN system must comply with UN resolutions. The delegate for Malaysia, which has always been a sponsor of this resolution, noted that it began featuring non-consensual terminology and said that the country supported the amendments but, wishing to put on record its reservations on diversity and sexual orientation, voted in favour of “L.51” as a whole. The representative of Senegal also supported the amendments proposed by Egypt because of the need for consensual and universally approved wording.
The representative of China reiterated that “human rights defender” lacks a definition and said that after the reasonable proposals by China and other countries were ignored, his country abstained. Mexico’s delegate voted in favour because, in a democracy, the participation of all citizens is a factor that brings change and the aim for Member States is to avoid discrimination.
The representative of Spain, speaking on behalf of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, said it is particularly important that this year's text pays special attention to the connections between safeguarding democracy and protecting the free expression of ideas and opinions. The delegate for Costa Rica said that democracy is a value and universal aspiration which is at the heart of the resolution, so his country rejected the amendments that are hostile to both the process and the substance. The representative of Japan also welcomed the resolution and its focus on media freedom and said that the amendments did not reflect the informal discussions at all and would only weaken the text.
Tanzania’s delegate noted that the wording of “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” disregards the national values of Member States. Dissociating from that terminology, her country voted in favour of the resolution as a whole. The representative of Hungary, aligning himself with the European Union, supported the resolution, but added that his country is opposed to the paragraph with the wording on diversity, which is recognized by Hungary in cultural, religious and linguistic context, but not in any different interpretation of the term. Micronesia’s representative said his country was happy to co-sponsor a resolution that promotes the values of democracy, full participation and freedom of expression, and contains important paragraphs on marginalized groups.
The delegate for Singapore expressed reservations on unclear terminology, including the operative paragraph with the terms of “sexual orientation and gender identity” and noted that persons with disabilities can be assisted with voting in her country. The representative of Belarus voted in support of the draft resolution but is forced to dissociate from preambular paragraph 10 and operative paragraph 7 due to language that does not enjoy the universal support of Member States. Nigeria’s representative confirmed the country’s commitment to democracy and rule of law but expressed concerns over the wording on gender identity and therefore supported the amendments.
Montenegro’s delegate supported the universality and full participation of all citizens, endorsing the rights of women and girls, while the representative of Ethiopia expressed regret with the inclusion of “sexual orientation”, “gender identity” and “in all their diversity”. The delegate for Yemen, having voted in favour, regretted that the amendments were not included as “women in all their diversity” is the wording that has prevented a number of delegations from supporting the resolution.
The representative of Brazil said his country fully supports the resolution as a co-sponsor, including the wording on free and independent media, sexual orientation and gender identity. The delegate for the Dominican Republic also firmly supported the resolution, equal rights and inclusion, as well as the dedication to democracy, inclusive, free and fair elections.
The delegate for Niger voted in favour, but supported various amendments and dissociated from “women in all their diversity”, “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”. Contrary to this, Liberia’s representative was happy to see the original wording and disappointed with the tabled amendments. The delegate for the Netherlands, aligning himself with the European Union, fully supported the resolution and said that LGBTI persons need protection the most.
Algeria’s delegate, spotlighting the non-internationally recognized wording in the draft resolution, dissociated himself from it but said that his country voted in favour of “L.51” as a whole. The representative of France, aligning herself with the European Union, expressed regret that amendments have been tabled and that a vote has been requested on this important resolution and reiterated opposition to all forms of discrimination, including those based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The delegates for Uganda, Sudan, Pakistan and Libya said they voted in favour of the resolution but dissociated themselves from wording that was not amended as proposed. The representative of Egypt reiterated that freedom of expression is not absolute and the resolution lacks balance in this regard, while the penholder insisted including the wording, so her country abstained.
Argentina’s delegate welcomed the resolution and its inclusive nature with a focus on gender balance and marginalized groups, including LGBTQI+. The representative of South Africa said that he abstained, although LGBT people should always be included, and expressed concern with the new additions to the resolution. Syria’s representative underscored that not a single delegation said anything against democratic elections, but the main sponsors of the resolution exposed themselves and ignored the written comments by Member States.
Finally, the observer of the Holy See welcomed the wording on right to freedom of expression, but expressed regret that most of the text was not open to negotiations and contentious language was preserved, including on diversity and marginalization, as well as references to sexual orientation and gender identity, as this concept lacks definitions under international law.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution titled “United Nations Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South-West Asia and the Arab Region” (document A/C.3/78/L.57), which the Chair noted contains no programme budget implications.
Introducing the draft, the representative of Qatar said regional cooperation plays a fundamental role in promoting human rights globally. This draft continues to support national human rights institutions and civil society organizations on several human rights topics, underlining the central role of regional expertise. In light of the important role that the Centre has played since its establishment, she called on States to support the draft resolution.
A recorded vote was requested.
The resolution was approved by a recorded vote of 174 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (Iran and Syria).
By the text, the General Assembly would welcome the Centre’s efforts to reinforce the documentation component of its mandate, notably the production and dissemination of human rights resource materials in Arabic and other languages. Underlining the Centre’s role as a source for regional expertise and the need to meet an increasing number of requests in relation to human rights education and training, the Assembly would encourage the Centre to work with other United Nations regional offices to strengthen its work and for Member States to provide voluntary contributions to support the Centre in carrying out its mandate.
Next, the Committee turned to the draft resolution titled “Improving the coordination of efforts against trafficking in persons” (document A/C.3/78/L.12/Rev.1), which the Chair noted contains no programme budget implications.
Introducing “L.12/Rev.1” the representative of Belarus said that this year marks the twentieth anniversary of the entry into force of the Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and the Palermo Protocol, which are the basis for combatting trafficking in persons. Anniversaries are always occasions to evaluate progress on the subject and outline further efforts, he said. This year, the text has been renewed significantly. It addresses human trafficking in supply chains, humanitarian situations and migration as well as tendencies that emerged in the post-COVID-19 recovery period. The document also contains updated information on the work of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)’s activities, proposing that the agency as well as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) update their recommendations on the subject.
The Committee approved the draft by consensus, by which the General Assembly would urge Member States to ratify or accede to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. It would urge States parties to fully implement their obligations and call upon Member States to continue efforts to criminalize such trafficking in all forms.
The Assembly would also call on Member States, international organizations, civil society, the private sector and financial institutions to increase prevention efforts in countries of origin, transit and destination. It would further call on Member States to take measures to support family reunification for victims, where safe and appropriate.
Speaking after the approval, the representative of Venezuela, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations, condemned the scourge. It is only through cooperation that the international community can effectively combat trafficking in persons, he said. Raising serious concerns over increased impunity as well as greater violence against women and children, including through the use of information and communications technology (ICT), he called on States to redouble their efforts to combat trafficking in persons. He highlighted the important role the Inter-Agency Working Group on Trafficking in Persons plays in coordinating such efforts. Reaffirming an unwavering commitment to the Global Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons, he hailed the consensual adoption of the draft.
The representative of Spain, speaking on behalf of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, said that combatting trafficking in persons remains a high priority for the bloc and its strategy is multi-fold. The international response to trafficking requires a victim-centred approach, she said, noting the urgency to comply with all relevant legally binding instruments as well as all resolutions. Since the resolution was last tabled in 2021, war has broken out and Belarus has continued to support the Russian Federation in its war of aggression against Ukraine. Worse, Belarus has been instrumentalizing migrants from third countries for political purposes, eroding the country’s credibility as a facilitator of this draft, she said. The bloc has not participated in negotiations and did not co-sponsor the draft for these reasons, she said, reiterating its commitment to combatting trafficking in persons.
The representative of Poland, aligning with the European Union, said that Belarus is instrumentalizing migration on an unprecedented scale to destabilize the security situation in central and eastern Europe. Belarussian services are involved in smuggling operations across the Poland-Belarus border, she said, stressing that its declarations about the need to combat trafficking is “gigantic hypocrisy”. Citing sharp spikes in statistics from border crossings on their shared border, she said Belarus’ clever juggling of human rights issues should not blind the international community, stressing that there is no “natural migration pressure” in Belarus. Organizing an unnatural migration route through Belarus creates dangers for migrants. Poland calls on Belarus to do justice to its own resolution and cease using innocent people for its own political gains, she said.