Third Committee Approves Six Draft Resolutions, Including Texts on Human Rights in Ukraine, Syria, Iran, Myanmar, Assistance to Africa’s Displaced
In another full day of action, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) approved six resolutions today, including on the human rights situations in Ukraine, Syria, Iran, Myanmar and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
At the outset, Azerbaijan’s delegate, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed deep concern over the selective adoption of country-specific resolutions in the Committee and Human Rights Council. This practice exploits human rights for political purposes and breaches principles of universality, impartiality and objectivity, she said. These issues must be addressed through a constructive, non-confrontational approach in a fair and equal manner, with respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity as guiding principles.
In the morning session, the Committee approved the resolution “Situation of human rights in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, including the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol” (document A/C.3/78/L.42) by a vote of 77 in favour to 14 against, with 79 abstentions.
By the text, the General Assembly would condemn the Russian Federation’s ongoing temporary control or occupation of part of Ukraine’s territory, including the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, and certain areas of the Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The Assembly would also urge the Russian Federation to uphold its obligations under applicable international law and bring an immediate end to violations of international human rights law against residents of the temporarily controlled or occupied territories of Ukraine.
Introducing the draft, Ukraine’s representative called on all responsible Member States to stand with his country and send a strong signal to the aggressor — the Russian Federation. Annually presented since 2016, the resolution ensures that all crimes and atrocities are made known and not tolerated.
Meanwhile, the Russian Federation’s delegate called the resolution false “through and through”, with the goal of disputing the status of the “Republic of Crimea” and other entities within her country, as well as legitimizing daily killing of civilians in an attempt to return territorial control by force.
In the afternoon, the Committee approved the resolution “Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic” (document A/C.3/78/L.43), as orally revised, by a vote of 86 in favour to 15 against, with 73 abstentions.
By the text, the Assembly, deploring and condemning in the strongest terms the Syrian regime’s continued armed violence against the Syrian people since peaceful protests started in 2011, would demand the regime to immediately end all attacks against civilians, take all feasible precautions to avoid incidental loss of civilian life, and meet its responsibilities to protect the Syrian population.
The representative of the United States, introducing the draft, said the resolution was orally revised by removing operative paragraph 16 to maintain the broadest support possible. Noting Syria’s humanitarian needs are at their highest since the 2011 revolution broke out, she recalled the Russian Federation’s “shameful” veto of the UN cross-border aid authorization this year.
Syria’s delegate, explaining his country’s vote against the draft, said the resolution was designed to target his country. He urged other delegations to refrain from blindly following the core group leading the resolution, as the draft shows partiality and incompetence. The core group’s members do not care about the human rights situation in Syria, he said, but rather are upset about failing to achieve their political goals in his country.
Additionally, the Russian Federation’s representative said the draft is a typical example of politicized double standards. The United States’ position is particularly cynical, he said, as it has perpetrated aggression against Syria and occupied part of its territory. Having attempted to asphyxiate Syria through illegitimate sanctions, he added, the United States has an obligation to compensate billions in damages to Syria and immediately withdraw its troops.
The Committee also approved the resolution “Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran” (document A/C.3/78/L.41) by a vote of 80 in favour to 29 against, with 65 abstentions. By its terms, the Assembly would condemn Iran’s intensified, targeted repression of women and girls, both online and offline, and strongly urge it to eliminate all forms of systemic discrimination and verbal and physical harassment against women and girls.
In further action, the Committee approved by consensus resolutions on the human right situations in Myanmar and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as well as on assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa.
The representative of Azerbaijan, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed deep concern over the practice of selectively adopting country-specific resolutions in the Third Committee and Human Rights Council. This practice is a tool that exploits human rights for political purposes and breaches the principles of universality, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity. She also rejected the Security Council’s ongoing practice of dealing with human rights issues in pursuit of certain States’ political objectives. She stressed that the universal periodic review is the main intergovernmental cooperative mechanism to review human rights issues in all countries without distinction, with full involvement of the country concerned and consideration of its capacity-building needs. Human rights issues must be addressed through a constructive, non-confrontational, non-politicized and non-selective approach in a fair and equal manner, with objectivity, non-interference in States’ internal affairs and respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity as guiding principles.
Action on Draft Resolutions
The Committee first turned to the draft resolution titled “Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” (document A/C.3/78/L.39), which the Chair noted contains no programme budget implications.
The representative of Spain, introducing the draft on behalf of the European Union, said the resolution reflects deep concern regarding the severe human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Noting no improvements in the past year, he said the draft’s updates include renewed calls for cooperation with UN mechanisms, including the Special Rapporteur. There are also new references about links between the human rights situation and broader peace and security, as well as the disproportionate impact on women and girls. The resolution calls for continued engagement by the international community, including international staff of humanitarian agencies who had to leave the country and suspend projects in 2022.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea rejected the resolution as an “anti-DPRK political plot” with no relevance to the genuine protection of human rights. At the instigation of the United States, he said, the draft’s circulation every year is based on falsehoods drawn up with testimonies fabricated by “human scums”, who committed crimes in their homeland and defected, leaving their families. The United States and Western countries are not motivated by human rights, but rather their ulterior purpose to defame, demonize and eliminate his country’s socialist system. The draft’s main sponsors are “chief human rights violators without exception”, he added, with criminal records of aggression against other countries. It is an extreme manifestation of hypocrisy and double standards that the European Union is clamouring about human rights problems in one nation instead of saying something about Israel. The international community should increase its vigilance against some countries’ attempts to abuse human rights issues as a political tool for ulterior objectives and using the UN to interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign States and to overthrow their social systems.
The representative of the United States said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is one of the world’s most repressive States, imposing severe restrictions on freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, association, religion and movement. The country continues to commit widespread abuses and violations, while expanding its repressive policies beyond its borders through transnational repression and efforts to monitor “North Koreans” overseas. All States should abide by the principle of non-refoulement, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must grant international humanitarian organizations and human rights monitors immediate and unhindered access. She also called on the Government to take action to protect the human rights of its own citizens.
The representative of the United Kingdom, as a co-sponsor, called on the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to take concrete action to end systemic and widespread human rights violations in its territory, as well as its illegal acts abroad. He urged the country to allow full, unhindered access for humanitarian organizations to assist those in need, and called on the Government to cease diverting resources to illegal weapons programmes. He also strongly encouraged the country to engage the UN Special Rapporteur in a constructive and meaningful way, in order to uphold its responsibilities for its most vulnerable people.
The representative of Iran, disassociating from consensus on the resolution, said her country strongly believes that the continued practice of selectively adopting country-specific mandates exploits the Committee for political ends. She urged Member States to end this practice and ensure all countries are treated equally. This approach undermines cooperation and dialogue as key principles to promote and protect human rights, leading to lack of trust between countries. The European Union and its allies present this draft every year without considering efforts by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The Human Rights Council’s universal periodic review is the right venue to review the human rights situations of all Member States equally, without recrimination and with meaningful participation of concerned countries.
The representative of Singapore, abstaining on all country-specific human rights resolutions before the Committee, said his delegation does not support such resolutions as a matter of principle. Country-specific resolutions should be addressed under the Human Rights Council’s universal periodic review process. While it is “well-known” that the Committee’s work has “always been characterized by hypocrisy and double standards”, it has reached even greater heights in recent weeks. Country-specific resolutions are inherently divisive and counterproductive, and do not serve their declared purpose of making a difference in the lives of people concerned. These resolutions are highly selective and are driven essentially by political considerations. He further added that his statement should not be interpreted as a position on the substantive issues raised in these resolutions, as Singapore has always taken the position that every Member State has the obligation to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The Committee then approved by consensus the draft, by which the General Assembly would be deeply concerned at the grave human rights situation, pervasive culture of impunity and lack of accountability for human rights violations and abuses in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The Assembly would express very serious concern about continuing reports of violations of human rights in the country, including torture; the death penalty for political and religious reasons and public executions; enforced and involuntary disappearances of persons by arrest collective punishments extending up to three generations; and the prevalence of chronic and acute malnutrition.
The Assembly would strongly urge the Government to immediately end systematic, grave violations and abuses of human rights emphasized above and, inter alia, close political prison camps and release all political prisoners unconditionally and without any delay; ensure those responsible for crimes involving violations and abuses of human rights are brought to justice; provide citizens of other Member States detained in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with protections, including freedom of communication with, and access to, consular officers to confirm their status and communicate with their families; extend an invitation to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to visit the country; ensure full, safe and unhindered access to persons in need of humanitarian aid; and permit the establishment of independent newspapers and other media. The Assembly would urge the Government to implement the recommendations of the commission of inquiry, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the country and the Secretary-General and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights without delay.
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, said the presentation of country-specific resolutions without the concerned State’s consent goes against the principles of impartiality, objectivity, transparency, non-selectivity, non-politicization and non-confrontation. Venezuela disassociates from the resolution, as it undermines friendly relations among nations and international cooperation. He firmly rejected any double standard and expressed serious concern at the growing proliferation of mechanisms that pretend to make impartial assessments of human rights situations in certain States. These documents end up turning into “propaganda pamphlets”, he added. Also, he rejected the Security Council’s practice of dealing with issues beyond its mandate. He strongly urged States to refrain from employing and to lift any unilateral coercive measures that impede the full achievement of economic and social development.
The representative of the Russian Federation, associating with Venezuela’s statement, disassociated from consensus on the resolution. He condemned Western States for using Committee resolutions as a tool to exert pressure on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to undermine the State’s development and its people’s well-being. His delegation does not support the consideration of one-sided resolutions on human rights situations in individual countries as an ineffective working method that can only compound confrontation between Member States. He also underscored that the culprit of tension on the Korean peninsula is the United States, led by hegemonic aspirations. The United States impedes the search for diplomatic solutions, intensifies military activity in the region and increases tension in the Asia-Pacific. The United States must renounce its aggressive course.
The representative of Japan expressed deep concern about the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, especially the abduction issue, which puts the national sovereignty and human life and safety in danger. Many Japanese were forcibly abducted by Pyongyang in the 1970s and 1980s. Accordingly, he urges the country to take concrete actions to resolve the abduction issue immediately.
The representative of Nicaragua, associating with the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations, rejects reports and drafts that are politically motivated and lack objectivity. She firmly condemned politicization and double standards, advocating for non-selectivity and objectivity. Country- specific resolutions do not promote the protection of human rights but rather deepen confrontation. Relatedly, she rejects the use of illegal unilateral coercive measures and disassociates from the so-called consensus on the draft.
The representative of the Republic of Korea condemned Pyongyang’s widespread human rights violations, which may amount to crimes against humanity. The country is obsessively pursuing nuclear weapons and missiles while blatantly disregarding the livelihood of its own people, he said, pointing to its practice of forced labour, domestic and overseas. Instead, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should take effective measures to improve the human rights of its people, he said, voicing deep concern over media reports of forced repatriations of hundreds of escapees. He called on all States to uphold the principle of non-refoulement.
The representative of Cuba said his country does not support resolutions that lack the support of the country concerned as they favour confrontation and delegitimize human rights instruments. Instead, he advocates for international cooperation, respectful dialogue and non-selectivity.
The representative of Belarus, noting that his country has consistently spoken out against country-specific resolutions, said that, for decades, the UN has been trying to exert pressure on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, leaving no chance for dialogue. Underscoring the need to change the mode of interaction with the country, he disassociated from the draft.
The representative of the Philippines said the Rome Statute is a product of deliberate negotiations, and the Intentional Criminal Court cannot overstretch its jurisdiction and unnecessarily exert its dominance over States’ primary right to investigate and prosecute serious crimes.
The representative of China opposed politicization, double standards and the practice of pressuring countries in the name of human rights. Country-specific resolutions reflect the failure to take an impartial view in protecting human rights, he said, adding that the imposition of unilateral coercive measures interfere with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s internal affairs. He disassociated from the consensus on the draft.
The representative of Syria said the so-called “Commission of Inquiry” has been working for more than 10 years and has reached “no results whatsoever”. “It is the right time to reconsider your approach,” he said, adding that, despite physically voting in favour of the draft, mentally and morally, his delegation voted against it, just like the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The Committee next took up the draft resolution titled “Situation of human rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar” (document A/C.3/78/L.40/Rev.1), which the Chair noted contains no programme budget implications.
The representative of Saudi Arabia, introducing the draft also on behalf of the European Union and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said that, over decades, the Rohingya Muslim minorities have faced systemic rights violations resulting in mass displacement. Since 2017, over 1 million fled Myanmar to Bangladesh and other countries. The current situation in Myanmar has only exacerbated their situation, he said, recalling the recent hurricane. Further tragic developments prevent the voluntary, safe return of these refugees, he said, condemning human rights violations and calling on Myanmar to fulfil its obligations under international law. He also called on the country to guarantee the safety of all civilians, including the Rohingya and other minorities. This draft was adopted by consensus for the first time at the seventy-sixth General Assembly session, he said, noting that consensus reflects the international community’s unity in responding to the crisis in Myanmar. The resolution is balanced, he said, voicing hope that it will be again adopted by consensus.
The representative of Myanmar voiced appreciation that the resolution continues to address the situation of Rohingyas and condemns in the strongest possible terms the actions of the inhumane and illegitimate military junta. Welcoming references in the draft highlighting the military, including references to junta airstrikes and indiscriminate nature of their violence, he noted, however, that the draft falls short of expectations of the Myanmar people. It lacks references to the illegal military coup, the junta’s atrocities and embargo. Further, references to the National Unity Government should be strengthened, he said. For over 33 months, Myanmar has suffered from junta violence, including heavy weaponry shelling, ground attacks on civilian areas and massacres, he said, adding that the resolution would be more beneficial for the Rohingya and all minorities in Myanmar if it included practical solutions as well as references addressing root causes of the crisis. The devastating situation on the ground has revealed that the root causes of the crisis in the country, including the Rohingya crisis, point at the inhumane military and its ongoing impunity. “Please do not forget that the Rohingya issue is part of the crisis in Myanmar,” he said, noting that his delegation will support consensus and calling on the Committee to follow suit.
The Committee adopted “L.40/Rev.1” by consensus. By the text, the Assembly would condemn in the strongest terms all violations and abuses of human rights against civilians, including the arbitrary detention, arrest and politically motivated convictions, sentencing and executions, including of opposition activists, as well as violent acts including extrajudicial killings, sexual and gender-based violence and torture. It would reiterate its deep concern at the widespread, indiscriminate and excessive use of force by Myanmar security and armed forces across the country, including aerial attacks against and burning of villages and civilian infrastructure. It would express deep concern that, in Rakhine, more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims remain largely segregated and discriminated against with respect to accessing citizenship and enjoying their human rights and fundamental freedoms, many of whom remain confined in camps with no freedom of movement and grossly restricted access to basic services.
Against this backdrop, the Assembly would urgently call on Myanmar or the Myanmar military to end immediately all violations of international law in the country; take all measures necessary to provide justice to victims and ensure full accountability; engage in peaceful dialogue and reconciliation, in accordance with the will and interests of the people of Myanmar, including Rohingya Muslims; ensure the right to return of all refugees hosted in other countries; and take concrete actions to create conditions necessary for their voluntary, safe and dignified return and reintegration. Further, it would request the Secretary-General to swiftly appoint a Special Envoy on Myanmar and to provide all assistance necessary to enable the Special Envoy to effectively discharge its mandate.
Speaking after the adoption, the representative of Spain, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the resolution addresses atrocities committed against the Rohingya Muslims for many years, which in 2017 led to over 1 million of them leaving the country. It also addresses human rights abuses on minorities in the country since the illegal 2021 military coup. Since last year the humanitarian situation has further deteriorated, she said, spotlighting indiscriminate use of force by the military junta, including through air attacks, the burning of villages, attacks on internally displaced persons camps and sexual and gender-based violence.
Journalists and human rights defenders continue to be arbitrarily detained and the Myanmar military continues to block access to humanitarian aid, including after the Mocha cyclone, she added. Voicing concern that there seems little hope for a safe, voluntary return to the country for Rohingya who are generously hosted in Bangladesh, she called on the international community to act to put an end to the atrocities. She noted that the text recalls Security Council Resolution 2669 (2022) calling on the Secretary-General to appoint a new Special Envoy to Myanmar, and contains strong references to ongoing procedures of the International Criminal Court.
The representative of the Russian Federation said that his delegation does not support country-specific resolutions and this draft is no exception. Underscoring the importance of avoiding violence and showing restraint for both sides, he expressed concern over the one-sided presentation of facts by the so-called Independent Investigative Mechanism of Myanmar, which was established without the consent of the concerned country. Voicing grave concern over 6,700 deaths at the hands of opposition armed groups, including 233 children, she noted that the Organization’s lack of condemnation only serves to escalate the situation. Further, the draft contains no mention of efforts by Myanmar’s leadership to aid the return of the Rohingya. For all these reasons, the Russian Federation disassociates from consensus on the draft.
The representative of Thailand said that, given his country’s proximity to Myanmar, establishing a peaceful Myanmar remains a priority. All parties must cease hostilities and establish peace through constructive engagement with each other and international actors, he said, noting this is the only solution to the crisis in Myanmar and for the Rohingyas. The people of Myanmar need a solution that is country-led, he said, noting that Thailand will continue to work with the country to create an environment conducive to solutions, helping it to address trafficking in persons, online scams, and other organized crimes. Thailand attaches high importance to unimpeded access to humanitarian assistance, he added, voicing support for the role of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in that regard and especially ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus.
The representative of Singapore said the situation in Rakhine State is complex. Encouraging Myanmar to work with agencies, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), to create proper conditions for the return of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh, he recalled that ASEAN, including Singapore, has provided humanitarian assistance in that regard. However, there must be political stability in Myanmar for there to be stability in Rakhine State, he underlined, expressing grave concern over conditions in Myanmar since the 2021 military coup. Voicing deep disappointment that the Five-Point Consensus has yet to be implemented, he called on Myanmar authorities to work with ASEAN to implement it without delay. ASEAN and Singapore will continue to work with external partners to work toward a peaceful solution in Myanmar and look forward to the next Special Envoy on Myanmar, he said.
The representative of Malaysia said that, as a neighbouring country, the situation is gravely concerning for his country. The ongoing conflict has only exacerbated the situation of the Rohingya, he said, expressing extreme disappointment that the Five-Point Consensus has not been implemented. The Consensus remains the main reference for a solution to the crisis and should be implemented in its entirety, he underscored. Welcoming Security Council resolution 2669 (2022) supporting ASEAN’s role in finding a peaceful solution to the situation in Myanmar, he lamented the persistent violence in Myanmar. Follow-up from the Security Council will be crucial, he said, calling on the organ to take decisive action to stop the violence. He underscored that focus on Myanmar should never forget the Rohingya population and highlighted that the influx of Rohingya are putting pressure on host countries, including Malaysia. Calling on countries to share the burden of hosting, he underscored that the root causes must be addressed to facilitate their return to Rakhine State.
The representative of Liechtenstein, speaking on behalf of Australia, Canada, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland, said the resolution remains a key priority for her group, but this year’s text lacks language from previous versions, which is regrettable. The resolution itself acknowledges that the Rohingya crisis has been exacerbated by the 2021 military coup and that root causes must be addressed to solve these interlinked crises. The draft further illustrates the international community’s commitment to addressing the impunity of the Myanmar military, she said. Voicing deep concern over ongoing humanitarian crises and deploring the mass violence and human rights violations committed by the military, including the razing of villages and escalating attacks on civilians, she called for accountability. Her group of countries supports the Independent Accountability Mechanism and continues to call for referral by the Security Council to the International Criminal Court, she said, voicing further support for ASEAN and the Five-Point Consensus.
The representative of Bangladesh said that six years had elapsed since Bangladesh had opened its borders to the Rohingya fleeing ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. Lamenting a lack of progress allowing their safe return, she said that the root causes remain unaddressed, and the situation continues to deteriorate, given continued armed conflict in the country. Against this backdrop, she hailed the draft as a significant development and renewed commitment and attention on the issue. Bangladesh is a small, population-dense country with limited resources and the protracted presence of Rohingya inside its borders is not an option, she said. Favouring the creation of conditions allowing for a safe return, she noted that the responsibility lies with Myanmar to ensure that basic rights, including freedom of movement and access to livelihood opportunities, must be ensured on their return. The international community and ASEAN are critical in this regard. This year the text benefits from the first ever Security Council resolution on Myanmar, adopted in September 2022, she added, noting that recognition of ASEAN’s critical role in the region is a welcome improvement.
The representative of Belarus said that his delegation shared the concerns of the international community over the Rohingya Muslim population, but added that numerous resolutions and mandate-holders’ reports are instruments of confrontation and not dialogue. A new way of solving problems is needed that is agreeable to all parties, he said, noting that, while Belarus supported the approval of the resolution without a vote, it disassociates from consensus given its principled position on country-specific approaches.
The representative of the United Kingdom said the conflict in Myanmar continues, with more than 18 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and 2 million displaced. It is essential that Member States halt the flow of arms to the junta regime. He reiterated that any reparations of Rohingyas must be safe, voluntary, dignified and in consultation with the refugees. His Government supports the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar and encourages Member States to do likewise. He called for an immediate end to the violence and a return to democracy.
The representative of Indonesia welcomed adoption of the resolution by consensus, adding that it underscores ASEAN’s commitment to resolving the crisis. That is not only a humanitarian imperative but a crucial component in resolving Myanmar’s broader political challenges, she said. Inclusive national dialogue through the Five-Point Consensus is vital for establishing lasting peace. She emphasized the need for sustained support from the international community for Rohingya refugees, expressing concern about the action of the Myanmar junta, which is deepening the humanitarian issues. She called on the regime to fulfil its obligations towards Rohingyas.
The representative of China expressed support for ASEAN to handle the situation, particularly through its Five-Point Consensus. The international community must create a favourable environment for this. She described the resolution as seriously unbalanced, adding that exerting pressure on parties may aggravate conflict and hamper effective crisis resolution. China opposes using human rights as pretext to exert pressure on other countries and setting up country-specific mechanisms without the consent of countries involved. It therefore disassociates itself from the resolution.
The representative of Myanmar said his country will implement the adopted resolution and continue cooperation with relevant stakeholders. He urged the international community to render assistance in implementing the text’s recommendations. Myanmar is determined to end military dictatorship, restore and advance democracy, and seeks support in this regard. The General Assembly should convene a follow-up plenary on resolution 75/287 on Myanmar to address issues and reinforce Security Council resolution 2669 (2022). The Council should also adopt and immediately follow up its resolution. He advised the main sponsors of today’s resolution to engage with his delegation in drafting a subsequent text, which adequately reflects the people’s aspirations. He urged the UN to decisively act in a timely manner to save the lives of Myanmar’s people.
The Committee then turned to the draft titled “Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran” (document A/C.3/78/L.41) which the Chair noted contains no programme budget implications.
The representative of Canada, introducing the draft, said his country and 49 co-sponsors presented the resolution, which is balanced, current and factual, relying on UN reporting. He emphasized the Iranian authorities’ flagrant disregard for human rights, life and dignity. Calling for respect for the rights of women and girls and of freedom of peaceful assembly, he condemned the alarming increase of the use of the death penalty. He also spotlighted the systemic persecution of ethnic and religious minorities and limitations to freedom of opinion and expression, both online and offline. “No one should live in fear of violence or intimidation — this includes the families of the victims of the downing of Flight PS752.” All allegations against Iran should be investigated in accordance with international standards. The draft resolution welcomes the creation of an international independent commission on fact-finding in Iran and calls on its authorities to fully cooperate with UN special procedures.
Speaking before the vote, the representative of Iran rejected this biased and politically motivated resolution. Acknowledging that there is always room for improvement, she highlighted the selective, biased and hypocritical nature of the delegations directed against her country, naming “Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the United States, and the occupying and apartheid Israeli regime — the classic cast of characters and the usual suspects.”
She urged Canada to confront the painful reality of the annual discovery of numerous bodies of Indigenous children, as well as the exploitation and mistreatment of migrant workers. Regarding the United Kingdom, she spotlighted more than 200 missing children and teenagers there, all of whom are asylum seekers. In France, crackdowns on religious freedom in the name of secularism marginalize Muslim communities and hijabs, while Germany violates the most basic rights of Muslim and migrant women and children, which casts attention on historical parallels such as the chemical weapons it used against Iranian women and children during the imposed war.
“The illegitimate apartheid regime at the forefront of massacring innocent women and children — nobody else can really compete with the apartheid regime in genocide ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity,” she said, referring to the bombings of hospitals where hundreds of patients, mostly women and children, were killed by the occupying apartheid regime of Israel. The United States, in addition to promoting racism, supports Israel’s genocide and slaughtering of women and children, also committing genocide against the Iranian people through the imposition of inhuman and unlawful unilateral coercive measures. “The draft resolution has nothing to do with human rights,” she stated, proposing a vote and calling for its defeat.
The representative of Venezuela, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations, said the presentation of country-specific resolutions, without the consent of the State concerned, not only goes against the principles of impartiality, objectivity, transparency, non-selectivity, non-politicization and non-confrontation, but also against the very spirit of the Charter. He expressed the Group’s firm and principled rejection to all kinds of double standards that undermine the true spirit of promoting and defending human rights, as well as its serious concern at the growing proliferation of mechanisms and procedures that pretend to make impartial assessments of the human rights situation in certain States. Their reports are based on secondary, tertiary or other sources that may be partial or lack credibility, which ends up turning such documents into propaganda pamphlets. “We reject the ongoing practice of the Security Council of dealing with issues beyond its mandate, including by addressing human rights issues, in pursuit of certain States’ political objectives,” he stressed, adding that the illegal and immoral application of unilateral coercive measures has a negative impact on the enjoyment and realization of all human rights.
Cuba’s delegate, aligning himself with the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations, said his country does not support politically motivated country-specific resolutions and will never endorse the manipulation of human rights instruments to advance geopolitical interests and undermine the constitutional rights of other States. Cuba, therefore, will vote against the resolution. He called for dialogue based on cooperation and exchange of best practices, which is the only way to address human rights challenges anywhere.
The delegate of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations, said his country is against country-specific resolutions which have nothing to do with promotion and protection of human rights, as they only aim at interfering in the internal affairs of sovereign States. His delegation, therefore, will oppose the draft resolution.
Nicaragua’s representative, endorsing the statement the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations, said his country opposes the annual presentation of politically motivated reports and draft resolutions, which lack objectivity and impartiality, and do not contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights. They increase mistrust among countries and deepen confrontation, undermining mutual dialogue, multilateralism and international solidarity. He rejects the “instrumentalization” of such resolutions which impose unjust illegal unilateral coercive measures against Iran and violate the human rights of Iranian citizens. Nicaragua will cast its vote against it.
The delegate of the Russian Federation emphasized that it is counterproductive to have selective, politicized country-specific resolutions like the one on Iran, which has nothing to do with protecting human rights but has a goal to disseminate misinformation and fight political opponents. It is an attempt to punish a sovereign State for conducting independent foreign policy. As usual, the United States is behind this anti-Iran campaign, he said, welcoming Iran's responsible approach to the promotion and protection of human rights and pledging to vote against the draft.
The representative of Australia said his country remains gravely concerned by the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran, especially the persecution of women and girls, oppression of ethnic and religious minorities and treatment of the “LGBTI community”. Condemning the disproportionate use of force against protesters in Iran, he expressed solidarity with its brave people and support to their right to protest peacefully. “Australia is deeply disturbed by Iran's use of the death penalty and especially against protestors,” he said, calling on it to establish a moratorium on all executions.
Pakistan’s delegate said her country believes in impartiality, transparency, objectivity, non-selectivity and the non-politicization of “constrained” human rights situations around the world. However, selective targeting continues, and Iran is one such example. Pakistan, therefore, will vote against the resolution.
The delegate of Brazil acknowledged Iran’s progress made in the area of human rights domestically, its efforts to provide the growing Afghan refugee population with basic services and the appointment of a special committee to investigate the 2022 unrests. She encouraged Iran to cooperate with UN special procedures, particularly the Special Rapporteur, as there are important areas of concern like the protection of the rights to peaceful assembly and association. The application of the death penalty remains to be addressed, as well as freedom of expression and opinion, gender-discriminatory laws and rights of women and girls, she stressed, adding that Brazil will abstain.
Kazakhstan’s representative reiterated that the presentation of country-specific resolutions without the consent of the State concerned is not conducive to dialogue and the improvement of the human rights situation in those States. Kazakhstan is against selectivity and politicization of human rights, he said, calling for promoting and protecting human rights through equal dialogue and cooperation, as well as non-interference in internal affairs.
The representative of Eritrea, aligning with the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations, reiterated the country’s strong opposition to the practice of country-specific resolution mandates, which is politicized, confrontational, counter-productive and mostly imposed against developing countries with independent policies. Pledging to vote against the resolution, she called for the equal consideration of all human rights situations in all countries and cooperation with Iran as well as support for its efforts to meet the needs of its people, including the lifting of unilateral coercive measures.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution titled “Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran” (document A/C.3/78/L.41) by a vote of 80 in favour to 29 against, with 65 abstentions.
By its terms, the Assembly would condemn the intensified, targeted repression of women and girls by Iran, both online and offline, and strongly urge Iran to eliminate, in law and in practice, all forms of systemic discrimination and verbal and physical harassment against women and girls, in public and private life, and related human rights violations against women and girls. It would condemn measures used by Iran to respond to protests that began in September 2022, after the death in custody of Jina Mahsa Amini. These measures include mass arrests and arbitrary detention; disproportionate use of force, including force leading to the death of peaceful protesters; and imposition and carrying out of the death penalty against those connected to the protests. The Assembly would further express serious concern at reports of ill-treatment during arrests.
Also by the text, the Assembly would strongly urge Iran to cease the use of all unlawful practices in response to peaceful protesters, and call upon the Government to release human rights defenders and protesters unjustly detained, as well as journalists and lawyers who defend or seek to defend those persons. The Assembly would also condemn the widespread use of force against non-violent protesters and express concern at the bill proposed by the Government on the use of firearms during protests and call for its withdrawal. It would call upon Iranian authorities to uphold the human rights of those involved in peaceful protests and consider rescinding unduly harsh sentences, including those involving the death penalty and long-term internal exile.
By further terms, the Assembly would call on Iran, including the judicial and security branches, to create and maintain, in law and in practice, a safe and enabling environment, both online and offline, in which an independent, diverse and pluralistic civil society can operate free from hindrance, insecurity and reprisals. It would also call on Iran to end its harassment, intimidation and persecution, including abductions, arrests and executions, of political opponents and human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders, children and youth defending human rights, and human rights defenders belonging to minority groups, among others. Further, the Assembly would call on Iran to release women human rights defenders imprisoned for exercising their rights, including the right to freedom of association and peaceful assembly and the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and take appropriate, robust and practical steps to protect women human rights defenders and guarantee their full enjoyment of all their human rights.
By other terms, the Assembly would call on Iran to deepen its engagement with international human rights mechanisms. This engagement would include full cooperation with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran; full cooperation with the independent international fact-finding mission on the Islamic Republic of Iran; continued cooperation with treaty bodies; building on the universal periodic review process by exploring cooperation on human rights and justice reform with the United Nations, including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; and follow through on its commitment to establish an independent national human rights institution, in line with principles relating to the status and functioning of national institutions for protection and promotion of human rights (also known as the Paris Principles).
Speaking after the vote, the representative of Spain, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said her delegation is deeply concerned with the deteriorating situation of human rights in Iran, especially the situation for women and girls. Despite repeated calls for restraint, the response of Iranian security forces remains disproportionate. The European Union is gravely concerned with the significant increase in executions. The delegation strongly opposes the use of the death penalty in all circumstances and at all times, she said.
The representative of Belarus said his delegation voted against the resolution because it is not appropriate to have country-selective approaches, adding that the draft is a biased document. Universal periodic reviews are the tool to use for monitoring human rights in other countries.
The representative of China said her delegation has always maintained that the principle of impartiality must be followed and that the internal affairs of countries should be respected. Human rights should not be used to infringe upon the internal affairs of other countries. Her delegation voted against the resolution, she said.
The representative of the United States said that, more than a year after protests began in Iran, the human rights situation there continues to deteriorate. Death sentences are being carried out and there remains a disproportionate use of force and unfair trials. The regime is hostile to human rights and the Special Rapporteur is not being granted access. This resolution helps provide accountability.
The representative of Singapore abstained from the vote because her delegation does not support country-specific resolutions.
The representative of Israel said her delegation supported the resolution to help improve the human rights situation in Iran. There is a need to eliminate violence against protestors, stop arbitrary arrests against protesters and ensure the safety of protestors’ family members. She also highlighted suffering among the Jewish community in Iran.
The representative of Syria said his country voted against the resolution. This is not a balanced text and reflects the relationship between Iran and other countries, such as the United States and Canada, he said.
The Committee then turned to the draft resolution titled “Situation of human rights in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, including the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol” (document A/C.3/78/L.42), which the Chair noted contains no programme budget implications.
The representative of Ukraine introduced the draft as a clear expression of dedication to the Charter of the United Nations’ fundamental principles. Annually presented since 2016, the draft underscores the significant deterioration of human rights in all Ukrainian territories under Russian control. With the full-scale invasion in February 2022, the severity of violations has multiplied and escalated in newly occupied territories. The resolution serves as a practical tool for ongoing monitoring and reporting on the human rights situation, ensuring that all crimes and atrocities are made known and not tolerated. Now more than ever, he stressed, it is important to send a strong signal to the aggressor. He called on all responsible Member States to stand with Ukraine and vote in favour.
The representative of Venezuela, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations, firmly rejected any resolutions with double standards that undermine the defence of human rights. Presenting country-specific resolutions without the concerned State’s consent goes against impartiality, objectivity, transparency, non-selectivity, non-politicization and non-confrontation. He also insisted that immoral and illegal unilateral coercive measures have a negative impact on the realization of all human rights, including the rights to development, life, food, health and peace. He strongly urged States to speak out against such measures and called for the politicization of human rights to end.
The representative of the Russian Federation, calling the resolution false “through and through”, said the draft has two goals — to dispute the status of the “Republic of Crimea” and other entities within the Russian Federation, and legitimize daily killing of civilians in attempts to return control of these territories by force. “The people living in those territories chose in favour of Russia”, she said, in a referendum realizing the right to self-determination. This was not a random choice, but a consequence of the bloody coup d’état in 2014 staged by the West and a result of the Kyiv regime starting a war against Donbas in April 2014. Noting it is “absurd” to read the draft’s provisions, she said her delegation requested a recorded vote.
The representative of Iran, explaining its vote against the draft, said her country strongly believes that country-specific resolutions exploit the Committee for political ends. They contravene the Charter of the United Nations and principles of universality, non-politicization, impartiality, non-selectivity, transparency and objectivity. They promote confrontation and mistrust between Member States, while undermining the cause of human rights. Double standards are detrimental to international cooperation and should be avoided. The human rights agenda must be pursued with respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The representative of Spain, speaking on behalf of the European Union, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, San Marino and Ukraine, expressed firm commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within internationally recognized borders. Voting in favour of the draft, the European Union and its member States will never recognize such an illegal annexation. Crimea, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk belong to Ukraine. In its latest report, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine concluded there was proof of numerous violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, including attacks against citizens, war crimes, torture, sexual violations and deportation of minors. These are unacceptable violations in Ukraine’s territories that are occupied or annexed by the Russian Federation.
The representative of Georgia, aligning with the European Union’s statement and explaining its vote in favour, expressed deep concern over the systematic and flagrant violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by the Russian Federation in Ukraine. He reiterated Georgia’s unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters. He called on other delegations to join in upholding human rights and the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
The representative of the United Kingdom strongly defended the use of country-specific resolutions to complement the work of the Human Rights Council and other fora, as well as to scrutinize adherence to international law and human rights obligations. He reiterated strong support for the resolution and urged the Russian Federation to cease its attack, withdraw forces from Ukraine and allow access for international monitoring missions in Crimea and other temporarily controlled territories. Since 2014, people in Crimea have endured a systematic campaign of human rights violations by Russian authorities designed to instill fear, break resolve and erode Ukrainian culture and identity. There will be no impunity, he said, for the Russian Federations’ human rights violations and abuses in Ukraine, nor its violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, explaining its vote against, rejected the draft’s politicization and lack of relevance to promoting and protecting human rights. These issues should never be misused as a political instrument to violate sovereignty or interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign States. The draft only causes distrust and confrontation between Member States and pursues unjustified approaches with political purposes to target and defame individual States. He reiterated that human rights work in the UN should be conducted in an objective, transparent, non-selective, non-confrontational and non-politicized manner.
The representative of Azerbaijan condemned in the strongest terms extremism, radicalism and separatism in all forms. She opposed the acquisition of territories through force and called for the settlement of all conflicts between Member States through political dialogue, in accordance with principles of international law. Azerbaijan fully supports Ukraine’s sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, as demonstrated during the vote on General Assembly resolution 68/262 (2014) titled “Territorial integrity of Ukraine”. Conflicts on Ukraine’s territory must be resolved in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations’ core principles, the Helsinki Final Act and relevant UN resolutions.
The Committee then approved the draft by a recorded vote of 77 in favour to 14 against, with 79 abstentions. By the text, the General Assembly would condemn the ongoing temporary control or occupation by the Russian Federation of part of Ukraine’s territory, including the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, and certain areas of the Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk regions, reaffirming the non-recognition of its annexation. The Assembly would condemn the Russian Federation’s continuing and total disregard for its obligations under international law regarding its legal responsibility for the occupied territory, including the responsibility to respect Ukrainian law and the rights of all civilians. The Assembly would also condemn in the strongest possible terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine in violation of Article 2 (4) of the Charter of the United Nations.
By further terms, the Assembly would urge the Russian Federation to uphold all its obligations under applicable international law and bring an immediate end to all violations of international human rights law against residents of the temporarily controlled or occupied territories of Ukraine; disclose the number and identity of individuals deported from those territories of Ukraine to the Russian Federation; stop the illegal drafting of residents of those territories of Ukraine into the armed forces of the Russian Federation; end the practice of deporting Ukrainian citizens from those territories of Ukraine for not taking Russian citizenship and stop transferring its own civilian population to those territories of Ukraine; and cease forcible transfers or deportation of Ukraine’s children and other civilians and take all necessary steps with a view to their safe return and family reunification. Further, the Assembly would condemn all attempts by the Russian Federation to normalize its attempted, illegal annexation of the territories of Ukraine, including by automatic imposition of citizenship of the Russian Federation and illegal elections. The Assembly would further urge the Russian Federation to ensure unimpeded access of international human rights monitoring missions to those territories.
The representative of China underscored that sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries must be respected. Her country stands for peace as it continues to foster peace talks, she stressed, adding that the Third Committee should engage in constructive dialogue. Rejecting politicization, selectivity and double standards, she said her delegation voted against the draft.
The representative of Qatar, noting her delegation’s abstention on certain matters, underlined the importance of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. States must respect human rights and international humanitarian law in the context of armed conflict, she said, highlighting the need to resolve international conflicts peacefully.
The representative of Singapore, reiterating her country’s principled position of abstaining on country-specific resolutions, said its vote should not be interpreted as reflecting its position on the substance of the issues raised in the resolution. Sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries must be respected, she asserted.
The representative of Mexico condemned the illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory, calling for respect for its territorial integrity. Her delegation’s abstention clearly reflects its position on the conflict, she said, voicing deep concern over reports of serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law perpetrated in the occupied territories and calling on Moscow to respect international law.
The representative of Syria, whose delegation voted against the draft, said “this is what you get for Ukraine when you trust the West”. The “decision-making institute” in Ukraine is suffering from a deep misunderstanding of international relations, he said, adding: “the friendship between the wolf and the rabbit ends when the wolf gets hungry”.
Next, the Committee turned to the draft resolution “Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic” (document A/C.3/78/L.43) as orally revised, which the Chair noted contains no programme budget implications.
Introducing the draft, the representative of the United States said the resolution was orally revised by removing operative paragraph 16 to maintain the broadest support possible. The humanitarian needs of Syria are at the highest levels since the outbreak of the revolution in 2011, she said. The resolution continues to put Syria on the UN agenda, noting that it also calls on the Assad regime to release all unlawfully held detainees, release information about those still in detention or those who died in detention as well as cease torture or inhuman treatment. Welcoming the establishment of the Independent Institution on Missing Persons in Syria, she said she looks forward to the upcoming report of the Secretary-General on how to operationalize it. This resolution calls for accountability as well as unhindered humanitarian access, particularly through the UN cross-border mechanism. Expressing concern about impediments to aid, she recalled Russia’s “shameful” veto of the UN cross-border aid authorization this year. Urging support for the resolution, she called on the Committee to protect the interests of Syrian human rights defenders.
In explanation of vote before the vote, the representative of Qatar said that, since the first time the draft was adopted in 2011, his country has always been willing to play a constructive role for its Syrian brothers, encouraging a settlement through political process according to the “Geneva 1” and Security Council resolution 2254 (2015) to achieve the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people. Further, since the crisis began, Qatar has provided aid to meet the needs of the Syrian people. The draft addresses all outstanding human rights questions, he said, noting that the Third Committee was responsible for addressing such matters. He called on Member States to “do the right thing” and vote in favour of the resolution today and also in the General Assembly.
The representative of Venezuela, speaking for the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations, said this resolution goes against the principles of the UN Charter, as it undermines friendly development and cooperation among nations. The Group rejects all double standards in human rights, he said, voicing concern over the growing number of mechanisms to produce supposed “impartial” solutions without involving the targeted state. Worse, such mandates produce reports with second and third-party sources which are “mere propaganda”. The Group insists that unilateral coercive measures have a negative impact on all human rights, including development, and vigorously urges against their implementation. The only way to strengthen multilateralism is by observing all principles in the Charter of the United Nations, he said.
The representative of Iran said her delegation opposes the politicization of human rights interfering with internal affairs of States. Such measures are counterproductive and lack the legitimacy to be effective. The politically motivated text of “L.43” ignores all achievements of the Government in stabilizing the country, providing civilian protection or repatriating persons, she said, noting that it is an “affront” to the Syrian people, who have faced challenges in recent years. There is no mention of the country’s efforts to combat terrorism in the region or to recognize Israel’s raids in the country, which affect it negatively. To maintain the credibility of the Committee, her delegation will vote against the biased draft, she said.
The representative of Cuba said that the selective nature of this exercise is clear. This sort of resolution is only applied to developing countries, already affected by unilateral coercive measures, while the atrocities of rich countries are met with silence. The United States has once again submitted this resolution against Syria as an alibi for Israel’s aggression against the civilian population in Gaza. This is proof that the United States does not care about human rights in Syria nor anywhere else. It only cares about its own interests, he said. Recalling the United States’ vetoes of resolutions on the situation in Gaza, he said the draft text is punitive. Cuba supports a peaceful solution to the situation in Syria and encourages the Committee to engage in dialogue with the country to bring it about, he said.
The representative of Nicaragua, explaining its vote against the draft and aligning with Venezuela’s statement, rejected the annual presentation of politically motivated drafts without objectivity. The draft is part of a smear campaign against Syria’s Government and does not contribute to protecting human rights. She urged Member States to avoid double standards and reiterated the Committee’s duty to treat all States without political bias and to refrain from exploiting human rights for the ideals of imperialist countries. She also urged respect for sovereignty, self-determination, territorial integrity and non-intervention in Syria’s internal affairs.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, explaining its vote against the draft, reaffirmed its rejection of country-specific resolutions. His delegation supports the Syrian Government’s continuous efforts to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, while fighting against attempted foreign occupation and armed interventions by hostile forces. He firmly opposed such attempts to infringe upon national sovereignty, interfere in internal affairs and undermine legitimate Governments and social systems.
The representative of Brazil, explaining its abstention, reiterated its call for a more balanced resolution. Future drafts can advance toward a non-selective, impartial and objective text. Although the Syrian Government’s primary responsibility to protect its population is unquestionable, a myriad of other actors also bear responsibility for rights violations and abuses. She further reiterated that only a Syrian-led, UN-facilitated political process that respects the country’s sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity will bring lasting peace and alleviate the population’s suffering.
The representative of the Russian Federation said the draft, based on “groundless accusations and conjecture”, is a typical example of politicized double standards. The United States’ position as a co-sponsor is particularly cynical, as it has perpetrated aggression against Syria and occupied part of its territory. Having attempted to asphyxiate Syria through illegitimate sanctions, the United States has an obligation to compensate billions in damages to Syria and immediately withdraw its troops. Moreover, the entire world has seen the genuine nature of the “pseudo-humanitarian principles” of the United States in the Israel-Palestine conflict, with its veto preventing the Security Council from adopting a ceasefire resolution for the Gaza Strip. The United States is directly complicit in these people’s murders, he said, calling on Member States to avoid being at the “beck and call” of the aggressor State.
The representative of the United Kingdom, encouraging Member States to vote in favour, condemned the escalation of hostilities and the greatest surge in violence in Syria in more than three years. Also concerned by the effects of the February 2023 earthquakes, he said his delegation will support regular reporting on the humanitarian situation to ensure timely aid reaches those in need. He also reiterated the need for a genuine political solution in line with Security Council resolution 2254 (2015) to deliver the peace that Syrians need and deserve.
The representative of Syria, explaining its request for a vote and its vote against, said the resolution was designed to target his country. Recalling a UN Board of Inquiry report in April 2020 stating it was highly probable that strikes were carried out by Syria’s Government or its allies, he added that the evidence gathered was not sufficient to reach a conclusive finding. Also, he said that the core group is lying about Syria’s statement on 13 July acknowledging the need for cross-border humanitarian assistance. Before the Security Council, his delegation called for accelerating the “cross-line mechanism”, not the cross-border mechanism. He urged other delegations to not blindly follow the core group, as the draft shows partiality and incompetence. None of the core group’s members cares about the human rights situation in Syria, he said, as they are instead upset about failing to achieve their political goals in his country.
The Committee then approved the draft by a recorded vote of 86 in favour to 15 against, with 73 abstentions.
By the text, the General Assembly would demand the Syrian regime to adhere fully to its international obligations and cooperate fully with the Commission of Inquiry. It would demand that the Syrian regime and all other parties to the conflict allow and ensure full and immediate humanitarian access. Strongly condemning the grave human rights situation in Syria, the Assembly would further demand all parties to immediately end all violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, as well as take all appropriate steps to protect civilians and persons hors de combat.
By further terms, the Assembly would urge all Member States to create conditions for continued negotiations for a political solution to the conflict under UN auspices. Deploring the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria, the Assembly would urge the international community to assume its responsibility to provide urgent financial support for host countries to respond to Syrian refugees’ growing humanitarian needs. It would call on all parties to the conflict to cease all abuse of detainees and call on the Syrian regime to release all unlawfully held detainees. Deploring and condemning in the strongest terms the Syrian regime’s continued armed violence against the Syrian people since the start of peaceful protests in 2011, the Assembly would demand the regime to immediately end all attacks against civilians, take all feasible precautions to avoid incidental loss of civilian life, and meet its responsibilities to protect the Syrian population.
The representative of Peru said his country supports calls for all parties in Syria, including the Syrian Government, to respect international human rights law and international humanitarian law, demanding that they desist from attacking civilian infrastructure. Peru disassociates itself from operative paragraph 14, as it is unusual to include a value judgment about a specific case on use of the veto in a General Assembly draft resolution. Also, the value judgment used in paragraph 14 is not consistent in content or tenor with his county’s intervention to the Assembly on July 19. He urged Security Council members to refrain from politicizing humanitarian affairs.
The representative of Spain, speaking on behalf of the European Union, reiterated calls for the Syrian regime and all parties to fully engage in a Syrian-led political process. All parties responsible for human rights violations must be held responsible. She urged all parties to support efforts to ascertain the whereabouts of missing relatives and warned against further displacements. Underscoring the imperatives of accountability for all victims, she reiterated calls for the situation to be referred to the International Criminal Court. All parties should also allow for unimpeded and sustained humanitarian access along cross lines, cross borders and places of confinement and detention.
The representative of Canada said her delegation regrets the decision to remove a request for the Emergency Relief Coordinator to provide a report on the humanitarian situation. It is concerned about increasing attempts to politicize humanitarian assistance. She deplored the arbitrary detainment, torture and forcible displacement and disappearance of civilians. Together with the Netherlands, Canada has initiated legal proceedings at the International Court of Justice to hold the regime accountable for torture and human rights violations of its people.
The representative of Belarus rejected a selective country-specific approach to human rights which “does not improve the human rights situation on the ground but merely generates an atmosphere of confrontation”. Because this is unacceptable, his delegation voted against the resolution. Belarus continues to object to the practice of closed and effectively secret drafting of country resolutions, in this case by the United States. This practice violates the principles of the work of the United Nations and is unacceptable.
The representative of Burundi said his country opposes any country-specific resolution.
The representative of China spoke against using human rights as a pretext to pressure countries into setting up county-specific mechanisms without the consent of the country involved. The draft “L.43” ignores difficulties occasioned by foreign interference and unilateral sanctions on the Syrian people, which exert excessive pressure on the Syrian Government. Because the essence of the draft is to use human rights to pressure the Syrian Government for political purposes, her delegation voted against it.
The representative of Argentina said her delegation voted in favour of “L.43” and urged all parties to adopt an approach that strictly defends the human rights of the Syrian people. She also called for continued efforts to establish the fate and whereabouts of disappeared civilians. Her delegation underscores the need for respect of Syria’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, she said, stressing that politicizing the situation must also be avoided.
The representative of Türkiye said recent ceasefire violations have caused the humanitarian situation in the region to deteriorate. The Committee must combat terrorism, which is the biggest threat to human rights in the region. He said the resolution not only underscores the unique role of the Constitutional Committee that brings together Syrian parties but the importance of convening it under United Nations auspices immediately. His delegation advocates for a political solution in line with Security Council resolution 2254 (2015).
The representative of Ireland, speaking also for Norway, said the two countries regret the deletion of operative paragraph 16, which requests a continuation of vital reporting by the Emergency Relief Coordinator on the humanitarian situation in Syria and the humanitarian response. It is imperative that Member States work together to ensure adequate reporting on the situation.
The representative of Singapore abstained from the vote in line with her delegation’s principle of abstaining from all country-specific human rights resolutions in the Third Committee. This voting position should not be interpreted as taking a position on the substance of human rights issues raised in the resolution.
The representative of Israel said the representative of the Assad regime has made extensive efforts to demonize and delegitimize the State of Israel, including through the claim that the massacre of 7 October by the Hamas terrorist organization did not occur as Israel claims. This is truly shameful. He said the Assad regime cares about Palestinian lives only when they “can be cynically leveraged to demonize and delegitimize the State of Israel”.
Right of Reply
Exercising the right of reply to the Committee’s earlier discussion on human rights in Iran, the representative of Canada said the content of the resolution on that country changes each year despite some delegations’ insistence that the content remains the same. Noting that Canada has completed its fourth universal periodic review, he said the country needs to complete addressing its past treatment of Indigenous people. However, the decision of multiple delegations to criticize Canada does not obscure human rights violations in Iran.
The representative of Syria said he felt like the representative of Israel was criticizing him personally.
The representative of Iran said Canada’s tabling of this resolution shows the delegation is not satisfied with simply criticizing the Iranian Government. Canada never mentions the accomplishments of Iran. She urged Canada not to exercise the right of reply when bringing a biased resolution before the Committee.
Action on Draft Resolutions
The Committee then turned to the draft resolution titled “Assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa” (document A/C.3/78/L.61), which the Chair noted contains no programme budget implications.
Introducing the draft, the representative of the Congo, speaking on behalf of the African Group, noted the high number of refugees and internally displaced people in the African continent. She said UNHCR must account for the increased needs of people in Africa to ensure the continent receives a fair share of resources for refugees. Underscoring the need for international solidarity, she said there must be predictable and adequate funding. The Committee then approved the draft resolution by consensus.
By its terms, the Assembly would urge States, parties to conflict and other relevant actors to take necessary measures to protect activities related to humanitarian assistance, including preventing attacks and kidnapping. It would also urge the international community to continue generously funding the refugee programmes of the Office of the High Commissioner and other relevant humanitarian organizations. The Assembly would call on the international community to take concrete action to meet the protection and assistance needs of refugees, returnees and displaced persons. It would further call on the international donor community to provide financial and material assistance to implement community-based development programmes that benefit both refugees and host communities.
Speaking after the approval, the representative of Hungary said his delegation is deeply concerned about the refugee situation in Africa. Yet operational paragraph 4 refers to the Global Compact on Refugees and his delegation cannot accept this reference. His delegation, therefore, disassociates itself from operational paragraph 4.