In a day of intense action, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) approved 12 draft resolutions, including three on the broad theme of migration flows, touching on refugees, protection of migrants and human trafficking.
The Committee approved, without a vote, a draft that proposes to establish 18 September as International Equal Pay Day, beginning in 2020. Introducing the text, Iceland’s representative pointed out that women are paid less than men, across all regions, with the gender pay gap estimated at 20 per cent. Although equal pay has been widely endorsed, applying it in practice has been difficult.
Three resolutions passed by the Committee revolve around the issue of migration, two of which were approved by consensus. A draft resolution on the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees ‑ approved by a recorded vote of 169 in favour, to 2 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Syria), with 5 abstentions (Eritrea, Hungary, Iran, Libya, Poland) ‑ would have the Assembly urge States party to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol thereto to respect their obligations. It would call on States and other stakeholders that have not yet contributed to burden‑sharing to do so.
Denmark’s representative, introducing the draft on behalf of the Nordic countries, expressed regret that one Member State called for a vote, given that the draft in question is “a humanitarian, non‑political text”, in keeping with the non‑political, humanitarian nature of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) work. Meanwhile, Syria’s delegate, who requested the vote, said he disapproved of the text, as it failed to reflect his country’s concerns by neglecting to mention “root causes” such as unilateral coercive measures and terrorism, which compel refugees to move.
The Committee also approved a consensus draft seeking to improve the coordination of efforts against trafficking in persons. By its terms, the Assembly would decide to convene a high‑level meeting on the progress achieved in implementing the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons at its seventy‑sixth session, no later than December 2021. It would urge Member States that have not yet done so to consider ratifying or acceding to the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.
Belarus’s representative, introducing the draft, said urgent international cooperation is required to tackle the increase in organ trafficking and trafficking of migrants, as well as the preponderance of women and children in trafficking.
Among other drafts approved by consensus was one on the girl child, focusing on equitable access to education for girls, introduced by Mozambique’s delegate on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). By its terms, the Assembly would call on States to strengthen national health systems and enforce measures to prevent the distribution over the Internet of child pornography and other child sexual abuse material.
Also approved today were draft resolutions on social integration, freedom of religion or belief, terrorism, and two concerning centres for human rights: in Central Africa, as well as in South‑West Asia and the Arab region — the former by a recorded vote of 176 in favour, to 1 against (Syria), with 2 abstentions (Iran, Palau).
The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Monday, 18 November, to continue its work.
The Committee first took up the draft resolution titled “Promoting social integration through social inclusion” (document A/C.3/74/L.17/Rev.1), which the Chair noted had no programme budget implications.
The representative of Peru, presenting the draft resolution, said the issue of social integration and inclusion presents States with a major challenge to work towards a transformative future. He encouraged Governments to develop social inclusion programmes, including for education, as many people are excluded because of gender, age, race, disability or other conditions, leaving them with limited access to various services.
The representative of the Philippines said the draft resolution reiterates the pledge of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to leave no one behind. She welcomed the recognition contained in the resolution that persons with disabilities are both agents and beneficiaries of development.
The Committee then adopted “L.17/Rev.1” without a vote.
By the text, the Assembly would stress the importance of promoting inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all, especially for young people, older persons, women and girls, and persons with disabilities. It would also call upon Member States to promote more equitable participation in and access to economic growth gains through policies that ensure inclusive labour markets.
The representative of Egypt said the draft addresses something unique, which is social integration through social inclusion. However, this is not a consensual formulation than can be applied to other resolutions.
The representative of the United States said her country joins the consensus on the draft. Regarding its reference to the 2030 Agenda, she drew attention to her country’s 7 November statement, which pertains to all Third Committee resolutions. The draft’s call for States to promote various aspects of education is carried out in terms consistent with federal, state and local authorities.
The Committee then took up the draft resolution titled “Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees” (document A/C.3/74/L.59), which the Chair said contains no programme budget implications.
The representative of Denmark, presenting the draft on behalf of the Nordic countries, said the work of the Office is humanitarian and of a non‑political character. The draft resolution dealing with its mandate is likewise a humanitarian, non‑political text. It supports UNHCR to provide humanitarian assistance and to seek durable solutions for the persons within its mandate. It enables UNHCR to work for the interests of all, particularly the forcibly displaced. It will foster a more effective international response to enforced displacement. The concerns of all Member States were given full consideration in order to arrive at a draft that would enjoy the fullest possible support. The text is the outcome of extensive negotiations and it enjoys solid support from a large majority of Member States cross‑regionally. While expressing regret that one Member State has called for a vote, he strongly encouraged all Member States to vote in favour of the draft.
The Chair said that a recorded vote has been requested.
The representative of Croatia, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, expressed regret that a vote was called on such an important humanitarian resolution. Forced displacement is a global phenomenon requiring global solutions. The draft offers an important platform for the international community to reaffirm its support for the mandate and work of UNHCR. It is humanitarian in nature and its objectives and should remain as such. While there had been wide agreement during negotiations to revert to previously agreed language in relevant paragraphs, it became clear that lengthy discussions would not lead to an agreement acceptable to all delegations. The United Nations membership has been able to agree on this language in the past. Undermining consensus will only have a negative impact, primarily on the beneficiaries of UNHCR’s critical work, he said, expressing support for the draft resolution and calling on others to do the same.
The representative of Syria, speaking in explanation of vote, noted the active participation of his country during negotiations in Geneva. He deplored that Syria’s concerns were not reflected in the draft resolution, for example including mention of the root causes of refugees — such as unilateral coercive measures and terrorism. Syria does not accept the current text and requested a vote.
The representative of the Russian Federation said he would vote in favour of the draft resolution, as his country supports UNHCR. He confirmed his country’s position on use of the term “burden‑sharing” and view that this concept does not impose any additional legal responsibility on the Russian Federation.
The representative of Iran said the draft should reflect the challenges affecting refugees. It is unfortunate that the main sponsors have disregarded the shifts in the global refugee crisis. Foreign aggression and universal coercive measures have either created large waves of refugees or hindered the capacity of countries to care for them. The United States cannot create refugees and then undermine the capacity of host countries to protect them — not to mention shutting its doors to refugees. Due to the United States unlawful unilateral coercive measures, Iran faces difficulties in responding to the needs of refugees. The draft resolution falls short of being faithful to the conditions that refugees in Iran face. Because of its support for UNHCR, Iran will not challenge the draft resolution, but rather, it will abstain from voting.
The Committee then approved the draft amendments by a recorded vote of 169 in favour to 2 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Syria), with 5 abstentions (Eritrea, Hungary, Iran, Libya and Poland).
By the text, the Assembly would urge States party to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol thereto to respect their obligations. It would also call on States and other stakeholders that have not yet contributed to burden‑ and responsibility‑sharing to do so, in a spirit of international solidarity and cooperation. Further, it would call on States to process asylum applications by identifying those in need of international protection, in accordance with their applicable international and regional obligations, so as to strengthen the refugee protection regime.
The representative of Venezuela, speaking in explanation of position, said he voted in favour of the draft with the understanding of the importance of the Office in carrying out international humanitarian law. There are various concerns for developing countries when it comes to the complexity of this phenomenon. He reaffirmed Venezuela’s rejection of the politicization of refugees, behaviour which some countries have imposed.
The representative of the United States, speaking in explanation of vote, said her country voted “yes” to underscore its commitment to UNHCR. She expressed regret that the draft contains language in operative paragraph 32 that contravenes United States policy. Arbitrary detention violates human rights and undermines the rule of law, she said, expressing deep concern about this issue. In certain cases, detention of migrants is lawful, and States are entitled to take measures to protect against organized crime and illicit trade. In certain instances, United States law requires that people remain in custody pending proceedings. Her country retains the sovereign right to decide on who to admit to its territory, and, as such, she disassociated from paragraph 32.
The representative of Indonesia, speaking in explanation of vote, said she voted in favour of the draft from a belief that political and economic instability perpetuate the global refugee crisis. However, these factors should not be discussed during deliberations on refugee humanitarian issues, as doing so would prolong the debate.
The representative of Pakistan, noting that his country is home to the world’s largest protracted refugee crisis, said new modalities should not lead to burdening host countries with loans when they are already grappling with development challenges. Respect for international law and the Charter of the United Nations could stop such crises from emerging. It is unfortunate that the draft was put to a vote. While he saw merit in arguments presented by representatives of Iran and Syria, Pakistan voted “yes” on the draft in the interest of achieving consensus.
The representative of Poland voiced regret that consensus was not reached. He acknowledged support for global cooperation in achieving refugee solutions, while at the same time maintaining each State’s right to decide the scope of its own involvement. Poland carries out support in the regions of origin of refugees, and through building medical and educational infrastructure. Poland does not support the Global Compact on Refugees or resettlement above other solutions. Poland regards the draft’s provisions to be without prejudice to its own position on the Global Compact. For these reasons, Poland abstained from the vote.
The representative of the United Kingdom, in a general statement, expressed support for UNHCR and the draft resolution. However, he expressed regret that Syria called for a vote, as it ignored the humanitarian nature of the draft resolution. As Syria understands only too well, humanitarian exemptions are a well‑established practice. Syria is working to prevent aid from reaching those in desperate need, in clear violation of international humanitarian law.
The representative of Australia underscored her country’s commitment to responding to the global challenge of displacement. International humanitarian law holds that in armed conflict, States have the primary obligation to meet the basic needs of the population under their control. Consent to humanitarian relief must not be withheld under arbitrary grounds, she assured.
The representative of Hungary said the draft resolution does not reflect her delegation’s position in all aspects, especially regarding the concept of solidarity and the Global Compact on Refugees, which Hungary does not support. Therefore, Hungary abstained from the vote. Solidarity can take various forms, including humanitarian aid or the provision of services or infrastructure to countries hosting refugees. Resettlement is not the way to express solidarity.
The representative of Canada welcomed the draft’s approval, stressing that protecting refugees and responding to their needs is vital, given the increasingly high numbers of refugees and forcibly displaced persons. She expressed regret that a vote was called and advocated a return to consensus.
The representative of Syria said that when international law is respected and conflicts are prevented, there will be neither displacement nor the need for refuge. The representative of the United Kingdom should not use the refugee crisis as a means of blackmail or for political means. He asked why the United Kingdom would not withdraw the unilateral measures that are affecting the lives of Syrians and allow for the return of refugees.
The Committee then turned to the draft resolution titled “The girl child” (document A/C.3/74/L.23), which the Chair noted contains no programme budget implications.
The representative of Mozambique, introducing the draft on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), acknowledged the relevance of the resolution passed during the seventy‑second session, which seeks to address barriers to equitable access to education for girls. The current draft highlights gender stereotypes, school‑related gender‑based violence, as well as reproductive health care, including sanitary needs. Noting that the draft only includes a technical update, he looked forward to its approval by consensus.
The representative of Finland, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said upholding children’s rights is an utmost priority. While he welcomed the draft’s emphasis on access to education and universal health care, he called for the removal of provisions that allow the expulsion of pregnant girls from school, and emphasized the need for inclusive policies enabling them to return to school without delay. He expressed regret that Finland was not included in consultations on the drafting of the text and observed that language on key concepts required updating. In particular, he pointed out that operative paragraph 11 is “unbalanced and does not reflect international consensus”.
The Committee then approved draft resolution “L.23” without a vote.
By its terms, the Assembly would urge States to ratify or accede to the International Labour Organization’s Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138), and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182). It would call on States to recognize the right to education on the basis of equal opportunity and non‑discrimination by making primary education compulsory and available free to all children and to foster a culture in which menstruation is recognized as healthy and natural, and girls are not stigmatized on this basis. The Assembly would also call on States to strengthen the capacity of national health systems and enforce legislative or other measures to prevent the distribution over the Internet of child pornography and other child sexual abuse material.
The representative of the United States said while her country supports the rights of girl children, it does not accept references to sexual and reproductive health, which suggest that access to legal abortion is included under the general term “health care services”. There is no international right to abortion, which the United States does not provide as a family planning method in its global assistance. Instead, she said, the United States supports local, family‑centred sex education that reflects faith and community values. On preambular paragraph 22, she noted that harassment, while condemnable, is not physical violence; on operative paragraphs 23 and 25, she preferred the phrase “child sexual abuse imagery or material often criminalized as child pornography” over the term “child pornography and other sexual abuse material”; she objected to mentions of child prostitution in preambular paragraph 16 and operative paragraph 23, adding that references to trafficking and forced migration in operative paragraph 23 “imply movement; it is not movement-based”.
An observer for the Holy See said States must not allow “unhelpful disagreements” to impede reaching necessary common agreement, and expressed reservations about terms such as “sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights” as applying to the holistic concept of health. “We do not consider access to abortion as a dimension to these terms,” he said, emphasizing that the primary rights and responsibilities of providing information about sexuality lies with parents. The right to religious freedom is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, he said.
The representative of New Zealand, on behalf of Australia, Canada, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, expressed disappointment about the language in operative paragraph 11, which reflects revisions made in 2017; prior to the amendment, the declaration on HIV/AIDS used “carefully developed compromise language”. The current language is not in the best interest of the child and is a “bitter reflection of the current compromise on the issue”. She said the original paragraph, which referred to parents and guardians, as well as the need to provide age‑appropriate education to adolescent boys and girls, did address sensitivities.
The representative of Guatemala, in a general statement, said that, concerning sexual and reproductive health services, his country’s Constitution guarantees human life from conception and the full integrity of the individual.
The Committee then took up the draft resolution titled “International Equal Pay Day” (document A/C.3/74/L.49), which the Chair said contains no programme budget implications.
The representative of Iceland, introducing the draft, said that across all regions, women are paid less than men, with the gender pay gap estimated at 20 per cent. Progress on narrowing that gap has been slow. While equal pay for men and women has been widely endorsed, applying it in practice has been difficult. The draft resolution proposes that 18 September be established as International Equal Pay Day, beginning in 2020, to celebrate progress achieved and support the fight for equal pay. Several paragraphs of the draft have been orally revised, including preambular paragraph 5, while preambular paragraph 10 has been moved to preambular paragraph 6. The changes are reflected in the available draft.
The representative of the United States said that her country joins the consensus and supports the concept of equal pay for equal work among women and men. She had hoped that the phrase “equal pay for work of equal value” would have appeared, as it reflects consensus language and has appeared in numerous United Nations documents since then.
The Committee approved draft resolution “L.49” as orally revised without a vote.
By the text, the General Assembly would decide to proclaim 18 September as International Equal Pay Day, to be observed each year beginning in 2020.
The representative of Finland, speaking for the European Union, said this initiative could not have been more timely following the centenary of the International Labour Organization, which has equal remuneration for work of equal value entrenched in the preamble to its constitution. The fight against discrimination in the workplace is a main priority of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Its twenty‑fifth anniversary must be seized to step up action in favour of gender equality at the workplace.
The representative of the Philippines said the promotion of gender equality is among the core priorities of her country, which continues to make significant strides in closing the gender gap. The declaration of 18 September as International Equal Pay Day can promote further action for all States, the private sector and other relevant stakeholders.
Next, the Committee took up a draft resolution titled "Freedom of religion or belief” (document A/C.3/74/L.25), which the Chair said contains no programme budget implications.
The representative of Finland introduced the draft on behalf of the European Union, noting the importance placed on the protection of freedom of religion amid a rise in violent extremism. Freedom of belief also includes the rights to not believe or to change one’s beliefs. The draft draws attention to the rights of religious minorities, particularly to exercise their religion freely, and aims to encourage States to focus on implementation. Only technical updates were made to the text and he expressed hope that it will be adopted by consensus.
The Committee then approved draft resolution “L.25” without a vote.
By its terms, the General Assembly would stress that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief — which includes the freedom to have or not to have, or to adopt, a religion or belief of one’s own choice. It would also strongly condemn any advocacy of hatred based on religion that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, whether involving the use of print, audiovisual or electronic media or any other means.
Next, the Committee took up the draft resolution titled “Terrorism and human rights” (document A/C.3/74/L.34), which the Chair said contains no programme budget implications.
The representative of Mexico, introducing the draft, said it is a technical update of the previous resolution. In combating terrorism, fundamental human rights and freedoms should be protected. Thus, the draft’s aim is to help States avoid violations as they combat terrorism, as well as to acknowledge the impact on the rights of victims of actions carried out by terrorist groups. The text does not reflect all concerns but offers a basis for advancing dialogue among States and with civil society, with the aim of improving the human rights perspective in counter‑terrorism measures. He urged all to support it.
The representative of Egypt said the draft resolution is a strong and balanced text that deals with terrorism in a holistic manner. It reaffirms that States must ensure that any measure to combat terrorism complies with their obligations under international law. It also reaffirms States’ responsibility to protect persons in their territory against such acts and expresses solidarity with the victims of terrorism and their families.
The Committee then approved draft resolution “L.34” without a vote.
By its terms, the Assembly would urge States to ensure that measures taken to counter terrorism — and violent extremism conducive to terrorism — are not discriminatory, and do not profile based on ethnic, racial or religious stereotypes or any other ground of discrimination prohibited by international law. It would also urge States to do all they can to prevent political, material or financial support from reaching terrorist groups, to deny terrorists safe haven and to criminalize the wilful provision or collection of funds to be used by terrorist groups. States must remain alert to the use of information and communications technology for terrorist purposes, and prevent and counter violent extremist propaganda and incitement to violence on the Internet and social media, including by developing effective counter‑narratives.
The representative of the United States said his country disassociates from operative paragraphs 14 and 30. Nothing in the draft asking States to take certain actions alters their obligations under international law. He noted that operative paragraph 14 is a veiled attack against United States material support law. While the United States supports the role of humanitarian actors, there is no obligation under international law that countries must allow the delivery of humanitarian aid to terrorist groups. The United States also disassociates from operative paragraph 30, as it “goes too far” and may be used to restrict speech, particularly online.
The representative of New Zealand, also speaking for Australia, Canada, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, said his delegation supports efforts to streamline resolutions. However, as the current draft is a technical rollover, he expressed concern that it results from the merging of resolutions 72/180 and 72/246. These two texts address two related but different types of human rights violations. The first describes the importance of Governments fully respecting their human rights obligations in their counter‑terrorism efforts, while the other focuses on the ways in which terrorists themselves abuse human rights. More importantly, with the upcoming review of the United Nations Global Counter‑Terrorism Strategy in 2020, he reiterated the call to include crucial human rights language from resolution 72/180. Without this language, he does not believe that the current resolution can truly represent a consolidation of resolution 72/180 and resolution 72/246, and thus, it will not be sustainable.
The Committee then turned to the draft resolution titled “Protection of migrants” (document A/C.3/74/L.35/Rev.1), which contains no programme budget implications.
The representative of Mexico, introducing the text, said the draft reaffirms the duty of States to protect the world’s 258 million migrants, regardless of their status as country of origin, transit or destination. While the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration recognizes all dimensions of the issue, the draft focuses solely on the human rights of migrants. He stressed that “sovereignty and human rights are not polar opposites,” adding that solidarity is required to address a phenomenon which is “by its nature, cross‑border”. He invited all delegations to support it.
The representative of Estonia, in a general statement, said the Global Compact does not create legal obligations for her country. Should references to it in the draft be the basis for a binding provision, Estonia will not be bound to adhere to it under international law.
The representative of Brazil, in a general statement, said his country respects the human rights of migrants, and grants them access to basic services. As many as 178,000 migrants from Venezuela have sought refugee status and temporary residence in recent years, many of whom are unaccompanied children waiting in shelters. Brazil will dissociate from preambular paragraphs 8 and 9, given that it is not a member of the Global Compact, nor a participant in the upcoming International Migration Review Forum.
The Committee then approved draft resolution “L.35/Rev.1” without a vote.
By its terms, the Assembly would call upon States to promote and protect the human rights of all migrants, regardless of their migration status, especially those of women and children, and to address international migration through international, regional or bilateral cooperation and dialogue and a comprehensive and balanced approach. It would recognize the roles and responsibilities of countries of origin, transit and destination in promoting and protecting their rights and avoiding approaches that might aggravate their vulnerability. It would call upon States to protect the human rights of migrant children — particularly unaccompanied migrant children — ensuring that their best interests are a primary consideration in legislation, policies and practices, including on integration, return and family reunification.
The representative of the United States stated that the terms “migration” and “migrant” are not well‑defined in international law, and that countries have the sovereign right to facilitate or restrict access to their territory in accordance with national laws, policies and interests, subject to existing international obligations. Referring to a bilateral legal matter, as in preambular paragraph 12, is “inappropriate”, she said, before dissociating her country from preambular paragraphs 7 and 15, as well as operative paragraphs 4a and 11.
In addition, she dissociated from preambular paragraph 28, which “inappropriately suggests that criminalizing actions relating to irregular migration could deny migrants the full enjoyment of their human rights and fundamental freedoms”. Concerning operative paragraph 4a, from which the United States dissociates, she said the detention of migrants or asylum seekers in some cases is “lawful and necessary to the maintenance of public safety and national security”. She also dissociated from operative paragraph 4b, regarding the treatment of migrant children, and from operative paragraph 7, noting that the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, does not prevent States from criminalizing the acts of migrants who are engaged in being smuggled.
The representative of Chile said his country does not participate in the Global Compact. Therefore, he dissociated from preambular paragraphs 8 and 16, as well as operative paragraph 9, which refer to the Global Compact and the International Migration Review Forum.
The representative of the Philippines, said that, as co-sponsor of the draft, his country welcomes the reference to the Global Compact, an important negotiation in the promotion and protection of the rights of migrants. He welcomed the emphasis on international cooperation to prevent migrant deaths, and looked forward to the report mandated by the resolution.
The representative of Algeria noted that while his country joined consensus, it will dissociate from preambular paragraph 8 and operative paragraph 9, which refer to the Global Compact, from which Algeria has abstained, due to its failure to distinguish between irregular and regular migration. Migration is a complex reality, and the Global Compact does not mention its root causes, such as the resurgence of armed conflicts and natural disasters, he said.
The representative of Libya said his country abstained from the Global Compact and is therefore not implicated by references to it in preambular paragraph 8 and operative paragraph 9.
The representative of Italy condemned all acts and manifestations of racism and xenophobia, and added that while her country joined the consensus, that fact “does not change our stance on the Global Compact, as stated when it was adopted last year by the General Assembly”.
The representative of Hungary, dissociating from preambular paragraphs 8 and 16, as well as operative paragraph 9, said his country does not support the Global Compact and is not taking part in its implementation. He stressed the need to address the root causes of migration in countries of origin, through sustainable development and conflict prevention.
The observer for the Holy See welcomed references to the Global Compact, which is “a milestone in the history of global dialogue and international cooperation on migration”, and welcomed the attention paid by the draft to xenophobic attitudes, for which increased vigilance is needed.
The representative of the United Kingdom welcomed the improved attention paid to two elements in the draft: the need to combat discrimination and to promote an evidence‑based public discourse on migration, as well as the emphasis on fair and ethical recruitment. However, regarding the mention of the Global Compact, he noted that countries reserve the sovereign right to decide on their immigration policies, as well as the right to denote migrants as criminals in line with domestic legislation, taking into account agreed international standards and human rights obligations. Child detention could be required in some instances to determine migration status, but “only as a measure of last resort, for the shortest period, and in the least restrictive setting”.
The representative of Guatemala said the Global Compact places human beings at the heart of its focus and calls for sustainable and humane responses to migration. “Protection must be a priority for the most vulnerable groups,” he said, calling for an approach to the issue that is not exclusively security‑based. “We must not criminalize irregular migrants,” he said, adding that migration should be viewed as a natural process throughout history, rather than a problem to be resolved.
The Committee then turned to the draft resolution “Subregional Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa” (document A/C.3/74/L.52/Rev.1), which the Chair said contains no programme budget implications.
The representative of Cameroon, introducing the draft on behalf of the Economic Community of Central African States, said that since its founding, the Centre has undertaken important human rights‑related activity. This year’s draft is a technical update of the resolution passed two years ago. It encourages the Centre to take a balanced interest in all countries under its responsibility.
The Committee then approved “L.52/Rev.1” without a vote.
By its terms, the Assembly would request the Secretary‑General and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue to provide additional funds and human resources — including human resources from within the subregion — within the Office’s existing resources to enable the Centre to respond effectively to growing needs in the subregion. It would encourage the Centre to consider the requested activities, needs and demands of countries in the subregion in the implementation of the Office’s strategic thematic priorities.
The Committee then turned to the draft resolution titled “United Nations Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South-West Asia and the Arab Region” (A/C.3/74/L.53/Rev.1), which the Chair said contains no programme budget implications.
The representative of Qatar, presenting the draft resolution, said the Centre was created in 2005 by Assembly resolution 60/153 to undertake training and documentation on the international criteria of human rights. The draft recalls that the Centre provides capacity‑building on political and civil rights, and expresses appreciation for increased effectiveness in the implementation of its mandate. She expressed the hope that it would be approved by consensus.
The Chair said that a recorded vote has been requested.
The representative of Syria, speaking in explanation of position, said his delegation does not object to the draft’s substance. It does object to who presented this draft resolution on human rights. Qatar refuses to classify Al‑Nusra and the al-Sham Liberation Front as terrorist groups. Qatar is known to support these groups in Syria and Iraq, in clear violation of Security Council resolutions banning such practices. He requested a recorded vote.
The representative of Qatar, in a general statement, said it is regrettable that Syria has called for a vote. The Centre has worked hard to implement its mandate. Syria’s representative has referred to issues unrelated to the substance of the resolution; rather, he has made accusations against Qatar. Qatar does host the Centre. She called on delegates to support the draft.
The Committee then approved draft resolution “L.52/Rev.1” by a recorded vote of 176 in favour to 1 against (Syria), with 2 abstentions (Iran, Palau).
By its terms, the Assembly would recognize that the Centre has made noticeable progress in the promotion of human rights and advocacy in the region and will continue to strengthen its effectiveness. It would encourage the Centre’s continued engagement with other United Nations regional offices to strengthen its work and to avoid duplication.
The representative of the United States said his country co-sponsored the resolution and thanked Qatar for its leadership during negotiations.
The Committee then turned to the draft resolution titled “Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons, based on religion or belief” (document A/C.3/74/L.54), which the Chair noted has no programme budget implications.
The representative of Egypt introduced the draft on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), noting that it is a natural follow‑up to the negotiated consensus resolution adopted in 2018. It is out of deep concern over growing religious intolerance, discrimination and related violence, as well as negative stereotyping on the basis of religion or belief that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation tables this resolution annually. Amid a global resurgence of xenophobia, intolerance, racism and discrimination, populist leaders and right‑wing political movements build their political and social platforms on exclusion of ethnic, religious and other groups. Democracy and the rule of law are incompatible with all forms of discrimination and intolerance, he asserted.
The Committee then approved draft resolution “L.54” without a vote.
By its terms, the Assembly would call on all States to foster a domestic environment of religious tolerance, peace and respect by promoting dialogue and inspiring constructive action, as well as encouraging the training of Government officials in effective outreach strategies. It would also call upon them to adopt policies promoting full respect for and the protection of places of worship and religious sites, cemeteries and shrines.
The representative of the United States referred to the statement delivered by her delegation on 7 November.
The Committee next turned to the draft resolution “Effective promotion of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities” (A/C.3/74/L.55/Rev.1). The Chair said that it contains no programme budget implications.
The representative of Austria, introducing the draft focuses on the connections between statelessness and minorities. According to UNHCR, more than 75 per cent of the world’s stateless persons belong to minorities. The draft recognizes that the promotion and protection of human rights of persons belonging to minorities contributes to reducing statelessness, and, as such, offers a set of actions to address their human rights, taking also into account the particular situation of minority women and children.
The Committee then approved draft resolution “L.55/Rev.1” without a vote.
By its terms, the Assembly would request the Special Rapporteur on minority issues to report annually to it, including with recommendations for strategies to better implement the rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities. It would urge States to promote and protect the rights of persons belonging to these minorities, including by encouraging conditions for the promotion of their identity, the provision of education and the facilitation of their participation in all aspects of political, economic, social, religious and cultural life — without discrimination — and to apply a gender perspective while doing so. It would also call on States to ensure the protection of children who belong to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and who are at risk of becoming or have become stateless.
The representative of Pakistan said his delegation joined consensus on the text, noting that India’s treatment of occupied Jammu and Kashmir has given further credence to the treatment of minorities cited by the Special Rapporteur. He echoed the Special Rapporteur’s recommendation, calling on the Secretary‑General and the Human Rights Council to begin discussions with India on the crisis, as minorities could find themselves stateless.
The representative of the United States affirmed the need to protect and promote the rights of persons belonging to minorities, noting that States should be encouraged to consider ratifying or acceding to international instruments where doing so would be appropriate. She also referred to the United States general statement made on 7 November.
The Committee next turned to “Improving the coordination of efforts against trafficking in persons” (document A/C.3/74/L.10/Rev.1).
The Secretary said that pursuant to operative paragraph 11, an estimated $200,000 in extrabudgetary resources would be required annually to provide for posts and non‑post costs to support the holding of the meeting. Pursuant to operative paragraph 23, an estimated $680,000 in 2020 and $361,000 in 2021 would be required to provide for posts and non‑post costs needed in the collection of information on national efforts to combat trafficking in persons, as well as on relevant national mechanisms, and to make updated information available to Member States. Activities related to these requests would be carried out provided that the extrabudgetary resources are made available. Hence, adoption of the draft resolution “L.10/Rev.1” would not entail any additional appropriation under the proposed programme budget for 2020.
The representative of Belarus, introducing the draft resolution, said fighting trafficking in persons requires urgent international cooperation among Member States and relevant organizations. The draft resolution highlights recent global trends, he said, citing the preponderance of women and children in trafficking, an increase in organ trafficking and the rising number of migrants being trafficked as persistent challenges. The text is the result of broad‑based consultations.
The Committee then approved draft resolution “L.10/Rev.1” without a vote.
By the text, the Assembly would decide to convene a high‑level meeting on the progress achieved in the implementation of the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons at its seventy‑sixth session, after the general debate, but no later than December 2021. It would urge Member States that have not yet done so to consider ratifying or acceding to the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. Moreover, it would call on Member States to consider new methods of recruiting those at risk of being trafficked — such as misuse of the Internet — to identify the signs of trafficking and to develop specialized training for law enforcement and criminal justice practitioners.
The representative of Viet Nam strongly condemned human trafficking, stressing that the inhumanity of such behaviour elicits responses to combat it. Given the cross‑national nature of this crime, she underscored the importance of coordinated responses at national, regional and international levels.
The representative of the Russian Federation noted the effectiveness and initiative of the Group of Friends that united to combat trafficking. The focus in the draft resolution on coordination and joint work to prevent the crime of trafficking in persons is crucial. It is essential to forge practical cooperation, as success is only possible with a comprehensive approach that supports victims and ensures that perpetrators are prosecuted. This is well‑reflected in the draft resolution, she said.
An observer for the Holy See welcomed the draft’s support for the family reunification of trafficking victims, particularly children. When children are separated from their families, they are more exposed to abuse. Important attention is also given to traffickers’ use of the Internet and other such technologies.