Saturday, 16/12/2017 | 3:25 UTC+0
Libyan Newswire
  • Declaring Israel’s Actions in Syrian Golan, East Jerusalem ‘Null and Void’, General Assembly Adopts Six Resolutions on Palestine, Middle East

    Concluding its annual debate on the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East, the General Assembly adopted six resolutions today — including two declaring Israel’s actions in the Syrian Golan and East Jerusalem “null and void” — as several delegates voiced concern that those texts perpetuated a one-sided view that isolated and targeted a single Member State.

    After the debate concluded, the Assembly adopted the draft resolution “Jerusalem” (document A/72/L.11) by a recorded vote of 151 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, United States), with 9 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Honduras, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, South Sudan, Togo).

    By that text, the Assembly reiterated that any actions by Israel, the occupying Power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem were illegal and therefore null and void.  It further stressed the need for the parties to refrain from provocative actions, especially in areas of religious and cultural sensitivity, and called for respect for the historic status quo at the holy places of Jerusalem.

    By that text — “The Syrian Golan” (document A/71/L.17), adopted by a recorded vote of 105 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, United Kingdom, United States) with 58 abstentions — the Assembly declared that Israel had failed to comply with Security Council resolution 497 (1981) and demanded its withdrawal from the occupied Syrian Golan.

    Adopting the draft resolution “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine” (document A/72/L.16) by a recorded vote of 157 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Solomon Islands, United States) with 8 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Fiji, Honduras, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, South Sudan, Tonga), the Assembly called for the intensification of efforts by the parties towards the conclusion of a final peace settlement, stressed the need for resumed negotiations and called upon Israel to cease all unilateral actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

    The Assembly also adopted by recorded vote a series of resolutions dealing with the United Nations system’s own provision of support to the Palestinian people:  Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (document A/72/L.15), the Secretariat’s Division for Palestinian Rights (document A/72/L.13) and the Department of Public Information’s special information programme on the question of Palestine (document A/72/L.14).

    Egypt’s representative, introducing “L.11” and “L.17”, noted that the former called for the realization of the Palestinian people’s right to freedom of belief and called for an end to all of Israel’s excavation or destruction of holy sites.  The latter text reiterated the Assembly’s concern that Israel had still failed to adhere to relevant United Nations resolutions, and called on it to fully withdraw from the Syrian Golan.  (For details on the remaining draft resolutions, introduced on 29 November, see Press Release GA/11981.)

    Syria’s representative, stressing that Israel’s actions in the occupied Syrian Golan were both supported and emboldened by certain permanent members of the Security Council, noted that Israel’s systematic and discriminatory policies amounted to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    Israel’s delegate said that after seven decades, some countries still refused to accept her country’s existence.  Moreover, the United Nations continued to annually adopt biased resolutions and devote precious resources — almost $6.5 million of its budget — to politicized bodies whose sole purpose was to attack and denounce Israel.  Supporting the six resolutions would neither advance nor inspire peace, she said.

    The representative of the United States echoed that opposition, saying the biased and one-sided resolutions undermined efforts to achieve peace between the parties.  It was inappropriate for the United Nations — founded on the ideal that all nations should be treated equally — to treat one Member State so unequally, he stressed, voicing concern about the renewal of mandates of three United Nations bodies and programmes that wasted critical resources and only perpetuated the perception of the Organization’s inherent bias against Israel.

    Estonia’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, explained its members’ position on several key terms used in the resolutions.  Whenever “Palestinian Government” was mentioned, it referred to the Palestinian Authority, and the use of the term “Palestine” in those resolutions could not be construed as the recognition of a State of Palestine, she said.

    Also speaking were representatives of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Indonesia, China, Uruguay, Oman, Cuba, Algeria, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Russian Federation, Argentina, Singapore and the United Kingdom.

    The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Friday, 1 December to take action on a draft resolution on the culture of peace, review the efficiency of the administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations and take up a report of the Fifth Committee.

    Question of Palestine

    MOHAMMED HUSSEIN BAHR ALULOOM (Iraq), highlighting that the annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People was an unwavering recognition by the United Nations of their plight, said the 2017 commemoration on 29 November had coincided with the fiftieth anniversary of Israeli aggression.  Such activities continued unabated, including illegal settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, efforts to foil the international community’s work towards establishing a Palestinian State and the demolition of homes, infrastructure, holy places, schools and other civilian locations.  Palestinians had lost hope in the establishment of any just and lasting peace, he said, underlining Iraq’s position that any such resolution would only be achieved by establishing a sovereign and independent Palestinian State based on 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.  Urging Israel to respect all its commitments under international humanitarian law, he encouraged Member States that had not yet done so to recognize the State of Palestine and support its people in the pursuit of their legitimate and inalienable rights.

    MANAL HASSAN RADWAN (Saudi Arabia), calling for redoubled efforts to enable the Palestinian people to fully realize their right to self-determination, condemned all Israeli attacks on Occupied Palestinian Territory, including killing innocent people, property theft, destroying homes and infrastructure and the longstanding Gaza blockade.  Such actions could constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity, she stressed, noting that Israel had disregarded the international community’s calls to end its aggressions.  Demanding an end to repeated violations, she said the sanctity and integrity of all holy sites must be respected.  “Chasing away Palestinians” from their own sites and homes represented a case of ethnic cleansing.  She called on Israel to end its illegal settlement expansion and respect relevant international laws, adding that Israeli settlers committing crimes against Palestinian civilians should be placed on global lists of terrorist groups.

    MAHMOUD DIBAEI (Iran), expressing regret over the international community’s failure on the question of Palestine due to the Israeli regime’s intransigence and continued unlawful and criminal acts, emphasized that “the injustice has continued for more than seven decades”.  The Israeli regime arrogantly and flagrantly continued to violate United Nations decisions, including at least 86 Security Council resolutions.  It was unfortunate that a host of criminal policies were being perpetrated by the regime with impunity; the rapid growth of illegal settlements in the Palestinian territory constituted not only a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention but also a war crime.  “It is yet another clear indication that the Israeli regime had never had any interest in peace with the Palestinians,” he said.  Israel’s participation in talks had been just another tactic to buy time and continue its policy of expansion.  The continued brutal Israeli occupation not only caused misery to the Palestinian people, it also lay at the origin of various tensions in the Middle East.  Yet, the Security Council continued to be paralysed, failing to uphold its obligations, he said, adding that “this must change.”

    DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) said his country shared the Secretary-General’s concern about the absence of political progress on the Palestinian question and the high risk of further violence and radicalization.  Indonesia reaffirmed its support for the two‑State vision and reaffirmed that nobody who had objected to that vision had come up with a viable alternative which met the legitimate aspirations of Israelis and the Palestinians.  He called on Israel to stop resettlement and construction and to put to an end to extra judicial killings and other forms of human rights abuses.  He added that the illegal blockades and “barrier zones” imposed by Israel undermined the potential of the Palestinian economy and exacerbated its dependence on imports and foreign aid.  Indonesia fully supported the draft resolutions being adopted.

    WU HAITAO (China) said addressing the question of Palestine was fundamental to peace in the Middle East.  However, Israel’s persistent settlement expansion had greatly undermined the peace process.  China had made a four‑point proposal, including through establishing a political process based on a two‑State solution.  Palestine and Israel must embark on a shared path to security.  All settlement activities must end and Security Council resolution 2334 (2016) must immediately be implemented.  The international community must intensify diplomatic efforts to bring both parties to the negotiating table.  An integrated approach that promoted peace though development was also essential, he added, noting that China had always maintained an impartial and objective view of the Middle East situation.  China supported the just cause of the Palestinian people as well as the establishment of a State based on pre‑1967 borders.  “Both sides must meet each other halfway,” he said.  Expressing concern that some countries in the region were trapped in “protracted turmoil” and that terrorism was spreading, he said the international community must focus on advancing a political settlement in hotspot areas.  He also underscored the need to cut off terrorist financing.

    MATÍAS PAOLINO LABORDE (Uruguay), reaffirming his country’s support for the right of Israel and Palestine to live side by side in peace, reiterated support for the two‑State solution.  Uruguay maintained close links of friendship with both Israel and Palestine, he said, urging the international community to step up efforts and urge parties to return to the negotiating table.  They must reach a just solution that considered the interests of both parties and must refrain from adopting unilateral measures that stunted or jeopardized the peace process.  Expressing concern over Israel’s illegal settlements, he said they ran counter to the Middle East Quartet and various Security Council resolutions and, if they continued, would jeopardized the two-State solution.

    MOHAMED AHMED SALIM AL-SHANFARI (Oman) said the current debate had remained unchanged in the seven decades as had Israel’s continuing inhumane policies.  Calling on the international community, through the Security Council, to carry out its responsibility to ensure that Israel guaranteed protection to the Palestinian people, he said Member States must also push that country to end its discriminatory policies.  “We must move towards negotiations to end the occupation” and establish a free, sovereign and independent Palestinian State.  Welcoming the recent reconciliation agreement signed between Fatah and Hamas, he commended Egypt’s efforts in that regard.  Israel and Palestine must return to the negotiating table and all other stakeholders, including the Middle East Quartet and the Security Council, must take up their proper roles.

    HUMBERTO RIVERO ROSARIO (Cuba), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, voiced deep concern over the situation in the Middle East, which was characterized by violence, interference in internal affairs and aggression on the part of Israel.  Urging Israel to immediately cease its destruction, seizure and occupation of Palestinian lands and its human rights violations, he said the Security Council must also adopt tangible measures to compel the country to do so.  Any solution to the question of Palestine would be impossible as long as Israel continued to violate international law and relevant United Nations decisions, including Council resolution 2334 (2016).  It was critical to address all barriers to peace, including the situation in East Jerusalem, where Israel’s policies jeopardized the peace process.  Reiterating Cuba’s policy of solidarity with the Palestinian people and its support for a sovereign, independent Palestinian State, he said the international community must not stand by as Israeli violations continued.

    MOHAMMED BESSEDIK (Algeria) said it was truly deplorable that some continued to celebrate the Balfour Declaration even though the Palestinian people continued to suffer.  Indeed, Israel was still expanding its settlement activities and apartheid wall and continued its inhumane blockade of the Gaza Strip while its army committed barbaric acts daily, flouting international law.  Such crimes continued unpunished because of the international community’s indifference.  Given the continued plight of the Palestine people, the international community remained responsible for finding a way out and responding to their aspirations to live in dignity.  He urged the international community to redouble efforts to provide the Palestinian people with protection and help them to establish an independent State, one in which they could control their own resources.  He reaffirmed Algeria’s unconditional support to the Palestinian cause and their just and legitimate struggle.

    KENNEDY MAYONG ONON (Malaysia) expressed regret about Israel’s continued construction of illegal settlements on Palestinian land, including in East Jerusalem, which further weakened the possibility of a two-State solution.  He urged the international community to demand that Israel immediately cease settlement activities in Occupied Palestinian Territory before completely eroding the viability of a two-State solution.  He also expressed concern about vulnerable security at holy sites, urging the safeguarding of unrestricted access for Muslim worshippers to the Al‑Aqsa Mosque.  On the situation in the Gaza Strip, he noted that food, clean water, sanitation and electricity remained scarce because vast networks had been destroyed by Israeli aggression.  As such, all Member States must continue to demand an immediate lifting of the blockade.  Normalizing the situation there would significantly reduce tensions and facilitate the resumption of the political process.  However, “normalization also does not mean that the citizens of Gaza will continue to live in a de facto open-air prison,” he said.  Instead, normalization meant the realization and fulfilment of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

    DAULET YEMBERDIYEV (Kazakhstan) said the two-State solution was the only viable and durable option, expressing support for the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and Israel’s right to security.  He emphasized the need to ensure the rule of law and good governance, which would yield dividends over time.  Noting that all major religions — Judaism, Islam and Christianity — were born in the sacred land of the Middle East, he asked whether it was possible for its rich history to inspire the region to live in peace.  For its part, Kazakhstan would do its utmost to ensure peace and security in the region.

    Situation in Middle East

    AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt), introducing the draft resolutions titled “Jerusalem” (document A/72/L.11) and “The Syrian Golan” (document A/72/L.17), said the former reaffirmed decisions by both the Assembly and the Security Council regarding occupied East Jerusalem, reflecting the fact that all of Israel’s attempts to change the character of the city were “null and void”.  It also called for the realization of the Palestinian people’s right to freedom of belief and called for an end to all of Israel’s excavation or destruction of holy sites.  The text had not been altered since the seventy-first session, he said, except to include a reference to Security Council resolution 2334 (2016).

    Turning to “L.17”, he said the draft reiterated the Assembly’s concern that Israel still failed to adhere to relevant United Nations resolutions.  Emphasizing that the Geneva Conventions applied to the lands occupied by Israel, he said “L.17” called on that country to fully withdraw from the Syrian Golan, and urged the international community to take that situation into account as it dealt with broader challenges in the Middle East.  He called on all Member States to support both draft resolutions and help to achieve the goals enshrined in international law and on which the United Nations had been founded.

    MOUNZER MOUNZER (Syria), recalling that every year the Assembly called on Israel to end its illegal and groundless occupation of Arab territories, said today’s meeting coincided with the centennial anniversary of the “sinister” and “colonial” Balfour Declaration, whose repercussions were still being felt not only by Syrians but by all people in the Middle East.  Israel’s actions were supported and indeed emboldened by certain permanent members of the Security Council, he stressed, noting that Israel’s systematic and discriminatory policies amounted to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    In the Syrian Golan, he said, Israel refused to comply with relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolution 497 (1981).  Instead, Israel supported terroristic policies and denied people the legitimate right to resist occupation, he said, calling for the release of all unlawfully detained persons and an immediate end to all its repressive socioeconomic policies.  Israel had also recently helped Nusrah Front to attack Syrian towns north of the separation zone, leading to civilian casualties.  Reaffirming Syria’s “non-negotiable” sovereign right over the occupied Syrian Golan, he said it was no longer acceptable for the Assembly to adopt routine resolutions on the matter.  Instead, he urged Member States to undertake immediate and concrete measures to compel Israel to end its occupation and called on them to vote in favour of both draft resolutions.

    LAILA SHAREEF (Maldives), calling for the establishment of an independent and sovereign State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, said that Israel must fully implement all relevant resolutions and respect the legal obligations it undertook in the Oslo Accords.  In recent months, violence by the occupying Power had increased dramatically, she noted, adding that the provocative law to retroactively legalize settlements by the Government of Israel had resulted in the approval of more than 2,000 housing units in Area C of the occupied West Bank at the expense of Palestinian-owned structures.  Also expressing concern about the ongoing conflicts in Syria, she added that the barbaric acts of violence perpetrated by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) represented a serious assault on the religion of Islam.

    VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation), highlighting current conflicts in the Middle East and noting that critical agreements such as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme remained under threat, said his delegation was an active proponent of unity among the region’s States.  “We cannot forget that extremists use ethnic and religious aspects to spread discord,” he added.  Unfortunately, the global counter-terrorism coalition, as proposed by the Russian Federation, had yet to be established.  On the issue of solving the crises in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, he called for political solutions and warned against imposing remedies from abroad.  He welcomed recent developments aimed at renewing Syrian negotiations in Geneva.  On Yemen, it was essential to increase humanitarian support.  New challenges in the Middle East and North Africa must not affect the priority of settling the question of Palestine, he said, expressing great concern over the current stalemate and underlining the Russian Federation’s commitment to achieving a just solution on the basis of relevant Security Council resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative.  As a member of the Security Council and the Middle East Quartet, the Russian Federation supported the Palestinian people’s legal rights and commended the regional efforts led by Egypt and Jordan.  He noted other positive steps, including the power-sharing agreement between Fatah and Hamas, adding that “we have no hidden agenda in the Middle East”.

    Action on Draft Resolutions

    HADAS MEITZAD (Israel), explaining her delegation’s position, said that 70 years after the Assembly had adopted resolution 181 (1947), calling for the creation of independent Arab and Jewish States, some countries still refused to accept the existence of her country.  While 29 November should have been a celebration of that adoption, instead, year after year, that historic date becomes an annual Israel-bashing session.  Despite the many crises facing the world, the United Nations continued to adopt biased resolutions and devote precious resources to politicized bodies whose sole purpose was to attack and denounce Israel.

    Citing examples from draft resolutions being considered today, she said the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People spread a one-sided political narrative, supported by the United Nations Department of Political Affairs’ Division for Palestinian Rights, which had 15 paid positions.  Large portions of the division’s budget paid for business class airline tickets for participants attending anti-Israel events, using “your money” to do so, she said.  The Department of Public Information’s special information programme on the question of Palestine also focused on anti-Israel activities and did little to promote dialogue and understanding between Israelis and Palestinians.  It was truly baffling that the United Nations spent almost $6.5 million of its budget on organizations and bodies that did nothing but try to isolate Israel, she said, adding that at a time of budgetary deficits, it was also unwise and wrong.

    She said two draft resolutions discussed the Temple Mount, a sacred place for all three Abrahamic religions, but had deliberately omitted any reference to the Jewish or Christian connections to the holy site.  The international community must stop participating in such blatant denial of history.  The draft resolution “Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People” (document A/72/L.15) stated that the establishment of the State of Israel was a catastrophe, which amounted to a denial of her country’s right to exist.  On the draft resolution “The Syrian Golan” (document A/72/L.17), she said the situation in Syria was dire and Israel was helping thousands of injured Syrians in their hospitals, free of charge.  Despite the reality on the ground, “absurdity prevailed” in the General Assembly, she said, emphasizing that the draft resolutions offered only one-sided accounts and asking delegates to vote against the drafts if they truly sought to help the Israeli-Palestinian situation.

    RICHARD ERDMAN (United States) said his delegation opposed biased, one-sided resolutions against Israel, which undermined efforts to achieve peace between the parties.  While Member States continued to single out Israel, the United States had voted against 18 such resolutions in 2017 so far.  It was inappropriate for the United Nations — founded on the ideal that all nations should be treated equally — to treat one Member State so unequally.  The United States would vote against all the draft resolutions presented in the Assembly today, he said, voicing concern about the renewal of mandates of three United Nations bodies and programmes that wasted critical resources and only perpetuated the perception of the Organization’s inherent bias against Israel.  “Biased resolutions do not help advance peace”, but only distracted attention from that process, he said.

    Turning first to the draft resolution “Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat” (document A/72/L.13), the Assembly adopted it by a recorded vote of 100 in favour to 10 against, with 59 abstentions.

    It then adopted the draft resolution “Special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat” (document A/72/L.14) by a recorded vote of 155 in favour to 8 against (Australia, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Solomon Islands, United States), with 8 abstentions (Cameroon, Honduras, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, South Sudan, Togo, Tonga).

    The Assembly adopted the draft resolution “Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People” (document A/72/L.15) by a recorded vote of 103 in favour to 10 against, with 57 abstentions.

    Turning to the draft resolution “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine” (document A/72/L.16), the Assembly adopted it by a recorded vote of 157 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Solomon Islands, United States), with 8 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Fiji, Honduras, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, South Sudan, Tonga).

    Following those adoptions, the representatives of several delegations explained their positions.

    The representative of Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, explained its members’ position on several terms used in resolutions tabled during the Assembly’s seventy-second session.  Whenever “Palestinian Government” was mentioned, it referred to the Palestinian Authority.  The use of the term “Palestine” in those resolutions could not be construed as the recognition of a State of Palestine and was without prejudice to the individual positions of Member States on that issue.  The European Union had not expressed a legal qualification with regard to the term “forced displacement” used in a number of resolutions submitted under the Assembly’s agenda items 38 and 54.  Some resolutions adopted today also referred to holy sites in Jerusalem.  Concerned at worrying developments and recurring violent clashes at the Temple Mount/Haram al‑Sharif, she recalled the special significance of the holy sites and called for the upholding of the status quo established in 1967 in line with previous understandings and with Jordan’s special role.  The European Union’s position on those resolutions did not imply a change of its position on the terminology regarding that holy site.

    The representative of Argentina said his delegation had abstained on “L.13” because it would be appropriate to carry out an investigation into the best use of United Nations resources aimed at supporting the Palestinian people and furthering the peace process.  Argentina was among countries that had recognized the State of Palestine and also recognized Israel’s legitimate right to live in peace and security with all its neighbours.

    The representative of Singapore said his delegation had voted in favour of “L.15” on the basis that achieving a two‑State solution meant achieving the goal of both parties living side by side in peace.

    Turning to the draft resolution “Jerusalem” (document A/72/L.11), the Assembly adopted it by a recorded vote of 151 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, United States), with 9 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Honduras, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, South Sudan, Togo).

    The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution “The Syrian Golan” (document A/72/L.17) by a recorded vote of 105 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, United Kingdom, United States), with 58 abstentions.

    The representative of Argentina, speaking also on behalf of Brazil, explained his position, saying he had voted in favour of “L.17” because the territory had been acquired by the use of force.  He also underscored the importance of making progress regarding the dispute over the Syrian Golan.

    The representative of Syria, expressing gratitude to the General Assembly for adopting “L.17”, said the majority of Member States supported the draft, demonstrating their rejection of foreign occupation and support for recovering all territories occupied by Israel since 1967.  The overwhelming support for “L.17” also sent Israel a message rejecting its settlements, discrimination and annexation of foreign territory.  Such practices had also been condemned by those who believed in international law.  Israel had stated that they provided medical support to Syrian citizens, however that was true only of militants involved in Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Daesh).

    The representative of the United Kingdom, emphasizing that a just and lasting solution was long overdue, said his delegation was committed to continuing to work to achieve a two‑State solution.  The United Kingdom had voted for balanced resolutions that called out illegal settlement activities and called on both sides to cease actions that were undermining peace efforts.  However, resolutions that undermined the United Nations authority did little to advance the peace process.  While his delegation had rejected the Syrian Golan resolution that Syria had tabled, it had voted in favour of a related resolution proposed by the Palestinians.  The resolution proposed by Syria was unnecessary and a way to deflect attention from Syria’s slaughter of its own people.

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  • Security Council Reiterates its Condemnation of Trafficking in Persons, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2388 (2017)

    Secretary‑General Underlines Collective Responsibility to ‘Stop These Crimes’

    The Security Council reiterated its condemnation of trafficking in human beings today, particularly the sale of people by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh), as well as other violations and abuses by Boko Haram, Al‑Shabaab, the Lord’s Resistance Army and other such groups for the purpose of sexual slavery, sexual exploitation and forced labour.

    Unanimously adopting resolution 2388 (2017) ahead of a day‑long debate on that subject, the Council underscored the importance of collecting and preserving evidence relating to such acts so as to ensure that those responsible could be held accountable.  It reaffirmed its condemnation, in the strongest terms, of all instances of trafficking in persons, especially women and children, who made up the vast majority of all trafficking victims in areas affected by armed conflict.

    Also by the text, the Council stressed that trafficking undermined the rule of law and contributed to other forms of transnational organized crime that could exacerbate conflict and foster insecurity and instability, thereby undermining development.  The Council underscored the importance of cooperation in enforcing international law in investigating and prosecuting trafficking cases.

    The Council also expressed, by further terms of the text, its intention to give greater consideration to how peacekeeping and political missions could help host States combatting human trafficking.  It also requested that the Secretary‑General ensure the inclusion of trafficking in assessments of country situations and in the training of mission personnel, which would help in identifying, confirming, responding and reporting on situations of trafficking.

    Briefing ahead of the debate were Secretary‑General António Guterres as well as Yuri Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, and Smail Chergui, the African Union’s Commissioner for Peace and Security.

    Secretary‑General Guterres declared “it is our collective responsibility to stop these crimes” by bringing perpetrators to justice, increasing humanitarian aid and strengthening national capacity to protect the vulnerable.  There was also an urgent need to ensure more opportunities for regular migration and to restore the integrity of the refugee protection regime.  “Slavery and other such egregious abuses of human rights have no place in the twenty‑first century,” he stressed.  However, reports from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) showed that increasing numbers of victims trafficked from Iraq, Syria and Somalia were appearing in Asia, Europe and the Middle East, he noted.

    A framework of action to counter trafficking, rooted in international law, had been built through Security Council resolution 2331 (2016), the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo Convention), and the September 2017 Political Declaration on the implementation of the Global Plan of Action.  Cooperation, mutual legal assistance and the sharing of information were critical to that framework’s implementation, he said, adding that his first report on implementing resolution 2331 (2661) demonstrated the ongoing work carried out by Member States and the United Nations system.  “These efforts need to be intensified,” he said.

    Data collection, analysis and technical assistance provided by UNODC and others, particularly actors in conflict situations, must be fully utilized, he emphasized, adding that the same applied to coordination through the Inter‑Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons.  Efforts to end poverty and exclusion must also be stepped up.  More must be done to support victims, he said, underlining that they should be treated as victims of crime and not detained, prosecuted or punished.  He called for contributions to the Blue Heart Campaign and the United Nations voluntary trust fund for victims of trafficking in persons, especially women and children.  “The international community’s commitment is being tested,” he declared.  “We need to show the world our determination to end human trafficking, help its many victims and hold those responsible accountable for their crimes.”

    Mr. Fedotov said the UNODC had designed tools for United Nations entities in conflict situations, enhanced data‑collection processes, developed training for police officers seconded to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and helped victims.  It was now considering how to strengthen the work of the Inter‑Agency Coordinating Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons, he said.  In more general terms, he said widespread and systematic violations of people’s fundamental rights during mass movements remained a grave concern.  Thanks to efforts by the Council and the wider United Nations system, there was forward momentum against trafficking, but the international community’s resolve must be translated into action across all regional processes and initiatives, he emphasized.

    Ms. Giammarinaro said egregious patterns of trafficking, forced labour and slavery were a strategy for terrorist groups, pointing out that such gross human rights violations were perpetrated systematically by criminal or armed groups taking advantage of the breakdown in the rule of law to carry out the “dirty business” of trafficking and become more powerful and dangerous.  Violations such as trafficking were not only a consequence of conflict, but also a cause, she pointed out, saying the Security Council’s agenda on trafficking should therefore be linked with the processes linked to the Global Compact on Migration and Refugees, as well as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Moreover, it should be addressed in tandem with the women, peace and security agenda, and the Six Grave Violations against Children during Armed Conflict Agenda.  Expressing particular concern about the situation of children, she said they were used as child soldiers or sexual slaves during conflict, and were disproportionally affected by displacement.

    Mr. Chergui said interventions to prevent trafficking should include measures to reduce vulnerability, build capacity alongside national Governments and strengthen border security, noting that national legal frameworks were inadequate and often needed strengthening.  Immediate actions should include demolishing camps in Libya and destroying criminal networks, he said, declaring: “Our common humanity is at stake.”

    With more than 70 speakers participating in the open debate, delegates affirmed the serious violation of human rights represented by trafficking in persons, with many relating the harrowing stories of victims, particularly women and children.  Some speakers outlined national programmes to help victims and root out trafficking through the three‑part effort of prevention, protection and prosecution.

    While most delegates hailed the resolution, many others questioned the expansion of the normative framework, some expressing regret that too many frameworks would fragment anti‑trafficking efforts.  Spain’s representative suggested that the UNODC take the lead in creating a global strategy.

    In addition, many delegates called for greater legal migration opportunities to reduce the vulnerability of those to whom borders were now closed.  Bolivia’s representative advocated universal citizenship to reduce the vulnerability of migrants.

    Many delegates began their statements by expressing disgust over recently disseminated images of African migrants in Libya being auctioned as slaves.

    Libya’s representative, condemning such activity, said the authorities had initiated an investigation and would hold perpetrators accountable.  He called on the international community to help his country address challenges posed by irregular mass migration through Libya rather than using such media misrepresentations for defamatory purposes.

    Also speaking today were representatives of Ethiopia, Sweden, Ukraine, Russian Federation, France, United States, Bolivia, Senegal, Japan, Kazakhstan, Egypt, Uruguay, China, United Kingdom, Italy, Venezuela (for the Non‑Aligned Movement), Colombia, Ireland, Spain, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Iran, Pakistan, Brazil, Estonia, Belgium, Peru, Indonesia, Slovakia, Germany, Turkey, Switzerland, South Africa, Qatar, Jordan, Israel, Panama, Norway, Morocco, Sudan, Austria, Philippines, Guatemala, Argentina, Canada, Bangladesh, Iraq, Georgia, Bulgaria, Nigeria, Botswana, Botswana, Maldives, Malaysia, Belize, Portugal, Kuwait, Azerbaijan, United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Myanmar, Netherlands and Armenia.

    Representatives of the European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the International Organization for Migration also spoke, as did the observer for the Holy See.

    The meeting opened at 10:08 a.m. and closed at 5:09 p.m.

    Briefings

    ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary‑General of the United Nations, said “criminals and terrorists are capitalizing on, and perpetuating, the disorder and mayhem of conflict”, funding their crimes by brutally preying on the vulnerable.  Sexual exploitation, forced labour, the removal of bodily organs and slavery were the tools of their trade.  Citing Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), Boko Haram, Al‑Shabaab and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) as having forced women, boys and girls into dehumanizing servitude, he said such activities constituted serious abuses of human rights, as did the horrific practice of selling African migrants as “goods” in Libya.

    “It is our collective responsibility to stop these crimes” by bringing perpetrators to justice, increasing humanitarian aid and strengthening national capacity to protect the vulnerable, he emphasized.  There was also an urgent need to ensure more opportunities for regular migration, to restore the integrity of the refugee protection regime and to increase the number of refugees in the developed world.  “Slavery and other such egregious abuses of human rights have no place in the twenty‑first century,” he stressed.  However, reports from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) showed that increasing numbers of victims trafficked from Iraq, Syria and Somalia were appearing in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

    He said a framework of action to counter trafficking, rooted in international law, had been built through Security Council resolution 2331 (2016), the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children,

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  • Concluding Intense Session, Third Committee Approves 5 Draft Resolutions on Children’s Rights, Assistance to Refugees, Persons with Disabilities

    The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) concluded its seventy‑second session today, approving five draft resolutions on the rights of children, assistance to refugees, persons with disabilities, social development and terrorism.

    The role of parents and legal guardians in the education of children, particularly regarding sexual and reproductive health, and opposition to the International Criminal Court once again came to the fore as the Committee took up a draft resolution on the rights of children.

    After its introduction, Egypt’s representative, speaking for the African Group, said the draft was unbalanced as it did not include references to the role of parents, presenting an amendment to reflect such guidance.  South Africa’s delegate proceeded to disassociate from Egypt’s statement, resulting in the amendment being considered as introduced by all African States except South Africa.

    Uruguay’s representative, speaking on behalf of the draft’s sponsors and urging States to vote against the amendment, said education was a fundamental element for society.  Knowledge about human rights, gender equality, sexual and reproductive health was a basic tool for preventing and combating all forms of violence against children. 

    Several Member States reaffirmed their belief that parents must play a central role in education, with Singapore’s delegate stressing that the upbringing of children was best done by parents and legal guardians, and that she would thus vote for the amendment.  The representative of the Russian Federation called the proposed changes reasonable.

    The Committee approved the amendment by a recorded vote of 90 in favour to 76 against, with 8 abstentions (Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Kazakhstan, Liberia, Maldives, Nepal, Solomon Islands and Sri Lanka).

    Sudan’s delegate, stressing that the International Criminal Court had obstructed stability in her country, called for references to the Court to be deleted from the draft, a revision that Sudan had proposed for other drafts.

    Delegates defended the Court’s role as a force for justice, with Estonia’s representative, on behalf of the draft’s sponsors, saying language on the Court was balanced.  Lichtenstein’s representative, on behalf of several States, assured delegates that the Court had a vital role where national courts were unable or unwilling to exercise jurisdiction. 

    The Committee proceeded to reject Sudan’s proposed amendment by a recorded vote of 19 in favour, 102 against and 39 abstentions.  It then unanimously approved the draft as a whole, as amended, in a recorded vote.  By its terms, the Assembly would take actions related to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, non‑discrimination, violence against children, and follow‑up on various matters concerning family relations, economic and social well‑being, child labour, the rights of children in particularly difficult circumstances, and migrant children, among other matters.

    Debate over the role of parents and guardians, this time in relation to women’s and girls’ access to sexual and reproductive health, resurfaced when the Committee took up a draft on the rights of persons with disabilities.

    Nigeria’s delegate, on behalf of 43 African countries, proposed an amendment that would reflect the role of parents and legal guardians in providing guidance to their children.  As was the case earlier in the day, the Committee approved the amendment, this time by a recorded vote of 82 in favour to 78 against, with 9 abstentions (Cambodia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Malaysia, Maldives, Nepal, Tuvalu).  Many of those objecting to the amendment, including New Zealand’s delegate, decried that it upset carefully achieved compromise wording, with Argentina’s delegate, among others, stressing it also suggested the rights of girls and women with disabilities were not equally protected, and thus, could not set a precedent.

    The Committee then unanimously approved the draft in a recorded vote that saw 176 States voting in favour.  The text would have the Assembly encourage States to review and repeal any law or policy that restricted women with disabilities from their full and equal participation in political and public life.

    As the meeting opened, the Committee approved — by a recorded vote of 170 in favour, 2 against (Israel, United States), with 1 abstention (Armenia) — a draft on the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the twenty‑fourth special session of the General Assembly.

    The text would have the Assembly recognize the need to formulate social development policies in an integral, articulated and participatory manner, recognizing poverty as a multidimensional phenomenon.  It would urge States to strengthen social policies, paying particular attention to the specific needs of disadvantaged social groups and inviting them to address the structural causes of poverty.

    Delegates expressed regret that the United States had requested a recorded vote on the draft, typically approved by consensus, from a belief that it went beyond the Committee’s purview and would result in a misuse of resources.  China’s delegate, noting his withdrawal of an amendment, said the United States was “too sensitive” and must learn from Beijing’s commitment to compromise.

    The Committee also approved by consensus a draft on assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa, introduced by Madagascar’s delegate, on behalf of the African Group, with extensive oral revisions.  Under its terms, the Assembly would request the Secretary‑General to submit a report to its seventy‑third session, taking into account efforts made by countries of asylum and those aimed at bridging funding gaps.

    In final action, the Committee approved a draft on terrorism by a recorded vote of 104 in favour to 1 against (South Africa), with 63 abstentions.  By its terms, the Assembly would strongly condemn all terrorist acts as criminal and unjustifiable while also urging States to protect persons within their territory and subject to their jurisdiction by preventing and countering terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

    Having taken note of its tentative work programme for the seventy‑third session, the Committee concluded its work on a lighter note as representatives of the United Kingdom and Egypt took the floor to recite “silly” poems about the body’s work over the past weeks.

    World Summit for Social Development

    The representative of Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, introduced a draft resolution titled “Implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the twenty‑fourth special session of the General Assembly” (document A/C.3/72/L.12/Rev.1).  The draft aimed to solve the problem of inequality beyond countries, he said, and spoke to the indivisibility of economic and social rights. 

    After the Chair noted that a recorded vote had been requested on the resolution, the representative of Ecuador asked which delegation had asked for the vote, and was informed by the Chair that it was the United States.

    The representative of the United States, in explanation of vote, said issues remained in the draft that were not linked to social development or the work of the Third Committee, which was a misuse of resources.  Thus, the United States called for a vote and would vote no, urging others to do the same.  Regarding the draft’s reference to foreign occupation, the United States reaffirmed its binding commitment to a solution to the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict.  On operative paragraph 27, she said the United States understood the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to be consistent with the resolution.  Demands that the international community provide market access or debt relief were unacceptable in a Third Committee draft, she said, noting that terminology, such as the word “shall”, was only appropriate in binding texts.

    The representative of Ecuador, in a general statement, said the Group of 77 and China regretted that the draft resolution would not be adopted by consensus, noting that it had no programme budget implications.  The goals of eradicating poverty and achieving social inclusion deserved support, he said, urging all to vote in favour of the draft.  

    The representative of China said that in the last two days, the United States delegate had mentioned China, thanking her for paying attention to the Chinese “idea”, which was in line with the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter.  The United States might be too sensitive, he said, expressing hope for a more open and inclusive attitude.  China had withdrawn its amendment for the benefit of the Group of 77 and the Third Committee, he said, and the United States delegate should learn from China.  All should make concessions and sacrifices.  The United States delegate should reflect on that point.

    The representative of the Russian Federation said international cooperation was a key factor in ending poverty.  She expressed disappointment that the draft had been put for a vote, adding that the Russian Federation would vote in favour.

    The representative of Brazil, in a general statement before the vote, urged support for the draft, explaining that it was crucial to find consensus on issues of social development and poverty.

    The draft resolution was then approved by recorded vote of 170 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 1 abstention (Armenia).

    By its terms, the Assembly would recognize the need to formulate social development policies in an integral, articulated and participatory manner, recognizing poverty as a multidimensional phenomenon.  It would urge States to strengthen social policies, paying attention to the specific needs of disadvantaged social groups, and invite them to develop comprehensive and integrated strategies to address the structural causes of poverty and inequality.

    The representative of Mexico, in explanation of the vote, said he had voted for the draft, reiterating his country’s commitment to sustainable development, underscoring the need to focus on bringing United Nations entities together to achieve the draft’s objectives and avoid duplication of efforts.

    The representative of Ecuador called the draft’s adoption important, underscoring the Group’s commitment to work with the Secretariat and Member States to achieve the objectives of the draft.

    The Committee then took note of a Secretariat note on the World Social Situation 2017 (document A/72/211).

    Report of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

    The representative of Madagascar, speaking on behalf of the African Group, introduced a draft resolution titled “Assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa” (document A/C.3/72/L.61).  She expressed grave concern over the rising number of refugees and displaced persons in Africa due to conflict, which in turn, triggered violence and food insecurity.  As reported by the Secretary‑General, by the end of 2016, the number of refugees and displaced persons in Africa had risen to more than 5 million and more than 11 million, respectively. 

    The deplorable situation had been worsened by funding shortfalls, she said, noting that Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and World Food Programme (WFP) budgets for Africa were among the most underfunded.  The draft highlighted the rising number of refugees and displaced people, stressing the importance of addressing funding gaps.  It also had been updated with initiatives taken during the past year, including the Oslo Humanitarian Conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region, which called on donors and partners to fulfil their commitments. 

    She then read out numerous oral revisions to the draft, amending preambular paragraphs 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13 and 19.  She also read revisions to operative paragraphs 5, 8, 9, 11, 14, 16, 24, 28, 30, 33 and 34. 

    The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote.

    By its terms, the Assembly would take note of the reports of the Secretary‑General and UNHCR, requesting the former to submit a report on assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa to the Assembly at its seventy‑third session, taking fully into account efforts made by countries of asylum and those aimed at bridging funding gaps.

    The representative of the United States, referring to preambular paragraph 19 on the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, said trade‑related language had been overtaken by events and was immaterial, and that any reaffirmation of the outcome document had no standing.  The United States dissociated from language on the New York Declaration, underscoring that no language should prejudge or prejudice upcoming negotiations on safe, orderly and regular migration. 

    The representative of Mexico, also speaking on behalf of Argentina, Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Uruguay and Costa Rica, called attention to the draft’s lack of reference to the New York Declaration.  African countries were hosting millions of refugees, he said, adding that a more equitable distribution of the burden should be sought.

    Rights of the Child

    The representative of Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union and other countries, introduced a draft resolution titled “Rights of the child” (document A/C.3/72/L.21/Rev.1).  She made a series of oral revisions to preambuluar paragraphs 11, 17, 19 and operative paragraphs 6, 17, 21, 23, 26, 30, 35, 36, and 37.  The draft resolution was focused on eliminating all forms of violence against children.  Current trends had shown that an estimated 2 million children could be killed by violence from now until 2030 and she called on States to adopt the draft as orally revised.

    The representative of Barbados, on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM), accorded high priority to the promotion and protection of children’s rights, stressing that respect and compromise should guide negotiations and calling on States to adopt the draft by consensus.

    The representative of Egypt, on behalf of the African Group, expressed deep commitment to protecting children’s rights.  The African Group had participated in negotiations.  However, it found that the text was not balanced as it did not include reference to parental guidance.  The Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulated clearly that State parties should respect local customs and the responsibility of parents in raising their children.

    The representative of Egypt, in her national capacity, called for operative paragraph 36(k) to be amended to reflect the role of parents in guiding their children.

    The representative of Sudan said the International Criminal Court had been an impediment to the peace and stability in her country, in Africa and in many parts of the world.  She called for references to the Court to be deleted from the operative paragraph.

    The representative of South Africa disassociated from the African Group statement read by Egypt’s representative, noting that her country would support the text as amended by the co‑sponsors.

    The Secretary noted that three African countries had co‑sponsored the original text.

    The representative of Guinea‑Bissau withdrew her country’s co‑sponsorship of the draft resolution.

    The Secretary noted the withdrawal.

    The representative of Lesotho withdrew as a co‑sponsor of the draft resolution.

    The Secretary noted the withdrawal from “L.21/Rev.1” as orally revised.

    The representative of Estonia, on behalf of the sponsors, said operative paragraph 16 addressed children and armed conflict, reading the paragraph in full.  The language on the International Criminal Court was well‑balanced, she said, and the European Union was committed to preventing serious crimes falling under the Court’s jurisdiction.  She would call for a vote on that amendment.

    The representative of Uruguay, also speaking on behalf of the main sponsors, requested a vote on the African Group’s proposed amendments, saying that education was a fundamental element for society.  Knowledge on human rights, gender equality, sexual and reproductive health was a basic tool for preventing and combating all forms of violence against children.  The wording in operative paragraph 31 regarding the promotion of comprehensive education was an essential part of the text and she urged all to vote against the amendment.

    The Committee would first vote on the oral amendment proposed by Sudan’s delegate on operative paragraph 16.

    The representative of Liechtenstein, also speaking on behalf of Australia, Canada, Iceland, New Zealand and Norway in explanation of vote, said the oral amendment was unfortunate, as it sought to change agreed language.  Operative paragraph 16 recognized the efforts taken to end impunity by punishing perpetrators.  The International Criminal Court had a key role where national courts were unable or unwilling to exercise jurisdiction.  He called on all delegations to vote against the amendment.

    The representative of Argentina, also speaking on behalf of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, said the International Criminal Court was an important achievement towards a rules‑based world order.  The language of operative paragraph 13 relating to the Court was not only factually correct, he said, but also thematically relevant and merited being kept in the agreed text, urging all States to vote against the amendment.

    The representative of the Russian Federation agreed on the need to ensure responsibility for violations of children’s rights, noting that the Court’s history had discredited it and shown it could not protect their rights.

    The Committed then rejected the oral amendment with a recorded vote of 19 in favour to 102 against, with 39 abstentions.

    The Chair then asked the Committee to vote on the amendment to operative paragraph 36(k) proposed by Egypt.

    The representative of Nigeria said he would support the amendment, as discussions on children must include the role of parents.

    The representative of Egypt said she had presented the amendment on behalf of the African Group.

    The Secretary said the amendment could not be presented on behalf of the African Group due to South Africa’s earlier statement.  However, it could be presented on behalf of all African States except South Africa.

    The representative of Singapore said her country was committed to protecting the children’s rights.  At the same time, Singapore believed the upbringing of children was best done by parents and legal guardians, and thus, would vote for the amendment. 

    The representative of Canada, on behalf of Australia, Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein and Switzerland, said the amendment would weaken agreed language on gender equality.  The paragraph already included language referring to education in full partnership with parents and legal guardians, and outlined that education should be age appropriate.  The qualifications already addressed sensitivities.  The proposed amendment would upset the carefully balanced compromise.

    The representative of the Russian Federation said the amendment was not about gender equality, but rather, the rights of children to education.  Citing article 5 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, she said any additions proposed by African Group States were reasonable and she would vote in favour of them.

    The Committee then approved the oral amendment to operative paragraph 36(k) by a recorded vote of 90 in favour to 76 against, with 8 abstentions (Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Kazakhstan, Liberia, Maldives, Nepal, Solomon Islands and Sri Lanka).

    The representative of Estonia expressed disappointment with the amendment, saying comprehensive education was critical for society.  Adolescents had a right to learn how to stay safe and healthy, and about gender relations.  Violence against children was a topic requiring the strongest possible language.  Operative paragraph 36(k) was not a basis for consensus and she regretted that the vote would lead to a vote on the resolution as a whole.  She urged all delegates to vote in favour of the draft resolution.

    The representative of Nigeria in a general statement expressed appreciation for the Third Committee’s solidarity.

    The representative of Mauritania stressed the importance of human rights outlined in the most important conventions.  Noting that the family was “a sacred bond” and the natural place for children, he said parents bore the responsibility and absolute right to teach children about the values in which they believed.

    The Secretary then said the Third Committee could choose to suspend Rule 130 of the Rules of Procedure to take action on “L.21/Rev.1” as orally revised and amended without a vote.

    The representative of the Russian Federation asked whether a precedent would be set were the Third Committee or any other General Assembly Committee to suspend the Rules of Procedure.  She asked whether it had the authorization to do so.  She would like to approve the draft by consensus, but expressed concern about creating precedent and violating the Rules of Procedure.

    The Secretary said the Committee could indeed suspend the rule in question without creating a precedent.

    The representative of Egypt noted that the Secretary had suspended a rule earlier, and that another rule had been active at another time.  She refused to consider a situation where a precedent would be set, and could not accept “breaking what we are used to doing”.  There should be a vote and she called on the Chair to apply the Rules of Procedure.

    The representative of Morocco asked for a clarification on the statement read by Estonia on behalf of the European Union.

    The representative of Estonia said she had not requested a vote, but rather, she was operating under Rule 130.

    The representative of Singapore called for the Rules of Procedure to be applied and for a vote to be taken.

    The representative of Uruguay, in her national capacity, expressed hope the vote on the amendment had been taken out of conviction and not solidarity, as the issue was the rights of the child.

    The representative of the Russian Federation noted that if the voting procedure had been begun, it would be a violation of the Rules of Procedure to interrupt it.  The Russian Federation would vote for the draft resolution, and if delegates agreed to give their votes in support of it, that might be a more important signal than a consensus adoption.

    The Committee then approved the draft as orally revised and amended by a recorded vote of 180 in favour to 0 against, with 0 abstentions.

    By its terms, the Assembly would take a number of actions related to, among other topics, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, non‑discrimination, violence against children, and follow‑up on various matters concerning family relations, economic and social well‑being, child labour, the rights of children in particularly difficult circumstances, and migrant children, among others.

    The representative of the United States, in a statement after the vote, expressed support for the draft resolution.  However, the draft did not change his country’s obligations to treaty law and other human rights instruments to which it was not a party.  The United States understood the resolution to be focused on protecting the rights of vulnerable children, including those with disabilities and those from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community.  It also would work with relevant partners to improve the lives of the Palestinian people.

    The representative of Singapore, in explanation of vote after the vote, welcomed the draft’s approval, and while citing reservations to operative paragraph 11, stressing that she had nonetheless voted in favour of the text.

    The representative of Sudan reiterated her country’s dedication to protecting children’s rights.  The International Criminal Court had been unfair to Sudan, which had worked incessantly to maintain peace in the region.  The draft’s sponsors had not heeded suggestions made by her country.

    The representative of Israel said his country was committed to protecting the children’s rights and had participated in negotiations on the text.  He asked that politicized language be removed from future texts.

    The representative of the Holy See said violence against children undermined their rights and the well‑being of society.  He expressed concern over the hostile amendment, a move which could have been avoided.  All efforts must be made to support parents so that children could grow up in a safe environment, he said, noting that the Holy See’s understanding of sexual reproductive health services did not include abortion.

    The Secretary noted the Holy See’s intervention would be considered as a general statement.

    The representative of the Russian Federation noted the openness and inclusiveness in negotiation of the draft and expressed hope that a mutually acceptable decision would be reached next year.

    The representative of Brazil dissociated from the amended operative paragraph 36(k).

    The representative of Morocco, describing a lack of sexual education in school and at home, said young people were finding answers to questions about reproduction online.  The Committee would gain from finding compromises on future resolutions.

    The representative of Mexico dissociated from operative paragraph 36(k) as amended.

    The representative of Uruguay said her country dissociated from amended operative paragraph 36.

    The representative of Argentina said his country had voted in favour of the draft resolution based on its principle of supporting consensus.  He expressed regret that the draft had not been adopted by consensus despite that constructive negotiations had been carried out.

    The representative of the United Arab Emirates said her country voted for the resolution and would interpret it according to its national policies.

    The representative of Peru disassociated from operative paragraph 36(k).

    The representative of Costa Rica expressed regret that the draft had not been approved by consensus and disassociated from operative paragraph 36(k).

    The representative of Guatemala expressed regret over the lack of consensus and disassociated from paragraph 36(k).

    The representative of Panama disassociated from operative paragraph 36(k).

    The representative of Chile disassociated from operative paragraph 36(k).

    The representative of Colombia disassociated from operative paragraph 36(k).

    Persons with Disabilities

    The representative of New Zealand, on behalf of Mexico and Sweden, introduced a draft resolution titled “Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol thereto: situation of women and girls with disabilities” (document A/C.3/72/L.18/Rev.1).  He said girls and women with disabilities faced multiple barriers in life.  The draft resolution focused on realizing their rights in areas such as employment, access to health care, equal recognition before the law and freedom to make their own choices.  Noting that numerous open consultations had been held on the text, he made oral revisions to preambular paragraph 9 and an operative paragraph.

    The representative of Nigeria, on behalf of 43 African countries, proposed amendments to operative paragraph 18 to reflect the role of parents in providing guidance to their children, as language reflecting the importance of parental guidance had been rejected by the sponsors.

    The Secretary said the draft’s co‑sponsors included Zambia, Morocco and Guinea.

    The representative of Zambia withdrew sponsorship of the draft resolution.

    The representative of Burundi said her country would like to co‑sponsor the amendment.

    The representative of Madagascar said that while the country supported the amendment, it withdrew from co‑sponsorship.

    The representative of Chad expressed support for the amendment and withdrew from the list of co‑sponsors.

    The representative of Guinea withdrew from the list of co‑sponsors of the amendment.

    The representative of Morocco maintained her country’s sponsorship of the draft resolution.

    The representative of Sierra Leone withdrew from the list of co‑sponsors and supported the amendment.

    A Secretariat official noted that Zambia, Madagascar, Guinea, Chad and Sierra Leone had withdrawn their sponsorship of the resolution.

    The representative of New Zealand, on behalf of Mexico and Sweden, said negotiations on the draft had been open and transparent, with numerous opportunities for States to engage over the last two months.  The inclusion of operative paragraph 18 was important to help women and girls with disabilities enjoy their full human rights and freedoms, notably as they were more exposed to unintended pregnancies, child marriage and other harmful practices.  The proposed amendment would upset the careful balance achieved and he called for a vote on it, stressing that the co‑sponsors would vote no and requesting others to do the same.

    The representative of Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, in an explanation of vote, expressed regret that oral amendments had been introduced, saying the paragraph in question reflected a “strong middle ground” on issues related to persons with disabilities.  Regretting the lack of a spirit of compromise, she urged all delegations to vote against the amendment.

    The representative of Switzerland, also speaking on behalf of Australia, Canada, Norway and Liechtenstein, said the amendment aimed to weaken previously agreed language on gender equality.  The tabled version referred to partnership with parents and guardians, and stated that education should be age‑appropriate.  The proposed amendment upset the carefully calibrated compromise, she said, urging all to vote no.

    The representative of Brazil said he would vote against the amendment.  The resolution focused on the rights of women and girls with disabilities, and the paragraph presented by the co‑facilitators already noted the partnership with parents, guardians and health care providers.  He called on all delegations to vote against the draft amendment.

    The representative of the Russian Federation said the Committee was voting on the same text for the second day.  The topic of human rights for persons with disabilities was a complex one deserving attention, yet unfortunately, a similar item had been included on the rights of the child resolution, and the co‑sponsors had decided it was also necessary to include the paragraph in a resolution on persons on disabilities.  In the future, co‑sponsors, who understood which resolutions were problematic, should show common sense. 

    The representative of Nicaragua said the most important part of society was the family, adding that future resolutions should be better balanced.

    The representative of Egypt associated herself with Nigeria’s statement and noted that her country had been among the first to join the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  The language of the paragraph was unbalanced, and delegates should be more careful with transposing language, she said, adding that Egypt would vote in favour of the amendment and calling on others to do the same.

    The representative of Uruguay noted that the draft resolution included a clause on full cooperation with parents and legal guardians, and said it was necessary to vote against the amendment.

    The representative of Argentina said it was concerning that the same language was being put forward on several resolutions.  The language did not come from the declaration on HIV/AIDS, but from another Third Committee resolution from last year.  He urged all delegates to vote against the amendment, lest they send the message that young women and girls with disabilities did not deserve the same protections as others.

    The representative of Morocco said nothing prevented her from accepting an amendment to a resolution she co‑sponsored if she found the amendment to be an improvement to the resolution.  Morocco wished to keep its co‑sponsorship of the draft resolution.

    The Committee then approved the draft amendment to operative paragraph 18 by a recorded vote of 82 in favour to 78 against, with 9 abstentions (Cambodia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Malaysia, Maldives, Nepal, Tuvalu).

    The representative of the Holy See, in a general statement, condemned all forms of violence against people with disabilities, underscoring that a commitment to consensus should be respected in the Committee even while it discussed controversial issues.  He expressed reservations on the text, adding that the Holy See did not view abortion as a dimension of sexual and reproductive rights.

    The representative of New Zealand, also on behalf of Mexico and Sweden, expressed disappointment that a vote had been called, as the co‑sponsors believed they had struck a balance in the draft resolution.  By calling for a vote, the Committee sent a message to women and girls with disabilities that they did not have the same rights as others.

    The Committee then approved the draft as orally amended with a unanimous recorded vote of 176 in favour.

    By its terms, States would be called on to consider signing and ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol thereto.  They would be urged to review and repeal any law or policy that restricted women with disabilities from their full participation in political and public life on an equal basis with others, as well as to ensure the equal access of those women to decent work in the public and private sectors, that labour markets were open and accessible to persons with disabilities, and to take measures to both increase the employment of those women and to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability.

    The representative of the United States said women and girls were most marginalized among those persons with disabilities, excluded from services such as health care and education.  Countries did not have to fulfil obligations of international instruments to which they were not party, even though they had supported the resolution.  The United States did not recognize abortion as a form of family planning, she said, noting that she had voted for the draft resolution to urge States to protect the rights of women and girls with disabilities.

    The representative of Brazil dissociated from operative paragraph 18 as amended, as it compromised the empowerment of women and girls with disabilities.

    The representative of Yemen said his country had voted for the draft resolution as women and girls with disabilities experienced discrimination.  He said the fact that 176 delegates had voted for the draft had shown it addressed the concerns of many countries.

    The representative of Argentina said amended operative paragraph 18 weakened the protection of women and girls with disabilities, and he thus dissociated from it.

    The representative of Australia, on behalf of Canada, Iceland, Norway, and other countries, would have wanted the draft to have been adopted without a vote in its original version.  She welcomed the draft’s focus on women and girls with disabilities, who faced multiple challenges.  She called on States to provide women and girls access to education and health care, to prevent violence and abuse towards them, and to end to practices such as abortion and sterilization.  Stressing the importance of collecting disaggregated disability data, she said States had the common objective to reduce the spread of HIV and unwanted pregnancies among women and girls with disabilities.  There was a need for more education on responsible family planning, she asserted.

    The representative of Libya said the controversial draft on the rights of persons with disabilities should not be introduced in the future.  It was important to respect different cultural practices and values.

    The representative of Uruguay said all women and girls with disabilities should have equal rights and he dissociated from operative paragraph 18.

    The representative of Netherlands expressed disappointment over the vote on the amendment, as his country did not see operative paragraph 18 as the basis for consensus moving forward.

    The representative of Morocco, in a general statement, said the personal, sexual and private life of individuals with disabilities was important.  Morocco had reviewed the provisions of paragraph 18 as drafted by the co‑facilitators, but in the final analysis, had decided to make an addition to the paragraph.  Even if it were considered a weakness by some, she expressed hope there could be consensus on the draft resolution as a whole.

    The representative of Colombia said the amended paragraph limited access of women and girls with disabilities to information, and he disassociated from it.

    The representative of Costa Rica expressed regret that the draft resolution had not been adopted by consensus, saying sexual and reproductive information for young people was important, and disassociating from the amended paragraph.

    The representative of Denmark attached great importance to the rights of girls and women, and did not support the paragraph amended as a basis for consensus moving forward.

    Effects of Terrorism on Enjoyment of Human Rights

    The representative of Egypt, speaking on behalf of the main sponsors, introduced a draft resolution titled “Effects of terrorism on the enjoyment of human rights” (document A/C.3/72/L.49/Rev.1 and programme budget implications contained in document A/C.3/72/L.70).  He said all human rights were universal, indivisible, and interrelated, and that terrorism hampered economic development.  The draft aimed to condemn all acts of terrorism and incitement, and expressed grave concern over the effect of terrorism on human rights.  The draft resolution called on States to remain alert to the use of information technology for terrorist purposes.  The draft’s adoption should send a strong message that the international community was united in the fight against terrorism.  

    The representative of South Africa introduced an amendment to the draft resolution, saying her country’s democracy had been achieved in 1994 through the support of the international community and the Assembly, which had played a pivotal role in recognizing the national liberation movement by distinguishing it from terrorism.  The amendment sought to recognize that the draft resolution did not distinguish just and legitimate movements from terrorist acts.  The stance of the main sponsors was puzzling, given their support for national liberation movements in Africa, she said, adding that the proposed amendment brought the requisite balance to the draft resolution.

    The representative of Egypt said it was unfortunate that South Africa had introduced an amendment and underscored Egypt’s unwavering support for the Palestinian cause.  Making such a distinction would conflate legitimate armed struggle with terrorism, he said, asking South Africa to withdraw its amendment.

    The representative of South Africa, responding to the request by Egypt’s delegate to withdraw her request for an amendment, said she had not heard of such a request in her 17‑year experience in multilateralism and asked the Committee continue with its proceedings.

    The representative of Egypt called for vote on the amendment.

    The Committee then rejected the draft amendment by a recorded vote of 21 in favour to 77 against, with 42 abstentions.

    The representative of Saudi Arabia said his country respected human rights while fighting terrorism.  He called on delegates to support the draft resolution to demonstrate that countries were united in the fight against terrorism.

    The representative of South Africa requested a vote on the draft resolution as a whole.

    The representative of Egypt, in a general statement, said he was deeply disappointed by the position of South Africa’s delegate and called on all States to vote in favour of the draft resolution.

    The representative of South Africa said it was imperative to abide by international human rights law when fighting terrorism.  South African heroes had been labelled by terrorists in the past. The persecution of South Africa’s heroes was the reason why her country’s foreign policy lay on self‑determination and statehood.  She did not share the view that her intention to call for a vote on the resolution was ill‑founded and said her country would vote against the resolution.

    The Committee then approved the draft by a recorded vote of 104 in favour to 1 against (South Africa), with 63 abstentions.

    By its terms, the Assembly would reiterate that all States should take appropriate measures to deny support for terrorists and terrorist groups, particularly political, military, logistical and financial support.  It would emphasize the importance of cooperation, including through technical cooperation, capacity‑building and the exchange of information and intelligence on counter‑terrorism. 

    The representative of Estonia, on behalf of the European Union, said the co‑sponsors went to lengths to accommodate the views of States which had participated in negotiations on the text.  However, the bloc had abstained from the vote as it did not favour a parallel process of protecting rights when fighting terrorism.

    The representative of Qatar said all terrorist acts were crimes and it was clear that terrorism shattered human rights and democracy.  The international community should strengthen cooperation on the fight against terrorism, she said, underscoring the need to raise awareness and education in countering terrorism and addressing the deep roots of that phenomenon.

    The representative of the United States said her country did not recognize an obligation to recognize human rights law when countering terrorism.  The new report called for in the draft resolution was not an appropriate use of resources.

    Having taken note of several documents read out by the Secretary, the Committee then approved its tentative agenda for the seventy‑third session (document A/C.3/72/L.73).

    The representative of Syria, on a point of order, wished everyone a happy Thanksgiving.

    The representative of Cuba invited everyone to the Cuban festival which would take place on 8 December.

    The representative of the United Kingdom asked for the floor on a point of order “to read a silly poem” reflecting on the work of the Third Committee during the session.

    The representative of Egypt answered with a poem of his own.

    The representative of Nigeria invited all to the African Group’s party.

    Read more
  • Nuclear Energy Could Hold Key to Sustainable Development Gains, Delegates Tell General Assembly, as it Considers international Atomic Energy Agency Report

    Nuclear energy could help countries to achieve sustainable development, Member States said today, with many also expressing concern about recent nuclear testing activities by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as the General Assembly took up the latest report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

    Adopting the resolution “Report of the International Atomic Energy Agency” (document A/72/L.6) — transmitted in a note by the Secretary‑General (document A/72/221) and introduced by the representative of Indonesia — the 193‑member Assembly took note of several resolutions recently approved by the Vienna‑based IAEA.  Those texts were aimed at strengthening international cooperation in areas including nuclear science, technology and nuclear, radiation, transport and waste safety.

    The Assembly also took note of several IAEA resolutions on the application of nuclear safeguards in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Middle East, while reaffirming its strong support for the Agency’s activities.  In addition, it welcomed a resolution on the approval of the appointment of Yukiya Amano as Director General of the Agency from 1 December 2017 to 30 November 2021.

    Many delegates, including those from India and the Russian Federation, commended IAEA for assisting developing countries in related development programmes.  China’s representative said that with the recent adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, nuclear energy would play an increasingly important role in the generation of energy around the world.

    Echoing that view, Ecuador’s delegate said nuclear energy — properly used and with the necessary security measures — could be a way to increase great progress and well‑being for the benefit of humanity.  For its part, Ecuador had enjoyed invaluable IAEA support and critical supplies and equipment following the 2016 earthquake.

    Briefing the Assembly, Mr. Amano said that transferring peaceful nuclear technology to developing countries was the Agency’s core business and one of the most important aspects of its work.  “The Agency now helps countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in energy, food and agriculture, industry, water management and health,” he said.

    Meanwhile, IAEA was also committed to other efforts, he said, including verifying and monitoring implementation by Iran of its nuclear‑related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  “Iran is now subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime,” he said, noting Iran’s compliance with all related measures.  The Agency’s inspectors had expanded access to sites and now had more information about Iran’s nuclear programme, which was smaller than when the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action had been launched in 2015.

    On the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent activities, he said nuclear tests in September were “extremely regrettable” and called on the country to comply fully with its obligations under all relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the Agency.  While IAEA inspectors had been required to leave the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 2009, the Agency continued to monitor the country’s nuclear programme through satellite imagery and open source information.  It was also working to maintain its readiness to return when political developments made it possible.

    In the ensuing discussion, several delegates echoed Mr. Amano’s concerns, with the representative of the Republic of Korea strongly condemning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s “reckless” nuclear tests.  Far from revealing any signs that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was abandoning nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, the Agency’s report had indicated troubling activities at several sites.  “We call on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing programmes,” he said.  Until the Agency could resume monitoring and verification there, the Republic of Korea would work with partners in maintaining vigilance and coordinating a constructive response by the international community.

    Similarly, Japan’s representative said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programmes constituted an unprecedented, grave and imminent threat to international security.  The international community must never succumb to a nuclear threat by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea nor accept it as a nuclear‑armed State.

    The representative Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said the Agency’s report was a “seriously distorted picture of the reality”.  The nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula was the product of the United States’ hostile policy and nuclear threat against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

    “If the IAEA truly wishes peace and security on the Korean Peninsula, it should take issue with the United States first,” he said.  Despite serious concerns of the international community, the United States continued to stage its aggressive joint military exercises with the aim of conducting a pre‑emptive nuclear attack against his country.  Pyongyang had opted to possess nuclear weapons to safeguard its sovereignty and would not put them on the negotiating table unless the United States’ nuclear threat against his country was eradicated.

    Delegates, including the representative of Brazil, also highlighted the benefits of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme.  Australia’s representative said it was “the best option”.

    Iran’s delegate said his country’s compliance with all obligations had been confirmed in numerous IAEA reports.  “Thus, any claim that Iran is not complying with its Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action commitments lacks relevance and credibility,” he stressed.  As a valid international instrument, the Plan of Action “neither can be renegotiated nor unilaterally annulled”.  Iran would remain fully committed to the Plan of Action “inasmuch as all other Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action participants also fully and timely fulfil their related commitments”.

    The representative of the European Union said the Agency had verified eight times that Iran was implementing all its commitments under that agreement.  The European Union and the wider international community had clearly indicated that the deal would remain in place, he said, calling on all parties to implement all its elements.

    Before adjourning the meeting, the Assembly postponed the appointment of members of the Committee on Conferences, which had been originally scheduled for Friday, 17 November, to a later date to be announced.

    Also speaking today were the representatives of Indonesia, Monaco, Belarus, Jamaica, Libya, Malaysia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Syria, Ukraine, Cuba, Algeria, Iraq, El Salvador, Paraguay, Argentina, Bangladesh, South Africa and the Philippines.

    The representatives of Lithuania, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Belarus, Republic of Korea and Japan spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

    The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Monday, 13 November, to take up sport for development and peace and other matters.

    Briefing by International Atomic Energy Agency Head

    YUKIYA AMANO, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said that transferring peaceful nuclear technology to developing countries was the Agency’s core business and one of the most important aspects of its work.  The Agency’s technical cooperation programme, which was central to delivery of its “Atoms for Peace and Development” mandate, had improved the health and prosperity of millions of people and delivered huge benefits to entire communities.  “The Agency now helps countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in energy, food and agriculture, industry, water management and health,” he said.

    The modernization of IAEA nuclear applications laboratories near Vienna continued to produce excellent results, he noted, emphasizing that those eight laboratories provided assistance to more than 150 countries in areas such as food and agriculture and health.  The new Inspect Pest Control Laboratory aimed to help countries to use nuclear techniques to better control pests such as mosquitoes and fruit flies.  Turning to the kind of energy used worldwide, he said that by 2050, if climate change goals set under the Paris Agreement were to be met, approximately 80 per cent of electricity would need to be low-carbon.  Increased use of nuclear power, as well as renewables, would help countries to achieve their climate change goals.  On nuclear verification, he said that the number of States with Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements in force stood at 182 and encouraged all countries to implement the Additional Protocol.

    IAEA continued to verify and monitor implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he said, noting that Iran was complying.  “Iran is now subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime,” he added.  The Agency’s inspectors had expanded access to sites, and now had more information about Iran’s nuclear programme, which was smaller than it was before the action plan was established in 2015.  The Agency continued to verify the non-diversion of nuclear materials declared by Iran under its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements.  Evaluations regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran continued.

    Expressing serious concern about the nuclear programme of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said that the country’s nuclear tests in September, its sixth and largest to date, were “extremely regrettable”.  “I call upon Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to comply fully with its obligations under all relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the Agency,” he stressed. While IAEA inspectors were required to leave the country in 2009, the Agency continued to monitor the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear programme through satellite imagery and open-source information.  It was also working to maintain its readiness to return when political development made it possible.

    Underscoring the importance of safety and security in the use of nuclear technology, he said lessons from the Fukushima Daiichi accident in 2011 had now been incorporated into all IAEA nuclear safety requirements.  Safety must always come first and the safety culture must continue to be strengthened, he underscored, noting that the Agency’s Board of Governors adopted the Nuclear Security Plan 2018-2012 by consensus in September.  IAEA continued to expand its assistance to enable countries to minimize the risk of nuclear and other radioactive material being used in a malicious way.

    Sound management of limited resources was essential if the Agency was to meet the growing needs of Member States, he noted, emphasizing the importance of striking a balance between real needs and the reality that Member States faced financial constraints.  He also emphasized the need to take the issue of gender parity at the Agency very seriously.  “We have significantly increased the proportion of women in the Professional and higher categories,” he added, noting that it now stood at 29 per cent.  “But we can and must do better.”

    Introduction of Draft Resolution

    INA H. KRISNAMURTHI (Indonesia), introducing the draft resolution titled, “Report of the International Atomic Energy Agency” (document A/72/L.6), said the Agency continued to play a vital role in fostering international cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and technology as well as nuclear safety and security.  Noting that it also provided technical assistance and necessary support to Member States in their pursuits in those areas, she urged the Agency’s Secretariat to pursue its work programme in a balanced manner to meet the needs of States and ensure that the benefits of nuclear science and technology for socioeconomic development were spread effectively.

    Noting that 13 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals related directly to IAEA areas of competence — including those concerning food, fuel, agriculture, nuclear technology, power generation and health — she went on to underline the Agency’s critical role in nuclear safety and security.  However, the responsibility for nuclear security within a State “rests entirely with that State”, and nuclear security should not be a condition or a prerequisite for technical cooperation projects.  The draft resolution before the Assembly today had been approved by consensus following consultations held in both Vienna and New York.  As in previous years, it took note of the resolutions and decisions adopted by the Agency’s General Conference.  It also appealed to Member States to continue their support for the Agency’s activities.

    Statements

    GUILLAUME DABOUIS, European Union, reiterated the bloc’s support for the full, complete and effective implementation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as the cornerstone of the international non-proliferation regime as well as the essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament.  Also expressing support for the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems in the Middle East, he underlined the Security Council’s primary responsibility in cases of non-compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the “Iran Nuclear Deal” and endorsed by the Council in its resolution 2231 (2015), represented a key and functioning pillar of the international non-proliferation architecture that was even more important in the context of current acute nuclear threats.  The Agency had verified eight times that Iran was implementing all its nuclear-related commitments under that agreement, he said, stressing that the European Union and the wider international community had clearly indicated that the deal would remain in place and calling on all parties to implement all its elements.

    Strongly condemning the latest nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, along with all its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile activities, he urged that country to reverse course, immediately cease those actions and abandon its nuclear weapons programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.  Underlining IAEA’s critical role in verifying Pyongyang’s nuclear programme, he also urged the Syrian regime to cooperate with the Agency promptly and transparently to resolve all outstanding issues.  Calling for the universalization of Comprehensive Safeguard Agreements together with their Additional Protocols, he said nuclear safety remained a key priority for the European Union.  Through the framework of its strategy against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the bloc was activity supporting relevant Security Council resolutions and other agreements including the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.  Voicing support for IAEA’s central role in the global nuclear security framework, he called on the Agency’s Member States to ensure reliable and sustainable resources for it work in preventing nuclear terrorism and the misuse of nuclear and radioactive material.

    ISABELLE F. PICCO (Monaco) commended the Agency for its contributions in helping countries implement the Sustainable Development Goals.  On the environment, she said that IAEA evaluations could help prevent land degradation and help restore soil.  Noting myriad programmes Monaco had implemented in collaborating with the Agency, she emphasized one focusing on the training of 400 scientists and another that helped improve food security by detecting and combating animal disease.  She further commended the Agency’s work in increasing access to clean, reliable and affordable energy.  Scientific research with the support of the Agency could lead to policies that combat climate change, she added.  Acidification of the oceans was another area where IAEA and Monaco had deployed joint efforts.  Moreover, the Agency’s environment laboratories in partnership with Monaco had continued to focus efforts on addressing ocean acidification.

    TATYANA FEDOROVICH (Belarus) said that the Agency had managed to achieve substantial progress in facilitating the safe use of nuclear technology, welcoming its efforts to continue to focus on developing that sector in a safe and secure manner.  “Belarus has also opted for nuclear energy,” she said, expressing support for the Agency’s work in nuclear security “from planning to decommissioning”.  She recalled that Belarus had suffered greatly from the Chernobyl disaster and would continue to work with IAEA in all relevant areas to improve safety and security standards.  She emphasized the Agency’s role in helping States to achieve sustainable development particularly in the areas of energy, medicine and agriculture.  With the Agency’s help, Belarus had been able to increase the effectiveness of nuclear training and make significant progress in medicine.

    DIEDRE MILLS (Jamaica), stressing the importance of the Agency’s work, said her country had benefitted from a range of technical and other assistance that had been instrumental in several key priority areas like education, health and research, including the programme of action for cancer therapy.  The Agency’s work in promoting peaceful uses of nuclear technology and applying a safeguards regime for verification, safety and security remained critical.  She encouraged States to accede to legally binding international conventions and commit to working towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  The adoption in July 2017 of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was a significant milestone achievement towards de-legitimizing nuclear weapons.

    ELMAHDI S. ELMAJERBI (Libya), voicing support for IAEA work in pursuing global nuclear disarmament as well as nuclear safety, recalled that his country had voluntarily given up its nuclear weapons programme in 2002 and acceded to the Agency’s safeguards.  Voicing concern about the continued use or threat of use of such weapons by some States — which continued to maintain or even update their nuclear stockpiles — he said the Agency’s role should not be limited to reviewing the peaceful uses of nuclear energy but should also help to verify the reduction and ultimate destruction of the nuclear arsenals of nuclear weapons States.  Indeed, the equitable application of the Non-Proliferation Treaty would mean total nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and a fair distribution of the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.  Strengthening the Agency’s safeguards regime should never adversely affect the technical cooperation and assistance provided to States, he stressed, voicing concern over the policy pursued by some States to impose restrictions on technology transfer and assistance to others, which constituted a violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Among other things, he also expressed support for Security Council resolutions calling for the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, which was still challenged by Israel’s refusal to adhere to the Non-Proliferation Treaty or to subject its nuclear facilities to the Agency’s inspections.

    DELFINA JANE DRIS (Malaysia) said that collaboration between her country and the Agency had been fruitful in several areas related to nuclear security and that her Government appreciated the Agency’s support in strengthening national detection capabilities in combating nuclear terrorism as demonstrated at the 2017 Southeast Asian Games held in Kuala Lumpur.  Malaysia enjoyed on-going cooperation with the Agency in radiation protection and safety, research reactor safety, radiological emergency response, environmental monitoring and radioactive waste management.  The Peaceful Uses Initiative was a very important vehicle to support the Agency’s activities related to the peaceful applications of science and technology, she said, adding that research and development played a critical role in realizing the long-term goals of nuclear science and technology for the collective benefit of Member States and the Agency.

    GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran) underscored the importance of the inalienable right of any State to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  That included the inherent right of each State to participate in the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials, and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  He emphasized that the primary responsibility of the Agency was to assist Member States in researching and practically applying nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  Iran stressed the need for IAEA to meet the expectations of developing countries.  As the authority responsible for the verification of the fulfilment of nuclear safeguards, the Agency must carry out its functions in full conformity with relevant legally-binding instruments, taking into account the concerns and interests of Member States.

    Iran remained determined to exercise its inalienable right to develop, research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, he stressed.  Iran’s compliance with all obligations under its Safeguards Agreement had been confirmed in numerous IAEA reports.  “Thus, any claim that Iran is not complying with its Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action commitments lacks relevance and credibility,” he stressed.  As a valid international instrument, the Plan of Action “neither can be renegotiated nor unilaterally annulled”.  Likewise, any unilateral claim to extend the duration of Iran’s voluntary confidence-building measures ran counter to the Plan and more importantly, was in clear contradiction with the inalienable rights of States under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  “Iran had been and will remain fully committed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action inasmuch as all other Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action participants also fully and timely fulfil their related commitments,” he said.

    HAHN CHOONGHEE (Republic of Korea) noted that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on 3 September had conducted its sixth nuclear test on the heels of two nuclear tests in 2016 and several ballistic missile launches, including two with intercontinental range, in clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.  His Government strongly condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s “reckless and irresponsible nuclear test”.  Far from revealing any signs that it was abandoning nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, the IAEA Director General’s report indicated troubling nuclear activities at the Yongbyon site and Pyongsan Mine and Concentration Plant.  “The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s continuous negative response to the international community’s diplomatic efforts underlines the need to reiterate a strong and unified message that the path to peace, stability and prosperity hinges on its willingness to engage in meaningful dialogue and honour its denuclearization commitments,” he said.  It was essential that all Member States made clear to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that it would face serious consequences unless it faithfully implemented all relevant Security Council resolutions.

    “We call on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing programmes in a complete, verifiable and irrelevant manner, and to refrain from any further provocative and destabilizing acts,” he said.  The Republic of Korea appreciated recent efforts of IAEA to enhance its readiness to verify that country’s nuclear programme.  Until the Agency was able to resume monitoring and verification there, the Republic of Korea would work with partners in maintaining vigilance and coordinating a constructive response by the international community with a view to a peaceful resolution.  Noting that the Republic of Korea contributed to the IAEA Technical Cooperation Fund, he stressed the need for sufficient funding in order to maximize the contribution of the Agency’s technical cooperation programmes to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

    GOH YAN KIM (Singapore), reaffirming full support for the IAEA Director General’s work, noted that his country joined the Agency 50 years ago shortly after gaining independence and had developed a strong partnership with it.  The country was now paying back the assistance from which it had benefitted in such areas as public health and radiation protection by providing technical assistance to fellow developing countries and serving on the Board of Governors, he said, describing other formal arrangements with the Agency and Singapore’s support to ASEAN regional initiatives.  Supporting IAEA’s central role in ensuring a strong and sustainable global nuclear safety and security framework, he welcomed the outcome of the International Conference on Nuclear Security and the most recent review meeting on the Convention of Nuclear Safety.  Affirming that cyberattacks on nuclear installations presented real risks, he supported the Agency’s work in developing guidelines and training programmes for cyber resiliency.  He looked forward to his country’s further strong relationship with IAEA in the years to come.

    SANDEEP KUMAR BAYYAPU (India) said nuclear power was an important energy source to meet increased demand and address volatile fuel prices and climate change concerns.  He took note of the Agency’s efforts on the role of nuclear power in meeting the “climate-energy challenge” and mitigating against greenhouse gas emissions.  Moreover, his delegation attached great importance to the Agency’s work in different fields of nuclear science.  In that connection, the Agency’s achievement in food and agriculture, human health, water resources management and the protection of the environment were helpful in meeting the needs of developing countries.  He went on to welcome the role of the Agency in nuclear security and encouraged all Member States that had not yet done so to ratify the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.

    WU HAITAO (China) voiced support for IAEA and the effective fulfilment of its mandates, including by strengthening nuclear safety and security and working towards global nuclear non-proliferation.  With the recent adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change, nuclear energy would play an increasingly important role in the generation of energy around the world.  However, the risks posed by nuclear proliferation remained severe, and nuclear security threats were increasing.  In that context, he said the Agency should focus on several critical areas, including enhancing the universality and fairness of its safeguard system based on the principles of impartiality, fairness and in consultation with Member States; establishing a weapons of mass destruction-free zone in the Middle East; promoting technical support and assistance to developing countries in support of their peaceful uses of nuclear energy; strengthening nuclear safety and security; following and assessing the handling of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station incident; and addressing regional hotspot issues.  Expressing support for the Agency’s work with regards to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he said it should also play its due role in monitoring the nuclear activities of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

    SAOD RASHID AL MAZROUI (United Arab Emirates), spotlighting his country’s close work with IAEA in the area of nuclear safety and its compliance with the standards of nuclear safety and non-proliferation, also commended the Agency for its work in transferring technology and knowledge to support Member States’ development needs.  Those programmes helped contributed to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, promoted cooperation through the exchange of best practices and strategic partnerships and provided valuable support in the development of infrastructure and human resources for a safe and successful nuclear programme.

    NIKOLAY LOZINSKIY (Russian Federation) said that IAEA must increase efforts to develop nuclear energy around the world while also improving and strengthening the global non-proliferation regime.  Underscoring the importance of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he said the Agency was monitoring all aspects of that agreement’s implementation.  The Director General had earlier that morning mentioned that Iran was implementing all its nuclear commitments.  He welcomed the improvement of control mechanisms, including the adoption of Additional Protocols on safeguards, which must always remain objective and depoliticized.  The Russian Federation was active in IAEA, he said, noting that it was making financial contributions in myriad sectors and working to facilitate the development of nuclear energy in developing countries.  In the Russian Federation, an international uranium enrichment centre was open to all countries wishing to develop nuclear energy in a safe and secure manner.  He added that it was unacceptable to bring the non-proliferation agenda into issues of physical nuclear security.  The Russian Federation had signed relevant documents, he continued, encouraging States that had not yet done so to accede to relevant international instruments.

    ALEX GIACOMELLI DA SILVA (Brazil) commended the impartial and objective manner in which the Agency had been carrying out its verification duties in Iran in accordance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  He also recognized the Agency’s efforts in promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, a role for which it was uniquely positioned.  He expressed appreciation for the effective cooperation between the Agency and the Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials, a unique and constructive partnership between multilateral and bilateral verification bodies.  Given its technical capabilities, impartiality and professionalism, he stressed that the Agency could play an important role in nuclear disarmament verification.  As such, he regretted the IAEA Director General’s decision not to send a representative to the negotiating conference of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

    FERNANDO LUQUE MÁRQUEZ (Ecuador) said that nuclear energy — properly used and with the necessary security measures — could be a way to increase great progress and well‑being for the benefit of humanity.  IAEA had provided Ecuador with invaluable support as well as critical supplies and equipment following the country’s 2016 earthquake.  At the regional level, he noted Ecuador’s participation in dozens of relevant projects.  For its part, Ecuador has recently signed a national programme framework on technology and technical cooperation, outlining the country’s needs and priorities.  Seriously concerned about the recent testing of nuclear weapons, he expressed support for the three pillars of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty without discrimination or double standards.  Most States had reiterated their deep concern about the humanitarian consequences of any nuclear accident or intentional detonation.  “Any use of nuclear weapons would be a crime against humanity,” he underscored, noting that the Non‑Proliferation Treaty had established the legal basis to eliminate such weapons.  He also commended the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as a clear example of what could happen through diplomacy and dialogue.

    BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria) said that, once again, the world faced a dangerous difficult situation emanating from the threats posed by Israel’s nuclear arsenal.  Meanwhile, other nuclear weapons States were also increasing their threats.  Emphasizing that global nuclear non-proliferation was a key priority for Syria, he recalled that it had acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty early on, long before many of the European Union States that now claimed to be on the vanguard of the global non-proliferation regime.  Many of those nations, along with Turkey, kept nuclear weapons on their territories in violation of the Treaty.  Syria, meanwhile, had long had IAEA safeguard agreements in place.  As a non-permanent member of the Security Council, Syria had also drafted a resolution mandating the establishment of a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East, but that text was never taken up as the United States had threatened to veto it.  Such actions revealed the lies behind the claims of Western countries, he said, adding that they had for decades provided Israel with the materials needed to develop nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.

    For its part, he said, Israel had spared no effort to attempt to divert attention from its nuclear arsenal.  Recalling Israel’s attack on the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor in 2007, he said Israel continued to refuse to allow IAEA inspectors to visit its nuclear facilities.  Such actions damaged the credibility of the global non-proliferation regime, undermining peace in the region, he stressed, pointing out that IAEA had been aware of those events but failed to cover them in its report.  Quoting from a memoire titled “The Age of Deception” — written by former IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei — he said the book demonstrated Western countries’ “nuclear hypocrisy” and raised questions about the information the Agency had received from them.  Among other things, it discussed the United States dossier on Iraq’s nuclear programme, which had served as a false pretext for the former’s 2003 invasion of the latter.  In addition, a book recently published by the Stockholm Institute contained an entire chapter on Israel’s nuclear forces, while no such chapter existed on Syria’s nuclear programme.  In light of such sources, he called on IAEA to immediately address Israel’s nuclear weapons programme.

    KORO BESSHO (Japan), recalling that his country had contributed more than $28 million to the Agency’s Peaceful Uses Initiative, pledged to seek ways to further utilize national relevant expertise.  Japan’s efforts included working to enhance nuclear safety, drawing on lessons learned from the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station incident and reforming its regulatory structures.  Turning to concerns about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent activities, he said its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programme constituted an unprecedented, grave and imminent threat to international security and the global non‑proliferation regime, and operated in flagrant violation of Security Council resolutions and other multilateral commitments.  “The international community should never succumb to a nuclear threat of North Korea and accept a nuclear‑armed North Korea,” he said, voicing support for IAEA efforts to resume inspections in that country.  The international community must also remain united in its full implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions in order to maximize pressure on Pyongyang.

    VOLODYMYR LESCHENKO (Ukraine), associating himself with the European Union, said the 2016 annual report provided a comprehensive and well‑balanced analysis of major achievements of the Agency’s work and its main priorities in promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  Drawing attention to the legal framework for IAEA safeguards agreement application in Ukraine, including in Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, he said it was based on the comprehensive safeguards agreement and additional protocol, which was in compliance with relevant Assembly resolutions.  The 2016 annual report reaffirmed the vital role the Agency played in meeting today’s challenges.

    ILEIDIS VALIENTE DÍAZ (Cuba), commending the work of IAEA, stressed the need to use nuclear energy to improve living conditions, promote sustainable development and protect the environment.  IAEA had an important role to play in achieving sustainable development and in implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change.  Technical cooperation remained particularly essential for Cuba, she added, recognizing the importance of applying nuclear technology in human health, food security and agriculture, and the environment.  She reaffirmed Cuba’s commitment to ensuring that all countries could use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  She also emphasized the importance of nuclear physical security, adding that the establishment of relevant measures to strengthen and secure their safety was the responsibility of each State.  She also welcomed the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as a clear example that dialogue was the best way to solve international disputes.

    JA SONG NAM (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said the report of the Agency presented a “seriously distorted picture of the reality” regarding the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.  The nuclear issue was the product of the United States hostile policy and nuclear threat toward the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Had it not been for the hostile policy enforced by the United States for more than 70 years against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea since the first day of that country’s founding in 1948, the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula would not exist.  For the Korean people who had experienced war imposed on them by the United States, “the powerful war deterrence for national defence was an inevitable strategic option” and would never be bartered for anything.

    He recalled that IAEA, at the instigation of the United States, had brought up suspicions regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s peaceful nuclear facilities in the 1990s.  That had compelled Pyongyang to leave the Agency and withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  “If the IAEA truly wishes peace and security on the Korean Peninsula, it should take issue with the United States first, which is the nuclear war criminal and ringleader of the nuclear threat,” he said.  The Korean Peninsula was now on the brink of nuclear war because of the hostile policies of the United States.  Despite serious concerns of the international community, the United States continued to stage its aggressive joint military exercises with the aim of conducting a pre-emptive nuclear attack against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  He said his country had opted to possess nuclear weapons to safeguard its sovereignty and it would not put them or the ballistic missiles on the negotiating table unless the United States’ nuclear threat against his country was eradicated first.

    MOHAMMED BESSEDIK (Algeria), underscoring the importance of the IAEA Technical Cooperation Programme and welcoming its convening of a meeting in Vienna in 2017, expressed hope that meeting would be organized again at the ministerial level.  Noting that Algeria regularly contributed to the Agency’s regular budget, he called for the allocation of sufficient and predictable resources to the Agency’s efforts to support countries in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.  Algeria was integrating and using nuclear techniques in the field of health, especially to combat cancer, and with the help of IAEA it had improved its training facilities and the maintenance of its nuclear equipment.  Voicing support for bolstered cooperation among African States in the areas of nuclear technology and training, he said nuclear safety and security were of paramount importance and underlined IAEA’s critical role in assisting States to develop national frameworks in those areas.  Nevertheless, issues of security and safety must not be used as a condition to restrict the provision of technical cooperation or assistance to States.  Calling for universalization of international instruments on nuclear safety, he expressed support for the establishment of nuclear-weapons-free-zones around the world, and voiced concern over continued impediments to the creation of such a zone in the Middle East.  States had been calling for such a zone since 1995, but no progress had been made, he said.

    MOHAMMED SAHIB MEJID MARZOOQ (Iraq) said his country had recently undertaken many positive steps in the field of nuclear energy despite its many challenges in combating Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) forces.  Among other things, it was currently developing the institutions necessary to safeguard sites previously under the control of terrorist groups, some of which still contained radioactive waste.  Iraq had also ratified the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.  Underlining the importance of the Agency’s work in providing assistance to developing countries in the field of nuclear technology, and of establishing the Middle East as a zone free of nuclear weapons, he recalled that the United Nations had a “cardinal role” to play in that regard.  The dismantling of Israel’s nuclear arsenal and its accession to the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapons State were critical, he stressed, adding that the pursuit of peaceful nuclear programmes by all countries was an inalienable right and remained crucial for the pursuit of sustainable development.  Those rights must therefore not be impeded by the imposition of conditions by other States.

    HECTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERÓN (El Salvador) said that today’s draft resolution and the report of IAEA reaffirmed the Agency’s indispensable role.  He called on Member States to continue to support the Agency and welcome decisions adopted at its annual sessions.  Nuclear energy must be used for peaceful purposes.  In that context, it was crucial to avoid the proliferation of nuclear weapons and focus nuclear energy efforts towards sustainably developing agriculture, health, and other essential sectors.  He urged Member States to pool their efforts with IAEA to use nuclear energy to improve the quality of health, ensure food security and reduce and prevent climate change.  Commending IAEA for helping El Salvador strengthen several national sectors, he noted that his country had recently established a national framework plan to align the Agency’s work with its national priorities.

    ENRIQUE JOSÉ MARÍA CARRILLO GÓMEZ (Paraguay) said the development of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy must be conducted in a transparent manner with IAEA supervision, and called on States to comply with international best practices.  Paraguay’s National Commission for Atomic Energy was researching approaches to peacefully using nuclear energy to help to improve the lives of its citizens.  Reiterating concerns over efforts by some States to improve nuclear weapons and develop new ones, he fully rejected the testing of such weapons.  Highlighting the importance of technical assistance and cooperation provided by the Agency to developing countries, he thanked IAEA for helping to improve nuclear medicine in Paraguay.

    GABRIELA MARTINIC (Argentina), describing her country’s decades‑old nuclear sector that had been backed up by a consistent State policy and international safeguards, said that while IAEA safeguards were essential, they must not impede States from obtaining nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  The Quadripartite Safeguards Agreement between Argentina, Brazil, the Brazilian‑Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials and IAEA had, since 1991, guided the application of nuclear safeguards and had helped to consolidate the Latin American and Caribbean region as a zone free of such arms.  With regard to physical nuclear security architecture, she welcomed the Agency’s 2016 International Conference on Nuclear Security and upcoming conference on physical nuclear installations and materials.  The Agency must continue to act as a main coordinator for global efforts to help to consolidate efforts involving safety, security and counter‑terrorism strategies.  States should also work to harmonize both binding and non‑binding measures, she said, adding that Argentina had become the first country to commit to designing, locating and building all its new nuclear plants in line with article 1 of the Convention on Nuclear Safety.

    FAIYAZ MURSHID KAZI (Bangladesh) expressed full confidence in the Agency’s guiding role in coordinating international efforts to strengthen global nuclear security.  Noting that security considerations must not hamper the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, he said the Agency’s work maintained and improved emergency preparedness and response mechanisms worldwide.  Welcoming IAEA activities to improve nuclear infrastructure development, he underscored the importance of building regulatory and management functions to improve the safety of such projects.  Nuclear energy was safe, environmentally friendly and an economical source of electricity, he said.  IAEA was his country’s main partner for the promotion of safe and secure applications of nuclear science and technology for peaceful purposes, he said, adding that Bangladesh was actively engaging with the Agency’s technical cooperation programme and regional cooperation agreements.

    MARTIN ERIC SIPHO NGUNDZE (South Africa) said IAEA had a pivotal role to play in global efforts to promote international peace, security and development.  The Agency’s nuclear applications in areas like agriculture, food security, human health, water resource management, nuclear technology and animal health had contributed to socioeconomic progress in developing countries, assisting them in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  South Africa had immensely benefitted from the Agency’s scientific and technological support, especially in strengthening the clinical management of oncological, neurological and cardiovascular diseases.  He also underscored the central role IAEA played in implementing its safeguards verification system, which was essential in verifying nuclear energy programmes.

    DARREN HANSEN (Australia), commending IAEA for its efforts to champion gender equality, provided a snapshot of his country’s efforts.  Australia had ratified the new Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training in Nuclear Science and Technology for the Asia and Pacific Region, constructed a molybdenum processing plant that would help to secure the global supply of life‑saving nuclear medicine, and had planned an integrated regulatory review service mission for 2018.  Australia would also continue to assist States to enhance nuclear security.  Regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Australia would not accept illegal development and testing of nuclear weapons, he said, urging the international community to fully implement related Security Council resolutions.  In addition, he expressed support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which remained the “best available option” to address Iran’s nuclear programme.

    ARIEL R. PEÑARANDA (Philippines), recalling that IAEA was the sole United Nations body promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, commended the Agency’s Atoms for Peace and Development initiative.  The Philippines strongly supported the Agency’s efforts related to gender equality and balanced geographic representations at all levels, and encouraged it to maintain the balance between the promotional and non‑promotional aspects of its work.  The relevance of IAEA had become all the more pronounced given the increased importance of dealing with nuclear non‑proliferation and disarmament issues from a technical and scientific perspective.

    Action

    The Assembly then adopted draft resolution A/72/L.6 without a vote.

    Right of Reply

    The representative of Lithuania, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said each country had the right to develop nuclear power as long as all international safety regulations were met.  Newcomer countries must be especially diligent in that regard, she said, warning that manipulative, declarative and selective approaches still existed.  Expressing concern about the new nuclear power plant in Ostrovets, Belarus, near the Lithuanian border, she said the facility was being created without regulation, transparency or consultation with neighbouring countries, and IAEA specialized missions could bring important benefits if they were involved in all stages of such projects.

    The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea rejected reckless statements that had been made by the delegations of the European Union, Australia, Japan, Republic of Korea and the Philippines as part of a politicized plot aimed at defaming his country.  Parties on the Korean Peninsula had agreed to an armistice and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had long urged the United States to sign a peace agreement to no avail.  “The nuclear weapons in [the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] are a war deterrent,” he said, noting that they had contributed to maintaining peace on the Korean Peninsula following more than half a century of nuclear blackmail and hostile policies by the United States.  Noting that the United States armed forces remained stationed on the Korean Peninsula while the head of its regime travelled across Asia making reckless, hostile, warlike remarks, he said if that country truly wished to fulfil its responsibilities, it should dismantle its command in the Republic of Korea and fully withdraw its troops.  He reminded Japan’s delegate that Japan had been the victim of the only nuclear attack in human history and that it should address the threats posed by the United States — the world’s largest nuclear war criminal.  In addition, he emphasized that his country’s proper name was “the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” and not “North Korea”, as Japan’s representative had mistakenly stated.  To the delegate of the Republic of Korea, he said that country was a colony of the United States.  Emphasizing that such a country could never be considered a sovereign State, he called on Seoul to abandon its reliance on foreign Powers.

    The representative of the Russian Federation regretted ongoing speculation regarding infrastructure in Crimea and reiterated that his country’s position on the matter was well known.

    The representative of Belarus said nuclear safety was a priority and her country was cooperating with relevant international mechanisms.  IAEA had assessed its energy infrastructure and concluded that Belarus was committed to the highest possible level of nuclear security.  Claims alleging poor security measures were politically motivated and unjustified, she added, expressing interest in fostering cooperation with all interested parties, including Lithuania.

    The representative of the Republic of Korea, deeply regretting to note the “groundless statements” of his counterpart from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said her country would take all measures to protect its people.  Distorting facts would not change the nature of Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.

    The representative of Japan said the missile development programme of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was in clear violation of Security Council resolutions.  Pyongyang must refrain from provocations and comply with relevant resolutions.

    The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said Japan was unqualified to discuss issues of nuclear concern, and Tokyo had yet to apologize and provide compensation for its past war crimes.  Japan had forced 200,000 Korean women and girls into sex slavery and committed genocide against the Korean people, with over 1 million killed.  He urged the Republic of Korea to learn from history, adding that nuclear deterrence was guaranteeing the prosperity of the Korean people.

    The representative of Japan said mentioning history was inappropriate at a meeting focused on issues related to the Agency.  Japan had always upheld the principles of the United Nations Charter and championed freedom, democracy and the rule of law.  He again urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to comply with relevant Council resolutions.

    The representative of the Republic of Korea said Seoul remained open to talks with Pyongyang and stressed it was the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that refused to engage in dialogue.  She urged Pyongyang to do so with a view to promoting the prosperity of all Koreans.

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  • Human Rights Council President Urges Governments to Protect Fundamental Freedoms in Word, Deed, as Third Committee Considers Report of Geneva-Based Body

    The President of Human Rights Council urged Governments to ensure that efforts to protect fundamental freedoms existed “not just in words, but in practice”, as he presented his annual report to the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural) today.

    Joaquín Alexander Maza Martelli, who had addressed the General Assembly plenary earlier in the day, said the Council adopted 114 resolutions, presidential statements and decisions, 80 of them without a vote.

    The situation in Myanmar deserved special attention, he said.  The Council had created an independent fact‑finding mission to examine alleged human rights violations by military and security forces, particularly in Rakhine State, extending its mandate to September 2018 when its final report would be considered.

    Turning to Syria, he said the Council had held interactive dialogues with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry, and extended that body’s mandate for another year.

    More broadly, he said the Council had established a new special procedures mandate ‑  the Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members — and created a joint task force to bridge the gap between the Council’s workload and resources.  He also informed delegates he had received reports of threats against those who had cooperated with the Council.  Any such intimidation was unacceptable.

    In the ensuing debate, described potential areas for the Council’s reform, with Eritrea’s delegate, on behalf of the African Group, stressing that the body should never be used as a tool for political purposes.  He also rejected the Council’s practice of “naming and shaming” and imposing mandates that did not enjoy the support of the concerned country.

    The representative of the European Union said there was potential to strengthen dialogue between the Human Rights Council and the Security Council.  The Human Rights Council’s mandate must be carried out so that early warning could become early action, he said, calling the independent Special Procedures mandate‑holders the world’s “eyes and ears,” attentive to emerging crises.

    Earlier in the day, the Third Committee concluded its debate on refugees, with speakers from host countries highlighting the challenges of sheltering large numbers of displaced people.  The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania said his country had welcomed more than 318,397 refugees from Burundi and Democratic Republic of the Congo.  He called for international support for local integration of the refugees.  Sudan’s delegate said the inflow of refugees into her country was mixed with illegal migrants who had been trafficked, while Uganda’s delegate called for international support, as assisting refugees had over‑stretched its meagre resources.

    Ukraine’s delegate, meanwhile, said 1.6 million people had been internally displaced from Russian‑occupied areas of Ukraine.  Similarly, Georgia’s delegate said the ethnic Georgian population in occupied regions faced an imminent threat of expulsion.  The representative of Russian Federation, exercising the right of reply, objected to baseless accusations against her country.  South Ossetia and Abkhazia were independent States and the Russian Federation had never controlled those territories.  Further, citizens were fleeing Ukraine due to crimes by ultranationalists and Ukrainian authorities.  The Russian Federation had offered voluntary donations to the High Commissioner for Refugees to manage the situation in eastern Ukraine, she added.

    Also speaking in the discussion on refugees were representatives of Pakistan, China, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Argentina, Serbia, Republic of Korea, South Africa, Thailand, Botswana, Azerbaijan, Morocco, Ethiopia, Zambia, Nigeria, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Mali and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

    Also speaking in the debate on the Human Rights Council report were representatives of Paraguay, Egypt, Colombia, Eritrea, Japan, Iraq, Syria, Botswana, United States, Cuba, Iran, Algeria, Nigeria, El Salvador, Latvia, India, China and Morocco.

    The representatives of Algeria, Ukraine, Georgia, Morocco and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea also spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

    The Third Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Monday, 6 November to continue its work.

    Background

    The Third Committee met today to continue its debate on the promotion and protection of human rights.  (For more information, please see Press Release GA/SHC/4216).

    NABEEL MUNIR (Pakistan) commended the adoption of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants but stressed that more must be done to find solutions to the refugee crisis.  Pakistan had sheltered millions of Afghan refugees in the past four decades, providing them with education, health care and jobs.  While the Prime Minister had said that they would not be repatriated forcibly, host countries had largely been taken for granted and their national resources stretched to cater to refugee needs.  He called for equal burden sharing and establishing long‑term solutions to address the root causes of displacement.

    ELENE AGLADZE (Georgia) said the ethnic Georgian population living in occupied regions faced an imminent threat of expulsion.  Harsh restrictions had been imposed on education in the native Georgian language and Georgian classes had been prohibited in the Gali district and Tskhinvali region.  Further, the closure of entry and exit points across the occupation line by Russian occupation forces had also severely restricted the freedom of movement of local residents.  Those occupation forces had demolished the homes of internally displaced people from Georgia in the occupied Tskhinvali region.  She said talks on humanitarian issues in occupied regions, and on displaced people from Georgia, had been politicized by the Russian Federation.

    YAO SHAOJUN (China) said it was crucial to focus on both the symptoms and root causes of the refugee problem.  Root causes, such as social instability and imbalance in development, should be addressed by stepping up assistance for development.  There was also a need to resolve disputes through dialogue.  The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) should summarize its experience and practices of pilot projects for implementing the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework and use the information for the formulation of the Global Compact for Refugees.  Negotiations of the Global Compact must be driven by Member States and should be advanced gradually.  She called on UNHCR to maintain its objectivity and neutrality and avoid interfering in internal affairs of countries and politicizing refugee protection mechanisms.

    Ms. ALFASSAM (Kuwait) said the displacement crisis had worsened in recent years, threatening international stability.  Noting the High Commissioner’s focus on addressing its causes, she called on all States to cooperate in relevant efforts.  Pointing to the New York Declaration as a cornerstone to improve the living conditions of refugees and migrants, she said Kuwait was providing assistance through pledging conferences, contributing more than $2 million to assist refugees in the Middle East and elsewhere.  The situation of refugees without official documents was a priority, she said, and relevant documentation was being issued to those in Kuwait.

    Ms. SUKKAR (Jordan) said those fleeing conflict and entering Jordan had reached 2.8 million, with a majority being Syrian nationals.  Those circumstances had severely stressed public services, impacting Jordan’s development trajectory.  The Government was pursuing long‑term plans to address the refugee crisis and had established a single national framework to address the matter.  Syrian refugees without required documentation had been allowed to enrol in school, and some 200 schools now operated double shifts to allow for the attendance of refugee children.  Health services were also being provided, including gender‑sensitive attention to women and girls.  The protracted nature of the regional crisis had pushed Jordan’s assistance capacity to its limits, she said, stressing the importance of burden sharing.

    MARWAN FRANCIS (Lebanon) expressed deep concern over the protracted situation of forced migration and stressed that the crisis should not become “the new normal”.  The international community must work together, he said, noting that burden and responsibility sharing were fundamental to addressing forced migration.  The causes of the crisis must also be tackled, and assistance must account for the specific context of each situation.  The return of refugees to their homes also must be a priority, he affirmed, adding that Lebanon hosted 1.2 million Syrian refugees and 400,000 Palestinian refugees.  The mass influx was straining limited assistance capabilities, he said, commending the High Commissioner’s efforts to engage with development partners.

    Ms. MARTINIC (Argentina) called the adoption of the New York Declaration a step in the right direction, noting that while her country was committed to sheltering Syrian refugees, there was a need to establish sustainable regional and international solutions.  In November, Argentina would host two subregional meetings on implementation of the Brazil Declaration and Plan of Action to address displacement trends.  While no country was free from the impact of refugee movements, developing countries had been most affected and there was a need to identify institutional frameworks that would help them both better address refugee needs, and particularly, the rights of women, children, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and disabled refugees.

    MARINA IVANOVIC (Serbia) said increasing numbers of refugees in his country had strained its accommodation capacities.  The large influx had also led to growing xenophobia and intolerance.  Serbia had offered refugees and migrants accommodation, food and health protection.  Its experience dated to the 1990s when thousands of people from the former Yugoslavia had fled to Serbia.  The country had also sheltered 200,000 internally displaced people from Kosovo and Metohija since 1999.  The regional housing programme for refugees, implemented by four countries in cooperation with the European Commission, UNHCR, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB), was an example of partnership between host countries, countries of origin and international partners.

    Ms. HWANG (Republic of Korea) said the global refugee crisis had overwhelmed humanitarian responses.  However, the New York Declaration was reason to be optimistic and the recent pledging conference for Myanmar was a timely event.  Calling for durable solutions to the crisis, she urged humanitarian actors to address the causes of displacement and redouble efforts to strengthen partnerships with the private sector and development agencies.  Underlining the principle of non‑refoulement, she said no country could cope with the refugee crisis alone.  Republic of Korea was the first country in Asia to adopt an independent refugee law and was implementing a pilot resettlement programme for refugees.

    HARRISON W. MSEKE (United Republic of Tanzania), associating himself with the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), drew attention to the challenges facing host nations as they tried to implement the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework.  A poor country, United Republic of Tanzania had nevertheless met its obligations, welcoming more than 318,397 refugees from Burundi and Democratic Republic of the Congo.  As part of the pilot roll‑out of the Framework, it would focus on admission and rights, emergency response, inclusion and self‑reliance, local integration of new citizens, third‑country options and voluntary repatriation and reintegration.  To the latter point, the Government would establish group processing for Congolese refugees, while ensuring that returns to Burundi were conducted in line with the principles of voluntary repatriation.  He requested international support for the local integration of 1,972 Burundian refugees who had been granted citizenship, referring to a concept note outlining proposed projects for the Kigoma region, which hosted the most refugees.

    The representative of Ukraine said his country had faced numerous humanitarian challenges due to the Russian aggression.  Some 1.6 million people had been internally displaced from Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, while many others lacked basic water and sanitation services. The humanitarian response plan was underfunded and while Ukraine was grateful for support from the High Commissioner’s Office, humanitarian aid into the country had been blocked by local authorities backed by the Russian Government.  Such human rights violations against ethnic Ukrainians had forced many to flee their homes.

    The representative of South Africa, associating him with the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said that his country continued to “open our ports of entry to refugees and asylum seekers,” giving them the right of access to education, healthcare, jobs, legal aid and access to courts.  Voicing concern about the consequences of refugee outflows which continued to fall disproportionately on developing countries, he said that international cooperation in sharing the burden of hosting refugees had become critical in addressing such challenges.  In that regard, his the momentum gained towards the elaboration of the Global Compact for Refugees through discussions on the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework was encouraging.  One of its key outcomes had been to ease the pressure through burden sharing; thus, the Framework should ensure adequate, predictable and equitable sharing of such burdens aimed at drastically easing the pressure on hosts.  Underlining that the establishment of development funding mechanisms should be mindful of those principles, he voiced his strong support for close cooperation and joint planning between humanitarian and development actors.

    SUPATTRA AUEAREE (Thailand) said the Global Compact on Refugees and the Global Compact on Migration were complementary, expressing support for the Framework.  In turn, that Framework would generate inputs for the international community to draft the Global Compact on Refugees, on track for adoption in September 2018.  Reviewing Thailand’s efforts, she cited efforts by her Government and Myanmar to facilitate the voluntary return of 71 displaced persons from Myanmar.  Thailand supported UNHCR’s “#Ibelong” campaign to end statelessness by 2024, and had implemented measures which would enable around 80,000 children born in Thailand to apply for Thai nationality.  The Cabinet also had finalized and implemented a screening system for undocumented immigrants and refugees, to address the problem of mixed migration.

    PHOLOGO GAUMAKWE (Botswana), associating himself with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Group, said Africa continued to account for a large number of refugees, internally displaced persons and asylum seekers.  Displacement had resulted from protracted conflict, he said, adding that the global refugee crisis was a stark reminder of the need to assume collective responsibility for the provision of humanitarian response.  Noting that Botswana was host to 3,500 refugees, he said the repatriation process must be re‑engineered to reduce turnaround times for those wishing to return home.  Stressing the need for long‑term solutions, he said financial assistance was central to addressing the crisis.

    Ms. MEHDIYEVA (Azerbaijan) said addressing the needs of displaced persons required the resolution of armed conflict, adding that attention to the issue of internally‑displaced persons was far from sufficient.  Armenian aggression had resulted in large‑scale displacement in her country.  Azerbaijan was making progress in providing assistance to displaced persons, she said, adding that several United Nations agencies had reported positively on the matter.  She underlined that approaches to alleviate the plight of internally‑displaced persons would be incomplete if they did not place repatriation as their priority.

    The representative of Morocco said the global humanitarian crisis was spreading, with Africa particularly affected by displacement.  He commended the efforts of sub‑Saharan States that had welcomed refugees and urged that assistance be given to them.  Several States were profiting from the refugee populations they hosted, which was the case in Algeria.  Refugees in Algeria had been stripped of their humanitarian rights, with camps in Tindouf falling victim to fraud.  Humanitarian aid was being diverted from refugee camps, he said, asking for a re‑evaluation of assistance being provided to refugees in the region.  Algeria could not continue to use refugees as a means to enrich itself, he affirmed.

    HAILESELASSIE SUBBA GEBRU (Ethiopia) voiced concern that the High Commissioner’s budget was underfunded, citing a 75 per cent funding gap in the refugee response plan for Ethiopia.  Also concerning were the protection challenges related to human trafficking and smuggling, sexual and gender‑based violence and forced recruitment.  Assistance must go beyond repatriation, efforts which would require better collaboration between humanitarian and development actors in countries of origin.  He encouraged the expansion of resettlement opportunities as a means of international protection, stressing that partnership should remain the cornerstone of UNHCR’s approach.  International refugee protection should be guided by principle of burden and responsibility sharing, and support provided for least developed countries, which were hosts to the largest numbers of refugees

    HELLEN CHIFWAILA, (Zambia), said her country hosted 57,000 refugees.  Since August, it had received some 3,360 Congolese refugees fleeing clashes between the forces of their Government and militia groups.  Noting that Zambia was ready to work with partners to provide assistance, she said the Government had introduced a law outlining provisions for the establishment of a refugee fund and refugee settlements.  Zambia was also considering the possibility of relaxing the encampment policy, in turn allowing refugees to engage in employment and achieve self‑reliance.  Around 20,406 refugees lived outside the settlements, she said, noting that the Government was providing education to refugee children in settlements.

    ALEX AJAYI (Nigeria), associating himself with the African Group, said all States must promote the rights of refugees, migrants and displaced persons, and expressed concern over the welfare of refugees around the world.  The advent of Boko Haram’s insurgency had led to the establishment of camps for internally-displaced persons across Nigeria, which were ensuring access to life‑saving social services.  Displaced children were being granted access to education, with safe school initiatives in place.  Nigeria was carrying out a policy of civilian protection to better protect the population from armed conflict, he said.

    DIZERY SALIM, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), recalled that the Uganda Red Cross had participated in drafting the terms of reference for the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework Secretariat.  While local actors had a strong understanding of circumstances, politics and culture relevant to the provision of refugee protection and assistance, global actors could do more to provide a quality, sustainable and principled response.  “There are times when we treat them as contractors instead of partners,” she said, and it was essential to boost their institutional capacity and provide core funding.  A good legal framework could strengthen the role of local actors and Governments alike.  IFRC had worked for more than a decade in more than 100 countries to strengthen domestic legal frameworks to facilitate responses to large‑scale emergencies.  On refugee resilience, she said participatory assessments should include host communities, which were often vulnerable themselves and whose generosity should not be taken for granted.

    MOUSSA DOLLO (Mali) said his country was emerging from a socio‑political crisis which had forced thousands of citizens to flee their homes.  Mali attached great importance to refugee crises, and had introduced both a national policy and action plan to address the needs of internally displaced persons.  It also had worked with neighbouring countries, including Burkina Faso, Niger and Mauritania, to facilitate the return of Malian refugees.  With the Government working to establish peace and reconciliation in Mali, a tripartite agreement had resulted in 70,000 Malian citizens returning from Burkina Faso.  He thanked neighbouring countries for their help in sheltering Malian refugees.

    Ms. SALIM (International Committee of the Red Cross) said that despite meaningful progress, millions of people continued to be displaced by armed conflict and other violence, many within their own countries.  More must be done to prevent such circumstances and support both displaced people and their hosts.  He highlighted the need to better respond to displacement in cities, welcoming that Special Rapporteur Jimenez‑Damary had focused on enhancing the participation of displaced people in decisions affecting them.  States should mark the twentieth anniversary of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement by drawing on good practices in addressing the needs of internally displaced people.

    Ms. MUKHTAR (Sudan) said the geographic location and cultural heritage of her country had attracted refugees for years.  Sudan was committed to addressing the needs of refugees but faced challenges, as their inflow was mixed with illegal migrants who had been trafficked.  As such, the Government had enacted a law against human trafficking.  But Sudan had received little international assistance to deal with the refugee crisis.  The Government had provided the best treatment possible and would continue to provide refugees with health care, security and education, while working to facilitate their return.

    KINTU NYAGO (Uganda) said the large influx of refugees from South Sudan and other countries into Uganda led to the hosting of a solidarity summit on the matter earlier this year.  Assisting refugees was over‑stretching the Government’s meagre resources, he said, adding that a grassroots‑based assistance programme was being implemented with help from the World Bank and United Nations.  Termed the “Uganda Model”, that programme faced land‑management and service‑access challenges, he said, urging the international community to provide support to ensure the approach accomplished long‑term solutions.

    Right of reply

    The representative of Russian Federation, exercising the right of reply in response to her counterparts from Georgia and Ukraine, objected to baseless accusations against her country.  South Ossetia and Abkhazia were independent States and the Russian Federation had never controlled those territories, she said, adding that Georgia had ignored the needs of those forcibly displaced.  Further, the reason citizens were fleeing Ukraine was due to crimes committed by ultranationalists and Ukrainian authorities who had started a conflict in the country’s eastern regions.  The Russian Federation did not control republics and there were no Russian forces there.  It had offered voluntary donations to UNHCR to manage the situation in eastern Ukraine, she said, adding that the republic of Crimea was a subject of the Russian Federation in accordance with international law.

    The representative of Algeria said to Morocco’s delegate on the question of refugees that Algeria was a host country for refugees.  There was no issue around Algeria’s calling into question any resolution adopted by the United Nations, he said.  It was Morocco that was “slithering away,” creating delays each time.  Algeria had been constant in its defence of self‑determination.  Morocco claimed innocence in the context of human rights, but in Western Sahara, its record was clear and confirmed, he said.  Morocco was an occupying power, not an administering power.  From the standpoint of international law, the territory was described in various United Nations resolutions.

    The representative of Ukraine reminded the representative of the Russian Federation that in 2014, the latter had deployed so‑called “green men” to the territory of Crimea, and that an unlawful referendum had been held on the territory.  In 2014 the Russian Federation had fuelled war in Ukraine and now was proud of helping refugees from Ukraine.  Citing a Russian proverb, he said “no matter how many times you are going to say halva, it is not going to be any sweeter.”

    The representative of Georgia said in response that the Russian Federation had misled the international community and undermined the rights of persons internally displaced from the occupied territories of Georgia.  Further, the Russian Federation had not complied with the United Nations Charter or resolutions on Georgia, and its violations had been noted by an international fact‑finding mission.  The Russian Federation bore responsibility for resolving the issue of internally displaced persons and improving the human rights situation in Ukraine.

    The representative of Morocco, in response to Algeria’s delegate, said the latter country had demonstrated complete disregard for and ignorance of international law.  Algeria’s claim that Morocco had occupied the Sahara was false because the territory had always belonged to Morocco.

    The representative of Algeria, responding to Morocco’s delegate, said the latter country had illegally occupied Western Sahara and Algeria was not alone in voicing that opinion.  The right to self‑determination should be exercised in accordance with international law and Algeria stood by that position.

    The representative of Morocco, responding to Algeria’s delegate, said the people of the Sahara had pledged allegiance to Morocco.  Algeria sought to create a territorial problem because of its “hegemonic designs”.  Yet it had only highlighted the importance of self‑determination in the context of the Sahara, not in the context of other countries.

    Human Rights Council Report

    JOAQUÍN ALEXANDER MAZA MARTELLI, President of the Human Rights Council, presented the body’s annual report (document A/72/53), outlining its activities, resolutions, decisions and presidential statements adopted at its regular session, as well as its special session in December 2016.  Over the year, the Council had adopted 114 resolutions, presidential statements and decisions, 80 of them without a vote.  By the end of 2017, it would have reviewed 28 States’ human rights obligations under its universal periodic review.  Once again, the Council had seen greater participation by small island developing States and least developed countries, thanks to the Voluntary Technical Assistance Trust Fund that had supported 27 delegates and fellows from 26 countries.

    He said the situation in Myanmar deserved special attention and the Council had created an independent fact‑finding mission to examine alleged human rights violations by military and security forces, particularly in Rakhine State, extending its mandate to September 2018 when its final report would be considered.  On the situation in Syria, he said interactive dialogues with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry had been held and the Commission’s mandate had been extended for another year.  He went on to describe other efforts related to South Sudan, Burundi, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Libya, Georgia and Yemen.

    In 2017, the Council had established a new mandate, namely the Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members, and decided against extending the mandates of the Independent Experts on Côte d’Ivoire and Haiti.  He said 118 Member States and one Observer State had extended a standing invitation to thematic special procedures, but he expressed concern that a few States had decided not to cooperate with the Council’s mechanisms.  Calling on all States to provide full cooperation, he stressed it was also essential that civil society actors and national human rights bodies be provided with a safe space for their voices to be heard.

    The Council had adopted several resolutions, with recommendations made to the General Assembly, he said, notably regarding Syria and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  It had requested the Assembly to submit the reports and oral updates of the respective commissions of inquiry on the situations in Eritrea and Burundi.  To bridge the gap between the Council’s workload and resources allocated to it, a joint task force had been established, which had suggested measures to help save time.  He also said he had received reports of threats against those who had cooperated with the Council, emphasizing that any such intimidation was unacceptable.  He urged the international community to ensure that efforts to protect human rights existed “not just in words, but in practice”.

    When the floor opened, the representative of Colombia asked how United Nations reform proposed by the Secretary‑General accounted for human rights issues.

    The representative of Spain said the Human Rights Council was the primary specialized body for human rights in the United Nations system, adding more work was needed to improve coordination between the relevant agencies in New York and Geneva.  She said resources had fallen short of meeting the Council’s needs for 2018 and suggested streamlining upcoming meetings.

    The representative of Japan said the Council must be subject to constant review to better meet the needs of people worldwide.  The General Assembly should pay attention to reviews of the Council and asked what priority areas had been identified in that regard.

    The representative of Eritrea asked what the Human Rights Council was doing to ensure attention was being given to all rights issues, especially with regards to financing.

    The representative of Hungary, associating himself with the European Union, said the Council constituted the best universal framework to protect basic rights.  Noting the needs of vulnerable groups, he called for the de‑politicization of its work.

    The representative of Latvia stressed the importance of strengthening ties between the Council and the General Assembly.  Referencing reprisals against people cooperating with United Nations human rights agencies, she asked what could be done to ensure Organization‑wide action to mitigate reprisals.

    The representative of Switzerland said civil society played a pivotal role in strengthening rights and asked what obstacles had been encountered in protecting persons cooperating with the Council.  She also asked how the protection of those persons could be strengthened and what working relations should be established among relevant agencies.

    The representative of Germany said the United Nations could benefit from closer interaction among its institutions.  Civil society representatives had a clear place in the Council’s work and he asked how those wishing to cooperate with it could effectively be protected from reprisals.

    The representative of Austria noted the importance of responding early to emerging crises and said the Council had a broad role to play in the Secretary‑General’s prevention agenda.  He asked how the Council could contribute to those efforts.

    The representative of Australia said human rights and prosperity went hand‑in‑hand and committed his Government to enhancing the Council’s effectiveness.  Turning to management reform, he asked how the Council’s work could be streamlined.

    The representative of Lichtenstein asked how the Council could strengthen engagement with other relevant agencies.

    The representative from the European Union said he valued the independence of the Council’s work and its engagement with civil society.  He asked how the universal periodic review process could be improved, and how Member States could address difficulties in sourcing Council meetings.

    The representative of the Republic of Korea expressed concern over reports of intimidation and reprisals against individuals cooperating with United Nations human rights institutions and asked how the Council’s working methods could be improved.

    The representative of Norway welcomed the Council’s autonomy and said that combating discrimination promoted stability.  Expressing concern over the Council’s increasing workload, he asked how work could be made more efficient.

    The representative of Ireland, associating himself with the European Union, said the Council was performing well, but questions remained regarding the promotion of universal participation in its work.  He asked how Member States and observers could foster a more inclusive Council.

    The representative of South Africa said the Council’s status as a subsidiary body of the General Assembly had been maintained in relevant resolutions and attempts to review the Council should only be done through the relevant framework.

    The representative of the United Kingdom said the international community must take on abuses wherever they occurred, and called on all countries, particularly new and existing Council members, to cooperate with the Special Procedures.  He asked how the States could best protect civil society space at the Council and, in turn, how the Council could support the mainstreaming of human rights across the United Nations system.

    The representative of Bahamas asked for an evaluation of the Voluntary Technical Assistance Trust Fund to Support the Participation of Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States, and for reflections on what impact small developing countries such as the Bahamas could have on the Council’s work.

    The representative of Iraq said human rights reports should be presented in a periodic manner, and asked if the legal framework must be strengthened in the context of pursuing terrorist groups committing war crimes and genocide.  He also wondered how States could be encouraged to improve their interaction with the Council.

    The representative of Indonesia asked about strategies for ensuring that genuine dialogue with the Council was sustained.  Human rights were universal, indivisible, interdependent and mutually reinforcing.  They must be treated in a fair and equal manner, and those principles should guide the Council’s work.

    The representative of Guatemala acknowledged the importance of strengthening the Human Rights Council, and his country would continue to support its work in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).  He asked how Member States in New York could ensure better coordination between the Third Committee and the Council.

    The representative of Argentina said there should be smooth cooperation between New York and Geneva, expressing concern about reported attacks on mandate‑holders and a lack of cooperation with them by Member States.  All States must respect for the Council’s independence.  Argentina urged all to bolster cooperation with Special Procedures, and States to uphold their reporting commitments.

    Mr. MARTELLI responded to questions about reform by stressing the importance of information flow.  The international community must consult at the grass‑roots level on how suggested reforms could take place.  Underscoring the importance of implementing resolutions, he said they must reach communities and local governments.  On the issue of resources, he said the Human Rights Council had started to limit speaking time, among other measures.  The universal periodic review was a valuable resource that States could not lose or waste, he said, noting that many countries voluntarily presented midterm reports in advance of deadlines.  Parliaments must be included in human rights work, as they ensured that new international legislation could be transposed into domestic law.

    The United Nations human rights system was an admirable one, he said, noting that in the previous cycle of meetings, 900 interventions had been made by civil society.  Emphasizing the importance of accurate information, he said States must not politicize the Human Rights Council, though the world was politicized; they must work according to universality and respect for the legal framework.  On the links between New York and Geneva, he noted that there were procedures in place that allowed discussion to take place before decisions were taken by the 47 countries voting in the Human Rights Council.  Prioritization remained crucial, but ultimately, complementarity between New York and Geneva existed and must be bolstered.  The goal was to improve decision‑making in a more holistic fashion in a future‑oriented perspective.  Human rights work would never fade from the agenda; it was a process.

    Ms. HAILE (Eritrea), speaking on behalf of the African Group, stressed that the Council’s mandate must be driven by the principles of cooperation and genuine dialogue free from politicization, selectivity and double standards.  The universal periodic review was the pillar of the Council’s work, she said, calling for the adequate funding of mechanisms that would allow States to implement Council recommendations.  Reaffirming the Group’s commitment to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, she commended the Council’s work in the area of practical enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights.  Fulfilling those rights was key to eradicating extreme poverty, she assured.

    The African Group prioritized dialogue and international cooperation aimed at assisting States to fulfil human rights obligations, she said.  Meeting those obligations required recognizing that extreme poverty and social exclusion constituted violations of human dignity, she said, voicing concern over the apparent “hierarchy of rights”.  She also expressed concern over attempts to undermine the Third Committee’s mandate by having the Council’s report submitted to the General Assembly without the Committee’s endorsement.  To that end, the Africa Group would continue to present its annual resolution on the Council’s report, she assured.

    CHARLES WHITELEY, European Union delegation, said there was potential to strengthen dialogue between the Human Rights Council and the Security Council.  The Human Rights Council’s mandate to help prevent rights violations must be carried out so that early warning could become early action, he said, calling the independent Special Procedures mandate‑holders the world’s “eyes and ears,” attentive to emerging crises.  Underscoring the importance of the Council’s independence, he strongly opposed any attempts to undermine its institutional position within the United Nations.  In Syria, the Council’s efforts to foster accountability and fight impunity were crucial, he said, also describing its work related to Yemen, Sri Lanka and its assistance to other countries including Haiti, Libya and Mali.

    The European Union condemned violence, harassment, intimidation, reprisals or threats thereof to civil society and human rights defenders, he said.  Noting that Council members should uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights, he urged the Democratic Republic of the Congo to cooperate with the international expert group, and Burundi to do likewise with the Commission of Inquiry.  The European Union welcomed the Council’s establishment of an Independent International Fact‑Finding Mission to Myanmar, as well as the extensions of the Special Rapporteur mandates addressing human rights in Myanmar, Iran, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea and Belarus, as well as the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan.

    JULIO CÉSAR ARRIOLA RAMÍREZ (Paraguay) said that during its membership on the Council, his country had worked to promote productive dialogue and championed several initiatives to benefit all people.  Paraguay had pursued initiatives to strengthen monitoring of implementation to accomplish the goals set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  He underscored the importance of appropriate national rights protection mechanisms and assistance from the United Nations to promote and protect human rights of all people.  Rights must be enjoyed in a just and equitable fashion, he said, underscoring the need to strengthen the Council through the provision of necessary resources.

    MOHAMED MOUSSA (Egypt), associating himself with the African Group, said the Council could only work effectively if its efforts were applied in the context of genuine inter‑Governmental dialogue.  The Council’s mandate was outlined by the General Assembly and he expressed concern over efforts to alter its mission.  There was a need to streamline the Council’s work and he affirmed the interdependence of all rights, including the right to development, which must be pursued on equal footing.  He welcomed the appointment of the Special Rapporteur on the right to development.

    MEJIA VELEZ (Colombia) insisted that efforts were needed to streamline the number of resolutions considered by the Council.  The body helped to advance respect for all rights, notably by strengthening the structures that protected those rights.  Still, colossal challenges remained, she said, welcoming the start of the third universal periodic review cycle.  The review process could foster global cooperation on human rights issues, she noted, commending implementation of recommendations made during the review cycles.  Pointing to Colombia’s recent peace agreement, she expressed the need to promote human rights in rural areas and support gender‑specific approaches.

    Ms. HAILE (Eritrea), associating herself with the African Group, underscored the importance of ensuring the Human Rights Council was not used as a tool for political purposes, noting that it had been established to address the manipulation and double standards characterizing the Commission on Human Rights.  Eritrea rejected the practice of “naming and shaming” and of imposing mandates that did not enjoy the support of the concerned country.  It was unfortunate that the Council continued to be embroiled in a regional conflict, she said, singling out the universal periodic review as the appropriate forum for discussions.  Human rights were interrelated and indivisible, but some countries continued to ignore economic, social and cultural rights in favour of civil and political rights.

    JUN SAITO (Japan) said his country had been promoting and protecting human rights in the Asia‑Pacific region, sponsoring country‑specific resolutions in the Human Rights Council.  The international community should render the Council more effective and efficient, and it was worth considering a review of the schedules, frequencies and procedures of the human rights mechanisms as a whole, he said.  As Special Procedures were essential functions, a review of them by a third party could be helpful to improving their quality and efficiency.  Indeed, the Council was becoming ever more important and should keep updating itself.

    ALI MAAN (Iraq) said his country’s Constitution ensured all people were equal under the law.  As the international war on terror persisted, Iraq understood the consequences of terror and vowed to remain at the forefront of the fight.  Social problems like poverty and injustice were at the root of negative phenomena across the world, he said, urging efforts to “dry up” sources of terror.  He called for implementation of programmes that countered exclusion and enhanced human rights in all countries as a means to spread a culture of acceptance.

    AMJAD QASSEM AGHA (Syria) expressed opposition to the Council President’s report and in particular to sections referring to Syria.  The report threatened the credibility of the Council and universal periodic review, he said, condemning efforts to politicize human rights issues.  Noting that the President had gone beyond his mandate, he said the Council had failed to identify Syria’s efforts to combat terror, as well as the negative effects resulting from unilateral measures imposed against it by certain Member States.  The President also had failed to condemn violence in Yemen caused by Saudi Arabia, he said, objecting to selectivity in addressing human rights.

    Mr. GAUMAKWE (Botswana), associating himself with the African Group, said the Council’s work load continued to grow, threating efforts to mitigate rights violations.  The increased scope of the agenda called for reflection on how to effectively use resources.  Botswana had held multi‑stakeholder consultations in drafting human rights legislation and was drafting a bill to transform the Ombudsman’s office into a hybrid national human rights institution.  The universal periodic review and national efforts had strengthened the bridge between the State and civil society, he assured, stressing that holistic approaches were vital to preventing rights violations.

    Ms. BROOKS (United States) said the Council’s credibility had been damaged by the presence of members with poor human rights records and hostility to its primary mission, as evidenced by the election of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Reform of its agenda was needed.  All States must work to strengthen the Council through positive action in New York and Geneva, she said, underscoring that civil society must be able to engage with the United Nations without fear of retaliation.  The United States was appalled by direct threats of retaliation, including by Human Rights Council members; Special Procedures had also reported on reprisals.  The international community must do more to put end to such threats.  The Council must be a voice for people fighting for human rights, and as such, must have members committed to human rights.

    CASTILLO SANTANA (Cuba) said the Human Rights Council had been established out of a need to tackle double standards and political manipulation, all traits characterizing the defunct Commission.  Yet, the trend to impose selectivity and double standards was concerning; cooperation and respectful dialogue should steer the Council’s work.  Special Procedures mandate‑holders should also observe the Code of Conduct.  As long as an unjust and exclusive international economic order persisted, along with unilateral coercive measures and blockades, the Council must demand the end to those practices.

    Ms. KHALVANDI (Iran) affirmed her country’s commitment to constructive dialogue on human rights issues in the Human Rights Council.  Yet, the Council was being exploited for political purposes, and politicization was eroding the benefits of the universal periodic review.  Stressing that the Council had been developed to ensure impartiality, she said country‑specific resolutions only fomented confrontation.  They diverted resources that could be used to promote human rights and she disassociated herself with sections of the Council report referring to Iran.  She underscored the role of the Council in confronting discrimination and terrorism, and urged it to raise awareness of the destructive power of terrorists and their supporters.

    ZOUBIR BENARBIA (Algeria), associating himself with the African Group, expressed support for the Council’s mandate.  Emphasizing that it should be carried out in line with the principles of cooperation and dialogue free from politicization and double standards, he said Algeria had presented its third universal periodic review in 2017, and voiced support for that mechanism’s neutral and cooperative approach to reviewing countries’ human rights situations.  Because economic rights were as important as political and civil rights, he stressed that the Council should consider questions regarding the right to food, the effects of foreign debt and the impact of unilateral coercive measures.

    ALEX AJAYI (Nigeria), associating himself with the African Group, underlined his country’s role — as the largest democracy in Africa — in formulating key international human rights policies and agendas.  Noting that Nigeria was a State party to such instruments, and that it had recently been re-elected to the Council for the 2018‑2020 term, he cited the 1996 creation of a National Human Rights Commission to monitor compliance with Government obligations.  In addition, Nigeria had put in place a national action plan on human rights and a national consultative forum to articulate the means of fulfilling recommendations adopted by the Government during various review cycles of the Council’s machinery.

    Mr. HASBUN (El Salvador) said human rights were a state policy for his country and a pillar of its foreign policy.  El Salvador had ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the Optional Protocol on Civil and Political Rights and the Optional Protocol on the Rights of the Child pertaining to Communications Procedures.  It also had reformed the family code to prohibit child marriage.  As a Human Rights Council member, El Salvador had championed the rights of migrant children and adolescents, presenting a resolution adopted by consensus on that subject.  While a subsidiary organ of the Assembly, the Council had its own remit, reflected in the fact that civil society was involved in its work.

    Ms. GINTERE (Latvia), associating herself with the European Union, said the international community must ensure the Council was able to respond to challenges in an effective and timely manner, noting that her country had served as a member for the past three years, advocating for gender equality and freedom of expression both online and offline.  It was heartening that the number of standing invitations to Special Procedures had increased, and she pressed all States to ensure genuine cooperation with them.  The Council faced a growing workload, challenging its ability to respond to crises.  Latvia supported initiatives aiming to strengthen its effectiveness, emphasizing that Member States must not only criticize the Council but renew their political will.

    MAYANK JOSHI (India) said difficulties stemming from diverging priorities had emerged regarding the Council’s agenda.  Pointing to calls for reform, he said contradictory approaches to promoting human rights were being used.  The Council’s expanding work and proliferation of special procedures created unclear priorities.  Country‑specific procedures were largely counterproductive, he said, pointing to the universal review as a success, one he attributed to the cooperative spirit of the process.  Naming and shaming would not improve human rights, he assured, calling for a more representative Council.

    IHOR YAREMENKO (Ukraine) said a main responsibility of the Council was the timely response to gross rights violations.  Greater attention must be paid to the development of conceptual approaches to abuses such as crimes against humanity and genocide.  He commended the Council’s special procedures and universal periodic review, saying they promoted protection of rights across the world.  The cooperation of all relevant human rights actors was needed to ensure that review processes were transparent and that States were accountable for their actions.  Expressing appreciation for the Council’s contributions in addressing the situation in the occupied Crimean peninsula, he said Russian‑backed terrorists were conducting a war against the people of Ukraine and called for an impartial assessment of all rights violations.

    MAYANK JOSHI (India) said difficulties stemming from diverging priorities had emerged regarding the Council’s agenda.  Pointing to calls for reform, he said contradictory approaches to promoting human rights were being used.  The Council’s expanding work and proliferation of special procedures created unclear priorities.  Country‑specific procedures were largely counterproductive, he said, pointing to the universal review as a success, one he attributed to the cooperative spirit of the process.  Naming and shaming would not improve human rights, he assured, calling for a more representative Council.

    YAO SHAOJUN (China) said the Human Rights Council had the primary responsibility for the promotion and protection of human rights, and as such, should serve as an effective platform for constructive dialogue.  The Council faced multiple challenges, including confrontation and politicization of its work, he said, adding that different types of human rights were not being promoted in a balanced manner.  Noting that some special procedures were going beyond their terms of reference, he underscored the need to enhance the Council’s credibility and urged it carry out its work according to its mandate.

    Ms. MOUFLIH (Morocco), associating herself with the African Group, said the Council had become the principal United Nations body in charge of human rights, and had made technical assistance one of the foundations of its work.  Special procedures played an important role, providing the Council with expertise on thematic issues.  The international community had an obligation to protect the Council from being used for other reasons.  The increasing importance of human rights required an active Human Rights Council with increased visibility, she said, yet there had been few references to its work in the media.  The Council should adopt a media strategy to increase the visibility of its work.

    Right of Reply

    The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea rejected the allegation of the European Union’s delegate, stressing that non‑interference in the internal affairs of other countries should be strictly observed.  He also rejected the Council’s resolutions because the body was completely politicized and had no relevance to the promotion and protection of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The most serious rights violations were being committed in European countries.  The European Union should focus on its own deplorable human rights situations, rather than on non‑existent issues in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

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  • Delegates Voice Concern over ‘Selective’ Agenda, Work Methods, as General Assembly Begins Annual Consideration of Human Rights Council

    While some speakers welcomed the Human Rights Council’s efforts to investigate alleged violations in countries ranging from Myanmar to South Sudan to Yemen, others voiced concern that selectivity had begun to creep into its agenda and working methods, as the General Assembly began its annual consideration of the 11‑year‑old intergovernmental body.

    Joaquín Alexander Maza Martelli, President of the Human Rights Council, presented the body’s reports on its thirty‑fourth, thirty‑fifth and thirty‑sixth sessions, as well as its twenty‑sixth special session (documents A/72/53 and A/72/53/Add.1), outlining some of the 114 resolutions, presidential statements and decisions adopted throughout the year.  Noting that by the end of 2017 the Council would have reviewed 28 States’ human rights obligations under its universal periodic review mechanism, he also drew attention to its establishment of several new inquiry bodies and special procedures mandates over the course of the reporting period.

    Among those, he said, the Council had created an independent fact-finding mission to examine alleged human rights violations by military and security forces in Myanmar, particularly in Rakhine State.  It had also requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to establish a group of eminent international and regional experts on the human rights situation in Yemen and mandated a new Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members.

    Noting that the Council had extended the mandates of the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi and the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, he said it had also requested the High Commissioner to dispatch an international fact-finding mission to investigate alleged human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Kasaï region.  Additionally, the Council had urged the African Union to establish an independent hybrid court to prosecute those responsible for human rights violations in South Sudan.

    Drawing attention to the establishment of a joint task force to propose recommendations aimed at helping bridge the gap between the Council’s workload and the resources allocated to it, he said the body had received reports of threats against those who participated in its work.  Any such intimidation tactics were totally unacceptable, he stressed.

    General Assembly Vice-President Michel Xavier Biang (Gabon), delivering a statement on behalf of President Miroslav Lajčák (Slovakia), described the Council as the main United Nations body dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.  Spotlighting the Council’s importance in the context of continuing abuses and violations around the world, he said that, through its mechanisms, procedures and resolutions, the body gave a voice to all people, including those who were most vulnerable and would otherwise not be heard.

    Several speakers during the Assembly’s subsequent debate echoed those sentiments, with the representative of the European Union delegation emphasizing that the Council had contributed positively to the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide.  That body had helped countries with human rights challenges and with fulfilling its international human rights obligations, she said, voicing the bloc’s support for that work and condemning any attempts to undermine its independence.

    Mongolia’s representative declared: “Human rights are pivotal in ensuring peace and security.”  The Council’s role was therefore particularly critical in conflict-affected areas, where situations of human rights and freedoms were deteriorated and the norms of international human rights law were seriously violated.  Describing the universal periodic review as one of the Council’s most important mechanisms, he underscored the need to provide States implementing its previous recommendations with technical assistance, capacity-building and adequate resources.

    Cuba’s representative recalled that the Council had been established in response to the need to address double standards, political confrontation and manipulation in the work of its predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights.  Stressing that it must avoid any recurrence of such practices, she also emphasized that the periodic review was the only existing universal mechanism mandated to comprehensively analyse the human rights situation in all countries based on the principles of universality, objectivity, impartiality and non‑selectivity.  In that regard, she called on the Council to continue to speak out in favour of a more democratic and equitable world order.

    The representative of Liechtenstein warned that not all the provisions in the Council’s founding resolution were being implemented in practice.  Expressing his country’s staunch support for the body — and welcoming such recent efforts as its adoption of resolutions on the situation in Myanmar and technical assistance and capacity-building in Yemen — he nevertheless said its efficiency and impact on the ground could benefit from a review of its working methods and setting of priorities.

    Eritrea’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the African Group, stressed that all human rights were universal and the Council’s work in promoting economic, social and cultural rights remained vital to fighting poverty and inequality.  Rejecting the notion of any “hierarchy of rights”, or the promotion of one set of rights to the exclusion of others, he expressed concern over growing attempts to undermine the Council’s mandate by proposing that its report be submitted directly to the Assembly without first obtaining the endorsement of its Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural).

    The representative of the Russian Federation was among those expressing concern over the Council’s recent evolution, noting that it was moving from a platform for cooperative dialogue into a space where some States sought to settle political scores.  Emphasizing that the body must scrupulously follow the principles of universality, impartiality and objectivity, he also pointed to an increasing polarization of items on the body’s agenda that had once been dealt with in an equitable manner.  No country was free of human rights violations, he stressed, adding that it was therefore unacceptable for some States to shame or label others.

    Also sounding alarms over the Council’s selective practices was Israel’s delegate, who decried the baseless accusations and dozens of biased resolutions that became part of its global campaign to delegitimize and demonize her country.  “Selectivity becomes a poison that eats away at the credibility of this body,” she stressed, noting that the Council continued to single out Israel under item 7 of its agenda.  Meanwhile, the world’s worst human rights violators passed by without scrutiny, and some were even members of the Council.

    Also speaking were the representatives of Qatar, Australia (on behalf of a group of States), India, Kuwait, Belarus, Iran, Argentina, El Salvador, Maldives, Georgia and Switzerland.

    The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 7 November, to take up the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the 15‑nation organ.

    Opening Remarks

    MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon), Vice-President of the General Assembly, delivering a statement on behalf of Assembly President Miroslav Lajčák (Slovakia), said the Human Rights Council was the main United Nations body dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.  Its importance remained clear, as in many places around the world violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms continued.  Through its various mechanisms, procedures and resolutions, the Council gave a voice to all people, including those who were most vulnerable and who would otherwise not be heard.  It was also the main forum to address the situation of those facing gross violations, discrimination and exclusion.  Noting that the Council had begun the third cycle of its universal periodic review — an inclusive peer review mechanism based on the principles of dialogue cooperation and the equal treatment of all Member States — he stressed that promoting and protecting human rights was one of the three pillars of the United Nations.

    JOAQUÍN ALEXANDER MAZA MARTELLI, President of the Human Rights Council, presented the intergovernmental body’s annual report (document A/72/53), noting that it contained its activities, resolutions, decisions and presidential statements adopted at its regular session, as well as the special session held in December 2016.  Over the year, the Council had proactively addressed human rights issues through its country-specific as well as thematic mandates.  It adopted a total of 114 resolutions, presidential statements and decisions, 80 of which had been adopted without a vote.  Under its universal periodic review, the Council would by the end of 2017 have reviewed 28 States’ human rights obligations.

    Noting that the Council had also seen the increased participation of small island developing States and least developed countries — thanks to the Voluntary Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance that had supported 27 delegates and fellows hailing from 26 countries — he said the situation in Myanmar deserved special attention.  The Council had created an independent fact-finding mission to examine alleged human rights violations by military and security forces in that country, particularly in Rakhine state, extending its mandate to September 2018 when its final report would be considered.  On the situation in Syria, he said interactive dialogues with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry [on the Syrian Arab Republic] had been held during all three of the Council’s regular sessions in 2017.  The Commission’s mandate had also been extended for another year, and the Council had held a panel discussion to provide an opportunity for victims to provide testimony on specific cases of rights violations.

    Outlining the Council’s work in South Sudan, he said that it had urged the African Union to speedily establish an independent hybrid court to prosecute those responsible for violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law, or, where applicable, South Sudanese law.  The body had also considered the oral update of the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi, extending its mandate for another year, and received reports from its Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as well as the group of independent experts on accountability for human rights violations in that country.  On the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said the Council had requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to dispatch a team of international experts to collect and preserve information and determine the facts and circumstances concerning alleged abuses and violations in the Kasaï region.

    Over the course of the year, he said, the Council had also requested the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to continue to assess progress on the implementation of its recommendations related to human rights and accountability in Sri Lanka, and invited the Office to continue to report on the situations in Ukraine, Libya and Georgia.  Regarding human rights in Yemen, he said the body had requested the High Commissioner to establish a group of eminent international and regional experts with knowledge of human rights law and the Yemeni context to monitor and report on the situation and make relevant recommendations.  Among other things, the Council had considered the contributions of human rights to peacebuilding and sustainable development.  Its panel discussion had focused, among other things, on climate change, public health and access to medicine, racial profiling, the effects of terrorism, xenophobia and the human rights of women and girls.

    In 2017, he said the Council had established a new mandate of its special procedures, namely the Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members.  One observer State had extended a standing invitation to the body’s thematic special procedures; however, he was concerned by the position of some States not to cooperate with those mechanisms or to cooperate only with a select few.  Calling upon all States to provide their full cooperation, he described positive progress made by the universal periodic review during its twenty‑eighth session as well as the active participation of civil society and national human rights institutions in the Council’s work.  In addition, the Council had adopted several resolutions with recommendations made to the General Assembly, including one adopted last March on the human rights situation in Syria, through which it had recommended that the Assembly submit the reports of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry to the Security Council for appropriate action.

    Also describing the Council’s recent activities related to the human rights situations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and on the participation of peoples of African descent in the work of the United Nations, he said that it had requested the General Assembly to submit the reports and oral updates of the respective commissions of inquiry on the situations in Eritrea and Burundi to all relevant organs of the United Nations for consideration and appropriate action.  Recalling the establishment of a joint task force to propose recommendations aimed at helping bridge the growing gap between the Council’s workload and the resources allocated to it, he also noted that the latter had received reports of threats against those who participated in its work, and emphasized that any such intimidation tactics were totally unacceptable.

    Statements

    AMANUEL GIORGIO (Eritrea), speaking on behalf of the African Group, stressed that all human rights were universal and the right to development was an inalienable right.  Africa fully subscribed to the notion that the elimination of poverty must remain a high priority for the international community.  The Human Rights Council’s work in promoting economic, social and cultural rights remained vital to fighting poverty and inequality.  The Group stressed the principle of constructive dialogue and international cooperation aimed at assisting States to fulfil their human rights obligations.  The Group recognized that the progressive realization of rights was informed by the recognition that extreme poverty and social exclusion constituted a violation of human dignity and that urgent steps were necessary to achieve better knowledge of extreme poverty and its causes.

    “We do not believe in the hierarchy of rights which seems to be the premise of the human rights‑based approach,” he said, adding that the Group could not promote one set of rights to the exclusion of others.  He reaffirmed the mandate of the Third Committee to examine the work of the Human Rights Council.  The Group expressed concern over growing attempts to undermine the Council’s mandate by proposing that the Report of the Human Rights Council be submitted to the General Assembly without the endorsement of the Committee.  The Group cautioned against that dangerous precedent on the methods of work of the General Assembly and its subsidiary bodies.  Any changes to that mandate would require the endorsement by the universal membership through an inclusive intergovernmental process.

    Ms. BRITO-MANEIRA, of the European Union delegation, said the mechanisms of the Council had contributed positively to the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide.  That body had helped countries with human rights challenges and with fulfilling its international human rights obligations.  The Human Rights Council must continue to promote the mainstreaming of human rights at the United Nations and enhance constructive dialogue and cooperation between itself and the Security Council.  The European Union looked forward to continuing the implementation of the Human Rights Council’s mandate by engaging in a constructive dialogue and review focusing on the body’s efficiency, effectiveness and impact.  She recalled the independence of the Human Rights Council and condemned any attempt to undermine it.

    The severe consequences of the crisis in Syria could not be ignored, she stressed, emphasizing that violators of international law and human rights law must be brought to justice.  Welcoming the establishment of a group to carry out an investigation of abuses committed in Yemen, she called on all parties to the conflict to cooperate fully with the new fact-finding mechanism.  She also welcomed human rights efforts in Sri Lanka, Cote d’Ivoire, Haiti, Mali, East Jerusalem, Libya, Georgia and Ukraine.  Civil society played a crucial role in the Council, she continued, condemning any acts to intimidate those actors, also adding: “We must do the utmost to prevent and eliminate such acts.”  She called on members of the Council to pay careful attention to the human rights situation in their own country without discrimination and to engage with the body in the spirit of self-reflection.  She also expressed concern over violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Myanmar.

    ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar), noting that her country had been re‑elected to the Human Rights Council for the period 2018‑2020, said its national policies were aimed at ensuring respect and protection of all peoples’ fundamental freedoms and human rights.  Describing Qatar’s consistent “open door policy” to all special mandate holders, its strategic approach to the protection and promotion of human rights and its close work with the Council’s various mechanisms, she said the latter’s annual report demonstrated the difficult situation still faced by people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  Calling upon all parties to respect human rights, and to observe all relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council, she also drew attention to the report’s sections on the serious human rights violations that continued in Syria.  Despite its many strides in protecting and promoting human rights, her country still suffered under the imposition of illegal unilateral measures, which constituted a violation of Qataris’ human rights.  Policies should be put in place against States that sought to flout international standards on human rights, she stressed, not against those that protected them as Qatar did.

    CAITLIN WILSON (Australia), speaking also on behalf of Canada, Iceland, Lichtenstein, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland, underscored the Council’s direct reporting relationship with the Assembly plenary and called on States to respect its separate mandate.  Tolerance of, acquiescence to or the commission of gross and systematic violations should not be accepted or condoned by Council members.  “Being a member of the Council is a privilege,” she said, and her delegation supported discussion of how it might be reformed to secure its continued status as a respected human rights advocate.

    She voiced deep concern over hostility against civil society and human rights defenders, and objected to reprisals against any person cooperating or seeking to do so with the United Nations.  She also expressed deep concern over harassment, intimidation and obstruction by States towards mandate holders, calling on States to work constructively with them, grant access where required, consider their recommendations and engage respectfully “even when common ground is difficult to find”.  To remain effective, the Council must emphasize diversity and inclusion, notably by ensuring that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons enjoyed equal rights protection; that persons with disabilities were empowered; and that indigenous peoples’ rights were upheld.  States must consistently apply agreed language in core international human rights instruments, she asserted.

    CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said that while his country was a staunch supporter of the Human Rights Council, it also recognized that there was need for improvement in several key areas.  Not all provisions in the body’s founding resolution were implemented in practice, he added, recalling that it was a binding political commitment that States had to live up to.  He called on States to renew their commitment and adapt their election practice accordingly as a contribution to strengthening the Council in its daily work.  The body’s efficiency and impact on the ground could certainly benefit from a review of its working methods and setting of priorities.  He welcomed the resolution adopted by the Council regarding the situation of human rights in Myanmar and particularly its decision to dispatch an independent fact-finding mission to investigate alleged human rights violations by security forces.  That was an important step in ensuring full accountability.  He also welcomed the resolution on human rights, technical assistance and capacity-building in Yemen and in particular the establishment of a body to investigate atrocities and violations there.

    TANMAYA LAL (India) said divergent priorities and concerns surrounding human rights discussions stemmed from differing levels of development, social and cultural contexts and governance systems of Member States.  While global discourse on human rights continued to evolve, contradictions remained.  Constraints on national capacities to implement certain rights, the politicization of human rights issues as a foreign policy tool and perceived intrusiveness remained contentious.  Furthermore, there were continued calls for reforms to the institutional mechanisms that encompassed human rights issues, including the Human Rights Council.  While the Council continued to expand, the effectiveness of its work was not always clear.  For instance, there was a proliferation of special procedures that were not always productive, opaquely funded and often exceeded their mandates.  The universal periodic review was a successful tool in addressing some of those issues, and he encouraged more instances of constructive and collaborative engagement rather than politicized ‘naming and shaming’ to promote the protection of human rights.

    Ms. AL-SABAH (Kuwait), noting that many challenges still faced the United Nations and its bodies working to protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms, said Member States had the obligation to cooperate with those efforts.  In that regard, she recalled that, in 2017, Kuwait had hosted both the High Commissioner and the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, as well as members of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice.  Among other special procedures mandate holders, she expressed hope that the Special Rapporteurs on the rights of persons with disabilities and on the right to housing would also visit the country.  Voicing regret that flagrant violations of human rights continued unabated in many parts of the world — including in Kuwait’s own region — with many people displaced as a result, she noted with concern that such abuses continued in the context of the ongoing occupation of the Palestinian Territory and against the Rohingya people in Myanmar.

    NELLY SHILO (Israel), decrying the dismal and hypocritical situation of the Human Rights Council, said its baseless accusations and dozens of biased resolutions as part of item 7 had become part of a global campaign to delegitimize and demonize her country.  That must change if the international community truly wanted to promote and protect human rights.  The High Commissioner himself referred in early September to the hypocrisy in the work of the Human Rights Council when he said: “Selectivity becomes a poison that eats away at the credibility of this body.”  Her country had reiterated that fact repeatedly, but item 7 remained and, with it, the singling out of one State, Israel.  Meanwhile, the world’s worst human rights violators passed by without scrutiny.  Some were even members of the Council, entrusted with the protection of human rights for the world.  She called for reform in the body that finally erased the discriminatory practices against Israel.

    IRINA VELICHKO (Belarus) said that the intergovernmental body was always burdening its agenda with politicized approaches to human rights, with selectivity and political motivations continuing to taint its major principles.  She expressed concern that in the Human Rights Council’s decision-making, Member States did not try to negotiate and many of the resolutions were adopted by vote.  Those decisions then caused disputes among Member States at the General Assembly.  Decisions must be aimed at the real needs of Member States, she stressed.  The Council’s report continued to demonstrate an ongoing trend to increase the work of the body.  It was unacceptable to expand the Council’s agenda and increase its length of sessions.  The body must take a serious look at its work, including in duplicating and reproducing resolutions.  As long as States continued to manipulate human rights for their own political motives, the Council would be unable to conduct its work objectively.

    SUKHBOLD SUKHEE (Mongolia), welcoming important strides made by the Council over the reporting period, declared: “Human rights are pivotal in ensuring peace and security.”  The Council’s role was therefore particularly critical in conflict-affected areas, where situations of human rights and freedoms were deteriorated and the norms of international human rights law were seriously violated.  Mongolia, which was currently serving the second year of its membership on the Council, was committed to contributing to the full implementation of its mandate.  Describing the universal periodic review as one of its most important mechanisms, he underscored the need to provide States implementing its previous recommendations with both technical assistance and capacity-building.  The special procedures mandate holders were another integral part of the Council’s work, he said, recalling that several such rapporteurs had completed successful visits to Mongolia.  OHCHR should be provided with more financial and human resources, and more resources should also be made available for the effective implementation of all relevant recommendations, he said, adding that the Council should step up its work with the private sector and the business community.

    MOHAMMAD HASSANI NEJAD PIRKOUHI (Iran) said that, unfortunately, the Council was yet to be fully utilized as a medium for dialogue and cooperation.  In many instances, it was being exploited for political purposes, he added, emphasizing that politicization and manipulation had increased the mistrust and eroded the effectiveness of the body.  It was unfortunate that some countries still preferred to revert to the dysfunctional practice of the Commission on Human Rights and table country-specific resolutions that only increased confrontation rather than cooperation.  His country disassociated itself from the part of the Human Rights Council’s report which included the so‑called resolution on the situation of human rights in Iran.  He also reiterated his country’s principled position of non‑recognition of and non‑cooperation with the mandates that were created by the Council out of the sphere of internationally recognized human rights.

    Mr. LUKIANTSEV (Russian Federation) said the Council should scrupulously follow the principles of universality, impartiality and objectivity and work to pursue the protection of human rights for all.  Expressing concern that the body was evolving from a platform for cooperative dialogue into a space where some States sought to settle political scores, he also pointed to an increasing polarization of items on the Council’s agenda that had once been dealt with in an equitable manner.  No country was free of human rights violations, and it was therefore unacceptable for some States to shame or label others.  Such actions undermined the United Nations work, he stressed, adding that even agenda item 10 on the provision of technical assistance and capacity-building had regrettably been politicized.

    It was unacceptable to use the Council to insert issues that were outside of its mandate, he stressed, noting that the body’s work must be based on the parameters laid out in Assembly resolution 60/251.  Any changes to that mandate must be agreed by all States, he said, urging States to avoid attempts to enshrine narrow interpretations of human rights norms as “universal” when they in fact were not.  He also voiced concern over the Council’s intrusion on the work of other United Nations bodies and agencies, noting that the integration of human rights into their work “must have its limits” and that duplication should be avoided.  Moreover, ensuring respect for the sovereignty and the sovereign equality of all States — as well as avoiding double standards — was critical.

    GABRIELA MARTINIC (Argentina), underscoring the need to ensure smooth cooperation between Headquarters and Geneva, said her country had always upheld the Council’s independence, work and achievements and would continue to do so.  Emphasizing the Council’s primary role in protecting and promoting human rights around the world, she said the body had contributed to increased dialogue between States on such issues.  Applauding the recent renewal of the mandate of the Council’s Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, she called on all States to strengthen cooperation with the various special procedures mandate holders, adding that Argentina had welcomed numerous special rapporteurs over the past year and hoped to be visited by others in 2018.

    Mr. HASBUN (El Salvador) said the Human Rights Council was the principle United Nations body intended to uphold human rights worldwide.  In that context, its procedures and work must be fully respected.  El Salvador was an active member of the Human Rights Council, having joined it in 2015.  The respect for and promotion of human rights was a State policy in El Salvador, he added. His country remained committed to international human rights processes.  At the national level, El Salvador remained committed to the promotion and protection of human rights without any discrimination.  He also welcomed the Council’s report and commended the work conducted by the body in the reporting period.

    ALI NASEER MOHAMED (Maldives) called for the Human Rights Council to return to its roots and undertake its work in an impartial, objective and non‑selective manner, to reflect its intergovernmental character and ensure its credibility.  His delegation condemned not only the human rights abuses in Syria, but also the international community’s acceptance of them, he said, adding: “We seem to remain complacent when warring parties attack humanitarian targets.”  Another crisis that had escaped adequate response from the Council was the situation facing the Rohingya community in Myanmar.  That minority Muslim population faced gross and systematic violations of their rights, he emphasized, noting that the renewal of the fact-finding mission was a step in the right direction, but was not enough.  He expressed support for the call for a special session of the Human Rights Council to be convened urgently with a substantive and clear outcome resolution to stop any further atrocities.  He noted that the Human Rights Council’s working methods were more opaque and less inclusive than those of the Assembly, and delegates attending a single session, such as those from small island developing States, were at a disadvantage.  He called for introducing specific and practical measures to improve the body’s working methods.

    ELENE AGLADZE (Georgia) said that the Council’s effectiveness highly depended on universal participation.  Recalling the resolution on “Cooperation with Georgia”, she said it was regrettable that no access was granted to OHCHR or to the United Nations human rights mechanisms.  She underscored the importance of the universal periodic review mechanism, adding that Georgia had incorporated the recommendations received into its national action plans.  At the national level, her country had established an institution that tracked and coordinated national implementation of various recommendations.  Effective domestic implementation was critical to advancing human rights on the ground.  She also underscored the participation of civil society, adding that strengthening their role was important to ensuring their voices were heard.  She rejected any action of intimidation or reprisal against individuals and groups who had cooperated with the United Nations.

    Ms. VALIENTE (Cuba) stressed that the Human Rights Council had been established because of the need to address double standards, political confrontation and manipulation in the former Commission on Human Rights and underscored that it should avoid the recurrence of the negative practices that had discredited that body.  Reiterating Cuba’s concerns over trends to impose selectivity and double standards in the Council in addressing human rights situations — which was reflected in the report before the Assembly today — she said political manipulation in dealing with country situations must be brought to a halt.  Noting that the periodic review was the only existing universal mechanism to comprehensively analyse the human rights situation in all countries based on respect for the principles of universality, objectivity, impartiality and non‑selectivity, she called on the Council to continue to speak out in favour of a democratic and equitable world order.  That must include its continued rejection of such unilateral coercive measures and blockades as the one under which her country had suffered for more than 55 years, she said, also expressing regret that, at its last session, the Council had adopted by a vote several resolutions that had previously enjoyed the consensus of Member States, including one on the Right to Food.

    Ms. WAGNER (Switzerland) said the international community’s success in protecting and promoting respect for human rights depended on better integration of those rights into the United Nations global agenda.  The relationship between human rights and peace and security was worthy of special attention.  He noted that Switzerland and other Member States had launched an appeal in June to put human rights at the heart of efforts in conflict prevention and to enhance the exchange of useful information between the Human Rights Council and the Security Council.  He called on all Member States to join the 71 countries which had already lent their support to the appeal.  Greater inclusion and protection of civil society represented an investment in a Human Rights Council with significant impact, efficiency and credibility.  He expressed concern for the numerous cases of intimidation and reprisals against human rights defenders and other members of civil society when exercising their fundamental rights by providing first-hand information to representatives of United Nations mechanisms.  He also added that while the increase in the Council’s workload confirmed its relevance, it was not sustainable in the medium term.

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  • Approving 15 Drafts, First Committee Calls for Crackdown on Supply Chains Giving Terrorist Groups Materials to Build Improvised Explosive Devices

    The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) sent 14 draft resolutions and 1 draft decision to the General Assembly today, including one aimed at preventing terrorist groups from accessing materials to build improvised explosive devices.

    Finding Committee‑wide agreement on that matter, delegates shared deep concerns about the use of such weapons.  Afghanistan’s representative, who tabled the draft resolution “Countering the threat posed by improvised explosive devices” (document A/C.1/72/L.15/Rev.1), said those weapons were causing devastating humanitarian consequences and were increasingly being used to target civilians.

    Acting without a vote, the Committee approved “L.15/Rev.1”, by which the General Assembly would strongly encourage States to develop and adopt their own national policies on countering improvised explosive devices, including through civilian‑military cooperation.  States would also be encouraged to strengthen countermeasure capabilities, prevent their territory from being used for terrorist purposes, and combat illegal armed groups, terrorists and other unauthorized recipients in their use of such weapons.

    With delegates voicing different opinions on the draft, Egypt’s representative pointed out that the language in preambular paragraph 12 raised a web of issues far removed from the text’s aims.  Meanwhile, Cuba’s representative said operative paragraph 23 lacked an appropriate framework to establish definitions of anti‑personnel mines.

    Tackling other draft resolutions on conventional weapons, the Committee took action on several relating to international treaties and conventions.

    The Committee approved the draft resolution “Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti‑Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction” (document A/C.1/72/L.40) by a recorded vote of 158 in favour to none against, with 16 abstentions.  By the text, the Assembly would stress the importance of the full and effective implementation of and compliance with the Convention, including through the continued implementation of the action plan for the period 2014 to 2019.

    While the representatives of India, Iran, Myanmar, Pakistan and the Republic of Korea cited security concerns as reasons for their continued need and use of such weapons, Morocco’s delegate said his delegation had voted in favour of “L.40” because it supported the objective of the complete destruction of mines and the provision of care for civilian victims.

    The Committee also approved the draft resolution “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions” (document A/C.1/72/L.41) by a recorded vote of 134 in favour to 2 against (Russian Federation, Zimbabwe), with 36 abstentions.  By the text’s provisions, the Assembly would urge all States outside the instrument to join, and all States parties in a position to do so to promote adherence to the Convention.

    In approving the draft resolution “The Arms Trade Treaty” (document A/C.1/72/L.27) by a recorded vote of 144 in favour to none against, with 29 abstentions, the Committee would have the Assembly call upon all States that had not yet done so to ratify, accept, approve or accede to the instrument, in order to achieve its universalization.

    Among those abstaining, Ecuador’s delegate said the instrument was unbalanced with regard to exporting and importing States.  Representing another perspective, the representative of the United States said his delegation’s abstention stemmed from his country’s current standard policy review of several conventions, including the Arms Trade Treaty.  However, the United States had robust transfer controls in place and cooperated with Member States to help prevent conventional arms from falling into the wrong hands, he said.

    Approving a basket of draft resolutions on other disarmament measures and international security, the Committee took action on “Compliance with non‑proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and commitments” (document A/C.1/72/L.7), which was approved by a vote of 165 in favour to 1 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), with 11 abstentions.

    By that text, the Assembly would call upon all concerned States to take concerted action to encourage the compliance by all States with their respective non‑proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and to hold accountable those not in compliance.

    Also approved today were the following draft resolutions: “Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects” (document A/C.1/72/L.16/Rev.1); “Assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and collecting them” (document A/C.1/72/L.21); “Problems arising from the accumulation of conventional ammunition stockpiles in surplus” (document A/C.1/72/L.43); “The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects” (document A/C.1/72/L.56/Rev.1); “Objective information on military matters, including transparency of military expenditures” (document A/C.1/72/L.24); “Relationship between disarmament and development” (document A/C.1/72/L.30); “Observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of agreements on disarmament and arms control” (document A/C.1/72/L.31); “Promotion of multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation” (document A/C.1/72/L.32); “Role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament” (document A/C.1/72/L.52/Rev.1).

    In addition, the Committee approved the draft decision “Developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security” (document A/C.1/72/L.44).

    Speaking in explanation of position were representatives of Mexico, Australia, France, Singapore, Japan, Mali, Austria, Armenia, Indonesia, Libya, Venezuela, Argentina, Poland, Cyprus, Brazil, Switzerland, Syria, Liechtenstein, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, China, Brazil and South Africa.

    The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 1 November, to continue its consideration of all draft resolutions and decisions before it.

    Background

    The First Committee met this morning to take action on all draft resolutions and decisions before it.  For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3571 of 2 October.

    Action on Draft Texts

    The representative of Mexico, explaining her delegation’s position on draft resolutions on disarmament aspects of outer space, agreed with the importance of preventing an arms race in outer space, and for the exploration of outer space for peaceful purposes.  The declaration of a country or several not to be the first to place weapons in outer space should not be understood as an endorsement to place weapons in that domain, which Mexico would strongly oppose.

    The representative of India said her delegation had voted in favour of the draft resolution “No first placement of weapons in outer space” (document A/C.1/72/L.53), emphasizing that the legal regime to protect and preserve access to space for all needed to be enhanced.

    The representative of Australia, speaking also on behalf of Canada and Japan, said delegations had abstained from voting on “L.53” because the draft resolution had not defined what constituted a weapon in outer space.  Any space objects capable of being manoeuvred could be potential weapons.  In addition, the no-first placement pledge could not be verifiable.  As such, their delegations would favour measures that had a practical rather than a political claim.  Furthermore, “L.53” was focused on space‑based weapons and did not address ground‑based arms, such as missiles and lasers.  Australia, Canada and Japan had also abstained from voting on the draft resolution “Further practical measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space” (document A/C.1/72/L.54).  Noting that the draft had called for establishing a United Nations group of governmental experts, he said non‑binding but verifiable measures were more likely to gain wider acceptance and adherence by the international community.  Those were necessary for the strengthening of the legal regime on the issue.  The outer space transparency and confidence‑building measures should be considered in the Conference on Disarmament.

    The representative of France said his delegation had voted against “L.54” because the necessary conditions for a legal binding instrument had not been met.  He regretted to note the restrictive nature of the mandate of the co‑sponsors and expressed concern about the financial implications for creating another group of experts.  For its part, France was ready to work with the international community to adopt confidence‑building and transparency measures for outer space.

    The representative of Singapore, noting that her delegation had voted in favour of “L.54”, said the proposed group of governmental experts needed to be transparent and inclusive, taking into account the views of all countries.

    The Committee then turned to draft resolutions related to conventional weapons.

    The representative of Japan, introducing the draft resolution “The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects” (document A/C.1/72/L.56/Rev.1), said it was essential to work together.  Expressing hope that it would be adopted by consensus, he said the draft’s preambular paragraph 9 had been deleted toward that aim, and called on all Member States to extend support for it.

    The representative of Afghanistan, tabling the draft resolution “Countering the threat posed by improvised explosive devices” (document A/C.1/72/L.15/Rev.1), said the current text included updates on several preambular and operative paragraphs to address the threats increasingly being borne by civilians.  Noting that prior versions of “L.15/Rev.1” had been adopted by consensus, he expressed hope for the same agreement in the Committee during the current session to help the global community fight against the use of such weapons.

    The representative of Mali, introducing the draft resolution “Assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and collecting them” (document A/C.1/72/L.21), said it contained several updates and used the same language as the version the General Assembly had adopted at its seventy‑first session.  “L.21” would have the Assembly encourage the international community to support the implementation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Their Ammunition and Other Related Materials.  He thanked co‑sponsors and encouraged other Member States to show their support by becoming a co‑sponsor.

    The representative of Cuba said her delegation would disassociate itself from paragraphs referencing the Arms Trade Treaty in draft resolutions before the Committee.  As such, Cuba would abstain from voting on draft resolution “The Arms Trade Treaty” (document A/C.1/72/L.27) because the instrument had been adopted through a premature vote, did not enjoy consensus and was characterized by ambiguities and inconsistencies in definitions and legal gaps.  In addition, “L.27” was not balanced and favoured arms‑exporting States.

    The representative of Austria, also on behalf of Liechtenstein, said even though improvised explosive devices were a loose and undefined weapons category, their delegations would vote in favour of “L.15”.  They hoped the subsequent version that would be tabled during the seventy‑third session of the General Assembly would have better language on standards so that they could join as co‑sponsors.

    The representative of the Republic of Korea, referencing draft resolutions “Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti‑Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction” (document A/C.1/72/L.40) and “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions” (document A/C.1/72/L.41), said her delegation sympathized with the objectives of the texts, but because of the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, it was not a party to either instrument.   While the Republic of Korea could not support the draft resolutions, it would do its utmost to limit the humanitarian consequences of cluster munitions in a collaborative manner.

    The representative of Armenia said his delegation would abstain from voting on “L.27”, which should be adopted by consensus to be more inclusive and effective.  He expressed concern that the Arms Trade Treaty could lead to situations involving political manipulation.

    The representative of Indonesia, noting that her delegation would abstain from voting on “L.27”, said her country shared the spirit of the Arms Trade Treaty.  Indonesia was also carefully studying the instrument with a view to avoiding any possible inconsistencies with national law.

    The representative of Egypt said his delegation would abstain from voting on “L.27” because of the Arms Trade Treaty’s shortcomings, including genuinely preventing the illicit supply of arms to terrorist groups, its lack of definitions and its reliance on arbitrary criteria.

    The representative of Iran said his delegation supported measures to counter the threat posed by improvised explosive devices and would join consensus on “L.15”.  However, Iran would abstain from voting on “L.27” for several reasons, including that the call for the universalization of the Arms Trade Treaty lacked credibility.  The instrument had not been adopted by consensus due to its flaws and ignored the interests of some States, he said, citing examples of violations, including the export of billions of dollars of weapons to Israel, which that State had used in Palestine.

    The representative of Libya said his country was not a party to the Mine Ban Convention, but supported and shared the international community’s concerns about those arms and their destruction.  Despite being fully aware of the damage caused by anti‑personnel mines, he said the Convention did not refer to the responsibility of occupying States to repair the damage they had caused, nor did it address the issue of providing assistance to affected countries.  For those and other reasons, his delegation would abstain from voting on “L.40”.

    The representative of Morocco said his delegation would vote in favour of “L.40” because it supported the objective of the complete destruction of mines and the provision of care for civilian victims.

    The representative of Venezuela said her country was not a party to the Arms Trade Treaty and would abstain from voting on “L.27”.  The imbalanced instrument could be politically manipulated, preventing it from becoming a universal treaty.  Venezuela was fully committed to eradicating the illicit trade of conventional weapons and the best way to do so was through a multilateral regime, with a non‑discriminatory and objective instrument.

    The Committee then took up the draft resolution “Countering the threat posed by improvised explosive devices” (document A/C.1/72/L.15/Rev.1), by which the Assembly would urge all States to provide support to reduce the risks posed by those weapons in a manner that considered the different needs of women, girls, boys and men.  It would also urge Member States to comply fully with all relevant United Nations resolutions, including those related to preventing terrorist groups from using and accessing materials that could be used to make such weapons.

    The Committee approved the draft without a vote.

    The Committee turned to the draft resolution “Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects” (document A/C.1/72/L.16/Rev.1).  By the text, the Assembly would call upon all States that had not yet done so to take all measures to become parties to the Convention and the Protocols, with a view to ultimately achieve their universality.  It would also call upon all high contracting parties to ensure full and prompt compliance with their financial obligations under the Convention and its Protocols.

    It approved the draft, as orally revised, without a vote.

    The Committee considered the draft resolution “Assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and collecting them” (document A/C.1/72/L.21), by which the Assembly would encourage the international community to support the implementation of the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Their Ammunition and Other Related Materials.

    By the terms of the text, the Assembly would also encourage the collaboration of civil society organizations in efforts of national commissions of States in the Sahelo‑Saharan region to combat the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and in the implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.  It would also call upon the international community to provide technical and financial support to strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations in that regard.

    Acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft.

    The Committee took up the draft resolution “The Arms Trade Treaty” (document A/C.1/72/L.27), which would have the Assembly call upon all States that had not yet done so to ratify, accept, approve or accede to the instrument, in order to achieve its universalization.  By the terms of the text, the Assembly would call upon those States parties in a position to do so to provide assistance to requesting States in order to promote the instrument’s universalization.

    The Committee approved the draft by a recorded vote of 144 in favour to none against, with 29 abstentions.

    The Committee considered the draft resolution “Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction” (document A/C.1/72/L.40).  By the text, the Assembly would stress the importance of the full and effective implementation of and compliance with the Convention, including through the continued implementation of the action plan for the period 2014 to 2019.

    By a recorded vote of 158 in favour to none against, with 16 abstentions, the Committee approved the draft, as orally amended.

    The Committee then took up the draft resolution “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions” (document A/C.1/72/L.41), which would have the Assembly urge all States outside the instrument to join and all States parties in a position to do so to promote adherence to the Convention through bilateral, subregional and multilateral means.

    The Committee approved the draft by a recorded vote of 134 in favour to 2 against (Russian Federation, Zimbabwe), with 36 abstentions.

    The Committee considered the draft resolution “Problems arising from the accumulation of conventional ammunition stockpiles in surplus” (document A/C.1/72/L.43), which would have the Assembly appeal to all interested States to determine the size and nature of their surplus stockpiles, whether they represented a security risk, their means of destruction, if appropriate, and whether external assistance was needed to eliminate that risk.  The Assembly would also request the Secretary‑General to convene a related group of governmental experts in 2020.

    Acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft, as orally revised.

    The Committee then took up the draft resolution “The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects” (document A/C.1/72/L.56/Rev.1), which would have the General Assembly call upon all States to implement the International Tracing Instrument, including in their national reports the name and contact information of the national points of contact and information on national marking practices used to indicate the country of manufacture and/or country of import, as applicable.

    The Committee then approved the draft without a vote, as orally amended.

    The representative of Ecuador said his delegation had abstained from voting on “L.27” because the instrument had several shortcomings, including an imbalance between exporting and importing States.  Nevertheless, Ecuador would continue to study the text of the Arms Trade Treaty and its implications.

    The representative of Egypt said his delegation had abstained from voting on “L.40” due to the imbalanced nature of the Mine Ban Convention, which had been developed and concluded outside the United Nations.  The instrument lacked balance between humanitarian consequences and their use by countries for border protection.  On “L.15”, Egypt continued to support the draft resolution as it attempted to tackle an important threat improvised explosive devices posed.  However, he took issue with language in preambular paragraph 12, which raised a web of issues far removed from the actual scope of the draft’s objectives.

    The representative of the United States said his delegation had abstained from voting on “L.27” because his country was conducting a standard policy review of several conventions, including the Arms Trade Treaty.  Nevertheless, the United States cooperated with Member States to help prevent conventional arms from falling into the wrong hands and had robust transfer controls in place.

    The representative of India said regarding draft resolution “L.27” that her country had strong national export controls of defence items and fully subscribed to the objectives of Arms Trade Treaty.  Pending the conclusion of India’s review of the instrument as it related to security interests, her delegation would abstain from voting on “L.27”.  On “L.40”, India was committed to the eventual elimination of anti‑personnel mines, but had abstained from voting on the draft as it did not consider the legitimate concerns of States, especially those with long borders.

    The representative of Argentina said her delegation had abstained from voting on “L.41” because her country did not possess cluster munitions, had not subscribed to the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the language in the draft was not sufficiently ambitious.

    The representative of Cuba said her delegation had joined the consensus on “L.43” with several reservations, including that the language did not reflect measures to be adopted to improve stockpile management.  “L.43” should respect the rights of States to determine their surpluses according to security needs, she said, noting that Cuba maintained and applied a strict and effective national system on ammunition controls, with its stockpiles being fully consistent with legitimate national defence needs.  Cuba also supported “L.15/Rev.1”, with reservations, including that preambular paragraph 18 and operative paragraph 23 did not offer the right framework to establish definitions on anti‑personnel mines.  Her delegation had abstained from voting on “L.40”, although it shared the legitimate humanitarian concerns from the use of anti‑personnel mines.

    The representative of Poland, speaking on behalf of several countries, said their delegations had abstained from voting on “L.41”.  They supported international efforts addressing the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions and supported the Convention on Cluster Munitions’ humanitarian goals, but those objectives must be balanced with States’ security concerns and military needs.

    The representative of Cyprus said his delegation had abstained from voting on “L.41”.  Cyprus was a State party to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects and was in compliance with European Union standards.  However, its ratification process of the Convention on Cluster Munitions was ongoing due to the current national security situation.

    The representative of Pakistan said his country had joined the consensus on “L.15/Rev.1”, as it shared concerns about the use of improvised explosive devices by terrorist groups.  Pakistan had also voted in favour of “L.27”; however, the Arms Trade Treaty’s success and universality would depend on its non‑discriminatory implementation.  On “L.40”, he said his delegation had abstained from the vote because landmines continued to play a role in meeting security needs of many States and was an integral part of Pakistan’s defence policy.  On “L.41”, his delegation had abstained from voting because Pakistan did not respect treaties negotiated outside the United Nations framework.  On “L.43”, he said Pakistan had joined the consensus, but emphasized that the largest stockpiles were maintained by major military powers and they should take the lead in safe disposal efforts.

    The representative of Brazil said his delegation had abstained from voting on “L.41”.  While it had supported efforts to address cluster munitions through the United Nations, it had not participated in the process leading to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, as it was a parallel process to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.  There were serious loopholes in the Convention on Cluster Munitions and its effectiveness had also been undermined by article 21, which pertains to relations with States not party to that instrument.

    The representative of Myanmar said his delegation had abstained from voting on “L.40” and “L.41”.  While it supported the conventions in principle, there were constraints that were preventing Myanmar from joining them.

    The representative of Switzerland said his delegation had joined the consensus on “L.15/Rev.1”, but had reservations.  The draft resolution described non‑State actors as illegal armed groups, and the terminology did not affect the rights and obligations stemming from international law and the human rights of non‑State actors.

    The representative of Singapore said her delegation had voted in favour of “L.40” and supported initiatives on the prohibition of using anti‑personnel mines to target civilians.  Her delegation had also voted in favour of “L.41”, she said, as Singapore supported international efforts to address the humanitarian consequences of the use of cluster munitions.

    The representative of Iran said “L.40” focused on the humanitarian consequences and did not consider any measures against the actual use of mines.  Because anti‑personnel mines were still an effective means of defence, Iran had abstained from voting on “L.40”.  Turning to “L.41”, he said the draft resolution should have considered the progressive transparency and all‑inclusive process to ensure that States’ rights to security were respected and that no individual State could obtain advantages over others.  Circumventing the United Nations disarmament machinery and creating instruments outside it was not acceptable nor in line with the Organization’s objectives.  The General Assembly should not encourage such a process.  For that reason, his delegation had abstained from voting on “L.41”.

    The representative of Syria said his delegation had abstained from voting on “L.27”.  Syria was among States seeking to codify the arms trade.  Pointing out that Syria was suffering from the “bloody actions” of terrorist groups that had obtained all types of weapons in an illegal way from regional and international parties, including States parties of the Arms Trade Treaty.  The instrument had been used to guarantee the interests of some conventional weapon‑producing States, had not been adopted by consensus and did not consider the views of numerous nations, having overlooked proposals to include in the text a reference to “foreign occupation”.  The text also did not include explicit language to ensure the absolute prohibition or supply of weapons to non‑State actors and terrorist groups.  Certain States that had supported the Arms Trade Treaty’s adoption had also equipped terrorist groups with weapons.  As such, his delegation had reservations on draft resolutions containing references to the Arms Trade Treaty.

    The Committee then turned to draft resolutions relating to other disarmament issues and international security.

    The representative of India said suggested amendments had been included in the draft resolution “Role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament” (document A/C.1/72/L.52/Rev.1).  He expressed hope that the draft would be approved without a vote.

    The representative of Cuba said her delegation had co‑sponsored draft resolutions “Relationship between disarmament and development” (document A/C.1/72/L.30), “Observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of agreements on disarmament and arms control” (document A/C.1/72/L.31) and “Promotion of multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non‑proliferation” (document A/C.1/72/L.32).  With regard to “L.30”, she reiterated that disarmament and development were the main challenges faced by mankind today, and it was not acceptable to devote $1.7 billion to military spending while the world was in dire need of achieving development goals.  On “L.31”, Member States should comply strictly with environmental norms, she said, adding that the draft text was an important contribution to the quest for multilateral solutions.

    The representative of Liechtenstein expressed strong support for the rule of law, including in the field of disarmament.  Legally binding multilateral instruments were key to non‑proliferation and disarmament progress.  Compliance was essential to achieve that objective, he said, noting that his delegation supported the draft resolution “Compliance with non‑proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and commitments” (document A/C.1/72/L.7).  In that vein, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme was one of the most significant achievements.

    The representative of the United States said his delegation would not support “L.30” because disarmament and development were two distinct issues.  Similarly, it would not support “L.31” because the United States already operated under stringent environmental controls and the issue was not relevant to the First Committee’s work.

    The representative of Cuba said her delegation would abstain from voting on “L.7” because the draft lacked an approach based on cooperation.  All States must comply with provisions of agreements they had previously entered into, she said, emphasizing that “L.7” paved the way for unacceptable interpretations of State obligations.

    The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said his delegation would vote against “L.7” because it contained elements that jeopardized Pyongyang’s interests.  Moreover, the draft targeted the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and pushed an “impure political purpose”.

    The representative of Iran said his delegation supported the fundamental principle of “L.7”, but treaty obligations should be assessed objectively and judgments should be conducted by relevant international organizations in order to prevent subjective assessments that could be used as political and foreign policy leverage.  The international community had already witnessed that in the past and were well aware of current examples.  In that context, the draft had overlooked the central role of relevant organizations, including the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as the sole bodies for the verification of compliance of non‑proliferation and disarmament agreements.  At the same time, it was ironic that Israel, one of the draft’s sponsors, was itself not a party to any of the instruments banning weapons of mass destruction.  For those reasons, his delegation would abstain from voting on “L.7”.

    The representative of France said his delegation would abstain from any draft resolutions containing explicit references to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

    The Committee then turned to the draft resolution “Compliance with non‑proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and commitments” (document A/C.1/72/L.7).  By the terms of the text, the General Assembly would call upon all concerned States to take concerted action, in a manner consistent with relevant international law; to encourage, through bilateral and multilateral means, the compliance by all States with their respective non‑proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and with other agreed obligations; and to hold those not in compliance with such agreements accountable for their non‑compliance in a manner consistent with the Charter of the United Nations.

    By a recorded vote of 165 in favour to 1 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), with 11 abstentions, the Committee approved the draft.

    The Committee took up the draft resolution “Objective information on military matters, including transparency of military expenditures” (document A/C.1/72/L.24).  The Assembly would, by the text’s terms, invite Member States in a position to do so to supplement their reports, on a voluntary basis, with explanatory remarks regarding submitted data to explain or clarify the figures provided in the reporting forms, such as the total military expenditures as a share of gross domestic product, major changes from previous reports and any additional information reflecting their defence policy, military strategies and doctrines.

    The Committee approved the draft without a vote.

    The Committee then considered the draft resolution “Relationship between disarmament and development” (document A/C.1/72/L.30).  By the text, the Assembly would urge the international community to devote part of the resources made available by the implementation of disarmament and arms limitation agreements to economic and social development.

    Acting without a vote, the Committee then approved the draft.

    The Committee turned to the draft resolution “Observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of agreements on disarmament and arms control” (document A/C.1/72/L.31), by which the Assembly would call upon States to adopt unilateral, bilateral, regional and multilateral measures so as to contribute to ensuring the application of scientific and technological progress within the framework of international security, disarmament and other related spheres, without detriment to the environment.

    Also acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft.

    It then took action on the draft resolution “Promotion of multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non‑proliferation” (document A/C.1/72/L.32).  By the text, the Assembly would call upon all Member States to renew and fulfil their individual and collective commitments to multilateral cooperation as an important means of pursuing and achieving their common objectives in the area of disarmament and non‑proliferation.

    The Committee approved the draft by a recorded vote of 120 in favour to 4 against (Israel, Micronesia, United Kingdom, United States), with 49 abstentions.

    The Committee then took up a draft decision on “Developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security” (document A/C.1/72/L.44), by which the Assembly would include that item in the provisional agenda of its seventy‑third session.

    By a recorded vote of 173 in favour to none against, with 1 abstention (Ukraine), the Committee approved the draft.

    The Committee then considered the draft resolution “Role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament” (document A/C.1/72/L.52/Rev.1).  By its terms, the Assembly would invite Member States to continue efforts to apply developments in science and technology for disarmament‑related purposes, including the verification of disarmament, arms control and non‑proliferation instruments, and to make related technologies available to interested States.

    The Committee approved the draft without a vote.

    The representative of Ecuador said his delegation had abstained from voting on “L.7” because of several concerns.  Operative paragraph 7 could be interpreted as a possible justification of the application of unilateral sanctions outside the framework of the United Nations Charter.  Compliance should be in good faith and any amendment to agreements must be with the free consent of parties to them.

    The representative of Pakistan said his delegation had voted in favour of “L.7” and shared the view that all States should comply with the treaty obligations in order to achieve global peace and security.  The question of compliance should be strictly applied to legal provisions of relevant treaties.  Agreed‑upon obligations were only those made by States voluntarily and in exercise of their sovereignty.

    The representative of China said his delegation had voted in favour of “L.7” because nations should faithfully uphold treaty provisions without double standards.  For its part, China opposed using compliance as a political tool.

    The representative of Brazil said her delegation had voted in favour of “L.7” because treaties should be fully implemented and compliance should not be selective.  Similarly, full compliance of article VI of the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons should be upheld.  Effective verification mechanisms translated into effective compliance, she said, noting her delegation’s desire to see the language found in General Assembly resolution 66/49 in operative paragraph 6 of the draft resolution.

    The representative of Venezuela said her delegation had abstained from voting on “L.7” because it was unbalanced and did not consider the responsibility of nuclear‑weapon States, and did not address concerns about the use of weapons of mass destruction.  She reiterated Venezuela’s commitment to adopt multilateral measures leading to the total elimination of nuclear weapons under the Non‑Proliferation Treaty framework.

    The representative of South Africa said his delegation had voted in favour of “L.7” given that compliance with non‑proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements were critical to maintain confidence in the multilateral system.  However, he was deeply concerned about the selective focus taken on certain agreements in the arms control environment.  Such imbalance caused divisions that could undermine the goals of certain instruments, he said, citing the Arms Trade Treaty as an example of that situation.

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  • First Committee Submits Six Drafts to General Assembly, One Calling for Immediate Start of Negotiations on Treaty Preventing Outer Space Arms Race

    The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today approved six draft resolutions, including one on a legally binding instrument on the prevention of an arms race in outer space.

    During the meeting, the Committee approved the draft resolution “Further practical measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space” (document A/C.1/72/L.54), by a recorded vote of 121 in favour to 5 against (France, Israel, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States), with 45 abstentions.  By the terms of that text, the General Assembly would urge the Conference on Disarmament to agree on a balanced programme of work that included the immediate commencement of negotiations on an international legally binding instrument on the prevention of an arms race in outer space.

    The Committee also approved three other draft resolutions related to disarmament aspects of outer space, including one on transparency and confidence‑building measures in outer space activities (document A/C.1/72/L.46).  By a recorded vote of 175 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (Israel, United States), it approved the draft resolution “Prevention of an arms race in outer space” (document A/C.1/72/L.3).  By its terms, the Assembly would call upon all States, in particular those with major space capabilities, to refrain from actions contrary to that goal and to contribute actively to the objective of the peaceful use of outer space.

    The draft resolution “No first placement of weapons in outer space” (document A/C.1/72/L.53) was approved by a recorded vote of 122 in favour to 4 against (Georgia, Israel, Ukraine, United States), with 48 abstentions.  That text would have the General Assembly encourage all States, especially space‑faring nations, to consider the possibility of upholding, as appropriate, a political commitment not to be the first to place weapons in outer space.

    The Committee approved, without a vote, two draft resolutions related to other weapons of mass destruction: “Measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction” (document A/C.1/72/L.23) and “Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction” (document A/C.1/72/L.49).

    Speaking in explanation of position were representatives of Israel, Netherlands, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Philippines, Peru, Thailand, France, Finland, Indonesia, Malaysia, Lao’s People’s Democratic Republic, Cuba, Bangladesh, Russian Federation, Iran, Liechtenstein, China, Syria, Japan, Germany, United States, Estonia (for the European Union), Belarus, Ukraine, Nepal, Pakistan and Switzerland.

    Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of the United States, Russian Federation, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Ukraine.

    The Committee will meet again on Tuesday, 31 October, to continue its consideration of all draft resolutions and decisions before it.

    Background

    The First Committee met this afternoon to take action on all draft resolutions and decisions before it.  For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3571 of 2 October.

    Action on Draft Texts

    The representative of Israel presented her delegation’s position on several nuclear‑weapon‑related draft resolutions and decisions that the Committee had approved on 17 October.  On the draft resolution “The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East” (document A/C.1/72/L.2), she said the Arab Group had submitted it to divert the Committee’s attention from the real proliferation challenges facing the region.  Failing to address the real risk of weapons of mass destruction in the region, the draft resolution was “detached from reality” and neglected to mention that Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria had violated Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons obligations while promoting a clandestine military nuclear programme.  It also deviated attention from chemical weapon use in Syria, she added, noting that for those reasons, Israel had rejected the resolution in its entirety.  Meanwhile, her delegation had voted in favour of the draft resolution “Comprehensive Nuclear‑Test‑Ban Treaty” (document A/C.1/72/L.42) because Israel actively participated in all elements of the instrument.  However, her delegation was unable to support the language of the draft resolution “Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons” (document A/C.1/72/L.47) in its entirety and with regard to preambular paragraph 7 and operative paragraph 1.

    The representative of the Netherlands said his delegation had traditionally supported the resolution on “United action with renewed determination towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons” (A/C.1/72/L.35) and its efforts to build bridges between States to reach the goal of the total elimination of those arms.  “L.35” had also mentioned the disarmament commitments under the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, including the outcome documents of 1995, 2000, and 2010 review conferences, he said, recommending that negotiations on a fissile material cut‑off treaty should commence as early as possible.

    The representative of Mexico said her delegation had voted in favour of “L.47”, emphasizing that almost three quarters of the United Nations membership had agreed upon the legally binding Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  Draft resolutions that sought the same objective could not omit that historic fact, she said, noting that the new instrument offered a legal framework for nuclear‑weapon States to comply with the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.

    The representative of Argentina said her delegation had abstained from voting on the draft resolution “Taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations” (document A/C.1/72/L.6).  Argentina had not yet signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, but had begun an analysis and evaluation process on the impact it could have on the non‑proliferation regime and the peaceful use of nuclear energy, she said, pointing out that “L.6” had strongly called for States to sign and ratify the new instrument.  Any future instrument must strengthen the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and avoid creating a parallel regime and duplicating efforts.

    The representative of Spain said his delegation supported the draft resolution “African Nuclear‑Weapon‑Free Zone Treaty” (document A/C.1/72/L.37).  However, Spain did not associate itself with operative paragraph 5 and would have wanted it to include more balanced language.

    The representative of the Philippines said it had voted in favour of “L.35”, but did not co‑sponsor the draft because it had not articulated key principles.  States possessing nuclear weapons must fill their “end of the grand bargain”.  The humanitarian imperative was the foundation of the global disarmament architecture and that key principle must be upheld and affirmed.

    The representative of Peru said “L.35” did not reflect recent progress toward the total elimination of nuclear weapons, including the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  Moreover, he was concerned some paragraphs had changed in a manner that weakened the commitment of nuclear‑weapon States.  Nevertheless, Peru had voted in favour of the draft because of his delegation’s principled position on general and complete disarmament.

    The representative of Thailand said his delegation had voted in favour of “L.35” as a whole because of its attempt to stigmatize nuclear weapons.  However, it had abstained from taking action on operative paragraphs 20 and 21 because they were a step backward on the commitments of nuclear‑weapon States, especially in the context of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and the Test‑Ban Treaty.

    The representative of France said that while “L.35” placed nuclear disarmament in the framework of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty while fostering dialogue between non‑nuclear- and nuclear‑weapon States, he was concerned by language on humanitarian consequences, contained in preambular paragraphs 19, 20 and operative paragraph 8.  France stood against an emotional and divisive approach aimed at discrediting nuclear deterrence policies.

    The representative of Finland said “L.6” expressed the grave concern about the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.  While the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons addressed those concerns and Finland shared the goal of a nuclear‑weapon‑free world, the participation of nuclear‑weapon States was essential in making progress on disarmament.  As such, his delegation had abstained from voting on the draft.  While the Treaty was now a fact, States must work together and avoid confrontations.

    The representative of Indonesia said her delegation had abstained from voting on “L.35” because of changes in the language, including the omission of article 6 of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and the imbalance of emphasis between disarmament and non‑proliferation.  The very existence of nuclear weapons was the root of the problem and should be addressed in the draft resolution.

    The representative of Malaysia said that while voting in favour of “L.35”, her delegation had concerns about far reaching implications beyond the resolution of the total eliminations of the arsenals and abstained on operative paragraph 2 that undermined the need to collectively uphold the international disarmament commitments coming from the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.  She reiterated that the use of nuclear weapons posed grave humanitarian consequences and should be the primary driver for all States to achieve a nuclear‑free world.  Her delegation also abstained on voting operative paragraphs 8 and 21 that now merely recalled for all States to sign and ratify the Non‑Proliferation Treaty without any delay, instead of urging them.

    The representative of Lao People’s Democratic Republic said her delegation had voted in favour of “L.35” with hope that it would complement efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons.  She also shared concerns about the recognition of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and expressed hope that such an important issue would be addressed in the future.

    The representative of Cuba said her delegation had supported the draft resolution “Treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices” (document A/C.1/72/L.50).  However, the substantive review of a potential treaty on fissile cut‑off material outside the Conference on Disarmament would exclude from participation the vast majority of States.  Cuba was not in favour of limited membership groups to consider matters that had implications on international peace and security.  Negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament of a non‑discriminatory, multilateral and verifiable fissile material cut‑off treaty should also encompass stockpiles and future disarmament in order to avoid creating a partial and insufficient instrument.

    The representative of Bangladesh said that while his delegation had voted in favour of “L.35”, he regretted to note that operative paragraph 2 deviated from the agreements reached at previous Non‑Proliferation Treaty review conferences.

    The representative of the Russian Federation joined the consensus on the draft resolution “International Day against Nuclear Tests” (document A/C.1/72/L.36) noting that the celebration should draw the attention to the unsatisfactory implementation of the Test‑Ban Treaty, which was the only legally binding instrument of its kind.  He expressed great surprise that the United States, one of the most active initiators of the Test‑Ban Treaty, together with other five countries had not supported “L.36”.  Statements were not enough; ratification was needed by the United States, otherwise that important instrument would never enter into force.

    The representative of Iran said his delegation had voted in favour of “L.6” and would continue to support its overall objective.  However, the only way forward on nuclear disarmament was the conclusion of a comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons, as called for by the General Assembly.  Voting in favour of “L.42”, he said his delegation agreed with its principle objective, but noted that the language could have been improved, including by addressing the issue of nuclear‑weapon States modernizing their arsenals, which undermined the Test‑Ban Treaty’s goal.  Meanwhile, Iran abstained from voting on preambular paragraph 4 and disassociated from references to the Security Council.  The General Assembly should express its views independently and there was no need to refer to the work of other organs that involved a different context.  Regarding “L.50”, he said any fissile material instrument should be comprehensive and non‑discriminatory, with its scope covering past, present and future production and his delegation had abstained from voting on it because it lacked those conditions and was based on a limited mandate no longer relevant to today’s reality.

    The representative of Liechtenstein said “L.35” had been a bridge‑building document, but his delegation had abstained from voting on it because of changes to the text, including a lack of tangible references to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  The draft had attempted to weaken commitments made to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and Test‑Ban Treaty, he said, regretting to note that operative paragraph 21 failed to issue an urgent call to Annex 2 States to ratify the latter instrument.  That could send the wrong message, he said, expressing hope that “L.35” could serve as a bridge‑builder in the future.

    The representative of China said his delegation had voted against a number of draft resolutions because of references to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  While believing in the same end goal contained in that instrument, he said the international community must follow the principles of undiminished security for all by taking a gradual approach.  Consensus must be achieved through the existing disarmament machinery and by ensuring the participation of all parties.  The new instrument was politically and legally flawed, thwarting the effectiveness of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, and did not constitute new customary international law nor would it override existing instruments.  Thus, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was not binding to States not party to it, he said, adding that China would uphold its commitment that it would not be the first to use nuclear weapons at any time and would continue to contribute to the establishment of a nuclear‑weapon‑free world.

    The representative of Syria said his delegation had voted in favour of “L.2”.  The only real threat in the region was Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons.  His delegation had abstained from voting on “L.42” because non‑nuclear-weapon States had not been provided with guarantees within a reasonable timeframe against the use of those arms and the threat of their use had not been adequately addressed.  Syria had abstained from voting on “L.50” because the sponsors had not considered comments on the need to include fissile material stockpiles.

    The representative of Japan said that as the only country to have ever suffered from atomic bombing, nuclear‑weapon States and non‑nuclear‑weapon States must take united action based on the understanding of the humanitarian effects from the use of such weapons.  On “L.6”, his delegation was concerned about the fragmentation of the disarmament community, which was undermining progress.  On “L.5” and the draft resolution “Ethical imperatives for a nuclear‑weapon‑free world” (document A/C.1/72/L.17), he said Japan recognized the humanitarian consequences based on first‑hand experience and raised awareness on that issue.  However, recognition of the issue should serve as a bridge‑builder for unifying the international community, not dividing it.  His delegation had voted in favour of the draft resolution “Towards a nuclear‑weapon‑free world” (document A/C.1/72/L.19), despite incoherent language in operative paragraph 22.

    Turning to draft resolutions related to other weapons of mass destruction, the Committee took up the draft resolution “Measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction” (document A/C.1/72/L.23), by which the Assembly would urge all Member States to take and strengthen national measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring those arms, their means of delivery and materials and technologies related to their manufacture.

    The Committee then approved the draft without a vote.

    The Committee then took up a draft resolution titled “Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction” (document A/C.1/72/L.49).  By its terms, the General Assembly would take note of the consensus outcome of and the decisions on all provisions of the Biological Weapons Convention reached at the eighth Review Conference of the States parties, and would call upon States parties to participate and actively engage in its continued implementation.

    The Committee then approved the draft without a vote, as orally revised.

    The representative of Iran, explaining his delegation’s position on “L.49”, said a vote in favour had been cast because the most pragmatic action would be to resume negotiations on a multilateral legally binding protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention.  His delegation was not satisfied with text in operative paragraphs 6, 7 and 10; he said that one of the paragraphs should be considered as agreed language for the possible inclusion of the agenda of relevant meetings within the framework of the Convention.

    The representative of Germany, highlighting that “L.49” referred to the first instrument on weapons of mass destruction ever signed, said science and technology developments must be considered.  While his delegation supported “L.49”, he expressed hope for a more ambitious outcome.  The way ahead required creative solutions and flexibility, he said, emphasizing that, for the sake of consensus, Germany had to accept the minimal outcome of the last review conference on the Biological Weapons Convention.

    The representative of the United States said “L.49” was not the draft resolution his delegation had hoped to see.  Noting that the latest review conference had been unable to agree on a new programme of work, he said the United States had sought more ambitious language and, in the interest of reaching a consensus, had accepted far less.

    The representative of the Russian Federation, explaining his delegation’s position, drew attention to the importance of retaining outer space as a place of peaceful research.  Irresponsible steps had been taken in the past that had led the world to the brink of a catastrophe.  Nobody wanted the repetition of such a scenario in outer space, he said, pointing out that many Member States had advocated for actions against the weaponization of outer space.  However, an unprecedented campaign was attempting to discredit the international community’s efforts to prevent an outer space arms race.  Member States needed to prevent the unlimited domination of one State in outer space, he said, emphasizing that any unilateral measures to protect one’s orbital property were doomed to fail.  Global threats went beyond bloc interests, requiring open and balanced consideration, and those problems must be solved on an equitable, respectful basis.  Political will was needed to address one of the world’s most serious issues, he said, calling upon all responsible States to support the Russian Federation’s related draft resolutions.

    The representative of Cuba, expressing support for the urgent adoption of a treaty to prevent an outer space arms race, said such activity would endanger international security.  Cuba had therefore co‑sponsored all draft resolutions under the outer space cluster, including “Prevention of an arms race in outer space” (document A/C.1/72/L.3).

    The representative of the United States said his delegation would vote against the draft resolution “No first placement of weapons in outer space” (document A/C.1/72/L.53) because it did not adequately define what constituted a weapon, failed to address terrestrially based anti‑satellite arms and did not meet transparency and confidence‑building requirements for related activities.  Emphasizing that “L.53” was not the answer and did not enhance the United States’ security interests, he said his country would engage in programmes to sustain the safety and stability of outer space activities.  On the draft resolution “Further practical measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space” (document A/C.1/72/L.54), he said the United States and the United Kingdom would vote against it because of several concerns, including that the new group of governmental experts would base discussions on the proposed Russian‑Chinese joint draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space.  Several other issues had not been addressed, including terrestrially based anti‑satellite weapons and the need for a verification regime.  He was also concerned about China imposing its national view on multilateral politics, adding that political commitments that could not be verified by the international community were not the answer.

    The representative of Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said members would abstain from voting on “L.53”.  Underlining the importance of developing initiatives to increase confidence and mutual trust between current and future space actors, she said “L.53” did not adequately respond to that objective nor did it address the need to define what constituted a weapon in outer space.  She was also concerned about the continued development of anti‑satellite weapons and capabilities.  Instead of taking action on such a draft resolution, it would be more useful to address the behaviour in, and use of, outer space to advance meaningful initiatives.

    The representative of Belarus said a basic element of outer space disarmament was the peaceful use of outer space.  Belarus would vote in favour of “L.53”, having voiced support for a draft treaty on the prevention of an arms race in outer space.  It also would vote in favour of “L.3” and “L.54” and supported reaching consensus on the draft resolution “Transparency and confidence‑building measures in outer space activities” (document A/C.1/72/L.46).

    The representative of Ukraine said her delegation would vote against “L.53”, which had been submitted by the Russian Federation.  “L.54” contained unacceptable provisions, obscure and vague terminology related primarily to space debris, she said, adding that the Russian Federation had blocked the code of conduct in outer space that the European Union had proposed.

    The representative of Nepal said that since preventing an arms race fell under the umbrella of maintaining international peace and security, his delegation would vote in favour of “L.3”, “L.46”, “L.53” and “L.54”.

    The representative of Iran said his delegation had joined consensus on “L.46” and had voted in favour of “L.53”.  On the latter, however, the term “weapons” had not been defined.  It was prohibited to place “any kind of weapons of mass destruction” in outer space.  In the absence of explicit descriptions of weapons other than weapons of mass destruction, that policy should be considered in line with the universal principle of the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.  Any other interpretation of such a policy would be unacceptable.

    The Committee then turned to draft resolutions related to the disarmament aspects of outer space.

    It first took up the draft resolution “Prevention of an arms race in outer space” (document A/C.1/72/L.3), which would have the General Assembly reaffirm the importance and urgency of preventing an arms race in outer space and call upon all States, in particular those with major space capabilities, to contribute actively to the objective of the peaceful use of outer space and of the prevention of an arms race in outer space and to refrain from actions contrary to that objective and to the relevant existing treaties in the interest of maintaining international peace and security and promoting international cooperation.

    It then approved the draft resolution by a recorded vote of 175 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (United States, Israel).

    The Committee then took up the draft resolution “Transparency and confidence‑building measures in outer space activities” (document A/C.1/72/L.46).  By the text, the Assembly would encourage Member States to continue to review and implement, to the greatest extent practicable, the proposed transparency and confidence‑building measures contained in the report, through relevant national mechanisms, on a voluntary basis and in a manner consistent with the national interests of Member States.

    The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote.

    The Committee then took up the draft resolution “No first placement of weapons in outer space” (document A/C.1/72/L.53).  That text would have the Assembly reaffirm the importance and urgency of the objective to prevent an arms race in outer space and the willingness of States to contribute to reaching this common goal and would encourage all States, especially space‑faring nations, to consider the possibility of upholding, as appropriate, a political commitment not to be the first to place weapons in outer space.

    The Committee then approved the draft resolution by a recorded vote of 122 in favour to 4 against (Georgia, Israel, Ukraine, United States) with 48 abstentions.

    The Committee then considered the draft resolution “Further practical measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space” (document A/C.1/72/L.54), which would have the Assembly urge the Conference on Disarmament to agree on and implement at its earliest opportunity a balanced and comprehensive programme of work that includes the immediate commencement of negotiations on an international legally binding instrument on the prevention of an arms race in outer space, including on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space.

    By the terms of the text, the Assembly would request the Secretary‑General to establish a United Nations Group of Governmental Experts and decide that the newly established group would operate by consensus, without prejudice to national positions in future negotiations, and hold two two‑week‑long sessions in Geneva, one in 2018 and one in 2019.

    The Committee then approved the draft resolution by a recorded vote of 121 in favour to 5 against (France, Israel, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States), with 45 abstentions.

    The representative of Pakistan said his delegation had voted in favour of “L.54” although unfortunately some countries had bypassed the Conference on Disarmament by establishing external expert groups.  Preventing an arms race in outer space was one of the core issues of the Conference on Disarmament’s agenda.  He expressed hope for actions that would enable the Conference on Disarmament to adopt a balanced and comprehensive programme of work.

    The representative of Switzerland said his delegation had voted in favour of “L.53” and “L.54”, adding that an elaboration of new norms and standards were necessary to prevent an arms race in outer space.  He expressed hope that the new group of governmental experts would give fresh inputs and that major space powers would participate to ensure the implementation of those provisions.  Welcoming “L.54”, he was concerned that space could become a place of military confrontation.  Other concerns included the development of land‑based weapons and testing weapons, he said.

    Right of Reply

    The representative of the United States, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said his country had a moratorium on nuclear‑weapon testing for the last 25 years.  While he was sure the Russian Federation had a lot of interest in the democratic process in the United States, the international community should not lose focus that one country currently posed the biggest threat to the Test‑Ban Treaty.

    The representative of the Russian Federation said Ukraine’s representative represented the ultra‑nationalist regime that had come to power in 2014 as the result of a coup d’etat supported by the United States and the European Union.  What was going on in Ukraine was regretful.

    The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said the objectives of Pyongyang’s nuclear programme were to put an end to threats being made by the United States and to prevent a military invasion.  Joining the Test‑Ban Treaty went against his country’s sovereign rights.  If the United States wanted world peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, it should dismantle its nuclear weapons arsenal and join the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.

    The representative of the United States said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was an outcast; its provocative acts threatened security in the region and beyond.

    The representative of Ukraine said all criminal actions conducted by the Russian Federation would be judged in The Hague.

    The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea rejected the provocative allegations of the United States regime.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would defend itself with its powerful nuclear deterrence and at the same time contribute to the maintenance of global peace and security.

    The representative of the Russian Federation said that perhaps his counterpart from Ukraine did not know what the tribunal in The Hague was and had not studied it properly in school.

    The representative of the Ukraine said she wanted to bring to the attention of the Chair and all delegates that personal remarks in the Committee were unacceptable.

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