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This week, troubling accounts of slave auctions in Libya have circulated in the press. Putting a monetary price on human life is wrong. So is devaluing human labour to the point that they work in slave conditions. Global supply chains sometimes allow that to happen because of little or no oversight. Read what OECD’s Chief of Staff and Sherpa to the G20, Gabriela Ramos, writes about modern slavery.Read post here.
This week, troubling accounts of slave auctions in Libya have circulated in the press. Putting a monetary price on human life is wrong. So is devaluing human labour to the point that they work in slave conditions. Global supply chains sometimes allow that to happen because of little or no oversight. Read what OECD’s Chief of Staff and Sherpa to the G20, Gabriela Ramos, writes about modern slavery.Read post here.
Noting that today marked 70 years since the adoption of a United Nations resolution to partition Palestine, speakers stressed the need to capture momentum, redouble efforts and through dialogue and diplomacy achieve a two‑State solution, as the General Assembly began its annual debate on the Palestinian question.
The Assembly heard the introduction of four draft resolutions addressing the various United Nations bodies and departments charged with defending the rights of the Palestinian people. It also heard urgent appeals from many delegates for concrete action to end Israel’s occupation and to continue to support the Palestinian people. Many speakers demanded that Israel cease its settlement activities and that all parties return to the negotiating table. Speakers also urged the international community to continue to support the peace process, as well as humanitarian efforts in the Gaza Strip and elsewhere in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
General Assembly President Miroslav Lajčák (Slovakia) stressed that there was no alternative to direct talks, underscoring the need for political support from international, regional and national actors. It was essential to maintain and increase the positive momentum, he said, stressing: “All this momentum has been driven by diplomacy and dialogue.” Recalling that the General Assembly had placed the question of Palestine on its agenda in 1947, he noted that many discussions had taken place since then. “We have heard positions from all parties. We have called for action, and we have expressed hopes for the future,” he added. Yet, the question of Palestine remained. “At any moment, dialogue can take a new course and uncover new scope for compromise,” he added.
Fodé Seck (Senegal), Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, introduced the four draft resolutions, pledging the Committee’s commitment to continue to work with both Israelis and Palestinians. He expressed hope that the new dynamic among Palestinian factions would help both parties move forward towards a peaceful solution. He also called for renewed diplomatic efforts aimed at achieving the ultimate objective of a two‑State solution based on the pre‑1967 borders.
Neville Melvin Gertze (Namibia), the Committee’s Vice-Chair, then introduced its most recent report (document A/72/35), covering its work between 4 October 2016 and 5 September 2017. The Committee urged the international community to redouble its efforts towards the achievement of the two‑State solution in accordance with United Nations resolutions; reiterated its request to the Secretary-General to present his subsequent reports to the Security Council on the implementation of its resolution 2334 (2016) in writing; strongly advocated for the Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their homeland; and demanded an end to the 10‑year‑old Israeli air, land and sea blockade of Gaza.
The Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine said that the Palestinian people wanted peace but peace could not coexist with injustice, occupation, colonization and apartheid. “The people of Palestine will not disappear, nor will they surrender to a dismal fate,” he stressed. Israel, the occupying Power, had purposely obstructed efforts, blatantly ignoring the demands to cease its illegal policies and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. It continued to proceed with its settlement activities and systematic destruction of the two‑State solution, and ignored calls to reverse the negative trends on the ground and act to bring an end to its occupation, as called for by the Security Council in resolution 2334 (2016).
In 2017, the international community again witnessed Israel quadrupling its settlement activities throughout the West Bank, especially in and around East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley, he said. Israel had also continued to impose severe restrictions on movement, the most hideous of which was its blockade of the Gaza Strip, where two million Palestinians were being collectively punished and inhumanely isolated. Israeli provocations, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric against the Palestinians and their leadership were on the rise, one reinforcing the other. Rather, efforts must be aimed at achieving a just and comprehensive peace, whereby the State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, could live side by side with Israel, based on the pre‑1967 borders.
Israel’s representative, recalling that, on 29 November 1947, the United Nations had taken a vote to determine the fates of two peoples living in the same land, he declared: “For one of those peoples, it was a moment that turned an age-old dream of self-determination into a real-life miracle.” He noted that Jews and Arabs had at that time been presented with the chance to build successful and prosperous communities, living side by side. “The Jews said yes, but the Arabs said no,” he stated, emphasizing Israel’s decision over past decades to choose the path of prosperity and peace.
“The Palestinians are not anti‑Israel because of borders or governments,” he said, but “because of who we are”. They had never accepted the existence of a Jewish State in the Holy Land. Palestinian leaders had never tried to improve the lives of their people and always blamed their situation on Israel. The Palestinians made those choices every day, regrettably choosing devastation and despair over progress, peace and prosperity. As long as Hamas used innocent Palestinians as human shields and deprived them of basic human rights, Gaza would remain imprisoned by its own brutal leaders. While that group — an internationally recognized terrorist organization — worked to kidnap and kill Israelis, the Palestinian Authority had agreed to work with them. Still, Israel had not lost hope, and stood ready to negotiate.
Kuwait’s representative said the Palestinian people were dreaming of breaking their shackles and yet Israel’s “savage” policies continued as the occupying Power confiscated land, expanded illegal settlements and deprived Muslims of the right to practice their rituals. The question of Palestine was a question of all civil people under occupation. “We have to work hand in hand” to support the “fair cause” of the Palestinian people, he underscored.
The representative of Libya asked what the United Nations had done for the Palestinian people other than adopting the many resolutions that Israel had ignored. Recalling how the international community had pressured the Arab world to abandon its historic right to establish a Palestinian State, he asked: “Will the international community stand by to allow Israel to continue its occupation for another 50 years?” To those that said Libya must not make such statements as its own country was going through a tough time, he said the Israeli occupation was the cause of the spread of terrorism in the region.
The representative of Japan, condemning all acts, incitements and glorification of violence, called on both sides to take concrete steps to reverse those negative trends. He noted his country’s support to the region, namely several initiatives which involved cooperation with Israel, Jordan and Palestine. “This is not to say that economic development is an alternative to a future Palestinian State,” he said. Instead, the goal was to generate mutual trust leading to meaningful dialogue between the parties.
Settlement of the dispute was not impossible, Egypt’s representative underscored, noting that his country had recently managed to bring the Palestinian leadership together in signing a reconciliation agreement on 12 October in Cairo. He called on the international community to take advantage of the historic opportunity and help bring about a two‑State solution. Both the Israelis and Palestinians would continue to have a claim to the Holy Land, he added, emphasizing the importance of finding a rational solution.
The Assembly also had before it two reports of the Secretary-General titled “The situation in the Middle East” (document A/72/333) and “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine” (document A/72/368).
Also speaking were representatives of Maldives, Qatar, Nigeria, Argentina, Brazil, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Bangladesh, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Jordan, Venezuela, India and Turkey.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 30 November, to conclude its debate on the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East.
MIROSLAV LAJČÁK (Slovakia), President of the General Assembly, said that there was no alternative to direct talks. Stressing the need for political support from international, regional and national actors, he underscored: “This support can bring us closer to a peaceful resolution.” International and regional tools for mediation and facilitation had led to some promising developments. The international community had also rallied in response to the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people, particularly those in the Gaza Strip. He called for even stronger efforts to strengthen respect for international humanitarian law, and to secure access to people in need. It was essential to maintain and increase the positive momentum, he said, underscoring Egypt’s contributions as well as commitments made by the Palestinian Authority.
“All this momentum has been driven by diplomacy and dialogue,” he said, adding that only through both could the momentum be maintained and boosted. Recalling that the General Assembly had placed the question of Palestine on its agenda in 1947, he noted that many discussions had taken place since then. “We have heard positions from all parties. We have called for action, and we have expressed hopes for the future,” he added. Yet, the question of Palestine remained. In that context, he warned against failing the people on the ground and urged Member States to see today as a new opportunity for dialogue. “At any moment, dialogue can take a new course and uncover new scope for compromise,” he added.
Introduction of Drafts and Reports
FODÉ SECK (Senegal), Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, introduced four draft resolutions (documents A/72/L.13, A/72/L.14, A/72/L.15 and A/72/L.16). Pledging the Committee’s commitment to continue to work with both Israelis and Palestinians, he expressed hope that the new dynamic among Palestinian factions would help both parties move forward towards a peaceful solution. Calling for renewed diplomatic efforts aimed at achieving the ultimate objective of a two‑State solution based on the pre‑1967 borders, he said the draft resolutions focused on the Committee’s work and that of the Secretariat’s Division for Palestinian Rights and the Special Information Programme on the Question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information. Draft resolution “L.15”, on the renewal of the Committee’s mandate, took into account the body’s decades of work, while “L.14” requested the Department of Public Information to continue its work for the period 2018‑2019, aiming to enable the media to create conditions that were propitious for the conflict’s peaceful settlement. Draft “L.16”, meanwhile, took note of the relevance of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — especially Sustainable Development Goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions — to the question of Palestine.
NEVILLE MELVIN GERTZE (Namibia), Vice-Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, then introduced its most recent report (document A/72/35), covering its work between 4 October 2016 and 5 September 2017. Following its introductory chapter, chapter II of the report provided a review of the situation relating to the question of Palestine as monitored by the Committee, including the impasse in the peace process, the tenth year of the Gaza Strip blockade and the dire living conditions there, ongoing Israeli illegal settlement activities and the adoption of Security Council resolution 2334 (2016), as well as heightened tensions at the Al‑Haram al‑Sharif/Temple Mount in East Jerusalem, among others. Chapters III and IV, meanwhile, outlined the mandate entrusted to the Committee by the General Assembly and contained information on the organization of the Committee’s work during the year.
Chapter V of the report detailed actions taken by the Committee, he continued, including its participation in Security Council debates and its continued dialogue with members of intergovernmental, interparliamentary, regional and civil society organizations to mobilize support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. Chapter VI provided an overview of the Special Information Programme on the Question of Palestine carried out by the Department of Public Information, while the last chapter contained the Committee’s conclusions and recommendations to the Assembly. Listing some of those, he said the Committee urged the international community to redouble its efforts towards the achievement of the two‑State solution in accordance with United Nations resolutions; reiterated its request to the Secretary-General to present his subsequent reports to the Security Council on the implementation of its resolution 2334 (2016) in writing; strongly advocated for the Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their homeland; demanded an end to the 10‑year‑old Israeli air, land and sea blockade of Gaza and the lifting of all related closures; and urged States and private entities not to contribute to grave Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights, particularly with respect to its illegal settlements.
RIYAD H. MANSOUR, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine, said today was the seventieth anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations resolution to partition Palestine. That decision had infinite consequences as the Palestinian people were still being denied their rights. He also noted that while Palestine’s respect for United Nations resolution was proven, Israel continued to undermine all efforts to achieve the just solution that United Nations had sought. Israel, the occupying Power, had purposely obstructed efforts, blatantly ignoring the demands to cease its illegal policies and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. It continued to proceed with its settlement activities and systematic destruction of the two‑State solution based on the pre‑1967 borders. Israel further ignored calls to reverse the negative trends on the ground and act to bring an end to its occupation, as called for by the Security Council in resolution 2334 (2016).
“The Israeli Government is not only in violation of that resolution, but actually brags about doing so,” he said. In 2017, the international community again witnessed Israel quadrupling its settlement activities throughout the West Bank, especially in and around East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley. Israel also continued to impose severe restrictions on movement, the most hideous of which was its blockade of the Gaza Strip, where two million Palestinians were being collectively punished and inhumanely isolated. The people in Gaza were forced to endure a humanitarian crisis so dire that Gaza was predicted to be uninhabitable by 2020. Israeli provocations, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric against the Palestinian people and their leadership were on the rise, one reinforcing the other. Provocations also continued against holy sites, especially in Occupied East Jerusalem, most notably at Al-Haram al-Sharif.
Moreover, the Israeli Government, led by the most extreme members of the Prime Minister’s coalition and aided and abetted by the Israeli justice system, had feverishly advanced discriminatory laws and racist policies, he said. “The reality is that Israel is in grave breach of all — not just some — of its obligations under international humanitarian law,” he added. The human toll of that unrelenting dispossession, military occupation and colonization was incalculable. The occupation had also caused enormous damage to the rule of law and perceptions about justice. He noted the Human Rights Council’s report on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian territories, adding that the report reflected the illegality of the occupation.
He called on Member States to uphold international law and affirm support for the Palestinian people, and ensure that they did not in any way comply with Israel’s illegal actions. Such efforts should finally lead to a day when the international community stops commemorating the tragedy and instead begins building a just peace for a better and secure future. It was a simple equation, he said, adding that Israel could not continue to be treated as a law-abiding member of the international community, as it trampled the United Nations Charter and resolutions. The United Nations had a responsibility to redress the injustice and ensure accountability, which “continued to be delayed at best, denied at worst”.
He welcomed international efforts to achieve a just and comprehensive peace, whereby the State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, could live side by side with Israel, based on the pre‑1967 borders. He expressed gratitude to the United Nations and its agencies for the humanitarian, socioeconomic, developmental and moral support that had helped sustain the Palestinian people through decades of conflict. “The people of Palestine will not disappear, nor will they surrender to a dismal fate,” he said. They wanted peace but peace could not coexist with injustice, occupation, colonization and apartheid.
DANNY DANON (Israel) said that, with each resolution they adopted and vote they cast, Member States “choose between peace and war, progress and decay, hope and despair”. Today, the Organization had once again made the choice to debate the so‑called question of Palestine, taking turns targeting Israel including through their empty votes in favour of the annual text. Recalling that, on 29 November 1947, the United Nations had taken a vote to determine the fates of two peoples living in the same land, he declared: “For one of those peoples, it was a moment that turned an age-old dream of self-determination into a real-life miracle.” However, “for the other, the result of the vote triggered an aggressive and lasting hatred”.
Stressing that the United Nations had made the right choice on that day in 1947 — thereby correcting a historic wrong — he noted that Jews and Arabs had at that time been presented with the chance to build successful and prosperous communities, living side by side. “The Jews said yes, but the Arabs said no,” he stated, emphasizing Israel’s decision over past decades to choose the path of prosperity and peace. Israelis had worked to help others, always seeking to repair the world. But their Palestinian neighbours had sought the exact opposite, and had done nothing but try to harm Israel. “The Palestinians are not anti‑Israel because of borders or governments,” he said, but “because of who we are”. They had never accepted the existence of a Jewish State in the Holy Land. Palestinian leaders had never tried to improve the lives of their people and always blamed their situation on Israel.
Offering the Palestinians a new set of propositions, he said that every $1,000 they chose to spend supporting terrorists and their families could instead be used to fund a high-tech startup, sponsor a Palestinian student, build cultural centres or encourage development, rather than destruction. The Palestinians made those choices every day, regrettably choosing devastation and despair over progress, peace and prosperity. Citing the Palestinians’ 2005 opportunity to develop the Gaza Strip following Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the area, he said what could have become the next beach resort destination had instead been neglected and even become a haven for terror. The current state of Gaza could not be blamed on the Europeans, the Americans, the Arabs or the Israelis, as it was a “self-inflicted wound”. As long as Hamas used innocent Palestinians as human shields and deprived them of basic human rights, Gaza would remain imprisoned by its own brutal leaders.
Hamas terrorists also continued to attempt to destroy cities, he continued. While that group — an internationally recognized terrorist organization — worked to kidnap and kill Israelis, the Palestinian Authority had agreed to work with them. Still, Israel had not lost hope, and stood ready to negotiate. Having built a vibrant and multicultural society, where all people enjoyed equal rights and protections under the law, the country’s people were free and their hearts and minds were open. “We seek peace and we dream big,” he said, stressing that the Palestinians would not be able to better themselves simply by worsening Israel.
MISHAAL K. ALBANNAI (Kuwait) said the Palestinian people were dreaming of breaking their shackles and yet Israel’s “savage” policies continued as the occupying Power confiscated land, expanded illegal settlements and deprived Muslims of the right to practice their rituals. Israel’s policies, its siege on Gaza and the various restrictions it imposed on the movement of persons aimed to undermine any and all opportunity for a two‑State solution and perpetuate the occupation. The question of Palestine was a question of all civil people under occupation. The inhumane and illegal siege on Gaza was a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. He urged the international community, through the Security Council, to provide the Palestinian people with international protection and to immediately put an end to the occupation. He further urged the Security Council to shoulder its responsibility to support the “fair cause” of the Palestinian people. “We have to work hand in hand,” he underscored.
EZZIDIN Y. BELKHEIR (Libya) said the crisis had become part and parcel of the history of the United Nations, which had a responsibility to act in favour of all oppressed people. He asked: “In reality, what has the United Nations done for the Palestinian people?” The United Nations had adopted many resolutions calling on the State it established to end its occupation. Yet, the Israeli occupation had ignored each and every one of them. The international community had pressured the Arab world and tried to convince it to abandon its historic right to establish a Palestinian land. Given the fact that Israel would never reconsider its policies, it continued its occupation by adopting many “Judea‑izing” policies that could lead to chaos in the region and beyond. Israeli armed settlers were an attempt to portray the situation on the ground as a conflict between two civilian groups. He asked: “Will the international community stand by to allow Israel to continue its occupation for another 50 years?” Until the Palestinian people have a free and secure state, the international community must continue to pressure Israel to accept the Arab Peace Initiative and implement various Security Council resolutions, most notably resolution 2334 (2016). To those that say Libya must not make such statements as its own country was going through a difficult time, he said that the Israeli occupation was the cause of the spread of terrorism in the region.
SHIUNEEN RASHEED (Maldives) said that the question of Palestine would be answered with the establishment of an independent, sovereign State as called for in numerous United Nations resolutions. She called on Israel to implement those resolutions and to respect its legal obligations. There was a total disregard for said resolutions in Israel today, as it continued to designate the West Bank separately from Gaza and in fact considered it part of Israel. She wondered why Israel was held to a double standard when it came to the rule of law and respect for human rights, saying that international law was not selectively applicable. To achieve peace in the Middle East, Israel must join the international community in affirming the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people, she concluded.
ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar), recalling that 50 years had elapsed since the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian land began, outlined several positive recent developments that heightened the hope of achieving peace in the region. Those included the signing of a reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas, she said, underscoring solidarity with the Palestinian people and its strong support for the two‑State solution. Calling on the international community to help grant the right to self-determination and the right of return to the Palestinian people, she also warned against all escalations of tension and condemned any attempts aimed at changing the character or legal status of the Al‑Aqsa Mosque. The Assembly’s annual resolutions on the Middle East and the question of Palestine reflected the seriousness of the issue and called on Israel to end its illegal actions, she said, adding that the texts also underlined the invalidity of its occupation of the Syrian Golan. In the context of the current conflicts and crises across the Middle East — including the spread of terrorism — it was critical to address the root causes of conflict.
OLUKUNLE BAMGBOSE (Nigeria) aligned himself with the African Union and called on the international community to find peaceful solutions in the Middle East by paving the way for Israel and Palestine to return to negotiations. He supported efforts to have the Palestinian Authority assume responsibilities in Gaza. The international community must persevere in finding a resolution to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which threatened international peace and security. The Israelis and Palestinians should make a genuine effort to return to the negotiating table, he stressed. He encouraged Israel to freeze settlement activities and the Palestinians to signal their readiness with internal unity and by addressing their own security challenges.
MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina) reaffirmed his strongest support for a peaceful two‑State solution to the Palestinian question based on relevant United Nations resolutions. Reasserting the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, he expressed concern about the persistent and continuous growth of illegal Israeli settlements that only served to perpetuate an unstable status quo. At the same time, attacks against Israeli citizens were unacceptable, he stressed, also condemning all terrorist actions. Even though progress on the issue was made in Cairo earlier this year, he noted with concern the excessive use of force by Israeli forces. Turning to East Jerusalem, he said any effort to deny the historical meaning of the city to Jews, Muslims and Christians was completely unacceptable.
MAURO VIEIRA (Brazil) underscored that the General Assembly could and should contribute to the implementation of the two‑State solution in all its aspects. In accordance with international law and the United Nations Charter, Brazil rejected the acquisition of territory through the use of force. The existence and expansion of Israeli settlements in Palestine, including East Jerusalem, as well as the retroactive legalization of some of those settlements, were an obstacle to the viability of the two‑State solution and to peace in the region. Brazil hoped that the intra‑Palestinian agreement, signed in Cairo on 12 October, would help immediately alleviate the grave humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip by facilitating the lifting of the blockade and allowing unimpeded access to humanitarian aid and reconstruction efforts.
YASUHISA KAWAMURA (Japan), listing some of the major challenges facing the Middle East and North Africa, said his country had worked to deal with those issues as a member of the Security Council for the past two years. Regarding the question of Palestine, he stressed that Israel’s continued settlement activities violated international law and called on it to immediately freeze such activities, which eroded the two‑State solution. Escalating tensions at holy sites in recent months were another stark reminder of how violence could snowball into a larger crisis. Condemning all acts, incitements and glorification of violence, he called on both sides to take concrete steps to reverse those negative trends. For its part, Japan was providing long-term support in the region, including through the Jericho Agro‑Industrial Park and its flagship “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” initiative, which involved cooperation with Israel, Jordan and Palestine. “This is not to say that economic development is an alternative to a future Palestinian State,” he said. Instead, the goal was to generate mutual trust leading to meaningful dialogue between the parties.
KHIANE PHANSOURIVONG (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) expressed deep concern about continued Israeli settlement expansion, which destroyed Palestinian property, homes and economic development. It also violated international humanitarian and human rights law, impeded the peace process and opportunities for negotiations and peaceful resolution. He also expressed worries about the plight of Palestinians suffering under the blockade of the Gaza Strip, which could lead to a humanitarian crisis if it continued unabated. He called upon the occupying Power to lift the blockade and facilitate unimpeded humanitarian relief. His delegation strongly supported relevant United Nations resolutions and the Quartet Roadmap, which envisaged a sovereign, independent and viable State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.
TAREQ MD ARIFUL ISLAM (Bangladesh) said that his Government remained profoundly concerned about the illegal occupation and humanitarian plight of the Palestinian people. The United Nations should pursue lasting, just solutions to all protracted crises, which posed serious threats to international and regional peace and security. The continued breaches of international humanitarian law and systemic human rights violations had led to a rise of a culture of impunity in the Occupied Palestinian territories, he highlighted, stressing that the occupying Power continued to inflict violence on the Palestinian people. The illegal settlements and the construction of the wall around Jerusalem were being deliberately pursued to fundamentally change the demographic of the territories, he said, adding that international protection was needed for those Palestinians who continued to face collective punishment.
NABEEL MUNIR (Pakistan) said the dark shadows of Israeli occupation of Palestine had only lengthened in time, and Israel continued to defy logic, morality, international law and global public opinion with impunity. He echoed the call by the Committee that the path to a negotiated peaceful settlement of the Palestinian issue was predicated on an end to illegal Israeli occupation, the realization of the rights of the Palestinian people and the achievement of the two‑State solution. The role of the Security Council remained crucial, he said, adding that only through a full implementation of its resolutions on Palestine, can the Council strengthen its own credibility and further the ideal of global peace and security. The political reconciliation forged between Fatah and Hamas in Cairo last month offered fresh reason for hope and optimism. It not only restored political unity within the Palestinian ranks, but also provided renewed strength and vigour to the legitimate cause of the Palestinian people.
AMEIRAH OBAID MOHAMED OBAID ALHEFEITI (United Arab Emirates) said that her country had and would always fully support the Palestinian people and would continue to promote their right to establish a Palestinian State on their land based on the borders of 4 June 1967, with Jerusalem as the capital. She denounced the continued and unjust Israeli occupation of Palestinian and Arab territories and condemned Israel’s violations of international law as well as relevant Security Council resolutions. Such illegal practices posed a major obstacle to all international efforts to achieve a just and lasting peace and they undermined the two‑State solution. To address the suffering of the Palestinian people, the international community should provide assistance in education, health, food and infrastructure. She reaffirmed the United Arab Emirates’ support for the recent reconciliation agreement in Cairo and asked for reinforced regional and international efforts to ensure that Israel complied with its legal and international obligations.
JAMAL FARES ALROWAIEI (Bahrain), underscoring his country’s support for the Palestinian people and for all efforts to achieve the two‑State solution leading to peace and prosperity in the Middle East, said Israel’s continued settlement activities and human rights violations constituted flagrant violations of that country’s international commitments. Such actions would only lead to more tension and violence, threatening international peace and security, he warned. Expressing support for the two‑State solution, as pursued through the Arab Peace Initiative and similar plans, he went on to condemn the more than 10‑year‑old blockade of Gaza as well as Israel’s settlement expansion, its desecration of the holy Al‑Aqsa Mosque and other racist, discriminatory schemes aimed at obliterating Jerusalem’s Islamic character. “This is the day‑to‑day reality of the Palestinian people for decades,” he stressed, voicing support for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s recent decision to place the city of Hebron on its list of heritage sites and calling on the international community to shoulder its responsibility to help the Palestinian people return to their homeland.
SIMA SAMI BAHOUS (Jordan), emphasizing that the two‑State solution as pursued through the Arab Peace Initiative was the only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, recalled that Arab countries had reiterated their commitment to that plan at a high-level summit in October. Indeed, Arab States had always stressed the need for Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian land, cease its settlement activities and reverse its discriminatory policies against Palestinians. However, the most important need was for Israel to respect international law. The question of Palestine, therefore, was not just critical for the Palestinian people, “but to us all”. Outlining Jordan’s consistent efforts to meet the legitimate needs and aspirations of the Palestinians — and its support for the resumption of serious peace negotiations — she warned that failure to reach a just solution would have regional and international consequences, leading to further extremism. Welcoming efforts aimed at fostering dialogue, including those proposed by the United States and Egypt, she called on all Member States to provide funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) before the end of 2017, as supporting such critical humanitarian activities was a responsibility for all people.
RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela) said that Israel continued to receive support and protection from hegemonic powers aimed at preventing the creation of a State of Palestine by any means, while carrying on one of the longest military occupations of all time. Some 50 years since the occupation of Palestinian territory began and 10 years since the start of the brutal blockade against Gaza, the human rights situation of the people in Palestine continued to worsen due to the actions of the occupying Power, which had inflicted pain, misery and tragedy on generations of people. Without doubt, the occupying Power intended to continue its practices with impunity. Illegal settlement activity continued, despite a Security Council resolution that had called for an end to such activities. Resolution 2334 (2016) was a milestone decision, he said, but until it was accompanied by concrete actions leading to the occupying Power complying with its provisions, its impact would be lessened and it would simply be one more document that was being ignored. The Security Council must live up to its responsibility to find a solution to the Palestinian question. Flagrant human rights violations and crimes against Palestinian men and women continued, even though they had done nothing more than affirm their right to their lands. The international community could not continue to be a passive witness to the situation in Palestine, he emphasized.
TANMAYA LAL (India) said his country was working with Palestine on several development projects, including the Palestine‑India Techno Park, Palestine Institute of Diplomacy in Ramallah and India‑Palestine Centre of Excellence in Information and Communications Technology in Gaza. Those multimillion dollar projects would contribute to long-term development capacity-building. India was also collaborating with fellow developing countries Brazil and South Africa to support projects in Palestine through the India, Brazil and South Africa Fund. The Fund, implemented in association with the United Nations Office for South‑South Cooperation in New York, was a unique form of solidarity and cooperation. Of five projects now completed, three were slated for inauguration next month. Two of them — Al Quds Hospital and Atta Habib Medical Centre — were located in Gaza.
FERIDUN H. SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey), voicing support for a negotiated settlement that would lead to the establishment of an independent State of Palestine within the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital, emphasized that only such a solution would provide a just, comprehensive and lasting peace while also achieving the Palestinians’ inalienable rights and ensuring security for both sides. Israel’s practices in contravention of international law, particularly its systematic expansion of settlements, eroded the viability of the two‑State solution; that country’s provocative actions targeting the status and sanctity of Al-Haram al-Sharif were not helpful for the possibility of a peaceful coexistence. “All of these combined breed desperation, alienate and radicalize people, and fuel extremism in the region,” he stressed. Welcoming developments towards reconciliation and unity among the Palestinians, he said Palestine was “doing its part” and Israel must now do the same. The international community should ensure the recognition of the State of Palestine by more countries and provide political and financial assistance to UNRWA.
AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) highlighted that his country had recently managed to bring the Palestinian leadership together in signing the reconciliation agreement, which sought to end existing political divisions. He called on the international community to take advantage of the historic opportunity that had been presented through the signing of that agreement and help bring about a two‑State solution. Both the Israelis and Palestinians would continue to have a claim to the Holy Lands, he said, emphasizing the importance of finding a rational solution. Settlement of the dispute was not impossible, he said, and in that connection, the United Nations had a crucial role to play. The existing United Nations resolutions created an important context and framework which could finally allow for a just settlement of the dispute, through direct negotiations by both parties.Read more
on the Annual Report on the implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy
The European Parliament,
– having regard to the Annual Report from the Council to the European Parliament on the common foreign and security policy,
– having regard to Articles 21 and 36 of the Treaty on European Union,
– having regard to the Charter of the United Nations,
– having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management,
– having regard to the declaration by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) on political accountability,
– having regard to the 2016 European External Action Service (EEAS) communication on a Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign And Security Policy and the 2017 Commission and EEAS joint communication on a Strategic Approach to Resilience in the EU’s External Action,
– having regard to the key principles enshrined in the Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy, particularly those pertaining to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states, and the inviolability of borders, being equally respected by all participating states,
– having regard to the joint communication from the Commission and VP/HR of 12 December 2011 entitled ‘Human rights and democracy at the heart of EU external action – towards a more effective approach’ (COM(2011)0886),
– having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,
– having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0350/2017),
1. Is convinced that no single Member State alone is able to tackle the challenges we face today; emphasises that common EU action is the most effective way to preserve Europe’s interests, uphold its values, engage in a wider world as a united and influential global actor and protect its citizens and Member States from increased threats to their security, including in a global digital sphere; is concerned about the EU’s security architecture, which remains fragile and fragmented in the face of continued and fresh challenges every day and in which a ‘hybrid peace’ has become an unsatisfactory reality; urges the Member States to take action and fulfil the wishes of those European citizens who have repeatedly stressed that EU foreign and security policy based on fundamental values and human rights is one of the most important and most necessary of all EU policies; considers that it is high time that Member States implement Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) tools, instruments and policies to enable the EU to respond to external conflicts and crises, build partners’ capacities and protect the European Union;
2. Recalls the EU’s commitment to develop a Common Foreign and Security Policy guided by the values of democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and compliance with the UN Charter and international law; considers that, in order to live up to this commitment and to contribute to advancing human rights and democracy in the world, the EU and its Member States need to speak with a united voice and ensure that their message is heard;
3. Takes the view that, in order for the EU to succeed in addressing and overcoming the challenges it faces, and in particular security threats, it needs to be an effective, credible and values-based global player, with a capacity for action and effective dialogue with other global players, which implies the EU speaking with one voice, acting together and focusing its resources on strategic priorities;
4. Stresses the need for the EU’s external policies to be consistent with each other and with other policies with an external dimension, and to pursue the objectives set out in Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union;
5. Believes that the core milestones for the European Union to deliver on the expectations of its citizens are:
– coordination of an assessment of profound threats and challenges within the EU and a common approach in how to address them; taking into account in particular the prevention of radicalisation, which can lead to recruitment by terrorist groups,
– consolidation and deepening of the European project and its external action by, inter alia, enhancing the EU’s cooperation and capabilities in the field of its common foreign and security policy, including information warfare,
– cooperation between Member States, partners, and international organisations and institutions protecting peace within clearly defined and carefully chosen conditions to strengthen the rules-based, global political and economic order, including the protection of human rights, and working together with partners to play a leading role in reconciliation, peacemaking, peacekeeping and, where needed, peace enforcement;
Coordination of an assessment of profound threats and challenges: facing the current political and security environment
6. Emphasises that guaranteeing the security of EU citizens and the integrity of the EU’s territory, stabilising the neighbourhood, especially in the Western Balkans with a focus on more visibility of the EU in this region, promoting reforms to preserve a rules-based, cooperative political and economic international order, tackling the root causes of armed conflicts and enhancing policies of conflict prevention, peaceful conflict resolution and dialogue with pluralist democracies committed to the defence of human rights, are the key conditions for the stability of the EU; calls on more active EU public diplomacy and greater visibility for projects implemented by the EU;
7. Is of the view that, in an increasingly conflict-ridden and unstable international environment, only a combination of effective multilateralism, joint soft power and credible hard power can be capable of confronting major security challenges, notably the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the violation of the security order in Europe, terrorism, conflicts in the Eastern and Southern neighbourhood, proxy wars, hybrid and information warfare, including digital aggression, and energy insecurity; highlights that these challenges also include the refugee crises in its humanitarian dimension, challenging aggressive behaviour by North Korea, the violation of international law by Russia and China’s growing military power, for which only a strong diplomatic response will suffice;
8. Is of the opinion that a more effective common foreign and security policy depends primarily on the establishment of common strategic priorities and visions; takes the view that it is necessary to tackle the root causes of instability, spread largely because of failed or fragile states, and of forced and irregular migration: poverty, the lack of economic opportunities and access to education, social exclusion, armed conflicts, undemocratic and inefficient governance, corruption, climate change, increasing sectarianism, the threat of radicalisation and the spread of extremist ideologies; recalls the action plan adopted at the Valletta Summit calling for a shared responsibility of countries of origin, transit and destination; emphasises the importance of breaking the economic model of smuggler networks;
9. Underlines the need to counter autocratic and nepotistic trends, to intensify support for democratic forces and to fight against Islamist terrorism in the Southern neighbourhood and among the neighbours of our neighbours and partners, and to target those groups which seek to encourage EU citizens to fight for their extremist cause; recalls that the Sahel region and other connected geographical areas are priority regions for ensuring the security of the European Union; reiterates the need for concerted diplomatic efforts on the part of the EU, the US and other international partners, to work with players in the region, such as Turkey, the Gulf states and Iran, on the need for a clear position against religious extremism and terrorism, and to establish a common strategy to address this global challenge in line with the commitment undertaken at UN level to uphold international law and universal values; believes that diplomatic efforts should be accompanied by the wide range of other tools and instruments at the EU’s disposal, including those for the improvement of political, social and economic conditions conducive to the establishment and preservation of peace;
10. Believes that tackling violent extremism should go hand in hand with upholding universal human rights; stresses that the EU must counter and condemn state sponsors of radicalisation and terrorism, particularly where such support is given to entities listed by the EU as terror organisations; underlines the importance of strengthening cooperation with our partners experienced in combating terrorism;
11. Stresses that a sustainable solution to the Syrian crisis can only be achieved under the existing UN-agreed framework and needs to be based on an inclusive, Syrian-led political settlement involving all relevant stakeholders; continues to urge all members of the UN Security Council to honour their responsibilities with regard to the crisis; supports the call of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria on the ceasefire guarantor states to undertake urgent efforts to uphold the ceasefire regime;
12. Welcomes the EU strategy on Syria adopted in April 2017, which includes extending sanctions to persons involved in the development and use of chemical weapons; encourages the further extension of sanctions to those responsible for human rights violations; stresses that all those responsible for breaches of international law must be held accountable; reiterates its call for the EU and its Member States to explore with partners the creation of a Syria war crimes tribunal, pending a successful referral to the ICC; stresses the need for the EU to demonstrate full commitment in assisting the reconstruction of Syria after the conflict;
13. Calls on all parties involved, within and outside Libya, to support both the Libyan political agreement signed on 17 December 2015 and its resulting Presidential Council, which is the only authority recognised by the international community and the UN; underlines that solving the Libyan crisis is a prerequisite for stability in the Mediterranean; emphasises the importance of the Southern neighbourhood and the need to achieve a euro-Mediterranean space of peace, prosperity, stability and integration; underlines its strong support for the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with an independent, democratic, viable and contiguous Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security with the secure State of Israel; stresses the importance of ensuring coherence of EU policy on situations of occupation or annexation of territory;
14. Welcomes the continued successful implementation by all parties of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), agreed by the EU3 +3 with Iran; stresses that the continued full implementation of this agreement by all parties is key to global efforts on non-proliferation and conflict resolution in the Middle East; highlights that the JCPOA is a multilateral agreement that was endorsed by a UN Security Council resolution and cannot be changed unilaterally; stresses the security risk posed by Iran’s ballistic missile programme and underlines the need for full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which calls on Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology;
15. Notes that the US Treasury Department has officially updated its Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) counter-terrorism list to include the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC);
16. Expresses its deep concern about the ongoing humanitarian disaster in Yemen; emphasises once again that there can be no military solution to the prolonged conflict in Yemen and supports efforts undertaken by the EU and UN towards achieving the ceasefire and laying the ground for peace negotiations; takes the view that the EU must act to ensure the continued existence of ethnic-religious minorities in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and Syria;
17. Condemns the repeated use by Russia of its veto powers on the UN Security Council and considers it to undermine international efforts for peace and conflict resolution in Syria and the European Union’s southern neighbourhood more widely;
18. Acknowledges that further efforts should be made to make legal migration and mobility possible, including at bilateral level, by fostering well-managed mobility between and within continents, and by encouraging policies that promote regular channels for migration while fighting illegal networks that profit from vulnerable people; underlines the efforts taken by individual Member States in this regard and considers it essential to strengthen the legal and secure access path to Europe; regrets, in this regard, the lack of a genuine, balanced and credible European migration and asylum policy, as demonstrated by the ongoing crisis in the Mediterranean, and calls on the Council and the Member States to act accordingly;
19. Strongly believes that a new approach to the EU’s relations with its Eastern neighbours is needed; believes that supporting those countries that wish to have closer ties with the EU must be a top priority for EU foreign policy; believes that the prolongation of sanctions against individuals and entities in Russia is an inevitable outcome of the failure to implement the Minsk agreements and continues to see such implementation by all sides as the basis for a sustainable political solution to the conflict in Eastern Ukraine;
20. Emphasises that the possibility of more cooperative relations with Russia is contingent on Russia fully abiding by the European security order and international law; insists that the EU should keep open the option of further gradual sanctions if Russia continues to violate international law; reiterates its commitment to the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and all the other Eastern Partnership countries within their internationally recognised borders; stresses that Russia’s decision of 21 March 2014 to incorporate Crimea into the Russian Federation remains illegal under international law and deplores the subsequent decision by the Russian authorities to forcefully impose Russian passports on all inhabitants of Crimea; calls on the VP/HR and the Council to play a more active and effective role in solving protracted and frozen conflicts;
21. Deplores Russia’s multiple violations of international law and its hybrid warfare; recognises, however, the possibility of reasoned and coherent selective engagement and dialogue with Russia in areas of common interest, in order to ensure accountability and respect for international law; stresses the need to maintain and encourage the possibility of future cooperation on resolving global crises where there is a direct or indirect EU interest or an opportunity to promote EU values;
22. Believes that normalised relations are a necessity for both the EU and Russia, and that any future EU-Russia strategy should emphasise reinforced commitment and support for the EU’s Eastern Partners; stresses that the EU should keep the door open for deepening the bilateral political and economic relationship with Russia, subject to Russia complying with international law and subscribed agreements, and halting its increasingly assertive attitude towards its neighbours and Europe;
23. Reiterates that sovereignty, independence and the peaceful settlement of disputes are key principles of the European security order which apply to all states; condemns unreservedly, therefore, Russian aggression in Ukraine, including the illegal annexation of Crimea and the Russian-sponsored conflict in Eastern Ukraine; calls on the EU, its Member States and the international community to demand that Russia must halt its aggression and release all political prisoners; calls for the international community to play a more active and effective role in the resolution of the conflict and to support all efforts for a lasting peaceful solution which respects the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, in particular by the deployment – with the consent of the Ukrainian authorities – of a peace-building and peace-keeping mission to the whole territory;
24. Reiterates the need for a strategic refocus on the Western Balkans, recognising that the EU should follow through with its ambitions in the region, as doing so would give a fresh impetus to a credible EU enlargement policy based on the Copenhagen criteria, and strengthen the rule of law and the resilience of state institutions; believes that the stability of the Western Balkans must continue to be a major priority; calls for more efforts in improving the socio-economic and political conditions of the region; is convinced that European integration and regional reconciliation are the best means to address the dangers stemming from destabilising foreign interference and influences, the funding of large Salafist and Wahhabi networks and the recruitment of foreign fighters, organised crime, major state disputes, disinformation and hybrid threats; stresses the need to remain dedicated to fostering highly effective political societies in the region;
25. Reiterates that once all those criteria have been met, the doors of the EU are open for membership; welcomes recent efforts undertaken as part of the Berlin Process and Trieste Summit to give additional impetus to the convergence of Western Balkan countries towards EU membership; reiterates that special attention and support should be given to the implementation of crucial institutional and political reforms in the Western Balkans and calls on the Commission to rethink the possibility for additional allocation of financial resources for the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA), as one of the most important tools for aiding the implementation of those reforms;
26. Recalls that the review of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) calls for the involvement of neighbouring third countries; calls for stronger support for the neighbours of our neighbours, on the basis of shared values and interests, in order to tackle global issues and address common challenges; highlights the need to promote the empowerment and protection of women, vulnerable social groups and minorities, in particular in Africa, where close cooperation between European and local SMEs, in partnership with civil society, and where support for building democratic, transparent and effective institutions and the promotion of a rule-based global order, are needed;
27. Considers international cooperation and development policies to be fundamental instruments for achieving such objectives and urges a more transparent, improved, efficient and effective allocation and use of EU funding, and greater synergies with other international organisations; emphasises the need to address the major security threats in Africa with a view to eradicating the terrorist threat posed by any terrorist group, to guarantee the prevention of the recruitment of individuals, to combat radical ideologies and to address energy security by means of environmentally friendly and sustainable energy sources while at the same time promoting off-grid solutions;
28. Strongly condemns any attempt by incumbent presidents to overstay in power by violating, evading or unlawfully amending electoral laws, and constitutions in particular; condemns, by the same token, any strategy to abolish or circumvent term limits; urges all governments to take measures to ensure the transparency and integrity of the entire electoral process, and to take all necessary measures and precautions to prevent the perpetration of fraud or any illegal practices; expresses its concern, in this regard, about the political crises, and related violence and violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular in countries in the Great Lakes Region; reiterates its belief in strong electoral observation missions, and, where necessary, financial, technical and logistical support as a means of achieving fair, credible and democratic electoral processes;
29. Encourages the development of a coherent, robust strategy for the Sahel region aimed at improving governance and the accountability and legitimacy of state and regional institutions, at boosting security, at tackling radicalisation and the trafficking of people, arms and drugs, and at strengthening economic and development policies;
30. Reiterates the need for an updated strategy for EU-Asia relations; voices support in this context for stronger cooperation within the framework of the Asia-Europe Meetings, including in terms of its parliamentary dimension; encourages support for closer regional cooperation and trust-building measures in South Asia with a view to reducing tensions between India and Pakistan; recommends continued support for EU peace mediation in the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process; stresses that preserving peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region is of substantial interest to the EU and its Member States; considers it vital and of great urgency to develop an updated EU strategy for the North-East Asia region in the light of the continued military build-up and the aggressive and irresponsible attitude shown by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK); condemns the tests and provocations by the DPRK, and its multiple violations of UN Security Council resolutions and international obligations; urges the EU’s diplomatic power to be used to apply pressure on the DPRK to persuade its leaders to abandon weapons of mass destruction; calls for the mobilisation of all diplomatic tools, including sanctions, in order to prevent an escalation of this crisis; calls for the irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula by peaceful means and for the full implementation of all relevant UN Security Council resolutions;
31. Stresses that preserving peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region is of substantial interest to the EU and its Member States; calls on all the parties concerned to resolve differences through peaceful means and to refrain from taking unilateral action to change the status quo, including in the East and South China Seas and the Taiwan Strait, in order to safeguard regional security; reiterates its commitment to supporting Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organisations and activities;
32. Recalls that Latin America shares with the EU common values, principles and trust in effective multilateralism and believes that the EU-Latin American partnership is important and should be strengthened in order to jointly address major global challenges; expresses its grave concern about the attacks carried out against members of the judiciary and the democratically elected opposition and civil society leaders in Venezuela; emphasises that respect for the rule of law, the fight against corruption, progress towards democracy, and fundamental freedoms and human rights are cornerstones for deeper integration and cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC);
33. Reiterates its support for the peace process in Colombia, which is critical for the future of Colombians and for stabilisation in the region; demands that all FARC assets, including the treasure obtained from drug smuggling, be used to indemnify victims of the conflict;
Consolidation and deepening of the European project through enhanced EU capabilities
34. Urges the Commission, the EEAS and the Member States to adopt an EU comprehensive approach at every relevant opportunity, and believes that coherent, coordinated action across EU polices, while taking into consideration and implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals, in particular in the areas of humanitarian aid, agriculture, development, trade, energy, climate, science and cyber defence and security, should be applied in the EU’s external action in a consistent and structured manner in order to harness the EU’s collective force; believes that energy security, the respect for human rights and climate diplomacy remain important complementary aspects of the EU’s common foreign and security policy to be addressed as part of the comprehensive approach, and that the Energy Union should be further advanced;
35. Recognises that climate change could have a serious effect on regional and global stability, as global warming disputes over territory, food, water and other resources weaken economies, threaten regional security, and act as a source of migratory flows; further encourages the EU and its Member States to consider how national and EU military planning can include climate change adaption strategies and what would be considered an appropriate capability, priority and response;
36. Stresses that the future of European defence cooperation is significantly affected by the decision of the United Kingdom to withdraw from the EU, and calls for the continued engagement of the EU and UK as major international partners in order to maintain European security; stresses that the presidential elections in the United States introduced uncertainty into the transatlantic partnership and highlights the need for a counterweight for EU defence and the establishment of strategic autonomy;
37. Takes the view, that in order to make the Common Foreign and Security policy more assertive, effective and values-based, the EU should enhance its energy security, by immediately reducing its dependence, at present, on oil and gas supplied by authoritarian regimes, and by stopping it altogether in the medium term;
38. Stresses that the current decision-making process for the CFSP, based on unanimity in the Council of the EU, is the main obstacle to effective and timely external EU action; is of the opinion that qualified majority voting should also be applied for the CFSP; takes the view that the EU institutions must improve their ability to anticipate conflicts and crises, including by means of short- and long-term impact assessments of its policies, in order to address the root causes of the problems; believes that the EU needs to be able to react more swiftly and effectively to developing crises and should place greater emphasis on preventing conflicts by primarily using civilian tools at an early stage; calls on the Member States to put into practice Parliament’s recommendations to embrace the principle of Responsibility to Protect; stresses the need to deepen cooperation between the Member States, partner countries and international organisations, and underlines the importance of an effective exchange of information and coordination of preventive actions;
39. Calls on the VP/HR, the Commission and the Member States to step up their efforts to increase the EU’s ability to confront hybrid and cyber threats, to further strengthen the capacity of the EU and its partner countries to fight fake news and disinformation, to draw up clear criteria to facilitate the detection of fake news, to allocate more resources and turn the Stratcom task force into a fully-fledged unit within the EEAS; calls, in this regard, for the development of joint, comprehensive risk and vulnerability analysis capacities and methods, and for the EU’s resilience and strategic communication capabilities to be bolstered; stresses the role of independent media – both on- and offline – in promoting cultural diversity and intercultural competences, and the need to strengthen such media as a source of credible information, especially in the EU and its neighbourhood, and underlines that common EU TV and radio stations should be further enhanced; calls on the Commission to coordinate better with the EEAS and Member States on those issues;
40. Is of the view that Europe’s power resides in its ability to strengthen a community of values and respect for the diversity of culture that binds together all Europeans; believes, in this context, that the EU plays a major role as a promoter of democracy, freedom, the rule of law, human rights and equal opportunities, and should continue to promote its values outside the EU; recalls that human rights are an integral part of the CFSP and should form a central conditionality of external policies, and furthermore that these policies must be consistent and principled; highlights that cultural diplomacy should become a substantial part of the EU’s external action and urges the Commission to expand the Erasmus+ programme and foster the development of ambitious science diplomacy; calls for closer coordination with the UNESCO and World Heritage Committee and with non-state actors and civil society organisations as key partners of the EU;
41. Points out that it was noted in UN Security Council Resolution 1820(2008) of 19 June 2008 that rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute a war crime, a crime against humanity, or a constitutive act with respect to genocide, and that women must be afforded humanitarian protection in situations of armed conflict;
42. Considers that the development of a strong defence industry is strengthening the technological independence of the EU; calls for the industrial and technological resources needed to improve cybersecurity to be developed, including through the promotion of a single market for cybersecurity products; calls for significantly increased financial and human resources to be made available within the EU institutions in order to increase the EU’s cyber security and cyber defence capacity; emphasises the need to mainstream cyber defence into external action and common foreign and security policy, as well as the need for an improved ability to identify cybercrime;
43. Notes that information and cyber warfare, targeting EU Member States and other Western countries, is a deliberate attempt to destabilise and discredit political, economic and social structures; recalls that the security of EU Member States which are NATO members is guaranteed under Article 5 of the Alliance; calls for closer coordination on cyber defence between EU Member States, EU institutions, NATO, the United States and other credible partners;
44. Stresses the role of independent media in promoting cultural diversity and intercultural competences, and the need to strengthen such media as a source of credible information, especially in the EU and its neighbourhood, and to further strengthen the EU’s capacity to fight fake news and disinformation; highlights in this context the need to develop stronger resilience at EU level against such information spread over the Internet; calls on the Commission to coordinate better with the EEAS on those issues;
45. Believes that Europe should further strengthen cooperation on common defence, in order to defend its common values and principles and strategic autonomy; stresses the importance of the link between external and internal security, better use of resources and risk control in the periphery of Europe; recalls that the link between development and security is a key principle underpinning the Union’s approach to external crises and conflicts; calls on the Member States to unleash the Lisbon Treaty’s full potential with regard to the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and welcomes in this context the Implementation Plan on Security and Defence; encourages a review of the EU’s approach to civilian CSDP missions in order to ensure they are properly devised, implemented and supported; considers that European Defence Agency (EDA) capabilities and permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) and the EU Battlegroups should be used to their full potential; urges the Member States to provide additional funding to that end;
46. Believes that the European Union and its Member States must develop effective foreign and security policy, and must work together with NATO and other international partners, the UN, NGOs, human rights defenders, and others on issues of shared concern and in order to promote peace, prosperity and stability around the world; highlights the importance of raising awareness and political commitment for an urgent implementation of an ambitious, effective and structured CSDP; urges the Council, the Commission and the Member States to address the EU’s communication problems by making EU external action more accountable and visible; calls on the Member States and the EU institutions to deliver on defence following the EU Global Strategy and the Commission’s plans to improve EU defence research and capability development;
47. Calls on the Commission to fully reflect the growing security challenges in its proposal for the next multiannual financial framework (MFF); considers that both the size and the flexibility of the CFSP budget must match EU citizens’ expectations about the EU’s role as a security provider; insists on the need for a global vision for EU policy and instruments in the field of security, including fruitful coordination with the proposed European Defence Fund; calls on the Member States to aim for the target of spending 2 % of GDP on defence, and to spend 20 % of their defence budgets on equipment identified as necessary by the EDA; points out, in addition, that any new policy must be backed by funding from new sources; notes that various Member States have difficulty in maintaining a very broad range of fully operational defensive capabilities, mostly because of financial constraints; calls for more cooperation and coordination, therefore, about which capabilities should be maintained, so that Member States can specialise in certain capabilities and spend their resources more efficiently; believes that interoperability is key if Member States’ forces are to be more compatible and integrated; recalls that CFSP appropriations represented 3.6 % of the Heading 4 commitments in 2016 and 0.2 % of the whole EU budget; regrets that the size and under-implementation of and systematic transfers from the CFSP chapter reveal a persistent lack of ambition for the EU to act as a global player;
48. Notes that deadlocks within the UN Security Council are impeding action by the international community and preventing crisis resolution; calls once again on the Member States to support reforms in the composition and functioning of the Security Council;
Cooperation within coalitions and with institutions delivering security
49. Underlines that it is in the EU’s strategic interest to preserve and deepen its transatlantic relations based on respect for common values, international law and multilateralism; calls for the EU to continue to develop its strategic autonomy and create its own capabilities to better address regional and international conflicts that have an impact on the EU; believes that the EU and US should focus on adapting transatlantic structures to today’s challenges, such as defending human rights, tackling climate change, combating international terrorism and corruption, the prevention of radicalisation, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and countering third-party countries’ efforts to destabilise the EU and NATO; further stresses the importance of continued and reinforced cooperation between the EU and US bilaterally and through NATO on common issues; recalls that the EU and the US are each other’s most important partners and that unilateral moves serve only to weaken the transatlantic partnership; believes that Europe must further enhance a virtuous alliance between the private and public sectors and should reinforce the strategic relationship with the US; calls on the Council and the EEAS to consistently raise the issue of US extraterritorial sanctions in their dialogue with the US Government;
50. Strongly supports the 2016 Warsaw Summit Declaration, particularly on EU-NATO cooperation, and welcomes decisions on closer cooperation between NATO and the EU in numerous areas as well as the placement of US, Canadian and other multinational forces at the Eastern flank of the EU;
51. Calls for increased intelligence sharing between Member States, increased interinstitutional intelligence sharing, and coordination between the EU, Member States and NATO, and insists that they must continue to cooperate as closely as possible in a complementary manner while fully respecting European core values and norms; acknowledges that information sharing and coordinated action between the EU, its Member States and NATO will produce results in areas such as terrorism response to hybrid threats, situational awareness, resilience building, strategic communications, cyber security and capacity-building vis-à-vis the EU’s partners; believes that further coordination and closer cooperation with other existing multilateral entities such as Eurocorps is needed in order to increase the EU’s security; reiterates that a revitalisation of the strategic partnerships should be a priority for the EU;
52. Underlines the role of Parliament in shaping a genuinely common foreign policy in line with the expectations of European citizens; calls on the Council to act in concert with Parliament during the main phases of foreign policy decision-making;
53. Acknowledges the work of the VP/HR and calls for her to continue to ensure that future annual reports will be more concise and forward-looking, focusing on the most important priorities for the year ahead and an evaluation of the measures launched in the previous year, including their financial implications, in order to provide a comprehensive overview on the EU’s performance;
54. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the Member States.Read more
United States Urges Greater Focus on Border Controls, Aviation Security, as Russian Federation Cites ‘Comprehensive Prosecution’ Effort
With violent extremists having suffered defeats in Syria and Iraq, the international community must step up cooperation to address the complex problem of foreign terrorist fighters returning home or travelling to other regions, the senior‑most United Nations official on that issue told the Security Council today.
“This is a truly global challenge that demands an urgent and concerted multilateral response,” emphasized Vladimir Voronkov, Under‑Secretary‑General and Head of the Office of Counter‑Terrorism. Joining Mr. Voronkov in briefing members were Michele Coninsx, Executive Director of the Counter‑Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) and Kairat Umarov (Kazakhstan) in his capacity as Chair of the Security Council 1267/1989 Sanctions Committee on Al‑Qaida and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and associated groups.
Mr. Voronkov said that, at one stage more than 40,000 foreign terrorist fighters from 110 countries might have travelled to join the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. The flow to that region had decreased significantly, but terrorists had tried to relocate to such countries as Libya, Yemen and Afghanistan, fuelling existing conflicts and further destabilizing the region. The affected countries needed international support to address the threat, he stressed.
Of at least 5,600 fighters from 33 States who had returned home, many were trained and equipped to carry out attacks in their own countries, he said. Others hoped to recruit new followers and yet others had rejected terrorist ideologies and posed no threat. There was a need to enhance cooperation, improve the exchange of information, and ensure effective border controls and stronger criminal justice systems, in accordance with the rule of law and human rights standards.
Ms. Coninsx outlined many of the challenges confronting States in building capacity to address the problems posed by travelling terrorist fighters. One example was that fewer than 60 States had so far introduced measures requiring airlines to provide advance passenger information.
Mr. Umarov said that, in addressing the movement of terrorists, his Committee was working to ensure that its sanctions list was updated and as accurate as possible. He encouraged Member States to be active in proposing individuals and entities, including foreign terrorist fighters, for listing under the sanctions regime.
Delegates then took the floor, expressing concern over the threat of foreign terrorist fighters and describing their national initiatives to implement relevant Council resolutions. They affirmed the need for more effective international cooperation on the issue, particularly in sharing information and working with INTERPOL and other relevant actors.
Some delegates discussed the scope of the problem in relation to their own citizens. For example, France’s representative reported that 688 French nationals were currently in Syria and Iraq, with 244 adults and 59 minors having returned from the region since 2013. France’s combination of legislative and policy responses ranged from breaking up recruitment networks to providing support for families, while reintegrating and monitoring returnees, he added.
As various delegates emphasized the need to balance criminal responses against reintegration efforts, Egypt’s representative stressed the importance of universally criminalizing the crossing of borders to join terrorist groups, and of all individuals engaged in that activity to face accountability.
The Russian Federation’s representative said his country carried out comprehensive prosecution of those who recruited or travelled for terrorism, adding that it was pointless to consider rehabilitation programmes outside the criminal justice system.
Some delegates stressed the need for advanced passenger information and updated identification methods so as to keep pace with the changing tactics used by terrorists. Japan’s representative said his country was prioritizing the use of such biometric tools as fingerprint readers capable of identifying altered prints. Several others urged the United Nations to help build further capacity in those areas, with the representative of the United States calling for greater Security Council focus on border and aviation security.
Also speaking today were representatives of Bolivia, Uruguay, United Kingdom, Senegal, Ethiopia, Ukraine, Sweden, China and Italy.
The meeting began at 3:05 p.m. and ended at 5:15 p.m.
VLADIMIR VORONKOV, Under‑Secretary‑General, United Nations Office of Counter‑Terrorism, expressing solidarity with the people and Governments of countries that had recently suffered terrorist attacks, said that at one stage, more than 40,000 foreign terrorist fighters from 110 countries might have travelled to join the conflict in Syria and Iraq. As Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) had suffered defeats and Member States had implemented better measures to prevent travel, the flow of fighters to the region had significantly decreased, but terrorists had tried to relocate to countries such as Libya, Yemen and Afghanistan, fuelling existing conflicts and further destabilizing the region. Countries affected needed international support to address the threat.
Of at least 5,600 fighters from 33 countries who had returned home, many were equipped to carry out attacks in their own countries, he said, while others hoped to recruit new followers and still others had rejected terrorist ideologies and posed no threat. “This is a truly global challenge that demands an urgent and concerted multilateral response”, he said. Enhanced cooperation, information exchange, effective border controls and stronger criminal justice systems, in accordance with the rule of law and human rights standards, was needed.
The Counter-Terrorism Office, responding to recommendations of the Security Council, had developed a comprehensive plan to build capacity for confronting the threat of foreign fighters, coordinating the efforts of 38 United Nations entities. The plan addressed the full life cycle of fighters, including projects related to prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration, to support Member States in their efforts to address returnees. The latest version describes 50 projects with a total $107 million budget over five years.
His Office, he said, was collaborating with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to ensure respect for rights, the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) for information sharing, and a number of agencies to deliver a project on Advanced Passenger Information for Member States most affected by foreign fighters. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), meanwhile, supported Member States in the management of violent extremist prisoners and in preventing radicalization in prisons. One project aimed to help States develop policies for child returnees in a gender‑sensitive approach. Thus far, his Office and Member States had contributed only 41 per cent of the resources needed, he said, signalling a need for more funding to build State capacities to counter the threats.
There was no easy response to the enormous challenge of returning foreign fighters, he said. They could neither all be thrown in prison nor all kept from coming back without violating human rights standards. Rehabilitation and reintegration programmes must therefore be developed alongside prosecution efforts that accompanied the various stages of the criminal justice process. Ultimately, the underlying conditions conducive to young men and women being lured into violent extremism must be addressed. He welcomed the growing emphasis to address that problem at regional, national and local levels.
Introducing a report on understanding foreign fighters in Syria published by his Office, he said there was no single profile: Unresolved conflicts, inter‑communal violence and a desire to help those from the same religion perceived as victimized were some of the motivations. Motivations for leaving Syria included disappointment or disillusionment due to many factors. The family network, particularly mothers, exerted some of the strongest pressure to return home.
With United Nations support, Member States, meanwhile, were strengthening their legal frameworks and criminal systems, he said, and enhancing collaboration to prevent and respond to the threat from foreign terrorist fighters. Stronger cooperation was needed between Governments and security agencies, however, within respect for human rights. For that reason, the Secretary‑General would convene the first‑ever Summit of Heads of Counter‑Terrorism Agencies next year.
MICHELE CONINSX, Executive Director, United Nations Counter‑Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, said that despite recent successes, the international community faced significant challenges in countering the global terrorist threat, especially the activities of foreign terrorist fighters. Over the past two years, the return of such fighters to their States of origin had accelerated, as a consequence of ISIL’s losses in Iraq, Syria and Libya. Over the same period, terrorist plots resulting in fatalities had increased dramatically, owing in part to the returnees, but also to the ways in which terrorists used information and communications technologies. Of particular concern were attacks carried out by lone terrorists. Investigations had shown that those loners received support, often via the Internet or social media.
She said fewer than 60 States had thus far introduced measures requiring airlines to provide advance passenger information, and many required assistance in establishing the necessary connectivity between national databases and border posts. They also faced legal challenges relating to the transfer and protection of data. Meanwhile, international cooperation had been undermined by practical and political challenges, as well as by inconsistent compliance with human rights obligations. States should do more to downgrade and share intelligence on foreign terrorist fighters and those who returned to their countries of origin or relocated to third countries, she said, adding that efforts to bring suspected foreign terrorist fighters to justice had been undermined by the difficulty of collecting sufficient evidence from conflict zones.
Member States faced challenges in implementing strategies to disrupt the financing of returnees and small cells, she said, and many would require assistance in prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration strategies. She called on the Council to work tirelessly to build on progress achieved since the adoption of resolution 2178 (2014), an instrument which had mobilized the international community. Many States had criminalized travel by foreign terrorist fighters, as well as the organization and financing of terrorist groups, she said, and had improved domestic inter‑agency information‑sharing. International judicial and law enforcement cooperation had also been strengthened.
For its part, the Executive Directorate was working to strengthen State efforts to counter violent extremism, she said, noting that it had conducted 45 assessment visits and drafted three analytical reports identifying gaps in States’ legal frameworks, accompanied by recommendations. The Counter‑Terrorism Committee had approved a set of guiding principles — the “Madrid Principles” — offering a holistic approach to implementing flexible prosecution strategies. The Executive Directorate had updated the Technical Guide to the implementation of Council resolution 1373 (2001), and assisted in both a regional programme with UNODC for the Maghreb countries and a global programme on gathering digital evidence.
In addition, she said, the Executive Directorate had strengthened its cooperation with INTERPOL, including on the use of biometric data and in the implementation of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Traveller Identification Programme Strategy. The effective development and use of biometrics, advance passenger identification systems and passenger name records systems was vital to the detection of foreign terrorist fighters and returnees. “It takes networks to beat networks,” she said.
KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan), speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015), outlined that body’s activities since its last briefing on 11 May 2017. Noting that the threat from ISIL/Da’esh, Al‑Qaida and affiliates had evolved since that time — including by delegating decision‑making to local commanders and switching to encrypted communication — he said ISIL also continued to use external attacks by its members and sympathizers as part of its response. “Increasingly, ISIL is transforming from a territorially grounded organization into a terror network of cells around the globe,” he said, adding that it sent funds to its affiliates worldwide.
While ISIL/Da’esh was being physically weakened, he said its presence in the virtual world was entrenched, posing a serious threat to international peace and security. It used Internet propaganda both for radicalization and the recruitment of fighters, employing sophisticated manipulation and brainwashing techniques. Noting that the flow of foreign terrorist fighters into Iraq and Syria had slowed due to military pressure and improved border control, he said those fighters returning home or relocating presented another threat to global security, as they had the potential to re‑energize existing terrorist networks or spur the growth of new ones.
Noting that the European Union had significantly increased its exchange of information on foreign terrorist fighters, he said efforts by ISIL to carry out attacks inside the bloc nevertheless demonstrated the group’s potential to recruit and motivate its followers. There was also concern that foreign terrorist fighters hailing from Central Asia would return from conflict zones and bring terror to that region, and that Southeast Asia was increasingly attracting such fighters. Foreign terrorist fighters also continued to pose threats in Libya, Tunisia, Afghanistan and on the Arab peninsula, particularly in Yemen.
As Chair of the Committee, he said he was working to address those challenges by visiting countries including Singapore, Malaysia, Afghanistan, the Russian Federation and Uzbekistan, where he had attended a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on fighting terrorism across borders. The Committee was working to ensure that its sanctions list was updated and as accurate as possible, he said, noting that it currently included 256 individuals and 80 entities. Pledging to hold regular open meetings with Member States, he encouraged them to propose individuals and entities for listing on the sanctions regime, including foreign terrorist fighters.
MICHELE J. SISON (United States) said extraordinary progress had been made against ISIL/Da’esh, noting that resolution 2178 (2014) had facilitated international cooperation to identify, stop and prosecute foreign fighters. It also had spurred efforts to address the underlying factors of extremism. However, the threat posed by foreign fighters persisted, including by returning fighters who could carry out terrorist attacks in the name of ISIL/Da’esh. The terrorist ideology would not simply fade away with the defeat of ISIL/Da’esh in Iraq and Syria, she said, pressing the Council to address the evolving challenge and adopt a new resolution. Council action should stress the need for border and aviation security, by developing standards and advanced passenger information. Efforts must be strengthened to improve prosecution and reintegration of foreign fighters. There was also a need for the United Nations to be more coordinated in confronting the threat, notably for the Counter‑Terrorism Committee to harmonize its efforts with the sanctions committees to confront a decentralized enemy.
PEDRO LUIS INCHAUSTE JORDÁN (Bolivia) said the emergence of foreign terrorist fighters demonstrated that terrorism was not associated with one religious or ethnic group. The international response should use all means set out in the Charter of the United Nations. Foreign terrorist fighters did not arise overnight, he said, but were the result of radicalization, a situation made possible by weak States, the absence of border controls and intervention from other States. There was a need for more effective information sharing, and for coordination among the Council’s various committees and bodies. States of origin of combatants should implement development policies and all efforts of regional and international organizations should be based on inclusion and stability. Those responsible for terrorist acts, finally, should be brought to justice.
ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay) said it was difficult to understand how, despite all efforts, terrorists continued to carry out their destructive actions. The Executive Directorate and other bodies had identified good practices, while the sanctions committees had contributed to raising awareness. Border control and advanced passenger information were important tools, he said, but security measures were not enough. Many terrorists did not have criminal records and were citizens of the countries in which they executed their attacks. It was therefore necessary to prevent radicalization. “The bulwarks of peace need to be built in the minds of men”, he said. States had the primary responsibility to prevent the spread of violent extremism, and religious leaders had an important role to play in that regard. Strengthening institutions and the rule of law, respect for human rights, and religious tolerance all helped to diminish intolerance and extremism, he said.
MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom), noting the collapse of Da’esh in recent weeks, said it was possible, by working collectively, to defeat the global terrorist plague. As the terrorist threat evolved, returning foreign terrorist fighters posed a particular risk as many members wanted to export their fight or were still committed to Da’esh. There was a need to tackle home‑grown violent extremism and its spread online by being proactive. While resolution 2178 (2014) had established binding measures to prevent foreign fighters from traveling, a new resolution on returning foreign fighters was necessary. For its part, the United Kingdom was sharing information, creating watch lists and working with partners to ensure de‑radicalization programmes for returning fighters. It would keep up efforts to combat use of the Internet by terrorists. Eradication of the threat in the long term required tackling root causes, such as instability. A globally unified rejection of extremism and respect for human rights were indispensable in that regard, he said, stressing that prevention should be at the heart of all efforts.
GORGUI CISS (Senegal), expressing deep concern over the large flow of foreign terrorist fighters, welcomed the reporting efforts of the Executive Directorate. Addressing the complex problem would require full implementation of the related Council resolutions. An international, holistic approach was required to address root causes and counter the spread of extremist ideology. Strengthening the family was important as well. Senegal’s programmes in that regard prioritized education and engaged religious leaders, he said, stressing that regional cooperation was needed in sharing information, border control, passenger registration and other areas. For that reason, Senegal had centralized its intelligence services and updated its information systems. Yet, regional capacities in the Sahel needed much improvement. In addressing the return of fighters, it was critical to understand their original motivations and he called on the United Nations counter‑terrorism structures to coordinate efforts and help build Member States’ capacity.
FRANCOIS DELATTRE (France), noting that 688 French nationals were currently in Syria and Iraq, with 244 adults and 59 minors having returned from that region since 2013, said that French legislation had been adapted in response, with due respect for human rights. Dismantling recruitment networks, providing support for families and boosting international cooperation were part of the response, as was creating mechanisms for reintegration and monitoring of returnees, particularly minors. The United Nations had a primary role in coordinating global efforts to confront travelling fighters; cooperation strategies must be updated in information‑sharing, better border control, prosecution of foreign fighters and their reintegration. As close coordination between all counter‑terrorism committees was essential, he welcomed the appearance together of the heads of three bodies.
MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia), surveying the efforts being made to address the threat of foreign terrorist fighters and the scope of the problem itself, said that the assistance being provided by the United Nations to build capacity and formulate national strategies was critical. A purely domestic approach would not be sufficient, however, and a truly international effort was needed, as was much better cooperation. Not much would be achieved unless cooperation exceeded that within terrorist networks, she stated.
KORO BESSHO (Japan) said that even as ISIL/Da’esh was losing ground in Iraq and Syria, the threat of terror was spreading globally. The relevance of passenger information and name records systems was growing, as foreign terrorist fighters returned to their countries of origin or relocated to other States. With terrorists using forged documents and undergoing surgery to evade detection, he said Japan had prioritized the use of biometric tools, such as fingerprint readers capable of identifying altered fingerprints. He closed by stressing the importance of developing measures capable of combating the changing nature of terrorism.
VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) said the fight against ISIL/Da’esh was far from over, expressing concern that former fighters were ready to merge with any terrorist group and use their lethal skills acquired in Syria and Iraq. Another concern was terrorists’ abuse of asylum systems at a time of a huge migrant influx. While Ukraine had taken domestic measures, the terrorist threat in his country had been fuelled by external support, he said, emphasizing the essential need for rapid information sharing among States and ensuring broader use of advanced passenger information. Conducting proper investigations so that terrorists were apprehended and did not escape justice was also crucial. Caution was required in dealing with specific categories of returnees, notably minors, women, family members and disillusioned returnees who had committed less serious offences.
AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) said terrorist groups had been very successful in recruiting people from different countries and backgrounds. Thus, it was necessary to counter all political and economic conditions that lured those people to terrorism. The Internet and social media were important tools to recruit foreign fighters, but it was difficult to address that matter internationally, due to different constitutions and laws. He called for greater international cooperation to prevent terrorists from using the Internet, including by companies and civil society, stressing that returning foreign terrorist fighters should be prosecuted in the countries where they were arrested or in their country of origin. Rehabilitation was not enough; any foreign fighter must undergo justice. It was also indispensable to spread information on foreign terrorist fighters, including through the INTERPOL database, he said, asking why only a limited number of countries used the Advanced Passenger Information System.
EVGENY T. ZAGAYNOV (Russian Federation) said conflict areas in the Middle East had seen an unprecedented number of radicals from many countries, “drunk on extremism”. States should rigorously counter the travels of foreign terrorist fighters, he said, noting that States did not always implement resolution 2178 (2014). Monitoring by the Counter‑Terrorism Committee banning assistance to foreign terrorist fighters also had not begun, while the systems of legal assistance and extradition had become hostage to politics. A comprehensive approach to returning foreign terrorist fighters should ensure that terrorists were held criminally liable, with rehabilitation done within the framework of criminal prosecution. It was also important to ensure that foreign terrorist fighters fell under the existing sanctions regimes. He then described national efforts to address terrorism and terrorists.
IRINA SCHOULGIN-NYONI (Sweden) said all Member States were obliged to criminalize foreign terrorist fighter travel, training and financing. Sweden had amended its criminal legislation on terrorism to address that evolving threat. Since 2015, it had tried and convicted seven individuals for terrorism‑related offences, including for crimes committed abroad, she said. As part of its strong focus on prevention, it was putting in place mechanisms aimed at safeguarding individuals, and targeting those at risk of radicalization. A new national Center for the Prevention of Violent Extremism would be launched next year, while guidelines were being issued by the National Board of Health and Welfare to deal with returnees and defectors.
WU HAITAO (China) said the United Nations should lead cooperation to counter the threat of foreign terrorist fighters, following uniform standards, upholding the principles of the United Nations Charter and rejecting the association of terrorism with any culture or religion. To counter the threat of foreign fighters, information‑sharing platforms must be improved and the United Nations should continue to help Member States build capacity. Extremists must be stopped from using the Internet to recruit and coordinate for their networks. Building a more equitable future was critical as well. China was ready to cooperate with all countries to continue to address the threat of foreign terrorist fighters.
Mr. CARDI (Italy), Council President speaking in his national capacity, reviewed Council actions to combat the threat of foreign terrorist fighters and to build State capacity in that regard. He noted in particular the lack of adequate information‑sharing, a major area in which global cooperation must improve. He also noted Italy’s cooperation in international investigations and its training of a range of staff in information collection and sharing. Indeed, international best practices must be compiled and shared. Italy would support constant updating and strengthening of international efforts to address the threat.Read more
Representative Says Country Targeted in Media Campaign of Defamation, Cannot Be Held Responsible for Problems It Did Not Cause
Slavery and other grave human rights abuses affecting migrants and refugees travelling to North Africa and beyond constituted an abomination that could no longer be ignored, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees told the Security Council today.
Filippo Grandi said more than 116,000 people had crossed the sea from North Africa to Italy in 2017, many of them refugees. The international community’s inability to prevent and resolve conflict was at the root of their flight, he explained, adding that they were exposed to appalling harm, including torture, rape, sexual exploitation, slavery and other forms of forced labour. More than 17,000 refugees and migrants were currently detained in Libya, and many more were held by traffickers under the protection of well‑known militias.
He went on to state that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had successfully secured the release of almost 1,000 asylum seekers and refugees in 2017. Plans for a transit centre in Tripoli were awaiting endorsement by Libya’s Government of National Accord, he said, adding that he had called for 40,000 additional resettlement places in transit and asylum countries along central Mediterranean routes. However, to date, there were indications of just 10,500 places.
Robust measures were required to address human trafficking, for which UNHCR had made specific recommendations, including the freezing of assets, travel bans, disruption of revenues and materials, and robust prosecution of traffickers. Too often, previous methods had centred on how to control and deter, which could have a dehumanizing effect, he said, underlining the need for comprehensive investment in a set of political, security and human rights solutions. The Council’s leadership was critical to ensuring that outcome.
Also briefing the Council, William Lacy Swing, Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said that since the crisis in Libya, the agency had been trying to empty the detention centres. IOM was working with Libyan authorities and many other partners, he said, pointing out that it was the agency that had broken the story about slave trading. “It’s all about saving lives,” he said, emphasizing that he needed agreement from the Government to empty the centres. Staff were also needed to provide travel documents so that the vast majority of migrants who wished to go home could do so.
Other delegates went on to condemn the slave trading, stressing that it constituted crimes against humanity. They called for an end to impunity, including through investigations by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. Many speakers welcomed efforts to ensure humane treatment for migrants and refugees, including those initiated by IOM and UNHCR. Several speakers also called for support for the Libyan Government’s efforts to solidify its institutions, including the security sector, while underlining the need for a political solution to the situation there.
France’s representative said trafficking in persons constituted a major source of financing for terrorists and other armed groups, as well as a threat to international security. He emphasized the need to leverage all international justice resources in order to hold the perpetrators accountable, including through sanctions targeting individuals. Impunity could not be tolerated, he stressed.
Italy’s representative said human mobility and the situation in Libya remained at the centre of his country’s actions at the United Nations and in its November Council Presidency. Resolution 2388 (2017) underscored that trafficking and the smuggling of persons in the Sahel were further exacerbating conflict and instability in that region, he said, adding that it provided the legal basis for a victim‑centred approach.
Libya’s representative pledged that none of the perpetrators of the sale of human beings would be allowed impunity, while emphasizing that his country was undergoing a crisis of instability and could not bear the full burden of migrant flows through its territory. Describing Libya as the victim of a large‑scale media campaign of defamation, he said the international community must address the problem effectively by dealing with its root causes instead of contributing to the further defamation of his country. Hundreds of thousands of people were transiting through Libya during a very difficult time in its history, and the country should not be held responsible for international problems that it had not caused, he emphasized.
Also delivering statements were representatives of the United Kingdom, Ethiopia, Egypt, Sweden, Uruguay, Japan, United States, Senegal, China, Kazakhstan, Russian Federation, Ukraine and Bolivia.
The meeting began at 9:07 a.m. and ended at 11 a.m.
FILIPPO GRANDI, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, described slavery and other grave human rights abuses affecting migrants and refugees travelling towards North Africa and beyond as an abomination that could no longer be ignored. More than 116,000 people had crossed the sea from North Africa to Italy in 2017, many of them refugees. The international community’s inability to prevent and resolve conflict was at the root of their flight, he said, adding that they were exposed to appalling harm, including torture, rape, sexual exploitation, slavery and other forms of forced labour.
The situation in Libya was emblematic, he continued. More than 17,000 refugees and migrants were currently in detention, and many more were held by traffickers under the protection of well‑known militias. Bringing perpetrators to justice would be closely linked to progress on political solutions and functioning governance structures, he emphasized. Meanwhile, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had successfully secured the release of almost 1,000 asylum seekers and refugees in 2017, and plans for a transit centre in Tripoli were awaiting the Government’s endorsement, he said, adding that progress was discernible but modest. Security remained volatile, access to key locations was not possible and United Nations operations were managed remotely from Tunisia.
Rescue at sea remained a compelling imperative, he continued. Support for Libya’s border management authorities, including the coast guard, must be complemented by broader measures to strengthen reception and asylum systems, he said, stressing the need for more safe and legal pathways, including greater opportunities for resettlement and family reunification. He said that he had called for 40,000 additional resettlement places for transit and asylum countries along central Mediterranean routes, but to date, there were indications of just 10,500 places. He said that his Office also supported efforts to accelerate the voluntary return of migrants to their countries of origin, in conjunction with UNHCR engagement in identifying asylum seekers and refugees in need of international protection.
UNHCR also stood ready to work with Governments to strengthen refugees’ access to protection and solutions in the first country they reached, but the required resources were currently lacking, he said. Robust measures were required to address human trafficking, for which UNHCR had made specific recommendations, including the freezing of assets, travel bans, disruption of revenues and materials, and robust prosecution of traffickers. Too often, methods had centred on how to control and deter, which could have a dehumanizing effect, he said, underlining the need for comprehensive investments in a set of political, security and human rights solutions. The Council’s leadership was critical to ensuring that that happened.
WILLIAM LACY SWING, Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that since the crisis in Libya, the agency had been trying to empty the detention centres so that smugglers would not be able to pursue their crimes. IOM was working with Libyan authorities and many other partners, he said, pointing out that it was the agency that had broken the story about slave trading. “It’s all about saving lives, and all of the elements are there now,” he said, while emphasizing that he needed agreement from the Government to empty the centres and the ability to land large aircraft for that purpose. Staff were needed to provide travel documents so that the vast majority of migrants wishing to return home could do so, noting that reintegration in the home countries would then be required. The continued help of the African Union, the European Union and other partners was needed for those purposes.
JONATHAN GUY ALLEN (United Kingdom) welcomed the announcement of investigations into slave trading in Libya and called for all to ensure that those responsible were held to account. Migration must be safe, legal and well‑managed, and its root causes addressed, he emphasized. The United Kingdom would continue to work with the authorities on improving the centres under their control and providing other assistance, but a stable Libya was the most important element in improving the situation. Efforts to combat terrorism must be integrated with anti‑trafficking initiatives into “a holistic, cross‑pillar approach” by the United Nations, he said. Reaffirming that the existence of slavery was reprehensible, he said it was only through sustained, united action that it could be eradicated.
FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) recalled that his country’s President had called for an emergency meeting to address the intolerable situation of migrants in Libya. France strongly condemned the inhumane treatment of the victims and the violations of their rights, and urged Council members to end the barbaric practice, which constituted crimes against humanity. He called for greater cooperation with the authorities, for fighting impunity, including through the International Criminal Court, and for an urgent global response. Noting that trafficking in persons fuelled conflict and constituted a major source of financing for terrorist and other armed groups, he said it also clearly constituted a threat to international security. Although the Libyan authorities were aware of their duty, the situation in the country must be taken into account, he said, stressing the indispensable need to support the development of Libyan capacities. All international justice resources, including sanctions targeting individuals, must be leveraged to hold perpetrators accountable, he said. Cooperation with origin and transit countries was also needed to help them develop their asylum policies and shore up the protection of their nationals. A lasting settlement of the tragedy would be linked to a solution to the conflict in Libya, which needed a unified army and coast guard, he said.
TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia), expressing deep concern over the situation of migrants from sub‑Saharan Africa, emphasized that the sale of human beings must be condemned in the strongest terms. The Council must send a strong message on the matter, and urgent action was also needed to dismantle the detention camps, end the trafficking and investigate the crimes being committed. Strengthening Libyan capacity for that purpose was critical, he stressed. All relevant United Nations agencies must be engaged in actions to end human trafficking, protect victims and address root causes, such as the extreme poverty that forced young people to undertake such a dangerous journey. In addition, there was a need to pursue assistance to refugees and migrants, and to expand opportunities for resettlement. He welcomed Rwanda’s initiative to accept at‑risk migrants. Stressing that Libya must return to stability through the accepted political framework, he voiced hope that the Council would send the right signal to end the unacceptable practice of profiting from the sale of human beings.
AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) said a concerted international effort was needed to fight the exploitation of migrants and to address the root causes of their plight. He condemned the trade in human beings and welcomed Libya’s announcement that it would investigate and punish those responsible. Egypt would offer any help needed for that purpose, he said, noting his country’s ongoing support for efforts to enable Libya’s people to reach an accepted and sustainable solution to their country’s current crisis. Expressing concern over security in the Sahel region, he stressed the importance of the G5 Sahel joint force in confronting the risks, and affirmed the international responsibility to support that initiative. Migration flows must be managed, assistance provided to migrants and development accelerated in their countries of origin, he said.
CARL ORRENIUS SKAU (Sweden) said he had been horrified by the recent video footage of reported slave markets in Libya, the latest in a litany of abuses suffered by refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons there. The Council must demand accountability, he said, welcoming the Government’s announcement of an investigation and the United Nations initiative to work with the authorities on a transparent monitoring mechanism to safeguard vulnerable groups. Sweden would welcome a report by the Secretary‑General to the Council on the matter of slavery, he said, calling for a fact‑finding mission to Libya. In addition, Sweden supported the initiative by the office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to explore the possibility of investigating crimes related to human trafficking and smuggling, and was open to the use of sanctions to target those crimes. The humanitarian situation must be improved, he went on, calling on Libyan authorities to ensure full humanitarian access to detention centres. It was crucial to find sustainable alternatives to detention, especially for vulnerable groups, he said, adding that Sweden supported UNHCR efforts to protect the needs of refugees, including through its Emergency Evacuation and Temporary Resettlement Mechanism.
LUIS HOMERO BERMÚDEZ ÁLVAREZ (Uruguay), noting that reports about the operation of slave markets had been emerging from Libya and other countries, said it was necessary to take concrete actions in response. While States had failed in the past to address the issue collectively, there was still time to hold those responsible to account. Hundreds of thousands of sub‑Saharan immigrants had been subjected to actions constituting war crimes and crimes against humanity, he said, emphasizing that the United Nations must take up its responsibility to help the Libyan authorities protect the most vulnerable migrants. Condemning human trafficking and crimes that exploited and dehumanized vulnerable people, he said the proliferation of armed conflict in the region had triggered a raft of consequences, including unprecedented mass migration. The plight of refugees was seen as a “lucky break” by those profiting from their plight, he said, emphasizing that the problem was not a matter of concern for the countries of origin alone, but also for transit countries. Therefore, efforts to tackle the issue required a common purpose, he said, stressing also that States must promote and protect the fundamental human rights of all migrants, irrespective of their status.
KORO BESSHO (Japan) said the international community must make the utmost efforts to eliminate human trafficking, forced labour, slavery and similar practices. Calling upon the Libyan Government to ensure justice and accountability on the part of those responsible for selling migrants into slavery, he expressed hope that such action would deter similar crimes in the future. There was a need to solidify Government institutions, including the security sector, and to address the root causes of forced migration, he said. The Council must address the trafficking of migrants by working not only with Libya, but also with other Member States in the region and with regional organizations, he added.
MICHELE J. SISON (United States) said many disturbing reports had emerged about the treatment of asylum seekers in Libya, where human traffickers detained them in appalling conditions. They were forced to work, or sold off to the highest bidder. As such, the United States welcomed efforts to ensure humane treatment for migrants and refugees, including those initiated by IOM and UNHCR, she said, noting that her country had contributed generously to such programmes, including $100 million to help migrants in Libya and those displaced internally by violence. The only long‑term solution to the challenge was to stabilize Libya, she said, noting that smuggling networks also trafficked in arms and narcotics, thereby contributing to instability and affecting the entire Mediterranean and Sahel regions. Any opportunity to disrupt that cycle should be taken, she said, stressing that Council members should recommit to a secure Libya and fully support the Libyan Political Agreement. As such, all actors should engage with the United Nations in good faith, she said, cautioning that any attempt to impose a military solution would only destabilize the country further.
GORGUI CISS (Senegal), stating that today’s briefings confirmed the scope, gravity and complexity of the situation of sub‑Saharan African migrants, reaffirmed his delegation’s condemnation of trafficking in human beings. Senegal had arranged the repatriation of some of its own citizens in dangerous migratory situations, he said, welcoming Libya’s decision to open an investigation into the reports of slave trading. It was vital to ensure accountability for such crimes, and if national justice systems were not up to that task, international justice must step in, he said, stressing the importance of regional and international cooperation as well as sharing of information for that purpose. As for Libya, only when that country was united under a stable Government with unified institutions would it be able to exercise control over all its territory, he said. More generally, a global approach would be needed to promote both development and regular migration, based on human rights and addressing root causes of conflict, including instability and poverty. Senegal would support a presidential statement for that purpose.
SHEN BO (China) said that international cooperation should help to alleviate the migration crisis and also focus on a political resolution of the crisis in Libya. China supported any effort to help Libyans reach that goal through dialogue and negotiation. The international community should also be united in fighting terrorism and recruitment by extremists, by addressing root causes, strengthening border controls and implementing all the provisions of Council resolutions, he emphasized. Resolutions against trafficking must also be implemented, while root causes must be addressed through implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. China would continue to contribute to such efforts and to work for stability in Libya, he pledged.
BARLYBAY SADYKOV (Kazakhstan), expressing deep concern over the plight of refugees, joined fellow members in condemning the sale of human beings, and in calling for the urgent investigation and prosecution of those involved in such heinous crimes. There must be cooperation among security agencies to end all human trafficking, he emphasized, calling also for orderly regular migration, investment in development and a political settlement to the crisis in Libya.
EVGENY T. ZAGAYNOV (Russian Federation) said that, considering the transnational nature of human trafficking and other crimes related to armed conflict, only a comprehensive approach could succeed in tackling them. It must include assistance for victims and address the situation’s root causes. The Libya situation constituted a grave and protracted crisis spawned by the 2011 intervention in the country’s internal issues, and the result was persistent political factionalism. Efforts to counter criminal activity related to migration and to deliver assistance to victims must be supported. Stressing the need for wide‑ranging dialogue under the auspices of the United Nations, he said only lasting peace could lead to lasting alleviation of the refugee and migrant issue. There had been intimations about the need for an urgent intervention, but those who relished taking on such issues independently and in breach of State sovereignty would only exacerbate the already difficult situation that had emerged in Libya, he warned. Against such a backdrop, it would be highly valuable to shore up cooperation with the African Union, he emphasized.
YURIY VITRENKO (Ukraine) said the situation in Libya had a direct impact on the stability of neighbouring States, the Sahel and the Mediterranean. Because of the current crisis, the latter region was facing a number of challenges, including terrorist threats and irregular migration flows. He strongly condemned the human rights violations taking place in Libyan detention centres where African migrants were being systematically abused and harassed, describing reports of slave auctions as shocking and horrifying. He appealed to all competent authorities in the country to investigate such activities and to hold those responsible accountable, while encouraging the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to investigate such atrocities. Nevertheless, the migrant situation in Libya was among many factors contributing to ongoing instability, as criminal networks exploited the lack of political progress and the resulting security vacuum. Arbitrary detention, torture, kidnappings, unlawful killings, trafficking in persons, as well as arms and drug smuggling, had all become a daily reality, he said, stressing that only a comprehensive approach to the current conflict’s root cause could alleviate the suffering of Libya’s people.
SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia), associating himself with the African Union, agreed that practices relating to human enslavement must be stamped out, expressing support for the regional bloc’s appeal for an investigation to identify those responsible and hold them accountable. According to data compiled by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and IOM, more than 40 million people had been subjected to some form of modern slavery in 2016, and one in four of them had been children, he noted. Investigations by Libya’s Government were currently under way to identify those responsible for such acts, which could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, in which case the role of the International Criminal Court must be recognized. It was necessary to ensure that perpetrators of such crimes were prosecuted, he said, describing trafficking as a “parasitic” crime that exploited inaction. It was also important to recall that the Libya crisis and its broader fallout were the direct result of meddling in the country’s internal affairs — in violation of international law — which had left millions of victims.
SEBASTIANO CARDI (Italy), Council President for November, spoke in his national capacity, saying his country had facilitated meetings in Tripoli on the situation with the aim of providing the highest standards of humanitarian assistance and respect for human rights. Human mobility and the situation in Libya remained at the centre of Italy’s actions at the United Nations and of its Council Presidency, he said, recalling that earlier in the month, his delegation had organized an open debate on trafficking as well as a meeting dedicated to the political situation in Libya. As such, the Council had unanimously adopted resolution 2388 (2017), which underscored that trafficking and the smuggling of persons in the Sahel region were further exacerbating conflict and instability. That text provided a legal basis for a victim‑centred approach and highlighted that human trafficking entailed widespread and grave human rights abuses. Recent reports showing migrants sold as slaves were sickening, he said, condemning such actions. Italy welcomed remarks by the Commissioner for Peace and Security of the African Union on the bloc’s initiative to address the plight of African migrants in Libya. Emphasizing that migration flows should not be managed at the expense of human rights, he said Italy’s approach had always combined solidarity and security. The solution to the Libya crisis must be political, he stressed, calling upon members to help the country on its path to security and stability.
ELMAHDI S. ELMAJERBI (Libya) condemned any sale of migrants by whomever was committing such crimes, pledging that if the reports proved true, the perpetrators would not be allowed impunity. Libyan laws criminalized trafficking in persons and slavery, he said, pointing out that such practices also violated basic Libyan values. The country was going through a crisis of instability and could not bear the full burden of migrant flows, a problem that it had not created. The issue must be addressed in origin and destination countries, he said, arguing that without problems in those countries and international trafficking networks, the problem would not exist in Libya. Similarly, simply forcing migrants leaving Libya back to the country would exacerbate both their own situation and that of the country, he said, adding that resettling them would further destabilize Libya. Destination countries must not shirk their responsibilities, he stressed.
Libya, meanwhile, was the victim of a large‑scale media campaign of defamation following the release of the slave‑trading images, he continued. Insisting that his country was not racist, he said it had absorbed many foreign workers and would absorb more when stability was restored and reconstruction began. The international community must address the problem through an effective approach dealing with root causes instead of contributing to the further defamation of Libya. Further support for efforts to unify the country and rebuild its institutions was also essential. Part of the solution would also entail repatriation to origin countries and greater migration opportunities. With hundreds of thousands of people transiting through Libya during a very difficult time in its history, the country should not be held responsible for international problems it had not caused, he emphasized, while expressing appreciation for the work of UNHCR and welcoming the cooperation between that agency and IOM.Read more
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.
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,Read more
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