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UN in Belarus > News > in Belarus > 2004
No country immune to human rights problems, Third Committee told
No country in the world was immune to human rights problems, and none should be exempted from international scrutiny, declared the representative of Belarus last week as the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) took action on several draft resolutions related to human rights and the advancement of women.
The Committee turned to consideration of the text on the Situation of democracy and human rights in the United States of America, which would have the General Assembly express deep concern and dismay at reports from credible sources on systematic violations of fundamental rights and freedoms in the United States and urge the Government of the United States to put an end to such violations of human rights. The Government would also be urged to become a party to all core international human rights instruments, to cooperate fully with the special mechanisms of the Commission on Human Rights to investigate fully and impartially all cases of arbitrary detention, forced disappearance, summary execution and torture and to ensure that perpetrators were brought to justice before an independent tribunal.
Also urging the United States to bring its electoral process and legislative framework into line with international standards, the draft would have the Assembly urge the Government to abolish the death penalty for people under the age of 18 at the time the crime was committed and for the mentally ill. The practice of incommunicado and secret detention should also be ended immediately, and the Government should ensure that conditions of detention conformed to international standards. Moreover, a zero-tolerance policy on torture should be implemented, and urgent measures should be taken to bring legislation on national security into compliance with United States obligations under relevant international instruments.
Furthermore, the text would have the Assembly insist that the Government cooperate fully with, and extend invitations to, all mechanisms of the Commission on Human Rights. It would also decide to consider this question at the sixtieth session.
Withdrawing the text on the situation of democracy and human rights in the United States of America from consideration, the representative of Belarus said his country remained firmly convinced that the best means of advancing human rights was to hold constructive dialogue between countries. He urged other delegations to follow Belarus’ example and withdraw country-specific resolutions that had been submitted.
However, he wished to note his delegation’s consistent opposition to all country resolutions on human rights. Such resolutions often purposefully exaggerated the situation of human rights in particular States in order to exert political pressure on those States. Country resolutions acted as an instrument of abuse of the United Nations system for achieving unilateral political goals.
He said the primary reason his delegation had introduced the draft was to demonstrate to the international community that no country in the world was immune to human rights problems and should, therefore, not be exempt from international scrutiny. That draft resolution, the first of its kind in United Nations history, had achieved that objective. Belarus was firmly convinced that the best advancement of human rights was by means of constructive dialogue between countries. His delegation urged other delegations to follow its example and withdraw the country resolutions they had submitted.
Speaking after the withdrawal of the draft, the representative of the Russian Federation said that his delegation welcomed the statement made by Belarus on withdrawal of the draft from consideration. The Russian Federation felt that was a constructive step aimed at depoliticizing the work of the Third Committee and the human rights system in the United Nations as a whole. It was to be hoped that other delegations would follow Belarus’ example.
He also wished to confirm the position of principle of his country, which held it destructive to introduce country-specific resolutions for the Committee’s consideration. That practice facilitated the introduction of conflicting elements into the work of the United Nations and reduced the effectiveness of work in the human rights sphere. The United Nations should focus on finding joint solutions to problems, including in the human rights arena. It should not try to exploit the situations of human rights in specific countries. All States should try to use human rights bodies to discuss thematic issues, not country-specific issues.
The text submitted by Belarus would have had the General Assembly express deep concern and dismay at reports from credible sources on systematic violations of fundamental rights and freedoms in the United States and urge the Government of the United States to put an end to such violations of human rights.
Welcoming Belarus’ position regarding the text and its withdrawal, the representatives of the Russian Federation, Malaysia, Cuba, China and Indonesia reiterated that the best way of promoting and protecting human rights continued to be found in constructive dialogue among States.
The representative of Malaysia said her delegation welcomed the withdrawal of the draft by Belarus. Malaysia was opposed to resolutions that targeted specific countries and had long called for a non-confrontational approach and constructive dialogue to resolve human rights issues. Increasingly, more States were rejecting country-specific resolutions and the practice of naming and shaming. Her delegation called on States to refrain from tabling such resolutions.
The representative of Cuba said his delegation took note of Belarus’ withdrawal of the text on the understanding that this did not mean the United States was not massively violating the human rights of people all over the world.
The representative of China said his delegation appreciated the withdrawal of the draft. The purpose of the United Nations in considering human rights issues was to promote international cooperation in the area of human rights. Practice over they years had proven that the introduction of country resolutions for political purposes did not promote cooperation among States. Solving differences through dialogue was the best way to resolve problems related to human rights.
The representative of Indonesia said his country supported the principle that the best means of advancing human rights around the world was to be found in constructive and cooperative dialogue among nations, not in country-specific resolutions. His country had decided to make promotion and protection of human rights a priority, not because of pressure from around the world, but because respect for human rights was seen as good for development. Indonesia also felt it was better to have a national Plan of Action for human rights, rather than making statements. He also noted that if all countries in the room wished to table draft resolutions on the situation of human rights in other countries, there would be more than 37,000 draft resolutions. There was certainly not enough time to discuss them all.
Continuing its consideration of human rights questions, the Committee adopted a text on human rights and terrorism by a recorded vote of 109 in favour and 49 against, with 5 abstentions (Argentina, Armenia, Brazil, Chile, Syria), which would have the General Assembly reiterate its unequivocal condemnation of the acts, methods and practices of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations as activities aimed at the destruction of human rights.
Also urging the international community to enhance cooperation at the regional and international levels in the fight against terrorism, the text would have the Assembly urge all States to deny safe haven to terrorists and to take appropriate measures to ensure that neither the status of asylum-seekers nor refugees was abused by perpetrators, organizers or facilitators of terrorist acts.
It would also have the world body stress that every person, regardless of nationality, race, sex, religion or any other distinction had a right to protection from terrorism and terrorist acts and reject the identification of terrorism with any religion, nationality or culture.
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