Intense Debate, Close Voting as Gender Identity, Sexual Orientation, Digital-age Privacy Take Centre Stage in Third Committee

Delegates Approve 12 Draft Resolutions for Action by General Assembly

Sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as issues of privacy in the digital age, were the subjects of close votes and contentious debate today in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) as it sent 12 draft resolutions to the General Assembly.

Among the texts most debated was a draft taking note of the Human Rights Council report and recommendations, approved as amended by a recorded vote of 94 in favour, to 3 against (Belarus, Israel, Mauritius), with 80 abstentions. Its approval came after the narrow passage - by 84 recorded votes in favour, to 77 against, with 17 abstentions - of an amendment deleting the original text's operative paragraph 2.

At issue was the Human Rights Council's decision 32/2, taken in June, to appoint an Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Botswana's representative, on behalf of the African Group, had submitted the original draft proposing to defer consideration of and action on that decision to the General Assembly's seventy-second session to allow for more time for consultations. Noting that the terms "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" were not enshrined in international law, he said the independent expert mandate lacked the required specificity to be carried out fairly.

Countries mainly from Latin America and Western States opposed that deferral in an amendment deleting the draft's call for it. Discussion of the amendment opened a debate on the protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as on the potential procedural consequences of reopening a Human Rights Council decision.

Slovakia's representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, warned that opening a decision of the Human Rights Council would undermine its functioning. Liechtenstein's representative, speaking on behalf of several other countries, supported the mandate of the Independent Expert, as it reflected a commitment to the prevention of violence. Singapore's representative, meanwhile, said the issue hinged on whether the General Assembly could pronounce on the work of the Council, a subsidiary body. He opposed the amendment, as it was important to reaffirm the Assembly's legitimacy to do so, explaining that his position was not a statement about the substance of the mandate. Singapore respected all persons, regardless of gender identity.

In the afternoon, the Committee took action on 10 draft resolutions, putting to a recorded vote one on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, which passed by 170 votes in favour to 7 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and the United States), with 5 abstentions (Cameroon, CAte d'Ivoire, Honduras, Tonga and Vanuatu).

A draft resolution on "Promotion of a democratic and equitable international order" was approved by a recorded 123 votes in favour to 53 against, with 6 abstentions (Armenia, Chile, Costa Rica, Greece, Mexico and Peru), while a draft on the right to development was approved by a vote of 138 in favour, to 3 against (Israel, United Kingdom, United States), with 39 abstentions.

Further, a draft resolution on Human rights and unilateral coercive measures was sent to the Assembly with 128 recorded votes in favour to 54 against, and no abstentions. Another text titled "Globalization and its impact on the full enjoyment of all human rights" was also approved by a recorded vote of 128 in favour, to 53 against, with 2 abstentions (Greece, Lesotho).

The Committee also approved, without a vote, a draft resolution on the right to privacy in the digital age. Brazil's representative, co-introducing the text, said it underscored the negative impact that surveillance, interception of communications and the collection of personal data on a mass scale had on the exercise of the right to privacy. Germany's representative added that it highlighted the effects of violations of the right to privacy for women and children and called on businesses to respect that right.

On that point, South Africa's representative expressed disappointment that the focus of the text had shifted from its initial purpose. Its denial of the Intergovernmental Working Group's role in regulating transnational cooperation and other business enterprises, holding them accountable for rights violations, was puzzling. She dissociated from the text, while conveying her willingness to work with its sponsors to ensure it was returned to the right path.

Canada's delegate added that the draft's preoccupation with mass surveillance distracted from the bigger issue of the right to privacy, which often involved targeted surveillance on a discriminatory basis.

The Committee also approved the following four draft resolutions without a vote: "Intensification of efforts to end obstetric fistula"; "Universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination"; "Intensification of efforts to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls: domestic violence"; "Human rights and extreme poverty"; and "The Right to Food".

The Third Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 22 November, to continue its action on draft proposals.

Action

The representative of Senegal, on behalf of the African Group, introduced a draft resolution on the "Intensification of efforts to end obstetric fistula" (document A/C.3/71/L.16/Rev.1). Expressing hope that the draft text would be approved by consensus, she invited all to join as co-sponsors.

The observer of the Holy See said millions of women suffered from obstetric fistula, which was entirely preventable. Support for the draft resolution was heartening. The Holy See had reservations about terms such as "reproductive rights" and did not consider abortion as included in that term.

The Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote.

By its terms, the General Assembly would call on States to take all measures to ensure the right of women and girls to enjoy the highest attainable standard of health, including sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights. It would invite States to contribute to efforts to end obstetric fistula, including through the Campaign to End Fistula, as part of efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goals 3 and 5 by 2030, and to continue efforts to improve maternal health with the aim of eliminating obstetric fistula globally within a generation.

The representative of Slovakia, on behalf of the European Union, said the draft had a clear and achievable aim of ending obstetric fistula within a generation. Adolescent girls were at particular risk, and child early and forced marriage was among the root causes of obstetric fistula. Education remained one of the best means of prevention. It was regrettable that the draft resolution did not contain some language achieved at the high-level meeting on HIV/AIDS, he said, underscoring the bloc's support for the initiative and for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The representative of Norway explained that her country and Switzerland had decided to co-sponsor the draft resolution, though it did not contain all elements they might have wished for. The text was not perfect, but few draft resolutions were. It was sufficiently broad to show those working on the ground that there was support for their efforts to eliminate fistula.

The representative of Jamaica, on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said it had joined consensus due to its commitment to the health and well-being of women and girls. The term "early marriage" was understood to be subject to the national laws of CARICOM Member States.

The representative of Iceland, also speaking on behalf of Australia, Argentina, Colombia, Liechtenstein, New Zealand and Mexico, said fistula could be addressed with an easy surgical intervention, but many women lived with the condition for decades because they could not access health care. Commending UNFPA for leading the United Nations response to end fistula, he underscored that it was an issue of access to health services. The text's reference to "age-appropriate sex education" was unnecessarily restrictive.

The representative of Senegal explained how consensus had been achieved during negotiations, stressing that only battle worth fighting was to strengthen the international commitment towards eradicating fistula. Regarding the reference to "age-appropriate sex education", Senegal did not oppose sex education, which was taught in Senegal with respect for age-appropriateness.

The representative of India said it had joined consensus on the text, noting that age-appropriate sexual education should be taught via a culturally relevant approach.

The Committee deferred action on a draft resolution on the "Intensification of efforts to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls: prevention and elimination of domestic violence" (document A/C.3/71/L.21/Rev.1) as the text was not ready.

The Committee deferred action on the draft resolution titled "Assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa" (document A/71/C.3/L.51), after a request by the representative of Botswana, on behalf of the African Group.

The Committee then turned to the draft resolution titled "Report of the Human Rights Council" (document A/C.3/71/L.46), as orally revised, and the amendment thereto (document A/C.3/71/L.52) which would delete operative paragraph 2.

An official from the Secretariat read out the oral revision to operative paragraph 2, as proposed by the African Group, which would have the Assembly defer consideration of and action on the Human Rights Council report until its seventy-second session.

He said, by the text, that the Assembly would take note of the report of the Human Rights Council and defer consideration of and action on Human Rights Council resolution 32/2 of 30 June 2016 on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, so as to allow time for further consultations to determine the legal basis upon which the mandate of the special procedure established by the Council resolution would be defined.

The representative of Brazil, on behalf of co-sponsors Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mexico and Uruguay, introduced the amendment L.52, stressing that approval of the draft resolution as it stood would negatively affect the Human Rights Council and its responsibility to promote the universal protection of human rights. Further, the oral revision read out by the Secretariat official did not address his concern.

A recorded vote was requested on the amendment.

The representative of Botswana, on behalf of the African Group, said in a general statement before the vote that a deferral to the seventy-second session had been requested to allow for more time for consultations. His delegation did not question the work of special procedures nor intend to undermine the Human Rights Council's work. The Council was a subsidiary body of the General Assembly.

He said precedents had been set for deferring work on specific mandates, notably through resolutions 61/178 of 2006, whereby the Assembly decided to defer consideration of and action on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to allow time for further consultations, and through resolution 68/144, whereby it decided to defer consideration of and action on Human Rights Council resolution 24/24 of 27 September 2013. Further, the terms "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" were not enshrined in international law. As such, the independent expert mandate lacked the required specificity to be carried out fairly. He urged delegates to vote against amendment L.52 out of respect for sovereignty and the Charter of the United Nations.

The representative of Slovakia, on behalf of the European Union, expressed his deep concern about opening a decision of the Human Rights Council, which had been made well within its scope. Such efforts would undermine the Council's functioning. The Council resolution in question had been adopted by a majority vote and the special procedure had been established in September 2016. Concerns about that mandate were not sufficient to question that decision. Discrimination occurred based on a number of qualities and it was the United Nations' duty to counter such behaviour.

The representative of the United States strongly supported amendment L.52, stressing that the Council report should be approved in its entirety. Seeking to open Human Right Council resolutions through legal means constituted interference in the Council's work.

The representative of the Republic of Korea said the draft resolution containing operative paragraph 2 undermined the Council's work, stressing that the aim must be to strengthen human rights mechanisms, not weaken them.

The representative of Mexico said Human Rights Council decisions should be respected, while also expressing respect for the desire to discuss such issues in the Third Committee. While the matter was delicate, the draft resolution was about non-discrimination, which should never be questioned.

The representative of Japan focused on the independence of the Human Rights Council, which was provided by the General Assembly. Questioning that independence set a dangerous precedent.

The representative of Egypt, speaking on behalf of Organization of Islamic Cooperation - "with one exception" - in explanation of vote before the vote, said the debate was an extension of discussions in the Human Rights Council. His delegation upheld the protection of dignity and non-discrimination, he said, expressing deep concern about the introduction of a controversial concept which had not been accepted in many countries. Recalling the "subsidiary nature" of the Human Rights Council, he clarified that relevant precedents had been set. He rejected any interference in internal affairs and urged all to vote against the amendment, expressing his delegation's intention to not cooperate with the mandate.

The representative of Thailand recalled the right of Member States to take up the issue in the Third Committee and, expressing support for the mandate, said it had been confirmed by the Human Rights Council.

The representative of Congo, associating herself with the African Group, said the Group's concerns had been ignored, and she questioned the legal basis for creating the special procedure's mandate. More consultations were needed to reach a just outcome.

The representative of Singapore, reiterating his country's strong commitment to the Human Rights Council, said the issue hinged on whether the General Assembly could pronounce itself on the Council's work. Indeed, the Assembly had the right and responsibility to do so, and as such, he opposed amendment L.52, as it was important to reaffirm the Assembly's legitimacy to pronounce on those matters. Deletion of operative paragraph 2 would imply that the Assembly's role was merely symbolic. He did not see deferral as a questioning of the Council's work, and further consultations did not preclude a decision. Rather, they would strengthen the human rights mechanisms. His position was not a pronouncement on the substance of the mandate, he said, reiterating that Singapore respected all persons, regardless of gender identity.

The representative of Israel said States had reaffirmed their commitment to inclusiveness with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The Secretary-General had described the fight against homophobia and transphobia as a great neglected challenge. Israel had co-sponsored the Human Rights Council resolution in June welcoming the mandate on sexual orientation and gender identity. The international community should not back off. Israel would vote in favour of the amendment and called on all to do the same.

The representative of Jamaica focused on the procedural effects of the decision before the Committee, noting that he would vote against the amendment in order to allow for more in-depth deliberation on the matter.

The representative of Yemen, associating himself with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the African Group, said the General Assembly had the right to discuss any matters within the scope of the Charter, including reviewing the mandates of subsidiary bodies to ensure they conformed with international law and the purposes of the United Nations. The African Group had therefore asked to defer consideration of the Human Rights Council resolution in question. He wondered how the Independent Expert could fulfil his mandate without international consensus on the definition of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The representative of Cameroon endorsed the statements by the African Group and OIC, noting that Human Rights Council had been created to promote the universal respect and protection of all human rights in a fair and equal manner, without seeking to establish "superior castes". Its founding resolution had established it as a subsidiary body of the General Assembly. The Assembly's authority was unquestionable and the Council's work fell within its remit. Stressing that the Council must create unambiguous mandates, she said sexual orientation and gender identity were undefined in international law. States must engage in open dialogue without imposing anything on others. Cameroon would vote against the amendment.

The representative of the Russian Federation said the way in which supporters of the amendment spoke adamantly about the need to respect subsidiary body mandates and to cooperate appeared to be a double standard. Those same delegations had taken advantage of reviewing decisions made by the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, a subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council. The same delegations calling for respecting the mandate of the Human Rights Council were not prepared to respect the mandate of that Committee. The African Group proposal to defer consideration of the Human Rights Council's decision 32/2 to allow time to consult on the legal basis of the mandate was well-justified and in line with procedures governing the relations between main and subsidiary bodies. The Russian Federation would vote against the draft amendment.

The representative of South Africa said his position was a principled one based on his country's constitution. The issue at hand was a sensitive one. After years of painful struggle, black and white, "straight and not straight", South Africa had come together to bury discrimination once and for all. South Africa would fight discrimination everywhere, every time. On the matter at hand, he disagreed with most others on the African continent, noting that South Africa was still healing wounds caused by discrimination and would not add fresh ones. South Africa would vote based on its constitutional imperative.

The representative of Burundi endorsed the African Group position, highlighting his country's commitment to the principles of non-discrimination. Recalling Burundi's membership on the Council, he said the African Group had requested time to achieve a solid resolution reflecting the will of the General Assembly. The Human Rights Council was an Assembly subsidiary body, meaning that all its decisions must pass through the Assembly. Those decisions could be reviewed and adjusted. His delegation would reject the draft amendment.

The representative of Nigeria, endorsing the African Group's statement, underscored the need for wider consultations on the topic of sexual orientation and gender identity. The issue was not about discrimination, but rather, about defining how mandates should operate through a consensual agreement. Nigeria would vote against the amendment.

Draft amendment L.52 was approved by a recorded vote of 84 votes in favour to 77 against, with 17 abstentions.

By its terms, the Assembly would delete operative paragraph 2 of the draft resolution calling for deferment of the Human Rights Council resolution 32/2 of 30 June 2016 on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The representative of Norway, also speaking on behalf of Australia, Canada, Liechtenstein, New Zealand and Switzerland, noted that an independent expert could help create an understanding that had not been previously achieved, adding that there were a dozen mandates which lacked an explicit treaty-based definition before their creation. The adoption of those mandates had not been challenged to elaborate a legal basis.

The representative of Paraguay, in an explanation of vote after the vote, expressed full support for the mandate of the Human Rights Council as established by the General Assembly. Paraguay had voted in favour of Council resolution 32/2 on the basis it would contribute to eliminating violence. The African Group proposal did not undermine the Council's role; it simply had requested more time.

The representative of Malaysia said the cultural beliefs had a bearing on societal and normative views of sexual behaviour, noting that he had voted against the amendment.

The representative of Chile said the result of the vote was of paramount importance, noting that all States had reaffirmed the Human Rights Council's role and powers.

The Committee then took up the draft resolution titled "Report of the Human Rights Council" (document A/C.3/71/L.46), as amended.

The representative of the Russian Federation said her delegation had supported the draft resolution prepared by the African Group, which had proposed to defer consideration of the independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity in order to consider its legal basis. That proposal was well-justified. The notion of sexual orientation and gender identity did not exist in international law. Therefore, well-founded questions had arisen about which legal norms would guide the legal expert in his mandate. The Russian delegation did not recognize the mandate and would not cooperate with the Independent Expert on the protection against violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity, withdrawing its co-sponsorship.

The representative of Botswana, on behalf of the African Group, called the amendment's approval a "neck-to-neck situation" similar to when resolution 32/2 was adopted at the Human Rights Council. The effect of the approved amendments had changed the draft resolution completely and the African Group dissociated itself from the amendment.

The representative of Egypt on behalf of the OIC opposed the approval of the draft resolution and its establishment of an Independent Expert, stressing that OIC members were not in a position to cooperate with the Independent Expert's mandate.

The representative of Nigeria objected to the introduction of norms into the Third Committee that did not have consensus. Nigeria dissociated itself from the mandate and reminded delegates that its creation was not consensus-based.

The representative of Israel said all the Human Rights Council's principles disappeared when it came to Israel. Rather than focusing on real pressing human rights issues around the globe, the Council preferred to "trample in the political swamp". It was crucial that the Council finally focus on its mandate and immediately end resources for addressing its agenda item 7, which only served to single out Israel. The Human Rights Council report displayed prejudice toward one of the Member States and therefore Israel would vote against the draft resolution.

The representative of Liechtenstein, also speaking for Australia, Canada, Iceland, New Zealand and Norway, welcomed the deletion of operative paragraph 2 of draft resolution L.46, noting that any other outcome would have gravely affected relations between the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly. The mandate of the Independent Expert was supported, as it reflected a commitment to the prevention of violence. She called on all States to cooperate with all special procedures, enabling them to conduct their work. Liechtenstein had abstained from the vote on procedural grounds, as it was up to the plenary to take note of the Human Rights Council report.

The draft resolution was approved by a recorded vote of 94 in favour to 3 against (Belarus, Israel, Mauritius), with 80 abstentions.

By its terms, the text would call on the General Assembly to take note of the report of the Human Rights Council and its recommendations.

The representative of Slovakia, on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the vote in favour of the amendment, noting that the bloc had abstained from the vote.

The representative of Costa Rica had abstained from the vote for procedural reasons, noting that the Human Rights Council report must be considered in the plenary of the General Assembly, and not in the Third Committee. Assembly decision 60/251 creating the Human Rights Council had established that the Council would present its annual report to the Assembly, and that had been reaffirmed during earlier sessions.

The representative of the United Kingdom associated himself with the European Union, adding that his country would cooperate with the Independent Expert and his mandate. Mandates generated in Geneva should not be reopened. He welcomed action taken by the amendment's co-sponsors, encouraging all to engage with the Independent Expert as they would with any other special procedure.

The representative of Nauru, while welcoming the draft resolution, said the Independent Expert mandate lacked the necessary specificity to be carried out, given the lack of international legal instruments on the topic. Nauru disassociated itself from Human Rights Council decision 32/2 and did not recognize the Independent Expert created by that decision.

The representative of Singapore, in explanation of vote after the vote, said his country had always supported the African Group's resolution on the Human Rights Council, and thus had voted in favour of the draft resolution as amended.

The representative of Belarus said the Human Rights Council was unique as the only body with the universal periodic review, which examined human rights situations without exception. The Council continued to engage in politicized activity, and as such, Belarus could not support the draft resolution.

The representative of Botswana thanked all delegations that had supported the draft resolution, which was without prejudice to opposition to the amendment.

The representative of Mauritania reaffirmed his country's support for the African Group and OIC, disassociating from the Independent Expert mandate.

The representative of Mali asked to correct his country's vote to "yes", as its national position was aligned with the African Group.

The representative of Iran said the Human Rights Council was expected to refrain from imposing non-consensual concepts. The General Assembly had the authority to guide the work of its subsidiary bodies. The African Group had asked for a one-year deferral. All human rights should be respected, and despite the existence of the universal periodic review, certain countries continued their policy of confrontation. Iran disassociated itself from the Human Rights Council report which included a report on the situation in Iran.

The representative of Jamaica said his vote in favour was an expression of its traditional support for the draft resolution.

The representative of Libya supported the African Group's positon as well as that of the OIC, emphasizing her country's commitment to instruments to which it was party. Deploring all stereotypes, discrimination and violence, she voiced regret at desperate attempts to impose controversial concepts on United Nations resolutions. Libya disassociated from Human Rights Council resolution 32/2 and boycotted the so-called mandate of the Independent Expert.

The representative of Uganda supported the African Group statements, expressing regret that the Committee had reaffirmed the Human Rights Council decision to appoint an Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity, a concept which had no legal basis in international law. That would lead to further polarization. Uganda disassociated itself from resolution 32/2.

The representative of Cameroon, associating herself with the African Group and the OIC, reiterated her country's commitment to protecting human rights for all in all circumstances. Nevertheless, Cameroon disassociated from the mandate established by the Human Rights Council decision.

The representative of Yemen said it was regrettable that the amendment had been approved. The voting result indicated international division over the Independent Expert mandate, which would be reflected in dealings with the Expert. Yemen disassociated from Council decision 32/2 and would boycott the mandate of the so-called Independent Expert.

The representative of Sudan associated herself with the African Group and the OIC and disassociated from the Independent Expert mandate.

The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania associated herself with the African Group and disassociated from Human Rights Council resolution 32/2, saying her country would not cooperate with the mandate-holder.

The representative of Niger said she had voted against the amendment and in favour of the draft resolution. Associating herself with the African Group and the OIC, she rejected the mandate established by Human Rights Council resolution 32/2 as the concept was not recognized in national legal systems.

The Committee then focused on took the draft resolution titled the "Universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination" (document A/C.3/71/L.49).

By its terms, the Assembly would declare its firm opposition to foreign military intervention, aggression and occupation, as those acts had resulted in the suppression of the right of peoples to self-determination. It would call upon those States responsible to immediately cease their military intervention in and occupation of foreign countries and territories, as well as all acts of repression, discrimination, exploitation and maltreatment. It would deplore the plight of millions of refugees and displaced persons uprooted as a result of those aforementioned acts.

The representative of South Africa expressed her strong support for the draft resolution, stressing that the right to self-determination was essential and attaching great importance to decolonization and non-violence. The oppression of Palestinians which was reminiscent of Apartheid, she added.

The text was approved without a vote.

The representative of Spain expressed concern about the application of the right to self-determination and stressed that a number of territories had not been granted their full rights. Gibraltar's natives, for example, had been forced to leave and were replaced by settlements from the colonizing power. Spain therefore sought co?sovereignty for Gibraltar.

The representative of United States expressed her concern about the legal errors in the draft resolution.

The representative of Argentina expressed grave concern about the situation of people who had not been granted their right to self-determination, stressing that the draft resolution must be applied in line with relevant United Nations resolutions.

The representative of Papua New Guinea, welcoming the draft resolution, emphasized that decolonization has not been fully achieved for all territories. The decolonization agenda must be revitalized with a view to achieving its full implementation.

The Committee took up the draft resolution on the "Intensification of efforts to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls: prevention and elimination of domestic violence" (document A/C.3/71/L.21/Rev.1).

By its terms, the Assembly would emphasize that States should continue to adopt and implement legislation and policies addressing violence against women and girls in a comprehensive manner, not only by criminalizing such violence, but also by including protection and access to the effective remedies for victims. It would call on States to prevent and eliminate domestic violence as a matter of priority, urging them to address the structural and underlying causes and risk factors.

The representative of France introduced an amendment to preambular paragraph 10 whereby only child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation would be listed as harmful practices, as agreed upon in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Domestic violence was widespread and among the least visible forms of abuse, therefore requiring focus. While negotiations often had been heated, they reflected different cultural approaches, he said, stressing that the draft resolution placed the interests of survivors at its heart.

The draft resolution was approved without a vote as orally revised.

The representative of Saint Lucia, on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), stressed the importance of fighting domestic violence with respect to different cultural and legal systems.

The representative of Egypt, on behalf of several countries, criticized the term "intimate partner violence" as vague, explaining that there was no international definition and that such terms contradicted certain cultural contexts. She therefore disassociated from preambular paragraphs 10 and 19.

The representative of Yemen expressed disappointment that the term "intimate partner violence" had been included in preambular paragraphs 10 and 19, as it did not have a legal foundation in his country. He disassociated from that term wherever it occurred in the text.

The representative of Djibouti, while supporting the need to fight violence against women, rejected the term of "intimate partner violence", which contravened the laws and culture in his country. He therefore disassociated with paragraphs containing that term.

The representative of Mexico stressed the need to eradicate domestic violence against women, voicing concern that rights could be eroded in the search for consensus. References to femicide had been diluted.

The representative of Qatar, on behalf of several States, expressed concern about biased cultural concepts in the text which had not been addressed during consultations.

The representative of Australia, on behalf of Iceland, New Zealand and Liechtenstein, described the wider social impacts of violence against women and welcomed the text's focus on that aspect.

The representative of Iraq regretted that no true consensus had been achieved and he therefore disassociated from preambular paragraphs 10 and 19.

The representative of Nigeria called the draft resolution "tainted" by references to intimate partner violence and he therefore disassociated from preambular paragraphs 10 and 19.

The representative of Iran said he had joined consensus but expressed disappointment about the text's reference to certain lifestyles and lack of reference to sanctions as contributing factors to violence against women.

An observer of the Holy See said that the home and family were a public and private good. He expressed his concern about the focus on the individual and any references to sexual and reproductive rights, which were not considered morally acceptable by the Holy See. He pointed out that gender identity was based on biology and that the rights of parents must be upheld.

The representative of Mauritania expressed reservations about controversial concepts expressed in the draft resolution.

The representative of the United States rejected all attempts to diminish some aspects of violence against women, which must be denounced without qualifications. Such abuse was often perpetrated by intimate partners. She welcomed the reference to "intimate partner violence", stressing that women also had the right to decide about their sexual and reproductive rights.

The Committee then took up a draft resolution titled, "The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination" (document A/C.3/71/L.50).

The representative of Israel said peace must be negotiated, not imposed from the outside. She expressed regret that the draft targeted Israel and encouraged Palestinians to take unilateral steps, rather than negotiate. Calling for a vote, she said Israel would vote no.

The draft resolution was approved by a recorded vote of 170 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and United States), with 5 abstentions (Cameroon, CAte d'Ivoire, Honduras, Tonga and Vanuatu).

By its terms, the General Assembly would stress the urgency of achieving an end to the Israeli occupation, which began in 1967, and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement in compliance with relevant international agreements. It would also urge all States and specialized United Nations agencies to continue to assist the Palestinian people in the early realization of their right to self-determination.

The representative of Argentina, speaking after the vote, explained that he had supported the draft resolution because he supported Palestinians' inalienable right to self-determination. Argentina recognized the State of Palestine and efforts made by its authorities to engage in negotiations to bring about an end to the conflict. He believed in the right of all peoples to live in peace and security within their own borders. That right extended to the State of Palestine.

An observer of the State of Palestine said the overwhelming support for the draft resolution clearly reaffirmed the international community's unwavering commitment to the right of Palestinians to self-determination. The principled position taken today sent a message to Israel that its false narrative of the situation and its violations of international law would not be tolerated. The text was not obstructionist; nor was it unilateral, she stressed, noting that it had been put forward by the most multilateral institution in the world. The right to self?determination was inalienable to all; it was not up for negotiation. Moreover, it was not up to Israel to decide whether Palestinians should enjoy that right. Palestinians would never relinquish their right to freedom, self-determination, justice and peace. Israel had abused its privileges as a Member States - a right that Palestine had been denied for too long.

The Committee then turned to a draft resolution on human rights and extreme poverty (document A/C.3/71/L.22/Rev. 1).

The representative of Peru, introducing the draft resolution, said urgent measures were needed to eliminate extreme poverty, which threatened the full enjoyment of human rights and democracy. He recalled that Agenda 2030 and Sustainable Development Goal 1 recognized the importance of eliminating poverty in all its forms.

The resolution was then approved by consensus.

By its terms, the Assembly would encourage the international community to strengthen efforts to address factors contributing to extreme poverty. It would call upon States, the United Nations and stakeholders to continue to give appropriate attention to the links between human rights and extreme poverty.

The representative of the United States expressed support for the draft resolution, but expressed reservations about some aspects referring to international instruments to which not all States were a party. The guiding principles on human rights and extreme poverty - referred to in the draft - would not apply in all cases, she said, and the text should not be understood to imply that States should become parties to instruments to which they had not acceded.

The Committee then took up the draft resolution titled "Promotion of a democratic and equitable international order" (document A/C.3/71/L.30/Rev.1).

By its terms, the General Assembly would express concern about States' continued abuse of the extraterritorial application of their national legislation in a manner that affected the sovereignty of other States and the full enjoyment of human rights. It would also express concern that the current global economic, financial, energy and food crises, resulting from a combination of macroeconomic and other factors. It would urge States to continue to enhance international cooperation towards the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order.

The representative of Cuba said that a promotion of a democratic and equitable international order was essential for realizing all human rights and it must be based on equity.

A recorded vote was requested.

The representative of Slovakia, in explanation of vote before the vote on behalf of the European Union, expressed his belief in developing an international, democratic order. Taking into account the work of the special procedures in that field, he said the draft resolution went beyond the scope of the United Nations human rights agenda.

The representative of the United States continued to have concerns about trade-related references in the draft resolution.

Taking action, the Committee then approved the draft by a recorded vote of 123 in favour to 53 against, with 6 abstentions (Armenia, Chile, Costa Rica, Greece, Mexico, Peru).

The Committee then took up the draft resolution on "The Right to food" (document A/C.3/71/L.31/Rev.1).

By its terms, the General Assembly would request all States, private actors and international organizations to consider the need to realize the right to food for all. It would express deep concern at the number and scale of natural disasters, diseases and pest infestations, and at the negative impact of climate change, which had threatened agricultural production, and food and nutrition security in developing countries. It would also urge States that had not yet done so to consider becoming parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

The representative of Cuba made an oral revision to footnote 13 for operative paragraph 12, adding Human Rights Council resolution 33/11, and urging that an international environment to guarantee the right to food be created.

The draft resolution was then approved without vote as orally revised.

The representative of the United States said her country was committed to addressing food security and welcomed the text's references to gender equality and children. She expressed disappointment, however, about language used in other areas and disassociated from operative paragraphs 27 and 10 in that regard, stressing that references to Doha did not supersede World Trade Organization agreements. Expressing support only for voluntary technology transfers, she expressed concern about outdated language in the text and reference to a "global food crisis" which did not accurately reflect the current situation. She recalled the international commitments of the United States, which she said should be reflected in the text.

The representative of Slovakia, on behalf of the European Union, said the bloc's position on operative paragraph 27 was without prejudice to trade agreements and pending negotiations.

The representative of Canada welcomed the progressive realization of the right to food, noting that there was no established link between World Trade Organization agreements on intellectual property rights and food security.

The Committee then took up a resolution on the right to development (document A/C/3/71/L.32/Rev.1), introduced by the representative of Cuba.

By its terms, the General Assembly would stress the need for greater acceptance and realization of the right to development at the international and national levels, and call upon States to make the right to development an integral part of all human rights and fundamental freedoms. It would also emphasize that the right to development should be central to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The representative of the United States, speaking before the vote, reaffirmed her country's commitment to development. However, her delegation had long-standing concerns about the right to development, which did not have an internationally agreed definition, and that it would be used to protect States, rather than individuals. She would vote no on the resolution.

The representative of the United Kingdom said the primary responsibility for the right to development should be borne by States to their citizens. He was not in favour of a binding international legal standard on the right to development. Furthermore, he expressed concern that focus on such a right would detract from more pressing human rights concerns on the Human Rights Council agenda.

The representative of Switzerland said he welcomed international efforts for implementation of the right to development in conformity with the 1986 declaration on that topic and other relevant documents. The Intergovernmental Working Group was the principal platform for discussing the right to development. However, the Human Rights Council's establishment of a special rapporteur on the right to development was not a recommendation of that Working Group and threatened to duplicate the Group's efforts. In addition, the draft contained factually incorrect elements. Switzerland would therefore abstain from the vote.

The draft resolution was approved by a vote of 138 in favour, to 3 against (Israel, United Kingdom, United States), with 39 abstentions.

The representative of Slovakia, on behalf of the European Union, reiterated support for the right to development based on the indivisibility of all human rights. The right to development required the full realization of civil, political and cultural rights. He did not support the establishment of a binding legal standard. Moreover, a common position on the right to development had not been reached and differences remained on the role of indicators, the content of the right, its implications and the appropriate instruments to realize it.

The representative of Mexico said he voted in favour of the draft, as his country promoted development at the international level. However, he reiterated that efforts should not focus on a binding instrument, which would create divisions. The best way promote such was to encourage dialogue that would allow all regions to play an active role.

The representative of Canada expressed support for a concept of the right to development that placed the individual at its core. States had the primary responsibility to ensure fulfilment of the right to development. She echoed the concerns of others about the implications of a legally binding instrument and therefore had abstained from the vote.

The representative of Bangladesh said the Declaration on the Right to Development had unequivocally established development as a human right. The 2030 Agenda offered a unique opportunity to renew the resolve to translate that right into a reality for all.

The representative of Lichtenstein, on behalf of Australia, Iceland, New Zealand and Switzerland, said the Sustainable Development Goals offered an opportunity to explore the connection between the promotion of human rights and the right to development.

The Committee then took up the draft resolution titled "Human rights and unilateral coercive measures" (document A/C.3/71/L.33/Rev.1).

By its terms, the Assembly would express its concern about the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures. It would urge all States to cease adopting or implementing any unilateral measures not in accordance with international law or international humanitarian law, requesting the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prioritize the present resolution in his annual report to the General Assembly.

The representative of Cuba stressed the negative effects of unilateral coercive measures and requested support for the text.

A recorded vote was requested, with the representative of Cuba asking who had requested it.

An official from the Secretariat clarified that the representative of Slovakia had requested the vote.

The representative of the United States, in explanation of vote before the vote, said the draft resolution had no international legal standing, reiterating that sanctions were legitimate tools.

The Committee then approved the draft resolution by a recorded vote of 128 in favour to 54 against, with no abstentions.

The Committee then took action on a draft resolution on "Globalization and its impact on the full enjoyment of all human rights" (document A/C.3/71/L.37).

By its terms, the Assembly would express its grave concern at the inadequacy of measures to narrow the widening gap between developed and developing countries, and also within countries. It would call on States, the United Nations and civil society to promote inclusive, equitable and environmentally sustainable economic growth for managing globalization. It also would recognize that responsible operations of transnational corporations could help promote, protect and fulfil human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as underline the need for analyzing the consequences of globalization on the enjoyment of human rights.

A recorded vote was requested.

The representative of Slovakia, in a general statement on behalf of the European Union, regretted that the bloc could not support the draft resolution, noting that it attached great importance to the globalization agenda and sought a more balanced and complex treatment of the issue. Not all human rights were directly affected by globalization and a thorough assessment was needed, especially as the draft focused heavily on negative effects.

The Committee approved the draft resolution by a recorded vote of 128 in favour to 53 against, with 2 abstentions (Greece, Lesotho).

The representative of Mexico expressed his concern over the approach to business and human rights as reflected in the draft.

The Committee then turned to a draft resolution titled, "The right to privacy in the digital age" (document A/C.3/71/L.39/Rev.1), whose main sponsors were Brazil and Germany.

The representative of Brazil, introducing the resolution, called attention to an orally revised preambular paragraph 28, which would highlight the responsibility of businesses to respect human rights and applicable laws. As with previous resolutions, the draft underscored the negative impact that surveillance, interception of communications and collection of personal data on a mass scale had on the exercise of the right to privacy. Among its new elements, the text would recognize that the collection, processing and sharing of personal data had significantly increased and acknowledge that individuals often did not provide their free, explicit and informed consent to the sale of their personal data.

The representative of Germany, associating himself with his Brazilian counterpart, reiterated the growing need to protect human rights online, recalling aspects of the draft that went beyond previous years' resolutions on the topic, such as a call for States to develop preventive measures, sanctions and remedies. The draft also highlighted the particular effects of violations of the right to privacy for women and children and called on businesses to respect that right.

The representative of South Africa expressed disappointment that the focus of the draft resolution had shifted from its initial purpose. The text's denial of the Intergovernmental Working Group's role in regulating transnational cooperation and other business enterprises, and holding them accountable for rights violations, was puzzling. Globalization had most harmed developing countries, which were most vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. She therefore dissociated from the text, while conveying her willingness to work with its sponsors to ensure it was returned to the right path.

The representative of Cuba said his delegation had traditionally supported the initiative on the right to privacy in the digital age, but this year he had concerns about preambular paragraph 9 and operative paragraph 5(g). While he shared the view that women and children and other marginalized persons were vulnerable to abuses of their rights to privacy, other groups were more at risk. He recalled that certain personalities and leaders engaged in international work had been targeted, but not mentioned in those paragraphs. He expressed regret that this year's resolution did not contain the same balance as the original.

The Committee approved the resolution by consensus.

The representative of the Russian Federation said her delegation had been a co-sponsor of the draft on the right to privacy in the digital age two years ago, but had not done so this year because the text had shifted its original focus to regulating the activities of private businesses. She also raised doubts about the draft's references to marginalized and vulnerable persons. Human rights, including the right to privacy, should be safeguarded by Governments for all persons in equal measure, regardless of their belonging to any particular group.

The representative of the United States said her delegation had joined consensus because the draft resolution reaffirmed privacy rights and their importance for the exercise of freedom of expression. She welcomed the text's recognition that the rights people enjoyed offline should also extend to the online arena, noting that data analytics could have great benefits for societies, provided they were accompanied by adequate protections.

The representative of Canada reaffirmed that unlawful or arbitrary surveillance violated the right to privacy. The international community must cast its consideration of privacy broadly and not just focus on surveillance. The draft resolution's preoccupation with mass surveillance distracted from the bigger issue of the right to privacy, which often involved targeted surveillance on a discriminatory basis.

Source: United Nations.

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