Press Releases

    GA/SHC/3833
    1 November 2005

    Proposed Human Rights Council Must Be Broadly Based, Avoiding Politicization of Past, Assembly's Social Committee Told

    Creation of Body Seen as Opportunity to Rectify Current Weaknesses, Strengthen Role of United Nations in Key Area

    NEW YORK, 31 October (UN Headquarters) -- The new Human Rights Council must be objective and have broad geographical representation in order to fulfil its mandate of ensuring fundamental freedoms and human rights protections and avoid becoming politicized like its predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights, several representatives told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today, as it continued its debate on human rights questions.

    The United Nations work on human rights had sometimes rightly been criticized, for being politicized, selective and ineffective, said Norway's representative.  Creation of a new Council was an opportunity to rectify that situation and strengthen the Organization's role in human rights.  The representative suggested that the new instrument be a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly and quite possibly a principal organ.

    Echoing this view, Viet Nam's representative said selectivity and double standards had politicized the Commission on Human Rights, and a Human Rights Council should not be established just for the sake of creating a new, highly politicized mechanism.  As the process of consultation and negotiation on establishing a Council continued, a working group should be created to study and work out details towards that end.

    Libya's representative said Council members of the proposed new Council should not seek to serve individual economic or political interests.  The General Assembly should be given sufficient time to review the issue of Council membership.

    The representative of Peru said the new Council should be a permanent body with full powers to promote universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, address human rights violations and make recommendation to the entire United Nations system, including the Security Council.  It should carry out its work in timely fashion, taking into account the perspective of victims.

    Also speaking at the Third Committee's two meetings today were the representatives of Turkey, Togo, Egypt, New Zealand, Ecuador, Kenya, Iran, Myanmar, United States, Uruguay, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, Ukraine, Bangladesh, Fiji, Republic of Moldova, Kuwait, Burkina Faso, Malaysia, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Yemen, New Zealand, Nigeria, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Japan, and Nepal also made statements.

    A representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) also made a statement.

    Representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Japan spoke in rights of reply.

    The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 2 November, to take action on its draft resolution on strengthening the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme, in particular its technical cooperation capacity (document A/C.3/60/L.8/Rev.1), and its draft on providing support to Afghanistan with a view to ensuring effective implementation of its Counter-Narcotic Implementation Plan (document A/C.3/60/L.27), as well as to hear the introduction of other draft resolutions.

    Background

    The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to continue its general debate on human rights questions.

    (For background information, please see Press Releases GA/SHC/3828 of 24 October, GA/SHC/3829 of 25 October, GA/SHC/3830 of 26 October, GA/SHC/3831 of 27 October and GA/SHC/3832 of 28 October.)

    Statements

    AHMED GZLLAL (Libya) said that despite the international community's efforts to strengthen and protect all human rights through the Convention on Human Rights and the Outcome Documents of the 2005 World Summit and United Nations conferences, violence still existed in various forms, including terrorism and foreign occupation, particularly of Palestine.  Poverty, illiteracy and disease persisted.  Economic, social and cultural rights had yet to be given the same weight as civil and political rights.  He stressed the need for greater balance for all rights, particularly the right to development.  This was not just a synonym for economic rights, he said.  It also involved capacity-building, and was an effective tool for sustainable development.

    The African Group of Member States supported the new Human Rights Council, he said.  He hoped the Council would protect fundamental freedoms of all people on a universal basis.  It should be objective and have broad, geographically-balanced representation.  Its members should not seek only to serve individual economic or political interests; in terms of Council membership, such questions should be put to the General Assembly with sufficient time for consideration.  The Council should be solid, so that it did not meet the same fate as the Commission on Human Rights.  Libya was party to all international human rights conventions, he said, and a new national law guaranteed dignity and fundamental freedoms to Libyan citizens.  Further, Libya used severe punishment for perpetrators of torture, and had worked hard to ensure respect for human rights through cooperation based on neutrality and objectivity.

    SERHAT AKSEN ( Turkey) said the United Nations, at its sixtieth anniversary, was at a critical juncture of reform.  The reform agenda had reaffirmed the prime importance of human rights as one of the principal goals of the Organization, together with peace and security, and development.  The establishment of the Human Rights Council was at the heart of the human rights reform; ongoing consultations on its specifications provided Member States with the opportunity to present their views on different aspects of the new rights body.  Despite any differences, Member States should aim to create a body with an enhanced status compared to the current Commission on Human Rights.  The new Council should be representative, efficient and credible, and should function in an atmosphere of cooperation and understanding, instead of polarization.

    He said the primary responsibility to promote and protect human rights belonged to States.  Turkey had been going through a comprehensive reform process in recent years, with a view to upgrading human rights standards to the highest level attainable, by fully aligning Turkish legislation with international norms.  The human rights reform policy being pursued consisted of screening Turkish legislation, becoming party to international human rights instruments, and taking necessary measures for full implementation.  Turkey was also engaged in a constructive dialogue with human rights mechanisms, both at the United Nations and at the regional level.

    LIMBIYE KADANGHA BARIKI ( Togo) said his country was fully conscious of the role that human rights played in the fight against under-development.  In this context his Government hoped to ensure, among others, the right to life, to freedom of expression, and to education for every Togolese citizen.  That was why his Government was putting measures into place to reform the justice system, so as to strengthen the confidence of the Togolese people in their Government and institutions.  Through opening up its prisons and detention centres to humanitarian organizations, Togo had demonstrated that its citizens were not being arbitrarily detained or subjected to torture.  Furthermore, Togo was one of the first African countries to adopt a code allowing journalists to practise their profession freely.

    Ignorance and poverty were major obstacles on the road to ensuring respect for human rights, he said.  In the poorest countries, respect for human rights was affected by debt, disease, famine and natural disasters.  Further, the right to development was hindered by the structural adjustment programmes imposed by the international financial institutions, which deprived these countries of resources that could otherwise be used for investment and wealth creation.

    He said his Government was convinced that the implementation of the World Programme for Education, recommended by the World Summit 2005, would contribute to the promotion of human rights.  In this regard, Togo had introduced educational programmes with the aim of teaching its citizens the concept of human rights and fundamental liberties.  This proved that his Government had placed human rights at the centre of its political agenda, he said.

    ROMY TINCOPA ( Peru) said that Heads of State and Government had in September reaffirmed that all human rights were universal, indivisible and interdependent, and must be given just and equal treatment.  They decided to strengthen United Nations human rights mechanisms and to set up a Human Rights Council, a decision fully supported by Peru.  The Council must be a permanent body with full powers to promote universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, address human rights violations and make recommendation to the entire United Nations system, including the Security Council.  The new Council must carry out its work in timely fashion, taking into account the perspective of victims.

    Turning to migration issues, she said Peru had in September ratified the Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families.  Peru had convened an international ministerial-level conference of developing countries with substantial migrant flows, and it would hold a similar event in Lima next April.  Peru was also concerned with the rights of handicapped people, and supported a pragmatic approach to giving the handicapped equal opportunity and protections.  Further, she supported the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Populations and expressed hope that the objectives set forth in paragraph 127 of the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document would be achieved for the benefit of all indigenous peoples.

    MAGED ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt) said that despite the belief that there was a constant need for further developing respect for human rights, that would not be achieved unless a conducive environment was created.  For that to occur, there was a need to establish the link between further respect for human rights on the one hand and the respect for the firm principles of justice and equality on the other.  States should begin by respecting the specific nature of their societies, including their populations, religious trends, level of economic development, culture and education, and traditions and customs.  He said there should be no interference in the domestic affairs of others with the aim of imposing certain patterns of human rights.  States must also work together to eliminate all selectivity and politicization, as well as to avoid double standards.  To achieve all of that, a reform of the international machinery of human rights must encompass all issues, including the fulfilment of States of their obligations in the field of disarmament.

    Industrialized countries, he continued, must fully respect the nuclear commitments set out in the various instruments that had been adopted unanimously.  That would ensure the right to development, and would in turn promote all human rights.  States must also take into account the specific cultural and religious nature of various civilizations.  They must also work to eliminate terrorism by dealing with its root causes.  The Human Rights Council must begin by reiterating that the respect for human rights was the responsibility of the State, and that the international community should enhance its capacity in that regard within a framework of respect for the principles of international law.

    ANDREW BEGG ( New Zealand) said the international community's continued failure to apply the provisions of existing international human rights instruments to disabled persons had brought to light the need for a Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  Through swift adoption of the Convention, and its prompt and faithful implementation, the international community would go some way in addressing the needs of this diverse, marginalized sector of society.  The Ad Hoc Committee on Disabilities was proceeding on a solid foundation of goodwill, partnership between Government and civil society and real desire to effect change.  Civil society's candid and informal contributions had been invaluable.

    The Ad Hoc Committee should strive to complete a full reading of the text during its meeting in January.  That would allow the Committee as a whole to obtain for the first time a complete overview of the draft Convention, which was necessary for the timely conclusion of negotiations.  A three-week meeting in January would allow for significant progress and would shorten negotiations overall.  He urged all delegations to support the meeting and also to ensure that they did not compromise quality or undermine existing rights of disabled persons for the sake of concluding the negotiations early.

    LE LUONG MINH ( Viet Nam) said it was both alarming and unacceptable, as the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food had noted, that in a world richer than ever hundreds of millions of people were suffering from food insecurity and hunger.  Persistent hunger and extreme poverty were detrimental to the full enjoyment of all human rights.  The right to food must be fully recognized as a human right that deserved and needed the due attention of Member States.  He said his Government attached special importance to the right to development, the realization of which was indispensable and constituted a prerequisite for the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.  Viet Nam declared war on hunger immediately after it gained independence, and had made hunger eradication, poverty reduction and people-centred development its top priorities.  With relentless efforts and perseverance, it had achieved encouraging results in social and economic development, and was maintaining steady progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

    All human rights -- economic, social, cultural and political -- were important, indivisible and interlinked, he continued.  Overemphasizing certain human rights to one's liking, while downgrading, neglecting or even refusing to recognize other legitimate human rights, had proved to be a wrong and counterproductive approach.  The application of selectivity and double standards had politicized the Commission on Human Rights, and a Human Rights Council should not be established just for the sake of creating a new, highly politicized mechanism.  As the process of consultation and negotiation on establishing a Human Rights Council continued, his Government supported the idea of establishing a working group to study and work out details towards that end.

    DIEGO CORDOVEZ ( Ecuador) said Ecuador had subscribed to the principles of international human rights conventions and pacts, and had adopted a National Human Rights Plan in June 1998 in accordance with the 1993 Vienna Declaration and Plan of Action.  The Plan aimed at promoting a culture of tolerance and respect for all ethnic, social and cultural groups.

    He said Ecuador was concerned with the rights of migrants.  Deteriorating economic conditions in the last decade, compounded by the 1999 economic crisis, had forced an increasing number of Ecuadorians to migrate in search of better living conditions.  The mass flow of migrants had given rise to injustices and restrictions, such as xenophobia, discrimination, racism, terrorism and national security.  Migrants were also subjected to inhumane treatment and adverse situation, such as human trafficking and labour abuses.  Female migrants were particularly vulnerable to such abuses.

    Cooperation between countries of origin and receiver countries of migrants was essential, he continued, calling on all Governments and sectors of civil society, particularly in developed countries and receiver countries, to direct their energies into protecting migrants from discrimination.  Regional, subregional and global dialogue and coordination were necessary, he said, stressing the principle of shared responsibility.  He expressed hope that as many countries as possible would ratify the Convention for the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families, in order to fully exploit the benefits and potential of migrant flows.

    MONA JUUL ( Norway) said work on human rights had sometimes rightly been criticized for being politicized, selective and ineffective.  The opportunity now existed to make a real difference by acting on the clear directives provided by the High Level Summit, and Member States must succeed in according human rights their rightful place in the work of the United Nations.  Welcoming the commitment at the Summit to double the regular budget of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, she said it was vital to strengthen the High Commissioner's ability to respond adequately to crises and to deal with an increasing workload.

    She said Norway also supported the decision to establish a Human Rights Council to strengthen and elevate human rights in the work of the United Nations.  The Council could, in her Government's view, be set up as a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly, while keeping the possibility of making it a principal organ.  In order for Member States to find common ground, the composition of the Council must strike a balance between representation and effectiveness.  That objective would best be met by a membership numerically not significantly lower than that of the Human Rights Commission.

    She said the legitimacy of the new Council's membership could be ensured through pledges, or by subjecting members to non-selective reviews, provided that a feasible and time-effective format could be found.  In elaborating the Council's mandate, she continued, its relationship with the Third Committee should be examined, so as to avoid duplication.  Without the implementation of human rights conventions, she said, the ratification of international human rights instruments and historic declarations like the one made at the recent Summit would have no meaning; they would just be empty promises.

    THOMAS AMOLO ( Kenya) said it was unacceptable that in a world of surplus food production millions of people still went without food.  The United Nations must seek ways to ensure the right to food and other socio-economic rights.  He said the greatest challenge to achieving human rights in many developing countries was the inability to provide care and treatment to people suffering from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.  The health systems of developing countries were weak, and the cost of anti-retroviral drugs and other medicines was prohibitive.  Drugs must be made more accessible and affordable to the poor.  Health should not be sacrificed for the sake of profit.  The right to health was in jeopardy if the world could not establish the necessary balance between inventors' intellectual property rights and the right to health for the needy.

    He said Kenya had set up an elaborate institutional framework to universally promote and protect human rights.  The Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs had a priority focus on human rights policy and democratic governance; officials had set up a National Commission on Human Rights with a broad mandate to protect and promote such rights, investigate complaints, provide redress and ensure compliance with international human rights obligations.  Kenya, he added, was among the first African countries to voluntarily submit to review by the Peer Review Mechanism of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), which evaluated governance, the rule of law, justice and human rights issues, and recommended remedial measures.  Establishment of a National Commission on Gender was among measures to secure women's rights.

    MOSTAFA ALAEI ( Iran) said some viewed globalization as a process that was beneficial to the future economic development of the world, and also as an inevitable and irreversible phenomenon that had offered positive opportunities.  Others, however, believed it was a threat against equality within and between nations that could aggravate poverty, underdevelopment, marginalization, social exclusion, cultural homogenization and economic disparities along racial and cultural lines.  His Government believed globalization offered extensive opportunities for truly worldwide development, but that it was not progressing evenly.  World trade and financial markets were becoming more integrated and, consequently, the economies of many developing countries stagnated and their poverty increased.

    In a globalized world, he continued, there was a need for the private sector to become more involved in a responsible and accountable manner.  Corporate social responsibility and its impact on poverty eradication, full employment and social integration should be recognized.  However, in the absence of a comprehensive framework based on the fundamental principles of human rights, globalization and its potential risks might harm the world and nations, as well as human rights in general.  Globalization would still continue to be a serious challenge unless its benefits were maximized through enhanced international cooperation.

    U WIN MRA ( Myanmar) said human rights promotion and protection must be addressed through constructive dialogue and a non-confrontational approach.  The selective targeting of some developing countries for naming and shaming, and punitive action in the name of human rights, had only widened the gap of mistrust between the criticizers and the criticized.  Cooperation rather than the politicization of human rights could lead to improvements in remedying the global human rights situation.  Politicization, double standards and the lack of impartiality had caused some to question the credibility of the Human Rights Commission.  That mistake should not be repeated with the Human Rights Council.  He said he hoped the Council could truly address human rights issues objectively and with respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence, and non-interference in the internal affairs of States.

    He said that, while trying to build a modern democratic State through implementation of a "seven-step roadmap", Myanmar had been unjustly accused of systematic violations of human right by some Western countries, aided and abetted by exiles and expatriates.  Contrary to the allegations, the Government's policy was to promote and protect human rights, not violate them.  Myanmar was already party to many United Nations human rights instruments, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Its National Human Rights Committee was actively engaged in human rights promotion through dissemination of information dissemination.  It was also a party to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Optional Protocols.

    When the Committee met again this afternoon, SICHAN SIV ( United States) said it was the responsibility of Governments to respect and safeguard human rights for their citizens, and for Member States to promote and protect those rights and freedoms.  The survival of liberty in his land was dependent on the growth of liberty in other lands.  Towards this end, the United States would introduce a resolution on "The Incompatibility between Corruption and the Full Enjoyment of Human Rights".  Corruption was a tremendous challenge to democracy.  It reduced accountability and representation in the political system, undermined the principles of the rule of law, created unequal access to public benefits and undermined the role and capacity of public administration.

    Corruption hit the poorest and the weakest hardest of all since they could not afford to pay bribes or offer other forms of remuneration to safeguard their rights.  Elections were the first step to ensuring the democratic process and the accountability of a Government to its citizenry.  The United States would also introduce a biennial resolution on elections to commend the work of the Organization on this vital effort.

    He said the United States was actively participating in the process of developing the Human Rights Council.  It sought a mechanism that could better offer immediate attention to human rights by quickly addressing urgent or continuing violations, including "gross and systemic violations" as described in the Outcome Document.  Offering technical assistance and capacity-building resources for countries seeking to strengthen their domestic human rights protections should be the main focus of the new Council and the essential component of its mandate.  Ultimately, Member States should not make room on the Council for countries that sought to undermine its effectiveness, much less for Governments under Security Council sanctions or investigation for human rights reasons.

    FELIPE PAOLILLO ( Uruguay) supported the proposal in paragraph 124 of the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) be strengthened in human and material resources, including doubling its regular budget resources during the next five years.  Thanks to assistance from the High Commissioner and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Uruguay had been able to launch, in conjunction with a national non-governmental organization and the legislative branch, a project to review the country's domestic legislation in order to bring it in line with international treaties and propose amendments where necessary.

    Corporal punishment, being dealt with by the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, was of enormous importance and must be addressed globally without delay, he said.  The Special Rapporteur correctly stated that practices, such as whipping, beatings, mutilation of the hands or feet, stoning and other forms of punishment, regardless of whether they were carried out in public, violated various international juridical norms.

    He noted that the Rapporteur referred to the conclusions of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, the United Nations Committee against Torture, the European Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission and Court of Human Rights, regarding violations.  Any type of practice that involved corporal punishment was unacceptable and could not be justified on religious, cultural and historic grounds, or on the grounds that it acted as a deterrent.  That question should not be confused with any cultural differences.

    KIM MOONHWAN ( Republic of Korea) said human rights had truly emerged as one of the three pillars of the Organization, but the work was by no means complete.  Severe abuses of human rights and fundamental freedom in some parts of the world continued to be a source of grave concern.  While despotic regimes were steadily decreasing in number throughout the world, too many people were still living under the shadow of oppression.  The situation was unlikely to improve while such Governments continued to reject the international community's request for dialogue and cooperation.  The primary responsibility for implementing human rights lay with national Governments.

    He said the Republic of Korea had taken a groundbreaking step this year by abolishing the family headship system, which formed the basis of discrimination against women.  Criminal procedure law had been reformed to enhance the protection of the human rights of victims and suspects.  Relevant systems had been enhanced to ensure that foreign nationals could remain without experiencing unfair discrimination.  A National Human Rights Commission had also been established, and it was offering recommendations to the Government on such controversial issues as non-regular workers, the enactment of an anti-discrimination Act, and the right to information.  By the end of 2004, roughly 90 per cent of the Commission's recommendations had been implemented by the Government.

    With repeated failures to promptly deal with massive widespread violations of human rights around the world, he continued, the United Nations was often criticized as dysfunctional and unresponsive to people's actual needs.  The need for reform of the treaty bodies, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the intergovernmental machinery should be addressed without further delay.  The Human Rights Council should be created during the current session and begin operations not later than the first half of next year.

    ANDREAS BAUM ( Switzerland) said he supported the decision made in September during the 2005 World Summit to create a United Nations Human Rights Council and reinforce the suggestion of the High Commissioner of Human Rights that it mainstream the United Nations human rights system.  He regretted, however, that the Outcome Document did not give details concerning creation of the Council.  The Council should be more effective than the present Human Rights Commissioner, and thus respect the common will to put human rights and development on the same footing, and should enable the United Nations system to address human rights at a higher level.  He supported creation of a "peer review" mechanism and improved decision-making.  He invited all States to support the General Assembly process to decide on the Council's future work methods.

    He said Switzerland was convinced that sustainable peace required that women enjoy the same protections as men.  Switzerland's Ministry for Foreign Affairs believed that the creation of a peace commission was an excellent way to guarantee equal representation of men and women.  He supported the Secretary-General's perseverance to enforce Security Council resolution 1325 (on women, peace and security) and the action plan to further strengthen implementation.  Switzerland was preparing its own national action plan and would pursue partnerships for human security initiatives for gender justice.

    VOLODYMYR PEKARCHUK ( Ukraine) said human rights should be assigned a central place in the United Nations system.  The Human Rights Council should possess an enhanced status, preferably as a principal body of the Organization.  It should be given a broad mandate in dealing with all human rights in all parts of the world, including economic, social and cultural rights.  The issue of the relationship of the Council with the Third Committee should also be studied.  Since the "Orange Revolution", he said, human rights had become a top priority for Ukraine in its internal policies and external strategies.  It had launched several regional initiatives aimed at exchanging regional experiences and strengthening democratic principles.  For example, Ukraine and Georgia had initiated the idea of establishing the Community of Democratic Choice, which was to hold its first forum in early December.

    Historically, he said, Ukraine had been a home for many ethnic and religious communities, and it understood all too well the dangers of intolerance and discrimination.  It had experienced the extreme horrors of the genocides of the holocaust and the "holodomor", the artificial famine, which took the lives of 7 million to 10 million Ukrainians in the early 1930s.  Ukraine would continue its work to make the truth about holodomor widely known in the world and to achieve its recognition, particularly by the United Nations, as a genocide against Ukrainian people.  Ukraine was also particularly concerned about human trafficking, especially of women and girls.  All States should redouble their efforts to fight that form of slavery and commit to the remedy for, and rehabilitation of, the victims of trafficking.

    IFTEFKAR AHMED CHOWDHURY ( Bangladesh) said Bangladesh was committed to building a society free from exploitation, and in which equal rights were secured.  Its constitution embodied the principles of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and guaranteed equal rights for women.  Bangladesh was a party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the Convention on the Suppression of Trafficking of Persons, among others.  Bangladesh had undertaken all possible measures for effective and timely implementation new laws concerning human rights.

    He said Bangladesh was also a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention against Torture and the Convention of the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families.  His country gave high priority to empowering women, particularly against abuse.  He said Bangladesh had ratified the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution.  Moreover, necessary measures were under way to set up an independent National Human Rights Commission.  He supported the United Nations Democracy Fund and believed it would promulgate democratic values around the world.

    SIMIONE ROKOLAQA ( Fiji) said human rights must be seen as an immediate, short-term, as well as long-term endeavour for the benefit of people across the globe.  National implementation plans should reflect Plan of Action of the United Nations High Commissioner, particularly in the areas of country engagement, leadership and partnerships.  One of the main goals of the Fiji Constitution, he said, was the achievement of equal employment for all, which had been translated into the 2004 Social Justice Act that, among other things, provided equal access to education and training, land, housing, trade and participation in decision-making.  The High Commissioner's role in providing technical assistance and advice had helped support the establishment of a Race Relations Unit within the Fiji Human Rights Commission.

    He said all Governments should ensure that indigenous groups had free and equal access to the administration of justice.  Fiji also supported efforts to empower women across the globe and remove obstacles to their participation in all spheres of public and private life.  Fiji had made concerted efforts to reduce violence against women.

    In 1995, the Fiji Police had adopted a "No Drop Policy" on all reported cases of domestic violence, so that all such reports were investigated and brought before a magistrate.  Recently, the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre had been targeting the disciplined forces, including police and military, through its male advocacy program.  Fiji would continue to work in the area of human rights and would assist countries in the Pacific Region if requested.  It also endorsed the proposal for a Human Rights Council, whose members must be as widely representative as possible, and not subject to special reporting.  He said Fiji would welcome the deployment of a Senior Human Rights Officer to the UNDP office in the country.

    VSEVOLOD GRIGORE ( Republic of Moldova) said only a human rights-based approach could yield equitable and sustainable results and create circumstances conducive to long-standing peace, stability and development.  He supported the decision to double the resources of the OHCHR during the next five years and to set up a Human Rights Council.  He said his country was doing its part in that regard.  Its 2004-2008 National Human Rights Action Plan included a wide range of action by local and central authorities to improve the legal framework, strengthen democratic institutions and increase public awareness.  The Plan, supported by the UNDP, focused on human rights education and training to create a culture of human rights.  Amnesty International, the Helsinki Committee on Human Rights and the American Bar Association had formed partnership and cooperation agreements with the Moldovan Ministry of Education.

    He said the European Union-Moldova Action Plan laid out strategic objectives in human rights, with a view to supporting Moldova's further integration into European economic and social structures.  His country, in accordance with the Plan, was expected to ratify and adhere to 24 United Nations conventions and protocols in the field of human rights.  Moldova's cooperation with the Council of Europe offered another framework to consolidate human rights at the national level, he said, noting that Moldova had considerably updated its national legal instruments in accordance with European standards.

    NAWAF AL-ENEZI ( Kuwait) said Kuwait had taken several steps to ensure that all citizens and resident aliens enjoyed the rights provided for them by the Kuwaiti constitution and legislative laws.  Last year a law establishing the Kuwaiti Association on Human Rights was approved, and Kuwait had spared no effort to protect the rights of all resident aliens and migrant workers living on its territory.  An Ad Hoc Ministerial Committee was established to look into the relations between the migrant workers and the private sector, and an agreement concerning minimum wages would soon take effect.  The Ministry of Interior had also concluded a unified contract for domestic employment covering employers, domestic servants and employment agencies.  Previously, the High Commission on Employment Regulation had issued a decision completely prohibiting the recruitment of children under the age of 18 in camel racing.  A memorandum of understanding had been concluded with the International Committee of the Red Cross to establish a regional training centre for judges and prosecutors in international humanitarian law.

    Regarding the report of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights, which raised doubts about the legality of the Iraqi special tribunal for the trial of the members of the former regime, he pointed out that the court was established in accordance with legislation adopted by Iraq's National Assembly, and established pursuant to Security Council resolution1 546 on the administration of the Iraqi State during the transitional process.  The accused individuals had violated human rights laws and international humanitarian law, perpetrated the crime of invading Kuwait in 1990 and massacred Kuwaitis and third country nationals.

    He said the Palestinian people lived under difficult conditions in occupied territory as a result of the continued serious violations of human rights by Israeli authorities.  The reports offered clear evidence on the suffering of the Palestinians and their need to struggle for their inalienable rights.

    FRANCOIS OUBIDA ( Burkina Faso) said he supported the Millennium Summit decisions and expressed hope that they would reinvigorate the United Nations work, and give it better means to respond to the diverse expectations and challenges that lay ahead on the development agenda.  Burkina Faso had developed a strategic framework to fight poverty and to implement the millennium targets in education and health.  It also set up the Ministry for Promotion of Human Rights to lay down guidelines for sustainable development and human rights.  The Ministry was implementing national policy and action plans, and was closely following unfolding issues at the United Nations in the international human rights field.  He supported creation of a Human Rights Council, saying it was an adequate response to criticism and concerns about the effectiveness of the United Nations system in human rights.  However, the Council would be fully effective only if it was open and inclusive in its membership, and maintained a balance between social and cultural rights.

    Burkina Faso was an active participant in ongoing negotiations on reform projects recommended by the Millennium Summit, he continued, expressing hope that those objectives be accomplished by their deadlines.  Thousands of African immigrants were trying to cross borders to Europe.  With 7 million nationals living abroad, Burkina Faso was concerned about the humiliating treatment of repatriated migrants.  Rules should be set up to allow for more human and effective treatment of migrants, he said, noting his support for the 2006 General Assembly High-level Dialogue on the Rights of Migrants.

    WESTMORELAND PALON ( Malaysia) said he hoped that the proposed strengthening of the planning and management capacities of the OHCHR would allow the Office to assume its responsibilities while being mindful of the close and intricate relationship between development, security and human rights.  Development and security agendas should figure prominently in its strategic vision for the human rights program.

    He said it was not possible to ignore the plight of the Palestinians in the Occupied Territory and the violations of human rights perpetrated by the occupying forces.  The inhumane treatment and suffering inflicted upon Palestinians, especially women and children, deserved the urgent attention of the international community.  The focus of world attention on Israel's withdrawal from Gaza had allowed Israel to continue with construction of the separation wall in Palestinian territory, the expansion of settlements and the "de-Palestinization" of Jerusalem with virtually no criticism.

    Despite Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, he said, the humanitarian situation there continued to worsen.  Israel had paid no heed to the opinion of the International Court of Justice that the separation wall was contrary to international law, and that it should be torn down.  The wall had serious consequences for Palestinians, violating their human rights and forcing them to leave land and homes that they had occupied for generations.  The more influential Member States should do their utmost to persuade Israel to take immediate steps to end human rights violations in the Occupied Territories.

    He said independent experts, served as "the eyes and ears" of the Commission on Human Rights and played an important role in promoting and protecting human rights worldwide.  They were appointed to fulfil a particular mandate, and Member States expected those mandates to be adhered to.

    AHMED EL-GHERNOUGUI ( Morocco) said the North-South split of unequal development, and the precarious nature of clandestine immigration in sub-Saharan Africa, had led to negative socio-economic results.  Illegal human trafficking networks were operating in Morocco, with the primary goal of sending people to Europe.  The complexity and scope of problems due to migration required effective solutions based on mutual responsibility and partnership by countries of origin and receiver countries.  Since January, Moroccan authorities had dismantled more than 300 migrant networks.  Morocco's 2003 law effectively addressed the rights of illegal immigrants.  Moroccan officials had also created a migration office within the Ministry of the Interior.

    He said illegal migratory flows would only be stopped by a true development policy that took into account respect for migrant workers.  There was a large concentration of clandestine migrants in Morocco waiting to go to Europe.  Moroccan authorities had to ensure domestic security.  Repatriation of sub-Saharan African migrants had to be accompanied by judicial procedures that guaranteed dignified treatment and respect.  Meantime, sub-Saharan African migrants were benefiting from medical, housing and financial assistance in Morocco, despite the country's limited resources.  Regional cooperation was needed to address this situation.  He also advocated global assistance, including greater European-African cooperation and a multi-lateral framework.  A forthcoming Euro-African meeting would address this.

    BONIFACE CHIDYAUSIKU ( Zimbabwe) said dialogue and cooperation were essential in promoting human rights and would hopefully be the tools of choice for the Human Rights Council and any other bodies concerned with the same issues.  A cooperative approach would, hopefully, do away with the selectivity, double standards and hypocrisy that had characterized the human rights agenda thus far.  Many delegations, including Zimbabwe, had spoken against turning that forum, or any other human rights body, into an instrument of the foreign policies of some countries or groups.  Yet, even during the current session, the same countries and groups were abusing the Committee by seeking to settle political scores.

    He said that in the current debate, the European Union had made negative comments about Zimbabwe and other countries.  Assuming they were genuinely concerned with promoting human rights, the European Union countries needed to start at home by addressing such issues as gross abuses of the rights of refugees, the ill treatment of minority groups, such as the Roma, and the human rights violations that had been committed and continued to be committed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay.

    He said the European Union "waxed lyrical" about human rights situations in selected developing countries, but saw nothing wrong with some of its members drawing up legislation to allow for indefinite detention without trial and the use in court of secret intelligence potentially extracted through torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.  Their concern, he said, was not about human rights, but the promotion and preservation of selfish interests; that was not what the Committee was about and could not be translated into an agreed agenda of the United Nations.  The human rights agenda needed to be depoliticized.

    Mr. SAEED ( Yemen) said that despite the extent of international efforts on human rights, people's aspirations were not being met.  Racial discrimination and atrocities against the most vulnerable persisted.  There could not be stability without the implementation of human rights.  Yemen had ratified conventions on human rights and was trying to include such provisions in its legislation.  It had organized training workshops to make the public aware of human rights issues, and had given great importance to human rights in drafting laws; there was also a large number of national institutions to protect human rights.  A parliamentary committee had been created to make sure that commitments under international conventions were adhered to, and there was a parliamentary commission to examine complaints.

    He said attempts were made to check national legislation against international law, and to modernize laws to keep up with evolution abroad.  The noble principles of international laws should be reflected in national legislation.  An institute to protect the status of women was being created.  The rights of political groups and public freedoms were rights based in the constitution.  In the area of religious and moral tolerance, while Islam was the official religion and practiced by 99.7 per cent of the population, the Jewish minority enjoyed full freedom of religion, with the same rights and obligations as everyone else.

    JILLIAN DEMPSTER ( New Zealand) said the Committee would recall the strong concerns voiced in New Zealand's previous statements about the human rights situations in a number of countries.  They remained matters of the highest concern.  Today, however, the immediate focus was on the mechanisms by which the international community could address egregious human rights abuses more effectively.  At last month's World Summit, she recalled Member States declared themselves willing to take collective action when national authorities failed to protect people from the worst human rights violations, and they agreed to establish a Human Rights Council.  The challenge now was to reach agreement by the end of the year on the mandate, the size and functioning of that body.

    She said New Zealand considered it of the utmost importance that the new Council be able to consider human rights situations and to make recommendations on them.  Violations should not be debated in the abstract.  The Council's mandate should not be restricted to considering only those situations that were so grave they could not be ignored.  No country in the world had a perfect human rights record, but some were simply ignoring their obligations.  Many of the most serious human rights violations were clearly attributable to a lack of will on the part of Governments.  They deserved to be the object of international scrutiny.  She said there were also countries that did not have the capacity to fulfil their human rights obligations.  She supported greater availability of technical assistance to States trying to implement human rights through the OHCHR and United Nations Country Teams.  Human rights abuses were not simply an internal matter for Member States; all States had a responsibility to see human rights upheld.

    SIMEON ADEKANYE ( Nigeria) said all programmes and activities of the OHCHR should be funded by adequate resources from the United Nations regular budget.  He supported increasing resources to the Office, but not at the expense of resources allocated for other United Nations priority programmes and activities important to developing countries, particularly those related to development.  Such resources should be allocated in a balanced, impartial and comprehensive manner, be it for civil or political rights, as well as economic, social and cultural rights.

    He expressed concern over the non-representation and under-representation of several Member States, particularly African and other developing countries, in the staffing of the OHCHR.  He emphasized the fundamental importance and need to adhere to the principle of equitable geographical distribution to further enhance staff diversity.

    He said he supported the OHCHR in carrying out its mandate in a comprehensive and balanced manner, particularly giving due attention to the advisory services and technical cooperation to Member States, to enable them to build machinery for advancing human rights.  The proposed operational deployment, country engagement and field presences should be in accordance with the mandate of the OHCHR and carefully considered before implementation.  He underscored the need for such activities to be carried out through an intergovernmental process and in consultation with, and the expressed consent of, concerned countries.

    KIM CHANG GUK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) said the human rights issue was now used by some countries and groups as a tool to realize their political purpose, and to justify their illegal attempts to turn down the existing Governments of other countries.  Grave violations of human rights, including armed invasion of a sovereign State and massacre of civilians, were put out of discussion, whereas countries which defended their own system and national interests without yielding to foreign pressure were labelled as "human rights violators".  The politicization of human rights, he said, and the double standards and arrogant admonitions in others' internal affairs, had led to distrust and confrontation between countries.

    He said the human rights policy of the United States had reached a dangerous phase.  It attempted to overthrow the Governments of those countries where it was attempting to establish an American-style ruling, by fomenting internal discontent and social confusion.  The standard of human rights and democracy claimed by the United States was whether the Government of a concerned country was anti-American.  The present situation in Iraq showed that even a country with a huge military capability could not solve problems by means of force.

    He said the United States should immediately stop its moves to "subvert the system of sovereign States behind the mask of human rights and turn to dialogue and cooperation".  The same rules must be applied to all countries, he added.  The stand of the European Union in dealing with human rights situations changed according to time and place.  It should throw away its biased and selective policy against his country.

    KENZO OSHIMA ( Japan) said much had been achieved in the area of human rights over the years, but there remained many challenges.  He named three actions needed together for improvements to take place:  promoting mutual understanding through dialogue on each country's specific situations; cooperating with the country concerned in an effective and practical way with a view to enhancing human rights protection; and third, where there were cases of serious sustained human rights violations, voicing firm disapproval of them.

    He said Japan had followed this approach in addressing specific country situations in Asia and elsewhere.  In Myanmar, the National Convention had been convened intermittently since May 2004, as the first step in the Government's "seven-step roadmap" to move forward in democratization and national reconciliation.  The international community had repeatedly expressed concerns about the serious human rights situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.  This year, once again, the Commission on Human Rights had adopted a resolution on the subject, and expressed its deep concern about continuing reports of systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights.  There had been no progress in resolving the issue of Japanese abductees; he again strongly urged the authorities in the People's Republic to take the matter seriously.

    He said Japan welcomed the establishment of a Human Rights Council.  No less important than establishing the Council was the agreement by world leaders to strengthen the OHCHR.  The international community must increase its efforts to advance the implementation of human rights norms, and to improve the actual human rights situations across the world.

    KUL RATNA BHURTEL ( Nepal) said Nepal was fully committed to protecting and promoting human rights in the country.  The Government was closely working with the OCHCR, and had given due consideration to its report, as well as the Special Rapporteur and representative.  The human rights situation in his country had significantly improved; with the support of the OHCHR in Nepal, complementing national efforts, he was confident the human rights situation would further improve in the days to come.

    He said Nepal was a party to more than 16 international human rights instruments, and had submitted its periodic reports to the respective human rights treaty bodies on the implementation of the relevant instruments.  Despite the conflict situation in the country, the Government had been making efforts towards fulfilment of its constitutional and international obligations for the protection of human rights and international law.

    FLORENCE CHENOWETH, Director of the United Nations Liaison Office of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), recalled the report to the General Assembly last year that the Voluntary Guidelines on the Progressive Realization of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security had been adopted by the FAO Council.  Such guidelines, she said, had been widely disseminated and could be obtained from the FAO's website.  She said the FAO greatly appreciated the active participation of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food in elaborating the voluntary guidelines, and viewed them as a highly practical instrument that States wishing to improve implementation of the right to food could refer to, in reviewing policies, legislation and institutions.  She encouraged developed and developing States to disseminate and implement the guidelines.

    She said the FAO was taking internal steps to mainstream the guidelines in accordance with the Secretary-General's Agenda for Reform, and in cooperation with other relevant United Nations bodies. Brazil and Sierra Leone had set up innovative institutional mechanisms.  In Brazil, a national rapporteur on food, water and rural land monitored the right to food and participated in the broad-based Food Security Council, which directly advised the Brazilian President on policies.   Sierra Leone had established a Right-to-Food Secretariat, to advise on policies and monitor progress to implement the right to food, which was a top Government priority.  Other countries were adopting different institutions; legislative work was ongoing in several of them.  The FAO looked forward to sharing lessons learned regarding implementation.  The voluntary guidelines stressed respect for cultural values in food security and food aid policies, and drew attention to the close links of many indigenous groups to the land they inhabited.

    Rights of Reply

    Speaking in right of reply, the representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea said countries which should be denounced for their grave human rights violations were disguising themselves as human rights protectors.  In the United Kingdom, for example, there was violent racism, xenophobia and police cruelty aimed at immigrants.  After trailing behind the United States in an unjustified war in Iraq, the United Kingdom had lost its moral right to talk about human rights in other countries.  Japan had infringed against the Korean people by committing crimes against humanity.  Japan had ignited aggressive wars in the past, killing tens of millions of people and illegally drafting 8.4 million Koreans.  How many decades would pass before Japan really accepted responsibility and redressed past crimes?  If Japan was interested in human rights issues, it should before all else apologize its past crimes against humanity.

    Responding, the representative of Japan said that in a joint statement of the six-party talks of 19 September in Beijing, both Japan and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea had committed themselves to taking steps to normalize their relations.  Japan was ready to discuss settlement of outstanding issues when the talks reconvened.  He stressed the importance of both parties expressing themselves in a civil manner.  Abduction of citizens was an egregious violation of human rights and an issue of concern for whole international community.  As the Special Rapporteur had pointed out, no satisfactory explanation had been provided for those abductees whose fates were unknown.  Japan could not accept the claim that the issue was resolved.

    The delegate of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea said his country had done its best, but Japan had not shown any willingness to peacefully resolve the issue.  Japan was the one that had brought the issue to the United Nations in Geneva for many years; the issue was a bilateral one that should be solved, and Japan should do its best to that end.

    * *** *