Press Releases

    GA/SHC/3834
    3 November 2005

    Third Committee Approves Texts on Social Development, Advancement of Women, Crime Prevention, Drug Control

    NEW YORK, 2 November (UN Headquarters) -- The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today approved, without a vote, draft resolutions related to implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly, the advancement of women, crime prevention and criminal justice, and international drug control.

    By the text on implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly, the General Assembly would reaffirm that implementation of the Social Summit's commitments and the millennium targets were crucial to coherent development.  It would also note a general disconnect between economic and social policymaking, affecting employment and social integration.

    The draft resolution on the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) would have the Assembly, among other things, urge the United Nations system to use the Fund's technical and coordination experience on gender issues and to undertake gender mainstreaming.

    A draft on strengthening the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme, in particular its technical cooperation capacity, would have the Assembly request that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) continue efforts to provide Member States with technical assistance to strengthen international cooperation in preventing and combating terrorism.  The Assembly would also urge States and relevant international organizations to develop national, regional and international strategies to complement the Programme in effectively addressing trans-national organized crime.

    A draft on providing support to Afghanistan with a view to ensuring effective implementation of its Counter-Narcotic Implementation Plan would have the Assembly call on the international community to provide the necessary support to the counter-narcotic objectives of the Afghan Government through continued technical assistance and financial commitment, including the eight pillars of the Counter-Narcotic Implementation Plan.

    The Assembly would also urge Afghanistan to maintain illicit drug control as a high priority, as stipulated in its Constitution and the Plan, in order to combat illicit cultivation of opium poppy, illicit drug production and trafficking.

    The Committee also concluded its general discussion of human rights questions, during which several speakers discussed the need for objectivity and impartiality of the new Human Rights Council, stressing that it should not be politicized or apply double standards as the Commission of Human Rights had done in the past.  Delegations also emphasized the need to respect the principles of State sovereignty and non-interference in countries' internal affairs, and urged the Committee to concern itself with the most pressing human rights concerns requiring priority attention.

    In addition, Mexico's representative introduced a draft resolution on the Ad Hoc Committee on a comprehensive and integral international convention to protect and promote the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities.

    The representatives of Norway, Argentina, Russian Federation, Azerbaijan, Thailand, Jordan, Armenia, Australia, Cyprus, United States, Cuba, Greece, Serbia and Montenegro, India, Pakistan, Mali, Canada, Iran, Bolivia, Mongolia, Turkmenistan, Indonesia, Sudan, Belarus, Angola, Venezuela and Cameroon made statements today, as did the observer of Palestine.

    The representatives of China, Turkey, Myanmar, Azerbaijan, Syria, Israel, Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Uzbekistan spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

    The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 7 November, to continue to hear statements in exercise of the right of reply, and begin its debate on the elimination of racism and racial discrimination and the right of peoples to self-determination.  It would also hear a presentation by Mr. Doudou Diene, the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

    Background

    The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to continue its general debate on human rights questions and hear the introduction of a draft resolution on the subject.  It was also expected to take action on draft resolutions related to implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly, the advancement of women, crime prevention and criminal justice, and international drug control.

    The draft on implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly (document A/C.3/60/L.5/Rev.1) would have the Assembly reaffirm that implementation of the Social Summit commitments and the millennium targets were crucial to a coherent, people-centred approach to development; recognize that employment and social integration had suffered from a general disconnect between economic and social policymaking; and emphasize that poverty reduction policies should attack poverty by addressing its root and structural causes and manifestations.

    A draft on the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) (document A/C.3/60/L.13/Rev.1) would have the Assembly encourage the Fund to help harmonize and coordinate United Nations reform through strengthened partnerships with other funds, programmes and organizations to promote women's human rights and gender equality in policies and guidelines developed by the United Nations Development Group.  It would also urge the United Nations system to use the Fund's technical and coordination experience on gender issues and to undertake gender mainstreaming.

    Further, the Assembly would emphasize the importance of the Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence against Women, and would urge Governments, non-governmental organizations and the private sector to increase contributions to the Fund. It would also encourage the Fund to continue to support the gender equality and women's empowerment goals and targets of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, and to respond to country requests to develop and strengthen accountability mechanisms for gender equality, including countries' gender-responsive budget analyses and sex-disaggregated data as a basis for formulating gender-responsive public policy.

    A draft 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), would have the Assembly request the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to continue efforts to provide Member States with technical assistance to strengthen international cooperation in preventing and combating terrorism.  The Assembly would also urge States and relevant international organizations to develop national, regional and international strategies to complement the Programme in effectively addressing transnational organized crime, and urge States and funding agencies to review their funding policies for development assistance, and to include crime prevention and criminal justice in such assistance.

    A 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) would have the Assembly call on the international community to provide the necessary support to the counter-narcotic objectives of the Afghan Government through continued technical assistance and financial commitment, including the eight pillars of the Counter-Narcotic Implementation Plan.  The Assembly would also urge Afghanistan to maintain illicit drug control as a high priority, as stipulated in its Constitution and the Plan, in order to combat illicit cultivation of opium poppy, illicit drug production and trafficking.

    (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, GA/SHC/3832 of 28 October and GA/SHC/3833 of 31 October.)

    Statements

    MONA JUUL ( Norway) said that since the adoption of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders in 1998, there had been an increased focus both on the important role of human rights defenders and their often precarious situation.  Unfortunately, she said, that had not yet resulted in secure and satisfactory conditions for human rights defenders.  Noting with concern the increase in new restrictive legislation regulating the establishment and functioning of non-governmental organizations, she said such action impeded their ability to conduct their work.  Member States must give greater consideration to receiving and reacting upon information from human rights defenders.  The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) must also consider means of supporting United Nations offices, departments and agencies to strengthen the role and security of human rights defenders.  Enhanced interaction between human rights defenders and the United Nations and its personnel, particularly at the country level, was also needed.

    All Governments could offer support to human rights defenders, she continued.  Her Government was presently elaborating tools to strengthen its support for human rights defenders, both at home and abroad.  Such support could be given through assistance to concrete projects, as well as through direct and regular dialogue and interaction with human rights defenders, presence at trials and visits to prisons, and invitations to seminars.  The mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders remained a pivotal part of the United Nations human rights machinery.  It had given visibility to human rights defenders worldwide, and had identified challenges affecting their work.  It was now the task of Member States to follow-up on the Special Representative's valuable conclusions and recommendations, she added.

    GUSTAVO AINCHIL ( Argentina) said economic development, security and human rights were the three basic and interdependent pillars of the United Nations, and deserved equal treatment.  With the support of the OHCHR, Argentina had adopted on 9 September its National Plan against Discrimination, which had become part of Argentina's foreign policy on human rights.  The methodology used to draft the Plan -- including the counsel of independent experts and visits and talks with the victimized groups -- had enabled Argentina to become the third State following the Durban Agreements to adopt such a Plan.

    Argentina had taken decisive judicial steps to end impunity for perpetrators of past human rights violations, and had unconditionally supported the struggle against impunity at the international level, he said.  He supported the work of the International Criminal Court in that regard and noted the importance of the adoption of the basic principles and guidelines on the right to a remedy and reparation for victims of gross violations of international human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law.   Argentina had recently ratified, on 14 November 2004, the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.  He also welcomed the adoption by the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances of a draft convention on enforced disappearance.

    ILYA I. ROGACHEV ( Russian Federation) said it would not be an exaggeration to say that, at present, United Nations activities to promote and protect human rights were at a turning point.  Moreover, the Organization itself was in the process of cardinal restructuring, and adapting to modern realities.  The task, however, was not to totally reorganize everything that had been created and achieved over the past 60 years, including in the area of human rights.  A thorough analysis and comprehensive study of the existing system was required, so as to ensure that the Organization and its components functioned with maximum efficiency for the benefit of all Member States.  States bore a tremendous responsibility for the future of the United Nations, including the human rights sector. There was an urgent need to consolidate efforts and rally together in order to address the burning humanitarian issues, find points of convergence, and create adequate responses to challenges and threats.

    It was of particular importance to have consensus among Member States on the composition of the Human Rights Council, as well as its election procedure, mandate and function.  Without the broadest agreement, the Council's credibility might be undermined even before it was established.  It was, therefore, necessary, he said, to show restraint and not try to push through any decisions regarding the Council that were dictated by considerations of politics or expediency.  It was also necessary to adjust the approach taken by States, non-governmental organizations and other members of the international community to the consideration of humanitarian issues, and to develop intergovernmental cooperation in the human rights area on the whole.  Only through joint efforts could Member States address all the existing humanitarian problems, and effectively rebuff any modern challenges and threats in the human rights area, he added.

    SHAFA GAZDASHORA ( Azerbaijan) supported reform of the existing seven human rights treaty bodies.  The treaty body system must be streamlined and strengthened so that treaty bodies could better carry out their mandates and function as a strong, unified system.  There was sufficient room for improving work methods, particularly concerning country report evaluations.  The proposed harmonized reporting guidelines could be useful for Member States by offering ways to reduce countries' burdens of preparing reports and developing efficient country mechanisms for comprehensive and timely reporting.  The OHCHR and relevant United Nations agencies could provide necessary technical assistance to States to translate those ideas into action.

    She supported the idea of transforming the existing Commission on Human Rights into a new Human Rights Council, and said she looked forward to an increased authority for the Council that would enable it to reveal and effectively address gross human rights violations.  It was imperative to set up an effective monitoring mechanism to implement the new body's resolutions and decisions.  Since independence, Azerbaijan had joined almost all major international human rights instruments.  Implementation of its obligations under those documents was a priority.  Reform of Azerbaijan's judicial and penitentiary systems was under way.  This year, the 2003 Election Code was amended according to recommendations of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe.  Also, the 1999 Penal Code was being periodically revised and amended to duly reflect relevant international commitments undertaken by Azerbaijan.

    KHUNYING LAXANACHANTORN LAOHAPHAN ( Thailand) said success in promoting, protecting and fulfilling human rights for all must be measured by how international human rights norms and standards really touched upon and affected the lives of each and every person on the ground.  Member States must ensure that the current era was one of application and implementation.  It must be made clear that States had the primary responsibility in ensuring that all persons within their jurisdiction, as rights holders, fully and equally enjoyed their human rights without distinction.  In that regard, the role of the OHCHR should assist States in carrying out their human rights obligations and responsibilities through effective and constructive country engagement.

    Stressing the need for more resources to be allocated to the OHCHR to carry out its mandates more efficiently, she welcomed the commitment of Heads of State and Government during the September Summit to double the Office's regular budget over the next five years.  Such an increase in resources must also be coupled with an effective overall enhancement of the OHCHR's capacity, such as the strengthening of its management and staffing.  Her Government was also pleased with the establishment of a unit within the Office dedicated to providing States with advice on a rights-based approach to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and realizing the right to development.  Sustainable development could not be attained unless it was based on human rights and fundamental freedoms.  Likewise, human rights could not be ensured in the absence of development and security.

    MU'TAZ HYASSAT (Jordan) condemned all forms of terrorism, irrespective of motives and objectives, and said counter-terrorism measures must be in accordance with international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law.  He welcomed the preliminary report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, and said it was crucial to address terrorism's underlying causes and to raise public awareness to prevent it.  The progress made in the work of the Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities was quite encouraging.

    He lauded the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967, saying the document demonstrated that the Palestinian people were increasingly affected by Israel's violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in the territories.  He called on Israel to end such violations and to fulfil its obligations under international law, including those declared by the International Court of Justice in its advisory opinion on the separation wall.  While welcoming Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, he agreed with the Special Rapporteur's view that Gaza was subject to the Fourth Geneva Convention and that Israel was responsible for ensuring the protection and welfare of Palestinians.

    MARINE DAVTYAN ( Armenia) said that during the past six decades, the United Nations had played a key role in advancing human rights worldwide, and some significant results had been achieved in the areas of international norms, the creation of monitoring mechanisms, and advocacy for human rights.  However, there were also many challenges that still had to be addressed by the international community, including implementation.  In that regard, her Government welcomed the resolve to strengthen the United Nations human rights machinery and to mainstream human rights throughout the United Nations system.

    The decision to establish a Human Rights Council was one of the Summit's milestones, and her Government hoped that the ongoing negotiations would result in the creation of a body that would help elevate human rights in the work of the United Nations, as well as promote full and effective enjoyment of all human rights by all.  Since the primary responsibility for the promotion and protection of human rights belonged to Governments, activities aimed at building and enhancing the capacities of States in meeting their human rights obligations was particularly important.

    It was appalling that in today's advanced age, gross violations of human rights, including its gravest manifestation, genocide, were still witnessed, she said.  Armenians who survived through the unspeakable horrors of genocide amid the inaction of the international community at the beginning of the twentieth century were obliged to state that, in today's civilized world, the international community must have the responsibility to protect.  While her Government supported the idea of providing assistance to countries seeking to establish or strengthen their democracy, it was also necessary to consider the possibility of providing assistance to those parties in conflict that had embarked on the road to establishing democracy in their societies, she added.

    NADYA RASHEED, Observer for Palestine, said the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967 presented an extremely disturbing account of the grave human rights violations committed by Israel, including the continued killing, injuring and maiming of Palestinian civilians and the destruction of Palestinian homes and property.   Israel's continued imposition of restrictions on movement, with some 600 checkpoints, had resulted in the further deterioration of the already dire socio-economic conditions of Palestinians.  Such restrictions continued to hamper and often completely obstruct access to jobs, schools, health care, holy places, sufficient food and clean water.  More than 8,000 Palestinians, including 300 children and 120 women, continued to be held in Israeli prisons or detention centres in deplorable, unsanitary conditions, and had extremely restricted access to their families and legal representation.

    The dismantling of illegal Israeli settlements and the Israeli pull out from Gaza were important steps towards reversing the Israeli colonization of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, and ultimately towards ending the occupation.  However, the Israeli disengagement was unilaterally planned and implemented, and failed to recognize Palestinian concerns and left many critical issues unresolved.  The withdrawal of Israeli settlers from Gaza did not change the legal status of Gaza as an occupied territory.   Israel still remained an occupying Power in Gaza, bound to the rules and provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.  It was high time that the international community exert maximum effort on the occupying Power to cease all illegal practices and policies against the Palestinian people and abide by international law.

    ANDREW SOUTHCOTT (Australia) said that despite some progress, the world was far from free from human rights abuses, which underlined the need for the Human Rights Council to be able to deal with the most pressing of human rights challenges, namely to hold to account Governments that did not respect the human rights of their people.  Welcoming the signing of the agreement to end hostilities between the Government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement, he said his Government also encouraged the Indonesian Government to ensure freedom of worship as permitted under Indonesian law, and to prosecute those who committed violence against people of faith, regardless of religion.  His Government also encouraged China to press ahead with reform, including in relation to the death penalty and re-education through the labour system.

    His Government also welcomed the success of Israel's withdrawal from Gaza and the renewed opportunity that represented to take the Middle East peace process forward.  Following Israel's withdrawal, his Government believed it was vital that the Palestinian Authority continued to reject violence and control terrorist activities, so that a lasting peace could be built.  Welcoming further progress in Iraq's transition to a free and democratic society, he said his Government, however, was deeply concerned about the situation in Myanmar and strongly urged the Government to commit to a peaceful and inclusive democratic transition and national reconciliation.  Highlighting developments in Afghanistan, Nepal and Sudan, he added that his Government also remained concerned by the human rights situations in Zimbabwe and Iran.

    ANDREAS MAVROYIANNIS ( Cyprus) said his country supported the advancing and strengthening of national institutions to promote and protect human rights, and actively endeavoured to ensure proper observation of international human rights standards through robust judicial and administrative legal mechanisms.  However, such standards were bound to remain a dead letter for Cyprus as long as a large section of territory remained under the effective control of Turkish occupation forces, and relevant United Nations resolution and decisions of the European Court of Human Rights were not implemented.  Since Turkey's invasion of Cyprus in 1974, nearly one third of the island's population had been illegally and arbitrarily deprived of their property rights and forcibly displaced from their ancestral abodes.

    Cyrus had occupied the attention of the Security Council for many years, he continued.  But Turkish political expediencies and the lapse of time had diverted attention from the human rights dimension of the problem.  No definitive remedy to the persistent violations of human rights in Cyprus could be envisaged without ending the partition of Cyprus imposed along ethnic lines and in contradiction to the island's traditionally multi-ethnic character and the Cypriot people's will.  Moreover, no settlement could be achieved without foreign troop withdrawals.  The rule of law and application of human rights standards must be an integral part of a comprehensive, sustainable solution to the Cyprus issue.

    SICHAN SIV ( United States) said that around the world, people understood that they should have the power to decide their own destinies, within their own homelands, by exercising free choice in how and by whom they would be governed.  They would choose freedom over oppression -- the consent of the governed, not the coercion of the State.  They would also fulfil their democratic aspirations by holding free, fair and transparent elections.  The world had been impressed this past year by the transformational elections held in Iraq, Afghanistan and in the West Bank and Gaza.  In Indonesia, 2004 was a landmark year in the transition from authoritarian rule to democracy, as it held its first-ever direct presidential election.  But elsewhere, the struggle for freedom encountered roadblocks.  The Iranian Government continued to deprive its people of the freedom they sought and deserved, through summary executions, disappearances, torture, and restricted freedoms of speech, assembly and religion, he said.  Stressing that the United States stood with the Iranian people as they stood for their own liberty, he urged the Committee to pass a strong resolution on the situation in Iran.

    The Committee should also pass a resolution addressing the human rights situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, he continued.  The human rights situation in Turkmenistan also remained extremely poor, as freedom of assembly, speech and the press were non-existent.  The United States sought the Committee's support for its resolution addressing the human rights situation in Turkmenistan.  Highlighting troubling human rights situations in Uzbekistan, Myanmar, Sudan, Belarus, Cuba, Syria and Zimbabwe, he said the United States was nevertheless pleased to note progress in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  While his Government valued its discussions with China on a range of issues, and noted some progress in improving human rights there, China's human rights record remained poor, and his Government sought to engage with China to improve that record.  To support democratic aspirations around the world, Member States must not only condemn abuses, but also support young democracies by helping strengthen transparency and accountability to enforce the rule of law, and to build foundations of good governance.  The Committee had the power to help those who wished to help themselves, he added.

    ORLANDO REQUEIJO GUAL ( Cuba) said that the principles of universality, objectivity and impartiality in the context of human rights continued to be absent from many statements.  Many delegates presented a select list of the human rights situation in the South based on current geo-political interests.  He reiterated Cuba's defence of sovereignty and respect for the right to self-determination.  The current behaviour of some countries was unacceptable if genuine cooperation in human rights was to be achieved.  The European Union exhibited a classic case of double standards and hypocrisy, suffocating the self-determination of Cubans in the name of defending human rights.  For two years, they had impeded adoption of a resolution intended to investigate the arbitrary detentions at the United States military base in Guantanamo, where there had been scandalous cases of torture.

    Liberty and democracy were not the exclusive domain of the North, he said.   Cuba's liberty and democracy were the result of the long fight against North American imperialism and Cuba would not renounce its independence.  The attitude of Third Committee delegates and their tendency to demonize the Cuban people and Cuban Government demonstrated that the manipulation of international cooperation on human rights hindered the full realization of human rights and turned the debate into a tool for domination.  Reform of the Human Rights Commission had to dismiss that behaviour.  The Commission's crisis was the result of political manipulation, selectivity, politicization, double standards and hypocrisy on the part of developed countries for their own political interests.  It appeared that the new Human Rights Council would inherit that problem.  Injustice, inequality and unilateralism in the world must end in order to correct that.

    NICOLAOS MATSIS ( Greece) said that as long as a large section of Cyprus remained under the effective control of the Turkish armed forces, the 2005 World Summit commitment to a world order based on international law, as well as to protecting human rights, the rule of law and democracy could not be implemented.  The military invasion in 1974 and subsequent occupation of 37 per cent of Cyprus had resulted in persistent violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms there.  His country had expressed concern for the human rights of the enclaved persons in the northern part of Cyprus.  The European Court of Human rights had found Turkey responsible for 14 violations of the European Convention on Human Rights.

    Describing the situation in Cyprus regarding displaced persons, changes in the demographic balance, violations against the island's cultural heritage, and the unresolved issue of missing persons, among other things, he said that according to the negotiating framework for Turkey's accession to the European Union, the Union expected Turkey to sustain the process of reform, and to work towards further improvement in the respect of the principles of liberty, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.  The Cyprus issue had been on the agenda of the United Nations for far too long.  In light of the "European orientation of all parties involved in the issue", it was time to make positive steps towards a comprehensive and fair solution.  No such solution could be achieved without the withdrawal of all foreign troops, the reaffirmation of the rule of law and application of human rights standards.

    SLAVKO KRULJEVIC (Serbia and Montenegro) said it was incumbent on Member States to translate the commitments in the Summit's Outcome Document into reality.  States must seize that opportunity to ensure that human rights were truly implemented.  His Government would, for its part, remain active in all efforts aimed at advancing the cause of human rights.  In the past few years, Serbia and Montenegro had demonstrated its unequivocal commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights.  It had invested enormous efforts with a view to improving the situation of human and minority rights and consolidating the rule of law.  Human rights, however, were still not even close to being respected in the United Nations-administered Serbian province of Kosovo.  The United Nations was partly to blame for the fact that the general level of human rights protection was still below minimum international standards in that part of the country, he said.

    Six years after the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) assumed administration of Kosovo, the non-Albanians in the province still did not enjoy basic human rights, he continued.  The security situation of non-Albanians was still alarming, while freedom of movement remained precarious.  The lack of security and freedom of movement impeded the exercise of economic and social rights, such as access to social and health services and employment.  Furthermore, property rights were neither respected nor ensured in the province.  Only by ensuring human rights and freedoms to all inhabitants in Kosovo would it be possible to attain stability, multi-ethnicity and prosperity in the province.

    JAYA BACHCHAN ( India) said India's experience demonstrated that a democratic, pluralistic society with a secular polity, autonomous and impartial judiciary, vibrant civil society, free media and independent human rights institutions ensured effective guarantees for the promotion and protection of human rights in the country.  The August 2005 enactment of a rural employment guarantee programme providing for 100 days of assured employment annually to every rural household was a step towards providing socio-economic rights, including the right to work.  The 2005 Right to Information Act, which came into force on 12 October, opened the Indian Government to public scrutiny.  It aimed to promote openness, transparency and accountability in governance and empowered Indian citizens by giving them the fundamental right to seek information from a Government department.

    She supported the efforts of the OHCHR to develop and strengthen national human rights institutions worldwide.  Proposals for greater country engagement by the High Commissioner should focus on national capacity-building through the provision of technical assistance and advisory services.  There should be no unchecked proliferation, overlapping and duplication of mandates or special procedures.  This deserved collective priority attention.  She welcomed the ongoing discussions for setting up the Human Rights Council to replace the Commission on Human Rights.  The new Council should be non-selective and non-discriminatory to avoid the Commission's shortcomings.

    MUNIR AKRAM ( Pakistan) said United Nations human rights mechanisms needed to always operate in a non-discriminatory and objective manner to have credibility with those who suffered and sought redress.  Unfortunately, the current human rights machinery had not yet been able to fully establish non-partisan credentials.  Selectivity and politically motivated actions remained its Achilles heel.  The United Nations human rights special procedure system had great potential if only it was used equitably and fairly to address all areas and issues of concern.

    Focusing on what he called "points of concern", of the debate on reports submitted by special procedures, he said there was an apparent absence of sensitivity to cultural diversity and respect for religious beliefs, especially with regard to a recent crass incident of Islamophobia.  "The complete silence by all mandate holders on the most recent attacks against Holy Prophet Mohammad, the most revered personality for 1.3 billion Muslims and many others, by media and prominent personalities in a European Union Member State, was a glaring omission."  Special Rapporteurs also agitated several issues, which were the subject of reservations by several Islamic States.  Reports had also been presented in the style of a charge sheet against the countries.  A cooperative, problem-solving approach was the best way to assure success as far as victims were concerned.  A code of conduct for human rights defenders was required to define their role.

    ALASSANE DIALLO ( Mali) said Mali was among the countries affected by the food crisis in Africa, as the Special Rapporteur on the right to food had highlighted in his report.  During the general debate of the fifty-ninth session of the General Assembly, his delegation had drawn international attention to the foreseeable consequences of an especially difficult agricultural situation in Mali, due to the early cessation of rain and a locust plague, among other problems.  The Government had appealed for mobilization and solidarity on the part of the international community to deal with what already appeared to be a difficult transition period in the country.  The extent of the damage experienced in early 2004 led the Malian authorities to take urgent and bold measures to avoid a situation where people had to live through a catastrophe, and some of the measures preceded the difficult situation itself.

    Action taken by his Government included the establishment of communal, local and regional food security committees, the elaboration of programmes and plans for food security, and the establishment of "rain banks" around the country, he continued.  Other measures included the free distribution of food, the establishment of grain banks throughout the country and the authorization to important rice, as well as urgent agricultural assistance for vulnerable peoples, providing them with batches of seed in hot seasons and with veterinary products.  Thanking all of the partners that assisted Mali, he said his Government wanted to draw the attention of the international community to the fact that the Millennium Development Goals would not be attained unless the eighth goal, relating to world partnership for development, was fully achieved.  His Government shared the analysis of the Special Rapporteur that all human beings had a right to live in dignity and free of hunger.  It was inconceivable in the twenty-first century that the priority of some Governments was to ensure that their peoples were fed, whereas the world today could feed twice its population.  His Government, with the support of partners, was trying to achieve those development goals through a draft law on agriculture, he added.

    GILBERT LAURIN ( Canada) said that Member States were obligated to prevent and combat human rights violations.  That obligation entailed identifying and responding to specific instances of abuse, ensuring the health of mechanisms concerned with human rights, adopting human rights instruments and ensuring their implementation, and recognizing and supporting States that made efforts to improve their domestic human rights situation.  The Third Committee's discussion of human rights gave Member States an opportunity to meet those obligations.  There were five broad areas in which States were falling short of their human rights obligations:  physical integrity of people; political and democratic rights and freedoms; protection of minorities and freedom from discrimination and intolerance; protection of civilians amidst conflict and humanitarian crisis; and impunity.

    He gave specific examples of where those failures were occurring.  He also cited countries that deserved note for their efforts to improve their human rights situations, including Colombia, Viet Nam, China, Burundi and Georgia.  However, much work remained to be done.   Canada was committed to protecting and promoting human rights domestically and internationally.  In addition to addressing specific instances of human rights abuses, it was necessary to strengthen and make more effective the multilateral mechanisms concerned with human rights.   Canada also supported the establishment of the Human Rights Council, and was committed to ensuring that it had the tools and the mandate to be the prime mechanism for the protection and promotion of human rights internationally.

    MOSTAFA ALAEI ( Iran) said he was speaking on the present item with profound hesitation since it was not consistent with Iran's established policy, which discouraged referring to specific situations.  The item on human rights questions, due to the lack of an objective definition to guide deliberations and decisions in a non-polarized manner, was frequently susceptible to serve more as an instrument for fault-finding and name blaming than a vehicle to bring understanding and contribute to building knowledge required for the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide.  No country could claim a perfect human rights record, including his own.   Canada had indicated it would present a resolution on the situation of human rights in Iran.  But his Government had obtained piles of credible and reliable information, suggesting that the violation of human rights in Canada was alarming.

    He then shared some information Iran had found out about Canada, which included:  prisoners deprived of their liberty; continued allegations of inappropriate use of chemical and incapacitating weapons; indigenous populations stripped of their land; systemic discrimination in the criminal justice system; and torture.  He said the above examples illustrated the situation of human rights in Canada.  The question now arose whether the human rights defenders in the Committee realized that Canada should be the subject of a resolution.  Iran believed that those considering country resolutions as a legitimate means to promote and protect human rights should live up to their faith in the universality of human rights and hold the Government of Canada accountable.  But he was certain they would not, because they had long reserved country resolutions based on their political agenda.

    Introduction of Draft Resolution

    When the Committee met again this afternoon, the representative of Mexico introduced a draft resolution, as orally corrected, on the Ad Hoc Committee on a comprehensive and integral international convention to protect and promote the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities (document A/C.3/60/L.28).  The purpose of the draft was to renew the mandate of the Ad Hoc Committee and set up the general framework for its work, bearing in mind progress achieved last year.  The Committee, thanks to intense work in a constructive, positive environment, had concluded a complete reading of the draft text of a convention elaborated by its Working Group.

    By terms of the draft, the General Assembly would invite all concerned stakeholders to continue working actively and constructively with the aim of concluding a draft convention and submitting it as a matter of priority to the Assembly for adoption, preferably during its sixty-first session.  Further, it would decide that the Ad Hoc Committee would hold two sessions in 2006, including a three-week session in January, in order to achieve a complete reading of the draft convention presented by the Chairperson, and a two-week session in August.

    She noted that while that would require important efforts and resources by all stakeholders in the short term, it would prove to be more efficient and render better results in the medium term and long term.  The goal was to achieve a quality convention that established the measures needed to guarantee the full enjoyment of all human rights and equal opportunity for all disabled persons.  In that regard, the draft stressed the need to ensure accessibility at the United Nations, to the physical premises and documentation, including documentation in Braile and other appropriate formats to disabled persons.  Further, the draft urged Member States to contribute to the Voluntary Fund to support participation of non-governmental experts from developing countries.

    Action on Draft Resolutions

    The Committee then adopted, without a vote, a draft resolution on Implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly (document A/C.3/60/L.5/Rev.1), as orally revised.

    Speaking after the adoption of the draft, the representative of Venezuela stressed the commitment of her delegation to the resolution.  However, in connection with the paragraph in the text regarding the commitments assumed in the 2005 World Summit, she said her delegation, as it had said on previous occasions, considered the Outcome Document of the Summit not as a mandate but as a working paper.  Consequently, her delegation wanted to go on the record that it did not consider the Outcome Document to be anything other than a simple working paper without any mandate.

    The representative of the United States said her delegation was pleased to join the consensus on the draft resolution, but expressed reservations about operative paragraph 16 under the new numbering system, which dealt with concrete action on corporate responsibility and accountability, including corruption.  She wanted to emphasize that where there was a need for setting standards, it was the responsibility of Government to enforce such laws.  She also reiterated that her delegation did not favour financial mechanisms that would involve taxes on air travel.

    The Committee then adopted, without a vote, a 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), as orally revised.

    Speaking after the adoption of that text, Venezuela 's representative reaffirmed the importance of strengthening that Programme.  Her Government had shown its support by ratifying United Nations instruments on the subject, and her delegation had always supported the consensus on the resolution.  However, the text mentioned the Outcome Document which, for the reasons already mentioned, her delegation could not support, since it considered it totally lacking in mandate.

    Next, the Committee took note of the Secretary-General's report on Preventing and combating corrupt practices and transfer of assets of illicit origin and returning such assets to the countries of origin (document A/60/157); and the Secretary-General's report on the Eleventh United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (document A/60/172).

    Following that, the Committee adopted, without a vote, a draft resolution 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).

    Also acting without a vote, the Committee adopted a draft resolution on United Nations Development Fund for Women (document A/C.3/60/L.13/Rev.1).

    Speaking after the adoption of the resolution on women, the representative of the United States said her delegation was pleased to join the consensus, but expressed reservations in connection with preambular paragraphs two and three. She reiterated that the United States was firmly committed to the empowerment of women and the promotion of their human rights, and reaffirmed the goals and commitments of the Beijing Declaration.  However, such a reaffirmation did not constitute a change in the position of the United States with respect to treaties it had not ratified, and it did not recognize abortion as a method of family planning.

    The representative of Venezuela said her delegation joined the consensus and was firmly committed in its support of the resolution.  However, she expressed reservations with regards to paragraph four of the text, because of its reference to the Outcome Document.

    Bolivia 's representative requested that his country be included among the co-sponsors of the resolution on women.

    The representative of Jordan thanked all delegations for their support of the text on women and for adopting it by consensus.

    Statements

    The Committee then resumed its debate on human rights questions.

    OCHIR ENKHTSETSEG (Mongolia) said as a State party to more than 30 international human rights treaties and conventions, including the seven core human rights treaties, Mongolia was committed to promoting and protecting human rights.  It was carrying out extensive legal reform to bring national laws in line with international standards, including revision of the Criminal Code and Civil Code, and the enactment of new standards related to public administration, non-governmental organizations, privatization of State property and land, and business operations.  The Mongolian Parliament's adoption of the Law on the National Human Rights Commission and the Commission's subsequent creation in 2001, in accordance with the Paris Principles, was an important step in promoting human rights at the national level.

    The Secretary-General's report on the effective implementation of international human rights instruments pointed to Member States' ongoing debate over that issue, she said.  The reporting system was vital to the implementation of human rights.  The revised draft guidelines, prepared by the OHCHR, were important tools to improve States parties' reporting obligations and to ensure harmonization.  She supported further enhancing the Office's assistance to Member States to meet their reporting obligations, as well as follow-up recommendations of relevant committees.

    ESEN AYDOGDYEV ( Turkmenistan) said ensuring full respect of fundamental freedoms and human rights was one of the main priorities of his Government.  It was not an empty declaration, as the Government had taken many concrete and substantive steps during the past year, which ensured significant advancement in the area of human rights.  A few days ago, the People's Council, the supreme representative body of the country, had adopted a number of laws that qualitatively advanced the electoral system in the country.  This summer, the Government, by a presidential decree, had granted citizenship to more than 16,000 refugees from neighbouring countries who had been residing in Turkmenistan for a number of years.  The past year was also marked by active efforts by the Government and the national legislative branch in preparation of national reports on the implementation of international human rights instruments.

    As a party to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, his Government consistently pursued a policy of maintaining the full and equal rights and participation of women in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country.  Earlier in the year, the National Parliament had established a committee on human rights, which was taking the lead in drafting legislative acts to further enhance the fundamental freedoms and rights of people.  He said his country, through concrete action, had demonstrated its openness and readiness to cooperate on human rights with interested parties, to be transparent, to respond to concerns, and to take specific steps where necessary.

    Regrettably, he continued, the concrete and far-reaching steps were not recognized, and the clear achievements in the area of human rights were ignored by others.  His Government firmly believed that human rights could not be imposed from the outside, and that country-specific resolutions only undermined trust among potential partners, as well as politicized the human rights machinery of the United Nations.  Building a democratic society and ensuring human rights was a political choice of his Government and, in its implementation, it would welcome support and assistance, but would reject any imposition and pressure, he added.

    MUHAMMAD ANSHOR ( Indonesia) said Indonesia was prepared to actively participate in the creation of a more effective and less politicized Human Rights Council.  Taking note of the Plan of Action of the OHCHR to enhance the Office's role in promoting and protecting human rights by strengthening its capacity, he said current human rights challenges required a concerted response.   Indonesia's House of Representatives had adopted two laws to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, respectively.  All human rights were universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated, and should be addressed in an integrated, balanced manner.  Civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development merited equal attention and treatment for mankind's benefit and betterment.

    Poverty eradication must become the main focus of the United Nations, he said.  While developing countries had primary responsibility for formulating national development plans, developed countries had the responsibility to ensure a favourable environment to advance human rights, security and development in developing countries.  The right to develop should be a priority for the future Human Rights Council.  Promoting that right as an integral part of the Council's agenda would ensure that all stakeholders properly enjoyed the right to development.

    ALEJANDRO ALDAY ( Mexico) said his Government had been carrying out an active policy on human rights which, in recent years, had led it to support the main instruments in the area.  In the Outcome Document of the 2005 Summit, countries had reiterated that the protection of human rights was a joint and basic value for Member States.  The actions incumbent upon Member States must, as of now, be designed so that all human rights would constitute, in actual practice, one of the priorities of the work of the United Nations.  It was necessary to consolidate an international system in which values would be promoted and protected by all States, and in which the United Nations would defend them in a timely manner.   Mexico had benefited from the human rights mechanisms, and had been cooperating with the OHCHR with very good results.

    Very recently, States had once again witnessed events that had shaken the world, and which had highlighted the need for the international community to deal with them and, at the same time, broaden the protection of human rights.  Terrorism, for instance, was a grave problem, but the obligation of States to protect their populations did not justify the suspension or violation of the fundamental rights of persons under their jurisdiction.  Respect for human rights, far from being an obstacle, was an effective tool for the prevention of terrorism and the fight against it.  Regarding the more vulnerable groups, Mexico had promoted initiatives for the drafting of standards for the protection of human rights of persons belonging to those groups, particularly migrants or persons with handicaps.  His delegation also planned to present two draft resolutions on those issues during the session, he said.

    Mr. SAEED ( Sudan) stressed the need to respect cultural and religious diversity while considering human rights and setting up the Human Rights Council.  Any human rights reform measure should take into account multilateral diplomacy; protecting rights under the United Nations Charter, international law and relevant international instruments; and respect for the independence of countries and their sovereignty, to ensure that there was an international consensus on those issues.  Economic, social and cultural rights should be given the same focus as civil and political rights.  The international community should take steps to monitor and prevent various human rights violations.  The right to development, to food, and to life and dignity were priorities for developing countries and required adequate mechanisms to strengthen and preserve them, including technical assistance.

    Such rights should not be used to impose certain political models, choices or values, he continued.  Nor should they attack States' sovereignty or interfere in their internal affairs.  That was the only way to prevent politicization.  The new Council should be impartial and objective in order to avoid the distortions of the present Commission.  The United States' statement contradicted Sudan's statement and the positive developments with regard to protecting and strengthening human rights in Sudan, as noted in the report of the Special Rapporteur, and had not respected the conclusions of the Commission of Inquiry.  The United States was in no position to judge when it had committed human rights violations in Guantanamo Bay and the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.   Canada's behaviour was also blemished, and it had committed violations against the rights of indigenous peoples.   Canada should try to put its own affairs in order instead of setting itself up as a judge on human rights.

    VALERY KAVALEUSKI ( Belarus) said that issues relating to the promotion and protection of human rights had become one of the most important components in the reform of the United Nations.  Human rights had required more immediate attention, whereas mechanisms in their defence had remained unchanged.  Regarding the Commission on Human Rights, the initial mandate and goals that had been set pertaining to dialogue, cooperation and interaction among States had been replaced by political interests and double standards.  It had become typical of the Commission to issue condemnations to countries whose human rights records were indeed better than those of some other countries.  Furthermore, Belarus had consistently objected to so-called country resolutions, because of their selectiveness and because they did not promote an honest and truthful consideration of human rights issues.  Such country resolutions undermined the interdependent and interlinked nature of human rights, and increased the gap between civil and cultural rights on the one hand, and economic, social and political rights on the other, as well as the right to development.

    Problems such as racial intolerance, xenophobia, trade in human beings and the activities of terrorist organizations were challenges in the human rights area in different regions of the world, he continued.  Those problems also existed in countries with so-called mature democracies.  Member States were now at a turning point in reform, and the results of that reform would determine the future of the whole international system regarding the promotion and protection of human rights.  His delegation had previously spoken in favour of results-based reform, which was not focused on the time factor.  It had also spoken in favour of the establishment of an open-ended working group, to facilitate negotiations that could enable proper consideration of the views of smaller and developing States.  It was necessary to strive for decisions to be taken on the basis of consensus, as well as to take into account the opinion of each and every Member State.  The successful negotiation of the establishment of the Human Rights Council meant the achievement of consensus, he added.

    ISMAEL GASPAR MARTINS ( Angola) said the decision during the 2005 World Summit to reform the human rights machinery confirmed the importance of human rights in the United Nations.  While much had been achieved over the years regarding human rights protection and promotion, including adoption of a number of landmark international human rights conventions, many challenges remained concerning the right to food and fighting poverty.  It was wrong to overemphasize certain human rights while downgrading others, and such an approach had led to selectivity and double standards.  The primary responsibility to promote and protect human rights lay with the States themselves.

    Angola was embarking on a comprehensive reform process to fully align national legislation with international human rights norms, he said.   Angola was party to the United Nations human rights conventions, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and their protocols.  It had submitted reports to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Committee on the Rights of the Child.  The National Strategy to Combat Poverty had enabled Angola to make headway in meeting the millennium targets on poverty, hunger, universal primary education, infant mortality, maternal health, and fighting malaria and other diseases.

    ELEYDA GARCIA-MATOS ( Venezuela) said her Government guaranteed the promotion and protection of all human rights in her country.  It had ratified the international instruments on civil and political rights, and on economic, social and cultural rights.  The Government had expressed its commitment to ensuring the observance of human rights, and had carried out immense changes in the administration of justice, and in the conception of the public policies of the State.  Her delegation had listened carefully to the reports presented by the Special Rapporteurs, particularly on the elimination of all forms of violence against women.  It believed that there should be a detailed review of those reports and that States should be able to provide their impressions and remarks before publication.

    Her delegation was also concerned that while the Special Rapporteurs had important and necessary jobs in the area of human rights, it was important to establish objective and reliable criteria for their selection to make sure that their actions were not aimed at the imposition of sanctions on an individual basis.  Regarding terrorism, she said it was necessary to note that terrorists were not only the persons who carried out terrorist acts, but also those who protected them.  A clear distinction should exist between acts of terrorism and the struggle of people against foreign occupation.

    MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU ( Cameroon) said the right to development meant for every one the right to food, education, drinking water, health care and other basic services.  The Special Rapporteurs on the right to food and development had brought that important aspect to the forefront of the Committee's debate.  The Plan of Action of the OHCHR and the decision of Heads of State during the 2005 World Summit were commendable because they called for renewed cooperation and mutual respect for countries' differences.  He stressed that religious differences and diversity must be taken into account.  During the Summit, Heads of State had declared that all human rights were universal, indivisible and interdependent.  Such guidelines were essential for reforming human rights mechanism.

    Cameroon supported the creation of the Human Rights Council, he said.  It was necessary to take inventory of existing human rights bodies and define new procedures and work methods.  He supported strengthening the capacity of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and doubling financial resources for her Office.  In terms of the Subregional Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa, he noted that the Secretary-General's report had highlighted the Centre's dynamism and usefulness, including training, technical assistance and advisory services to Governments in the subregion, support to civil society organizations, support to peace processes, information dissemination on human rights and democracy, as well as the development of partnerships with the Economic Community of Central African States and United Nations agencies operating in Central Africa.

    Statements in Right of Reply

    Exercising the right of reply, the representative of China said he was responding to the statements made earlier in the day by the representatives of the United States and Australia.  Both of those countries shared a disgraceful history of taking land from indigenous peoples and of genocide, and both discriminated against their minorities and indigenous peoples.  Both mistreated illegal immigrants and asylum seekers, and their prisons were always filled with minorities in an alarmingly disproportionate manner.  Both countries also belittled basic rights, such as housing, food and clean water, and had demonstrated their solidarity by casting the only two negative votes on relevant resolutions.  They had also started in recent years to roll back civil liberties and increase police power significantly.  In the extreme case of the United States, its authorities had actually attempted to legalize the use of torture.

    China valued its constructive and comprehensive relationship with both the United States and Australia, and that, in fact, was one of the reasons why his delegation could afford to be so candid, he continued.   China knew that both those countries had serious human rights challenges, but it did not express its concern, nor did it urge them to put their houses in order.   China believed that, at a certain point in time, they might realize their problems and mobilize themselves to address their own problems, and it looked forward to that day.

    The representative of Turkey said the statement made by the representative of Greece was made up of false accusations and distortions, and was detached from recent developments.  Outlining points about the question of Cyprus that he said the representative of Greece had overlooked, he also added that the Turkish military did not intervene in the island for no reason.  It had been prompted by the massacres perpetrated against the Turkish Cypriots.

    The representative of Myanmar responded to the statements by the representatives of Australia, Canada and the United States and their refusal to refer to Myanmar by its official name and respect the sensitivity of Myanmar's language and culture.  Myanmar was a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Its transition to a full democratic system was moving forward vibrantly.  It did not pose a threat to regional peace.  On the contrary, Myanmar's immediate neighbours were aware of the complex issues it faced.  She said Canada had accused Myanmar of maintaining the practice of forced labour.  Myanmar was firmly committed to eradicating forced labour, and had cooperated with the International Labour Organization in that regard.  Sanctions imposed against Myanmar under the pretext of human rights would negatively affect Myanmar's people.

    The representative of Azerbaijan responded to the statement by the representative of Armenia, saying that, regardless of how actively Armenia tried to camouflage its plans to annex Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia's argument that the population of Nagorno-Karabakh had the right to self-determination was not valid.  Nagorno-Karabakh was part of a sovereign State and would remain an integral part of Azerbaijan.  The Secretary-General's report on the situation of refugees in Azerbaijan did not reflect the real situation.  Azerbaijan had, in fact, adopted legislation that would allow it to give citizenship to 250,000 Azerbaijanis expelled from Armenia.  She refuted allegations that Azerbaijan had imposed a blockade in Nagorno-Karabakh, saying that Nagorno-Karabakh was part of Azerbaijan.  The railroad from Azerbaijan to Iran that ran through Nakhichevan was also part of Azerbaijani territory.

    The representative of Syria said his delegation had repeatedly declared before the Committee that it preferred cooperation among States in the realm of human rights, especially since no one had achieved perfection in that regard.  The pointing of fingers at countries, especially like delegations were doing today, did not reflect a true dimension of those rights, but rather the political dimensions that dictated them.   Syria believed it was doing its utmost as far as ensuring the enjoyment by all citizens of their rights.  It had acceded to a number of conventions, more than that acceded to by some States that were levelling accusations and unfounded rumours.

    Referring to the statement by the United States representative regarding a number of countries, he said it was no longer possible for the United States to claim it was defending human rights while it was violating such rights in various parts of the world.  It was not necessary to mention what the United States was doing by name or with details.  He also affirmed to the delegation of Canada that Syria respected its international obligations, especially those under the conventions to which it had acceded.  Furthermore, he said that discussions in the Committee must contribute to formulating criteria to which all were committed, instead of raising controversial questions, many of which were not based on objective facts.

    The representative of Israel said that as he listened to the statement by the representative of Palestine, he realized that he was hearing the same recording that he had heard so many times in the past.  Of particular concern to his delegation was the lack of assumption of any responsibility by the Palestinian Authority, as reflected in the statement.  It failed to address any commitment to the internationally endorsed Road Map and the obligations made to it, and also did not mention the largest obstacle to peace -- terrorism -- as though terrorism had never existed.  His Government believed that the situation had changed over the past few years, although the Palestinian delegate might want States to believe otherwise.  What had not changed, however, was the Palestinian Authority's reluctance to confront terrorism and fulfil its first obligation in the Road Map -- to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure and collect arms.  Neither side had a monopoly on suffering, nor could either side fail to assume their commitments, he added.

    The representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea responded to the representative of the United States' statement.  He said the United States had accused the Democratic People's Republic of Korea of human rights violations under the pretext of helping people, but in reality it was just trying to impose its own political will, unseat the current political system and force regime change.  The United States had acted like a human rights czar, criticizing countries while ignoring its own human rights situation.  Regarding the representative of Australia's statement, he urged Australia to end its practice of double standards and selectivity.

    The representative of Uzbekistan responded to the statements by the representatives of the United States, the European Union and Canada.  Such countries, he said, were trying to manipulate the human rights agenda for their own political gain.  The draft resolution that the European Union was expected to sponsor on Uzbekistan this year was the result of disagreements between Uzbekistan and the United States regarding Uzbekistan's intention to bring to justice those responsible for the terrorist acts in Uzbekistan in May 2005.  Those terrorist attacks had put all of Central Asia in turmoil.

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