Press Releases

    GA/SHC/3838
    11 November 2005

    Principles on Right to Reparations for Victims of Gross Human Rights Violations Approved by Third Committee

    Texts on Central Africa Human Rights Centre, Disabilities Convention,  Right to Promote Fundamental Freedoms Also Recommended to General Assembly

    NEW YORK, 10 November (UN Headquarters) -- The Third Committee (Social, Cultural and Humanitarian) today approved four draft resolutions without a vote, on a broad range of human rights questions, addressing such issues as reparations for victims of human rights violations, the rights of persons with disabilities, a human rights centre in Central Africa, and a Declaration on the right to promote fundamental freedoms.

    By the text on the basic principles and guidelines on the right to reparations for victims of gross international human rights violations, the General Assembly would adopt those principles and guidelines, and recommend that States promote their widespread use and dissemination among law enforcement officials, military and security forces, legislative bodies, judiciary, human rights defenders, and the public at large.  The guidelines were negotiated over a 15-year period and said by several delegations to be indispensable for States' efforts to end impunity and ensure justice.

    The representative of Chile, the main sponsor of the draft, said that although that resolution was not legally binding, it clearly demonstrated the international community's concern for and solidarity with victims of such violations.  The principles and guidelines would help victims and their representatives, as well as States design and implement public policies on reparations, and were flexible enough for States to implement.  Their adoption would constitute a milestone in the fight against impunity.

    By the draft on the Convention on 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, the Assembly would decide that the Ad Hoc Committee hold meetings next year in January and August, to achieve a complete reading of the draft Convention's text, as well as urge the international community to contribute to the voluntary fund for the Committee's work.

    The draft on the Subregional Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa called for greater financial support and human resources from the Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to enable the Yaoundé-based Centre, to effectively address the subregion's growing need to promote and protect human rights and a culture of democracy.

    The text on the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, would have the Assembly call upon all States to promote and give full effect to the Declaration, as well as condemn all abuses of human rights promoters and defenders worldwide.

    Further, the Assembly would urge States to ensure that anti-terrorism measures and steps to preserve national security comply with their obligations under international law, without hindering the work and safety of human rights defenders.  It would also urge States to effectively address impunity for attacks, threats and acts of intimidation against human rights defenders and their relatives, and to help the Special Representative carry out her tasks by furnishing all requested information.

    Also today, Sweden's representative introduced a draft resolution on the International Covenant on Human Rights.

    Malaysia's representative, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, introduced three drafts:  on human rights and unilateral coercive measures; enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights; and the right to development.

    Mexico's representative introduced a draft on protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, where the Netherlands' representative introduced a draft on human rights mainstreaming in the United Nations system.

    In addition, the Committee concluded its general debate on the Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).  Several representatives commended the UNHCR for its efforts to assist refugees and internally displaced persons.  They also stressed that while it was encouraging that the number of refugees worldwide had been decreasing in recent years, the international community had to improve cooperation and burden-sharing, and should also provide the UNHCR with the necessary resources to strengthen its humanitarian response and refugee protection capacity.

    The representatives of Serbia and Montenegro, Republic of Korea, Sudan, Nigeria, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Croatia, India, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Jordan and Pakistan made statements during that general discussion.

    The representatives of India, Switzerland, France, Uruguay, Canada, United States, New Zealand, Germany, United Kingdom, Mexico, Cameroon, Norway, Venezuela, and Syria made statements on the draft resolutions that were adopted.

    The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 14 November, to hear the introduction of all remaining draft resolutions. 

    Background

    The Third Committee (Social, Cultural and Humanitarian) met today to conclude its general debate on the Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as well as general refugee and humanitarian questions.

    It also met to hear the introduction of a draft resolution under its agenda item on the implementation of human rights instruments:  International Covenants on Human Rights (document A/C.3/60/L.26).

    Also under that agenda item, the Committee met to take action on a draft on 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 (document A/C.3/60/L.24).  By terms of the draft, the General Assembly would adopt those principles and guidelines, recommend that States take them into account, promote respect thereof and bring them to the attention of members of the executive bodies of government, in particular law enforcement officials and military and security forces, legislative bodies, the judiciary, victims and their representatives, human rights defenders and lawyers, the media and the public in general.  Further, the Assembly would request that the Secretary-General take steps to ensure the widest possible dissemination of the principles and guidelines in all United Nations official languages.

    The Committee also met to hear the introduction of six drafts under its agenda item on human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.  They included:  human rights and unilateral coercive measures (document A/C.3/60/L.34); enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights (document A/C.3/60/L.35); the right to development (document A/C.3/60/L.36); protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (document A/C.3/60/L.37); human rights mainstreaming in the United Nations system (document A/C.3/60/L.44); and elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief (document A/C.3/60/L.54).

    Also under that agenda item, the Committee met to take action on four drafts.  The draft on an Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities (document A/C.3/60/L.28) would have the Assembly decide that the Ad Hoc Committee hold, within existing resources, prior to the sixty-first session of the General Assembly, a session from 16 January to 3 February 2006, in order to achieve a complete reading of the draft text of a convention prepared by Ad Hoc Committee Chairman and a session from 7 to 18 August 2006.  The Assembly would also underline the importance of further strengthening technical cooperation and coordination between the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).

    Further to the text, the Assembly would stress the need for greater efforts to ensure disabled persons access at the United Nations, with reasonable accommodation regarding facilities and documentation, and requests that the Secretary-General explore and implement innovative measures, within existing resources, and in consultation with disabled persons organizations and the Bureau of the Ad Hoc Committee, to provide selected documents of the Ad Hoc Committee in formats accessible to participants with visual and hearing disabilities.  The Assembly would also urge Member States, observers, civil society, international organizations, financial institutions and the private sector to contribute to the voluntary fund for the Ad Hoc Committee's work.

    The accompanying text on programme budget implications of draft resolution A/C.3/60/L.28 (document A/C.3/60/L.58) included a statement submitted by the Secretary-General in accordance with rule 153 of the rules of procedure of the General Assembly. 

    The draft on the Subregional Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa (document A/C.3/60/L.30) would have the Assembly request that the Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights provide additional funds and human resources to enable the Yaoundé-based Subregional Centre to respond positively and effectively to the growing need to promote and protect human rights, and develop a culture of democracy in the subregion.

    The draft on the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (document A/C.3/60/L.40) would have the Assembly call upon all States to promote and give full effect to the Declaration, as well as condemn all human rights violations against persons engaged in promoting and defending human rights and fundamental freedoms worldwide.  Further, the Assembly would urge States to take appropriate action, consistent with the Declaration and all other relevant human rights instruments, to eliminate such human rights violations, and would call upon them to ensure protection of human rights defenders, at both the local and the national levels, including in times of conflict and peacebuilding.  The Assembly would also call upon them to ensure, protect and respect freedom of expression and association of human rights defenders, as well as facilitate registration in a non-discriminatory, expeditious and inexpensive manner in accordance with national legislation.

    Further to the text, the Assembly would urge States to ensure that any measures to combat terrorism and preserve national security comply with their obligations under international law and do not hinder the work and safety of human rights defenders; urge States to effectively address impunity for attacks, threats and acts of intimidation against human rights defenders and their relatives; and urge States to cooperate with and assist the Special Representative in carrying out her tasks by furnishing all requested information.  The Assembly would urge those States that have not yet responded to the communications transmitted to them to do so without delay, and to speedily investigate urgent appeals and allegations brought to their attention by the Special Representative.

    (For further information, see Press Releases GA/SHC/3835 of 7 November, GA/SHC/3836 of 8 November and GA/SHC/3837 of 9 November.)

    Statements

    SLAVKO KRULJEVIC (Serbia and Montenegro) said that a decade after the conflict in the former Yugoslavia ended, refugee issues were still on the agenda in Serbia and Montenegro.  Despite the progress achieved in the past few years, much remained to be done to adequately address that problem.  His country still provided shelter to a large refugee population -- currently about 150,000 refugees from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.  The recent census of refugees had shown a significant decrease, primarily due to the fact that almost 50 per cent of the refugee population acquired citizenship in Serbia and Montenegro.  Obtaining that citizenship was, however, only the formal prerequisite for integration, and many steps remained before their full integration.  Measures to that end would be among the priorities of the competent authorities in the forthcoming period.  Stressing that the effort would require financial resources, he called upon donors to provide assistance.

    He said Serbia and Montenegro had been advocating for years the so-called trilateral approach to resolving the problems of refugees, in close cooperation with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia.  Such an approach had been formalized in the Sarajevo Declaration signed in January.  Expressing confidence that the process initiated by the Declaration would lead to the settlement of the refugee problem in the region, he said that resolving the issue would contribute to further normalization of relations between the countries concerned.  In addition to the refugee population, there were about 250,000 internally displaced persons in Serbia and Montenegro.  Regrettably, even six years after the deployment of United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), none of the necessary conditions, including security, respect for property rights and sustainability of return, had been achieved in Kosovo and Metohija.  Furthermore, non-Albanians in the province were still exposed to ethnically motivated attacks and harassment, and did not enjoy the freedom of movement, he added.

    SHIN KAK-SOO (Republic of Korea) said it was encouraging that the number of refugees worldwide was decreasing in recent years and had reached its lowest level in 25 years in 2004.  That was due to successful repatriation, mainly in Afghanistan and in some African countries.  He commended the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and concerned Governments for making that possible, but expressed concern over the protracted refugee situation in many parts of the world.  The international community should provide the UNHCR with the necessary resources to strengthen its humanitarian response and refugee protection capacity.  The UNHCR should seek lasting solutions in concerned countries, particularly in terms of facilitating population resettlement and providing timely humanitarian support and human rights safeguards.

    The special needs of vulnerable refugees, particularly women and children, should be duly reflected in the UNHCR's policy planning and field operations, he continued, lauding the fact that the UNHCR had made gender equality, the care of refugee children, reproductive health and community development among its priorities.  The issue of internally displaced persons required greater UNHCR engagement.  The UNHCR's expertise and infrastructure could effectively help find solutions in that area.  But, due to limited resources, the UNHCR's participation should be based on the division of labour among relevant organizations and its primary mandate of protecting refugees must not be affected.  Enhancing organizational efficiency should be a prime necessity.  

    ABDELDAIM ALI ELBASHIR ( Sudan) said the Sudan was one of the leading countries in hosting refugees since its independence in the mid-1950s.  It was still shouldering those responsibilities, despite the huge economic and social impact.  The Sudan looked forward to the continuation of support from the international community to provide the necessary assistance to refugees, so that they could return voluntarily to their homes.  The signing of the comprehensive peace agreement in the Sudan, which put an end to the war in the south, had ushered in the beginning of a programme of development and reconstruction.  However, his Government was afraid that without the provision of necessary resources there would not be an orderly return, which would disrupt the implementation of the peace agreement.  Calling on the UNHCR to implement the programme of the return of Sudanese refugees, he said it was also necessary for the international community and donors to help with the process of return, resettlement and reintegration.

    His Government appreciated the efforts that had been made by the UNHCR,and looked forward to the intensification of those efforts and the provision of necessary resources that would support national efforts in disarmament and demobilization.  Furthermore, he expressed hope that the efforts of the Government and people in Darfur to reach conciliation and coexistence, would pave the way for the implementation of the comprehensive peace treaty in Darfur before the end of this year.  He also called for close cooperation between the UNHCR and specialized agencies of the United Nations, so that refugee programmes would be linked to development strategies, and in order to ensure stability and reintegration, so that refugees might be able to live normal lives.

    SIMEON ADEKANYE ( Nigeria) lauded the work of the UNHCR to repatriate 7,000 Nigerians from Cameroon.  Repatriation was the preferred durable solution to the refugee problem.  He urged the UNHCR to ensure that pending repatriation was carried out early and supported its efforts to strengthen links between humanitarian and development assistance, as well as add more stakeholders to the process.  However, the shortfall in the UNHCR's 2005 budget had negatively impacted its refugee protection activities, particularly in Africa.  Two weeks ago, the UNHCR warned that it would have to reduce or suspend repatriation of Burundi refugees and reintegration in Burundi, unless funds were made available.  That raised serious questions about the international community's commitment to share the responsibility of caring for refugees and further undermined the peace process.

    Many African countries had generously hosted large refugee populations and in the process had borne enormous social, financial and environmental burdens, he continued.  He urged the international community to support the High Commissioner's efforts to address the problem through more funds for refugee protection and assistance.  He regretted the increase in the number of internally displaced persons worldwide, of which 13 million were in Africa.  He noted the UNHCR's lead role in camp coordination and management, emergency shelter and protection for internally displaced persons.  He called for continued talks to take further action to help such persons.  In that regard, Nigeria had, within its limited resources, provided food, other supplies and financial assistance to about 6,000 refuges in the Oru refugee camp.  In September, it approved an estimated $215,000 in food and supplies for refugees under the auspices of the National Emergency Management Agency, and appropriated $54,000 in the 2005 budget of the National Commission for Refugees for the construction of urgently needed facilities in the camp.

    KHUNYING LAXANACHANTORN LAOHAPHAN ( Thailand) said it was necessary to ensure that the return of refugees was sustainable and that reintegration and development were provided in a long-term manner.  It was also necessary to ensure that peace was lasting and conflict would not return.  Her delegation was heartened by the High Commissioner's policy directions to continue to promote durable solutions, including the mainstreaming of the "Convention Plus" activities.  Thailand had placed a high priority on durable solutions and had been involved in the Convention Plus consultations from the beginning.  She was confident that a more systematic, practical and situation-specific approach adopted by the Convention Plus process would make a useful tool to solve protracted situations, and remained supportive of the process.

    Thailand had also followed the evolution of the UNHCR's strategic partnership with other development actors and regional organizations.  Her Government strongly wished that the enhanced cooperation would involve strategies to strengthen capacity of countries of origin in addressing root causes of people outflows, as well as ensure that the work on the migration-asylum nexus would be effectively implemented in accordance with mandates of the respective partners.  Thailand was encouraged by the High Commissioner's commitment to enhancing the operational independence and transparency of the Office of the Inspector-General.  She also stressed the importance of the UNCHR being given resources necessary for its protection and assistance functions, and called on donors to assist the UNHCR and host countries in the spirit of international burden-sharing.

    AKSOLTAN ATAEVA ( Turkmenistan) said Turkmenistan was one of first in the region to respond to the humanitarian concerns of refugees from Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Azerbaijan.  It had set up hostels, flats for refugees, as well as employment, hospitals, schools and other social institutions.  That was in accordance with Turkmenistan's policy to welcome and care for refugees under its June 1995 national norms and legislation, and 1997 law on refugee protection.  Turkmenistan was committed to major international agreements on refugee questions and was a State party to many international conventions on refugee rights and protection.  Turkmenistan officials were cooperating with the UNHCR on refugee protection.

    Under the National Institute of Democracy, a centre had been set up for humanitarian law, she said.  A government decree gave refugees the proper status they deserved.  A 2003 presidential decree called for registration of foreign citizens.  The State body concerned with refugee matters was charged with registering and issuing documentation for refugees.  With the help of the Director of the UNHCR's Central Asia, Southwest Asia and Middle East Unit, Turkmenistan officials had decided to issue national passports to refugees under a 2005 presidential decree.

    MIRJANA MLADINEO ( Croatia) said the proactive policy of her Government concerning the return of refugees and internally displaced persons had resulted in significant progress in the return process during the last several years.  Apart from being a party to the relevant international instruments, Croatia had put in place domestic legislation to ameliorate the situation of refugees and displaced persons with respect to public housing.  The Government was also undertaking numerous activities to facilitate the return of refugees and internally displaced persons to the areas of their previous residence, by reconstructing damaged and destroyed housing stock and basic infrastructure; repossessing property and housing; providing temporary accommodation; clearing landmines; and facilitating the preconditions for economic growth in the areas of return.

    Her Government, in cooperation with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the UNHCR, had undertaken several public information campaigns aimed at creating a favourable atmosphere for return, including a series of public appeals by senior Government officials directed at displaced persons and refugees.  The Government was also fully supportive of the recommendation made by Walter Kälin, the Secretary-General's representative on the human rights of internally displaced persons, of further strengthening economic development and enabling employment incentives that were essential for the social inclusion of all returnees.  The Government had also adopted a road map in July for the implementation of the Sarajevo Declaration, and had allocated a total of 300 million euros from the 2005 national budget for its implementation.  She added that the settlement of the refugee question before the end of 2006 was high on the Government's agenda.

    GANESH PRASAD SINGH (India) said that, while there were significant and positive developments in addressing the refugee problem worldwide, an alarming situation remained, as was evident from the UNHCR's report that the total population of concern to the UNHCR, including refugees, asylum seekers, returnees and internationally displaced persons, had grown from 17 million at the end of 2003 to 19.2 million at the end of 2004.  Welcoming the initiatives of the new High Commissioner to deal with the ongoing and new situations of refugees, he encouraged him to continue with efforts to adapt the UNCHR to the changing demands of the times and to make a perceptible difference on the ground.  As part of the agenda for protection, there should be a balanced approach to the realization of all of the goals that had been identified.  His delegation would also like to see an assessment of the pilot programmes already initiated under the "4-R" approach of repatriation, reintegration, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

    Internally displaced persons were first and foremost the responsibility of Member States, he continued.  The UNHCR's role in situations involving internally displaced persons should be on the basis of an explicit request by the Member State concerned.  It was also necessary to ensure that there was no duplication in responsibilities in that area between the different humanitarian pillars of the United Nations, functioning within their existing mandates.  In the face of competing demands and limited resources, the UNHCR should proceed with caution, while taking on a greater role in response to the needs of internally displaced persons.  It should maintain its focus on those persons of concern who had the first charge on its mandate of refugee protection and assistance.  In addition, developing countries of origin should be given assistance to facilitate repatriation, particularly by creating economic opportunities, where required, for returning refugees.  Resettlement, especially in countries with economic means, was also a possibility.

    FARAH ADJALOVA ( Azerbaijan) said the problem of forced displacement was one of the most serious challenges for the international community.  Azerbaijan had been facing that tragic phenomenon in its most disastrous form since 1987.  The unprecedented scale and unfortunate endurance of the problem, as well as its heavy burden on the shoulders of her Government, naturally made the issue a priority in its agenda.  Throughout the years, Azerbaijan had developed a strong partnership and cooperation with the UNHCR, which had extended its support and assistance in coping with the challenges arising from displacement.  Throughout 2004 and 2005, her Government, with the assistance of the international community, had continued to employ specific measures aimed at improving the living standards of the displaced population in the country by implementing some temporary integration initiatives.  Particular attention was attached to targeting the basic needs of the most vulnerable segments of the displaced population.

    While the number of refugees had significantly decreased as a result of successful repatriation operations in some parts of the world, the total number of internally displaced persons had remained almost unchanged for the last four years, she continued.  Azerbaijan had stated on a number of occasions that the international community's response to the issue of internal displacement had still left many questions unanswered, and that the collaborative approach chosen to address the needs of internally displaced persons had been accompanied by certain lacunae in coordination and protection.  The wide experience of the UNHCR in international refugee protection issues might be extremely useful for its involvement in internally displaced persons situations, given that in many cases those people faced the same suffering and problems as refugees, but somehow remained outside the international spotlight.  Thus, some initiatives and programmes elaborated by the UNHCR with respect to refugees might also be applied in situations of displacement, she added.

    ANZHELA KORNELIOUK ( Belarus) said international migration contributed to development, but was a challenge that required the consolidated effort of the international community.  Since May 2004, the Commonwealth of Independent States had a common border with the European Union and Belarus.  Belarus was faced with the issue of international migration and had, with the financial and technical assistance of the UNHCR, been able to address operational concerns.  It had set up a modern system to deal with asylum seekers, a programme to end human trafficking and legal protections for migrants.

    In February 1997, Belarus became home to 3,000 refugees from 33 countries, she said.  That had recently dropped to 775 refugees from 13 countries.  She stressed that Belarus was indeed committed to cooperating in the field of refugee protection and assistance, in order to contribute to stability and peace throughout Europe.  However, refugee protection and repatriation efforts would not be successful without the full participation and cooperation of the European Union, she said, stressing that migration did not end at the borders of countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States.  Migrants often used such countries as transit points to other areas in Europe.

    MOHAMED ELBADRI ( Egypt) said the High Commissioner's report highlighted the essential role of the UNHCR in the vital area of humanitarian action, particularly in the area of refugees.  That action was of growing importance, in particular due to the worsening of the problems of refugees because of armed conflicts.  It was necessary to resolve conflicts in a peaceful manner, and for the UNHCR to contribute to those efforts, as well as tackle the deep causes of the problems of refugees.  Furthermore, the High Commissioner's report drew attention to an extremely important issue, namely the resettlement of refugees after their voluntary return, so that they could enjoy a safe life.  The UNHCR could contribute very effectively to that issue thanks to its experience and its presence on the ground, as well as its experience with the conditions and needs of refugees, be it during the refugee period or when they had to find durable solutions during their voluntary return.

    His Government welcomed the UNHCR's efforts to achieve better burden-sharing and the sharing of responsibility, as well as to strength the capacities of countries.  The success of the UNHCR's operational activities could not occur, however, without donor countries providing adequate material support.  Furthermore, in order for host countries to be able to provide the necessary level of protection for refugees, particularly in developing and least developed countries, which hosted the greatest number of refugees in the world, it was necessary to strengthen the principles of international cooperation, burden-sharing and responsibility-sharing at the international level.  The international community had to provide the technical and financial support.

    MUTAZ HYASSAT ( Jordan) said his delegation welcomed the increased number of refugees who returned to their homelands and commended the UNHCR for paying special regard in its report to vulnerable groups, such as refugee women and children.  The progress made in implementing the Agenda for Protection was quite encouraging and should be further enhanced.  In that regard, his delegation welcomed the report of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the High Commissioner for Refugees, particularly the decision to create the post of Assistant High Commissioner for protection.

    In addressing the plight of refugees more effectively, his delegation stressed the importance of further enhancing collaboration among States, the UNHCR and all relevant agencies and organizations, especially in protracted situations and humanitarian crises.  That would lead to the improvement of the worldwide refugee and internally displaced person situation.  In that regard, he welcomed the Summit Outcome reaffirmation of the principle of solidarity and burden-sharing in support of host countries.   Jordan was taking the necessary steps to become a member of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the High Commissioner for Refugees.  The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) had adopted a decision to that effect and, accordingly, his delegation would introduce, on behalf of Portugal as well, a resolution to increase the membership of the Committee by two, and a request for the ECOSOC to elect the additional members.  His delegation believed that joining the Committee would enhance the long-standing relations and cooperation between the UNHCR and Jordan, to better deal with the issue of refugees.

    IMTIAZ HUSSAIN ( Pakistan) said that since the initiation of the proposal for the establishment of the UNHCR, Pakistan's relationship with the UNHCR had blossomed into a model of cooperation spurred by a mutual and abiding desire to make the world a better place.   Pakistan and the UNHCR, aided wholeheartedly by generous friends, had shouldered well the Herculean task of managing the largest refugee population.  Today, notwithstanding the unprecedented and very welcome decline in the global refugee population, the twin problem of "push and pull" factors continued to stand in the way of ending the exodus phenomenon.  In that regard, it was not only important to prevent conflict, but also imperative to render post-conflict domestic milieus conducive to the safe and dignified return of refugees.  His delegation was hopeful that the proposed Peacebuilding Commission would go a long way in pre-empting humanitarian catastrophes that degenerated into permanent scars on the collective conscience of mankind.

    To properly tackle the refugee problem that beset the world, the importance of burden-sharing could not be overemphasized, he said.  What added to the poignancy of Pakistan's situation was that, despite being a developing country, it was hosting 17 per cent of the refugee population of the world.  The roughly $288 million spent annually by the UNHCR in Pakistan -- inclusive of administrative expenses -- translated to a mere 24 cents per refugee per day.  The international community also needed to realize that human life and dignity were perennially precious concepts that did not get devalued once an international conflict was over.  If the resource-rich countries were to meet the official development assistance (ODA) target of 0.7 per cent of gross national product (GNP), it would greatly mitigate the economic suffering of the world's poor.  He added that Pakistan, in consultation with Afghanistan's Government and the UNHCR, had agreed to continue with the UNHCR-assisted repatriation programme under the existing tripartite arrangements until December 2006, in order to ensure the voluntary and gradual repatriation of Afghans to their homeland.

    Introduction of Draft Resolutions

    At the start of the afternoon meeting, the Committee heard the introduction of draft resolutions on human rights questions.

    The representative of Sweden introduced a draft resolution on International Covenants on Human Rights (document A/C.3/60/L.26), which he said paid tribute to the fact that the two Covenants constituted the first all-embracing and legally binding treaties in the field of human rights.  Together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, they formed the International Bill of Human Rights.  For streamlining purposes, the resolution had been shortened and a few paragraphs had been merged.  There had also been some updates, including a new reference to the new States parties to the Covenants and the Protocols.  The number of States parties to those instruments continued to grow, and the co-sponsors believed that should be acknowledged.  The draft resolution no longer asked for a report by the Secretary-General on the status of the Covenants and the Optional Protocols to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which had proven to be a cumbersome task for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, he added.

    The representative of Malaysia then introduced, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, a draft on human rights and unilateral coercive measures (document A/C.3/60/L.34), saying that such unilateral actions had led to negative consequences on the targeted developing countries, and had created additional obstacles to the full enjoyment of all human rights by the peoples of the affected States.  In some countries, children were adversely affected by such measures, which had also created obstacles to trade relations among States, impeded socio-economic development and hindered the well-being of affected countries' populations, particularly women and children.  The draft called on States to refrain from unilaterally imposing coercive measures on other States with the aim of enforcing compliance, particularly where such measures were inconsistent with the United Nations Charter and international law.

    He then introduced a draft on enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights (document A/C.3/60/L.35), saying that such cooperation was essential to the effective promotion and protection of human rights.

    In addition, he introduced the draft on the right to development (document A/C.3/60/L.36), which reaffirmed that right as a universal and inalienable right, and an integral part of all human rights, with the individual as the central subject and beneficiary of development.  The draft requests that the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights submit, without further delay, the concept document establishing options for implementing the right to development, inter alia an international legally-binding standard, guidelines for implementing the right to development and principles for development partnership.

    Introducing a draft resolution on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (document A/C.3/60/L.37), the representative of Mexico said the co-sponsors shared the belief that terrorism was a serious threat to the security of States.  While there was no doubt about that, there was an imperative need of States to protect their populations, although that did not justify in any way the permanent suspension of human rights of persons subject to the jurisdiction.  The respect and promotion of human rights must be a fundamental basis of the administrative and all other types of laws enacted to combat terrorism, and violations of human rights should be condemned.  The draft resolution reaffirmed the right of the international community to take action to improve cooperation in the prevention of terrorism, as well as recorded the obligation of States to ensure that all measures adopted in that struggle must be compatible with international and humanitarian law.

    Introducing a draft resolution on human rights mainstreaming in the United Nations system (document A/C.3/60/L.44), the representative of the Netherlands said the Netherlands and Belgium had introduced the text in an effort to build upon the commitment expressed at the High-Level Summit, to support the further mainstreaming on human rights throughout the United Nations system.  The resolution served to increase the awareness of human rights as one of the three main pillars of the United Nations system; to appraise ongoing developments in the field of human rights mainstreaming within the system; to identify possible gaps by requesting the Secretary-General to submit a report to the sixty-first session of the General Assembly; and to stimulate the sharing of knowledge and experience on how mainstreaming of human rights in the work of the United Nations contributed to a more developed and safer world, he said.

    Action on Draft Resolutions on Human Rights Questions

    The Committee then turned to action on its draft on 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 (document A/C.3/60/L.24).

    The representative of Chile, the draft's main sponsor, said the text was not legally binding.  Rather it identified mechanisms and procedures to effectively implement existing legal obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law.  Such principles and guidelines would be useful tools for victims and their representatives, as well as for States, in designing and implementing public policies on reparations.  Further, they were sufficiently flexible so as to leave a wide margin for implementation by States.  The resolution clearly demonstrated the international community's concern and solidarity with the victims of gross and serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.  The principles and guidelines specifically provided that victims' resources not only included access to justice and information, but also to reparations, including restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition.  The adoption of such principles would constitute a milestone in the fight against impunity, by stressing the principle of accountability for violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.

    The representative of India said he was considering a statute to the right to remedy and reparation, and considered the adoption of the draft to be very timely.

    The representative of Switzerland said the principles and guidelines concerning violations of human rights law represented genuine progress in the field of human rights.  The texts presented today were a combination of very hard work.  The representative supported the draft's adoption by consensus.

    The representative of France said the guidelines were an indispensable part of work begun 15 years ago and gave States great leeway to determine how they wished to follow objectives on a whole range of victims' rights.  They reflected a change in perspective for victims.  Such principles were not legally binding.

    The representative of Uruguay, speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), said the principles and guidelines were highly valuable tools for Member States and would allow them to clarify the scope of the right of victims to reparations, as well as those who had endured violations to their fundamental rights.  Many MERCOSUR States had already used the principles and guidelines to devise initiatives and policies concerning victims of gross violations of rights, emanating from human dignity.  Reparation, justice and truth were important in restoring social peace and strengthening the rule of law of institutions.

    The representative of Canada supported the resolution and the fact that it had incorporated a victim-oriented perspective.  The principles provided a helpful guide to States regarding existing procedures and mechanisms.  She stressed the amendments were made during negotiation of the basic principles and guidelines.

    The representative of the United States said the draft was an important statement condemning impunity and righting legal wrongs.  With respect to preambular paragraph 5, the United States would have preferred language highlighting that non-parties to the International Criminal Court (ICC) treaty did not have legal obligations to those treaties.  She underscored that the principles and guidelines created no new legal obligations for States.

    The representative of South Africa said such principles and guidelines were long overdue and should have been adopted by General Assembly a long time ago.  They would greatly contribute to ending impunity of human rights violations.

    The representative of New Zealand said the draft did not create any new legal obligations or principles of international law, but would be valuable to States by providing them with guidelines for remedy and reparation of basic international human rights policies. 

    The Committee then approved that draft without a vote.

    The representative of Germany said Germany maintained its position on the draft, but did not want to oppose the consensus. 

    The representative of the United Kingdom said the basic principles and guidelines were the result of more than 15 years of work by independent experts.  They were not legally binding and didn't create any new obligations for States.  However, they would serve as extremely valuable tools on remedy and reparation and would be of great assistance to States on how to pursue their own national policies in this field.

    The representative of Chile said the 15-year process to develop the guidelines was participatory and transparent, and had involved Member States, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and non-governmental organizations.  The resolution should have been adopted a long time ago.  It would be a good tool to end impunity.

    The Committee then turned to the draft resolution on an Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities (document A/C.3/60/L.28), as orally amended, and an accompanying text on programme budget implications of draft resolution A/C.3/60/L.28 (document A/C.3/60/L.58).

    Speaking before the action, the representative of Mexico, the main sponsor of the text, thanked all the delegations that had supported the process of consultations with a view to adopting, without a vote, the draft resolution.  He also expressed hope that the International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignities of Persons with Disabilities would be adopted next year.

    The United States representative said her delegation was pleased to be joining the consensus on the draft resolution.  The United States was demonstrably committed to the human rights of persons with disabilities, as seen in its domestic legislation.  Her delegation continued to believe that strong domestic legislation was the most effective means to promote the human rights of persons with disabilities.  While it looked forward to continued cooperation during upcoming negotiations, treaty negotiations should be kept entirely within existing resources and within a reasonable time schedule.  Nevertheless, her delegation was pleased to join other Member States in adopting the draft resolution by consensus.

    The text was then approved without a vote.

    The Secretary of the Committee read a statement regarding financial provisions relating to the draft resolution on the Subregional Centre.

    Cameroon 's representative thanked those delegations that had sponsored the draft resolution, and expressed hope that the text would be adopted by consensus.

    The Committee then approved, without a vote, the draft resolution on the Subregional Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa (document A/C.3/60/L.30).

    The representative of Venezuela, speaking after the adoption of the text, expressed support for the activities carried out by the Subregional Centre, and said Venezuela was committed to the people of Africa.  Her delegation supported the consensus because of the commitment the draft text contained.  However, as a result of the position maintained by Venezuela, she expressed reservations regarding preambular paragraph 8, which welcomed the 2005 World Summit Outcome.  As she had previously stated, that document had no validity or mandate for Venezuela.

    The Committee then turned to the draft resolution on the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (document A/C.3/60/L.40), as orally revised.

    Norway's representative, speaking before the adoption of the text, said the draft resolution had been the subject of extensive consultations, both in open-ended meetings and bilateral consultations.  She expressed hope that the amended text would be adopted by consensus.

    The text was approved without a vote.

    The representative of Syria said that, while her delegation had joined the consensus regarding the draft resolution, it believed that the Declaration made it imperative for countries not to interfere in the internal affairs, and not to be selective in dealings with other countries, in accordance with the United Nations Charter.  Furthermore, while the Declaration did give non-governmental organizations rights, it also imposed duties they had in order to defend individuals, groups and people against the violations of human rights.  Non-governmental organizations should refrain from discrimination, and should be established according to national laws.  Any other understanding would not be acceptable to her delegation.  Her delegation also regretted the fact that the resolution did not refer to the responsibilities of individual groups and organs of society.  It only focused on rights, and did not deal with persons and duties, which greatly affected the balance and objectivity of the draft resolution, she said.

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