Press Releases

    GA/SHC/3839
    16 November 2005

    Text Approved by Assembly's Social Committee Would Enhance Human Rights, Fundamental Freedoms for Girls

    Legal Reforms Sought to Bring Gender Perspective to Development Activities; Other Drafts Address Issues of Family, Women, Migrant Workers

    NEW YORK, 15 November (UN Headquarters) -- The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today approved, without a vote, five draft resolutions on a wide range of issues, including social development, the advancement of women, promotion and protection of children's rights and human rights questions.

    By the text on "the girl child", the General Assembly would urge States to ensure full human rights and fundamental freedoms for girls through all necessary measures, including legal reforms, and to mainstream a gender perspective in all development policies and programmes. That would include promoting gender equality and equal access for girls to such basic social services as education, nutrition, healthcare, including sexual and reproductive health care, vaccinations and protection from major killer diseases, as well as protecting girls affected by armed conflicts through humanitarian assistance.

    The Committee failed to approve two amendments, proposed by the United States, to operative paragraph 1 of that draft.  (See Annex.)  Some speakers noted that the amendments would compromise the draft's objectives and would weaken the reference to the need for universal ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

    By a draft on human rights in the administration of justice, the Assembly would reiterate its call to all Member States to provide effective legislative procedures and adequate resources to ensure full implementation of human rights standards in the administration of justice, including legal-aid services, and to include the administration of justice in their national development plans. In addition, the Assembly would call on mechanisms of the Commission on Human Rights, its special rapporteurs, special representatives and working groups, to continue focusing on effective promotion and protection of human rights in the administration of justice and to provide recommendations, including proposals for advisory services and technical assistance. The United States representative proposed amendments to three operative paragraphs of that draft for several reasons, but withdrew them at the request of the representative of Austria.

    A text on follow-up to the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family and beyond called for greater research to address public policy with a family perspective, and for Member States to create a conducive environment for all families regardless of sex, age, status or disability, with particular attention to the rights of women and girls.

    By a draft on violence against women migrant workers, the Assembly would call on Governments to incorporate a gender perspective in all international migration policies and urge countries of origin and destination in particular to further strengthen national efforts to protect and promote the rights and welfare of women migrant workers through appropriate resource allocation, penal and criminal sanctions for perpetrators of violence and immediate assistance for the victims.

    The text on effective promotion of the Declaration of the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities called for greater promotion and protection of minorities through education and economic development opportunities, as well as special programmes and protection for minority children and the cultural and religious sites of minorities.

    The draft on the establishment of a United Nations human rights training and documentation centre for South-West Asia and the Arab region was postponed to a later date.

    The representatives of Canada (also on behalf of Switzerland and Norway), Jamaica, Namibia, Philippines, Serbia and Montenegro, United Kingdom (on behalf of the European Union), Austria and Venezuela also made statements during the action on those drafts.

    The Committee also heard the introduction of 16 draft resolutions on several agenda items, including texts on the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions; the elimination of racism and racial discrimination; the right of peoples to self-determination; and human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

    The representatives of Jordan, Finland, Russian Federation, Pakistan, Egypt, Yemen, United States, Cuba, United Kingdom (on behalf of the European Union), Iran, Norway, Mexico and Nigeria introduced those drafts.

    The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 17 November, to take action on other draft resolutions.

    Background

    The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to hear the introduction of 17 draft resolutions on several agenda items.  They included texts on the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions; the elimination of racism and racial discrimination; the right of peoples to self-determination; and human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

    In addition, the Committee was expected to take action on six draft resolutions.  By the terms of a draft on follow-up to the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family and beyond (document A/C.3/60/L.6/Rev.1), the Assembly would recommend that Governments, in cooperation with concerned academic and research centres, as well as relevant non-governmental organizations, encourage action-oriented research to address public policy with a family perspective, and recommend that Government research be complemented by the study of topics by the United Nations programme on the family.

    Further, the Assembly would urge specialized agencies and inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations to address family-related concerns within the framework of United Nations major conferences and relevant follow-up, as well as urge Member States to create a conducive environment for all families, regardless of sex, age, status or disability, with particular attention to the rights of women and girls.

    In addition, the Assembly would call upon the Secretariat to continue its important role on family issues within the United Nations system, and call upon Member States to undertake a review of the role and functions of existing national mechanisms for the family with respect to integrating family issues into national development.

    The draft on violence against women migrant workers (document A/C.3/60/L.16/Rev.1) would have the Assembly request that all Governments continue to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteurs of the Commission on Human Rights and the Commission on Violence against Women.  The Assembly would also call on Governments to incorporate a gender perspective in all policies on international migration, and urge concerned Governments, particularly those of the countries of origin and destination, to further strengthen national efforts to protect and promote the rights and welfare of women migrant workers, and to support and allocate appropriate resources for programmes aimed at strengthening preventive action.

    The Assembly would also call on concerned Governments, particularly those of the countries of origin and destination, to put in place penal and criminal sanctions to punish perpetrators of violence against women migrant workers and to provide victims of violence with immediate assistance and protection, as well as encourage non-governmental organizations to do so.  In addition, it would encourage Governments to create and implement sensitivity and skills training programmes for law enforcement, prosecutors and service providers who deal with abused women migrant workers, as well as encourage them to adopt or strengthen existing measures to protect migrant workers rights in recruitment and deployment practices, in order to prevent exploitation, ill-treatment and trafficking.

    The draft on the girl child (document A/C.3/60/L.18) would have the Assembly urge States to take all necessary measures and to institute legal reforms to ensure the full and equal enjoyment by the girl child of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, and to take effective action against violations of those rights and freedoms.

    Further to that text, the Assembly would urge States to promote gender equality and equal access to basic social services, such as education, nutrition, healthcare, including sexual and reproductive healthcare, vaccinations, as well as promote protection from major killer diseases and mainstream a gender perspective in all development policies and programmes.  It would also urge States to take special measures to protect girls affected by armed conflicts, such as in the delivery of humanitarian assistance and disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation assistance and reintegration processes.

    The draft on the establishment of a United Nations human rights training and documentation centre for South-West Asia and the Arab region (document A/C.3/60/L.32) would have the Assembly take note with satisfaction of the continuing cooperation and assistance of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to further strengthen existing regional arrangements and machinery to promote and protect human rights, through technical cooperation, aimed at capacity building, public information and education.  The Assembly would also request that the Secretary-General and the OHCHR to support the Centre through an agreement with the host country to set up and make resources available for the Centre's establishment.

    The draft on human rights in the administration of justice (document A/C.3/60/L.38) would have the Assembly reiterate its call to all Member States to spare no effort in providing for effective legislative procedures and adequate resources to ensure full implementation of human rights standards in the administration of justice.  The Assembly would also appeal to Governments to include in their national development plans the administration of justice as an integral part of development and to allocate adequate resources for legal-aid service to protect and promote human rights.

    Further, the Assembly would call on mechanisms of the Commission on Human Rights and its subsidiary bodies, including special rapporteurs, special representatives and working groups, to continue to give special attention to the effective promotion and protection of human rights in the administration of justice, including juvenile justice and to provide specific recommendations in that regard, including proposals for advisory services and technical assistance.

    Also by the text, the Assembly would call on the OHCHR and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to reinforce their national capacity-building activities in the administration of justice, particularly post-conflict situations, and in cooperation with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations of the Secretariat.

    The draft on effective promotion of the Declaration of the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities (document A/C.3/60/L.39) would have the Assembly urge States and the international community to promote and protect the rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities through adequate education and participation in political, economic, social, religious and cultural life and in the economic development of their respective nations.  The Assembly would also call upon States to give special attention to promoting and protecting the human rights of minority children, taking into account the different risks for girls and boys; urge States to take all necessary constitutional, legislative and administrative measures to promote and give effect to the Declaration; and appeal to States to cooperate bilaterally and multilaterally in that regard.

    Further to the text, the Assembly would call upon States to protect cultural and religious sites of national, ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities and call upon the Secretary-General to make available, at States' requests, qualified expertise on minority issues, including experts on dispute prevention and resolution.  The Assembly would also call upon the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to promote implementation of the Declaration and continue to engage in dialogue with Governments to disseminate widely the "United Nations Guide for Minorities".

    In addition, the Assembly would call on the Working Group on Minorities of the Sub-commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights to fully implement its mandate, focus on interactive dialogue with relevant non-governmental organizations and independent experts on minority issues, as well as call upon the High Commissioner for Human Rights to support those experts.

    Introduction of Draft Resolutions

    The representative of Jordan introduced a draft resolution on enlargement of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (document A/C.3/60/L.61), which he said was similar to previous resolutions adopted by the Assembly on the matter.  He hoped the Committee would continue with tradition and adopt it without a vote.

    The representative of Finland introduced a draft resolution on the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (document A/C.3/60/L.65), as orally revised.  She said the purpose of the draft, as in past years, was to reaffirm the Assembly's support of the Office and its work.  There was a clear focus on new developments in the text, particularly in the area of international protection.  It promoted, among other things, the implementation of the Mexico Plan of Action.  She welcomed progress regarding the increasing number of resettled refugees and number of States offering resettlement.  She hoped the draft would be adopted by consensus.

    The representative of the Russian Federation introduced a draft resolution on inadmissibility of certain practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance (document A/C.3/60/L.60).  He said he was deeply concerned at the growth of various extremist groups, including neo-Nazis and skinheads.  It was not acceptable to create heroes out of those who were Nazis.  He stressed the urgency of the resolution, noting the opening of solemn memorials to Nazis.  Such actions played into the hands of those who talked about racial and ethnic cleansing, and had an effect on the young population.  The draft was not calling on the Assembly to look to the past, but to look to contemporary, often very dangerous, forms of racism, which must be counteracted at the national and international levels.  The aim of the resolution was not to bring any Governments to account, but to promote cooperation and dialogue.  Adoption of the resolution would make a real contribution to ending racism, racial discrimination, and intolerance.

    The representative of Pakistan introduced a draft resolution on the universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination (document A/C.3/60/L.59).  He said self-determination was the most basic collective right of peoples and nations.  Its exercise had enabled millions of suppressed and disenfranchised peoples to achieve equality before the law.  The realization of self-determination helped millions of people across the world in seeking liberation from colonialism, apartheid, foreign occupation and alien domination.  The resolution on the universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination had traditionally been a consensus one.  He hoped the Committee would uphold the principle by adopting the resolution by consensus.

    The representative of Egypt introduced a draft resolution on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination (document A/C.3/60/L.62).  He said self-determination was an established principle of international law, which did not need diverging interpretations or re-adaptations to suit certain purposes.  It only needed honest, unequivocal application.  This year had witnessed the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and the West Bank, which was a positive step, but by no means an end in itself.  The withdrawal must become part of the implementation of the Road Map, and should be the beginning of a process that ended in the establishment of a viable Palestinian State.

    Israel, he continued, must cease encircling Palestinian territory economically, militarily and physically.  Israeli practices of separating Palestinian land, people and resources must come to an end.  The separation wall had to be immediately dismantled and with it Israel's ambition for further Palestinian land and resources.

    The representative of Yemen introduced a draft resolution on combating defamation of religions (document A/C.3/60/L.29), which he said drew attention to taking measures to end racial discrimination and xenophobia.  Discrimination on the basis of belief was a negation of the United Nations Charter and against the dignity of mankind.  Religion should strengthen social justice, tolerance and understanding in order to serve international peace and security.  It was necessary to ensure a dialogue between cultures and civilizations to ensure the equality of all individuals.  He was against negative stereotypes of religions and extremism in religion, and expressed concerns at attacks against places of worship of all religions and religious symbols.

    He was also extremely concerned at campaigns to cast certain religions in a negative light, including Islam following the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.  The link between Islam, the violation of human rights and terrorism was a false one.

    The representative of Egypt introduced a draft resolution on globalization and its impact on the full enjoyment of all human rights (document A/C.3/60/L.31), as orally corrected, which he said was aimed at addressing the ramifications of the globalization process on humanity.  It was not an attempt to prejudge globalization or to pass a value judgment on that phenomenon, only to understand it better.  He believed in trying to bridge differences in perspectives and views on human rights aspects of globalization that had persisted in past years.  Co-sponsors of the draft had reignited negotiations on that issue, which showed the prospect of narrowing gaps between views.  It took the world nearly two centuries to realize the impact of the Industrial Revolution on mankind, and another century to address it.  The world could not afford another three centuries, or even three decades, to address the effects of globalization on mankind.

    The representative of the United States introduced a draft resolution on strengthening the role of the United Nations in enhancing the effectiveness of the principle of periodic and genuine elections and the promotion of democratization (document A/C.3/60/L.43), which he said recognized the important role the United Nations played in electoral assistance, and requested the Organization to continue to provide such assistance on a case-by-case basis.  Electoral assistance could contribute to the full and transparent implementation of electoral laws and practices that met international standards.  Determining the will of the people required an electoral process which took into account all people. He hoped that the new United Nations Democracy Fund would give grants, which complemented that good work.

    The representative of Cuba introduced the draft on promotion of peace as a vital requirement for the full enjoyment of all human rights by all (document A/C.3/60/L.49), saying that some changes had been made to the text to reflect the fact that without peace the international community would be impeding human rights and fundamental freedoms.

    He then introduced a draft on respect for the principles of national sovereignty and diversity of democratic systems in electoral processes as an important element for the promotion and protection of human rights (document A/C.3/60/L.50), noting that a new preambular paragraph 10 made reference to the interdependence and mutual reinforcement of human rights processes.  There was not a single model for democracy and democratic institutions, and States must respect democracy in all its forms.

    He then introduced a draft on the right to food (document A/C.3/60/L.52/Rev.1), saying that the world had enough food to feed twice its current population.  World hunger was unacceptable from any standpoint in society.  The draft recognized problems, such as the impact of natural disasters and scourges, and supported African nations facing food crises in previous years.  It also requested that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank abandon policies that negatively impacted the right to food.  In addition, it recognized the importance of voluntary guidelines in the context of national food policies.

    The representative of the United Kingdom, speaking on behalf of the European Union, introduced a draft on the elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief (document A/C.3/60/L.54), saying that this year's resolution had an increased focus on the dialogue among civilizations.  It also addressed the Special Rapporteur's wish to concentrate on possible tensions between religions and beliefs and international human rights law.  The operative part of the text had been restructured to address the separation of religion and beliefs by States, as well as support for Special Rapporteurs.  The European Union had been actively engaged in discussions with concerned countries regarding the issue.

    The representative of Iran then introduced the draft on human rights and cultural diversity (document A/C.3/60/L.55), saying there was an urgent need to promote respect for cultural diversity.  Many international organizations and non-governmental organizations made serious efforts to incorporate cultural diversity as an integral part of their work and values.  Apart from the General Assembly resolutions, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) had made valuable efforts to establish the concept of cultural diversity in a legal framework in order to give it more effect internationally.

    He underscored the need to preserve cultural heritage in an international environment for peace.  The resolution had new paragraphs on the Outcome Document of the World Summit, acknowledging the need to preserve religious and cultural diversity in promoting international peace and security and advancing human welfare.  The resolution's operative part requests the High Commissioner for Human Rights to give cultural diversity a fair say in the promotion and protection of human rights.

    The representative of Norway introduced a draft resolution on protection of and assistance to internally displaced persons (document A/C.3/60/L.56), in which the Assembly would be deeply disturbed at the alarmingly high number of internally displaced persons throughout the world, a result of armed conflicts, violations of human rights, and natural and human-made disasters.  It would also note the number of displaced persons because of natural disasters during the past 12 months.  She hoped the draft resolution would be adopted by consensus.

    The representative of Mexico introduced a draft resolution on protection of migrants (document A/C.3/60/L.57), which she said sought to deal with the protection of migrants in a comprehensive way and from a human rights perspective.  In an international climate where migration was increasingly visible, the rights of persons, regardless of origin or status, must remain the primary focus.  The draft took account of the global character of the phenomenon.  It was important that immigration policies were holistic, bearing in mind the causes of migration and the rights of migrants.  The draft also included, among other things, a gender perspective because of the increasing number of women in migration flows.

    When the Third Committee met again this afternoon, the representative of Nigeria introduced a draft resolution on Assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa (document A/C.3/60/L.64), which he said had been updated, as had become practice, mainly with agreed language from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' Executive Committee Conclusions on International Protection.  The new language focused on the issues that the African Group regarded as of immense concern to the question of displacement in the African context.  Language had been included on the special attention that should be given to people with special needs, such as women and children.  The draft text also made reference to strengthening monitoring and reporting mechanisms, especially as they pertained to the special protection needs of refugee children.  Once again, the need to address ongoing threats to the safety and security of UNHCR staff and their implementation partners had been highlighted.

    Action on Draft Resolutions

    The Committee then took action on six draft resolutions.  The representative of Jamaica, the main sponsor of the draft on follow-up to the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family and beyond (document A/C.3/60/L.6/Rev.1), said the text included a new preambular paragraph 3, which noted the family-related provisions of major United Nations conferences and summits of the 1990s regarding follow-up guidelines for development.  A new operative paragraph urged States to create a conducive environment for families and respect the rights of all family members and noted the importance of reconciliation of work and family life.  It also recognized the principle that both parents had family responsibilities.  She expressed hope that the resolution would lead to achievement of the major objectives of strengthening international family programmes and policies, as well as the capacity of national and international institutions to formulate family-related policies.

    The Committee then approved the draft, as orally revised, without a vote.

    Speaking after the action, the representative of the United Kingdom, for the European Union, recognized the crucial role of parents, careers and families in improving outcomes for children and the need to support them in doing so.

    The representative of Canada, also speaking for Switzerland and Norway, said the principle of diversity of families must be taken into account, to make family policies effective.  The current resolution failed to do so, she said, and she expressed the hope that future resolutions and discussions include that principle.

    The Committee then took note of the following reports:  report of the Secretary-General on the World Youth Report 2005 (document A/60/61-E/2005/7); the report of the Secretary-General on a global analysis and evaluation of national action plans on youth employment (document A/60/133 and Corr.1); and the report of the Secretary-General on making commitments matter:  young people's input to the 10-year review of the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond (A/60/156).

    The representative of the Philippines, the main sponsor of the draft on violence against women migrant workers (document A/C.3/L.16/Rev.1), said the text more faithfully reflected the position of women migrant workers to ensure their freedom from violence, exploitation and abuse.

    The Committee then approved the draft without a vote.

    The Committee then took note of the Report of the Office of the Internal Oversight Services on the review of the United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (document A/60/281).

    The representative of Namibia, the main sponsor of the draft on the resolution entitled the girl child (document A/C.3/60/L.18/Rev.1), read out corrections to the amendment.

    The representative of the United States then submitted two amendments to operative paragraph 1 of the draft.

    The representative of Namibia said that while respecting the views of the United States, Namibia and other African countries attached great importance to the full implementation of the rights of the girl child, as stated in the text, as well as the goal of universal ratification of the two instruments outlined in the operative paragraph.  Namibia would not compromise on any objectives and, as such, would vote against any proposed amendments.

    The representative of the United Kingdom said the resolution fostered awareness of girls' rights.  He said the Convention on the Rights of the Child remained the most widely recognized instrument in that regard, and that he would vote against any amendment intended to weaken that Convention.

    The Committee then failed to approve the two amendments to operative paragraph 1 of the text by a recorded vote of two in favour (Singapore and the United States) to 157 against, with two abstentions (Qatar and Saudi Arabia).  (See Annex.)

    [Later in the meeting, Qatar indicated that it should have voted against.]

    The Committee then approved the draft as a whole, as orally revised, without a vote.

    After the adoption of the draft as a whole, the representative of Venezuela said Venezuela actively promoted the rights of girls and boys.  While it traditionally had co-sponsored this resolution, Venezuela had not done so for the present resolution owing to reservations on preambular paragraph 4.  However it remained committed to the struggle for girls' rights.

    The representative of Namibia then thanked all co-sponsors of the draft.

    In explanation of position after the vote, the representative of the United States said she was pleased to join consensus on the resolution.  Her country was firmly committed to women's empowerment, and had devoted substantial monetary resources to end violence against women, including the trafficking of women and children, increased access to healthcare, education and economic opportunities, empowering women in conflict situations, protection for refugee women and internally displaced persons, increased women's political participation, equality and non-discrimination.

    While reaffirming the goals of the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action, she said they did not create international legal rights or legally-binding obligations on States.  They did not include any new rights, including the right to abortion.  The United States fully supported the principle of voluntary choice regarding child and maternal health and family planning, but it did not consider abortion as part of family planning nor did it support abortion in reproductive health assistance.  It did, however, support health services for women suffering from complications resulting from abortion, but did not place such treatment among abortion-related services.

    She considered unacceptable the wording in operative paragraph 1, which implied that all States were obligated by the terms of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

    The Committee then deferred to a later date action on the draft on Establishment of a United Nations human rights training and documentation centre for South-West Asia and the Arab Region (A/C.3/60/L.32), as input from Geneva on that draft was still pending.

    The representative of Austria, the main sponsor of the draft on Human rights in the administration of justice (document A/C.3/60/L.38), as orally amended, said he thanked all countries for their contributions, and the co-sponsors particularly.  He noted that Serbia and Montenegro had withdrawn its co-sponsorship.  He said the draft resolution had been adopted without a vote in previous years, and that the measure's co-sponsors hoped that the current Committee would do likewise.

    The representative of the United States proposed amendments to operative paragraphs 1, 2 and 14.  The reference to "all United Nations standards on human rights and administration of justice" referred to numerous items included in the United Nations Crimes Programme's lengthy compendium on United Nations criminal standards and in the United Nations blue book.  Nearly all of those "standards" were only recommendations to Member States and thus not legally binding on any Member States.  Negotiators never intended for them to be described as legally-binding obligations to be fully and effectively implemented.  The fact that the draft language was adopted in previous years did not make the arguments less compelling.  The United States opposed operative paragraph 14 for a variety of policy reasons, but just noted them without editorial comment.  If the main sponsors and co-sponsors did not accept the amendments, the United States did not insist that a vote be taken, as long as the amendment was reflected in the record.

    The representative of Austria responded that more than 60 co-sponsors attached high importance to operative paragraphs 1 and 2, as key to the resolution.  It was agreed language and it had been adopted by consensus over the last decade.  On behalf of the co-sponsors, he could not agree on the proposed amendments.  He took note of the United States concerns but requested that they be withdrawn.  He hoped the committee could approve the draft resolution without a vote again this year.

    The representative of the United States withdrew her country's amendments.

    The Committee then approved the draft, as orally revised, without a vote.

    Speaking after the action, the representative of the United States said she wished to refer back to her prior comments and explanation of position, and to make clear that she did not accept operative paragraphs 1 and 2, as expressed in the adopted text.

    The representative of Venezuela said she had reservations regarding operative paragraph 17, not only because it mentioned the Outcome Document, which Venezuela considered to be a working paper without a binding character or mandate, but because the Peacebuilding Commission had not been defined as having competencies for administering justice.  It was also unclear what role the Secretary-General would play.  It was wrong to assign a mandate that was under the purview of the International Court of Justice.  Regarding reference to the Rule of Law Assistance Unit, there was confusion between the rule of law and technical assistance.  It was a serious error to assign that unit to undertake activities in post-conflict situations.  Clearly, that competence belonged exclusively to States. 

    The representative of Serbia and Montenegro thanked the main co-sponsor for the flexibility shown, despite serious time pressure.  She said she fully supported the objectives of the resolution, as was indicated by her country's sponsorship of previous Assembly resolutions on that topic.  She remained concerned about operative paragraph 13, which made reference to the publication entitled "Protecting the rights of children in conflict with the law", which incorrectly referred to the Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohia.  The province belonged to Serbia and Montenegro, as had been affirmed by the Security Council.  Any other reference was unacceptable.  It was distressing that the United Nations system had participated in such an error when it should respect the territory of Member States.  Reference to that publication should not be interpreted to imply a General Assembly endorsement of said publication.

    The representative of Austria, also the main sponsor of the draft on effective promotion of the Declaration of the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities (document A/C.3/60/L.39), read out oral amendments to that draft.

    The Committee then approved the draft without a vote.

    The representative of Venezuela then expressed reservations about preambular paragraph 2, because of its reference to the Summit Outcome Document, which it considered a working paper with no mandate.

    (annex follows)

    ANNEX

    Vote on Amendments to Operative Paragraph 1 of Draft on Girl Child

    The amendments to operative paragraph 1 of the draft resolution on the girl child (document A/C.3/60/L.18/Rev.1) were rejected by a recorded vote of 2 in favour to 157 against, with 2 abstentions, as follows:

    In favour:  Singapore, United States.

    Against:  Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Federated States of Micronesia, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

    Abstain:  Qatar, Saudi Arabia.

    Absent:  Benin, Brunei Darussalam, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Gabon, Haiti, Iran, Israel, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Somalia, Tajikistan, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu.

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