Press Releases

    ECOSOC/6236
    27 July 2006

    Economic and Social Council Adopts Texts on Social, Human Rights Issues

    Holds General Discussion on Social, Human Rights Issues, Takes Note of a Number of United Nations Agency Reports

    (Reissued as received.)

    GENEVA, 26 July (UN Information Service) -- The Economic and Social Council this afternoon adopted a series of resolutions and a decision pertaining to social and human rights issues.

    In a resolution on progress in the implementation of General Assembly resolution 59/250 on the triennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system, adopted by a show-of-hands vote of 49 in favour to 1 against, and no abstentions, the Council stressed that developing countries, in their efforts to meet the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals, should be supported by the United Nations system in the development and enhancement of their national capacities consistent with their needs.

    By a resolution on enlargement of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Council took note of the requests to enlarge the membership of the Executive Committee of the Programme of UNHCR and recommended that the General Assembly, at its sixty-first session, decide on the question of enlarging the membership of the Executive Committee from seventy to seventy-two States.

    In a number of texts contained in the report of the forty-fourth session of the Commission for Social Development, the Council adopted a resolution on promoting youth employment in which it encouraged the international community to provide technical and capacity-building support to developing countries in supporting national development strategies, including poverty reduction strategy papers.  In a resolution on a comprehensive and integral international convention to protect and promote the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities, the Council welcomed the progress achieved by the ad hoc committee in the negotiation of a draft convention at its seventh session.

    In another resolution from the report of the Commission for Social Development on social dimensions of the New Partnership for Africa's Development, the Council, among other things, emphasized that economic development, social development and environmental protection were interdependent and mutually reinforcing components of sustainable development.  In a resolution on the future organization and methods of work of the Commission for Social Development, the Council decided that the outcome of the Commission's review should be in the form of a chairperson's summary, done in close coordination with other members of the Bureau, and that the policy segment should have a negotiated outcome with action-oriented strategies.  And in a decision on the report entitled report of the Commission for Social Development on its forty-fourth session and provisional agenda and documentation for the forty-fifth session, the Council took note of the report of the Commission for Social Development on its forty-fourth session.

    Also this afternoon, the Council took note of the following documents submitted to it: joint report of the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA) to ECOSOC; annual report of the Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF); annual report of the Executive Director of World Food Programme (WFP) for 2005; report of the Executive Board of the United Children's Fund on the work of its 2006 first regular session; joint meeting of the Executive Boards of the United Nations Development Programme/United  Nations Population Fund, the United Nations Children's Fund and the World Food Programme; annual report of the Executive Director of the World Food Programme on the first and second regular sessions and annual session of 2005; report of the Executive Board of the United Nations Children's Fund on the first, second and annual sessions of 2005, report of the Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme/United Nations Population Fund on its work during 2005; report of the Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme/United Nations Population Fund on the first regular session of 2006; and an extract from the report of the Executive Board of the United Nations Children's Fund on its 2006 annual session.

    The Council also heard introductory statements made by the representatives of the International Narcotics Control Board, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

    Philip O. Emafo, President of the International Narcotics Control Board, introducing the report of the Board for 2005, said that the Board noted with concern that synthetic drugs, in particular amphetamine-type stimulants, were a serious threat currently being faced by the international community.

    Judy Chang Hopkins, Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees, said UNHCR was working to protect, assist and find durable solutions for some 12.2 million people in Africa.  A number of persistent challenges were faced in protecting and assisting these refugees and bringing about durable solutions to resolve their plight.

    Bacre Ndiaye, Director, Human Rights Procedures Divisions, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, introducing the report of the High Commissioner, said the report focused on the legal protection of economic, social and cultural rights, an often neglected aspect in discussions on economic and social issues.

    Addressing the Council were representatives of the United States, South Africa on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, Russian Federation, Canada, Finland on behalf of the European Union, United Republic of Tanzania, Myanmar, India, Peru, Japan, Indonesia, Belarus, Bangladesh, China, Guinea, Cuba and Pakistan.  The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions also spoke.

    The next meeting of the Council will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 27 July, during which it will continue and conclude it general discussion on social and human rights questions.

    Documentation

    A report (E/2006/11), entitled letter dated 30 June 2005 from the Director-General of the International Labour Organization addressed to the Secretary-General, contains the conclusions of the Special Sitting of the Committee on the Application of Standards of the International Labour Conference concerning the observance by the Government of Myanmar of the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29).  These conclusions were endorsed by the International Labour Conference on 16 June 2005.

    A report (E/2006/22) entitled report on the thirty-fourth and thirty-fifth sessions of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, contains, among other things, organisational and other matters; an overview of the present working methods of the Committee; the consideration of reports submitted by States parties under articles 16 and 17 of the Covenant; substantive issues arising in the implementation of the Covenant; decisions adopted and matters discussed by the Committee at the thirty-fourth and thirty-fifth sessions; and the adoption of the report.

    A report (E/2006/26) entitled report on the forty-fourth session of the Commission for Social Development says the Commission considered the priority theme "Review of the first United Nations Decade on the Eradication of Poverty (1997-2006)", and the review of relevant United Nations plans and programmes of action pertaining to the situation of social groups.  On the priority theme, the Commission heard a keynote address by Clare Short of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and held a panel discussion. The Commission decided to transmit the Chairperson's summary of the discussion to the coordination segment on "sustained economic growth for social development, including the eradication of poverty and hunger" of the 2006 substantive session of the Economic and Social Council.  Also under the priority theme, the Commission heard a presentation by the Division for Social Policy and Development on a technical cooperation project "tackling poverty together: the role of young people in poverty reduction".  The Commission adopted a resolution on "Social dimensions of the New Partnership for Africa's Development", in which the Council would recommend that the Commission continue to give prominence to the social dimensions of the New Partnership during its forty-fifth session.

    A report (E/2006/3) entitled letter dated 8 March 2006 from the Deputy Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General contains a request to refer Costa Rica's application for membership in the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to the Economic and Social Council.

    A report (E/2006/30) entitled report of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice on its fifteenth session contains, among other things, under matters calling for action by the Economic and Social Council or brought to its attention, two draft resolutions to be recommended by the Council for adoption to the General Assembly; ten draft resolutions to be adopted by the Council; two draft decisions for adoption by the Council; deliberations on the work of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime; thematic discussion on maximising the effectiveness of technical assistance provided to Member States in crime prevention and criminal justice; follow-up to the Eleventh United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice; international cooperation in combating transnational crime; strengthening international cooperation and technical assistance in preventing and combating terrorism; use and application of United Nations standards and norms in crime prevention and criminal justice; and strategic management and programme questions.

    A report (E/2006/43) entitled report on the fifth session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues contains, among other things under matters calling for action by the Economic and Social Council or brought to its attention four draft decisions for adoption by the Council; the proceedings of the session; and the adoption of the report.

    Before the Council is a letter dated 30 May 2006 from the Permanent Representative of Estonia to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General (E/2006/82), in which Estonia is seeking to apply for admission to the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.  The letter requests the Council to approve the request of the Government of Estonia and accordingly make a recommendation to the General Assembly to enlarge the membership of the Executive Committee.

    Before the Council is the report of the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights (E/2006/86), which focuses on the legal protection of economic, social and cultural rights.  It describes how the nature of these rights is similar to civil and political rights, noting that modern conceptions of human rights perceive rights in terms of rights of the individual to be free from State interference and the abuse of State powers -- freedom from the State -- as well as rights to State intervention -- freedom through the State.  This similar nature does not necessarily require the same strategy for protecting all human rights.  Strategies to promote and protect human rights should be multidimensional, covering a range of legal, administrative, financial, budgetary, educational and social measures.  However, legal protection of economic, social and cultural rights must be an essential element in this strategy, particularly given the recognition of these rights in legally binding treaties and because of increasing proof that legal protection is effective.  The first step in legal protection is the recognition of economic, social and cultural rights in domestic law.  This can occur through the incorporation of international norms into the domestic legal order and recognition of economic, social and cultural rights in the constitution, in legislation or, in limited cases, by the judiciary.  The second step is the provision of remedies.  The courts, administration tribunals, quasi-judicial mechanisms such as National Human Rights Institutions or regional and international treaty bodies can provide legal remedies in the case of breaches of economic, social and cultural rights.  In this context, the drafting of an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights should stimulate strengthened legal protection of these rights.

    Also before the Council is a letter dated 29 June 2006 from the Executive Director for Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work of the International Labour Office at Geneva addressed to the President of the Economic and Social Council (E/2006/89) regarding the consideration by ECOSOC of measures to be taken for the implementation by Myanmar of the recommendations of the ILO Commission of Inquiry on forced labour. The letter says that the ninety-fifth session of the International Labour Conference (May-June 2006) reviewed further action that could be taken in order to secure Myanmar's compliance with these recommendations.  The Conference decided, inter alia, that the record of deliberations undertaken by the Conference in two of its Committees should be brought to the attention of ECOSOC in time for its July 2006 session.

    Action on Resolutions

    In a resolution (E/2006/L.28) entitled progress in the implementation of General Assembly resolution 59/250 on the triennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system, adopted as orally amended by a show of hands with 49 in favour, 1 against, and no abstentions, the Council requests the Secretary-General, in order to enhance understanding of funding trends in the United Nations development system and humanitarian field, to further refine the data contained in the report on the comprehensive statistical data on operational activities for development; stresses that developing countries, in their efforts to meet the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals, should be supported by the United Nations system in the development and enhancement of their national capacities consistent with their needs;  also stresses the need for a systematic and comprehensive United Nations capacity-building effort that would support the preparation and implementation of national development strategies;  encourages the United Nations development system to foster a more inclusive approach to assisting developing countries in obtaining information about and better access to the expertise and services available within the system; and invites the United Nations system and the Bretton Woods institutions to continue to explore ways to enhance their dialogue and, in full accordance with the priorities of recipient country Governments, to ensure greater consistency among their strategic frameworks used at the country level.

    The Council also reiterates the need to ensure the functioning of the resident coordinator system in a participatory, collegial and accountable manner; requests the Secretary-General to provide, in view of the preparations of the 2007 triennial comprehensive policy review, information on progress made in the alignment of the regional coverage of regional bureaux and regional technical support structures of the funds, programmes and agencies; calls upon all the entities of the United Nations system to further enhance their support to South-South cooperation; encourages efforts to build levels of national capacities during the transition from relief to development; calls upon the relevant United Nations entities to further increase efforts, where appropriate, with due consideration of national data, to harmonize data collection and information management, during the phase of transition from relief to development and make that information available to the Member State concerned; stresses the need for adequate, sustained and timely resources to be devoted to the recovery phase in situations of transition from relief to development; and requests the Secretary-General to focus the analysis for the triennial comprehensive policy review in 2007, within the context of the implementation of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.

    In a resolution (E/2006/L.9) entitled enlargement of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, adopted by consensus, the Council takes note of the requests to enlarge the membership of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; and recommends that the General Assembly, at its sixty-first session, decide on the question of enlarging the membership of the Executive Committee from 70 to 72 States.

    From the report (E/2006/26) entitled report on the forty-fourth session of the Commission for Social Development, the Council adopted by consensus a resolution entitled promoting youth employment, which, among other things, encourages the international community to provide technical and capacity-building support to developing countries, as appropriate, in supporting national development strategies, including poverty reduction strategy papers, where they exist, mainstreaming youth employment; encourages Governments that have prepared national reviews and action plans on youth employment to move forward to implementation and also encourages Governments that have not yet prepared their reviews, national action plans or progress reports to do so as soon as possible; further encourages Governments to contribute to the possible development by the appropriate intergovernmental bodies of the United Nations of new policy-oriented indicators to better monitor and evaluate progress in implementing their national action plans, and invites the Youth Employment Network to contribute to this process, taking into account young people, including students and those who are unemployed, underemployed, working in the informal economy or who may have dropped out of the labour market altogether; and urges Governments to consider youth employment as integral to their overall strategies for development and collective security, and within this context to give renewed attention to the United Nations Millennium Declaration commitment concerning decent and productive work for young people as key to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

    In a resolution from the report on the forty-fourth session of the Commission for Social Development entitled comprehensive and integral international convention to protect and promote the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities, adopted by consensus, among other things, the Council welcomes the progress achieved by the ad hoc committee in the negotiation of a draft convention at its seventh session, and invites Member States and observers to continue to participate actively and constructively in the Committee, with the aim of concluding a draft convention and submitting it to the General Assembly, as a matter of priority, for adoption, at its sixty-first session;  requests the Commission for Social Development to continue to contribute to the process of negotiation of a draft international convention, bearing in mind its area of expertise and the positive impact of a convention in promoting an inclusive approach to social development; requests the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the Secretariat and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue to support the work of the ad hoc committee, and underlines the importance of continuing cooperation and coordination between the two offices in order to provide substantive and technical support to the committee and to promote public awareness regarding its work, including in collaboration with the Special Rapporteur; and requests bodies, organs and entities of the United Nations system to continue to participate, as appropriate, in the ad hoc committee and to contribute to its work.

    In a resolution from the report on the forty-fourth session of the Commission for Social Development entitled social dimensions of the New Partnership for Africa's Development, adopted by consensus, the Council, among other things, emphasizes that economic development, social development and environmental protection are interdependent and mutually reinforcing components of sustainable development; emphasizes that democracy, respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development, transparent and accountable governance and administration in all sectors of society, and effective participation by civil society, non-governmental organizations and the private sector are among the indispensable foundations for the realization of social and people-centred sustainable development; encourages further integration of the priorities and objectives of the New Partnership into the programmes of the regional structures and organizations by African countries; and emphasizes that progress in the implementation of the New Partnership for Africa's Development depends also on a favourable national and international environment for Africa's growth and development, including measures to promote a policy environment conducive to private sector development and entrepreneurship.

    In a resolution from the report on the forty-fourth session of the Commission for Social Development entitled future organization and methods of work of the Commission for Social Development, adopted by consensus, the Council, among other things, decides that the outcome of the Commission's review shall be in the form of a chairperson's summary, done in close coordination with other members of the Bureau, and that the policy segment shall have a negotiated outcome with action-oriented strategies; also decides that the theme for the 2007-2008 review and policy cycle will be "promoting full employment and decent work for all", taking into account its interrelationship with poverty eradication and social integration; decides to include the agenda item "emerging issues" in its programme of work; invites the relevant specialized agencies and entities of the United Nations system to contribute to the work of the Commission for Social Development by, inter alia, providing relevant information within their respective mandates; and stresses the importance to identify relevant sub-themes within the priority theme to focus interventions and discussions, also taking into account cross-cutting issues.

    In a decision from the report on the forty-fourth session of the Commission for Social Development entitled report of the Commission for Social Development on its forty-fourth session and provisional agenda and documentation for the forty-fifth session, and adopted by consensus, the Council takes note of the report of the Commission for Social Development on its forty-fourth session; and approves the provisional agenda and documentation for the forty-fifth session of the Commission.

    Statements on the Resolution on the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review of Operational Activities for Development of the United Nations System

    TERRY MILLER ( United States ), in a general comment, said the negotiations had not produced a consensus, but this was no reflection on the amount of effort that had been involved.  The United States had read the text with the greatest care.  The issues involved the very heart of the United Nations operations process, and the matters concerned organizations that were strongly supported by the United States in principle and financially.  These operational activities were important, and this was why the resolution was such a disappointment.  It was too long, over 50 operative paragraphs, with much repetition.  Many of them were commentary on actions already taken, and this did not move the development process forward.  The resolution contained a number of statements and conclusions, among other things, that were distorted or inaccurate. An honest look at where the United Nations stood was required, before it could be determined where it should be.  There were many distortions or misrepresentations of national situations.  For these reasons and others, the United States called for a vote on this resolution.

    A. OOSTHUIZEN (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said taking into consideration the special circumstances in which the draft was negotiated and consulted, the President of the Council should be appreciated for his efforts to bring it to its final version.  The contents in the draft did not in any way misrepresent the objectives it wanted to achieve.  The Group of 77 and China supported the text and hoped all would adopt it.

    ALEXANDER ALINOV ( Russian Federation ), in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said Russia regretted that the resolution would not be adopted by consensus.  The vote on the draft should not reduce its importance as an important step in the triennial review of the operational activities.  The Council had been able to reaffirm the key role and effectiveness that it had in operational activities.  Deliberations had focused on the implementation of the resolution 59/250, identifying goals for the next review, and through this, the advantages of the current architecture had been enhanced.  The Russian Federation would vote in favour of the draft.

    TERRY Miller ( United States), in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said the delegation of the United States had voted against the draft resolution.  The text misrepresented the objectives of funds for development and it promoted misinformation concerning technology transfer to the developing countries.  The responsibility of States and the United Nations system was not clearly defined.   The United States believed that the people of the developing countries should use funds and programmes effectively.  The effective implementation of funds and programmes should enable the people in the developing countries to exercise ownership and leadership in achieving their own development goals.

    CATHERINE BROWN ( Canada), in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said Canada was disappointed that the resolution had not been adopted by consensus.  The Council had fulfilled its responsibility with regards to the triennial review.  The focus was appropriate, and related policy issues would be better addressed in the General Assembly.

    TARJA FERNANDEZ (Finland), speaking on behalf of the European Union in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that the European Union was pleased by the adoption of the text, which it supported.  The text represented progress in the implementation of the triennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system.  The European Union was further pleased by the role played by the Council in coordinating the development activities of the United Nations.  The European Union expected to see the results of the next comprehensive policy review activities, which would effectively help the developing countries in their efforts to achieve their development goals.

    Introduction of Reports

    PHILIP O. EMAFO, President of the International Narcotics Control Board, introducing the report of the Board for 2005, said that since 1992, the first chapter of the report had been dedicated to a topical issue, which was of particular concern to the Board.  This year, the Board had chosen to examine alternative development and legitimate livelihoods.  The Board noted the success stories of alternative development, which resulted in substantial reductions of drug crops in Thailand, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Colombia and Peru.  However, it could not be denied that the classic alternative development approach had much weakness, such as the project-by-project approach.  The Board called for alternative development to be taken out of the confines of that short-term approach.  It should be seen as a crosscutting issue, involving a multitude of players at all levels.  The issue of alternative development should not only be addressed in rural areas, but also in urban areas where illicit drugs were abused.  Very many abuses of illicit drugs often belonged to persons on the fringes of society, living in slums in large cities and members of marginalized communities in urban areas.  In such situations, well-defined policies were needed to provide opportunities for earning legitimate income and help reduce problems of drug abuse.

    With regard to Afghanistan, the Government had strengthened its drug control machinery and built up its institutional capacity.  The Board also noted that measurable progress had been made in the area of law enforcement activities, resulting in significant seizures and the dismantling of illicit laboratories.  The Board welcomed those positive developments that had been achieved by Afghanistan with the assistance of the international community.  With regard to other aspects of the world drug situation, the Board noted with concern that synthetic drugs, in particular amphetamine-type stimulants, were a serious threat currently being faced by the international community.  The illicit manufactures of those substances had recently spread beyond the countries initially affected by the abuse of those substances and all regions were currently experiencing similar problems, fuelled by the ease of their manufacture and the availability of the required precursor chemicals.  Another ominous development was drug trafficking and smuggling through the Internet and the postal system.

    JUDY CHANG HOPKINS, Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees, said UNHCR had been actively engaged in support of the ambitious initiatives currently underway towards reform of the United Nations system as well as improvement of the global humanitarian response capacity.  It had been actively engaged in discussions on policy and implementation relating notably to peace and security, system-wide coherence, development, and strengthening of the Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator systems.  The newly formed Peacebuilding Commission was of direct interest to UNHCR, because of the need to ensure that fragile peace attained was sustainable in the longer term.  Nowhere were the UNHCR decisive steps towards greater coordination with the humanitarian community more evident than in the exercise of its mandates from the General Assembly for the protection and assistance of internally displaced persons. 

    In Africa, UNHCR was working to protect, assist and find durable solutions for some 12.2 million people.  A number of persistent challenges were faced in protecting and assisting these refugees and bringing about durable solutions to resolve their plight.  UNHCR's work was particularly challenging when operating in precarious and insecure post-conflict environments, and this had been the case in a number of situations over the last year.  The complications, logistical problems and security risks for both the displaced and for humanitarian workers were of concern and renewed efforts were required by the international community to bring about political solutions in this part of the world.  Significant progress had been made in achieving the successful voluntary repatriation of hundreds of thousands of refugees in Africa, yet UNHCR was keenly aware that this had only been possible thanks to the creation of adequate conditions of peace.  UNHCR's financial situation had been precarious in the past year, and if even minimum standards of protection and assistance were to be delivered to refugees and internally displaced persons in Africa, then there was a desperate need for further sustained support from the international community.

    BACRE NDIAYE, Director, Human Rights Procedures Divisions, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, introducing the report of the High Commissioner, said the report focused on the legal protection of economic, social and cultural rights, an often neglected aspect in discussions on economic and social issues and an issue which the High Commissioner had identified as a priority in her Plan of Action as well as in her Strategic Management Plan for 2006-2007.  The High Commissioner highlighted two reasons why focused attention should be given to the legal protection of economic, social and cultural rights.  Despite constant reaffirmation of the interdependence of all human rights, efforts to protect economic, social and cultural rights were often weaker than for other human rights.  There was increasing evidence that legal protection could be an effective means of protecting economic, social and cultural rights, a point which was underlined by case-law from all regions of the world.

    As the report pointed out, legal protection required, as a first step, the recognition of economic, social and cultural rights in domestic laws, for example by incorporating relevant international human rights treaties into the domestic legal order or recognizing economic, social and cultural rights in the national constitution and legislation.  A majority of States today recognized various economic, social and cultural rights as legal rights. The High Commissioner drew attention to how the drafting of an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights could stimulate strengthened legal protection of economic, social and cultural rights.

    General Discussion

    VESA HIMANEN ( Finland ), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Commission on Human Rights concluded its sixty-second and final session on 27 March, after 60 years of dedicated work for the promotion and protection of human rights.  Despite the criticism the Commission was exposed to in recent years, its achievements in the field of norm development and standard setting were impressive.  The development of the system of special procedures had been one of the strengths of the Commission, and one of the priorities of the European Union was to ensure that the system of special procedures was continued and further strengthened in the Human Rights Council.  The work of the Commission was not limited only to Member States and Observer States.

    The establishment of the Human Rights Council marked an important step in the implementation of the commitments made by Heads of State and Government at the World Summit of 2005.  The Council's output would be vital to the work of the United Nations, where human rights were now recognised as one of the main pillars of its mandate.  The World Summit had recognised that development, peace and security and human rights were interlinked and mutually reinforcing.  The European Union continued to support the strengthening of the overall United Nations human rights machinery, and particularly welcomed the decision taken by the World Summit to double the regular budget resources of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights over the next five years.

    MATERN LUMBANGA (United Republic of Tanzania) said United Republic of Tanzania still exercised an open door policy to genuine refugees and asylum seekers despite the increased scale and changing nature of migration and its complexities.  The policy had taken into consideration those complexities, but without diverting from the principles enshrined in international conventions.  The current refugee influx to United Republic of Tanzania had very much dropped following the improved security situation in neighbouring countries.  However, with a population of a little more than half a million registered refugees, United Republic of Tanzania still hosted the biggest number of refugees in Africa.  Out of those, more than 300,000 lived in camps and received assistance from the international community through United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

    Although the Government had now allowed small income generating activities within the camps, still those did not make refugees self-sufficient.  As United Republic of Tanzania continued to host large numbers of refugees, budgetary cuts in refugees operations were finally taking toll on the social and protection needs of refugees.  United Republic of Tanzania wished to reiterate and urge donors and the international community as a whole on the necessity of adhering to the principles of international responsibility and burden sharing.

    CATHERINE BROWN ( Canada) said Canada supported the adoption of the report of the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, but would like to note Canada's strong preference that the Commission adopt the report of its proceedings at the end of the session, rather than by silent procedure.  Distributing a provisional report after the adjournment of the session did not adequately allow those who were present at the Commission the opportunity to ensure that it fully reflected the discussion.  Canada believed that draft reports had to be prepared and circulated in time for a meaningful consideration by Member States, before proceeding with their adoption at the end of the Commission's meeting.  Member States should not have to feel compelled to resort to silent procedures.

    Canada commended the International Labour Organization (ILO) for its patient and persistent work in regard to the problem of forced labour in " Burma".  Canada had watched with growing unease the unfavourable developments that had been unfolding in " Burma" with respect to forced labour, and this was part of a long-standing and comprehensive policy that "Burmese" authorities had taken which undermined human rights.  The ILO was in the front line in working to ensure that "Burma" lived up to its commitments, and had been consistently confronted with violations of human rights that showed how closely related these fundamental rights issues were.

    NYUNT MAUNG SHEIN ( Myanmar) said that the issue under discussion should be appropriately addressed within the International Labour Organization (ILO). The individuals named in the report on the situation of forced labour in Myanmar had in fact been released. The Government had also taken further measures with regard to forced labour.  It was also willing to collaborate and cooperate with ILO concerning the issue of forced labour.  His county's name was registered with the United Nations as Myanmar and not as Burma.

    VIJAY TRIVEDI (India) said since the conclusion of the ninety-fifth session of the Labour Conference, it had been conveyed that the Government of Myanmar had released a prisoner, and the consultations between the ILO and the Government on a mutually agreed mechanism to eliminate forced labour was in progress.  Consultations had begun and would continue.  These developments were important steps towards eradicating the practice of force labour.  In order to move the process forward, the cooperation extended by Myanmar should be encouraged.  The efforts of the Director-General of the ILO should be commended.  India was strongly opposed to the practice of forced labour, and supported the process of dialogue and cooperation between the ILO and Myanmar.

    The representative of the ( Russian Federation) said Russia followed a policy of challenging any threat of crime, particularly illicit narcotic drugs.  Russia's policy was based on its determination to fight international crimes related to drugs.  Drug trafficking related to the financing of terrorism was a threat to the international community.  The Russian Government was drafting legislation against crimes related to crimes of trafficking in drugs, which were a serious threat to all regions.  Further changes were also envisaged to introducing legal provisions in the country's domestic order in order to better fight all sorts of organized crimes.  The laws would be in line with relevant international conventions and norms on the fight against crimes.  The Government was also putting in place measures related to corruption and money-laundering through which acts of crimes were funded, specially the funding of terrorism.

    In a meeting held in Moscow on the issue of combating drugs from Afghanistan, more than 50 delegations and organizations had participated to examine to identify and find a remedy to drug supplies.  It also discussed the link between drug and terrorism.  The participant also underlined the need to suppress the channel of supply from Afghanistan.   Russia was ready to cooperate with regional and international actors in combating drug trafficking.

    TERRY MILLER ( United States) said the practice of forced labour in " Burma", with the complicity of the regime, was a violation of the ILO Conventions.  The United States had consistently supported the active engagement of the ILO and its efforts to bring an end to the practice of forced labour in " Burma", and to move the country away from this practice.  The conclusions of the recent International Labour Conference, and the six-month moratorium on the complaints of those complaining should be made permanent.  The country should engage with the ILO in a mechanism that allowed complaints to be acted on, and that ensured that those complaining would be free from retribution.  Other measures should be taken if the authorities did not take steps to bring an end to forced labour.

    DIEGO BELEVAN ( Peru) said the work of the United Nations High Commissioner was of great importance in the countries of the region and Peru would like to give its support, in the name of the countries of the region.

    SHIGERU ENDO ( Japan) said Japan deemed it a positive sign that the Myanmar Government recently released Aye Myint, following the release of Su Su Nwe.  It also understood that a six-month moratorium on prosecutions had been duly implemented.  While these actions were positive, the situation was still far from satisfactory.  The core issue was the establishment of a credible mechanism that dealt with complaints on forced labour by the end of October.  The Myanmar Government should promptly conduct sincere negotiations with the ILO and reach an agreement on the establishment of the mechanism, including the strengthening of the liaison office, as requested by the ILO.  The ultimate goal was to realise the total eradication of forced labour, and to this end the international community should remain seized of this matter so that the Myanmar Government would take concrete action.

    ANDALIB ELIAS ( Bangladesh) said the issue of observance of the situation of forced labour by the International Labour Organization (ILO) with regard to Myanmar had been already discussed and Myanmar had responded, saying it would cooperate with the ILO.

    ANDREI MOLTCHAN ( Belarus) said as a member of the ILO Council, Belarus had been keeping a close watch on the implementation of the Convention by Myanmar.  Belarus condemned all forms of forced labour, and was examining the situation.  The various efforts deployed by the ILO were welcomed.  There was a will by the Government of Myanmar to establish a constructive dialogue on the issue, and to implement the recommendations drafted by the International Labour Conference in June.  The representative of Myanmar was thanked for the information on the efforts taken to eliminate the various incidents of forced labour.  It was only through mutual cooperation and respect that results would be achieved

    The Council should help the ILO and the Government of Myanmar to further the dialogue to solve this serious problem that should not exist in today's world.

    GUSTI AGUNG WESAKA PUJA ( Indonesia) welcomed the conclusion adopted by the ninety-fifth session of the International Labour Conference to give the Government of Myanmar the opportunity to continue the dialogue with the ILO in order to find a mutually acceptable solution in addressing the issue of forced labour.  He also noted the Government of Myanmar's decision and actions to implement the recommendations of the session.

    LIU ZHONGXIN ( China) said the information provided on the situation in Myanmar by the Ambassador was appreciated.  About one month ago, the ILO had an in-depth discussion on the issue, and the Government of Myanmar, in a spirit of cooperation, responded to the ILO effort and had made progress in certain areas.  In view of the above, China believed the Council should support the Myanmar Government in continuing its cooperation with the ILO, and continue to discuss the framework of cooperation.

    BOUBACAR DIALLO ( Guinea) said Guinea had been experiencing the consequences of refugees in the region.  The international community should help the host countries with their financial burden.  Also, the repatriation and integration process needed financial resources, and the countries of origin could not shoulder this burden alone.  The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the international community should continue their assistance to the receiving countries and the countries of origin in their efforts to integrate returnees.

    MARIA DEL CARMEN HERREA CASEIRO ( Cuba) said on social development, it went without saying that Cuba denounced any and all forms of forced labour.  In the room it had been heard that the compliance with the ILO Convention No. 29 had been discussed in depth within the framework of the ILO, and therefore in the view of Cuba, when it came to discussing the technical aspects, this was not the right place to engage in this discussion, as it had already been held within the framework of the ILO one month earlier.  The Government of Myanmar was working towards improving the situation and adopting measures in close cooperation with the various mechanisms of the ILO.  This theme should remain within the framework of the ILO, as a specialised body, when it came to dealing with such issues.  Work should be done to further dialogue and cooperation between Myanmar and the ILO in order to achieve an improved labour situation.

    JARL-HAKAN ROSENGREN (Finland), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that in recent years, the human rights situation of Myanmar, including the issue of forced labour, had been addressed in a number of fora.  The European Union was deeply concerned by the information provided by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar.  Myanmar continued to implement widespread and systematic forced labour practices, including forced recruitment throughout the country. There was evidence of child labour, including forced recruitment of child soldiers.  It was deeply regrettable that citizens were obliged to be state actors to dedicate themselves without pay to exploitative activities.  The European Union encouraged the authorities in Myanmar to introduce reforms to meet its obligations under the ILO Convention concerning forced or compulsory labour.  The European Union had consistently expressed the view that prosecuting persons who lodged complaints against the exaction of forced labour and tried to obtain redress was unacceptable and should stop immediately.

    KAISA HEIKKILA (Finland), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the European Union recognized with satisfaction UNHCR's close collaboration with other United Nations agencies.  The European Union encouraged UNHCR to further develop close partnership with non-governmental organizations.  UNHCR was engaging NGOs in all stages of its operations, including assessment and planning.  As the main implementing partners of UNHCR, NGOs had often the most accurate information on the needs at field level.  The European Union encouraged UNHCR to work even more closely with the governments hosting refugees as well as with donors.  The European Union expressed its strong support to UNHCR's efforts to find durable solutions to the situation of refugees.  In that regard, it appreciated UNHCR's participation in the United Nations Development Group.  Although it was entirely humanitarian organization, the close cooperation with development actors was crucial.

    INGEBORG BREINES, of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said UNESCO has participated in the fifth session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and fully agreed with the recommendation that any follow-up action should be carried out within the framework of the Programme of Action for the Second International Decade of the World's Indigenous People.  More specifically with regards to the draft recommendations made at the recent fifth session of the United Nations Permanent Forum, attention should be paid to recommendation number 15.  Other recommendations, which were of concern to UNESCO were on issues such as continued support to promoting indigenous knowledge systems, intercultural education for indigenous and non-indigenous children, indicators that considered the specific situations and cultural resources of indigenous peoples.

    The UNESCO intersectoral team continued its consultation and collaboration with the Secretariat and members of the United Nations Permanent Forum, the inter-agency group in support of indigenous issues, and the relevant civil society partners to design further actions to be carried out during the Second Decade with the mutual consent of the indigenous communities or organizations concerned.

    ASAD M. KHAN (Pakistan) said the delegation of Pakistan denounced forced labour in all its manifestations.  Pakistan appreciated the ongoing dialogue between Myanmar and the ILO and hoped that the discussion would bear fruit.

    M.S. PURI (India) said with regards to report 43, it was unclear as to where the Permanent Forum came up with a specific idea with regards to indigenous and non-indigenous peoples that was mentioned in the text.  There was no definition of what constituted indigenous people.  The entire question of congratulating some type of work that had been done was misplaced, as there was a total lack of data, and if the rules of procedure allowed expurgation, then this statement should be removed, as it was not in order.  As this could not be done, then if and when the report came up for adoption, then India would like its concerns to be reflected, but it would come to this at the appropriate time.

    ANNA BIONDI BIRD, of International Confederation Free Trade Unions, said the Confederation wished to express its severe and grave concern on the human and workers' rights violations in Myanmar.  The initiatives taken by the ILO were all aimed to bring the military junta to finally implement the recommendations of the ILO Commission of Inquiry, therefore discontinuing the use of forced labour in the country, while ensuring that no action was taken against victims and their representatives who complained to the courts or to the ILO.  The authorities' total lack of commitment was clearly expressed in the realities on the ground.  While the situation was still very worrisome, a renewed pressure on the junta coming from international and regional actors encouraged the Confederation.

    TONIS NIRK (Estonia) said as an emerging donor country and a member of the European Union, Estonia was determined to actively participate in international humanitarian cooperation in the spirit of solidarity and shared responsibility.  UNHCR played a special role in combating the tragic consequences of numerous crisis situations in the world today; it had a special role in improving the situation of refugees and internally displaced persons all over the world, and its work was crucial.  For that reason, Estonia continued to support UNHCR through voluntary contributions in response to global appeals and emergency appeals.  Membership in the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees would provide an opportunity to enhance Estonia's contribution to international cooperation to resolve refugee problems around the world.  The resolution on the enlargement of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees should be supported.

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