|UNITED NATIONS COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS,
59th SESSIONAL REPORTS
Organization of the Commission
Mr. Mohamed-Salah Dembri Algeria spoke first this morning, on behalf of the Like-Minded Group. His statement was relative to agenda Item 3 organization of the Commission reminded that the promotion and the protection of human rights are a daily struggle for all of us.
Mr. Jorge-Alberto Ferrer Rodriguez Cuba, wished to review documents on methods of interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur, expressing doubts about the time allotted to debates and its impact on the work of the Commission. He would study the statistics during speaking times and address this issue in the afternoon.
The High Commissioner, Mr. Sergio Vieira de Mello, prior to introducing his report under agenda Item 4 and announcing a series of initiatives, proposals and reforms meant to ameliorate his Office’s competence, reminded all parties of the Iraqi conflict to honour their obligations under international law and to respect human rights at all times.
Mr. Shaukat Umer Pakistan speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), was very concerned about the reappearance of Islamophobia, especially in the post-September 11th period. He also reminded the strong commitment of the OIC to the universal promotion of human rights.
Mr. Saeed Mohamed Al-Faihani Bahrain focused mainly on the policies and plans taken by his country in order to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Mr. Tassos Kriekoukis, the representative of Greece speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed the needs of stronger protection of human rights and of comprehensive action in order to uphold “human dignity, equality, security and human rights in a rapidly changing world”, all high priority issues for the European Union.
Mr. Manuel A. Gonzales-Sanz Costa-Rica stressed that only the existence of a rule of law accompanied by an educational process would create the necessary conditions to ensure that everyone could fully develop his human potential in conditions of equality and prosperity. He mentioned that thousands of children were touched by conflicts and that this should not be forgotten.
Mrs. Mariclaire Acosta Mexico stated that the improvement of the institutional capacity of the OHCHR was a main concern and that the suggestions made in the report were fully supported.
Mr. Sha Zukang China said that the OHCHR needed to be reformed in order to adjust to the developments of the international community, i.e. terrorism.
Mr. Jorge-Alberto Ferrer Rodriguez resumed that only underdeveloped countries were submitted to discriminatory resolutions under agenda Item 9, with reference only to political and civil rights and that these approaches ignored the principles of universality, indivisibility, interdependence and interrelatedness of all human rights.
Mr. Mohamed-Salah Dembri, spoke again affirming that a focalisation on civil and political rights rejects the interdependence and the indivisibility of human rights.
Mr. Valeriy Kuchinsky Ukraine said that the adoption by this session of the resolution on protecting human rights while combating terrorism would be the right step in the right direction.
Mr. Christopher Wedstal Head of the Canadian Delegation speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand affirmed that the challenge was not to create new human rights standards but to implement those we already have.
Mrs. Laxanachantorn Laohaphan Thailand said that “States must uphold their responsibilities, beginning with human rights education to enable people to realize their rights and to exercise then accordingly”.
Mr. Alexey Vlaskov Russian Federation stated that he gave all his support to the OHCHR even though his country disagrees with the guidelines concerning membership in the Commission that would contravene the UN Charter.
Mr. Hardeep Singh Puri India affirmed that his country was against the codes of the High Commissioner because these would violate the UN Charter’s principle of sovereign equality of Member States.
Mr. Kevin E. Moley United States mainly focused on the fact that only real democracies, only nations whose citizens fully enjoy political and civil liberties deserve membership to the Commission, because they do not threaten international peace and security.
Mrs. Naela Babr Egypt spoke next as the first State observer and expressed some reflections concerning the High Commissioner’s report, especially the need to carefully determine the mandates of Special Rapporteurs in order to avoid duplication and overlapping.
Mr. Gyan Chandra Acharya Nepal reminded the importance of human rights.
Mr. Sverre Bergh Johansen Norway stated that international cooperation and domestic action were interdependent and inseparable elements in any serious attempt to provide effective protection of human rights.
Mr. Amare Tekle Eritrea affirmed that the elimination of hunger and extreme poverty as well as peace are the sine qua non conditions for the achievement of development.
Mr. Djismun Kasri Indonesia mentioned the need for international cooperation and assistance for the realisation of social, economic and cultural rights.
Mr. David Littman Association for World Education speaking on behalf of other NGOs affirmed his full support to the High Commissioner’s code.
Mr. Lubna Freih Human Rights Watch expressed the need for the Commission to adopt a resolution on the protection of human rights in countering terrorism.
Ending, the High Commissioner responded to the comments made. He particularly emphasized that his proposals focused on greater transparency.
Elimination of Racial Discrimination
(Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and all forms of discrimintation)
Mr. Ion Diaconu, Chairman of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, marked the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Dr. Sorajak Kasemsuvan Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Thailand stated his country’s efforts for the promotion and the protection of human rights, showing great interest in the drug generated problem. Furthermore, he affirmed that this problem especially affects their children who form one third of the drug-addicts.
Mr. Enrique Bernales Ballesteros, the Special Rapporteur on the use of Mercenaries, opened Agenda Item 5 introducing his report and stating that he undertook visits to El Salvador and Panama.
A Representative of El Salvador, speaking as a concerned country, was worried and inquired if the answers given by his country to the Special Rapporteur were included in the Report.
A Representative of Panama, also speaking as a concerned country, affirmed that the report would be analysed with proper attention in the capital.
A Representative of Cuba asked the Special Rapporteur if he had set a date for visiting the United States because there are units of terrorist organizations responsible for the recruitment of mercenaries ( especially americano-cuban groups).
A Representative of Canada noted in the report an effort to broaden the definition of the term “mercenary”, effort fully supported by his country, and he even suggested to broaden the Special Rapporteur’s mandate.
Mr. Ballesteros responded to these comments saying he received the communication from the government of El Salvador even though it referred to only one out of several issues brought up, he was setting up a date for his visit to the United States and he was trying to find a more comprehensive definition of the term “mercenary”.
The Representative of El Salvador inquired whether there would be a rectification within the report which was answered in the affirmative by the Special Rapporteur.
A Representative of Malaysia also wished a rectification in the report concerning paragraph 41, wrongly stating that his country was the object of terrorist aggressions.
A Representative of Pakistan suggested that the Special Rapporteur take into consideration the case of occupying States and agents of those States who deliberately denied the right to self-determination when broadening the definition of the term “mercenary”.
An Observer of Palestine noticed that it seemed that the Special Rapporteur mentioned Israel as one of the places where terrorist attacks were committed and he wondered what about places around Israel and what about the Israeli terrorist attacks against Palestine.
A Representative of Syria stated the importance of clarifying whether the Special Rapporteur was referring to Israel as the perpetrator of terrorism or a victim of it.
Mr. Ballesteros apologized for omitting the situation of Palestine.
Shaukat Umer Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference spoke first under Agenda Item 5, stating the right to self-determination was an inalienable right belonging to all peoples. He added that the Commission has a special responsibility towards the occupied people of Palestine and Jammu and Kashmir. Furthermore, talking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he reminded that “children have probably suffered more from the present conflict”.
Mr. Saeed Mohamed Al-Faihani Bahrain, Mr. Abdulwahab Abdusalam Attar Saudi Arabia, Mr. Zhang Meifang China also reminded the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and were hopeful that the international community would give effect to this violated right.
Mr. Shaukut Umer Pakistan also affirmed the importance of the right of people to self-determination and reminded the sad story of Kashmir.
Mr. Faycal Khabbaz-Hamoui Syrian Arab Republic, Mr. Sipho George Nene South Africa, on behalf of the African Group, Mr.Naéla Gabr Egypt, as the first State observer, Mr. Nasser Salman Al Aboodi United Arab Emirates, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group States, Mr. Nabil Ramlawi Palestine, Mr. Mahmoud Dhari Iraq and Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Masoud Al-Riyami Oman all said the right to self-determination was one of the main foundations of the UN Charter and condemned the Israeli behaviour.
Mr. Yaakov Levy Israel referred to the story of the right of the Jewish people to self-determination and said he expected respect from his neighbour countries as Israel respects them.
Mr. Murad N. Najakov Azerbaijan affirmed that self-determination should not be interpreted as permission or encouragement for activities that undermined in any way the sovereignty of a State, or it would be downgraded to the concept of separatism.
Mr. Shehab A. Madi Jordan said it was truly an irony that every year the Commission discussed the human rights of the Palestinian people whilst Palestine remained occupied and Palestinians could not enjoy their rights.
A Representative of Israel, speaking in right of reply, asked Pakistan what about the suffering of the children of Israel, their massacre and the cruel violence that is imposed on them. He said this was the worst violence possible because it hits the future generation.
The Representative of Palestine and the Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic then accused the Israeli Representative of lying in his declarations.
The Representative of Israel then asked the Chairperson not to allow such personal attacks, request that she respected.
The Representative of the Cuban delegation opened the session saying that the right of peoples to self-determination is threatened by the imperialism of the United States of America. He notably denounced the illegal intervention in Iraq, US support to the Israeli army in the occupied
Palestinian territories, and the embargo in Cuba.
The US delegation replied by comparing Fidel Castro’s rule to Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship.
The representative of the government of Viet-nam had also expressed his support to the Palestinian population that does not enjoy its right to self-determination and to live in peace. He invited the International Community to take concrete measures in order to find a rapid and
sustainable solution to the Middle East issue.
The representative of the delegation of India accused the Pakistani authorities to not recognise the right to self-determination to its own population and to use terror as an instrument of state policy.
The Pakistani delegation replied that the government of India ignored the Security Council resolutions which recognised to right of Kashmiri people to self-determination.
The representative of the government of Algeria compared what is going on in Palestine to the holocaust. He said that the respect of the right to self-determination and right to return only could enable to put an end to this conflict. While the representative of the Algerian government was speaking, the Israeli delegation interrupted him twice to urge him not to
compare the situation in Palestine and the holocaust and the US delegation intervened once to say that his speech was not appropriate.
Many NGOs took the floor to denounced situations where the right to self-determination is not yet achieved.
Special Rapporteur, Doudou Diene, began a presentation of his report concerning modern racism. He said that globalization, instead of stimulating tolerance, is forcing the world towards uniformity, where it is shameful to be different, resulting in increased cases of discrimination. Diene asserted that governments must not simply strengthen political strategies and institutional instruments, but must create an intellectual strategy whereby ethical roots of racial discrimination can be studied. He urged States to take measures to make society more pluralistic. It was mentioned that a study will be done on the relationship between poverty and racism, and education and racism.
The Special Rapporteur from the Working Group on People of African Decent began by saying that the majority of people of African decent are living in poverty, which seems to make them more subject to racial discrimination. This argument was supported by the fact that most prison inmates are of African decent. It was recommended to the States that racial profiling be eliminated.
The Ambassador from Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference stated that since September 11, the world has been targeting Muslims as an ethnic group and that anti-terrorist measures have focused on Islamic countries. As a result, Muslims world-wide are being discriminated against and their faith perceived as being intolerant of others.
The representative from Bahrain suggested that dialogue be promoted between groups based on faith. He further said that his government is working with NGOs to instill in the minds of their people that racial discrimination is not acceptable.
A representative from South Africa, speaking on behalf of the Africa Group, condemned those developed countries that are boycotting meetings of the Anti-Discrimination Unit, which focus on the strengthening of underdeveloped countries. It was also mentioned that it was the responsibility of the States to implement instruments and mechanisms as outlined by the Durban Conference.
The Ambassador of Greece, speaking on behalf of the EU, stated that neither stability nor peace can be realized until intolerance disappears. He suggested that the Durban Program of Action focus on anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Education and training were highlighted as important means of instilling respect for difference and diversity.
The Ambassador of Costa Rica spoke on behalf of GRULAC, reinforcing the importance of actually implementing the Durban provisions through consensus on the program of action.
The Ambassador from Sweden focused on sexual discrimination with reference to sexual orientation. He mentioned that legislation exists world-wide that incriminates people based on sexual orientation. The CRC, among several other conventions, raises the issue of human rights violations, which are based on sexual orientation. He called upon all nations, as well as the United Nations as an institution, to create and enforce laws protecting the rights of individuals despite their sexual orientation.
The representative from the Syrian Arab Republic said that racial discrimination is heightened by the fact that so many States desire what belongs to others and often seek to suppress natural liberties of their neighbors, such as the right to travel, work, and eat. He explained that Islam, as a religion, is being deformed and misinterpreted as being an intolerant and violent faith, which it is not.
The representative of the Russian Federation spoke of stateless, indigenous, and other persons who tend to be victims of discrimination. She mentioned that former Russian soldiers cannot attain Estonian citizenship and that Latvian citizenship is not available to anyone who cannot pass a Latvian language examination.
The Ambassador from Kenya confessed his disappointment that it has taken the UN a full year to formulate a program of implementation based on the Durban convention, and mentioned the blatant disregard of Durban on the part of some members of the Commission for not having participated.
The representative from Saudi Arabia voiced his country’s special concern for Item 6 and explained that its national policy included equal treatment for all persons. Laws and regulations apply to each individual without discrimination, and these political instruments are constantly being monitored and altered to be more sensitive to the issue of discrimination.
The representative from Sri Lanka validated Mr. Dieme’s insistence upon intellectual mechanisms of combating discrimination. He also mentioned that promoting pluralistic society is essential to the war against discrimination.
The representative from Algeria reinforced the fact that Islam is being equated with intolerance, violence, and backwardness. He was disappointed that the Durban declaration has not made much progress since 2002 and that people of African decent are still invisible to society, unable to excel to societal levels that others can achieve.
The representative of Indonesia spoke about Indonesia's aim to combat racial and religious prejudice. He mentioned that Indonesia is eliminating existing laws that discriminate against minorities. It was strongly suggested that States implement legislation outlined by Durban.
The representative from Cyprus asserted that her government rejects discrimination of any kind and that it has developed laws to eradicate it where it exists. She said that governments are obligated to educate their people about tolerance and ethnic diversity.
The Romanian representative stated that his government's political framework is based on international conventions and laws. Romania has developed a Council for Combating Discrimination, which is a key player in the sanctioning of perpetrators.
The representative of Benin expressed the importance of education and of disseminating information on tolerance. He called upon the Commission to follow-up on acts of discrimination, to ensure the punishment of perpetrators. He admitted that migrant workers, women, and children are often the victims of discrimination and intolerance.
Liechtenstein's representative admitted that his delegation did not agree with all of the Durban text, but that it is an important first step. He mentioned that his country has developed a National Plan of Action as a result of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination to which it has prepared a country report. Since the submission of the first report, Liechtenstein has established a training program for police officers, focused on sensitivity to diversity and just treatment.
The first NGO speech was a joint statement by the Coordination Board of Jewish Organization (B'nai-B'rith International, International Council of Jewish Women). This group highlighted the problem of increased anti-Semitism around the world. It was requested that the Special Rapporteur include more information on discrimination against Jews and Christians as opposed to focusing on the Muslim community.
The World Jewish Congress and the International Association Jewish Lawyers and Jurists prepared a joint statement, urging the Commission to condemn Egypt and other Arab States for showing a television series entitled "Horseman Without a Horse," which the Jewish community found highly offensive.
The African Society of International and Comparative Law (Interfaith International and the World Federation of Democratic Youth) also prepared a joint statement confessing a strong disapproval of the war against Iraq despite a lack of world support. It was mentioned that there has been an increase in the amount of racial discrimination in the past two years and that several governments have been committing human rights violations since September 11th.
A joint statement was presented by the Lutheran World Federation, the International Movement Against all Forms of Discrimination and Racism, and Minority Rights Group International. The existence of gender discrimination and mistreatment of women was mentioned along with discrimination based on caste or decent. The Commission was called upon to protect the violent acts of discrimination based on gender and social status and to promote equal treatment of all human beings.
The speaker for the International Young Catholic Students, New Humanity, and OIDEL called for a moment of silence for those suffering in Iraq. He said that racist attitudes are the result of the inability to recognize that another person merits the same rights as one would accord to one's self. It was also emphasized that civil and political rights cannot be considered, or are not sufficient, without social, economic, and cultural rights.
The World Union for Progressive Judaism speaker condemned those who use religious beliefs for personal gain or as justification for acts of violence. This behavior discolors and defames many religions that are not inherently intolerant.
The Association for World Education criticized the Special Rapporteur for not having mentioned more on anti-Semitism.
The speaker for the South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre welcomes the extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and applauded the work of the UN Anti-Discrimination Unit. It did mention, however, that more States must submit reports on discrimination to the Commission in order for the Durban declaration to move forward. It was requested that the Commission take note of the issue of discrimination based on decent, and all States were called upon to implement anti gender discrimination laws.
The International Institute for Peace focused on Pakistan and the discriminatory acts against the Sindhi population. It was mentioned that the Pakistani military enjoys uninhibited freedom, exempt from examination or control.
The Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l'Homme raised the issue of the discrimination against and expulsion of minorities from France despite familial links to France and French culture.
The Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Among Peoples said that racism is a threat to all humanity and is a tool used by superior persons to suppress those who they perceive as being inferior.
The World Federation of UN Association said that the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on Gender discrimination has been ratified by many countries while Durban seems to be lacking support.
The Indian Movement Tupaj Amaru raised the issue of colonialism, asserting that this is responsible for the rise in discrimination, especially in the case of indigenous people. The great powers were called upon to repair the damage they have done.
The International Human Rights Law Group was concerned about African descendants in Latin America, stating that thousands of indigenous people, mainly of African descent were living in extreme poverty and destitution. The speaker gave examples of assassinations, arms trading, and other violent acts that are occurring in Nicaragua and Colombia. He called upon the Commission to appoint an expert to examine this particular issue.
International Possibilities Unlimited raised the issue of people of color becoming more associated with the criminal system and inferior education. It was mentioned that police are not being held accountable for racist actions taken against people of color.
The International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination criticized the US and UK leaders for intervening in Iraq as opposed to Israel, which was said to possess many weapons of mass destruction and which commits acts of violence against human beings. The UN was called upon to stop the war.
Pax Romana emphasized the importance of identity and encouraging cultural pluralism. The speaker asked the Special Rapporteur to give attention to the matter of self-determination .
The December 12th Movement International Secretariat mentioned the racist use of the death penalty in the US and expressed its disappointment in the fact that the US did not participate in the World Conference in Durban.
The International Association Against Torture said that racism would never cease to exist until perpetrators are made accountable for their actions. The speaker said that the NGO was not appalled by the boycotting by many States of the meeting of the Working Group on African Descent.
The General Arab Women Federation spoke on behalf of Iraqi women, expressing their right to self-determination and their resentment of the fact that their country is being used for its natural resources. Most of the civilians being killed are women and children.
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre mentioned the heightened amount of anti-Semitism in the past couple years. The speaker was disappointed that the report on contemporary racism, written by the Special Rapporteur, only included one paragraph on anti-Semitism as opposed to the 17 on Islamophobia, and he insisted on a more balanced report.
Le Comite International pour le Respect et l’Application de la Charte Africaine des Droits de l’Homme et des Peuples spoke of an increase amount of subtle forms of discrimination, especially with regards to Africa. The issue of HIV/AIDS was raised and the fact that it is decimating entire populations in Africa since they do not have ample access to medication or services.
The Asian Legal Resource Center focused on Indonesia, with special regard to the Jakarta massacres in May of 1998 when organized sexual violence against women occurred. According to the speaker, these criminal acts were not brought to trial. The Commission was called upon to insist that Indonesia accept the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women.
The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies examined the word “apartheid,” which is most commonly used in relation to African slaves. The speaker said that it could also be used to describe the situation of Palestinians, who do not enjoy the right to fresh water, safe travel, work, and other basic human rights under Israeli control.
Migrant’s Rights International explained that migrants live in constant fear of imprisonment and arrest, and are being perpetually marginalized. The speaker said the NGO is, and will continue, to follow the progress of implementation of the Durban declaration and Program of Action.
The representative from Cuba discussed the revival and strengthening of new and more sophisticated forms of racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia in different parts of the world, in particular in developed countries such as The United States.
Canada affirmed its commitment to the elimination of racism and discrimination, indicating that it was prepared to work in partnership with other countries. Among its anti-racism campaigns, a National Video Competition was utilised in order to mobilise youth to take a stand against racism.
Mexico declared racism and discrimination to be grave violations of human rights, and indicated that education on this subject needed to be strengthened. It was noted that international progress couldn’t take place if work at a national level is not first carried out.
The representative from Brazil stated that Brazil has made significant progress as a result of the Durban conference, including restructuring the teaching of Brazilian history in schools, so that some stereotypes are removed from the education of children and youth.
India described racism as the antithesis of all that humanity stands for – equality, justice, peace and progress. Education was shown to be crucial in instilling the right values in the minds of children and youth, which are vulnerable to racist influences.
The representative from the Republic of Korea stated that racism and discrimination lie at the root of many conflicts, and that provisions needed to be made to further educate all people on these issues.
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya affirmed that racism and discrimination needed to be totally eliminated, as well providing compensation for those affected.
The representative from Norway welcomed the implementation of and the follow-up to the Durban Convention.
Egypt indicated support for the statement of the African Group, and stressed the importance of the follow-up mechanisms to Durban. The racist campaigns against Muslims and Arabs were described as a worrying trend that needed to be addressed.
The representative from Switzerland emphasized the importance of implementing the Durban programme, and stated its intent to gradually raise awareness of issues such as discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
The representative from Iraq declared that racism compromises human dignity, and that all forms should be rejected.
Lithuania supported the EU statement, and indicated the need for further international cooperation.
The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies described its work to combat racism, affecting not only vulnerable persons, but also society as a whole.
Slovakia also supported the EU statement, and stated that the Slovakian Government had adopted plans of action against racism and discrimination.
The Islamic Republic of Iran outlined false racial superiority theories, and declared its support for the equality of all peoples.
Kuwait stated that education about racism was included in the Kuwaiti school curriculum at all levels, in order to promote peace and mutual understanding.
The representative from Holy See described humankind as one family, and stressed that there was a deep-seated fear in the international community, preventing racism from being addressed. It was emphasized that racism must not be passed on to future generations, thus school textbooks must not contain any incitement to racism.
The World Health Organisation indicated that discrimination causes and magnifies poverty and ill health, and needed to be recognised as a significant factor affecting mental health.
The representative from Qatar stated that all human beings had the same origin, and that discrimination on the basis of race, sex and religion was unacceptable. NGOs were described as playing an important role in the field of human rights.
The Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea stated that race was a false scientific concept, and described the crimes against humanity committed by Japan in Korea.
The International Labour Office declared that 158 countries had ratified Convention 111, the ILO's main tool against racism and discrimination. Evaluation was described as essential, in order to monitor progress.
Yemen stressed the need to fight against all forms of discrimination. The legal provisions being made in order to comply with the Convention on the Rights of the Child were outlined, safeguarding the rights of children and young people.
The representative of United States says US are open to people from all religions and origins.
Syria affirms that Arabs are not anti-Semitic, cause they also are Semites.