Text adopted – Human rights in the world 2012 and EU policy on the matter – P7_TA(2013)0575 – Wednesday, 11 December 2013 – Strasbourg – Final edition

The European Parliament,
–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and other UN human rights treaties and instruments,
–  having regard to the United Nations Millennium Declaration of 8 Septemb…

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Declaring Israel’s Actions in Syrian Golan, East Jerusalem ‘Null and Void’, General Assembly Adopts Six Resolutions on Palestine, Middle East

Concluding its annual debate on the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East, the General Assembly adopted six resolutions today — including two declaring Israel’s actions in the Syrian Golan and East Jerusalem “null and void” — …

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Fourth Committee Concludes Its Work, Approving 9 Middle East Related Drafts Out of 10 Submitted for Adoption by General Assembly

Concluding its work for the main part of the seventy‑second session, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) approved 10 draft resolutions today, of which 9 related to Israeli practices in the occupied Arab territories and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

The Committee approved — by a recorded vote of 160 in favour to 2 against (Israel, South Sudan), with 10 abstentions (Cameroon, Canada, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Paraguay, Solomon Islands, United States) — a draft resolution titled “Assistance to Palestine refugees” (document A/C.4/72/L.17).

By that text, the General Assembly would express grave concern at the difficult situation of Palestine refugees under occupation, in particular those in the Gaza Strip, underlining the importance of assistance and urgent reconstruction efforts there.  It would call upon all donors to continue strengthening their efforts to meet the Agency’s anticipated needs, including for recent emergency, recovery and reconstruction appeals, plans for Gaza and for regional crisis responses to the situation of Palestine refugees in Syria.

The Committee also approved — by a recorded 156 votes in favour to 7 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, South Sudan, United States), with 8 abstentions (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, Togo) — a draft titled “Persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities” (document A/C.4/72/L.18).

By the terms of that text, the General Assembly would reaffirm the right of all persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities to return to their homes or former places of residence.  It would further stress the need for the accelerated return of those displaced, strongly appealing to all Governments, organizations and individuals to contribute generously to UNRWA and others in that regard.

In a subsequent action, the Committee approved a draft titled “Operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East” (document A/C.4/72/L.19), by which the General Assembly would express deep concern about the Agency’s critical financial situation, noting that contributions had been neither predictable nor sufficient to meet its growing needs.  As such, the Assembly would stress the need for further efforts to comprehensively address the Agency’s recurrent funding shortages, while commending its measures to address the financial crisis.

However, the Assembly would, by other terms, express profound concern that despite such measures, UNRWA’s programme budget — funded primarily through voluntary contributions from Member States and intergovernmental organizations — faced persistent shortfalls that increasingly threatened the Agency’s core programmes.  Further, the Assembly would appeal to States and organizations to maintain their voluntary contributions to the Agency, as well as increase contributions where possible.

Further by the text, the Assembly would call upon donors to provide early annual voluntary contributions, less earmarking and multi‑year funding, in line with the Grand Bargain on humanitarian financing announced at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, in May 2016.  The Assembly would also voice concern about the continuing imposition of restrictions on free movement and access for UNRWA personnel, vehicles and goods, as well as the injury, harassment and intimidation of its staff.  The Committee approved that draft by a recorded vote of 160 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, South Sudan, United States), with 7 abstentions (Bahamas, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Nauru, Paraguay, Solomon Islands).

The Committee went on to approve a draft titled “Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues” (document A/C.4/71/L.20) by a recorded 158 vote of in favour to 7 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, South Sudan, United States), with 8 abstentions (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, Solomon Islands, Togo).

By that text, the General Assembly would request that the Secretary‑General take all appropriate steps to protect Arab property, assets and property rights in Israel.  Further, it would call upon Israel to render all facilities and assistance to the Secretary‑General for the resolution’s implementation and call upon all parties concerned to provide the Secretary‑General with any pertinent information concerning such property in Israel.  Moreover, the Assembly would urge the Palestinian and Israeli sides, as agreed between them, to deal with the important issue of Palestine refugees’ properties and revenues within the framework of final‑status peace negotiations.

The Committee also approved a draft resolution titled “Work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories” (document A/C.4/72/L.21) by a recorded vote of 86 in favour to 11 against, with 75 abstentions.  By that text, the General Assembly would request the Special Committee to continue investigating Israeli policies and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, especially violations of the Geneva Convention, and to consult with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in order to ensure safeguards for the welfare and human rights of the peoples of the occupied territories.  It would also request that the Special Committee submit regular periodic reports to the Secretary‑General regarding the current situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and to continue to investigate the treatment and status of prisoners and detainees.

The Committee then approved — by a recorded 159 votes in favour to 8 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Solomon Islands, South Sudan, United States), with 7 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Paraguay, Togo, Vanuatu) — a draft titled “Applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the other occupied Arab territories” (document A/C.4/72/L.22).

By that draft, the General Assembly would demand that Israel accept the de jure applicability of the Geneva Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, and that it comply scrupulously with the provisions of the Convention.  Further by that text, the Assembly would call upon all High Contracting Parties to the Convention to continue to exert all efforts to ensure respect for its provisions by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Taking up a draft titled “Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan” (document A/C.4/72/L.23), the Committee approved it by a recorded vote of 155 in favour to 8 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Solomon Islands, South Sudan, United States), with 10 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Honduras, Malawi, Paraguay, Togo, Tuvalu, Vanuatu). 

According to that text, the General Assembly would condemn acts of violence, destruction, harassment, provocation and incitement by Israeli settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  It would call upon Israel to accept the de jure applicability of the Geneva Convention and to comply with all its obligations under international law.  Moreover, the Assembly would demand that Israel comply with its legal obligations, as mentioned in the advisory opinion rendered by the International Court of Justice on 9 July 2004.

Taking up a draft titled “Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem” (document A/C.4/72/L.24), the Committee approved it by a recorded vote of 155 in favour to 9 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Solomon Islands, South Sudan, United States), with 8 abstentions (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Honduras, Paraguay, Togo, Vanuatu).

By that text, the Assembly would demand that Israel cease all practices and actions violating the human rights of the Palestinian people, including the killing and injury of civilians, the arbitrary detention and imprisonment of civilians, forced displacement, and any obstruction of humanitarian assistance, among others.  The Assembly would also demand that Israel comply fully with the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention and cease all settlement activity, construction of the wall, and any other measures aimed at altering the character, status and demographic composition of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  It would further demand that Israel comply with its legal obligations under international law, as mentioned in the 9 July, 2004, advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, and as demanded in General Assembly resolutions ES-10/15 and ES-10/13 of 21 October 2003.

The Committee went on to approve a draft titled “The occupied Syrian Golan” (document A/C.4/72/L.25) by a recorded 154 votes in favour to 2 against (Israel, South Sudan), with 17 abstentions.  By its terms, the General Assembly would call upon Israel to comply with the relevant resolutions on the occupied Syrian Golan, in particular Security Council resolution 497 (1981), by which the Council determined that Israel’s decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan was null and void, and without international legal effect, demanding that Israel rescind its decision.

Further by that text, the Assembly would call upon Israel to desist from changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan, and to desist, in particular, from establishing settlements.  The Assembly would also call upon Israel to desist from its own citizenship and identity cards on the Syrian citizens of the occupied Syrian Golan.

In closing remarks, Fourth Committee Chair Rafael Darío Ramírez Carreño (Venezuela) noted that the Committee had approved 39 draft resolutions and 4 draft decisions.  Throughout the session, it had held 28 formal meetings, covering a wide range of issues, he added.

Also speaking today were representatives of the United States, Israel, Estonia (for the European Union), Syria and Iran, as well as an observer for the State of Palestine.

Representatives of Indonesia and Cuba presented the draft resolutions for action.

The Fourth Committee will reconvene at a date and time to be announced.

Action on Draft Resolutions

The Committee first took up a series of drafts relating to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) (documents A/72/C.4/L.17-L.20).

The representative of Indonesia introduced those drafts, saying they reflected the latest developments in the Agency’s operations, including severe and recurrent shortages in funding.  As highlighted in the Secretary‑General’s report on the Agency’s operations and consultations earlier in 2017, UNRWA was recognized as an important partner, even in the context of instability and socioeconomic deterioration in the region, noting efforts to mobilize resources and stabilize its financial situation.  Ensuring continuity in its services called urgently for predictable and sustainable funding, he emphasized, noting that the Secretary‑General had offered important proposals in that regard, including calling on States to maintain and increase their voluntary contributions, with less earmarking and multi‑year funding.  Those recommendations were reflected in the draft resolution before the Committee, he said, urging delegations to support its implementation.

The representative of Cuba then introduced five drafts on the Report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories (documents A/C.4/72/L.21-L25).  They focused on the many violations of international law, particularly international humanitarian law, committed by Israel, the occupying Power, he said, noting that the violations had been documented by the relevant United Nations organs as well as other human rights organizations.  They had been reported to the Special Committee on the basis of interviews with victims and civil society.  Unfortunately, Israel’s actions persisted, he noted, citing forced displacement and provocations, particularly in East Jerusalem, as well as the blockade of the Gaza Strip.  Israel had also persisted in illegal settlement activity, including the demolition of houses and the imposition of roadblocks, thereby undermining the viability of the two‑State approach to the Israeli‑Palestinian peace process.

The Committee then moved to take action on the UNRWA drafts.

The representative of the United States said in a general statement that his delegation opposed the drafts because they were biased against Israel and undermined trust between the two parties involved.  Member States continued to single out Israel with such texts, condemning settlement activity but not violence, he said, pointing out that the only mention of Hamas was praise of its reconciliation agreement with Fatah.  The United States would, therefore, vote against such one‑sided draft resolutions and encouraged others to do so as well.  He said that his delegation was especially concerned about drafts on such United Nations bodies as the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices, and the Division for Palestinian Rights, because they wasted limited resources without contributing to peace in the region, instead perpetuating a United Nations bias against Israel.  While the United States supported UNRWA’s work with refugees, it did not support funding the Agency from the United Nations regular budget.  That country had long been its largest donor, having already contributed more than $350 million in 2017, and being an active supporter of its attempts to secure new funding mechanisms.  He called for equal burden‑sharing among those States that cared about UNRWA, recalling that Member States expressing concern about the Agency’s funding shortfall as the Committee considered its work included those contributing only minimally to its budget.  He urged them to “match their rhetoric with action” and to provide voluntary donations.

The representative of Israel, speaking in explanation of position on all the drafts under consideration, asked whether the accusations of a regime guilty of committing heinous war crimes against its own people did anything to help the Palestinian cause.  Did false and offensive rhetoric do anything to promote dialogue and positive change?  The draft resolutions being considered today would do little to resolve the conflict in the Middle East and did nothing but pay lip service to the Committee’s mission, she said, emphasizing that they promoted a distorted picture of reality on the ground, absolved the Palestinians of any responsibility and failed to mention the positive developments achieved over the past year.  The draft on the Special Committee to investigate Israeli practices exemplified the waste of United Nations resources, she said.  As for the Temple Mount, the relative draft deliberately omitted any reference to Jewish or Christian connections to that site.  Since Israel’s founding, she noted, Palestinians had never changed their warlike attitude towards the Jewish people and they continued to reject efforts towards peace, she said, adding that they would rather demonize Israel in the Committee than work constructively to solve common problems.  Israel supported “two States for two peoples” and hoped Member States would not give the Palestinians a free pass for their one‑sided approach on that matter.  She expressed regret over the need to explain why her country would vote against the drafts since they did nothing for either party in their direct dialogue for peace and were nothing more than a political exercise.

The Committee then approved the draft resolution “Assistance to Palestine refugees” (document A/C.4/72/L.17) by a recorded vote of 160 in favour to 2 against (Israel, South Sudan), with 10 abstentions (Cameroon, Canada, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Paraguay, Solomon Islands, United States).

Taking up the draft “Persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities” (document A/C.4/72/L.18), it approved that text by a recorded vote of 156 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, South Sudan, United States), with 8 abstentions (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, Togo). 

By a subsequent recorded vote of 160 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, South Sudan, United States), with 7 abstentions (Bahamas, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Nauru, Paraguay, Solomon Islands), the Committee approved the draft “Operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East” (document A/C.4/72/L.19).

It went on to on to approve the draft “Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues” (document A/C.4/71/L.20) by a recorded vote of 158 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, South Sudan, United States), with 8 abstentions (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, Solomon Islands, Togo).

The Committee then took up a series of resolutions relating to the report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories (documents A/C.4/72/L.21-L25).

Taking up the draft “Work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories” (document A/C.4/72/L.21), the Committee approved it by a recorded vote of 86 in favour to 11 against, with 75 abstentions.

It then approved — by a recorded vote of 159 in favour to 8 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Solomon Islands, South Sudan, United States), with 7 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Paraguay, Togo, Vanuatu) — the draft “Applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the other Occupied Arab territories” (document A/C.4/72/L.22).

The Committee then approved the draft “Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan” (document A/C.4/72/L.23), by a recorded vote of 155 in favour to 8 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Solomon Islands, South Sudan, United States), with 10 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Honduras, Malawi, Paraguay, Togo, Tuvalu, Vanuatu).

Taking up the draft “Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem” (document A/C.4/72/L.24), the Committee approved it by a recorded vote of 155 in favour to 9 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Solomon Islands, South Sudan, United States), with 8 abstentions (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Honduras, Paraguay, Togo, Vanuatu).

It went on to approve — by a recorded 154 votes in favour to 2 against (Israel, South Sudan), with 17 abstentions — the draft “The occupied Syrian Golan” (document A/C.4/72/L.25).

The representative of Estonia, speaking in explanation of position on behalf of the European Union, said the bloc had not found a legal qualification of the term “forced displacement” in the draft resolutions.  Furthermore, use of the term “Palestine” was not recognition by the European Union of the State of Palestine.  The European Union was concerned about the worrying developments at the Temple Mount site and recalled the special designation of holy sites, she said, emphasizing the importance of upholding the status quo in that regard.  The European Union’s vote did not represent a change of position on those issues, but the choice of language may affect its future voting patterns, she said.

The representative of Syria said in a general statement that the Committee had, once again with the exception of two Member States, sent a clear message to Israel that its occupation of the Syrian Golan contravened international law.  He called upon that country to end its occupation of Arab territory and to respect human rights and the Fourth Geneva Convention.  Israel’s activities in support of terrorist groups had been condemned by those protecting the primacy of international law, he said, emphasizing that the Balfour Declaration did not constitute divine justification of Israel’s crimes in Palestine.  Israel was cooperating with Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Nusrah Front, he said, recalling the deaths of “Blue Helmets” from Fiji at the hands of those groups.  In doing so, Israel was in violation of Security Council resolutions prohibiting support of terrorists, he noted.  Israel had arrested the “Mandela of Syria” simply for his opposition to the occupation of the Syrian Golan and detained him once again because he had documented the cooperation between Israel and Nusrah Front.  In closing, he described Zionism as a weapon of mass destruction, a chemical weapon that had perpetrated mass destruction in the Middle East.

FEDA ABDELHADY-NASSER, Deputy Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, expressed gratitude to all delegations that had voted in favour of the draft resolutions under consideration.  They constituted important recommendations to the General Assembly on core issues and challenges since the occupation and, indeed, the partition of Palestine.  “These are principled resolutions, not cynical,” she said, emphasizing that they were firmly rooted in international law.  Far from being one‑sided, she said, the texts reflected the international consensus, constituting a genuine expression of multilateralism despite ongoing attempts to nullify international law in that regard.  It was important to support the rights of Palestine refugees, she said, confirming that those rights had not been diminished.  The draft resolutions were “not empty pieces of paper”, but instead represented safeguards of those rights, she said.  The State of Palestine mobilization of all efforts aimed at upholding the international community’s responsibility to end the unjust and unlawful situation.

The representative of Iran said the representative of the Israeli regime should not waste the Committee’s time defending her country’s actions.  Instead, she should repent Israel’s various sins, such as occupation and the killing of innocent children.  Citing the Secretary‑General’s report, he noted that the Israeli regime had killed 63 innocent Palestinians in 2017, 20 of them children.

Finally, the Committee turned to the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly.  Acting without a vote, it approved the draft decision “Proposed programme of work and timetable of the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee) for the seventy‑third session of the General Assembly” (document A/C.4/72/L.11).

Concluding Remarks

RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela), Chair of the Fourth Committee, noted that it had approved 39 draft resolutions and 4 draft decisions during the session.  It had held 28 formal meetings, covering a wide range of agenda items.  Welcoming the presence of senior officials during the session, including the President of the General Assembly and various heads of department, he also noted that States had been represented by members of parliament, directors and other high‑level officials.  During the decolonization debate, 116 individuals and organizations had addressed the Committee as petitioners from several Non‑Self‑Governing Territories, he said, recalling also that the Committee had held a joint panel discussion with the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) during the outer space discussion.  Noting that some delegates had been concerned about proceedings in the Committee, he emphasized that its discussions had been guided by the sovereignty of all States, expressing gratitude to all who had attended and demonstrated that respect.

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Regional Partners Must Steady Increasingly Unstable Security Landscape, First Committee Speakers Stress, Calling for Drive to Boost Trust

Regional efforts must advance common disarmament priorities and address global security challenges, said speakers in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today as they highlighted the importance of cooperation and confidence‑building in an increasingly unstable world.

The representative of Pakistan said achieving a stable balance of conventional forces and weapons through cooperative initiatives was imperative, particularly in regions characterized by tension and disputes.  At the same time, confidence‑building measures could help to create favourable conditions to resolve disputes peacefully, but they should not become an end in themselves, he added.

Offering a similar perspective, the representative of Bangladesh said the notion of “strategic stability” based on nuclear deterrence was of concern for his country.  Peaceful dialogue and diplomacy remained the best option for building sound regional security architecture.

In that connection, Cameroon’s delegate introduced a draft resolution on regional confidence‑building measures and activities of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa.  The draft text reaffirmed efforts to promote confidence‑building measures for removing tensions and reducing conflict in the region.

Several delegates highlighted best practices at the regional level that, in some cases, could be replicated in other parts of the world.  France’s representative cited the Group of Five for the Sahel (G‑5 Sahel) Joint Force, which encouraged the five States — Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania — to bolster their military presence in border areas and improve coordination through a single chain of command.  He also noted that global, regional and subregional non‑proliferation and disarmament initiatives could be mutually reinforcing when designed with a view to achieving complementarity.

Indeed, mutual trust was essential, Cuba’s delegate said.  She emphasized that the proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a zone of peace had promoted general and complete disarmament and enabled confidence‑building in the region.  Implementing regional confidence confidence‑building measures contributed to avoiding conflict and preventing unwanted or accidental break of hostilities.

Underscoring some of the challenges in implementing regional agreements, the representative of Egypt said the long‑standing unresolved issue of establishing a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East was undermining the sustainability and credibility of the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.  Many delegates echoed his call for resolving the issue, with some asking Israel to accede to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and end the impasse on the issue.

A panel discussion on “Disarmament machinery” featured the President of the Conference on Disarmament; Chair of the United Nations Disarmament Commission; Chair of the Secretary‑General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters; and the Director of United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR).

The following draft resolutions were introduced: regional confidence‑building measures in Central Africa; the strengthening of security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region; the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean; the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Kazakhstan, Iraq, Algeria, United Arab Emirates, Peru, Togo, Kuwait, Myanmar, Azerbaijan, Nepal, Ukraine, Bahrain, Russian Federation and Iran.

The representatives of Syria, Myanmar, Armenia, Russian Federation, United States, Azerbaijan and Bangladesh spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 25 October, to conclude its debate on the disarmament machinery.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met to continue its thematic discussion on regional disarmament and security and held a panel discussion on the disarmament machinery.  For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3571 of 2 October.

Panel Discussion

A panel discussion on “Disarmament machinery” featuring Julio Herráiz, President of the Conference on Disarmament; Gabriela Martinic (Argentina), Chair of the Disarmament Commission; Trevor Findlay, Chair of the Secretary‑General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters; and Jarmo Sareva, Director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR).

Mr. HERRRÁIZ asked Member States to strengthen their patience vis‑à‑vis the two‑decade‑long paralysis in the Conference on Disarmament because the alternative was not an option.  Presenting the 2017 report, he highlighted activities, including that 27 States to date had requested joining.  Also, an open‑ended working group had taken stock of progress made on all issues of the agenda.  Although divided on its approach, members had debated ways to make advancements towards a nuclear‑weapon‑free world, with disarmament emerging as a priority.  Discussions had focused on two priority issues that would be important to a future programme of work: a fissile material cut‑off treaty and continued negotiations towards a mandate on negative security assurances.  Overall, there was a need to strengthen the constructive, common view to bring back to the Conference the mandate of negotiating treaties.  To do so, serious decisions needed to be adopted, he said, emphasizing that the power was in Member States’ hands.

Ms. MARTINIC said that while the Disarmament Commission was a deliberative body charged with producing a set of recommendations, it had been in a paralysis for 18 years.  The 2017 substantive session, the third year of the cycle to address nuclear disarmament and confidence‑building measures on nuclear arms, had seen delegations having discussions on a range of issues and reach an understanding, which was what multilateralism was all about.  Discussions on outer space had proven to be constructive.  Compromise was possible with lots of patience, goodwill and listening, she said, adding that multilateralism offered a win‑win situation for all.  It could be difficult and frustrating, but it took time, she said, encouraging all to follow that path.

Mr. FINDLAY said substantive issues on the Advisory Board’s 2017 agenda included the threat of cyberattacks by terrorists on nuclear facilities, the impact of artificial intelligence and a review of the recommendations contained in a United Nations study on disarmament and non‑proliferation education.  Recommendations included forming a science and technology advisory group, allocating more resources to nuclear security and that Member States should consult on measures to deal with biosecurity threats, given the lack of a verification system or implementation body for the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction.  In addition, he proposed that Member States table a draft resolution dealing with artificial intelligence, which represented both an opportunity and a threat to international security.  On disarmament and non‑proliferation education, he called for a landmark study to be reissued with a new foreword by the Secretary‑General.  He also noted the disappointing response by Member States to report on disarmament and non‑proliferation education efforts.  Turning to UNIDIR, he said it was weathering funding and institutional challenges, but the Advisory Board was confident it had a bright future as a critical component of the disarmament machinery.

Mr. SAREVA, commending UNIDIR staff, said the Institute was constantly held accountable and had been able to deliver on that reputation.  Drawing attention to the report (document A/72/154), which described the road map of the organization and the rationale behind its agenda, he said its administrative and financial footing was more stable, but that could not be taken for granted.  The need to ensure its stability while maintaining its autonomy persisted.  While it did well in mobilizing earmarked resources, financing the institutional operations was challenging.  That strain was particularly pronounced when earmarked resources were declining.  Recalling General Assembly resolution A/RES/70/69, which had called for exceptional one‑off funding for UNIDIR for the biennium 2018‑2019 to preserve its future, he said the Institute offered fact‑based analysis on a range of security issues, acted as a facilitator and had, through its activities, helped Member States to improve their international security programmes.

After the floor opened, the representative of Myanmar said developing countries depended on UNIDIR and its good quality research, calling on colleagues in a position to do so to financially support the Institute.

Regional Disarmament and Security

KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan) said persistent instability and growing tensions around the world were making regional disarmament and security complicated to achieve.  Establishing a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East was an effective non‑proliferation measure and such designated areas should be expanded to all regions.  Turning to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme, he said that ensuring its proper implementation could show the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea “the right road map” with a legal solution that could actually work pragmatically.

Mr. HASSAN (Egypt), associating himself with the Arab Group and Non‑Aligned Movement, said the longstanding unresolved issue of establishing a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East undermined the sustainability and credibility of the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.  The right way forward on that issue had been outlined in the proposal presented by the Non‑Aligned Movement at the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which had been acceptable to all States except three.  Egypt would continue to seek the implementation of the 1995 Review and Extension Conference resolution by creating a clear road map aimed at starting negotiations to conclude a legally binding treaty establishing a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons.

Mr. SAEED (Pakistan) said regional arrangements for disarmament and arms limitation should give priority to addressing the most destabilizing military capabilities and imbalances in both the conventional and non‑conventional spheres.  In regions characterized by tension and disputes, achieving a stable balance of conventional forces and weapons through cooperative initiatives was imperative.  Confidence‑building measures could help to create favourable conditions to resolve disputes peacefully, but they should not become an end in themselves.  Rather, they should be pursued alongside sincere dispute settlement efforts, in line with the United Nations Charter.

FAIYAZ MURSHID KAZI (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the notion of “strategic stability” based on nuclear deterrence was of concern for his country.  Peaceful dialogue and diplomacy remained the best option for building sound regional security architecture.  He emphasized the need for establishing a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East in the interest of sustainable peace and stability in the region.  Recognizing the useful role of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific in convening relevant experts and policymakers to share views on issues of concern, he said that his country benefited greatly from the centre’s customized support in promoting the implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.

MICHEL TOMMO MONTHE (Cameroon) introduced a draft resolution on regional confidence‑building measures and activities of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa.  The draft recalled the principles guiding general and complete disarmament.  The role of the Committee was to promote disarmament, non‑proliferation and development in the subregion, as well as to serve as an element of preventive diplomacy in the region.  The new elements of this year’s draft resolution took into account the revitalization of the work of the Committee to improve its peace agenda, and of the entry into force of the Central African Convention for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, their Ammunition and all Parts and Components that can be used for their Manufacture, Repair and Assembly (Kinshasa Convention).  The draft resolution reaffirmed efforts to promote confidence‑building measures for removing tensions and reducing conflict in the region.  It had also included a timeline of activities to fight terrorism and arms trafficking.

Ms. SÁNCHEZ RODRÍGUEZ (Cuba), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, stressed the importance of regional and subregional initiatives in proclaiming zones free of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction.  The proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a zone of peace promoted general and complete disarmament and enabled confidence‑building in the region.  Implementing regional confidence‑building measures contributed to avoiding conflict and preventing unwanted or accidental hostilities.  Establishing a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East would be a fundamental step for regional peace.  Underlining the importance of the work of the United Nations regional centres for peace and disarmament, including in her region, she lamented that the current resources were limited and insufficient.

Mr. REDHA (Iraq), associating himself with the Arab Group and Non‑Aligned Movement, reaffirmed the importance of establishing nuclear‑weapon‑free zones, which would “bring us closer to achieving international peace and security”.  He regretted to note the failure to achieve consensus on the final document of the 2015 Review Conference of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.  Establishing a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East to ease the tensions in the region depended on Israel joining the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non‑nuclear‑weapon party.

ABDELKARIM AIT ABDESLAM (Algeria), associating himself with the Arab Group and Non‑Aligned Movement, stressed his country’s emphasis on regional solidarity on security issues and its correspondingly deep concern at the lack of a nuclear‑weapons‑free zone in the Middle East.  In addition, he reiterated warnings about the uncontrolled proliferation of all types of conventional weapons in North Africa and the Sahel, and its close link with terrorism and transnational crime.  Given the magnitude of the humanitarian consequences of the spread of such arms, he underlined the importance of technical and financial assistance to stem their proliferation.  Affirming support for reconciliation among Algeria’s Libyan and Malian brothers, he expressed hope that he could count on support for the draft resolution submitted by his country, as in years past, on strengthening of security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region.

Ms. OWEIDA (United Arab Emirates), associating herself with the Arab Group and Non‑Aligned Movement, said the Non‑Proliferation Treaty was a model in the region for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  On the establishment of a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East, she renewed the call for Israel to enable progress on that issue and accede to the instrument.  Turning to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, she said Iran must adhere to its provisions.  Further, United Arab Emirates supported international efforts to end Iranian activities that undermined security and stability in the region.  It also supported the First Committee’s efforts geared towards adopting effective measures that would contribute to the promotion of regional and international peace.

ENRI PRIETO (Peru), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, highlighted the varied efforts of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean.  Member States had benefited from technical and legal assistance, and from training in marking, destruction and tracing of small weapons as part of an initiative to promote the implementation of the International Tracing Instrument and the Programme of Action on Small Arms.  The Regional Centres had also strengthened the capacity of Governments and assisted in the destruction of small arms.  For its part, Peru had launched a project to promote the participation of young people and raise awareness about dangers of firearms, he said, introducing a draft resolution titled “United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean” and calling for delegations to approve it by consensus.

ESSOHANAM PETCHEZI (Togo) said that in Africa, where small arms and light weapons had posed grave challenges for States, the Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa had encouraged cooperative efforts and provided technical support.  It had provided support to the African Union in carrying out its sustainable development agenda, particularly in achieving the goal of silencing weapons by 2020, to efforts in the Sahel to stop the illicit circulation of small arms and light weapons and to the emerging debate on maritime security, having participated in an extraordinary session of the African Union on that issue.  Expressing gratitude for the Regional Centre’s efforts, he highlighted its financial challenges and appealed to Member States to donate funds and to support Nigeria’s related draft resolution.

Mr. COUSSIÈRE (France) said ambitious best practices at the regional level could inspire work in United Nations forums and disarmament conventions.  The European Union was the best example, having succeeded in drawing lessons from a painful past, and its cooperation tools had a strong regional dimension, including in the field of disarmament.  Among other international initiatives, France was involved in the Group of Five for the Sahel (G‑5 Sahel) Joint Force, encouraging the five States Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania to bolster their military presence in border areas and improve coordination through a single chain of command.  At the European level, France strongly supported establishing transparency and confidence‑building measures adapted to the geographic situation in the region.  Outlining some of those agreements, he said global, regional and subregional non‑proliferation and disarmament initiatives could be mutually reinforcing when designed with a view to achieving complementarity, and cited the international community’s mobilization against the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons as one positive example.

TALAL S. S. S. AL FASSAM (Kuwait), associating himself with the Arab Group and Non‑Aligned Movement, underlined the importance of achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.  Urging States to focus on working towards achieving that objective, he regretted to point out the failure of achieving a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East despite all efforts.  In 2010, States had been very close to achieving that goal; however, such a zone had not been created because of Israel.  Voicing concern about the failure of Israel to join the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and place its nuclear capabilities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) control, he said the current situation posed a threat to the security and humanitarian and environmental safety in the region.

PYE SOE AUNG (Myanmar), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), recalled that in 2016, his country had organized a national round table on the implementation of Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) in cooperation with the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs.  At that event, stakeholders had exchanged views on best practices regarding implementing the resolution to counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to non‑State actors.  Also in 2016, the Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific had organized a capacity‑building workshop on small arms and light weapons in Myanmar in order to formulate international instruments as well as domestic legislation and available tools for assistance.

FARID JABRAYILOV (Azerbaijan), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that although his country had not ratified the 1992 Tashkent Agreement on the Principles and Procedures for the Implementation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, it had been voluntarily applying and observing the provisions.  Stressing the importance of confidence‑building measures, he cited Azerbaijan’s participation in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and said that illicit trade in small and light weapons must be eradicated.  However, implementation of arms control and disarmament instruments was being hampered by Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan.  Armenia was in flagrant violation of the treaty obligations, continued its military build‑up in occupied territories and misinformed the United Nations community by providing false information.  Any confidence‑building measure proposed by Armenia would not be considered by his country until it withdrew its armed forces from Azerbaijan’s territories.

Mr. THAPA (Nepal), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, highlighted the important role of regional centres in promoting international peace and security, and encouraged them to partner with youth, the private sector and civil society to develop confidence‑building measures and to act as a repository of best practices.  They should also be strengthened to fulfil their mandates.  In partnership with the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific, Nepal had encouraged confidence‑building measures in the region and had also organized a conference on the implementation of resolution 1540 (2004).  Recognizing the role regional centres could play in supporting Sustainable Development Goal 16 and in including women in disarmament activities, he called for voluntary contributions by Member States.  As host of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific, Nepal had tabled a resolution on that topic and hoped it would gain consensus.

ANDRIY TSYMBALIUK (Ukraine), expressing support for draft resolutions on regional and subregional arms control and confidence‑building measures, said his country was a long‑term participant of confidence‑building mechanisms, including the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, the Open Skies Treaty and the Vienna Document on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures.  Ukraine had continued to comply with its obligations, despite shouldering the burden of the Russian Federation’s invasion.  Expressing support for bilateral confidence‑building measures with neighbouring countries in border areas, as outlined in the Vienna Document, he regretted to note that the Russian Federation had caused an impasse on subregional military cooperation and confidence‑building agreements between the littoral States of the Black Sea.  Nevertheless, experience gained in the OSCE area with the development of confidence‑building measures deserved proper attention, and the Vienna Document could serve as an example for similar arrangements in other regions of the world.

Mr. NOJEM (Bahrain), associating himself with the Arab Group and Non‑Aligned Movement, highlighted the importance of an agreement to establish a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East for achieving regional peace and stability.  He also underlined the importance of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty in facing the catastrophic security and humanitarian danger resulting from nuclear weapons.  Denouncing Israel’s rejection to adhere to that instrument and to IAEA safeguards, he said such actions represented a threat to the security in the region and obstructed progress in non‑proliferation endeavours.  His delegation looked forward to obtaining positive results in establishing a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East.

VLADIMIR YERMAKOV (Russian Federation) said his delegation had presented a draft treaty on comprehensive European security to substitute the outdated Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe.  Instead, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) had accelerated its “reckless expansion to the East”, building military infrastructure near his country’s border.  There had also been direct interference in the internal affairs of the Russian Federation’s neighbouring country and attempts at a regime change using anti‑constitutional methods.  For that reason, the Russian Federation had supported the German initiative to launch a “structured dialogue” on European security issues in the OSCE region, easing tensions and restoring trust.  The OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation could become the best platform for promoting dialogue; however, its potential had been weakened by unilateral NATO actions that severed military cooperation with the Russian Federation.  The Open Skies Treaty remained an important confidence‑building measure.  However, after the coup d’etat in Kyiv, followed by unjustified claims against the Russian Federation on alleged armed forces concentrations near Ukraine’s border, he said his country had demonstrated transparency by allowing observation flights in that area.

ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the Middle East remained one of the world’s most volatile regions, with the Israeli regime and two Persian Gulf States among the world’s top 15 countries for military expenditures in 2016.  To restore security and stability, the elimination of Israel’s nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, and its accession to related international instruments, was crucial.  So too would be the establishment of a Middle East nuclear‑weapon‑free zone.  There must also be a sharp decrease in military expenditures and arms imports by Israel and certain Persian Gulf States, he said, emphasizing that Iran continued to have one of the lowest levels of military expenditures in the region while being party to all major treaties banning weapons of mass destruction.

Right of Reply

The representative of Syria, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said many European Union countries had trafficked and smuggled weapons to armed terrorist organizations in the region, and its coercive measures against his country were mainly responsible for the suffering of millions of people.

The representative of Myanmar said the humanitarian situation along the border of Bangladesh had nothing to do with disarmament issues being addressed by the Committee.  He affirmed that his Government was responding to the humanitarian crisis and would continue to work with others in good faith.

The representative of Armenia said his counterpart from Azerbaijan had failed to explain the reason behind constantly rejecting the establishment of any confidence‑building measures vis‑à‑vis Nagorno‑Karabakh.  It was unacceptable to allow Azerbaijan to continue ceasefire violations, he said, adding that Armenia would keep working towards a peaceful settlement through the OSCE Minsk Group.

The representative of the Russian Federation said the Kyiv authorities had fulfilled none of their commitments under the Minsk agreements, which contained no provisions that dealt directly with his country.  The Russian Federation could not withdraw troops from Donbass because there were none there.

The representative of the United States said improved relations between NATO and the Russian Federation would depend on the latter’s compliance with international law and commitments.  Emphasizing that NATO enlargement was not directed at the Russian Federation, he said the United States would keep honouring its Open Skies Treaty commitments.  The Russian Federation must stop interfering in its neighbours’ affairs, he said, adding that “all those little green men causing havoc in Ukraine” did not come out of nowhere.

The representative of Azerbaijan said Armenia must demonstrate constructiveness and respect for international law by withdrawing its forces from Azerbaijani territory.  He emphasized that Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity would never be a subject for negotiation.

The representative of Bangladesh said the situation in Rakhine State was far from stabilized.  The humanitarian situation was the reason why thousands of Rohingya refugees were crossing into Bangladesh, he said, adding that concerned and responsible Member States should reconsider arms transfers to Myanmar’s military forces.

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With Millions Lacking Food, Education, Shelter, Targeted Approaches Needed to Meet Needs of Most Vulnerable, Mandate‑Holders Tell Third Committee

Millions of people across the world were without access to food, education and housing, with poverty the main obstacle to realizing their basic human rights, special mandate‑holders told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today.

In a series of presentations, six experts called for targeted approaches to address the unique needs of vulnerable populations, underscoring throughout the primary responsibility of Governments to protect the fundamental freedoms of all citizens.

Hilal Elver, Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Food, said addressing food insecurity in countries affected by conflict had become her priority.  Some 70 million people in 45 countries required emergency food assistance, up 40 per cent from 2015, she said, also quoting a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) finding that 489 million undernourished people were living in conflict zones.

Deaths in those areas were typically caused by hunger and disease, not combat, she said.  Yet, the international community had never called for an international criminal trial against Government officials or non‑State actors for creating, inflicting or prolonging famine.  While parties to armed conflict must meet the needs of populations under their control, such basic State functions were being passed over to the international humanitarian system, she noted.

Koumbou Boly Barry, Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, asserted that it was up to Governments to ensure the right to education was realized.  With 263 million children and young people lacking access to schooling, education systems must adapt to meet the needs of all pupils.  States must also recognize that particularly vulnerable populations, including displaced persons, required increased assistance.  All students should view schools as safe environments fostering a sense of belonging, she said.  Enshrining those principles into education systems would promote peace and stability.

In that context, Leilani Farha, Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, also stressed the need for targeted approaches to meet the needs of specific vulnerable groups.  Her report focused on the enjoyment of the rights under her mandate by persons with disabilities, as they were commonly homeless, institutionalized and subjected to neglect, abuse and discrimination for no reason other than their disability.  “Housing is absolutely central to dignity and equal rights for persons with disabilities,” she said, adding that the housing conditions of more than 1 billion persons with disabilities had made clear the need for States to realize the right to housing.

Alleviating poverty was at the heart of realizing basic human rights, said Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights.  The poor disproportionately experienced human rights violations.  Addressing the needs of those living in poverty called for improved data collection from all relevant actors.  There was little systematic data on the socioeconomic background of victims of civil and political rights violations, he said.

In the interactive segment of his presentation, he said his report focused on the need to separate the poor as a specific category, as they faced the overwhelming majority of violence, and were the leading victims of civil and political rights violations.

Also presenting before the Committee were Léo Heller, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation, and Dainus Pūras, Special Rapporteur on the Right of Everyone to the Enjoyment of the Highest Attainable Standard of Physical and Mental Health.

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 24 October, to continue its discussion on the promotion and protection of human rights.

Background

The Third Committee met today to continue its debate on the promotion and protection of human rights.  (For more information, please see Press Release GA/SHC/4205).

Interactive Dialogues ‑ Right to Food

HILAL ELVER, Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Food, said her fourth report contextualized food insecurity in countries affected by conflict by discussing human rights law, international humanitarian law, and international criminal law in order to raise awareness about States’ non‑compliance with existing norms.  A follow‑up report, which would be presented to the Human Rights Council in March 2018, would address the humanitarian system’s response to food crises in disasters, she said, noting that 70 million people in 45 countries required emergency food assistance, up 40 per cent from 2015.  The Rohingya people of Myanmar faced serious starvation and violations of their right to food.

A Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report titled “The 2017 State of Food Security and Nutrition” stated that 489 million undernourished people were living in conflict zones, she said, noting that deaths in those areas were usually caused by hunger and disease, not combat.  The report warned that achieving a world without hunger and malnutrition by 2030 would not be reachable.  “The human right to food is a fundamental right,” she said, with freedom from hunger accepted as part of customary international law.  Starvation of civilians as a method of warfare was prohibited unconditionally in both international and non‑international armed conflicts.  Parties to an armed conflict had a responsibility to meet the needs of the population under their control, but in many of today’s conflicts, the humanitarian system was asked to take over such basic State functions.

She said many legal doctrines supported indictments for genocide and crimes against humanity, but the international community had never called for an international criminal trial against Government officials or non‑State actors for creating, inflicting or prolonging famine.  Protection of the right to food could not be achieved on a voluntary basis; international legal standards should reinforce the norm that deliberate action to cause starvation was a war crime or a crime against humanity which should be referred to the International Criminal Court.  International attention must focus on eliminating the causes of famine, and not just at addressing the visible symptoms of the latest food emergency.

In the interactive dialogue, the representative of the European Union welcomed the Special Rapporteur’s focus on the right to food in emergency situations.  Famine could only be prevented if people could move freely to obtain aid, he stressed, asking about measures to ensure that food assistance reached those in need in conflict situations.

The representative of Morocco said there was a worrying link between conflict and access to food.  Referring to the Special Rapporteur’s call for a world conference to create a framework to combat famine, she asked about the feasibility of a new international binding treaty on the matter.

The representative of Norway agreed that national legislation should provide a framework to uphold international obligations to provide food access, especially in situations of famine and armed conflict.

The representative of Indonesia asked for information on the nexus between food security and armed conflict, and on the proposed creation of an exploratory group to pursue a legal framework on the matter.

The representative of Cuba said full realization of the right to food for all remained elusive.  Cuba would submit a draft resolution on the right to food affirming that hunger was a violation of human dignity.

The representative of Syria urged the Special Rapporteur to fully comply with her mandate in a transparent and neutral fashion.  He asked why she had disregarded constant efforts by Syria to address all food issues in the country.  He was “puzzled” by the Special Rapporteur’s decision to leave the situations arising from the blockades on Palestine and Cuba out of her report.

The representative of Cameroon asked for information on the next steps to be taken towards an international legal instrument on the right to food.

The representative of Turkey said the most vulnerable populations were disproportionately affected by conflict, with food depravation used as a weapon of war in some conflict zones.  Noting efforts to establish early warning mechanisms for famine in conflict, he asked what role the United Nations could perform in such a system.

The representative of Myanmar said her Government was committed to ensuring the food security of all people in Rakhine State.  Noting that nobody could truly understand the situation in Myanmar like the Government, she expressed its commitment to finding a solution to the situation.

The representative of Saudi Arabia said it was regrettable that the Special Rapporteur’s report used newspapers as a source of information.  The report falsely claimed Saudi Arabia had destroyed means of production in Yemen.  She assured that all necessary assistance was being provided to the people of Yemen, and other countries around the world.

Ms. ELVER, responding, said it was politically complicated to address the right to food, underscoring her efforts at being objective.  In conflict situations, sometimes one could not clearly determine the different players and underlying geopolitical conditions, yet people continued to suffer.  She said she tried to use United Nations and related reports as information sources, adding that she did not use newspaper information or that from obscure non‑governmental organizations, and that she had cited all the reports she had used.  She suggested that anyone saying the report was wrong should check the citations.  She had not been able to access Syria, Yemen or Myanmar, she noted, and so had relied on international organizations.

What was needed was guidance that any player — including countries and terrorist organizations — could understand, she said, conveying the message that violating the right to food was a crime against humanity for which they would be individually responsible.  When they blocked food supplies and destroyed agricultural areas, they should understand there would be accountability, she said.  Noting that every conflict had powerful friends behind it, she suggested the Human Rights Council should organize a study group on the above topics.  Early warning systems against famine were also important, she said, as famine did not just simply appear.  The international community needed more systematic accountability: with conflicts happening everywhere, it would not be able to stop either famine or hunger.  “Zero hunger in 2030, it’s almost impossible,” she said, adding that the major reasons were conflict‑related.

Right to Education

KOUMBOU BOLY BARRY, Special Rapporteur on the right to education, said much progress on ensuring access to education had been made, especially in Africa.  Yet, 263 million children and young people around the world lacked access to schooling, most in sub‑Saharan Africa and Southern Asia.  Vulnerable groups faced difficulties that called for greater assistance.  While all pupils should have access to quality education, some required further assistance, she said, stressing that equitable education must focus on inclusion, especially for pupils with disabilities and older pupils who had been out of the education system for some time.

All pupils must feel safe and have a sense of belonging, she said, adding that supportive environments could directly combat discrimination.  Those principles must be incorporated into school structures.  Schools must adapt to the needs of all children, with teaching provided in second languages for people belonging to linguistic minorities, particularly migrants and refugees.  Displaced populations required support systems not typically part of the standard education system, she said, adding that States must promote education that addressed the needs of those populations.  The responsibility to implement the right to education was on Governments, she concluded.

The representative of Hungary expressed concern about the impacts on minorities of a recently adopted education law in Ukraine, saying that if implemented, the law would have a devastating effect on Hungarian language educational institutions in the Carpathians.  The law contravened United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) conventions and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  He asked the Special Rapporteur how she would facilitate better compliance of States with their international commitments.

The representative of Norway said the right to education was a fundamental right, noting that his country supported equitable educational policies.  Individuals with disabilities were at risk of being excluded and he asked about practical measures States could take to identify vulnerable groups.

The representative of Qatar said 213 students had been prevented from continuing their studies in countries which had boycotted Qatar.  He asked about measures taken for refugees in terms of education.

The representative of Mexico underscored the need to address structural discrimination keeping people from enjoying their right to education.  The report mentioned the importance of quality in education, and he asked the Special Rapporteur about strategies States had adopted to promote qualified teachers in rural areas, and further, best practices that considered the views of civil society.

The representative of the Russian Federation expressed concern about a discriminatory education law in Ukraine, which violated the rights of Russian speakers to receive schooling in their native language.  He called on the Special Rapporteur to focus to the situation in Ukraine and the need for the Ukrainian authorities to observe international conventions, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the European Charter for Regional Languages, among others.

The representative of the European Union expressed concern about the Special Rapporteur’s assessment that millions more girls than boys of primary school age would not have the opportunity to learn to read or write.  Also, he said States must provide refugees with education and asked about best practices for short‑term measures aimed at providing refugees with access to education.

The representative of South Africa asked for the Special Rapporteur’s views on the situation of child laborers.

A representative of UNESCO inquired about effective Government incentives to encourage stakeholders to ensure equitable education as a collective enterprise.  She further asked how Governments could proactively ensure an enabling environment and support capacity‑building and competence, to ensure that every actor was accountable for learning outcomes.

The representative of Ukraine explained national legislation on education, saying that 735 schools provided education in minorities’ own languages.  Children’s failure to pass exams in Ukrainian often led to their discrimination, preventing them from later becoming civil servants, or receiving higher education and medical treatment.  Education in Ukrainian had been expanded so children could speak their own national language.

Also participating in the interactive discussion were representatives of Burkina Faso, Iraq, Morocco, Cuba, Indonesia and Maldives.

Ms. BARRY replied that the world had shown its commitment to promoting equitable and inclusive education.  Referring to questions on how to ensure quality education, she pointed to research that found that the first year of education should be conducted in a child’s native language.  To accomplish needed reforms, education systems must be decentralized, with decisions made at the community level, she said, noting that inclusion could promote peace and stability.

Training teachers in rural communities required visits to schools in those areas, she said, and engagement with rural communities.  Innovative tools and new technologies could lead to excellent results in improving the quality of teaching in rural areas, she said, urging States to formally recognize the work of teachers in those communities.

Turning to questions related to the needs of refugees, girls and other particularly vulnerable groups, she again called for decentralization, with grassroots‑led efforts taking priority in decision‑making.  When relevant stakeholders took charge of participatory education reforms, greater success was possible, she stressed.  Still, Governments must provide the necessary resources to address the needs of vulnerable groups.

Extreme Poverty

PHILIP ALSTON, Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, said his report sought to demonstrate four things: that the poor experienced violations disproportionately and differently from others, and that their civil and political rights were neglected by mainstream human rights and development actors.  Thirdly, the resulting situation undermined the principle of the indivisibility of human rights, and finally, human rights and development communities must ensure respect for all human rights of those living in poverty.  Attention focused on material deprivation and a lack of resources, while solutions sought to increase disposable income, rather than restore the basic rights of poor people.  He identified some assumptions explaining the situation, including by the development and human rights communities, which each assumed that the other would address challenges relating to the enjoyment of civil and political rights by those living in poverty.

Moreover, both social sciences and human rights fact‑finding tended to disaggregate civil and political rights violations by age, gender, race and ethnicity, but not according to economic class, he observed.  The civil and political rights of those living in poverty were denied or restricted by, for example, restricting the access of the poor to public places by criminalizing homelessness.  His report had found, among other things, that there was little systematic data on the socioeconomic background of victims of civil and political rights violations.  Several recommendations followed from his diagnosis of the challenge, he said, including a call to adapt and adjust solutions so that the factors rendering the poor particularly vulnerable were taken into account.

The representative of China said poverty reduction was the hallmark of his Government and urged the Special Rapporteur to conduct his mandate with respect and objectivity.  He requested recommendations for eliminating poverty in developing countries.

The representative of Iraq asked if the Special Rapporteur had taken into account terrorist activity and conflict as causes of extreme poverty, and if so, what measures had been taken to address that issue.

The representative of the European Union said extreme poverty kept individuals from accessing civil and political rights.  With the Special Rapporteur calling for new approaches to ensure those rights, he asked how indicators could be modified to better account for civil and political rights violations.

The representative of Cuba agreed that if civil and political rights were protected, respect for social and economic rights would follow automatically.  He emphasized that human rights would be protected through deep consideration of the causes of poverty.

The representative of the United States acknowledged poverty was a multi‑dimensional concern that called for addressing education and gender gaps across the world.  She asked how Member States could enhance access to rights by women and girls in the lowest income brackets.

Also speaking was the representative of Morocco.

Mr. ALSTON, responding, expressed agreement with China’s delegate that lifting 700 million people from poverty was an extraordinary achievement.  In China, rural areas were no longer the main concern, but there was significant poverty in urban areas, especially among the 200 million migrant workers.  Regarding compliance with the code of conduct, he said it was not his understanding that Special Rapporteurs were prevented from meeting with anyone without the Government approval, or that they should be followed everywhere, or that individuals should be prevented from meeting with the Special Rapporteur.  He expressed concern over events that had unfolded after his visit including Jiang Tianyong, a human rights lawyer.  The relationship between terrorism and poverty could be examined from a number of angles, he added, noting that exclusion could fuel terrorism.

He expressed deep concern about rising inequality, noting that when capital and income were held overwhelmingly by the few, civil and political rights would be subverted in the interests of the “supremely powerful”.  Even the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had expressed concern, he said, from the perspective of economic growth.  As for indicators that could enable better understanding of the civil and political rights violations suffered by the poor, his report focused on the need to separate the poor as a specific category, as the overwhelming majority of violence was directed at them, and they were the leading victims of civil and political rights violations.  Current trends toward privatization and reducing the role of the State invariably had moved the burden of care to women, he said, adding that neoliberal economic policies were premised on failing to address the specific needs of women and girls.

The representative of China, noting the Special Rapporteur’s reference to problems surrounding China’s hukou system of household registration, said reforms to that system meant migrant workers could have equal access to employment and other rights regardless of where they lived.  Secondly, to the Special Rapporteur’s comments about individuals who had violated Chinese law, he said that the individual’s sentencing had nothing to do with the Special Rapporteur, who should not associate everything he witnessed with himself.  Reminding Mr. ALSTON he must abide by the Code of Conduct and the Charter of the United Nations, and respect the territorial integrity of a Member State, he recalled that his mandate was focused on reducing poverty, rather than the civil and political rights of citizens.  That was the purview of other Special Rapporteurs.

The representative of Iraq again noted that his country respected minorities, noting that the Constitution provided equal rights for minorities represented in Parliament.  Terrorism had come in from different countries.  Those were not Iraqi elements, they were from abroad.

Mr. ALSTON, responding again to Iraq’s delegate, said he accepted the activities of foreign terror groups in the territory of a country had major implications on that country’s ability to address poverty and respect for human rights.  In response China’s delegate, he said he was pleased to hear of reforms to the hukou system, adding that while there was still a way to go, China had been assiduous in focusing on problems once they were identified.  He said he understood why there was a Special Rapporteur on poverty, if that person would talk about civil and political rights.  The point was that those living in poverty actually had a different experience.  It would be unproductive for the Special Rapporteur on poverty to say he was unconcerned with civil and political rights, or with other rights, as an integrated approach was needed.

Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation

LÉO HELLER, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation, presented her second report which assessed how funding by France, Japan, the European Union, the World Bank and the Inter‑American Development Bank and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) had helped to realize the human right to water and sanitation.  She examined how funders had incorporated those rights into the four stages of the human rights development cycle, namely: the funders’ policy framework; operational tools; project selection, design and implementation; and project assessment and monitoring.

She observed that while the policies of some funders had incorporated that cycle, others had only done so sporadically.  There were also significant gaps in the cycle’s application during project implementation, even when it had been adequately incorporated.  The report also found that funders used a variety of operational tools which had varying degrees of relevance to the human rights to water and sanitation.  As such, she recommended that funders develop and systematically produce thorough assessment and monitoring, based on the human rights development cycle, both during and after project implementation.  They should improve project assessment protocols by adjusting their scope, data collection methods and indicators.  Funders should monitor long‑term project outcomes, with indicators based on the human rights development cycle, as well as assess all stages of their activities during the cycle.

In the interactive dialogue, the representative of Brazil asked how the Third Committee could contribute to the discussion on the rights to safe drinking water and sanitation.

The representative of the European Union asked what could be done to ensure that safe drinking water and sanitation projects were sustainable.

The representative of Germany asked why there had been gaps in applying the human rights framework to projects, and about best practices to ensure its application.

The representative of South Africa asked how the private sector could play a bigger role in ensuring the rights to safe drinking water and sanitation.

The representative of Switzerland inquired about roles the private sector and civil society could play in ensuring safe access, and about viable financing for water and sanitation services.

The representative of Maldives asked how sustainable, affordable services could be established in small island states.

The representative of France asked how access to safe, affordable drinking water and sanitation could foster sustainable development.

Representatives of Spain, Iraq, Norway and Morocco also spoke.

Mr. HELLER, responding, said two main issues had emerged from the discussion: one was the importance of development cooperation for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and another was that in his research, he had identified several gaps which were not specific to the six cases.  Some funders had good policies in place, yet gaps persisted.  Other funders had no specific policy for water and sanitation.  Instead, those issues had been subsumed into other areas, such as food or health, which had no explicit human rights commitment.

Discussion about the Third Committee’s role was also pivotal, he acknowledged, as the gap between the Goals and human rights must be bridged.  To questions about why gaps persisted in the application of the human rights development cycle, he said one explanation was that most funders had other priorities.  Regarding queries about human rights conditionality, he said the international community must align development cooperation with the human rights framework (human rights development cycle), notably by involving local authorities and civil society.

Adequate Housing

LEILANI FARHA, Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing as a Component on the Right to an Adequate Standard of Living and on the Right to Non‑Discrimination in this context, said her report focused on the enjoyment of that right by persons with disabilities, as they were commonly homeless, institutionalized and subjected to neglect, abuse and discrimination for no reason other than their disability.  “Housing is absolutely central to dignity and equal rights for persons with disabilities,” she said.  There was a need to merge the disability human rights paradigm, developed under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, with jurisprudence and commentary on the right to housing under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Stressing that dignity, autonomy and freedom to choose were critical dimensions of the right to housing, she said the lack of choice of where and with whom to live was experienced by persons with disabilities as an assault on their dignity and autonomy.  The Convention highlighted the right to non‑discrimination and equality, and recognized accessibility as wide‑ranging and expansive.  It also recognized the right to participate as integral to implementation of the right to housing for persons with disabilities.  Indeed, housing conditions for many of the 1 billion persons with disabilities made clear that States must realize the right to housing for persons with disabilities.  They must ensure that those persons lived free from institutionalization and urgently address the issue of homelessness.  States should also support organizations for persons with disabilities so they could participate in all areas of housing policy, as well as guarantee access to justice and accountability mechanisms for claims to adequate housing by persons with disabilities.

In the interactive dialogue, the representative of Brazil highlighted the need for a change in culture to create policies that met the needs of persons with disabilities.

The representative of Iraq asked for new ideas to ensure that houses were built to suit the climate.

The representative of South Africa asked about corporate sector’s role in providing adequate housing.

The representative of the European Union asked how a focus on human rights could ensure access to housing for persons with disabilities.

The representative of Palestine asked the Special Rapporteur to what could be done to prevent Israel from demolishing Palestinian homes.

The representative of the Maldives also spoke.

Ms. FARHA, responding, agreed with Brazil’s representative on the need for cultural change to ensure the right to adequate housing for persons with disabilities, underscoring that it was necessary for the international community to move forward.  On whether housing should match a certain climate or place, she said the right to adequate housing was intended to meet the needs of people wherever they were, no matter the climate.  Housing in post‑natural disaster or post‑conflict situations was a concern, as conflict had an incredibly detrimental impact on people with disabilities.  Human rights law applied to States and all levels of Government, she said; the onus was on States to work with the private and corporate sector to ensure they were respecting the rights of persons with disabilities.

On the issue of data collection, she suggested that the Washington Group on Disability Statistics collect that information.  Regarding the benefits of a human rights approach to housing for persons with disabilities, she said the Sustainable Development Goals required the eradication of homelessness by 2030.  A disproportionate number of people with psychosocial disabilities were homeless.  The New Urban Agenda required States to develop housing strategies that were rooted in human rights, she said, noting that international human rights law was clear that States were accountable to the people, and that a human rights approach offered measurable timelines and goals.  To the question by the representative of the State of Palestine, she said it was clear in all her work how she felt about house demolitions, whether they occurred in Palestine or any other State.

Enjoyment of the Highest Physical, Mental Health

DAINIUS PŪRAS, Special Rapporteur on the Right of Everyone to the Enjoyment of the Highest Attainable Standard of Physical and Mental Health, said his report examined the effects of corruption on the right to health, which was among the most corrupt sectors, given its vulnerability to power asymmetries, uncertainty in selecting, measuring and delivering services, and complexity of systems.  Corruption undermined the State’s obligation to realize the right to health “to the maximum of its resources”.  Thus, strengthening health care systems so that all segments of the population trusted primary services would be an effective anti‑corruption measure, as it would mitigate the tendency for patients to bypass primary care and use specialized services.

He said the report also considered the mental health sector, which was particularly affected by corrupt practices and use of biased evidence.  Mental health policies and services illustrated how a lack of transparency and accountability in the relationships between the pharmaceutical industry and health sector, including academic medicine, could lead to institutional corruption.  He recommended that States implement the United Nations Convention against Corruption, and ensure that anti‑corruption laws integrated the right to health as a standard.  Sufficient checks and balances should also be put in place when health sectors were decentralized or handed over to the private sector.  States should also raise awareness among providers against unethical practices, and press relevant stakeholders to address, through legal and policy measures, corrupt practices taking place in all stages of the pharmaceutical value chain.

In the interactive dialogue, the representative of Lithuania asked what measures could be taken by States to ensure that mental health policies were driven by a human rights‑based, non‑biased approach.

The representative of Cuba asked the Special Rapporteur to elaborate how corruption could take place in the private health care sector.

The representative of the European Union inquired about best practices for involving stakeholders in decision‑making on health care issues.

The representative of Indonesia asked how an international cooperation could combat corruption in health care systems.

The representative of the Maldives suggested the Special Rapporteur publish a report on the health care challenges of geographically dispersed countries.

The representative of South Africa also spoke.

Mr. PŪRAS, responding, recommended applying an analytic framework developed by his predecessors.  Simplified approaches had failed, he said, because social and underlying determinants had been ignored.  The global understanding now worked to better address social and other determinants of mental health, and to provide treatments such as psychosocial support; it was clear that biomedical interventions had been overused.  The Human Rights Council had passed a resolution last year on mental health which emphasized over‑medicalization and over‑institutionalization as ineffective investments which might be harmful.  The justiciability of the right to health was an important issue, as was the role of primary care in preventing corruption.

People in many parts of the world liked specialists more than primary care health workers, he observed, adding that what people needed was good primary care, which saved resources and brought transparency to health care.  People in villages and in local communities contributed a lot to the effective provision of health care services.  To a question on good practices, he extended his gratitude to countries which had accepted his mandate’s visit, noting that in Armenia and Indonesia, the commitment by health care professionals towards developing effective policies was evident.  On international cooperation, he said one important element was international assistance, noting that rich countries could help developing countries formulate community‑based mental health care.  Around the world, many people had mild or common mental health issues, and there were simple, inexpensive solutions, such as community nurses providing psychosocial support.  The public and private sectors should cooperate, but the private sector should be supervised and controlled to avoid corruption.

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Speakers Consider Value of Interdependence, Multilateralism, Joint Action in Tackling Global Challenges, on Fourth Day of Annual General Debate

The interdependence of States and the benefits of joint action must be recognized and reaffirmed, the General Assembly heard today, as speakers debated the value of multilateralism in addressing pressing global challenges, ranging from inequality to climate change.

Never in history had moving away from diplomacy led to progress in the promotion of universal values, said Prime Minister Charles Michel of Belgium, declaring that doing so would be an act of “cowardly abandon”.  On the fourth day of the Assembly’s annual general debate, he described multilateralism as a robust and reliable driving force for creating a better world, emphasizing the necessity of coordination and consensus.  Globalization had generated doubts and fears, yet multilateralism was not to blame, he said, emphasizing that although multilateralism was complicated and could create difficulties, international and regional organizations and action must be strengthened.

Reinforcing that sentiment, Margot Wallström, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs stressed:  “This is the moment for multilateralism, not unilateralism”, warning that unless countries grasped that chance, they would “face the consequences”.  Today, “going it alone” was not an option, she said, adding that Member States had the responsibility to act coherently and flexibly.

Prime Minister Edi Rama of Albania said protectionist approaches were challenging the existing international global order without proposing anything credible to replace it.  However, no country, however big, rich or powerful, could face or solve problems alone, he cautioned.  In that context, one of the pillars of Albania’s foreign policy was the development of regional cooperation and the transformation of the Western Balkans into an area of free movement for people, goods, capital and ideas, he said.

In a similar vein, Prime Minister Allen Michael Chastanet of Saint Lucia said multilateral discussions were needed to address inequality and other issues.  If States indulged their differences, inequity would persist as the driving force in the international system and people would struggle to survive, he cautioned, emphasizing that the global reality increasingly called for integrating economies, the environment and people.

Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson, Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, said his country had risen to become one of the wealthiest countries in Europe, describing its “rags to riches” path as a textbook example of the power of free trade.  He urged the international community to open its markets and allow poor countries to trade freely with all consumers.  Free trade also meant forming international relationships and promoting interaction among all peoples, regardless of colour or religion.  Since the markets of the world’s richest countries remained closed to the poorest, it was incumbent upon the international community to support developing nations, he emphasized.

Samura M. W. Kamara, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sierra Leone, speaking on behalf of President Ernest Bai Koroma, stressed the need to strengthen the role of mediation in the settlement of disputes, highlighting the gains realized through preventive diplomacy.  Mediation remained a powerful tool for preventing and settling armed conflicts and must be fully utilized.  Mediation efforts had proven very fruitful for Sierra Leone in terms of timely cessation of hostilities, credible ceasefire agreements and the deployment of peacekeeping missions, he said.

Throughout the day, speakers also highlighted the devastating havoc that climate change was wreaking on thei

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EU increases humanitarian aid budget for education of children in emergencies

The European Commission has announced today it will further increase the part of humanitarian funding dedicated to getting children into education in crisis zones around the world. In 2018, 8% of the EU’s humanitarian budget will go to education in emergencies, which is far above the global average of less than 3%.

“The EU is a global leader in supporting education in emergencies. Concretely this means giving children in some of the most difficult situations in the world an opportunity for the future. As I have travelled to many crises zones, from refugee camps to areas devastated by natural disasters, it is always clear that education is much more than a human right or a basic need. It is safety, dignity and a shield against radicalisation. By supporting education we are making the biggest investment we can in the future of the most vulnerable. We are investing in peace.” said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides during a High Level Education Event, organised in the margins of the UN General Assembly 2017 in New York.

The EU’s contribution in 2018 of over €86 million will support access to formal and non-formal education, including life skills and vocational training, recreational activities and psychosocial support for girls and boys in crisis areas around the world. Several EU projects will be focussed on girls; giving them access to education and helping them learn life and vocational skills. Children will also benefit from the provision of school materials and the creation of new learning spaces. Teachers and parents will also be supported and benefit from training.

Commissioner Stylianides has made education in emergencies a priority since the beginning of his mandate, continuing to increase the EU’s financial support to education projects for children affected by crises every year since he took office. EU support allocated to education in emergencies went from 1% of its humanitarian budget in 2015 to 6% in 2017 and will eventually go to 8% in 2018. This aid has reached 4 million children and teachers in 50 countries between 2012-2016.

The EU’s humanitarian aid will be channelled through non-governmental organisations, United Nations agencies and International Organisations to reach the most vulnerable.

Background

Today, some 75 million children living in crisis-affected countries and forced displacement lack access to quality education.

By the end of 2016, nearly 4 million boys and girls in 50 countries around the world have benefitted from these in Afghanistan, Armenia, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, the Philippines, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Venezuela and Yemen.

EU-funded educational activities are tailored to take into account the different needs of children based on their age, gender and other specific circumstances.

In March 2017, the EU launched its largest ever humanitarian programme for education in emergencies. This €34 million Conditional Cash Transfer Programme will enable some 230, 000 refugee children to attend school in Turkey.

For more information

Factsheet on Education in Emergencies

The European Commission’s European civil protection and humanitarian aid

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Informed Consent Critical to Protecting Survival, Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Speakers Tell Permanent Forum

Seeking informed consent from indigenous peoples before undertaking projects affecting their territories and resources was crucial to their survival and human rights, participants told the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues today.

“The goal of tribal consultation is not simply to check a box,” emphasized Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.  Rather, such consultation was crucial for providing federal decision makers with the context, information and perspectives they needed to make informed decisions that protected tribal interests.

Pointing to the tribes that were potentially affected by the Dakota Access Pipeline in the United States, she highlighted how they had been denied access to information and excluded from consultations at the planning stage of the project.  Furthermore, the non-violent protests at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation had been confronted with militarized and at times violent escalation of force.

It was also crucial to consider the impact of the international investment regime on indigenous people’s rights, she added, noting that corporations that made investments in mining, extraction and agricultural plantations were given more protections by Governments than the indigenous peoples on whose lands and territories those investments were happening.

Albert Barume, Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, also spoke, saying that without adequate protection of their right to health, indigenous peoples faced the threat of extinction.  Diabetes, neglected tropical diseases and drug and alcohol abuse were among health-related challenges.  Also highlighting the criminalization of indigenous peoples’ activities in their efforts to protect their land, he underscored the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.

Mirna Cunningham, of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples, said that the Fund, among other activities, made possible the participation of indigenous groups in United Nations meetings.  Beneficiaries had contributed to significant achievements, including the adoption of the Declaration and the development of international human rights jurisprudence on indigenous peoples’ rights by human rights mechanisms.

During the day-long meeting speakers spoke of surviving the challenges of violence, land grabs and health issues, and calls for the need for consultations with indigenous peoples and stronger protection of their rights were reiterated through both an interactive dialogue and a general discussion.

A representative of the International Indian Treaty Council reminded the Forum that according to article 32 of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, States must consult and cooperate in good faith with indigenous peoples.  Yet, “sometimes consultation did not happen”, she pointed out.

Others spoke about the need to protect indigenous rights defenders, with the representative of the Asian Indigenous Peoples Pact, voicing concern about the killings of indigenous rights activists and defenders, while the Assyrian Aid Society described the genocide indigenous peoples in Iraq and the Middle East faced at the hands of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) in Mosul and Nineveh plain.

“We do not want to disappear” said Manari Ushigua of Nacionalidad Sapara del Ecuador, asking for the immediate withdrawal of a Chinese business that had been assigned some territories for oil exploration by the Ecuadorian Government.  The indigenous way of life was an important contribution to humanity and that vision was at risk of becoming extinct.

Also speaking were representatives of the Indigenous World Association, West Papua Interest Association, Ogaden People’s Rights Organisation, Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, Asian Caucus, Telke, United Confederation of Taino People, Massey University, Coordinadora de Organizaciones Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica, Forest Peoples Programme, Chin Human Rights Organization, Congres Mondiale Amazigh (CMA), Indigenous Native Traditional Interchange, Indigenous Crimean Tatars, Save Our Unique Landscape, Pacos Trust, Indigenous Peoples Organization of Australia, Land Is Life, Tribal Link and the Foundation for Indigenous Americans of Anasazi Heritage.

Permanent Forum members from Denmark, United States, Australia, Finland, Cameroon, Peru, Ecuador, Mexico and the United Republic of Tanzania also spoke.

Delivering national statements were representatives of South Africa, Chile, Russian Federation and Norway, also speaking for Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden, as well as the European Union delegation.

The Permanent Forum will reconvene at a date and time to be announced.

Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur

VICTORIA TAULI-CORPUZ, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, stated that implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples had been inadequate because of a lack of awareness and States’ difficulties in translating the various articles into practical steps.  Underscoring the Declaration’s remedial nature, she added that it was an essential tool for reconciliation, which was a much-needed process in countries where indigenous peoples continued to suffer gross human rights violations.

While the legal status and aims of the Declaration were now better understood and accepted by many States, she said, there were, however, several problems in the interpretation of indigenous peoples’ rights.  Those included the right to lands and resources; the application of the duty of the State to consult with and seek the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples in matters that affected them; and the harmonization of State and customary indigenous governance systems.  The Special Rapporteur’s mandate, which played an essential role in monitoring and advancing the Declaration’s effective implementation, also had an enormous potential to provide advice and technical assistance.

According to article 29 of the Declaration, indigenous people had the right to conserve and protect the environment and the productive capacity of their lands and resources, she continued.  States should establish and implement assistance programmes for indigenous peoples for such conservation and protection.  The human rights framework that related to the development of the indigenous peoples should be viewed in light of their cross-cutting rights to non-discrimination and self-determination.

Furthermore, it was necessary to consider the impact of the international investment regime, she stated, adding that it was the responsibility of States to ensure those rights were not obstructed by protections afforded to investors.  In that regard, she noted that she had received communications alleging that some projects, including windmills and hydroelectric dam projects conducted in the name of climate change mitigation, had been put in indigenous peoples’ territories without consulting them or getting their consent.

Highlighting recent official country visits, she said that after 15 days of traveling across Australia at the invitation of its Government, she had noted overall negative trends, with Government policies for indigenous people failing to reach targets in the key areas of health, education and employment.  Those conditions were resulting in a growing number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders being jailed, and an escalation in the number of children being removed from homes.  While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders constituted 3 per cent of the population, they constituted 27 per cent of the prison population.

Turning to the United States, she said that, while Executive Order 13175 provided the most direct guidance on consultation with tribes and was well intentioned, it had evolved into “a confusing and disjointed framework that suffered from a lack of accountability”.  Many indigenous peoples in the United States perceived a general lack of consideration of the future impacts on their lands, particularly in regard to extractive industry projects.  In the matter of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the potentially affected tribes were denied access to information and excluded from consultations at the planning stage of the project.

“The goal of tribal consultation is not simply to check a box,” she stressed, but to provide federal decision makers with the context, information and perspectives needed to make informed decisions that protect tribal interests.  The actions taking place along the boundaries of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation had been non-violent.  Yet, there had been a militarized and, at times, violent escalation of force by local and private security forces.

In efforts to address allegations of violations of indigenous people’s rights, she had significantly increased the number of communications addressed to Governments.  The failure to ensure free, prior, and informed consent of indigenous peoples before undertaking projects affecting their territories and resources remained a key concern.

As the floor opened for an interactive dialogue, representatives of indigenous organizations and Member States, as well as Permanent Forum members voiced concerns and sought guidance, including the delegate of the United States who asked about mechanisms facilitating the concerns of indigenous rights defenders, as well as culturally appropriate responses to the disproportionate violence against indigenous women and girls.

A representative of the International Indian Treaty Council, expressing appreciation for the Rapporteur’s visit to Standing Rock, noted that, despite article 32, “sometimes consultation did not happen”.

The representative of Australia stated that her Government looked forward to working actively with the Rapporteur to come up with solutions regarding the high incarceration rates of indigenous peoples in her country.  Investigations regarding youth in detention and child protection were being carried out in the Northern Territories.

A representative of the Asian Indigenous Peoples Pact, voicing concern about the killings of indigenous rights activists and defenders, and referring to a particular incident in Bangladesh, asked about actions that could encourage Governments to implement treaties with indigenous peoples.

ABDIRAHMAN MAHDI of the Ogaden People’s Rights Organization said that while Ethiopia’s Constitution was extremely liberal, the Government did exactly the opposite of what was in that document, including by hiding cholera deaths, the exploitation of indigenous youth, and building dams that destroyed indigenous communities.  Ethiopia was the headquarters of the African Union and, as a result, the situation of the indigenous peoples in that country was being ignored.

Bangladesh’s delegate said that his country’s Constitution recognized the fundamental rights of all citizens, irrespective of their ethnic identities.  Referring to a statement made previously, he added that in that unfortunate incident, the person who had been killed had been an active member of a regional political entity against whom there were allegations of extortion and intimidation.  The incident would be investigated properly.

Responding, Ms. TAULI-CORPUZ said that the rights of corporations that made investments in mining, extraction and agricultural plantations were given more protections by Governments than the rights of the indigenous peoples on whose lands and territories those investments were happening.  While some Governments had gone out of their way to develop dialogues and round tables with indigenous peoples, the norm was that Governments would impose legislative measures on indigenous peoples.  In addition, many existing human rights institutions were not sensitized to the rights of indigenous peoples.  Often they were looking at individual human rights violations.  However, for indigenous peoples, those individual violations were linked to their collective rights.

She also stressed the importance of protections for human rights defenders.  It was vital that indigenous peoples were given the right to organize and protest, she said, highlighting the precautionary measures proposed by the Inter-American Commission.  The agencies and funds of the United Nations also had a responsibility to speak out whenever indigenous human rights defenders were being targeted.  At the subnational level, local governments should respect indigenous governance and judicial systems.

After expressing regret regarding the nonappearance of the United States at the hearing of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, she went on to say that in Australia, there were increasing incidents of violence against indigenous women and girls, but the resources provided to deal with that were not adequate.  She also encouraged the Government of Bangladesh to implement the agreements it had made with indigenous peoples and requested more information regarding the situation in Ethiopia.

Recommending the use of technology to create wider consultations with indigenous peoples, she highlighted a webinar by the American Indian Clinic at the University of Colorado which included indigenous peoples from around the country in a dialogue with her Office.  Since indigenous peoples were often found in remote and inaccessible areas, it was necessary to use technology creatively to reach them.  Instead of seeing indigenous peoples as victims, it was necessary to look into them as providers of solutions.

Also speaking were Permanent Forum members from Australia, Denmark, Finland, Cameroon, Peru, and Ecuador, as well as representatives of the International Indian Treaty Council, Grand Council of the Crees, Coica, Association Tin Hinane Burkina Faso, Nation of Hawai’i, and Khmers Kampuchea Krom Federation.

The delegates of Guatemala, Mexico, and Norway also spoke.

Introductory Remarks

ALBERT BARUME, Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, said that without adequate protection of their right to health, indigenous peoples faced the threat of extinction.  Diabetes, neglected tropical diseases and drug and alcohol abuse were among health-related challenges.  Action-oriented programmes among the Expert Mechanism’s recommendations, a new mandate at its tenth session in Geneva in July would include expanded membership and the discretion to choose its theme.

In addition, the Expert Mechanism would be providing technical advice, support and assistance to stakeholders with a view to implementing recommendations by treaty bodies and other relevant mechanisms, he continued.  To foster bolstered dialogue between stakeholders and Member States, the Mechanism would take steps that would promote best practices.

The new mandate reflected Member States and indigenous peoples’ desire to enhance dialogue, he said, noting that the session included a dialogue with human rights institutions in order to provide a platform for States and relevant mechanisms.  Highlighting the current trend of criminalizing indigenous peoples’ activities in their efforts to protect their land, he said their right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression must be respected.  With that in mind, the Expert Mechanism was considering focusing a report on human rights’ defenders.

MIRNA CUNNINGHAM, United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples, said the Fund’s beneficiaries were human rights defenders.  The Fund also made possible the participation of groups in United Nations meetings.  It had also supported two meetings convened to follow up on the outcome document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.  Beneficiaries had contributed to significant achievements, including the adoption of the Declaration and the development of international human rights jurisprudence on indigenous peoples’ rights by human rights mechanisms.

However, the Fund was barely able to fund one quarter of all applications.  Sustainable financial support had made it possible to carry out its mandate.  It was critical that indigenous people participate in meetings that directly affected their lives.  Such involvement ensured that decisions being made carried legitimacy and yielded positive results, she said, appealing to all Governments to commit to supporting the Fund’s vital work.

General Discussion

JESUS GUADALUPE FUENTES BLANCO, Permanent Forum member from Mexico, said the proper mechanisms must be sought in order to ensure success in achieving timely solutions.  All mechanisms should have joint agendas to reach those ends.

OBED BAPELA (South Africa) said his country had taken a number of steps to address pressing concerns.  Transnational corporations, including extractive industries, were among perpetrators of grave human rights, including in the areas of child labour and environmental issues.  He called for indigenous peoples to participate in negotiations in October to draft a convention against such abuses.

ROBERTO EUGENIO T. CADIZ, Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, said human rights defenders in his country faced torture, threats and a range of violations.  The Commission had adopted strategies, including facilitating dialogue with rights defenders and government agencies in areas such as monitoring, prevention and remediation.  Indigenous peoples remained largely helpless in the face of development aggression from large corporations on ancestral lands, he said, calling on duty bearers to uphold the interests of indigenous peoples to defend themselves.

ALBETO PIZARRO (Chile) said his country had had historic relations with indigenous populations and was working on the principle of leaving no one behind.  For its part, Chile had helped to strengthen indigenous peoples’ rights, including through the adoption of public policies.

LES MALEZER, Permanent Forum member from Australia, urged States to contribute to the Voluntary Fund to assist activities outside the session.

PETUUCHE GILBERT, Indigenous World Association, appealed for support to address the case of Leonard Peltier, who had been imprisoned in connection with the deaths of two federal United States agents.  The case had demonstrated that the law was being used for political purposes, he said, reiterating calls for the United States to release Mr. Peltier, who was now 72 years old and suffered from health issues.

TATIANA SHLYCHKOVA (Russian Federation) said each person independently and as a group are entitled to defend human rights.  The Russian Federation had established human rights institutions and consultative bodies that focused on areas including religious minorities.  She underlined the importance of implementing measures to solve issues, at regional levels and in cooperation with other relevant bodies.

RONALD WAROMI, of the West Papua Interest Association, said that it had been over 54 years since Netherlands New Guinea or West Papua had joined with Indonesia, a political process that was still being questioned by West Papua indigenous peoples.  In April, the Governor of the Papua province had expressed concern about the large number of deaths due to alcoholism in that community.  The West Papua indigenous peoples continued to suffer discrimination, marginalization, and extreme poverty, as well as ongoing systematic genocide, with their race and way of life under threat of extinction, he said.

MAY-ELIN STENER (Norway), speaking for the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden), drew attention to the particular challenges faced by women indigenous human rights defenders who often had to overcome multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination linked to their gender and their indigenous identity.  The Sustainable Development Goals would not be achieved unless indigenous peoples were allowed to assume their rightful place in society.  Bearing in mind the revised mandate of the Expert Mechanism, she emphasized the need for concrete action to provide effective protection for indigenous human rights defenders.

BINOTA MOY DHAMAI, Asia Caucus, said a lack of recognition, protection and respect for indigenous peoples’ rights was at the root of reprisals against indigenous human rights defenders.  Legitimate and peaceful struggles for self-determination were often wrongly characterized as terrorism or secessionism.  The Special Rapporteur and the Expert Mechanism should study the issues that contributed to high risks and reprisals against indigenous human rights defenders.  Meanwhile, the Permanent Forum should call on development and human rights support agencies to provide funds and resources to help human rights defenders, their families and communities.  In addition, she said, Governments in Asia must be urged to stop the militarization of indigenous territories and to engage indigenous peoples in meaningful dialogue.

TOVE S. GANT, European Union delegation, said that the Union’s guidelines on human rights defenders specifically mentioned indigenous human rights defenders, who faced a disproportionate share of targeted attacks and killings.  Urgent grants provided by the Union to defenders were often used to provide support, emergency relief, trial and prison monitoring.  At present, the Union had provided grants to 150 human rights defenders.  Commending the work of the Special Rapporteur and other mandate holders in ensuring international attention on the issue, she asked the Rapporteur what could be done to improve the protection of indigenous human rights defenders from violent attacks and killings.

ANTONIA GAVILIEVA, Telke, said that despite numerous protests, the Russian Federation Government’s legislation had facilitated parcels of her people’s land to be given away.  Another danger stemmed from removing status of specially protected natural areas that had been approved by municipal deputies.  The Alrosa diamond mining corporation had been involved in a complaint, which must be investigated, she said, demanding that such companies respected the rights of indigenous peoples and ecological standards.

JAZMIN ALFARO, United Confederation of Taino People, said in many cases, murders of human rights defenders had been preceded by threats and smear campaigns, particularly in terms of development projects.  Judicial harassment and political persecution in land-grab cases in Cameroon and in the Russian Federation were among examples of such intimidation.  Other defenders had been killed protecting land from corporations.  She called for the Expert Mechanism to ramp up efforts and for the Permanent Forum to create a database, including those who had lost their lives defending land.

RAWIRI TANONUI, Massey University, said the exact number of human rights defenders that had been killed was unknown.  Challenges remained among existing protections, including that the Declaration was insufficiently recognized.  As development increased, the problem was getting worse, with twice as many killings in current times than a decade ago.  He called for the creation of a single inter-agency study on deaths of indigenous human rights defenders, using data from United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations covering a 10-year period.

DIEGO SAAVEDRA, Coordinadora de Organizaciones Indigenas de la Cuenca Amazonica, said that in order to strengthen the agenda of indigenous human rights defenders, it was necessary to set up a mechanism which would provide first-hand information on the most significant cases of human rights violations.  Calling for transparency and information, he said that the gathering of information must be standardized.

Mr. MAHDI, Ogaden Peoples Rights Organization, said that the Government of Ethiopia uses punitive legislation to suppress indigenous human rights defenders.  Even international journalists had been detained for raising the question of human rights in general and indigenous human rights in particular.  The rampant abuse against indigenous peoples in Ethiopia was well documented by international organizations, but the lack of follow-up had emboldened that country’s Government.  Indigenous people were also being evicted from their lands to allow for dams and agribusiness.

MANARI USHIGUA, Nacionalidad Sapara del Ecuador, said that the Ecuadorian Government had signed an agreement assigning a Chinese company certain territories for oil exploration.  Asking for the immediate withdrawal of that company, and calling on the United Nations to prevent the genocide of the Sapara Nation, as well as “all beings in our territory”, he added, “we do not want to disappear”.  The indigenous way of life was an important contribution to humanity and, without indigenous peoples, that vision would disappear forever.

JOCELYN CARINO NETTLETON, Forest Peoples Programme, said that, given the longstanding problems faced by indigenous peoples, it was urgent for the United Nations mechanisms on the rights of indigenous peoples to collaborate together in protecting those human rights.  The Permanent Forum must convene an expert meeting to explore the options for United Nations action.  Furthermore, international financial institutions and other donors must apply the strongest safeguards in financing conservation programmes, including climate change mitigation actions.

RONALD WAROMI, West Papua Liberation Organization, said that the United Nations had forgotten his people.  In 1962, an agreement had been signed at Headquarters transferring West Papua to Indonesia.  That transfer of administration “broke our country”, he said.

JANENE YAZZIE, International Indian Treaty Council, said some States had labelled rights defenders as terrorists or common criminals, including Mr. Peltier, Bumpy Kanahele and others who had been wrongly imprisoned.  Of equal concern was the legalization of crowd-control weaponry against peaceful demonstrators, including chemical weapons such as tear gas and pepper gas, both of which had been outlawed for use in international conflicts.  Those weapons had resulted in the injury and maiming of unarmed water protectors in the United States at a time when several states within that country were considering legislation to further criminalize peaceful resistance.  “This must stop,” she implored.

THIN YU MON, Chin Human Rights Organization, said grass-roots rights defenders were comprised mostly of women and youth.  However, young rights defenders were increasingly being threatened due to impunity enjoyed by perpetrators of violations against human rights defenders.  Sharing that in Myanmar, a mine-related protestor had been killed, she described the promotion of the protestors’ rights as far from adequate.  The Permanent Forum should call for donors to support human rights defenders through assisting in legal costs.

TARCILA RIVERA ZEA, Permanent Forum member from Peru, said recommendations over the past years had reflected a sustained concern over how the lives of indigenous peoples were being affected.  There was an added danger for women human rights defenders, she said, emphasizing the need to pay special attention to their needs.

RABAH ARKAM, Congres Mondiale Amazigh (CMA), said his people were still suffering from land grabs taking place in Morocco.  Indigenous peoples had protested the inhumane conditions in which they live.  The Government of Morocco had delayed draft laws that would recognize the Amazigh people.  Respect for customs should be part of the process of a constructive dialogue to address those and other pressing concerns.

WILLIAM PATRICK KINCAID, International Native Traditional Interchange, said great concern surrounded the Dakota pipeline project that was violating human rights.  All natural resources on land that was collectively owned by indigenous peoples belonged to them.  Citing a number of legal provisions, he said the United States must uphold indigenous peoples’ rights.  The United Nations report on the pipeline only addressed the concerns of the colonial Powers.

GAYANA YUKDEL, Crimean Tatar Mejlis representing the Indigenous Crimean Tatars of Crimea, Ukraine, called on the Permanent Forum to insist that the Russian Federation, the occupier of Crimea, complied with international conventions.  Just because the Crimean Tatars were silent did not mean they agreed to what had happened, she said.  Indigenous leaders had been imprisoned on charges of extremisms, among other things.  Human rights defenders were actively trying to defend 23 Crimean Tatars who were unjustly imprisoned, she said.

PANIA NEWTON, Save Our Unique Landscape, said that ever since 1863, when the lands of her people had been confiscated, the New Zealand Government had been perpetrating injustices ranging from land theft to degradation of language and customs.  Also condemning the careless greed of corporations, she added that it was important to hold transnational businesses accountable.  The New Zealand Government had done nothing to remedy those problems, she said, requesting the Special Rapporteur to investigate the Government’s violations.

ANDREW AMBROSE, Pacos Trust, said that indigenous peoples were demanding accountability for the actions of corporate actors and Governments.  It was necessary to develop human rights standards for conservation efforts.  He called on the United Nations to convene an expert meeting to operationalize the recommendations on impact of conservation measures on indigenous rights.  It was also vital to pay attention to the complex issues faced by indigenous human rights and environmental defenders.

CATHRYN EATOCK, Indigenous Peoples’ Organization of Australia, said she looked forward to the Special Rapporteur’s full report on the visit to Australia and voiced support for the call to include efforts addressing violence against women, and a greater focus on community-led strategies.  Refunding the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples was a priority, she said, pledging to work with the Government to advance the development of a national implementation plan on the Declaration.

ANNE NUORGAM, Permanent Forum member from Finland, said corporations and States must respect human rights.  Indigenous peoples were entitled to conduct peaceful protests to protect their rights.  Other States could offer protection for indigenous peoples by offering shelter, for instance, as was the case with the Netherlands’ shelter cities programme.  The Sami Parliament had also supported similar efforts involving extractive industries and indigenous communities.

ASHUR SARGON ESKRYA, Assyrian Aid Society, said indigenous peoples in Iraq and the Middle East had faced genocide perpetrated by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) in Mosul and Nineveh plain.  Assyrian Christians had been unable to return to their homes and ongoing instability was threatening indigenous peoples’ futures.  She called for neutralizing the Nineveh plain region from political tensions, reduce the mass migration by creating jobs there and supporting the preservation and protection of historical sites.  She also called for removing radicalism and extremism from curricula and establishing a high commission to include Government agencies from Baghdad and Erbil to research and recommend solutions to address all confiscated land grabs.

CHAPARRO IZQUIERDO, Land Is Life, raised a number of concerns, including marginalization, poverty and climate change threats.  Elders had a role to play and more information was needed on making peace with nature.

Mr. MALEZER, Permanent Forum member from Australia, said sensitive issues such as the Dakota pipeline and the situation of treaties presented an opportunity for the Permanent Forum to examine the case.  Welcoming the United States to be part of the discussion, he wondered if a path could be found to ameliorate the situation.  Mentioning situations in Indonesia, he said the delegate of that country had not yet spoken at the Permanent Forum today.  He expressed hope that Indonesia’s representative would join the closed dialogues with States to be held 2 May and a suitable solution could be identified.

ELIFURAHA LALTAIKA, Permanent Forum member from the United Republic of Tanzania, said Africa was a hotspot for energy generation, adding that he would work to ensure indigenous peoples’ rights in that regard.

VARVARA KORKINA, Tribal Link, raised concerns about the indigenous members of various bodies representing the Russian Federation.  She urged the Permanent Forum to listen to indigenous peoples in the region.

RADINE AMERICAN HARRISON, Foundation for Indigenous Americans of Anasazi Heritage, said her people were human rights defenders that were living under occupation by a political nation State.  The United States was not America; the land belonged to the females of the land.  She opposed the destruction of Earth by pollution or extracting minerals.

Ms. TAULI-CORPUZ said it was important for indigenous peoples to have access to justice.  In that regard, she urged the diplomatic community to remedy that situation, particularly in situations of incarceration.

Mr. BARUME, acknowledging that some States had never engaged in a dialogue with indigenous peoples, noted that speakers had called for the Expert Mechanism to examine ways to facilitate improving severely strained relationships.  Regional-level relationships must also be bolstered, he said, adding his support for recommendations that had been put forward today.

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*     The 8th Meeting was closed.

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