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High Commissioner Describes New Model Placing Refugee, Migrant Rights at Heart of Crisis Response, as Third Committee Hears Calls for Sharing Responsibility

The High Commissioner for Refugees described a new model for meeting the needs of millions around the world forced to flee their homes due to crisis, presenting his annual report to the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) amid calls for more equitable sharing of responsibility.

Filippo Grandi said the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework annexed to the landmark 2016 New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants provided the new model that placed the rights, interests and potential of refugees at the heart of a comprehensive response.  It was time for change, and the international community appeared to be converging around directions it must pursue, which included easing pressure on host countries and communities, enhancing refugee self‑reliance; expanding resettlement and other third‑country solutions, and creating conditions conducive to voluntary return, he asserted.

As the Committee opened its general debate on the matter, Italy’s delegate pressed the international community to recognize that emergency humanitarian assistance must be complemented by long‑term development responses.  He expressed full support for the “paradigm shift” in responding to forced displacement presented by the new Framework.  Indeed, the number of people who had fled their homes in 2016 was 65.6 million, said the representative of the European Union, adding that 2018 must be a “showcase for collective action”.  South Africa’s delegate said on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) the consequences of refugee outflows disproportionately affected the developing world.

Earlier in the day, the Committee concluded its general debate on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, with delegates focusing on self‑determination.  Many also addressed the particular dangers refugees faced from discriminatory attitudes, with Nigeria’s representative urging both transit and destination countries to treat them with dignity and respect, regardless of their nationality and immigration status.  It was a point echoed by Thailand’s representative, who underscored that social harmony would only come about through dialogue between migrants and host communities.

Also speaking in the general debate on racism and self‑determination were the delegations of Ukraine, Venezuela, Togo, Armenia, Algeria, Morocco, Azerbaijan and the United Arab Emirates.

Also speaking in the general debate on the report of the High Commissioner for Refugees were representatives of Saudi Arabia, Japan, Switzerland, Colombia, Brazil, Australia, Eritrea, Iraq, Russian Federation, United States, Syria, Afghanistan, Viet Nam, Kenya, Iran, Algeria, Belarus and Turkey.

The representatives of Armenia, Russian Federation, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, Algeria and Morocco spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Third Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 2 November, to continue its dialogue with the High Commissioner for Refugees and take up the report of the Human Rights Council.

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/4215).

The Committee also had before it the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (A/72/12), the Report of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (A/72/12/Add.1) and the Report of the Secretary‑General on Assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa (A/72/354).

Statements

ALEXANDER TEMITOPE ADEYEMI AJAYI (Nigeria), associating himself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the Constitution prohibited any form of discrimination based on race, nationality, ethnic origin or tribe.  Urging States to recommit to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, he said they formed the normative basis for global efforts to eliminate racial discrimination, along with the universal ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.  Nigeria condemned racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance against refugees and migrants, and urged both transit and destination countries to treat them with dignity and respect, regardless of their nationality and immigration status.

DARYNA HORBACHOVA (Ukraine), associating herself with the European Union, said national legislation guaranteed full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms without distinction of race, colour, nationality or ethnicity.  As racism and discrimination persisted around the world, there was an urgent need to ensure effective application of existing legislation, and to foster closer cooperation between Governments and civil society.  Russian forces occupying the Crimean Peninsula and Sevastopol had mounted campaigns against ethnic Ukrainians and the Crimean Tatar community, she said, adding that the Russian Federation was attempting to impose ethnic dominance on the peninsula.  Ukraine had filed an application in the International Court of Justice to hold the Russian Federation accountable for its actions, she affirmed, urging that country to immediately halt all acts of racial discrimination on persons in the occupied territories.

ROBERT ALEXANDER POVEDA BRITO (Venezuela), associating himself with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), and the Group of 77 and China, affirmed his commitment to promoting a world free of racism and discrimination, adding that cultural diversity was the true path towards peace.  Racism and xenophobia exacerbated violence.  Stressing that technology allowed messages of hate to spread easily, increasing tension and undermining efforts to achieve peace, he said migrants were often victims of discrimination.  Venezuela was working establish a multicultural society free of discrimination, he stressed, adding that a law against racial discrimination had been passed and a related institute was consolidating the instructional architecture on the matter.

KOMLAN AGBELÉNKON NARTEH-MESSAN (Togo) said his Government was committed to implementing international mechanisms to combat racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was developing innovative approaches, yet challenges persisted.  He welcomed global condemnation of acts commemorating the Nazi regime and said migrants and asylum seekers continued to be disproportionately affected by discrimination.  Togo’s Constitution outlined measures to combat that behaviour and ensured equality before the law for all citizens.  Legislative and regulatory measures were also being taken to combat racial discrimination.

THIRANAT SUCHARIKUL (Thailand) said global events had contributed to the rise in racial discrimination and stereotypes, and called for joint efforts to cultivate openness, tolerance and respect.  Thailand’s Constitution guaranteed all persons were equal before the law and the Government was committed to implementing obligations under the International Convention.  Thailand would also continue to improve the situation of migrants and displaced persons, she noted, stressing that social harmony would only come about through dialogue between migrants and host communities.  Strong societies were based on social harmony, she emphasized.

LILIT GRIGORYAN (Armenia) said threats to human security on the basis of racist or xenophobic hatred should be perceived not just as crimes against specific individuals but also as threats to global stability.  The most dangerous form of racial hatred toward other nations was the “institutionalization of racism” by openly encouraging prosecution of ethnic or religious groups, nations or races.  That was exactly what Azerbaijan promoted.  The struggle of the people of Nagorno‑Karabakh for self‑determination and freedom by the “despotic regime” of Azerbaijan exemplified how the use of force could only exacerbate the situation and trap parties into protracted conflict.  Human rights and fundamental freedoms of people residing in conflict areas should be upheld regardless of the legal status of the territories, she said.

NORA IMANE BELLOUT (Algeria) said violating the right to self‑determination was a form of racism.  That right was a compulsory rule of international law enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.  At a time when conditions were favourable, a free and integrated study could be carried out to help people exercise the right to self‑determination.  Voting was the only way to express self‑determination, she said, calling for that right to be upheld through referendum for all people living under occupation.  Western Sahara had been under occupation for more than four decades, she added.

OMAR KADIRI (Morocco) said there was a double standard when it came to implementing self‑determination.  That principle had been inscribed into two General Assembly resolutions in 1960:  resolution 1514, to overcome the concerns of States, and 1541, which focused on implementation.  The goal was to put into place guidelines for exercising the right to self‑determination.  Assembly resolution 2625, of 1970, reiterated that self‑determination could not encourage action that would threaten the territorial integrity of any sovereign State.  Despite legal and practical changes, self‑determination remained subject to legal interpretations.  The Kabyle people had been deprived of self‑determination, while Algeria was focused on the Sahrawi.

HABIB MIKAYILLI (Azerbaijan) drew attention to the ethnic cleansing carried out against Azerbaijanis in Armenia and the occupied territories, as well as the creation of a mono‑ethnic State in Armenia.  High‑ranking Armenian officials regularly made statements promoting ethnically and religiously motivated hatred and intolerance.  People in Non‑Self‑Governing Territories, and those living under foreign military occupation, deserved the right to self‑determination.  Armenia’s aggression against Azerbaijan was illegal, as unilateral secession from independent States was prohibited by international law.  “The fact that illegal situations continue because of political circumstances does not mean that they are therefore rendered legal,” he added.

Ms. ALHAMMADI (United Arab Emirates) said the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was a tool to combat intolerance, discrimination and hatred.  The United Arab Emirates had long fought discrimination with fundamental freedoms protected by the Constitution.  The Government would continue to cooperate with relevant bodies to strengthen human rights.  Encouraging tolerance and compassion was a priority, evidenced by a State institute that carried out such programmes at the national and global levels.  She closed by calling on the United Nations to address the dangerous consequences of discrimination.

Right of Reply

The representative of Armenia, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said statements made by her counterpart from Azerbaijan had been modelled after Nazi propaganda strategies.  Armenians had experienced ethnic cleansing at the hands of Azerbaijan and its collaborators, she stressed, adding that Azerbaijan was denying the people of Nagorno‑Karabakh their right to self‑determination.

The representative of the Russian Federation, to remarks by his counterpart from Georgia, called on his colleague to recognize the new political reality, and the new sovereign States which had their own Governments and legal systems.  Responding to the statement by Ukraine’s delegate, he recalled that the people of Crimea had exercised their right to self‑determination, a right enshrined in the Charter and both Covenants.  Residents of Crimea enjoyed all human rights and freedoms, and if anyone was of the view their rights had been violated, they could address the courts.

The representative of Azerbaijan said comments by Armenia’s delegate were full of distortions which his country rejected.  The ruling Republican Party had acknowledged a nationalist ideology, he said, adding that the younger generation was being groomed in that spirit.  Armenia should abandon racist ideology and learn to live in peace with its neighbours.  Armenia had unleashed war against Azerbaijan, carried out ethnic cleansing on a massive scale and destroyed cultural heritage of Azerbaijani people.  Nagorno‑Karabakh was part of Azerbaijan and it was essential to recall Armenia’s involvement in a conflict that had claimed thousands of Azerbaijani civilian lives.  Armenia’s leadership was known for hate speech and incitement to violence.

The representative of Georgia, in response to remarks by her counterpart from the Russian Federation, said that country continued to violate Georgia’s sovereign territory and had committed military aggression against Georgia.  All those violations had been noted by the Independent International Fact‑Finding Mission on the Conflict in Georgia, she said, recalling that several waves of ethnic cleansing and other crimes had been proved by numerous international documents.

The representative of Ukraine, responding to comments by her Russian counterpart, said the international community had identified Moscow as an occupying power.  The Russian Federation continued to violate United Nations resolutions, she said, recalling that a “Crimean nation” did not exist.  Self‑determination could not be exercised in violation of international law, she noted, urging the Russian Federation to end its tactics that caused human suffering in the region.

The representative of Algeria, responding to statements by Morocco’s delegate, said the United Nations recognized 17 Non‑Self‑Governing Territories, and not unilateral rumours launched by Morocco.  She called on Morocco to address its internal problems, and on the international community to look into the shameful human rights situation in that country.  She expressed concern over the situation in the Western Sahara, noting the people of that area had been unable to exercise their right to self‑determination.  Algeria was abiding by all United Nations decisions on the matter, she said.

The representative of Morocco called unfounded statements the norm in Algerian diplomacy.  No territory was being examined in the Third Committee.  The issue of self‑determination was being discussed in the context of the Moroccan Sahara.  He expressed regret that the United Nations had ignored the rights of the Kabyle people in that region, citing Amnesty International reports indicating that Algerian authorities had arbitrarily expelled people from the country and arrested migrants based on racial profiling.  The issue of the Moroccan Sahara was one of territorial integrity, he said, adding that Algeria was financing separatist movements.

The representative of Armenia expressed disappointment that Azerbaijan continued to mislead.  While rejecting the ungrounded accusations, she said equal rights and self‑determination should be among the principles of a resolution on Nagorno‑Karabakh.  Regarding Security Council resolutions, she said Azerbaijan, in line with its usual practices, only referred to some provisions of those resolutions.

The representative of the Russian Federation said in response to Ukraine’s delegate that the right to self‑determination could be exercised by autonomous people.  Until 2014, there had been the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, which had been part of Ukraine.  The people of Crimea had already enjoyed self‑determination within Ukraine, but the policy to deny them any rights and opportunities had affected their decision to decide to join the Russian Federation.

The representative of Azerbaijan said in response to Armenia’s delegate that the glorification of Garegin Nzhdeh showed disrespect to Soviet soldiers who had perished during the war.  Regarding accusations around April hostilities, Armenia could not deny that hostilities had been exclusively conducted in territories of Azerbaijan.  Armenia had derailed the peace process and continued a military build‑up.  Military occupation never produced a solution.  Instead, Armenia should engage in the settlement process, and implement the resolutions of the Security Council and other international organizations.

The representative of Algeria, referring to comments by her counterpart from Morocco, said “the camel could not see its head”.  Calling on the international community to consider the appeals of the people of the Western Sahara, she urged Morocco address its internal problems before pointing to any reports about Algeria.

The representative of Morocco said Algeria’s delegate continued to make erroneous comments, seeking only to foment hostility and challenge Morocco’s territorial integrity.  His Government had agreed to find a political solution to the dispute.

Introductory Statement and Dialogue with High Commissioner for Refugees

FILIPPO GRANDI, High Commissioner for Refugees, said the magnitude and complexity of forced displacement had captured the world’s attention, adding that 68 million people and counting were refugees.  Giving figures on the situation in Myanmar, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Somalia, Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, he noted that the latter two accounted for one quarter of the world’s forcibly displaced people.  The situation in Yemen was also worrisome, and in Central America, tens of thousands of men, women and children were on the move; along the central Mediterranean route, refugees continued to face grave exploitation and abuse, alongside thousands of migrants.  Principled leadership had given way to irresponsible demagoguery, he said, adding that policies of deterrence and exclusion had taken shape in some countries and regions.  Yet, there had also been a parallel groundswell of solidarity with refugees, rooted in civil society.

Measures to shore up the efforts of refugee‑hosting countries and genuinely share responsibility were both essential, and they represented the fundamental challenge at the heart of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, he said.  The Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework annexed to the Declaration provided a new model that placed the rights, interests and potential of refugees at the heart of a comprehensive response.  At the Executive Committee meeting of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) last month, he said he had been struck by the recognition among participants that it was time for change, as well as their convergence around directions the international community must pursue.  Those included easing pressure on host countries and communities; enhancing refugee self‑reliance; expanding resettlement and other third‑country solutions; and creating conditions conducive to voluntary return.  The early pursuit of solutions was essential to the new model, he noted, citing refugee resettlement as an important solution.

While progress was happening on statelessness, the lack of citizenship for Rohingya communities was a key aspect of the discrimination and exclusion that had shaped their plight for decades.  The solution was a voluntary, safe and dignified return to Myanmar, but that would not be possible without tackling their statelessness.  “We must identify where our strengths can be of most value”, he said:  where they must translate into direct action and where they should instead help others to engage, with their own expertise and resources.  In his report to the Third Committee next year, he would propose the text of a global compact on refugees for consideration by the General Assembly, which would contain the comprehensive refugee response framework as well as a programme of action to support its application.  A draft of the global compact would be shared in early 2018, he said, around which there would be consultations in Geneva with Member States.  The promise of the New York Declaration must be translated into determined, collective action to find solutions for millions of people uprooted around the world.

In the ensuing dialogue, the representative of Ethiopia said her country had taken various measures to accommodate refugees, introducing a comprehensive response framework, providing access to education and issuing work permits.  However, there was a lack of international support and solidarity with such host countries and she asked how funding could be sustained to help them meet the needs of refugees.

The representative of Norway asked about closing the gap between humanitarian needs and resources, and how the Office would ensure that the needs of internally displaced people were met.

The representative of Iran wondered about the impact of hosting large numbers of refugees, asking the High Commissioner for the reasons behind the decline in countries offering resettlement programs.

The representative of Qatar asked the High Commissioner for solutions to the high influx of refugees.

The representative of Turkey asked the High Commissioner to assess resettlement trends and explain how current figures might evolve as the world moved towards the adoption of the Global Compact on Refugees.

The representative of Iraq requested that more aid be provided to his country so it could accommodate refugees.

The representative of Kenya expressed concern over renewed violence in South Sudan, asking about ways to ease the pressure on host countries.

The representative of Azerbaijan wondered how internally displaced people would be reflected in the Global Compact on Refugees.

The representative of Japan asked the High Commissioner about the barriers to cooperation among humanitarian and peacebuilding organizations.

The representative of Iceland said his country had taken Syrian refugees, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual individuals from Africa, stressing that local communities were involved in integrating refugees.  He asked for suggestions on what else Iceland could do to accommodate refugees.

The representatives of Brazil and Cameroon also spoke.

The representative of Myanmar said he was fully aware of the outflow of refugees from his country to Bangladesh.  Accounts from people wanting to cross the border included difficulties in daily life and safety concerns.  Myanmar was implementing repatriation programmes for those who could establish evidence of their Myanmar residency, he assured.

The representative of Morocco asked what steps had been taken to implement the Office’s 2017 strategic guidelines and if the Global Compact on Refugees was having a positive impact on the ground.

The representative of Papua New Guinea asked what role Member States could play to help implement the Office’s strategic plans, and requested information on resettlement processes.

Mr. GRANDI, responding, thanked all States hosting refugees, providing financial support or assisting in resettlement processes.  All Member States had responded positively to the Global Compact and his Office’s strategic guidelines would be strengthened by it.  Noting that the Global Compact did not have normative value and did not substitute any legal instrument, he said it instead aimed to better organize responses and find solutions to the refugee crisis.  The Compact would mobilize support and help States find solutions to forced displacement, he said, commending countries participating in initiatives towards its creation.

He said while financing remained a difficult element of response efforts, the expansion of responses to include development actors such as the World Bank, especially in education, had been a “game‑changer”.  Marrying humanitarian and development actors was a large challenge but the World Bank initiative to establish data systems that accounted for displaced persons was promising.

He said the Office was reviewing how it could be more predictable in responding to refugee crises and fulfilling inter‑agency responsibilities in crises involving internally displaced persons.  Both challenges must be represented at the same level and in the same manner.  He expressed concern over States that had traditionally been good resettlement countries curtailing the number of refugees they were taking in.  That decrease sent a wrong signal about responsibility sharing, he said, commending Iraq for providing statehood to previously stateless persons.  He concluded by calling on Myanmar to include his Office in efforts to resolve its refugee crisis.

JESÚS DÍAZ CARAZO (European Union) said the number of people who fled their homes in 2016 was 65.6 million, and noted that the bloc had received 1.2 million asylum applicants that same year.  About 84 per cent of refugees under the High Commissioner’s mandate were being hosted in low- and middle‑income countries.  Underlining the importance of strengthening protections, he emphasized the relevance of preventive measures to address the causes of displacement.  He echoed the High Commissioner’s call for action to meet the needs of asylum seekers, refugees, internally displaced persons and stateless persons, and stressed that 2018 must be a “showcase for collective action” on the matter.

Affirming the importance of global responsibility sharing and international solidarity among States, he said the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework was an expression of commitment to address the refugee situation.  The European Union had proposed a development‑oriented policy framework to address forced displacement as a means to foster self‑reliance among displaced communities, he said.  Noting the increasing financial pressures faced by international organizations, he said the record level of funding received by the Office of the High Commissioner was a testament to its competence.  Still, funding gaps remained, he said.

EPHRAIM LESHALA MMINELE (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), reiterated the Community’s attachment to international instruments to protect refugees and stressed that the Organization of African Unity’s Refugee Convention of 1969 was the main instrument governing their protection on the continent.  He pledged to respect the principle on non‑refoulement, urging all States to do the same.  Expressing concern over the displacement of some 65.6 million people worldwide, he said the consequences of refugee outflows disproportionately affected the developing world.  The Community was particularly concerned with the decrease in assistance funding to address the matter.

He affirmed the Community’s commitment to the New York Declaration and its Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, and applauded States already applying the Framework to respond to large‑scale refugee situations.  The Community also welcomed United Nations efforts to expand funding sources to include the private sector, he said, cautioning against initiatives that further burdened developing countries.  Efforts were being made to target the causes of forced displacement, he said.  Pointing to UNHCR’s new key orientations, he urged States to work with relevant stakeholders to ensure displaced people were granted their rights.

Mr. ALMERI (Saudi Arabia) said his country was at the forefront of countries offering support to Syrian refugees.  The 2.5 million Syrian refugees in Saudi Arabia were also granted the right to free movement and afforded the same rights as Saudi Arabian citizens to education and health care, while 141,000 Syrian students had received free education.  The Government also had provided financial support to Syrians in Lebanon and Turkey.  Meanwhile, Yemeni refugees in Saudi Arabia were also provided with job and education opportunities.  On the international level, Saudi Arabia had provided financial assistance to Rohingya refugees, he said, stressing the need to enhance international cooperation.

Mr. FURUMOTO (Japan), paying tribute to the work of the High Commissioner for Refugees, acknowledged the great responsibilities and expectations borne by the agency in the context of humanitarian crises in Syria, South Sudan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.  He recalled that in September, Japan’s 2017 contribution to the UNHCR budget had reached $150 million.  Global action for refugees represented the strong convergence between humanitarian and development aid promoted by his country.  Noting aid projects sponsored by Japan in Uganda and South Sudan, he stressed the importance of the concept of human security, which he called a pillar of the country’s diplomacy.

GILLES CERUTTI (Switzerland) said efforts to assist refugees were falling short.  There was a need to reaffirm the international principle to protect and express full support for the High Commissioner.  Expressing hope that the Global Compact would bring the international community together, he called the inclusion of development partners in assistance efforts a positive initiative.  It was also crucial to ensure assistance to internally displaced persons, and greater global attention was needed.  Welcoming the High Commissioner’s strategic direction, he encouraged inter‑agency cooperation to address issues faced by internally displaced persons.

CARLOS ARTURO MORALES LÓPEZ (Colombia) underscored the relevance of the New York Declaration, which allowed for greater humanitarian financing.  Colombia had participated in efforts to pursue the global compact on refugees.  Noting references in the High Commissioner’s report to internally displaced persons in Colombia, he said the Government had implemented mechanisms to address the issue.  Legislation and public policy were being implemented to address forced displacement, and relevant institutions were cooperating at all levels of Government to ensure return and resettlement of displaced persons.  Focus was also being given to land return efforts, with more than 4,000 families receiving orders to have land returned to them and another 30,000 such requests under consideration.

ILARIO SCHETTINO (Italy), associating himself with the European Union, said most of the 65 million displaced persons worldwide had fled conflict and severe human rights violations.  Referring to the refugee crisis as the worst humanitarian crisis in history, he said its effects had fallen disproportionately on developing countries.  The international community must recognize that assistance must be complemented by long‑term development responses.  To that end, Italy fully supported the paradigm shift in responses to forced displacement presented by the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework.  The refugee crisis was linked to conflict and human trafficking, he said, adding that the Security Council could be a pivotal partner in the search for solutions to the plight of refugees.

RICARDO DE SOUZA MONTEIRO (Brazil) pointed out that most countries receiving refugees were developing countries.  Financial support to those host countries was a key measure, but it could not be a counterpart for adopting restrictive policies regarding control of entry and permanence in their territories.  He expressed concern that recent steps taken by some States to restrict entry and permanence of refugees and asylum seekers violated international refugee law and humanitarian principles.  His country had approved a new migration law that guaranteed migrants’ rights and integrated foreigners.  He also noted that Brazil was closely following the elaboration of the global compact on refugees, bearing in mind the importance of States’ contributions, so that responsibilities under the compact were compatible with the capacity of each country.

NATALIE COHEN (Australia) said her country had contributed $6.9 million to the High Commissioner’s Office to support implementation of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework in Uganda and Ethiopia.  Australia’s refugee resettlement program would expand to include resettlement places for refugees from Uganda and Ethiopia.  The country would also make multi‑year funding commitments to protracted displacement crises and invest in resilience of both refugees and local communities.  The success of the Global Compact on Refugees would depend on the buy‑in of all States and key stakeholders, she said, adding that States were obliged to provide protection and security to those within their jurisdiction.

NEBIL SAID IDRIS (Eritrea) said he deplored the use by some regional Governments to use camps — funded and jointly administered by the High Commissioner — as centres of political agitation and armed recruitment.  The lack of scrutiny and accountability of national camp administrators had led to misuse and diversion of resources allocated to refugees.  People in those camps had been exposed to the dangers of human smuggling and trafficking.  Claims by some, including the High Commissioner, that Eritrea had persecuted citizens returning from overseas was a “false depiction”, as his country maintained a policy of voluntary repatriation and assisted its returning citizens in reintegrating to society.  The High Commissioner’s classification of Eritrean economic migrants as “bona fide” refugees was wrong, as it had led to Eritrean youths leaving for Europe and facing greater vulnerability to human trafficking.

Mr. AL HUSSAINI (Iraq) said the wave of terrorism in the country led to the displacement of some 3.6 million people.  The Government was working to mitigate their suffering by providing shelters and establishing camps, with efforts also ensuring access to bank accounts and receipt of identification cards.  Iraq faced several waves of displacement, he said, and safe corridors were being created for the movement of displaced persons.  Moreover, military personnel were working to ensure the safety of displaced persons, especially in areas were terrorist groups remained entrenched.  Iraqi security forces placed the protection of civilians at the core of their strategy in Mosul, he assured.

ROMAN KASHAEV (Russian Federation) said that during the High Commissioner’s visit to his country, the Government had pledged to do more, especially in terms of financial assistance, to assist displaced persons.  The Russian Federation hosted refugees from several countries, with more than 1 million Ukrainians fleeing internal conflict in that country.  A key element of migration policy was reducing statelessness, he said, commending the High Commissioner’s efforts on that matter. If global efforts were pooled, the situation of people under the Office’s mandate could be greatly improved.  Truly addressing the issue called for ending conflict, he said, adding that the “irresponsible interference” of Western States in the Middle East and Africa had led to the refugee crisis.  Responsible States must carry the financial burden of assisting refugees.

Ms. BROOKS (United States) underscored the need to support countries that had opened their borders to refugees, as well as efforts to protect the dignity of refugees.  This year, the United States had made a historic high contribution of $8 billion to the High Commissioner’s Office, and she called on Member States to follow through on their pledges to end conflicts through durable solutions.  The Office could sustain predictable funding by maintaining transparent and open dialogue with stakeholders, she said, welcoming efforts to invest in the Office’s workforce and increase its efficiency.

AMJAD QASSEM AGHA (Syria), citing the waves of refugees from Syria, said they were part of a strategy by the United States and European countries to leave his country empty of people.  Indeed, the open door policy of European countries had encouraged more people to leave.  Syrian refugees faced risks of human trafficking in Turkey, while the percentages of child marriages had doubled in refugee camps in Jordan.  He questioned Saudi Arabia’s delegate, who commented that that country had hosted 2.5 million Syrian refugees, as the High Commissioner’s report stated otherwise.  Moreover, it was important to distinguish between a legal resident and refugee, he said, urging Member States to implement Security Council resolutions to end the Syrian crisis and to stop any unilateral actions against his country.

GHULAM SEDDIQ RASULI (Afghanistan) said that finding solutions for refugees must be at the centre of the international community’s response to refugee movements.  That was a key component of the New York Declaration and featured strongly in the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework that was annexed to it.  The issue of refugees was of central importance to Afghanistan.  Over 2 million of its citizens were registered as refugees in neighbouring countries, having fled from imposed conflict over the past decades.  His Government was committed to ensuring the return and sustainable reintegration of Afghan refugees and was working closely with UNHCR and a variety of international actors to make that happen, he said.

PHAM THI KIM ANH (Viet Nam) noted that in 2017, half of all refugees under the mandate of UNHCR were children.  Refugees and asylum seekers often were driven to use the services of smugglers, exposing them to abuse and exploitation, human rights violations and even death.  The refugee problem was closely linked to the issues of peace and security and human rights.  They needed assistance in obtaining legal status.  Voluntary return or resettlement was an indispensable tool for burden and responsibility sharing.  The commitments under the New York Declaration should be transformed into action.  Countries had a shared responsibility in support of refugees through funding and humanitarian assistance, among other things.

SUSAN WANGECI MWANGI (Kenya) expressed concern that some countries had developed measures aimed at keeping refugees in countries of origin, pushing them back at or across borders, and some directly into conflict zones.  Such actions were inconsistent with the principle of non‑refoulement and the New York Declaration.  She expressed hope that the Global Compact for Refugees would address the disparities and include explicit language on more equitable and predictable burden and responsibility sharing.  Kenya maintained an open door policy for admission of refugees.  Since October 2016, her country had witnessed a significant increase in the number of arrivals from South Sudan.  Currently, Kenya was hosting 183,542 refugees in the Kakuma complex, of whom 109,000 were South Sudanese.  Noting difficulties with the Dadaab refugee complex, which had become a base for planning terrorist attacks on Kenya, she said prolonged settlement was resulting in the depletion of scarce natural resources and was leading to conflict.  In May 2016, her Government decided to close the Daadab refugee complex, and sought to relocate the refugees to safe areas in Somalia under the Tripartite Agreement with Somalia and UNHCR.  Since 2014, approximately 75,000 Somali refugees had been voluntarily repatriated to Somalia, and another 13,000 had been resettled to third countries.  In that context, she urged the international community to collectively support the enhancement of stability in Somalia.

MOHAMMAD HASSANI NEJAD PIRKOUHI (Iran) said foreign occupation and terrorism had caused massive displacement worldwide.  Developing countries with limited resources were too often the final destination of people fleeing crisis, he said, adding that no country could address the issue alone.  Noting Iran’s long‑standing assistance to refugees, he called for a mechanism to assist countries hosting large numbers of refugees.  Iran’s ability to provide services, while facing sanctions, could not be guaranteed, he said, as the Government was providing health, education and employment assistance to refugees, and it was impossible to do so indefinitely.  He called for the voluntary repatriation and resettlement of refugees, adding that the responsibility to protect was not confined to certain regions.

ZOUBIR BENARBIA (Algeria) expressed concern over the increasing number of refugees and internally displaced persons in Africa, and underscored that developing countries continued to host the most significant amount of displaced persons.  He called on UNHCR to provide more information on the impact of refugees on the development plans of those host countries.  The most appropriate solution to the crisis was the safe, voluntary repatriation of refugees.  Global efforts to address the problem had to be centred on providing assistance, protection and sustainable solutions.  Noting Algeria’s long‑standing commitment to refugees, he said his Government was waiting for the voluntary repatriation of refugees in Western Sahara.

IRINA VELICHKO (Belarus) commended the efforts made to establish the New York Declaration.  Her country had engaged in national consultations to develop strategies to deal with the global refugee crisis.  Member States needed to agree collectively on the action they would take to meet the needs of refugees, she stressed, noting that the refugee crisis was the result of States which had not followed the norms of international law.  She added that many of the tensions and conflicts felt today were caused by the inability of major countries to build a new world order after the end of the cold war.

YIĞIT CANAY (Turkey) said that, in line with commitments made in Istanbul during the World Humanitarian Summit, his country had pursued an efficient model of cooperation between humanitarian and development actors, and its assistance to those displaced from various parts of sub‑Saharan Africa was an example of that effort.  Hosting close to 3.3 million people displaced due to conflict in the region, including 3 million people from Syria, Turkey was now the largest refugee‑hosting country.  Syrians were provided with free access to education, health services and the labour market, he said, highlighting that the ratio of displaced children attending school had doubled to 60 per cent in 2017, compared to the previous year.  Reducing the number of lives lost at sea and the fight against human smuggling were other areas of importance for Turkey.

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Break Deadlock in Disarmament Machinery by Casting Aside Narrow National Interests, ‘Misguided Notions of Parity’, Speakers Tell First Committee

States must overcome narrow national interests and “misguided notions of parity” to overcome the disarmament machinery’s deadlock and lead the Conference on Disarmament to adopt a programme of work, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard today as its general debate entered a second week.

Speakers, including those from El Salvador and India, expressed hope for a new momentum to break the impasse in the Conference on Disarmament.  As the only multilateral negotiating forum for disarmament agreements, its 65 members had failed to agree on a work programme for almost two decades.  Disappointed to note that the proposed enlargement process at the Conference on Disarmament had been stalled for years, the representative of Cyprus stressed that its expansion would give a “new impetus to its work”.

Alongside calls to break the deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament, topics including chemical weapons, terrorism and a fissile material cut-off treaty took centre stage as delegates underscored the importance of multilateral cooperation in tackling some of the world’s most pressing disarmament challenges.  Reaffirming its support for such a unified approach, Portugal’s speaker emphasized that multilateralism, based on universal rules and values, was the most effective way to address common security challenges, manage shared disarmament responsibilities and devise collective non-proliferation initiatives.

Meanwhile, Kazakhstan’s representative reminded the Committee that disarmament and peace must be pursued in parallel and founded on mutual trust.  Yet, said Turkey’s speaker, the global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation architecture was being challenged by the actions of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Syria at a time of growing polarization in the area of nuclear disarmament,

No initiatives aimed at increasing safety, however, should be used as a pretext to restrict developing countries’ rights to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, said Namibia’s delegate, echoing a view held by several other speakers, including representatives of Bahrain and Jordan.

Other speakers expressed grave concerns over the looming risks of a radiological attack by terrorists and non-State actors.  To counter such threats, national measures must be adopted and international cooperation intensified, Singapore’s speaker stressed.  Striking a similar note, Saudi Arabia’s representative emphasized the importance of keeping dangerous weapons out of terrorists’ hands.  Meanwhile, Syria’s delegate condemned several States for supporting terrorist groups who were using toxic chemicals in his country.

Also delivering statements today were representatives of Cameroon, Costa Rica, Ireland, Canada, Panama, Nepal, Bulgaria and Poland.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of the Republic of Korea, Syria, United States, Qatar, Libya, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 10 October, to conclude its debate on all disarmament and related international security questions.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) continued its general debate today.  For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3571 of 2 October.

Statements

MOHAMMED HUSSEIN BAHR ALULOOM (Iraq), Chair of the First Committee, announced that an additional meeting would be held at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, 10 October to ensure that all Member States on the list of speakers for the general debate had the opportunity to participate.

HECTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERÓN (El Salvador) congratulated the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons for its tireless efforts and for being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  Commending the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, El Salvador had signed and ratified it, as its adoption strengthened the mechanism for disarmament.  It also complemented the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, he said, calling on parties to meet its provisions and seek consensus by the 2020 Review Conference.  Turning to current increased tensions and nuclear tests, he said renewed dialogue was the only way to ensure peace in all regions.  On the issue of small arms and light weapons, he praised the Arms Trade Treaty for being the first legally binding agreement of its kind.  Meanwhile, he expressed concerns that the Conference on Disarmament was not able to comply with its mandate, and urged for the swift commencement of its substantive work.

AMANDEEP SINGH GILL (India) said “national security interests and misguided notions of parity” had obstructed the Conference on Disarmament’s adoption of a programme of work.  India did not adhere to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, but was willing to work with its signatories in disarmament forums to prohibit the use of nuclear weapons and was ready to support negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty in the Conference on Disarmament.

For its part, India had completed its obligations on stockpile destruction under the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects.  It had also contributed to efforts for the destruction of Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpiles.  Concerned about the threat of use of biological agents for terrorist purposes, he called on States parties to effectively implement the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction.  He also called for a continued substantive mandate, adequate funding and the participation of all stakeholders in the Group of Governmental Experts discussions on the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

KORNELIOS KORNELIOU (Cyprus), expressing his country’s commitment to all of the main disarmament and non-proliferation treaties, said he was disappointed to note that the enlargement process at the Conference on Disarmament had been stalled for almost two decades.  Its expansion would give a “new impetus to its work”, he said.  Condemning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent actions, he called for cooperation and inclusiveness in the pursuit of common goals.  For that reason, Cyprus supported the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and was examining the possibility of acceding to it, he said, expressing a commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

CRISTINA MARIA CERQUEIRA PUCARINHO (Portugal), associating herself with the European Union, said multilateralism, based on universal rules and values was the most effective way to address common security challenges, manage shared disarmament responsibilities and devise collective non-proliferation initiatives.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent testing activities underscored the urgency of achieving the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the importance of the Test-Ban Treaty, she said, reaffirming Portugal’s support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme and for the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which remained the cornerstone of the international non-proliferation regime.  She also expressed support for the work of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the joint OPCW-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism in Syria, Arms Trade Treaty and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction.

KHALED ALMANZALAWIY (Saudi Arabia), associating himself with the Arab Group and Non-Aligned Movement, welcomed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  He regretted to note Israel’s rejection of efforts to create a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East and the failure of the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.  Emphasizing the importance of Iran’s commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he said sanctions should be swiftly reapplied in the case of any violations.  He reaffirmed, however, the right of all countries to the peaceful use of nuclear energy under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) standards.  Calling for the implementation of conventions on biological and chemical weapons, he said accountability must be ensured for parties who had used chemical agents in Syria.  Other important issues included keeping dangerous weapons out of terrorists’ hands, activate national programmes to combat the illicit trade in small arms and ensuring outer space was used for peaceful purposes.

NEVILLE MELVIN GERTZE (Namibia), associating himself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, affirmed the importance of all three pillars of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Nuclear disarmament should remain a top priority.  Reiterating the call on nuclear-weapon States to fully comply with their obligations to accomplish the immediate, total, verified elimination of such arms, he said any further development of them contradicted that goal.  All non-nuclear-weapon States must be provided with unconditional assurances against the use or threat of such arms.  Reiterating support for nuclear-weapon-free zones, universal accession to the Test-Ban Treaty, and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he said all States must comply with international humanitarian law.  No initiatives aimed at increasing safety, however, should be used as a pretext to restrict developing countries’ rights to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, he said, calling for the removal of restrictions on importing related material.

BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said existing nuclear arsenals and threats by nuclear-weapon States and by terrorists continued to grow and proliferate.  Meanwhile, some Member States, including those on the Security Council, were using terrorism as a political weapon.  The United States and the United Kingdom, which were absent from the 2015 Review Conference, had persisted in defending Israel and its continued possession of nuclear weapons.  Other Western States had encouraged Israel to defy international opinion and not accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, he said, calling on all Member States to help establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.

Turning to the issue of chemical weapons, he firmly condemned the crime of using such arms.  Syria had acceded to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction and had honoured all its commitments.  Nevertheless, terrorist groups had obtained toxic chemical substances with the aid of intelligence services, sponsored by some States that were giving them orders to use such chemicals with the goal of accusing the Government of Syria.  The truth must come to light, he urged, adding that his delegation had sent letters expressing such fears to the Secretary-General, Security Council and Joint Investigative Mechanism and other stakeholders.

YERBOLAT SEMBAYEV (Kazakhstan) said that given current tensions, disarmament and peace must be pursued in parallel and based in mutual trust.  Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation were main foreign policy priorities, he said, expressing deep concerns that nuclear-weapon States were not fulfilling their Non‑Proliferation Treaty obligations.   Those States must further reduce arsenals until they were fully eliminated, he urged, adding that nuclear weapons were no longer an asset, but a danger.  Further, nuclear-weapon-free zones played an important role in regional stability and every effort must be made to create such areas around the world, he said.  The early entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty was in the basic interest of all, as was negotiating a fissile material cut-off treaty.  Also critical was the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and the upcoming meeting on the Biological Weapons Convention.

RAUF ALP DENKTAŞ (Turkey) said the global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation architecture was being challenged by the actions of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Syria at a time of growing polarization in the area of nuclear disarmament.  Highlighting the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as an example of the success of multilateral diplomacy in advancing the Non‑Proliferation Treaty’s objectives, he said Turkey was fully committed to the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  Recognizing the lack of an “easy shortcut” to a nuclear‑weapon‑free world, he said Turkey strongly supported the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and would not support any action that could undermine it.  At the same time, Turkey attached great importance to the Chemical Weapons Convention, as the use of such weapons constituted a crime against humanity.  To prevent the use of such weapons, the international community must ensure that there was no impunity for perpetrators.

Mr. ALTIDJU (Cameroon) said the international threat posed by the use of nuclear weapons remained high and the non-proliferation regime was not yet complete.  On the issue of conventional weapons, he said small arms and light weapons fed armed violence in Cameroon, which was committed to the idea that the efforts to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world must be expanded in all areas, including chemical, biological, conventional and ballistic missile proliferation.  Yet, for developing countries like Cameroon, a priority was controlling small arms and light weapons and addressing the threat posed by terrorism and violent extremism.  Efforts to silence guns by 2020 would be helped by 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).  Among other concerns, Boko Haram remained a serious regional threat despite collective efforts among the countries of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, he said, asking for the international community’s assistance and “solidarity” in coping with that terrorist group.

JOHN KHOO WEI EN (Singapore), endorsing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed grave concern over the escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula and the looming risks of a radiological attack by terrorists and non-State actors.  Earlier in 2017, regional authorities had made arrests in connection to a theft of iridium-192, a radioactive material used to make dirty bombs.  To counter such threats, national measures must be adopted and international cooperation intensified.  For its part, Singapore had passed a terrorism bill in May and ratified the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism in August.

JAMAL FARES ALROWAIEI (Bahrain), associating himself with the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed appreciation for the role of the United Nations in promoting stability in a number of regions.  He called for the universalization of the Test-Ban Treaty and for the establishment of a nuclear‑weapon-free zone in the region, urging Israel to submit its nuclear arsenal to IAEA safeguards.  He expressed support for Security Council sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, but affirmed the right of States to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  Speaking of the need to prevent the militarization of outer space, he said Bahrain was committed to working with other States toward that objective.

JUAN CARLOS MENDOZA-GARCÍA (Costa Rica) said the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons represented a milestone of hope and closed a legal gap by categorically banning those arms.  Inaction was not an option, he said, noting that the status quo would lead humanity close to its own annihilation.  Achieving strength through weapons was a false premise, he said, calling on States to accede to the new treaty.  Pointing to the scant progress in implementing Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, he reminded nuclear‑weapon States that compliance in reducing their arsenals was compulsory.  Condemning nuclear-weapon States for spending billions of dollars on the continued development and modernization of their arsenals, he said such actions undermined the spirit of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Ms. O’HALLORAN (Ireland), aligning himself with the European Union and the New Agenda Coalition, said the Nobel Peace Prize that had been awarded to the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons had emphasized the urgency of the First Committee’s work.  The Korean situation, in addition, had demonstrated the urgency of Test-Ban Treaty’s entry into force, she said, calling on all remaining Annex II States to sign and ratify the instrument.  Further, momentum must be regained on establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East and other States should follow Ireland’s example in swiftly acceding to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  Expressing grave concern at the confirmed use of chemical weapons in Syria, she welcomed the recent announcement by the Russian Federation of the verifiable destruction of their arsenal.  Expressing support for all international instruments designed to minimize harm from conventional weapons, she raised several concerns, emphasizing that compliance with international humanitarian law must be strengthened in the matter of explosive weapons in populated areas.  She finally affirmed the importance of the participation of civil society, women and representatives of least-developed countries.

Ms. ROSEMARY MCCARNEY (Canada) raised concerns about the reckless actions of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and called for greater pressure on that country, especially through better sanctions implementation.  Canada remained unconvinced that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons would be effective, she said, adding that the Non-Proliferation Treaty was the cornerstone for progress towards a nuclear-weapon-free world.  Emphasizing that a fully implemented Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was in everyone’s interest, she called on Member States to consider making voluntary contributions to IAEA efforts to monitor and verify its implementation.  Voluntary measures that solidified international norms of behaviour were the most practical ways to develop confidence and transparency with regard to space security and the peaceful use of outer space.

LAURA ELENA FLORES HERRERA (Panama), condemning the nuclear and missile tests by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said her country supported a range of disarmament measures and had subscribed to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  Raising several other concerns, she regretted to note that the Test-Ban Treaty had not yet entered into force.  For its part, Panama placed great importance on the Non-Proliferation Treaty and was a member of a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone, lending support to all efforts to achieve related goals.  Disarmament was a fundamental component of development, not only to peace and security, she said, expressing support for taking a multidimensional view of security while considering human rights and development.

DURGA PRASAD BHATTARAI (Nepal), underscoring the importance of the General Assembly’s convening of a high-level conference on nuclear disarmament in 2018, said establishing nuclear-weapon-free-zones was a critical step towards giving disarmament genuine meaning.  Nuclear weapons could never be a useful deterrent and a legally binding instrument regarding negative security assurances by nuclear-weapon States would be an important step towards disarmament.  Noting that the worldwide humanitarian and development impacts of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons had reached a menacing proportion, he said regional mechanisms could play greater roles in promoting non-proliferation, general disarmament and confidence-building measures.  In addition, United Nations regional centres for peace and disarmament should be further strengthened and funded.

Mr. MANITAH (Jordan), associating himself with the Arab Group and the Non-Alignment Movement, said Member States must ensure that the First Committee’s work proceeded fruitfully.  The adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons would enable progress in the disarmament process, he said, calling on States to sign and ratify the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  On that latter instrument, he recalled the need for Israel to join it and allow the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  Countries needed nuclear energy for sustainable development purposes and such endeavours must be subjected to IAEA safety and security standards.  Jordan had been among the first countries to ratify the Test-Ban Treaty, he said, calling on States to follow suit.  Citing several merging concerns, he said accelerated progress in technology had created a need for creating a mechanism that would stop terrorism in cyberspace and prevent militarization of outer space.

GEORGI VELIKOV PANAYOTOV (Bulgaria), associating himself with the European Union, called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to stop its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, which constituted a threat to global peace and security.  The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action had demonstrated that a very complex issue could be resolved through diplomatic means, he said, encouraging all parties to continue to strictly abide by its terms.  A world without nuclear weapons would not be achieved by simply prohibiting them, he said, underscoring that progress was only possible within the framework of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Bulgaria also fully supported the work of the Joint Investigative Mechanism and the OPCW fact-finding mission.

MARCIN WRÓBLEWSKI (Poland), associating himself with the European Union, said despite different views on the pace of the Non-Proliferation Treaty’s implementation commitments, all States parties shared its objectives.  Poland’s chairmanship of the Preparatory Conference for the 2020 Review Conference would therefore focus on upholding the instrument’s integrity and credibility, creating the environment for an open, inclusive, mutually respectful and transparent dialogue, and ensuring that the meeting would be as efficient as possible and serve as a practical step towards the 2020 Review Conference.  Among other things, he voiced concern about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent nuclear test and urged that country to refrain from further provocative actions.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Republic of Korea, speaking in exercise of the right to reply, said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s military provocations spoke for themselves.  “No Government will sit back and wait” when its own security was at stake, she said, adding that “we will continue to speak out” until the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea nuclear programmes ended.  Any further provocation would be met by the entire global community.   The window of opportunity was closing, she said, emphasizing that the Republic of Korea was committed to a peaceful resolution of the issue.

The representative of Syria said the United Kingdom should allow the Scottish people to express their right to independence, to leave the colony of Gibraltar and to resolve its problems with the European Union and focus on their internal problems instead of interfering with other countries.  Asking the United Kingdom to apologize for the invasion of Iraq, he emphasized that, in the twenty‑first century, that country still occupied territories.

The representative of the United States said evidence had shown the repeated use of chemical weapons in Syria.  Using chemical weapons by any party in Syria violated international norms and standards and was a serious concern for the entire international community.  The United States must protect its national interests and act as necessary to protect victims.

The representative of Qatar rejected accusations from his counterpart from Syria.  The Syrian regime had used chemicals as weapons in the battlefield and on civilians, as multiple United Nations reports had shown.

The representative of Libya said his country no longer had any kind of usable chemical weapons.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea reiterated his country’s position on maintaining nuclear deterrence.

The representative of Turkey said he categorically denied the allegations made by his Syrian counterpart.  The use of chemical weapons was a crime against humanity and a war crime and those responsible must be held accountable.

The representative of Syria said the regime in Saudi Arabia had spent millions of dollars to finance terrorist groups in Syria, and Qatar was a known sponsor of terrorism.  Responding to the delegate of the United States, he recalled that according to WikiLeaks documents, secret messages had been exchanged between the Department of State and the United States ambassador in Damascus concerning a regime change.  For its part, Syria had implemented all provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The representative of Saudi Arabia said his counterpart from Syria was shirking his responsibility.  Syria had failed to comply with Security Council resolutions, he said, adding that the fifth report of the Joint Investigative Mechanism had proven the Syrian regime’s responsibility for three chemical attacks.  He appealed to the international community to stand side by side with the Syrian people and to hold accountable those who had committed crimes against them.

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General Assembly Unanimously Adopts Text Creating United Nations Counter-Terrorism Office; Elects 18 Members to Economic and Social Council

President Hails Action as New Secretary-General’s First Major Institutional Reform

In what its President called the first major institutional reform presented by Secretary-General António Guterres, the General Assembly unanimously decided today to establish the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism, while also electing 18 members to the Economic and Social Council.

Introducing the Counter-terrorism text (document A/71/L.66), Assembly President Peter Thompson (Fiji) said “This resolution will enhance the United Nations capability to assist Member States in implementing the UN’s Global Counter-Terrorism strategy across its four pillars by ensuring greater coordination and coherence across the UN system.”

Through the resolution, the Assembly welcomed the Secretary-General’s initiative to transfer into the new Office the current Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force Office and the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre, together with their existing staff and all associated regular and extra-budgetary resources, out of the Department of Political Affairs of the Secretariat.  The Assembly emphasized the need to ensure that the new Office, to be headed by an Under-Secretary-General, was provided with adequate resources for the implementation of its mandated activities.

Speaking in explanation of position, several speakers representing major groups took the floor to welcome the adoption, called for the text’s swift implementation and adequate resourcing, and stressed the need to focus on preventing violent extremism.  They also emphasized the importance of ensuring strong leadership in the form of an Under Secretary-General who had experience in a range of areas and was able to foster a balanced approach that included human rights, gender equality and development.

In similar vein, Michael Grant (Canada), speaking also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, said the action had come after years of efforts by those countries to improve the counter-terrorism architecture.  He praised the Assembly for creating a greater focus on prevention.

On behalf of the MIKTA countries, comprising Mexico, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Turkey and Australia, Feridun H. Sinirlioğlu (Turkey) stressed the importance of timely, adequate and effective delivery of counter-terrorism capacity-building assistance to Member States upon their request, while underlining that the new Office would have no competence to monitor, supervise or interfere with Member States to implement the Global Strategy and the rest of the international legal framework against terrorism.

Stressing the need for a strong and efficient United Nations that drove all pillars of the counter-terrorism and extremism-prevention strategies and extensive coordination of all actors, the European Union’s representative emphasized that the bloc would closely coordinate with the Office once it was established.

Representatives of Syria, Norway, India, Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia also welcomed the adoption of the resolution while emphasizing a need for effectiveness, coherence and adherence to all United Nations principles.  Syria’s representative called the establishment of the Office “a quantum leap” in the fight against terrorism, which he claimed was funded in his country by some Member States, including Saudi Arabia.  The Office must avoid politicization and financial polarization, he stressed.

India’s representative said the creation of the Office was a much-awaited first step to align the United Nations with the ever-changing global reality.  Terrorist networks, he stressed, were not bound by the bureaucratic inertia that bound the United Nations.  They used modern platforms, cyberspace and social media, and existed in a parallel world of hidden transnational networks.

Norway’s delegate, concurring that the Office would enable the Organization to implement all four pillars of the global counter-terrorism strategy in a more cohesive way, stressed that key qualifications of the Under-Secretary-General should be experience in development, as well as security, and an ability to work with a range of stakeholders.

While also welcoming the new Office, Iran’s representative said, however, that further work was needed to improve the efficiency, transparency, and impartiality of United Nations counter-terrorism efforts.  Without the provision of adequate financial resources, he noted with concern that most positions in the new Office would be funded by voluntary contributions, possibly affecting impartiality.

Citing a recent proliferation of horrific terrorist attacks worldwide, Israel’s representative stressed the urgency of measures to strengthen the fight against that scourge, adding that United Nations efforts would only succeed if the issue was not politicized and the entire international community was united in genuine commitment.

Saudi Arabia’s delegate meanwhile said he looked forward to a smooth transfer of resources devoted to counter-terrorism in the new arrangement.  He reiterated that terrorism could not be associated with any religion or ethnicity, and rejected any suggestion by Syria’s delegate that his country supported terrorism, calling on it to end its own terrorist support in the form of ties to Hizbullah.  Thanking Iran’s representative for his comments, he assured him that transparency and all United Nations principles would be respected in relation to the counter-terrorism centre.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, Syria’s representative called on Saudi Arabia to allow the Syrian people to exercise their rights, end interference in its domestic affairs and stop financing terrorist groups.  Syria would, in the meantime, continue to combat Wahhabi ideology.

Regarding the elections to fill vacancies on the Economic and Social Council — held by secret ballot — the successful candidates included Belarus, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Ireland, Japan, Malawi, Mexico, Morocco, Philippines, Spain, Sudan, Togo, Turkey and Uruguay.  They will hold three-year terms beginning on 1 January 2018.

The 18 outgoing members were:  Argentina, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Estonia, France, Germany, Ghana, Honduras, India, Ireland, Japan, Mauritania, Pakistan, Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

The new members were elected according to the following pattern:  five from African States; three from the Asia-Pacific States; one from the Eastern European States; four from the Latin American and Caribbean States; and five from the Western European and Other States.

As of 1 January 2018, the remaining States making up the 54-member body will be:  Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Benin, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Guyana, Iraq, Italy, Lebanon, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Somalia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tajikistan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela and Viet Nam.  That includes three members elected earlier to fill the unexpired terms of office for Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Sweden.

The Assembly will reconvene at a date to be decided.

Voting Results

African States

Number of ballots:

188

Number of invalid ballots:

0

Number of valid votes:

188

Number of abstentions:

0

Number of members voting:

188

Majority required:

126

Number of Votes Obtained

Malawi

184

Togo

184

Ghana

183

Morocco

177

Sudan

175

Tunisia

1

Zambia

1

Asia-Pacific States

Number of ballots:

188

Number of invalid ballots:

0

Number of valid votes:

188

Number of abstentions:

0

Number of members voting:

188

Majority required:

126

Number of votes obtained

Japan

185

India

183

Philippines

182

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

1

Pakistan

1

Eastern European States

Number of ballots:

188

Number of invalid ballots:

0

Number of valid votes:

188

Number of abstentions:

3

Number of members voting:

185

Majority required:

124

Number of votes obtained

Belarus

182

Estonia

1

Montenegro

1

Ukraine

1

Latin America and Caribbean States

Number of ballots:

188

Number of invalid ballots:

0

Number of valid votes:

188

Number of abstentions:

1

Number of members voting:

187

Majority required:

125

Number of votes obtained

Ecuador

182

Mexico

182

El Salvador

181

Uruguay

180

Cuba

2

Western European and Other States

Number of ballots:

188

Number of invalid ballots:

0

Number of valid votes:

188

Number of abstentions:

3

Number of members voting:

185

Majority required:

124

Number of votes obtained

Germany

182

Spain

181

Ireland

180

Turkey

179

France

177

Israel

1

Liechtenstein

1

Switzerland

1

Having obtained the required two-thirds majority, the following 18 States were elected members of the Economic and Social Council for a three‑year term beginning on 1 January 2018:  Belarus, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Ireland, Japan, Malawi, Mexico, Morocco, Philippines, Spain, Sudan, Togo, Turkey and Uruguay.

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Bolstering Support to ‘Silence the Guns’ in Africa, General Assembly Adopts Resolution Targeting Root Causes of Conflict, Promoting Peace, Development

Concluding Debate on Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, Member States Share National Plans for Countering, Preventing Scourge

The General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution that welcomed progress in Africa in conflict prevention and peacebuilding while pointing to ways to address the root causes of conflict and promote durable peace and sustainable development.

By the terms of the resolution on “causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa” (document A/70/L.50/Rev.1), the Assembly took note of the Secretary-General’s 2015 report, which had taken stock of major peace and security developments in Africa during the past year, highlighted the growing links between political, social and economic exclusion and violent conflict and reviewed progress in implementing the recommendations set forth in the Secretary-General’s 1998 report on the subject.

Welcoming progress in Africa in peacemaking and development and the adoption of the first 10-year implementation plan (2014-2023) of the African Union Agenda 2063, the Assembly called for intensified, coordinated efforts among national Governments, the African Union, subregional organizations, the United Nations system and relevant partners to address challenges and support the goal of a conflict-free Africa.  It also called on Member States and the United Nations system to bolster support for the African Union’s goal to “silence the guns” by 2020.

The Assembly called upon the United Nations system and Member States to support peace consolidation mechanisms and processes, such as the African Peace and Security Architecture, the African Governance Architecture, the Panel of the Wise, the African Union Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development Framework and the continental early warning system.  It also called for support of African countries’ efforts to promote political, social and economic inclusion.

Expressing grave concern over the growing threat posed by terrorism to Africa’s peace, security and social and economic development, the Assembly encouraged the United Nations to support the development and implementation of regional and national counter-terrorism action plans and called on Member States to provide assistance and capacity-building towards Africa’s efforts to counter violent extremism and terrorism.

Expressing deep concern over violence against children, including sexual violence, during conflict and post-conflict, and their recruitment and use by parties to armed conflicts, the Assembly urged further progress in implementing protection policies and guidelines, including more systematic monitoring and reporting, and stressed the need for post-conflict counselling, reintegration, rehabilitation and education.  The Assembly also welcomed the decision of the African Union to declare 2016 as the African Year of Human Rights with Particular Focus on the Rights of Women.  Further, the Assembly called for the safeguarding of the principle of refugee protection in Africa and the resolution of the plight of refugees, calling for concrete action to meet their protection and assistance needs.

Noting the completion of the review of the implementation of the recommendations in the Secretary-General’s 1998 report, the Assembly asked the Secretary-General to develop, in consultation with relevant partners, policy proposals on issues identified in that document, including enhancing cooperation among the United Nations, the African Union and subregional organizations, particularly in conflict prevention and resolution, peacekeeping, post-conflict peacebuilding and recovery and promoting socioeconomic development, good governance, the rule of law and human rights.  The Secretary-General was also asked to continue to monitor and report to the General Assembly annually on persistent and emerging challenges to the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa and on the approach and support of the United Nations system.

Also today, the General Assembly concluded its debate on the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.  Several speakers outlined national action plans to combat terrorism aligned with the Global Strategy.  They also expressed condolences to the victims and their families of the recent terrorist attacks in Bangladesh, Turkey and Iraq. 

Speaking during the debate were the representatives of Armenia, Lebanon, Philippines, Albania, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Iran, Morocco, Kazakhstan, Jordan, Tunisia, Somalia, Pakistan, Qatar, Cameroon and Algeria.  A representative of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) also spoke.

The General Assembly also took note of an addendum to the report of its Second Committee (Economic and Financial) on the revitalization of the world body’s work (document A/70/518/Add.1). 

The General Assembly will meet again on Tuesday, 12 July, to convene a high-level thematic debate on the theme “UN@70 — Human Rights at the centre of the global agenda”.

Statements

TIGRAN SAMVELIAN (Armenia) expressed regret that the resolution reflected the principles of international law in a selective manner, failing to embrace the spirit and letter of the United Nations Charter, including self-determination.  He supported the Secretary-General’s call for more concerted efforts to mainstream human rights and the rule of law into counter-terrorism policies, especially welcoming Security Council resolutions 2133 (2014), 2170 (2014) and 2178 (2014).  The international community should stand united to strengthen the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.  Foreign terrorist fighters threatened States to which they travelled in addition to their countries of origin and transit.  Further, he said, those who encouraged intolerance should recall that such behaviour might constitute incitement to extreme violence and breed terrorist ideologies.  He supported the call to contribute to security sector reform, noting that Armenia had engaged in initiatives of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), European Union and others.

NAWAF SALAM (Lebanon) condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, welcoming the adoption of the resolution, which reaffirmed the Assembly’s central role in combating the scourge and underscored the importance of an integrated, comprehensive and balanced approach in implementing its four pillars.  “This is critical”, he said, stressing that Lebanon was mourning the loss of families and friends after two attacks in Qaa last week.  Party to most existing counter-terrorism conventions, Lebanon was at the front line of efforts to defeat the phenomenon.  Welcoming the resolution’s reference to youth empowerment, he highlighted the positive contributions women made to stable, peaceful societies, also underscoring the importance of protecting cultural heritage.  In closing, he denounced attempts to label the right to resist foreign occupation as terrorism.

IGOR GARLIT BAILEN (Philippines) condemned in the strongest terms all acts of terrorism, pledging to bring to justice members of Abu Sayyef responsible for recent murders and expressing condolences to the families and friends of the victims.  The Philippines had prepared a framework for countering violent extremism through a “whole of nation” approach, engaging various actors in implementing community awareness campaigns, among other initiatives.  Intercultural and interfaith dialogue was at its core.  It continued to develop its capacity to win hearts and minds by training local communities to recognize and respond to such acts.  An anti-money laundering council trained policymakers, law enforcement officials and intelligence authorities to counter the financing of terrorism.  Further, the Philippines had adopted a national action plan, hosting in August an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional workshop to promote cooperation in managing the risks of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons.  It also had finalized a national counter-terrorism strategy, which aimed to prevent, protect, prepare and respond through a “whole of nation” and rule of law approach.

ARBEN IDRIZI (Albania), associating himself with the European Union, said all Member States must commit to tackling international terrorism, adding that international cooperation was required to implement all four pillars of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.  Regional cooperation was essential to ending terrorism and to properly assessing and reintegrating, where possible, returning terrorist fighters.  Albania had adopted the Global Strategy and was working to improve regional cooperation in that regard, he said.  Inter-agency efforts were under way to draft a national strategy for 2016-2020 that would harmonize the energy of the Government, civil society and religious communities to make the fight against terrorism more efficient, he said, emphasizing his country’s commitment to efforts aimed at removing the root causes of terrorism.

AMRITH ROHAN PERERA (Sri Lanka) expressed solidarity with Bangladesh, Turkey and Iraq, saying the recent heinous terrorist attacks in those countries were a rallying call to action in the scourge of terrorism.  Voicing deep concern over the growing threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters, he emphasized that all Member States must pool resources and share intelligence to defeat international terrorist networks.  As violent terrorism in many parts of the world targeted vulnerable and marginalized communities, it was vital to proactively include and engage United Nations entities dealing with children, minorities, women and girls, he said, adding that the large number of children victimized in the Baghdad attack underscored the urgent need for engagement.  All Member States must demonstrate the political will to conclude a comprehensive convention on international terrorism, he stressed, declaring:  “The search for an ideal and a perfect instrument must not become the enemy of the good and result in a collective failure of this Organization and its Member States.”

JAMES NDIRANGU WAWERU (Kenya) said a national counter-terrorism strategy and action plan was enhancing preventive efforts, particularly through local and grassroots early warning systems, as that was a highly effective way to snuff out the terrorist supply chain of new recruits.  Prevention would also delegitimize the violent extremist narrative before it gained ground.  The international community must fully unite to address terrorism.  For its part, Kenya had set up a National Counter-Terrorism Centre, an inter-agency organization that coordinated the implementation of the national strategy and action plans.  Noting that those efforts had been inspired by the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, he said enhanced national coordination had already resulted in a dramatic reduction in the number and intensity of terrorist attacks in Kenya.  Through increased public engagement, he said, the war against terrorism was being executed by law enforcement agencies, citizens and local communities.

GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran) said terrorism could only be defeated with a comprehensive plan that was implemented in a coordinated manner with cooperation among all actors at the regional level.  Violent extremism was the most critical challenge and the Takfiri ideology, which had nothing to do with Islam, was at its core.  He urged a focus on that concern because Al-Qaida and the Taliban were the first so-called “achievements” of that extremist ideology, while Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Al-Nusra were the latest.  Thousands of people from more than 100 countries had joined those groups, mainly in Syria and Iraq.  “We could have avoided the current situation,” he said, urging a focus on prevention.  States must also devise national plans to deal with the drivers of violent extremism, he said, citing the unlawful use of force against States, foreign aggression and foreign interference in internal affairs among the root causes of terrorism.  He opposed attempts to equate the legitimate struggles of people under colonial or alien domination with terrorism and rejected the unilateral preparation of lists accusing States of so-called “sponsoring terrorism”.

OMAR HILALE (Morocco) condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, stressing that it could not be associated with any religion, nationality or ethnic group.  Associating himself with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), he said the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy had marked a turning point.  Since 2014, however, a new reality had emerged, with Da’esh taking control of swaths of Iraq and Syria.  That group had no Islamic legitimacy, only an ideology of death, recruiting more than 30,000 foreign terrorist fighters and funding itself through illicit oil trafficking and exploitation of common means of communication.  He welcomed the resolution as a compromise text, citing its focus on foreign terrorist fighters, stemming financing, countering terrorist ideologies and reaffirming the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and the unity of States in that regard.  Touching on national efforts, he cited a 2006 initiative to develop human potential, training programmes for preachers in the authentic teachings of Islam and an initiative aimed at the deradicalization and reintegration of foreign terrorist fighters.

KAIRAT ABDRAKHMANOV (Kazakhstan) said that, being party to all major international conventions to root out terrorism, national efforts had aimed at strengthening capabilities and were being guided by the Global Strategy and other relevant universal instruments.  Kazakhstan was enhancing cooperation, including with the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force and the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee, and had adopted a joint action plan to implement the Global Strategy in Central Asia.  A State programme to counter religious extremism and terrorism from 2013 to 2017 was closely aligned with the Global Strategy and the President had led an initiative to set up a United Nations-led counter-terrorism coalition and a common mechanism for tracing, detaining and extraditing perpetrators of violent extremism and terrorism.  Efforts also included establishing a unified list of terrorist organizations.  The Assembly’s adoption of the resolution was as step forward towards that end, he concluded.

MOH’D KAIS MUFLEH ALBATAYNEH (Jordan) regretted that terrorism was on the rise.  Noting the dastardly acts that had been committed last month against Jordan and its soldiers, he said Member States should develop their own plans to combat terrorism, the threat of foreign terrorist fighters and the exploitation of mass media by terrorist networks.  It was essential to pay attention to youth, give them a proper role in combatting violent extremism and protect them from terrorist networks that aimed at destroying them.  All Member States must take proper steps before granting asylum to people seeking it.  Combatting terrorism required collective efforts and support to countries leading the fight against the scourge, such as Jordan.

NOUR ZARROUK BOUMIZA (Tunisia) said the Assembly must take a central role in actions to counter terrorism and violent extremism, underscoring the importance of dialogue, including by civil society, in that regard.  Tunisia had adopted a new constitution, held presidential elections in 2014 and won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2015.  It was resolved to fight terrorism based on the primacy of law, she said, noting that a 2015 law to fight terrorism and money laundering had been harmonized with international instruments and Security Council resolution 2178 (2014).  Further, a judicial body and a national commission had been created, the latter of which aimed at following up on commitments to fight terrorism.  Tunisia’s national strategy, which was based on the United Nations approach, focused on prevention, protection, follow up and response.  The Government was working to counter terrorist doctrines and promote dialogue, peace and tolerance.  More broadly, global efforts required common actions at all levels, she said, welcoming that the resolution had prioritized capacity-building and the need for resources.

MOHAMED RABI YUSUF (Somalia) said the vast majority of citizens had rejected violent extremism, welcoming the United Nations efforts to raise global awareness of preventing and countering such behaviour.  Working across Government, with the involvement of regional administrations and civil society, the Federal Government of Somalia, with support from the European Union and the “blueprint Somalia project”, had developed a Somali-owned, Somali-led national strategy and action plan for preventing and countering violent extremism.  With efforts showing the importance of working with international partners, the strategy and plan of action had included all of the Secretary-General’s recommendations, laying out a vision for Somalia and initiatives to better understand and then prevent and counter extremist influences.  That initiative had complemented efforts to address national security threats within a framework of good governance, human rights and the rule of law, he said.

NABEEL MUNIR (Pakistan), condemning terrorism in all its forms, said huge national sacrifices had been made in the battle against that scourge.  Yet, Pakistan had persevered.  Since the Global Strategy’s adoption 10 years ago, Pakistan had accorded high importance to its implementation.  Few countries could match its efforts for counter-terrorism or its sacrifices.  The law enforcement operation, Zarb-e-Azab, one of the largest national counter-terrorism operations in the world, had resulted in significant successes.  He pointed to the creation of special courts for terrorist offenders, arms control measures and the strengthening of the National Counter Terrorism Authority and the Financial Monitoring Unit.  Last year, the United Nations Financial Action Task Force had acknowledged that Pakistan’s counter-terrorism financing steps were in line with United Nations recommendations.

Pakistan’s 20-point national action plan to counter terrorism, he said, had focused on prevention and included measures to end hate speech and sectarian violence, protect minorities, prevent exploitation of the media and Internet by terrorists and violent extremists, develop an effective counter-narrative campaign against terrorist propaganda, reform the education system and register and regularize madrasas, he said.  The plan also included political reconciliation and economic revitalization programmes for targeted areas, criminal justice sector reform and the registration of refugees.  In line with a “whole of society” approach, the Government had taken steps to promote and protect women rights, enhance the capacity of law enforcement agencies and harness youth’s potential.  Pakistan was also working with the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force on youth skills development and the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate to enhance the criminal justice sector’s capacity.

TALAL RASHID S. A. AL-HAJRI (Qatar), aligning himself with the OIC, condemned all terrorist attacks, which were contrary to all Islamic teachings.  Terrorism had no religious or national identity and must be fought at all levels in a manner that respected the right to self-determination, international humanitarian law and human rights law.  Youth affected by violent extremism must be supported and reintegrated into society.  In addition, security responses should complement efforts to address the root causes of terrorism, with national and international mechanisms to both combat the scourge and address its causes.  Among various efforts, Qatar had set up a national counter-terrorism institution to stamp out money laundering and terrorism financing.  The Syrian regime had labelled as terrorists Syrians that were demanding their legitimate rights, he said, noting that it was ironic that the representative of a regime that was practicing State-sponsored terrorism was labelling as terrorists countries known within the United Nations for their active contribution to solve disputes peacefully.

MICHEL TOMMO MONTHE (Cameroon) said Boko Haram had staged attacks in the Lake Chad region.  On 29 June, in the north of Cameroon, the terrorist group had attacked Jakana, killing 11 people and wounding 4.  Noting that defence and security forces had confronted the group, he said Cameroon was working with a multinational joint force in combat areas and creating local self-defence committees.  Soldiers respected human rights and international humanitarian law and, in the eastern region, Cameroon had hosted refugees and displaced persons.  On the diplomatic front, the African Union and the Security Council had mobilized on several occasions, with support that had enhanced related efforts in the Lake Chad region.  Cameroon’s emergency plan included development projects in the region to ensure that poverty was not used to catalyse conflicts, while religious leaders in Cameroon had organized sermons on peace, equity, tolerance, charity and moderation — the true values of Islam.  He urged the international community to stand against Boko Haram and the Security Council to use all means possible to counter terrorist movements that abused Islam.

MOHAMMED BESSEDIK (Algeria) aligning himself with the OIC, said terrorism understood no religion, homeland or borders and in no way should be associated with any culture, religion, civilization or community.  He urged preserving the biennial review process of the Global Strategy, noting that the resolution had reflected that need.  He also underlined the importance of consolidating efforts by enhancing cooperation at bilateral, regional and international levels, strengthening capabilities and exchanging best practices.  Algeria had always urged respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence and unity of all States, he said, rejecting any selective approach towards those principles.  Citing national efforts, he said the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation had been adopted by an overwhelming majority of Algerians.  The battle against terrorism must be waged in all areas of political, institutional, economic, cultural, religious, education and social activities.  Algeria’s strategy aimed to protect society from any influence by advocates of violent extremism and terrorism and was based on democracy, the rule of law and social justice.

ANNA-KATHARINA DEININGER, of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), said several key steps had been taken since 2014 to prevent and combat terrorism and to address the movement of foreign terrorist fighters.  Among those steps, OSCE had adopted a declaration and action plan, convened conferences and strengthened engagement with the United Nations and regional organizations.  OSCE was helping several States develop and implement national anti-terrorism strategies and had set up the “Leaders against Intolerance and Violent Extremism” initiative to build grassroots capacity by empowering local civil society leaders to speak up and mobilize their communities.  It had also developed social media training for youth and was developing a training programme for police officers on the role of community policing to prevent and counter terrorism.

Further, she said, OSCE had organized training on border controls to detect foreign terrorist fighters and it was a partner in a global project led by the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre to raise awareness about the use of advance passenger information.  She called for more political will to establish automated data cross-checking against the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) databases and noted that OSCE activities required a mechanism that allowed funding to be shared among organizational structures.  The aim over the next two years should be to increase confidence and efficiency in transforming words into action as a way to match development goals with sustainable counter-terrorism action.

Action

The representative of Thailand, on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, introduced the resolution on “causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa” (document A/70/L.50/Rev.1), saying the text recognized notable progress in attaining peace on the continent, and called for enhancing both national and regional initiatives to address the root causes of conflict and resolve conflicts a peaceful manner.

The Assembly then adopted resolution A/70/L.50/Rev.1 without a vote.

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Text adopted – The mass displacement of children in Nigeria as a result of Boko Haram attacks – P8_TA-PROV(2015)0344 – Thursday, 8 October 2015 – Strasbourg – Provisional edition

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Nigeria, in particular to those of 17 July 2014(1) and 30 April 2015(2) ,

–  having regard to previous statements by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, including those of 8 January, 19 January, 31 March, 14 and 15 April, and 3 July 2015,

–  having regard to the statement by the President of the Security Council of the UN on 28 July 2015,

–  having regard to President Muhammadu Buhari’s address to the UN General Assembly of 28 September 2015, and to the UN counter-terrorism summit,

–  having regard to the Cotonou Agreement,

–  having regard to UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, adopted on 31 October 2000,

–  having regard to the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (1990),

–  having regard to the 2003 Child Rights Act signed into law by the Federal Government of Nigeria,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

–  having regard to the African Union Convention on the prevention and fight against terrorism, ratified by Nigeria on 16 May 2003, and the Additional Protocol, ratified by Nigeria on 22 December 2008,

–  having regard to the EU Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa,

–  having regard to the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on violations and abuses committed by Boko Haram and the impact on human rights in the affected countries of 29 September 2015; having regard to the statements by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights regarding the possibility that members of Boko Haram could be accused of war crimes,

–  having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas Nigeria, the most populous and largest economy in Africa, which is ethnically diverse and marked by regional and religious cleavages and a North-South divide with severe economic and social inequalities, has since 2009 become the battlefield of the Boko Haram Islamic terrorist group with its sworn allegiance to Da’esh; whereas the terrorist group has become a growing threat to the stability of Nigeria and the West African region; whereas the Nigerian security forces have often used excessive force and committed abuses during military operations to counter the insurgency;

B.  whereas at least 1 600 civilians have been killed by Boko Haram in the last four months, raising the death toll to at least 3 500 civilians in 2015 alone;

C.  whereas since the emergence of the Boko Haram insurgency its targeted actions against schoolboys and schoolgirls in the area have deprived children of access to education, with the figure of 10,5 million children of primary school age in Nigeria not attending school being the highest in the world, according to UNESCO figures; whereas, like al-Shabaab in Somalia, AQIM, MUJAO and Ansar Dine in North Mali and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Boko Haram targets children and women who receive an education;

D.  whereas despite advances by Nigerian and regional armed forces, increasing attacks and suicide bombings extending beyond the border into neighbouring countries threaten stability and the livelihood of millions of people throughout the entire region; whereas children are in critical danger on account of the deteriorating humanitarian situation, with worsening food insecurity combined with poor access to education, safe drinking water and health services;

E.  whereas the UN estimates that the violence in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states has recently resulted in the number of internally displaced people increasing dramatically to 2,1 million, 58 % of whom are children, according to IOM; whereas more than 3 million people have been affected by the insurgency as a whole, and 5,5 million are in need of humanitarian assistance in the Lake Chad Basin;

F.  whereas Nigeria has succeeded in conducting mostly peaceful presidential and gubernatorial elections despite the threats made by Boko Haram to disrupt the ballot; whereas Nigeria and its neighbouring countries created a Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) on 11 June 2015 in Abuja to comply with the decisions taken in Niamey in January 2015 on fighting Boko Haram;

G.  whereas Boko Haram has abducted more than 2 000 women and girls in Nigeria since 2009, including the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok in the north-east of the country on 14 April 2014, an act which shocked the whole world and triggered an international campaign (‘Bring back our Girls’) to rescue them; whereas almost a year and half later, more than 200 of the girls captured in that incident have still not been found;

H.  whereas many more children have since gone missing, or have been abducted or recruited to serve as fighters and house workers, with girls being subjected to rape and forced marriage or forced to convert to Islam; whereas since April 2015 some 300 other girls rescued by the Nigerian security forces from terrorist strongholds and around 60 others who managed to escape their captors from another location have described their life in captivity to Human Rights Watch (HRW) as being one of daily violence and terror, plus physical and psychological abuses; whereas, according to the UNSR for Children and Armed Conflict, the armed conflict in north-eastern Nigeria this past year was one of the world’s deadliest for children, with killings, the growing recruitment and use of children, countless abductions and sexual violence against girls; whereas UNICEF says that more than 23 000 children have been separated from their parents and forced from their home by the violence, running to save their lives inside Nigeria or crossing the border to Cameroon, Chad and Niger;

I.  whereas most of the children living in IDP and refugee camps have lost one or both parents (either killed or missing), as well as siblings and other relatives; whereas, although a number of international and national humanitarian organisations are operating in the camps, access to basic rights for many of these children – including nutrition, shelter (overcrowded and unsanitary), health and education – remains of abysmally low quality;

J.  whereas there are at least 208 000 children without access to education and 83 000 lack access to safe water in the sub-region (Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger), and 23 000 children in the north-east of Nigeria have been separated from their families;

K.  whereas the number of attacks by Boko Haram has risen in Nigeria, as well as in neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger; whereas Boko Haram continues to abduct children and women to carry explosive devices, using them, without their knowledge, as suicide bombers; whereas some of those who had sought refuge on the Chadian side of Lake Chad were again targeted by the same terrorists on Chadian soil;

L.  whereas in June 2015 the EU provided EUR 21 million in humanitarian aid to help displaced people in Nigeria and neighbouring countries affected by the violence of terrorist organisations;

M.  whereas UNICEF, together with governments and partners in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, is increasing its operations to assist thousands of children and their families in the region by providing access to safe water, education, counselling and psychological support, as well as vaccinations and treatment for severe acute malnutrition; whereas UNICEF has received only 32 % of the 50,3 million required this year for its humanitarian response across the Lake Chad region;

N.  whereas a number of the abducted women and girls who have escaped or have been rescued or freed return home pregnant and in dire need of reproductive and maternal health care, and others lack access to basic post-rape health screening, post-traumatic care, social support and rape counselling, according to HRW; whereas the Commission has stated that where pregnancy causes unbearable suffering women must have access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health services based on their medical condition, therefore asserting that international humanitarian law shall in any case prevail;

1.  Strongly condemns Boko Haram crimes, including terrorist raids and suicide bombings in Chad, Cameroon and Niger; stands with the victims and conveys its condolences to all families who have lost loved ones; denounces the ongoing relentless violence in the Nigerian Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states and other cities in the country;

2.  Deplores the acts which have led to the mass displacement of innocent children and calls for immediate coordinated international action to assist the work of UN agencies and NGOs in preventing displaced children and youths from being subjected to sexual slavery, other forms of sexual violence and kidnappings and from being forced into armed conflict against civilian, government and military targets in Nigeria by the Boko Haram terrorist sect; stresses the paramount need to duly protect children’s rights in Nigeria, a country in which over 40 % of the total population is aged between 0 and 14;

3.  Believes that in the cases of children formerly associated with Boko Haram or other armed groups, non-judicial measures should be considered as an alternative to prosecution and detention;

4.  Welcomes the recent announcement by the Commission of additional funds to boost urgent humanitarian aid to the region; expresses, however, serious concerns about the funding gap between commitments and actual payments for UNICEF operations in the region by the international community at large; calls on donors to meet their commitments without delay in order to address the chronic need for access to basic provisions such as drinking water, basic health care and education;

5.  Calls on the President of Nigeria and his newly appointed Federal Government to adopt strong measures to protect the civilian population, to put special emphasis on the protection of women and girls, to make women’s rights and children’s rights a priority when fighting extremism, to provide help for victims and to prosecute wrongdoers, and to ensure women’s participation in decision-making at all levels;

6.  Calls on the Nigerian Government to launch, as promised by President Buhari, an urgent, independent and thorough investigation into crimes under international law and other serious human rights violations by all parties to the conflict;

7.  Welcomes the change in military leadership and demands that all human rights abuses and crimes committed by both terrorists and Nigerian security forces be investigated in order to address the lack of accountability observed under the former presidency; welcomes the pledge made by President Buhari to investigate evidence that Nigerian military forces have committed serious human rights violations, war crimes and acts which may constitute crimes against humanity;

8.  Urges the President of the Federal Republic to address the challenges involved in abiding by all campaign promises and the latest statements, the most important of which are defeating the terrorist threat, making respect for human rights and humanitarian law a central pillar of military operations, bringing back the Chibok girls and all other abducted women and children alive and unharmed, addressing the ever growing problem of malnutrition, and fighting corruption and impunity in order to deter future abuses and work towards justice for every victim;

9.  Urges the Nigerian authorities and the international community to work closely together and to increase efforts to reverse the continuous trend towards the further displacement of people; welcomes the determination expressed at the Niamey Regional Summit of 20 and 21 January 2015 by the 13 participating countries, and in particular the commitment of Chad, together with Cameroon and Niger, to engage in the fight against the terrorist threats of Boko Haram; calls on the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to observe international human rights and humanitarian law conscientiously in its operations against Boko Haram; reiterates that a military approach alone will not suffice to counter the Boko Haram insurgency;

10.  Recalls that Boko Haram’s origins are rooted in grievances over poor governance, pervasive corruption and stark inequalities in Nigerian society; urges the Nigerian authorities to eliminate corruption, mismanagement and inefficiencies within the public institutions and the army, and to promote fair taxation; calls for the adoption of measures to starve Boko Haram of its sources of illegal income through cooperation with neighbouring countries, in particular with regard to smuggling and trafficking;

11.  Urges the international community to help Nigeria and the neighbouring countries who host refugees (Cameroon, Chad and Niger) to provide all necessary medical and psychological assistance to those in need; appeals to the authorities in the sub-region to ensure ease of access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health services for women and girls who have been raped, in accordance with the common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions; stresses the need to implement a universal standard for the treatment of war rape victims and to ensure the primacy of international humanitarian law in situations of armed conflict; expresses its full sympathy with women and children who have survived the blind terrorism perpetrated by Boko Haram; calls for the establishment of specialised education programmes aimed at women and children who are victims of war and society as a whole, to help them overcome the terror experienced, to give appropriate and comprehensive information, to combat stigmas and social exclusion and to help them become valued members of society;

12.  Urges the Commission to prioritise assistance for uprooted children and youths in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, with particular attention on protection from all forms of ferocity and gender violence and on access to education, healthcare and safe drinking water, within the framework of the Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa;

13.  Calls on the Nigerian Government to take measures to facilitate the return of displaced persons, especially children, to guarantee their safety, and to assist NGOs in their efforts to improve conditions in the camps for people displaced by the conflict by, inter alia , improving hygiene and sanitation in order to prevent the possible spread of disease;

14.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Government and the Parliament of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and the representatives of the ECOWAS and the African Union.

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Joint motion for a resolution on the mass displacement of children in Nigeria as a result of Boko Haram attacks – RC-B8-2015-1003

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Nigeria, in particular to those of 16 July 2014(1) and 30 April 2015(2),

–  having regard to previous statements by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, including those of 8 January, 19 January, 31 March, 14 and 15 April, and 3 July 2015,

–  having regard to the statement by the President of the Security Council of the UN on 28 July 2015,

–  having regard to President Muhammadu Buhari’s address to the UN General Assembly of 28 September 2015, and to the UN counter-terrorism summit,

–  having regard to the Cotonou Agreement,

–  having regard to UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, adopted on 31 October 2000,

–  having regard to the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (1990),

–  having regard to the 2003 Child Rights Act signed into law by the Federal Government of Nigeria,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

–  having regard to the African Union Convention on the prevention and fight against terrorism, ratified by Nigeria on 16 May 2003, and the Additional Protocol, ratified by Nigeria on 22 December 2008,

–  having regard to the EU Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa,

–  having regard to the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on violations and abuses committed by Boko Haram and the impact on human rights in the affected countries of 29 September 2015; having regard to the statements by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights regarding the possibility that members of Boko Haram could be accused of war crimes,

–  having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas Nigeria, the most populous and largest economy in Africa, which is ethnically diverse and marked by regional and religious cleavages and a North-South divide with severe economic and social inequalities, has since 2009 become the battlefield of the Boko Haram Islamic terrorist group with its sworn allegiance to Da’esh; whereas the terrorist group has become a growing threat to the stability of Nigeria and the West African region; whereas the Nigerian security forces have often used excessive force and committed abuses during military operations to counter the insurgency;

B.  whereas at least 1 600 civilians have been killed by Boko Haram in the last four months, raising the death toll to at least 3 500 civilians in 2015 alone;

C.  whereas since the emergence of the Boko Haram insurgency its targeted actions against schoolboys and schoolgirls in the area have deprived children of access to education, with the figure of 10.5 million children of primary school age in Nigeria not attending school being the highest in the world, according to UNESCO figures; whereas, like al-Shabaab in Somalia, AQIM, MUJAO and Ansar Dine in North Mali and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Boko Haram targets children and women who receive an education;

D.  whereas despite advances by Nigerian and regional armed forces, increasing attacks and suicide bombings extending beyond the border into neighbouring countries threaten stability and the livelihood of millions of people throughout the entire region; whereas children are in critical danger on account of the deteriorating humanitarian situation, with worsening food insecurity combined with poor access to education, safe drinking water and health services;

E.  whereas the UN estimates that the violence in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states has recently resulted in the number of internally displaced people increasing dramatically to 2.1 million, 58% of whom are children, according to IOM; whereas more than 3 million people have been affected by the insurgency as a whole, and 5.5 million are in need of humanitarian assistance in the Lake Chad Basin;

F.  whereas Nigeria has succeeded in conducting mostly peaceful presidential and gubernatorial elections despite the threats made by Boko Haram to disrupt the ballot; whereas Nigeria and its neighbouring countries created a Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) on 11 June 2015 in Abuja to comply with the decisions taken in Niamey in January 2015 on fighting Boko Haram;

G.  whereas Boko Haram has abducted more than 2 000 women and girls in Nigeria since 2009, including the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok in the north-east of the country on 14 April 2014, an act which shocked the whole world and triggered an international campaign (‘Bring back our Girls’) to rescue them; whereas almost a year and half later, more than 200 of the girls captured in that incident have still not been found;

H.  whereas many more children have since gone missing, or have been abducted or recruited to serve as fighters and house workers, with girls being subjected to rape and forced marriage or forced to convert to Islam; whereas since April 2015 some 300 other girls rescued by the Nigerian security forces from terrorist strongholds and around 60 others who managed to escape their captors from another location have described their life in captivity to Human Rights Watch (HRW) as being one of daily violence and terror, plus physical and psychological abuses; whereas, according to the UNSR for Children and Armed Conflict, the armed conflict in north-eastern Nigeria this past year was one of the world’s deadliest for children, with killings, the growing recruitment and use of children, countless abductions and sexual violence against girls; whereas UNICEF says that more than 23 000 children have been separated from their parents and forced from their home by the violence, running to save their lives inside Nigeria or crossing the border to Cameroon, Chad and Niger;

I.  whereas most of the children living in IDP and refugee camps have lost one or both parents (either killed or missing), as well as siblings and other relatives; whereas, although a number of international and national humanitarian organisations are operating in the camps, access to basic rights for many of these children – including nutrition, shelter (overcrowded and unsanitary), health and education – remains of abysmally low quality;

J.  whereas there are at least 208 000 children without access to education and 83 000 lack access to safe water in the sub-region (Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger), and 23 000 children in the north-east of Nigeria have been separated from their families;

K.  whereas the number of attacks by Boko Haram has risen in Nigeria, as well as in neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger; whereas Boko Haram continues to abduct children and women to carry explosive devices, using them, without their knowledge, as suicide bombers; whereas some of those who had sought refuge on the Chadian side of Lake Chad were again targeted by the same terrorists on Chadian soil;

L.  whereas in June 2015 the EU provided EUR 21 million in humanitarian aid to help displaced people in Nigeria and neighbouring countries affected by the violence of terrorist organisations;

M.  whereas UNICEF, together with governments and partners in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, is increasing its operations to assist thousands of children and their families in the region by providing access to safe water, education, counselling and psychological support, as well as vaccinations and treatment for severe acute malnutrition; whereas UNICEF has received only 32% of the 50.3 million required this year for its humanitarian response across the Lake Chad region;

N.  whereas a number of the abducted women and girls who have escaped or have been rescued or freed return home pregnant and in dire need of reproductive and maternal health care, and others lack access to basic post-rape health screening, post-traumatic care, social support and rape counselling, according to HRW; whereas the Commission has stated that where pregnancy causes unbearable suffering women must have access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health services based on their medical condition, therefore asserting that international humanitarian law shall in any case prevail;

1.  Strongly condemns Boko Haram crimes, including terrorist raids and suicide bombings in Chad, Cameroon and Niger; stands with the victims and conveys its condolences to all families who have lost loved ones; denounces the ongoing relentless violence in the Nigerian Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states and other cities in the country;

2.  Deplores the acts which have led to the mass displacement of innocent children and calls for immediate coordinated international action to assist the work of UN agencies and NGOs in preventing displaced children and youths from being subjected to sexual slavery, other forms of sexual violence and kidnappings and from being forced into armed conflict against civilian, government and military targets in Nigeria by the Boko Haram terrorist sect; stresses the paramount need to duly protect children’s rights in Nigeria, a country in which over 40% of the total population is aged between 0 and 14;

3.  Believes that in the cases of children formerly associated with Boko Haram or other armed groups, non-judicial measures should be considered as an alternative to prosecution and detention;

4.  Welcomes the recent announcement by the Commission of additional funds to boost urgent humanitarian aid to the region; expresses, however, serious concerns about the funding gap between commitments and actual payments for UNICEF operations in the region by the international community at large; calls on donors to meet their commitments without delay in order to address the chronic need for access to basic provisions such as drinking water, basic health care and education;

5.  Calls on the President of Nigeria and his newly appointed Federal Government to adopt strong measures to protect the civilian population, to put special emphasis on the protection of women and girls, to make women’s rights and children’s rights a priority when fighting extremism, to provide help for victims and to prosecute wrongdoers, and to ensure women’s participation in decision-making at all levels;

6.  Calls on the Nigerian Government to launch, as promised by President Buhari, an urgent, independent and thorough investigation into crimes under international law and other serious human rights violations by all parties to the conflict;

7.  Welcomes the change in military leadership and demands that all human rights abuses and crimes committed by both terrorists and Nigerian security forces be investigated in order to address the lack of accountability observed under the former presidency; welcomes the pledge made by President Buhari to investigate evidence that Nigerian military forces have committed serious human rights violations, war crimes and acts which may constitute crimes against humanity;

8.  Urges the President of the Federal Republic to address the challenges involved in abiding by all campaign promises and the latest statements, the most important of which are defeating the terrorist threat, making respect for human rights and humanitarian law a central pillar of military operations, bringing back the Chibok girls and all other abducted women and children alive and unharmed, addressing the ever growing problem of malnutrition, and fighting corruption and impunity in order to deter future abuses and work towards justice for every victim;

9.  Urges the Nigerian authorities and the international community to work closely together and to increase efforts to reverse the continuous trend towards the further displacement of people; welcomes the determination expressed at the Niamey Regional Summit of 20 and 21 January 2015 by the 13 participating countries, and in particular the commitment of Chad, together with Cameroon and Niger, to engage in the fight against the terrorist threats of Boko Haram; calls on the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to observe international human rights and humanitarian law conscientiously in its operations against Boko Haram; reiterates that a military approach alone will not suffice to counter the Boko Haram insurgency;

10.  Recalls that Boko Haram’s origins are rooted in grievances over poor governance, pervasive corruption and stark inequalities in Nigerian society; urges the Nigerian authorities to eliminate corruption, mismanagement and inefficiencies within the public institutions and the army, and to promote fair taxation; calls for the adoption of measures to starve Boko Haram of its sources of illegal income through cooperation with neighbouring countries, in particular with regard to smuggling and trafficking;

11.  Urges the international community to help Nigeria and the neighbouring countries who host refugees (Cameroon, Chad and Niger) to provide all necessary medical and psychological assistance to those in need; appeals to the authorities in the sub-region to ensure ease of access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health services for women and girls who have been raped, in accordance with the common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions; stresses the need to implement a universal standard for the treatment of war rape victims and to ensure the primacy of international humanitarian law in situations of armed conflict; expresses its full sympathy with women and children who have survived the blind terrorism perpetrated by Boko Haram; calls for the establishment of specialised education programmes aimed at women and children who are victims of war and society as a whole, to help them overcome the terror experienced, to give appropriate and comprehensive information, to combat stigmas and social exclusion and to help them become valued members of society;

12.  Urges the Commission to prioritise assistance for uprooted children and youths in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, with particular attention on protection from all forms of ferocity and gender violence and on access to education, healthcare and safe drinking water, within the framework of the Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa;

13.  Calls on the Nigerian Government to take measures to facilitate the return of displaced persons, especially children, to guarantee their safety, and to assist NGOs in their efforts to improve conditions in the camps for people displaced by the conflict by, inter alia, improving hygiene and sanitation in order to prevent the possible spread of disease;

14.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Government and the Parliament of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and the representatives of the ECOWAS and the African Union.

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Motion for a resolution on the displacement of children in Northern Nigeria as a result of Boko Haram attacks – B8-2015-1029

The European Parliament,

 having regard to its previous resolutions on Nigeria, notably those of 30 April 2015 and 17 July 2014,

 having regard to the statement of 3 July 2015 by the HR/VP on the attacks on Muslim worshippers in the north-east of Nigeria,

 having regard to the Report of the UN Secretary General’s Report on Children and Armed Conflict published on 5 June 2015,

 having regard to the statements made by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, on the continuing violence and deteriorating security in north-eastern Nigeria,

 having regard to the statements by the High Commissioner of the United Nations for Human Rights on the possibility that members of Boko Haram could be accused of war crimes,

 having regard to the communiques of the African Union Peace and Security Council adopted on 29 January and 3 March 2015,

 having regard to the call made by UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict on 16 January 2015 for urgent action to protect children in north-east Nigeria,

 having regard to the joint communiqué of 27 November 2014 at the 5th EU-Nigeria dialogue in Abuja, condemning the atrocities of Boko Haram,

  having regard to the UN Declaration of 1981 on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief,

 having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

 having regard to the Cotonou Agreement,

 having regard to Rule 135 of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas the Boko Haram terrorist group has been a growing threat for the stability of Nigeria and the West African region since it launched its military operation in 2009;

B. whereas Boko Haram has taken and held a number of towns in north-east Nigeria and has been attacking Nigeria’s police and military, politicians, schools, religious buildings, public institutions, and civilians;

C. whereas Boko Haram has recently stepped up its violent activities, with several attacks and suicide bombings in the Nort-East, causing additional displacement and increasing the need for urgent humanitarian aid;

D. whereas the Islamist group forcibly recruits civilians to their ranks, including many children; whereas the use of children as suicide bombers is dramatically increasing both in Nigeria and in neighbouring countries;

E. whereas according to the UNSR for Children and Armed Conflict, this past year, the armed conflict in north-eastern Nigeria was one of the world’s deadliest for children, with killings, a growing recruitment and use of children, countless abductions and sexual violence against girls;

F. whereas according to UNICEF, 500,000 children were uprooted over the past five month, which brings to 1,2million the total number of children forced to flee the country to escape the violence caused by Boko Haram, and thousands of them were separated from their families;

G. whereas five children, four girls and one boy, were behind a series of blasts in the north-eastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri on October 1st in which at least fifteen people, including the bombers, died and more than 35 were injured in the attacks at a mosque and house of vigilante leader

H. whereas two bomb blasts that ripped through the outskirts of Nigeria’s capital Abuja on October 2nd have left at least 18 people dead and 41 wounded according to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA)

I. whereas in April 2015, Nigerian troops rescued 450 women and girls in the Sambisa Forest during a military operation; whereas on 23 September, the Nigerian military freed 241 women and children in a raid on two camps controlled by Boko Haram in Jangurori and Bulatori;

J. whereas on 10 September, Boko Haram attacked Nigeria’s largest camp for displaced people in Yola, killing at least seven people, including five children;

K. whereas in April 2015, the bodies of at least 400 men, women and children were found in mass graves in Damasak following a military operation that freed the town from Boko Haram;

L. whereas more than 2,000 young women and girls have been abducted, subjected to physical and psychological abuse, compelled to convert to Islam, or trained to fight since 2014; whereas in April 2014, more than 276 were kidnapped from a government school in Chibok and the majority remains missing and are at serious threat of sexual violence, slavery and forced marriage;

M. whereas in March 2015, Boko Haram pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State group; whereas Boko Haram’s aim is to establish a full Islamic state in Northern Nigeria, including the implementation of criminal sharia courts and to forbid Western education;

N. whereas the humanitarian situation has severely deteriorated in north-east Nigeria with worsening food insecurity, poor access to education, lack of safe drinking water and health services;

O. whereas since 2009, Boko Haram engaged in a deadly campaign against places of learning; whereas more than 300 schools have been severely damaged or destroyed, with an estimated number of 200,000 children without access to education;

P. whereas in June 2015, the EU provided €21 million in humanitarian aid to help displaced people in Nigeria and neighbouring countries affected by the violence of terrorist organisations;

Q. whereas Nigeria is the most populous, ethnically diverse country in Africa marked by regional and religious cleavages and a North-South divide with severe economic and social disparities;

1. Condemns, once again, the ongoing and increasingly disturbing violence, including the continuing wave of gun and bomb attacks, sexual slavery and other sexual violence, kidnappings and other violent acts committed by the terrorist sect Boko Haram against civilian, government and military targets in Nigeria, which have led to thousands of deaths and injuries and have displaced hundreds of thousands of people, and which could constitute crimes against humanity;

2. Expresses its deepest sympathy with the survivors of Boko Haram atrocities and conveys its condolences to the families of the victims;

3. Strongly condemns the use of women and children to carry out suicide attacks;

4. Urges the Nigerian authorities to thoroughly investigate on the grave violations committed against children;

5. Recalls that one year and a half has passed since the abduction of 276 girls from a school outside Chibok; calls for their immediate and unconditional release and urges the government to do everything in their power to find and free them, and bring those responsible to justice;

6. Calls on the Nigerian government and authorities to work together to ensure that all rescued young women and girls are brought home safely, to improve transparency about the rescue efforts and to provide adequate information as well as medical and psychological support to families of abducted girls in order to end the climate of suspicion;

7. Calls on the EU and its Member States to offer their support to Nigeria in its on-going efforts to protect its citizens and defeat terrorism in all its forms, in full respect of human rights;

8. Calls on the Nigerian authorities to take greater responsibility in addressing the root causes of terrorism and actively combat extremism and radicalism; insist on the need to apply ethical values when taking concrete actions to deal with terrorism, corruption and the poverty and inequality that the country faces;

9. Underlines the importance of regional cooperation for addressing the threat posed by Boko Haram; therefore welcomes the efforts made by the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) and the African Union in their common fight against terrorism; further encourages the countries in the region to deepen their cooperation, including through the relevant regional organisations; calls on the EU institutions and Member states to lend their support to these regional efforts;

10. Calls on the EU and its Member States to uphold their commitment to providing a comprehensive range of political, development and humanitarian support to Nigeria and its people in tackling the Boko Haram threat and ensuring the development of the country;

11. Welcomes the efforts made by the EU to increase its assistance to Nigeria and other affected countries; however recalls that appeals for 2015 to help displaced people in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger are still half-funded; therefore calls on the Member States and the international community to step up their humanitarian aid to improve the situation of Nigerian refugees, in particular displaced children from the conflict-affected area, and to urgently tackle the current emergency levels of malnutrition and disease outbreaks;

12. Recognises that Nigeria has the potential to be the economic and political powerhouse of Africa but that its development has been held back by poor economic governance, weak democratic institutions and massive inequality; in this regards welcomes that the rule of law, governance and democracy is one of the three key development sectors which will be supported through the 11th EDF with a sum of 90 million (17 percent of Nigeria’s NIP) EUR 2014-2020; calls on the Commission to substantially increase funding for the mentioned sector in the mid-term EDF review;

13. Instructs its President to forward this Resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Commission Vice-President / EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the African Union, and the President, Prime Minister and Parliament of Nigeria.

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