Iran, Belarus, Burma and North Korea lash out against UN drafts

Iran, Belarus, Burma (Myanmar) and North Korea lashed out after resolutions highlighting abuses in their countries were presented in the General Assembly’s Third Committee, which deals with economic, social, and human rights issues. The heated debate saw Belarus insist that it “was no rabbit; it had the strength and self-respect not to give in to threats, intimidation and haughtiness.”

Canada presented a draft resolution on human rights in Iran that it said “highlighted confirmed instances of torture and cruel and degrading treatment or punishment in the country.” Canada added that “the draft resolution had been carefully drafted to ensure accuracy and to reflect the developments since the adoption of the last resolution on the issue.”

Iran strongly rebuked Canada and called the draft “a blatant abuse of the General Assembly’s time and agenda.” The Iranian representative alleged that the resolution was simply a “catalogue of baseless information.”

The United States – along with the European Union, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, Norway and Switzerland – presented a resolution on the situation of human rights in Belarus, noting that “the situation . . . had continued to deteriorate, despite the adoption of a resolution on that country by the General Assembly last year and in 2004.” The U.S. expressed particular concern with “the loss of the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Belarus” – a reference to the UN Human Rights Council’s decision in June to suspend the mandate of the human rights expert on the situation in Belarus.

“A rabbit driven into a corner would fight back,” said Belarus, “but Belarus was no rabbit; it had the strength and self-respect not to give in to threats, intimidation and haughtiness.”

The European Union represented by Portugal introduced a text expressing deep concern about the situation of human rights in Myanmar (Burma), including the recent violent repression of peaceful demonstrations. Myanmar criticized the EU resolution, citing its “intrusive” nature and “harsh” tone.

The European Union also introduced a draft resolution in the situation in North Korea, which responded by admonishing the EU for “politicization and selectivity” and accusing it, together with the U.S. , of “destabilizing the country [North Korea] and undermining its socialist system by distorting its human rights situation.” Instead, argued North Korea, “the worst cases of human rights violations today were the killing of innocent people in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Occupied Palestinian Territory in the name of a war on terror.”

Cuba presented a draft resolution to “promote and protect human rights” and claimed such a resolution was guided by principles of “universality, non-selectivity, objectivity and transparency.”

Cuba also sponsored its annual resolution against “unilateral coercive measures,” a thinly veiled reference to the U.S. embargo of Cuba. Cuba also presented a draft resolution on “the right to food,” encouraging countries to cooperate with UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food Jean Ziegler. Ziegler’s extensive ties to the Castro regime, and his recent visit and praise of Cuba, were recently reported by UN Watch here).

Iran presented a resolution on “human rights and cultural diversity.” While Iran explained that human rights are “universal,” its representative explained that “national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds” must be considered when reviewing the human rights situation of any particular country.

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