Archive for the 'General Assembly' Category

UNGA adopts resolution calling on states not to recognize changes in status of Crimea

On March 27, the UN’s General Assembly adopted a resolution entitled “Territorial integrity of Ukraine.”   The resolution essentially underscored the invalidity of the 16 March referendum held in Crimea, used as justification for Russia’s illegal annexation of the area.  It also called on all States not to recognize any change in the status of Crimea.

Yet, remarkably, 11 States voted against the resolution and 58 abstained from the vote.

Voting Board on Ukraine resolution

Continue reading ‘UNGA adopts resolution calling on states not to recognize changes in status of Crimea’

2013 at the UN: 21 resolutions against Israel, 4 on rest of the world

The U.N. General Assembly in 2013 adopted a total of 21 resolutions singling out Israel for criticism — and 4 resolutions on the rest of the world combined. See the texts and votes below.

The four that do not concern Israel are: one on Syria, a regime that has murdered 120,000 of its own people, and one each on Iran, North Korea and Myanmar.

There were zero UNGA resolutions on gross and systematic abuses committed by China, Cuba, Egypt, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Zimbabwe, nor on many other major perpetrators of grave violations of human rights.

Continue reading ’2013 at the UN: 21 resolutions against Israel, 4 on rest of the world’

Hot Mic Catches UN Interpreter Saying Resolutions on Israel Are ‘A Bit Much’, ‘No one says anything about other stuff’

Hot Mic Catches UN Interpreter Saying 9 Resolutions on Israel and 0 for Rest of World is “A Little Weird.”

The UN General Assembly, acting through its Fourth Committee, which is comprised of all 193 UN member states, today adopted nine resolutions condemning Israel, and none on the rest of the world.

UN Interpeter (unaware her mic was on): “I mean, I think when you have five statements, not five, like a total of ten resolutions on Israel and Palestine, there’s gotta be something, c’est un peu trop, non? [It’s a bit much, no?] I mean I know… There’s other really bad shit happening, but no one says anything, about the other stuff.”

Chair and delegates laugh.

Interpreter: “Apologies.”

Secretary: “I understand there was a problem with interpretation?”

Interpreter: “The interpeter apologizes [audible gasp].”

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RESOLUTIONS ADOPTED ON NOVEMBER 14, 2013

Under Agenda Item 51 (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East):

Assistance to Palestine refugees (A/C.4/68/L.12) - Vote: 164 Yes, 2 No, 6 Abstain
“Expressing grave concern at the especially difficult situation of the Palestine refugees under occupation, including with regard to their safety, well-being and socioeconomic living conditions…”

Persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities (A/C.4/68/L.13) - Vote: 162 Yes, 6 No, 5 Abstain
“Reaffirms the right of all persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities to return to their homes or former places of residence in the territories occupied by Israel since 1967…” Continue reading ‘Hot Mic Catches UN Interpreter Saying Resolutions on Israel Are ‘A Bit Much’, ‘No one says anything about other stuff’’

Texts of draft UNGA resolutions on Iran, Syria, North Korea, Myanmar

Following are the full texts of the draft resolutions on human rights situations that are to be voted on later this month by the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee:
  1. A/C.3/68/L.42 – Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic
  2. A/C.3/68/L.55 - Situation of human rights in Myanmar
  3. A/C.3/68/L.56 – Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
  4. A/C.3/68/L.57 – Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Islamic States Pledge Tolerance as Report Says They Practice Persecution

Concerns about an Islamic-sponsored “combating intolerance” initiative at the United Nations are brought into sharp relief by results of a new world survey on religious persecution.

Muslim nations make up nine out of the top ten countries where Christians face the “most severe” persecution, and 38 of the top 50, reports U.S.-based Open Doors in its 2012 World Watch List.

Topping the list is North Korea, where the Stalinist regime enforces cult worship of its leaders.

The results lay bare the sheer incongruity of the idea that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), whose 56 member states control more than a quarter of the votes in the UN General Assembly, can be serious about promoting religious tolerance.

Yet that is what it claimed by successfully pushing for an assembly resolution titled “Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons, based on religion or belief.” The measure, which passed last month, mirrored an almost identical resolution in the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva last March. Continue reading ‘Islamic States Pledge Tolerance as Report Says They Practice Persecution’

UN Member States Denounce Burma Rights Record – With Exceptions

Twenty countries voted with Burma Dec. 24 in opposing the UN General Assembly’s majority support for a resolution denouncing the  human rights record of the Burmese government. The resolution, titled Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar (Burma), expresses the assembly’s “grave concern about the ongoing systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Myanmar.”

As 83 countries endorsed the measure, 39 abstained from the vote, and 50 were absent, the 20 backing Burma’s opposition were:

Algeria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Iran, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Nicaragua, Oman, Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Uzbekistan, Venezuela and Viet Nam.

Iran, Syria, N. Korea Condemned, But Not By All

Roll calls detailed below reveal which countries voted with Iran, Syria and North Korea as the UN General Assembly passed resolutions Dec. 19 denouncing the human rights records of those three regimes. As in past years, Afghanistan, where NATO-led forces continue to battle on behalf of the country, split with the alliance’s members for the vote on Iran, and voted with the Islamic republic.

1. Situation of Human Rights in Iran: 89 in favour, 30 against, 64 abstentions.

Against:  Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bolivia, Brunei Darussalam, China, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ecuador, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Zimbabwe. Continue reading ‘Iran, Syria, N. Korea Condemned, But Not By All’

GA adopts outcome document of Durban Review Conference

On November 23, Sudan, on behalf of the Group of 77, introduced in the General Assembly’s Third Committee a resolution on the adoption of the Outcome Document of the Durban Review Conference.  The Conference was held in Geneva from April 20 – 24, 2009, and is best remembered by the dozens of democracies that walked out during Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s controversial opening address. 

The delegation of Israel called for the vote, explaining that her government refused to afford credibility to a process that was “obsessed” with the Middle East.  The text was initially adopted with 161 countries in favor, 6 against, and 12 abstaining. 

After the vote, however, the delegation of the Russian Federation raised a point of order to note that their “yes” had been recorded as an abstention; they then requested a new vote.  The United States responded that it was “highly unusual” for a new vote to be recorded, asking under what rule of procedure the Committee would be acting.  The Chair replied that although it was, indeed, unusual, the rules do not prohibit the retaking of votes.  Furthermore, in previous demands for a new vote, the requesting delegation had pressed the wrong button.  As the Russian delegation had insisted that he had pressed the correct button, the Chair deemed it acceptable to grant a re-vote.  However, the United States argued that because the delegation had not requested a reconsideration of the resolution, a second vote would be invalid. 

The Chair decided to hold another vote, and the final count was 163 in favor, 5 against, and 9 abstaining.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the Russian Federation, changed their votes from abstentions to “yes.”  The Marshall Islands, which initially voted “no” was absent during the second vote, as was Macedonia, which had voted “yes” originally.

Canada was one of five nations to refuse to vote for the Durban Outcome Document (the other four were Australia, Israel, the Netherlands, and the United States.)  The Canadian representative explained that the language in the text reaffirmed the outcome document of the first Durban Conference in 2001, and that his government would not lend its approval to such a politicized process.  Moreover, the delegation argued that references in the document to the Middle East bore no relevancy to the fight against intolerance.

The other five countries that walked out of the Conference, namely Germany, the Czech Republic, New Zealand, Poland and Italy, all abstained.  They were joined by Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, Romania and Tonga.

In a general statement on the resolution, the delegation of Israel remarked that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.”  Israel argued that the 2001 Durban Conference “had descended in a brazen display of anti-Semitic racism,” and the promotion of racist agendas.  The representative of Israel further explained that they had initially decided to reserve judgment on the General Assembly’s decision to convene the Durban Review Conference; that they had realized the Conference’s potential to rectify the wrongs of 2001, but that these hopes had been misplaced.  Though Israel acknowledged the importance of various elements of the Review, the Conference had, nevertheless, reaffirmed the 2001 Durban Declaration.  The delegation explained that Israel was “fully committed to address, in a professional manner, the scourge of racism, xenophobia and intolerance,” but that it could not support a document that endorsed the 2001 Durban Declaration.

GA endorses HRC Report

On November 23, the General Assembly’s Third Committee adopted the Report of the Human Rights Council, introduced by Zambia for the African Group, and covering the period of March through May 2009.  Unlike last year’s resolution, which was approved by a vote of 117 in favor, 5 against and 55 abstaining, this year’s text was adopted by consensus. 

There was a subtle, but important, difference in wording between last year’s resolution and the current one, which enabled this year’s consensus.  Last year’s text “takes note of the report of the Human Rights Council, and endorses the recommendations contained therein.” 

The resolution just adopted, however, “Takes note of the report of the Human Rights Council and acknowledges the recommendations contained therein.”  In 2008, Australia, Canada, Israel, Palau, and the United States voted against the resolution.  An affirmative vote would have signified that their governments endorsed the recommendations contained within the report.  The abstaining nations, while not flatly rejecting the recommendations through a negative vote, also would not positively endorse them.  This year’s resolution, however, did not require active endorsement on the part of state governments.  To acknowledge the recommendations is to accept that they exist, without the obligation to support their provisions.

The representative of Sweden, speaking on behalf of the European Union, explained that the group had joined consensus on the resolution despite their belief that the wording of the resolution brought “no added value.”  Furthermore, the delegation expressed its concern that there had been no informal consultations on the draft, and that the text’s co-sponsors had not provided Member States with adequate time to consider the resolution.

Although Israel joined consensus on the draft, it expressed concern that the work of the Council, as well as its methods, is biased and prejudiced, focusing disproportionately on the Middle East.  By joining consensus, Israel hoped that the Council would improve its treatment of human rights.

GA condemns Burma, DPRK, Iran

On Thursday, November 19, the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee adopted a resolution that “strongly condemns the ongoing systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Myanmar,” with 92 countries voting in favor, 26 voting against, and 65 abstaining.  Sweden, representing the European Union, as the main sponsor of this resolution, explained “there are still over 2,000 prisoners of conscience in Myanmar, including Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains in house arrest.  Fundamental freedoms in Myanmar, including the freedom of assembly and expression, remain severely restricted.”

The Third Committee also approved a resolution expressing “very serious concern at the persistence of continuing reports of systematic, widespread and grave violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”  97 nations voted in favor of the resolution, 19 voted against, and 65 abstained.  Sweden, for the European Union, was also this resolution’s main sponsor.  In its statement, it criticized the government of the DPRK for “the grave, widespread, and systematic violations of human rights” and noted that “the DPRK has made no substantial effort to meet earlier requests made by the international community.”

On Friday, November 20, a draft resolution on the human rights situation in Iran was approved by a vote of 74 in favor to 48 against, with 59 abstentions.  Before voting on the resolution, Canada, as the main sponsor, explained:

“What is routine is Iran’s consistent failure to live up to its international human rights obligations.  These failings were only made all the more evident following the June 12th presidential election when the use of force by Iranian security forces resulted in the death, injury and arrest of many individuals, when many of those who were detained were subject to torture and denied access to legal representation, when freedom of association, assembly and expression were drastically curtailed.”

Iran, however, argued that the draft text represented an example of an “unhealthy and dangerous trend” of politicization and abuse of human rights mechanisms.  After the vote, Iran considered the abstentions and absences to represent, alongside the “no” votes, support for Iran. 

Additionally, on November 19, the representative of Zambia, on behalf of the African Group, introduced a draft decision on the Report of the Human Rights Council.  The Committee will likely be taking action on this resolution within the next few days.

GA approves resolution aimed at combating ‘defamation of religions’

On November 12, the representative of Malaysia, speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Belarus, and Venezeula, introduced in the General Assembly’s Third Committee a resolution on combating the “defamation of religions.”  The text was approved by a vote of 81 in favor to 55 against, with 43 abstentions.

The draft introduced by the OIC noted with deep concern “the serious instances of intolerance, discrimination, acts of violence based on religion or belief… particularly [against] Muslim minorities… that threaten to impede their full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”  In that respect, it expressed concern that Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations.

Among the 55 countries voting against the resolution were the United States, Canada, Australia, Israel, all the EU states, and other democracies.  Sweden, on behalf of the EU, said they shared the OIC’s concern that people were “routinely victimized on the grounds of religion or belief,” but they could not agree with the concept of “defamation of religion” as a response to such discrimination, because it would “limit freedom of expression and might endanger the atmosphere of tolerance that would enable people of different religions or beliefs to coexist without fear.” 

The United States representative lamented that the “increasingly splintered view on this text” did not adequately reflect the views of every state.  He went on to say that “freedom of religion was enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights… [F]reedom could not be universally achieved by imposing governmental laws regarding who could say what, when.  The United Nations must remain faithful to the central tenet of human rights law, which said that human rights were held by individuals not nations or religions.”  The representative finished his statement saying that the U.S. opposed the resolution because it would not agree that prohibiting speech was the way to promote tolerance.

Amongst the 43 countries who abstained, the representatives of Brazil and Jamaica spoke in explanation of their votes.  The representative of Brazil stated that his delegation could not support the text as tabled because it believed the concept of the “defamation of religion” needed to be addressed in such a way that was “not detrimental to other rights.”  Jamaica’s representative said the draft “should have been more balanced and not confined itself to the concerns of one religion.  It had failed to account for the violations of rights of persons of other faiths or religions.”

A coaltion of 100 human rights groups from 20 countries warned that the move would “punish the peaceful expression of disfavored political or religious beliefs and ideas.”

UNGA President d’Escoto Brockmann bashes West on global finance

 By Marissa Cramer

The president of the U.N. General Assembly, Father Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, held a meeting with NGO representatives in Geneva today to discuss his latest plans for a summit on the financial crisis and its impact on development to take place the first week of June. Most of his talk was devoted to criticizing the “greed” and “underlying moral and ethical crisis” of the West that he claimed is the root cause of most of the world’s social and economic problems.

Continue reading ‘UNGA President d’Escoto Brockmann bashes West on global finance’

UN General Assembly Chief Appoints Rogues’ Gallery of “Special Senior Advisors”

And now this:  UN General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockman, former Nicaraguan FM and unrepentant Sandinista, has named a rogues’ gallery of anti-Western crackpots and 9/11 conspiracy theorists as his “Special Senior Advisors.”  The indefatigable Matt Lee of Inner City Press has the story here.

Now advising the head of the UN’s parliament are Professor Richard Falk, cheerleader for the theory that 9/11 was an inside job; Ramsey Clark, tool of left-wing cultists who defend Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein and Rwandan torturers as anti-imperialist heroes, and Noam Chomsky, the anti-American guru who lends his name to Holocaust deniers. See full list below.

SPECIAL SENIOR ADVISORS TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE 63RD SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY

1. Brother David Andrews CSC (USA).

2. Ms. Maude Barlow (Canada).

3. Mr. Mohammed Bedjaoui (Algeria).

4. Mr. Leonardo Boff (Brazil).

5. Mr. Kevin Cahill (USA).

6. Mr. François Houtart (Belgium).

7. Mr. Noam Chomsky (USA).

8. Mr. Ramsey Clark (USA).

9. Mr. Richard Falk (USA).

10. Mr. Michael Kennedy (USA).

11. Ms. Eleonora Kennedy (USA).

12. Mr. Olivier De Schutter (Belgium).

13. Mr. Joseph Stiglitz (USA).

14. Sir John E. Sulston (UK).

15. Mr. Howard Zinn (USA).