23 April 1999
Commission Rejects Resolution on Kosovo
The Commission on Human Rights this morning expressed disappointment that the Cuban Government, despite signs of progress in human rights, nonetheless took steps that were inconsistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In a resolution which was adopted by a roll-call vote of 21 in favour and 20 against, with one abstention, the Commission expressed the hope that positive steps would be taken with regard to all human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cuba. It also urged the Government to cooperate with other mechanisms of the Commission.
The Commission also adopted by consensus a resolution on Afghanistan which condemned widespread human-rights violations including torture and the frequent practice of arbitrary arrest and detention and summary trials. It called on the Taliban and other Afghan parties to bring to an end without delay all violations of the human rights of women and girls. In a resolution adopted by consensus on Burundi, the Commission took note of progress in security and public order but regretted that the security situation in parts of the country remained unstable. It urged all parties to the conflict to end the cycle of violence and killings, especially against the civilian population. It also decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Burundi for one year.
A draft resolution introduced by the Russian Federation that called for an immediate cessation of fighting in Kosovo was rejected by a roll-call vote of 11 in favour to 24 against, with 18 abstentions. States insisted that the language of the draft did not reflect the goals of the Rambouillet Accords and did not adequately assess blame to Serb President Slobodan Milosevic.
The Commission also approved by roll-call vote three resolutions condemning Israeli violations of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine, on human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan, and on Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. A resolution denouncing the use of mercenaries in armed conflicts across the world was adopted by roll-call vote, and a resolution on the question of the Western Sahara was adopted by consensus.
The voting came as the Commission prepared for its final week of deliberations for this session. This morning, the Commission took action on nine draft resolutions, adopting eight and rejecting one. Dozens of other votes on draft resolutions were expected over the next week.
Addressing the Commission this morning were representatives from the following countries: the Russian Federation, the United States, Pakistan, Venezuela, Uruguay, Bangladesh, Guatemala, Peru, Canada, Sudan, Germany (on behalf of the European Union), Argentina, Nepal, South Africa, Cuba, Tunisia, Israel, Norway, Syria, South Africa, the Czech Republic, Mexico, China, Chile, Colombia, Qatar, and Afghanistan.
The Commission resumes its plenary at 3 p.m. when it will continue to take action on draft resolutions.
Action on draft resolutions
In a draft resolution which was rejected by the Commission by a roll-call vote of 11 in favour to 24 against and 18 abstentions, (E/CN.4/1999/L.3/Rev.1) on the situation around the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the Commission would have called urgently for an immediate cessation all hostilities and violations of human rights, primarily the right to life; would have reaffirmed the responsibility of all parties to the conflict to seek and find peaceful solutions through negotiations while maintaining the territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; would have resolutely condemned all violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, whomever they were perpetrated by; and would have reaffirmed that all who committed, sanctioned, or abetted violations of international law bore personal responsibility and were liable to punishment for these violations and must be brought to trial.
The result of the vote was as follows:
In favour: China, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, India, Mexico, Peru, Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Against: Austria, Bangladesh, Canada, Czech Republic, El Salvador, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liberia, Luxembourg, Morocco, Niger, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Senegal, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Abstentions: Argentina, Bhutan, Botswana, Cape Verde, Chile, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guatemala, Indonesia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nepal, Philippines, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan and Tunisia.
HAROLD KOH (the United States) said that the resolution on Kosovo reflected the international community's concern for the crisis. The United States would vote against L.2 because it failed to make clear who was responsible for the crisis, i.e. President Milosevic and the Belgrade authorities. They were responsible for the suffering of thousands, creating a massive humanitarian crisis, and destabilising the region. The response by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was the reaction, not the cause of the crisis. A democratic and peaceful Kosovo was the goal. NATO would stop its air strikes if Milosevic acceded to its demands. The Commission would have a further opportunity to address this issue in L.34, the United States-sponsored omnibus resolution on the situation.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said the Commission had already adopted a comprehensive resolution on the situation of human rights in Kosovo. Pakistan found it difficult to accept the fact that L. 2 did not denounce the people who were responsible for the tragedy. Today, over 700,000 Kosovars had been displaced from their homelands. This draft resolution did not accurately reflect their suffering. It spoke in generalities, and did not accurately reflect the tragedies. Pakistan would vote against the resolution.
WERNER CORRALES LEAL (Venezuela) said his country would vote in favour of the draft resolution L.2. There was concern for the massive violation of human rights by the constituted power in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, whose leaders should be brought to trial before the international criminal courts. There was also concern about the humanitarian and refugee crisis, despite the efforts of the High Commissioners for Human Rights and for Refugees to remedy the situation.
CARLOS PEREZ DEL CASTILLO (Uruguay) said the definition of aggression in the draft resolution was not applicable to the situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Having said that, the delegation would vote in favour of the draft resolution.
IFTEKHAR CHOWDHRY (Bangladesh) appreciated the efforts of the Russian Government to achieve peace and stability in the Balkans. Normally, Bangladesh would have supported the draft resolution as proposed by the Russian Federation, but the Belgrade authorities had gone too far in their oppression of the Kosovo people. It was owed to the Kosovo refugees not to give the oppressors any rest. Bangladesh would therefore vote against the draft resolution.
LUIS PADILLA NENENDEZ (Guatemala) said it was essential that the United Nations be involved in the solution of this unfortunate conflict in Kosovo. Although the actions of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization were approved for humanitarian reasons, there had to be serious reflection about reforming the charter of that body. Guatemala could not support this draft resolution, and would abstain in the voting.
JORGE VOTO-BERNALES (Peru) would vote in favour of the draft resolution because of its humanitarian content. It was regretted that the draft resolution did not reflect the whole of the humanitarian situation, notably the accusations of ethnic cleansing. There should be a peaceful and lasting solution through dialogue.
MARIE GERVAIS-VIDRICAIRE (Canada) said it was very concerned about the situation in Kosovo. It was for that reason that it co-sponsored the previous resolution on 13 April. A second resolution was not necessary. This one did not accurately reflect the situation in Kosovo. For these reasons, the delegation would vote against the draft resolution.
IBRAHIM IBRAHIM (Sudan) had carefully studied the draft resolution, and had a strong conviction of the right of the Kosovar people to live in peace. The atrocities committed by the Belgrade authorities were grave, yet were not fully reflected in the draft. Sudan would abstain from the vote.
WILHELM HOYNCK (Germany), on behalf of the European Union, said the Commission had already adopted a resolution on the situation in Kosovo and had condemned the actions there. The High Commissioner had offered a bleak assessment of the situation there. The European Union agreed with many countries that everything had to be done to stop this situation. Based on the Rambouillet principles, all people should be able to live in peace and security. In light of these objects, the delegation could not accept this draft resolution. There must be no misunderstanding over who was responsible for these atrocities.
HERNAN PLORUTTI (Argentina) would abstain from the vote on the understanding that it had already expressed its position when L.3 Rev.1 was adopted. There should be respect for the full exercise of the human rights of the inhabitants of Kosovo, and of the inhabitants of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
SHAMBHU RAM SIMKHADA (Nepal) had already expressed its strong condemnation of the extreme acts of violence and ethnic cleansing in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Use of force would not lead to a solution. There should be a solution by peaceful negotiation.
SIPHO NENE (South Africa) said it abstained because it preferred other language to condemn what was happening in Kosovo. It called for a return immediately to the negotiating table.
In a resolution adopted by roll-call vote of 35 in favour to 12 against, with 6 abstentions, (E/CN.4/1999/L.5) on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination, the Commission reaffirmed that the use of mercenaries and their recruitment, financing and training were causes for grave concern and violated the purpose and principles of the Charter of the United Nations; recognized that armed conflicts, terrorism, arms trafficking and covert operations by third powers encouraged the demand for mercenaries on the global market; urged all States to take steps to exercise the utmost vigilance against the menace posed by the activities of mercenaries and to take legislative measures to ensure that their territories, and other territories under their control, were not used for recruitment, financing, training, or transit of mercenaries for the planning of activities designed to impede the right to self-determination, overthrow the Government of any State, or dismember or impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent States conducting themselves in compliance with the right to self-determination of peoples; called upon all States to ratify the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries; urged the Secretary-General to provide the Special Rapporteur on the topic with all necessary assistance; urged all States to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur; and requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to publicize the adverse effects of mercenary activities on the right to peoples to self-determination and to render advisory services to States affected by the activities of mercenaries.
The result of the vote was as follows:
In favour: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Botswana, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tunisia, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Against: Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Japan, Latvia, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Romania, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Abstentions: Argentina, France, Ireland, Italy, Liberia and Republic of Korea,
ROSS HYNES (Canada) recognized the seriousness and the human rights violations implied in the use of mercenaries. But it did not think the draft resolution sufficient, and would therefore call for a vote, during which it would vote no.
CARLOS PEREZ DEL CASTILLO (Uruguay) said his country felt it was inappropriate to refer to a global market for mercenaries. In paragraph four, it was not appropriate to refer to activities to impede self-determination. The delegation would vote in favour of the draft.
NANCY RUBIN (the United States) considered that the Commission had spent much time on virtually identical resolutions. Therefore, this draft resolution would do little good. A Convention on the Use of Mercenaries was available for signing. For these reasons, the United States would vote against the draft.
WILHELM HOYNCK (Germany), on behalf of the European Union, shared many of the concerns about mercenary activities and strongly condemned their activities everywhere. The European Union had worked with the Special Rapporteur. However, the European Union could not support this draft resolution. No consultations had been undertaken with the Union. The European Union doubted that the issue of mercenaries should be dealt with as a human rights problems. The relationship between terrorism and mercenaries did not fall within the jurisdiction of this body. It should be considered within the General Assembly.
In a resolution adopted by consensus, (E/CN.4/1999/L.6) on the question of Western Sahara, the Commission noted with satisfaction the agreements reached between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Frente Popular para la Liberacion de Saguia el-Hamra y de Rio de Oro for the implementation of the settlement plan during their private talks under the auspices of the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, and urged the parties to implement those agreements fully and in good faith; urged the two parties to continue their cooperation with the Secretary-General, his Personal Envoy, and his Special Representative, and to refrain from undertaking anything that would undermine the implementation of the settlement plan and the agreements reached for its implementation; noted progress achieved in connection with the implementation of the plan; reaffirmed the responsibility of the United Nations towards the people of Western Sahara, as provided for in the settlement plan; and reiterated its support for the holding, under the supervision and organization of the United Nations in cooperation with the Organization of African Unity, of a referendum for self-determination of the people of Western Sahara that was impartial and free of all constraints.
In a resolution adopted by roll-call vote of 31 for to 1 against and 21 abstentions, (E/CN.4/1999/L.9) on the question of violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine, the Commission condemned continued human-rights violations there, including in East Jerusalem, in particular continuing acts of wounding and killing perpetrated by Israeli soldiers and settlers against Palestinians, in addition to the detention of thousands of Palestinians without trial, the continuation of the confiscation of Palestinian lands, the extension and establishment of Israeli settlements thereon, the confiscation of Palestinian property and expropriation of their land, the demolition of Palestinian homes and the uprooting of fruit trees, and called upon Israel to cease these acts immediately; condemned the expropriation of Palestinian homes in Al-Amoud district in Jerusalem; condemned the use of torture against Palestinians during interrogation, which the Israeli High Court of Justice had legitimized; reaffirmed that all Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, were illegal; reaffirmed that the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War was applicable to the Palestinian territory and other occupied Arab territories; called upon Israel to cease immediately its policy of collective punishments; called once more upon Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories and to desist from all human-rights violations there; and requested the Secretary-General to bring this resolution to the attention of the Government of Israel and other Governments.
The result of the vote was a follows:
In favour: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Botswana, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tunisia and Venezuela.
Against: United States.
Abstentions: Argentina, Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liberia, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and Uruguay.
DAVID PELEG (Israel) expressed regret that the Commission would once again vote on an unbalanced draft that tended to politicize a human right. The allegations against Israel contained in the draft resolution would not be commented on. Israel had consistently been singled out in the international community, as shown by the fact that it had a whole agenda item devoted to it. The lessons learned by this meeting was the growing support for a change in the mandate of the Special Rapporteur to match the mandates of others. This was supported by Israel. Any fair and reasonable review of the draft would lead the Commission to vote against it, and this was sincerely hoped for.
NANCY RUBIN (the United States) said that where advances had been made, they needed to be protected. That was the case with the Middle East. Would more one-sided attacks against Israel move the peace process forward? The answer was no. The delegation would call for a vote on this draft resolution.
WILHELM HOYNCK (Germany), on behalf of the European Union, said it regretted that it was not able to support the draft resolution. The European Union would have to abstain. The draft resolution contained formulations that would likely prejudge the final negotiations.
BJORN SKOGMO (Norway) said that it shared the views expressed by Germany, and continued to be concerned by the violation of human rights in the occupied territories. The draft resolution would provide a minimal standard. Norway would abstain from the vote since it did not find the text sufficiently balanced.
In a resolution adopted by roll-call vote of 32 in favour to 1 against and 20 abstentions, (E/CN.4/1999/L.13) on human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan, the Commission called upon Israel, the occupying power, to comply with the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and of the Security Council which declared that the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction, and administration on the occupied Golan was null and void, and demanded that Israel rescind forthwith its decision; called upon Israel to desist from changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan and emphasized that displaced persons must be allowed to return to their homes and recover their properties; called upon Israel to desist from imposing Israeli citizenship and Israeli identity cards on Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan and to desist from its repressive measures against them; determined that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken or to be taken by Israel that purported to alter the character and legal status of the region were null and void and constituted a flagrant violation of international law; and called once again upon Member States not to recognize any of the legislative or administrative measures and actions referred to in the present resolution.
The result of the vote was as follows:
In favour: Argentina, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Botswana, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tunisia and Venezuela.
Against: United States.
Abstentions: Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liberia, Luxembourg, Norway, Peru, Poland, Romania, the United Kingdom and Uruguay.
WILHELM HOYNCK (Germany), on behalf of the European Union and the eastern and central European countries associated with it, regretted that it could not support the draft resolution on human rights in the Syrian Golan, since the language went further than other resolutions on the Syrian Golan. It was hoped that this could be changed, so as to bring it back into line and to emphasise the importance of human rights.
In a resolution adopted by roll-call vote of 50 in favour to 1 against and 2 abstentions, (E/CN.4/1999/L.15) on Israeli settlements in the occupied Arab territories, the Commission welcomed the Wye River Memorandum of 23 October 1998 and called for the full implementation of the Memorandum, as well as of the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip of 28 September 1995 and other related agreements; expressed regret at the lack of cooperation on the part of the Government of Israel with the relevant Special Rapporteur; expressed grave concern at Israeli settlement activities and their increase since the signing of the Wye River Memorandum since they were illegal, constituted a violation of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, and were a major obstacle to peace; expressed grave concern over and strongly condemned all acts of terrorism, while calling upon all parties not to allow any acts of terrorism to affect the on-going peace process negatively; and urged the Government of Israel to comply fully with previous Commission resolutions on the subject, to match its stated commitment to the peace process with concrete actions, and to forego and prevent any new installation of settlers in the occupied territories.
The result of the vote was as follows:
In favour: Argentina, Austria, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Botswana, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Cuba, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tunisia, the United Kingdom , Uruguay and Venezuela.
Against: United States.
Abstentions: Liberia and Romania.
DAVID PELEG (Israel) said the issue of the settlements was one of the issues that would be discussed in the final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Any resolution regarding the settlements was an attempt to prejudge the results of the negotiations that should be conducted between Israel and the Palestinians. Whether it was about Golan or the settlements, it was between Israel and its neighbours.
OLEG MALGUINOV (the Russian Federation) said that it had abstained on the vote because the draft did not respond to the needs posed by the conflict. A process of negotiation was required. There was hope that the draft would be improved at the next session.
SIPHO NENE (South Africa) said it voted in favour of L.15 because it was concerned about reports of Israeli activity in the occupied territories. South Africa continued to support the rights of the Palestinian people, and encouraged the Government of Israel to show its commitment to peace making in the region.
In a resolution adopted by roll-call vote of 21 in favour to 20 against and 12 abstentions, (E/CN.4/1999/L.14) on human rights in Cuba, the Commission welcomed the fact that the Government of Cuba had taken the first steps towards opening its society for religious institutions, and expected that Cuban citizens would be granted the right to freedom of religion and belief; encouraged the Government to continue to allow thematic Special Rapporteurs to visit Cuba; expressed the hope that positive steps would be taken with regard to all human rights and fundamental freedoms; expressed its concern about the adoption of the Law for the Protection of National Independence and Economy of Cuba, and regretted the other steps taken by the Government which were inconsistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant human-rights instruments; called upon the Cuban Government to ensure respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of religion, and to provide the appropriate framework to guarantee the rule of law through democratic institutions and the independence of the judiciary system; reiterated its concern about continued repression of members of the political opposition and about the detention of dissidents, most recently of the four members of the "Grupo de Trabajo de la Disidencia Interna", and called upon the Government to release all persons detained or imprisoned for peacefully expressing their political, religious and social views and for exercising their rights to full and equal participation in public affairs; called upon the Government to consider acceding to human-rights instruments to which it was not yet a party, in particular the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; invited the Government to afford the country full and open contact with the democratic world; and called upon the Government to cooperate with other mechanisms of the Commission.
The result of the vote was as follows:
In favour: Argentina, Austria, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Ecuador, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Luxembourg, Morocco, Norway, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, the United Kingdom, the United States and Uruguay.
Against: Bhutan, Cape Verde, China, Congo, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Niger, Pakistan, Peru, Qatar, Russian Federation, Rwanda, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tunisia and Venezuela.
Abstentions: Bangladesh, Botswana, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nepal, Philippines and Senegal.
MARIA DE LOS ANGELES FLOREZ PRIDA (Cuba) said that a year ago, the Commission on Human Rights had decided to put an end to the special status of the state of human rights in Cuba. The Commission had voted with good sense for cooperation versus confrontation. That vote had been a clear warning to those who were politically manipulating the Commission with regard to Cuba. None of these hypocritical efforts had changed Cuba’s determination to build a free society, and to defend its political, economic and social institutions on the basis of their inalienable right to self-determination. The Czech Republic and Poland were being used as puppets by the United States.
Ms. Prida said the United States was still lobbying ceaselessly in the interest of draft resolution L.14 by any means. Instead of lobbying in the name of the human rights of the disenfranchised, the United States was trying to destroy Cuba. The United States had no humanitarian conscience since it had tried to destroy a country where human rights were protected. The Cuban delegation would vote against the draft resolution for these reasons, and also because of the futility of the attempt to once again place Cuba in the dock. The text was notoriously selective as well, ignoring the state of human rights in the United States, despite the flagrant violations of human rights that took place in that country. Cuba had every right to defend itself against extra-territorial legislation against it, in the exercise of its sovereign powers. Cuba would never accept this condemnation implied in the draft resolution, since it was not impartial, and because Cuba carried out its duty to defend and preserve its citizens. In the name of human rights, Cuba would vote against the resolution.
ANTONIO DE ICAZA (Mexico) said it had to be reiterated that the Government was committed to the defence of human rights of all kinds. Broad international cooperation was only possible if it was based on the principles of objectivity and universality. The delegation would vote against the draft resolution because it lacked balance. The Commission was not a jurisdictional body that could make decisions on domestic legislation of States.
LI BAODONG (China) said his country would vote against the draft resolution since human rights issues should be resolved by negotiations, not by interference and confrontation. L.14 was an output of sheer politicization, serving the purpose of the United States, and was irrelevant to the purposes of the Commission to defend human rights. The United States was posing great obstacles to the Cuban people’s efforts to promote and defend human rights. Cuba had made great contributions in this field. The United States lacked confidence and should not hide behind Poland since this was a ridiculous position for a superpower. All countries should vote against the draft resolution.
JAVIER ILLANES (Chile) said that at the last session, the delegation abstained on the draft resolution about human rights in Cuba. By this, the delegation was sending a signal of cooperation which would hopefully make the Government of Cuba take new steps in the area of human rights. In fact, it was convinced that the position was directly connected to opening new areas with respect to the protection of human rights in that country. The Pope had asked Cuba to open up to the world when he visited that country. The concern of Chile was and remained the observance of fundamental freedoms, especially the ones that made possible the democratic system. The draft resolution being considered recognized progress in Cuba, and did not look to the establishment of a Special Rapporteur, as others did. But it did look at a backward movement in individual freedoms. In the draft, there was a good picture of the situation of human rights in Cuba. It was a picture of highlights and dark spots. Chile had constantly been against unilateral economic sanctions. It looked for sustained progress in civil and political rights.
CAMILO REYES RODRIGUEZ (Colombia) said his country attached particular importance to the international protection of human rights. This was necessary to observe impartially and unselectively since otherwise attitudes would be polarised in the Commission. There could be no democracy without human rights. The draft resolution lacked objectivity, since it did not analyse the situation of the Cuban people as a whole, and ignored unilateral actions against the country. There had been considerable progress in the promotion of the economic, social and cultural rights of the people of Cuba. Colombia would abstain, and hoped for a constructive dialogue.
LUIS P. MENDEZ (Guatemala) said since everyone was involved in the reform of mechanisms, it was essential to establish the rules why a country should be the subject of a special resolution. When there was proof of serious and grave violations of human rights, then it was clear that there should be action. When a country was incapable of stopping such violations, that also would be right for action. How could it be justified that only certain countries were highlighted? There was a problem of selectivity. What should be the nature of the process for considering a country on the agenda? Guatemala would abstain on the vote.
WERNER CORRALES LEAL (Venezuela) said that there was no doubt that at present, the respect and promotion of human rights throughout the world was a priority of international relations. The international community as a whole should condemn all practices that would interfere in the free exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The human rights situation in Cuba merited attention, and all States should implement the instruments guaranteeing the right to fundamental freedoms and human rights. Venezuela wanted balanced resolutions. Although it was concerned with the status of human rights in Cuba, Venezuela took into account the efforts made by the Cuban Government and the negative influence of the unilateral decisions taken against Cuba. Therefore, Venezuela would vote against the draft resolution. Such a draft resolution would only exacerbate the situation.
FAHAD ALTHANI (Qatar) said it believed that a new system had been adopted in Cuba in line with international conventions. Cuba should be encouraged. The text made no mention of the progress that had been made. Dialogue, away from confrontation, was the best way to address matters like this. Qatar would vote against the draft.
In a resolution adopted by consensus, (E/.CN.4/1999/L.16) on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, the Commission strongly condemned the mass killings and systematic human-rights violations against civilians and prisoners of war; expressed its gravest concern at numerous reports of mass killings in the area of Mazar-I-Sharif and Bamian by the Taliban; noted with deep concern the continuing pattern of human-rights violations in Afghanistan, the persisting armed hostilities and the complex nature of the conflict, and the continued displacement of millions of Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Iran as well as in other countries; condemned the widespread human-rights violations, including torture and the frequent practice of arbitrary arrest and detention and of summary trials, which had resulted in summary executions throughout the country; condemned the killing of Iranian diplomats and the correspondent of the Islamic Republic News Agency by Taliban combatants, as well as the attacks on and killing of United Nations personnel in Taliban-held territories, and called upon the Taliban to fulfil its stated commitment to cooperate in urgent investigations of these heinous crimes; urged all States to respect the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Afghanistan and to refrain from interfering in its internal affairs, and to end immediately the supply of arms, military equipment, training or any other military support to all parties in the conflict; urged all Afghan parties to cease hostilities immediately, to reaffirm publicly their commitment to international human-rights standards, to protect civilians, to provide remedies to victims, to ensure the safety of all personnel of diplomatic missions, the UN, and other organizations, to provide the International Committee of the Red Cross access to all prisoners, and to treat all suspects and convicted and detained persons in accordance with international standards; urged all Afghan parties, and in particular the Taliban, to bring to an end without delay all violations of the human rights of women and girls and to take urgent measures to ensure repeal of all legislative and other measures which discriminated against women; to ensure effective participation of women in all aspects of the life of the country; to ensure their rights to work, education, health, security of person, and freedom of movement; and invited the Secretary-General to implement promptly security conditions permitting full investigation of reports of mass killings of prisoners of war and civilians, rape and other cruel treatment in Afghanistan; invited him to ensure that the deployment of civilian-affairs observers took place as soon as possible; invited him to exert efforts to ensure a gender perspective in the selection of the staff of the UN Special Mission to Afghanistan; and decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan for a further year.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said his country would join the consensus on the Chairperson’s text on Afghanistan, recognising the international concern for the human rights situation in that country. The pursuance of hostilities in certain parts of the country was a main reason for the violations of human rights. Pakistan had the highest stake in the desire to find a peaceful solution. It believed that if there was a meaningful international engagement and negotiation with the authorities in Kabul, a solution could be found. The partial resumption of United Nations activities in Afghanistan were welcomed. There was a need to finalise the visits of the Commission on Enquiry, since this would clear up the situation of the grave human rights violations that were reported. Some restrictions had already been lifted by Kabul. The international community should continue to help with the resolution of the situation.
HUMAYUN TANDAR (Afghanistan) said this draft resolution would be adopted by consensus and that would be noted. After 20 years of tragedy, destruction, and death from foreign interference, only dialogue and national action would help peace. There was no military solution. The extremism of the Taliban was the cause of flagrant and ongoing violations of human rights. That was the cause of the problem with the rights of women. The delegation promised full cooperation with the United Nations. Approximately 9,000 people had been killed. It was clear that there was no room in a civilized world for movements that harmed human rights to this extent.
In a resolution adopted by consensus, (E/.CN.4/1999/L.18) on the situation of human rights in Burundi, the Commission supported the political compact between the Government of Burundi and the National Assembly, and the dialogue among Burundians, including the armed factions, taking place in the Arusha peace process; hailed the suspension by neighbouring countries of their embargo on Burundi; encouraged the Government of Burundi to continue its actions aimed at associating all sectors of Burundian society in the work of national reconciliation; took note of progress in security and public order but regretted that the security situation in parts of the country remained unstable; encouraged continued efforts to dismantle the regroupment camps and aid the return of displaced persons to their villages; took note of Government efforts to ensure that established legal safeguards for human rights were respected; invited the Government to take more measures to put an end to impunity; exhorted it to make its judicial institutions more transparent and effective; urged all parties to the conflict to end the cycle of violence and killings, especially blind violence against the civilian population; took note of encouraging signs in the struggle against impunity and for the promotion of human rights on the part of the Government, but expressed deep concern at violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, in particular reports of massacres, enforced or involuntary disappearances, and arbitrary arrests and detentions; adjured the parties to the conflict to abstain vigorously from an action liable to hamper operations by the International Committee of the Red Cross and other humanitarian groups; adjured all parties to work in search of a lasting peace; encouraged the Organization of African Unity in its efforts to prevent further deterioration of the situation; condemned the illegal sale and distribution of weapons and related materials which disturbed peace and security in the region; requested States not to allow their territories to be used as bases for incursions or attacks against another State; exhorted States and relevant organizations to give the Government financial backing to put Burundi back on its feet; urged the international community to resume economic cooperation with Burundi; and decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Burundi for one year.
WILHELM HOYNCK (Germany), on behalf of the European Union and the eastern and central European countries and Cyprus associated with it, said it supported the resolution’s call for resumed economic cooperation, and welcomed the positive human rights developments identified in the resolution. The resolution offered the Government of Burundi, in a spirit of partnership, support towards further progress.