COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS ADOPTS RESOLUTIONS ON SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN SEVEN COUNTRIES
Approves No-Action Motion on Human Rights Situation in China
The Commission on Human Rights this morning adopted resolutions on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, southern Lebanon and west Bekaa, Iraq, Afghanistan, Equatorial Guinea, Burundi and Rwanda.
The Commission also approved, by a vote of 22 in favour to 18 against and 12 abstentions, a no-action motion forwarded by the delegation of China on a draft resolution tabled by the United States on the situation of human rights in China. The introduction of the draft resolution and the no-action motion raised by China was followed by an extensive debate among the delegations supporting and disapproving the no-action motion.
The draft resolution would have welcomed the readiness of the Government of China to exchange information on human rights while expressing concern at continuing reports of violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the country.
The Commission adopted without a vote a resolution on the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, expressing its concern at the adverse impact of the conflict on the situation of human rights and its severe consequences for the security and well-being of the civilian population throughout the territory of that country.
In a resolution on the human rights situation in southern Lebanon and west Bekaa, adopted by a roll-call vote of 51 in favour to 1 against and 1 abstention, the Commission deplored the continued Israeli violations of human rights in the occupied zone. It called upon Israel to put an immediate end to its practice of abduction and arbitrary detention of civilians and other practices of human rights violations.
Concerning the human rights situation in Iraq, the Commission approved by a roll-call vote of 32 in favour to none against and 21 abstentions a resolution which strongly condemned the systematic, widespread and extremely grave violations of human rights by the Government of Iraq, resulting in an all-pervasive repression and oppression sustained by broad-based discrimination and widespread terror.
On the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, the Commission approved without a vote a resolution which strongly condemned mass killings and systematic human-rights violations against civilians and persons deprived of their liberty for reasons related to the armed conflict, and noted with deep concern the continuing pattern of human-rights violations in Afghanistan. It also condemned the continuing grave violations of the human rights of women and girls, including all forms of discrimination against them, particularly in the areas under the control of the Taliban
In a resolution on the situation of human rights in Equatorial Guinea and assistance in the field of human rights, adopted by consensus, the Commission encouraged the Government to guarantee full enjoyment of freedom of movement and association, freedom of information, opinion and expression, and the principle of the rule of law. The Government was also urged to ensure that military jurisdiction was not applied to civilians and to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women.
Concerning the situation of human rights in Burundi, the Commission adopted a resolution without a vote in which it remained concerned at ongoing violence and the security situation in parts of the country, forcing many people to leave their homes, and deplored the unacceptable living conditions in the regroupment camps and displaced-persons sites. It recommended that the Government and UN agencies and NGOs provide humanitarian assistance and requested the Government to ensure the safe and unhindered access of humanitarian assistance to those in need in Burundi.
And in a resolution on the situation of human rights in Rwanda, adopted by consensus, the Commission expressed concern that most of the perpetrators of the 1994 genocide and other gross violations of human rights continued to evade justice. The Commission noted the indications of improvement in the human-rights situation in Rwanda and expressed concern at continued violations of human rights and urged the Government to continue to investigate and prosecute such violations.
The resolutions decided too renew for a year the mandates of the Special Rapporteurs and Representatives on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Equatorial Guinea, Burundi and Rwanda.
Voting on a draft resolution on the situation of human rights in Iran was postponed to later in the day.
The following delegations addressed the meeting this morning: Norway, Pakistan, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Iraq, Kuwait, Sudan, the United States, the Russian Federation, Tunisia, Indonesia, Qatar, Madagascar, Japan, Rwanda, China, Portugal, Cuba, Canada and Sri Lanka.
The Commission will reconvene at 3 p.m. to take action on more draft resolutions on country situations. It is scheduled to hold an extended evening meeting from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Action on draft resolutions
In a resolution on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (E/CN.4/2000/L.15/Rev.1), adopted without a vote, the Commission expressed its concern at the adverse impact of the conflict on the situation of human rights and its severe consequences for the security and well-being of the civilian population throughout the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; at the continuing violations of the cease-fire provided for in the Lusaka Agreement, and at the continued use of warlike language; and at the preoccupying situation of human rights in that country, particularly in the eastern parts of the country, and at the continuing violations of human rights and international humanitarian law throughout the territory of the Congo. It was also concerned at the excessive accumulation and spread of small arms and light weapons and the illicit distribution, circulation and trafficking of arms in the region and their negative impact on human rights.
The Commission urged all parties to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to implement fully the Lusaka Cease-fire Agreement in accordance with the new timetable agreed on by the parties and to establish the authority of the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo throughout the territory; to protect human rights and to respect international humanitarian law; to ensure the safety, security and freedom of movement of United Nations and associated personnel and humanitarian personnel within the country; to cease all military activity; to end the use of child soldiers; and to take and implement all necessary measures to create conditions for the voluntary return of all refugees and displaced persons.
Further, the Commission called upon the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, among other things, to comply fully with its obligations under international human rights law and to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout its entire territory; to fulfil its responsibility to protect the human rights of the population; to put an end to impunity and fulfil its responsibility to ensure that those responsible for human rights violations were brought to justice; and to ensure full respect for freedom of opinion and expression. It decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in that country.
ROALD NAESS (Norway) said international human rights law established rights for individuals and a correlative obligation on the part of States. Under this body of rules, individuals had no obligations in relation to States. The issue of individual responsibility was irrelevant in this context. Penal responsibility for individuals under international law was confined to expressly regulated international crimes. Terminology that implied individual responsibility for human rights violations could contribute to undermine the protection of human rights by alleviating the obligations of the State. Some of the language use was not consistent with the mandate of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda as laid down by the Security Council and the Statue of the Tribunal.
The draft resolution on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran (E/CN.4/2000/L.16), which the Commission postponed consideration on until later in the day, would have the Commission welcome the progress made in that country in the area of freedom of expression, while remaining concerned at restrictions on the freedom of the press and cases of harassment and intimidation of journalists. It would also have the Commission condemn the continuing violations of human rights in the country, and express concern at discrimination against religious minorities.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) deeply regretted the submission of this draft resolution on Iran in the Commission this year. The Organization of the Islamic Conference had repeatedly objected to the politicization of human rights and the use of human rights instruments for the advancement of political agendas. It was clear that Islamic countries were targeted. This draft resolution should be opposed for the following reasons. It was serving the political objectives of a few countries and not the promotion of human rights. Furthermore significant human rights development had taken place in Iran and had been widely observed. The resolution had lost its raison d'etre and would be contrary to the aims to which it subscribed. Human rights in Iran could be promoted by cooperation and contact through established channels. The Government of Iran was open to such contact and cooperation but not under the threat of this resolution.
ALI KHORRAM (Iran) said the draft resolution was outdated -- it told a 17-year-old story, a political exercise carried out by a few countries and making a mockery of UN human-rights mechanisms and procedures. Measures had been taken to provide an environment for the full exercise of all human rights, including freedom of the press and expression; to uphold the rule of law and strengthen democratic norms and institutions and promote a culture of participation and tolerance, and to hold public officials fully accountable for their acts; in Iran, all people, including high-ranking authorities, were equal before the law. Several steps had been taken to reform the judiciary. More opportunities had been provided for the participation of women in socio-political affairs and new regulations had been set in support of women's rights.
The arrest and current trial of 8 Muslims and 13 Jews was just an example of the rule of law, and for this case the due process of law was under way; nothing had happened illegally, and there would be a fair trial. Politicization and use of any pressure to affect the fair trial would be counter-productive. All suspects had lawyers of their own choice. Iran had made every effort to limit the application of capital punishment to only the most serious crimes. The Commission's Special Representative had long been invited to visit Iran, but only with a view to discontinuing this 17-year-old scenario. The Commission should vote against this politically motivated and unwarranted draft resolution.
In a resolution on the human rights situation in southern Lebanon and west Bekaa (E/CN.4/2000/L.23), adopted by roll-call vote of 51 in favour to 1 against and 1 abstaining, the Commission deplored the continued Israeli violations of human rights in the occupied zone in southern Lebanon and west Bekaa, demonstrated in particular by the abduction and arbitrary detention of civilians, the destruction of their dwellings, the confiscation of their property, their expulsion from their land, the bombardment of villages and civilian areas, and other practices violating human rights; called upon Israel to put an immediate end to such practices, in air raids and the use of prohibited weapons, and to implement Security Council resolution 425 (1978) of 19 March 1978 requiring Israel's immediate, total and unconditional withdrawal from all Lebanese territories and respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Lebanon; also called upon the Government of Israel, the occupying power of territories in southern Lebanon and west Bekaa, to comply with the Geneva Conventions of 1949, in particular the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, and to refrain from holding the abducted Lebanese citizens as well as other persons arbitrarily detained in prisons and detention centres in the occupied territories in Lebanon in violation of all the Geneva Conventions and other provisions of international law.
The result of the vote was as follows:
In favour: Argentina, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Cuba, Czech Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liberia, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Niger,
Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Senegal, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Tunisia, the United Kingdom, Venezuela and Zambia.
Against: the United States.
DAVID PELEG (Israel) said that if there was a single resolution that demonstrated that the Commission lived in an ivory tower detached from reality, not recognizing changes, it was draft resolution L23 which expressed the failure of Israel to withdraw from southern Lebanon. One had to develop a sense of humour in order to deal with this draft resolution in view of the situation in the area and in Lebanon. A letter had already been sent by Foreign Minister David Levi to Secretary-General Kofi Annan announcing the decision to withdraw Israel’s forces in Lebanon by July 2000 and the Israeli intention to cooperate fully with the United Nations. This letter spoke for itself and showed that this draft resolution belonged to the era of the Jurassic park. Peace would be achieved through negotiations which would be of benefit to the two countries.
WALID NASR (Lebanon) said the statement by Israel was a literary statement -- it made no sense. The international community did not live in an ivory tower, nor did Lebanon. Since the Israeli invasion, Lebanese had experienced daily, severe human-rights violations; Israel kept repeating promises about "withdrawals" and "commitments" made to the United Nations to "implement" UN resolutions. Yet nothing happened. There was no trust anymore that Israel would do what it said it would do. The situation in southern Lebanon and west Bekaa had not changed. Lebanon wanted to see results, not hear more promises. The Commission should vote in favour of the draft resolution.
In a resolution (E/CN.4/2000/L.25) on the situation of human rights in Iraq, adopted by a roll-call vote of 32 in favour to none against and 21 abstentions, the Commission strongly condemned systematic, widespread and extremely grave violations by the Government of Iraq, resulting in an all-pervasive repression and oppression sustained by broad-based discrimination and widespread terror; suppression of freedom of thought, expression, information, association, assembly and movement; widespread use of the death penalty; summary and arbitrary executions, including political killings and the continued so-called clean-out of prisons, as well as enforced or involuntary disappearances, routinely practised arbitrary arrests and detention, and consistent and routine failure to respect due process and the rule of law, for example the execution of delinquents for minor property offenses and customs violations; and widespread torture and cruel and inhuman punishments.
The Commission also called upon the Government of Iraq to respect and ensure the rights of all individuals; to bring the actions of its military and security forces into conformity with international legal standards; to cooperate with United Nations human-rights mechanisms, in particular by inviting the Special Rapporteur to visit the country and allowing the stationing of human-rights monitors throughout Iraq pursuant to relevant resolutions; to establish independence of the judiciary and abrogate all laws granting impunity; to abrogate all decrees prescribing cruel and inhuman punishment, including mutilation, and to end torture; to ensure free exercise of political opposition; to respect the rights of all ethnic and religious groups and to cease immediately its continued repressive practices, including forced deportation and relocation, against the Iraqi Kurds, Assyrians and Turkmen, and against the population of the southern marsh areas, and to ensure the personal integrity and freedom of all citizens, including the Shia population; to cooperate with the Tripartite Commission and its Technical Subcommittee to establish the whereabouts and resolve the fate of the remaining several hundred missing persons, to cooperate with the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances for that purpose, to pay compensation, to release immediately all Kuwaitis and other nationals still held in detention and inform families about the whereabouts of arrested persons, to provide information about death sentences imposed on prisoners of war and civilian detainees and to issue death certificates for them; to continue to cooperate in implementing relevant Security Council resolutions and to ensure the timely and equitable distribution of all humanitarian supplies purchased under the oil-for-food programme; and to cooperate in identifying minefields in Iraq with a view to facilitating their marking and eventual clearance; and decided to extend for another year the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation in Iraq and recommended a draft decision to the Economic and Social Council to that effect.
The outcome of the vote was as follows:
In favour: Argentina, Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Luxembourg, Mauritius, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Rwanda, Senegal, Spain, Swaziland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Abstentions: Bangladesh, Burundi, China, Congo, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Liberia, Madagascar, Morocco, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tunisia, Venezuela and Zambia.
MOHAMMED AL-DOURI (Iraq) said the right to food and the right to security were two basic elements closely linked to the right to life. Yet the Iraqi people had been deprived of these rights for ten years, being subjected to an unjust savage embargo imposed by the United States and the United Kingdom with the aim of depriving the means to lead a dignified life. The draft resolution ignored the opposition front within the international community against the economic embargo as it was an inhuman tool used to dismantle the social fabric of Iraqi society. The draft resolution was no more than a political document, unbalanced, biased and politicized. Iraq would not reiterate the response made last year as this would not yield any results. The Iraqi delegation had already highlighted the dire humanitarian situation the Iraqi population was exposed to. There was a need for a healthy environment in which human rights could be fully realized.
If the drafters had been genuinely interested in the humanitarian situation in Iraq they would have referred to the inhuman impact of the embargo, the human and material losses, the increase in victims of depleted uranium used by the US and UK, and would have called for the end of such crimes. The overwhelming use of selectivity, double standards and the politicization of human rights had become crystal clear to everybody and it was unfortunate that this had become the main feature characterizing draft resolutions presented against selected Third World States.
DHARAR RAZZOOQI (Kuwait) said his country was grateful to Portugal and the European Community for presenting this draft resolution. There were two sections to the resolution -- one on human-rights issues, which were thoroughly documented and self-explanatory; and one on humanitarian issues and aspects. The part calling for cooperation by Iraq with the Tripartite Commission and its technical committee was very important to Kuwait -- it had to do with missing Kuwaiti prisoners of war and third-country nationals. Iraq had invaded Kuwait and there were consequences that still had to be dealt with; this was no hypothetical exercise; Iraq had obligations and must fulfil them, and the international community had the responsibility to enforce international humanitarian law in relation to those obligations. Kuwait wanted Iraq to respect and apply international humanitarian law and to provide a full accounting of all missing Kuwaiti prisoners of war, and to release Kuwaiti prisoners of war.
MIRGHANI IBRAHIM (Sudan) repeated that the draft resolution ignored, inter alia, references to the negative effects of the economic embargo carried out by the United States and the United Kingdom. The negative effects had been documented in numerous reports and the delegation of Sudan believed that a solution to finding the disappeared persons was necessary to end the suffering for all parties involved.
RICHARD BATCHELOR (the United States) said his country supported the resolution on Iraq because it accurately described the human-rights violations committed in Iraq, but it strongly disagreed with any suggestion that United Nations Security Council resolutions were in any way responsible for the suffering of the Iraqi people. Any suffering on their part was directly attributable to the regime of Saddam Hussein; instead of caring about his people and acting to provide for their needs, he was building palaces. It was time to end the impunity of Saddam Hussein, who had lived too long outside international law.
VLADIMIR PARSHIKOV (the Russian Federation) was in favour of the full enjoyment of rights and freedoms in Iraq, which included the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights. The Russian delegation noted that the draft resolution did not reflect the negative consequences of sanctions against Iraq, particularly the effects on children. The draft did not take into account the different facets of the situation. Therefore the Russian Federation could not agree to the total condemnation of the Iraqi Government, as the draft resolution was selective and often referred to dated facts. Furthermore the illegal bombing of Iraqi territories was against international law. The Government of Iraq had to guarantee standards of human rights and cooperate with the Commission to end the suffering of the Iraqi population.
RAOUF CHATTY (Tunisia) said his country had supported the draft resolution on Iraq as it applied to the settlement of issues which related to Kuwaiti and other nationalities' prisoners of war. Tunisia supported the purely humanitarian aspect of this appeal; settlement of this situation might improve relations between Kuwait and Iraq and reduce tensions in the region. Tunisia also felt that it was necessary to respect the territorial integrity of Iraq, and that it was necessary for the international community to help Iraqis, in particular Iraqi children, who were suffering every day for lack of food and medicines.
SUSANTO SUTOYO (Indonesia) said his country abstained in the vote because of its view that the international sanctions against Iraq had contributed to the worsening human rights conditions in the country, particularly for children and vulnerable groups. The lifting of the embargo would improve the human rights conditions. However, the delegation of Indonesia called on the Government of Iraq to cooperate with the United Nations to find the disappeared persons.
FAHAD AL-THANI (Qatar), explaining the country's vote after the vote, said his country reiterated its request to Iraq that it respect all international agreements and that it release all detainees and prisoners of war from Kuwait. It also was necessary for Iraq to cooperate in finding all those missing. Qatar abstained in the vote because it felt the resolution did not throw enough light on the suffering of Iraqis and Iraqi children, and the deaths of hundreds of thousands, because of the international economic embargo imposed on Iraq. That tragic situation must end.
MAXIME ZAFERA (Madagascar) said his country had abstained in the vote. All States had a duty to protect human rights. The people of Iraq were suffering from the international embargo, and the international community could no longer ignore the dramatic aspects of the humanitarian crisis suffered in Iraq.
In a resolution (E/CN.4/2000/L.26) on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, accepted without a vote, the Commission strongly condemned mass killings and systematic human-rights violations against civilians and persons deprived of their liberty for reasons related to the armed conflict, and noted with alarm the resumption by the Taliban of the wider conflict during the past summer, resulting in the massive forced displacement of the civilian population, in particular of women and children; noted with deep concern the continuing pattern of human-rights violations in Afghanistan; the persisting armed hostilities in Afghanistan and the complex nature of the conflict, including ethnic, religious and political aspects, which had resulted in extensive human suffering and forced displacement, including on grounds of ethnicity, and which hindered the return of the internally displaced to their homes; the continued displacement of millions of Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Iran, as well as in other countries, while recognizing with appreciation efforts undertaken in host countries to ease the plight of Afghan refugees; condemned the widespread violations and abuses of human rights; the continuing grave violations of the human rights of women and girls, including all forms of discrimination against them, particularly in the areas under the control of the Taliban; the frequent practice of arbitrary arrest and detention and of summary trials and summary executions; the recent violations by the Taliban in Kandahar of United Nations immunity, which compelled the United Nations to stop work in the area; reiterated its condemnation of the killing of Iranian diplomats and the correspondent of the Islamic Republic News Agency by the Taliban; and stressed the need for national reconciliation and for the establishment of the rule of law, good governance and democracy.
According to the resolution, the Commission also urged all States to respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity and national unity of Afghanistan and to refrain from interfering in its internal affairs, and to end immediately the supply of arms, ammunition, military equipment, training or any other military support, including providing any foreign military personnel, to all parties to the conflict; urged all the Afghan parties to respect fully all human rights; to cease hostilities immediately; to reaffirm publicly their commitment to international human rights; to respect fully international human law, to protect civilians, to halt the use of weapons against the civilian population, to refrain from wanton destruction of food crops and civilian property, to stop laying landmines, to prohibit conscripting or enlisting children or using them to participate in hostilities; to provide efficient and effective remedies to the victims of grave violations; and to treat all suspects in accordance with international standards; urged all Afghan parties, in particular the Taliban, to end without delay all violations of the human rights of women and girls; invited the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights to proceed without delay to investigate fully reports of mass killings of persons deprived of their liberty for reasons related to the armed conflict and of rape and cruel treatment in Afghanistan; urged the Secretary-General to ensure that the ongoing deployment of civilian-affairs observers took place as soon as possible, security conditions permitting, and that gender issues were fully incorporated in their mission; that the Secretary-General exert efforts to ensure a gender perspective in the selection of staff for the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan to enhance the role of women in preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and peacekeeping; appealed to Member States and others to provide on a non-discriminatory basis humanitarian assistance to the region; to intensify the programme for removal of landmines; and to ensure that all United Nations-assisted programmes in Afghanistan promoted and ensured the equal participation and benefit of women; requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to ensure a human-rights presence in Afghanistan to provide advice and training in human rights to all Afghan parties; and decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan for another year.
KOICHI HARAGUCHI (Japan), in an explanation of the country's vote after the vote, said his country was concerned about the human-rights situation in Afghanistan, and in particular about the situation of women's human rights. Japan had invited the parties to the conflict to Japan for a discussion, and views had been exchanged. Japan sincerely wished to contribute to the establishment of peace in Afghanistan and welcomed the consensus resolution.
In a resolution (E/CN.4/2000/L.27) on the situation of human rights in Equatorial Guinea and assistance in the field of human rights, adopted by consensus, the Commission encouraged the Government to adopt quick and effective measures to comply with the recommendations made by the Commission and its Special Representative; to guarantee fully enjoyment of freedom of movement and association; freedom of information, opinion and expression; the principle of the rule of law; to adhere to the Convention against Torture and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; to safeguard the right to justice and the independence of the judiciary, and to ensure that military jurisdiction was not applied to civilians; to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women; to step up efforts to fulfil commitments arising from the agreement signed with the opposition parties, especially with a view to the municipal elections called for 28 May 2000; to guarantee economic, social and cultural rights; to promote and protect the rights of the child; welcomed the stated willingness of the Government of Equatorial Guinea to implement a national human-rights action plan and encouraged the Government to agree on means for its early implementation together with a comprehensive programme of technical assistance with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; welcomed the stated willingness of the Government to extend invitations to the thematic rapporteurs of the Commission; noted with interest the financial efforts and political will of the Government to establish a national Centre for the Promotion of Human Rights and Democracy and encouraged the Government to have the Centre begin functioning as soon as possible; encouraged it to invite to the country an electoral observer mission for the next municipal elections; and decided to renew the mandate of the Special Representative on Equatorial Guinea for another year.
In a resolution (E/CN.4/2000/L.28) on the situation of human rights in Burundi, approved without a vote, the Commission supported the political compact between the Government and the National Assembly, and the dialogue among Burundians, including the armed factions, taking place in the Arusha peace process; welcomed the designation of the former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, as the new Facilitator of the Arusha peace process; noted the continuing need to make the negotiation process more inclusive; appealed to all armed factions and other Burundian political forces, inside and outside the country, which had not done so to join the negotiation process, to conclude a cease-fire as soon as possible, and to sign a peace agreement; encouraged the Government to continue its actions to associate all sectors of society in the work of national reconciliation and to restore a safe, generally reassuring institutional order so as to bring back democracy and peace; remained concerned at ongoing violence and the security situation in parts of the country, forcing many people to leave their homes; deplored the unacceptable living conditions in the regroupment camps and displaced-persons sites, and recommended that the Government and UN agencies and NGOs provide humanitarian assistance; requested the Government to ensure the safe and unhindered access of humanitarian assistance to those in need in Burundi; called upon it to suspend its policy of population displacement; and called upon it to continue to implement its commitment to dismantle all regroupment camps and to facilitate the return of displaced persons when security conditions permitted.
The Commission also noted the efforts by the Government to ensure that established legal safeguards for human rights were fully respected; requested the Government to take more measures to put an end to impunity; welcomed the entry into force of the new code of penal procedure and exhorted the Government to continue to carry out its plan of legal reform the better to protect individual freedoms and make its judicial institutions more effective and transparent; condemned the murder of personnel of the United Nations Children's Fund and the World Food Programme and Burundian civilians in Rutana province in October 1999 and urged that the perpetrators be effectively brought to justice; urged all parties to the conflict to end the cycle of violence and killings, especially blind violence against civilians; noted the efforts in the struggle against impunity and for the promotion of human rights on the part of the Government, but expressed its deep concern at the violations of human rights and international law, in particular reports of massacres, enforced or involuntary disappearances, and arbitrary arrests and detention; supported the continuation by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the programme of assistance for members of the armed forces and the police in the field of human rights and legal assistance; expressed its appreciation of the efforts by the mediators of the United Nations, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the European Union in the search for a lasting solution to the problems of Burundi; encouraged the OAU in its efforts, particularly through its Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution, to remain engaged in preventing any 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; called upon the Government of Burundi to take actions to foster a security environment conducive to the work of assistance organizations; and decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Burundi by one year.
In a resolution (E/CN.4/2000/L.29) on the situation of human rights in Rwanda, adopted by consensus, the Commission welcomed the cooperation and assistance extended by the Government of Rwanda to the Commission's Special Representative; welcomed the continuing efforts of the Government to build a State based on the rule of law and respect for human rights; expressed concern that most of the perpetrators of the 1994 genocide and other gross violations of human rights continued to evade justice; reiterated its request that all States cooperate fully with the Government and the International Tribunal for Rwanda to ensure that all those responsible for the genocide and other grave violations were brought to justice; noted the efforts which the International Tribunal had made to improve its performance and encouraged further efforts to enhance its efficiency; expressed its concern over the effectiveness of the witness-protection programme of the Tribunal and called for its improvement as a matter of urgency; noted the indications of improvement in the human-rights situation in Rwanda, expressed concern at continued violations of human rights and urged the Government to continue to investigate and prosecute such violations; took note with great concern of the report of the International Commission of Inquiry (Rwanda) on the sale, supply and shipment of arms and related material in the Great Lakes region of Central Africa; the report of the Investigative Team of the Secretary-General and called again upon the Government of Rwanda to respond to this report; condemned the illegal sale and distribution of arms, which had a negative impact on human rights and undermined peace and stability in Rwanda and the region; noted that the Government was regrouping scattered rural populations, and urged it to respect human rights and not to use any elements of coercion in implementation of its resettlement programme; took note with interest of the establishment of grass-roots organizations for the reconstruction of society and called upon the Government to ensure that they were properly trained, controllable and accountable; called upon the Government to improve conditions of detention and to ensure that persons detained were treated in a humane manner; encouraged continued efforts by the Government to reduce the prison population; welcomed the continuation of domestic trials of those suspected of genocide and crimes against humanity and the improvements that had been made in the trial process, and encouraged the Government to strengthen the capacity of the independent judicial system in conformity with international standards; urged the Government and the Tribunal to continue to give utmost priority to the prosecution and punishment of crimes of sexual violence committed against women; and took note with interest of the efforts of the Government to institute the gacaca system of justice based on traditional justice in Rwanda with the aim of speeding up the handling of the large caseload of detainees awaiting trial.
The Commission also encouraged the Government in its campaign of sensitization aimed at promoting the rule of law, respect for human rights, and reconciliation; welcomed the new law on matrimonial property and succession; commended the Government on its continued efforts to improve the situation of children; encouraged the Government to continue to provide protection and assistance to returnees; commended the Government on the establishment of the National Human Rights Commission; expressed its appreciation for the round table organized by the National Commission with the collaboration of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Government, the Special Representative, and the international community; encouraged the Government to provide full support to the mandate of the National Commission, including adequate funding; welcomed the establishment of the Legal and Constitutional Commission as required and mandated under the Arusha peace agreement and urged the Government of Rwanda to provide it with the necessary support; urged the Government to work with interested Governments and the High Commissioner for Human Rights to facilitate the development of a national human-rights monitoring capacity; recommended that the international community continue to provide development assistance for the reconstruction and long-term stability of Rwanda; decided to extend the mandate of the Special Representative on Rwanda for another year; and recommended a draft decision to that effect to the Economic and Social Council for adoption.
CANISIUS KANANURA (Rwanda) said that since the end of the genocide in 1994 the Government had been committed to establish the rule of law in accordance with international human rights standards. The delegation thanked all those who had assisted Rwanda in this struggle. The implementation of this initiative could not be possible without the support of the international community. The delegation of Rwanda regretted that some States had not recognized the genocide of Rwanda and held Rwanda as solely responsible for the events of 1994. Kofi Annan's report was commended as it challenged the conscience of the international community and some countries had already acknowledged their responsibility. The delegation of Rwanda particularly thanked the President of Belgium and the President of the United States for their moves in the right direct. Human rights protection in Rwanda was only possible if the international community accepted its responsibility and accepted to assist Rwanda in the re-building of the country.
The Commission approved, by a vote of 22 in favour to 18 against and 12 abstentions, a no-action motion forwarded by the delegation of China on a resolution (E/CN.4/2000/L.30) tabled by the United States on the situation of human rights in China. The draft resolution would have welcomed the readiness of the Government of China to exchange information on human rights issues and expressed concern at continuing reports of violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the country.
The outcome of the vote was as follows:
In favour: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Botswana, Burundi, China, Congo, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Morocco, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Qatar, Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Venezuela and Zambia.
Against: Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Swaziland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Abstentions: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Liberia, Mauritius, Mexico, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Senegal and Tunisia.
QIAO ZOBGHUAI (China) said his delegation opposed the draft resolution and moved that the Commission take no action on it. It was nothing but an anti-China political farce, directed and played by the United States alone, and a mockery of the Commission on Human Rights and its members. The past year had witnessed political stability, economic development, national unity, and content life and work for the Chinese people. The US representative repeatedly asserted that the human-rights situation in China had seriously deteriorated. It was a blatant lie. In fact, the US had violated the human rights of Chinese by bombing the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, killing three Chinese journalists and wounding more than 20 embassy staff members.
China's no-action motion was fully justified by the rules of procedure of the Commission. The motion was precisely an effort to prevent a possible deviation in the work of the Commission. In reality, it was the US that was seeking special treatment and practising double standards on the question of human rights; it constantly pointed its finger at developing countries in the name of human rights but was itself notorious for racial discrimination, police brutality, torture in prison, campus shootings, and other serious violations of human rights. It should table a draft resolution on its own human-rights situation.
HAROLD KOH (the United States) said that the no-action motion suggested by China was a compromise of the principle of human rights. No State should enjoy immunity from investigation. Over the years, only one State, China, had remained immune. No one State had the right to remain immune from investigation whilst pointing fingers at other countries. The members of the Commission were called upon to reject the no-action motion introduced to prevent one country's record to be investigated. The motion had to be opposed so that double standards were not condoned. All resolutions should be judged on their merit and no State should hide its human rights record behind procedural regulation. The United States called on all Commission members to vote against the no-action motion.
VLADIMIR PARSHIROV (the Russian Federation) said that in recent years his country had frequently expressed its concern that human-rights matters had been artificially politicized. A prime example was this resolution now before the Commission on China. China had made much progress in protecting human rights; it had had extensive engagement with the international community on human rights and had cooperated with the mechanisms of the Commission. Recently, Russia and other States had held open and fruitful dialogues with China on matters of human rights; that was the only way to proceed. Russia would support the no-action motion.
ALVARO MENDONCA E MOURA (Portugal), on behalf of the European Union, expressed regret at the no-action motion proposed by China. It was the principle of the European Union to consistently vote against no-action motions. No country was immune to investigation by the Human Rights Commission. Procedural motions like this put in question the right of the Commission to deal with country situations at all. Despite positive steps in China, little progress had been made on the ground, particularly with regard to civil and political rights. The European Union was concerned by the severe punishments and sentences administered by the Chinese authorities. It was fundamental to discuss human rights issues which should be accompanied by the guaranteeing of all human rights for people under Chinese rule.
MIGUEL ALFONSO MARTINER (Cuba) said the United States had established a high rate of dual standards in the Commission; yet the US delegation had just spoken in sophisms and fallacies in an attempt to achieve conclusions on the basis of facts that were not true. The Commission's rules of procedure had existed long before the case of China was considered. The rules applied to all without discrimination. Furthermore the delegation of the US had forgotten its own actions in international bodies; perhaps it should remember that between the mid-60s and the mid-70s, the US delegation had used constantly in the General Assembly the equivalent of this rule to deprive the People's Republic of China its right to assume a seat in the United Nations. It was odd that now the US charged piously and hypocritically that the rules were being bent. Cuba would vote in favour of the no-action motion.
ROSS HYNES (Canada) said that Canada had consistently opposed the principle of the no-action motion because one of the most fundamental roles of the Commission was to face up to human rights violations wherever they were discussed. The Government and people of China deserved support and encouragement by the international community for the many positive steps made. However there were still concerns that members of the Commission had the responsibility and right to discuss.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said it was always regrettable when the Commission became an arena for political combat rather than the handmaiden of human rights. Each year the draft resolution on China transformed the Commission into a site for political dispute. If the concern was to promote social progress and higher standards of life, China had done very well -- it had done much to alleviate poverty, for example. Human development was human rights in action, and by this yardstick, China was human rights in action. The proposed resolution was politically selective. There was another large country in Asia that was engaged in daily and massive violations on human rights; why was a draft resolution tabled every year on China and not on this second country? In fact, Pakistan had been actively discouraged from raising this matter in the Commission and the General Assembly; it would only incite that country, Pakistan had been told. Yet the exact opposite reasoning was proclaimed in China's case. This was double standards in action.
The political antecedents of this anti-China draft resolution were well-known. The draft resolution was intended to ease passage through the US Congress of open-trade agreements with China; the intent was to help the US enrich itself through greater trade with China. But the internal political concerns of one country were not the concern of the Commission; the no-action motion was designed to prevent just such distortions of the Commission's work.
HEWA PALIHAKKARA (Sri Lanka) said no-action motions were not unique to the Commission of Human Rights alone. They were commonly used in other United Nations bodies. The Commission should focus more attention on the consequences of the draft resolution. There were alternative ways to persuade the authorities to follow the objectives everyone desired. It had to be acknowledged that China had taken positive steps in the field of human rights. The international community had to build on this endeavour. The delegation of Sri Lanka would support the no-action motion proposed by China.
MIRGHANI IBRAHIM (Sudan) said his country had studied the draft resolution carefully and appreciated the progress made by China in terms of economic development and poverty alleviation that had done much to improve economic, social and cultural rights in China. China was an ancient civilization that deserved respect. The Chinese Government was providing a decent and peaceful livelihood for a quarter of the world's population; it deserved credit and respect. Sudan would support the no-action motion.
IFTEKHAR CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said China presented a model seemingly different in the world, but no one could deny the contributions of China. There could be much benefits from engaging with China in global activities. The motion was well within the rules of procedures and would be supported by Bangladesh.