The rights of women and children are a central focus of Government policymaking as countries work to close the social fissures ripped wide open by the COVID-19 pandemic, delegates in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural) said today, amid calls for greater cooperation in the response plans.

Laying the groundwork for change, Monaco’s representative pointed out that 35 per cent of women worldwide are victims of violence, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Picking up that thread, the representative of Bangladesh said her country has made special allocations for women, supporting women-led entrepreneurship and introducing special helplines to stop violence and child marriage.  In a similar vein, Guyana’s delegate pointed to the recently launched Women’s Innovation and Investment Network to ensure women’s financial independence.  Tajikistan’s representative stressed that, as a result of elections, women’s representation in the Lower Chamber of Parliament has risen from 19 to 24 per cent, and in the Upper Chamber from 19 to 26 per cent.  Highlighting the importance of gender equality for socioeconomic progress, Iceland’s representative stressed that there are still many battles to be fought for gender parity and equal pay.  “Men must be agents of change, not patrons of patriarchy,” he asserted, urging men and boys to join forces with women and girls to advance equality.

“The empowerment of women should be at the heart of public policy,” added Djibouti’s representative, drawing attention to the close link between gender equality and sustainable development.

Several others focused on supporting children’s rights, with Botswana’s delegate describing supplementary feeding programmes for children aged 6 to 59 months in areas where malnutrition is running high.  The Government also started a universal supplementary feeding initiative at all primary schools and launched the Vulnerable Group Feeding Programme at health facilities.  Along similar lines, Paraguay’s delegate said his country is constantly working to strengthen its child‑protection system and implementing important projects to combat child labour and violence against children.

In a broader context, delegates expressed grave concern about the human rights situations in Afghanistan, China, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Cuba, Belarus and Cambodia, with the representative of the United States noting that the Taliban promised to build more inclusive political order, yet their early actions have been inconsistent with those commitments.  The Taliban will be judged by their actions, not their words, she asserted.

Also speaking were representatives of Trinidad and Tobago, Brunei Darussalam, Côte d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Haiti, Monaco, Sudan, Madagascar, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Zimbabwe, Germany, Sweden, Eritrea and Andorra.

An observer for the State of Palestine also spoke.

The representatives of Syria, China, Cuba, Belarus, Ethiopia and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 5 October, to begin its interactive dialogue on the advancement of women.

Statements

RABAB FATIMA (Bangladesh), associating with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the Government took the decision to strike a balance between lives and livelihoods in its response to COVID-19.  Ensuring universal access to vaccines should be a top priority.  Stressing that gender-based violence has risen during the pandemic, she said women have lost their jobs and incomes.  In response, Bangladesh has made special allocations for women, supporting women-led entrepreneurship and introducing special helplines to stop violence and child marriages.  Meanwhile, education systems have suffered and millions of girls may never return to school.  Exploitation and child marriage have risen.  She called for investing in digital tools and services, and recognizing digital education as a global public good.  “The pandemic must not become a children’s crisis,” she said.  “They must be protected by all means.”  Turning to the Rohingya crisis, she said more than 1 million Rohingya still live in camps and face an uncertain future.  Not a single Rohingya has been able to return home in the last four years.

The representative of Trinidad and Tobago, endorsing the statement by the Group of 77 developing countries, called for equitable access to vaccines.  He stressed that the well‑being of children is a priority for Trinidad and Tobago and that the Government considers continuous investments in child education as a driver of progress.  “No child should be left behind in the fight to build back better,” he said.  Underlining the importance of women’s participation on an equal basis with men, he called for their inclusion in all sectors of the economy, and in all areas of development.  He noted that violence against women and girls continued, declaring that their rights must be respected.  He went on to stress that eliminating racism and discrimination remains a priority.  He deplored the impact of drug trafficking on the development of his country, underlining the importance of the Third Committee to deliver on these important issues.

DK DEWI KARTIKA PUTRI PG SHAHMINAN (Brunei Darussalam) associated herself with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Group of 77 and China, and the Non-Aligned Movement.  She said Brunei Darussalam is ensuring access to COVID-19 vaccinations for all citizens and residents, with priority given to the vulnerable.  The pandemic has seen an increase in civic engagement, she noted, with grass‑roots movements sparking a surge of volunteerism and community advocacy.  In recognizing the pandemic’s effects on physical and mental health, hotlines are available for those in need.  To promote and protect human rights, the country has enacted the Persons with Disabilities Order 2021, which encompasses three main areas:  the definition of persons with disabilities; their registration; and their neglect and abuse.  It has also developed the National Framework on Child Protection, which aims to enhance child protection, from 2020 to 2024.  In further efforts, the Digital Economy Masterplan 2025 was launched in June 2020 to focus on relevant skills and knowledge, serving as a road map for digital transformation initiatives.

TRISHALA PERSAUD (Guyana), endorsing the statements by the Group of 77 and China, and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), expressed regret that the COVID‑19 pandemic had reversed decades of development efforts.  Improving the lives of children has been Guyana’s priority when rolling out cash grants and relief packages.  While COVID‑19 has reinforced the importance of digital technologies, it has also magnified the digital divide with rural and indigenous communities, notably in relation to education.  Welcoming the upcoming sessions of the Ad Hoc Committee on Cybercrime aimed at developing a comprehensive cybercrime convention, she went on to stress that the international community has not delivered on its commitments under the Beijing Declaration, adopted at the 1995 fourth World Conference on Women.  Despite Guyana’s initiatives for women and girls, violence remains prevalent.  The Government recently launched the Women’s Innovation and Investment Network to ensure women’s financial independence.  Persons with disabilities are also a priority, she said, noting the allocation in the 2021 national budget of $150 million for the construction of a specialized training complex.  Commenting on the role of social media, she raised concerns about the rise of hate speech and intolerance.  She concluded by recalling Guyana’s goal “to get international reparations for the crime of African enslavement”.

JULIO CESAR ARRIOLA RAMIREZ (Paraguay), associating with Group of 77 and China, the Group of Friends of Indigenous Peoples and the Group of Friends of Older Adults, expressed concern that access to COVID-19 vaccines continues to be difficult for many countries.  Reiterating that solidarity and empathy are essential, he highlighted countries which donated vaccines and medicines that saved lives in Paraguay.  The pandemic disproportionately affected the most vulnerable.  At the same time, it fostered technological gains, and progress in both health care and education.  Regarding the rights of children, he said Paraguay is constantly working to strengthen its child‑protection system and implementing important projects to combat child labour and violence against children.  He also drew attention to women who are in violent situations, stressing that Paraguay has launched campaigns to combat disinformation targeted at rural and indigenous women.  He further highlighted the leadership of women among medical personal and said the COVID-19 crisis should be viewed as an opportunity to design a new development that promotes women’s financial inclusion.

MOUSSA MOHAMED MOUSSA (Djibouti) said the economic slowdown throughout the world due to the COVID‑19 pandemic has made extreme poverty more acute.  Djibouti has developed a social and economic response plan, with targeted interventions focused on the distribution of food, cash transfers, the preservation of jobs and the financing of health‑care costs.  Noting the close link between gender equality and sustainable development, he said the empowerment of women should be at the heart of public policy.  The architecture for the promotion of human rights must be strengthened, he added, underscoring that racism is a violation of human rights.  The fight against racism concerns everyone, he said, welcoming the planned event on the twentieth anniversary of the Durban Declaration, adopted at the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.

EDGAR SISA (Botswana), pointing to an improved COVID-19 situation, said the Government has reopened the economy and ended its state of public emergency.  To contain the spread of the virus and improve vaccination rates in Africa, he expressed support for an intellectual property rights waiver on vaccine production.  For its part, Botswana continues to extend assistance to vulnerable groups that bear the brunt of poverty, hunger, unemployment and inequality.  It is addressing malnutrition among children through its universal supplementary feeding initiative at all primary schools and the Vulnerable Group Feeding Programme at health facilities.  In areas that have high rates of malnutrition, all children aged 6 to 59 months receive supplementary feeding.  He expressed appreciation for the assistance that Botswana receives from various United Nations agencies to address gender-based violence and maternal mortality, as well as to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, including by improving sexual and reproductive health services.

KOUADJO MICHEL KOUAKOU (Côte d’Ivoire), endorsing the statements of the Group of 77 and China and the African Union, called for universal access to vaccines.  He indicated that his country would continue its efforts to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.  Côte d’Ivoire is promoting women’s and children’s rights through several initiatives.  It also lowered poverty levels through its national strategy for social protection, he emphasized.  Twenty-six years after the adoption of the Beijing Declaration, he noted that much work is still needed, calling on other nations to accelerate efforts.  On human rights, he underscored the importance of the non-interference principle, recalling that Côte d’Ivoire has ratified all international agreements and established an independent national commission.  Concluding, he stressed that there is limited time left to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals and that building resilient health‑care systems should be a priority.

JORUNDUR VALTYSSON (Iceland) expressed concern that the consequences of the pandemic prevent children from obtaining an education and increase pressure on health systems.  Reported cases of violence against children, women and minorities are on the rise both offline and online.  Human rights defenders, journalists, environmentalists and others who speak out against discrimination and intolerance deserve attention, he said, urging States to respect the rule of law and human rights without discrimination.  It remains Iceland’s priority to protect children from abuse and exploitation, he said, highlighting more broadly the value of inclusiveness for sustainable development and the importance of promoting gender equality for socioeconomic progress.  Despite gains on this front, there are still many battles to be fought for gender parity and equal pay.  “Men must be agents of change, not patrons of patriarchy,” he asserted, urging men and boys to join forces with women and girls to advance equality.

MAMADI GOBEH KAMARA, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Sierra Leone, associating herself with the African Group, Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement, said women and girls continue to bear the brunt of the pandemic’s socioeconomic fallout.  As such, Sierra Leone is working to protect and advance fundamental human rights, which remain key to the health and socioeconomic development of families, communities and the nation.  The Government has avoided using COVID‑19 as an excuse for inaction, and instead continues to build strong institutions, create more inclusive democratic space and develop infrastructure.  Efforts also include working towards the empowerment of women and girls, notably through new legislation to increase opportunities nationwide and to provide for a minimum of 30 per cent female representation in politics and senior management.  Sierra Leone has declared rape and sexual violence a national emergency, increasing punishment for perpetrators and establishing centres and services for survivors.  Citing other national achievements, she said Sierra Leone has repealed a 50‑year‑old seditious‑libel law and abolished the death penalty.  Going forward, the world must intensify efforts and act in solidarity to recover better and faster, she said.

MAMADOU RACINE LY (Senegal), associating with the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, said international cooperation has fallen short, given the divide between developing and developed countries in vaccine distribution.  Vaccine nationalism does not promote eradication of the virus, he cautioned, stressing that there must be a just and fair international treaty to respond to future pandemics.  Post‑COVID-19 recovery must be pursued so economic growth can be ensured.  He highlighted the international community’s responsibility to the Palestinian people and their legitimate aspirations.  On racism and xenophobia, he welcomed the twentieth anniversary of the Durban Declaration and the Programme of Action, as well as work by the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

CELINE PIERRE FABRE (Haiti), endorsing the statements by CARICOM, invited nations to seize the momentum generated by the anniversary of the Durban Declaration and reaffirmed Haiti’s commitments against discrimination.  She expressed regret that little progress has been achieved and greater efforts will be needed to ensure tolerance.  Haiti condemns the violation of human rights wherever they occur.  She went on to emphasize that COVID-19 has increased social inequalities and exacerbated the difficult living conditions of the poorest communities.  These populations have seen their access to education, social services and food hindered during the pandemic.  Haiti has faced several tragic events, she said, calling for solidarity and greater collaboration.  Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals must be based on social justice, she concluded.

LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States) voiced concern about dictators who abuse human rights and expressed support for human rights defenders.  She expressed grave concern about the human rights situations in several countries, notably in Afghanistan, where the Taliban promised to build more inclusive political order, yet their early actions have been inconsistent with those commitments.  The Taliban will be judged by their actions, not their words.  In China, the Government aims to divert attention from the genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang.  She further condemned extreme restrictions on human rights and the freedom of religion in Tibet.  In Syria, the Assad regime must release people arbitrarily detained and provide information on the missing, she said, while, in Nicaragua, the regime has jailed opposition leaders, human rights activists, students and civil society members.  In Yemen, she cited ongoing reports of starvation being used as a method of war, recruitment of child soldiers, arbitrary detention of civilians, torture and sexual violence.  The United States also remains troubled by the human rights situations in Venezuela, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Cuba, Belarus and Cambodia, she said.

ALYSON CALEM-SANGIORGIO (Monaco) said her country supports the fair sharing of COVID‑19 vaccines, and those to combat other illnesses.  Children who have been deprived of schooling should not be deprived of lunches.  Youth are concerned about the climate and should be involved in building the post‑COVID‑19 world.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 35 per cent of women worldwide are victims of violence.  Monaco has a comprehensive legal framework to protect the rights of women living with disabilities and is providing greater law enforcement when it comes to sexual violence, and greater recognition for victims.  There have been many attacks against schools, she said, highlighting that Monaco joined the Declaration on Safe Schools in 2018.

NUSAIBA HASHIM MOHAMED ALI IDRES (Sudan) said her country is bolstering the rule of law through various reforms that promote the rights of women and children.  Sudan has worked to lift barriers to humanitarian assistance delivery in conflict regions, with support from the United Nations.  It has also launched a project to protect the rights of internally displaced persons, based on the 2019 Constitution.  Further, the Government is working to strengthen the role of women and to combat violence against them, especially in conflict-affected regions.  She stressed the importance of protecting the rights of children, including those who are emerging from conflict, by creating sanctuary schools and developing legislation to provide basic services for children.  Sudan is coordinating with the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict she said, expressing satisfaction with efforts by the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) to protect children.

HERINIRINA RAVELONARIVO ANDRIAMASY (Madagascar) endorsing the statements delivered by the Group of 77 and China, Non-Aligned Movement and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), attached particular importance to social development, inclusivity and the rights of the most vulnerable populations.  To that end, the Government has supported its people during the pandemic.  He shared concerns about the impact COVID-19 on the Sustainable Development Goals and in particular Goals 3 on health and well‑being and 5 on gender equality.  He cited 13 commitments made by the Government to promote development, drawing attention to the impact of the climate crisis, which led to a humanitarian emergency in southern Madagascar.  The Government is also focused on family planning, working to increase the availability of contraceptives to its population, he added, welcoming bilateral and multilateral initiatives to support recovery efforts.

JONIBEK HIKMAT (Tajikistan) said his country is implementing a national strategy for 2021‑2030 that focuses on the role of women, aiming to provide opportunities for them in all areas of public life.  As a result of the Parliamentary elections, women’s representation in the lower chamber of Parliament has risen from 19 to 24 per cent and in the upper chamber from 19 to 26 per cent.  Some 24 per cent of civil servants are women.  Condemning racism, xenophobia and related intolerance, he went on to underscore the deterioration of economic and humanitarian conditions in Afghanistan.  He expressed concern over extrajudicial killings and war crimes and recalled the dire security and humanitarian situation in Panjshir, where there are alleged abuses, including house‑to‑house searches and extrajudicial killings, while residents are denied communications by the Taliban.  Tajikistan is ready to help with humanitarian assistance, he said, urging the international community to hold the Taliban accountable.  It should use its influence with the Taliban to ensure the protection of human rights and create an inclusive Government.

Mr. ABDELHAMID, observer for the State of Palestine, endorsing statements delivered by the Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement, called on the international community to develop a global plan for fair access to vaccines.  He thanked the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and WHO for providing COVID-19 vaccines and medical supplies to Palestinians.  Turning to climate change, he highlighted women’s efforts in Palestine to lead the transition.  He went on to stress the importance of human rights, noting that Palestine has integrated United Nations Charter principles into its legislative framework.  Referring to the refugee crisis, he underlined the need for global solutions.  Stressing that the Palestinian people still suffer under Israel’s occupation, he called for their protection in line with international law.  International law and human rights, as well as the right to self-determination, are essential for the Palestinian people, he assured.

VILAYLUCK SENEDUANGDETH (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), associating with ASEAN, the Group of 77 and China, and the Non-Aligned Movement, described numerous challenges induced by the pandemic and climate change, notably an increased burden on national health‑care systems in low‑ and middle‑income countries.  The international community should provide support for the least‑developed countries.  She welcomed the General Assembly’s agenda on pandemic recovery, as well as the commitment by Member States to implement the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development.  For its part, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic is focused on social development, environment protection arresting climate change and upholding the rule of law, she said, underscoring her country’s commitment to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities, including through its 2021‑2025 and 2026‑2030 action plans, to promote their social participation.

GHASAQ YOUSIF ABDALLA SHAHEEN (United Arab Emirates) drew attention to her country’s national agency for human rights, established in 2021.  The United Arab Emirates has created an integrative system of legislation to guarantee the protection of women’s and children’s rights, she said, praising the country’s ranking on the United Nations index for gender equality.  In 2019-2020, 11 new laws were adopted to address the gap between men and women.  The United Arab Emirates has also supported international initiatives and endorses Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women peace and security, she said, adding that achieving peace requires more participation from women and youth.  The country is working to become an international forum that embraces young people’s talents, she added, referring to initiatives such as the Arab Youth Technical Fellowship.

CARLOS AMORÍN (Uruguay) stressed the importance of combating racism and xenophobia, noting that his country supports actions to ensure that the rights of persons of African descent are protected.  Promoting and protecting the rights of the child must be a priority for all United Nations members, he said, citing Uruguay’s international leadership in this regard as a reflection of its national child protection policies.  In addition, climate change hampers human rights, including the rights to life, water, food, housing and culture.  States have an obligation to mitigate the impact of climate change and provide support to those affected by its consequences.

HELENA KUZEE (Namibia), aligning herself with the African Group, Global South Coalition, Group of 77 and SADC, outlined critical elements in her country’s pandemic response.  Along with a vaccine roll‑out, plans focus on building back better, including through a robust political declaration on HIV/AIDS, coupled with scaling up efforts and interventions.  At the global level, however, the “train of inequality” persists in science and technology for prevention and treatment options across the HIV care continuum, as well as related to COVID-19 vaccines.  The entire roll‑out has seen a form of vaccine apartheid, with many people in developing States being left out.  As a nation that fought racism in its liberation struggle, Namibia stands firm in its belief that there is no room for discrimination in the world, she said, pledging to uphold the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.  The full participation of women, girls and youth are central to equitable and sustainable development.  In this vein, Namibia adopted a national action plan on gender-based violence and supports the critical role young people have in promoting global peace and development, she said.

ALBERT R. CHIMBINDI (Zimbabwe), associating himself with the African Group, Non-Aligned Movement and SADC, said he also aligns his delegation with China against the use of unilateral coercive measures and on vaccine equity.  He called for enhanced multilateralism, strengthened solidarity and international cooperation.  The emergence of more contagious COVID‑19 variants is sufficient proof of the futility of vaccine nationalism, he said, adding that:  “If we are to win in the fight against the virus, we need to move beyond rhetoric and ensure vaccine equity to all.”  For its part, Zimbabwe is focused on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.  Equally important is the right to development, which is currently threatened by unilateral coercive measures imposed on some countries, including Zimbabwe.  While producing a vaccination rate among the highest in Africa, Zimbabwe’s efforts would have been even more successful without stifling sanctions, he said, calling for their immediate removal.  Turning to other concerns, he said efforts to fight racism must continue, in line with the Durban Declaration.  He also underlined the need for complete healing through reparations and restitution to Africa and people of African descent for the past wrongs of the transatlantic slave trade.

ANTJE LEENDERTSE (Germany), associating with the European Union, said the Third Committee is “heavy” because it deals with the horrors of human rights violations and “upbeat” because it works to make human rights a reality for all.  In Afghanistan, Germany and others have called for the respect and protection of human rights for all persons living in that country.  During Germany’s two-year term in the Security Council, it called for a strong link to the Human Rights Council to bring peace, security and human rights together.  There cannot be peace and reconciliation without accountability, she said, highlighting Germany’s support for accountability in Syria, including through the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism and the Commission of Inquiry.  She also reiterated grave concern over the human rights situation in China, particularly in Xinjiang.

ANNA KARIN ENESTRÖM (Sweden) noted her country’s “Drive for Democracy” initiative, which aims to promote labour rights, democracy and the rule of law worldwide.  At its core are efforts to ensure respect for the right to freedom of opinion, expression and information, both online and offline.  Recalling Sweden’s feminist foreign policy launched seven years ago, she stressed the importance of the equal enjoyment of human rights by women and girls, including sexual and reproductive health and rights.  Noting that comprehensive sexuality education for all is necessary, she underscored that human rights should be fully enjoyed by all, irrespective of sexual orientation or gender identity, while pointing out that consensual same-sex relationships remain criminalized in almost 70 countries — in some cases even by the death penalty.  She went on to note that, to combat antisemitism, Sweden will host the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism this month.  As Chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2021, Sweden has made the protection and promotion of human rights a top priority, she said, stressing that ensuring accountability is essential.

ZEBIB GEBREKIDAN (Eritrea), associating with the African Group, Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77 and China — the latter’s position against unilateral coercive measures — said poverty is rooted in inequalities caused by the leading economic and political world order.  Year after year, discussions in the Third Committee are becoming more political and less constructive.  They have become a platform for finger‑pointing and double standards, he said, stressing that some attribute higher standards to themselves, while failing to admit systemic challenges in their own countries.  In addition, there is a growing trend of vilification, as well as the pushing of political narratives that run counter to the Committee’s work.  Members must cooperate and engage with one another respectfully.  The pandemic has laid bare the leading economic system’s menace to humanity, she said, citing solidary by some countries, as well as a disheartening situation of vaccine nationalism among others.

JOAN J. LÓPEZ (Andorra), associating himself with the LGBTI Core Group, said most Sustainable Development Goals are directly linked to human rights and labour standards, and any recovery strategies must consider them, in line with the Secretary-General’s report Our Common Agenda.  To do so, plans must advance equitable vaccine access.  Similarly, he welcomed initiatives to examine the universal periodic review process to associate activities and recommendations with the Sustainable Development Goals.  Recovery plans must also include the voices of civil society, which have been restrained during the pandemic.  Redoubled efforts on Sustainable Development Goal 4 on quality education are also required to address the 267 million young people out of school, work or training, and to close the gender gap.  Deeply alarmed by reports of rising gender-based violence, he welcomed efforts to provide safe environments for females, adding that recent events in Afghanistan demonstrate how the human rights of women can shift rapidly.  Efforts must address education and bridging the digital divide.  Youth participation is critical, he said, commending the Secretary-General’s intention to nominate a Special Envoy for future generations.

Right of Reply

The representative of Syria, taking the floor in exercise of the right of reply in response to the United States, said the political agenda of this country is given priority over the human agenda.  Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, unilateral coercive measures have been renewed, not lifted.  The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act should be called “the stifling of civilians in Syria”, as it prevents the delivery of medical supplies.  Burning wheat and stealing oil does not protect civilians, it deprives them, he clarified.  Several times Syria has condemned strikes by the infamous international alliance, which have had a severe impact on children.

The representative of China, speaking in response to the representative of the United States, said that country ignored the just call of the United Nations membership, and instead, attacked and smeared China.  He rejected these remarks and the unwarranted accusations levelled by Germany.  He called the allegation of so-called genocide in Xinjiang “the lie of the century”, one that is politically motivated.  The international community must pay attention to the human rights situation in the United States, he stressed.

The representative of Cuba, speaking in response to the statement by the United States representative, said that country does not have any moral right to judge his country.  The United States claims to defend human rights but is responsible for extrajudicial executions, clandestine flights and torture.  It destabilizes and imposes unilateral coercive measures that have a severe impact on human rights.  It launches campaigns of discreditation against countries of the global South while remaining silent on countries with which it has alliances.  The United States blockade is a violation of the human rights of Cubans, he stressed.

The representative of Belarus said sovereign States should not be referred to as “regimes”.  Regarding comments by the United States representative, he said that, under the pretext of human rights in Belarus, actions are being taken to encourage radicals, threatening the country.  Disinformation is being spread and terrorism is being sponsored.  The United States has stated that protests in Belarus are peaceful.  “This is a lie,” he said, as can be seen in various videos.  The motivation is to change the geopolitical motivation of Belarus, which is an ally of the Russian Federation and China.

The representative of Ethiopia, speaking in response to the statement by the United States representative, said prosecutors in his country have taken action against individuals suspected of violating human rights.  The Government signed a memorandum of understanding to expedite the provision of humanitarian aid to people in the Tigray region and is working with various humanitarian organizations, including United Nations agencies, to deliver food to the area.  The Government was forced to take action regarding some United Nations personnel and he urged the Organization to take action against those it expelled.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, responding to the United States representative, said the so-called human rights issue is a “political trick” designed to destroy the political system in his country.  The primary attention of the international community should be on the human rights situation in the United States, he said, stressing that the United States must face an international investigation over its human rights violations.

 

Source: United Nations

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The rights of women and children are a central focus of Government policymaking as countries work to close the social fissures ripped wide open by the COVID-19 pandemic, delegates in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural) said today, amid calls for greater cooperation in the response plans.

Laying the groundwork for change, Monaco’s representative pointed out that 35 per cent of women worldwide are victims of violence, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Picking up that thread, the representative of Bangladesh said her country has made special allocations for women, supporting women-led entrepreneurship and introducing special helplines to stop violence and child marriage. In a similar vein, Guyana’s delegate pointed to the recently launched Women’s Innovation and Investment Network to ensure women’s financial independence. Tajikistan’s representative stressed that, as a result of elections, women’s representation in the Lower Chamber of Parliament has risen from 19 to 24 per cent, and in the Upper Chamber from 19 to 26 per cent. Highlighting the importance of gender equality for socioeconomic progress, Iceland’s representative stressed that there are still many battles to be fought for gender parity and equal pay. “Men must be agents of change, not patrons of patriarchy,” he asserted, urging men and boys to join forces with women and girls to advance equality.

“The empowerment of women should be at the heart of public policy,” added Djibouti’s representative, drawing attention to the close link between gender equality and sustainable development.

Several others focused on supporting children’s rights, with Botswana’s delegate describing supplementary feeding programmes for children aged 6 to 59 months in areas where malnutrition is running high. The Government also started a universal supplementary feeding initiative at all primary schools and launched the Vulnerable Group Feeding Programme at health facilities. Along similar lines, Paraguay’s delegate said his country is constantly working to strengthen its child‑protection system and implementing important projects to combat child labour and violence against children.

In a broader context, delegates expressed grave concern about the human rights situations in Afghanistan, China, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Cuba, Belarus and Cambodia, with the representative of the United States noting that the Taliban promised to build more inclusive political order, yet their early actions have been inconsistent with those commitments. The Taliban will be judged by their actions, not their words, she asserted.

Also speaking were representatives of Trinidad and Tobago, Brunei Darussalam, Côte d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Haiti, Monaco, Sudan, Madagascar, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Zimbabwe, Germany, Sweden, Eritrea and Andorra.

An observer for the State of Palestine also spoke.

The representatives of Syria, China, Cuba, Belarus, Ethiopia and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 5 October, to begin its interactive dialogue on the advancement of women.

Statements

RABAB FATIMA (Bangladesh), associating with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the Government took the decision to strike a balance between lives and livelihoods in its response to COVID-19. Ensuring universal access to vaccines should be a top priority. Stressing that gender-based violence has risen during the pandemic, she said women have lost their jobs and incomes. In response, Bangladesh has made special allocations for women, supporting women-led entrepreneurship and introducing special helplines to stop violence and child marriages. Meanwhile, education systems have suffered and millions of girls may never return to school. Exploitation and child marriage have risen. She called for investing in digital tools and services, and recognizing digital education as a global public good. “The pandemic must not become a children’s crisis,” she said. “They must be protected by all means.” Turning to the Rohingya crisis, she said more than 1 million Rohingya still live in camps and face an uncertain future. Not a single Rohingya has been able to return home in the last four years.

The representative of Trinidad and Tobago, endorsing the statement by the Group of 77 developing countries, called for equitable access to vaccines. He stressed that the well‑being of children is a priority for Trinidad and Tobago and that the Government considers continuous investments in child education as a driver of progress. “No child should be left behind in the fight to build back better,” he said. Underlining the importance of women’s participation on an equal basis with men, he called for their inclusion in all sectors of the economy, and in all areas of development. He noted that violence against women and girls continued, declaring that their rights must be respected. He went on to stress that eliminating racism and discrimination remains a priority. He deplored the impact of drug trafficking on the development of his country, underlining the importance of the Third Committee to deliver on these important issues.

DK DEWI KARTIKA PUTRI PG SHAHMINAN (Brunei Darussalam) associated herself with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Group of 77 and China, and the Non-Aligned Movement. She said Brunei Darussalam is ensuring access to COVID-19 vaccinations for all citizens and residents, with priority given to the vulnerable. The pandemic has seen an increase in civic engagement, she noted, with grass‑roots movements sparking a surge of volunteerism and community advocacy. In recognizing the pandemic’s effects on physical and mental health, hotlines are available for those in need. To promote and protect human rights, the country has enacted the Persons with Disabilities Order 2021, which encompasses three main areas: the definition of persons with disabilities; their registration; and their neglect and abuse. It has also developed the National Framework on Child Protection, which aims to enhance child protection, from 2020 to 2024. In further efforts, the Digital Economy Masterplan 2025 was launched in June 2020 to focus on relevant skills and knowledge, serving as a road map for digital transformation initiatives.

TRISHALA PERSAUD (Guyana), endorsing the statements by the Group of 77 and China, and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), expressed regret that the COVID‑19 pandemic had reversed decades of development efforts. Improving the lives of children has been Guyana’s priority when rolling out cash grants and relief packages. While COVID‑19 has reinforced the importance of digital technologies, it has also magnified the digital divide with rural and indigenous communities, notably in relation to education. Welcoming the upcoming sessions of the Ad Hoc Committee on Cybercrime aimed at developing a comprehensive cybercrime convention, she went on to stress that the international community has not delivered on its commitments under the Beijing Declaration, adopted at the 1995 fourth World Conference on Women. Despite Guyana’s initiatives for women and girls, violence remains prevalent. The Government recently launched the Women’s Innovation and Investment Network to ensure women’s financial independence. Persons with disabilities are also a priority, she said, noting the allocation in the 2021 national budget of $150 million for the construction of a specialized training complex. Commenting on the role of social media, she raised concerns about the rise of hate speech and intolerance. She concluded by recalling Guyana’s goal “to get international reparations for the crime of African enslavement”.

JULIO CESAR ARRIOLA RAMIREZ (Paraguay), associating with Group of 77 and China, the Group of Friends of Indigenous Peoples and the Group of Friends of Older Adults, expressed concern that access to COVID-19 vaccines continues to be difficult for many countries. Reiterating that solidarity and empathy are essential, he highlighted countries which donated vaccines and medicines that saved lives in Paraguay. The pandemic disproportionately affected the most vulnerable. At the same time, it fostered technological gains, and progress in both health care and education. Regarding the rights of children, he said Paraguay is constantly working to strengthen its child‑protection system and implementing important projects to combat child labour and violence against children. He also drew attention to women who are in violent situations, stressing that Paraguay has launched campaigns to combat disinformation targeted at rural and indigenous women. He further highlighted the leadership of women among medical personal and said the COVID-19 crisis should be viewed as an opportunity to design a new development that promotes women’s financial inclusion.

MOUSSA MOHAMED MOUSSA (Djibouti) said the economic slowdown throughout the world due to the COVID‑19 pandemic has made extreme poverty more acute. Djibouti has developed a social and economic response plan, with targeted interventions focused on the distribution of food, cash transfers, the preservation of jobs and the financing of health‑care costs. Noting the close link between gender equality and sustainable development, he said the empowerment of women should be at the heart of public policy. The architecture for the promotion of human rights must be strengthened, he added, underscoring that racism is a violation of human rights. The fight against racism concerns everyone, he said, welcoming the planned event on the twentieth anniversary of the Durban Declaration, adopted at the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.

EDGAR SISA (Botswana), pointing to an improved COVID-19 situation, said the Government has reopened the economy and ended its state of public emergency. To contain the spread of the virus and improve vaccination rates in Africa, he expressed support for an intellectual property rights waiver on vaccine production. For its part, Botswana continues to extend assistance to vulnerable groups that bear the brunt of poverty, hunger, unemployment and inequality. It is addressing malnutrition among children through its universal supplementary feeding initiative at all primary schools and the Vulnerable Group Feeding Programme at health facilities. In areas that have high rates of malnutrition, all children aged 6 to 59 months receive supplementary feeding. He expressed appreciation for the assistance that Botswana receives from various United Nations agencies to address gender-based violence and maternal mortality, as well as to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, including by improving sexual and reproductive health services.

KOUADJO MICHEL KOUAKOU (Côte d’Ivoire), endorsing the statements of the Group of 77 and China and the African Union, called for universal access to vaccines. He indicated that his country would continue its efforts to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union’s Agenda 2063. Côte d’Ivoire is promoting women’s and children’s rights through several initiatives. It also lowered poverty levels through its national strategy for social protection, he emphasized. Twenty-six years after the adoption of the Beijing Declaration, he noted that much work is still needed, calling on other nations to accelerate efforts. On human rights, he underscored the importance of the non-interference principle, recalling that Côte d’Ivoire has ratified all international agreements and established an independent national commission. Concluding, he stressed that there is limited time left to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals and that building resilient health‑care systems should be a priority.

JORUNDUR VALTYSSON (Iceland) expressed concern that the consequences of the pandemic prevent children from obtaining an education and increase pressure on health systems. Reported cases of violence against children, women and minorities are on the rise both offline and online. Human rights defenders, journalists, environmentalists and others who speak out against discrimination and intolerance deserve attention, he said, urging States to respect the rule of law and human rights without discrimination. It remains Iceland’s priority to protect children from abuse and exploitation, he said, highlighting more broadly the value of inclusiveness for sustainable development and the importance of promoting gender equality for socioeconomic progress. Despite gains on this front, there are still many battles to be fought for gender parity and equal pay. “Men must be agents of change, not patrons of patriarchy,” he asserted, urging men and boys to join forces with women and girls to advance equality.

MAMADI GOBEH KAMARA, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Sierra Leone, associating herself with the African Group, Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement, said women and girls continue to bear the brunt of the pandemic’s socioeconomic fallout. As such, Sierra Leone is working to protect and advance fundamental human rights, which remain key to the health and socioeconomic development of families, communities and the nation. The Government has avoided using COVID‑19 as an excuse for inaction, and instead continues to build strong institutions, create more inclusive democratic space and develop infrastructure. Efforts also include working towards the empowerment of women and girls, notably through new legislation to increase opportunities nationwide and to provide for a minimum of 30 per cent female representation in politics and senior management. Sierra Leone has declared rape and sexual violence a national emergency, increasing punishment for perpetrators and establishing centres and services for survivors. Citing other national achievements, she said Sierra Leone has repealed a 50‑year‑old seditious‑libel law and abolished the death penalty. Going forward, the world must intensify efforts and act in solidarity to recover better and faster, she said.

MAMADOU RACINE LY (Senegal), associating with the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, said international cooperation has fallen short, given the divide between developing and developed countries in vaccine distribution. Vaccine nationalism does not promote eradication of the virus, he cautioned, stressing that there must be a just and fair international treaty to respond to future pandemics. Post‑COVID-19 recovery must be pursued so economic growth can be ensured. He highlighted the international community’s responsibility to the Palestinian people and their legitimate aspirations. On racism and xenophobia, he welcomed the twentieth anniversary of the Durban Declaration and the Programme of Action, as well as work by the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

CELINE PIERRE FABRE (Haiti), endorsing the statements by CARICOM, invited nations to seize the momentum generated by the anniversary of the Durban Declaration and reaffirmed Haiti’s commitments against discrimination. She expressed regret that little progress has been achieved and greater efforts will be needed to ensure tolerance. Haiti condemns the violation of human rights wherever they occur. She went on to emphasize that COVID-19 has increased social inequalities and exacerbated the difficult living conditions of the poorest communities. These populations have seen their access to education, social services and food hindered during the pandemic. Haiti has faced several tragic events, she said, calling for solidarity and greater collaboration. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals must be based on social justice, she concluded.

LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States) voiced concern about dictators who abuse human rights and expressed support for human rights defenders. She expressed grave concern about the human rights situations in several countries, notably in Afghanistan, where the Taliban promised to build more inclusive political order, yet their early actions have been inconsistent with those commitments. The Taliban will be judged by their actions, not their words. In China, the Government aims to divert attention from the genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang. She further condemned extreme restrictions on human rights and the freedom of religion in Tibet. In Syria, the Assad regime must release people arbitrarily detained and provide information on the missing, she said, while, in Nicaragua, the regime has jailed opposition leaders, human rights activists, students and civil society members. In Yemen, she cited ongoing reports of starvation being used as a method of war, recruitment of child soldiers, arbitrary detention of civilians, torture and sexual violence. The United States also remains troubled by the human rights situations in Venezuela, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Cuba, Belarus and Cambodia, she said.

ALYSON CALEM-SANGIORGIO (Monaco) said her country supports the fair sharing of COVID‑19 vaccines, and those to combat other illnesses. Children who have been deprived of schooling should not be deprived of lunches. Youth are concerned about the climate and should be involved in building the post‑COVID‑19 world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 35 per cent of women worldwide are victims of violence. Monaco has a comprehensive legal framework to protect the rights of women living with disabilities and is providing greater law enforcement when it comes to sexual violence, and greater recognition for victims. There have been many attacks against schools, she said, highlighting that Monaco joined the Declaration on Safe Schools in 2018.

NUSAIBA HASHIM MOHAMED ALI IDRES (Sudan) said her country is bolstering the rule of law through various reforms that promote the rights of women and children. Sudan has worked to lift barriers to humanitarian assistance delivery in conflict regions, with support from the United Nations. It has also launched a project to protect the rights of internally displaced persons, based on the 2019 Constitution. Further, the Government is working to strengthen the role of women and to combat violence against them, especially in conflict-affected regions. She stressed the importance of protecting the rights of children, including those who are emerging from conflict, by creating sanctuary schools and developing legislation to provide basic services for children. Sudan is coordinating with the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict she said, expressing satisfaction with efforts by the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) to protect children.

HERINIRINA RAVELONARIVO ANDRIAMASY (Madagascar) endorsing the statements delivered by the Group of 77 and China, Non-Aligned Movement and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), attached particular importance to social development, inclusivity and the rights of the most vulnerable populations. To that end, the Government has supported its people during the pandemic. He shared concerns about the impact COVID-19 on the Sustainable Development Goals and in particular Goals 3 on health and well‑being and 5 on gender equality. He cited 13 commitments made by the Government to promote development, drawing attention to the impact of the climate crisis, which led to a humanitarian emergency in southern Madagascar. The Government is also focused on family planning, working to increase the availability of contraceptives to its population, he added, welcoming bilateral and multilateral initiatives to support recovery efforts.

JONIBEK HIKMAT (Tajikistan) said his country is implementing a national strategy for 2021‑2030 that focuses on the role of women, aiming to provide opportunities for them in all areas of public life. As a result of the Parliamentary elections, women’s representation in the lower chamber of Parliament has risen from 19 to 24 per cent and in the upper chamber from 19 to 26 per cent. Some 24 per cent of civil servants are women. Condemning racism, xenophobia and related intolerance, he went on to underscore the deterioration of economic and humanitarian conditions in Afghanistan. He expressed concern over extrajudicial killings and war crimes and recalled the dire security and humanitarian situation in Panjshir, where there are alleged abuses, including house‑to‑house searches and extrajudicial killings, while residents are denied communications by the Taliban. Tajikistan is ready to help with humanitarian assistance, he said, urging the international community to hold the Taliban accountable. It should use its influence with the Taliban to ensure the protection of human rights and create an inclusive Government.

Mr. ABDELHAMID, observer for the State of Palestine, endorsing statements delivered by the Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement, called on the international community to develop a global plan for fair access to vaccines. He thanked the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and WHO for providing COVID-19 vaccines and medical supplies to Palestinians. Turning to climate change, he highlighted women’s efforts in Palestine to lead the transition. He went on to stress the importance of human rights, noting that Palestine has integrated United Nations Charter principles into its legislative framework. Referring to the refugee crisis, he underlined the need for global solutions. Stressing that the Palestinian people still suffer under Israel’s occupation, he called for their protection in line with international law. International law and human rights, as well as the right to self-determination, are essential for the Palestinian people, he assured.

VILAYLUCK SENEDUANGDETH (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), associating with ASEAN, the Group of 77 and China, and the Non-Aligned Movement, described numerous challenges induced by the pandemic and climate change, notably an increased burden on national health‑care systems in low‑ and middle‑income countries. The international community should provide support for the least‑developed countries. She welcomed the General Assembly’s agenda on pandemic recovery, as well as the commitment by Member States to implement the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development. For its part, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic is focused on social development, environment protection arresting climate change and upholding the rule of law, she said, underscoring her country’s commitment to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities, including through its 2021‑2025 and 2026‑2030 action plans, to promote their social participation.

GHASAQ YOUSIF ABDALLA SHAHEEN (United Arab Emirates) drew attention to her country’s national agency for human rights, established in 2021. The United Arab Emirates has created an integrative system of legislation to guarantee the protection of women’s and children’s rights, she said, praising the country’s ranking on the United Nations index for gender equality. In 2019-2020, 11 new laws were adopted to address the gap between men and women. The United Arab Emirates has also supported international initiatives and endorses Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women peace and security, she said, adding that achieving peace requires more participation from women and youth. The country is working to become an international forum that embraces young people’s talents, she added, referring to initiatives such as the Arab Youth Technical Fellowship.

CARLOS AMORÍN (Uruguay) stressed the importance of combating racism and xenophobia, noting that his country supports actions to ensure that the rights of persons of African descent are protected. Promoting and protecting the rights of the child must be a priority for all United Nations members, he said, citing Uruguay’s international leadership in this regard as a reflection of its national child protection policies. In addition, climate change hampers human rights, including the rights to life, water, food, housing and culture. States have an obligation to mitigate the impact of climate change and provide support to those affected by its consequences.

HELENA KUZEE (Namibia), aligning herself with the African Group, Global South Coalition, Group of 77 and SADC, outlined critical elements in her country’s pandemic response. Along with a vaccine roll‑out, plans focus on building back better, including through a robust political declaration on HIV/AIDS, coupled with scaling up efforts and interventions. At the global level, however, the “train of inequality” persists in science and technology for prevention and treatment options across the HIV care continuum, as well as related to COVID-19 vaccines. The entire roll‑out has seen a form of vaccine apartheid, with many people in developing States being left out. As a nation that fought racism in its liberation struggle, Namibia stands firm in its belief that there is no room for discrimination in the world, she said, pledging to uphold the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. The full participation of women, girls and youth are central to equitable and sustainable development. In this vein, Namibia adopted a national action plan on gender-based violence and supports the critical role young people have in promoting global peace and development, she said.

ALBERT R. CHIMBINDI (Zimbabwe), associating himself with the African Group, Non-Aligned Movement and SADC, said he also aligns his delegation with China against the use of unilateral coercive measures and on vaccine equity. He called for enhanced multilateralism, strengthened solidarity and international cooperation. The emergence of more contagious COVID‑19 variants is sufficient proof of the futility of vaccine nationalism, he said, adding that: “If we are to win in the fight against the virus, we need to move beyond rhetoric and ensure vaccine equity to all.” For its part, Zimbabwe is focused on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. Equally important is the right to development, which is currently threatened by unilateral coercive measures imposed on some countries, including Zimbabwe. While producing a vaccination rate among the highest in Africa, Zimbabwe’s efforts would have been even more successful without stifling sanctions, he said, calling for their immediate removal. Turning to other concerns, he said efforts to fight racism must continue, in line with the Durban Declaration. He also underlined the need for complete healing through reparations and restitution to Africa and people of African descent for the past wrongs of the transatlantic slave trade.

ANTJE LEENDERTSE (Germany), associating with the European Union, said the Third Committee is “heavy” because it deals with the horrors of human rights violations and “upbeat” because it works to make human rights a reality for all. In Afghanistan, Germany and others have called for the respect and protection of human rights for all persons living in that country. During Germany’s two-year term in the Security Council, it called for a strong link to the Human Rights Council to bring peace, security and human rights together. There cannot be peace and reconciliation without accountability, she said, highlighting Germany’s support for accountability in Syria, including through the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism and the Commission of Inquiry. She also reiterated grave concern over the human rights situation in China, particularly in Xinjiang.

ANNA KARIN ENESTRÖM (Sweden) noted her country’s “Drive for Democracy” initiative, which aims to promote labour rights, democracy and the rule of law worldwide. At its core are efforts to ensure respect for the right to freedom of opinion, expression and information, both online and offline. Recalling Sweden’s feminist foreign policy launched seven years ago, she stressed the importance of the equal enjoyment of human rights by women and girls, including sexual and reproductive health and rights. Noting that comprehensive sexuality education for all is necessary, she underscored that human rights should be fully enjoyed by all, irrespective of sexual orientation or gender identity, while pointing out that consensual same-sex relationships remain criminalized in almost 70 countries — in some cases even by the death penalty. She went on to note that, to combat antisemitism, Sweden will host the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism this month. As Chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2021, Sweden has made the protection and promotion of human rights a top priority, she said, stressing that ensuring accountability is essential.

ZEBIB GEBREKIDAN (Eritrea), associating with the African Group, Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77 and China — the latter’s position against unilateral coercive measures — said poverty is rooted in inequalities caused by the leading economic and political world order. Year after year, discussions in the Third Committee are becoming more political and less constructive. They have become a platform for finger‑pointing and double standards, he said, stressing that some attribute higher standards to themselves, while failing to admit systemic challenges in their own countries. In addition, there is a growing trend of vilification, as well as the pushing of political narratives that run counter to the Committee’s work. Members must cooperate and engage with one another respectfully. The pandemic has laid bare the leading economic system’s menace to humanity, she said, citing solidary by some countries, as well as a disheartening situation of vaccine nationalism among others.

JOAN J. LÓPEZ (Andorra), associating himself with the LGBTI Core Group, said most Sustainable Development Goals are directly linked to human rights and labour standards, and any recovery strategies must consider them, in line with the Secretary-General’s report Our Common Agenda. To do so, plans must advance equitable vaccine access. Similarly, he welcomed initiatives to examine the universal periodic review process to associate activities and recommendations with the Sustainable Development Goals. Recovery plans must also include the voices of civil society, which have been restrained during the pandemic. Redoubled efforts on Sustainable Development Goal 4 on quality education are also required to address the 267 million young people out of school, work or training, and to close the gender gap. Deeply alarmed by reports of rising gender-based violence, he welcomed efforts to provide safe environments for females, adding that recent events in Afghanistan demonstrate how the human rights of women can shift rapidly. Efforts must address education and bridging the digital divide. Youth participation is critical, he said, commending the Secretary-General’s intention to nominate a Special Envoy for future generations.

Right of Reply

The representative of Syria, taking the floor in exercise of the right of reply in response to the United States, said the political agenda of this country is given priority over the human agenda. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, unilateral coercive measures have been renewed, not lifted. The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act should be called “the stifling of civilians in Syria”, as it prevents the delivery of medical supplies. Burning wheat and stealing oil does not protect civilians, it deprives them, he clarified. Several times Syria has condemned strikes by the infamous international alliance, which have had a severe impact on children.

The representative of China, speaking in response to the representative of the United States, said that country ignored the just call of the United Nations membership, and instead, attacked and smeared China. He rejected these remarks and the unwarranted accusations levelled by Germany. He called the allegation of so-called genocide in Xinjiang “the lie of the century”, one that is politically motivated. The international community must pay attention to the human rights situation in the United States, he stressed.

The representative of Cuba, speaking in response to the statement by the United States representative, said that country does not have any moral right to judge his country. The United States claims to defend human rights but is responsible for extrajudicial executions, clandestine flights and torture. It destabilizes and imposes unilateral coercive measures that have a severe impact on human rights. It launches campaigns of discreditation against countries of the global South while remaining silent on countries with which it has alliances. The United States blockade is a violation of the human rights of Cubans, he stressed.

The representative of Belarus said sovereign States should not be referred to as “regimes”. Regarding comments by the United States representative, he said that, under the pretext of human rights in Belarus, actions are being taken to encourage radicals, threatening the country. Disinformation is being spread and terrorism is being sponsored. The United States has stated that protests in Belarus are peaceful. “This is a lie,” he said, as can be seen in various videos. The motivation is to change the geopolitical motivation of Belarus, which is an ally of the Russian Federation and China.

The representative of Ethiopia, speaking in response to the statement by the United States representative, said prosecutors in his country have taken action against individuals suspected of violating human rights. The Government signed a memorandum of understanding to expedite the provision of humanitarian aid to people in the Tigray region and is working with various humanitarian organizations, including United Nations agencies, to deliver food to the area. The Government was forced to take action regarding some United Nations personnel and he urged the Organization to take action against those it expelled.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, responding to the United States representative, said the so-called human rights issue is a “political trick” designed to destroy the political system in his country. The primary attention of the international community should be on the human rights situation in the United States, he said, stressing that the United States must face an international investigation over its human rights violations.

 

Source: UN General Assembly

 

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