Third Committee Deplores Upswing in Missing Persons Worldwide, Ongoing Reprisals against Human Right Defenders in Its Continuing Human Rights Discussion

Measures to address reprisals against civil society actors and human rights defenders, the frightening increase in missing persons and the impact of unilateral coercive measures on already lagging economies were among topics addressed today by the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), as it held a debate on the promotion and protection of human rights.

The representative of Ireland, speaking on behalf of 78 countries and the European Union, in its capacity as observer, stressed that the world owes a debt to civil society actors and human rights defenders who cooperate with the United Nations in exposing human rights abuses.  Condemning all acts of intimidation or reprisal committed against those who have come forward, he said countries must promote a safe environment for civil society, emphasizing that all reprisals by State or non-State actors must be reported.

Addressing missing persons, the representative of Cyprus said that following Türkiye’s military invasion on her country, some 50 per cent of missing persons in Cyprus are still unknown.  She urged the Government of Türkiye to fully disclose all information from its military archives, ensuring that the Committee of Missing Persons has unhindered access to all military areas in the occupied part of Cyprus.  The representative of Türkiye rejected baseless allegations against her country.  Noting that atrocities against Turkish Cypriots are well documented in archives, she opposed the view of invasion and occupation, referring to the legitimate intervention of the island, carried out according to the Treaty of Guarantee.  On missing persons, she said Greece’s delegate opted to ignore Turkish Cypriots that went missing between 1963 and 1974 due to the systematic ethnic cleaning campaign against them.

On unilateral coercive measures, China’s delegate, speaking on behalf of 25 countries, stressed that they exacerbate hardships and humanitarian challenges in developing countries.  Noting that their imposition during the ongoing COVID‑19 pandemic impedes targeted Governments from accessing and delivering necessary goods and life-saving assistance, he called on States to cease such practices.

In a similar vein, the representative of South Africa defined unilateral coercive measures as attempts by powerful States to coerce others, disregarding their far-reaching impact on the population of these countries.  Several delegates pointed to human rights violations in Ukraine following the Russian Federation’s invasion, stressing the importance of accountability.  The Ukrainian representative highlighted work by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, which concluded that an array of war crimes, violations of human rights and international humanitarian law have been committed there.  Calling on all partners to enhance efforts to bring perpetrators to justice, he welcomed Human Rights Council country visits to document human rights violations suffered in his country, stressing the importance of continuing a monitoring presence there.

Highlighting her country’s centuries-long tradition of good neighbourly coexistence with a plethora of cultures and religions, the Russian Federation’s delegate condemned the aggressive Russophobia unleashed in recent months by many Western States.  Further, countries of the European Union have introduced visa restrictions on Russians, subjecting them to collective punishment, while the most despicable and radical figures in the West are openly flaunting their plans to destroy the Russian identity, she said.

Speakers also emphasized the need to understand and respond to early warning signs in preventing atrocity crimes, and the impact of climate change on human rights, particularly in small developing States.   They also underscored the importance of decriminalizing all sexual orientations and gender identities globally as well as to respect the bodily autonomy of women and girls.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Costa Rica (on behalf of the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect), Timor-Leste (on behalf of the LGBTI Core Group), Czechia, on behalf of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, as well as other countries, Belize (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Liberia, Liechtenstein, Dominican Republic (on behalf of the Central American Integration System), Venezuela, Singapore, Switzerland, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Philippines, Colombia, Mexico, United Kingdom, India, Israel, Honduras, Malaysia, Thailand, Qatar, Armenia, Austria, Cameroon, Belarus, Cuba, Greece, El Salvador, Argentina, Belgium, Czechia, Mauritania, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Uruguay, Burkina Faso, United Arab Emirates, Norway, Kuwait, Sweden, Nigeria, Rwanda, Algeria, Mozambique, Panama, Brunei Darussalam, Guatemala, Republic of Moldova, Australia, Zimbabwe, Viet Nam, Timor-Leste, Nepal, Syria and Chile.  An observer for the Holy See also spoke.

The Third Committee will reconvene on Thursday, 20 October, at 10 a.m., to continue its discussion on the promotion and protection of human rights.


FERGAL TOMAS MYTHEN (Ireland), speaking also on behalf of 78 countries and the European Union, said that the world owes a debt to civil society actors and human rights defenders.  “We therefore unequivocally condemn all acts of intimidation or reprisal committed against those who have cooperated, or seek to cooperate, with the United Nations”, he said, emphasizing that the issue must be addressed in a coordinated manner in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) as well as in Geneva.  Sharing several concerns laid out in the Secretary-General’s report, he called on all States to take proactive steps to address reprisals, including through robust investigations, full compliance with international law obligations and supporting and protecting victims from threats and violence.

He encouraged Member States to promote a safe and enabling environment for civil society, including online, and urged them to promote cooperation with the United Nations and support the work of the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights.  Any cases of reprisals, whether perpetrated by State or non-State actors, must be reported.  He also called on States to provide emergency grants to those who face intimidation or reprisals in conflict settings.  Turning to the United Nations, he called on the Organization to ensure it is doing all it can to facilitate a safe environment for those who cooperate with it.  That requires a coordinated response throughout the United Nations system to mitigate the risk of reprisals.  He also encouraged the Organization to continue to improve data collection, analysis and documentation of reprisal cases and to use that information to improve policies and practices.

MARITZA CHAN VALVERDE (Costa Rica), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect, emphasized the need to understand and respond to early warning signs in order to prevent atrocity crimes.  Those signs can include widespread human rights violations, which may constitute atrocity crimes themselves.  Moreover, prevention must begin with safeguarding and promoting human rights, starting with the adoption and better implementation of human rights policies at all levels of government and decision-making, she said, underscoring the value of human rights education and laws that protect minorities and promote social inclusion.  Several international human rights mechanisms can play a fundamental role in preventing atrocities and upholding the responsibility to protect, she said.

The Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect believes that the Third Committee offers a venue to raise awareness about the connection between atrocity risks and human rights violations and to strategize how collective action can be strengthened to better protect vulnerable populations against the risks of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing, she continued.  Not all human rights violations and abuses point to an imminent atrocity risk, nor do they necessarily directly cause crimes, but an understanding of how they may constitute atrocities or enable their occurrence is essential for strengthening the capacity of human rights mechanisms to prevent such crimes, she said.

KARLITO NUNES (Timor-Leste), delivering a statement on behalf of the LGBTI core group joined by other countries, said that implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is linked to human rights and only possible with the full decriminalization of all sexual orientations and gender identities globally.  While 11 countries have decriminalized consensual same sex relations and one has decriminalized the existence of trans persons, 66 still criminalize consensual same-sex relations de jure and de facto and 13 still criminalize trans persons, while 36 more criminalize them through vagrancy, prostitution and morality laws.  He recalled the Independent Expert’s statement affirming that decriminalization of same-sex consensual activity is the duty of States in their obligation to address acts of discriminatory violence.  The Expert also stressed that social inclusion requires dismantling all legislation that criminalizes sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and that negates a person’s identity.  Everyone should live free and equal independently of who they are and who they love, he said.

JAKUB KULHÁNEK (Czech Republic), speaking on behalf of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, as well as other countries, said that freedom of religion must be protected without retribution.  Putting it on par with other fundamental human rights such as freedom of assembly, speech, opinion and conscience, he said that they are all fundamental to building pluralistic, democratic societies.  Expressing concern about increasing Government restrictions to freedom of speech and consequent intimidation and reprisals, including enforced disappearances, he stressed that everyone must be allowed to express their opinion on religion, even to criticize it in print, television and art.  Accepting expressions of dissent against religion if it does not incite religious hatred, racism or violence is an approach adopted by the United Nations in 2011, he recalled.  Further, blasphemy laws are also applied to intimidate persons belonging to religious or other minorities, especially women and girls.

CHRISTINA KOKKINAKIS, representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, called on the Russian Federation to withdraw its forces from the entire territory of Ukraine.  All those responsible for acts that might amount to international crimes will be held accountable, she said, adding that the European Union is also deeply concerned about the further deteriorating human rights situation in the Russian Federation.  Turning to Afghanistan, she requested the Taliban to urgently reverse their decision to deny Afghan girls equal access to secondary education and the decision regarding women’s appearance in public.  She urged China to cooperate with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on ways to implement the recommendations contained in the assessment of human rights concerns in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.  In addition, the European Union remains gravely concerned about the repressive use of the national security law in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, she added.

She strongly condemned the execution of pro-democracy activists and opposition leaders in Myanmar, adding that the human rights situation in that country, including for Rohingya and other minorities, has deteriorated day by day since the illegal coup in February 2021.  Together with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the bloc will be introducing a draft resolution on that question.  It will also once again present a draft resolution on the question of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  She also voiced concern over resumed hostilities in northern Ethiopia; condemned the deterioration of the human rights legal framework in Belarus; expressed concern over the disproportional use of force against protestors in Iran; and called for an inclusive political solution in Syria.  She concluded by reaffirming the bloc’s commitment to the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief, and to addressing matters related to climate change.

CARLOS FULLER (Belize), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), stressed the need for a holistic approach in addressing human rights matters, underscoring the importance of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals to ensure full realization of human rights for all.  Looking forward to the upcoming presentation by the Special Rapporteur on human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, he underscored that climate change for small developing States, such as those in CARICOM, is a unique challenge.  Countries in the region are particularly vulnerable to its negative implications and threats to human rights like the rights to life, water, food and housing.  Welcoming the recent appointment of a Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change, he expressed the region’s continued support for measures that enhance bilateral, regional and international cooperation aimed at addressing adverse impacts of global crises on human rights.

CECILIA FORGBE MCGILL (Liberia), speaking on behalf of 69 Member States, noted that the COVID‑19 pandemic and measures to tackle it disproportionately affected women and girls, exposing them to sexual and gender-based violence, including harmful practices.  One in three women worldwide has experienced violence throughout her life, she added.  Underscoring the importance of protecting persons in situations of vulnerability, she called for a world based on principles of equality, dignity and non-discrimination.  Reiterating her Government’s determination to accelerate global action with attention to fostering resilience against shocks, she said societies that empower women and girls politically and economically are more stable and peaceful.  The international community must respect the bodily autonomy of women and girls by supporting them in the exercise of their sexual and reproductive rights, preventing all forms of sexual and gender-based violence, and eliminating harmful practices, including female genital mutilation and child, early and forced marriage.  To this end, she called for comprehensive access to sexual and reproductive rights, and meaningful participation of women across all levels of decision-making.

DAI BING (China), speaking on behalf of 25 countries, noted that developing countries still fall victim to unilateral coercive measures, despite other hardships and challenges.  Stressing the duty of States to cooperate with one another according to the United Nations Charter, he called on nations to lift such measures.  Overcompliance exacerbates existing humanitarian challenges, including the lack of services and essential goods, he added, affirming that the imposition of unilateral coercive measures in the context of the ongoing COVID‑19 pandemic impedes targeted Governments in accessing  and delivering necessary goods and life-saving assistance.  Overcompliance also impacts other areas of life, from education and technology to culture and travel, and threatens the full realization of affected populations’ human rights, including the right to development.  He called on States to cease such practices and avoid imposing future unilateral sanctions that are not in accordance with humanitarian law or the United Nations Charter.

NOAH OEHRI (Liechtenstein) said that the right to life is one that allows no derogation, including during armed conflict.  Lamenting that Moscow’s unjustified war in Ukraine has resulted in more than 15,000 civilian deaths, he stressed that illegal warfare must be recognized and its perpetrators punished.  He expressed grave concern over the situation in Myanmar, where journalists and human rights defenders, as well as civil society actors, are targeted alike by the junta.  As the Special Rapporteur and the Investigative Mechanism have identified crimes against humanity as well as war crimes there, he called on the Security Council to address the situation through an arms embargo.

JOAN MARGARITA CEDANO (Dominican Republic), speaking on behalf of the Central American Integration System, reaffirmed the need to effectively promote and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants.  Recognizing positive and profound contributions of migrants to cultural, economic and social development in their host societies, she noted that migration benefits countries of origin through the involvement of diasporas in economic development and reconstruction.  She went on to express concern about the growing number of unaccompanied girls, boys and adolescents separated from their parents and placed in vulnerable situations.  Underscoring serious challenges posed by illicit migrant-smuggling and crimes related to irregular migration, she spotlighted the need for a concerted international assessment and response.

JOAQUÍN ALBERTO PÉREZ AYESTARÁN (Venezuela), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends in Defence of the Charter of the United Nations, affirmed the value of safeguarding human rights without distinction, based on cooperation and adherence to the principles of impartiality, objectivity, transparency, non-selectivity, non-politicization and non-confrontation.  He encouraged all actors to continue fulfilling their responsibilities according to these principles.  Noting increased unilateralism and divisionism, he rejected double standards in human rights.  Further, he expressed concern over the growing proliferation of mechanisms and procedures that conduct assessments of human rights in specific States and which, in most cases, lack their due consent and participation, relying on sources that may be either biased or non-credible, he said.  He called on States to address tendencies promoting superiority among human beings and condemned the use of unilateral coercive measures for political purposes.

BURHAN GAFOOR (Singapore) drew attention to his country’s pragmatic and non-ideological approach to governance and human rights and emphasized the need to strike a balance between individual rights and societal needs.  Singapore does not claim its model is perfect, and it is open to learning from others.  However, it alone must decide what works best, given its unique circumstances.  “Singapore will not hesitate to speak up if we feel that countries or groups of countries are imposing their views, values or visions on us, particularly on matters on which there is no international consensus,” he said.  He went on to note that the Committee should be a platform for respectful dialogue, not to moralize or impose a set of views or ideas on fellow Member States.

Ms. WAGNER (Switzerland), raising concern over challenges like climate change and increasing violent conflict, underscored that there can be no lasting peace or security without respect for human rights and strengthening the rule of law.  Calling for the universal abolition of the death penalty, she noted that the movement towards abolition is continuing worldwide, particularly in Africa.  This year, the Central African Republic and Equatorial Guinea joined the ranks of abolitionist States, she added.  International law unequivocally prohibits torture and ill-treatment in all circumstances and without exception, she said, stressing that in the context of interrogations, it must be recognised that torture and ill-treatment do not contribute to obtaining reliable information.

JOANNA SYLWIA SKOCZEK (Poland), stressing that human rights are an inalienable part of development, said they must be respected worldwide.  Due to geographical location, her country’s priority is Eastern Europe, she noted, adding that Poland is deeply appalled by the growing number of victims of atrocities from the Russian Federation’s unprovoked war in Ukraine, including torture, sexual violence and involuntary deportations.  Although Poland is hosting 2.3 million refugees and guaranteeing them the right to shelter, education and health care, she underscored that human rights violations will only stop when Moscow ends its war.  Turning to Belarus, she expressed alarm at the growing number of political prisoners there, which has exceeded 1,300, as well as the repression of journalists and civil society actors.  Pointing to the arrests of two Polish nationals, she condemned the regime, demanding the immediate and unconditional release of all those detained on politically motivated charges.

ABDULAZIZ M. ALWASIL (Saudi Arabia) noted that his country has continued to implement reforms in the area of human rights, adding that it has adopted the “Saudi Vision 2030” strategic framework.  He pointed to continued support for persons and organizations concerned with human rights through inviting them to participate in formulating draft laws, programmes and policies.  Highlighting humanitarian support provided to all persons affected by disasters and conflicts worldwide, he said his country has been ranked the third-largest donor.  Reaffirming support for the Yemeni people and condemning the Houthi militias, he noted that Saudi Arabia has supported the country monetarily in excess of $19 billion.  He further called the Rohingya issue a “high priority” and urged the international community to reach a political settlement in the Syrian crisis.

Ms. ZINCHENKO (Russian Federation), highlighting her country’s centuries-long tradition of good neighbourly coexistence with a plethora of cultures and religions, stressed that inter-ethnic and inter-faith peace constitutes the basis for stability and peaceful coexistence of States and peoples.  She condemned the aggressive Russophobia unleashed in recent months by many Western States.  Starting in late February, Russian people have been systematically discriminated against based on their ethnic origin.  At the highest political levels, there have been calls to exclude from universal heritage Russian ballet, literature and music.  Moreover, countries of the European Union have introduced visa restrictions on Russians on grounds of nationality, subjecting them to collective punishment, while the most despicable and radical figures in the West are openly flaunting their plans to destroy the Russian identity.  In this context, she voiced concern over widespread discrimination against children who are Russian citizens or have Russian roots.

ARIEL RODELAS PEÑARANDA (Philippines) underscored the manner in which human rights feature in his country’s AmBisyon Natin 2040 (“Our Ambition 2040”) national development plan.  States must fulfil human rights commitments through constructive engagement, rather than selectivity and politicization, he said, adding that the independent Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines works with government agencies on extra-legal killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other violations of the right to life and security.  He also called on States to protect the human rights of migrants, youth, persons with disabilities, older persons, indigenous peoples and others who live in vulnerable or marginalized situations.

JONATHAN DAVID PASSMOOR (South Africa), associating himself with the Group of 77, the African Group and the LGBTI Core Group, and noting his country’s election to the Human Rights Council for the period 2023‑2025, emphasized the intrinsic link between economic, social and cultural rights as well as civil and political rights.  States should remain committed to realizing these rights while also accounting for their political systems and varying stages of development.  South Africa rejects the politicization of human rights in pursuit of a particular agenda that seeks to undermine multilateralism, he added.  Moreover, it is South Africa’s view that unilateral coercive measures represent an attempt by powerful States to coerce other States to act in a certain manner, with disregard for their far-reaching impact on the population of these countries.  He went on to say that the lack of funding for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and its dependence on donor funding must be corrected as a matter of urgency.

SONIA MARINA PEREIRA PORTILLA (Colombia) pointed to OHCHR’s remarks on the country’s work to incorporate a human rights approach in national public policies, ranging from health and social protection to adequate food, water, sanitation and education.  Turning to other actions, she noted her President’s plan to protect social leaders, human rights defenders and ex-combatants who agreed to peace as well as the ratification of the Escazú Agreement to protect defenders of environmental rights.  She also underscored the recent acceptance of the United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearances to acknowledge individual petitions, while stressing the need to achieve gender equality, empower women and girls and protect the rights of migrants.

LUIS GERARDO ELIZONDO BELDEN (Mexico) said these times are marked by multidimensional crises worsened by geopolitical tensions where science, ethics and legality are questioned, calling on the Committee to reassert the essential nature of human rights in all its work.  Engaging with the United Nations system of human rights has had positive outcomes for his country, he said, stressing that openness to scrutiny is key.  Adding that Mexico will continue to focus on the rights of the vulnerable and all intersectional forms of discrimination, he cited the government’s feminist foreign policy that works to eradicate hate speech and discrimination as an example of his country’s commitment to human rights.

JAMES KARIUKI (United Kingdom) underscored the need for collective commitment to freedom of religion and belief, including by building mutual understanding and respect between communities to fight intolerance.  He reiterated support for the bodily autonomy of women and girls as they exercise their sexual and reproductive rights, urging the international community to increase efforts to prevent gender-based violence.  Expressing deep concern over the continued proliferation of conflict-related sexual violence, he noted that his country will host a ministerial conference on the best means to prevent this crime, and improve justice and accountability.  Recognizing the vital role of civil society, he said the United Kingdom will join the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations in January.

ASHISH SHARMA (India) pointed to his country’s innovative rights-based social protection measures in pursuit of inclusive growth that has lifted millions out of multidimensional poverty.  More than 1.3 million women elected as representatives lead in the formulation and implementation of public policies at the grass-roots level.  The world’s largest health-care insurance programme, “National Health Protection Scheme”, covers 100 million families, providing free treatment to 500 million people.  The world’s largest affordable housing programme for the poor has led to the building of over 23.5 million houses to date.  Furthermore, India has a robust legal framework for the protection of children from sexual assault, pornography and trafficking in persons.  Warning that the right to life has been constantly under threat from terrorist acts, he stressed that Member States must take a resolute position against terrorism to prevent and combat threats to human rights.

AVITAL MIMRAN ROSENBERG (Israel) highlighted reforms to further promote digital-based learning — a key component for productive studies in the twenty-first century — and ensure better inclusion of students.  Israel’s educational institutions enjoy cultural autonomy to fit the needs of their students, she said, adding that the right to quality education should not be affected by any form of disadvantage.  Israel strives towards equality and promotes equal rights for LGBTQI+ communities, while lifting restrictions on blood donations for gay men.  Additionally, civil society organizations provide services such as legal and mental health support for people in need.  Promotion of rights for persons with disabilities, such as accessible public transportation, is enshrined in Israel’s law, she emphasized, noting that public buses and trains are accessible, allowing fair access to everyone.  Although Israel’s water shortage remains high, the country has dramatically expanded its water supply through an agreement with Jordan, she said.

NOEMÍ RUTH ESPINOZA MADRID (Honduras), stressing that her country is a signatory of several United Nations treaties and the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights, pointed to guiding principles it has adopted voluntarily.  Honduras has opted for the independence and impartiality of justice, she said, noting that since the 2009 coup, her country has been trying to generate a culture of respect for human rights within its public institutions and effective access to justice and reparations, while addressing discrimination.  She pointed to the February adoption by the National Congress of a legislative decree, which aims to study cases of people who were unjustly criminalized for their struggles to restore the rule of law through mobilization and were victims of political prosecution.  Noting that an unprecedented number of Hondurans has been forced to migrate due to factors like poor governance, corruption and narcotraffic, she cited the Commission for Migratory Affairs as an instrument to improve the quality of life of the migrant community.

MICHAL MLYNÁR (Slovakia), aligning himself with the European Union, said that no justification can be used as a pretext for violating human rights.  Condemning Russian Federation’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine, he expressed his country’s support for Ukrainian sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence in internationally recognized borders.  Encouraging States to urge the Russian Federation to stop its aggression, he expressed dismay at the huge number of killings of civilians, attacks on infrastructure and sexual- and gender-based violence committed by Russian Federation soldiers and occupants.  Addressing food insecurity, he called on the Russian Federation to enable free and safe passage of agricultural delivery and shipping from Ukrainian ports.  Turning to justice and accountability, he encouraged work within the mandate of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine.  Further, he called on Belarus’ authorities to release all opponents of the regime and spotlighted the erosion of respect for human rights of women and girls in Afghanistan by the Taliban.

AZRIL BIN ABD AZIZ (Malaysia) said that the Federal Constitution of Malaysia provides for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, adding that the country continues to review its legislation.  In this regard, it has enacted a decision to abolish the mandatory death penalty, established a special parliamentary committee on fundamental liberty and constitutional rights and passed the anti-sexual harassment bill.  In addition, under the Twelfth Malaysia Plan 2021-2025, the country is undertaking efforts to address poverty and enhance well-being of its indigenous community, children, elderly, persons with disabilities and family institutions.  He underscored Malaysia’s firm opposition to all forms of unilateral coercive measures, condemning their imposition on targeted countries that continue to grapple with the COVID‑19 pandemic.

SURIYA CHINDAWONGSE (Thailand) said his country is committed to a human-rights-based approach towards the promotion and protection of human dignity and fundamental freedoms, based on impartiality, objectivity, non-selectivity and non-politicization.  Using its successes as an example in responding to today’s challenges, he said that the vulnerable must be prioritized with universal health coverage.  Inviting States to integrate treaty bodies and Special Rapporteurs’ recommendations into policies, he said that Thailand’s parliament just approved a draft act on prevention and suppression of torture and enforced disappearances.  Stressing the value of cooperation, he recalled his delegation’s meetings with the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the Working Group on Discrimination against Women and Girls, and its participation in other multilateral frameworks, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

ALMAHA MUBARAK F. J. AL-THANI (Qatar) said her country is one of the five pioneering nations in education, having contributed $1 billion to education funds.  She underlined significant progress in supporting and protecting the rights of migrants through legislative and regulatory initiatives.  As her country will host the next World Cup, she reaffirmed its commitment to human rights during every step of the process. Inspectors will enforce labour rights and security forces will ensure an international standard of human rights, including for spectators of different cultural backgrounds.

MHER MARGARYAN (Armenia) underscored ongoing reforms in his country that seek to promote transparency, eradicate corruption, enhance independence of the judiciary and promote gender equality.  He reiterated Armenia’s strong commitment to advancing prevention of identity-based discrimination, mass atrocities and genocide.  He said the Fourth Global Forum Against the Crime of Genocide will take place in Yerevan, on topics related to the use of new and emerging technologies in preventing mass atrocities, including in the context of addressing crimes against cultural property and destruction of cultural heritage.  He went on to lament continuous identity-based violations and hate crimes against the Armenian people, pointing to the dangerous levels of racism and hateful rhetoric dominating political discourse in Azerbaijan.  A lack of adequate international response, or delay by those who choose to remain silent, is a source of grave concern.

GABRIELLA MICHAELIDOU (Cyprus), associating with the European Union, raised concerns over the continuous violations of individual and collective human rights of Cypriots, which stem from Türkiye’s invasion and ongoing occupation of 37 per cent of the country.  As a result of Türkiye’s armed aggression, a third of Greek Cypriots were displaced and continue to be denied the right to return to their homes, while witnessing the unlawful use of their properties by others.  The issue of missing persons remains one of the most heart-wrenching aspects of the 1974 Turkish military invasion, she stressed, adding that the fate of around 50 per cent of the missing persons in Cyprus is still unknown.  She urged the Government of Türkiye to fully disclose — on a non-selective basis — all information from its military archives, and ensure that the Committee of Missing Persons has unhindered access to all military areas in the occupied part of Cyprus.

ALEXANDER MARSCHIK (Austria), associating himself with the European Union, the LGBTI Core Group and the group of countries [European Union and Ireland], condemned in the strongest terms the illegal and unprovoked brutal war of aggression the Russian Federation is carrying out against Ukraine, including its instrumentalization of minority issues as a justification.  He stressed that his country supports constructive dialogue and multilateral cooperation on country-specific human rights situations and firmly condemns persecution, discrimination and violence against minorities.  Based on its history, Austria emphasizes the importance of promoting and protecting minorities’ rights at the national and international levels.  Touching on human rights in the context of new technologies, he said the digital world should not be instrumentalized to incite violence against vulnerable groups through hate speech or disinformation.  In addition, he urged the international community to protect civil society organizations and human rights defenders at the national level, underscoring the importance of listening to young people.

NELLY BANAKEN ELEL (Cameroon) said the Covid‑19 pandemic has rendered futile and unworkable any idea that there’s a hierarchy among human rights, dismantling the notion that one can artificially prioritize one category of rights to the detriment of another.  Stating that civil and political rights do not have priority over the others, she underlined the catalysing role certain rights can play for the promotion of other freedoms.  Adding that the COVID‑19 pandemic highlighted the fundamental nature of the right to health, she said that denying the right to development as a collective or individual right or sidelining economic, cultural and social rights will ultimately work against all human rights.  It is therefore important to overcome political divisions, transcend debate and focus on practical measures to implement the Declaration on the Right to Development, she said.

IGOR PILIPENKO (Belarus), aligning with the Non-Aligned Movement, the Group of Friends, and China and several countries, noted that every society has its own approach to balancing freedoms and social justice.  Adhering to human rights as they are enshrined in international documents is an unachievable ideal, he said, adding that anyone saying differently is either deceptive or “must take a look in the mirror”.  International institutions such as the United Nations can help to achieve advances, but human rights should be limited to cooperation and the exchange of experiences, he stressed.  Belarus dispels the myth that the West is infallible on human rights, he said, highlighting a report referred to as “The Most Resonant Human Rights Violations in Certain Countries”, which will appear on its Ministry of Foreign affairs website.  He recommended that the Committee familiarize itself with it, condemning the use of unilateral coercive measures.

PEDRO LUIS PEDROSO CUESTA (Cuba) noted that selective practices, punitive approaches and double standards continue, particularly against developing countries, in addressing the issue of human rights, contributing to politicization and confrontation.  He noted that false, distorted and incomplete information is disseminated to present a warped picture of reality and justify subversive agendas against developing countries.  Recalling that his country has been living under the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States for more than six decades, he called it a “crime”.  In addition, he called for the elimination of unilateral measures on developing countries.  He went on to report that, with ratification of the new family code, Cuba has one of the most advanced legislation documents of its kind on protection of the rights of women, the elderly, persons with disabilities and LGBTQI+ persons.

MARIA THEOFILI (Greece) recalled that for the past 48 years, the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Cyprus have been ceaselessly violated.  Violations include the perpetual infringement of the rights of hundreds of thousands of displaced persons and legal landowners who have violently been deprived of their properties in the occupied part of Cyprus, as well as those of the relatives of missing persons and persons enclaved in the occupied area of Cyprus following the illegal invasion.  Highlighting the issue of missing persons, she said that until today, most of the families of the missing, in Cyprus and Greece, continue to live with the emotional trauma caused by the painful uncertainty of the fate of their loved ones.  She noted that 47 Greek citizens are among the 735 missing to this day.  Türkiye has implemented a systematic policy of colonizing the occupied part of Cyprus, with the aim of changing the demographic composition of the population, in violation of the Geneva Conventions, she asserted.

RICHARD ARBEITER (Canada) pointed to challenges of child, early and forced marriage, including in the context of uneven recovery from the COVID‑19 pandemic, increasing threats posed by climate change and conflict as well as global disparities in access to sexual and reproductive rights.  Despite progress in this area, data shows that the Sustainable Development Goal on eliminating harmful practices will not be achieved without increased efforts, he said.  Canada will again table a resolution on human rights in Iran, in solidarity with women and girls peacefully protesting actions of the so-called “morality police”.  Commending the resilience of the people of Ukraine in resistance to Moscow’s illegal invasion, he stressed the utter importance of accountability for the violations of human rights and the serious crimes committed against the Ukrainian people.

EGRISELDA ARACELY GONZÁLEZ LÓPEZ (El Salvador) pointed to forum for the review of the Global Covenant on Migration as an opportunity to identify challenges and take steps forward.  “The disappearances of migrants are a reality we cannot ignore”, she said, expressing hope that the recommendations of the Secretary-General will address the issue.  States must work jointly to facilitate access by all migrants without migration status to basic services and facilitate consular offices’ access to documentation, she added.  Further, she stressed the need for evidence-based narratives of migrants to combat xenophobia and racism, as latent threats to the security and dignity of all migrants.  Hoping that a comprehensive approach will be reflected in the proposed indicators to support States in the implementation of the Global Covenant of Migration, she noted that since its establishment, 26,000 migrant deaths have been documented.

FABIÁN ODDONE (Argentina) said that promotion of human rights and rule of law are part of Argentina’s domestic and foreign policy.  His country is committed to advancing the Forced Displacement Convention and hopes it will reach a hundred ratifications by 2025.  Argentina has ratified all instruments aimed at ending the death penalty.  The current international legal human rights framework is not coherent enough and needs binding mechanisms, he said.  Women, girls and LGBTQI+ people deserve a life free of violence and with the freedom to love and develop.  He rejected torture and other degrading treatments and punishments, calling for specialized mechanisms for protection against gender identity-based violence.

GABRIELE CACCIA, Observer for the Holy See said that people around the globe may have different abilities and resources but are equal in dignity and value.  Whenever this is not recognized, human rights and human freedoms are easily undermined.  He said that freedom and solidarity are necessary for human well-being and should not be in competition.  To emphasize one at the expense of the other alienates one from community and intergenerational solidarity, he said.  Adding that while attempts to promote controversial concepts as human rights must be avoided, some have been taken up within the United Nations and treaty bodies.  Referring to this as “ideological colonization”, he warned against the politicizing of rights for which there is no foundation in treaty or custom.  Rather, efforts should focus on ensuring that people can enjoy clearly established human rights and fundamental freedoms.

GABRIELE CACCIA (Holy See), strongly advocating for abolition of the death penalty, said a criminal, no matter how heinous the crime committed, never loses his or her dignity.  The right to life is a necessary consequence of respect for the inalienable dignity of every human being, he emphasized, adding that when that right is relativized, the entire architecture of the human rights regime is compromised.  This has collateral consequences in fields responsible for care of the sick, the elderly and persons with disability, he said, underlining that States’ protection of their citizens, including through the impartial administration of justice, is essential to ensuring that crimes do not go unpunished.  Voicing concern over the possibility of judicial error and the use of the death penalty by totalitarian regimes, he cautioned that when the death penalty is applied there is no avenue for redress in case of a miscarriage of justice.

GILLES BAUWENS (Belgium), aligning with the European Union, highlighted violations of human rights suffered by citizens of Ukraine following the Russian Federation’s aggression, stressing that impunity is not an option.  While human rights are indeed universal, some countries seek to relativize them as a Western agenda or outside their cultural traditions, while others prefer to instrumentalize or apply them selectively, he said.  Neither national sovereignty, not relativism can be used to deny a people their human rights nor justify gender-based violence, he asserted.  He said that his country continues to follow the situation of women in Afghanistan as well as women rights defenders in Iran.

MYKOLA PRYTULA (Ukraine), highlighting his country’s membership in the United Nations Human Rights Council and its intention to strengthen the body’s role.  The activity of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine is of critical importance, he added, pointing to its recent report, which found reasonable grounds to conclude that an array of war crimes, violations of human rights and international humanitarian law have been committed there.  The Commission documented indiscriminate attacks with explosive weapons in populated areas by Russian Federation armed forces, he underscored, adding that people have been detained, unlawfully deported to the Russian Federation or are still missing.  Sexual violence has affected victims of all ages, with family members sometimes forced to witness the crimes, he said, calling on all partners to enhance efforts to bring perpetrators to justice.  Ukraine looks forward to Human Rights Council country visits to monitor and document human rights violations committed by the Russian Federation in Ukraine.  He stressed the importance of continuing a human rights monitoring presence there, underscoring his country’s cooperation with OHCHR.

JAKUB KULHÁNEK (Czech Republic) condemned the Russian Federation’s unjustified war in Ukraine, adding that his country will never recognize its illegal annexation.  He called on the Russian Federation to cease atrocities committed by its troops, calling for the establishment of a special tribunal for the crime of aggression against Ukraine.  Welcoming OHCHR’s response to human rights concerns in Xinjiang, he expressed regret that there will not be a thorough discussion of it during the upcoming session of the Human Rights Council.  He expressed concern about the situation in Afghanistan, calling on the Taliban to reverse decisions reducing women and girls’ rights.  He also lamented the situations of protestors in Iran and human rights violations in Venezuela.

SOUEDA EL GUERA (Mauritania) voiced concern over challenges posed by the COVID‑19 pandemic and its socioeconomic implications.  She pointed to her Government’s programme of priorities, which includes improving basic services and creating opportunities for workers.  Drawing attention to training and judicial processes at the international level, she underscored the importance of criminalizing slavery.  She further highlighted initiatives taken by her Government to combat human trafficking, following the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur, as well as the importance of cooperating with human rights mechanisms.

SONG KIM (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said that despite efforts, serious global challenges remain, such as inequality, economic stagnation, hegemonism, conflicts and natural disasters.  Instead of working together, confrontation is staged in the human rights arena in pursuit of political purposes.  Human rights are abused to interfere in others’ internal affairs.  Western countries impose their values on other countries and stigmatize non-obedient ones as ‘human rights violators’ attempting to overrun their socialist systems.  The United Nations must remain faithful in protecting human rights and treat all Member States equally.  Domestically, human rights policies have been expanded, despite crises like blockages, hostile forces’ pressures and the pandemic, he said.

CARLOS AMORÍN (Uruguay) encouraged dialogue among States, rather than confrontation, stressing the importance of principles of impartiality and non-selectivity, as they guarantee the mandate of the Third Committee.  He said that Uruguay abolished the death penalty in 1907, noting that not only is the punishment irreversible, but judicial errors are possible.  Moreover, there is no proof that it deters criminal activity.  This is more relevant than ever in the context of increased State and extrajudicial killing, he said, calling on States to focus on prevention, investigation and accountability.

Mr. DJIGUEMDE (Burkina Faso) said the country is committed to protecting human rights and implementing joint compacts and policies, but this has occurred under a backdrop of terrorism, extremism, and a water crisis.  The Government has enacted an initiative combating terrorism, adopted a law to operationalize a mechanism on the prevention of torture, and addressed the situation of internally displaced persons.  To work more closely with the United Nations in implementing its commitment to human rights, Burkina Faso has set up a Country Office for OHCHR and has maintained dialogues with all relevant stakeholders.  The first trials of suspected terrorists have taken place and independent investigations are under way for allegations attributed to security forces.

REEM MOHAMED SALEH YESLAM ALAMERI (United Arab Emirates) said his country has adopted new legislation to protect citizens’ economic and social rights, family rights, workers’ rights and fight against criminal acts like xenophobia.  The new 2021 domestic human rights law has its own budget, and focuses on dissemination of information, awareness raising and organizing forums and seminars.  The National Human Rights Commission addresses all human rights related aspects and creates a roadmap for civil society and the national agenda.  The United Arab Emirates is playing a fundamental role in the Human Rights Council during its 2022-2024 membership, especially regarding women’s rights in Afghanistan.

ODD INGE KVALHEIM (Norway) said that during the current exceptional set of crises — war, food, energy, climate change — the most vulnerable have been hit the hardest.  Democratic backsliding and autocratic rule has threatened security and upended development gains.  There are no caveats in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he said, stressing that there can be no discrimination based on sexual orientation, identity, religion, belief, ethnicity, background or disability.  The world owes civil society and human rights defenders a debt for the risks they take to improve societies, he said.

Mr. ALABHOUL (Kuwait) said that his country’s Constitution has sought to strengthen human rights since Kuwait gained independence in 1962.  The country has adopted measures, legislation and national mechanisms such as a National Committee for the implementation of various human rights recommendations.  Kuwait’s vision for 2025 includes a strategy for education, employment and supports the integration of persons with disabilities into the economic sector.  He said that women in Kuwait are essential and the country seeks to eliminate stereotypes.  After gaining the right to vote in 2005, women have obtained more leadership and ministerial positions.  Having ratified the Protocol on Mission Persons, he encouraged all countries to respect obligations including searching for missing persons and returning remains without discrimination.

ANNA KARIN ENESTRÖM (Sweden), voicing concern over the first mass grave uncovered in Ukraine a few weeks ago that contained 436 bodies, including six children, said the most common injuries were mutilated genitals, amputated arms and legs and bullet wounds.  Drawing attention to countless other places of unspeakable cruelty around the world, she recalled that human rights were created out of the ashes of the Second World War; women and men from different philosophical traditions helped create them to prove that war and oppression do not have to be the destiny of mankind, she added.  The past 70 years have shown that human rights and democracy are not just romantic notions, but a blueprint for building societies that are more just and free with less hunger and fear, she stressed.

NNAMDI OKECHUKWU NZE (Nigeria) underscored the need to work towards promoting everyone’s human rights and attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Nigeria is a proven defender of human rights, not only domestically, but also abroad via peacekeeping missions.  He called on all States to use international human rights instruments and organizations in line with objectivity to ensure trust, especially when consensus is lacking.  The international community must avoid establishing a “hierarchy of rights” or creating new rights.  He rejected counterproductive double-speak and expressed commitment to sovereign equality of States.

Ms. UMULISA (Rwanda), noting that every time a gross violation of human rights occurs in any part of the world, it shocks the conscience of all, underscored that protecting human rights is a continuous commitment, and the international community must unify forces in the fight against perpetrators who commit gross violations.  She highlighted Rwanda’s important strides in promoting the enjoyment of human rights for all in the last two decades.  As a party to the principal international and regional Covenants on human rights and all major human rights bodies, Rwanda is committed to the observance of human rights as universal and inalienable, he stressed, adding that Rwanda’s constitution is built on the principle of equal rights and treatment of all persons without distinction.

DAHMANE YAHIAOUI (Algeria) called on the Committee to avoid politicizing issues related to human rights, emphasizing the importance of neutrality and independence.  Reiterating Algeria’s commitment to the Third Committee, he called on States to respect human rights, including the right to development of countries in line with their national priorities.  He said that the Government has moved forward with its constitution based on a participatory democracy.  To that end, the country has operationalized the Constitutional Court, the High Council for Youth and the National Observatory for Civil Society — all mechanisms that add transparency and promote human rights.

LIGIA JOVELINA MAVALE (Mozambique), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, commended the OHCHR for providing advice on incorporating national standards, despite setbacks due to the COVID‑19 pandemic and geopolitical tensions.  Human rights are among the pillars of Mozambique’s Constitution, he said, adding that the country has created an inter-ministerial commission for human rights and international humanitarian law; worked with the European Union on civic space; rights in conflict zones and protection of the most vulnerable people; and prepared plans to combat trafficking of person and gender-based violence.

AYSE INANÇ ÖRNEKOL (Türkiye) expressed deep concern about the global rise in xenophobia, racism, antisemitic movements and Islamophobia, underscoring the collective responsibility to promote mutual understanding.  Her country will host the next Istanbul Process on combating intolerance and discrimination based on religion, she said.  Acknowledging that fear stocked hatred toward “the other” she cautioned that Governments should not aggravate them, adding that so-called security measures without addressing root causes of irregular migration will only produce further tragedy.  She expressed concern over Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine, protecting the rights of Uyghur Turks and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China, as well as human rights violations in Myanmar, Afghanistan, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Syria and Libya.

FLOR KRISTEN FLORES TELLO (Panama), associating with the Central American Integration System, underscored that migration must be safe and regular to ensure human rights and dignity.  The humanitarian crisis in Panama due to irregular migration is the result of social, economic, environmental, and political factors.  Panama shares one of the most dangerous borders in the world — the Darian Gap — that has thousands of miles of forests, high mountains, and rivers.  Since 2021, over 340,000 persons have tried to cross it, she said, adding that Panama has the highest number of irregular migrants, with boys and girls often arriving unaccompanied.  Stressing that the suffering and emotional cost of this human tragedy is incalculable, she highlighted that approximately $40 million per year is devoted to protecting the rights of migrants, including reception services, basic health care, food, shelter, and transportation.  She also detailed mechanisms on migrants implemented by her Government.

AZMI MOHAMAD (Brunei Darussalam), aligning with the Group of 77 and China, expressed concern over the silent epidemic of mental health issues worldwide following the COVID—19 pandemic.  Citing the World Health Organization (WHO), he noted that almost 1 billion people worldwide suffer from some form of mental disorder.  Underscoring that depression and anxiety costs the global economy $1 trillion per year, he said it was imperative to promote mental health awareness and action.  As the Government recognizes the importance of mental health as part of overall health, it has organized training and sharing sessions, as well as roadshows to increase awareness and mental resilience.

Ms. MORRIS (Guatemala), aligning with the Central American Integration System, emphasized the importance of addressing migration issues and protecting migrants’ rights.  It is imperative to guarantee their safety and establish effective mechanisms to ensure their access to justice.  Failing to address migrations’ structural causes, like climate change, impairs the lives and livelihoods of families, contributing to migration flows.  Food insecurity in Central America has left millions in need of assistance, she said, calling for a world that respects biodiversity with more resources for climate adaptation.

GHEORGHE LEUCĂ (Republic of Moldova) said the unjustified war in Ukraine continues to cause numerous human rights violations and waves of refugees.  The Republic of Moldova has demonstrated its commitment to protecting those seeking refuge in its country.  Combating human trafficking is an emerging priority, he said, noting that the Republic of Moldova has promoted justice reform, fought corruption, focused on the pandemic-related challenges, particularly social rights, and recently ratified the Istanbul Convention.  He counted on active support to curb the Tiraspol’s regime’s cases of political pressures on dissenting voices, illegal convictions and convictions.  As a candidate for the Human Rights Council in 2027-2029, the Republic of Moldova is committing to ensuring respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms to the benefit of all.

FIONA WEBSTER (Australia) highlighted that today, there are 1.8 billion people between the ages of 10 and 24, making up the largest generation of youth in history.  Close to 90 per cent of the world’s youth live in developing countries, where they make up a “youth bulge”.  Increasingly connected online, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, young people want to contribute to solutions to the development of their communities.  Youth are living on the frontline of climate change, with youth climate advocates like Seed, an Indigenous Australian movement for climate justice, providing a strong voice on this urgent global challenge.  Youth activism is critically important in the Pacific, where climate change remains the single greatest threat to peoples’ livelihoods, she stressed.  She also noted that youth are at the forefront of advocacy on global abolition of the death penalty.

GARIKAI MANYANGA (Zimbabwe), aligning himself with the statements made by China and Venezuela on behalf of a group of States, stated he delegations support for the universality and the non-politicization of human rights.  All rights should be treated equally, including economic rights.  Some States’ “holier than thou” attitudes are self-serving and counterproductive, he said, stressing that dialogue is the best way forward for those that are lagging behind.  Country-specific reports and resolutions that only serve political agendas will not save people.  No country has yet reached human rights protection’s “final destination” and the global community should commit to helping each other.  The human rights bodies’ credibility is at stake, he warned.

THOA THI MINH LE (Viet Nam), warning that extreme poverty is set to rise for the first time since 1998, as violence and armed conflicts continue to rage in many areas worldwide, stressed that all human rights should be treated on an equal footing, with greater emphasis on economic, social and cultural rights.  People are at the heart of Viet Nam’s development strategy, she underlined, pointing to the effective implementation of national strategies, which prioritize the protection of vulnerable groups, especially the elderly, persons with disabilities and children with special conditions.  Advocating for a holistic approach, he detailed his Government’s efforts in achieving social progress and protecting the environment.

KARLITO NUNES (Timor-Leste) expressed deep concern about the proxy war in Ukraine and its collateral damage on human rights, especially those of elderly persons, women and girls, calling on all parties to settle the conflict peacefully.  He underscored that the amount of attention given to the Ukranian crisis is overshadowing other humanitarian crises across the globe, such as the conflict in Yemen or the famine in South Sudan.  Expressing concern about the situation of Afghan Women and girls as well as that of Myanmar, he stressed that climate change is also a devastating factor.  In Timor-Leste, there have been floods, droughts, landslides and fires as well as sea-level rise and coastal erosion.  He called on industrialized countries that are disproportionately responsible for global warming to fulfil their obligations to compensate poorer nations, especially least developed countries and small island developing States, who bear the brunt of the crisis.

INDIRA GOHIWAR ARYAL (Nepal) said his country’s commitment to the protection of human rights is total and unequivocal.  Human rights, rule of law and development are universal, indivisible, interdependent, mutually reinforcing and should be observed on all levels.  Nepal’s Constitution guarantees rights to a clean and healthy environment, food, social security and specific rights for seniors, children, women and girls.  The political participation of women, youth and disadvantaged groups had increased significantly.  The National Human Rights Commission had been working as a powerful watchdog to protect human rights, he said.

ELIE ALTARSHA (Syria) aligned with China and a group of countries and Venezuela for the Group of Friends in Defense of the United Nations Charter.  He decried that terrorism and unilateral coercive measures stopped international banks from financing their commitments, which prevented the rehabilitation of his country’s electricity grid.  The country cannot secure spare parts due to blockades, he added, noting that humanitarian organizations face serious challenges in the country.

PAULA NARVÁEZ OJEDA (Chile), calling for more inclusive and peaceful societies, stressed the importance of protecting vulnerable groups.  Chile is determined to eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination against women and promote respect for the rights of older persons, she said.  Further, Chile strives to bridge the legal gap that obstructs the effective enjoyment of the human rights of the groups most affected by the COVID—19 pandemic.  She reiterated her Government’s commitment to promote human rights, including the right to a safe and clean environment, through a policy that defends biodiversity and oceans.  She also noted that her Government promotes same-sex marriage and has introduced initiatives to protect transgender people.

DAI BING (China) said his country has risen from poverty and bullying to independence and prosperity.  As a Human Rights Council member,  China is committed to upholding fairness and justice.  The Third Committee is a platform for dialogue and cooperation, not an arena for confrontation, he said, adding that the world has no need for condescending remarks or human rights’ politicization.  Several countries supported the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ assessment of Xinjiang, but human rights violations there are a flat-out lie.  The One-Country-Two-System of Hong Kong and China was recognized for good governance, he noted, stressing also that Tibet has followed a path from poverty to prosperity.

Right of Reply

In exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea called the European Union Representative’s statement a political provocation and a hostile act.  So-called human rights issues fabricated by the European Union have never and cannot be allowed to exist in his country, he said, adding that the bloc should be held accountable for the racism, islamophobia, sexual violence and other human rights violations in its countries, rather than criticize others.

In exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Syria highlighted the European Union representative’s use of the word “regime” to describe his country.  He said that “we are the Syrian Arab Republic” and “the last time I checked it was called United Nations and not United Regimes”. He also criticized delegations’ “I am right, you are wrong” approach to dialogue.

The representative of Türkiye, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, rejected baseless allegations against her country, adding that the delegation of Greece presented a one-sided interpretation of history.  Atrocities against Turkish Cypriots are well documented in archives, she recalled.  She opposed Greece’s portrayal of the Cyprus problem as one of invasion and occupation, referring to the legitimate intervention of the island, carried out according to the Treaty of Guarantee.  Regarding missing persons, the Greek representative opted to ignore the Turkish Cypriots that went missing between 1963 and 1974 as a result of the systematic ethnic cleaning campaign against them.

The representative of Cyprus, exercising the right of reply, first raised a point of order in reaction to the statement of Türkiye.  She stressed the importance of respecting all countries and addressing them by their proper names.  The Republic of Cyprus was the only official name of her country, she said, adding that it represents and continues to represent the whole of Cyprus and all Cypriots.

Türkiye’s comments were objectionable, she said.  Human rights violations in the northern part of the island stem from the Turkish illegal invasion.  Türkiye attempted to distort the historical reality and its ongoing illegal occupation.  The international community knows that Türkiye wreaked havoc on Cyprus and displaced one third of the population.  Turkish actions were aimed at imposing a two-State solution in Cyprus.  She called on Türkiye to provide information that exists in its military archives on the large number of missing persons.


Source: United Nations