Summary record of the 44th meeting, held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, on Thursday, 8 April 2004 : Commission on Human Rights, 60th session
|UN Document Symbol||E/CN.4/2004/SR.44|
|Convention||Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities|
|Document Type||Summary Record|
|Subjects||Migrants, Migrant Workers, Displaced Persons, Minorities, Self-Determination of Peoples, Mercenaries, Disappearance of Persons, Trafficking in Persons, Socially Disadvantaged Persons, Persons with Disabilities, Immigration Policy, Enclaved Groups, Religious Freedom, Indigenous Peoples, Persons with Mental Disabilities, Illegal Immigration, Irregular Migrants, Non-Citizens, Statelessness, Slavery|
Economic and Social
9 December 2005
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 44th MEETING
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Thursday 7 April 2004, at 3 p.m.
Chairperson: Mr. SMITH (Australia)
CONSIDERATION OF DRAFT RESOLUTIONS RELATING TO AGENDA ITEMS 4 AND 5
SPECIFIC GROUPS AND INDIVIDUALS:
(a) MIGRANT WORKERS
(c) MASS EXODUSES AND DISPLACED PERSONS
(d) OTHER VULNERABLE GROUPS AND INDIVIDUALS
This record is subject to correction.
Corrections should be submitted in one of the working languages. They should be set forth
in a memorandum and also incorporated in a copy of the record. They should be sent within one
week of the date of this document to the Official Records Editing Section, room E.4108, Palais
des Nations, Geneva.
Any corrections to the records of the public meetings of the Commission at this session will
be consolidated in a single corrigendum, to be issued shortly after the end of the session.
The meeting was called to order at 3 p.m.
CONSIDERATION OF DRAFT RESOLUTIONS RELATING TO AGENDA ITEMS 4 AND 5
Draft resolution E/CN.4/2004/L.14 (Strengthening of the Office of the High Commissioner for
1. Mr. SHA Zukang (China), introducing draft resolution L.14 on behalf of his country and
the States members of the Like-Minded Group of States, said that it contained a traditional text
aimed at strengthening the Office of the High Commissioner, in accordance with the Vienna
Declaration and Programme of Action. The text did, however, contain one new element, the
reference in paragraph 2 to the appointment of the new High Commissioner for Human Rights.
In that regard, the Like-Minded Group of States, while welcoming the appointment of
Ms. Louise Arbour, noted with regret that that Ms. Arbour and her predecessors had been chosen
by the two regional groups, those of States of Western Europe and of States of Latin America and
the Caribbean. That was why paragraph 2 referred to General Assembly resolution 48/141,
which stressed geographical rotation.
2. Following informal consultations among the States which he represented, it had been
proposed to amend paragraph 2, dividing it into two parts. The paragraph would now read:
2. Welcomes the appointment of the new High Commissioner for Human Rights.
3. Requests the Secretary-General, in appointing the High Commissioner for Human
Rights in future, to take due account of geographical rotation, as set out in General
Assembly resolution 48/141.
The remaining paragraphs would be renumbered accordingly.
3. He thanked all parties for their cooperation and hoped that the text could be adopted by
4. Mr. STEINER (Germany), citing article 48 of the Rules of Procedure of Technical
Commissions of the Economic and Social Council, requested a brief suspension of the meeting.
5. The meeting was suspended at 1.13 p.m. and resumed at 3.29 p.m.
6. Mr. DELAURENTIS (United States of America) proposed three amendments to draft
resolution L.14, the first being to delete paragraph 8. In his delegations view, there was no
reason to mention the right to development in the draft resolution, especially since there had
never been any generally accepted definition of that right. In addition, he proposed the inclusion,
in the second line of paragraph 9, of the words civil, political, before the words economic,
social and cultural rights. Similarly, he suggested the same amendment in the fourth line of
paragraph 10. His delegation saw no reason to give priority to economic, social and cultural
rights over civil and political rights. He asked for those amendments to be put to the vote.
7. Mr. SHA Zukang (China) pointed out to the United States representative that paragraph 8,
which he had proposed deleting, and paragraphs 9 and 10, which he had proposed amending,
were in fact identical to the text of draft resolution E/CN.4/2002/L.8, which the Commission had
adopted by consensus at its fifty-eighth session.
8. Mr. FERNANDEZ (Cuba) said that the amendments proposed by the United States were
quite out of place. For developing countries, the right to development, the follow-up to which the
High Commissioner was invited to ensure in paragraph 8, was of capital importance. In addition,
it was normal to give priority, in paragraphs 9 and 10, to economic, social and cultural rights,
since they had long been neglected. He urged developing countries to vote against the
amendments proposed by the United States delegation.
9. Mr. PURI (India) said that the proposal to delete paragraph 8 was inadmissible. The right
to development had been accepted by the international community and was also referred to
explicitly in the Vienna Declaration. Moreover, the fact that the definition of a term or
expression raised certain difficulties was not a reason to stop referring to it. For example, it had
not been possible to reach an understanding on a definition of terrorism, but that did not mean
that it should no longer be combated.
10. Mr. LUKIYANTSEV (Russian Federation) supported the text introduced by the
representative of China on behalf of the Group of Like-Minded States. He recalled that there had
been a consensus in the past on the paragraphs to which the United States delegation had
proposed amendments. The text proposed by the Chinese delegation served to correct the
imbalance that had characterized the activities of the Office of the High Commissioner for
Human Rights, which had for too long had a tendency to emphasize civil and political rights to
the detriment of economic, social and cultural rights. By rightly stressing the latter and the right
to development, the text restored the balance which the Office of the High Commissioner had to
respect in its activities and its priorities.
11. Mr. MAXWELL HEYWARD (Australia) proposed a further amendment to the text
submitted by China.
12. Mr. CHIPAZIWA (Zimbabwe), speaking on a point of order, noted that a new proposal
could not be made at that stage of the proceedings.
13. The CHAIRPERSON agreed with the representative of Zimbabwe and put the amendments
proposed by the United States delegation to a vote.
14. At the request of the representative of the United States, a recorded vote was taken on the
first United States amendment to delete paragraph 8 of draft resolution E/CN.4/2004/L.14
In favour: United States of America.
Against: Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Bahrain, Bhutan, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, China,
Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, Gabon,
Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Mauritania, Mexico,
Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia,
Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Togo, Uganda, Ukraine,
United Kingdom, Zimbabwe.
Abstaining: Australia, Japan, Republic of Korea.
15. The amendment proposed by the United States to delete paragraph 8 of draft resolution
L.14 was rejected by 49 votes to 1, with 3 abstentions.
16. At the request of the representative of the United States, a recorded vote was taken on the
second United States amendment, to paragraph 9 of draft resolution L.14.
In favour: Australia, Honduras, Japan, United States of America.
Against: Argentina, Armenia, Bahrain, Bhutan, Brazil, Burkina Faso, China, Congo, Costa
Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Mauritania, Nepal,
Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, South
Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Togo, Uganda, Zimbabwe.
Abstaining: Austria, Chile, Croatia, France, Gabon, Germany, Guatemala, Hungary,
Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Republic of Korea, Sweden, Ukraine, United Kingdom.
17. The second amendment proposed by the United States, to paragraph 9 of draft
resolution L.14, was rejected by 32 votes to 4, with 17 abstentions.
18. At the request of the representative of the United States, a recorded vote was taken on the
third United States amendment, to paragraph 10 of draft resolution L.14.
In favour: Australia, Honduras, United States of America.
Against: Argentina, Armenia, Bahrain, Bhutan, Brazil, Burkina Faso, China, Congo, Costa
Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Mauritania,
Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, South
Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Togo, Uganda, Zimbabwe.
Abstaining: Austria, Chile, Croatia, France, Germany, Guatemala, Hungary, Ireland, Italy,
Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Republic of Korea, Sweden, Ukraine, United Kingdom.
19. The third amendment proposed by the United States, to paragraph 10 of draft
resolution L.14, was rejected by 33 votes to 3, with 17 abstentions.
20. At the request of the representative of the United States, a recorded vote was taken on draft
resolution E/CN.4/2004/L.14, as orally amended by the representative of China.
In favour: Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Bahrain, Bhutan, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile,
China, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, France,
Gabon, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan,
Mauritania, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Qatar, Republic of
Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan,
Swaziland, Sweden, Togo, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Zimbabwe.
Abstaining: Australia, United States of America.
21. Draft resolution E/CN.4/2004/L.14, as orally amended by the representative of China, was
adopted by 51 votes to none, with 2 abstentions.
Explanations of vote after the vote
22. Mr. PURI (India) expressed satisfaction that draft resolution L.14 had been approved by
such an overwhelming majority. He thanked the European Union in particular for voting for the
23. Ms. WHELAN (Ireland), speaking on behalf of the European Union, regretted that there
had not been sufficient time for the negotiations on the text to enable it to be adopted by
consensus. The adoption of the draft resolution, and in particular article 2, in no way detracted
from the fact that the European Union welcomed the appointment of Ms. Louise Arbour to the
post of High Commissioner for Human Rights and wished to reaffirm its strong support for her in
her new functions.
24. Mr. SHA Zukang (China) said that he did not accept the statement by the representative of
Ireland that only lack of time had prevented a consensus on the text just adopted.
CONSIDERATION OF DRAFT RESOLUTIONS RELATING TO AGENDA ITEM 5
Draft resolution E/CN.4/2004/L.7 (Situation in occupied Palestine)
25. Mr. ATTAR (Saudi Arabia) recalled that articles 1 and 55 of the Charter of the United
Nations, article 1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and
article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights affirmed the right of peoples
to self-determination, and that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action set forth the
right of peoples, including peoples under foreign occupation, to self-determination. For their
part, the General Assembly and the Commission had repeatedly affirmed the inalienable rights of
the Palestinian people, especially its right to self-determination. Saudi Arabia and a number of
other sponsors, convinced of the legitimacy of the rights of the Palestinian people, had drawn up
draft resolution E/CN.4/2004/L.7 concerning the situation in occupied Palestine.
26. Mr. LEVY (Observer for Israel) asked members of the Commission to think carefully
before voting on the draft resolution before them. Palestinian self-determination was a political
issue that was under negotiation between Israel and the Palestinians. While some aspects of the
question were related to human rights, it was part of a broad political context subject to
negotiations between the parties. Not very long before, Israel and the Palestinians had been in
negotiations about permanent status relating, among other issues, to the status of the territories
27. Israel supported the right of self-determination and the right of peoples to govern
themselves, in the Middle East as throughout the world. The history of the State of Israel was
also to a large extent the story of the Jewish peoples right to self-determination. The Palestinian
leaders had to realize that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was bound up with the history of two
peoples, not just one, and their right to coexist in peace and security. Israel respected the right of
its neighbours, the Arab States and the Palestinians, to self-determination. It expected in return
recognition, not only of the de facto existence of the State of Israel, but also of its right to selfdetermination,
and hoped to obtain that recognition through peaceful means in the framework of
the Camp David Agreements negotiated in 1978. Arab leaders should encourage their peoples
not only to defend their rights but also to make concessions and recognize the rights of others.
28. Unfortunately, as the record showed, the Palestinian Authority had chosen not to
consummate the negotiations, neither at Camp David nor later at Taba in January 2001, but
instead to continue the violence in an attempt to force Israel to make concessions, contrary to all
the agreements negotiated and signed between the Israelis and the Palestinians. In the
Commission, several States were trying to force Israels hand through the diplomatic channel.
Israels position remained unchanged: self-determination must be achieved through direct and
peaceful negotiations between the two parties directly concerned. Israel would not give in to
violence and would not allow violence to dictate its policies.
29. Arab and Palestinian speakers sometimes used code words and euphemisms in their
statements. In referring to the right of self-determination, for instance, Arab States had in mind
the so-called right of return. For the Palestinians, that right meant that, if a Palestinian State
was established side by side with Israel, Palestinian refugees could return not only to the
Palestinian State but also to another State, Israel, thus annulling Israels right to selfdetermination. The Palestinians hidden intentions, however, did not appear only in their words: Israel did not appear on the map printed on the letterhead of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations Office at Geneva. He urged the members of the Commission to vote against the draft resolution on the situation in occupied Palestine.
30. Mr. RAMLAWI (Observer for Palestine) recalled that the Commission had for several
decades adopted resolutions recognizing the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination
and calling on Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian territories occupied by force since 1967.
The right of peoples to self-determination was enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and
in the Covenants. It was therefore legitimate that the Palestinian people should demand that
right. Because of the Israeli occupation, however, it could not exercise that right. That
occupation must cease. He would not comment on the Israeli observers statement but asked the
Commission to show its opposition to Israels position by voting heavily in favour of the draft
resolution. Explanations of vote before the vote
31. Mr. WILLIAMSON (United States of America) said that the conflict in the Middle East
required specific and pragmatic measures more than rhetorical statements. While some were
seriously endeavouring to resolve it, the activities of the Commission on Human Rights seemed
to be increasingly divorced from reality. That conflict was a matter for the Security Council,
which in fact often considered the various aspects of the situation in the West Bank and the Gaza
Strip. The Commission should not state its view on political issues that did not fall within its
mandate. The draft resolution before the Commission did not advance the peace process.
32. President Bush had stated clearly that the United States favoured the existence of two
States, Israel and Palestine, in the Middle East, and was doing everything it could to make that a
reality. The previous week, envoys had been appointed to meet members of the group of four
and leaders in the region. If progress was to be made, it was essential for the two parties
concerned to assume their responsibilities and obligations. That meant that the Palestinians must
take specific measures to stem violence and carry out reforms and that Israel must make efforts to improve the humanitarian situation and to fulfil its obligations, especially with respect o the
settlements. The United States would continue to carry out active diplomacy in order to achieve
the establishment of two States, Israel and Palestine. The United States delegation would vote
against the draft resolution before the Commission and urged its members to do likewise.
33. Mr. PIRA (Guatemala) acknowledged the Palestinian peoples right to self-determination
and to have a State. The Guatemalan delegation would therefore vote for the draft resolution
before the Commission. That position, however, in no way placed in question the right of Israel
to exist as a State. Recognition of the mutual right to self-determination was essential if Israel
and Palestine were to live as neighbouring States with internationally recognized borders. The
Palestinian peoples right to self-determination must be realized through negotiations between
Israel and the Palestinian Authority. It was therefore important for the two parties to resume
34. At the request of the representative of the United States, a recorded vote was taken on draft
In favour: Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Bhutan, Brazil, Burkina Faso,
Chile, China, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia,
France, Gabon, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan,
Mauritania, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Qatar, Republic of
Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan,
Swaziland, Sweden, Togo, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Zimbabwe.
Against: United States of America.
35. Draft resolution E/CN.4/2004/L.7 was adopted by 52 votes to 1.
Draft resolution E/CN.4/2004/L.8 (Question of Western Sahara)
36. The CHAIRPERSON submitted the draft resolution on the question of Western Sahara to
the Commission from the Chair. His understanding was that it had general support.
37. Draft resolution E/CN.4/2004/L.8 was adopted without a vote.
Draft resolution E/CN.4/2005/L.15 (The use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights
and impeding the right of peoples to self-determination)
38. Mr. REYES RODRIGUEZ (Cuba), introducing draft resolution E/CN.4/2005/L.15, said
that the use of mercenaries was a threat to peace, security and the right of peoples to selfdetermination
and prevented peoples from exercising their basic rights. The draft resolution paid
tribute to Mr. Bernales Ballesteros, the Special Rapporteur on that subject, for the competence
with which he had fulfilled his mandate for 16 years, and decided to extend his mandate for three
years. In addition, the draft resolution requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human
Rights to convene a third meeting of experts on traditional and new forms of using mercenaries as
a means of violating human rights and impeding the right of peoples to self-determination.
Explanations of vote before the vote
39. Ms. WHELAN (Ireland), speaking on behalf of European Union countries members of the
Commission and Hungary, a country acceding to the European Union and member of the
Commission, said that the European Union shared the concerns expressed by the Special
Rapporteur on mercenaries and was particularly worried by the impact of mercenary activity on
the duration and nature of armed conflicts. It strongly condemned the involvement of
mercenaries in terrorist activities.
40. The States members of the European Union would, however, vote against the draft
resolution before the Commission because they believed that the Commission was not the right
forum to discuss the question of mercenaries. They doubted whether that question should be
dealt with primarily as a human rights problem and a threat to the right of peoples to selfdetermination,
and considered that it should be considered, rather, by the Sixth Committee of the
41. The States members of the European Union believed that the mandate of the Special
Rapporteur on the use of mercenaries should be terminated, and that the Office of the High
Commissioner should not be asked to devote priority attention, or divert resources, to the
organization of workshops on that subject. They would continue to participate actively, in the
appropriate forums, in the dialogue with interested States, with a view to curtailing the threats
posed by mercenary activities.
42. That explanation of vote had been agreed to by the European Union as a whole, and by the
acceding countries Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the
Slovak Republic and Slovenia and the candidate countries Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey.
43. Mr. DELAURENTIS (United States of America) said that he broadly shared the views
expressed by the representative of the European Union and requested that the draft resolution
before the Commission should be put to the vote.
44. At the request of the representative of the United States, a recorded vote was taken on draft
In favour: Argentina, Armenia, Bahrain, Bhutan, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, China,
Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guatemala,
India, Indonesia, Mauritania, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Qatar, Russian
Federation, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Togo, Uganda, Zimbabwe.
Against: Australia, Austria, France, Germany, Honduras, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan,
Netherlands, Sweden, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America.
Abstaining: Croatia, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia.
45. Draft resolution /CN.4/2004/L.15 was adopted by 36 votes to 14, with 3 abstentions.
SPECIFIC GROUPS AND INDIVIDUALS: (a) MIGRANT WORKERS; (b) MINORITIES;
(c) MASS EXODUSES AND DISPLACED PERSONS; (d) OTHER VULNERABLE GROUPS
AND INDIVIDUALS (agenda item 14) (continued) (E/CN.4/2004/71-76 and Add. 1-4, 77 and
Add. 1-4, 78 and Add. 1, 119, 122; E/CN.4/2004/G/15, 17, 32; E/CN.4/2004/NGO/20, 22, 23, 61,
63, 67, 75, 87, 90, 97, 115, 137, 148, 178, 188, 209, 215, 216, 233, 234, 235, 242, 249, 250, 251,
252; A/58/118 and Corr. 1, 161 and 255).
46. Mr. COUTAU (Observer for the International Committee of the Red Cross) recalled that at
the Commissions previous session the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had
informed the Commission of the outcome of the International Conference of Governmental and
Non-Governmental Experts on Missing Persons which ICRC had organized in February 2003.
As the President of ICRC had mentioned in his statement to the Commission, the 28th
International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, held in December 2003 at Geneva,
had acknowledged the importance of the issue by adopting the Agenda for Humanitarian Action,
General Objective 1 of which was to respect and restore the dignity of persons missing as a result
of armed conflicts or other situations of armed violence and of their families. The International
Conference of Experts had recommended a number of specific measures, including providing
means of identification for all members of armed forces and armed groups, facilitating exchanges
of information between family members, including those who were members of armed forces or
armed groups, and persons deprived of their liberty, ensuring that everything was done to identify the remains of the dead and providing all possible support to the families of missing persons. Those specific measures should be accompanied by legal guidelines. In that context, ICRC stressed the importance of the work of the intersessional open-ended working group to elaborate a draft legally binding normative instrument for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance. States should ensure the implementation of the current and future provisions of international law by incorporating them into their domestic law. In its efforts to resolve the problem of persons reported missing in an armed conflict or situation of internal violence, ICRC would like to be able to count on the support of the Commission and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
47. Mr. COSTEA (Observer for Romania) said that since human trafficking was a complex
phenomenon going beyond national borders it could be combated effectively only through
regional and international approaches. Regional instability and the difficulties resulting from
economic transition had encouraged the emergence in Romania of criminal human trafficking
networks. The firm and targeted measures taken by the Romanian Government had helped to
reduce the activities of those networks. In 2003, the Romanian authorities had dismantled
40 criminal networks involved in trafficking and illegal immigration, 778 persons had been
investigated as part of the anti-trafficking campaign, 125 cases had been sent to the courts and so
far 50 sentences had been handed down with maximum penalties of up to 10 years
48. Romania was also active in combating human trafficking at the regional level, especially
through its role as coordinator in the Regional Centre for Combating Trans-border Crime in the
framework of the Southeast European Cooperative Initiative, whose headquarters was in
Bucharest. Guided by the lessons learned from the regional Mirage operations carried out in
2002 and 2003, the authorities had set up a network of Romanian liaison officers in European
States and had adopted a new approach in gathering information. In addition, the anti-trafficking
bodies had signed agreements with neighbouring countries of origin and some destination
countries. The Romanian authorities also intended to enhance anti-trafficking measures in the
framework of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization (BSEC).
49. Mr. SALMAN (Observer for Iraq) recalled that million s of people had had to leave Iraq to
escape political repression. It was currently estimated that about 3 million persons were outside
the country, some of whom, but not all, had been able to obtain the status of political or
humanitarian refugees. Those people were living in very difficult conditions and it was difficult
for them to return to their country. The Iraqi authorities had established a Ministry of Exiles and
Refugees which was taking measures, in cooperation with humanitarian agencies, to facilitate
their return and try to find them suitable work, despite the high unemployment rate in Iraq.
50. The members of the Kurdish, Turkmen, Assyrian and other minorities had suffered greatly
from the repression carried out under the dictatorship, and many of them had had to give up their
cultural identity or leave the country. Currently, since the downfall of the former regime, the
members of those minorities exercised all their rights; they could return to live wherever they
wished in Iraqi territory and were free to express their views. However, new phenomena such as
poverty, illiteracy and disease were now emerging in Iraq. The most vulnerable groups in
society, such as the disabled, widows and children, were the first to be affected. Homes and other
centres or those groups had often been destroyed. In order to rebuild that kind of infrastructure,
the Iraqi authorities needed the immediate help of the United Nations and its various agencies.
51. Mr. HILL (Observer for New Zealand) drew attention to an often invisible and
marginalized group: persons with disabilities. It was regrettable that all too often their rights did
not receive the protection that should be provided to them under article 2 of the two international
covenants. That had led New Zealand to give its active support to the drafting of a convention on
the rights of persons with disabilities. Those persons aspired simply to live a normal life and to
participate in decisions affecting them. It was, however, encouraging to note that the working
group to prepare a draft convention on the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities had
made progress in its work. It was to be hoped that the Ad Hoc Committee that would consider
the text submitted by the Working Group would show the same positive spirit and that the
convention could be concluded quickly.
52. Mr. PAREDES PROANO (Observer for Ecuador) reaffirmed the importance that Ecuador
attached to the protection of the rights of disabled persons. In that connection, he recalled that his
country had taken over the chairmanship of the Ad Hoc Committee established by the General
Assembly to consider a draft convention for the promotion and protection of those persons
53. Ecuadors interest in migrants stemmed mainly from the fact that it was a country both of
origin and of destination for a growing number of migrants. That situation had led the
Ecuadorian Government to adopt measures to protect those persons and their families, the
implementation of which had been entrusted to an under-secretariat for questions of migration. In
addition, Ecuador had hosted the first meeting on migration and population movements in the
European Union and Latin America and the Caribbean, the aim of which had been to take action
to ensure the protection of migrants rights, in particular those of illegal migrants, and to combat
trafficking in human beings as a transnational offence.
54. Migration had increased continuously in recent years, and any violation of migrants basic
rights must be condemned. In that connection, Ecuador welcomed the entry into force of the
Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their
Families, to which it was a party, and appealed to all States to accede to it. The Ecuadorian
delegation also welcomed the holding of the first session of the Committee established to monitor
the implementation by States parties of the standards contained in the Convention. Ecuador also
intended to host an international seminar to promote and disseminate the Convention. Ecuador
urged States to adopt the resolutions to be submitted on that issue at the current session by
55. Ms. ROWE (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) said that
the work of her organization was to help the most vulnerable, whose number was continually
growing, inter alia, through disasters, disease and discrimination. One such group consisted of
persons living outside their country of nationality, whether they were migrant workers, refugees,
asylum seekers or victims of trafficking. Whatever their status, it was for governments to ensure
that their dignity was respected.
56. Another group of vulnerable persons was the victims of forgotten disasters those that
were forgotten because the attention of the media and hence of donors had moved elsewhere. In
that connection, the work of the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator to address that
problem was to be welcomed. Her Federation expressed the hope that the Office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights would take similar action to defend the rights of those groups.
57. At the 28th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in December 2003,
States and national societies had again committed themselves to developing monitoring
mechanisms to protect human dignity in all circumstances and reduce the vulnerability of
populations affected by armed conflicts, disasters and diseases. The Federation hoped that the
Commission on Human Rights would contribute to the success of that endeavour.
58. Mr. TREJO (Observer for El Salvador) said that protection of the human rights of migrant
workers was a priority for El Salvador because it was a country of origin, transit and, to a lesser
degree, destination for migrant workers. For that reason, El Salvador welcomed the entry into
force of the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of
their Families and the fact that the membership of the Committee responsible for monitoring
compliance with that instrument included one of its nationals. It hoped that the draft resolution
on the rights of migrant workers would be adopted by consensus. It also strongly supported the
recommendations of the Special Rapporteur in her report (E/CN.4/2004/76) aimed at combating
the exploitation of migrant workers, in particular domestic workers, and the violation of their
rights. The delegation of El Salvador urged States which had not already done so to ratify the
International Convention on migrant workers.
59. Mr. HIMANEN (Observer for Finland) said that protection of the rights of minorities was
an essential element of a democratic society. The Finnish Government was therefore taking an
active part in the promotion and protection of those rights at the regional level, in the Council of
Europe and OSCE, and at the international level, in the Working Group on Minorities of the Sub-
Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.
60. In that connection, tribute should be paid to the outgoing Chairperson of the Working
Group, Mr. Eide, who had ably guided it in its difficult task of promoting the United Nations
Minorities Declaration, and to the Working Group itself, which had contributed to the
establishment of a fruitful dialogue between minorities and governments.
61. For its part, the Finnish Government had invited the Working Group to visit Finland in
January 2004 and would study carefully the recommendations to be made by the Working Group
on that visit. It was in favour of the establishment of a special procedure under the Commission
to monitor the implementation of minority rights and contribute to the prevention of minorityrelated
62. Mr. DIOP (Observer for Senegal) said that, according to ILO, some 180 million persons
were living outside their countries of origin. However, under the Declaration on the Human
Rights of Individuals who are not Nationals of the Country in which They Live, those persons
had the right to preserve their mother tongue, culture and traditions, have access to education and
health care, work in safe and healthy conditions and receive social benefits. In addition, the two
International Covenants obliged States parties to guarantee the rights set out in those instruments
to all persons in their territory. Similarly, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, the
Programme of Action of the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development, the
Copenhagen World Summit for Social Development and the Final Document of the Beijing
World Conference on Women had all devoted the greatest attention to the question of the human
rights of migrants.
63. Senegal, which had acceded to the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All
Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, wished to congratulate the Special Rapporteur
on the human rights of migrants, Ms. Rodriguez Pizzaro, for her work in promoting ratification of
that Convention and for the recommendations she had made in her report.
64. In order to improve the situation of migrant workers, a number of actions should be taken,
including: encouraging very broad accession to the Convention, adopting a humanized approach
to migration policies, backing efforts to support a new concept for the management of migratory
flows, encouraging the development of bilateral cooperation and emphasizing appropriate
policies for the provision of information and assistance to migrants and for their social and
65. Ms. GRISS (World Health Organization) said that about 450 million persons currently
suffered from mental disorders and a great many of them had no proper care because mental
health was not a priority for some Governments. Moreover, those persons were often
discriminated against in employment, housing and access to services.
66. WHO was working to promote the rights of persons suffering from mental disabilities by
helping countries to implement mental health policies, services and legislation consistent with
their human rights obligations. To that end, WHO was preparing a guide to mental health policies
and services and was also organizing training seminars at the international, regional and country
67. WHO thanked States members for their cooperation in taking specific action to preserve the
dignity and human rights of persons with mental disabilities.
68. Mr. TARAN (International Labour Organization) said that ILO had prepared international
instruments to protect migrant workers against the discrimination, xenophobia, abuse,
exploitation and violence to which they were sometimes subjected. Those instruments were
Conventions Nos. 97 and 143, which largely complemented the International Convention on the
Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers. Most policies to regulate and manage migration
now also referred to the need to protect the basic rights of migrant workers. An example was the
strategic framework for a migration policy for Africa that was now being implemented under the
auspices of the African Union, which urged States members to ratify and implement the relevant
ILO and United Nations conventions. Migrant workers would be the main topic in the general
debate at the International Labour Conference to be held in June 2004. Three major themes
would be discussed: international labour migration in the era of globalization, policies and
structures encouraging more orderly migration for employment, and improved protection for
69. ILO was endeavouring not only to encourage ratification of the conventions it prepared and
to develop guidelines, but also to ensure that those instruments and principles were put into
practice so that migration contributed to development, both in host countries and in countries of
origin, and to the well-being of all migrant workers and their families.
70. Ms. AKUFFO (Observer for Ghana) said that Ghana welcomed the entry into force of the
Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their
Families and urged all States that had not done so to ratify it. For many developing countries,
migrant workers made a significant contribution to the development of their countries and the
well-being of their families. For example, Ghanaian migrant workers injected more than US$
600 million into the economy every year. Unfortunately, migrant workers often faced
discrimination and were compelled to accept high-risk and poorly paid jobs to survive.
71. International migration was a natural consequence of globalization. The principle of free
movement should apply not only to goods and services but also to people. Ghana noted with
concern that some countries were behaving like fortresses under siege from migrant workers,
who were in consequence subjected to unjustified attacks and wrongly blamed for all economic
and social ills. In fact, they contributed to the development of host countries, which often took the
most skilled workers away from developing countries.
72. Ghana called on all States to cooperate in the orderly management of migration, prevent
illegal and secondary migration, including human trafficking, and implement declarations and
international instruments aimed at protecting the rights of migrant workers. Ghana looked
forward with interest to the International Dialogue on the costs and benefits of migration for all
stakeholders, to be organized by IOM on 30 November to 3 December 2004.
73. Mr. TOMASI (Observer for the Holy See) said that the increase in human mobility was
basically a positive factor for the development of modern societies. The delegation of the Holy
See expressed its appreciation for the valuable reports of the Secretary-General and the Special
Rapporteur on the situation of migrants. In that connection, it welcomed the entry into force of
the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and
Children. To combat those practices, the collection and sharing of data on the strategies and
routes used by traffickers should be enhanced. Rather than affording protection only to victims
who agreed to testify in court, at least a temporary residence permit should be granted to all
victims, not only to encourage them to cooperate with the judicial system but also to facilitate
possible integration into society. That was a moral necessity if the victim might be exposed to
retaliation if he was sent home.
74. Illegal immigrants in an irregular situation could be exploited or induced to undertake
illegal activity. Host societies would be acting in their own interest and that of migrants if they
set up regular channels of immigration to meet their manpower needs and cover their
demographic deficit. The application of labour laws could also go a long way in the protection of
illegal immigrants and to discourage that type of migration. With the entry into force of the
International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of
Their Families all migrants now had an important instrument at their disposal.
75. What was needed for human mobility to become a motor for progress, even for the most
vulnerable, was international cooperation in the prevention of human trafficking and
rehabilitation of victims, the adoption of less restrictive and more realistic immigration policies,
the promotion of sustainable social and economic development in poor countries and
encouragement of the development of a culture of human rights and respect for the dignity of all.
76. Ms. REDPATH (International Organization for Migration) said that the some 175 million
people who currently resided outside their country of birth or nationality had the right to humane
treatment. IOM, in cooperation with non-governmental and governmental partners, had
continued to defend the rights of migrants, including illegal immigrants, by publishing various
information documents, organizing seminars on international migration law, cooperating with the
Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants and making itself available to the Migrant
Workers Committee. In addition, IOM was currently convening the international steering
committee of the global campaign for the ratification of the International Convention on the
Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.
77. IOM believed that lasting respect for the rights and dignity of migrants required the
promotion of migration management systems based on the following principles: that migrant had
both rights and obligations, that a State had the right, subject to its international obligations, to
ban the entry of non-nationals into its territory, and that cooperation between States was of
crucial importance. In that connection, IOM welcomed the entry into force of the Migrant
Workers Convention, the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the
Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and
Children, and the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air.
78. IOM intended to participate more actively in the preparation of international migration law
and to render the promotion of that law part of the framework of measures to ensure respect for
the rights of migrant workers.
79. Ms. FORERO UCROS (Observer for Colombia) said that forced movements caused by
clashes between illegal armed groups was one of the most serious problems which Colombia had
to face. The organization responsible for helping displaced persons was the Social Solidarity
Network. It had been assisted by the World Bank in carrying out certain projects. Colombia had
also cooperated with UNHCR to encourage displaced persons to return to their homes of their
own accord and in complete safety.
80. On the question of migrant workers, Colombia, like other countries, believed that migration
flows must be channelled in an orderly fashion, respecting the rules of each country and the
human rights of migrants. It condemned the networks of human traffickers and urged countries
which had not already done so to accede to the International Convention on the Protection of the
Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.
81. With respect to disabled persons, Colombia had drawn up a national plan for the disabled
for the period 2003-2006, based on the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for
Persons with Disabilities adopted by the General Assembly in 1993. Colombia was particularly
concerned about disabilities caused by anti-personnel mines. Between 2000 and 2003, those
mines had injured 172 juveniles and killed 42 others. Colombia was endeavouring, in
cooperation with the international community, to provide medical and psychological treatment
for those children to facilitate their return to active life.
82. Mr. ONG (Observer for Singapore) said that Singapore fully supported the work done by
the United Nations and the international community to protect the human rights and fundamental
freedoms of migrant workers. Singapore was in fact a society of immigrants who had come from
China, India and other parts of Asia and had contributed to the countrys cultural diversity, social
dynamism and economic growth.
83. However, Singapore believed that a clear distinction should be made between legal and
illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants violated immigration laws and posed a serious threat to
the country which they had entered, often with the help of traffickers. That was a problem that
required a comprehensive national and international response. It was necessary to strengthen
cooperation between host countries and countries of origin, punish traffickers and facilitate the
return of illegal immigrants to their countries. They were often aware that they were committing
a crime, and should therefore know that they would have to face the consequences.
84. Singapore believed that every country had the sovereign right to develop an immigration
policy tailored to its own particular circumstances, which depended on the size of the country, its
population density, its labour market requirements and the need to maintain social order.
Important as they were, the rights of immigrant workers were only one consideration among
many. Singapore therefore had reservations about calls to regularize the situation of illegal
immigrants or facilitate family reunification. In any event, it believed that regularization of the
status of illegal immigrants must be balanced against the needs of host States.
85. Mr. VIGNY (Observer for Switzerland) said that it was essential for internally displaced
persons to be protected by States, with the support of humanitarian organizations with an
internationally recognized mandate, which must be given immediate and unhampered access to
civilian populations and whose safety must be absolutely guaranteed. Governments and nongovernmental
armed groups had that obligation of protection and both were required to give
specific application to the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. States requested to do so
had to agree that the Special Representative could visit their territory and implement his
86. Switzerland strongly supported the collaborative approach adopted by the organizations
concerned under the aegis of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and called
on all partner organizations to continue their efforts, under the Emergency Relief Coordinator, to
take better targeted and coordinated preventive action.
87. On the question of minorities, he said that their participation in the adoption of official
decisions concerning them, like some forms of autonomy, contributed to their integration into
society and thus to the prevention or solution of conflicts. In that spirit, the Working Group on
Minorities of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights should be
authorized to make recommendations to States to help them implement the various provisions
concerning minority rights. That special procedure would complement the mechanism for the
prevention of genocide announced by the Secretary-General.
88. Mr. RADOVANOVIC (Observer for Serbia and Montenegro) said that recent acts of
violence by Albanian extremists against Serbs and other non-Albanian citizens in Kosovo had
created a new influx of people to Serbia and Montenegro, which had already taken in more than
235,000 displaced persons. In five years only 4,000 persons had returned home to the province
of Kosovo-Metohija, where their basic rights had been regularly violated. It was essential that
UNMIK and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights should intensify their
efforts to ensure the protection of the basic rights of Serbs in the province and establish
89. Serbia and Montenegro had also taken in more than 280,000 refugees from Bosnia and
Herzegovina and Croatia, making it the country with the most refugees in Europe and the fifth
largest umber in the world. All countries concerned should, with the help of UNHCR, seek a
lasting solution to the problem and meet their international obligations. The fate of missing
persons (1,300 Serbs and other non-Albanian citizens had disappeared in Kosovo-Metohija since
June 1999) was a matter of particular concern and, despite the setback to the negotiations caused
by the recent upsurge in violence, Belgrade remained ready to resume the dialogue with Pristina
both on the question of missing persons and on the return of displaced persons. Only dialogue,
mutual trust and respect for the rights of all inhabitants would be able to resolve the difficult
problems that divided the communities in Kosovo-Metohija.
90. Mr. MARDALIYEV (Observer for Azerbaijan), speaking on agenda item 14(c),
acknowledged the need to give broader support to the work of the Emergency Relief Coordinator
and the Internally Displaced Persons Unit of the Office or the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs. Nevertheless, that work, like that of operational agencies, in particular UNHCR, should
be more practical and more proactive. Responsibility for ensuring that cooperation worked
smoothly in the field must lie with operational agencies.
91. Azerbaijan accepted that States had the responsibility to protect the rights of displaced
persons within their jurisdiction and was taking the necessary measures in that regard.
Nevertheless, it believed that the international community must take into account the scale of the
phenomenon and help developing countries and countries in transition with limited resources to
meet the needs of displaced persons. In Azerbaijan, international organizations were continuing
to reduce their aid to displaced persons because of the lack of progress in resolving the conflict,
while the humanitarian situation remained very difficult. The Azerbaijani Government was
trying to integrate displaced persons temporarily. It had adopted a special plan of action to that
end and was asking for the support of the international community in implementing it. In the
transition from relief to a development strategy, it would be desirable in cases of lasting conflict
to elaborate a development strategy tailored to that situation.
92. Mr. TZANCHEV (Observer for Bulgaria), speaking on agenda item 14(b), Minorities, said
that the prohibition of discrimination was a principle that was set out in the Constitution and all
branches of Bulgarian law. In addition, Parliament had in September 2003 adopted a law on
protection against discrimination, which provided for the establishment of an independent ninemember
commission to monitor its implementation, with powers of investigation, sanction and
assistance. Constitutional and legislative guarantees were still, however, not enough to prevent
discrimination against minorities. Bulgarias experience with Roma showed that socio-economic
integration measures were an essential means of reducing inequalities. In September 2003,
therefore, the Bulgarian Government had adopted an action plan to further implementation of the
Framework Programme for the Equal Integration of Roma, to which an additional 28.6 million
leva had been allocated up to the end of 2004. Substantial progress had been made in education,
particularly in integrating Roma children into the school system, and literacy courses specifically
for adults of Roma origin had also been organized. Many projects were being carried out in the
spheres of employment, vocational training and health care and other large-scale measures were
being planned to address the socio-economic difficulties encountered by the Roma population.
93. Ms. MINA (Observer for Cyprus) drew attention to the serious situation of the enclaved
persons in the occupied part of Cyprus. In its 2001 judgement in the Cyprus v. Turkey case, the
European Court of Human Rights had established, inter alia, violations of the basic rights of
Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the northern part of Cyprus and had held Turkey
responsible for those violations on the grounds that its responsibility extended to actions of the
local administration which controlled the northern part of Cyprus and was subordinate to it. In
addition, the Report on the Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of the Greek Cypriots and
Maronites Living in the Northern Part of Cyprus adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the
Council of Europe expressed its serious concern at the de facto partition of Cyprus and endorsed
the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights holding Turkey responsible for
14 violations of the European Convention on Human Rights. Yet, despite those conclusions,
Turkey continued to infringe the rights and fundamental freedoms of the enclaved Greek Cypriots
94. Ms. BRETT (Friends World Committee for Consultation (Quakers)), speaking also on
behalf of Amnesty International, International Catholic Migration Commission and Jesuit
Refugee Service, noted that non-citizens were particularly vulnerable to discrimination and other
violations of human rights. Following the study recently carried out on the subject by the Sub-
Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, it was necessary to address in
greater detail issues raised in the study and to clarify States obligations with respect to nonnationals.
Three basic issues stood out: statelessness, detention and human rights violations.
95. So little attention was paid to the problem of statelessness that not even the approximate
number of stateless persons was known, although they numbered in the millions. Almost all
countries were affected. Stateless persons were usually forced to move from country to country
because they were denied the right to reside for long in any State. They often spent months or
even years in detention before being deported. The arbitrary detention of non-nationals was
prohibited both by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and by the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights. The Convention also stipulated that all persons deprived of their
liberty must be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.
The commission should take up the question of the conditions of detention of non-nationals, and
should above all consider the long-term effects of detention of unspecified duration on the mental
and physical health of detainees, particularly children and vulnerable individuals.
96. While non-citizens were often deprived of their civil and political rights, States under
whose jurisdiction they fell did not always respect their economic and social rights. A State
could, of course, in certain circumstances make a distinction between citizens and non-citizens
with regard to certain rights, but that must be exceptional, serve a legitimate objective and be
proportionate to the achievement of that objective. States that had not already done so should
ratify the 1954 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and the 1961 Convention relating to
the Status of Stateless Persons.
97. Ms. ALAI (Bahái International Community), speaking also on behalf of Minority Rights
Group International, International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism
and International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, said that the announcement by the
Secretary-General of the creation of a post of Special Adviser on Genocide Prevention was a very
positive step. The Adviser would have, however, to take effective action in all types of situation
that could deteriorate into violent conflict threatening the very existence of minorities. The key
principle was early action: by the time the world had taken notice of what was happening in
Rwanda in 1994, the situation had deteriorated to such an extent that military intervention was the
only solution, but no State had been prepared to undertake it. Yet warnings of the possibility of
genocide had been given in 1993, particularly by the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial,
Summary and Arbitrary Executions.
98. The organizations on whose behalf she was speaking had been lobbying for some years for
the appointment of a Special Representative of the Secretary-General on minorities. That
representative, whose mandate would be primarily to prevent conflict (and would therefore not
duplicate existing mechanisms for minorities), could act quickly when there were credible signs
of the existence of inter-community tensions that might escalate into violent conflict. He would
receive communications regarding violations of minority rights and take preventive diplomatic
action with the parties concerned. The Working Group on Minorities had recommended the
creation of such a mechanism and that option was considered in the report on the rights of
persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities (E/CN.4/2000/75),
which was before the Commission.
99. Ms. KHALSA (3HO Foundation), speaking also on behalf of International Association for
Counselling, Worldwide Organization for Women, Institute for Planetary Synthesis, International
Association for Religious Freedom, All-India Womens Conference, World Organization of
Former Students of Catholic Education, Interfaith International, Temple of Understanding and
International Association of Educators for World Peace, called on the French Government to take
immediate steps to prevent the implementation of the law that had recently been enacted to
prohibit the wearing of clearly religious clothing and other symbols in schools. That law could
conflict with article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It would have
repercussions outside France and might encourage other countries to impose restrictions on
religious minorities regarding the observance of their faith. Moreover, like the provisions
recently adopted by the Berlin municipality with regard to teachers and civil servants, it was a
retrograde step in the knowledge and understanding of faiths and cultures.
100. Societies must address their identity in relation to their pluralism, a necessity that was
magnified because religious and ethnic minorities faced significant pressures to assimilate. The
Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion should be able to visit France establish a dialogue
between the civil authorities, NGOs and the parties concerned. It would also be desirable for the
Special Rapporteurs on freedom of religion, contemporary forms of racism and the right to
education should meet in order to make recommendations to the French Government and the
international community on how to resolve the problems raised by the Stasi report.
101. Mr. TRAMBOO (International Human Rights Association of American Minorities),
speaking also on behalf of Rural Development Foundation, International Educational
Development and International Young Catholic Students, said there was general agreement that
the system for the protection of the rights of persons belonging to minorities had failed
adequately to address all the problems they faced. It was regrettable that some States deliberately
encouraged discrimination against their minorities. That was the case in India, where the Dalits,
who were considered to be untouchable, were marginalized in all spheres of social life and were
made to do the most degrading jobs. Muslims, who made up 12.6 per cent of the Indian
population, were also victims of discrimination. Their religion was attacked in school textbooks
and the press, their mosques were desecrated and they were the subject of incitement to religious
hatred. They were shamefully under-represented in decision-making bodies, the administration,
the army, education and the private sector.
102. The NGOs which he represented were in favour of the appointment of a special rapporteur
on minorities and a special representative of the Secretary-General for the prevention of
minorities-related conflict prevention, the establishment of a voluntary fund for minorities and
the proclamation of an International Year for Minorities. It was important that the discussion of
those new arrangements should be placed in the context of the reform of human rights machinery
for the promotion and protection of minorities.
103. Ms. KAO (Becket Fund for Religious Liberty), speaking also on behalf of World
Evangelical Alliance, drew the Commissions attention to the intensification of persecution of Sri
Lankas Christian minority. In 2003, more than 90 acts of terror had reportedly been committed
against that minority by persons claiming to defend the primacy of Buddhism guaranteed by the
Constitution. However, rather than being a conflict between Christianity and Buddhism, that was
a clash between those who cherished religious freedom and those who wished to destroy it.
Unfortunately, the judiciary supported the latter. The Supreme Court had recently banned
Catholic nuns from establishing crèches, orphanages and childrens homes on the pretext that
they might misuse the ignorance and naivety of some people to convert them to Christianity.
There was now a move to adopt an unethical conversion law under which the provision of
moral support or material assistance leading to religious conversion would be punishable by
seven years in prison. Such a law would deprive all Sri Lankans of freedom of religion,
expression and association. The right to change ones beliefs lay at the heart of religious freedom
and the international human rights covenants recognized that mans quest for truth, particularly
religious truth, took place in the inviolable realms of hearts and minds. She called upon the
Commission to urge Sri Lanka to allow all religions freely to address the population.
104. Mr. AULA (Franciscans International), speaking also on behalf of Initiative dentraide aux
libertés, said that it was shocking and shameful that the international community had been unable
to guarantee to everyone one of the most fundamental human rights, the right to be free from
slavery. He urged countries to incorporate into their national legislation the definition of
trafficking set out in the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons,
Especially Women and Children, together with articles 6, 7 and 8 concerning the protection of
victims of trafficking, and to follow the Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human
Rights and Human Trafficking. He called upon all States fully to respect ILO Conventions
Nos. 29, 105 and 182 and to cooperate with the ILO Special Action Programme to Combat
Forced Labour, particularly by adopting specific action plans on that subject. The Working Group
on Contemporary Forms of Slavery should examine the question, taking into account the most
recently adopted legal instruments, and one of its experts should, together with interested NGOs,
conduct a study to update the juridical framework with regard to slavery and slavery-like
practices and provide indicators on socio-economic, political, administrative and legal obstacles
impeding the full enjoyment of the rights enshrined in the existing provisions.
105. Mr. MAHMUD (Interfaith International) said he would like the Commission to consider the
plight of two oppressed minorities, the Dalits in India and the Garo people in Bangladesh. In
India, the Dalits, who made up one sixth of the population, continued to be subjected to extreme
forms of discrimination which were increasingly characterized by violence. Most anti-caste laws
were not enforced and the atrocities committed almost daily against the Dalits went unpunished
because of a lack of political will on the part of the authorities. Interfaith International called on
the Government of India to ensure the effective protection of the rights of Dalits as enshrined in
106. In Bangladesh, the indigenous Garo population continued to protest against the ongoing
encroachment by Bengali settlers on their ancestral lands. In particular, they opposed the plan to
build a giant wall which was supposedly to protect the forest but in fact would separate their
villages from their farmland and hunting grounds. Their way of life, which had remained
virtually unchanged for centuries, was also under threat, especially their tradition of inheritance
through the female line. Interfaith International called on the Government of Bangladesh to stop
construction of the wall and to ensure protection of the way of life and customs of the Garo
people. He warned the Commission that some pseudo-NGO individuals or groups claimed to
represent minorities without having been authorized o do so by them. Such abuses helped to
marginalize the minorities concerned still further.
The meting rose at 6 p.m.