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Summary record of the 52nd meeting, 3rd Committee, held on Wednesday, 28 November 1984, New York, General Assembly, 39th session.

UN Document Symbol A/C.3/39/SR.52
Convention Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
Document Type Summary Record
Session 39th
Type Document

13 p.

Subjects Anti-Semitism, Right To Life, Torture and Other Cruel Treatment, Rights of The Child

Extracted Text

United Nations GENERAL ASSEMBLY THIRTY-NINTH SESSION Official Records* THIRD COMMITTEE 52nd Meeting held on Wednesday, 28 November 1904 at 10.30 a.m. New York SUMMARY RECORD OP THE 52nd MEETING Chairman: Mrs. TIRONA (Philippines) CONTENTS AGENDA ITEM 95: ELIMINATION OP ALL FORMS OF RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE (continued) AGENDA ITEM 96: HUMAN RIGHTS AND SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS (continued) AGENDA ITEM 97: QUESTION OF A CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD (continued) AGENDA ITEM 98: INTERNATIONAL COVENANTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS (continued) (a) REPORT OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE (continued) (b) STATUS OF THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS, THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS AND THE OPTIONAL PROTOCOL TO THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS; REPORT OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL (continued) (C) ELABORATION OF A SECOND OPTIONAL PROTOCOL TO THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS, AIMING AT THE ABOLITION OF THE DEATH PENALTY (continued) AGENDA ITEM 99: TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT: REPORTS OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL (continued) 84-58048 7833S (E) A/C3/39/SR.52 English Page 2 The meeting was called to order at 10.55 a.m. AGENDA ITEM 95: ELIMINATION OP ALL FORMS OP RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE (continued) (A/39/79 and Corr.l, A/39/180 and Corr.l, A/C.3/39/L-51) AGENDA ITEM 96: HUMAN RIGHTS AND SCIENTIFIC AW) TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS (continued) (A/39/307, 442 and Add.l, A/39/581 and Corr.l, A/C.3/39/L.46) AGENDA ITEM 97; OUESTION OF A CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OP THE CHILD (continued) (V39/185) AGENDA ITEM 98; INTERNATIONAL COVENANTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS (continued) (A/39/133, 360, 581 and Corr.l) (a) REPORT OP THE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE (continued) (A/39/40, 484, €44) (b) STATUS OP THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS, THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS AND THE OPTIONAL PROTOCOL TO THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS; REPORT OP THE SECRETARY-GENERAL (continued) (A/39/461) (C) ELABORATION OP A SECOND OPTIONAL PROTOCOL TO THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS, AIMING AT THE ABOLITION OF THE DEATH PENALTY (continued) (A/39/535, A/C3/39/L.48) AGENDA ITEM 99: TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT; REPORTS OP THE SECRETARY-GENERAL (continued) (A/39/73, 360, 480 and Add.1 and 2, A/39/499 and Add.l and 2, A/39/506, 662, A/C3/39/L.40, L.49, L.50) 1. Mr. .MITREV (Bulgaria) said that scientific and technological development was one of the most outstanding factors in the accelerated socio-economic development of all countries. By creating favourable material conditions, scientific and technological progress could and should contribute to the fuller realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms. However, the achievements of science and technology could also be used to the detriment of human rights. The militaristic ambitions of imperialism converted the fruits of scientific and technological progress into increasingly barbarous means of mass destruction. It should be clear to everyone that given the present scientific and technological level, nuclear war presented a danger to all life on the planet. Today more than ever, securing the right to life was the most important prerequisite for the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. He fully subscribed to the Declaration on the Use of Scientific and Technological Progress in the Interests of Peace and for the Benefit of Mankind, adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 3384 (XXX). 2. As to item 95, the position of his country on religious freedom was well-known a position which aimed at eliminating all forms of religious intolerance and at promoting respect for the dignity of both believers and non-believers, and which was based on the policy and practice of religion in the country, unfortunately, various manifestations of intolerance and discrimination A/C3/39/SR.52 English Page 3 (Mr. Mitrev, Bulgaria) based on religion did occur at present. His country shared the concern of world public opinion over such manifestations, but was aware that they were the expression of deep-rooted socio-economic and political problems which were awaiting their just solution. The situation of non-believers was also a matter of concern, especially in some Western countries, where they suffered from inequality, sometimes even discrimination. Also deplorable were the attempts made in certain countries, even at official level, to brainwash believers for the purpose of inciting intolerant and hostile attitudes towards other countries, peoples, beliefs or ideologies, and to use religion as a weapon against social progress and development. Those attempts should be condemned and rejected by the international community as incompatible with the Charter, international covenants on human rights and other relevant instruments. 3. With regard to item 99, he said that his country had always considered torture, in any form or degree, as a manifestation of barbarism inadmissible in the current age, and had therefore called for the adoption of a convention to encourage effective international co-operation on a comprehensive basis and with the participation of all States. Regrettably, the proposed draft convention (VC.3/39/L.40) could not serve as a basis, and if it were adopted in Its present form, might endanger international co-operation in that field. Without objecting to its substance, articles 19 and 20 stipulated mechanisms which were at considerable variance with established international practice. In particular with the relevant mechanisms of the major human rights instruments, and therefore posed a tangible danger of abuse of the future convention for questionable political ends and for the violation of the sovereign rights of States. In that regard, his country supported the idea of introducing minimal changes to both draft articles to bring them in line with established practice, and to create conditions to encourage the signing of the future convention by all countries. 4. Turning to item 97, his country fully supported the elaboration of a convention on the rights of the child, a task which unfortunately had been unjustifiably delayed. The need for that international instrument was self-evident in the present-day world, where millions of children fell victim to apartheid and racism, drought and famine, ghetto life and poverty. His country therefore called on all States which participated in the Commission on Human Rights to show good will and to complete the draft as soon as possible. 5. Mr. ARTACHO (Spain), with regard to item 99, said that torture was a shocking form of violence which Governments always denied and never tried to justify. The United Nations and all Its States Members should find means to combat that odious form of abuse of power which, paradoxically, was usually practised in the name of authority and security. Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights established the principle that no one should be subjected to torture, or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, a formula recognized in article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which in its article 4 prohibited the suspension of that principle, even in exceptional situations where the life of the nation was in danger. Those provisions had led to an encouraging process of codification on those and other topics relevant to guaranteeing human rights. A/C3/39/SR.52 English Page 4 (Mr. Artacho, Spain) 6. However, the alarming increase in reports of cases of torture everywhere, and more particularly of the systematic practice of torture in certain countries, had led the Commission on Human Rights to establish ad hoc working groups to investigate the situation in that regard in South Africa and Chile, in 1967 and 1975 respectively. The continuing reports however clearly indicated the inadequacy of the measures that had been available so far. The General Assembly had therefore adopted various instruments on the subject, a process which had culminated in the elaboration, in which Spain had actively participated, of a draft convention of which the text was currently before the Commission. 7. Spain had always supported the principle that the international protection of human rights was effective only once the statements set forth in existing international Instruments hid been converted into legal obligations and once an international system for monitoring implementation by States of the instrument in question had been added to internal control machinery to ensure observance of human rights. Articles 19 and 20 of the draft Convention provided for the establishment of such control machinery. Without such machinery, the text would have no more than face value. The text that had been drafted was the outcome of a compromise and, as such, could not be fully satisfactory to all. His delegation would have preferred it to be broader in scope and to cover explicitly other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, instead of being so strictly confined to torture. It would also have liked the system of control by the Committee against torture provided for in article 21 to be compulsory, rather than being compulsory only for States having declared that they accepted the system. However, Spain was willing to accept the proposed text, while stressing the need for the Convention to be truly normative. The convention against torture must provide for machinery to guarantee its implementation by States parties, as other human rights instruments did. Spain therefore attached particular importance to the operation of the control systems provided for in articles 19 and 20 and was sponsoring draft resolution A/C3/39/L.40. The time had come to act and to show public opinion that the international community wished to put an end to the practice of torture once and for all, 8. Mr. SUFOTT (Israel), speaking under agenda item 95, said that, despite the adoption of General Assembly resolution 36/55, intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief continued to manifest themselves. Innocent people paid with their lives for their religious faith, victims of acts of State policy or institutionalized religious persecution, as in the case of the torment of religious minorities in the Soviet Onion. The Soviet Government Imposed restrictions on Jewish worship and on the observance and teaching of Judaism, in violation not only of its obligations under international covenants but also of its own constitution. The restrictions placed upon the Jewish faith in the USSR were far more onerous than those imposed on other religious faiths. The restrictions in question could be seen, inter alia, in the publication of Hebrew bibles, the functioning of synagogues, the obtainability of religious articles, the preparation of kosher food and the training of Jewish clergy. 9. One of the most serious obstacles to the practice of Judaism was the ban rigorously enforced by the Soviet authorities on the use of the Hebrew language A/C3/39/SR.52 English Page 5 (Mr. Sufott, Israel) amongst Jews. A knowledge of Hebrew was indispensable to Jews in practising their religion. Those seeking to learn or teach the language were persecuted, imprisoned, exiled to Siberia or sentenced to forced labour. The assault on Hebrew language instruction had recently reached a new level of intensity. The authorities' intention was not clear, but it appeared to be to liquidate the Hebrew classes built up in recent years. 10. In the Soviet Onion the official suppression of Judaism at every level and in every sphere of society was but one manifestation of anti-Semitism, which was officially inspired and directed, as were all things in such a system. He wished to refer, in that connection, to a novel recently distributed by the Soviet publishing house responsible for foreign language editions, entitled The Curtain Rises, in which there were sinister Jewish characters and it was indicated that Adolf Eichmann had been a Jewish agent, that very attitude was the attitude of the Soviet authorities, which accused Jews themselves, the victims, of being the cause of Soviet persecution. Recently, a new calumny had been added to the litany of anti-Jewish incitement. In connection with the arrest of Yuly Edelshtein, Head of the Investigation Section of the Department of the Interior in a district of Moscow, the opportunity had been taken to accuse the Jews of using drugs for observing the sabbath ritual. The Israeli Government strongly protested against the anti-Jewish incitement emanating from official Soviet sources and called upon the Soviet authorities to put an immediate end to State-directed religious persecution, which was incompatible with the Soviet Union's international obligations. It urged the Soviet Government to allow Jews to study the Hebrew language and to practise Judaism free from fear. 11. Mr. MAHONEY (Gambia) said that the nexus between human rights and scientific and technological development was one of the most critical issues of the contemporary era, in which impressive advances had been made in all areas of scientific endeavour, whose achievements ought to enhance the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. However, millions of people continued to exist in conditions of abject poverty, hunger and disease, while the scientific community concentrated its energies on the development of ever more sophisticated instruments of mass destruction. 12. Science and its practitioners had always been accomplices in gross violations of human rights. Instruments of torture, truth serums, certificates of mental ill-health issued by medical personnel, for example, had served as punishments or as inducements to confession. However, it was encouraging that the General Assembly had adopted a set of Principles of Medical Ethics relating to the role of health personnel, particularly physicians, in the protection of prisoners and detainees against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and that the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities was preparing a draft body of principles, guidelines and guarantees for the protection of persons detained on the grounds of mental ill-health or suffering from mental disorder. 13. However, medicine was not the only field in which there were human rights violations. As predicted by Orwell in his novel entitled 1984, the enormous A/C3/39/SR.52 English Page 6 (Mr. Mahoney, Gambia) advances made in the area of audio-visual communications and data-processing had sinister implications for personal freedoms. In that connection, his delegation condemned the recent installation of television cameras in the cells of political detainees in South Africa and welcomed the fact that the Sub-Commission was endeavouring to finalize a set of draft guidelines on computerized personnel files. The march of progress must continue and mankind's creative genius must be encouraged, but it was clear that, without a clear commitment to the cause of mankind, scientific achievements might have perilous implications for fundamental rights and freedoms. 14. His delegation welcomed the fact that the current debate had produced a clear consensus on torture, which was a barbarous practice representing not only an odious phenomenon that was repugnant to the human conscience but also the very antithesis of the values and ideals upon which the United Nations was founded. 15. In response to the evident dichotomy between principle and praxis and in recognition of the need to strengthen existing machinery, the General Assembly had requested the Commission on Human Rights to draw up a draft convention against torture. In his delegation's view, the draft Convention, which represented six years of constructive effort, was far from perfect and there was a number of paragraphs that could be formulated differently. Since it was a compromise text that had to accommodate a broad range of positions, some parties' predilections had had to be ignored, however, taken as a whole, it represented a further important element in the body of human rights instruments. His delegation regarded as particularly important articles 1 ana 5 of part I and the establishment of a Committee against Torture (part II, article 1?) and was pleased to be a sponsor of draft resolution A/C3/39/L.40. Only one and a half articles in the entire draft Convention now remained in brackets. Unfortunately, they were the ones dealing with the modus operandi of the Committee against Torture and represented the essence of the draft instrument. To remove or amend them would be to reduce the text to a carbon copy of earlier human rights instruments, whose ineffectiveness had prompted the call for a convention against torture. It should be recalled, in that connection, that General Assembly resolution 38/119, which had been adopted by consensus, called for the submission of a draft, including provisions for the effective implementation of the future convention, to the Assembly at its thirty-ninth session, and that that same resolution requested the Commission on Human Rights to complete, at its fortieth session, as a matter of the highest priority, the drafting of a convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. The Commission had fulfilled its responsibilities by submitting the text. His delegation hoped that the committee would act expeditiously and responsibly. 16. In the current period of disillusionment - indeed cynicism - the United Nations continued to embody mankind's hopes and aspirations for a better world. International public opinion, which had been following extremely closely the work of the Committee against Torture, was now looking forward to concrete results. The Third committee must demonstrate that it was equal to that historic shallenge. A/C3/39/SR.52 English Page 7 17. Mr. PHEDONOS-VADET (Cyprus) said that, as was Indicated in the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family was the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. The idealistic declarations and principles of the Declaration had acquired binding force through the establishment, under the terms of the International Covenants, of a number of bodies to supervise the implementation of those Covenants, for example the Human Rights Committee, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. 18. His delegation fully shared the view that more publicity should be given both to the text of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to the work of the Human Rights Committee in order to promote the observance and enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in the Covenant. He expressed the hope that, In the near future, the publication in bound volumes of the Human Rights Committee's official records would be completed, and he welcomed the decision taken by the Centre for Human Rights concerning the publication of the general comments adopted by the Human Rights Committee under article 40, paragraph 4, of the Covenant. 19. He expressed satisfaction at the approach and procedure adopted by the V man Rights Committee for the consideration of the second periodic reports of States and trusted that that approach would increase the effectiveness of that Committee's monitoring functions set out in article 40 of the Covenant. His delegation appreciated the general comments adopted by the Human Rights Committee, particularly general comments 12 on article 1, 13 on article 14 and 14 on article 6, which considerably facilitated the task of understanding and interpreting those articles of the Covenant. 20. His delegation shared the view expressed by many others that the monitoring procedure established in accordance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and cultural Rights was far from satisfactory, and he therefore looked forward to the spring session of the Economic and Social Council in 198S, when the composition, organisation and administrative arrangements of the Sessional working Group would be reviewed. His delegation shared the opinions put forward on that subject at the meeting of chairmen of the human rights bodies (A/39/484, paras. 14 and 25), and he expressed the hope that the Council would take those opinions into account at its spring session with a view to achieving a more effective implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. 21. His delegation welcomed both the convening of the meeting of Chairmen of the human right* bodies and the proposals which had emerged from it. In its opinion, the meeting had been constructive and had initiated useful dialogue between the various human rights bodies aimed at solving the specific problems encountered by States parties in connection with their obligation to submit reports in accordance with the different human rights instruments. The meeting had been experimental and had been convened without lengthy prior preparation, and participants had made A/C3/39/SR.52 English Page 8 (Mr. Phedonos-Vadet, Cyprus) every effort to find ways of solving the many problems encountered by States parties. Accordingly, those who had jumped to conclusions should reconsider their approach and should use as their sole criterion the promotion of human rights. 22. His delegation welcomed the views and suggestions put forward in paragraphs 28 to 40 of the report contained in document A/39/484 and was convinced that many of them would greatly help to establish a more balanced reporting system and to assist many countries, particularly the developing countries, in fulfilling their reporting obligations. 23. He expressed the hope that the opinions advanced by many members of the Third Committee would be taken Into account by the chairmen of the human rights bodies at their next meeting which, ideally, should be broader and should also include the chairpersons of other human rights bodies, In particular of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. His delegation felt that such meetings should continue to be convened regularly, since the experience acquired could help to improve the suggestions made and to increase the consensus, and he suggested that future meetings should be representative of a wider regional spectrum. 24. Referring to the report on the status of the International Covenants (A/39/461), he expressed concern at the slow rate of new ratifications and accessions. Cyprus had been among the first countries to sign and to ratify the two Covenants, and his country attached great importance to their universal and effective application. His country therefore urged those countries which had not yet done so to ratify them and called upon the United Nations and its organs which dealt with human rights to consider measures to promote their universal application. 25. Referring to agenda item 98 (c), he drew attention to Law No. 86 of 1983, which abolished capital punishment in Cyprus and replaced it by life imprisonment in the case of premeditated murder. Accordingly, Cyprus had recently played a more active role in that regard by co-sponsoring a resolution on the abolition of the death penalty at the fortieth session of the Commission on Human Rights and at the thirty-ninth session of the General Assembly. For the same reason, Cyprus was concerned about the possibility that some countries were reintroducing the death penalty. 26. Despite the achievements made in the elaboration and adoption of many human rights instruments, he drew attention to the existing gap and discrepancy between the resolutions adopted and the realities of international life. Regrettably, human rights violations were not isolated events. In many parts of the world, there were massive, flagrant and continuous violations, which were committed either blatantly and cynically or Insidiously and indirectly. Cyprus was seeking to end those violations and, accordingly, supported the work of the Human Rights Committee, of which Mr. Andreas V. Mavrommatls was a member. In addition, he welcomed the trend apparent in recent years towards ensuring the effective implementation of the conventions in force. A/C.3/39/SR.52 English Page 9 27. Mr. VRAALSEN (Norway), speaking on behalf of the five Nordic countries, referred to agenda Item 98 and to the report contained in document A/39/461. He regretted the fact that only about half of the States Members of the United Nations had ratified or acceded to the Covenants and that only 34 States had signed or acceded to the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Furthermore, it was regrettable that only 16 States had made the declaration under article 41 of the Covenant and that a considerable number of States parties were not fulfilling their reporting obligations under article 16. It was essential for them to do so, since the delay in reporting and the non-submission of reports had acquired such proportions as to undermine the very foundations of the Covenants. 28. Nevertheless, it should be noted that the Human Rights Committee had carried out commendable work in considering the reports of 12 States parties. During the current year, the Human Rights Committee had, for the first time, considered the so-called second periodic reports of States parties, and it should give priority attention to the special reports produced in situations of emergency, in order to continue that important work, the Human Rights Committee would need sufficient support and meeting time from the United Nations. 29. The general comments adopted under article 40 of the International Covenant on Civil and political Rights were useful for interpreting the various articles of the Covenant. The report of the Human Rights Committee (A/39/40) Included general comment 12 (21) on article 1 and general comment 13 (21) on article 14. With some surprise, the Nordic countries had noted that general comment 14 (23) on article 6 was being circulated separately in document A/39/644, instead of being included in the 1985 report. That raised certain questions as to the compatibility of some of its elements with the mandate of the Human Rights Committee. 30. The Secretary-General would submit to the Economic and Social Council at its first regular session of 1985 a report on the situation with respect to the Sessional Working Group of Governmental Experts on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Nordic countries hoped that it would be possible to adopt measures at that session to facilitate consideration of national reports. 31. The Nordic countries supported the drafting of a second optional protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, and wished to make some suggestions on the report of the meeting of chairmen of human-rights organizations held in Geneva in August 1984, and In particular on the programme of advisory services and technical assistance to enable States parties to better comply with their obligations. The first suggestion referred to the establishment of a system of regional advisers and assistance on human-rights standards. The second concerned assistance to Governments requesting it for the preparation of periodic reports which were already delayed, perhaps by means of short-term expert missions for specific purposes. The third related to the preparation of a manual, the granting of fellowships to government officials and the organization of seminars for the training of national personnel. There was a need for some co-ordination to avoid A/C3/39/SR.52 English Page 10 (Mr. Vraalsen, Norway) repetition of information, moreover, the proposed documentation might well be of interest to the general public. 32. In conclusion, he said that the meeting of chairmen of human-rights organizations had been successful and could be repeated, but that next time the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women should also participate. 33. Mr. THWAITES (Australia) said he considered that the moat significant initiative to come before the Committee was the proposal that the General Assembly should adopt the draft Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment prepared by the Commission on Human Rights and annexed to draft resolution A/39/C.3/L.40. That instrument would provide a suitable means for the eradication of the practice of torture and, although some concessions were necessary, especially with respect to articles 19 and 20, it was important to find the broadest agreement on the text as a whole. 34. Torture was the most abhorrent violation of human rights. Under certain special circumstances a State might justify deprivation of the most fundamental human right, the right to life. But under no circumstances, not even during the most serious emergency, could torture be justified. Torture was the more repugnant because it constituted a direct attack on the physical and psychological integrity of the human being. He recalled that Australia had recently announced a pledge to the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, as recorded in document A/39/662. 35. The practice of torture continued on a wide scale, proving the ineffectiveness of the international instruments adopted in that field. Unlike those instruments, the draft Convention focused on a specific violation, particularly repulsive and universally condemned. The draft did not merely reiterate the content of past instruments, but included minimal procedures, such as those in articles 19 and 20, which, by asking States parties to accept a qualified and responsible review of the performance of their obligations, would in no way infringe upon their sovereignty. 36. Although it took into account the views of all regional groups, the draft Convention might perhaps not satisfy completely the aspirations of every delegation, including his own, but approval was necessary so that it could be adopted and opened for signature during the current session of the General Assembly. Australia was a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and political Rights. It had recently withdrawn the majority of the reservations and interpretive declarations which had accompanied its ratification of the latter Covenant, and called on Governments which had not yet done so to give priority to signing and ratifying, or acceding to, both Covenants. 37. In conclusion, he recalled Australia's long-standing and energetic involvement in the efforts of the Working Group of the Commission on Human Rights to prepare, at the initiative of Poland, a convention on the rights of the child. A/C.3/39/SR.52 English Page 11 38. Mr. HAWKES (Canada), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the representative of the Soviet Onion, in a previous statement, had accused Canada of insulting the Soviet Onion. Taking into account that, in its statement, Canada had merely indicated its concern at the fact that, in the Soviet Union, Jews were not allowed to practise freely their religion, the reaction of the Soviet Onion appeared somewhat exaggerated. Canada believed that it was useful to disclose that kind of information in order to stop such violations of religious freedom, and the day would come when discrimination on religious grounds would be a problem of the past. The intense reaction of the Soviet Onion was an indication that much remained to be done in the field of human rights at the international level. In that regard, Canada urged Member States to adopt the draft Convention against Torture proposed by the Commission on Human Rights. 39. His delegation furthermore did not understand how it was possible for the Soviet Onion, in a statement on freedom of religion to drag in the questions of unemployment and indigenous people in Canada. Canada categorically rejected the concept that unemployment was a violation of international human-rights instruments. Current policies and practices in Canada, as well as legislation, guaranteed everyone, whatever his religion, access to employment at all levels. The information provided by the Soviet Onion with regard to the indigenous people was based on Canadian statistics, which were available to everyone. Canada believed that freedom of information and the freedom to discuss problems were essential if progress were to be made in the human-rights field, and wished that all States ensured that freedom. In conclusion, his delegation forcefully rejected the insinuation that anti-Semitism was officially tolerated in Canada, which was clearly refuted by Canadian history. 40. Mr. YAKOVLEV (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that it had not been the Soviet Onion which had started the dispute certain delegations had been making insinuations regarding other States since the month of October, in an earlier statement, his delegation had referred to the situation of the ethnic minorities in Canada, an issue which had been discussed by the Canadian delegation itself. If Canada ventured to slander the Soviet Union, it should expect an appropriate reply. The representative of Canada had posed as the defender of the Jewish people, however, the policy and practices followed in Canada illustrated that country's true position. Canada had given asylum to Nazi war criminals and had removed every obstacle to their immigration. They enjoyed full freedom and opportunity, including the possibility of acquiring Canadian nationality. Further, although the Canadian Constitution guaranteed rights and freedoms to its citizens, it did so with the reservation that such rights and freedoms were subject to reasonable limits. The question might be asked what those limits were, bearing in mind that the Indigenous population of Canada, amounting to 1 million people, were the victims of various forms of discrimination and other violations of human rights. That situation was reflected In the high mortality rates of those ethnic groups as well as by the high proportion of such people in the prison population. Canada had an unemployment rate of 11 per cent, which constituted a violation of the right to work enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. A/C3/39/SR.52 English Page 12 (Mr. Yakovlev, OSSR) 41. His delegation bad quoted facts. If the Canadian delegation wished to refute then, it should produce proofs and not generalizations, if It continued to insist on making insinuations against the Soviet Union, his delegation would consider that it had the right to point to violations of human rights in Canada. 42. Mr. HWKES (Canada), again speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that, contrary to what the Soviet union had said, his intention was not to slander that country but to offer constructive criticism. There was a lack of mutual understanding, which was explained by the fact that, for Canada, respect for human rights started with the individual, in conformity with the Optional protocol to the international Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Canada had acceded. In Canada, freedom of expression was guaranteed even when it was used to express dissenting opinions. 43. With regard to the accusation that Canada was protecting international war criminals, he would like any State which had specific information to draw it to the attention of the Canadian authorities. The legal system of Canada made it possible for society to administer justice and to punish the guilty while at the same time guaranteeing the legal protection of accused individuals. Finally, it was his view that abusive rhetoric led nowhere, it should be ended and replaced by constr,v*:lve criticism. 44. Mr. YAKOVLEV (Onion of Soviet Socialist Republics), again speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said he regretted that Canada and some of its allies were attempting to create an intolerable situation on the issue and that the representative of that country had been unable to produce concrete facts in his reply, it was also a matter for regret that in Canada there were no provisions against war criminals and Nazi organizations and that such persons received all kinds of benefits, including State pensions. It must also be stressed that there was currently a wave of anti-Semitism in Canada. In Quebec there was religious discrimination in so far as one religion was favoured to the detriment of others, in violation of the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. Finally, it was his view that Canada, before judging the human-rights record of other States, should look at its own violations. 45. Mr. SUFOTT (Israel), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said it would be a good thing If Jews in the Soviet Union could enjoy what the representative of that country had referred to as Canadian anti-Semitism. 46. Mr. YAKOVLEV (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), speaking again in exercise of the right of reply, said that Israel's attempt to assume the role of defender of the rights of people of Jewish origin was completely unjustified. The human-rights violations perpetrated against broad segments of the population of Israel itself were well known. 47. The CHAIRMAN announced that Pakistan had become a sponsor of draft resolution A/C3/39/L.31/Rev.l. The Committee had thus concluded the general debate on items 95 to 99. Further she reminded members that the deadline for the submission A/C.3/39/SR.52 English Page 13 (The Chairman) of draft resolutions on items 95, 96, 97, 98 and 99 which had no programme-budget implications, was Friday, 30 November at € p.m., while the deadline for draft resolutions on item 12 which had no programme-budget implications would be Tuesday, 4 December at 6 p.m. The list of speakers in the general debate on item 12 would be closed on Monday, 3 December at 6 p.m. The meeting rose at 1 p.m.