Summary record of the 56th meeting, held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, on Friday, 11 April 1997 : Commission on Human Rights, 53rd session.
|UN Document Symbol||E/CN.4/1997/SR.56|
|Convention||Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities|
|Document Type||Summary Record|
|Subjects||Economic Social and Cultural Rights, Religious Intolerance, Religious Freedom, Trafficking in Persons, Women, Persons with Disabilities, Slavery, Harmful Traditional Practices, Women's Health, Child Health, Detained Juveniles, Judicial Independence, Torture and Other Cruel Treatment|
Economic and Social
6 June 1997
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 56th MEETING
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Friday, 11 April 1997, at 10 a.m.
Chairman: Mr. SOMOL (Czech Republic)
QUESTION OF THE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS IN ANY PART
OF THE WORLD, WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO COLONIAL AND OTHER DEPENDENT
COUNTRIES AND TERRITORIES, INCLUDING:
(a) QUESTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN CYPRUS
CONSIDERATION OF DRAFT RESOLUTIONS AND DECISIONS UNDER AGENDA ITEMS 5, 19,
16 AND 8
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 10.50 a.m.
QUESTION OF THE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS IN ANY PART
OF THE WORLD, WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO COLONIAL AND OTHER DEPENDENT
COUNTRIES AND TERRITORIES, INCLUDING:
(a) QUESTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN CYPRUS (agenda item 10) (continued)
(E/CN.4/1997/5, 6 and Add.1 and 2, 8, 9, 12 and Corr.1 and Add.1 and Corr.1,
51 and Add.1, 5254,
55 and Corr.1, 5659,
60 and Add.1, 61, 62 and
Add.1, 63, 64, 113, 114, 118, 123125,
129 and 132; E/CN.4/1997/NGO/36,
21, 25, 27 and 37; A/51/457, 460, 466, 478, 479, 481, 490, 496, 538 and
1. Mr. VAN DER STOEL (Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights
in Iraq), introducing his report (E/CN.4/1997/57), said that yet another year
had gone by with no improvement in the situation in Iraq. In fact, the Iraqi
Government appeared to be responsible for longstanding, widespread and
systematic human rights violations, and he had come to the conclusion that the
political and legal order in Iraq was at the root of that situation. That
meant that the violation of human rights in Iraq was not only systematic, but
fundamentally inherent in the system. There was no rule of law in Iraq and
all power was concentrated in the hands of the President. The freedoms of
opinion, expression, association and assembly were nonexistent,
a fact which
resulted in widespread violations of the right to liberty and to personal
security. Thus, it was not surprising that he was receiving reports of
arbitrary arrests, detentions and executions. One especially cruel aspect of
the situation was the systematic practice of enforced disappearance.
According to the report of the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary
Disappearances, Iraq, with 16,199 cases still unresolved, had the worst record
in the world in that regard. Moreover, that figure did not include Kuwaitis
nationals who had disappeared following Iraq's illegal
occupation of Kuwait.
2. In view of the large number of disappearances, he was disturbed by the
fact that the Iraqi Government appeared unwilling to make any effort to help
families to discover the fate of their loved ones. That attitude was
indicative of the Iraqi Government's general attitude with regard to human
3. The fate of the Kurdish and nonKurdish
population living in the north
of Iraq was a source of particular concern. In his interim report to the
General Assembly (A/51/496/Add.1), he had reported the violent attack on
31 August 1996 by over 30,000 Iraqi troops, backed by tanks and artillery,
against the city of Arbil, capital of the predominantly Kurdish autonomous
region. The Government had argued that its intervention had been requested by
the President of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), which had sought to
regain control of the city from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). In
any case, the use of such disproportionate force against civilian targets was
incompatible with Iraq's obligations under international human rights law and
international humanitarian law. In fact, that attack had also been aimed at
quelling opposition and combating the influence of persons in the region who
were considered hostile to the Government. There again, the behaviour of the
Iraqi troops, who had engaged in arbitrary and summary executions, including
at least one mass execution, was totally incompatible with Iraq's
4. In the face of such terror, large numbers of persons had again chosen to
flee the country. Those who had been unable to cross the border were
scattered in northern Iraq, where they were living in precarious health and
economic conditions and far from the regular forces of the Government of Iraq,
but at the mercy of Iraqi agents who were known to kill with impunity.
5. He welcomed the fact that the implementation of Security Council
resolution 986 (1995) was progressing. According to recent reports, the
Sanctions Committee had approved over 40 contracts for the sale of oil. Of
the $750 million in resulting revenue, $519 million had been spent on
humanitarian supplies and $236 million had been paid to the Compensation Fund.
As of the end of March 1997, the Sanctions Committee had approved 57 contracts
for the purchase of foodstuffs and medicines, and the first cargo of Thai rice
had been delivered to the port of Umm Qasr. The value of the Iraqi dinar had
soared, making commodities more affordable to the population, but the problem
of the equitable distribution of available resources, including the newly
purchased humanitarian supplies, remained a source of concern. As of early
April, 115 international observers from various United Nations agencies had
been deployed in the country, but that international presence would be
insufficient owing to the long experience of the Iraqi authorities in avoiding
their obligations. In that connection, he noted that the international
observers were still not free to move throughout the country in order to
ensure that the benefits of the sale of oil were really distributed to the
very large number of people in genuine need.
6. In any case, so long as the political and legal order in Iraq remained
unchanged, the Iraqi Government would never comply with its international
obligations and the people would not be free to live in dignity or to realize
7. Mr. ALDOURI (Observer for Iraq) began by emphasizing that information
sources were a primary factor in the credibility of the Special Rapporteur,
who had relied primarily on two sources: agents having connections with
foreign States and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), whose hostile
attitude towards Iraq was wellknown.
The events which had taken place in
northern Iraq since 31 August 1996 and which had been reported by numerous
press agencies had, moreover, demonstrated the extent to which the socalled
Iraqi opposition groups were linked to the CIA.
8. With regard to the alleged violations of civil and political rights, the
Special Rapporteur had tended to repeat his previous remarks about the legal
and political nature of the Iraqi Government. He had stated that Iraq had not
met its obligations under article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights and article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights. That statement was totally false since the Iraqi people, including
ethnic and religious minorities, were free to express their opinions through
associations, social gatherings, the press, radio and television. In Iraq,
the collective will had been expressed through elections to the National
Assembly, the 1995 referendum on the Presidency, which had been attended by
hundreds of politicians and media representatives, and the 1996 elections to
the People's Councils. The Government of Iraq had already responded to those
allegations in detailed reports presented to the Third Committee of the
General Assembly and to the Commission on Human Rights.
9. With regard to the events of 31 August 1996, the central Government had
provided support to the Kurdish people in the north of the country, at the
request of one of the Kurdish factions, in a limited operation with almost no
casualties. The Iraqi troops had then withdrawn to their bases, as confirmed
by all observers. Those events had made it clear that America and its agents
were attempting to destabilize the national Government and the country as a
whole, a fact which had become obvious when the United States had begun to
evacuate its agents the
Iraqi opposition to
10. With regard to âdisappearancesâ, the Iraqi Government had spared no
effort to reply to the inquiries made by the Working Group on Enforced or
Involuntary Disappearances. However, it recognized that some disappearances
were linked to the serious problems which Iraq had faced during the eightyear
war with Iran and the riots which had broken out in the wake of military
coalition aggression against Iraq in 1991. The question of the missing
Kuwaitis was currently being studied by the competent bodies the
Committee and its technical subcommittee under the auspices of the
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Despite the fact that Iraq
had cooperated fully in that area, some were seeking to politicize that
humanitarian problem in order to prolong the embargo.
11. In that respect, he was surprised that the Special Rapporteur had
concentrated on the psychological and other types of suffering of the
relatives of the missing persons yet had paid no attention to the terrible
fate of the 4 million Iraqi children under the age of 5 who, according to the
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP),
faced death or, as stated by the UNICEF representative in Baghdad, died each
month of malnutrition and other diseases.
12. The Special Rapporteur continued to confine himself to stylistic phrases
about dictatorship and the suppression of freedom of expression and opinion,
adding nothing new to his old allegations. With regard to the right to
adequate food and health care, the Commission would recall that, on
20 May 1996, Iraq and the United Nations had signed a Memorandum of
Understanding on practical procedures for the implementation of
Security Council resolution 986 (1995). Surprisingly, the Special Rapporteur
had yet to mention that right and, since the beginning of his mandate in 1991,
had totally ignored the Iraqi people's hardships in that regard. In his
report, the Special Rapporteur had noted the delay in the distribution of
humanitarian supplies, but the Iraqi delegation wished that he had also spoken
out about those who were blocking those supplies and that he had asked them to
implement resolution 986 (1995) in an objective manner free from political
13. The Special Rapporteur's conclusions were unbalanced and ignored the
progress made in the promotion of democracy and human rights. In fact, the
Special Rapporteur had merely reiterated the false allegations and accusations
contained in his previous reports, which reflected hostile political attitudes
towards Iraq aimed at fragmenting the country and destroying its national
CONSIDERATION OF DRAFT RESOLUTIONS AND DECISIONS UNDER AGENDA ITEMS 5, 19,
16 AND 8
Draft resolution under agenda item 5
Draft resolution E/CN.4/1997/L.26/Rev.1 (Question of the realization in all
countries of the economic, social and cultural rights contained in the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and study of special problems which the
developing countries face in their efforts to achieve these human rights)
14. Mr. CARMO (Observer for Portugal), introducing the draft resolution,
said he welcomed the spirit of compromise displayed during its preparation.
The draft reflected the farreaching
proposals made by the Committee on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, such as the adoption of a plan of action
which would increase its ability to assist Governments in carrying out their
reporting obligations, the appointment of a special rapporteur on economic,
social and cultural rights and the possibility of submitting communications
with the provisions of the Covenant. It therefore
requested the SecretaryGeneral
to submit a report on the views and reactions
of the interested parties concerning these proposals so that the Commission
could decide what action was to be taken. The sponsors hoped that the draft
resolution, which had in some ways departed from the traditional framework in
order to reflect more accurately the current international human rights
agenda, would be adopted without a vote.
15. Mrs. KLEIN (Secretary of the Commission) announced that Canada, Ireland,
Austria, India, Hungary, Cape Verde, Australia, the Philippines and Sweden had
become sponsors of the draft resolution.
16. Mr. DENNIS (United States of America) said the United States attached
great importance to the proclamation in the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights that everyone had the right to a standard of living adequate for the
health and wellbeing
of himself and his family, including food and housing.
He welcomed the draft resolution's endorsement of the Istanbul Declaration on
Human Settlements, the Habitat Agenda, the Rome Declaration on World Food
Security and the World Food Summit Plan of Action, all of which recognized the
importance of the full and progressive realization of the right to adequate
shelter and safe and nutritious food and the responsibility of Governments and
role of the private sector and civil society in that regard. To that end, his
Government was taking further steps to improve global food security and access
to housing and, in cooperation with nongovernmental
organizations (NGOs), was
developing initiatives in response to the commitments made at Rome and
17. The United States was pleased to join the consensus on a draft
resolution which dealt with recognized rights and aspirations to the extent
that it promoted human development in an integrated and sustainable way,
recognized the centrality of the individual and the attainment of civil and
political rights and had a practical and realistic orientation, despite the
fact that some of its elements such
as the possibility of carrying out a
study of the effects of structural adjustments did
not meet those criteria.
18. Draft resolution E/CN.4/1997/L.26/Rev.1 was adopted without a vote.
Draft resolution under agenda item 19
Draft resolution E/CN.4/1997/L.38 (Implementation of the Declaration on the
Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on
Religion or Belief)
19. Mr. BIGGAR (Ireland), introducing the draft resolution, read out a
number of revisions to which the sponsors had agreed. First, paragraph 2 was
amended in the following manner in order to reproduce the exact title of the
âExpresses grave concern at and condemns all forms of intolerance
and of discrimination based on religion or belief;â.
It had been decided to combine paragraphs 3 (c) and (g) to read:
âIn conformity with international standards of human rights, to take all
necessary action to combat hatred, intolerance and acts of violence,
intimidation and coercion motivated by intolerance based on religion or
belief, including practices which violate the human rights of women and
discriminate against women;â.
In the English text of paragraph 3 (f), the words âto exert utmost effortsâ
had been moved to the beginning of the sentence.
20. For stylistic reasons, the word âincludingâ in paragraph 6 of the
English text should be replaced by âinter alia throughâ. Paragraph 8 had been
amended to read:
âWelcomes the work of the Special Rapporteur and reiterates the
need for him to be able to respond effectively to credible and reliable
information that comes before him, and invites him to continue to seek
the views and comments of Governments concerned in the elaboration of
his report, as well as to continue to carry out his work with discretion
In paragraph 9, the word âelementsâ had been replaced by âactorsâ. Last,
paragraph 11 had been amended to read:
âConsiders it desirable to enhance the promotional and public
information aspect of the United Nations in matters relating to freedom
of religion or belief and to ensure, as a matter of priority, the widest
possible dissemination of the text of the Declaration by United Nations
information centres, as well as by other interested bodies;â.
The authors hoped that the amended text would be adopted without a vote as in
21. Mrs. KLEIN (Secretary of the Commission) announced that the following
States had become sponsors of the draft resolution: San Marino, Bulgaria,
Greece, Chile, Tunisia, Israel, Croatia, South Africa, India, United Kingdom,
Estonia, New Zealand, Czech Republic, El Salvador, Belgium, Philippines,
Uruguay, Poland, United States of America, Venezuela, Senegal, Ukraine and
22. Draft resolution E/CN.4/1997/L.38, as amended, was adopted without a
Draft resolutions and decisions under agenda item 16
Draft resolution E/CN.4/1997/L.34 (Traffic in women and girls)
23. Ms. BAUTISTA (Philippines), introducing the draft resolution, read out
the revisions on which the sponsors had agreed. The beginning of paragraph 4
had been amended to read:
âInvites Governments to take steps to ensure for victims of
trafficking the respect of all their human rights and fundamental
The remainder of the paragraph had become a new paragraph, reading:
âAlso invites Governments, with the support of the United Nations,
to formulate manuals for the training of personnel who receive and/or
hold in temporary custody victims of genderbased
trafficking, with a view to sensitizing them to the special needs of
The other paragraphs had been renumbered accordingly. Paragraph 6 (new
paragraph 7) had been amended to read:
âNotes with appreciation the reports of the Special Rapporteurs on
violence against women and on the sale of children, child prostitution
and child pornography, particularly with respect to the traffic in
persons, and encourages them to continue to address this problem among
their priority concerns;â.
The sponsors hoped that the draft resolution would be adopted without a vote.
24. Mrs. KLEIN (Secretary of the Commission) said that Germany, the
Czech Republic, Uruguay, Portugal, Madagascar, Belgium, Chile, Bangladesh and
Egypt had become sponsors of the draft resolution.
25. Draft resolution E/CN.4/1997/L.34, as orally amended, was adopted.
Draft decision E/CN.4/1997/L.39 (Human rights of persons with disabilities)
26. Mr. DENHAM (Ireland), introducing the draft decision, said that the
proposal to consider the matter on a biennial basis in no way implied that its
importance had declined. On the contrary, the initiative would make it
possible to integrate the issue of disability more effectively into the work
of the Commission in 1998, the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights. Furthermore, the decision included an invitation
for the Special Rapporteur on disability of the Commission for Social
Development to participate in the fiftyfourth
session of the Commission.
His delegation hoped that the draft decision would be adopted without a vote.
27. Mrs. KLEIN (Secretary of the Commission) announced that the
Czech Republic and Venezuela had become sponsors of the draft decision.
28. Mr. COMBA (Centre for Human Rights), explaining the financial
implications of the draft decision, said that the expenses associated with the
participation of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission for Social
Development would amount to approximately US$ 3,000, to be covered under the
âtravel expensesâ heading in the Commission's 19981999
29. Mr. VAN WULFFTEN PALTHE (Netherlands) said that by covering the costs of
participation of experts from other committees in that way, the Commission
might compromise the activities of its own special rapporteurs. He therefore
asked whether it would not be possible to cover that cost under another item
30. Mr. COMBA (Centre for Human Rights) said it was rare for the travel
budget to be fully spent. The necessary sum was fairly small and could easily
31. Draft decision E/CN.4/1997/L.39 was adopted without a vote.
Draft resolution E/CN.4/1997/L.41 (Contemporary forms of slavery)
32. Mr. VAN WULFFTEN PALTHE (Netherlands), introducing the draft
resolution, said it dealt with an important problem which was associated with
other matters considered by the Commission and required careful preparation.
It was therefore recommended that it should be examined on a biennial basis in
order to permit a better grasp of the problems involved. The sponsors hoped
that the draft resolution would be adopted without a vote.
33. Mrs. KLEIN (Secretary of the Commission) announced that Canada,
Madagascar, Norway, Poland and the Czech Republic had become sponsors of the
34. Draft resolution E/CN.4/1997/L.41 was adopted without a vote.
Draft resolution E/CN.4/1997/L.42 (Minimum humanitarian standards)
35. Mr. WILLE (Observer for Norway), introducing the draft resolution, said
that the sponsors were concerned at the large number of situations where
internal violence undermined the protection of human rights and entailed
extensive suffering and violations of the principles of humanity which should
govern the behaviour of all persons, groups and public authorities. They
recognized the desirability of identifying principles applicable to all
situations in a manner consistent with international law.
36. The Commission should, therefore, request the SecretaryGeneral,
cooperation with ICRC and bearing in mind the information from Governments,
the relevant United Nations agencies and bodies, and intergovernmental and
organizations and the issues raised at the International
Workshop on Minimum Humanitarian Standards, held at Cape Town in
September 1996, to prepare an analytical report on the issue of fundamental
standards of humanity and to submit that report to the Commission at its
37. The sponsors hoped that the draft resolution, which was the result of
extensive consultations, would be adopted without a vote.
38. Mrs. KLEIN (Secretary of the Commission) announced that Ireland, the
United States of America, Liechtenstein, Ukraine and Israel had become
sponsors of the draft resolution.
39. Mr. ALFONSO MARTINEZ (Cuba) thanked the delegation of Norway for having
agreed to several of the suggestions made by his own delegation during
consultations and said that the words âinternal violenceâ in the first
preambular paragraph lent themselves to all kinds of interpretations and
should therefore be defined from the point of view of international law. The
same was true of the words âprinciples applicable to all situationsâ in
operative paragraph 1. His delegation considered that the words âthe rule of
lawâ in operative paragraph 2 meant that each State was required to respect
both its own legislation and the international legal commitments freely
entered into. Those few points having been clarified, his delegation would
not oppose adoption of the draft resolution without a vote.
40. Mr. SINGH (India), referring to operative paragraph 4, which called upon
to submit to the Commission an analytical report on the
issue of fundamental standards of humanity, said he believed that the
distinction between humanitarian law and human rights law should be
maintained. Attempts to combine the two would only lead to a dilution of
existing standards. Moreover, even at the Workshop held in Cape Town, there
had been no consensus on the need to identify such fundamental standards of
humanity. His delegation was not convinced that it was feasible to entrust
such a task to the SecretaryGeneral
until that very complex issue had been
further discussed, particularly by academics, NGOs and ICRC.
41. His delegation would not oppose adoption of the draft resolution without
a vote but, should it be put to a vote, would abstain.
42. Draft resolution E/CN.4/1997/L.42 was adopted without a vote.
Draft resolution E/CN.4/1997/L.43 (Work of the SubCommission
on Prevention of
Discrimination and Protection of Minorities)
43. Mr. HÃYNCK (Germany) said that while many members of the Commission had
stated during the discussions under agenda item 16 that they welcomed the
efforts to improve its methods of work, they had nevertheless
been convinced of the urgent need to undertake additional reforms. The draft
resolution had been prepared with that end in view.
44. As a result of suggestions that had been made, the sponsors of the draft
resolution proposed the words âunless, inâ in the third line of
paragraph 3 (b) should be replaced by the words âand furthermore limit action
toâ and that the words âof which a member of the SubCommission
is a nationalâ
at the end of paragraph 3 (d) should be replaced by the words âspecific
countryâ. He hoped that the draft resolution would be adopted without a vote.
45. Mrs. KLEIN (Secretary of the Commission) announced that the following
States had become sponsors of the draft resolution: Argentina, Poland, Peru,
Hungary, Madagascar, Sweden, Japan, New Zealand, United States of America,
Luxembourg and Russian Federation.
46. Mr. ALFONSO MARTINEZ (Cuba) said that the amendments just made would
enable his delegation to support the draft resolution.
47. Draft resolution E/CN.4/1997/L.43, as orally amended, was adopted.
Draft decision 2 recommended by the SubCommission
on Prevention of
Discrimination and Protection of Minorities (E/CN.4/1997/2E/
CN.4/Sub.2/1996/41) (Traditional practices affecting the health of women and
48 Mr. COMBA (Centre for Human Rights), explaining the financial
implications of the draft decision, under which the mandate of the Special
Rapporteur on traditional practices affecting the health of women and children
would be extended for a further two years, said that the sum of US$ 13,000 to
cover the Special Rapporteur's travel expenses would be included in the
proposed programme budget for the biennium 19981999.
The 1997 expenses would
be covered by funds allocated under section 21 of the programme budget for the
49. Draft decision 2 recommended by the SubCommission
was adopted without a
50. The CHAIRMAN invited delegations to explain their vote on the draft
resolutions and decisions under agenda item 16.
51. Mr. STEEL (United Kingdom) said the United Kingdom reserved the
right to revert to the subject of the financial implications of draft
decision E/CN.4/1997/39 in the Economic and Social Council. At that time,
he would also raise the question of why the travel budget for the Commission's
Special Rapporteurs was apparently not being fully used.
52. Mr. DENHAM (Ireland) said that if meeting the costs of the activities
called for under draft decision E/CN.4/1997/L.39 posed a problem, his
Government was prepared to cover them.
Draft resolutions and decisions under agenda item 8
Draft decision E/CN.4/1997/32 (Children and juveniles in detention)
53. Mr. STROHAL (Austria), introducing the draft decision, said that
great progress had been made during the previous years with regard to the
implementation of international standards of human rights in the
administration of justice, particularly with regard to children and juveniles
in detention. That progress had been due in part to implementation of
technical cooperation programmes and to the activities of the
High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Commission on Crime Prevention and
Criminal Justice. In order for the Commission to improve its methods of work,
it should decide to follow the General Assembly's example in considering the
question, with all due attention, on a biennial basis.
54. Mrs. KLEIN (Secretary of the Commission) announced that Romania, the
Czech Republic and Equatorial Guinea had become sponsors of the draft
55. Draft decision E/CN.4/1997/L.32 was adopted without a vote.
Draft resolution E/CN.4/1997/L.49 (Independence and impartiality of the
judiciary, jurors and assessors and the independence of lawyers)
56. Mr. DEKANY (Observer for Hungary), introducing the draft resolution,
said that the word âOffendersâ, in the sixth preambular paragraph should be
followed by the words âheld at Cairo from 29 April to 8 May 1995,â.
57. The independence of the judiciary was one of the primary pillars of
democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. In the draft
resolution, which was based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Vienna Declaration
and Programme of Action and the Commission's own previous resolutions on the
matter, the Commission recalled the relevant General Assembly resolutions, the
Declarations adopted at Beijing in August 1995 by the Sixth Conference of
Chief Justices of Asia and the Pacific and at Cairo in November 1995 by the
Third Conference of Francophone Ministers of Justice and the recommendations
made by the United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the
Treatment of Offenders.
58. Noting with concern the increasingly frequent attacks on the
independence of judges, lawyers and court officers, the Commission
acknowledged the importance of the Special Rapporteur being able to cooperate
closely with the Centre for Human Rights in the field of advisory services.
As in previous years, it noted with appreciation the determination of the
Special Rapporteur to achieve wide dissemination of information about existing
standards. It also urged Governments to assist the Special Rapporteur in the
discharge of his mandate, which it decided to extend for a further period of
59. He hoped that the draft resolution, which was the result of extensive
consultations, would, as in previous years, be adopted without a vote.
60. Mrs. KLEIN (Secretary of the Commission) announced that Liechtenstein
and Senegal had become sponsors of the draft resolution.
61. Mr. COMBA (Centre for Human Rights) said that in order for the Special
Rapporteur to carry out his mandate, $68,000 would be earmarked under the
proposed programme budget for the biennium 19981999.
The 1997 expenses would
be covered under section 21 of the programme budget for the biennium
62. Draft resolution E/CN.4/1997/L.49, as orally amended, was adopted
without a vote.
Draft resolution E/CN.4/1997/L.50 (Question of a draft optional protocol to
the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment
63. Ms. THOMPSON (Observer for Costa Rica), introducing the draft
resolution, said the purpose of the draft optional protocol was to set up a
preventive system of regular visits to places of detention. The Commission
would extend the mandate of the working group on the draft optional protocol
with a view to finalizing that instrument. The sponsors hoped that the draft
resolution would, as in previous years, be adopted without a vote.
64. Mrs. KLEIN (Secretary of the Commission) announced that Estonia, Canada,
Colombia, Belarus, Venezuela and Ecuador had become sponsors of the draft
65. Mr. COMBA (Centre for Human Rights) said that the cost of the services
to be provided to the working group would be met from section 26 (Conference
services) of the programme budget for the biennium 19961997.
66. Draft resolution E/CN.4/1997/L.50 was adopted without a vote.
Draft resolution E/CN.4/1997/L.51 (Torture and other cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment or punishment)
67. Mr. FREDERIKSEN (Denmark), introducing the draft resolution, drew the
attention of the members of the Commission to the fact that, after further
consultations, the sponsors had agreed to delete the words âespecially those
mentioned by the Special Rapporteur in his report,â from paragraph 27.
68. After summarizing the main provisions of the draft (second preambular
paragraph and operative paragraphs 12, 17, 18 and 33), he noted that the text
submitted to the Commission was the result of lengthy, open-ended
consultations between a large number of sponsors and interested delegations.
His Government considered the elimination of torture to be a priority. The
draft resolution that had been submitted would contribute to the achievement
of that goal, and the sponsors hoped that it would be adopted without a vote.
69. Mrs. KLEIN (Secretary of the Commission) announced that the following
States had become sponsors of the draft resolution: Sweden, Bulgaria,
United States of America, South Africa, Lithuania, Madagascar, Ireland,
New Zealand, United Kingdom, Costa Rica, France, Belgium, Australia, Poland,
Portugal, Belarus and Venezuela.
70. Mr. LI Baodong (China) said that in recent years, China had consistently
supported the resolutions on the question of torture. During the current
session, his delegation had once again participated actively in the
consultations in the hope that the draft resolution could be adopted by
consensus. Unfortunately, owing to the fact that one of the sponsors had done
its best to ensure that the proposals of China and other States, however
reasonable, were ignored, it had been impossible to arrive at a consensus on
paragraphs 18 and 27. His delegation welcomed the fact that paragraph 27 had
been amended, but that was not enough. He considered it inappropriate to
commend the Special Rapporteur on his report since some of the allegations it
contained were utterly unfounded. That opinion, moreover, was shared by many
71. His delegation requested a rollcall
vote on the draft resolution and
intended to abstain from voting on it.
72. Mr. ZAHRAN (Egypt) said that his country, which was a party to the
Convention against Torture, condemned that practice, which could not be
justified on any pretext. In response to the observations of the Chinese
delegation, he suggested that the words âCommends the Special Rapporteur on
his reportâ in paragraph 18 should be replaced by âTakes note of the report of
the Special Rapporteurâ since that wording was likely to be acceptable to all
73. Mr. J.A. FERNANDEZ (Cuba) said his delegation had also participated in
the consultations on the draft resolution and that not all of the amendments
it had proposed had been included in the text. However, he acknowledged the
efforts made by Denmark. With regard to the observations made by the
representatives of China and Egypt, he proposed that the Commission should
devote somewhat more time to the issue in order to make it possible for that
important draft resolution to be adopted by consensus.
74. Mr. HYNES (Canada) said that in the Commission's previous resolutions on
the matter it had always commended the Special Rapporteur on his report, and
he did not see why it should not do so again at its current session. The
Special Rapporteur had submitted a complete, welldocumented
and fair report,
and it would not be fair to him simply to take note of it. For all those
reasons, his delegation asked China to reconsider its position on the matter.
75. Mr. STEEL (United Kingdom) said that he appreciated the Egyptian
delegation's efforts to find a compromise solution but that the stakes were
too high for him to accept the proposed wording. He did not understand why
the Chinese delegation was making such an issue of paragraph 18 since the
wording in question had already been used in previous resolutions without any
opposition from the Chinese delegation. For obvious reasons, the question of
torture was central to the concerns of the international community. To alter
the wording of paragraph 18 of the draft resolution, as some had proposed,
might give the impression that the Commission did not attach due importance to
the question of torture. His delegation therefore asked China to reconsider
76. Mr. LI Baodong (China) said for many years his country had actively
contributed to adoption of the draft resolutions on torture by consensus. If
there had been problems during the current session, it was because of the
attitude of one of the sponsors. Having regard to the proposals made by Egypt
and Cuba, and in a spirit of compromise, he associated himself with the
proposal that more time should be devoted to consultations on the draft
77. Mr. DEMBRI (Algeria) expressed surprise at the direction the discussion
was taking since all delegations appeared to accept the substance of the draft
resolution. Personally, he fully agreed with the current wording of
paragraph 18 and saw no great difference between that wording and the one
proposed by the representative of Egypt. To take note of the report was also
a way of saying that it was interesting and of recognizing the quality of the
work that had been done. Since it was important for the draft resolution to
be adopted by consensus, he saw no reason why the delegations concerned should
not hold further consultations in order to find a solution.
78. Mr. VERGNE SABOIA (Brazil) said that if the draft resolution was put to
a vote, he would vote in favour. However, he would prefer further efforts to
be made in order to achieve consensus.
79. Mr. SIMKHADA (Nepal) supported the proposal of the Egyptian delegation.
80. The CHAIRMAN said that since the majority of delegations appeared to
support the Cuban delegation's proposal, he proposed that the Commission
should postpone its decision on draft resolution E/CN.4/1997/L.51 until later
in the day.
81. It was so decided.
Draft resolution E/CN.4/1997/L.53 (United Nations staff)
82. Mr. CARMO (Observer for Portugal), introducing the draft resolution,
said that its preparation had been influenced by incidents which had occurred
during the past few months and which had led the President of the
Security Council to make a statement on 12 March in which he had expressed
grave concern at the recent proliferation of attacks and increased use of
force against United Nations and other personnel acting under the authority of
the United Nations operations as well as personnel of international
humanitarian organizations, including murder, physical and psychological
shooting at vehicles and aircraft, mine-laying,
looting and other hostile acts.
83. The SecretaryGeneral
was requested to take the necessary measures to
ensure full respect for the human rights, privileges and immunities of
United Nations staff members and to commission a comprehensive study to shed
further light on the safety and security problems faced by those staff
members, taking into account the evolution of the nature of United Nations
missions around the world.
84. The draft also mentioned the status of the Convention on the Safety of
United Nations and Associated Personnel and called upon States to promptly
become parties thereto. The sponsors also emphasized the importance of the
relevant principles on protection found in the Conventions relating to the
privileges and immunities of the United Nations and the specialized agencies.
85. The United Nations Staff Association had made useful comments on the
draft. Since the draft resolution was the result of wide consultations
between all the regional groups, the sponsors hoped that it would be adopted
without a vote.
86. Mrs. KLEIN (Secretary of the Commission) announced that Norway, Poland,
the United Kingdom, Malta, New Zealand, Australia, Madagascar, Liechtenstein
and Egypt had become sponsors of the draft resolution.
87. Ms. PEREZ DUARTE y NOROÃA (Mexico) said she supported the provisions of
the draft resolution. However, she wished to point out that when the
General Assembly had adopted resolution 49/59, opening the Convention on the
Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel for signature, Mexico had
stated in explanation of vote that, while it recognized the importance of
protecting United Nations personnel and had supported the negotiations in a
spirit of conciliation and cooperation, it considered that time was required
in order to clarify certain principles governing relations between States and
United Nations peacekeeping
operations. She therefore hoped that the lack of
clarity of that Convention would not hinder its implementation.
88. Draft resolution E/CN.4/1997/L.53 was adopted without a vote.
The meeting rose at 1.05 p.m.