Tuesday, November 27, 2012

FGM: Third Committee Approves Draft Resolution Aimed at Intensifying Global Effort to Eliminate Female Genital Mutilation

Source: UN General Assembly

Sixty-seventh General Assembly
Third Committee
43rd & 44th Meetings (AM & PM)

Another Approved Resolution Welcomes Positive Developments in Myanmar; Nine Other Texts Approved, with Indigenous Rights, Obstetric Fistula Among Issues

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today approved its first ever draft resolution aimed at ending the practice of female genital mutilation, concluding a determined effort by African States and praised as historic by delegations.

Introducing the text entitled “Intensifying global efforts for the elimination of female genital mutilation”, the representative of Burkina Faso, on behalf of the African Group, said the text was the culmination of discussions begun some time ago by African States and the General Assembly’s adoption of a resolution on the issue for the first time would intensify world efforts to stop the reactionary practice.

By that text, which was adopted by consensus, the Assembly would urge States to take all measures — including legislation prohibiting female genital mutilation — to both protect women and girls from that “form of violence” and end impunity.

The Assembly would also call for enhanced awareness-raising, so key actors such as Government officials, healthcare providers and religious and community leaders worked to eliminate attitudes and harmful practices that led to female genital mutilation. By other terms, the Assembly would call for observance on 6 February of the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation.

Speaking after adoption, Italy’s representative said the draft resolution was an instrument for the global community’s goal to change the fate of women and girls around the world. Today, that goal looked closer than ever, he said.

Kenya’s representative said the “historic” adoption of the resolution by the Committee provided an important platform and voice for victims who had undergone that violent practice. The real challenge now was to change attitudes and opinions, he said.

Today the Committee also approved a draft resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, which was introduced by the representative of Cyprus on behalf of the European Union. The text — adopted for the first time by consensus — welcomed the positive transformation in the country over the past year, as it made important steps toward political reform and national reconciliation.

The text also addressed remaining challenges in the country, calling on the Government to continue its release of prisoners of conscience, take measures to end impunity and address continued violence.

Before the text was approved, delegates from Qatar, Senegal and Turkey each praised developments in Myanmar, but expressed concern about violence in Rakhine State, calling for the Government to protect the rights of the Muslim minority Rohingya community.

Speaking after adoption, Myanmar’s delegate said his Government had asked for a vote on the draft resolution for many years, but this year refrained from doing so, as it embarked on the path of democratic transition. He welcomed the text’s tone of encouragement and cooperation, yet said the draft retained “sweeping” allegations that had yet to be verified.

He reiterated Myanmar’s strong reservation to the text’s reference to a Rohingya minority, saying his Government did not accept that characterization. There was no such Rohingya ethnic group, he said. But within the spirit of compromise, Myanmar did not insist on removing paragraphs referring to them.

Myanmar deeply appreciated the “unprecedented” flexibility to amend the last operative paragraph of the text, on continuing to consider the human rights situation in the country. With that amendment, his Government understood that the European Union would end the practice of tabling a draft resolution against Myanmar next year, he said.

Nearly two dozen delegations spoke after adoption of the resolution, including Cambodia’s representative, who firmly supported the idea that the text should be the “farewell” resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar.

Japan’s representative said he hoped Myanmar’s Government would take additional positive measures. “The world will be watching,” he said, and Japan would continue to assist the Government in making progress.

Also today the Committee approved nine other texts — seven by consensus and two by recorded vote. The draft resolution on “Glorification of Nazism: Inadmissibility of certain practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance”, which was presented by the representative of the Russian Federation, was approved by a vote of 120 in favour to 3 against (Canada, Marshall Islands and United States), with 57 abstentions.

Later, by a recorded vote of 115 in favour to 52 against, with 2 abstentions ( Afghanistan and Malawi), the Committee approved the draft resolution on human rights and unilateral coercive measures, introduced by Cuba’s representative.

The other draft resolutions the Committee approved by consensus concerned: indigenous rights; enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights; the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance; strengthening the United Nations crime prevention and criminal justice programme, in particular its technical cooperation capacity; the United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders; international cooperation against the world drug problem; and supporting efforts to end obstetric fistula.

The Committee also heard introduction of three draft resolutions. The text on Human rights and extreme poverty was introduced by the representative of Peru, while the text on Protection of migrants was introduced by Mexico’s representative, and the text on Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination was introduced by the representative of the United Arab Emirates.

The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m., Tuesday, 27 November, to take action on a number of outstanding draft resolutions.