Cablegate: Unga Third Committee Drops Two Country-Specific

DE RUCNDT #0834/01 2821937
P 091937Z OCT 07




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) Summary: At the Oct. 8 opening session of the UNGA
Third Committee, Benin, on behalf of the African group,
called unexpectedly for the deletion from the draft agenda of
two reports of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (HCHR)
on the human rights situation in Nepal and Uganda. Portugal,
on behalf of the EU, requested time out for consultations
with other delegations and with capitals. However, the
chairman pushed the issue toward a vote. The US called for a
suspension of the meeting, which was narrowly defeated. The
US then called for a recorded vote on deletion of the
reports, and 34 delegations took the floor to express
disappointment over being forced to vote without time for
consultation or hearing the HCHR's reasoning for presenting
these reports. Despite repeated calls for more time, the
chairman forced a vote. The motion to delete the two reports
from the draft agenda was approved 76-54(US)-20. The US,
along with several other countries, gave an explanation of
vote supporting the HCHR's mandate to present reports to the
Third Committee and expressing concern over the precipitous
nature of the vote. The contentious opening day of the Third
Committee sets an unfortunate and confrontational tone that
bodes ill for the rest of the session. End Summary

2. (U) The meeting began by discussing administrative matters
of the committee. When the chairman (Jamaican Perm Rep
Raymond Wolfe) asked if the committee wished to approve the
program of work, Benin, speaking for the African group,
responded that hearing the reports of the OHCHR on Nepal and
Uganda was an encroachment on the terms of the Human Rights
Council, which Benin described as the only organ that can
submit reports to the Third Committee. He also argued that
consideration of the reports could have a negative impact on
the on-going peace process between Uganda and the Lord's
Resistance Army.

3. (U) Cuba then argued that the Third Committee considers
reports based on decisions of inter-governmental agencies,
such as the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly,
and that there are no provisions that allow the HCHR to
present reports to the Third Committee. He argued that the
High Commissioner should report to the Human Rights Council
or through ECOSOC. The Uganda representative hinted that
the OHCHR had a hidden agenda.

4. (U) Portugal, on behalf of the EU, spoke in support of the
mandate of the HCHR. The representative cited the precedent
set last year when the committee considered the HCHR report
on the human rights situation in Nepal. The Portuguese
representative disagreed with the interpretation that only
the Human Rights Council can consider country specific
resolutions. The Portuguese representative asked the
Secretary to clarify if the HCHR has a mandate to present

reports and if reports have been introduced in the past.

5. (U) The US representative stated that as a universal body,
it is appropriate for the Third Committee to receive reports
from the HCHR. She argued that the HCHR should work with the
Human Rights Council when possible, but must also use the
Third Committee to ensure universal oversight. The US
expressed its opposition to deleting the two reports.

6. (U) The Secretary then clarified that inclusion of the
documents by the Secretariat indicates that the Secretariat
believes the HCHR has a mandate to present them to the Third

7. (U) Uganda disagreed with the Secretariat's interpretation
of the resolution outlining HCHR's mandate and called for
action on their proposal to delete the two reports. Benin
stated that the African Group did not concur with the
interpretation either. He stated that the Secretary General
could draw the world's attention to urgent matters that arise
and questioned the added value of discussing the reports in
the Third Committee. Cuba reiterated its stance that reports
must come to the Third Committee from intergovernmental
bodies. Sudan also questioned the Secretariat's
determination of HCHR's mandate. Sudan stated that the OHCHR
does not represent all groups and focuses on political
rights. Nepal called for the reports to be considered by the
Human Rights Council.

8. (U) Portugal asked for a deferment to allow time for
consultations. The US, Norway and Canada also requested a
deferment. Russia supported taking immediate action on
deletion of the reports. Benin's representative called for
suspension of proceedings so he could consult with the
African group. A five-minute suspension was granted.

USUN NEW Y 00000834 002 OF 003

9. (U) After the consultation period, Benin stated it would
maintain its position to request withdrawal of the reports.
Portugal and Switzerland stated that under rule 120 of the
General Assembly's Rules of Procedure, delegations should
have 24 hours to consider new proposals and to build

10. (U) Cuba made a point of order, arguing that the document
that contains the reports being discussed was circulated on
October 4. Portugal responded that the new proposal was the
deletion of the two reports, not the report itself. The
chairman stated that there was no agreement on what Portugal
was proposing and again put the proposal to delete the
reports to the committee.

11. (U) Again, Portugal invoked rule 120, requesting time for
consultation and the opportunity to hear the reasoning of the
HCHR for submitting the reports. Switzerland, Republic of
Korea, Japan, Liechtenstein, Mexico, San Marino, Uruguay, the
US, Norway, Canada, and Chile all joined the EU in calling
for more time to consider, to hear from the OHCHR and to
consult with capitals before making a decision on a complex,
precedent-setting issue.

12. (U) Syria and Benin spoke in favor of deleting the
reports. The Syrian representative called for the report to
be submitted to the Secretary General or the HRC for a
mandate in order not to undermine the HRC as it beings its
work. Both Benin and Syria pushed for a decision to be made

13. (U) The Chairman once again put the issue to the
Committee. This time the US made a point of order under Rule
118, requesting suspension of the meeting to allow time for
consultations since the Chairman was moving toward a vote.
The Committee, in accordance with the Rules, immediately
voted on the US motion to suspend the meeting. The motion
was rejected in a 65(US)-71-13 vote.

14. (U) As the chair again attempted to pass the Benin
proposal, the US called for a recorded vote on the motion to
delete the reports. In general statements, 34 nations (US,
European nations, Japan, Korea, Mexico and Uruguay) spoke
against the motion to delete, reiterating the need for more
time for consultations with other nations and capitals and
for the need to hear the views of the HCHR. Most nations
expressed their regret and disappointment that the issue was
being forced so quickly to a vote without giving delegations
a fair opportunity to study the issue or allowing the Bureau
a chance to develop consensus. France went so far as to
express "disappointment in the nefarious first decision of
the committee." The chair, departing from normal procedure,
did not close the meeting at the usual 1 pm closing time for
the morning session, pressing on into overtime for the

15. (U) Cuba, Russian and Syria spoke in favor of the motion
to delete the reports. Cuba and Syria reiterated claims that
the HCHR has no mandate to present reports to the committee.
Russia argued that the report was presented under different
circumstances last year and should not be considered
precedent. The Russian representative also stated that
considering the reports opened up an issue for two states
that were not on the agenda of the Third Committee.

16. (U) After the general statements, the Chairman called for
a vote, despite earlier statements by the Secretary
explaining that there would be both general statements and
explanations of vote prior to voting.

17. (U) Turkey made a point of order, noting that there was
no request for explanations of vote. Pakistan responded with
another point of order stating that there was no rule
allowing 2 statements by members before a vote. Germany made
a point of order recalling that the Secretary previously
noted that there would be both a general statement and an
explanation of vote.

18. (U) The Secretary stated that according to rules, voting
processes should not be interrupted, but interpretation
services would not be available beyond 1:30 pm. He stated
that if members wished to continue debate, voting must be
interrupted, infringing on rules of procedure. He went on to
state that although it was a longstanding practice to divide
general debate and explanation of vote, it was not
exclusively done in that manner.

USUN NEW Y 00000834 003 OF 003

19. (U) The Chairman called for a vote. The US made a point
of order requesting the right to make both a general
statement and explanation of vote and that it was possible to
do this in the afternoon session. The Gambia called for the
voting to proceed if there were no objections based on the
conduct of voting. Once again, the chairman called for a
vote on the deletion of the HCHR Reports on the Human Rights
Situation in Nepal and Uganda. The motion passed
76-54(US)-20, and the reports will be deleted from the
documentation of the Committee.

20. (SBU) USUN followed up with OHCHR's New York office to
clarify the substance of the two reports. OHCHR expressed
deep disappointment over the deletion of the reports from the
Third Committee program of work. OHCHR also clarified that
the reports on the human rights situations in Nepal and
Northern Uganda were within the mandate of the HCHR and
furthermore, both countries had signed memoranda of
understanding that allowed the HCHR to report on the
situation in their countries.

21. (U) At the beginning of the afternoon session, following
Explanations of Vote by Turkey, Mexico, and Jordan expressing
dismay at the hasty manner in which the decision on the OHCHR
reports had been taken in the morning session (all three had
voted in favor of the U.S. motion to suspend the meeting),
the US made the following EOV: The United States voted
against the deletion of reports from the Office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights on the situations in northern
Uganda and in Nepal from the documentation from the 3rd
Committee. The United States notes that resolution 48/141
reaffirms "the necessity for a continued adaptation of the UN
human rights machinery to the current and future needs in the
promotion and protection of human rights." We believe that
the High Commissioner not only should be allowed to bring
human rights situations to the attention of the Third
Committee, but should be encouraged to do so, whether or not
a specific report has been requested. We believe strongly
that this would be in keeping with the principles enunciated
in the Vienna Declaration of Programme of Action, namely that
"the promotion and protection of all human rights is a
legitimate concern of the international community." USDEL
went on to point out that both the governments of Uganda and
Nepal had signed MOU's with the OHCHR covering the Office's
work in those two countries. The US also joined with
previous speakers in expressing disappointment with the
precipitous manner in which the morning's proceedings had
been conducted.

22. (SBU) Comment: The contentious opening day of the Third
Committee set an unfortunate and confrontational tone that
bodes ill for the rest of the session. The lack of any
attempt at evenhandedness by the Jamaican chair, who bypassed
several opportunities to accommodate EU and JUSCANZ
procedural objections, was particularly galling. A damaging
precedent has now been set limiting the opportunities for the
High Commissioner to bring concerns on human rights
situations to the attention of the Third Committee unless
specifically asked to do so. The overwhelming numbers in
favor of the African proposal will likely embolden the G77 in
their efforts to push for no-action motions, or defeats on
substantive grounds, on country-specific resolutions in Third


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