UN: EU statement on situation of human rights in Belarus

United Nations, General Assembly, 61st Session; Agenda Item 67(c): Human rights situations;

Statement in accordance with rule 74 of the Rules of Procedure of the General Assembly, against the motion to adjourn the debate on the Third Committee resolution "Situation of human rights in Belarus"

Mr. Janne Jokinen, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Finland to the United Nations, on behalf of the European Union

New York, December 19, 2006

Madam President,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.

The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the

Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA country Iceland, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and Moldova align themselves with this declaration.

Madam President,

There should be no question about the United Nations General Assembly's mandate to look into human rights situations to promote and encourage respect for human rights, one of the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations Charter. United Nations General Assembly has passed resolutions expressing its concern about the worst human rights situations for decades. 

The call of a motion now to adjourn debate represents an attempt to prevent the consideration of a resolution on procedural grounds. The calling of such a motion aims at denying the Members States of the United Nations their sovereign right to bring before the General Assembly any concern that they themselves deem to merit its attention, and limiting the agenda of the General Assembly.

Further, the Third Committee already voted upon the same motion and decided not to adopt it. Accordingly, the Third Committee has already considered - on its merits - the resolution on the situation of human rights in Belarus, and deemed it worthy of adoption. A No Action Motion on this resolution in the Plenary meeting of the General Assembly is therefore a vote of no confidence in the Third Committee. It undermines that body.

Madame President,

It is an important matter of principle for the European Union to vote against any motion to close the debate on an item under discussion, even more so in the Plenary meeting of the General Assembly. The calling of this motion is clearly aimed at preventing the United Nations from dealing with the situation of human rights in Belarus. No country – large or small – can be regarded as being beyond or above consideration by international human rights fora. This would run counter to the principles of universality and interdependence of all human rights.

The Third Committee of the General Assembly already addressed the situation of human rights in Belarus, based on the gravity of the situation on the ground. By choosing not to address the situation, we would show callous disregard for the very people whose human rights and fundamental freedoms we have committed ourselves to protecting.

Madame President,

If successful, this motion to adjourn the debate would prevent us from even considering the issues covered in the resolution and already adopted by the Third Committee. This runs not only contrary to the good practice of the General Assembly but also to the spirit of dialogue to which we are all attached. The General Assembly would undermine its own credibility if it remained silent on grave and widespread violations of human rights in situations where the country concerned refuses to cooperate in any meaningful manner with the United Nations human rights system.

The EU strongly urges delegations to vote against this motion to adjourn the debate for reasons of principle, regardless of their voting intentions on the draft resolution on the Situation of human rights in Belarus.

Thank you, Madam President.

* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.