2005.07.29: Cluster III (Human Rights and Rule of Law) of the Revised Draft Outcome Document of the High-level Plenary Meeting of the 60th General Assembly of the United Nations

H.E. Ambassador Shin Kak-soo, Deputy Permanent Representative, at Informal Meeting of the Plenary of the General Assembly

Mr. President,

1. We welcome the emphasis placed on human rights throughout the revised draft. In terms of specifics, we firmly support promoting human rights education, as mentioned in paragraph 100, and recruiting highly competent staff for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, as called for in paragraph 101. We were also pleased to see the inclusion of paragraph 104, which recognizes that women and children need special attention within the human rights agenda.

2. We note, however, that the draft text lacks language on the mainstreaming of human rights in national policies. Paragraph 103 refers only to the mainstreaming of human rights at the level of the United Nations system. We therefore propose that paragraph 103 be reformulated to express the commitment of the leaders of member states to integration of human rights into all areas of policy and the mainstreaming of human rights throughout the UN system.

3. The text pertaining to the responsibility to protect, in paragraph 113, has improved significantly. To further alleviate the concerns expressed by numerous delegations, we might add, after “we recognize our shared responsibility to take collective action”, the phrase “as a last resort”.

4. We support the creation of a Human Rights Council, as we have said many times, and we commend the President for elaborating on its modalities, mandate and size. We are generally quite supportive of the revised text, which we see as much richer and more fully elaborated than the previous draft, and we are pleased to see such substantive progress towards making the Human Rights Council a reality. Our comments on this section of the draft outcome document should be taken in the context of our overall appreciation and support.

5. Regarding paragraph 131.A.iv, on the duty of the Human Rights Council to evaluate the fulfilment by all states of their human rights obligations, we feel that the practicality of a peer review system for every member state should be carefully studied before we commit to it.

6. To ensure that the Human Rights Council is widely representative but not unwieldy, we suggested that the Council be of medium size. As such, we support the President’s suggestion in paragraph 131.B that the Council include between 30 and 50 members. Another positive development, which we recommended in the previous consultation, is the incorporation into the criteria for Council membership of a proper consideration of each member state’s commitment to human rights.

7. My government also agrees with the principle of equitable geographical representation and election by a two-thirds majority of the General Assembly. The text of paragraph 131.B should, however, be amended to clarify whether this would be a two-thirds majority of those present and voting or of all member states.

8. We support paragraph 131.C, as we firmly believe that member states elected to the Council must continue to demonstrate throughout their tenure their commitment to uphold the principles and abide by the standards of human rights. To ensure that this is the case, my government supports the evaluation of the human rights standards of those states elected to the Human Rights Council, as this will bring a higher standard of conduct to the Council and improve the responsibility of its members. However, we believe further refinement is needed to make such evaluations functional, particularly in two respects: how we will develop a review mechanism that is practicable and acceptable to all, and how we will deal with the results of this evaluative process.

9. We also find it encouraging that the President has, in paragraph 132, proposed a specific date and a timeline for our work to establish a Human Rights Council. However, we wonder whether it is feasible to finalize all details of the Council before the end of this year.

Thank you.