The 3rd GA: from Controversies to Consensus
Text: Ksenya Shnayder
At long last we got an opportunity to familiarize with two drafts, which were drawn up by the honorable delegates on the previous day. The third session in the 3rd GA began with presentation of both resolutions.
Rouse Timothy, the distinguished delegate of Venezuela, read out the first “working paper”, sponsored primarily by the Muslim countries. The Social and Humanitarian Committee, as they named themselves, emphasized that the religious discrimination insults human dignity. Venezuela also impelled to recall the Durban Declaration and Program of Action, adopted by the World Conference against Racism, Racial discrimination and Xenophobia.
The Social and Humanitarian Committee is concerned about the prevalence of phobias, prejudices, and discriminating acts that defame both religions and the faithful. The Committee’s representative urged other nations to implement a legislation allowing the operation of various religious civil court systems in accordance to certain beliefs. They also emphasized the important role of education and media in combating the defamation of religions and breaking the stereotypes. The Committee also underlined that is it essential to promote a dialogue between nations as well as individuals and groups of individuals.
The second draft was presented by the honorable delegates of China (Karimova Polina) and Portugal (María Pilar). The resolution contained such points as to concentrate on promoting and encouraging universal respect for all the human rights and fundamental freedoms; to recall the proclamation of the Global Agenda for Dialogue among civilizations; to approvethe launch of the Alliance of Civilizations initiative, intended to promote mutual tolerance and understanding among different cultures and societies, etc. As the previous speaker, they underlined the role of media and education in spreading the knowledge about religions. Moreover, neither print nor electronic (or digital) media should be used to incite to intolerance, violence and xenophobia. Besides, they proclaimed the necessity to change the focus of the discussion from “combating defamation of religions” to “combating incitement to religious hatred”.
Two members of this coalition — Great Britain (Kishiyeva Lala) and France (Atayeva Jennet) – stressed that their project focuses “on individual rights rather than on protection of religions”. “Showing respect to individuals is the main concept, — consider the delegates. — We initially need to make domestic steps and afterwards reach international frontiers”. However the distinguished delegated of Japan (Zambrano Dávila María) and Venezuela (Rouse Timothy) criticises this working paper: “The resolution is just nothing! It contains no actual measures and offers nothing! In comparison we have a better working paper”.
The wrangle between two coalition was stopped by the honorable delegate of Japan, who interfere in the discussion with a peacemaking appeal: “We came here to find compromise! We need to work together instead of criticizing each other! We should try to be kind and cooperative!”
Finally, the distinguished delegates started voting for or against each project. Unfortunately, both working papers failed. The audience burst into applause. If only one more delegate had voted for the second project it would have been adopted.
Taking into account this failure, the delegates decided to discuss all the points once again and to introduce a joint resolution. They selected the conciliation commission, which consisted of Egypt, the UAE, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, the USA, Great Britain, France, China and Portugal.
Eventually, the GA 3rd Committee managed to come to agreement and, to everybody’s delight, accepted the final version by an absolute majority.