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In UN Rights Com'te, Syria, Iran and N. Korea Resolutions Pass Amid Complaints & Quibbles

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 19 -- When the annual Syria human rights resolution was taken up in the UN General Assembly's Third Committee on November 19, Saudi Arabia's new draft had some wrinkles, including citing Iran's IRG and Al Quds Force. Several countries, even some which voted “yes” on the resolution, said they were uncomfortable with this, that it is a bad precedent, and is more politics than human rights. This last was Switzerland; Japan said it was not comfortable with the reference to the IRG and Quds Force, but voted yes.

  Lebanon's Nawaf Salam said he had abstained, and pointed out that Hezbollah is in the parliament, and has a role with regard to Israel. Canada spoke up to say the resolution should have condemn all uses of chlorine gas, not only “indiscriminate” use.

  The final vote was 115 yes, 15 no and 51 abstaining. But before the vote, the Permanent Representatives of Syria and Saudi Arabia traded speeches. Syria's Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari mocked the Saudi-drafted paragraph about participation by women, and questioned a quotation of UN enovy Staffan de Mistura that most death are caused by aerial bombardment.

  Earlier on November 19, after a briefing to the General Assembly that was inexplicably closed to the press and public -- previous such briefings, under previous Presidents of the GA, have been open -- de Mistura took three questions from reporters. As selected by the PGA's spokesperson, there were Kurdish media, AP and the New York Times. Inner City Press' shouted out questions, why was this meeting closed, was not answered. At the day's noon briefing, Inner City Press asked, transcript here:

Inner City Press: The meeting that's being held on Syria, the meeting by Mr. de Mistura, I'm just going to ask why it's closed.  I'm thinking you might say because it's an informal meeting.  Then I'm going to say previous informals were open, like when Kofi Annan as envoy briefed under previous PGA; who makes the decision?

Spokesman Dujarric:  That's a question for the organizers of the meeting.

Inner City Press:  Unless, of course, did Mr. de Mistura make the request?  I’m asking.

Spokesman Dujarric:  I'm not aware that he did.

  But the question was not answered. The North Korea resolution passed 112 yes, 19 no and 50 abstaining. Iran got more support: 76 yes, 35 no and 68 abstaining. We'll have more on these.


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