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The meeting was called to order at 3 p.m.
Scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations
Letter dated 16 October 2003 from the Secretary-General to the President of the General Assembly (A/58/440)
The Acting President: Before proceeding to the items for this meeting, I should like to invite the attention of the General Assembly to document A/58/440. It contains a letter from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the General Assembly, in which he informs the Assembly that 12 Member States are in arrears in the payment of their financial contributions to the United Nations under the terms of Article 19 of the Charter.
I should like to remind delegations that, under Article 19 of the Charter, a Member of the United Nations which is in arrears in the payment of its financial contributions to the Organization shall have no vote in the General Assembly if the amount of its arrears equals or exceeds the amount of the contributions due from it for the preceding two full years.
May I take it that the General Assembly duly takes note of the information contained in document A/58/440?
It was so decided.
Agenda item 56 (continued )
Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters
Mr. Hiraj (Pakistan): ...
The apprehensions of the Member States were soon confirmed when those with the veto power made use of it, not for collective peace and security, but for their own national interests. During the cold war, such use of the veto led to the virtual paralysis of the Security Council. Consequently, some issues — issues that are as old as the United Nations itself — are still awaiting resolution, such as those affecting the people of Palestine and Kashmir.
The President: I call on the observer of Palestine.
Mr. Al-Kidwa (Palestine) (spoke in Arabic): At the outset, I should like to condemn the criminal aggression committed three days ago against a group of American citizens on a journey to Gaza, which led to the deaths of three people. The Palestinian leadership and Authority, while condemning such acts categorically, will make every effort to arrest the criminals and bring them to justice. I should also like to extend my condolences to the families of the victims and the United States Administration.
We speak today as the owners of the cause that has, perhaps, been considered more often by the Security Council than any other. We can therefore say that we have a realistic and practical understanding of the Security Council’s work and its effectiveness, its working methods and the need for change in its composition.
With regard to its effectiveness, if we use the success of the Council’s work in the Middle East and the Palestinian question as a yardstick, we can say that the Council has had none whatsoever. It has failed entirely in discharging its duties in the maintenance of international peace and security. It has failed, first, because of the repeated use of the veto by one of its permanent members; to be precise, 27 vetoes have been exercised against draft resolutions on the Palestinian issue since 1976. The most recent of these came only three days ago on the question of the wall that could end any chance for peace between the Palestinian and Israeli sides.
The Security Council has failed, secondly, because of its inability to follow up on the implementation of its resolutions and to challenge their violation. Not one of the 37 resolutions on the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories has been implemented. Each has been violated in its entirety and with the imposition of long-term, dangerous and illegal changes in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, despite the adoption of new such resolutions and international law. Effectiveness was lacking in this case, primarily because of the unrestricted use of the veto.
The request to abolish the veto power may be deemed unrealistic, but its undefined and unlimited use cannot continue. If it does continue, the Security Council will not be able to assume its duty under the Charter. The most simple beginning in this respect is an interpretation of paragraph 3 of Article 27 of the Charter, which states that a permanent member that is a party to a dispute should abstain from voting in decisions under Chapter VI of the Charter. The question here is, when is a permanent member considered to be a party to a given dispute? Would the use of the veto a specified number of times be sufficient cause for the application of Article 27? We believe so, because there is no other way to explain the great number of vetoes by the same member on the same issue.
We believe that the issue of the Security Council’s working methods is no less important than that of the Council’s composition. The situation is, quite frankly, catastrophic. The Council works in quasi-secrecy, most often in closed meetings, while the rest of the United Nations membership and the parties concerned are not even allowed to listen. Moreover, the Council works in an unclear, imprecise and provisional manner owing to the lack of permanent rules of procedure. Naturally, that benefits the large Powers at the expense of the general membership of the United Nations.
With respect to the Council’s composition, we agree, of course, with all that has been said about the need to expand both the permanent and non-permanent categories of the Council’s membership in order to reflect more faithfully the composition of the United Nations. Our humble opinion in that respect is that the issue of agreement on the expansion of the permanent membership is important and should not be left unresolved. Until it is resolved, agreement on other important and urgent issues will not be reached, including the Council’s working methods and limits and restrictions on the veto power.
We commend the position taken by the Secretary-General in his calls for radical change and reform of the Organization and on the need to give priority to the Security Council’s reform. We agree with the Secretary-General.
The President : We have heard the last speaker in the debate on this item. One representative has requested to exercise the right of reply. May I remind Members that statements in the exercise of the right of reply are limited to ten minutes for the first intervention and to five minutes for the second intervention and should be made by delegations from their seats.
Mr. Shacham (Israel): The Palestinian Observer just spent a lot of time in his statement blaming others for his failure to advance his goals in the Security Council. He blamed the Security Council’s working methods. He blamed a permanent member of the Council that has done more to support the cause of peace than any other State. Indeed, the Palestinian Observer is indignant that the Security Council would not swallow whole the Palestinian portrayal of the conflict as black and white, as victim and villain, rather than as a conflict involving two peoples, each with rights and responsibilities.
Israel is ready and willing to meet its responsibilities and has proven this with concrete action. Yet, we are still looking for a Palestinian partner ready to do the same and, in particular, to fulfil its fundamental responsibility to end terrorism. Every delegate who cares to know, knows the truth fully and understands that the reason the Security Council did not adopt the latest Palestinian draft resolution three days ago was simply because the Palestinian side refused to negotiate a fair and balanced text that would refer not only to Israeli responsibilities but to Palestinian responsibilities as well.
The Palestinian Observer Mission apparently expected the Council to blindly embrace its partisan draft. Yet, when five members, including two permanent members, would not, or could not, submit to this Palestinian diktat, indignant Palestinian outrage was the result. That Security Council members should have the audacity to suggest that the text should include a clear condemnation of terrorism and a call for the fulfilment of Palestinian obligations was just too much of an affront for the Palestinian Observer Mission to bear. The Palestinian Observer remains indignant. Alas, he is incensed. Indeed, what is the relevance of the fact that he considers it unacceptable that a resolution should condemn the murder of innocent civilians by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and call for their dismantlement? That such counter-terrorist action is clearly required by the United Nations-backed road map and insisted upon by Security Council members is of no consequence to him.
Thus, it is this refusal of the Security Council to swallow whole the warped presentation of the Palestinian Observer Mission that constitutes sufficient cause to call yet again for the convening of the emergency special session of the General Assembly so that we can, yet again, have an opportunity to spend more time listening and considering how everyone but the Palestinian side is responsible for the present predicament and to produce, yet again, another resolution enshrining Palestinian entitlement, while ignoring Palestinian obligations and, yet again, to cast Israel alone as the villain and the Palestinians alone as the victims.
Perhaps the Palestinian Observer should stop for once looking for someone else to blame and stop for once this charade in which lofty rhetoric produces base, distorted resolutions that serve only to mask the fact that the Palestinian leadership refuses to do the one thing that is required of it: to fight terrorism.
Mr. Al-Kidwa (Palestine) (spoke in Arabic): We have just heard an intervention from someone who I am not sure is normal — I am not sure whether he was talking about the issue under consideration by the General Assembly, the issue I spoke on a few moments ago. Maybe this representative has a prepared statement, written previously, that he can deliver anywhere at any time, irrespective of the issue under consideration.
We have submitted some facts and I have not heard any contradiction of these facts. The Security Council has adopted 37 resolutions concerning the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, that are among 73 resolutions on the different aspects of the question of Palestine. This is in addition to Security Council resolutions regarding other aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict. None of these resolutions have been heeded by Israel, the occupying Power. An additional fact is that since 1976, a permanent member of the Security Council used the right of veto 27 times on draft resolutions submitted by Palestine. This number does not include other vetoes concerning other aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict. A third fact is that no other permanent member exercised its right of veto on any of these resolutions. These facts have nothing to do with the political hallucination uttered by the representative of Israel a few moments ago.
The President : The Assembly has thus concluded this stage of its consideration of agenda item 56.
The meeting rose at 4.40 p.m.
This record contains the text of speeches delivered in English and of the interpretation of speeches delivered in the other languages. Corrections should be submitted to the original languages only. They should be incorporated in a copy of the record and sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned to the Chief of the Verbatim Reporting Service, room C-154A. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.