L’Assemblée générale autorise l’État de Palestine et le Saint-Siège à hisser leurs drapeaux aux Nations Unies en tant qu’États non membres observateurs - Communiqué de presse (extraits) Français
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10 September 2015
State of Palestine Flag to Fly at United Nations Headquarters, Offices
as General Assembly Adopts Resolution on Non-Member Observer States
Sixty-ninth General Assembly,
102nd Meeting (PM)
Amidst heated debates about the political value of symbolic gestures, the General Assembly today adopted five resolutions on a wide range of topics, including the raising of flags by non-member observer States at the United Nations and debt restructuring.
The world body adopted the resolution on raising the flags of non-member observer States at the United Nations (document A/69/L.76) by a recorded vote of 119 in favour to 8 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Tuvalu, United States), with 45 abstentions. By the terms of that text, the General Assembly decided that the flags of non-member observer States maintaining permanent observer missions at Headquarters shall be raised at Headquarters and United Nations offices following the flags of the Members States of the Organization.
In a discussion that began before the adoption and continued afterwards, delegates considered various aspects of the resolution. Calling it “a historic vote”, the observer of the State of Palestine said that the General Assembly had sent an important message to the Palestinian people at a critical time. While raising the flag would not end the occupation, it would signify to Palestinian people everywhere that the international community supported them.
Israel’s representative called the resolution a photo opportunity, cautioning that as long as the Palestinians believed they could achieve their political goals without making concessions, they would continue to avoid taking the difficult decisions needed for peace. Instead, he said, the photo truly worth taking was one of an Israeli Prime Minister and a Palestinian leader raising the flags of the two peoples living together in peace.
Many speakers stressed that the focus needed to be on a return to meaningful negotiations between Israel and Palestine. Germany’s delegate cautioned against changing an established practice while the representative of Austria reminded the Assembly that many current Member States had had to wait till they ascended to full member status before their flag was raised at the United Nations. Bolivia’s speaker said that although the vote was symbolic, symbols were important and the Palestinian flag would be a reminder of occupation and injustice.
Next, the Assembly turned to a draft resolution on “raising the flags of non-member observer States at the United Nations” (document A/69/L.87/Rev.1).
Introducing that text, the representative of Iraq said that his country, as the President of the Arab Group for the month of September, was honoured to introduce a text that had been guided by the principles of the Charter while emphasizing the equality of all States, large and small. Recalling that the State of Palestine had obtained the status of a non-member observer State in 2012, he urged Member States to lend their full support to the resolution because it was an important step towards supporting the Palestinian people, their right to self-determination and their need to take the place that was due to them.
Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, Germany’s delegate said that the adoption of the resolution would change an uncontested practice in the United Nations. Germany was unaware of any compelling reason to justify changing an established practice and would abstain on voting on the text. Further, his country firmly believed in a negotiated two-State solution and had actively worked towards that end for years, he said, calling on both sides to engage in serious negotiations without further delay.
The speaker from Austria said the display of flags was always associated with a full membership in the United Nations and reminded the Assembly that the decision taken today would also apply to future observer States. Many current Member States had had to wait until they ascended to full member status before their flag was raised at the United Nations. While Austria would abstain from voting on the resolution, that did not affect its support for Palestine’s State-building efforts. The focus needed to be on a return to meaningful negotiations.
The delegate from the United States stated that her country had long been committed to achieving the peace that Palestinians and Israelis deserved. A sustainable and just resolution to the conflict would be reached only through compromise negotiated by the parties. Raising the flag was not an alternative and would not bring the parties closer to peace. Therefore the United States would vote against the resolution, but that was not a vote for the status quo.
The Assembly then adopted that text by a recorded vote of 119 in favour to 8 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Tuvalu, United States), with 45 abstentions.
Speaking after the vote, Israel’s representative said the goal of the resolution was a photo opportunity, pursued in contravention of all the established rules and procedures of the United Nations. No vote could turn an empty symbolic gesture into a State, he said. As long as the Palestinians believed they could achieve their political goals without making concessions, they would continue to avoid taking the difficult decisions needed for peace. The vote today may serve the interests of Palestinian leaders, but would not help the Palestinian people. The photo of an Israeli Prime Minister and a Palestinian leader raising the flags of the two peoples living together in peace would be one truly worth taking.
The delegate from Poland said his country had voted in favour of the resolution, considering it a technical issue relating to the flag. The vote had no bearing on his country’s position on the Middle East peace process. Poland firmly believed that the only way to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was through direct negotiations.
Also speaking in explanation of vote after vote, the France’s delegate said his delegation had voted in favour of the resolution because it was a vote for the two-State solution. France had always supported the enhancement of Palestinian status and had voted for Palestine’s membership in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and in favour of giving Palestine non-member observer State status. Raising the flag was a new stage on that path, he said, reiterating his country’s support in Israel’s right to live in peace. “This vote is symbolic but symbols are important in politics,” he said, calling the flag an emblem of hope. The only solution to the conflict was the establishment of an independent and viable Palestinian State living side by side with Israel.
The representative of Spain said his country’s vote in favour of the text should not be interpreted as recognizing Palestine as a State. That must happen within the framework of a peace process in the Middle East, which guaranteed the security of all parties.
The speaker from Guatemala reiterated support for Palestine as a free and sovereign State. Preferring that the resolution had been discussed by the entire membership, Guatemala had abstained from voting based on procedural reasons.
Sweden’s delegate stated that his country’s favourable vote for the text recognized that it was a natural step in Palestinian State-building efforts. Sweden had also recognized Palestine as a State. The situation on the ground had worsened and Sweden hoped that by adopting this resolution, the General Assembly would send forth a tiny ripple of hope to the young people in the region, Israeli and Palestinian, that peace was possible.
The representative of Azerbaijan said his delegation voted in favour of the resolution because the initiative was a reflection of the legitimate will of the State of Palestine to become a full-fledged member of the United Nations. Azerbaijan remained committed to a two-State solution that would bring peace and stability to the Middle East.
Finland’s speaker said his delegation had abstained from voting on the resolution in its belief in the prevailing international practice of only full members of any organization enjoying the right to fly their flag there.
The representative of the Netherlands said his country was not convinced of the arguments in favour of changing the flag code in the United Nations. The Netherlands remained in favour of a two-State solution and was committed to a just and lasting peace in the Middle East, including through a new format for negotiations including the European Union and Arab States.
The delegate from Cyprus said his country’s abstention had stemmed from the situation prevailing in the country as well as its conviction that only full members of the United Nations should fly their flags on the Organization’s premises.
The speaker from the Czech Republic said his country firmly believed that only full members of were entitled to fly their flags at the United Nations, a practice espoused by all international organizations. For that reason, his country had abstained from voting.
Iceland’s speaker said that in 2011, his country had recognized Palestine as an independent State. Iceland would like to see Palestine become a Member State of the United Nations as soon as possible. Flying a flag was not a substitute for membership, but it would underline the role of Palestine in the United Nations.
The United Kingdom’s delegate stated that his delegation had abstained because there were no compelling reasons to change the established practice of flying only the flags of Member States at the United Nations. The worsening situation on the ground in the Occupied Palestinian Territory was a matter of concern. A negotiated two-State solution was the only way to peace.
The representative of South Africa said that his country’s long and principled support for the Palestinian people was informed by its own struggle for human rights and self-determination. The resilience of the Palestinian people had brought them closer to their cherished goals.
The speaker from Norway said that the resolution constituted a precedent that contributed to erasing the difference between members and non-members and hence Norway had abstained. But that was not a change in Norway’s position of support to Palestine as a non-member observer State. A comprehensive and lasting peace would only be achieved on the basis of a negotiated solution between both parties.
Making a statement after the adoption, Venezuela’s delegate said that “this was an afternoon of justice” with the adoption of the resolutions on debt restructuring and on raising the Palestinian flag. The Assembly had not just voted in favour of raising the flag, it had also voted for the right of the Palestinian people to return to their territory and the right not to be slaughtered. Venezuela was sending a “warm hug” to the people of Palestine and wished for true peace for them.
The representative of Argentina said the only people who could decide on the existence of a Palestinian State were the Palestinian people themselves. Argentina would have preferred to be voting today to include Palestine as a full-fledged Member State of the United Nations, but the Organization still needed reforms before that could happen. Therefore his country was happy to vote to include the Palestinian flag in front of this building. Since the Holy See would also be included in the flags, he added, he wished to quote Pope Francis, who called on the international community to “destroy all walls and build bridges”.
The speaker from Iraq, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, thanked delegations that voted for the historic resolution and congratulated the Palestinian people and Government. Although symbolic, the resolution took Palestinian statehood a significant step closer to reality. The resolution, based on strong legal ground, sent a message to Israel that the international community was opposed to its occupation and siege of Palestine.
Turkey’s delegate said the Assembly had taken a historic decision against the injustice that had been perpetrated on the Palestinian people. It also had taken Palestine closer to statehood. Turkey looked forward to the day when the flag of Palestine would fly at the United Nations as a full member.
The representative of Iran said the large number of co-sponsors of the resolution and the large number of votes it had received underscored the support the cause of Palestine enjoyed in the international community. He expressed hope that the Palestinians’ aspirations for full independence would soon be realized.
Lebanon’s speaker said that while the vote today represented a great achievement, it also placed an obligation on the international community to redouble efforts to ensure that Palestine became a full member of the Organization.
The delegate from Bolivia said that although the vote was symbolic, symbols nevertheless had great importance. The Palestinian flag reminded the world of occupation, deaths, injuries, suffering, deprivation and injustice. It also was a reminder that the international community had failed to fully discharge its obligation of providing statehood to the Palestinian people.
The observer of the Holy See said that his delegation had always respected the 70-year tradition of flying only the flags of United Nations Member States. The Holy See was not opposed to the introduction of the resolution in accordance with the rules of the General Assembly and respected what the General Assembly had just decided. Finally, the Holy See wished to reiterate its position on the issue and called on the international community to work towards Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace.
The observer of the State of Palestine thanked all Member States who had participated in favour of “this historic vote”, which confirmed the long-standing principled position of the international community in support of a just and peaceful solution to the plight of the people of Palestine. The General Assembly had sent an important message to the Palestinian people at a critical time. After half a century of occupation, with 5 million Palestinian refugees in camps, hopelessness was rising. Therefore, his delegation was grateful that the General Assembly had listened to the appeal of the Palestinian people to fly their flag at the United Nations.
The General Assembly’s adoption of the resolution, he added, would restore hope as the people of Palestine continued on the peaceful, non-violent and legal path they had chosen to secure Palestine’s rightful place among the community of nations. Today’s vote was also a contribution to international efforts to salvage the two-State solution, which had been gravely damaged by the occupying Power. The Security Council must not remain paralysed anymore and should uphold its obligations. Raising the flag would not end the occupation or solve the conflict immediately. But it would signify to Palestinian people everywhere who were watching tonight that the international community supported them. Speaking directly to the people watching, he expressed the hope that on the day the Palestinian flag would be raised in the United Nations, the flag would also be raised in “your homes, schools, shops, universities, farms” and everywhere appropriate.
For information media. Not an official record.