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SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 39th MEETING
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Monday, 15 April 2002, at 10 a.m.
Chairperson : Mr. JAKUBOWSKI (Poland)
ARAB TERRITORIES, INCLUDING PALESTINE ( continued)
RACISM, RACIAL DISCRIMINATION, XENOPHOBIA AND ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION (continued)
STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER OF ROMANIA
STATEMENT BY THE DEPUTY MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF AZERBAIJAN
STATEMENT BY THE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR-GENERAL FOR CULTURE OF THE
UNITED NATIONS EDUCATIONAL, SCIENTIFIC AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATION
Draft resolution on the question of the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine (E/CN.4/2002/L.16)
1. Mr. ADIYIA (Secretariat) said that, although paragraph 23 of the draft resolution requested the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967 to follow up the implementation of the recommendations made in the reports of the High Commissioner and of the Human Rights Inquiry Commission, such matters were considered to be part of the Special Rapporteur’s ongoing activities, provision for which had been made in the programme budget for 2002-2003. Approval of the draft resolution would thus imply no additional budget appropriation.
2. Ms. GERVAIS-VIDRICAIRE (Canada), speaking in explanation of vote before the voting, said that her delegation was deeply concerned about the human rights situation in the Palestinian territories but the text of the draft resolution contained numerous examples of inflammatory language which contributed nothing to efforts to ensure that human rights were fully respected by all sides. The singling out of one party, especially in the current circumstances, did not contribute to efforts to put an end to the conflict or to bring the parties closer to peace.
3. The failure of the draft resolution to condemn all acts of terrorism, particularly in the context of recent suicide bombings targeting civilians, was a serious oversight which rendered it fundamentally unacceptable; there could be no justification for terrorist acts. Furthermore, the draft resolution contained a long operative paragraph on Israeli settlements (para. 6), an issue on which there was already a separate resolution, which her delegation had supported. Consequently, her delegation would vote against the draft resolution since it did not provide a balanced assessment of the situation.
4. Mr. LEWALTER (Germany), having expressed deep concern at the serious human rights and humanitarian situation in the occupied territories and the continuing violence which had resulted in a high number of deaths and injuries, mostly among Palestinians, said he was particularly worried by the recent escalation of violence, especially the large-scale incursion by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) into Palestinian-ruled territory. His delegation reiterated its call for the immediate withdrawal of the Israeli army from the occupied territories and for an immediate cessation of all acts of violence, including acts of terror, provocation, incitement and destruction. It also urged the immediate implementation of Security Council resolutions 1397 (2002), 1402 (2002) and 1403 (2002).
5. While his delegation supported many of the concerns expressed in the draft resolution, it regretted that it was unable to support it because the text contained language that might be interpreted as an endorsement of violence. Furthermore, there was no condemnation of terrorist violence and the draft resolution did not reflect his delegation’s concerns about the human rights record of the Palestinian Authority.
6. He acknowledged the efforts of the main sponsors to accommodate those concerns and reach a consensus, regretted that a final agreement could not be reached, and reiterated his delegation’s strong commitment to the cause of human rights in Palestine.
7. Mr. PEREZ-VILLANUEVA y TOVAR (Spain) said that the crisis of violence and the massive violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in the occupied territories had convinced his delegation to support the draft resolution. He regretted that the sponsors had not taken into account all the concerns expressed by the European Union and that the current text consequently did not enjoy widespread support, which would have sent a strong message to the parties concerned that the entire world demanded an end to the violence.
8. The draft resolution did not in places accurately reflect the situation on the ground and was not technically correct. It was regrettable that there were no references to the suffering inflicted on the other party to the conflict; nor did it call on all parties to respect human rights unconditionally. He hoped that those deficiencies and errors would not affect the credibility of the draft resolution or prevent it from contributing to an improvement in the situation.
9. Mr. KESSEDJIAN (France) said that the current human rights catastrophe in the occupied territories justified support for the draft resolution and he thanked the sponsors for their efforts to draft a consensus text. His delegation denounced violence and terrorism unequivocally and noted that Security Council resolution 1397 (2002) provided a framework for a political solution to the crisis. It urged a return to dialogue with a view to achieving a just and lasting peace and hoped that the draft resolution would help to improve the situation for those who had to live every day in fear of violence and terror.
10. Mr. ARENALES FORNO (Guatemala) said that, although both the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority were responsible for protecting human rights in the Palestinian territories, the primary responsibility rested with the Palestinian Authority, which had been unable or unwilling to meet its obligations. It was unjust to hold Israel responsible, especially when it was defending itself against acts which the Palestinian Authority should have prevented.
11. The resolution contained no mention of the Palestinian Authority or its responsibilities in the territories under its jurisdiction. It also used unprecedentedly inflammatory language which could only inflame the situation and contributed nothing to a renewal of negotiations. His delegation would therefore vote against the draft resolution.
12. Mr. NEGROTTO CAMBIASO (Italy) said he shared the concerns of the international community about the Middle East situation and stressed that, even in a fight against occupation and for self-determination, international human rights standards must be observed. He deplored the fact that Security Council resolutions 1397 (2002), 1402 (2002) and 1403 (2002) had not been implemented and stressed that no one was above international law.
13. The draft resolution expressed legitimate concerns about the situation in the Middle East and its possible consequences for the region. His own delegation, which had always supported the right to self-determination, was particularly concerned about the situation in the Jenin refugee camp and urged the Government of Israel to respond to the call of the international community.
14. Unfortunately, the language of the draft resolution did not fairly reflect the situation or condemn all human rights violations. It did not express support, either, for the mission of the United States Secretary of State. His delegation therefore felt compelled to abstain.
15. Ms. GLOVER (United Kingdom) said that her Government had made known to the parties its deep concern at the extremely serious human rights and humanitarian situation in the occupied territories and at the continuing violence, which had resulted in a large number of deaths and injuries, mostly among Palestinians. It was particularly concerned at the recent escalation of violence, especially the large-scale incursion by the IDF into Palestinian-ruled territory. It reiterated its call for the immediate withdrawal of the Israeli army, for a ceasefire and for a cessation of all acts of violence, including all acts of terror, provocation, incitement and destruction. It also called for immediate implementation of Security Council resolutions 1397 (2002), 1402 (2002) and 1403 (2002).
16. Although her delegation agreed with many of the concerns expressed in the draft resolution, the text contained language which might be interpreted as endorsing violence and condoning terrorism. The text was not a balanced one; it contained language inappropriate to the Commission and did not refer to the responsibilities of the Palestinian Authority, express clear regret for the civilian casualties on both sides or condemn terrorism. She thus questioned the draft resolution’s ability to have a positive effect on the situation and expressed full support for the peace efforts of the European Union, the United Nations, the Russian Federation and, in particular, the United States Secretary of State.
17. Although she acknowledged the efforts of the main sponsors to accommodate some of her delegation’s concerns, she regretted that a final agreement could not be achieved. She nevertheless reiterated her delegation’s strong commitment to the cause of human rights in the occupied territories.
18. Mr. AKRAM (Pakistan) said that the sponsors of the draft resolution had always remained open to suggestions and that negotiations on its text had been conducted in good faith on the part of all parties. The fact that full agreement on the text had not been possible did not reflect any lack of effort, and he rejected any implication that the sponsors had not done their utmost to achieve a consensus.
19. At the request of the representative of Canada, a recorded vote was taken on the draft resolution.
In favour: Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, France, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierre Leone, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Togo, Uganda, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Zambia.
Against: Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Guatemala, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Abstaining: Burundi, Cameroon, Croatia, Italy, Japan, Poland, Uruguay.
20. The draft resolution was adopted by 40 votes to 5, with 7 abstentions.
21. Mr. MAUTNER-MARKHOF (Austria) said that his delegation had supported the resolution because of its concern at the continuing violence in the occupied territories but it had grave concerns regarding some of the language in the text, particularly in paragraphs 3, 7, 13 and 14. In that connection, he recalled the statement of the Secretary-General which had stressed the need for both parties to protect human rights and observe international humanitarian law as being essential for progress towards a just and comprehensive settlement.
22. Mr. MOLANDER (Sweden) said that his delegation had supported the resolution as an expression of concern at the tragic and urgent situation in the Middle East. The sponsors had, to some extent, taken into account the views expressed by various delegations but the text still contained language which was, to say the least, unfortunate. He regretted that the sponsors had not been prepared to accept further improvements in the text, such as the introduction of a condemnation of all acts of terror and terrorism.
23. Mr. SABHARWAL (India) said that both Israel and Palestine had the right to live within secure and internationally recognized boundaries. He deplored the tragic situation in the Middle East and the loss of innocent life, which could not be justified. He wished to point out that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action recognized the right of peoples to take only legitimate action to realize their right of self-determination. His delegation, which supported Security Council resolutions 1397 (2002), 1402 (2002) and 1403 (2002) called on all parties to exercise restraint with a view to restoring confidence and preparing the way for negotiations. The Commission should bear those goals in mind when considering any further action.
24. Mr. MENDOÇA E MOURA (Portugal) said that his delegation had supported the resolution because of its extreme concern at the human rights situation and the increasing violence in the occupied territories, particularly the armed Israeli incursion into Palestinian controlled territory. It nevertheless disagreed with some of the language and emphasis in the text and regretted that the sponsors had not been more open to suggested changes.
25. His delegation condemned all violence including suicide bombings and, recalling the statement by the Secretary-General, said that the killing of innocent civilians violated humanitarian law and only undermined the cause of those responsible.
26. Mr. NOIRFALISSE (Belgium) said that, given the gravity of the situation in the Middle East, his delegation had felt compelled to support the resolution despite some inadequacies in its text. The vote should be seen as a rejection of violence, a call for respect for international law and Security Council resolutions and an appeal for a return to peace in the region.
27. Mr. SALLOUM (Syrian Arab Republic) said that the large majority in favour of the resolution reflected the seriousness of the situation in the occupied territories and the need for Israel to put an end to its flagrant violation of human rights, including its policy of assassination and its siege of the Palestinian Authority. Even those delegations which had abstained or voted against the resolution had, in their explanations of vote, expressed their concern about the grave violations by Israel. Israel still refused to allow access by international humanitarian organizations and he called for a full implementation of the resolution and an immediate mission to the region by the High Commissioner.