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SUMMARY RECORD OF THE FIRST PART (PUBLIC) OF THE 27th MEETING
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Friday, 5 April 2002, at 10.25 a.m.
Chairperson: Mr. JAKUBOWSKI (Poland)
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF ESTONIA
1. The CHAIRPERSON said that the Expanded Bureau recommended that a Special Sitting of the Commission should be held that afternoon to consider the statement by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.
2. Ms. GERVAIS-VIDRICAIRE (Canada) said that her delegation had serious concerns regarding the proposal and seriously questioned the utility of holding a Special Sitting on the issue under agenda items 5 and 8. Not only had everyone already had a chance to make their views known but the Security Council had debated the issue at length over the previous two days and passed resolution 1403 (2002). It was also necessary to consider the time factor and the fact that the Commission was already falling behind schedule.
3. Despite its serious concerns, her delegation would not block approval of the Bureau’s proposal but sincerely hoped that all participants would use the time constructively and not further inflame an already grave and complex situation. The delegations of the United States of America and Australia wished to associate themselves with her statement.
4. Mr. AKRAM (Pakistan) said that, while he welcomed the proposal to hold a Special Sitting, he felt that the time allocated was insufficient to discuss a situation of great importance which was escalating on a daily basis. The Commission’s objective must be to try to find a balanced set of words that would promote respect for human rights rather than inflame the situation.
5. Mr. ARENALES FORNO (Guatemala) said that an additional debate would only complicate an already complex issue and would not promote the cessation of violence or the recommencement of negotiations. A Special Sitting would only lead to further inflammatory accusations and would do nothing to promote negotiations or peace for the benefit of the Palestinian and Israeli populations. His delegation’s fears had already been confirmed the previous day when a draft resolution had been submitted by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). That draft resolution on agenda item 4, like the five other draft resolutions, took the elements of the conflict out of context and ignored the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority. He hoped that, if the Special Sitting went ahead, it would not impede the implementation of the Security Council resolutions or the peace initiatives launched by certain States.
6. Mr. RAMLAWI (Observer for Palestine), having thanked the Chairperson and the Expanded Bureau for the proposal, said that the Commission’s work was based on the principles of human rights and it was therefore surprising to hear representatives say that consideration of the matter would not help to achieve peace or to stop violence. The Commission, which represented the conscience of the world community, was surely the correct forum for a debate on the High Commissioner’s statement. If it was not, then it was difficult to see where and when violations of human rights could be considered. If the Commission really wanted to see peace in the region then it needed to consider the reasons for the absence of peace - the violence and terrorism being committed against the Palestinian people who had no army and no tanks with which to resist. Peace was possible, but would come about only if Israel wanted it.
7. The CHAIRPERSON said that, if he heard no objection, he would take it that the Commission wished to hold a Special Sitting at 3 p.m. that afternoon.
8. It was so decided.