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        General Assembly
6 November 1998

Original: FRENCH

General Assembly
Fifty-third session
Official Records

Third Committee
Summary record of the 37th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Friday, 6 November 1998, at 3 p.m.

Chairman: Mr. Ball .............................. (New Zealand)


Agenda item 110: Human rights questions (continued)

(b) Human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms (continued)

(c) Human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives (continued)

(e) Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (continued)

Agenda item 109: Right of peoples to self-determination (continued)

The meeting was called to order at 10.15 a.m.

(e) Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (continued) (A/53/36)


57. Mr. Strohal (Austria), ...


61. The European Union, which endorsed the position stated by the Human Rights Committee and shared by an increasing number of States, was endeavouring to promote the universal abolition of the death penalty. Where the death penalty still existed, the Union called on countries which had not abolished it, to limit its use and to respect international minimum standards. The Union had intervened to protect a number of persons condemned to death and had explained its policy on capital punishment to the representatives of several Governments, in particular the Bahamas, China, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Jamaica, the Palestinian Authority, St. Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States. It deeply regretted the execution of 24 soldiers who had taken part in the coup d’état in Sierra Leone; in that connection, it hoped that the recent decision by the Government of Equatorial Guinea to commute to life imprisonment the death sentence imposed on 15 members of the Bubi tribe would serve as an example for other countries.


70. The European Union deplored the human rights situation in several countries of the Middle East. In Iraq, the policy of repression and oppression continued, there were extrajudicial executions and torture, and the Government was not cooperating with the Special Rapporteur. In Saudi Arabia, a country which was a party to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, there were still reports of torture and other inhumane treatment; there was a lack of transparency and of essential safeguards in judicial proceedings, and the Vienna Convention was not respected. The European Union remained very concerned about the situation of women in Saudi Arabia; also, despite some progress, freedom of religion was still limited. The European Union called upon Saudi Arabia to strengthen its cooperation with United Nations bodies and to consider ratifying the two Covenants and other major human rights treaties. In Israel, interrogators continued to use methods that were tantamount to torture, and illegal land confiscation and destruction of Palestinian homes continued. There were also reports of human rights violations by the Palestinian authorities, including arrests, detention without trial and torture.


Agenda item 109: Right of peoples to self-determination (continued) (A/C.3/53/L.17 and L.26*)

Draft resolution A/C.3/53/L.26

98. Mr. Mekhemar (Egypt), introducing draft resolution A/C.3/53/L.26* [entitled “The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination], announced that Liechtenstein, Suriname and the United Republic of Tanzania had joined the sponsors and pointed out that the draft resolution was substantially identical to the draft resolution on that subject submitted during the fifty-second session save that a fourth preambular paragraph had been added to take account of the difficulties that had been encountered in the Middle East peace process and in the first operative paragraph, it was stated that the option of a Palestinian State was not excluded. However, the main new feature of the text before the Committee was that Palestine was listed as a sponsor. That was a major step forward and congratulations were due to Palestine and thanks to the sponsors and co-sponsors of the draft resolution.


The meeting rose at 1.05 p.m.

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