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UNITED
NATIONS

Distr.
GENERAL
E/CN.4/2000/SR.52
17 April 2000

Original: ENGLISH

COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

Fifty-sixth session

SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 52nd MEETING

Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Monday 17 April 2000, at 10 a.m.


Chairman:
Mr. SIMKHADA
(Nepal)



CONTENTS

QUESTION OF THE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE OCCUPIED ARAB TERRITORIES, INCLUDING PALESTINE (continued)

ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS (continued)

PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS:
(a) STATUS OF THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS
(b) HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
(c) INFORMATION AND EDUCATION
(d) SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENT (continued)


The meeting was called to order at 10.20 a.m.


QUESTION OF THE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE OCCUPIED ARAB TERRITORIES, INCLUDING PALESTINE (agenda item 8) (continued)
(E/CN.4/2000/L.7-L.9)

Draft resolution on the question of the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine (E/CN.4/2000/L.7)

1. Mr. CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh), introducing the draft resolution on behalf of its sponsors, said that the situation in the occupied territories remained unchanged despite the hopes raised by the agreements concluded in the framework of the peace process. Violations of human rights and international law represented major obstacles to peace. Those problems must be resolved if the people of the region were ever to live in peace together. He therefore felt that the draft resolution could be supported by any ordinary citizen of Israel, and he urged the Commission to support it.

2. Mrs. IZE-CHARRIN (Secretary of the Commission) said that the representative of Pakistan and the observer for South Africa had become sponsors of the draft resolution.

3. Mr. PELEG (Observer for Israel) said that the draft resolution had been introduced for political purposes and had nothing to do with the human rights issues of concern to the Commission. It was intended to predetermine the outcome of the permanent status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and did no service to that process. All States genuinely interested in human rights in the Middle East should have accepted the approaches made to them suggesting a change in the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967. Some 99 per cent of Palestinians lived under the control of the Palestinian Authority, and the draft resolution therefore referred to a mere 1 per cent of Palestinians living under Israeli control. He urged the members of the Commission to recognize the changes that had taken place in the region since 1999, and to demonstrate their support for the peace process by not supporting the draft resolution.

4. Mr. RAMLAWI (Observer for Palestine) said that, while the observer for Israel had said that the draft resolution was introduced for political purposes, every paragraph of it related in fact to violations of human rights and international law perpetrated by Israel in the Arab territories, which remained occupied by Israel in their entirety. In every paragraph of his report on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 (E/CN.4/2000/25), the Special Rapporteur reaffirmed such human rights violations, and no member of the Commission could be unaware of Israel’s conduct in that regard.

5. The peace negotiations covered political, rather than human rights issues, which were the Commission’s concern. The Commission could hardly accede to any request to abandon discussion of human rights violations in the occupied Arab territories while such violations continued. All the indications were that the current negotiations were making no progress, largely because of the arrogance of Israel and its intransigence with regard to its continuing occupation of the territories.

6. As for the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, the Commission had reiterated its belief that the mandate must continue until the Israeli occupation ended.

7. The assertion by the observer for Israel that 99 per cent of Palestinians lived under the control of the Palestinian Authority was completely untrue: Israel still occupied all Palestinian territory and had not withdrawn from one inch of land. Land continued to be annexed and the policy of isolating Palestinian communities, making them into Bantustans, continued to be pursued. All the statements in the draft resolution were nothing more than the truth, and he urged the Commission to vote in favour of it, thereby taking steps to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people and help the parties to reach a just and lasting peace, which could only come about with the total withdrawal of Israel from the occupied territories.

8. Mrs. IZE-CHARRIN (Secretary of the Commission) said that the draft resolution had no programme budget implications.

9. Ms. RUBIN (United States of America), speaking in explanation of vote before the voting, said that her delegation could not support any of the draft resolutions under the agenda item, as it believed that they did nothing to forward the Middle East peace process or human rights in the region. Direct negotiations were the only way towards peace, and the Commission should not try to inject itself into the peace process.

10. Mr. MENDONÇA E MOURA (Portugal), speaking on behalf of the European Union and the associated countries of Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, said that they were unable to support the draft resolution. They were concerned that the draft resolution contained formulations with regard to the occupied territories that were likely to prejudice the outcome of the final status negotiations being held between Israel and the Palestinians. The Union welcomed the positive developments in the Middle East peace process in 1999, and hoped that, in 2000, it would be possible to achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace based on international law and on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978).

11. Serious human rights violations continued in the occupied territories, regardless of the progress achieved in the peace process and the undertakings given by both sides in the interim agreement that they would respect human rights and the rule of law. The Union therefore welcomed the September 1999 decision of the Israeli High Court ruling that the use of moderate physical pressure as an interrogation technique was illegal, and called upon the Government of Israel to implement that ruling. The Union was convinced that any measure that ran counter to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to which Israel was a party, must be banned forever from the practice of the security forces.

12. At the request of the representative of the United States of America, a vote was taken by roll-call on the draft resolution.

13. The Republic of the Congo, having been drawn by lot by the Chairman, was called upon to vote first.

In favour: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Tunisia, Venezuela, Zambia.

Against: United States of America.

Abstaining: Argentina, Canada, Czech Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Spain, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

14. The draft resolution was adopted by 31 votes to 1, with 19 abstentions.

Draft resolution on human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan (E/CN.4/2000/L.8)

15. Mr. AL-HUSSAMI (Observer for the Syrian Arab Republic), introducing the draft resolution on behalf of its sponsors, the list of which should have included the observer for Lebanon, said that the situation in the occupied Syrian Arab Golan was deteriorating as a result of the Israeli occupation. Syria was fully prepared to resume negotiations if Israel repeated the commitments it had made earlier. He hoped that the European Union would be able to support the draft resolution, which emphasized the importance of the peace process. He requested that the draft resolution be put to a vote.

16. Mrs. IZE-CHARRIN (Secretary of the Commission) said she noted that the observer for Lebanon should have been on the original list of sponsors and that the observer for Palestine had also become a sponsor.

17. Mr. PELEG (Observer for Israel) said that the draft resolution, and the next one to be considered also, dealt with subjects currently being discussed in the peace negotiations. His Government hoped to be able to resume direct negotiations with that of the Syrian Arab Republic soon. The issue of settlements would be discussed within the framework of the permanent status negotiations. The draft resolution was an attempt to predetermine the outcome of those negotiations, and he urged the Commission not to support it.

18. Mr. RAMLAWI (Observer for Palestine) said that the observer for Israel had said that the issue of settlements was subject to negotiations. Those settlements represented, however, violations of human rights and of the fourth Geneva Convention, and constituted a war crime: they must be completely dismantled. That observer’s statement in no way reflected the reality of the situation.

19. Mrs. IZE-CHARRIN (Secretary of the Commission) said that the draft resolution had no programme budget implications.

20. Mr. MENDONÇA E MOURA (Portugal), speaking on behalf of the European Union and the associated countries of Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia said that they were unable to support the draft resolution as they considered that the language in the text went further than that of other United Nations resolutions on the Syrian Arab Golan. The Union wished to stress that it had been able to support General Assembly resolution 54/80, and would have preferred changes to have been made to the text of the current draft resolution to bring it more into line with that General Assembly resolution, and place a stronger emphasis on human rights questions.

21. At the request of the representative of the United States of America, the vote was taken by roll-call on the draft resolution.

22. Rwanda, having been drawn by lot by the Chairman, was called upon to vote first.

In favour:

Argentina, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Botswana, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Tunisia, Venezuela, Zambia.

Against:

United States of America.

Abstaining:

Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Luxembourg, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

23. The draft resolution was adopted by 31 votes to 1, with 19 abstentions.

Draft resolution on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Arab Territories (E/CN.4/2000/L.9)

24. Mr. MENDONÇA E MOURA (Portugal), introducing the draft resolution on behalf of the European Union and its other sponsors, said that Israel had continued to fail to respond to the appeals of the international community on the issue. He expressed particular concern at the continuing Israeli settlement activities, in spite of the Government’s moratorium on new construction permits, including the expansion of existing settlements.

25. Settlements were both illegal under international law and damaging for the peace process, since their intention was to prejudge the outcome of the final status negotiations. Israel should refrain from any action likely to create further mistrust and undermine the peace process.

26. Mrs. IZE-CHARRIN (Secretary of the Commission) said that the representatives of Pakistan and the Sudan and the observers for Australia, Cyprus, Egypt, Jordan, Malta, New Zealand and Turkey had become sponsors of the draft resolution. The draft resolution had no financial implications.

27. At the request of the representative of the United States of America, a vote was taken by roll-call on the draft resolution.

28. India, having been drawn by lot by the Chairman, was called upon to vote first.

In favour:

Argentina, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Cuba, Czech Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liberia, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Senegal, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Tunisia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Venezuela, Zambia.

Against:

United States of America.

Abstaining:

Romania.

29. The draft resolution was adopted by 50 votes to 1, with 1 abstention.


/...

The meeting rose at 1 p.m.

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