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        General Assembly
9 September 2004

Original: English

Fifty-ninth session
Item 77 of the provisional agenda*
Report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli
Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian
People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories

Work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories

Report of the Secretary-General **

1. The present report is submitted in pursuance of General Assembly resolution 58/96 of 9 December 2003, the operative part of which reads as follows:
2. All necessary facilities were provided to the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories. The Special Committee met in Geneva from 19 to 25 March 2004 during the sixtieth session of the Commission on Human Rights and attended the debate on the items of the agenda devoted to the issue of Palestine. The Special Committee met again in Geneva on 24 May 2004 before undertaking its annual field mission to Lebanon, Egypt and the Syrian Arab Republic from 25 May to 8 June 2004. During its two meetings in Geneva, the Special Committee held consultations with relevant representatives of permanent missions, United Nations agencies, intergovernmental organizations, as well as non-governmental organizations. Scheduled consultations with the International Committee of the Red Cross could not take place. Owing to restrictions imposed on the length of reports submitted to the General Assembly, the Special Committee did not submit periodic reports during the period under review.

3. Pursuant to paragraph 8 (d) of resolution 58/96, the activities described below were undertaken.

Department of Public Information

4. During the reporting period, the Department continued to disseminate information on the activities of the Special Committee through a range of information-dissemination tools available to it, including the Internet, the media, radio, publications and direct outreach to the public and non-governmental organizations.

5. The United Nations web site has become one of the best means of disseminating information on the work of the Special Committee, including its reports and statements. The United Nations News Centre on the United Nations web site carries statements made by the Chair, the Bureau and members of the Committee, as well as press releases on the work of the Committee. The deliberations of the Special Political and Decolonization Committee of the General Assembly, which discussed the report of the Special Committee, were webcast and are available as video archives on the United Nations web site.

6. Press releases were issued on the United Nations International Meeting on the Impact of the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, held in Geneva on 15 and 16 April 2004, in which a message from the Chairman of the Special Committee was read out by a Committee member.

7. Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories were among the issues addressed at the International Media Seminar on Peace in the Middle East, which the Department organized in cooperation with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of China in Beijing, on 16 and 17 June 2004. The seminar discussed the role of civil society in promoting peace and justice in the Middle East and facilitated dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians in the search for ways to achieve peace and restore Palestinian rights.

8. United Nations Radio covered various aspects of United Nations activities relating to Palestine and the human rights of the Palestinian people in its news bulletins and current affairs magazines published in the United Nations official languages and several non-official languages.

9. The Department continued to distribute its publication The Question of Palestine and the United Nations (DPI/2276) in all official languages at Headquarters and through the United Nations information centres, services and offices. This publication is also available on the United Nations web site and includes references to the reports of the Special Committee, including sections dealing with questions of human rights, settlements and refugees.

10. Because of its geographical location, UNIS Geneva bears a special responsibility for the promotion of human rights, working closely with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other relevant human rights bodies based in Geneva. During the reporting period, it continued to publicize the work of the Special Committee and the human rights of the Palestinian people through press briefings, press releases, radio and television coverage, responses to inquiries from non-governmental organizations and the public, as well as through the web site of the United Nations Office at Geneva with links to various human rights bodies.

11. On 6 August 2004, the Secretary-General addressed a note verbale to all Member States drawing attention to General Assembly resolutions 58/96, 58/97, 58/98, 58/99 and 58/100. The Permanent Mission of Cuba to the United Nations Office at Geneva responded in a note verbale dated 19 August 2004 to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

12. In its reply, the Government of Cuba stated that it supported the efforts of the United Nations to promote the rights of the Palestinian people and to establish a Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and to end the illegal Israeli occupation of Arab territories, which violates international law and international humanitarian law. It expressed solidarity with the just struggle of the Palestinian people in the face of an occupation characterized by the most serious human rights violations, including genocide, and reaffirmed the large number of United Nations resolutions and reports condemning the occupation and urging a just and lasting solution that would lead to the restitution of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. The dangerous and unacceptable construction of the “Wall of Shame” in the face of the condemnation of the international community, including the International Court of Justice, is not a security measure, as claimed by the Government of Israel, but rather a means of annexing Palestinian land. The Wall should be demolished without delay and the Palestinians indemnified for the grave damage caused to their agriculture, water resources and villages. Other human rights violations committed by the Government of Israel included the disproportionate use of force against civilians and the policy of “targeted assassination” of Palestinian leaders. The Government of Israel has been able to carry out its activities in the occupied territories thanks to the financial, military and technological support of the Government of the United States of America, which gives more than $3 billion a year in direct aid to Israel. The United States has also used its veto in the Security Council to block the adoption of urgent measures that could bring an end to the conflict. The solution of the Palestinian problem is the key to peace in the Middle East. Cuba therefore urged the United Nations, in particular the Security Council, to exercise its responsibility under the Charter and apply immediately all relevant resolutions and decisions in order to achieve this goal.

Summary reply of the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic concerning Commission on Human Rights resolution 2004/8 on human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan

13. The Government of the Syrian Arab Republic submitted the following reply:

* A/59/150.
** The present report is being submitted on 9 September 2004 so as to include as much updated information as possible.


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