UNISPAL Home

Press Release
UNITED NATIONS

HR/CN/05/14
18 March 2005

COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS CONCLUDES GENERAL DEBATE ON RIGHT OF PEOPLES TO SELF-DETERMINATION

The Commission on Human Rights this afternoon concluded its general debate on the right of peoples to self-determination and its application to peoples under colonial or alien domination or foreign occupation.

...

Statements on the Right of Peoples to Self-Determination and its Application to Peoples under Colonial or Alien Domination or Foreign Occupation

...

CHE YING (China) ...

...


It was a cause for concern that there were a number of people with ulterior motives who used the right to self-determination to advocate the splitting up of States. These acts violated international law and must be resisted and countered by the international community. Restoring the political rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to self-determination, and establishing a Palestinian State was the key to a lasting peace in the Middle East. It was hoped that both sides would build mutual confidence and arrive at an early resumption of peace talks on the basis of the relevant resolutions of the United Nations and on the basis of land for peace.

...

RUDY BOSCHWITZ (United States) said that the community of nations had agreed that all people had the right to self-determination, by virtue of which right they freely determined their political status and freely pursued their economic, social and cultural development. The fundamental process used by peoples to exercise this right was free and fair elections. In the past 18 months, the citizens of a number of countries had acted bravely to insist upon open elections, including the Iraqis, Palestinians, Ukrainians, Afghans, Indonesians, and Georgians. Those examples showed commitment to self-determination and an acceleration of the worldwide move towards democracy.

The Road Map for peace in the Middle East, he added, envisioned two States -- Israel and Palestine -- living in peace, side by side. It was premised upon the idea that reformed, democratized institutions of the Palestinian Authority were a necessary foundation for a future State of Palestine. The successful democratic election of Mahmoud Abbas constituted a tremendous sign of hope. Peace and stability appeared a greater possibility than at any time in memory. Yet, despite this movement, the Arab Group had tabled a harsh draft resolution that reflected neither those changes, nor the reality of what was occurring on the ground. The draft was intemperate, and unhelpful to the peace process. What would be helpful was a firm rejection of the draft.

...

HARDEEP SINGH PURI (India) said the right of peoples under alien subjugation, domination and exploitation to freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development was recognized as a result of initiatives in which India, as a founding member of the Non-aligned Movement, was at the forefront. Today, the majority of the members of the United Nations comprised of former colonies; that was clearly a measure of the success of the historic struggle for self-determination. One glaring and unfortunate exception was Palestine. India remained steadfast in its support for and solidarity with the people of Palestine, as they struggled to realize the inalienable right of self-determination, and achieve their goal of a sovereign, independent State of Palestine with well-defined and secured borders, living at peace with the State of Israel.

...

FISSEHA YIMER (Ethiopia), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the African Group’s position on the right to self-determination had always been both influenced by its painful experience of colonialism, and based on the well-founded and widely recognized provisions of international law and legitimacy. The African Group believed that nothing justified the subjugation, repression or the limitation of the right to independence and self-determination of any people anywhere in the world. The African Group welcomed the positive developments that took place during the last few months, including the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit and the London meeting, as well as the presidential elections in the occupied Palestinian territories. There was a belief that those initiatives were given impetus to by the public support for peace on both countries.

The African Group also welcomed the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice, which concluded that the construction of the so-called "security wall" on occupied Palestinian territories, including in and around East Jerusalem, were contrary to international law, and that Israel, the occupying power, was under the obligation to cease its work on the construction of the wall. The Court also concluded that the wall affected negotiations of a final situation, and the enjoyment of the Palestinian people of their right to self-determination. It had, moreover, found that "the wall along the route chosen, and its associated regime infringed a number of rights of Palestinians residing in the territory occupied by Israel, and the infringements resulting from that route could not be justified by military exigencies or by the requirements of national security or public order". The African Group reiterated that only a just, comprehensive and lasting peace through negotiations and dialogue on the basis of mutual respect and peaceful co-existence would lead to an end of the crisis in the Middle East. It also underscored the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to an independent State existing side by side with Israel.

...

ABDULLAH K.M.J. AL-ASKAR (Kuwait) said it was committed to the right of peoples to self-determination and nationhood, as this was an inalienable right. It was very important to apply this right and overcome all obstacles to its implementation. The Palestinian people in the occupied territories were deprived of this fundamental right and their fundamental freedoms. They had a right to self-determination, in line with United Nations resolutions, including some of those of the Commission. It was absolutely necessary to allow the Palestinian people to realize their rights, including the establishment of an independent State with Jerusalem as its capital, and the international community should increase its efforts to serve this noble cause and allow the Palestinian people to achieve their rights including the right to self-determination.

...

MOHAMMAD ABU-KOASH (Palestine) said he was happy to see a number of countries that had been fighting for their right to self-determination represented in the Commission. However, Palestine was still struggling to exercise its own right to self-determination due to the harsh policies of Israel. In 1988, Palestine had accepted the principle of a two-State policy and continued to do so. Israel had continued to apply harsh polices against Palestinians by claiming to be the administrator of Palestinian territories. Israel had also continued with its resettlement programmes with the view to colonize Palestine. These policies of destruction and demolition of Palestine had seriously affected the people. Palestine was grateful to those who had supported its people, including Israelis who rejected the Israeli polices of expansion. The oppressor and the occupying power had defied the principles of international law and had continued to inflict daily hardships against the Palestinians. Despite the Israeli occupation, Palestinians were able to exercise their democratic rights by electing their President, and this would be followed by legislative elections. He called upon Israel and the United States to work for the establishment of peace in the region.

AHMED MOHAMED MASOUD AL-RIYAMI (Oman) noted that Israel had continued to refuse the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, despite numerous international resolutions adopted by various United Nations entities. Oman supported the right of the Palestinian people to fight for their right to self-determination as well as the position taken by Arab countries. Dialogue remained the best means of achieving peace in the region. Oman called on all parties to engage in dialogue and to work towards the solution of this conflict to enable the two States to live side-by-side in peace and security.

ITZHAK LEVANON (Israel) said the process that began with the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit had opened a new window of opportunity, presenting a clear perspective of realizing the concept of a two-State solution for Israelis and Palestinians to live side-by-side, peacefully and democratically. That solution included the implementation of the right to self-determination by the Palestinian people; this was the reality on the ground. It was unfortunate that, up to now, the Commission had disregarded that reality.

Throughout its history, the modern State of Israel had been defending the right of the Jewish people to self-determination, and their right to live in peace and security in their ancient homeland. Having respected the right to self-determination of peoples worldwide, including those of its Arab neighbours, Israel expected full recognition for the right of Jewish people to their self-determination as well. The Commission should encourage the positive developments resulting from the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit by sending a message of support and hope. Insistence on using harsh words and continuously attacking Israel could only serve the cause of extremists, derailing negotiations between the two parties. Efforts to derail the peace process should not be allowed to prevail.

SAEED MOHAMED AL-FAIHANI (Bahrain) said Bahrain wholeheartedly supported all efforts and initiatives that would bring peace and stability to the occupied Arab territories, including the Palestinian territories, and enable the Palestinian and Arab people to regain their legitimate rights. Bahrain was convinced that achieving peace in the Middle East required gaining the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. Without doing so, it would be difficult to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in the region. The violations committed against the Palestinian people by the Israeli occupation authorities should be halted. All countries in the region needed peace, security, and stability. Without that, it would be impossible to develop economically and socially. On the contrary, any lack of peace, security and stability would strengthen extremism, hinder economic development, and make the region lose an opportunity to develop human rights and fundamental freedoms.

He expressed hope that the Commission would deal with the situation in the occupied Arab territories from a human rights perspective so that human rights and fundamental freedoms would be promoted in the region.

BASHAR JAAFARI (Syria) said the United Nations Charter stressed the right to self-determination and the respect of that right. International law had confirmed the right which should be comprehensive and all nations should respect it. Since 1947 when the General Assembly began consideration of the issue of Palestine, the right of return was an integral part of the right to self-determination. Israel should apply United Nations resolutions and decisions adopted in the past - there was no need for Road Maps. Israel wished to split up the peace process, thus minimizing its impact. This demonstrated a lack of respect for international law. Israel continued to construct its wall to the detriment of the Palestinian people, destroying the hopes of the region and the entire world. There should be vigilance with respect to the conduct of Israel in the occupied Arab territories where it sought to mislead the international community with regard to the construction and occupation of its settlements. Half of the territory should go to the Palestinian people.

...

HILLEL C. NEUER, of United Nations Watch, asked whether the States which monopolized the agenda item on the right to self-determination to attack Israel were truly concerned about this international human right. For these regimes, what was gained was an entrenchment of their decades-long campaign to demonize and delegitimitize Israel and the Jewish people. The objective of this assault was to cast Israel as the world’s number one human rights violator. The campaign was pernicious and should outrage all who believed in equality, peace and human rights. It was also an obstacle to peace in the Middle East. At the dawn of a new era of reform, the Commission should address the urgent violations confronting the world, or it would see another year of cynical diversions at the expense of equality, peace and human rights.

...

C. ANNE MASSAGEE, of Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man, said the international community had great hope for a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the long-awaited realization of the Palestinian right to self-determination. Unfortunately, ongoing Israeli actions could preclude the Palestinians’ ability to realize that right. The wall’s construction was complemented by Israel’s continuing aid and assistance in the expansion of settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law. The wall and the settlements were completely discriminatory and prevented Palestinians from exercising their right to self-determination - a right that underpinned the realization of other fundamental human rights.

...

RAMA ENAV, of Women’s International Zionist Organization, said due to anti-Semitism, Zionism had come into being and that in turn had led to the founding of the Jewish State. Just this week, world leaders had gathered in Jerusalem for the opening of a new Holocaust Museum. A museum that vividly presented the tragedy that beset the Jewish people, which not only resulted from the Nazis, but also from countries who closed their gates, thus not allowing the Jews of Europe to find refuge. These past events were also more relevant as today there was a frightening increase in anti-Semitism, which bore resemblance to the early Nazi era.

...

DAN MARIASHIN, of B'nai B'rith International, speaking on behalf of Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations, said there was a resurgence of anti-Semitism and its new manifestation - anti-Zionism. The Jewish people’s basic human right to self-determination was being eroded. This was a dangerous path, for it sought the destruction of the Jewish State, and as such ran counter to fundamental human rights principles as well as United Nations Security Council resolutions. All resolutions passed by the Commission should reaffirm the right to self-determination for the Jewish people.

...

MONICA GRUNFELT, of Federación de Asociaciones de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos, said in recent months a series of events had demonstrated a new stage in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; the Israeli Government had decided to resume contact with the Palestinian Authority and both had reaffirmed their commitment to end violence. The possibility of resumed negotiations was welcomed, but there was concern for the prospect of negotiations, which could disregard the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. The humiliation suffered by the Palestinian people at the hand of the occupying power was continuing. The international community should adopt appropriate measures to ensure that Israel end the occupation.

...

Right of Reply

...

PANKAJ SARAN (India), ...

As to the statement by the representative of the OIC, he had made an unacceptable reference to an integral part of India. The OIC had no locus standi to address that issue. To equate the historic struggle of the Palestinian people with the situation in a state of India was to make a mockery of the Palestinians' struggle. India called upon the other members of the OIC to restrain one of its members from manipulating the organization’s statements. India had long been a proponent of the Palestinians’ struggle for self-determination.

...



* *** *

For use of the information media; not an official record

______________________________________________________________________
For information media - not an official record