Adopts Texts on Situation in Palestine and Occupied Arab Territories, Incitement to Racial and
Religious Hatred, Hostage-Taking and Other Issues
30 June 2006
The Human Rights Council this afternoon held the last meeting of its first session, adopting decisions and resolutions on, among others, the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories and the incitement to racial and religious hatred, and the promotion of tolerance. It also adopted two statements by the President on hostage-taking, and on the entry into force of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. In addition, the Council adopted its framework for a programme of work of the Council for the next year.
The President of the Council, Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba of Mexico, said that following a request signed by 21 Member States of the 47 Member States of the Council to hold a Special Session on the situation on human rights in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories, he was holding consultations with the Bureau and the Secretariat to see when it could be scheduled as soon as possible. In light of the fact that the four-week session of the Economic and Social Council was beginning on 3 July, they were even considering holding the Special Session during the lunch period. A decision would be announced by Monday, 3 July.
In a resolution on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories, the Council requested the relevant Special Rapporteurs to report to the next session of the Council on the Israeli human rights violations in occupied Palestine; and decided to undertake substantive consideration of the human rights violations and implications of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and other occupied Arab territories at the next session and to incorporate this issue in its following sessions.
Speaking this afternoon in general comments were the representatives of Argentina, Canada, Finland, and Tunisia.
Speaking as concerned countries were the representatives of Israel, Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon.
Speaking in explanations of the vote before the vote were Finland, Guatemala, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Speaking in explanations of the vote after the vote were Switzerland, Japan, and Uruguay.
Resolution on Human Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories
In a resolution (A/HRC/1/L.15) entitled “human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories”, adopted after a vote with in 29 favour, 12 against, and five abstentions (Cameroon, Ghana, Guatemala, Nigeria, Republic of Korea), as orally amended, the Human Rights Council requests the relevant Special Rapporteurs to report to the next session of the Council on the Israeli human rights violations in occupied Palestine; and decides to undertake substantive consideration of the human rights violations and implications of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and other occupied Arab territories at the next session and to incorporate this issue in its following sessions.
The result of the vote was as follows:
For: Algeria, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Cuba, Ecuador, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Sri-Lanka, Tunisia, Uruguay, Zambia.
Against: Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom,
Abstention: Cameroon, Ghana, Guatemala, Nigeria, Republic of Korea,
SAMIR LABIDI (Tunisia), speaking on behalf of the Group of Arab States in a general statement, said the Arab Group had attempted to submit a text of compromise, prepared by the Group and the members of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and supported by other delegations. As a result of occupation, the human rights situation of Palestinians had been deteriorating and the Council should express its concern by adopting L. 15.
ITZHAK LEVANON (Israel), speaking as a concerned country, said that it was unfortunate that certain countries were trying to hijack the Council for their own political purposes. The text that was to be considered was one-sided and contrary to the spirit of General Assembly resolution 60/251. The Council should not consider this proposal if it did not wish to follow the steps of the discredited Commission and participate in Israel-bashing and anti-Zionist propaganda. That a terrorist group had taken power of the Palestinian Authority was a basic fact. That a ruthless terrorist group had taken its own people hostage was only too evident, let alone the taking of Israeli hostages, one of whom had already been killed. It was hiding behind its own citizens, using them as a shield of war, which was the greatest crime.
All of those were undisputed facts, Israel said, but in this hall there were delegations that would like the Council to believe that there were no suicide bombers in Israeli streets killing innocent civilians, and that by accumulating wholesale resolutions they would alleviate the hardship of the Palestinians, and that in this human tragedy there was only one side that had the monopoly on being a victim. Voting in favour of the current draft resolution would mean a return to old and sterile habits and that there was no new and fresh beginning.
MOHAMMAD ABU-KOASH (Palestine), speaking as a concerned country, said listening to the learned Representative of Israel, one would think that it was Palestine that had occupied Israel. It was Israel which had instituted terrorism in the Middle East and in Palestine. Those that claimed they were victims were inflicting endless pain on the Palestinian people. The United States of America, the supporter of Israel, would be celebrating independence on the 4th of July. Palestine also wished to be free and independent. Israel said it was operating in self-defence. Was self-defence invading other people’s borders, to use shells against civilians, to kill innocent people on the beach, he asked?
Half of the Palestinian Government had been abducted by the Israeli occupation authorities, handcuffed and paraded to humiliate them. Sixty Palestinian personalities, including elected members of the Parliament, had been abducted by the Israeli military occupation. The President of Palestine had been put in effect under house arrest, and could not move from Gaza to the West Bank. This was the civilised behaviour of Israel. The Representative of Israel represented a fascist regime that was being tolerated due to the support of superpowers. The Palestinian people suffered from not only the occupation, but from its repercussions, including the lack of water, electricity, medicine, and salaries. The Israeli regime was very nasty, and this was the least way of describing it. All should show that human rights violations were not supported by anybody, even if it was by Israel.
BASHAR JA'AFARI (Syria), speaking as a concerned country, said that it seemed to the Israeli delegation that the human rights violations were mere propaganda and that the world was blind on what was going on in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories. The delegate of Israel was pretending that no human rights violations were taking place. The elected members of parliament and members of the Palestinian Government had been abducted and taken hostage by the occupying power – Israel. While the United Nations had already eliminated colonialism, the only remaining colonialism was the kind that was practiced by Israel. He asked the Israeli delegation what the Israeli fighter jets were doing over the skies of Palestine and Syria yesterday. The number of children killed by Israeli shelling and Israeli snipers had grown. Were the children soldiers? He called on the Council to adopt the draft resolution and end the Israeli atrocities.
GEBRAN SOUFAN (Lebanon), speaking as a concerned country, said consensus should reflect the shared will as the work of the Council began. Lebanon welcomed the establishment of a new United Nations human rights body in order to restore hope and renew working methods, and that was why it had deliberately wanted to abide by dialogue and consensual approaches as part of a new vision. The many attempts to come up with a consensus text had failed, and there was still disagreement on the amount of attention that the Council should pay to human rights violations in Palestine and the other occupied Arab territories.
The chronic problems originating from the occupation could not be ignored. Like the incubation of a disease, the seriousness of the occupation could only be felt afterwards. Lebanon would continue to speak of Israeli violations of human rights, along with its Arab brothers. All the diplomatic cosmetics in the world were required to change the face of an occupying country. All countries that had a concern for human rights should vote for the resolution.
VESA HIMANEN. (Finland), speaking on behalf of the European Union in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the European Union followed the situation in the occupied Arab territories very, very closely and was particularly alarmed by the escalating violence there over the past few days. The European Union urged all parties to use utmost restraint and to fulfil their responsibility to protect human lives.
The objective in creating the Human Rights Council had been to build an effective instrument to promote and protect the human rights of all. The Human Rights Council should offer the ability to provide that protection in a spirit of cooperation and dialogue. In that regard, the European Union was of the view that the Presidential statement should have addressed all the five issues that had been identified as urgent human rights matters together, including the situation in Sudan and the Abuja Peace Agreement. The European Union participated in the debate and subsequent consultations in a genuine desire to find consensus on all those issues. At this critical juncture in the peace process in Darfur, it would have been an important signal from the Human Rights Council to address the Abuja Peace Agreement and call for peace in Darfur. The European Union regretted therefore that it was not possible to agree on a comprehensive Council statement.
CARLA RODRIGUEZ MANCIA (Guatemala), in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that Guatemala fought any form of human rights violations. The UN Secretary-General had been doing all he could to resolve the situation in the Middle East. The conflict between Israel and Palestine could be resolved with a two-State formula, which had been advocated by the world community.
PAUL MEYER (Canada), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the Council had been called upon to use enhanced cooperation and dialogue to bring about improvements in the implementation of human rights, and the Council should adhere to this challenge, and should be able to deal with complicated issues through a more constructive and productive approach. For this reason, Canada was disappointed to see this draft decision before the Council. Concrete proposals for further follow-up had been made, and it was hoped that the discussion would be reflected in a consensus-based Council statement. It was most unfortunate that the one-sided draft resolution was introduced rather than striving for agreement on a consensus statement. Canada was disappointed with the procedure through which the issue had been introduced, and did not accept the singling out of one specific situation by the Council, and would therefore vote against the draft resolution.
NICHOLAS THORNE (United Kingdom), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the European Union would have liked to have raised some issues on the content of the present text, in particular with regard to the frequency with which issues were allowed to be addressed by the Council. The European Union would not consider amendments to the text, however. For that reason, the United Kingdom was not able to support the present text.
BLAISE GODET (Switzerland), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said the delegation of Switzerland had voted against the resolution. He regretted that compromise was not possible on the resolution. Through its negative vote, Switzerland was expressing its unhappiness of the adoption of such a resolution in the Council and the procedure followed. Switzerland was against the dangerous escalation of the conflict in the region and was concerned about the human rights violations.
SHIGERU ENDO (Japan), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said Japan was concerned about the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Middle East, and for that reason had been providing assistance to the people there. The deterioration of the situation could negatively affect future efforts for peace. Both sides should exercise maximum self-restraint. As this was the first session of the Council, it would have been better to take a consensus approach, and Japan had therefore voted against the resolution.
RICARDO GONZALEZ (Uruguay), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that Uruguay had voted for the draft resolution for two reasons: first, because Uruguay was of the view that the resolution was in line with the gravity of the situation in that region; and, second, because the voting procedure was imposed on the will of those who would have preferred a different one. Uruguay hoped that the future work of the Council did not continue in this manner and that it would show greater cooperation.
SERGIO CERDA (Argentina), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that the international community should encourage the parties to the conflict to go back to the negotiating table. Argentina had been following the situation closely and was collaborating with the Quartet in its effort to bring peace to the region.
* *** *
For use of information media; not an official record