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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS

HR/CN/01/56
18 April 2001
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS ADOPTS RESOLUTIONS ON THE RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT AND LEBANESE DETAINEES HELD BY ISRAEL

Passes No-Action Motion against Draft Resolution on Human Rights in China


The Commission on Human Rights this afternoon adopted two resolutions on the right to development and on Lebanese detainees held by Israel.

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The Commission also adopted by a roll-call vote of 33 in favour, 1 against and 19 abstentions, a resolution on the human rights situation of Lebanese detainees in Israel in which it called upon the Government of Israel to refrain from holding the detained Lebanese citizens incarcerated in its prisons as hostages for bargaining purposes and to release them immediately. It also called upon the Government of Israel to submit to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon all the maps of the land mine fields deployed throughout civilian villages, fields, and farms.

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Action on Resolutions

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In a resolution (E/CN.4/2001/L.2) on the human rights situation of Lebanese detainees in Israel, adopted by a roll-call vote of 33 in favour, 1 against and 19 abstentions, the Commission called upon the Government of Israel to refrain from holding the detained Lebanese citizens incarcerated in its prisons as hostages for bargaining purposes and to release them immediately; affirmed the obligation of Israel to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit the detainees regularly, as well as allowing other international humanitarian organizations to do so; called upon the Government to submit to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon all the maps of the land mine fields deployed throughout civilian villages, fields, and farms; and requested the Secretary-General to bring the present resolution to the attention of the Government of Israel.

The result of the roll-call vote was as follows:

In favour (33): Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Burundi, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam and Zambia.

Against (1): United States.

Abstentions (19): Belgium, Cameroon, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Guatemala, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liberia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Spain and United Kingdom.

A Representative of Lebanon said the draft resolution was about human rights. It was about civilian detainees kept by Israel. The resolution called upon Israel to set them free. There was another issue about the landmines left in Southern Lebanon by Israel. There were over 150,000 of them, and they created havoc for the civilians there. If landmines were not a human rights issue, the question should be asked about what the treaty on landmines was about. The fact that there were daily victims meant that Israel did not give all of the landmine maps to the United Nations. The Mission of Israel had said they were planted by the Lebanese resistance. How was it possible for the Lebanese resistant to plant tens of thousands of landmines?

A Representative of Israel said that countries, in considering their vote on Lebanese detainees, should consider events on the ground. Israel had unilaterally withdrawn its forces from Lebanon. It had done so unilaterally because it was unable to reach agreement with Lebanon on the matter. Israel also had submitted maps of land mines laid, as noted. The Lebanese had not dealt properly with this information and so had no right now to come before the Commission and complain about it. Lebanon also had not met its commitments to provide security in south Lebanon and to prevent cross-boarder operations; rather, Lebanon still allowed terrorist groups to attack Israel, which meant Israel was compelled to respond. As for detainees, there were glaring omissions as with so many Commission actions related to the Middle East -- for example, there were Israeli detainees held improperly in Lebanon. Many similar important facts were missing from this resolution. The resolution distorted reality and did not contribute to peace in the region.

A Representative of the United States said this resolution was another unbalanced response to the tragic events in the region. The Commission could have simply noted positively Israel's compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 425, thus making a successful conclusion to the Commission's earlier consideration of the human rights question in southern Lebanon. The effort to isolate Israel for criticism at every possible opportunity -- even to the point of neglecting to mention that the UN Secretary-General had certified Israel's withdrawal behind the Blue Line -- reflected badly on the Commission. This effort, and similar ones, served only to undermine efforts to resume negotiations between the parties. Events over the last weekend reminded that realistic negotiations were the way forward.

A Representative of Belgium, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated countries, said the EU was not able to support draft resolution L.2/Rev.1; most of the elements of the measure concerned questions either without a clear relation to the issue of its title or fell within the competence of other UN organs. The EU reiterated its concern at the imprisonment of several Lebanese citizens, who were arrested in the then-occupied area and transferred to Israel; this was a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and their continued administrative detention contravened basic human rights principles. The EU urged the Israeli Government to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit the two Lebanese citizens still being kept without charge.

A Representative of the Republic of Korea said his country supported all the resolutions that aimed to protect and promote human rights in the Middle East. However, this year, the delegation had reservations because it contained landmine issues, which were not within the realm of human rights. Therefore, the delegation would abstain. Without such issues, the delegation would have supported the resolution.


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