Question of Palestine home
Commission on Human Rights
12 April 2002
SECRETARY-GENERAL TERMS RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS VITAL
IN FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM
Commission on Human Rights
12 April 2002
Tells Commission on Human Rights that Parties to Middle
East Conflict Should Declare They Will Respect International
Humanitarian Law Commission
Adopts Resolutions on Self-Determination,
Situation in Occupied Arab Territories;
Hears Addresses by High Officials of Italy, Liechtenstein and
Security against terrorism could not be achieved by sacrificing human rights, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said this morning in an address before the Commission on Human Rights -- "to try and do so would hand the terrorists a victory beyond their dreams".
On the contrary, Mr. Annan said, greater respect for human rights, along with democracy and social justice, would in the long term prove the only effective prophylactic against terror. If anti-terror efforts did not reaffirm the primacy of human rights principles and the rule of law, the ends would not justify the means and might even have the opposite of their intended effect, the Secretary General contended. Governments and peoples should be careful, in defending themselves, not to play into the enemy's hands or to act as his recruiting sergeant, he said.
Mr. Annan lauded the achievement yesterday of sufficient ratifications to enable establishment of an International Criminal Court and expressed great concern about mounting violence in the Middle East, calling for both parties to make an immediate declaration of commitment to respect basic norms of human rights and humanitarian law.
The Commission also adopted resolutions this morning under its agenda items on the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; the right to self-determination; and the question of the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine.
In a resolution adopted by a roll-call vote of 52 in favour and 1 opposed, the Commission reaffirmed the unqualified right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including their right to establish their sovereign and independent Palestinian State, and looked forward to the early implementation of that right.
In a resolution on human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan, adopted by a roll-call vote of 34 in favour and 1 opposed, with 18 abstentions, the Commission among other things called upon Israel to comply with relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council, in particular the Council resolution deciding that the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan was null and void; called upon Israel to desist from changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan, and emphasized that displaced persons must be allowed to return to their homes and to recover their properties.
In a resolution on the question of Western Sahara, adopted without a vote, the Commission among other things called for the Kingdom of Morocco and the Frente Popular par la Liberacion de Saguia el-Hamra y Rio de Oro to implement the settlement plan agreed to during talks under the auspices of the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General; urged them to implement faithfully and loyally the Secretary-General's package of measures relating to the identification of voters and the appeals process; and reaffirmed its support for further efforts to carry out a referendum for self-determination of the people of Western Sahara that was impartial and free of all constraints.
In a resolution on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right to self-determination, adopted by a roll-call vote of 36 in favour and 8 opposed, with 9 abstentions, the Commission among other things recognized urged States to ensure that their territories were not used for the recruitment, assembly, financing, training and transit of mercenaries for the planning of activities designed to impede the right to self-determination, to overthrow the Government of any State, or dismember or impair the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent States conducting themselves in compliance with the right to self-determination of peoples.
In a resolution on strengthening of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, adopted without a vote, the Commission, among other things, emphasized that the Office was a common office for all and should reflect a diversity of backgrounds, and recalled that the office was governed by Article 101 of the United Nations Charter on staffing policies, which was essential for ensuring the implementation of the principles of universality, objectivity, and non-selectivity in the consideration of human rights issues.
In addition, the Commission was addressed this morning by high Government officials of Italy, Liechtenstein, and Saudi Arabia.
Margherita Boniver, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, welcomed the announcement Thursday in Rome by the Secretary-General of the 60th ratification of the Rome Statute, allowing entry into force of the Convention on the International Criminal Court. Ms. Boniver termed establishment of the Court a historic step forward that would provide the international community with an impartial permanent instrument to sanction the worst crimes against humanity -- a positive sign of a strengthening of the world's moral conscience.
Ernst Walch, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein, told the Commission among other things that the role of "non-State actors" in the violation of human rights needed greater attention and clarification, and that in battling terrorism it was important to remember that certain human rights -- such as the right to life, the right not to be subjected to torture, and freedoms of thought, conscience and religion -- could not be violated under any circumstances.
Torki Ben Mohammed Ben Saud Al-Kabeer, Deputy Minister for Political Affairs of Saudi Arabia, condemned the 11 September terrorist attacks against the United States and called for an end to attitudes and actions around the world that unfairly linked Muslims and Arabs to terrorism. He also called for Israel to end its current military campaign in occupied Palestine and to accept the Middle East peace proposal recently tabled by Saudi Arabia.
The Commission will reconvene at 3 p.m. to act on additional draft resolutions and to continue its debate on civil and political rights.
Statement of Secretary-General
KOFI ANNAN, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said the attacks of 11 September had expressed a state of mind in which human rights ceased to have any meaning, Mr. Annan said. The precise motives of those who undertook the attacks were still not known and might never be known. But it must be assumed that, for whatever reason, they had reached a point where human life -- their own and other people's -- had lost all value in their eyes. And they had reached a point where they were prepared to use any means, no matter how destructive, to achieve their political objective. That was what the international community was up against. That was the attitude it had to confront, combat and refute, wherever it met it.
Security could not be achieved by sacrificing human rights, Mr. Annan said. To try and do so would hand the terrorists a victory beyond their dreams. On the contrary, greater respect for human rights, along with democracy and social justice, would in the long term prove the only effective prophylactic against terror. The international community must continue the struggle to give everyone on this planet a reason to value their own rights, and to respect those of others. At the same time, it must constantly reaffirm the primacy of the rule of law, and the principle that certain acts were so evil in themselves that no cause, however noble, could justify their use. The end did not justify the means. Instead, the means tarnished, and might pervert, the end.
Mr. Annan said there undoubtedly was a hard core of terrorists whose minds were already beyond reach, and against whom there was no choice but for nations and peoples to defend themselves physically -- with great vigilance at all times, with exemplary justice when they fell into official hands, and, when necessary, with military force. However, all these things should be done in accordance with the law. And all should be careful, in defending themselves, not to play into the enemy's hands, or to act as his recruiting sergeant. Vigilance was essential - but in exercising it, fundamental principles such as the presumption of innocence until guilt was proved should not be lost sight of. It should not be forgotten that even the guilty retained certain basic rights, such as those laid down in Article 5 of the Universal Declaration: "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment".
On the other hand, mass murderers must no longer go unpunished, whether they were terrorists, warlords or dictators. This was why sufficient ratification of the Statute of the International Criminal Court, which took place yesterday, was a historic milestone. The Statute would now come into force on the first of July, and by next year the Court should be operational. This would not detract from the responsibility of States to prosecute and punish war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by their citizens or within their jurisdiction. Nor would it undermine their ability to do so. On the contrary, it would give all States a strong incentive to improve their standards in this respect, since the Court would have jurisdiction only where the State primarily concerned was either unable or unwilling to proceed. Over time, the practices and procedures of the Court would provide a benchmark of international justice, against which the standards of all States could be measured.
Whole communities must not be put under suspicion in the battle against terrorism and subjected to harassment because of acts committed by some of their members, the Secretary-General said. The struggle against terrorism must not become a pretext for the suppression of legitimate opposition or dissent. Not only were such measures profoundly unjust. They were also liable to achieve the precise opposite of the desired effect, by driving more members of the targeted groups to resort to violence.
Currently in the Middle East, international norms of human rights and humanitarian law were being violated on a massive scale, Mr. Annan said, and all must be deeply moved by the spectacle of so many unnecessary deaths; so much destruction; such acts of depravity. These acts included not only armed aggression but suicide bombings aimed at civilians, which were as morally repugnant as they were politically harmful. The parties were now locked in the logic of war. In order to bring peace and security again within reach of both peoples - Israelis and Palestinians - the core issues must be addressed: occupation; violence, including terrorism; and the economic plight of the Palestinians. It must also be remembered that one cause of the current situation had been the denial of fundamental human rights. A start would be for the leaders of both sides to make an immediate declaration of commitment to respect basic norms of human rights and humanitarian law. He solemnly called on them to take this step forthwith. Wanton disregard for human rights and humanitarian law was something the world could not accept. He pleaded for respect for international law, including international humanitarian law, whenever force was used -- whether by States or by resistance movements -- and for respect for the four Geneva Conventions. Their purpose was crystal clear, and their wording was broad enough to apply to all armed conflicts, no matter what the specific circumstances. What was vital was that, from now on, they should be obeyed.
MARGHERITA BONIVER, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Italy, said it was an honour to be speaking to the Commission after the announcement made yesterday in Rome by the Secretary-General of the entry into force of the Convention on the International Criminal Court. Italy, which had striven to achieve this goal, welcomed the announcement as a historic step forward that would provide the international community with an impartial permanent instrument to sanction the worst crimes against humanity. Italy rejoiced at this positive sign of a strengthening of the world's moral conscience, but on the other hand mourned the far-too-many innocent victims of the vicious blend of violence and hatred which engendered terrorism and endless tragedies. The Italian people were concerned over the terrible plight of the Palestinian people and by the terrorist attacks befalling so many innocent Israeli civilians who had sought refuge and security in that land. There had been many victims of suicide terrorism, but how many victims had there been of the military actions of the last two weeks? One still did not know. The Israeli Government was urged to allow humanitarian relief to reach immediately those -- no doubt very many -- who waited to be relieved, as was their right according to the most basic humanitarian conventions.
Italy's decision to withdraw its candidacy for membership in the next session of the Commission on Human Rights was based on promoting a principle of equal rotation among Western countries in the Commission, Ms. Boniver said. Italy had not decided to do so for the sole reason that the United States should be involved in the work of the Commission; if that was thought, the exercise would loose its credibility. Italy did hope that the return of the United States would provide an opportunity for joint and fruitful work on behalf of human rights. Italy had recently welcomed relevant Commission mechanisms concerning allegations of improper behaviour by security forces at the G-8 Genoa Summit, as well as on the independence of the judiciary. The Government believed in the usefulness of an appropriate involvement of the international community and would cooperate fully. Other issues of special importance to Italy included the plight of refugees, post-conflict reconstruction in Afghanistan -- including the promotion of democracy and the rule of law -- the inacceptability of the death penalty, and the issue of women and human rights.
Ms. Boniver said it was necessary to "depoliticize" the work of the Commission to reduce political confrontation and create more objectivity and functionality in its approach. Italy firmly believed that human rights represented, in themselves, a political "top priority". That was why one must keep them under observation, bearing in mind their unavoidable political dimension. Italy believed that there was an intangible core of human rights with a political dimension and universal validity, whatever the historical and cultural context of a situation or country. There was also scope for cultural dialogue, which implied a human and intellectual eagerness to better understand values, history, philosophy, traditions and feelings of other peoples. Diversity was an asset that could enrich the dialogue between different civilizations, particularly when it came to the practical implementation and common defense of human rights.
ERNST WALCH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein, said the most pressing issue today was terrorism and the common fight against it. The international community had come together after 11 September to fight terrorism in all its forms, in particular international terrorism. It was understood that the fight could only be won if all pulled together, that no single country could defy the ugly sides of globalization on its own. Unilateralism and lack of transparency would only weaken international cooperation, and that simply could not be afforded. Liechtenstein had cooperated fully and in a proactive manner with the Counterterrorism Committee, the Financial Action Task Force, and other organizations active in the field and would continue to do so.
Mr. Walch said it was matter of the Commission's very credibility to address terrorism from a human rights perspective. The longstanding disagreement on whether or not terrorists violated human rights served no one in the end. There was a belief that the promotion and protection of human rights were the responsibility of States and that States were the only agents that could be held accountable for human rights violations. However, a merely legislative approach would not enhance the understanding of human rights issues among those one really wanted to reach. It was difficult indeed to explain that the right to life had not been violated on 11 September. The international community should therefore address the role of non-State actors -- in the area of human rights as well as in other fields -- in a meaningful and politically sustainable manner. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which would enter into force on 1 July, was a historic step forward in that respect. The Court did not distinguish between State agents and non-State actors with respect to criminal responsibility for human rights violations.
There also were debates over whether the balance between the protection of human rights and the fight against terrorism still needed to be developed, or whether human rights law already provided such a balance, Mr. Walch said. There was a set of human rights that could not be derogated from except under clearly defined circumstances, and there were other human rights, such as the right to life, freedom from torture and freedom of thought, conscience and religion, that could not be revoked or violated at any time. Those standards were among the most important achievements of the Commission.
The debate on terrorism should be extended to the question of its root causes, Mr. Walch said. Fighting the symptoms had never been a good means for eradicating a disease. Among the root causes of terrorism, extreme poverty occupied a prominent place.
TORKI BEN MOHAMMED BEN SAUD AL-KABEER, Deputy Minister for Political Affairs of Saudi Arabia, said the shameful terrorist acts against the United States on 11 September 2001 constituted an odious crime by any standards and must be condemned by all peace-loving religions, peoples and nations. These religions included Islam, which strongly condemned all acts of terrorism against innocent persons and their property.
Recent months had shown that the current worldwide crisis resulted from a disruption of relations based on human dialogue as well as the existence of irresponsible voices diligently seeking to exploit the current situation in order to provoke conflict and racial discrimination, Mr. Al-Kabeer said. After the events of 11 September the world unfortunately witnessed a wave of xenophobia against the Arabs and Muslims on unfounded and unjustified grounds. Saudi Arabia was gravely concerned at the attempts by some media and some politicians to exploit that tragedy in order to point fingers of suspicion, randomly and wrongfully, at Islam and Muslims. It was also gravely concerned at attempts to associate Islam with negative phenomena such as terrorism and bigotry, as a result of which Muslims in various countries were being subjected to numerous forms of discrimination and aggression and Islamic houses of worship and centres were being damaged or destroyed.
The Commission should bear in mind the vicious military attacks, the inhuman treatment, the slaughter of innocent persons, the demolition of property, the destruction of Palestinian economic infrastructure and the on-going blockades to which Palestinians and their leaders were being subjected as a result of the continuing Israeli occupation, Mr. Al-Kabeer said. Given the deteriorating situation in the Palestinian territories, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz had put forward a proposal initiative designed to break the deadlock in the peace process by returning to the fundamental principle of land for peace and compliance with UN resolutions. This initiative also constituted an appropriate framework within which the Israeli side could enjoy a comprehensive peace that would guarantee security for all and offer the possibility of normal relations with Arab States in return for full withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories, the establishment of a Palestinian State with its capital in East Jerusalem, and settlement of the refugee question in accordance with the UN resolutions. As a token of the Arab desire for peace, the Arab States had adopted the initiative unanimously at the recent Arab Summit in Beirut. The Sharon Government had responded to that initiative by shedding more innocent blood, placing a defenseless people and its leaders under siege and attempting to eliminate the Palestinian Authority by subjecting its infrastructure to even further damage and devastation.
Action on resolutions and decisions
In a resolution (E/CN.4/2002.L.8/Rev.1) on strengthening of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, adopted without a vote, the Commission emphasized that the Office was a common office for all and should reflect a diversity of backgrounds, and recalled that the office was governed by Article 101 of the United Nations Charter on staffing policies, which was essential for ensuring the implementation of the principles of universality, objectivity, and non-selectivity in the consideration of human rights issues; encouraged the Office to continue the current practice of making the best use of available human rights expertise relevant to and, as appropriate, from the regions where activities were undertaken; encouraged the Office to ensure transparency in its activities and operations; reiterated the need to ensure that all necessary resources were provided to the office from the regular budget of the United Nations to enable the Office to carry out its mandates efficiently, effectively and expeditiously; welcomed the voluntary contributions to the Office, in particular those from developing countries; reaffirmed that the tasks of the High Commissioner included promoting and protecting the realization of the right to development and economic, social and cultural rights and that the Office should devote adequate resources and staff to these objectives; recommended that the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly provide the Office with ways and means commensurate to its increasing tasks, as well as more resources for Special Rapporteurs; and emphasized the need for an increase in the allocation of resources from within the United Nations regular budget for advisory services and technical cooperation in the field of human rights.
MARIE GERVAIS-VIDRICAIRE (Canada), explaining the Canadian vote on draft resolution L.8, said Canada had been able to join consensus on the resolution although it had some reservations concerning the first operative paragraph on geographical representation. This was not really in accordance with General Assembly rules.
In a resolution (
) on the situation in occupied Palestine, adopted by a roll-call vote of 52 in favour and 1 opposed, the Commission reaffirmed the unqualified right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including their right to establish their sovereign and independent Palestinian State, and looked forward to the early implementation of that right; and requested the Secretary-General to transmit the resolution to the Government of Israel and all other Governments and to make available to the Commission, prior to its fifty-ninth session, all information pertaining to the implementation of the resolution by the Government of Israel.
The result of the vote was as follows:
In favour: Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Togo, Uganda, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Zambia.
JOAQUIN PEREZ-VILLANUEVA Y TOVAR (Spain), speaking on behalf of the European Union (EU), said that the EU supported draft resolution L.4 on the situation in occupied Palestine, including the addition by Saudi Arabia. The EU reiterated the right of the Palestinians to self-determination and did not believe the draft resolution could undermine in any way final status negotiations between the two parties. The right of the Palestinians to self-determination and the establishment of their own State should not be questioned. Establishment of a State would be the best guarantee for the security of Israel. The EU urged the two parties to return to the negotiating table. The basis of negotiations must be relevant Security Council resolutions. The EU reiterated its rejection of the acquisition of territory by force.
NABIL RAMLAWI (Palestine), speaking as a concerned country, said the draft resolution was particularly important for peace in the Middle East and in the world at large. More than a dozen resolutions had already been adopted affirming the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. This was a legitimate right and a priority right among all human rights. Those who would not allow this were acting against international law. No country in the world had suffered as much as the Palestinians when it came to being deprived of the right to self-determination. The war launched by Israel against the Palestinian people was leading to massacres and assassinations with all instruments of violence being used. These practices were preventing the Palestinians from exercising their right to self-determination. The Commission was a beacon of human rights and represented the conscience of the world. Yet it was totally disregarded by Israel. The Commission was on the side of the Palestinian, since the Commission supported human rights. Palestine was sure that this draft would be adopted by an overwhelming majority.
YAAKOV LEVY (Israel), in a statement before the vote on L.4, said the issue of self-determination for the Palestinians was primarily a political issue under negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel supported the principle of self-determination and the right of peoples to govern themselves in every region, the Middle East included. Israel reminded the Commission that not very long ago, Israel and the Palestinians were negotiating outstanding permanent status issues, among them the future status of the territories under dispute. Negotiations broke off as a result of the violence initiated by the Palestinians after the Camp David summit. Once the violence ended, peace talks were bound to resume. Draft resolution L.4 pre-empted the outcome of permanent status negotiations and would only undermine attempts to reach a successful conclusion to these negotiations. Members of the Commission were urged to vote against the resolution.
ANTONIO ARENALES FORNO (Guatemala), in explaining the delegation's vote, said Guatemala acknowledged the right to delf-determination of the Palestinian people. However, until there was explicit recognition of all countries in the region of Israel's right to exist, one could not accept the realization of self-determination of the Palestinian people outside the framework of negotiations between the two parties. Israel had been waiting for acceptance of its existence since 1948. It must not be forgotten that terrorism also undermined the self-determination of the Jewish people. Without failing to recognize the right to self-determination, Guatemala would vote against the draft resolution.
In a resolution (E/CN.4/2002.L.6) on the question of Western Sahara, adopted without a vote, the Commission recalled the agreements reached between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Frente Popular par la Liberacion de Saguia el-Hamra y Rio de Oro for the implementation of the settlement plan during talks under the auspices of the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General; urged the two parties to continue their cooperation with the Secretary-General and the Envoy and to refrain from any initiative that would undermine implementation of the settlement plan; called upon the two parties to cooperate fully in implementing the various phases of the settlement plan and in overcoming the difficulties that remained despite progress so far achieved; encouraged the parties to continue discussions begun under the auspices of the Personal Envoy; urged them to implement faithfully and loyally the Secretary-General's package of measures relating to the identification of voters and the appeals process; reaffirmed its support for further efforts to carry out a referendum for self-determination of the people of Western Sahara that was impartial and free of all constraints in conformity with Security Council resolutions; and urged the parties to solve the problem of the fate of people unaccounted for and called on them to abide by their obligations to release without further delay all those held since the start of the conflict.
In a resolution (E/CN.4/2002.L.7) on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right to self-determination, adopted by a roll-call vote of 36 in favour and 8 opposed, with 9 abstentions, the Commission recognized that armed conflicts, terrorism, arms trafficking and covert operations by Third Powers encouraged the demand for mercenaries on the global market; urged all States to ensure that their territories, and territories under their control, as well as their nationals, were not used for the recruitment, assembly, financing, training and transit of mercenaries for the planning of activities designed to impede the right to self-determination, to overthrow the Government of any State, or dismember or impair the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent States conducting themselves in compliance with the right to self-determination of peoples; welcomed the entry into force of the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries; called upon States to ratify the Convention; welcomed the adoption by some States of national legislation that restricted mercenary activities; invited States to investigate the possibility of mercenary involvement whenever criminal acts of a terrorist nature occurred; requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to publicize the adverse effects of mercenary activities; requested the relevant Special Rapporteur to take into account that mercenary activities were continuing to occur in many parts of the world and taking on new forms; and urged all States to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur.
The vote was as follows:
In favour: Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Bahrain, Brazil, Burundi, Cameroon, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Thailand, Togo, Uganda, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Zambia.
Against : Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Japan, Poland, Sweden, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,
Abstentions: Austria, Croatia, France, Guatemala, Italy, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Syrian Arab Republic, Spain,
JOAQUIN PEREZ-VILLANUEVA Y TOVAR (Spain), speaking on behalf of the European Union, in an explanation of vote on L7, said the European Union shared many of the concerns about the dangers of mercenary activities expressed in the report of the Special Rapporteur and the duration and nature of armed conflicts and strongly condemned the involvement of mercenaries in terrorist activities. However, as in previous years, the European Union could not support the draft resolution since it believed the Commission was not the right forum for dealing with the problem of mercenary activity. It doubted whether the High Commissioner should be asked to devote priority attention to the subject or divert resources to workshops on the matter. The European Union doubted that the use of mercenaries should be dealt with primarily as a human rights problem and as a threat to the right of peoples to self-determination. The European Union would continue to participate actively, and in the appropriate fora, in the dialogue on how to curb the threats posed by mercenary activities.
MARIE GERVAIS-VIDRICAIRE (Canada), in an explanation of vote, said the activities of private military companies, mercenaries and military consultants raised complex issues of human rights, impunity and humanitarian law. Canada was disappointed that such complex issues were being addressed from such a limited perspective. In particular, Canada was concerned that the resolution narrowly focused on self-determination to the exclusion of other human rights enshrined in international instruments. Canada was disappointed that the resolution remained so limited in scope and therefore had decided to vote against it.
In a resolution (E/CN.4/2002.L.2) on human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan, adopted by a roll-call vote of 34 in favour and 1 opposed, with 18 abstentions, the Commission called upon Israel, the occupying power, to comply with relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council, in particular the Council resolution deciding that the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan was null and void; called upon Israel to desist from changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan, and emphasized that displaced persons must be allowed to return to their homes and to recover their properties; called upon Israel to desist from imposing Israeli citizenship and Israeli identity cards on the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan and to desist from repressive measures against them; determined that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken or to be taken by Israel that purported to alter the character and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan were null and void and constituted a flagrant violation of international law and the Geneva Convention relative to protection of civilians in time of war, and had no legal effect; called upon member States not to recognize any such measures; and requested the Secretary-General to report to the Commission on the subject at its fifty-ninth session..
The vote was as follows:
In favour: Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Bahrain, Burundi, Cameroon, Chile, China, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Togo, Uganda, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Zambia.
Abstentions (18 ): , Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, , Peru, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uruguay
MARIE GERVAIS-VIDRICAIRE (Canada) said that while there elements in L.2 that Canada did agree with, it could not support other elements contained therein. Canada recognized that the Golan Heights was occupied territory and supported Security Council resolutions 242 and 336. However, the resolution did not provide a full and balanced assessment of the situation in the region. That was why Canada had abstained and had called for a roll call vote.
YAAKOV LEVY (Israel), speaking as representative of a concerned country, said one must remember how Israel came into possession of the Golan Heights. It was in self-defence against a war initiated by neighbouring Arab countries. Syria had lost the war, which she started in 1967, and had lost that territory. In recent years, Israel had been negotiating with the Syrians, attempting to reach a peaceful solution to outstanding problems including the issue of the Golan Heights. They had been very close to reaching an agreement several years ago, a unique opportunity that was lost because of Mr. Assad's negative reply to Israeli proposals conveyed by the mediator. Israel was still committed to negotiating a peace settlement with Syria. Passing one-sided resolutions that determined the future of one of the outstanding issues, i.e. the Golan Heights, prejudged the outcome of these negotiations and created a disincentive for the Syrians to return to the negotiating table. He appealed to the Commission not to vote in favour of this resolution.
ANTONIO ARENALES FORNO (Guatemala) said Security Council resolutions called for recognition of Israel to exist as a State with secure, recognized borders. Certain Arab countries, however, had been pursuing a policy seeking the destruction of Israel since 1948. L.2 omitted mentioning provisions of international law that recognized the right of self-defence of states. Consequently, Guatemala would vote against it.
TOUFIK SALLOUM (Syria), speaking as representative of a concerned country, said once again the representative of Israel had been distorting the truth. Once again, there were claims that Syria had attacked Israel. There were hundreds of books that stated who launched the attack, including Moshe Dayan's memoirs. Syria had not rejected a peace agreement, but Israel had rejected a peace agreement. It was necessary to remind the Commission of the mentality of the Israeli leaders -- they were pursuing policies of human rights violations. This was not new, in fact, it had begun in 1948. The Security Council had called on Israel to account for its human rights violations and was still waiting for a report on the subject. The distortion of history needed to end. The only way to restore peace in the region was through the withdrawal of Israeli troops. It was time to return the Golan Heights to Syria, not only for peace in the region, but also to allow the Commission to deal with human rights violations in other parts of the world.
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