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Summary record of the 19th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Wednesday, 20 October 2004, at 3 p.m.
Chairman: Mr. Kuchinsky ........................................................................(Ukraine)
later: Ms. Groux (Vice-Chairman) ..................................(Switzerland)
Agenda item 98: Advancement of women (continued)
Agenda item 99: Implementation of the outcome of the Fourth World Conference on Women and of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century” (continued)
Agenda item 101: Promotion and protection of the rights of children (continued)
The meeting was called to order at 3.15 p.m.
Agenda item 101: Promotion and protection of the rights of children (continued) (A/59/41 and Corr.1, A/59/184-S/2004/602, A/59/190, A/59/274 and A/59/331)
26. Ms. Rasheed (Observer for Palestine) said that there were numerous issues of children’s rights which needed to be addressed, but she would focus on the systematic denial of the rights of Palestinian children living in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. For more than 37 years generations of Palestinian children had been subjected to the oppressive and brutal occupation of their country by Israel. The illegal policies and practices of the occupying Power had had a negative impact on the lives of Palestinian children. Their safety and well-being had been gravely endangered and in fact harmed, for Israel had denied them the basic human right: the right to life and personal security. They had also been denied the right to decent living conditions, adequate health care and, at times, even sufficient food and access to education. They had been irreparably traumatized, robbed of their childhood and forced to live in constant fear, insecurity and turmoil. The hardships endured by Palestine’s children, the nation’s future, would have lasting and devastating effects on Palestinian society for many years to come.
27. Over the past four years Israel had shown total disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians, in particular the children. As of 20 October 2004, Israeli forces of occupation had killed more than 3,412 civilians, including 753 children, whose names and ages were annexed to the text of her delegation’s statement circulated at the meeting. The majority of those innocent children had been killed not during confrontations but during military and ground attacks by Israeli forces, carried out in an attempt to commit extrajudicial killings, or as a result of random firing. Furthermore, the majority of the child fatalities had resulted from head wounds – an indication that the children had been deliberately targeted. Particular attention must be drawn to the case of a 13-year-old Palestinian girl who had been murdered by Israeli soldiers, her body riddled by 20 bullets, as she walked to school, because they suspected that she was carrying explosives in her school bag; she had been carrying only school items.
28. As a result of Israel’s oppressive measures and the widespread violence an alarming number of Palestinian children were suffering from psychological trauma, with the attendant symptoms of anxiety, fear, nightmares, anger and depression. Such children, who lived under constant threat from which there was no refuge even in the home, the classroom or the hospital, had witnessed the killing of their parents and brothers and sisters and other relations and friends, had seen their homes demolished, and lived in steadily worsening social and economic conditions. Thousands upon thousands were living below the poverty line and suffering hunger and malnutrition. The picture was markedly different from the one described in “A world fit for children”.
29. In the light of that critical situation it was imperative to recall the relevant provisions of international law, in particular international humanitarian and human rights law. According to 27 Security Council resolutions, countless General Assembly resolutions and the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice of 9 July 2004, the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (Fourth Geneva Convention) should be applied throughout the territory occupied by Israel since 1967, including East Jerusalem. According to the conclusions of the International Criminal Court and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child should also be applied there.
30. There was absolutely no doubt that the occupying Power was committing grave violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention in its policies and practices with regard to the Palestinian people, including Palestinian children. Nor was there any doubt that Israel was violating the rights enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the two international covenants, seriously damaging and endangering the lives of Palestine’s innocent and defenceless children living in the occupied territories. Those children deserved a better life, a life in which growing, playing and learning in freedom, peace and security were not luxuries but realities.
31. Her delegation would resubmit the draft resolution adopted in 2003 on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian children (resolution 58/155), for it was imperative for the United Nations to send out a strong and clear message to prevent the situation of Palestinian children from continuing to deteriorate.
43. Ms. Noman (Yemen) ...
46. The biological family must be accorded a central role in children’s education and emphasis must be placed on the joint responsibility of the parents. It was also important to provide children with a good education, based in Yemen on Islamic precepts which accorded to all children a set of rights from the embryonic state. It was equally important to carry out programmes for the protection of children in early childhood. At the same time States had a responsibility to do everything possible to protect children in situations of armed conflict and to prohibit their use as soldiers. Attention must be drawn in that connection to the tragic situation of Palestinian children, whose aspirations and dreams were constantly being shattered as a result of the violent occupation of their land by Israel. Her delegation appealed to the international community to make it possible for peace to return to the region and to improve the situation children throughout the world.
47. Mr. Rahman (Bangladesh) ...
50. His Government believed that the best means of promoting children’s development was to provide them with a social environment based on the values of pluralism, democracy, human rights, family tradition and cultural norms. It was carrying out its programmes and other measures for children in collaboration with the private sector, NGOs and development partners. Attention must be given at the global level to the situation of children affected by armed conflicts, including children living under occupation by a foreign Power, as in Palestine. ...
80. Mr. Israeli (Israel), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that those delegations which blamed Israel for the suffering of Palestinian children should understand that nobody was denying the existence of such suffering. The question was: where did its origins lie? And the answer was: with the Palestinian leaders, who had decided to continue on the path of violence rather than the path of reconciliation and who, by their irresponsible decisions, had robbed their country’s children of hope. The interests and rights of Palestinian children could not be safeguarded by leaders who allowed terrorists to operate from within civilian areas, sheltering behind schools and hospitals and putting the lives of Palestinian children at risk, or by corrupt leaders who condemned their children to poverty and preached martyrdom in their education system in order to create a new generation of terrorists. Nor should anyone forget the right of Israeli children not to be murdered by rockets fired by terrorists from within civilian areas, in contravention of international humanitarian law, and not to be murdered in public places, in their homes or in their parents’ arms. In order to safeguard the rights of Israeli and Palestinian children it was necessary to follow the path of reconciliation indicated in the Road Map, to put an end to terror and embrace anew the hope offered by negotiations.
81. Ms. Rasheed (Observer for Palestine), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the accusation made by the representative of Israel that the Palestinian leaders sent children to be murdered was a flagrant manifestation of racism and revealed Israel’s intention to denigrate the victims in order to dehumanize the Palestinian people by insinuating that those leaders cared less for the lives of their children than did the leaders of other peoples. The purpose of that kind of statement was to try to divert attention from the adults who were truly responsible – the Israeli soldiers who shot and killed and the Israeli Government which supported such crimes. The Palestinian people had no need to bring their children to violence because violence came at their children from all directions: at school, at home, and in the street. As to the Palestinian leaders’ alleged incitement of hatred, the propensity to hate was not determined by genes but built by society, and suicides were not born but were made. Moreover, when comparing the violence committed by the two parties it was necessary to distinguish between individual acts, such as the ones committed by a few Palestinians, and the acts of Governments, such as the ones committed by Israel. Palestinian children could not feel happy or content in an environment of violence, destruction and oppression in which they were robbed of their childhood. If Israel wished to save children’s lives, it must end its occupation.
82. Mr. Israeli (Israel), referring to the article in the Israeli press mentioned by the representative of Egypt at a previous meeting, which had condemned the violence suffered by Palestinian children, said that the day when the Palestinian communications media expressed similar thoughts and showed the same compassion towards Israeli victims of the violence would mark the approach of the end of the conflict between Palestine and Israel.
The meeting rose at 6.05 p.m.
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Corrections will be issued after the end of the session, in a separate corrigendum for each Committee.