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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York


Fifty-eighth General Assembly
Third Committee
45th &46th Meetings (AM & PM)
GA/SHC/3766
14 November 2003

SPEAKERS IN THIRD COMMITTEE DEBATE STRESS NEED TO INTEGRATE RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS INTO COUNTER-TERRORISM STRATEGIES

Importance of Development in Relation to Human Rights also Stressed


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Background

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural) will continue its consideration of human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights, and human rights situations.

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Statements on Human Rights

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DON MACKAY (New Zealand) ...

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He expressed concern at the innocent people dying on both sides of the Israeli and Palestinian conflict and urged both sides to refrain from violence, to identify those responsible for human rights violations and bring them to justice, and to observe fully international human rights standards.  The Palestinian Authority must reject violence, and Israel needed to desist from imposing obstacles to reconciliation, notably the security wall around the West Bank.  ...

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ZE’EV LURIA (Israel) said his Government recognized the growing importance of teaching the younger generation about human rights, a subject emphasized in the Secretary-General’s report on human rights education, and was deeply committed to the promotion of such education.  Israel believed that continuous development of that subject –- which included formulation and implementation of curricula appropriate for every student in the school system – was crucial for Israeli society.  That became clear when one considered the heterogeneous nature of Israeli society, comprised of Arabs and Jews, religious and secular, persons, veteran Israelis and new immigrants from many countries.   It was particularly important in light of the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians.

In contrast to the former view that Israeli society should be a “melting pot” for the various groups of which it was composed, today the prevailing concept was multiculturalism, he said.  As part of the efforts to foster understanding between Jews and Arabs, schoolbooks were including for the first time “Palestinian Narrative”, presenting the story of the Palestinians next to the story of Zionism and the return of the Jews to their homeland.

In addition to the regular curriculum, he said the Israeli authorities ran various informal frameworks that contributed to human rights education.  One of these was the Youth and Society Administration of the Ministry of Education, which was responsible for the operation and guidance of Israel’s informal and extracurricular system.  Among its goals were education towards an era of peace in the Middle East, coexistence among the different ethnic and cultural groups who lived in Israel, fostering a democracy way of life, and narrowing socio-economic gaps.

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Statement in Exercise of Right of Reply

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ANTOINE CHEDID (Lebanon) said Lebanon had throughout its history exerted great efforts to preserve and promote human rights.  It had participated actively in drawing up international legislation for human rights and believed that freedom, democracy and religious tolerance were basic human rights without which no human society could grow and prosper.  Lebanon had people who followed different religions and creeds and who practiced their beliefs with dignity and tolerance.  Mosques and churches coexisted with acceptance of each other. 

He said the right to development focused on the link between political, economic, cultural and social rights.  The right of people to live in their homeland was a basic right underscored by human rights laws.  Since 1948, Palestinian refugees had been living in refugee camps in Lebanon.  It was their basic right to return to the homeland from which they were evicted by the occupying force. Lebanon strongly rejected the nationalization of Palestinians as a violation of their human rights.  The United Nations had always recognized the right of Palestinians to return home. Lebanon condemned Israel’s continual rejection and refusal to implement Security Council resolutions, thus preventing the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. 

He added that it was regrettable and shameful that the Special Rapporteur was prevented from visiting Israeli prisons to investigate the status of Lebanese detainees captured on Lebanese territory and detained in Israeli prisons in violation of their human rights. 

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NADYA RASHEED, Observer of Palestine said any assessment of human rights violations against Palestinians must be made in the context of foreign occupation. Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands was a brutal and cruel form of colonization.  Palestinian refugees had endured great injustices and hardships for more than 50 years and continued to be deprived of basic human and national rights.  Since September 2000, Israel’s war crimes, State terrorism and systematic human rights violations against Palestinians had continued unabated.  More than 2,600 Palestinians had been killed and another 40,000 seriously injured.  Israeli occupying forces continued to destroy homes, property, road infrastructure, and water and electricity networks in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.

The separation wall under construction further restricted Palestinians’ freedom of movement and access to health and education, and resulted in the illegal seize of Palestinian property, she continued.  Only by ending the occupation and the ongoing colonization of Palestinian land would Palestinians be granted their basic and fundamental human rights, including the creation of a Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its capital.  Israel could not be allowed to continue committing serious violations and grave breaches with impunity.

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