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UNITED
NATIONS
E

        Economic and Social Council
Distr.
GENERAL
E/CN.4/1999/SR.45
23 April 1999

Original: ENGLISH

COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

Fifty-fifth session

SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 45th MEETING

Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Tuesday, 20 April 1999, at 3 p.m.


Chairperson: Ms. ANDERSON (Ireland)


CONTENTS

PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS:

(a) STATUS OF THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS;

(b) HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS;

(c) INFORMATION AND EDUCATION;

(d) SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENT (continued)

ORGANIZATION OF THE WORK OF THE SESSION (continued)



This record is subject to correction.

Corrections should be submitted in one of the working languages. They should be set forth in a memorandum and also incorporated in a copy of the record. They should be sent within one week of the date of this document to the Official Records Editing Section, room E.4108, Palais des Nations, Geneva.

Any corrections to the records of the public meetings of the Commission at this session will be consolidated in a single corrigendum, to be issued shortly after the end of the session.


The meeting was called to order at 3 p.m.


PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS:

(a) STATUS OF THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS;

(b) HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS;

(c) INFORMATION AND EDUCATION;

(d) SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENT

(agenda item 17) (continued) (E/CN.4/1999/52 and Corr.1 and Add.1, 86_88, 89 and Add.1, 90_92, 116, 122, 138 and 139; E/CN.4/1999/NGO/9, 38, 63 and 78)

...

38. Ms. SHARFELDDIN (International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination) said that the atrocities committed against the Palestinian people and the horrific treatment of the people of the Balkans made one wonder about the effectiveness of international law. The right of veto given to the super-Powers by the Charter of the United Nations was intended to prevent acts of aggression by the strong against the weak, but such acts were being committed every day, threatening international peace in violation of international law and Security Council resolutions.

...

ORGANIZATION OF THE WORK OF THE SESSION (agenda item 3) (continued)

75. The CHAIRPERSON said that, in accordance with her earlier statement to the Commission (E/CN.4/1999/SR.39, paras. 18-21), she wished to make a ruling in relation to the right to raise points of order. The first aspect of her ruling related to Palestine. In accordance with the advice of the Office of Legal Affairs in New York, which relied on General Assembly resolution 52/250 and the accompanying note by the Secretary_General contained in document A/52/1002, her ruling was that the Observer for Palestine had the right in the Commission to raise points of order relating to Palestinian and Middle East issues, provided that the right to raise such a point of order did not include the right to challenge a decision by the Presiding Officer.

76. The second aspect of her ruling related to the right of observer Governments generally to raise points of order, the matter at issue being the interpretation to be given to rule 42.1 of the rules of procedure of the functional commissions of the Economic and Social Council. Like the issue of Palestinian rights, the matter had been carefully considered in the Bureau over the past two weeks and there had been extensive consultation. According to her understanding, there was a widespread feeling that, in all the circumstances, the fair and reasonable approach was that observer Governments should have the right to raise points of order before the Commission. She therefore ruled that, for the purposes of article 42.1, the term “a representative” was to be interpreted in the Commission on Human Rights as applying both to representatives of members of the Commission and representatives of Member States of the United Nations not members of the Commission on Human Rights but participating in its work in an observer capacity.

77. Ms. RUBIN (United States of America) said that her delegation questioned whether it was wise for the Commission to cede authority over its own procedures to the General Assembly. The Commission's established practice precluded observers, even if they were Member States of the United Nations, from raising procedural points of order or introducing resolutions of their own accord. That practice was not negated by the General Assembly resolution. The Office of Legal Affairs should be asked to reconcile its new opinion with its prior opinions, indicating that non-member States were precluded from either raising points of order, within the United Nations or the functional commissions of the Economic and Social Council, or introducing resolutions.

78. Any change to the Commission's rules or practices required the action of the Council itself. Only the Council could change its own rules of procedure or practice, not the General Assembly.

79. To accord both the Palestinians and non-member States the right to raise points of order or introduce resolutions would confuse and impair the work of the Commission. The resulting impact needed to be considered systematically and comprehensively; it should not be decided in the context of the Palestinian issue alone. Her delegation thus recommended that the issue of according enhanced status to any observer be studied, without prejudice, and considered at the next session of the Commission, since it was an issue that would significantly change the Commission's practice and its authority to run its own house.

80. The CHAIRPERSON said she took note of the statement. She was glad that it had taken the form of a statement and not a challenge to her ruling since, in the latter event, she would have been obliged to put the matter to a vote.

The meeting rose at 6 p.m.

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