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


GA/8963
22 October 1995


SPECIAL COMMEMORATIVE MEETING OF GENERAL ASSEMBLY BEGINS AT HEADQUARTERS

World Leaders Gathered for Three Days of Meetings Praise United Nations Past Accomplishments, Urge Reforms To Bring Organization into 21st Century

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Special Commemorative Meeting

The General Assembly decided in May 1994 to convene a special commemorative meeting at Headquarters from 22 to 24 October 1995, at the level of head of State or government on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the entry into force of the Charter of the United Nations (resolution 48/215 B).

The Preparatory Committee for the fiftieth anniversary was established by the Assembly in April 1992. At a meeting of the Committee last June, the initial list of speakers for the special meeting was determined by a drawing of lots and subsequently rearranged in accordance with the Assembly's established practice. The Assembly also decided that the first speaker of the special meeting would be the head of State of the host country.

The Committee, open to the participation of all Member States, had the task of considering and recommending to the Assembly proposals for activities in connection with the observance of the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations, on the understanding that its decisions would be taken by consensus. Among its decisions, the Committee agreed that the theme for the commemoration would be "We the Peoples of the United Nations ... United for a Better World". It also established a drafting group to prepare a declaration for adoption by the special commemorative meeting.

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Addresses

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GRO HARLEM BRUNDTLAND, Prime Minister of Norway: ...

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The peace-keeping and conflict prevention capacity of the United Nations must be improved to save more lives and save expenses. An international society must be built where the strong are just and the weak are secure. "We need affirmative action in the interest of our poorest members. We need an international public sector and a conscientious human rights watch here at the United Nations. We must bring justice where the limits are overstepped, and support the new international courts, including the idea of an international criminal court, to make a civilized world." Steps towards a civilized world will include the completion of the Middle East peace process; the prohibition of anti-personnel landmines; and the implementation of a comprehensive test-ban.

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YASSER ARAFAT, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO): The United Nations history is intertwined with the question of Palestine. It was the United Nations which adopted the resolution on the partition of Palestine into two states: one Jewish and one Arab. The history and resolutions of the Organization constitute a permanent, legal, political and moral responsibility. It should continue to sponsor the Palestinian cause, alongside the Israeli-Palestinian agreements, until achievement of the Palestinian peoples inalienable rights, including the right to return, to self-determination and to national independence.

The initiative for the peace process was made on the basis of United Nations resolutions, particularly Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, and on the principle of land for peace. The Palestinian question therefore remains a United Nations concern, particularly because important issues -- such as the questions of Al-Quds Al-Sharif (Jerusalem), refugees, settlements and final borders -- have been left to the final stage of the process.

The Palestinian people have always affirmed their desire for peace. When they embarked on the peace process, "the peace option became an irreversible Palestinian decision. It springs from our people's desire to turn over the leaf of killing and destruction once and for all, so that the Palestinian people and Israeli people may live side by side, in two independent states, on the basis of mutual respect".

The historic Palestinian-Israeli reconciliation must be carried through as envisaged. It must be completed on all the other Arab-Israeli tracks -- particularly the Lebanese and Syrian tracks -- so that peace may be comprehensive and include the peoples of Iraq and Libya. The Palestinian side is determined to go forward to complete the transitional stage and enter into negotiations on final status.

Support is needed to enable the Palestinian people to build its infrastructure, which has been destroyed by the occupation, to come back together to build their political system on the basis of democratic plurality and freedom. The PLO also supports the trend towards expanding the membership of the Security Council.


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