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UNITED
NATIONS
A

        General Assembly
Distr.
GENERAL
A/C.3/55/SR.40
30 October 2000

Original: English

General Assembly
Fifty-fifth session
Third Committee

Summary record of the 40th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Monday, 30 October 2000, at 10 a.m.

Chairperson: Ms. Gittens-Joseph.................................................. (Trinidad and Tobago)


Contents

Agenda item 114: Human rights questions (continued)

(b) Human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms (continued)

(c) Human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives (continued)

(d) Comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (continued)

(e) Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (continued)


The meeting was called to order at 10.15 a.m.


Agenda item 114: Human rights questions (continued)


(b) Human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms (continued) (A/55/177, 213 and Add.1, A/55/214 and Add.1, A/55/275 and Add.1, A/55/279, 280 and Add.1 and 2, A/55/283, 288, 289, 291, 292, 296 and Add.1, A/55/302, 306, 328, 342, 360, A/55/395-S/2000/880, A/55/404-S/2000/889 and A/55/408; A/C.3/55/2)


(c) Human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives (continued) (A/55/269, A/ 55/282 and Corr.1, 294, 318, 335, 346, 358, 359, 363, 374, 400, 403, 509 and A/55/426-S/2000/913)


(d) Comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (continued) (A/55/36 and A/55/438-S/2000/93)


(e) Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (continued) (A/55/36)

/...

13. Mr. Paran (Israel), speaking under agenda item 114 (b), said that freedom of religion and belief were essential to the development of both individual and State identity. Governments must ensure the realization of that fundamental — albeit controversial — right. At the same time, however, they must combat all incitement to violence. Every democratic regime struggled with that task, which was also of great concern to the international community. In the era of globalization, free flows of information on the media and the Internet allowed for widespread dissemination of hate speech and racist propaganda. Such issues stirred heated debate in Israel and highlighted the importance of striking a balance between free speech, the maintenance of public order and the prevention of incitement.

14. In a multicultural and democratic society such as Israel, the highest priority was accorded to freedom of expression. At the same time, both penal law and jurisprudence had long prohibited incitement to racism and violence. Moreover, penalties for offences committed with racist intent had been stiffened. Racist parties were barred from all elections — a policy that had been upheld by the Supreme Court.

15. Even the most ardent supporters of free expression in Israel recognized that it could not constitute an absolute right. Rather, it was subject to limitations arising from other legitimate rights and interests, such as State security or an individual’s reputation. Furthermore, absolute freedom of expression could adversely affect the delicate web of relations between Arabs and Jews. The terrible history of the Jewish people had demonstrated that extreme racist expression almost inevitably led to racist deeds and that the struggle against racism must begin with a complete uprooting of expressions of racist incitement. The assassination of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had represented a turning point in the attitude of Israeli society towards incitement, leading to a strengthening of law-enforcement and monitoring mechanisms.

16. Manifestations of racism, anti-Semitism and hate speech continued to pervade the world, the Middle East included. In some parts of Europe, the phenomenon had reached worrisome levels. Freedom of expression was a double-edged sword. It could be used either to fan the flames of hatred between peoples and neighbours, or as a bridge to enhance respect and tolerance. However, it was only if freedom of expression was used to stimulate genuine public discourse that it would fulfil its potential to further the cause of peace and cooperation among nations.

/...


The meeting rose at 11.25 a.m.



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