Press Release

17 October 2000

Objective Independent Inquiry May Assist in Resolving Disputed Issues,
Mary Robinson Tells Special Session of Human Rights Commission

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson today called on all concerned by the current violence in the occupied Palestinian territories to place the protection of human life at the top of their agenda and bring about an immediate halt to the deaths and injuries.

Speaking at the opening of a Special Session of the Commission on Human Rights, the fifth to be held, the High Commissioner said international human rights standards were very clear: torture, disappearances and indiscriminate killings could never be justified under any circumstances, not even in time of war. Children must be taken out of the front line, she continued, and their protection must be an absolute priority for both parties.

Mrs. Robinson told Commission delegates that an objective independent inquiry into events of the past weeks may assist in resolving issues which remained in dispute. In envisaging such an inquiry, she said, one would need to consider the most appropriate entity to conduct it, and to have regard to discussions elsewhere relating to this matter. 'It may be that the Commission is the appropriate body, or it may mandate a human rights component to participate in or support such an inquiry under other auspices. My Office stands ready to assist in any way that may be considered helpful', she added.

The High Commissioner also called on the parties to return to the negotiating table as a matter of the utmost urgency. 'The key to a peaceful and stable future in the region lies in developing a culture of human rights and tolerance', she said. 'There is much evidence that the majority of the people of the region understand this very well. We all know that a very difficult process still lies ahead. The immediate priority is for all the violence to stop so that the peace process can continue'.

Mrs. Robinson concluded by calling on the international community, the parties concerned, and neighbouring States and friendly countries to engage in deep reflection with a view to implementing strategies for the promotion of tolerance and harmony 'among two kindred peoples'.

'On the eve of next year's World Conference to Combat Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, it behooves all concerned to help in the promotion of tolerance and harmony', she said.

For information media - not an official record