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        General Assembly
24 November 1997

Original: English

Fifty-second session
Official Records

Third Committee

Summary record of the 27th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Thursday, 6 November 1997, at 10 a.m.

Chairman: Mr. Busacca . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (Italy)



Agenda item 111: Right of peoples to self-determination


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


Agenda item 111: Right of peoples to self-determination (A/52/139, A/52/286-S/1997/647, A/52/413, A/52/447-S/1997/775, A/52/485 and 495)


15. Ms. Quisumbing (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, New York), ...


18. Turning to agenda item 111, and drawing attention to the Secretary-General’s report (A/52/485), she noted that the Commission on Human Rights, at its latest session, had adopted resolutions concerning the situation in occupied Palestine, the question of Western Sahara and the Middle East peace process.


24. Mr. Wissa (Egypt) said that States Members of the United Nations had repeatedly stressed that the right to self-determination was a fundamental human right. The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination had been an issue ever since the United Nations had been established. The United Nations had left its stamp on developments in the Arab-Israeli struggle, and had adopted many landmark resolutions on the issue of Palestine. Those resolutions, which represented the most important basis for a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement in the Middle East, recognized the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.

25. The peace process in the Middle East was based on the principles of land for peace and respect for the rights of the parties to the conflict, pursuant to Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). The Oslo Accords had recognized that the Palestinian people had legitimate national and political rights, including the right to self-determination.

26. Egypt was making every effort to achieve peace in the Middle East, and to make a just and comprehensive peace a strategic goal. Such a peace could be realized only by instituting a system that would guarantee the rights of all parties and Israeli withdrawal from all occupied land.

27. Egypt would continue to promote its concept of a just and comprehensive peace in the region and would resist any attempts to subvert that goal. The aspirations of all the peoples in the region to live in peace, cooperation and stability, must be met.

28. As it had done during the three previous sessions of the General Assembly, the Egyptian delegation would sponsor a draft resolution concerning the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, and hoped for wide support from Member States.


52. Ms. Cornette (Guyana), speaking on behalf of the members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), ...


56. With regard to tem 111, they reaffirmed their commitment to the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and called for collective efforts towards a peaceful solution. They also urged all States and the United Nations to continue to collaborate in efforts to bring an end to mercenary activities, which posed a threat to international peace and security.


68. Mr. Xie Bohua (China) ...


70. The restoration of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people was the key to ensuring peace and stability in the Middle East. China welcomed the resumption of peace talks between Palestine and Israel and appreciated the efforts by the parties concerned to overcome difficulties. He hoped that they would adhere to the relevant United Nations resolutions and the agreements reached during the peace process, observe the principle of land for peace, and negotiate in a practical and flexible spirit so that the peace process would continue to make progress.


75. Mr. Hassouna (League of Arab States) said that the exercise of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to self-determination, had been an issue of great concern over the years to both the United Nations and the League of Arab States. The self-determination of peoples was one of the basic principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and the Organization had adopted numerous resolutions affirming self-determination as a right of peoples living under foreign occupation or subject to alien subjugation.

76. One of the most important of those resolutions was the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, which stressed that the principle of equal rights and selfdetermination of peoples constituted a significant contribution to contemporary international law, and that subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constituted a violation of that principle. The right of all peoples to self-determination had also been stressed in numerous other General Assembly resolutions and international instruments.

77. The United Nations had, since its founding, been concerned to establish the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, and had adopted a number of principles relating to that issue.

78. They included the following: that recognition by the 1947 partition resolution of an Arab State included recognition of the Palestinian people’s right to selfdetermination; that the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, pursuant to United Nations resolutions, was an integral part of their right to self-determination; that the United Nations should condemn Governments which denied the right of peoples particularly the Palestinian people, to self-determination; that respect for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to self-determination, was essential to the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East; that the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, free of foreign interference, and its right to independence and national sovereignty were interlinked rights included among the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people; that, in accordance with the fourth Geneva Convention, which applied to all occupied Arab land, the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination was not affected by the illegal activities undertaken by the occupying Power in the occupied territories.

79. The issue of the exercise of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to self-determination, had been a principal focus of the work of the League of Arab States since it had been established in 1945. Both the Alexandria Protocol and the Pact of the League contained special provisions affirming the Arab identity of Palestine and the right of the Arabs of Palestine to independence.

80. As a result of recent developments with regard to Palestine, including the conclusion of the Palestinian-Israeli accords, the Palestinian people were in a position to realize their legitimate national rights. If the peace process was to be continued and a just and comprehensive peace achieved, Israel would have to withdraw from all occupied Palestinian land, including Arab Jerusalem, and permit the Palestinian people to exercise its right to self-determination and establish an independent State.

81. He wished to remind the Government of Israel, which habitually opposed any draft resolution affirming the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, of the words of David Ben Gurion, who had stated that the Arabs in Palestine had the right to self-determination, and that that right was not limited and could not be qualified by Israel’s own interests.


The meeting rose at 12.55 p.m.

This record is subject to correction. Corrections should be sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned within one week of the date of publication to the Chief of the Official Records Editing Section, room DC2-750, 2 United Nations Plaza, and incorporated in a copy of the record. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session, in a separate corrigendum for each Committee.

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