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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS

HR/CN/998
19 March 2003

SENIOR OFFICIALS FROM 10 COUNTRIES AND ONE INTERNATIONAL
ORGANIZATION ADDRESS COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
(Reissued as received.)


GENEVA, 19 March (UN Information Service) -- Senior officials from Tanzania, Morocco, Finland, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, the Sudan, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Estonia, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Kazakhstan, as well as the President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, this morning addressed the Commission on Human Rights as it continued with its high-level segment.

Among the main topics addressed by the speakers was the conflict in the Middle East, the fight against extremism and terrorism, the growing vilification of Islam, and the negative impacts of globalization on developing countries.  The speakers noted that it was clear that all these issues were linked, with the increased feeling of disenfranchisement among the peoples of the developing countries giving rise to such phenomena as cultural and religious discrimination, and a consequent growth in levels of extremism.

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The Minister for Justice and Chairman of the Advisory Council on Human Rights of the Sudan said the situation in the occupied Palestinian and Arab territories was of grave concern, and it was essential that the relevant resolutions of the Commission be implemented.  However, it was the situation with regard to Iraq that was perhaps the most difficult one facing the international community in recent history.

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The Minister of State of Tanzania said the conflict in the Middle East continued to undermine human rights and the humanitarian situation in the region.  Terrorism had also become an acute threat to international peace, justice and security, and Governments should act together in fighting terrorism, as they were all duty bound to provide security to their citizens.  Globalization was unstoppable, but it was only acceptable if it respected justice and promoted human rights.

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Statements

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TORKI BEN MOHAMMED BEN SAUD AL-KABEER, Assistant Deputy Minister for Political Affairs and Head of the International Organizations Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, said that his country had emphasized its unconditional support for the resolutions on terrorism adopted by both the Security Council and the Commission and had collaborated fully with the international community in its endeavours to combat terrorism.  Saudi Arabia subscribed to the general view, however, that in the fight against terrorism, all States must respect the values of human rights and must refrain from using the need to combat terrorism as a pretext to engage in acts of discrimination against any race or religion or to associate any religion, and particularly the Islamic faith, with terrorism and extremism.  Moreover, while categorically condemning all forms of terrorism, a distinction must be made between the phenomenon of terrorism and the right of peoples to resist occupation and achieve self-determination. 

Mr. Al-Kabeer said that what we saw and heard on a daily basis reflected the tragic situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and the flagrant practices of the Israeli occupation forces, which were exploiting the tense political situation in the region and totally disregarding not only the resolutions of the Commission but also all the conventions governing international humanitarian law.  Lasting peace in the Middle East must be based on justice and equality.  Peace could not prevail without respect for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, recovery of all Arab rights and Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories and the occupied Golan and Lebanese Shabaa farms.  Discontinuance of the policy of double standards in dealing with Middle Eastern issues was one way to help achieve this.

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ALI M.O. YASSIN, Minister of Justice and Chairman of the Advisory Council on Human Rights of the Sudan, ...

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The situation in the occupied Palestinian and Arab territories was of grave concern, and it was essential that the relevant resolutions of the Commission be implemented.  However, it was the situation with regard to Iraq that was perhaps the most difficult one facing the international community in recent history.  Any military strike against Iraq without the authorization of the United Nations Security Council would be void of any legality, and would undermine the United Nations.  Sudan opposed any military action against Iraq.

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ABDERRAHMAN MOHAMMED SHALGAM, Secretary of the General People's Committee for Foreign Liaisons and International Cooperation of Libya, ...

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Referring to the situation of the Palestinian people, he said the right to self-determination was a permanent item on this Commission's agenda.  The realization of this important right had been hampered by serious obstacles.  There was a growing tendency of linking national struggles for independence with the horrible phenomenon of international terrorism.  Libya was opposed to such tendencies.  Libya's position must not be interpreted as trying to justify any form of terrorism since Libya firmly rejected and condemned terrorism.  There was no way one could compare this rejected and condemned practice with a struggle for a human right defended by the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  The Commission was entrusted with the implementation of human rights instruments.  It had to adopt a clear position on the issue and should not condone any attempt to deprive people of their right to freedom under the pretext of fighting terrorism. 

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G. ALI KHOSHROO, Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran, said the analysis of the international human rights instruments, enacted since the inception of the United Nations, corroborated the conviction of the international community to respect and protect human rights.  However this conviction had not been fully realized due to the lack of a close relationship between human rights on the one hand, and a creative and conducive environment on the other.  Human rights were closely linked and relevant to issues of high significance such as peace and development.  The close relationship between human rights and peace was therefore undeniable.  Armed conflicts and wars not only undermined the security and stability of nations, but also diminished the enjoyment of human rights.  This could be best seen and understood by the present situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Right of Reply

A Representative of Israel, exercising his right of reply, said several references had been made to the situation in the Middle East and Israeli actions this morning.  These actions had not taken place in a vacuum but rather in an impossible political situation, as a result of the Palestinian choice to dismiss the peace process.  In recent years, there had been 1,600 recorded Palestinian terrorist activities which affected every level of Israeli life.  Having transferred the security responsibilities to the Palestinian Authority, in return for it taking concrete action to prevent terrorism, Israel had been faced with a situation where the Palestinian Authority was not preventing but supporting terrorism.  It was regrettable that Iran, in the statement made during the morning, had made no reference to the inherent right to life of Israelis and Jews, particularly vis-à-vis the Iranian terrorist attacks that had been carried out in Buenos Aires.   The Israeli Representative called upon the Iranian Government to present a report and an inquiry as to who was behind this terrible act. 


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