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        Economic and Social Council
25 September 2008

Original: English

Substantive session of 2008
Humanitarian affairs segment

Provisional summary record of the 30th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Tuesday, 15 July 2008, at 3 p.m. President: Mr. Park In-kook (Vice-President) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (Republic of Korea) Contents In the absence of Mr. Mérorès (Haiti), Mr. Park In-kook (Republic of Korea), Vice-President, took the chair.

The meeting was called to order at 3.15 p.m.

Special economic, humanitarian and disaster relief assistance (E/2008/71 and E/2008/80)

1. The President said that the humanitarian affairs segment, organized around the theme of “building capabilities and capacities at all levels for timely humanitarian assistance, including disaster risk reduction”, offered an opportunity for the Council, joined by the international humanitarian community, to discuss how best to respond to the growing humanitarian implications of the current food security crisis and of natural disasters. Member States would be able to reiterate their commitment to upholding the principles of United Nations humanitarian action — humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence — and to reaffirm their responsibility for their citizens’ well-being. They should be prepared to face increasingly complex emergencies that disregarded national boundaries, but also to allow and facilitate humanitarian aid and support from regional and international partners.


93. Mr. Ja’afari (Observer for the Syrian Arab Republic) said that while the international community tried to protect individuals from the impact of natural disasters and complex emergencies, its measures were incomplete and selective. Despite international agreements such as the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, civilians paid the heaviest price; the inhabitants of regions suffering armed conflict or foreign occupation faced acts of violence, confiscation of land, forced expulsions and obstacles to humanitarian assistance.

94. The most striking example was that of the occupied Palestinian territory; Israel continued to step up its blockade of the Gaza Strip, depriving its people of their means of subsistence; cutting off water, electricity, food and medicine; and preventing humanitarian organizations from delivering assistance. There had been a major lack of balance in the United Nations response to that situation; the blockade should be condemned by the international community since the Charter of the United Nations did not allow States to violate the rights of civilians, including those living under occupation, and set out the obligations of occupying Powers. The international community, including the Council, had clear responsibilities in that area and should take immediate, concrete steps to implement international humanitarian law in order to achieve the goal of strengthening the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations, the subject of the current debate.

95. The situation in the occupied Syrian Golan was similar to that of the occupied Palestinian territory; Israel was seizing land and private property, impeding freedom of movement, taxing agricultural production at punitive rates and making it difficult for the population to live in decent conditions. Its actions were in breach of international law and of its obligations as an occupying Power under United Nations resolutions and the Geneva Conventions.

96. By deliberately preventing access to humanitarian assistance, Israel was jeopardizing the life of civilians. The occupied Syrian Golan should be included in United Nations efforts to strengthen the coordination of humanitarian assistance, especially since the Syrian Arab Republic contributed to CERF. In view of the provisions of Council resolution 2004/50, which called upon States to assist civilians in occupied territories, his delegation urged the international community to put pressure on Israel to meet its commitments under the Geneva Conventions and open the crossing points to allow the passage of humanitarian assistance into the occupied territories.


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