The redistribution of social, economic and cultural power was necessarily entwined in the struggle against racism and racial discrimination, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) heard this morning as it continued deliberating issues related to racism and self-determination.
Numerous countries called for peaceful settlement in the Middle East. Both the representative of Israel and the observer of Palestine said they were committed to it.
Committee Work Programme
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this morning to continue considering issues related to racism and to self-determination. (For background, see Press Release GA/SHC/3596 of 18 October.)
DUMISANI S. KUMALO (South Africa), ...
On the right to self-determination, he said that principle was a fundamental human right. With that in mind, his delegation deplored the recent acts of violence in occupied East Jerusalem. He called on the Israeli Government to exercise restraint and to avoid disproportionate use of force in the Palestinian territories.
HAZZA MOHAMMAD FALAH AL-QAHTANI (United Arab Emirates) said racial discrimination was one of the gravest injustices in the world today. Every single racial crime must be investigated. Schools and means of communication must be used to raise a new generation that was tolerant. There was too much that was wrong in the media, and its defamation of people was rampant. Since 1948, Israel had used all its power to spread wrong information about the Palestinians and Arabs. Arab houses were being burned by a Government that whined about having been wronged. It was God's will that a 12-year-old Palestinian child should be photographed as he was shot, with his father unable to protect him.
The suffering occurring in occupied Palestine was out of tune with the twenty-first century and with the Millennium Summit, which had stressed tolerance. The international community must intervene in the situation in the occupied territories to liberate the Palestinian people from the genocide occurring there. There must be no double standard.
SIMONA FRANKEL (Israel) said the tools of communication must be mobilized to prevent incidents of racism and violence before they occurred. Electronic communication in conjunction with other means could become a basis for information on acts of racism. It could educate the young and facilitate the development of tolerance for those who were different, preventing the development of hostility derived from ignorance. The United Nations must find a way to take advantage of the Internet and, conversely, prevent the use of the Internet as an avenue for disseminating destructive propaganda.
The Palestinian observer had made remarks with regard to the rights of children, she continued. It should be noted that 99 per cent of Palestinians in the territories lived under the rule of the Palestinian Authority. Any complaints regarding the rights and well-being of Palestinian adults and children should be addressed to that body. In addition, those who elected to send their children to participate in acts of violence and aggression bore full responsibility for the results of that criminal abuse of children. Israel had reflected its desire for a just peace with Palestinian neighbours at the end of the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit. Mutual accusations led nowhere. All must reaffirm a commitment to mustering all strength for bringing about a just and lasting peace in the region.
MERCEDES DE ARMAS GARCIA (Cuba) said that the right of States to exercise self-determination was one of the fundamental principles of international human rights covenants. As long as nations lived under colonial domination or foreign occupation there would be no reason to talk about respect for human rights. In that regard, her country remained firmly and steadfastly in solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people to exercise their right to self-determination and the will to live with dignity. For Palestinians and all people locked in similar struggles, the guarantee of the right to self-determination was one which required decisive action on the part of the international community. That was true not just because there were still 17 occupied territories but because new threats were arising. There was a troubling increase in the number of attempts by the more powerful nations to mould the peoples and cultures of other nations. The dilemma for developing countries was whether to accept such interventions as a matter of course. That so-called humanitarian intervention was a violation of the United Nations Charter and right to self-determination, she said. The international community should strive for respect of nations and territorial integrity, rather than promote the dissolution of less developed nations into uniformity under the relentless progress of globalization.
SHAMSHAD AHMAD (Pakistan) said the rights of self-determination should be granted wherever people were oppressed. It was a right of all people and the basis for all human rights. The two human rights Conventions included the right of self-determination, and the United Nations had played a pivotal role in affirming that right for people living under repression since its inception. The people of East Timor had at last exercised the right under United Nations auspices, while the expectation that the Palestinian people would soon exercise that right had seen a setback. Offering sincere condolences to the families of those who had lost their lives, he said the provocative visit to Al-Haram Al- Sharif had put the Middle East peace process in serious jeopardy. The Summit at Sharm el-Sheikh was a first step that would hopefully lead to a comprehensive settlement affirming the Palestinian people's rights.
SOMAIA BARGHOUTI, observer of Palestine, recalled the background to the situation in her country, including the recent deterioration that had reached an alarming and dangerous level characterized by an indiscriminate and excessive use of force. She emphasized that the national rights of the Palestinian people must be recognized, like those of any other people. The foremost of those were the right to self-determination and the legitimate right to establish an independent State with Jerusalem as its capital. At this very critical time of the Palestinian people's struggle for freedom and independence, "serious action" was required to realize the objective.
There had been optimism that by this time the peace process would have culminated in a peace treaty between the State of Palestine and Israel, she said. A comprehensive, just and lasting peace had been anticipated in the Middle East. The recent dehumanization of the Palestinian population threatened the foundation of the peace process, because it was obvious that, for Israel, the peace process was a vehicle to continue its occupational subjugation. However, the Palestinian people remained committed to the peace process and the implementation of all signed agreements. After more than a half century of suffering and injustice, the Palestinian people would not accept anything less than full recognition and respect of their legitimate rights. With support and solidarity, it would soon participate as a full member of the United Nations.
MUHAMMED ENAYET MOWLA (Bangladesh) ...
With that in mind, he said the recent events in the Middle East were of great concern to his delegation. The cycle of violence there must be stopped. He hoped that the recent agreement at the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit would end the violence and lead to a just and lasting peace that would establish the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.
DALEL KRICHENE (Tunisia) said there were many reassuring signs seeming to indicate that humanity was coming together and was beyond racial discrimination. Unfortunately, there was also an increase in the racism of far-right groups. The ideologies involved were based on a cheap level of thinking aimed at winning votes in elections. Noting that xenophobia occurred around the world, she said that Africa had not been spared. All over the continent, ethnic violence had forced people to flee their homes. The only answer was economic and social development for the continent as a whole. Tunisia would participate in the World Conference on Racism with that aim in mind. It would provide one of the Conference vice-presidents, and would offer its experience as one of the first to have signed the Convention on racial discrimination. Since then, it had taken many initiatives, such as revising the school curriculum to include the teaching of tolerance. It was paving the way to the time when all peoples, in particular the Palestinian people, would be free of domination.