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UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York


GA/10124
18 December 2002
Fifty-seventh General Assembly
Plenary
77th Meeting (AM)

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS 75 RESOLUTIONS ON SOCIAL, HUMANITARIAN
ISSUES, INCLUDING OPTIONAL PROTOCOL TO CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE


Action also taken on Human Rights, Refugees, Women’s Issues,
Crime Prevention, Drug Control, Other Social Issues


Convinced that further measures were necessary to achieve the purposes of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the General Assembly this morning adopted the Optional Protocol to the Convention, which will establish a preventive system of visits to places of detention in order to strengthen protection of persons deprived of their liberty against torture and other inhuman treatment (See Annex X).

Acting on the recommendations of its Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural) the General Assembly also adopted 74 other resolutions and 12 decisions, strongly endorsing the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reaffirming the United Nations commitment to the rule of law and core international human rights treaties and instruments.

Overall, the fundamental nature of texts approved today reflected the Third Committee’s broad support of efforts to ensure the right to life, liberty and security of person, the right to a decent standard of living, freedom from torture, freedom of movement and protection from arbitrary detention -– all among the rights promoted in the Universal Declaration.

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Deeply concerned about the consequences, including psychological consequences, of Israeli military actions on the present and future well-being of Palestinian children, the Assembly adopted by a vote of 108 in favour to 5 against (Israel, Marshall Islands, United States, Micronesia, Palau), with 60 abstentions, a resolution on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian children (Annex II).  The Assembly demanded that Israel, the occupying Power, respect the relevant provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and comply fully with the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, in order to ensure the well-being and protection of Palestinian children and their families.

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A resolution on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination was adopted by a vote of 172 in favour to 4 against (Israel, Marshall Islands, United States, Palau), with 3 abstentions (Tonga, Micronesia, Vanuatu) (Annex IX)

A text on the universal right of peoples to self-determination, by which the Assembly expressed its grave concern that millions of people have been and are being uprooted from their homes as refugees and displaced persons, and emphasized the need for concerted international action to alleviate their condition, was adopted without a vote.

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Background

The General Assembly met this morning to take action on the reports of the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural).  The reports contain draft resolutions and decisions on a number of matters under the Committee’s purview, including social development, crime prevention and criminal justice, the advancement of women, the rights of children, indigenous persons, the rights to self-determination and questions related to human rights.

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Promotion and Protection of Children’s Rights

The Assembly was also expected to take up the Third Committee's report on the protection and promotion of the rights of children (document A/57/552), which contains three draft resolutions and one draft decision.

Draft resolution I, on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian children would have the Assembly express its condemnation of all acts of violence resulting in extensive loss of human life and injuries, including among Palestinian children.  It would also have the Assembly express its deep concern about the consequences, including psychological consequences, of Israeli military actions on the present and future well-being of Palestinian children.  The draft would have the Assembly demand that Israel, the occupying Power, respect the relevant provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and comply fully with the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, in order to ensure the well-being and protection of Palestinian children and their families.

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Right of Peoples to Self-determination

Under the item self-determination, the Assembly has before it a report containing three texts (document A/57/555).

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Draft resolution III on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination would have the Assembly reaffirm the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including the right to their independent State of Palestine and urge all States and the specialized agencies and organizations of the United Nations system to continue to support and assist the Palestinian people in the early realization of their right to self-determination. 

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Introduction of Reports

OKSANA BOIKO (Ukraine), Rapporteur of the Third Committee, introduced the reports before the Assembly.  The reports contained draft resolutions and decisions on a number of matters under the Committee’s purview, including social development, crime prevention and criminal justice, the advancement of women, the rights of children, indigenous persons, the rights to self-determination and questions related to human rights.

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The Assembly then took up the report on the protection and promotion of the rights of children (document A/57/552), which contained three draft resolutions and one draft decision.

Resolution I, on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian children, was adopted by a vote of 108 in favour to 5 against (United States, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau), with 60 abstentions (Annex II).

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Under the item on the right of peoples to self-determination, the Assembly had before it a Third Committee report containing three draft texts (document A/57/555).

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Resolution III, on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, was approved by a vote of 172 in favour to 4 against (Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau, United States) with 3 abstentions (Micronesia, Tonga, Vanuatu) (Annex IX.)

NASSER AL-KIDWA, Observer of Palestine, expressed his deep concern at the negative vote cast by Israel on the resolution.  Such a vote served only as additional proof that the Israeli Government indeed rejected a real peace settlement based on the existence of two States.  Even worse, the vote was inconsistent with the mutual recognition concluded at the beginning of the Oslo peace process between the government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.  Reneging on the mutual recognition by one side was not only dangerous and tragic, but, if established, would lead to the nullification of that recognition not just by one side, but in its entirety.

The vote by the United States was also very disappointing and unfortunate, he noted.  That was particularly so in light of its special responsibilities and the role it played in international politics, including in the Middle East.  In fact, it was impossible to reconcile statements made by the United States President on his vision of a region with two States, Israel and Palestine, on the one hand and the negative vote by the United States on the resolution on the other hand. 

To achieve peace in the Middle East, a solution was needed that recognized and guaranteed the basic and national rights of both peoples, he added.  The recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including the right to their independent State of Palestine, was the first step in that direction.

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ANNEX II

Vote on Assistance to Palestinian Children

Resolution I, on assistance to Palestinian children (document A/57/552) was adopted by a recorded vote of 108 in favour to 5 against, with 60 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against:  Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau, United States.

Abstaining:  Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tonga, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Yugoslavia.

Absent:  Central African Republic, Chad, El Salvador, Fiji, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Kiribati, Liberia, Madagascar, Nicaragua, Niger, Republic of Moldova, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.

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ANNEX IX

Vote on Right of Palestinians to Self Determination

Resolution III on the right of Palestinians to Self-Determination (Document A/57/555) was adopted by a recorded vote of 172 in favour to 4 against, with 3 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against:  Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau, United States.

Abstaining:  Federated States of Micronesia, Tonga, Vanuatu.

Absent: Chad, Fiji, Guinea-Bissau, Kiribati, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu.


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