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        General Assembly
2 December 2004

General Assembly
Fifty-ninth session
Official Records

Third Committee

Summary record of the 52nd meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Tuesday, 23 November 2004, at 3 p.m.

Chairman: Mr. Kuchinsky ................................................................... (Ukraine)
Later : Ms. Groux (Vice-Chairperson) ....................................... (Switzerland)



Agenda item 104 : Right of peoples to self-determination (continued)

Agenda item 105 : Human rights questions (continued)
b) Human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms (continued)
c) Human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives

The meeting was called to order at 3.25 p.m.


Agenda item 104: Right of peoples to self determination (continued) (A/C.3/59/L.79/Rev.1 and A/C.3/59/L.75)

Draft resolution A/C.3/59/L.70/Rev.1: The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination

17. The Chairman said that the draft resolution had no budgetary implications.

18. Mr. El-Badri (Egypt) announced that the following countries had become sponsors of the draft resolution: Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Bolivia, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Congo, Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Gambia, Greece, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Hungary, India, Ireland, Kenya, Latvia, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Monaco, Netherlands, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Swaziland, Turkey, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Pointing out that only the sixth and seventh preambular paragraphs of the draft had been revised, he explained that the revisions were of a purely linguistic nature and did not in any way affect the contents of the draft. He read out those paragraphs, as revised, and enjoined all members of the Committee to show their solidarity with the Palestinian people by voting in favour of the draft.

19. Mr. Khane (Secretary of the Committee) announced that Afghanistan, Albania, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Central African Republic, Grenada, Iceland, Liberia, Madagascar, South Africa, Switzerland, Ukraine and Venezuela had become sponsors of the draft.

20. Mr. van Loosdrecht (Netherlands), speaking on behalf of the European Union, the candidate countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Turkey) and the potential candidate countries of the Stabilization and Association Process (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Serbia and Montenegro), as well as the European Free Trade Association countries members of the European Economic Area, reaffirmed that the European Union was firmly resolved that the Palestinian people should be enabled to exercise its inalienable right to self-determination, including the possibility to establish a sovereign State. It welcomed the goals outlined in the Road Map presented by the Quartet and accepted by both parties (viz., two States, a viable, sovereign and independent Palestinian State existing peacefully side by side with a State of Israel having recognized and secure frontiers) and was convinced that that solution represented the best guarantee of Israel’s security and the best way towards its recognition as a regional partner. The European Union was actively participating in the Quartet’s efforts to achieve a definitive, equitable and comprehensive settlement of the conflict in conformity with Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973 and 1397 (2002) and with the Road Map presented by the Quartet on 30 April 2003. The right to self-determination included the holding of elections within the framework of a democratic society. The European Union wished to stress its readiness to assist the electoral process in the Palestinian territories. It enjoined the Palestinian Authority to hold elections in accordance with international standards, under the authority of an independent electoral commission, and invited Israel to facilitate the elections. The European Union wished to reiterate its undertaking to cooperate with the Quartet and with partners in the Arab world in assisting the Palestinian people to realize its right to self-determination.

21. Ms. García-Matos (Venezuela) said that her delegation supported the Palestinian people’s struggle for self-determination and was in favour of the draft resolution.

22. The Chairman said that a recorded vote had been requested.

23. Mr. El-Badri (Egypt) inquired who had requested a recorded vote.

24. The Chairman replied that the request had been made by the delegation of the United States of America.

25. A recorded vote was taken on the draft resolution.

In favour:
Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, 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, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Palau, United States.

Australia, Honduras, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu.

* The delegation of Mali informed the Committee that, had it been present at the voting, it would have voted in favour of the draft resolution.

26. Draft resolution A/C.3/59/L.70/Rev.1 was adopted by 169 votes to 5, with 4 abstentions*.

27. Ms. Kalay-Kleitman (Israel), recalling the declaration made by the Prime Minister of Israel in the Knesset on 25 October 2004, said that Israel recognized the right to self-determination of all peoples, including the people of Palestine. Far from wishing to impose its will on millions of Palestinians or wishing to control their destinies, Israel was deeply attached to the vision of peace in the Middle East formulated in the Road Map, providing for a permanent two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as was attested by its disengagement plan acknowledged by the international community. However, the right to self-determination was not a blank cheque legitimizing the recourse to violence and terrorism, no more than it was an authorization to ignore the rights of other peoples to self-determination and security. Her delegation therefore deemed it inappropriate to politicise the issue of the right to self-determination – which already formed the subject of a resolution adopted by the Third Committee each year – by the adoption of a partial draft resolution. It also considered it inopportune that the draft in question should focus on the rights of one of the two parties to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and should invoke an advisory opinion that was highly controversial and warped. As stated in the Road Map, peace could be achieved only if the legitimate rights of both peoples, Israeli and Palestinian, were recognized, taken into account and negotiated.

28. Convinced that the draft resolution failed to reflect the reality of the situation, her delegation had voted against it. Advantage should be taken of the real opportunity that was presenting itself at that very moment, not in New York but in Gaza and Ramallah, so as to move forward towards the realization of the Road Map’s objectives with a view to ending the violence and terrorism and to holding out a prospect of peace to all the peoples of the region.

29. Mr. Choi (Australia) said that, contrary to the preceding year when his delegation had voted for the draft resolution on the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, it had abstained from voting on the draft just adopted because of the insertion of the unhelpful and unfortunate reference to the advisory opinion rendered by the International Court of Justice on 9 July 2004. The reference was not likely to promote a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and ran the risk of diverting the attention of both parties to the conflict from the urgent need to resume negotiations. In that connection, he recalled that at the tenth special emergency session of the General Assembly Australia had voted against resolution ES-10/14 requesting the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion on the consequences of Israel’s construction of the security barrier and had also voted against General Assembly resolution ES-10-15 on 20 July 2004.

30. Ms. Grant (Canada) said that her delegation unreservedly supported the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and had voted for the draft resolution precisely because it proclaimed that right while at the same time emphasizing the importance of the process of negotiations towards its realization. However, Canada wished to make it officially known that, in its view, the reference – which was new - to the advisory opinion rendered by the International Court of Justice should have indicated the non-binding character of that opinion and that future resolutions should not cite an advisory opinion selectively or at least should balance any such reference by also referring to Israel’s security problems.

31. Mr. D’Alotto (Argentina) said that his delegation, which endorsed the right of peoples to self-determination, had reaffirmed its support of the Palestinian people’s right to establish a free and independent State by voting in favour of the draft resolution. Referring to the sixth preambular paragraph and, in particular, to the absolute (“erga omnes”) quality of the right to self-determination, he said that that right could not be exercised in the absence of an active subject, namely, a people, and in that connection referred to paragraph 118 of the advisory opinion rendered by the International Court of Justice, according to which the existence of a “Palestinian people” was an incontrovertible fact.

32. Ms. Rasheed (Palestine), after welcoming the adoption of the draft resolution and expressing her delegation’s thanks to the sponsors, said that the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination was, assuredly, undeniable. She therefore felt obliged to make known her grave concern at Israel’s opposition to the draft resolution, fresh proof of the Israeli Government’s rejection of the two-State solution. The settlement of the conflict was predicated upon each country’s recognition of the other’s sovereignty; far from being an end in itself, such recognition constituted an essential precondition. Yet to recognize the existence of the Palestinian people and its legitimate rights was impossible without recognizing its right to self-determination.

33. Her delegation was thoroughly perplexed by the negative vote cast by the United States, which ran counter to the many declarations made by the Government of that country in describing its own vision of the two States, Israel and Palestine, living peacefully side by side. The dichotomy was, to say the least, disappointing. It cast doubt upon the United States’ mediation efforts in the search for a solution to the present tragic situation.

34. After referring to the 37 years of Israeli occupation, she said that, in a spirit of respect for the many Palestinians who, like the late Yasser Arafat, had given their whole lives to the right to live upon their own land in freedom and peace but had not lived to see their wish come true, the Palestinian people would continue the struggle to make that right not just an aspiration but a reality. In conclusion, she expressed the hope that if a draft resolution on the same question were to be submitted again the following year, the Committee would adopt it unanimously.


The meeting rose at 6.20 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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