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Summary record of the 36th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Tuesday, 6 November 2007, at 10.15 a.m.
Chairman: Mr. Wolfe ............................................................................................................ (Jamaica)
Agenda item 65: Report of the Human Rights Council (continued)
Agenda item 65: Report of the Human Rights Council (continued ) (A/62/53)
20. Mr. Gillerman (Israel) said that, as the international community prepared to celebrate the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it must be asked what had happened to that clarion call for human rights.
21. He feared that the new Human Rights Council, which had replaced the dysfunctional Commission on Human Rights, was going down the same path. Although different in name, the Commission and the Council were, in essence, one and the same. Since its inception, the Council had focused primarily on Israel, subjecting it to 12 discriminatory resolutions and three special sessions, and had failed to discuss the burning human rights situations in the world. Myanmar and Darfur had been the only other specific country situations addressed by the Council; in the case of Darfur, the Government of the Sudan had even been congratulated for its cooperation.
22. Yet the Council had remained silent on acts of Palestinian terrorism against Israel: the daily and indiscriminate shelling of homes and schools by Qassam rockets and the unprovoked, massive bombardment of Israel’s northern border towns, The Council had turned a blind eye when the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran had repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel and denied the Holocaust.
23. The Council’s membership included some countries whose own records on human rights fell markedly below the standards of the international community. Worst of all, many of those countries shared a political agenda that precluded the State of Israel. Equally troubling was the Council’s disregard for serious human rights violations in many parts of the world. Under the new institution-building package, for example, the Special Rapporteurs on human rights violations by Cuba and Belarus had been eliminated without any serious discussion or consideration. However, the Human Rights Council had, like its predecessor, adopted a separate standing agenda item on Israel, while the other human rights situations throughout the world had been crammed into one agenda item. Israel was not asking for special treatment; like all other countries, it should be subject to review and constructive criticism on a fair and impartial basis.
24. Israel could not, therefore, accept the institution-building package as it was and would call for a vote, asking Member States to consider what message they would be sending with their votes.
25. Compromise was detrimental to the protection of human rights. The international community could not stand idly by and let the vision of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights fall prey to hypocrisy, politics and prejudice. The time had come to put political expediency and cynicism aside. Human rights victims mattered; they were the names and faces behind the issues. The international community must not let them down.
38. Ms. Halabi (Syrian Arab Republic) said that she welcomed the outcome of the sessions of the Human Rights Council, in particular the adoption of resolutions on the human rights situation in the occupied Syrian Golan and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and the report of the Commission of Inquiry on Lebanon. Israel, the Occupying Power, had nevertheless failed to respond to the Council’s request for it to comply with those resolutions and to avoid obstructing fact-finding missions aimed at evaluating that situation, addressing the needs of survivors and recommending ways of protecting Palestinian civilians from Israeli aggression. She additionally welcomed inclusion of the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories as an item on the Council’s agenda, the aim of which was to end the grave human rights violations occurring in those areas, many of them relating to the right to life.
51. Ms. Abdelhady-Nasser (Observer for Palestine) said that the establishment of the Council offered citizens of the world the hope that the new structure would restore confidence in the protective value, if not the supremacy, of international law. To countless victims of rampant human rights abuses and to human rights advocates, it also gave the hope that human rights instruments would be upheld impartially and universally applied.
52. Of particular importance to her delegation was the introduction on the Council’s agenda of a separate item on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories. While the coming year would mark the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, it would also mark the sixtieth anniversary of the Nakba, or “catastrophe” that had left the Palestinian people stateless and dispossessed, as well as the fortieth year of Israeli occupation, during which the Palestinian people’s rights had been systematically violated, including their right to self-determination. The occupying Power’s illegitimate policies and practices served as a stark example of one State’s total disrespect for international humanitarian law and human rights law.
53. Forty years of occupation did not alter the status of Palestine as an occupied territory or the obligations of the international community towards the civilian population. The retention of the situation as a separate item on the agenda should be welcomed by all members as a reflection of the importance attached to it by the international community. Regrettably, decades of international monitoring of the situation had yet to result in a change of behaviour by the occupying Power. If the Palestinians were deprived of international monitoring and involvement, the situation might only degenerate further. Instruments of international law that were applicable to Palestine and other occupied Arab territories should be defended from further breach, not brushed aside. Universality, impartiality and non-selectivity necessarily required the Council to monitor and uphold the human rights of all peoples, including those whose situation was exceptional.
54. As the Special Rapporteur on the situation had pointed out, the occupied Palestinian territory was of special importance to the future of human rights in the world. There was no other case of a Western-affiliated regime that had denied self-determination and human rights to a developing people for so long. The situation had thus become a test by which the international community’s commitment to human rights would be judged.
60. Mr. Khani Jooyabad (Islamic Republic of Iran) ... The mandate of the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories would be valid until the end of the occupation. His country expressed concern at the inclusion in the agenda of items such as “Human rights situations requiring the attention of the Council” and at country-specific mandates, which were the legacy of the defunct Commission on Human Rights and were reminiscent of the selective policy of naming and blaming.
61. He wished to address the biased allegations made by the representative of the occupying regime of Israel. concerning calls for the destruction of Israel.
64. Mr. Amorós Nuñez (Cuba), ...
65. Unsurprisingly, Israel’s main objective in the work of human rights forums was strictly to fulfil the mandate of its closest ally. A Government that murdered civilians in the Gaza Strip and that persisted in building a wall that violated the human rights of the Palestinian people was in no position to lecture on values. ...
The meeting rose at 12.32 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.