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


Fifty-sixth General Assembly
Third Committee
47th Meeting (AM)
GA/SHC/3671
21 November 2001


THIRD COMMITTEE APPROVES DRAFT RESOLUTION URGING SUPPORT
FOR PALESTINIAN QUEST FOR SELF-DETERMINATION



Committee Approved 9 Other Drafts on Human Rights,
Girl Child, Women, Refugees, Children, Migrants, Torture, Self-Determination


Among the 10 draft resolutions taken up this morning by the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), delegations approved a text on the right of Palestinian people to self-determination by a vote of 152 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States). By that draft, the Assembly would urge all States and the specialized agencies and organizations of the United Nations to continue to support and assist the Palestinian people in their quest for self determination.

Further by that draft, the Assembly would also express its hope for an immediate resumption of negotiations within the Middle East peace process and for the speedy achievement of a final settlement between the Palestinian and Israeli sides. That sentiment was reflected in the statements made by several delegations taking the floor following the vote. Noting the resolution’s clear-cut language, they reaffirmed their full commitment to the ongoing negotiations as well as to ensuring equal security for all States and people of the region.

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Background

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this morning to continue its consideration of questions related to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions.

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On the right to self-determination, the Committee was expected to take up two draft resolutions. The first is on universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination (document A/C.3/56/L.32), by which the Assembly would request the Commission on Human Rights to continue to give special attention to the violation of human rights, especially the right to self-determination, resulting from foreign military intervention, aggression or occupation.

The second draft resolution to be considered under that item would be on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination (document A/C.3/56/L.33). By that text, the Assembly would reaffirm the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including the right to an independent State. It would urge all States, specialized agencies and organizations of the United Nations system to continue supporting and assisting the Palestinian people in their quest for self-determination.

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Action on Drafts

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In addition, Committee members adopted addressed texts on the right to self-determination. The first was on universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination (document A/C.3/56/L.32), and adopted it without a vote.

The delegate of Argentina, explaining her position after the vote, said self-determination was an absolute right, and nothing could affect or change the right.

The other, dealing with the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination (document A/C.3/56/L.33), was approved by a vote of 152 in favour and 2 against (United States and Israel) (Annex II).

The representative of Israel, explaining his delegation's vote, said the desire of the Palestinians for self-determination could be achieved through negotiations. The right to self-determination could not be realized through terrorism. There should be a resolution that did not seek to prejudge the outcome of negotiations. Bombs would not achieve peace.

The representative of Canada, explaining his delegation's vote, said he fully supported the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people as well as the creation of a Palestinian State. However, it would be in the interest of the Palestinian people and the region as a whole if that were achieved through negotiation. Canada had supported the resolution because it affirms the negotiation process. Canada echoed the resolution’s call for immediate resumption of the negotiations within the Middle East peace process.

The representative of Guatemala, explaining her delegation's vote, said the Government of Guatemala recognized the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people, and it voted for the resolution. However, Guatemala also believed this right should not violate the right to self-determination of the Government of Israel.

The representative of the Russian Federation, explaining his delegation's vote, said his delegation supported the resolution. As one of the co-authors of the Middle East peace process, Russia was fully committed to the ongoing negotiations as well as ensuring equal security for all States and peoples of the region as well as the creation of a Palestinian State.

The representative of Australia, explaining his delegation's vote, said this resolution represented a clear and important restatement of the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people. If the vote had been taken paragraph by paragraph, Australia would have abstained on operative paragraph 1. Australia believed a just settlement could only be achieved with the cooperation of both parties.

The observer for Palestine, making a general comment, said for the first time the number of co-sponsors had surpassed 102. The adoption of the resolution was an important development, as it reaffirmed the right of Palestinians to self-determination, including the right to an independent State. The overwhelming vote was a very important step towards the major goal of the Palestinian people.

It had been unfortunate that once again the United States had voted against the resolution, she said. She hoped the United States policy would soon reflect the positive comments made by President George Bush during the Assembly’s general debate last week, and the comments earlier this week by Secretary of State Colin Powell. She added that the right of Palestinians to self-determination was inalienable, and not based on any existing agreements.

The representative of Egypt, making a general comment, said it was hoped this year would be the last that the Third Committee would take up such a resolution, and that next year, the Palestinian people would be able to exercise their right to self-determination. Where was the peace process right now? Some had said bombs would not achieve peace. That was correct. At the same time, would rockets, aerial bombardments and assassinations achieve peace?

The representative of Belgium, speaking on behalf of the European Union and making a general comment, said the Union had voted in favour of the resolution, as it had last year, as well. The Union reaffirmed the hope that the right to self-determination would be realized as soon as possible. He expressed the Union’s conviction that creation of a Palestinian State based on existing agreements would be best for peace and security within the region. The right of the Palestinian people to build a sovereign, democratic and independent State was inviolable. He called on all parties to continue with the negotiation process. He hoped that all such negotiation would be reflective of the Mitchell recommendations as well as Security Council resolutions 242 and 338.

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ANNEX II


Vote on Right of Palestinian People to Self-Determination

The draft resolution on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination (document A/C.3/56/L.33) was approved by a recorded vote of 152 in favour to 2 against, with no abstentions, as follows:
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For information media - not an official record