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


Fifty-eighth General Assembly
Third Committee
6th Meeting (AM)
GA/SHC/3739
8 October 2003

AFRICAN COUNTRIES STRESS NEGATIVE IMPACT OF CONFLICTS, POVERTY, UNEMPLOYMENT, AIDS ON SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT, AS THIRD COMMITTEE CONCLUDES DEBATE ON SOCIAL ISSUES


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Background

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural) is expected to conclude its consideration of social development this morning.  Under the umbrella of social development, the Committee will consider issues related to youth, older persons, disabled persons, and issues related to the family. 

For further background information, please see Press Releases GA/SHC/3737 and 3738 of 6 and 7 October, respectively.

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RANIA AL HA ALI (Syria) ...

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A current concern for the Government was unemployment, she said.  That concern had led to the initiation of many programmes aiming to absorb unemployed persons into the labour markets, including disabled persons.  It was also stressed that social development could not be achieved if people’s human rights were being denied, particularly so if the right to self-determination was denied.  The international community was called upon to act in order to end the current situation of occupation in the Middle East.

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Statements in Exercise of Right of Reply

A representative of Israel, exercising her right of reply, said she regretted having to take the floor but she had been compelled to do so to respond to Syria’s “preposterous statement”.  Syria had mentioned the respect for human rights and humanitarian law and accused Israel of violating humanitarian law.

How could Syria talk about human rights? she asked.  It was well known that Syria sponsored terrorism.  Terrorism violated the very essence of human rights and humanitarian law.  Syria had referred to Palestinians living in a humanitarian crisis.  The real humanitarian crises were the constant terror and suicide-attacks in Israel that killed the innocent indiscriminately.  Every act of Israel was an act of self-defence.

Exercising the right to reply, the representative of Syria said using the term terrorism as an excuse to harm others was shameful.  Everyone had the right to talk about terrorism except Israel, as that country was an occupying power and was the one that had brought terrorism to the region ever since its establishment.  She reminded Israel of its massacre of thousands of Palestinians, adding that the latest attack on Syria was a violation of national air space and a clear violation of international law that was condemned by the international community.

Israel had uprooted and displaced Palestinians ever since its establishment, resulting in Palestinian refugees scattered throughout the world, she said.  What was happening in the occupied territories was the result of continued oppression by Israel.  Occupation alone was the reason for what was happening, and Syria demanded the return of the occupied territories to their rightful owners.

The observer of Palestine said it was important to state that Israel must not be allowed to hide the fact that it was an occupying Power.  That was the context and the framework within which all problems in the region must be viewed.  This applied to the hopelessness of suicide-bombings too, since they were a result of the occupation -– not the cause.  Israel had tried to justify its actions as actions against terrorists; however, no argumentation could justify grave breaches in international humanitarian law.  The occupation was the cause of the current terror.


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