Press Release

9 April 2003


Hears Statement by Chairperson of Committee on Rights of Child

(Reissued as received.)

GENEVA, 9 April (UN Information Service) -- The Commission on Human Rights this morning continued with its general debate on civil and political rights by hearing from representatives of countries, international organizations and some 60 non-governmental organizations.


General Debate on Civil and Political Rights


RENE AQUARONE, of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA), said that sadly, a representative of the Centre Simon Wiesenthal had made an inflammatory statement against UNWRA before the Commission.  He had accused UNRWA of deliberately fostering anti-Israeli venom.  In fact, UNWRA had spoken out repeatedly against unwarranted violence perpetrated by both sides to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and specifically against suicide bombings.  Concerning the question of the violation of human rights in the occupied areas, it was stressed that the protection of human rights in the current conflict was an issue of grave importance.  UNWRA’s mandate focused on the implementation of the right to education, and the right to health which were essential social goods. 


KLAUS NETTER, of Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations speaking on behalf of B'nai B'rith International and Women's International Zionist Organization, in a joint statement, said that the Jewish people had been the object of persecution for many centuries, with the aim of their  extermination.  Throughout history, the concept of anti-Semitism had evolved from hostility towards the individual to hatred against a group, a people and a nation.  Anti-Semitism had undergone several developments: a theological phase, a pseudo-racial and scientific manifestation and a political manifestation. The latter form was linked to the perception of the State of Israel, which was often designated as the Zionist entity, as if to deny its right to exist. This was the only case in the world where the right of a Member State of the United Nations was challenged.  The cynical expression "Zionism equals racism" was aggravated by a call for the “elimination of new Nazi Zionism”.  The racist manifestation saw the exhumation of classical anti-Semitic texts such as the Protocol of the Elders of Zion, which was used  for the fabrication of a series broadcast by the Egyptian television throughout the Arab world


ABDALLA SHARAFEDDIN, of International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, said that it was not news to most that human suffering all around the world was the result of racism, degradation, violations of human rights and violent international conflicts.  Those were anticipated definite consequences whenever there was lack of justice. There was no peace without justice.  Examples included what had happened in the Balkans, the massive destruction, humiliation and oppression taking place for over 59 years in the occupied Palestinian territories, and the continuous and dangerous clashes in Kashmir, which might lead to the use of nuclear weapons in error or miscalculation at any time.  It was those unjust, tyrant and oppressive realities and policies, as well as the cruel and heavy-handed ones enforced by the United States on central Asian nations like Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, that clearly proved there could be no peace without justice.


DAVID LITTMAN, of  World Union for Progressive Judaism, said religious intolerance and religious terrorism were usually directly linked to the detriment of basic human rights, especially the right to life.  Attention was drawn to the genocidal charter of Hamas and its offshoot, the jihadist/martyrdom and the bombings which had resulted from its ideas.

The Commission should include in its resolution on defamation of religions a condemnation of all who blasphemed and defamed religion by claiming to kill in the name of God.  The Commission must act urgently to condemn jihadist bombers.  By not responding to a perverted interpretation of Islam by which such bombings were supposedly justified, Muslim spiritual and secular leaders implicitly were condoning a global, sectarian threat whereby such bombers were encouraged to terrorize the world.


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For information media - not an official record