Press Release

18 March 2005


Commission Starts Debate on Agenda Items on Report of the High Commissioner and the Right of Peoples to Self-Determination


Statements on the Right of Peoples to Self-Determination and its Application to Peoples Under Colonial or Alien Domination or Foreign Occupation

MASOOD KHAN (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the Member States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said the realization of the right to self-determination was vital for international peace and stability. More than 50 years ago, the United Nations conferred upon the peoples of Palestine and Jammu and Kashmir their right to self-determination. However, unfortunately those peoples remained engaged in the struggle for the realization of that inalienable right. The resolutions of the General Assembly and the Commission had for decades consistently reaffirmed the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people. Israel had continued gross and systematic human rights violations for subjugating the Palestinian people. Those human right violations were extensively reported by various sources including the international media, non-governmental organizations and the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on Palestine. Violence had escalated in the occupied Palestinian territories in the last few years.

Despite rejection by the international community, Israel had continued construction of a wall on Palestinian territory on the pretext of security concerns. The wall did not address Israel’s security concerns. It only added to the suffering of the Palestinian people and their further alienation. There was optimism that the spirit of the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit would lead to the end of violence in the occupied Palestinian territory and the realization of the right to self-determination. The international community was also hopeful that the dialogue between India and Pakistan would result in the resolution of the Kashmir issue through realization of the right to self-determination of the Kashmiris.


NAJAT AL-HAJJAJI (Libya), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, ...

With regard to the situation of the Palestinian people, the Arab Group welcomed recent positive measures taken to resolve the issue, including the Sharm-el-Sheikh and London meetings and the recent democratic elections in the Palestinian territories. However, the Group also expressed disappointment at measures taken by Israel, which had served as obstacles to the elections. Recalling the International Court of Justice’s opinion that the construction of the separation wall constituted a violation of international law, he reiterated that it would negatively impact on a final solution to the issue as it prevented the Palestinian people from forming a contiguous State and infringed their access to social services and livelihoods. At the 2002 Beirut Summit, Arab countries had reaffirmed their goodwill and sincere intentions to bring lasting peace to the Middle East, but that objective required the other parties to the conflict to make reasonable efforts as well.

NAELA GABR (Egypt) said Pakistan had spoken on behalf of the OIC and Libya on behalf of the Arab Group, and Egypt supported the contents of both statements. Nothing could justify controlling a destiny of a people and oppressing them. The Charter of the United Nations rejected this, and based the relations between States on equal rights and the right of peoples to self-determination. The denial of a people’s right to freedom or the placing of obstacles to this right was a grave threat to international peace and security. The right of self-determination was linked not only to rights of democracy but also to the rights of peace and security. Both the Palestinian and Israeli people should have a safe and stable life which would liberate them and future generations from hatred and fear in an atmosphere of international legitimacy.

Serious discussions had been held in the past to implement mutual commitments between the two sides in various parts of the world. It was hoped that these developments would help to turn the page on the past and the acts of devastation and violence in which lives had been lost. It was hoped the United Nations would adhere to the pronouncement of the International Court of Justice on the wall as an act of injustice which would have an impact on the right of self-determination of the people of Palestine. The wall should be destroyed, and those who had been prejudiced should have their rights restored. The international community should not extend any assistance to the continuation of this project. The withdrawal of Israeli forces from the West Bank would be a first step in the implementation of the Road Map and a just conclusion to the conflict on the basis of two independent States and an era of stability, peace and justice for all.

RAZALI BIN IBRAHIM (Malaysia) said the Palestinians’ struggle for self-determination was plainly an issue that the Commission should rightly address fairly, effectively and urgently. The continued violation of Palestinian human rights by Israel, resulting in their desperate humanitarian situation and socio-economic conditions, had been exacerbated by the ongoing settler colonialism and the continued construction of the wall carried out by Israel, the occupying power, in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. Those actions represented major threats to the realization of the national rights of the Palestinians and achievement of the two-State solution, as visualized in the Road Map.

A just, comprehensive and durable settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of the implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions was the key to peace in the Middle East. Serious and sustained efforts should be undertaken by all concerned to achieve a two-State solution that would ensure the creation of a sovereign, independent and viable State of Palestine and the existence of Israel, both living side-by-side in peace and security, within secure and recognized borders as envisaged in the Road Map. Malaysia called on all parties actively engaged in the peace process to exert utmost efforts and to remain committed to achieving a just, lasting and peaceful settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

ABDULWAHAB A. ATTAR (Saudi Arabia) said the question of Palestine and the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination had remained a primary issue of the gravest concern. The primacy of this issue was attributable to the ongoing and grievous nature of the violations that were being committed against the Palestinian people by the Israeli occupation forces and also to Israel’s deliberate disregard for United Nations resolutions concerning the rights of the Palestinian people. There were promising indications that the Palestinian and Israeli sides were seeking to put an end to the violent conflict resulting from Israel’s policy of repression, and the time had come for Israel to comply with international law by renouncing its colonial settlement policy, ceasing its inhuman attempts to impose its domination on the Palestinian people, and acknowledging that withdrawal, the terms of reference of withdrawal borders, Jerusalem, the separation wall and the refugees were core issues constituting the foundation stones of the Palestinian State.

Israel now had a historic opportunity to end an era beset with conflicts and tensions and to take into consideration the fact that the Palestinian people were fully entitled to self-determination. The Commission’s aim had never been to adopt resolutions that were not put into practical effect. The rights of peoples to self-determination would remain an end rather than a means. This and other human rights would remain universal and indivisible and the Commission would continue to have a responsibility to protect the rights of the Palestinian people and enable them to realise all their rights including, in particular, their right to establish their independent State with Jerusalem as its capital.

NASSER BIN RASHID AL-NAIMI (Qatar) said that the right to self-determination related to man’s aspirations to freedom, peace and security. Ignoring that right constituted a flagrant violation of the principles of international human rights and international humanitarian law, as well as of international instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1993 Vienna Declaration. While welcoming the holding of free and fair Palestinian elections, as well as the recent meetings in Sharm-el-Sheikh and London, he encouraged Israel to do more, as they were the stronger party to the conflict.

Paying tribute to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, which had declared the separation wall being built by Israel to be illegal, he stressed that it had aggravated economic and social suffering in the occupied territories, and had impeded the inalienable rights of Palestinian people, including the right to self-determination and to the establishment of a viable, independent State on the territory occupied by Israel since 1967. The Commission should shoulder its responsibilities to put an end to systematic, continued and grave violations of human rights. Qatar supported all initiatives aimed at achieving a just and comprehensive peace, and reminded the international community of its duty to implement all relevant resolutions, and to reject double standards.

MOHAMED SALECK OULD MOHAMED LEMINE (Mauritania) said the United Nations should be proud of its achievements with regard to the realization of the right to self-determination by many countries, as witnessed by the increased number of United Nations Members States. However, the people of Palestine had not benefited from such dynamism, more than 50 years after the adoption of Resolution 181 of the General Assembly. Palestinians aspired to live in peace and dignity and establish an independent State with Jerusalem as its capital, side-by-side with Israel. That legitimate aspiration had been recognized and a number of resolutions had been drawn by the United Nations. It was on that basis that the Madrid peace process had been launched in 1991 and that the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Israel were able to conclude a series of agreements.

The last elections had given the Palestinian people the opportunity to demonstrate again their attachment to the peace process and a just settlement of the situation on the basis of "land for peace". The Sharm el-Sheikh summit had also seen the two parties, Israel and Palestine, commit themselves to the launching of the peace process.

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For use of the information media; not an official record

For information media - not an official record