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

26 October 1999

Fifty-fourth General Assembly
39th Meeting (AM)



Assembly Acts on Cooperations with League of Arab States,
Observer Status for Portuguese-Speaking Countries


The Assembly this morning also called on the Organization to intensify its cooperation with the League of Arab States in the priority sectors of energy, rural development, desertification and green belts, technology, environment, and information and documentation. It took that action by adopting, without a vote, a draft resolution on cooperation with the League.


The Secretary-General' report (document A/54/180) details the cooperation between the agencies of the United Nations system and the League of Arab States in the political, social, economic, humanitarian and administrative fields. The report also notes other cooperative activities between the League and the United Nations Departments of Public Information and Economic and Social Affairs. Programmes produced by the Radio and Central News Service had covered many topics linked to the League, including the status of the Middle East peace process, the situations in Iraq and Somalia and the Lockerbie case. In addition, a project started by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs with the aim to strengthen the administration of the General Secretariat of the League had been completed.

According to the report, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) had intensified its cooperation with the League of Arab States, mainly in the field of technical assistance activities, electronic commerce, trade and environment. Turning to Palestine, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), had continued to benefit from the generous financial support of the League. The Agency's critical financial situation and its role had been the subject of considerable discussion at the League meetings during the period under review. The League of Arab States reiterated its support for the Agency's humanitarian activities, its concern over its repeated funding shortfalls and their implications for Palestine refugees.


HUSSEIN A. HASSOUNA, the Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States, said the cooperation between the United Nations and his organization, coupled with the modernization of the League's mechanisms and institutions, were all aimed at making that regional body one that was capable of dealing with the new regional and international realities. Much had been achieved in the contacts and consultations between both organizations in the pursuit of common goals. The successes achieved in the settlement of many crises, Somalia, Lockerbie, and Iraq, were all based on the constructive approach of the two side. The cooperation had taken another turn for the better this year. At meetings between the Secretariat, the League and specialized agencies of the United Nations, a closer look had been taken at the areas of cooperation to see where more could be done.

He said the international community should pay attention to all the factors that supported peace. In that regard he cited legitimate international resolutions including those of the Security Council, the principle of land for peace, the right to self-determination, affirmation of Israeli efforts to change the demography of Jerusalem despite various resolutions against such action, the issue of Palestinian refugees and new colonization activities by Israel. If Israeli violations continued there should be a new peace conference, especially if the illegal removal of Palestinian peoples continued. Israel also needed to withdraw fully from the Syrian Golan to the line of the fourth of June 1967, as well as withdraw from the West Bekka in Lebanon. Palestine should also be able to participate as a fully fledged Member State at the fifty-fifth session of the Assembly. In addition, the sanctions against Iraq and Libya should be lifted.


Action on Draft

The Vice-President of the Assembly, LAMUEL STANISLAUS (Grenada) informed delegations that the Comoros and Iraq had become additional co-sponsors of the draft resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the League of Arab States (document A/54/L.14).

The Assembly then adopted the text without a vote.

Explanation of Vote

The representative of Israel said that country had seen new hope for progress on tracks based on bilateral relations between Israel and its neighbours, and international multilateral tracks. Israel called on its neighbours to resolve their multilateral relations lest they lose the diplomatic momentum they had been gaining. He expressed his country's support for regional cooperation that had been based on the provisions of the Charter. However, it was regrettable that Israel remained excluded from that cooperation.

Israel was also pleased that this first resolution on the Middle East during the Assembly's fifty-fourth session had been passed by a consensus vote. He pointed out that peace in the Middle East could not be gained by engaging in polemical discussions in New York and regretted having to echo that position. However, he noted, it must also be pointed out that there was presently an atmosphere of cooperation and growth in the region.


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For information media - not an official record