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UNITED
NATIONS
E

        Economic and Social Council
Distr.
GENERAL
E/CN.4/1998/SR.20
12 July 1998

ENGLISH
Original: FRENCH

COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Fifty-fourth session

SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 20th MEETING

Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Friday, 27 March 1998, at 3 p.m.

Chairman: Mr. SELEBI (South Africa)

later: Mr. GALLEGOS CHIRIBOGA (Ecuador)


CONTENTS

CONSIDERATION OF THE DRAFT RESOLUTIONS RELATING TO AGENDA ITEMS 4 AND 7
INDIGENOUS ISSUES ( continued)



The meeting was called to order at 3 p.m.

CONSIDERATION OF THE DRAFT RESOLUTIONS RELATING TO AGENDA ITEMS 4 AND 7

Draft resolutions relating to item 4 (E/CN.4/1998/L.3, L.5 and L.7)

1. Mr. LAMDAN (Observer for Israel) said that the draft resolutions E/CN.4/1998/L.3, L.5 and L.7 confirmed that Israel could not obtain a fair hearing in the Commission. He pointed out that Israel was the only country to which a whole agenda item was devoted, which was discriminatory in itself. After several hours of attacks and abuse, the Israeli delegation had been able to speak only for 10 minutes and, when it referred to Palestinian violations of human rights in the occupied territories, the Observer for Palestine had immediately exercised his right of reply in order to protest. The mandate of the Special Rapporteur had still not been modified and no reference had been made in draft resolution L.3 to the gross violations of human rights committed by the Palestinians. Any positive references to the peace process in the Middle East had been deleted and the one consensual resolution that used to be submitted by the sponsors of the Oslo process was lacking since it would have been used to attack Israel, as had happened at the fifty­second session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

2. The Israeli delegation deplored even more strongly draft resolution L.7, submitted by the European Union, the language of which had been toughened and the text of which had been expurgated of the few elements of balance that appeared in the resolutions of previous years. His delegation believed that the Commission was exceeding its competence, showing partiality and politicizing a complex and extremely difficult question which deserved a different form of treatment.

3. Mrs. RUBIN (United States of America), referring to draft resolutions E/CN.4/1998/L.3, L.5 and L.7, said that it should not be the Commission's role to prejudge the permanent status that the Palestinians and Israelis had undertaken to discuss. The United States delegation would vote against those draft resolutions due to their partiality and the risk that they would further complicate the Middle East peace process.

4. The United States Administration, at the highest level, was doing its utmost to put the Middle East peace process back on track with a view to the establishment of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace not only between the Israelis and the Palestinians but also between Israel and Syria and between Israel and Lebanon. Everyone should endeavour to encourage the negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis. To that end, the United States had called upon the parties concerned to refrain from taking unilateral measures of a provocative nature. It had stated on numerous occasions that the establishment of new settlements in the West Bank would not further the peace process.

5. The United States continued to believe that agenda item 4 should be eliminated and that the discussions concerning Israel, if necessary, should be held under agenda item 10. Item 4 was the only item wholly devoted to a single country, which was contrary to the principles of justice and equity that should guide the Commission's deliberations.

Draft resolution E/CN.4/1998/L.3 (Question of the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine)

6. Mr. ZAHRAN (Observer for Egypt), presenting the draft resolution, said that the Commission expressed therein its great concern at the Israeli refusal to abide by the United Nations resolutions affirming the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the occupied territories. It reaffirmed the need to convene a conference of the High Contracting Parties to that Convention (para. 6). It called upon Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories (para. 9) and requested the Secretary­General to report to it, at its fifty­fifth session, on the implementation of the resolution by the Government of Israel (para. 10). Finally, it decided to consider the question, as a matter of high priority, at the 1999 session under the same agenda item. He hoped that the draft resolution would be adopted by consensus.

7. Mrs. KLEIN (Secretary of the Commission) announced that Malaysia had co­sponsored the draft resolution.

8. Mrs. GLOVER (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the latter could not support draft resolution L.3, since insufficient time had been allowed for the sponsors of the text to consider the amendments proposed by the European Union. She hoped that the sponsors would take those proposals into consideration in order to obtain the European Union's support at the Commission's fifty­fifth session.

9. Mr. RAMLAWI (Observer for Palestine), pointed out that Mr. Kofi Annan, the Secretary­General of the United Nations, had called upon Israel to cease taking United Nations resolutions lightly and had emphasized that the Middle East peace process was based on the principle of “land for peace”. He regretted that that principle was not being respected by the Israeli Government and noted that the Observer for Israel had not denied that the rights of the Palestinians were being violated. Moreover, the representative of the United States had spoken of the efforts made to put the peace process back on track in the full knowledge that it was the Israeli Government which was obstructing that process at the risk of provoking further wars in the region.

10. The CHAIRMAN said that the United States delegation had requested that the draft resolution be put to a vote.

11. At the request of the representative of Cuba, a roll­call vote was taken on draft resolution E/CN.4/1998/L.3 .

12. Bhutan, having been drawn by lot by the Chairman, was called upon to vote first .

13. Draft resolution E/CN.4/1998/L.3 was adopted by 31 votes to 1, with 20 abstentions .

Draft resolution E/CN.4/1998/L.5 (Human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan)

14. Mr. AL­HUSSAMI (Observer for the Syrian Arab Republic) said that the text of the draft resolution was similar to that of the resolution adopted by the Commission in 1997, since the Israeli occupation was continuing and the violations of the rights of Syrian citizens, far from having ceased, were increasing. Israel was still refusing to comply with the resolutions of the Security Council and General Assembly of the United Nations and the Commission on Human Rights and was likewise refusing to accept just and equitable conditions for peace, thereby delaying the peace process. He hoped that, with a view to saving that process, the members of the Commission, and particularly the countries which were championing the cause and seeking to preserve the credibility of human rights, would adopt the draft resolution.

15. Mrs. KLEIN (Secretary of the Commission) announced that Malaysia and Pakistan had co­sponsored the draft resolution.

16. Mrs. GLOVER (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), speaking on behalf of the European Union, regretted that there had been insufficient time to discuss with the sponsors of the draft resolution the amendments that could have been made to the text that had been presented. The European Union believed that the wording of the draft resolution was too strong in comparison with the text of the other resolutions adopted concerning the Syrian Golan, particularly General Assembly resolution 52/68 which the European Union had approved. If amendments were made in order to bring the draft into line with General Assembly resolution 52/68, the European Union would be able to vote in favour of that draft resolution at the Commission's fifty­fifth session.

17. At the request of the representative of the Syrian Arab Republic, a roll­call vote was taken on draft resolution E/CN.4/1998/L.5 .

18. Tunisia, having been drawn by lot by the Chairman, was called upon to vote first .

19. Draft resolution E/CN.4/1998/L.5 was adopted by 33 votes to 1, with 19 abstentions .

Draft resolution E/CN.4/1998/L.7 (Israeli settlements in the occupied Arab territories)

20. Mrs. Glover (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), presenting the draft resolution on behalf of the European Union and the other co­sponsors, said that the repeated appeals that had been made to the Israeli Government to put an end to the construction work at Jabal Abu Ghneim/Har Homa in the occupied West Bank and to the expansion of the settlements in the occupied territories, including Jerusalem, had still not met with any response. The European Union believed that the settlements were not only illegal under international law but also detrimental to the peace process. For the negotiations to progress, both parties should refrain from taking counter­productive measures. In his report (E/CN.4/1998/17), the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 had noted that the intensified construction and expansion of Israeli settlements was undoubtedly the most worrying factor that had exacerbated the human rights situation in the territories. The total cessation of settlement construction would help to restore confidence in the peace process and put it back on track.

21. Mrs. KLEIN (Secretary of the Commission) announced that Bangladesh, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, the Russian Federation and South Africa had co­sponsored the draft resolution.

22. At the request of the delegation of the United States of America, the Chairman put the draft resolution to a vote .

23. Draft resolution E/CN.4/1998/L.7 was adopted by 51 votes to 1.

24. Mr. SUAREZ (Venezuela) requested that the summary record of the meeting should indicate that, had his delegation been present during the vote on draft resolution E/CN.4/1998/L.3, it would have voted in favour.

Draft resolutions relating to agenda item 7 (E/CN.4/1998/L.4, L.6 and L.8)

Draft resolution E/CN.4/1998/L.4 (Situation in occupied Palestine)

25.25. Mr. MORJANE (Tunisia), presenting the draft resolution, said that it emphasized the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, and particularly Articles 1 and 55 which affirmed the right of peoples to self­determination. It also referred to the various General Assembly resolutions which confirmed and defined the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, particularly their right to self­determination without foreign interference and their right to establish an independent State on their national soil, as well as the Commission's resolution 1997/4 on that subject. The aim of the peace process was not only to bring about a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East, but also to enable the Palestinian people to exercise their right of self­determination and Israel was therefore called upon to fulfil its obligations under the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of international law and to withdraw from the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, and the other Arab territories that it had been occupying by force since 1967. Finally, provision was made for the Commission to consider the situation in occupied Palestine, as a matter of high priority, at its fifty­fifth session. The Tunisian delegation thanked all the delegations that had participated in the consultations in which that draft resolution had been drawn up and hoped that it would be adopted by consensus.

26. Mrs. KLEIN (Secretary of the Commission) announced that Malaysia and South Africa had co­sponsored the draft resolution.

27. Mr. LAMDAN (Observer for Israel) said that the comments that he had made concerning the draft resolutions relating to agenda item 4 also applied to the draft resolution under consideration. However, he emphasized that, in that instance, the attempt to politicize the question and prejudge the outcome of the final status negotiations was even more flagrant.

28. Mr. RAMLAWI (Observer for Palestine) pointed out that, as long as the Palestinian people were unable to exercise their right of self­determination, there would never be peace in the Middle East, as the representative of Israel was well aware. That draft resolution merely reaffirmed the right of all peoples, and particularly of the Palestinian people, to self­determination.

29. Mrs. GLOVER (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) informed the Commission that, unfortunately, the member countries of the European Union could not support that draft resolution since insufficient time had been allowed to settle some details with the sponsors in order to enable them to modify their position.

30. The CHAIRMAN said that the United States delegation had requested that the draft resolution be put to a vote.

31. At the request of the representative of Tunisia, a roll­call vote was taken on draft resolution E/CN.4/1998/L.4.

32. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, having been drawn by lot by the Chairman, was called upon to vote first.


33. Draft resolution E/CN.4/1998/L.4 was adopted by 34 votes to 1, with 18 abstentions.

/…

The meeting rose at 5.55 p.m.

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