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UNITED
NATIONS

Distr.
GENERAL
E/CN.4/1997/SR.26
3 April 1997

Original: ENGLISH

COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

Fifty-third session

SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 26th MEETING

Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Wednesday, 26 March 1997, at 3 p.m.

Chairman: Mr. SOMOL (Czech Republic)


CONTENTS

/...

QUESTION OF THE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE OCCUPIED ARAB TERRITORIES, INCLUDING PALESTINE (continued)

THE RIGHT OF PEOPLES TO SELF-DETERMINATION AND ITS APPLICATION TO PEOPLES
UNDER COLONIAL OR ALIEN DOMINATION OR FOREIGN OCCUPATION (continued)

/...


This record is subject to correction. Corrections should be submitted in one of the working languages. They should be set forth in a memorandum and also incorporated in a copy of the record. They should be sent within one week of the date of this document to the Official Records Editing Section, room E.4108, Palais des Nations, Geneva. Any corrections to the records of the public meetings of the Commission at this session will be consolidated in a single corrigendum, to be issued shortly after the end of the session.


The meeting was called to order at 3.25 p.m.

QUESTION OF THE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE OCCUPIED ARAB TERRITORIES, INCLUDING PALESTINE (agenda item 4) (continued) (E/CN.4/1997/L.3, L.5 and L.6)

Draft resolution on the question of the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine (E/CN.4/1997/L.3)

1. Mrs. SYAHRUDDIN (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and introducing the draft resolution on behalf of its sponsors, said it reflected the relevant resolutions of the Security Council, General Assembly and Commission on Human Rights and expressed concern at Israel's continued refusal to comply with those resolutions. At the same time, it welcomed the signing of the 1993 Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements and the subsequent agreements. It condemned the continued violations of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories and called on Israel to cease its policy of enforcing collective punishments, to honour all its commitments under international law and to withdraw from the Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem, and other occupied Arab territories.

2. The sponsors believed that the draft resolution was an integral part of a comprehensive approach to the problems in the Middle East. The implementation of its provisions would provide opportunities for the parties concerned to keep the peace process on track. The Commission would, in the meantime, continue to address the question of the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories as a matter of high priority.

3. Mrs. KLEIN (Secretary of the Commission) said that the observers for Sudan and Mauritania had become sponsors of the draft resolution.

4. Mr. COMBA (Senior Administrative Officer, Centre for Human Rights) said that provision had already been made in relation to the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories for the biennium 1996-1997, so that the draft resolution, if adopted, would have no programme budget implications.

5. Mr. van WULFFTEN PALTHE (Netherlands), speaking on behalf of the European Union in explanation of vote before the voting, said that the members of the Union would be abstaining on the draft resolution on the question of the violation of human rights in the occupied territories, including Palestine (E/CN.4/1997/L.3), the draft resolution on the situation in occupied Palestine (E/CN.4/1997/L.4), and the draft resolution on human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan (E/CN.4/1997/L.5). The substance and language of those resolutions did not adequately reflect the way in which the Commission should address the situation, concentrating almost exclusively as they did on negative developments since its fifty-second session and ignoring the positive developments.

6. Mr. LOFTIS (United States of America) said that his delegation could not support draft resolutions E/CN.4/1997/L.3, L.4, L.5 and L.6, which were one-sided in nature and more likely to add to tensions in the region than to ease them. The Commission must recognize the basic fact that the peace process had done far more to promote human rights in the Middle East than all the resolutions condemning Israel put together. President Clinton had made it clear that the building of new settlements was not helpful, but it was not for the Commission to prejudge matters best left to the Palestinians and Israelis to determine for themselves.

7. At the request of the representative of the United States of America, a vote was taken by roll-call on draft resolution E/CN.4/1997/L.3.

8. Germany, having been drawn by lot by the Chairman, was called upon to vote first.

In favour: Algeria, Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, Brazil, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Mozambique, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Korea, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Zimbabwe.

Against: United States of America.

Abstaining: Angola, Argentina, Austria, Belarus, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Madagascar, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uruguay.

9. Draft resolution E/CN.4/1997/L.3 was adopted by 25 votes to 1, with 23 abstentions.*

10. Mr. LILLO (Chile) said that his delegation had voted in favour of the draft resolution because it shared the general concern at the serious violations of human rights which had occurred in the occupied Arab territories including Palestine. However, it would have preferred paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 to have been couched in more balanced language and would have wished the resolution to call upon all parties to renew their efforts towards a successful conclusion of the peace process.

_________
* The delegation of Colombia subsequently informed the Commission that it had intended to vote in favour of the draft resolution.



Draft resolution on human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan (E/CN.4/1997/L.5)

11. Mr. AL-HUSSAMI (Observer for the Syrian Arab Republic), introducing the draft resolution on behalf of the sponsors, said that it was based on international principles which were not disputed, such as the illegality of occupying territory by force and the protection of civilians in times of war.

It took note with deep concern of the report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories (A/51/99/Add.2), reaffirmed the importance of the peace process started at Madrid, and called on Israel to comply with the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and Security Council, particularly Security Council resolution 497 (1981). His Government was quite prepared to enter into negotiations with Israel if Israel honoured its commitments and the agreements it had made. There was broad international agreement on all the decisions and resolutions referred to in the draft resolution, which was intended to contribute to a comprehensive and just settlement.

12. Mrs. KLEIN (Secretary of the Commission) said that the delegation of Pakistan and the observers for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Mauritania had become sponsors of the draft resolution which, if adopted, would have no programme budget implications.

13. At the request of the representative of the United States of America, a vote was taken by roll-call on draft resolution E/CN.4/1997/L.5.

14. Indonesia, having been drawn by lot by the Chairman, was called upon to vote first.

In favour: Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Mozambique, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Korea, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Zimbabwe.

Against: United States of America.

Abstaining: Angola, Austria, Belarus, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Madagascar, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uruguay.

15. Draft resolution E/CN.4/1997/L.5 was adopted by 26 votes to 1, with 23 abstentions.

Draft resolution on Israeli settlements in the occupied Arab territories (E/CN.4/1997/L.6)

16. Mr. van WULFFTEN PALTHE (Netherlands), introducing the draft resolution on behalf of the European Union and other sponsors, said that the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories had rightly pointed out that the issue of settlements was emerging as the greatest preoccupation of the inhabitants of the occupied territories.
Israeli settlement activities were altering the physical character and demographic composition of the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, and the draft resolution called on the Israeli Government to cease immediately its settlement activities in Har Homa/Jabal Abu Gheneim.

17. The Israeli settlement activities violated the 1949 Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and were a major obstacle to peace, contravening agreements within the framework of the peace process and prejudicing the outcome of the final status negotiations. A total halt to the work would greatly facilitate those negotiations and help restore confidence in the peace process.

18. Dialogue must continue and agreements entered into must be honoured, since progress could only be made in an atmosphere of mutual trust and cooperation; the peace process in the Middle East must not be allowed to stagnate.

19. Mrs. KLEIN (Secretary of the Commission) said that the observers for New Zealand and Jordan had become sponsors of the draft resolution.

20. Mr. HERNANDEZ BASAVE (Mexico), speaking in explanation of vote before the voting, said that his delegation would support the draft resolution because it energetically condemned any terrorist acts wherever they occurred. In the context of the peace process in the Middle East, terrorist acts gave grounds for special concern and deserved the international community's categorical condemnation.

21. Mr. ZAHRAN (Egypt) said that his delegation would vote in favour of the draft resolution if it were put to the vote. It would have liked to have seen an additional preambular paragraph referring to the General Assembly resolution adopted on 13 March 1997 following the Security Council's failure to reach a decision on the subject. In the absence of such a paragraph, it had decided not to become a sponsor.

22. Mr. DEMBRI (Algeria) said that, if the draft resolution were put to the vote, his delegation would vote in its favour. Nevertheless, his delegation considered the draft resolution to be imperfect because it contained no explicit reference to other Arab territories occupied by Israel and no strong condemnation of practices in violation of human rights.

23. The CHAIRMAN said that the United States delegation had requested that a vote be taken on the draft resolution.

24. At the request of the representative of Egypt, the vote was taken by roll-call.

25. France, having been drawn by lot by the Chairman, was called upon to vote first.

In favour: Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Austria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mexico, Mozambique, Nepal, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe.

Against: United States of America.

Abstaining: Dominican Republic, Uruguay.

26. Draft resolution E/CN.4/1997/L.6 was adopted by 47 votes to 1, with 2 abstentions.


THE RIGHT OF PEOPLES TO SELF-DETERMINATION AND ITS APPLICATION TO PEOPLES UNDER COLONIAL OR ALIEN DOMINATION OR FOREIGN OCCUPATION (agenda item 7) (continued) (E/CN.4/1997/L.4, L.7 and L.8)

Draft resolution on the situation in occupied Palestine (E/CN.4/1997/L.4)

27. Mr. ZAHRAN (Egypt), introducing the draft resolution on behalf of its sponsors, stressed its balanced and non-condemnatory nature and expressed the hope that the draft would be adopted without a vote. However, if there had to be a vote, his delegation would prefer that it be taken by roll-call.

28. Mrs. KLEIN (Secretary of the Commission) said that the delegation of South Africa and the observers for Sudan, Mauritania and United Arab Emirates had become sponsors of the draft resolution.

29. The vote was taken by roll-call.

30. China, having been drawn by lot by the Chairman, was called upon to vote first.

In favour: Algeria, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, Brazil, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mexico, Mozambique, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Korea, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Zimbabwe.

Against: United States of America.

Abstaining: Argentina, Austria, Belarus, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uruguay.

31. Draft resolution E/CN.4/1997/L.4 was adopted by 28 votes to 1, with 21 abstentions.

/...


Draft resolution on the Middle East peace process (E/CN.4/1997/L.8)

33. Mrs. RUBIN (United States of America), introducing the draft resolution on behalf of its sponsors, said that there was a tendency to overlook the tremendous positive changes which had occurred in the Middle East since the Madrid Conference of 1991. Although progress seemed slow and painful at times, much had been accomplished. A functioning Palestinian national entity was in place; peace with Jordan had been achieved; and the Israelis had withdrawn from most of Gaza and Hebron and from ever-larger portions of the West Bank.

34. The forthcoming final status negotiations would undoubtedly prove difficult and there would be moments when progress appeared to be impossible. But, since it had first begun, the peace process had always gone forward in the end and there was every reason to believe that it would continue until a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace was ultimately achieved. Her Government believed that it was the Commission's responsibility to help to advance the peace process at that delicate point in history. That was the object of the draft resolution.

35. Mrs. KLEIN (Secretary of the Commission) said that the delegations of Argentina, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Japan, Madagascar and Nepal and the observers for Australia, Hungary, Israel, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain and Ukraine had become sponsors of the draft resolution.

36. Mr. LAMDAN (Observer for Israel), speaking in explanation of his Government's position, said that it hoped that, as in previous years, the draft resolution would be adopted unanimously without a vote, since it was a significant reaffirmation of the international community's support for the peace process, to which Israel was deeply committed. The last preambular paragraph, stating that acts, methods and practices of terrorism constituted a grave violation of the principles of the United Nations and aimed at the destruction of human rights, fundamental freedoms and the democratic bodies of society, was particularly important.

37. His delegation was heartened by the commitment to the peace process expressed by the Minister of High Education in the Palestinian Authority but drew no comfort from the fact that the texts of the draft resolutions that had been adopted under agenda items 4 and 7, and the debate that had preceded them, had slavishly followed the traditional pattern. Those brazenly political resolutions would not of course, have any impact on Israel's direct negotiations with the Palestinians or any other peace partners.

38. A particularly ugly aspect of the debate had been the “blood libel” proffered against his country by the observer for Palestine, in which connection he wished to thank the Chairman for his letter in response to the Israeli delegation's protest against those remarks (E/CN.4/1997/127),
rejecting the Palestinian observer's allegations and recalling that “declarations provoking racist or discriminatory sentiments must not be tolerated in the Commission”.

39. Mr. RAMLAWI (Observer for Palestine), having expressed his surprise that the observer for Israel should have been permitted to raise issues relating to an agenda item that was no longer under consideration, said that the draft resolution was unbalanced in three important respects. In the first place, while there was a reference to the Madrid Conference in the third preambular paragraph, the text made no mention of one of the most important principles of that Conference, namely, that of land for peace. Secondly, paragraph 5 welcomed the release of female Palestinian prisoners from Israeli detention but failed to mention the 4,000 or more Palestinians still detained by Israel. Lastly, while agreeing with the view expressed in paragraph 7 that terrorism represented a threat to the peace process, his delegation considered that mention should also have been made of the Israeli policy of Jewish settlements which had triggered the most recent terrorist acts.

40. Mr. DEMBRI (Algeria) said that his delegation hoped that the draft resolution would be adopted by consensus. Algeria was honoured to have played its part in the peace process, notably by hosting conferences that had enabled the Palestine Liberation Organization to approach the Madrid and Oslo meetings with confidence. He regretted, however, that no mention was made of the occupation of Arab territory by Israel and that there was no condemnation of the terrorist practices used, particularly Israel's mediaeval imposition of collective punishments.

41. Mr. ZAHRAN (Egypt) said that, though his delegation welcomed the draft resolution, it regretted that it had not been consulted, since it would have suggested some changes to take account of both progress in and obstacles to the peace process. The third preambular paragraph ought to have mentioned the principle of land for peace. Security Council resolutions on withdrawal by Israel from Lebanese territory, and the negotiations between Israel and Syria and between Israel and Lebanon had also been wrongly omitted.

42. As for the operative part of the draft resolution, a paragraph should have been added to the effect that Israel's occupation of Arab territories should cease forthwith. Paragraph 5 should have mentioned all the prisoners being held without charge or trial in Israeli prisons. Paragraph 7 ought to have been more even-handed in its denunciation of all acts of terrorism, from whatever side. A paragraph should also have been devoted to the question of settlements, stressing that existing work should be halted and that no new ones should be built. He hoped, however, that the draft resolution would be adopted by consensus.

43. Draft resolution E/CN.4/1997/L.8 was adopted.

44. Mr. BERNARD (France) said that his delegation had unreservedly joined the consensus on the draft resolution, in the belief that the Commission should once again affirm its unanimous support for the peace process. Only when peace was achieved could the promotion and protection of human rights in the Middle East become a reality.

45. His Government welcomed the progress that had been made and regretted any delay in implementing the agreements that had been reached. It condemned acts of violence and deplored any behaviour that might harm the trust that should exist between the parties. It would continue to do its utmost to contribute to a just, global and lasting settlement, on the basis of land for peace, security for all the peoples of the region, respect for the independence and sovereignty of States and self-determination for the Palestinians.

46. In view of France's particular concern with regard to Lebanon and the restoration to full sovereignty of all its territory within internationally recognized borders, his delegation had decided not to be a sponsor of the resolution, since it made no mention of Security Council resolution 425 (1978), the principles of which had been included in the Madrid negotiations. The renewed tension in southern Lebanon unfortunately underlined the need for that resolution to be implemented as the only lasting means of ensuring security. A successful conclusion to the peace process in the region must be sought on the basis of the relevant Security Council resolutions.

/...

The meeting rose at 6 p.m.


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