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About the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People
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UNITED
NATIONS
A

        General Assembly
A/AC.183/SR.171
1 November 1990

COMMITTEE ON THE EXERCISE OF THE INALIENABLE RIGHTS
OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 171st MEETING
Held at Headquarters, New York,
on Thursday, 25 October 1990, at 3 p.m.


Chairman: Mrs. DIALLO (Senegal)

CONTENTS


Adoption of the agenda

Report by the Chairman on regional seminars and NGO symposia and meetings organized by the Committee and other recent activities of the Committee

Standard of accommodation for official travel of members of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People
Draft report of the Committee to the General Assembly at its forty-fifth session

Programme of work for 1991



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 Chief, Official Records Editing Section, Department of Conference Services, room DC2-750, 2 United Nations Plaza.

Any corrections to the record of this meeting and of other meetings will be issued in a corrigendum.


The meeting was called to order at 3.30 p.m.

ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA

1. The agenda was adopted.

REPORT BY THE CHAIRMAN ON REGIONAL SEMINARS AND NGO SYMPOSIA AND MEETINGS ORGANIZED BY THE COMMITTEE AND OTHER RECENT ACTIVITIES OF THE COMMITTEE

2. The CHAIRMAN said that, as part of its very full programme of work since its previous meeting, in May 1990, the Committee had organized a regional seminar in Europe, a seminar and a symposium for non-governmental organizations in North America, a European NGO symposium and an international NGO meeting.

3. At the European Regional Seminar, held at Stockholm from 7 to 11 May 1990, it had been particularly encouraging to note that the participants in the panels had included parliamentarians and other politicians from various European countries, Israel and the occupied territory, in addition to representatives of the Palestinian diaspora. Contributions had been of a high standard, and had led to lively and specific discussions which had testified to a spirit of co-operation and a general concern to avoid extremist positions and to arrive at practical proposals. She thanked the Government of Sweden for its hospitality, which had greatly contributed to the success of the Seminar. The Seminar had enjoyed wide coverage in the Swedish media, and the proceedings, including the text of the conclusions and recommendations adopted, had been issued as a publication of the Division for Palestinian Rights.

4. The seventh North American Regional Seminar had been held at United Nations Headquarters on 25 and 26 June, with the participation of 46 Member States in addition to observers from non-member States, United Nations bodies and specialized agencies, intergovernmental organizations and national liberation movements. Its report, which contained summaries of the statements made and the conclusions and recommendations adopted, had already been published by the Division for Palestinian Rights.

5. Representatives of a large number of United States and Canadian non-governmental organizations, as well as representatives of several Jewish organizations, had taken part in the North American Regional NGO Symposium, held at United Nations Headquarters from 27 to 29 June 1990. Experts from Israel, the occupied territory and the United States had presented papers and participated in the two panels. In addition, 12 workshops had been organized to discuss the specific activities to be undertaken by NGOs in the coming year. The Declaration adopted at the Symposium had been published in the June 1990 issue of the monthly bulletin of the Division for Palestinian Rights, and the report would be issued as a publication of the Division.

6. The European Regional NGO Symposium had been held at Geneva on 27 and 28 August 1990, followed by the International NGO Meeting, which had taken place from 29 to 31 August 1990. Experts from Israel, the occupied territory and a number of European countries had presented papers, but it was to be regretted that several prominent Palestinians had been prevented by the Israeli authorities from participating in the two meetings. The delegation from the Committee had protested strongly against the arbitrary decisions of the Israeli authorities. Under the main theme "Palestine and Israel: Prerequisites for Peace", three panels had been established, in addition to six action-oriented workshops. The declarations adopted at the Symposium and the meeting had been published by the Division for Palestinian Rights in the August 1990 issue of its monthly bulletin, and the report would appear shortly as a publication of the Division.

7. In conclusion, she informed the Committee that, since its previous meeting, it had been represented in the following intergovernmental meetings: (a) the Regional Seminar for the Caribbean Area, held in Barbados from 19 to 21 June 1990 in observance of the thirtieth anniversary of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples; (b) at the fifty-second Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers and the twenty-sixth Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity, held respectively from 3 to 7 and 9 to 11 July 1990 at Addis Ababa; (c) at the Nineteenth Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers, held at Cairo from 31 July to 4 August 1990; and (d) at the Third Conference of Ministers of Information of the Non-Aligned Movement, held at Havana from 24 to 27 September 1990.

8. She said that, if no delegation wished to comment, she would assume that the Committee wished to take note of the conclusions and recommendations of the European and North American regional seminars and the declarations adopted at the North American and European Regional NGO Symposia and the International NGO Meeting. The documents would be annexed to the Committee's report in accordance with established practice.

9. It was so decided.

STANDARD OF ACCOMMODATION FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL OF MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE EXERCISE OF THE INALIENABLE RIGHTS OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE (ST/SGB/107/Rev.5)

10. The CHAIRMAN informed the Committee that the Division of Palestinian Rights had been notified by the Office of the Controller that the Chairman and the members of the Committee were entitled to economy-class travel, irrespective of the length of travel time. The Division had also been advised that the daily subsistence allowance paid for such travel remained unchanged, and that it was equivalent to the daily subsistence allowance paid to Secretariat officials, plus 40 per cent.

11. Mr. ALDRED (Office of Programme Planning, Budget and Finance), speaking on behalf of the Controller, said that he wished to clarify a number of points raised concerning the Committee's travel entitlements.

12. It was clear from General Assembly resolution 3376 (XXX) that the Committee was composed of representatives of Member States and that the Assembly did not make any exceptional arrangements for travel by Committee members. When the Committee held its authorized meetings in New York, its members were not entitled to either travel expenses or subsistence allowances.

13. Resources were provided under sections 1A and 1B of the programme budget, however, to cover Committee members' travel and subsistence costs when they attended conferences, seminars and other meetings that the Committee considered appropriate.

14. The current rules governing the payment of travel expenses and subsistence allowances in respect of members of organs or subsidiary organs of the United Nations were defined in document ST/SGB/107/Rev.5. That revision had been issued on 18 July 1989, and any conflicting arrangements that might have been in effect prior to that time had been thereby superseded.

15. It should be noted that there was no specific reference to the Committee in document ST/SGB/107/Rev.5. Nevertheless, under paragraph 6 (a) of that document, it was clear that the payment of travel expenses by the United Nations was limited to the cost of economy-class accommodation, with only three exceptions. The first exception applied to one representative of each Member State designated as a least developed country attending sessions of the General Assembly; the second applied to all members of organs or subsidiary organs who served in their individual capacity, as distinct from those serving as representatives of Governments. The third applied to individuals appointed by organs or subsidiary organs to undertake in their personal capacity special studies or other ad hoc tasks on behalf of the bodies involved.

16. According to paragraph 1.104 of the programme budget for the biennium 1990-1991 (A/44/6/Rev.1), the five members of the Committee who were expected to travel to regional seminars, symposia and meetings during the biennium did so in their official capacity. That reference to official capacity was understood to mean that such travel was undertaken by Committee members as representatives of Governments, not in a personal capacity, and should therefore be by economy class.

17. Moreover, economy class did not necessarily mean that a full economy-fare
ticket would be provided. General Assembly resolution 32/198 stipulated that travel expenses should be limited to the least costly air-fare structure. Consequently, the United Nations would purchase the cheapest ticket available in economy class for the date on which the travel was to be undertaken.

18. Mr. INSANALLY (Guyana) welcomed the Secretariat's clarification, but said that he had yet to be reassured that the rules did not discriminate against the members of the Committee. He also felt that Governments should be notified well in advance if they were expected to subsidize Committee members traveling in an official capacity on the Committee's behalf. He did not wish to complain, and understood that resources available for official travel were scarce, but wondered whether the efficiency of the Committee's representation might not be impaired by the insistence on economy-class travel, with its attendant discomfort and fatigue.

19. Mr. ALDRED (Office of Programme Planning, Budget and Finance) said that there was no intention to discriminate against the Committee, but that the rules laid down by the General Assembly established that official travel on behalf of any Committee for which other financial arrangements had not been specifically made would be in economy class. He sympathized, however, with the plight of Committee members subjected to the rigours of economy-class travel and suggested that, if the Committee felt strongly on the matter, it might include in its report a request to the General Assembly to clarify the issue.

20. Mr. BORG OLIVIER (Malta), Rapporteur, said that, when attending meetings held away from Headquarters, members of the Committee were acting on the Committee's behalf and not in their capacity as representatives of their Government. He therefore hoped that the rules would not be too restrictively interpreted, and agreed with the representative of the Secretariat that the Committee should take the matter up in its report to the General Assembly.

21. Mr. SY (Senegal) said he endorsed the comments made by the representative of Malta. A less restrictive interpretation should be made of what constituted economy-class fare. The limitations which the cheapest fares imposed greatly hampered the work of Committee members.

22. Mr. AL-KIDWA (Observer for Palestine) said he realized that the Secretariat had had no intention of discriminating against the Committee; however, another entity had tried to interpret the rules differently, and that was why the Committee was now faced with the problem. That was an unacceptable situation. Political factors had been brought in which only highlighted the importance of the Committee's work. Members who held the rank of ambassador could not accept the restrictive routing by economy class, which hampered them in the exercise of their other duties. It was amazing that the regulation about air fares should have suddenly been discovered after the Committee had already been working for so many years.

23. It should be noted that when the Chairman had represented the Committee at the Security Council meeting in Geneva, she had done so in her capacity as Chairman and not as representative of Senegal. It was unacceptable that she should have to travel in a back seat, in economy class, while other representatives travelling in the same capacity, as well as Secretariat officials, were seated in business class or even in first class. A matter of principle was involved. He endorsed the comments made by the representative of Malta in that regard. One solution might be to reduce allocations to missions in the budget and to use the savings to finance other tasks of the Committee.

24. Mr. DROUSHIOTIS (Cyprus) said he endorsed the comments made by the representatives of Guyana, Malta and Senegal and the Observer for Palestine. He appreciated the explanation offered by the representative of the Secretariat, but felt that the issue should be re-examined in the light of the comments made by the representative of Malta.

25. Mr. ROSHAN-RAWAAN (Afghanistan), endorsing the remarks made by the representative of Malta, said that when the Committee met in New York, its members acted as representatives of their Governments. However, when they travelled outside New York on behalf of the Committee the situation was different. They were representing the Committee itself.

26. Mr. GUPTA (India) said he endorsed the comments made by the representative of Malta. When the Committee appointed a delegation to represent it at a seminar or a meeting, its members were representing not their Governments, but the Committee.

27. Mr. ALDRED (Office of Programme Planning, Budget and Finance) pointed out that document ST/SGB/107/Rev.5 stated, in paragraph 3 (c) (ii), that travel and subsistence expenses should be paid in respect of the following persons regardless of whether they served in their individual personal capacity or as representatives of Governments: one member of an organ or subsidiary organ serving as its designated representative at meetings of a second organ or subsidiary organ. That person would travel by business class. However, paragraph 1.104 of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 1990-1991 (A/44/6/Rev.1) stated that it was anticipated that five members of the Committee would travel in their official capacity, which meant that they would not travel in their personal capacity. There was a subtle difference, and he would like to hear what the General Assembly had to say on the matter. The General Assembly had never pronounced itself on the travel standards for the Committee.

28. With regard to the possibility of paying the full economy-class fare, his
Office had written to the Under-Secretary-General for General Services, and had been told that all tickets were provided at the least costly rate. In its resolution 37/241, the General Assembly had concurred with the recommendation of the Joint Inspection Unit that the Secretary-General should undertake negotiations with air carriers to obtain discounts or to relax conditions which were an obstacle to obtaining the most economical fares. It had also reaffirmed its resolution 32/198, which provided that travel expenses should be limited to the least costly air-fare structure. On a given routing, economy fares might vary depending on the destination, season and even the day of the week, hence, some would be charged at full rate and some would not.

29. Several members had mentioned that there seemed to be some kind of discrimination against the Committee; none had been intended in the Secretariat's ruling, which had been given in response to a request. If there was discrimination, perhaps it had originated in the General Assembly when it had decided that some members should travel in one way and some in another. With regard to the question of the level of representation, the Secretariat had to apply equal standards to all members of the same committee or body unless the General Assembly decided otherwise. Only the General Assembly could decide whether an ambassador should travel by business or first class and other members of the delegation by a lower standard. Although his Office had already done exhaustive research on the question, it would review the situation again. If it found any way in which it could arrive at a different interpretation, it would do so; however, he could make no promises.

30. The CHAIRMAN suggested that the Officers of the Committee should keep the
matter in mind and discuss with the Secretariat the possibilities of finding a more adequate solution. If she heard no objection, she would take it that the Committee agreed.

31. It was so decided.

DRAFT REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY AT ITS FORTY-FIFTH SESSION (A/AC.183/1990/CRP.2/Rev.1 and Add.1)

32. Mr. BORG OLIVIER (Malta), Rapporteur, introducing the draft report of the
Committee to the General Assembly (A/AC.183/1990/CRP.2/Rev.1 and Add.1), said that the main document had been the object of thorough consideration by the Working Group at two meetings held on 11 September and 3 October 1990. The addendum updated some sections of the main document. In accordance with established practice, the annexes, listed in the table of contents, would consist of the original recommendations of the Committee and the recommendations and declarations adopted by participants in regional seminars and non-governmental organization meetings and symposia, preceded by a brief factual introduction. Since those documents were already known to the Committee, they had not been circulated again.

33. Briefly summarizing the contents of the report, he pointed out that the main body of the report was in chapter IV, which gave an account of the action taken by the Committee and the Division for Palestinian Rights in implementation of their respective mandates. Drawing attention to the addendum, he said that, in view of the unanimous adoption by the Security Council, on 24 October, of resolution 673 (1990), he proposed that paragraph 46 in the addendum should be replaced by the following text:

"On 24 October 1990, the Council adopted unanimously resolution
673 (1990), by which it deplored the refusal of the Israeli Government to
receive the mission of the Secretary-General to the region; it urged the
Israeli Government to reconsider its decision and insisted that it comply
fully with resolution 672 (1990) and to permit the mission of the
Secretary-General to proceed in keeping with its purpose; it requested the
Secretary-General to submit to the Council the report requested in resolution
672 (1990); and affirmed its determination to give full and expeditious
consideration to the report."

34. With regard to chapter VI, containing the recommendations of the Committee, he said that those recommendations had been drafted taking into account developments since the previous session of the General Assembly. The situation had been changing from day to day, and it might be necessary to reconsider and update some of the formulations contained in the report. He trusted that the report could be adopted by the Committee at the current meeting for submission to the General Assembly as soon as possible.

35. The CHAIRMAN suggested that the Committee should consider the draft report chapter by chapter.

36. It was so decided.

37. Chapters I, II and III were adopted.

Chapter IV

38. Mr. SY (Senegal), referring to the sentence that was to be inserted at the end of paragraph 22 (A/AC.183/1990/CRP.2/Rev.1/Add.1, para. 1), said that it would be preferable not to be so specific when referring to the number of Palestinians killed. It might thus be preferable to refer to "the death of more than 20 Palestinians".

39. The CHAIRMAN said that Senegal's remark would be taken into account.

40. Chapter IV, as orally amended, was adopted.

41. Chapter V was adopted.

Chapter VI

42. Mr. AL-KIDWA (Observer for Palestine) said that the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories prompted his delegation to focus more closely on the protection of the Palestinian population, in accordance with the Fourth Geneva Convention. Accordingly, it wished to appeal to Committee members for support regarding the establishment of an observer group under the auspices of the United Nations that would operate in the occupied territories in general and in Jerusalem in particular. Furthermore, with regard to the question of the convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East, his delegation noted that the language used in the report differed from that used in General Assembly resolution 44/42. His delegation had a preference for the language used in that resolution. He wished to suggest that the Committee should request the Rapporteur, under the Chairman's guidance, to take account of those comments when drawing up the definitive version of the report.

43. Mr. BORG OLIVIER (Malta), Rapporteur, said that he took note of the legitimate request made by the Observer for Palestine. He would be happy to undertake the proposed task, under the Chairman's guidance.

44. The CHAIRMAN said that the necessary action would be taken without delay.

45. Chapter VI, as orally amended, was adopted.

46. The draft report, as amended, was adopted.

PROGRAMME OF WORK FOR 1991

47. The CHAIRMAN said that the Spanish Government had informed the Committee that it was willing to host a regional seminar on the question of Palestine in May 1991, in Madrid. If she heard no objection, she would take it that the Committee wished to accept the Spanish Government's generous offer.

48. It was so decided.

The meeting rose at 5.25 p.m.



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