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


Fifty-second General Assembly
Third Committee
27th Meeting (AM)
GA/SHC/3437
6 November 1997


GLOBAL FIGHT AGAINST INTOLERANCE REMAINS MAJOR CHALLENGE

OF PRESENT ERA, ASSEMBLY'S THIRD COMMITTEE TOLD

As Wide-Ranging Debate Begins, Speakers Highlight
Current Problems, Including Use of Internet for Racist Propaganda


Speakers called for the international community to fight against the false doctrines of racial superiority as well as xenophobic tendencies, as the General Assembly's Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this morning to begin its consideration of the elimination of racism and racial discrimination, and the rights of peoples to self-determination.

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Elimination of Racism and Racial Discrimination

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In the letter transmitting the report of the 18-member Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (document A/52/18), the Chairman of the Committee, Michael Banton, ...

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By a decision on Israel, the Committee expressed its serious concern that the continuing policies of expansion of settlements, and notably the establishment of an Israeli settlement on Jabal Abu Ghenaim in East Jerusalem, all of which changed the physical character and demographic composition of the occupied territories, including Jerusalem, gave rise to increasing tensions in the region, and jeopardized the peace process.

The Committee also emphasized the need for all appropriate measures be taken against extremist and terrorist organizations that promote racial hatred, incite to violence and commit terrorist acts. The Committee rejected measures amounting to collective punishment imposed by the Israeli authorities in the wake of the dreadful suicide bombings in Jerusalem on 30 July 1997. Such measures had a devastating effect on the life and well- being of the Arab population, and were a serious obstacle to the peace process.

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Letters

... In a letter dated 10 June, the Charge d'affaires of the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations (document A/52/187), requests the Secretary-General to correct the record of the fifty-third session of the Committee on Human Rights specifically with regard to the "the Palestinian Observer's libel" during the session, in which it was claimed that Israel had injected 300 Palestinian children with the HIV/AIDS virus. If uncorrected, the letter states, the allegations may take on an assumed validity of their own, with the imprimatur of the United Nations.

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Rights of Peoples to Self-determination

The Secretary-General's report on the rights of people to self-determination (document A/52/485) responds to the Assembly's resolution 51/84 which asked the Commission on Human Rights to continue to give special attention to the violation of human rights, especially the right to self-determination resulting from foreign military intervention, aggression and occupation. The items were considered by the fifty-third session of the Commission on Human Rights which adopted three resolutions on the situation in occupied Palestine, the question of Western Sahara, and the Middle East peace process.

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Statements

... KARIM WISSA (Egypt) said self-determination was a basic human right affirmed by numerous conferences and international instruments, but the Palestinian people were still fighting for their freedom. The United Nations was the symbol and embodiment of such rights, and the peace process involving "land for peace and rights" had been established by United Nations resolutions.

Many times it had been affirmed that the Palestinian people had legitimate national interests, the most important the right to self determination.

He said Egypt supported the strategic option to establish a regime that could bring a durable peace, one that was just and comprehensive, one where justice and equity reigned in a balanced approach that would enable the people and future generations to live in peace and stability. As in the last three sessions of the General Assembly, Egypt would submit a special resolution on the right of the Palestinian people to self determination. He hoped it would find numerous sponsors and be adopted by consensus.

He said he agreed with the Special Rapporteur's report on mercenaries, especially with the position of seeking to better define their activities. Use of mercenaries was in violation of the United Nations charter; they obstructed the right of people to self-determination. Collective actions must be taken against the phenomenon.

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PAULETTE CORNETTE (Guyana), speaking for countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), ...

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She said the continuing denial of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people was a serious obstacle to efforts aimed at guaranteeing all people full exercise of their rights and freedoms. The exercise of the right was indispensable for the realization of a firm and lasting peace in that region.

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HUSSEIN HASSOUNA of the League of Arab States said the exercise of self-determination of the Palestinian people had been the focus of attention by the League since its inception. They had been deprived of their fundamental right available to all peoples and as enshrined in the United Nations Charter as well as in other international instruments. The Heads of States of the League members had continuously reaffirmed that right, which required the full withdrawal of Israel from the occupied Palestinian territory. The Israeli Government should be reminded of the statement by one of the founders of Israel, that Arabs in Palestine had the right to self determination. Why did the Israeli Government continue to challenge the legitimacy of that right? he asked.

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