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Cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference
Mr. Ka (Senegal) (spoke in French): Consideration of the agenda item entitled “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference” is of special importance for my delegation, since it is a high point in our dialogue to define the framework of a mutually advantageous partnership in order to find the right collective responses to the many challenges facing both organizations.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) comprises some 50 member States, representing a fifth of the world’s population, and this near-universality gives the OIC global duties and obligations. It is therefore natural that it shares the purposes and principles, as well as the concerns, of the United Nations, which explains the importance that the States members of the OIC, which are also Members of the United Nations, attach to strengthening, expanding and deepening cooperation between the two organizations. Over the years this cooperation has reached the point of becoming a living reality encompassing complementary activities in our quest for solutions to crises and conflicts that beset the Islamic Ummah in broad areas, such as development, the environment, refugees and the dialogue among civilizations.
One priority of the OIC, clearly, is to find solutions to crises that beset certain countries or regions and are of great concern to the international community. Whether the crisis concerns the problem of the Middle East, and more specifically the question of Palestine, which was the reason for the creation of the OIC, or the question of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Somalia, Jammu and Kashmir, Afghanistan or Sierra Leone, the Organization of the Islamic Conference is deeply committed to finding a lasting political solution, working hand in hand with the United Nations.
Among these crises, the question of Palestine is today of the highest priority. My country, Senegal, which holds the chairmanship of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, and which is also a member of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices in the Occupied Arab Territories, can attest to the vitality of the relationship and the pre-eminent role of the OIC and the United Nations in finding a satisfactory solution to this central question of the Israeli-Arab conflict.
Recently, following the provocative visit paid to the Al-Haram Al-Sharif sanctuary by Mr. Ariel Sharon, the head of the Likud Party, and following the deadly violence that this visit triggered in the occupied Palestinian territories, both organizations worked in close cooperation to resume the tenth emergency special session in order to explore and implement ways to reduce tension and put the peace process back on track.
The Special Committee on Palestine, which I chair, has also reacted to these events by adopting, at the meeting held on 10 October, a declaration that reaffirmed the ongoing responsibility of the United Nations for all aspects of the settlement of the question of Palestine, including Jerusalem, in accordance with the agreements, the relevant resolutions and international law.
Cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) extends also to the promotion of international peace and security in conflict zones, particularly in Afghanistan, Somalia, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jammu and Kashmir and, more recently, in Kosovo and Sierra Leone. In these various crises, the member States of the OIC have associated their initiatives with those of the United Nations in order to restore peace, provide humanitarian assistance and help in the post-conflict peace-building.
It is within the context of this cooperation that the two organizations continue above all to harmonize their activities so as to implement the 10 priorities defined by the recent general meeting of representatives of the secretariats of United Nations and OIC bodies and agencies. This meeting was held in Vienna from 11 to 13 July 2000, pursuant to Assembly resolution 54/7. These priorities include science and technology, trade and development, assistance to refugees, food security and agriculture, education, human resources, the environment, health and population. This expanded, multiform and diversified cooperation might even provide a model for the expansion of relations between the United Nations and other organizations.
I remain convinced that following the ninth summit of the OIC to be held next month in the fraternal country of Qatar, cooperation between the OIC and the United Nations will make further progress, in an international context in which both of these international organizations will be increasingly called upon to promote the well-being of the peoples of their member States.
In conclusion I wish to stress that today’s world is facing many serious challenges, and, in order to address them, the resolve and combined efforts of the various actors in international affairs are required. Cooperation between the United Nations and the OIC is definitely one way of meeting those challenges and of establishing the bases for peace and development in the world.
For these reasons, my delegation calls for the adoption, by consensus, of draft resolution A/55/L.17 that is before us.
I cannot conclude this statement without conveying heartfelt congratulations to my brother, His Excellency Mr. Mokhtar Lamani, for the outstanding work he does to strengthen cooperation between the OIC and the United Nations, for the pre-eminent role he plays and for the devotion he has shown to the Islamic Ummah.
Mr. Al-Heid (Saudi Arabia) (spoke in Arabic): Today we are discussing the agenda item on cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). The report of the Secretary-General contained in document A/55/368, which is before us, sheds light on the cooperation between the two organizations. In this context I would like to extend my profound gratitude to His Excellency, the Secretary-General, for his report.
The developments that have taken place in the area of cooperation between the United Nations and the OIC at various levels during the past period, as reviewed by the Secretary-General’s report, confirm the belief of the representatives of the two organizations in the scope of their cooperation, their commitment to international and regional causes and their shouldering of responsibilities. The Government of Saudi Arabia welcomes the continuing consultations between the representatives of the United Nations and the OIC. Carried out through the meetings of the Secretaries-General of the United Nations and the OIC, these consultations review all matters of great importance in the political, economic and cultural fields and all matters of great interest to the member States of the two organizations. In addition, we believe that the various mechanisms for these consultations are the right channels for conveying the concerns of the member States of the OIC, so as to find solutions to common issues such as peace, disarmament, self-determination, the question of Palestine, the questions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Somalia, and other issues relating to global peace and security that require intensifying the efforts of the two organizations, on the one hand, and those of the international community on the other.
While cooperation is important in the political field, it is also important in the fields of social and economic development. The report of the Secretary-General reviews the meetings of the United Nations and the OIC and provides a summary of the participation that the OIC would like to see from the various organizations in the United Nations system, in particular from the United Nations main specialized agencies. In order to guarantee that the peoples of the member States of the OIC reach a technical level that allows them to keep up with recent developments while remaining true to the tolerant teachings of Islam, the OIC wishes to increase this cooperation, particularly in the fields of agriculture, industry, finance and scientific and technical know-how.
In this context I would like to pay tribute to the constructive role that member States of the OIC have played in the efforts to increase and develop cooperation among them, in order to make further progress in development and to establish a more just economic system. In addition, these member States have made a special effort to exchange experiences and coordinate their positions so as to achieve the main goals of peace, security and justice, in accordance with the United Nations Charter.
In conclusion my delegation would like to launch an appeal to the host country to take a positive approach and treat the mission of the OIC in New York on the same and equal footing as other observer missions, so that it may carry out its work of increasing cooperation between the United Nations and other regional organizations.
Mr. Hosseinian (Islamic Republic of Iran): At the outset, allow me to convey my delegation’s appreciation to the Secretary-General for the comprehensive and informative report entitled “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference”, contained in document A/55/368.
The question of stability and peace in the Middle East through full restoration of the rights of the Palestinian people, including the rights of self-determination, return of refugees to their homes and the establishment of a sovereign State of Palestine, is still a matter of high priority and major concern on the agendas of both organizations. In this regard, my Government strongly believes that the continuing consultations and cooperation between the two organizations could contribute to the full realization of the Palestinians’ rights and the restoration of a just and genuine peace and long-lasting security in the region.
Agenda item 25
Cooperation between the United Nations and the League of Arab States
Report of the Secretary-General (A/55/401)
Draft resolution A/55/L.18
The Acting President: I give the floor to the representative of Iraq to introduce draft resolution A/55/L.18.
Mr. Hasan (Iraq) (spoke in Arabic): In my capacity as Chairman of the Arab Group for the month of October, I would like on behalf of the Arab delegations that are members of the League of Arab States (LAS) to introduce draft resolution A/55/L.18 under item 25 of our agenda, entitled “Cooperation between the United Nations and the League of Arab States”.
The League of Arab States was established at the same time as the United Nations, in March 1945. We are proud of the close links that exist between the United Nations and the League of Arab States, which represent a tangible example of the cooperation and coordination between the United Nations and regional organizations referred to in Chapter VIII of the Charter. Such relations and links have developed positively since the General Assembly adopted a consensus decision at its forty-eighth session to ensure cooperation between the two organizations. This relationship covers widely varying kinds of joint cooperation.
In the two organizations we examine issues related to international peace and security. Given the current events taking place in the occupied Arab territories, there is real need to enhance our cooperation and to strengthen the participation of the United Nations so that it may play an effective role in ending the aggression perpetrated by the racist forces of the Israeli occupiers against the Palestinian people. Similarly, there is an urgent need to enhance cooperation between the United Nations and the League of Arab States in economic, social and development areas so there can be greater development in Arab countries and so we can achieve the shared goals of the two organizations.
The preamble of the draft resolution before us contains paragraphs that emphasize the desire of both organizations to consolidate the bonds of cooperation between them in all areas and to enhance that cooperation for the purpose of achieving the goals of both organizations.
In operative paragraph 3 the draft resolution expresses its appreciation to the Secretary-General for the follow-up action taken by him to implement the proposals adopted at the meetings between representatives of the secretariats of the United Nations and other organizations of the United Nations system and the General Secretariat of the League of Arab States and its specialized organizations.
The draft resolution also calls for continued efforts to enhance cooperation in the political, economic, social, humanitarian, cultural and administrative fields.
The draft resolution reaffirms the importance of holding the next general meeting on cooperation between the representatives of the secretariats of organizations of the United Nations system and the General Secretariat of the League of Arab States and its specialized organizations during 2001.
In conclusion I would like, on behalf of the League of Arab States, to call upon the General Assembly — which is representative of the international community — to support cooperation between the United Nations and the League of Arab States. We ask that the draft resolution be adopted by consensus.
The Acting President: In accordance with General Assembly resolution 477 (V), of 1 November 1950, I now call on the Observer for the League of Arab States.
Mr. Hassouna (League of Arab States) (spoke in Arabic): Allow me, at the outset, to express to the President our sincere congratulations on his election to the presidency of the fifty-fifth session of the General Assembly.
A few days ago, the world observed the fifty-fifth anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations on 24 October 1945. That anniversary recalls the expectations and hopes placed in the Organization by the peoples of the world. At the same time, it highlights the huge gap between the state of affairs existing at the time the Organization was established and the current circumstances at the beginning of a new millennium that presents new and serious threats. As the first regional organization established in 1945 under the new world order imposed by the Second World War, the League of Arab States now enters the new millennium, while welcoming its growing role as a partner of the United Nations in various administrative, legal, cultural, social, economic and political areas.
We consider the United Nations as a melting pot in which all regional and international efforts coalesce to realize mankind’s hopes and ambitions. The League of Arab States has always expressed its keen interest in consolidating its cooperation and in coordinating its activities with the United Nations in order to find solutions to questions relating to peace, security and development. The legal frame of reference for that cooperation is found not only in the provisions of the respective charters of the two organizations, but also in a new frame of reference provided by the reaffirmation, in the Millennium Declaration of 8 September 2000, of the need to promote cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations in accordance with the provisions of Chapter VIII of the Charter of the United Nations.
I turn now to areas of cooperation between the United Nations and the League of Arab States. Here, I pay particular tribute to the Secretary-General for the comprehensive way in which his report (A/55/401) covers the cooperation that has taken place since the fifty-fourth session of the General Assembly. The report outlines consultations and exchanges of information between the two organizations at various levels, and follow-up action on proposals agreed to at general meetings between organizations of the United Nations system and the League of Arab States. In that connection, I stress the importance of continued consultations between the Secretaries-General of the United Nations and of the League of Arab States on a variety of Arab and international questions. This has contributed to the containment and settlement of a number of crises.
I also hail the productive cooperation between the League of Arab States and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) since the signing on 22 September 1999 of a cooperation agreement between the League and UNDP and the implementation of that agreement in the field of public administration and in the social, economic, environmental, cultural, information and human development areas.
Among the most important instances of cooperation between the two organizations during the period under review was the May 2000 sectoral meeting on youth and employment between the United Nations and the League of Arab States. The outcome of that meeting has both social and economic implications for the Arab region. I wish also to note that the League of Arab States and the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) have jointly organized and convened a number of successful regional meetings, notably several relating to the question of Arab women. The importance that the League of Arab States attaches to the role of women is reflected in the convening in November 2000, with United Nations participation, of the first summit of Arab women on the theme of present challenges and future prospects; it will focus on the role of Arab women and their history in society-building and in meeting the challenges facing the Arab nation.
I express the pride and pleasure of the League of Arab States at the fact that two Arab women were recently appointed to senior United Nations posts, as the Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund and as the Regional Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States.
The Assembly’s consideration today of the draft resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the League of Arab States does not take place in isolation from the efforts of the two international organizations to bring about a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East on the basis of the principles of the United Nations Charter and resolutions of international legality.
In that context, heads of State or Government of Arab States, at the conclusion of the special Arab summit held at Cairo on 21 and 22 October 2000, affirmed that Israel, the occupying Power, bears responsibility for having returned the region to a climate of tension and violence through its acts of aggression, its practices and its siege of the Palestinians, all of which constitute a breach of its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, and a flagrant violation of the rules of international law, and which have damaged efforts to build peace in the region.
The Arab leaders reaffirmed that peace must be just and comprehensive if it is to be lasting. They reaffirmed that the Arab approach to peace demands that Israel manifest equal commitment through compliance with international law, and in particular with Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and General Assembly resolution 194 (III), relating to the right of return and compensation for Palestinian refugees, along with all other relevant international resolutions and the principles of the peace process, first and foremost the principle of land for peace.
While welcoming the increased role of the United Nations in salvaging and reviving the peace process on all tracks, the League of Arab States calls upon the Organization to work to bring about the implementation of the resolutions it has adopted over the years on the question of Palestine, the question of the Middle East and the question of Al-Quds Al-Sharif. That would sustain the Organization’s credibility and would legally, morally and politically obligate all States to implement those resolutions.
We reaffirm in conclusion that the League of Arab States, which has long enjoyed observer status in the United Nations and which has cooperated with the Organization on a variety of programmes, looks forward to the consolidation and deepening of that cooperation. The League hopes that our common objectives will be attained through such cooperation. We are confident that the Assembly’s consensus adoption of the draft resolution before it today will be a strong motivation to promote and vitalize that cooperation for the benefit of both organizations.
The Acting President: We have heard the only speaker in the debate on this item.
The Assembly will now take a decision on draft resolution A/55/L.18. May I take it that the General Assembly decides to adopt the draft resolution?
Draft resolution A/55/L.18 was adopted (resolution 55/10).
The Acting President: Before calling on the delegation wishing to speak in explanation of position, I remind delegations that statements in explanations of vote or position are limited to 10 minutes.
Mr. Shacham (Israel): The delegation of Israel has joined the consensus on a resolution on this item for the seventh time in a row. In doing so, we are guided by the desire to make peace with our neighbours, all of which are members of the League of Arab States. Israel supports cooperation between the United Nations and various regional organizations, including the League of Arab States. Indeed, such cooperation is based on the provisions of the United Nations Charter.
This is the first resolution on an issue related to the Middle East to be adopted by the General Assembly at its fifty-fifth session. We are pleased that the resolution was adopted by consensus. In joining the consensus, we would like to demonstrate to all parties our willingness to forgo unnecessary discord in international forums, and to stress the need to exercise restraint both in the language of draft resolutions to be submitted and in all related statements. We cannot restore confidence and trust in the Middle East by engaging in polemics in our debates in New York. Peacemaking is by its very nature a bilateral endeavour between the parties, and controversial rhetoric offered in international forums is surely counterproductive.
It is unfortunate, however, that this debate regarding cooperation between the United Nations and a regional organization was exploited by one speaker to direct attacks against a Member State and to promote a partisan political perspective. The latest summit of the leaders of Arab League States was mentioned in this debate; had it not been mentioned, it would not have been necessary for the Israeli delegation to reiterate its view of the decisions taken at that summit. Israeli utterly rejected the language of threats used at the recent Cairo summit, and condemned the call for continued violence against it. The decisions of the Arab summit in Cairo placed responsibility for the recent events and for the damage to the peace process exclusively upon Israel in a distortion of reality and in disregard for Israel’s far-reaching readiness to move towards an agreement. At Camp David recently, Israel made courageous and far-reaching proposals in order to achieve a peace agreement with the Palestinians and a historic reconciliation with the Arab world. Regrettably, Chairman Arafat and the Palestinians did not respond in any way to these proposals; instead, they plunged the region into a whirlpool of violence and bloodshed.
Israel calls upon the Palestinians to honour their commitments to halt the violence and incitement, immediately restore calm and order and prevent an additional escalation of the violence. Israel stresses that it continues to strive for peace while uncompromisingly defending its vital security interests, and it will continue to act to foster reconciliation between it and the Arab world, but not at any price and not under pressure of violence.
Furthermore, Israel felt that the decisions of the Arab summit, which called for a freeze on the multilateral talks and cooperation with Israel, are disappointing and run counter to the decisions of the Madrid Conference, which established two tracks — bilateral and multilateral — side by side. The existence of channels of communication between the parties is particularly important in times of tension and we regret the decisions adopted by the Arab summit against normalization of relations between Arab States and Israel. It is our view that these decisions do not assist but, rather, hinder the efforts to establish a comprehensive and lasting peace in our region. Nevertheless, Israel will not be dissuaded from its determination to move forward and will continue to strive to achieve real peace.
The Acting President: We have heard the only speaker in explanation of vote.
May I take it that it is the wish of the Assembly to conclude its consideration of agenda item 25?
It was so decided.
The Acting President: In view of the lateness of the hour, I would like to inform members that the remaining items on the agenda for this morning, namely, agenda item 173, “Towards global partnerships”, and agenda item 183, “Peace, security and reunification on the Korean Peninsula”, will be taken up tomorrow morning as the first two items.
The meeting rose at 1.45 p.m.