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


GA/SHC/3453
19 November 1997



APPLICATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS PRINCIPLES MUST RECOGNIZE CULTURAL AND RELIGIOUS

DIFFERENCES, SAUDI ARABIA TELLS SOCIAL COMMITTEE

Others Differ; Andorra Says Conflict Argument a 'Fallacy',
No Reason for Economic Development To Exclude Individual Liberties


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Committee Work Programme

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this morning to continue its consideration of human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, the reports of special rapporteurs and representatives, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, and the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The Committee had before it reports on the human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives on the following: Cambodia, Haiti, Kosovo, the former Yugoslavia, Myanmar, southern Lebanon and West Bekaa, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Sudan, Cuba, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

(For background on alternative approaches, the Vienna Declaration and the High Commissioner's report and the reports of the special rapporteurs and representatives see: Press Releases GA/SHC/3443 and GA/SHC/3444 of 12 November; GA/SHC/3445 of 13 November; and GA/SHC/3447 of 14 November).

Statements

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SOMAIA BARGHOUTI, Observer for Palestine, said one of the objectives of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action was to monitor the situation of peoples living under foreign occupation. The situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, remained critical with regard to the violation of human rights. Severe and systematic violations of the Palestinian people's human rights were being committed by Israel, the occupying power. Collective violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people were among the worst violations in recent history, the most serious being the imposition of foreign occupation, deprivation of the rights to self-determination, different forms of collective punishment, the confiscation of land, the seizure of natural resources, and the building of illegal colonial settlements.

In addition, she said, there were various types of individual human rights violations against the Palestinian people, including detention, imprisonment, summary executions, and obstruction of movement and means of livelihood. Those policies constituted of grave violations of international law and led to dangerous consequences that adversely affected the peace process and threatened its existence. The matter was being dealt with in the Commission on Human Rights, but Israel refused to cooperate with the Commission's Special Rapporteur, while Palestinian authorities were willing to do so. It was imperative that the Rapporteur comply with the mandate given to him by the Commission.

She said the Palestinian people had hoped the peace process would mean progress in the achievement of their human rights, but the reality was different. However, they were hopeful the situation would soon change, and they remained committed to the peace process. An end to the current impasse must lead to a drastic and genuine change in their human rights situation and their living conditions.

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