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


Fifty-fifth General Assembly
Third Committee
47th Meeting (AM)*
GA/SHC/3616
6 November 2000





COMMITTEE DEBATES WORLD REFUGEE MOVEMENT, CONGRATULATES

HIGH COMMISSIONER ON 10-YEAR STEWARDSHIP


Committee Adopts Text
On Palestinian Right to Self-Determination After Recorded Vote


"We lived with the times", the High Commissioner for Refugees told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) this morning as it met to take up issues related to refugees, including the High Commissioner's report. Sadaka Ogata was describing the legacy of her Office during her 10-year stewardship, saying that despite the challenges, "we always tried to be on the ground with the people in need".

In addition to the High Commissioner's ensuing dialogue with members, four draft resolutions were approved by the Committee this morning. One, on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, was approved by a recorded vote of 147 in favour and 2 against (Israel and United States), with 3 abstentions (Canada, Marshall Islands and Tonga). (See Annex.) The other drafts were approved without a vote, as was a resolution containing budget implications and a decision to take note of a report on the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW).

In her address, Mrs. Ogata said that while the UNHCR had not been able to solve every problem, it could claim many successes. Changes took time, she added, particularly those involving long-held human beliefs and centuries of animosity. Still, lives had been saved in Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan. Although her colleagues often faced dangerous and complex situations, at least they were there. Among the most complicated conditions were so-called humanitarian wars, where real international engagement came too late, and only after humanitarian suffering had reached dramatic proportions, particularly in instances of violence and genocide that forced massive displacements.

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The draft on the Palestinian people's right to self-determination was taken up next. By it, the Assembly will express the hope that the Palestinian people will soon exercise their right to a State, urging States to continue helping them in that regard.

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The observer of Palestine also spoke on the resolution concerning her people's rights to self-determination.

The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. today to continue considering issues related to refugees, including the High Commissioner's report and humanitarian aspects, as well as returnees and displaced persons.


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Resolutions

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By a draft resolution on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination (document A/C.3/55/L.32), the Assembly would reaffirm that right, including the right to a State. It would express the hope that the Palestinian people would soon be exercising that right in the peace process; and would urge all States and the United Nations system to continue assisting the Palestinian people in their quest for self-determination.

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Action, Right of Palestinian People to Self-Determination

The Committee then took up the draft resolution on the right of the Palestinian People to self-determination (document A/C.3/55/L.32).

Saint Lucia was deleted as a co-sponsor while the following were added: Angola, Argentina, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Guyana, Iceland, India, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey and Lesotho.

A recorded vote was requested.

Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, the representative of Israel said he supported the principle of the right to self-determination. In the Oslo process, Israel and Palestine had agreed to support each other's rights. The present resolution negated that process. Israel would vote against the resolution with the hope that the violence in the Middle East would soon end.

The resolution was adopted by a recorded vote of 147 in favour and 2 against (Israel, United States) with three abstentions (Canada, Marshall Islands, Tonga).

Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, Australia's representative said she voted in favour of the resolution as a whole, but would have abstained on operative paragraph 1 if a separate vote had been called for. The question of a Palestinian State was an issue to be resolved by the parties themselves through a process of negotiation.

Canada’s representative said it was important that a Palestinian State emerge as a result of negotiation. Therefore, he had abstained.

The Russian Federation had voted in favor of the resolution because it was engaged in active efforts to further understanding between Palestinians and Israelis, the representative of that country said. It was also trying to stop the violence and to further the peace process through a comprehensive settlement. It was important at this point to stabilize the situation and not identify the authors of provocations.

The representative of France, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, reaffirmed the continuing and unqualified Palestinian right to self-determination. The Union also reaffirmed that the right of the Palestinian people to build a sovereign, democratic, viable and peaceful State should not be called into question. That right was established and it was now just a matter of timing. She called upon Israelis and Palestinians to seek a mutually negotiated solution in good faith, on the basis of existing agreements and without prejudice. This would be the best guarantee of Israel’s security as well as its acceptance as an equal partner in the region. The approach defined in today’s resolution was the best way to achieve peace through an agreement that was mutually acceptable to both Israelis and Palestinians.

The observer of Palestine thanked members of their overwhelming support. She said the adoption of the resolution by such a large majority was an endorsement of the Palestinians' rights, including that of having their own State. This year, there were 91 co-sponsors. Hopefully the United States would change its position. The rights of Palestinian people did not derive from any agreements. They were inalienable rights to begin with.

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ANNEX


Vote on Palestinian Self-Determination

The draft resolution on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination (document A/C.3/55/L.32) was adopted by a recorded vote of 147 in favour to 2 against, with 3 abstentions, as follows:

In favour: Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstain: Canada, Marshall Islands, Tonga.

Absent: Afghanistan, Albania, Bahamas, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Federated States of Micronesia, Gabon, Georgia, Grenada, Kiribati, Madagascar, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Suriname, Tajikistan, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan.


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* Press Release GA/SHC/3615 of 3 November should have covered both the Third Committee’s 45th AM Meeting (adjourned to allow time for consultations) and its 46th PM Meeting.

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For information media - not an official record