Question of Palestine home
4 November 1999
Summary record of the 33rd meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Thursday, 4 November 1999, at 3 p.m.
Agenda item 113: Programme of activities of the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People (
Agenda item 115: Right of peoples to self-determination (
Agenda item 116: Human rights questions (
(b) Implementation of human rights instruments (
(c) Human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives (
The meeting was called to order at 3.15 p.m.
Agenda item 115: Right of peoples to self-determination
Draft resolution A/C.3/54/L.29
invited the Committee to take a decision on draft resolution A/C.3/54/L.29, entitled “The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination”, and said it had no programme-budget implications. The Arabic, French and Russian versions of the text had been reissued in order to incorporate some technical corrections. The sponsors had been joined by Brazil, the Congo, Gabon, India, Liberia, Suriname and Zambia.
(Finland) said that there still appeared to be problems with the French text and perhaps also with the text in other languages. She hoped that the necessary corrections would be made in the final report.
A recorded vote was taken.
Draft resolution A/C.3/54/L.29 was adopted by 119 votes to 2, with 2 abstentions.
(Syrian Arab Republic) welcomed the adoption of the draft resolution by an overwhelming majority. That showed that the international community intended to put an end to the suffering of the Palestinian people and to recognize their right to self-determination. His delegation had voted in favour as a sign of full support for the struggle of the Palestinians. Israel was the main source of the difficulties in the peace process, which could not be brought to fruition unless that country complied with Security Council resolutions, withdrew from the occupied Arab territories and undertook to comply with the agreements already concluded.
(Canada) said that her country had decided to maintain its vote in favour of the draft resolution. While recognizing the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, Canada maintained its view that the option of a Palestinian State was a matter for negotiation. Canada therefore called on both Israel and the Palestinians to continue their efforts towards achieving peace by September 2000.
(Australia) said that, as in the previous year, Australia had voted in favour of the draft resolution. However, it considered that the words “which is not subject to any veto” in paragraph 2 were not only redundant — because the right of self-determination was guaranteed by the Charter of the United Nations — but also politically unhelpful in the context of the Middle East peace process, and the final-status talks in particular.
(Israel) said that his country supported the right of self-determination and the right of peoples to govern themselves in every region, the Middle East included. In the Camp David Accords of 1978, Israel had recognized the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and their just requirements. During the Oslo process, Israel and the Palestinians had also agreed to recognize their mutual legitimate and political rights. In the draft resolution just adopted, the merits of the principle of self-determination were not in question, but rather its political expression. Paragraph 1 of the draft resolution referred to the right of self-determination, “including the option of a State”. Thus it implied a variety of other options, including the opposite one. Consequently, the paragraph was superfluous.
10. The challenge facing Israelis and Palestinians was to take the peace process forward to its conclusion and to resolve the permanent-status issues, including the political expression of Palestinian self-determination. The Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum of 4 September 1999 stated that the two sides would make a determined effort to conclude a framework agreement on permanent-status issues in five months from the resumption of the permanent-status negotiations, and a comprehensive agreement within one year of the resumption of those negotiations. All options were to remain open and any attempt, as in the draft resolution, to prejudge or pre-empt the results of the negotiation would impede attainment of the objectives of the draft resolution. Therefore, his delegation had voted against draft resolution A/C.3/54/L.29.
(Russian Federation) said that, as a sponsor of the Middle East peace process, his country supported the establishment of an independent Palestinian State through political negotiations, which were the only way to achieve the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and guarantee the security of Israel. His country was ready to collaborate with the United States, Israel, and the Arab and European countries and also with all those who sought peace in the Middle East, and it had therefore voted in favour of the draft resolution.
(Finland), said, on behalf of the European Union, that the Union reaffirmed the unqualified Palestinian right to self-determination, including the option of a State. It appealed to the parties to strive for a negotiated solution based on existing agreements, without prejudice to that right, which was not subject to any veto. The European Union welcomed the signing on 4 September 1999 of the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum, which had opened the door to the resumption of negotiations on permanent status. The European Union called on the parties to implement promptly the interim measures and to complete negotiations in direct talks on the permanent-status issues, within the agreed time-frame set out in the Memorandum, and to refrain from all unilateral acts which could prejudice the final outcome.
(Observer for Palestine) expressed her appreciation to those delegations which had voted in favour of the draft resolution and to its 77 sponsors. Its adoption by an overwhelming majority was a very important step towards attaining the primary national objective of the Palestinian people, which was to exercise their right to self-determination, including the option of establishing a State. She regretted that the United States had again cast a negative vote and hoped that it would change its position in the future.
14. The fundamental problem of the Middle East peace process was Israel’s opposition to the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, which violated the principle of mutual recognition by the parties. It was impossible to recognize the other party and at the same time to deny its legitimate right to self-determination. Israel’s policy was a grave obstacle to the peace process, which was used as a means of continuing to subjugate the Palestinian people, when what was needed was a mechanism to achieve genuine peace and coexistence. The right of the Palestinians to self-determination was not simply based on the agreements; rather it was natural and inalienable, and was enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and other relevant instruments.
(Poland) said that, if they had been present, they would have voted in favour of the draft resolution.
(Venezuela) said that she had voted in favour of the draft resolution but her vote had not been recorded, owing to a technical problem.
The meeting rose at 6 p.m.