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


Fifty-ninth General Assembly
Third Committee
51st & 52nd Meetings (AM & PM)
GA/SHC/3810
23 November 2004

THIRD COMMITTEE APPROVES DRAFT RESOLUTIONS ON CHILDREN'S RIGHTS,
SELF-DETERMINATION, NEW INTERNATIONAL HUMAN ORDER
In Seven Separate Recorded Votes,
Delegates Reject Amendments to Omnibus Text on Rights of Child


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Background

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to continue taking action on draft resolutions before it.  It was expected to address a wide range of issues, including refugees, returnees and displaced persons; children’s rights, racism and racial discrimination; right of peoples to self-determination; and human rights.

Introduction of Draft Resolution

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The text on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination (document A/C.3/59/L.70/Rev.1) would have the General Assembly reaffirm the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including the right to their independent State of Palestine.  Recalling the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the wall in occupied Palestinian territory, and expressing the urgent need for the resumption of negotiations within the Middle East peace process, it would urge all States, specialized agencies and organizations of the United Nations system to support and assist the Palestinian people in the early realization of their right to self-determination.

The representative of Egypt, the main sponsor, introduced the revised draft, expressing the hope that the text would be approved by consensus as a show of solidarity with the Palestinian people.

The representative of the Netherlands, speaking on behalf of the European Union, restated its firm commitment to the self-determination of the Palestinian people through the Quartet Road Map and the achieving of a two-State solution that would result in a viable, contiguous, sovereign and independent Palestine, existing side by side in peace with an Israel living within recognized and secure borders.  In consequence, the Union was ready to support the electoral process in the Palestinian territories and called upon the Palestinian Authority to organize elections in accordance with international standards under the authority of an independent electoral commission.  It called upon Israel to facilitate those elections.

The representative of Venezuela, expressing her condolences on the death of Yasser Arafat, said her country would support the draft in support of the Palestinian people.

The text was then approved by a recorded vote of 169 in favour to 5 against (Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, United States), with 4 abstentions (Australia, Honduras, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu).  (See annex II.)

Speaking in explanation after the vote, the representative of Israel said her country recognized the right of peoples to self-determination, including that of the Palestinians.  Israel also remained committed to the two-State solution to the conflict.  As had been noted, Israel’s disengagement plan held the potential to jump-start the peace process, which constituted a testament to those commitments.  As Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had noted on the eve of the disengagement plan’s ratification, he himself had repeatedly reiterated his commitment to the two-State solution and to making painful compromises to end the struggle and to bring peace.  He had also noted that Israel had no desire permanently to rule over millions of Palestinians.  However, that could neither be taken as a blank cheque, nor as authorization for terrorism.

The Israeli people too had rights, she affirmed, including the right to live in peace and security in their ancient homeland, side by side with their Palestinian and Arab neighbours.  It was not appropriate for the draft to focus primarily upon one side and to invoke a highly-politicized advisory opinion, which had put the response to terrorism -- but not terrorism itself -- on trial.  Today, there was a genuine opportunity for progress towards the goals contained in the Road Map.  Yet that opportunity would be found in Gaza, not New York.

Also speaking in explanation after the vote, the representative of Australia said he had voted in favour of a similar text last year, and that his country continued to support the two-State solution.  Australia would have supported the text this year but for the inclusion of unhelpful language from the International Court of Justice’s advisory opinion.  Australia had voted against the decision to ask the Court to render an opinion on the issue of the wall and had voted against the resolution adopted by the General Assembly in its emergency special session of July 2004 as those steps were not helpful in making progress towards a resolution of the issue.  Australia had done so out of concern that the Court’s decision would distract the parties from the need to focus on negotiations –- as was actually happening.

The representative of Canada said her country fully supported the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and the creation of an independent, sovereign and viable Palestinian State as the means by which to settle the question.  Canada had voted in favour of the draft as it endorsed the right to self-determination and emphasized the importance of the negotiating process. However, the new references to the advisory opinion must reflect the non-binding status of that opinion.  Moreover, the opinion should not be quoted selectively, especially not without reference to Israel’s security concerns.

The representative of Argentina said he had voted in favour of the draft in support of the self-determination of the Palestinian people, who had to be named in the text since that right could not be invoked without a subject.

The observer for Palestine thanked those who had voted for the draft as well as its co-sponsors.  The continuous reaffirmation of the right of Palestinian self-determination was necessary until it was fulfilled.   Israel’s vote against the text was regrettable since the recognition of the Palestinian right to self-determination was a prerequisite for a two-State solution.  In the case of the United States, it was contradictory to support such a solution and not support the text.  Hopefully, the draft would be approved unanimously next year.

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Prior to the adjournment of the meeting, the representative of Mali said he would have voted in favour of the draft on the self-determination of the Palestinian people had he been present.



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ANNEX II

Vote on Right to Self-Determination

The draft resolution on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination (document A/C.3/59/L.70/Rev.1) was adopted by a recorded vote of 169 in favour to 5 against, with 4 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against:  Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau, United States.

Abstain:  Australia, Honduras, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu.

Absent:  Chad, Comoros, Dominica, Haiti, Kiribati, Lesotho, Mali, Nauru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Tonga, Vanuatu.

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