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


Fifty-ninth General Assembly
Third Committee
46th & 47th Meetings (AM & PM)
GA/SHC/3807
18 November 2004

THIRD COMMITTEE APPROVES 16 DRAFT RESOLUTIONS ON HUMAN RIGHTS, RACISM,

REFUGEE ISSUES, INCLUDING TEXT ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN TURKMENISTAN

Decides to Take No Action on Belarus Draft


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Background

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to take action on a variety of draft resolutions related to issues of social development, refugees, returnees and displaced persons, the rights of the child, elimination of racism and racial discrimination, and human rights questions.

Introduction of Draft Resolution

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Returning to its consideration of promotion and protection of the rights of the child, the Committee took up the draft on The Situation of and Assistance to Palestinian Children (document A/C.3/59/L.28) by which it would have the General Assembly express deep concern about the negative consequences, including psychological consequences, of the Israeli military actions for the present and future well-being of Palestinian children. The text would have the Assembly demand that Israel, the occupying Power, respect relevant provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and comply fully with the provisions of the Geneva Convention on Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.  It would also call upon the international community to provide urgently needed assistance and services in an effort to alleviate the dire humanitarian crisis being faced by Palestinian children and their families. 

Making a statement in explanation before the vote, the representative of the United States said that all were deeply troubled by the effect the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had had on the children of the region.  None could remain indifferent to the suffering of children, their parents and extended families, and the societies in which they lived -- and often died.  However, this concern should not be limited to Palestinian children, but must also be extended to Israeli children, who often became the targets of suicide bombers.  Furthermore, his country remained concerned by the situation of children in all situations of armed conflict.  It was not appropriate for the United Nations to single out one group of children as meriting a specific resolution, while all the other groups of children worldwide did not.  The United States urged the United Nations to avoid singling out one group of children; his delegation would oppose the draft.

The representative of Turkey said it was regrettable that violence in the occupied Palestinian territories had exerted such a dramatic toll on civilian life.  Turkey condemned any act of violence that targeted innocent civilians, especially children.  Turkey would vote in favour of the resolution.  It would also support any other initiative that would address the plight of children in any part of the world.

The representative of Israel said the present text was biased, one-sided and contrary to the spirit of resolutions before the Third Committee.  All the world’s children deserved protection; resolutions that singled out one group were not only cynical, but unfair and morally unacceptable.  The resolution served the interests of one side of the conflict and ignored the other.  Many Israeli children had been killed and injured in terrorist attacks over the past years.  Children had been deliberately murdered in school buses, discotheques and in their parents’ arms.  He also noted that Palestinian children had been encouraged to participate in violence and terrorist attacks, trained to be warriors and glorified in martyrdom.  Such attitudes were particularly reprehensible when applied to children.

Israel welcomed the international community’s efforts to ease the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories, he said, but reaffirmed that only an end to the terror and incitement could end the conflict.  No one-sided resolution could accomplish that goal.  The international community should send a message to the Palestinian authorities to end immediately the use of children in terrorist attacks.  He also noted that, last year, his delegation had introduced a similar text to address the situation of Israeli children, so as to redress the false impression that only the children of one side deserved international attention.  Unfortunately that draft had been denied the Committee’s consideration.

The Committee then adopted the draft on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian children by a recorded vote of 105 in favour and 5 against (Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau and the United States), with 61 abstentions.  (See Annex I).

Making a statement in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of the Russian Federation, noting that his delegation had voted in favour of the draft, said his delegation was convinced that the issues addressed by the draft concerned all children in the region.

The representative of the Netherlands, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the European Union had abstained because it did not support the proliferation of country-specific resolutions.  Thematic resolutions should be all encompassing and not highlight one situation over another.  The European Union was concerned about the plight of all children around the world, including Israeli and Palestinian children.

He said the European Union called for every possible effort by the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority to give children special protection.  It called on Israel to take effective measures to avoid any harm to children and to avoid civilian casualties in its military operations.  He said the lives of Palestinian children had become increasingly difficult and dangerous.  Similarly Israeli children continued to suffer attacks and threats of attacks by Palestinian terrorist groups.  The European Union called for an end to such attacks.  The incitement of Palestinian children to participate in acts of violence and their recruitment was also a matter of grave concern.  The European Union continued to believe a comprehensive, just and lasting peace could be achieved on the basis of Security Council resolutions and the Quartets’ Road Map presented to the parties in 2003.  The European Union would do everything it could to help the parties achieve this goal.

The representative of Norway said his delegation had abstained on the draft, yet that vote should not be misconstrued as reflecting indifference or lack of commitment to the rights of the child.  Moreover, Norway remained committed to improving the situation of Palestinian children.  However, his country continued not to favour opening thematic issues to country-specificity.  Instead, Norway supported the practice by which thematic resolutions remained all-encompassing and did not highlight one situation or another in particular.

Making a general statement on the draft, the Observer for Palestine said she wished to thank those who had voted in favour of the draft, as well as the draft’s co-sponsors.  The text’s adoption was important, as it sent a strong message of solidarity with Palestinian children, who had lived their entire lives under brutal occupation.  It was to be hoped that, next year, the Committee would not have to consider a similar resolution.

The representative of Nepal said he regretted that he was absent when the vote took place, but he would have voted in favour of resolutions.

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ANNEX I

Vote on Situation of Palestinian Children

The draft resolution on the situation of Palestinian children (document A/C.3/59/L.28) was approved by a recorded vote of 105 in favour to 5 against, with 61 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Congo, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

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

Abstain:  Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Rwanda, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay.

Absent:  Benin, Bolivia, Central African Republic, Comoros, Dominica, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Kiribati, Liberia, Nauru, Nepal, Nicaragua, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Vanuatu.

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