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


Fifty-eighth General Assembly
Third Committee
34th & 35th Meetings (AM & PM)
GA/SHC/3760
6 November 2003

SOCIAL COMMITTEE APPROVES DRAFT RESOLUTIONS ON YOUTH, WOMEN, PALESTINIAN CHILDREN; BEGINS DISCUSSION OF HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES


The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today approved draft resolutions on issues related to women, youth and children, and began its consideration of human rights hearing from Bacre Waly Ndiaye, Director of the New York Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

A draft resolution on the situation of Palestinian children was approved in a vote of 86 in favour to 4 against, with 58 abstentions (see Annex).  The text would have the General Assembly stress the urgent need for Palestinian children to live a normal life free from foreign occupation, destruction and fear in their own State, and demand that Israel respect relevant provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and relevant provisions of the Geneva Convention.

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Background

Today, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) is expected to begin its consideration of human rights questions and the implementation of human rights instruments.  The Committee is also expected to take action on three drafts on issues related to social development and women’s issues.

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A draft resolution on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian children (document A/C.3/58/L.24) would have the General Assembly stress the urgent need for Palestinian children to live a normal life free from foreign occupation, destruction and fear in their own State and demand that Israel respect relevant provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and comply fully with the provisions of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War to ensure the well-being and protection of Palestinian children and their families.

The draft would also have the General Assembly 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 and to help in the reconstruction of relevant Palestinian institutions.

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Action on Draft Resolutions

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Making a general statement, the representative of Croatia said that the protection of children was a must, regardless of their ethnic or national background.  Croatia would have preferred a draft resolution on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian and Israeli children.  It was hoped that such joint draft resolution would be presented before the plenary.

The representative of Israel, explaining his vote before the vote, said that for the second year in a row the Palestinian delegation had initiated a biased and distorted draft resolution.  That draft avoided any reference to the destructive effects of Palestinian suicide-bombings and terrorism on Israeli life and Israeli children.  Was one group of children more deserving of a single draft than any other group of children suffering around the world?  Furthermore, the draft ignored the cynical abuse of children in Palestine for the purpose of suicide-bombings, a practice that had been condemned by the overwhelming majority of Member States.  The draft had also failed to mention that Palestinian terrorism, that had presently killed over 900 Israelis, had often deliberately targeted children.

Only an end to terrorism could ensure the safety and security of Palestinian and Israeli citizens.  Only resolutions that addressed that issue on a universal level would be productive, he said.  If that draft was to be approved, then surely Israeli children deserved a draft resolution focusing on their suffering from terrorism and suicide-bombings.  It was in that connection that Israel had submitted a draft resolution on Israeli children.

Delegations were asked to show equal concern about Israeli children, he said.  No one party could claim monopoly to being a victim.  If, even at this stage, the sponsors would withdraw the current draft, Israel would be more than willing to withdraw its own draft.  The United Nations must be concerned by the situation of all children.

The representative of Canada, before the vote, explained her delegation’s vote, calling on all parties to end the violence and to resume the implementation of the Road Map.  She said Canada would abstain, as it had serious reservations with regard to singling out a specific group of children and believed that rather than creating a hierarchy of children, it could best protect children by doing so on a global basis.

The draft was approved in a vote of 88 in favour, 58 abstentions, with 4 against (Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, United States).  (See Annex.)

After the vote, the representative of Italy, speaking on behalf of the European Union and explaining its abstention, said the European Union did not support the proliferation of resolutions on agenda items where the Committee had traditionally not dealt separately with country-specific situations.  It continued to support the practice of thematic resolutions that were all-encompassing and did not highlight one situation or another.  He stressed the European Union’s continued commitment to improving the humanitarian situation of Palestinians and their children and would continue to support the Quartet’s Road Map.

The representative of the Russian Federation said his delegation had voted for the resolution because it was convinced that all children in the region were affected.  It welcomed changes to the resolution that would make the text more balanced.

The representative of Norway said his delegation had abstained as it did last year, not because of a lack of concern for all children, but because it was not in favour of opening the Third Committee to country-specific approaches to the issue, preferring instead a thematic approach.

The representative of Switzerland said her delegation had abstained because it deplored the suffering of all children as a result of armed conflict.  She added that while a great deal still remained to be done, the international community had done much to advance the rights of Palestinian children, and the resolution could perhaps highlight this.  She added that her delegation also appreciated that the resolution’s sponsors had opened up discussions during the negotiations for the draft text of the resolution.

In a general statement, the Observer for Palestine thanked delegations for supporting the draft resolution.  Palestinian children did, indeed, live under a specific situation, since they had lived under occupation for the last 40 years.  It was hoped that those delegations that had abstained would change their minds by the time of the vote in the plenary.

The representative of Egypt echoed the sentiment expressed by the Observer for Palestine.  She drew the attention of the Israeli delegation to the fact that that draft had not been a Palestinian initiative, but an Egyptian initiative, since Palestine was under occupation and could not present draft resolutions to the United Nations.

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ANNEX

Vote on Palestinian Children’s Situation

The draft resolution on the situation of Palestinian children (document A/C.3/58/L.24) was approved by a recorded vote of 88 in favour to 4 against, with 58 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

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

Abstaining:  Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Central African Republic, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia and Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay

Absent:  Andorra, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Dominica, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Fiji, Gabon, Guinea, Guyana, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Mauritania, Nauru, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Suriname, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu


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