Second Committee Passes Resolutions Reaffirming Rights of Palestinian People over Natural Resources, Recognizes Right to Claim Restitution

GA/EF/3439
12 November 2015
Seventieth Session, 31st Meeting (PM)

Second Committee Passes Resolutions Reaffirming Rights of Palestinian People over Natural Resources, Recognizes Right to Claim Restitution

Members Also Pass Text on Oil Slick off Lebanon, Unilateral Economic Measures

The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) approved three resolutions today, one of them reaffirming the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and the population of occupied Syrian Golan over their land, water and energy resources.

By other terms of the text, titled “Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources”, the Assembly would demand that Israel cease the exploitation, damage, cause of loss or depletion and endangerment of the natural resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and recognize the right of the Palestinian people to claim restitution.

The Committee approved the text by a recorded vote of 156 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and United States), and 9 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Honduras, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Togo and Tonga).

Calling that resolution an “annual ritual of Israel-bashing and pro-Palestinian lip service” which contributed nothing to peace, the representative of Israel stated that the text was based on a one-sided report, from the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).

The Observer of the State of Palestine stated that the resolution reaffirmed the legitimate rights of his people and recognized their right to reparations.  Not all losses could be quantified, he said, calling on all Member States to boycott products from terrorist colonies.

Also approving a resolution on “Oil slick on Lebanese shores”, the Committee would have the Assembly reiterate its concern about the adverse implications of the destruction by the Israeli Air Force of the oil storage tanks in the direct vicinity of the Lebanese El-Jiyeh electric power plant.  The resolution was approved by a recorded vote of 159 in favour to 8 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and United States), and 5 abstentions (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Tuvalu).

By further terms of the text, the Assembly would reiterate its request to the Government of Israel to assume responsibility for prompt and adequate compensation to the Government of Lebanon for the aforementioned damage and to other States directly affected by the oil slick, such as Syria, whose shores had been partially polluted, for the costs of repairing the environmental damage caused by the destruction, including the restoration of the marine environment.

By a recorded vote of 117 in favour to 51 against, and 2 abstentions (United States and Israel), the Committee adopted a text on “Unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries”.

By the terms of the resolution, the Assembly would urge the international community to adopt urgent and effective measures to eliminate the use of unilateral coercive economic measures against developing countries that were not authorized by relevant organs of the United Nations or were inconsistent with the principles of international law as set forth in the United Nations Charter and that contravened the basic principles of the multilateral trading system.

The text would also have the Assembly call upon the international community to condemn and reject the imposition of the use of such measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries.

Earlier today, the Committee heard the introduction of various draft resolutions, including one on “Commodities”, another on “Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa” and a third on “Follow-up to the second United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries”, introduced by the representative of South Africa, on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China.

Other texts introduced today were on “International Day of Women in Science”, introduced by Malta’s delegate, and “Towards global partnerships:  a principle-based approach to enhanced cooperation between the United Nations and all relevant partners”, introduced by Luxembourg’s delegate.

Also speaking today were representatives of the United States, Russian Federation, Luxembourg, Syria, Lebanon and South Africa.

Introduction of Draft Resolutions

The representative of South Africa, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77, introduced three draft resolutions entitled “Commodities” (document A/C.2/70/L.25), “Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa (document A/C.2/70/L.26) and “Follow-up to the second United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries” (document A/C.2/70/L.27).

Malta’s representative introduced the draft text on “Science and technology for development” entitled “International Day of Women in Science” (document A/C.2/70/L.4).

The representative of Luxembourg introduced the draft text entitled “Towards global partnerships:  a principle-based approach to enhanced cooperation between the United Nations and all relevant partners” (document A/C.2/70/L.24).

Action on Draft Resolutions

The Committee took up a draft resolution entitled “Unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries” (document A/C.2/70/L.2), approving the text by a recorded vote with 117 in favour, 2 against (United States, Israel) and 51 abstentions.

Speaking in explanation of vote, the representative of the United States said that each Member State had the sovereign right to choose how to conduct its trade with other countries.  Economic sanctions, whether unilateral or multilateral, could be used as a means to promote a return to rule of law, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and fight terrorism.  Each country was within its right to use such tools to respond.  Targeted economic sanctions could be an appropriate, effective and legitimate alternative to the use of force.

Also speaking in explanation of vote, Luxembourg’s representative, on behalf of the European Union, said that while the Union abstained from voting, unilateral economic measures were admissible in certain circumstances in particular to fight terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, or to uphold respect for human rights and democracy.  He did regret that the resolution denouncing unilateral measures was put for action in a unilateral manner, with no attempt to engage in negotiations.

Making a general statement, the representative of the Russian Federation said unilateral measures were a direct violation of international law and impeded the ability of Sates to fulfil obligations to their people.  Unilateral actions caused a reduction of employment, income and access to everyday goods, including medicine.  She noted with regret that the practice was not decreasing and was being carried out towards developing countries.  Those States using such methods “do not shy away” from meddling in the domestic affairs of other countries.

Also making a general statement, Syria’s representative said that unilateral sanctions were preventing humanitarian relief and basic services reaching people in need.  He regretted that a few delegations attempted to justify their use of unilateral sanctions by saying that they were protecting human rights and fighting terrorism.  Member States were applying sanctions on energy, he said, requesting those States to explain how that was fighting terrorism.

The Committee adopted the text by a recorded vote of 117 in favour to 51 against, and 2 abstentions (United States and Israel).

The Committee then took up the text “Oil slick on Lebanese shores” (document A/C.2/70/L.14).

Speaking in explanation of vote before approval, the representative of Israel said the current resolution represented an “annual absurd ritual” and a one-sided, distorted narrative of what happened in 2006.  The conflict was initiated by Hizbullah, a terrorist organization that had acted with impunity, kidnapping and killing Israeli soldiers.  During the conflict, Hizbullah’s rockets caused considerable damage.  The proponents of the resolution did not care for the environment or sustainable development, all they wanted to sustain was a false narrative.  The oil slick on Lebanese shores no longer existed and the resolution had no place in the Committee’s work and became more out of place with each passing year.

The resolution was approved by a recorded vote of 159 in favour to 8 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and United States), and 5 abstentions (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Tuvalu).

Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of Lebanon thanked the Second Committee, which had for the past decade approved the current resolution every year to acknowledge the adverse economic, environmental and health effects inflicted on Lebanon by Israel’s bombing of the electric plant.  The text showed the Committee’s commitment to upholding international law and carried a particular significance this year in the context of the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Lebanon would continue to mobilize its resources to ensure that the resolution was fully implemented.

The Committee then turned to the resolution on “Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources”.

The representative of South Africa, speaking on behalf of Group of 77, made a small amendment to the footnote of the resolution.

Speaking in explanation of vote before vote, Israel’s representative said that once again the vital work of the Committee was getting side-tracked by political agendas.  The resolution was based on the ESCWA report, which was “one-sided, economical with truth and factually selective”.  The report and text ignored that Gaza was controlled by a terrorist organization.  The annual ritual of Israel-bashing and pro-Palestinian lip service contributed nothing to peace.

The representative of Luxembourg, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that while the Union would support the resolution, the use of the term “Palestine” could not be interpreted as recognition of the State of Palestine.

The Committee adopted that resolution by a recorded vote of 156 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and United States), and 9 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Honduras, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Togo and Tonga).

Making a statement after the vote, the Observer of the State of Palestine thanked all States who had voted in favour of the resolution which restated the legitimate rights of his people and reaffirmed their permanent sovereignty over their natural resources.  It also recognized their right to reparations.  Noting the relevance of international humanitarian laws in the matter, he asked Israeli authorities to cease all measures that damaged the resources and to “remember the lessons of history”.  Israel had received reparations for the actions of the Nazis.  There were losses which could be covered by reparations, but there were also losses that could not be quantified.  The Union had taken a step in the right direction by banning products from Israel, he said, calling on all Member States to boycott products from terrorist colonies.

For information media. Not an official record.