COMMITTEE ON THE EXERCISE OF THE INALIENABLE
RIGHTS OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 38th MEETING
Held at Headquarters, New York,
on Thursday, 10 May 1979, at 3 p.m.
Chairman: Mr. ROA KOURI (Cuba)
Request by the delegation of Algeria for permission to participate in the work of the Committee as an observer
Consideration by the Security Council of the Committee's recommendations
Representation of the Committee at conferences
Programme of work of the Committee
Review of the work of the Special Unit on Palestinian Rights
This record is subject to correction.
Corrections should be submitted in one of the working languages. They should be set forth in a memorandum and also incorporated in a copy of the record. They should be sent within one week of the date of this document to the Chief, Official Records Editing Section, Department of Conference Services, room A-3550.
Any corrections to the record of this meeting and of other meetings will be issued in a corrigendum.
The meeting was called to order at 3.30 p.m.
REQUEST BY THE DELEGATION OF ALGERIA FOR PERMISSION TO PARTICIPATE IN THE WORK OF THE COMMITTEE AS AN OBSERVER
1. The CHAIRMAN said that he had received a letter from the delegation of Algeria requesting that it be permitted to participate in the work of the Committee as an observer. He suggested that, if there were no objections, the Committee should accede to that request.
2. It was so decided.
3. Mr. MESSAHEL (Observer for Algeria) expressed his delegation's appreciation to the Committee for permitting it to participate in its work as an observer. He was deeply impressed by the Committee's devotion and objectivity in pursuing the just cause of the Palestinian people, and he promised that his delegation would spare no efforts to co-operate in the Committee's work.
CONSIDERATION BY THE SECURITY COUNCIL OF THE COMMITTEE'S RECOMMENDATIONS
4. The CHAIRMAN said that on 13 March 1979 a letter had been sent to the President of the Security Council, drawing his attention to General Assembly resolution 33/28 A, and in particular to paragraph 8 of that resolution, which urged the Security Council to consider the Committee's recommendations as soon as possible. So far the Security Council had not discussed the matter, and he suggested that, if the Security Council should fail to meet the deadline of 1 June 1979 set in paragraph 9 of that resolution, the Committee should then review the situation.
5. Mr. TERZI (Observer, Palestine Liberation Organization) said that, bearing in mind the time factor, consultations should be begun immediately to bring about such a meeting. Should the Security Council fail to take action by the 1 June 1979 deadline, paragraph 9 of resolution 33/28 A would provide the Committee with other options. He suggested that the Secretary of the Committee might find out what meetings of the Council had been scheduled for May.
6. The CHAIRMAN said that the Secretary of the Committee had given him to understand that it would be possible, within the May schedule of Security Council meetings, to convene a meeting to discuss the Committee's recommendations. If there were no objections, he would immediately undertake unofficial consultations with the President of the Security Council to that end.
7. It was so decided.
REPRESENTATION OF THE COMMITTEE AT CONFERENCES
8. The CHAIRMAN invited the Rapporteur of the Committee to report on his attendance on its behalf at conferences held recently in Prague and Basel.
9. Mr. GAUCI (Malta), Rapporteur, said that he had had the privilege of representing the Committee, and of speaking on its behalf, at the Conference held in Prague to discuss European security and co-operation, and at the Conference of Solidarity with the Palestinian People which had taken place in Basel. At the Prague Conference, he had emphasized in his statement that the Palestinian question concerned not merely the Middle East region, but the world as a whole. He had stressed that friendly relations and the enjoyment of human rights were principles which must be applied universally, and that the extension of those principles to the Palestinian problem was a topic which had not received sufficient consideration. The Basel Conference had focused on the rights of the Palestinian people. He had made two statements, copies of which had been made available to the Secretariat, and more than 100 copies of studies prepared by the Special Unit on Palestinian Rights had been distributed, generating much interest in the activities of the Committee and of the Special Unit.
10. He believed that participation in the Conferences had brought about a greater understanding of the cause to which the Committee was devoting its efforts. In particular, the World Peace Council, which had organized the Prague Conference, had asked to be kept more closely informed of the Committee's activities.
11. The CHAIRMAN drew the Committee's attention to the possibility of participation in two forthcoming conferences. The first was a Symposium on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in the Arab World, which was to take place from 18 to 21 May in Baghdad; it was being organized by the Union of Arab Jurists, which had offered to pay the travel expenses of the Committee's representatives. Two representatives had been nominated, Mr. Kapitanovich (Yugoslavia) and Mr. Kouyate (Guinea), and he suggested that, if there were no objections, the Committee should confirm their appointment as representatives.
12. It was so decided.
13. The CHAIRMAN said that the other conference, to be held in Chicago from 18 to 20 May, would be devoted to the question of human rights and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with special reference to the responsibility of the Christian Church. He believed that the Conference, in which such prominent people as Alexander Johnson and Felicia Langer were to participate, was of great importance for the Committee's work. He invited the Committee to nominate representatives to attend, and suggested that unofficial consultations should take place with that in mind. Even if it were impossible for the Committee to be represented throughout the Conference, it was important that its representatives should attend for at least one day to indicate the grave concern of members with the question and to give an account of the Committee's work.
PROGRAMME OF WORK OF THE COMMITTEE
14. The CHAIRMAN suggested that, if there were no objections, the Committee should request the Secretary to proceed with arrangements for the special meeting of the Committee to be held on 29 November 1979 as part of the programme for the observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
15. It was so decided.
REVIEW OF THE WORK OF THE SPECIAL UNIT ON PALESTINIAN RIGHTS
16. Mr. TERZI (Observer, Palestine Liberation Organization) drew the Committee's attention to what seemed to him an unwarrantable delay in the production and distribution of its documents in the official working languages. He suggested that the Secretariat's failure to meet reasonable deadlines in such matters might perhaps reflect a lack of awareness of the gravity of the Palestinian question. He wondered whether it might not be possible to make use of outside translation services to ensure the prompt appearance of the Committee's studies and analyses. Far from being of merely historical importance, they were the substance of its day-to-day work. In particular, part II of the Special Unit's report on the origins and evolution of the Palestine problem, dealing with such extremely important issues as the right of return, was urgently needed for the purpose of clearing away the great confusion still prevailing with regard to the Palestinian question.
17. Mr. YOGASUNDRAM (Secretary of the Committee) said that the problem was one of translation. However, it was his understanding that the translation of the document in question into Arabic, French and Spanish had been given priority and it would soon be available in those languages. Part of the difficulty was the fact that such documents enjoyed a lower priority than those of the Security Council, which were published simultaneously in all the official languages. He was confident that the delay did not reflect any lack of concern on the part of the Secretariat to expedite the Committee's important work on the Palestinian problem. He pointed out that some of the translation work, for example on the French, version, had in fact been done by outside agencies. The problem was that the publications machinery had been swamped with documentation.
18. Replying to an inquiry from Mr. KOUYATE (Guinea) regarding the status of the film commissioned by the Committee, Mr. YOGASUNDRAM (Secretary of the Committee), said that the various changes which members had requested had been made and could incorporated into the film. He understood that it would be available by the end of June.
19. Mr. TERZI (Observer, Palestine Liberation Organization) stressed the importance of making the film available as soon as possible. It was to be considered as a document, not as entertainment, and was intended to be shown at conferences. The initial version of the film had been produced at an excessive cost and did not conform to the views of the Committee or the script it had provided. A revised edition had been promised by February, but had still not appeared. He wondered whether the Secretariat was not attempting to censor the Committee's expression of its views.
20. Mr. KOUYATE (Guinea) said that he shared the anxiety of the previous speaker He wished to ask the Chairman for clarification of the rights and obligations of the Secretariat with regard to the Committee's decisions.
21. The CHAIRMAN said in reply that the Secretariat's functions were very clear defined. Its role was to provide the Committee with the necessary technical and secretarial assistance in carrying out its work. It did not have the power to affect the substance of the Committee's decisions. He shared the anxieties which had been expressed regarding the delay in the production of documents and the continuing unavailability of the film, and thought that it would be appropriate to urge the Secretariat, in particular, to speed up the process of translating and producing documents.
22. Mr. GAUCI (Malta), Rapporteur, said he shared the views expressed by the Observer for the Palestine Liberation Organization, but pointed out that the studies compiled by the Special Unit were quite voluminous and involved much work in both compilation and translation. He understood that, despite the volume and pressure of the work involved, every effort was being made to produce the Committee's studies. It had been of advantage to the Committee that at least the English version of the documents had been published as soon as they were ready, and good use had been made of them at the World Peace Council Conference. The Bureau had been in constant touch with the Secretariat on the matter.
23. With regard to the film, he thought that its finalization had become a matter of urgency. However, controversy had been intense regarding its content, and additional effort had been required in order to ensure the necessary objectivity. He noted that many countries represented at the Basel Conference had shown keen interest in obtaining copies of the film, and he had suggested that they should keep in touch with the Office of Public Information.
24. Mr. KORNEYENKO (Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic), referring to the film, recalled that it was supposed to have been ready by 29 November 1978. Members of the Committee had seen the film and had made amendments and proposals for improving the script. Six months had since elapsed without any clarification of the status of the film. The previous year the producers had requested an extended time-limit to incorporate the necessary changes, and his delegation was apprehensive that a further extension of the deadline might prove necessary in the current year.
25. Mr. TERZI (Observer, Palestine Liberation Organization) drew the attention of the Committee to recent announcements in the Israeli press of proposed plans for Jerusalem, and to recent threats made by Begin to "castigate" the Palestinians before they committed acts of terrorism. He wondered whether the Committee might not think it appropriate to draw attention to the fact that such threats and proposals would violate General Assembly resolutions concerning human rights and the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, perhaps in the form of a letter of some four or five pages. Such a letter, giving examples from the Jerusalem Post and other sources, including the United Nations representative in the area, would help to set the record straight and would indicate that the Committee considered such actions in the occupied territories to be illegal.
26. The CHAIRMAN said that preemptive punishment and the proposed plans for Jerusalem did indeed constitute violations of human rights and of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, and suggested that the Committee should bring them to the notice of the Security Council and the General Assembly.
27. It was so decided.
The meeting rose at 4.25 p.m.