COMMITTEE ON THE EXERCISE OF THE INALIENABLE RIGHTS OF THE
SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 76th MEETING
Held at Headquarters, New York,
on Thursday, 11 February 1982, at 3 p.m.
Temporary Chairman: Mr. PEREZ DE CUELLAR (Secretary-General
of the United Nations)
Chairman: Mr. SARRE (Senegal)
Adoption of the agenda
Election of officers
Statement by the Secretary-General
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, 866 United Nations Plaza (Alcoa Building).
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 3.35 p.m.
ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA
1. The agenda was adopted.
ELECTION OF OFFICERS
2. Mr. SHERIFIS (Cyprus) proposed that Mr. Sarré (Senegal) should be re-elected Chairman of the Committee, that Mr. Roa Kouri (Cuba) and Mr. Zarif (Afghanistan) should be re-elected Vice-Chairmen, and that Mr. Gauci (Malta) should be re-elected Rapporteur.
3. Mr. DIACONU (Romania) supported that proposal.
4. The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN said that, if he heard no objection, he would take it that the Committee wished to re-elect the officers named by the representative of Cyprus.
5. It was so decided.
6. Mr. Sarré (Senegal) took the Chair.
STATEMENT BY THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
7. The SECRETARY-GENERAL congratulated the Chairman on his re-election. His
re-election was a recognition of his ability and his strong personal commitment to the mandate of the Committee, and a reflection on the Committee's confidence that he would continue his dedicated efforts on behalf of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.
8. For more than thirty years, the question of the Middle East had been before the General Assembly, and few issues had so consistently and deeply preoccupied the Organization. The General Assembly had made it clear that the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people must be taken fully into account in involving a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement for the Middle East. The failure so far to achieve such a settlement should not, however, be a cause for despair or inactivity. Indeed, it was for that reason that the General Assembly had established the Committee and instructed it to draw up a programme for the implementation for the rights of the Palestinian people enumerated in General Assembly resolution 3236 (XXIX). The Committee's efforts had helped to focus the attention of the international community on the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and had given the widest possible exposure to the facts relating to those rights.
9. The task of the Committee was of the utmost importance and complexity. He had no doubt that the Committee would work untiringly and with dedication to serve its mandate. He assured the Committee that the Secretariat stood ready to give it all the necessary support in its deliberations in pursuance of the mandate entrusted to it by the General Assembly.
10. The CHAIRMAN said that he considered it a special honour to have been elected in the presence of the Secretary-General. The support expressed by the Secretary-General for the work of the Committee was particularly gratifying and encouraging.
11. Mr. TERZI (Observer for the Palestine Liberation Organization) said that since 1975, when the Committee had begun its work, the work of the Chairman and the other officers had won the great appreciation of the Palestinian people. The presence of the Secretary-General at the meeting was particularly gratifying, in that it emphasized the commitment of the United Nations to efforts to bring about peace and a just and comprehensive solution to the conflict in the Middle East. The General Assembly had recognized the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, and it was for the Security Council to ensure the exercise of those rights. The Palestinian people and the Palestine Liberation Organization still believed that the United Nations was the only framework for bringing about a comprehensive and just settlement to the conflict in the area. The task of the Organization was particularly important in view of repeated attempts to bypass the United Nations and impose a settlement which would violate the legitimate and inalienable rights
of the Palestinian people. In conclusion, he reiterated his organization's
commitment to co-operate fully with the Committee in order to attain its stated objective.
The meeting was suspended at 4 p.m. and resumed at 4.05 p.m.
12. Mr. GAUCI (Malta) said that the Committee should analyse the results it had achieved so far and consider what changes, if any, experience showed to be
necessary in its working methods. In the immediate future, there should be
informal discussions to consider various important events and meetings which were to take place prior to the Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Countries on the question of Palestine, to be held in April in Kuwait. The Committee should give some thought to the role of the Special Unit on Palestinian Rights, bearing in mind the additional responsibilities which it was being asked to assume. Other matters to be reviewed were the studies undertaken on the question of Palestine and the dissemination of information already collected; on-the-spot monitoring of the situation in Palestine; the organization of seminars; attendance at meetings during the coming year; and preparations for the proposed international conference on the question of Palestine.
13. Since the last meeting of the Committee in December 1981, the Working Group had held three meetings. An informal working paper prepared by the Special Unit had been distributed to all members of the Committee on 11 January for comment. After extensive discussions, the Working Group had endorsed a number of the suggestions made in that paper. It had agreed that the customary letter should be addressed to all Members of the United Nations inviting them to participate in the work of the Committee. The letter should make it clear that the Committee remained open to all sectors of opinion and should stress that it was time for the United Nations to take effective action to resolve the question of Palestine.
(Mr. Gauci, Malta)
14. The Working Group believed that its membership should be expanded and that three sub-groups should be set up to deal with the ongoing work. One sub-group would monitor daily events in the occupied territories together with the Special Unit and, as appropriate, draft letters for signature by the Chairman and transmission to the Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council. Such a group was needed because of the frequent infringements of the rights of the Palestinian people by the Israeli authorities in the occupied territories and because of the Security Council's failure to activate the group which it had set up to investigate the situation in the occupied territories. The second sub-group would assist the Special Unit in the detailed work of organizing seminars. The third sub-group would have the tasks of: reviewing periodically, with the assistance of the Special Unit, progress made in the studies which had already been planned, and arrangements for reproducing them in languages other than the official
languages of the United Nations; updating those studies and the film produced by the Special Unit; and improving the organization of the Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people.
15. Preparations were well in hand for each of the seminars planned. The seminar originally scheduled for Chicago would, if the Committee agreed, be held at He adquarters because the United States authorities had announced that it would be inconsistent with their policy on the Committee itself to allow the seminar to take place in United States territory. The Group also felt that the Committee should invite a broader range of speakers than in the past, to ensure a full and informed discussion of the issues. Copies of the papers to be delivered would be made available to all participants, and it was intended to establish a liaison with DPI so as to secure maximum press coverage.
16. The Working Group had recommended that the European seminar should be held in Malta in March, and that influential political figures from Asia, Africa and Europe should be invited so as to have maximum impact on public opinion in those regions. The Government of Senegal was prepared to act as host for the third seminar, and preliminary work for it was already under way.
17. The Working Group had requested the Chief of the Special Unit to give further information on a number of points: one was recruitment of additional staff to the Unit to cope with the Committee's increased responsibilities. It would be useful to have the DPI booklet on the work of the Committee updated by the start of the forthcoming seminar, indicating the stage reached in the seminar programme and providing details both of the studies planned for the future and of the arrangements for translating seminar papers into non-official languages such as Japanese, Portuguese, German and Greek. It would be helpful also if the DPI film on the rights of the Palestinian people could be updated, together with the compendium of resolutions of the General Assembly and Security Council on the question of Palestine.
18. As a result of talks with the professor of political science at Northwestern University, preparations were under way to have some of the papers from the seminars on Palestine published in book form. The Working Group felt that it would be desirable for the Chairman to write an introduction to that volume.
(Mr. Gauci, Malta)
19. The Committee should decide which international meetings it would participate in in the months ahead, and look for volunteers to represent it. At the same time other bodies, such as the Special Committee against Apartheid and the Council for Namibia, should be invited to the Committee's seminars and the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
20. Finally, there was a strong feeling in the Working Group that the Committee should meet at least once a month, and more often when events required – especially events in the occupied territories.
21. Mr. CHEBAANE (Tunisia) asked whether the membership of the Working Group would remain unchanged, with all other members of the Committee being free to take part if they wished.
22. Mr. KOROMA (Sierra Leone) asked when and where the International Conference referred to by the representative of Malta would be held, and whether the forthcoming seminars would be used to build up to it.
23. Mr. MAHMOOD (Pakistan) supported the recommendations of the Working Group. Should the Working Group be enlarged, his delegation would be interested in serving on it. He favoured the creation of sub-groups to monitor specific aspects of the Committee's work. The Palestinian situation was at a critical stage, and the Committee would have to monitor developments closely. That would entail frequent letters from the Chairman to the Presidents of the Security Council and the General Assembly, and to the Secretary-General. The Chairman should, of course, ensure that all such letters were personally signed by him so that they carried all the weight of his office.
24. Mr. TERZI (Observer for the Palestine Liberation Organization) said that it was most important to begin monitoring developments in the Palestinian situation immediately. The Special Unit still had no one to perform that task, although many of the developments that were occurring could affect the rights of the Palestinian people.
25. He was glad the Working Group had stressed the importance of issuing
invitations to bodies such as the Special Committee against Apartheid and the
Council for Namibia: the membership of those two bodies could identify with the struggle and recognize the enemy. He was also delighted that Northwestern
University was preparing to publish seminar papers in book form. He trusted that those permanent missions that had not yet received copies of the papers presented at the seminars in Vienna and Arusha would have them soon, at least in English.
26. On the subject of the International Conference, the Secretariat had indicated that it would need 20 months to make the necessary preparations. As the Conference was supposed to be held not later than 1984, the sooner preparations began the better.
27. Mr. LAHLOU (Observer for Morocco) said that the new arrangements suggested by the Working Group would help the Committee to accomplish its functions better. He agreed that letters sent by the Chairman to the Secretary-General and the Presidents of the Security Council and the General Assembly should be personally signed.
28. He favoured the idea of expanding the Working Group, particularly since the expansion would make it easier to apportion the different tasks involved. Informal consultations amongst delegations would make it apparent how much larger the Group should be.
29. Mr. NAMBIAR (India) said that his delegation had an open mind on the proposed expansion of the Working Group; the Group might well benefit from expansion. The Committee would be well advised to take up the Working Group's suggestions on the organization of seminars straightaway. He supported the call for the Chairman to write an introduction to the proposed volume of seminar papers. The question of the International Conference needed to be gone into in detail, especially in the context of the forthcoming meeting of the non-aligned movement on the Palestinian question.
30. Mr. KOROMA (Sierra Leone) said that he was keen to begin work on the proposed International Conference immediately; any delay in convening the Conference would make the issue seem less urgent. The impact of a conference was not to be compared with the impact of seminars. He hoped the Working Group would take the matter up soon.
31. Mr. IBRAHIM (Indonesia) said that his delegation could support all of the
Working Group's proposals, including that relating to the expanion of the Working Group.
32. Mr. SHEHATA (Observer for Egypt) said that one of the most important questions raised in the report of the Working Group was the monitoring of daily events in the occupied territories. The Committee needed to act quickly to nominate a representative who would give it periodic reports on which it could take action.
33. His delegation would participate fully in the New York seminar and would let the Secretariat know later whether it would participate in the other two seminars. Important academic contributions were made to the seminars, and their distribution should not be confined to the seminars only; they should also be translated.
34. The proposed international conference was the most important item on the
programme of work, and thorough preparations should be made for it. It might
therefore be appropriate to have a sub-group of the Working Group devote all its efforts to the preparations.
35. Mr. BURAYZAT (Observer for Jordan) said that in its programme of work for the next few years, the Committee should, above all, pursue its commitment to the cause of the Palestinian people. His delegation would do its utmost to assist it in seeking a peaceful solution to the plight of the Palestinian people and the tension in the Middle East.
36. Mr. YOGASUNDRAM (Chief, Special Unit on Palestinian Rights) said, with
reference to the monitoring of day-to-day events in the occupied territories, that a monitor was being recruited and it was hoped that the person appointed could begin work within a few weeks. Another staff member, to work in French, was being recruited for the Special Unit. With regard to the New York seminar in March, an additional panel on the nature of the Palestine Liberation Organization had been proposed. The panel on the role of the United Nations in seeking effective measures to enable the Palestinian people to attain and exercise its rights was short of participants, and members of the Committee were requested to indicate whether they would be able to serve on it. As usual, all Committee members were invited to take part in seminars held at Headquarters, but the Rapporteur, the Chairman and the Chief of the Special Unit would need five volunteers to assist in drafting the report. All other arrangements for the New York seminar were well in hand. Additional participants were needed for the Malta seminar, however, and members of the Committee were asked to suggest persons who might be invited.
37. Mr. GAUCI (Malta), referring to the panel on the role of the United Nations, said that both members of the Committee and independent observers should be invited to give their views on the subject. He suggested that two professors from Columbia University and perhaps a representative of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace might be invited to attend.
38. Mr. TERZI (Observer for the Palestine Liberation Organization) said that for the panel on the role of the United Nations, the United Nations itself should present a paper on how it was implementing its responsibilities and its decisions on the question of Palestine. His organization would present a paper to the panel on the role of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
39. Mr. KOROMA (Sierra Leone) commented that any paper prepared by the United
Nations was likely to take the form of a compendium of resolutions and decisions. It would be more interesting to have an outside observer give his views on how the United Nations should have fulfilled its responsibilities and had failed to do so.
40. The CHAIRMAN said that he took it that the Committee wished a letter to be sent to all States Members of the United Nations inviting any delegation which wished to do so to participate in the Committee's work. In reply to the
representative of Tunisia, he said that the Committee could confirm the current composition of the Working Group and endorse, in principle, the idea of expanding it. Consultations among the officers and members of the Committee and with observers would then take place on the subject. He took it that the Committee endorsed the idea of establishing a sub-group to follow day-to-day events in the occupied territories, a sub-group on seminars and a sub-group to monitor progress in the studies undertaken by the Special Unit. There also seemed to be agreement on holding a meeting of the Committee every month.
41. With regard to the difficulties encountered in finding experts to serve on some of the seminar panels, he suggested that three experts should be invited to attend the panel on the role of the United Nations or submit a paper for discussion. He suggested that consideration should be given to holding the Dakar seminar in the latter part of August so as to enable participants who so desired to attend the Baghdad summit, which was to begin on 30 August. With regard to the proposed international conference, he observed that the proposed date of 1984 did seem to be the best solution. The conference theme would not be lost sight of, however, because it would be considered at other conferences and seminars in the intervening years.
42. Mr. YOGASUNDRAM (Chief, Special Unit on Palestinian Rights) said that the
General Assembly had authorized the Committee to serve as the preparatory committee for the international conference. Provision had been made for meetings in 1982 for that purpose. He requested guidance on when those meetings should be scheduled.
43. Mr. GAUCI (Malta) proposed that two days at the end of March and three days at the beginning of May should be set aside for that purpose.
44. It was so decided.
45. Mr. ZARIF (Afghanistan) said that his delegation was grateful for its election to the Vice-Chairmanship. Its commitment to the cause of Palestine was evidenced by the fact that, despite the many problems it was facing, it continued to participate actively in the work of the Committee.
46. Mr. CABALLERO (Cuba) said that his delegation was grateful for its election to the Vice-Chairmanship, and reaffirmed its commitment to work for the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.
The meeting rose at 5.40 p.m.