COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 5th MEETING
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Wednesday, 22 March 2000, at 3 p.m.
Chairperson : Mr. SIMKHADA (Nepal)
THE RIGHT OF PEOPLES TO SELF-DETERMINATION AND ITS APPLICATION TO PEOPLES UNDER COLONIAL OR ALIEN DOMINATION OR FOREIGN OCCUPATION ( continued)
The meeting was called to order at 3.10 p.m.
THE RIGHT OF PEOPLES TO SELF-DETERMINATION AND ITS APPLICATION TO PEOPLES UNDER COLONIAL OR ALIEN DOMINATION OR FOREIGN OCCUPATION (agenda item 5) ( continued ) (E/CN.4/2000/13, E/CN.4/2000/14 and Corr.1, E/CN.4/2000/NGO/66, 67 and 68)
36. Mr. QIAO ZONGHUI (China) …
37. In the Middle East, the key to peace and stability lay in restoring the rights of the Palestinian people, including its right to self-determination and to a just solution of the Palestinian question. It had to be hoped that the parties concerned would adopt a flexible and pragmatic approach, so as to promote progress in the Middle East peace process on the basis of the United Nations resolutions and the agreements existing between them.
38. Mr. SUTOYO (Indonesia) noted that the human rights situation in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine, was slowly improving, despite the flagrant violations committed by the Israeli Government, as could be seen from document E/CN.4/2000/22/Add.1, submitted by the Arab League. Real, albeit too slow, progress was under way, for example in the form of withdrawals from the West Bank. The deadlines for those withdrawals had not been respected and the difficulties that had arisen might lead to more violence. Many of the good intentions proclaimed had not actually materialized. All the parties should therefore be urged to return to the negotiating table and act decisively. The resumption of talks in Washington and the forthcoming meetings between Presidents Bill Clinton and Hafez El Assad should reinforce the impetus of the peace process.
39. For its part, the United Nations must insist on the unconditional withdrawal of Israeli forces from all occupied Palestinian and Arab territories, in accordance with Security Council resolutions. The question of human rights violations in those territories and the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination must remain a priority concern for the Commission.
40. The Government and the people of Indonesia reiterated their support for the Palestinian people and reaffirmed its right to a State and a homeland as part of a comprehensive, just and durable peace settlement in the Middle East.
42. Mr. NSEIR (Syrian Arab Republic) noted that respect for the right to self-determination underpinned the exercise of all the other human rights. The hegemonistic and expansionist policy waged by Israel for more than 50 years was depriving the Palestinian people of that essential right. All kinds of violence and repression were being used against that people to prevent it from exercising its right freely to choose its destiny. Far from respecting that right, Israel described as terrorists those who were fighting to ensure its triumph and the end of the occupation. But everyone knew that terrorism was just that: occupation by force and a refusal to respect the law. Resistance was a right and those who resisted could not be called terrorists.
50. Mr. LITTMAN (Association for World Education) recalled a statement on the question of Palestine made 10 years before in the Commission on Human Rights in which he had suggested the creation of a partnership between Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians, along the lines of what Churchill in 1946 had called the future United States of Europe. In that statement (E/CN.4/2000/NGO/4), he had noted that, just as European integration had had modest beginnings about 50 years before in the European Coal and Steel Community, so in the Middle East water management and other economic measures might give rise to more developed forms of cooperation and integration in the coming decade. He had to emphasize, however, that such a prospect could only become reality if at the same time there was a general movement towards democracy and respect for human rights in all countries of the Middle East. Certain positive signs were appearing on the horizon and a new spirit of cooperation seemed to be emerging in the region.
51. The year 2000, which the Catholic Church had proclaimed as a jubilee year, should be the occasion for Pope John Paul II to pursue the work of purification and ecumenical reconciliation that he had begun 20 years ago. The Association for World Education wished to take that historic opportunity to ask His Holiness, during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, to obtain the removal of the racist and libellous commemorative stone plaque that was to be found in the Terra Sancta Church in Damascus. The Pope should also authorize historians to consult the Vatican and Capuchin archives on the 1840 event commemorated by the plaque. That symbolic gesture, which it was to be hoped President Hafez El Assad would encourage, would be a way of confirming that Judaism, Christianity and Islam were destined to become true partners in the Middle East peace process.
63. Ms. RAMADAN (Nord-Sud XXI) recalled that on 18 April 1996 the Israeli occupying forces in southern Lebanon had opened fire on the Qana base of the United Nations Interim Force where over 800 civilians had taken refuge. Over 100 had been killed, half of them children. All the evidence suggested that the massacre had been deliberate. In his preliminary report, Major General Franklin van Kappen, Military Adviser to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, after investigating the incident, had concluded that it was unlikely that the shelling was the result of gross technical error. Nord-Sud XXI asked that General van Kappen’s final report at last be made public so that full light could be shed on that massacre.
64. Ms. DEEB (Nord-Sud XXI) said that on 18 April 1996 she had been at the UNIFIL base, where she and the other refugees thought they were safe. Bombs had begun to fall on the base and she had fainted. On recovering consciousness she had found herself surrounded by dead bodies. She herself had lost her right hand and left foot. She added that the Israeli forces had even had the barbarity to bomb the hospital.
The meeting rose at 6.05 p.m.