COMMITTEE ON THE EXERCISE OF THE INALIENABLE RIGHTS OF THE
SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 144th MEETING
Held at Headquarters, New York,
on Tuesday, 20 October 1987, at 10.30 a.m.
Chairman: Mr. SARRE (Senegal)
Adoption of the agenda
Report by the Chairman on Bill No. 940 of the United States Senate relating to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)
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 DC2-750, United Nations Plaza.
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 10.55 a.m.
ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA
1. The agenda was adopted.
REPORT BY THE CHAIRMAN ON BILL NO. 940 OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE RELATING TO THE PALESTINE LIBERATION ORGANIZATION (PLO)
2. The CHAIRMAN informed the Committee that the Bureau had met to consider the legal and political implications of Bill No. 940, which had been adopted as an amendment by the United States Senate on 8 October 1987. The Bill affected not only the work of the Committee and the United Nations but also the possibility of peace in the Middle East. The main purpose of the Bill was to make it illegal, "notwithstanding any provision of the law to the contrary, to establish or maintain an office, headquarters, premises or other facilities or establishments within the jurisdiction of the United States at the behest or direction of, or with funds provided by, the Palestine Liberation Organization or any of its constituent groups, any successor to any of those, or any agents thereof".
3. The Bill had still to be conferred upon and approved by both Houses before becoming law. Moreover, the United States Secretary of State had earlier sent a letter to the Congress stating the Administration's position that PLO Observer Mission personnel were present in the United States solely in their capacity as "invitees" of the United Nations within the meaning of the Headquarters Agreement, and that the United States was therefore under an obligation to permit such personnel to enter and remain in the United States to carry out their official functions at United Nations Headquarters.
4. On 13 October, the Bureau had met the Secretary-General, the Legal Counsel and the Under-Secretary-General for Political and General Assembly Affairs to discuss the question. On 14 October, he himself, in his capacity also as a member of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country, had asked the United States representative on that Committee to convey to his executive branch the deep concern of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and its hope that the host country's State Department would find a way to resolve the problem in conformity with the United Nations Charter and the Headquarters Agreement. In recent days, the Group of Arab States, the Co-ordinating Bureau of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries and the Organization of the Islamic Conference had also met on that issue; and he had recently learned that the North American Co-ordinating Committee of Non-Governmental Organizations had undertaken to make efforts of its own to seek a solution.
5. Mr. FARTAS (Observer for the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya), speaking as Chairman of the Group of Arab States, said that the Group, after learning of the illegal action by the United States Senate, had met the Secretary-General to convey to him its refusal to accept such a violation not only of the rights of the Palestinian people and their representative, the PLO, but also of the Headquarters Agreement. Bill No. 940 was a threat to the United Nations and all its Member States and Observers.
6. The Arab Group had also transmitted a letter to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which had subsequently met and adopted a communiqué; to the Group of African States, which had also met and begun consideration of the question; and to the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, which had adopted a communiqué denouncing the Bill as a violation of the right of the Palestinian people to explain and defend their cause. The Arab Group was closely following the question and intended to raise it in the Committee on Relations with the Host Country. It also planned to hold a press conference on the matter, and would keep the Committee informed on other measures it took.
7. Mr. AL-SABAH (Observer for Kuwait) reported that the Organization of the Islamic Conference had met the previous day to adopt the communiqué which had been distributed to members of the Committee. The text of the communiqué had been transmitted to the Secretary-General with a request that it should be circulated as a General Assembly document under items 38, 39 and 136.
8. Mr. TERZI (Observer, Palestine Liberation Organization) said that he was grateful for all the action taken on the matter. It was reassuring that on 14 October, in the Committee on Relations with the Host Country, the United States representative had assured that Committee that his Government's policy, as previously voiced by Secretary of State Shultz, remained unchanged, that closing the PLO Observer Mission to the United Nations would in its view be inconsistent with its international legal obligations under the Headquarters Agreement, and that the executive branch would spare no effort to make its views known to all the members of Congress, who would be considering the Bill in conference.
9. What was at stake was the status not simply of the PLO but of the Headquarters Agreement itself.
10. Mr. OUDOVENKO (Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic) said that the issue had to be seen in a broader perspective. The past year had witnessed several remarkable initiatives for ending the Middle East conflict, all of them based on the convening of a United Nations peace conference on the Middle East. Even those who had opposed such a conference in the past had begun to speak of it as a distinct possibility. The Middle East conflict must be settled under United Nations auspices with the participation of all parties, including the PLO, the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. Thus, any attempt to exclude the PLO was out of the question; and Bill No. 940 must be seen in that context.
11. His delegation endorsed the letter from the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (A/42/664), particularly paragraphs 1 and 2. Bill No. 940 was in direct conflict with General Assembly resolutions 3237 (XXIX) and 3375 (XXX), as well as in violation of the Headquarters Agreement. The Ukrainian SSR believed that the Committee must continue to spare no efforts to prevent the adoption of such an illegal amendment. Any question regarding mission personnel must be considered dispassionately and solely within the context of the Headquarters Agreement.
12. The CHAIRMAN recalled that the Committee had planned to hold a seminar in Latin America as part of its programme of work for 1987. It had not been possible thus far to do so, and he had just been informed by the Assistant Secretary-General for Programme Planning, Budget and Finance that, under financial regulation 4.3, the seminar appropriation had to be utilized before the end of 1987; alternatively, such a seminar could be funded from resources to be appropriated for the Division for Palestinian Rights for the 1988-1989 biennium.
13. Mr. TERZI (Observer, Palestine Liberation Organization) observed that, if the Committee acted quickly, the seminar might still be convened before the end of the year.
14. Mr. VELAZCO-SAN JOSE (Cuba) said that he was pleased to inform the Committee that his Government would be honoured to host the seminar in Havana.
15. Mr. OUDOVENKO (Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic) said that his delegation welcomed the possibility of holding the seminar in Cuba, but wondered whether the financial arrangements could be made in time.
16. Mr. BORG-OLIVIER (Malta), Rapporteur, questioned whether the secretariat could prepare adequately for a seminar at such short notice and whether it made sense to rush such an important event.
17. Mr. MIRZA (Chief, Division for Palestinian Rights) said that the Division, which would be organizing the seminar jointly with the Committee, had assessed the situation and decided that the Division's secretariat was ready and able, even at such short notice, to make the necessary preparations for a seminar to be held in December, after the end of the current session of the General Assembly and before the holidays; in other words, between 14 and 18 December.
18. Mr. TERZI (Observer, Palestine Liberation Organization) suggested that the Committee might consider a three-day seminar from 15 to 17 December or from 16 to 18 December. The Committee would of course, have to ascertain immediately if the prospective panelists would be available in December.
19. The CHAIRMAN suggested that the Committee could decide in principle to hold the seminar before the end of the year, subject to the availability of panelists, and subject also to the ability of Committee members to participate, which hinge upon the date of closure of the current session of the General Assembly.
20. It was so decided.
21. Mr. TERZI (Observer, Palestine Liberation Organization) thanked the Chairman for the letter he had issued the previous week regarding criminal practices by Israel in the occupied territories. Such practices persisted: only the previous day, demonstrations in and around Jerusalem in a school and a refugee camp had been broken up by the Israeli police using tear gas. Repression in the Gaza Strip, moreover, was intensifying.
22. Mr. OUDOVENKO (Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic) congratulated the Chairman on the election of Senegal to the Security Council. Perhaps that body now finally comprised a group of States that could work to convene a Middle East peace conference.
23. Mr. TERZI (Observer, Palestine Liberation Organization) conveyed congratulations also to Yugoslavia, another ally now on the Security Council.
24. The CHAIRMAN said that Senegal, as a member of the Security Council, would do its utmost to uphold the purposes and principles of the Charter, particularly where the Middle East was concerned. It was planning to take an active role, together with other non-aligned countries, to bring about a just and lasting settlement of the crisis in Palestine.
The meeting rose at 11.45 a.m.