15 September 1994 (Not distributed)
Letter from Dr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the U.N., to the Secretary-General of the United Nations: (Palestine at UN Status)
Pursuant to our previous conversations, I would like, once more, to broach the subject of the proper and full implementation of General Assembly resolutions relevant to the status and rights of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations and the need for congruous and consistent practice by the Secretariat of the United Nations in this regard. Although the aspects of this issue are interrelated, I would like to refer in particular to three areas of concern to us.
The first area of concern regards the status of the mission. Historically, the General Assembly, through its resolutions and practice, conferred upon the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) the most advanced rights and privileges it has ever given to any other observer, including non-member states. The Security Council has repeatedly invited "the Observer of Palestine to the United Nations to participate in the debate of the Council, with the same rights of participation of rule 37" of the Charter of the United Nations. Other United Nations organs and agencies have adopted similar positions and practice.
In its resolution 43/177 of 15 December 1988, the General Assembly acknowledged the proclamation of the State of Palestine by the Palestine National Council (PNC) on 15 November 1988. It stopped short, however, of recognizing the State of Palestine. We believe that all of the above should be reflected properly by the Secretariat of the United Nations. As such, the listing of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations in the book of Permanent Missions to the United Nations (the blue book) should be placed immediately after non-member states, albeit in a separate category, with the necessary changes in the title of this category.
The second area of concern is that of title and designation. The General Assembly, in its resolutions 42/210 B of 17 December 1987, 42/229 A of 2 March 1988 and 42/230 of 23 March 1988, consistently referred to the "Permanent Observer Mission of the Palestine Liberation Organization to the United Nations", and in resolution 43/177 of 15 December 1988, the Assembly decided that the designation "Palestine" should be used, instead of the designation "Palestine Liberation Organization", in the United Nations system. As such, the General Assembly has consistently used the term "mission" and has never used the term "office". Nevertheless, the Secretariat, in its book of Permanent Missions to the United Nations (the blue book) and its correspondences, is using the title "Office of the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations" to refer to "the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations". We believe that the Secretariat should comply with General Assembly resolutions and use the proper title and designation, as decided by the Assembly.
The third area of concern is that of seating. Since the General Assembly, in resolution 3237 (XXIX) of 22 November 1974, invited the Palestine Liberation Organization to participate in the sessions and the work of the General Assembly in the capacity of an observer, the delegation of the Palestine Liberation Organization has been seated to the immediate left of the podium. No other intergovernmental organization was present at the time, and United Nations agencies were seated behind the row in which the Palestine Liberation Organization was seated. Now, especially in conferences being held under the auspices of the United Nations, there are all kinds of inconsistencies in the seating pattern, including the seating of the agencies before Palestine on the main ground or floor of the Assembly, while Palestine is seated in other places. We believe that a fixed pattern of seating, one reflecting the above-mentioned facts, should be observed in all relevant United Nations meetings, including main committees and conferences.
Your Excellency, with the progress and developments in the peace process currently underway, it seems appropriate that the inaccuracies and inconsistencies with regard to such practices mentioned above should be corrected during the 49th session. This would properly serve the Palestinian representation in the United Nations in the manner meant and defined by the General Assembly, which, as you know, has the ultimate power in issues regarding representation, designation and other related matters. This should be possible in the new prevailing, positive atmosphere among the parties, and could only help the peace process.