9 December 1997 (Not distributed) (Original: Arabic)

Letter from H.E. President Yasser Arafat to the Secretary-General of the United Nations: (International Human Rights Day)

It was with great appreciation that I received the letter you addressed to me on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the International Day of Human Rights. As we share in the celebration of this anniversary, we reaffirm our commitment to human rights and to defending them and we express our support for international efforts aimed at the revitalization of the international system to protect these rights.

The Palestinian people, deprived of their fundamental rights as humans, look forward to the implementation and practice of this declaration in all its significance and dimensions on the land of the Palestine, whose people are still suffering from the ugliest, horrible violations of their human rights, as a result of the continued Israeli occupation of their land and sacred holy places.

On this occasion, we call upon Your Excellency, Mr. Secretary-General, to do your utmost to enable the Palestinian people to exercise their inalienable national rights, particularly the right of return and the right to self-determination, in accordance with relevant resolutions and international legitimacy. The implementation of these resolutions would represent a great and important step with regard to the cause of protecting and realizing Palestinian human rights, dignity and humanity. This would contribute to the achievement of a just and comprehensive peace in the region, which is the only thing that will provide security, stability and progress for all its peoples. Our people will thus enjoy security and freedom and will be sovereign and independent in their homeland, Palestine.

The Palestinian people, joining all peoples of the world in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the International Declaration of Human Rights, are the most eager to enjoy the benefits and merits of the International Declaration of Human Rights, which would enable them to effectively contribute to the enhancement and progress of human civilization.

As we support all of your efforts for the revitalization and the implementation of the International Declaration of Human Rights, including the rights of the child and of women, we assure you that the Declaration of Independence of the State of Palestine focused on this issue and its provisions are inspired by it. The Palestinian people are anxious to witness the transformation of the International Declaration of Human Rights from serious commitments to tangible actions for the benefit of all nations in the world. With the Palestinian people at the forefront of those who are still suffering from the agonies of occupation and with thousands of their sons still in Israeli jails, we urge Your Excellency to do all that you can to achieve justice for our people so that they may gain their right to sovereignty, independence and life with freedom and dignity like all other peoples of earth.