Statement by Ms. Feda Abdelhady Nasser, First Secretary, Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the U.N., before the Sixth Committee, 53rd Session, Item 146: Status of the Protocols Additional to the Geneva Convention of 1949 and relating to the protection of victims of armed conflict, 13 November 1998:

Mr. Chairman,

Item 146 on the Status of the Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and relating to the protection of victims of armed conflicts is an important item on our agenda. Protocol I is applicable in international armed conflicts and Protocol II is applicable in non-international armed conflicts. Both, as it is known, were adopted on 8 June 1977 by consensus by the Diplomatic Conference on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law Applicable in Armed Conflicts. We believe that the two protocols represent a valuable and needed addition to international humanitarian law. Indeed, they fill some small gaps that existed with regard to the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949.

Protocol I applies in the same situations of international armed conflict and occupation where the Conventions of Geneva apply. Paragraph 4 adds that these situations include wars of national liberation. The paragraph defines these as "armed conflicts in which peoples are fighting against colonial domination and alien occupation and against racist regimes in the exercise of their right of self-determination, as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning friendly relations and cooperation among states in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations." Moreover, like the Conventions of Geneva, Protocol I also obliges the parties "to respect and ensure respect for this protocol in all circumstances."

Mr. Chairman,

My delegation would like to thank the Secretary-General of the United Nations for his report contained in document A/53/287, pursuant to resolution 51/155 of 16 December 1996. We were pleased to note the number of States that have become parties to the protocols additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949. According to the report, as of 31 July 1998, that number totals 153 States, nine of which became parties to only Protocol I and two only to Protocol II. This is indeed a step towards completing the achievement of universality of the two protocols.

The report also contains a note on communications related to the accession of Palestine to the Geneva Conventions and the additional protocols and the fact that the Depository was not in a position to settle the question. Furthermore, the report affirms the fact that Israel has not acceded to the additional protocols. This is all the more unfortunate given the fact that Israel is the only High Contracting Party designated by the Security Council as an occupying Power.

Mr. Chairman,

Between 27 and 29 October 1998, a meeting of experts was convened at the initiative of Switzerland, in its capacity as the Depository of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to consider general problems concerning the application of the Convention in general and in particular in occupied territories. A valuable report was presented to the meeting by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Experts from 148 States participated. Palestine participated as an observer, although objecting to the Swiss formulation for such participation.

The meeting was undoubtedly useful. Nevertheless, the exact relationship, if any, between that meeting of experts and the resolutions of the 10th emergency special session was ambiguous. The same applies to the exact outcome of the meeting, which remains to be submitted by the Chairman of the meeting to the High Contracting Parties and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

As we address issues such as this item concerning international humanitarian law, we would be remiss if we did not reemphasize the central importance of implementing the repeated recommendations of the 10th emergency special session with regard to the convening of a conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention on measures to enforce the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and to ensure its respect in accordance with common article 1. We remain confident that the Depository will do its part in this regard. I thank you, Mr. Chairman.