Statement by Mrs. Somaia Barghouti, Counsellor, Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the U.N., before the Third Committee, Agenda item 109: Right of Peoples to Self-Determination, 50th Session (1995):

Madame Chairperson,

Agenda item 109, "Right of peoples to self-determination", is of paramount importance to the international community as a whole and it deserves our full attention and consideration. We believe that it is the responsibility of the United Nations to guarantee the enjoyment of all peoples of their fundamental rights, especially the right to self-determination.

Madame Chairperson,

An assessment of the achievements of the United Nations, reveals that the world has witnessed various positive developments, including the greater awakening of the principles of democracy and the diminishing of colonial and other forms of foreign occupation, racism and racial discrimination. A few years ago, the remarkable achievement of non-racial, democratic South Africa was one bright example giving the international community great hope for the prospect of ultimately eradicating all forms of discrimination and oppression. However, the world today unfortunately still faces many failures, difficulties and challenges.

The violation of human rights, including the right to self-determination, remains a phenomenon that poses a threat to the freedom and dignity of human beings. It is noteworthy to mention that the principles of equality and respect for human rights and basic freedoms and the right to self-determination have been guaranteed by the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and various other human rights conventions and covenants. Therefore the denial of the right of peoples to self-determination constitutes a grave violation of human rights and contradicts the principles and norms of these instruments.

Madame Chairperson,

Combating inequality, oppression and securing the right of peoples to self-determination should be among the international community's top priorities. In this regard, more serious and concrete actions are required, especially for people living under alien domination or foreign occupation.

It has been assuring that the world summit convened on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations adopted a clear position in this regard. The important declaration of that special commemorative meeting reaffirmed the position of the international community in this regard and, inter alia, affirmed that the Member States and observers of the United Nations, representing the peoples of the world, will "continue to reaffirm the right to self-determination of all peoples, taking into account the particular situation of peoples under colonial or other forms of alien domination or foreign occupation".

Madame Chairperson,

The Palestinian people still suffer from discrimination, oppression and denial of their right to self-determination, which they have for so long being seeking to fulfill. Hoping to end the unjust Israeli occupation and the harsh conditions the Palestinian people have been enduring, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian National Authority have been, as a matter of principle, engaged at all levels of the peace process and committed to the implementation of all the agreements that have been signed between them and the Government of Israel. We hope that the peace process will pave the way for the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, primarily their right to self-determination. It gives no reason for any one to not recognize the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination as a matter of principle.

Unfortunately, recent developments related to the peace process have not been positive. The peace process is facing serious difficulties, resulting from policies and measures of the Israeli government of Prime Minister Netanyahu. The actual situation on the ground, including the living conditions of the Palestinian people, has deteriorated sharply. It will take collective and serious efforts by all the parties concerned to save the process and to achieve its goals.

Madame Chairperson,

For the Palestinian people, a real and durable peace means the achievement of their inalienable rights, including their right to return, to self-determination and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. It is only through the practice of these fundamental rights that the Palestinians people can truly determine their own political destiny and devote all of their efforts and capabilities towards the development and building of their society.

At this stage, it is therefore extremely important that member states of the United Nations support and recognize this basic right of the Palestinian people. We hope that the draft resolution, which my delegation will submit to the members of the committee, will be adopted this year by consensus. We appreciate your support. I thank you, Madame Chairperson.