Statement by Mrs. Somaia Barghouti, Counsellor, Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the U.N., Before the Third Committee, Agenda item 111: Right of Peoples to Self-Determination, 52nd Session, 6 November 1997:

On behalf of my delegation, I would like to address agenda item 111, "Right of peoples to self-determination". This right is one of the most essential of all human rights and is of paramount importance to all members of the international community, deserving of our full attention and consideration. The denial of this fundamental right constitutes a grave violation of human rights and contradicts the principles and norms of the United Nations Charter, international law and all relevant human rights instruments. In this regard, the international community must exert greater efforts for the universal fulfillment of the right of peoples to self-determination.

In recent years, the world has been witness to various positive developments, including the broader awakening of the principles of democracy and equality and the combating of racism. However, peace and stability continue to be threatened by the prevalence of many different forms of racism and racial discrimination and the denial or violation of human rights. The violation of collective human rights of peoples, including the right to self-determination, remains a phenomenon that poses a threat to the freedom and dignity of human beings.

Mr. Chairperson,

We believe that it is the responsibility of the United Nations to guarantee the enjoyment by all peoples of their basic and inalienable rights, especially the right to self-determination, and to put this issue at top of its agenda. Serious and concrete action is required to combat inequality and oppression and to secure the right to self-determination, especially for peoples living under foreign occupation. This has been endorsed by the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action of June 1993 and the Declaration of the World Summit convened on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations.

Mr. Chairperson,

The Palestinian people still suffer from discrimination, oppression and injustice and their right to self-determination continues to be denied. We had hoped that the peace process, to which we are still committed, would produce more positive steps toward the realization of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination. Contrary to our expectations Israel, the occupying Power, continues to deny the Palestinian people their basic and fundamental rights, which they have for so long sought to fulfill. They continue to be subjected to discriminatory and oppressive policies on a daily basis. The Israeli government’s continues to create new facts on the ground, foremost of which are the illegal colonial settlements, and its continuous restrictions on the freedom of movement and the detainment of prisoners, as well as the ongoing problems of the refugees and displaced persons, have worsened the situation of Palestinian people.

Unfortunately, the peace process has declined to a critical stage and has been facing serious difficulties as a result of policies and measures of the current Israeli government. Israeli violation of the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people not only disregard United Nations resolutions but also contradict the principles of the peace process and agreements reached between the Palestine Liberation Organization and the government of Israel.

The achievement by the Palestinian people of their inalienable rights, including and mainly their right to self-determination and statehood, is a prerequisite for the achievement of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in our region and imperative for peace and security to prevail in the Middle East.

The heroic struggle of the Palestinian people will continue until they achieve their freedom and their independence and the full exercise of their inalienable rights. They will be content with nothing less than an independent Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital. It is only through the practice of their fundamental rights that the Palestinian people can truly determine their own political destiny and devote all of their efforts and abilities towards the development and building of their society.

Mr. Chairperson,

We hope that the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination can be exercised soon within the course of the peace process. It is therefore very important at this stage that Member States of the United Nations extend their support to this basic right of the Palestinian people. In this regard, my delegation expresses deep appreciation and thanks to all States who have supported us in our struggle to achieve freedom and independence. Also, we would like to take this opportunity to welcome the development in the position of the European Union in this regard. The E.U.’s Amsterdam Declaration calls for, inter alia, recognition of "the right of Palestinians to exercise self-determination, without excluding the option of a state".

Mr. Chairperson,

My delegation will submit to this committee a draft resolution concerning the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. The adoption of this resolution by consensus will indeed be a positive step towards the realization by the Palestinian people of their aspirations for peace, freedom and justice. Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.