Statement by Mrs. Somaia Barghouti, Counsellor, Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the U.N., before the Third Committee, Agenda item 112: Human rights questions, 50th Session (1995):

Mr. Chairperson,

It is an honor for me, on behalf of the delegation of Palestine, to address agenda item 112 (b), which concerns a very important issue: Human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Mr. Chairperson,

Human rights questions today continue to be of vital concern for the international community as a whole. The great attention devoted to discussion of this major issue by an overwhelming majority of world leaders, during the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations, reflects the high degree of seriousness and determination existing with regard to combating the violation of the human rights of all peoples regardless of their race, color, religion or ethnic background.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, international humanitarian law and the various human rights instruments define the principles for the promotion and protection of human rights. Furthermore, these instruments consider the realization of these rights to be among the basic elements necessary for the establishment of peace, prosperity and justice for all peoples. The first preambular paragraph of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: "Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world." It is now our responsibility to strengthen the machinery and provide new additional resources to attain these noble goals.

Mr. Chairperson,

The outcome of the World Conference on Human Rights constitutes a major step towards the promotion, protection and respect of human rights. The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action proposed concrete methods and mechanisms to achieve the stated objectives of the conference.

Evaluation of progress in the field of human rights today reveals that the violation of human rights persists in many parts of the world. These violations occur in so many different forms and manifestations. Bringing an end to such violations requires greater effort from the United Nations as a whole, and from the Center for Human Rights in particular, to accelerate the implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. In this regard, we recognize the important role of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the great efforts the Commissioner has exerted toward improvement of the functioning of human rights machinery in order to meet the new challenges and future needs in this field. My delegation commends the High Commissioner for the valuable report he has presented, contained in document A/50/36, however, we believe that attention must be given to the violation of human rights of people living under foreign occupation or alien domination.

Promotion of the right to development is also an essential element for the enjoyment of human rights and for the enhancement of society as a whole. Therefore, the international community should consider the promotion of this right as one of its top priorities and should strive to implement the recommendations of the Working Group on the Right to Development in the effort to promote the exercise and enjoyment of all human rights.

Mr. Chairperson,

Examination of the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, reveals a situation of grave concern. The violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people has been discussed in detail in the reports of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories and the Report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), as well as in the statement of the delegate of Palestine to the Fourth Committee under agenda items 84 and 85. However, my delegation would like, in this forum, to discuss further some of the issues that continue to be of high concern.

Mr. Chairperson,

The Palestinian people are still being denied the right to self-determination, which is considered to be a basic human right. The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action reaffirms that, "All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right, the freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development." The denial of this fundamental right constitutes a flagrant violation of human rights. We believe that more effort by the United Nations system is required to assist the Palestinian people in their endeavor to realize this right.

Another matter of great concern is the situation of the Palestine refugees and displaced persons. Approximately half of our the Palestinian people are refugees, and a large number are displaced persons, who remain scattered throughout the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and other places. Their plight and their right of return, repatriation or compensation await a solution. The international community should continue to provide the needed assistance to the Palestine refugees until a final and just solution is attained.

Mr. Chairperson,

Israeli practices and policies with regard to the demolition or sealing of Palestinian homes as a means of collective punishment persist. Such policies represent a clear violation of human rights. Moreover, the repeated imposition of curfews and the closure of the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem by the Israeli authorities are measures seriously affecting the economic situation and development of the Palestinian people and increasing their hardship and suffering. The continuing arbitrary arrest and imprisonment by the Israeli authorities also remains of great concern to my delegation. We call for the immediate release of all remaining Palestinian prisoners and detainees.

Another Israeli policy affecting the rights of the Palestinian people is continuing Israeli land confiscation and the building and expansion of illegal, Israeli settlements. These policies and practices have dangerous consequences, which adversely affect the peace process and even threaten it. Furthermore such policies constitute a grave violation of all the norms and standards of international humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949.

Mr. Chairperson,

In order for the objectives of the peace process to be achieved, it is imperative that Palestinian people experience a real change in their human rights situation and thus in their living conditions. The promotion of Palestinian social, civil, political and economic rights can only be guaranteed by the strict observance and implementation of international human rights instruments and humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, particularly as set forth in the Fourth Geneva Convention. Such instruments ensure that the rights and interests of an occupied population are not left unprotected and they are the instruments upon which we rely for justice and for the protection of our fundamental human rights. I thank you, Mr. Chairperson.