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, 52nd Session, 19 November 1997:

Mr. Chairperson,

It is an honor for me, on behalf of my delegation, to address item 112, 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,

The advancement of human rights is an essential element for the development of any society. One of the major problems still facing the international community is the failure to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms in many parts of the world. This dilemma requires the United Nations to exert more effort and to propose additional specific programs and actions that will promote and protect all human rights.

December 10th will mark the beginning of the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This declaration, as well as other legal instruments, are still relevant today and await the full implementation of their principles and purposes, which the international community has accepted as the basis for combating the violation of human rights. Furthermore, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Vienna World Conference on Human Rights and various other human rights instruments have made it clear that the promotion and protection of human rights is a duty of all states. They also consider the promotion, protection and realization of these rights to be basic elements necessary for the establishment of peace, prosperity and justice. This principle has been stressed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in his report, entitled Renewing the United Nations: Program for Reform. This report states that "human rights are integral to the promotion of peace and security, economic development and social equity".

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 Program of Action proposes concrete methods and mechanism to achieve the stated objectives of the conference. One of these objectives is to monitor the situation of peoples living under foreign occupation. The Vienna Declaration and Program of Action states that " Effective international measures to guarantee and monitor the implementation of human rights standards should be taken in respect of people under foreign occupation, and effective legal protection against the violation of their human rights should be provided, in accordance with human rights norms and international law, particularly the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of August 1949, and other applicable norms of humanitarian law".

The situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, remains critical with regard to the violation of human rights. Severe and systematic violations of the Palestinian people’s human rights are being committed by Israel, the occupying Power. Collective violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people are among the worst violations in recent history. At the forefront of these violations are the imposition of foreign occupation, deprivation of the right to self-determination, different forms of collective punishment, the confiscation of their land, the seizure of natural resources and the building of illegal colonial settlements. In addition to this, there are various types of individual human rights violations carried out against the Palestinian people: detention, imprisonment, summary executions, and obstruction of movement and means of livelihood. All of these policies constitute grave violations of international law. Such policies and practices also only lead to dangerous consequences that adversely affect the peace process and threaten its existence. However, I will refrain from discussing any further details in this regard, as all of the above will essentially be addressed within the Special Political and Decolonization Committee, under agenda item 87.

This matter is also being dealt with in the Commission of Human Rights during the discussion of the Report on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied since 1967, submitted by the Special Rapporteur. We regret the persistent Israeli refusal to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur. My delegation expresses its willingness to cooperate with him at any time. However, my delegation would also like to stress that it is imperative for the Rapporteur to comply with the mandate given to him by the Commission. Israel remains the occupying Power and the Fourth Geneva Convention remains applicable to all the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem.

We had hoped that the peace process would achieve some progress in the field of the human rights of the Palestinian people. Unfortunately, reality is different. However, we remain hopeful that this situation will soon change. The Palestinian people remain committed to the peace process and await an end to the impasse in the process, leading to a drastic and positive change with regard to the situation on the ground, with the Palestinian people experiencing a genuine change in their human rights situation and thus in their living conditions. This is the path that will lead the Palestinian people to the realization of their inalienable rights and to the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.