Statement by Mrs. Somaia Barghouti, Counsellor, Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the U.N., before the Third Committee, "Racism and Racial Discrimination", 48th Session (1993):To begin, allow me Mr. Chairman, on behalf of my delegation, to extend to you my congratulations upon your election to the chairmanship of this important committee. We wish you and the members of the bureau much success in all of your endeavors during this session.
The international community has since the 1960s agreed upon a distinct definition of racism and racial discrimination. In that regard, the General Assembly has adopted numerous resolutions, wherein racism and racial discrimination were considered to be any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, religion, color, descent or national or ethnic origin.
Accordingly, racism and racial discrimination is a phenomenon that is not just an offense to human dignity, it also contradict the fundamental principle of human rights, justice and democracy.
As we look at the map of the world today, it is clear that there have been real efforts to eliminate all forms of racism and racial discrimination, yet the fact remains that many people throughout the world still suffer from the hardships of discrimination, inequality and denial of their fundamental human rights, in addition to the denial of the right to self-determination. Further, as Mr. Ibrahima Fall, the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights stated in his statement to the Third Committee on 11 October 1993, "...racism and racial discrimination continue to represent major obstacles to ensuring respect for human rights and maintaining peace, both nationally and internationally".
The principle of equality and the right of people to self-determination has been guaranteed by the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, various human rights conventions, and covenants and, most recently, by the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action emanating from the World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna in June of this year. What is now required is for the United Nations to undertake its responsibility to exert more efforts towards the building of a new world, free from all forms of racism and prejudice, by implementing the provisions and principles of these instruments.
Combating racism and racial discrimination and securing the right of peoples to self-determination should therefore be among the top priorities on our agenda and should be the focus of our attention, in particular for those peoples living under colonial or other alien domination or foreign occupation, as recognized by the Vienna Declaration.
In this regard, the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination has been on the agenda of the United Nations for a long time. Since 1949, the General Assembly has dealt with this issue and adopted many resolutions. In doing so, it has been expressing the position of the international community towards the need for the realization of Palestinian inalienable rights, wherein the Palestinian people can determine their political and national destiny, free from the subjugation or control of any state. Unfortunately, this has not yet been achieved due to the numerous measures taken by Israel impeding the realization of such fundamental and basic rights. In the occupied Palestinian territory, the Palestinian people still suffer from the Israeli occupation and its violation of their basic and fundamental rights.
For many years, the Palestinian people have been subjugated to the most inhuman forms of oppression and discrimination at the hands of the Israeli military authorities in the occupied Palestinian territory. The establishment and expansion of Israeli settlements, the closure and isolation of areas in the occupied territory, the killing of defenseless Palestinian civilians still continue inspite of the recent positive developments.
Hoping to achieve peace and to end the occupation and the harsh conditions the Palestinian people have had to endure, the Palestine Liberation Organization has been engaged in all levels of the Middle East peace process. The signing of the Declaration of Principles between the Palestine Liberation Organization and the government of Israel constitutes a very important and positive step towards the achievement of a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, and it reflects the seriousness on our part to peacefully resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
To conclude, Mr. Chairman, we call upon the august General Assembly to once again reaffirm the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to take immediate action to put an end to the suffering of the Palestinian people. We hope that, in light of the recent positive developments and the new atmosphere, such a position can be endorsed unanimously by this Committee and in the General Assembly.