The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today approved a draft resolution on self-determination concerning the Palestinian people. The Committee also approved draft resolutions on the rights of migrant workers, the prevention of torture, assistance for refugees and internally displaced persons, and on actions affecting the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
The draft resolution on the right of Palestinian people to self- determination was approved by a vote of 159 States in favour to 2 against (United States and Israel) (see Annex I). The draft would have the General Assembly reaffirm the right of the Palestinian people to an independent State and urge all States and the specialized agencies and organizations of the United Nations system to continue to support and assist the Palestinian people in realizing that right.
The representative of Israel, explaining his vote against the draft, said Israel recognized the right of peoples to self-determination throughout the world, including the Middle East. However, self-determination did not justify violence and terrorism. Furthermore, he said, the draft resolution prejudged the consultations on the implementation of the Road Map and was therefore not constructive.
The Observer for Palestine stressed that the reaffirmation of the right to self-determination was essential for the resolution of the conflict in the Middle East. He said the negative vote cast by Israel signified that Israel did not recognize a peace or mutual recognition.
A draft resolution on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination (document A/C.3/58/L.35), would have the General Assembly reaffirm the right of the Palestinian people to their independent State of Palestine and urge all States and the specialized agencies and organizations of the United Nations system to continue to support and assist the Palestinian people in the early realization of their right to self-determination.
The Committee had before it a draft resolution on the right of Palestinian people to self-determination (document A/C.3/58/L.35).
A recorded vote had been requested by the United States.
Explaining the vote before the vote, the representative of Italy, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the European Union would vote in favour of the draft. The European Union was committed to enabling the Palestinian people to fulfil their unconditional right to self-determination, including the possibility of establishing a sovereign State.
The representative of the European Union warmly welcomed the fact that the international community, including the Middle East Quartet, had affirmed the objective of two States, Israel and Palestine. The right to self-determination included the holding of elections within the framework of a democratic society. The European Union strongly supported the Palestinians in their efforts to hold free and fair elections as early as possible in 2004.
The representative of Rwanda informed the Committee that he had by mistake pressed the wrong button when voting on L.32. He had meant to vote in favour of the draft.
The draft resolution on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination was then put to the vote and approved in a vote of 159in favour and 2 against (Israel and the United States) (see Annex II).
After the vote, the representative of Israel explained his vote against the draft. Israel recognized the right of peoples to self-determination throughout the world, including the Middle East. Israel did not want to dominate the Palestinians and did not want to control their future. Israel supported the Road Map proposed by President Bush. Self-determination was, however, not a blank cheque and did not justify violence, terrorism or the killing of innocent civilians. He stressed that the draft resolution prejudged the consultations on the implementation of the Road Map and was therefore not constructive.
The representative of Canada said his country supported the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. Even though Canada had voted in favour, he believed that the fulfilment of this right would best be served through the negotiations between Israel and Palestine.
A representative of Australia said that Australia had consistently supported the Palestinian right to self-determination. Australia would have preferred it if the draft had made reference to the internationally recognized Road Map. He added that the Palestinians must ensure the end of violence in order to attain their right to self-determination.
The Observer for Palestine thanked delegations for their votes and stressed that the reaffirmation of the right to self-determination was essential for the resolution of the conflict in the Middle East. The negative vote cast by Israel signified that Israel did not recognize a peace or mutual recognition. The vote by the United States against the right to self-determination was sending mixed signals. Voting against the resolution brought into question the capability of the United States to serve as an honest broker in the peace negotiations.
The representative of Egypt said he hoped that it was the last time the Committee would have this question before it. Egypt was committed to the right of self-determination and would continue to put forward this resolution until Palestine was free. One day Palestine would move from the Observer seat to a Member seat.
It was regrettable that human rights matters were used to achieve political and social interests, said the representative of Yemen. Because of special political interests some situations were highlighted and others ignored. The delegation of Yemen believed that there was a total lack of transparency in country-specific draft resolutions and would therefore refrain from taking part in the voting on any such draft.
Vote on Right of Palestinians to Self-Determination
The draft resolution on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination (document A/C.3/58/L.35) was approved by a recorded vote of 159 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), as follows:
In favour: Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Against: Israel, United States.
Absent: Albania, Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Federated States of Micronesia, Gabon, Georgia, Guinea, Honduras, Iraq, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Palau, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Suriname, Tajikistan, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Uzbekistan.