30 November 2005
Rebuilding War-Torn Afghanistan, Achieving Peaceful Settlement of Palestinian Question Focus of General Assembly Debates
NEW YORK, 29 November (UN Headquarters) -- The General Assembly today tackled two issues of long-standing concern to the United Nations and the wider international community -- rebuilding a stable and secure Afghanistan, and achieving a final, peaceful settlement to the question of Palestine -- with diplomats pledging in both cases to support the people of the war-torn regions as they faced the challenges ahead.
In the first of two separate debates featuring close to 40 speakers in all, calls rang out urging the international community to redouble its efforts to ensure that September's successful parliamentary and provincial elections, which had completed Afghanistan's political transition, finally ushered in peace and stability for the war-weary people of that country.
While those elections marked the completion of the so-called Bonn processes, which had set Afghanistan on the road to stability, they should not mark the end of the international community's engagement in the country, but should constitute the beginning of a new phase of commitment, said Afghanistan's representative. While he expressed sincere gratitude to the United Nations, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), coalition forces and others for their solid commitment, he was equally frank about the challenges that remained.
Along with troubling lack of security in parts of the south and southeast of the country resulting from renewed activities of the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other extremist groups, the recent uptick in terrorist attacks underscored the continued threat posed by international terrorism, he said. Further, cultivation, production and trafficking of narcotic drugs also hampered the consolidation of peace and stability. Stressing the need to boost the pace of reconstruction and development -- given the direct relationship between development and security -- he emphasized the importance of continuing coordinated and sustained international aid.
Germany's representative expressed the feeling of many speakers, that given the dire starting point, far more had been accomplished over the past four years in Afghanistan than had been expected. And while there had been substantial United Nations involvement from the beginning, the financial and institutional commitment of the wider international community had been essential. A strong multilateral and multi-national approach had made effective peacebuilding possible, he said.
There was also "evident and decisive" Afghan ownership, as the Afghan people defined and implemented all the steps taken in the Bonn Agreement. And while many challenges lay ahead for Afghanistan, he said that the country had the potential to be an excellent model for peacebuilding. It showed that military intervention should always be followed by active "State-building" -- which in Afghanistan was also part of addressing global challenges such as international terrorism.
When the Assembly turned in the afternoon to the question of Palestine, Nasser Al-Kidwa, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Palestinian Authority, described what he called a "tragic reality": the Palestinian people were still being denied their inalienable rights, particularly to self-determination and national independence, all as a result of Israel's rejection of the will of the international community and of international law, and its continuous attempts to colonize Palestinian land.
In September, Israel had carried out its disengagement plan in the Gaza Strip and in parts of the northern West Bank. Although that was an important development, the plan remained unilateral and during its implementation, Israel had caused vast destruction in the settlement areas and had left many issues unresolved. He added that agreement had subsequently been reached on some points, including on the Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. The central task before the international community was the achievement of a real cessation of the colonization of Palestinian land, being carried out via the construction and expansion of settlements and the construction of the separation wall on Palestinian land, including in and around East Jerusalem.
The Palestinian people, and the Palestinian Authority, found themselves facing the responsibilities of fulfilling post-conflict tasks while still under foreign occupation and subject to colonization, he said. In spite of that, the Authority was exerting efforts to build State institutions, to achieve the rule of law and to strengthen the social fabric of the people, ahead of legislative elections. He hoped that recent developments in the Middle East would enhance the potential for a speedy return to negotiations and the actual implementation of the Road Map peace plan, towards the achievement of peace in two States, Israel and Palestine, between them, in the region, and the world as a whole.
Summing up both debates, Assembly President Jan Eliasson ( Sweden) reaffirmed the Organization's commitment to supporting the people and Government of Afghanistan, as well as to working towards realizing the hopes of the Palestinian people. As for Afghanistan, help from the international community in peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance and the provision of funds was essential.
On the question of Palestine, he said that solidarity with the Palestinian people was an intrinsic part of supporting the Middle East peace process, a process that was defined by the vision of the region where two States, Palestine and Israel, lived side by side within secure and recognized borders. The international community must spare no efforts in assisting Israel and the Palestinian Authority to reach a solution.
In other business today, the Assembly concluded its consideration of matters related to oceans and the law of the sea with the adoption of two resolutions. Under a text adopted by a recorded vote of 141 in favour to 1 against (Turkey), with 4 abstentions (Colombia, Ecuador, Libya, Venezuela), the Assembly called on all States that had not done so to become parties to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and to the "Fish Stocks Agreement", as well as to harmonize their national legislation with the provisions of the Convention. (See annex for voting details.)
By a related resolution that was adopted without a vote, the Assembly called on all States to apply, in accordance with international law, the "precautionary" and "ecosystem" approach to the conservation, management and exploitation of fish stocks, including straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks.
Addressing the Assembly on the situation in Afghanistan were the representatives of the United Kingdom (on behalf of the European Union), Pakistan, New Zealand, India, Japan, Iceland, Norway, Iran, Canada, China (on behalf of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization), Kuwait, Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia.
Speaking in explanation of vote on matters related to oceans and the law of the sea were the representatives of Venezuela, Chile and Barbados.
Statements were also made on the question of Palestine by the representatives of the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Malaysia, Egypt, India, Algeria, Bahrain, Yemen, Cuba, Sudan, United States and Saudi Arabia.
Senegal's representative, in his capacity as Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, introduced the four relevant draft resolutions before the Assembly. The representative of Malta, in his capacity as Rapporteur, introduced the Committee's report.
In addition, the Observer of Palestine spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 30 November, to conclude its consideration of the situation in Afghanistan, as well as matters related to the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East.
The General Assembly met today to conclude its consideration of oceans and the law of the sea -- including fisheries -- with action on relevant draft resolutions. It would also consider the situation in Afghanistan, and the report of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
In the afternoon, the Assembly would begin its consideration of the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East.
With regard to Afghanistan, the Assembly had before it the Secretary-General's report on the situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security and on emergency assistance for peace, normality and reconstruction of war-stricken Afghanistan (document A/60/224). The report states that funding was a crucial factor in the parliamentary and provincial council elections held in September, which marked the completion of the benchmarks set out in the political agenda of the 2001 Bonn Agreement. Implementation of the institutional agenda, however, has been uneven across sectors and continues to be a challenge. Many institutions remained weak and susceptible to corruption.
Reform of the security sector was also uneven, with additional support of some $21 million needed to complete the strategy for disbanding illegal armed groups, the report continues. The Afghan National Army would reach its target strength of 43,000 by September 2007, three years ahead of schedule, and the current plan calling for 62,000 Afghan National Police to be trained by the end of this year would require additional funding with 40,000 officers trained and a new police reform and mentor programme needed.
The cultivation and trade in narcotics remains a major threat to the rule of law and democratic stability in the country. Reform in the justice sector has been slow due to lack of capacity, poor infrastructure and communications, and the difficulty of integrating legal reform with mechanisms of traditional justice. Insufficient resources have also hampered the development of provincial administrations responsive to the central Government.
Economic growth in the urban centres has been significant over the past three years, the report states. However, uncertainty in the security situation and underdevelopment in the legal and regulatory frameworks continue to discourage private sector investment. Projected estimates indicate State revenues will average less than $400 million annually until 2008, which is less than half the amount needed for public sector salaries and operations.
Despite extensive assistance, the smooth transition from relief to recovery has been hampered by drought, internal displacement, land rights issues, urban pressures of relocating returnees and most recently, flooding. While the Transitional Administration's disaster response mechanisms have grown increasingly effective, the security situation continues to be a paramount concern with increasing sophistication in weapons and type of attacks being carried out by anti-government elements, especially in the south and east.
A draft resolution on the situation in Afghanistan (document A/60/L.27) would have the Assembly call on the international community to support the upcoming completion of Afghanistan's political transition according to the Bonn process with the establishment of the National Assembly of Afghanistan. The Assembly would urge the international community to support the Afghan Government's preparation of an interim national development strategy, which is to be considered at a conference in London planned for January 2006. It would also stress the importance of providing sufficient security in the post-Bonn process, and call on Member States to contribute personnel, equipment and other resources to the International Security Assistance Force, and to further develop provincial reconstruction teams in close coordination with the Government of Afghanistan and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.
Regarding the Economic and Social Council, the Assembly had before it a draft resolution on deferral of the smooth transition period for the graduation of Maldives from the list of least developed countries (document A/60/L.21). The text would have the Assembly decide to defer the commencement of the three-year smooth transition period for that purpose in the case of Maldives for a period of three years, while underlining the unique nature of the decision, taken in context of the unprecedented natural disaster caused by the tsunami of 26 December 2004.
Also before the Assembly on that item is a draft concerning public administration and development (document A/60/L.24), by which it would stress that national efforts were essential for achieving agreed upon development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals, and would encourage States to step up those efforts. The international community would be encouraged to provide assistance towards that end. All States would be requested to abide by principles of proper management of public affairs, agreeing that the United Nations should promote innovation in government through existing channels such as the United Nations Public Service Day, the United Nations Public Service Awards mechanism and the United Nations Online Network in Public Administration and finance.
Further, the value of the Global Forum on Reinventing Government would be stressed in terms of exchanges in lessons learned. The Assembly would take note with appreciation of the Seoul Declaration on Participatory and Transparent Governance adopted by the Sixth Global Forum in Seoul during May, and would emphasize the importance of the Seventh Global Forum to be hosted by the United Nations in 2007 on the theme of improving public administration to achieve the development goals.
By an omnibus draft resolution on oceans and the law of the sea (document A/60/L.22), the Assembly, reaffirming the unified character of the 1982 Convention and the need to preserve its integrity, would call on all States that had not done so to become parties to the Convention and to the "Fish Stocks Agreement", as well as to harmonize their national legislation with the provisions of the Convention.
Moreover, the Assembly would call on donor agencies and international financial institutions to review their programmes in order to ensure the availability in all States, particularly in developing States, for the skills necessary for the full implementation of the Convention, as well as the sustainable development of the oceans and seas, bearing in mind the interests and needs of landlocked developing States.
The Assembly would also encourage States to cooperate to address piracy, armed robbery at sea, smuggling and terrorist acts against shipping and other maritime interests, and to work with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to promote safe and secure shipping while ensuring freedom of navigation. It would welcome progress in regional cooperation in that regard and urge States to give urgent attention to adopting, concluding and implementing cooperation agreements at the regional level in high risk areas.
Furthermore, the Assembly would urge States to integrate the issue of marine debris within national strategies dealing with waste management in the coastal zone, ports and maritime industries and to discourage ships from discharging marine debris at sea. It would call on States to control, reduce and minimize marine pollution from land-based sources. The Assembly would also call on States to improve understanding and knowledge of the deep sea, in particular of the extent and vulnerability of deep sea biodiversity and ecosystems.
Finally, the Assembly, endorsing the conclusions of the second International Workshop on the regular process for global reporting and assessment of the state of the marine environment, including socio-economic aspects ("the regular process"), would decide to launch the start-up phase of "assessment of assessments" by establishing an Ad Hoc Steering Group in that regard.
By a draft resolution on sustainable fisheries (document A/60/L.23), the General Assembly would call on all States that have not done so to become parties to the Convention -- which sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out -- while mindful of the relationship between the Convention and the Fish Stocks Agreement. It would further call on all States to apply, in accordance with international law, the "precautionary" and "ecosystem" approach to the conservation, management and exploitation of fish stocks, including straddling fish stocks and high migratory fish stocks. The Assembly would also call on parties to the Agreement to harmonize their national legislation with the Agreement's provisions, and ensure that those provisions are implemented into regional fisheries management arrangements and that their vessels comply with those measures.
Also by the text, the Assembly would call upon States not to permit their vessels to engage in fishing on the high seas or in areas under the national jurisdiction of other States unless authorized by the States concerned, and to deter the reflagging of vessels by their nationals. It would also affirm the need to strengthen the international legal framework to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing at the regional and subregional levels by developing vessel monitoring systems and -- where consistent with international law -- monitoring trade by collecting global catch data.
The Assembly would further call on flag and port States to prevent the operation of substandard vessels and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities. It would also request States and relevant international bodies to develop measures to enable importing States to identify fishery products caught in a manner that undermines international conservation and management measures, and further call on States to ensure that vessels flying their flag do not engage in transhipment of fish caught illegally.
The Assembly had before it the report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (document A/60/35), which states that the year under review was marked by promise and hope, as well as by developments on the ground that complicated efforts to resume the peace process within the framework of the Road Map. The Committee welcomed the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and four small settlements in the northern West Bank as a rare opportunity to revive negotiations within the framework of the Road Map and restart the stalled political process. It should be noted, however, that Israel remains in control of the borders of the Gaza Strip, including its territorial sea and airspace and the movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza, thus hampering any meaningful economic development.
The Committee, according to the report, is strongly opposed to the expansion of settlements in the West Bank, and is particularly alarmed by the Israeli Government's intention to expand large settlement blocks that would separate East Jerusalem from the West Bank and the southern West Bank from its northern part. Also opposing the construction of the wall on Palestinian land, the Committee reiterates its position of principle that construction of settlements and the wall are contrary to international humanitarian law, resolutions of the Security Council and the Assembly, as well as the provisions of the Road Map.
The Committee considers that its programme of international meetings and conferences contributes to focusing the attention of Governments, intergovernmental and civil society organizations and the general public on issues crucial for advancing a peaceful settlement of the conflict. The special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information (DPI) has made an important contribution to informing the media and public opinion of the relevant issues. Therefore, the Committee requests the programme's continuation.
Wishing to make its contribution to the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine, and in view of the many difficulties facing the Palestinian people and besetting the peace process, the Committee calls on all States to join in this endeavour and invites the Assembly again to recognize the importance of its role and to reconfirm its mandate with overwhelming support.
The report of the Secretary-General on the peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine (document A/60/539) contains replies received from the Security Council President, Israel and the Observer of Palestine in response to notes verbales requesting a statement of position on steps taken to implement resolutions on the question. The report also contains the Secretary-General's observations on the state of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and on international efforts to move the peace process forward during the period from September 2004 to September 2005.
In his observations, the Secretary-General notes that the "window of opportunity" to revitalize the Middle East peace process that had emerged in the past year had met with setbacks but remained open. With regard to the Gaza disengagement by Israel that had occurred in October, the Special Envoy of the Quartet -- composed of the United Nations, European Union, United States and the Russian Federation, had identified three key areas for the Palestinian Authority to address with international support: the Authority's fiscal crisis and development of a fiscal stabilization plan for the 2006 budget; creation of a development plan for 2006-2008; and design of quick-impact economic programmes to ease the pressures for generating short-term employment. Those were the elements of a foundation for economic recovery, good governance and eventually, statehood.
However, he states, the Palestinian Authority must push ahead with efforts to reform the Palestinian security services, which, in consultation with Palestinian security officials, had been determined to be divided, weak, overstaffed, badly motivated and under-armed. Israel had to make progress on implementing core commitments under the Road Map and its continued construction of the West Bank barrier remained a concern.
The report adds that the humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people remained grave. Providing adequate funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) would enable crucial services to be delivered.
The Assembly also had before it a draft resolution on the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (document A/60/L.28), by which it would request the Committee to continue to exert all efforts to promote the realization of the rights of the Palestinian people, to support the Middle East peace process and to mobilize international support for and assistance to the Palestinian people.
A text on the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat (document A/60/L.29) would have the Assembly request the Secretary-General to continue to provide that Division with the necessary resources, to ensure that it continues to carry out its programme of work, and to ensure the continued cooperation of the DPI and other units of the Secretariat in enabling the Division to perform its tasks and in covering adequately the various aspects of the question of Palestine.
A draft resolution on special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat (document A/60/L.30) would have the Assembly request the DPI, in cooperation and coordination with the Committee, to continue its special information programme through 2006-2007, in particular, to disseminate information on all the activities of the United Nations system relating to the question of Palestine; to expand its collection of audio-visual material on the question of Palestine in all fields; and to organize and promote fact-finding news missions for journalists to the Occupies Territories, including East Jerusalem.
A draft resolution on the peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine (document A/60/L.31) would have the Assembly, while welcoming the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank as a step towards the implementation of the Road Map, call on both parties to fulfil their obligations for such implementation by taking parallel and reciprocal steps, and stress the urgency of establishing a credible and effective third-party monitoring mechanism. It would call on Israel, the occupying Power, to comply strictly with its obligations under international law with respect to the alteration of the character and status of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.
Furthermore, the Assembly would demand that Israel immediately cease its construction of the wall, and demand the complete cessation of all Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the Occupied Syrian Golan. It would stress the need for the withdrawal of Israel from the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 and for the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, primarily the right to self-determination and to their independent State. It would also stress the need for resolving the problem of Palestine refugees in conformity with its resolution 194 (III) of 11 December 1948.
Also before the Assembly is the report of the Secretary-General on the situation in the Middle East (document A/60/258), containing replies received from Colombia, Panama, Slovakia and Syria in response to the Secretary-General's note verbale of 31 May concerning implementation of the relevant provisions of Assembly resolution 59/32, entitled "Jerusalem", and 59/33, entitled "The Syrian Golan", both of 1 December 2004.
In its reply, Syria states, among other things, that it condemns the decision of the Israeli Government to increase the number of settlements in the occupied Golan, as well as the announcement by the Israeli Settlements Council of a campaign aiming at attracting 300 families to the Golan. Such practices show, according to the reply, Israel's true intention to reject peace and disregard Security Council and Assembly resolutions.
A draft resolution on the Syrian Golan (document A/60/L.32) would have the Assembly declare that the Israeli decision of 14 December 1981 to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan is null and void and has no validity whatsoever, and demand once more that Israel withdraw from all the occupied Syrian Golan to the line of 4 June 1967. The Assembly would also call on Israel to resume the talks on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks and to respect the commitments and undertakings reached during the previous talks.
By the provisions of a draft resolution on Jerusalem (document A/60/L.33), the Assembly would reiterate its determination that any action taken by Israel to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on Jerusalem are illegal and, therefore, null and void and have no validity whatsoever, and would deplore the transfer by some States of their diplomatic missions to that city. It would stress that a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the question of Jerusalem should take into account the legitimate concerns of the Palestinian and Israeli sides, and should include internationally guaranteed provisions to ensure the freedom of religion and of conscience of its inhabitants, as well as permanent and unhindered access to the holy places by the people of all religions and nationalities.
Action on Drafts
IMERIA NÚÑEZ DE ODREMÁN ( Venezuela) said her delegation was not party to the Convention on the Law of the Sea, and would refrain from voting. The Convention was not universal because all States had not ratified it. Venezuela believed the draft on oceans and the law of the sea was not a consolidated text, in that it did not include all subjects related to oceans and seas. Venezuela would also express its reservations to references made in the text to a "legal framework" established by the Convention regarding oceans and seas, particularly those areas falling outside national jurisdiction.
Turning to the text on sustainable fisheries, she said that Venezuela had placed a high priority on regulating its fish stocks and aquaculture, taking into account biological, commercial, and food safety issues and concerns. The Government's policies also covered fishing vessels, illegal and unreported fishing and bottom-trawling. Venezuela would not support the relevant draft under consideration.
The resolution on oceans and the law of the sea (A/60/L.22) was adopted by a recorded vote of 141 in favour to 1 against ( Turkey), with 4 abstentions ( Colombia, Ecuador, Libya, Venezuela). (See Annex.)
The text on fisheries (A/60/L.23) was adopted without a vote.
Following that action, IGNACIO LLANOS ( Chile) said his delegation had joined the consensus with the understanding that the Convention contained independent and comprehensive standards on high seas fishing that were relevant in and of themselves. Chile was not a party to the Convention but agreed with and enforced its principles.
SELWIN CHARLES HART ( Barbados) said that his delegation supported language in the text that referred to dialogue among States to enhance safety and security, and on providing compensation regarding the transfer of radioactive materials through the areas of small island developing States. Barbados had supported the text on the understanding that the Secretary-General would continue discussions among Member States in that regard.
Barbados firmly rejected the notion put forward by some that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the IMO were the only agencies that could make decisions on matters related to the transhipment of nuclear wastes and other materials. Indeed, the Assembly was the only legitimate forum that could address the issue in all its aspects. Barbados would also reject the argument that such ships and transfers through the Caribbean and other areas had been "safe" thus far. Who could believe that argument would hold in the post-"9/11" era, when nothing was beyond the realm of possibility?
Statements on Afghanistan
General Assembly President JAN ELIASSON ( Sweden) said that Afghanistan continued to face serious threats and challenges. Assistance by the international community in peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance and providing funds was essential. The United Nations and specialized agencies would continue to play an important role in the post-Bonn process. In the area of development and reconstruction, Afghanistan would play a leading role. Funds were needed, and in January there would be a conference to help that effort.
There was a continued need for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, as well as the disbandment of illegal armed groups and an end to the recruitment of child soldiers. The continued threat posed by Al-Qaida, the Taliban and other terrorist groups also needed to be firmly addressed.
The humanitarian situation, including the situation of refugees and internally displaced persons, remained critical. In that regard, the safety, security and free movement of United Nations, development and humanitarian personnel must be ensured. Ensuring human rights and protecting the role of women, including through participation in the political process and judicial sector reform, needed to be a priority in the reconstruction process.
GUNTER PLEUGER ( Germany) introduced the draft resolution (A/60/L.27). He said the end of the Bonn process was a major step for Afghanistan and the international community. Given the dire starting point, far more had been done than had been expected. All provisions of the Bonn Agreement had been implemented. The newly elected Parliament was expected to convene for its opening session in mid-December, and all required commissions had been established. Several factors had combined to allow the achievement of those goals. The Bonn Agreement had set out a detailed agenda for the political process, defining targets and setting concrete deadlines. There had been a substantial United Nations involvement from the beginning. A substantial financial and institutional commitment by the international community had been essential, and a strong multilateral and multi-national approach made effective peacebuilding possible. Finally, there was evident and decisive Afghan ownership, as the Afghan people defined and implemented all the steps taken in the Bonn Agreement.
He said many challenges lay ahead for Afghanistan. The security situation was still volatile. The fight against terrorism had not been won, and ordinary criminality and corruption were on the rise. Local power holders, some closely linked to the drug trade, still maintained military power and political influence. Up to 1,800 illegal militias needed to be demilitarized. Rebuilding reliable, sustainable, multi-ethnic institutions would be essential to recovery. The fight against the production and trafficking of drugs remained a key issue as well.
Afghanistan had the potential for being an excellent model for peacebuilding. It showed that military intervention should always be followed by active "State-building", which in Afghanistan was also part of addressing global challenges such as international terrorism. Germany had long-standing ties with Afghanistan, having pledged 640 million euros for reconstruction during the 2002-2008 period. Germany had tried to take a truly holistic approach, which encompassed military, political, civilian, educational, cultural and economic development. Its commitment towards reconstruction and peace in Afghanistan would continue under the new German Government.
RAVAN FARHÂDI ( Afghanistan) expressed sincere gratitude to the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), coalition forces and other international partners for their solid commitment and support. With the election of the National Assembly and Provincial Councils on 18 September, the end of the political agenda of the Bonn process had been reached. Women had comprised a considerable number of the registered voters in those elections, and would represent 27 per cent of the representatives to the National Assembly; an unprecedented level of participation by women in the political life of Afghanistan. Additional gains had been made in various areas, such as in the formation of the national army and police. A standing professional army of 43,000 soldiers would be achieved by the end of 2007.
He said that in the final phase of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, approximately 60,000 former combatants had been disarmed and demobilized. The final component of the process, namely reintegration, must be addressed with the same degree of attention accorded to the first two phases. The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission had further expanded its activities to various parts of Afghanistan. The number of children returning to school had increased from 4 to 5 million since last year, and the number of refugees returning had also increased significantly.
However, many challenges remained, he said, including the lack of security in parts of the south and southeast of the country, resulting from the renewed activities of the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other extremist groups. The recent terrorist attacks in Afghanistan underscored the continued threat posed by international terrorism to the peace, stability and reconstruction of the country. The cultivation, production and trafficking of narcotic drugs was another impediment to the consolidation of peace, stability and development. Due to steps taken by the Government, a 21 per cent reduction in the cultivation of opium poppy in the current year had been achieved. He emphasized in that regard the importance of providing alternative livelihoods to farmers in order to reduce the incentive of opium cultivation.
He said other challenges facing the country were poverty, infant and maternal mortality, malnutrition and the lack of resources to provide adequate health care. To address those issues, the Government had prepared the Afghan National Development Strategy, which would be officially presented at the donors conference in London in January 2006. He also emphasized the need to enhance the pace of reconstruction and development, given the direct relationship between development and security. In that context, he stressed the importance of continued international aid in a coordinated and sustained manner.
He said the successful conclusion of the 2001 Bonn Agreement should not mean the end of the international community's engagement in Afghanistan, but should constitute the beginning of a new phase of international commitment. In achieving the remaining objectives, the post-Bonn engagement between Afghanistan and the international community should be guided by key principles such as: the leadership role of the Government in all aspects of the reconstruction process; the need for a just allocation of resources throughout the country; the need to ensure that international efforts serve to build lasting capacity and sustainable institutions; and the need to ensure public transparency and accountability at all levels.
ROSEMARY DAVIS ( United Kingdom), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that despite the recent achievements in Afghanistan and the successful elections, the international community should not become complacent about the challenges facing the nation. The global community needed to strengthen its engagement in the country as it supported Afghan ownership and enhanced capacity-building in order to make the next phase of reform successful. The London conference, to be co-hosted by the United Kingdom, the Afghan Government and the United Nations at the end of January, would provide a platform to reiterate the international community's long-term commitment to Afghanistan's reconstruction.
She welcomed the adoption of Security Council resolution 1623 (2005) on 13 September, which renewed the mandate of the ISAF in Afghanistan. She also stressed the need for more progress on security sector reform, and improvements in the rule of law and the consolidation of a fair and impartial administration of justice, which were crucial for the country's stability.
While she congratulated President Karzai and the Government on the 21 per cent reduction in opium poppy cultivation, she said the country's trade in drugs was the biggest challenge to its long-term security, development and governance. The drug trade also undermined stability throughout the region and accounted for about 90 per cent of the heroin reaching the streets of Europe. She encouraged the international community to work more closely with Afghanistan and its neighbours, including through the Counter-Narcotics Trust Fund, to support its counter-narcotics strategy. The Union looked forward to the publication of Afghanistan's National Drug Control Strategy.
MUNIR AKRAM ( Pakistan) said that with the successful holding of parliamentary and provincial council elections in September, Afghanistan had passed the last major milestone in the Bonn political process. He hoped that the forthcoming inauguration of the new Parliament would point the way towards durable peace and security for Afghanistan. Indeed, through history, culture, faith and mutual interdependence, Afghanistan and Pakistan were inextricably bound. The spirit of that relationship had become even more evident by the generous and immediate assistance provided by Afghanistan to Pakistan following the tragic 8 October earthquake.
He commended the brotherly Afghan people for their "steadfast commitment to peace, reconciliation and development". A peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan was in the best interest of Pakistan, as well as the entire region. Peace would enable the safe and dignified return of some 3 million Afghan refugees still in Pakistan. Economic revival in Afghanistan would accelerate the already-bourgeoning trade and economic cooperation between the two countries. Peace would also open the shortest transit routes for trade in energy, raw materials and goods between Central Asia, South Asia and the world, with enormous benefits for Afghanistan, Pakistan and all the countries of the region.
Overall, sustaining the progress made in Afghanistan over the past four years required the continued support of the international community to overcome the remaining challenges, including terrorist threat, narcotics and drug barons, warlords and illegal armed groups, reintegration of Afghan military forces, development of institutions, rule of law and justice sector reform, fight against corruption, safe and orderly return of refugees and human rights, among many others. The United Nations must continue to play a vital role in Afghanistan's stabilization and development, he said, adding that he hoped that the draft resolution under consideration today, which presented a broad overview of the situation in Afghanistan, could be adopted by consensus.
Condemning the recent terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, he said that insecurity remained a major challenge. And while the causes of that insecurity were myriad and complex, including extremist elements mixed with drug trafficking and perennial problems such as poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment, the ISAF and Operation Enduring Freedom Coalition Forces must continue to support the Afghan Government. For its part, Pakistan had mounted a determined campaign to eliminate Al-Qaida and Taliban terrorist elements, which had resulted in the killing or capture of some 700 Al-Qaida or Taliban members and levelling Al-Qaida's command structure. As post-Bonn discussions about Afghanistan's overall future got under way, Pakistan stood ready to play a part in the process, he said.
ROSEMARY BANKS (New Zealand) applauded the contribution the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan had made in the restoration of peace and stability in Afghanistan, and welcomed the progress made in implementing the Bonn Accord, in particular the successful holding of the 18 September elections. Her country's contributions to Afghanistan since 2001 and commitments to June 2006 exceeded NZ$110 million in the form of security assistance and development support, she said. New Zealand forces had been deployed to the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamyan Province since September 2003. Her country was supporting governance, human rights and sustainable rural livelihoods, as well as training for police in Bamyan Province.
She said her country had recently contributed $500,000 to the Counter Narcotics Trust Fund in order to address the opium production in Afghanistan. She hoped that the Government could help its farmers to reduce their economic reliance on poppy cultivation by ensuring security and enhancing local governance, along with the promotion of agriculture diversification and improvement of access to alternative income-generating activities. New Zealand urged the Government of Afghanistan to continue to address human rights concerns, in particular women's rights. She said the international community must maintain its commitment to Afghanistan, where the Government continued to face significant challenges. Improving security outside Kabul would be a crucial element in bringing political stability to Afghanistan.
NIRUPAM SEN ( India) said the pace of democratic change in Afghanistan had been remarkable by any standards. The resolution highlighted the international community's assessment of the progress achieved in the political, security, economic, social and other critical spheres, and drew attention to areas that required further attention. India would not object to merging the resolution's two parts into one comprehensive resolution for the sixty-first Assembly session.
He said India strongly condemned last week's murder of an employee of the Border Roads Organization of India by the Taliban. The recent escalation in violence, illustrated by the murder of development and humanitarian personnel, underlined the continuing serious threat to Afghanistan's security and stability posed by remnants of Al-Qaida, Taliban and other terrorist and extremist elements. There were clear signs that such elements continued to receive support and safe haven across the border from the southern and south-eastern provinces of Afghanistan. International responses against such destabilization could not be limited to combat operations on the ground. The financing, the safe havens, the training camps and networks that supported them must also be resolutely attacked.
India remained committed to the goal of a sovereign, stable, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan, which was necessary for peace, security and stability in the region. While opium poppy cultivation had begun to decline, Afghanistan's share of world opium production remained high. That could only serve to undermine the country's political and economic reconstruction, with potentially dangerous repercussions for the region and abroad. Bilateral relations between India and Afghanistan had reached a new level of intensity and cooperation. India's present commitments added up to more than U$550 million since 2002, a significant effort for a non-traditional donor. Underlying that cooperation was India's desire to see Afghanistan emerge as a strong, united, independent and prosperous country.
TOSHIRO OZAWA ( Japan) said the success of the 18 September elections was a reassuring sign that Afghanistan had passed the final milestone in its post-conflict transition. The challenges that remained, however, were still considerable. International assistance must be provided in a manner that respected Afghan-owned efforts and processes. Afghan ownership, however, should not be used as an excuse for reducing the level of international assistance. An appropriate post-Bonn framework of cooperation was essential in making assistance to Afghanistan both adequate and coherent. The expected outcome of the London conference, the "Afghanistan Compact", would deal with such key issues as security, governance, economic and social development, and counter-narcotics.
He said the security situation continued to be of serious concern and could undermine the reconstruction and development process. The international community should not reduce its commitment in the political and security fields. However, the primary responsibility of ensuring security lay with the Afghans. As the lead nation in assisting the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, Japan welcomed the completion of disarmament and demobilization. Efforts should be redoubled, however, in the areas of reintegration of disarmed soldiers, strengthening of the Afghan security forces and further disbandment of the illegal armed groups. There was a linkage between the disbandment of illegal armed groups and other efforts such as justice sector reform, counter-narcotics and community development. Adequate coordination of efforts should, therefore, be put in place.
HJÁLMAR W. HANNESSON ( Iceland) said that with international assistance, Afghanistan had progressed substantially towards stability. However, the democratic elections had been held amidst a persistently unstable security environment. He condemned attacks against civilians and international staff, that were intended to disrupt the democratic process. He also deplored the fact that Afghanistan had become more dependent on narcotics production and trafficking in drugs than any other country in the world.
He said Afghanistan continued to need comprehensive and coordinated international support to enable it to take its place as a full member of the international community. Iceland would continue to contribute to assisting the Afghan people, including through the ISAF, in their reconstruction and efforts to re-establish normalcy, in a manner compatible with requirements concerning the security of its civilian peacekeepers.
MONA JUUL ( Norway) said that, with the successful conduct of the parliamentary and provincial elections in Afghanistan, another milestone had been passed. It was encouraging to see the ethnic, ideological and professional diversity of the elected representatives, as well as the strong representation of women. Long-term commitment by the international community to the further development of the country was still of vital importance, and to be discussed in London in January. The fragile situation still posed a threat to stability and development, however. Competent and efficient armed forces, police and judiciary, under Afghan ownership, were needed to meet the security challenge. Her country was increasing its assistance in the training of police officers and providing legal advice in the fight against illegal drug production. The assistance of the international security forces was still needed.
Among other challenges facing the country, she mentioned the illegal drug economy -- which extended far beyond the borders, the inadequate human rights situation, the plight of returning refugees and the inability of the economic environment to attract investment. Those and many other problems could not be solved without a functional and unimpeachable judicial system, she said. As Afghan ownership of development activities was vital, the priorities of development efforts, including those of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams, must be aligned with those of the Government. Afghanistan was also facing a legacy of human rights violations committed over two decades. To build sustainable peace and stability, the Afghan people had to come to terms with that. There must be reconciliation between victims, perpetrators and other stakeholders. A proper transitional justice strategy aimed at peacebuilding and reconciliation would, therefore, need to extend far beyond the courts.
JAVAD ZARIF (Iran) said that recent developments in Afghanistan, including continued progress in public administration, national education and financial fields, along with progress made towards the launching of a new justice system and the Afghan Government's adoption of its first-ever report on the Millennium Development Goals, were all reasons to be confident that the country was moving in the right direction. At the same time, those were also signs of growing ownership in the rehabilitation and reconstruction process by the Afghan Government, a trend he hoped would continue, as Afghan authorities needed to expand such ownership throughout the entire country, at all levels.
But despite those impressive accomplishments, much remained to be done, he said, agreeing with other speakers that the security situation in Afghanistan and the threats posed by opium production and drug trafficking were causes for grave concern. Increased Al-Qaida and Taliban-backed terrorist attacks and a violent insurgency, particularly in the south and parts of the east, along with a pervasive drug economy had created an alarming array of challenges that seriously undermined security and thus hampered reconstruction. He added that other concerns included ongoing acts of violence and intimidation directed against development and humanitarian personnel, including United Nations staff.
Iran believed that the pervasive drug economy and its impact on the security, rehabilitation and reconstruction of Afghanistan should be borne in mind as a post-Bonn strategy began to take shape. Both the Government and the international community must remain aware that insecurity and drug trafficking were mutually reinforcing. He welcomed the valuable and sincere steps taken thus far by the Afghan Government to turn back the drug trade, but it was clear that a comprehensive, long-term counter-narcotics strategy must be developed in close collaboration with the international community.
Furthermore, neighbourly, regional and international cooperation were needed in order for Iran to sustain its own ongoing fierce fight against drug trafficking, he said. Iran, which was located in the smuggling route -- from Afghanistan and through to Europe and elsewhere -- had endured much more than its share in the costly and deadly war against heavily armed drug traffickers, losing close to 3,500 law enforcement officers over the past two years. Iran believed that the way out of that horrific cycle was for the international community to step up its efforts to rehabilitate opium poppy production fields in Afghanistan. Turning to the matter of Afghan refugees, he said that over the past 30 years, Iran had borne the huge cost of hosting some 3 million such refugees. Iran believed that the full and timely implementation of the tri-lateral agreement between Iran, Afghanistan and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) would lead to the dignified repatriation of Afghans to their homeland.
ALLAN ROCK ( Canada) said that State-building took time, and it was necessary to redouble the efforts in Afghanistan. Canada was committed to staying the course. In particular, it was playing a leadership role in southern Afghanistan, and had already established a multi-disciplinary Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kandahar. In 2006, it intended to deploy a task force and brigade headquarters to Kandahar, bringing the number of Canadian personnel in southern Afghanistan to about 2,000. Those commitments were not made without considerable sacrifice. He was saddened by the death of one of his countrymen in Kandahar last week.
Canada supported the development of the "Afghanistan Compact" and "National Development Strategy" as essential tools for ensuring forward momentum, he continued. To maximize their effectiveness, monitoring and coordination mechanisms must be integrated into them. That could best be accomplished through the establishment of a small, impartial and professional joint Afghan-international secretariat endowed with the requisite capacity to undertake the monitoring and oversight function. Dedicated resources, including within United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), would be essential in that regard. Canada would continue to be actively involved in the consultations in preparation for the London Conference, at which the "Afghanistan Compact" and "National Development Strategy" would be launched. Also of great importance was an upcoming regional cooperation conference, to be held in Kabul next month.
Turning to the pursuit of justice, he said that all players must work together to ensure that whose who aimed to destabilize Afghanistan, used violence to impede progress, pursued illegal activities, abused human rights and violated international humanitarian law -- especially through attacks on aid workers -- were dealt with properly. That required action not only through the efforts of Afghan and international security forces, but also through non-military means. Those included creating effective justice architecture and implementing a multi-faceted transitional justice strategy. Canada supported the work by Afghan authorities, in close cooperation with the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, to develop a national strategy on transitional justice.
ZHANG YISHAN ( China), speaking on behalf of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), said the SCO member States -- China, Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan -- welcomed the process of peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan. Politically, Afghanistan had promulgated a new Constitution and had held successful presidential and parliamentary elections. Economically, it had achieved an impressive growth rate of 20 per cent last year. In the security area, the Afghan National Army and Police forces had started to undertake local security responsibilities independently. In the area of foreign relations, Afghanistan had successfully completed the Bonn process and was seeking to develop friendly relations and cooperation with its neighbours.
He said Afghanistan was still facing quite a number of pressing problems, including a lack of stability, an arduous task of economic reconstruction, and handling such issues as narcotics production and trafficking. He was also seriously concerned with the significant increase in recent terrorist activities by the Taliban and other extremists. National reconciliation would be crucial in achieving a long-term comprehensive settlement of the Afghan conflict. It was essential that Afghanistan build friendly and cooperative relations with its neighbours and continue to seek support from the international community. The international community should respect the State's sovereignty and the Afghan people's independent choice of their social system and development mode.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization had provided extensive humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people and was ready to have exchanges and cooperation with the country in areas of mutual interest. In that context, countering the production and proliferation of drugs remained one of the key elements in stabilizing the situation. Establishing new anti-drug "security belts" on Afghanistan's border was the most effective strategy. Following the completion of the Bonn process, the role for the United Nations should include the coordination of the international community's peace-building and reconstruction efforts. The specific structure of a future United Nations presence remained to be determined, but must involve Afghans themselves and take into account the country's real needs.
FAISAL AL ENEZI (Kuwait) said that as Afghanistan pressed ahead with its recovery following more than two decades of war, the implementation of all the country's reconstruction programmes was vitally important, particularly towards the rehabilitation of its financial and banking sector, transportation and telecommunications infrastructure, sanitation systems, and education and health sectors. Such improvements would also facilitate -- and help provide the basic necessities for -- the return of Afghan refugees and displaced persons to their towns and villages.
He urged the international community to remain vigilant and "highly motivated" on behalf of Afghanistan's recovery, particularly since so many challenges remained, especially in the combat against terrorist acts and threats. To that end, Kuwait condemned the latest terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, and would stress at the same time the urgent need to rebuild Afghan armed forces, and reform the country's judiciary. Those were among key changes that could enable the Government to suppress all illicit armed groups. Kuwait also supported all efforts to assist the Afghan Government in its battle to turn back the drug trade, and would call on the wider international community to support programmes aimed at ending the planting of opium crops.
JOON OH ( Republic of Korea) said that despite progress made in several areas, the two main challenges facing Afghanistan were issues of security and drugs. There were still 1,800 illegal armed groups operating and violence had increased over the last several months, with more sophisticated weaponry. To counter that trend, the ongoing reintegration programme must be accelerated, the remaining illegal armed groups must be disbanded, and the national army and police forces must be strengthened in both quality and quantity.
While welcoming the counter-narcotics measures recently taken by Kabul, he said the large-scale production and trafficking of drugs remained a serious concern. He encouraged the Afghan Government, in close cooperation with the international community, to step up its efforts to eradicate narcotics. Considering the ongoing challenges, the international community's engagement with the country needed to continue beyond the Bonn process. His country had continued with its commitment, providing medical and reconstruction units since 2002 and contributing $57 million since 2001 for emergency relief, reconstruction and election support.
ANDY RACHMIANTO ( Indonesia) said he was gratified that general progress was being made in Afghanistan, although not at a uniform pace. While progress had been made in the institution-building process at the central Government level, there continued to be challenges, particularly at the provincial and district levels. Efforts to reform security sector institutions had yet to enjoy a reassuring degree of success. The security situation was particularly disturbing, with an increase in the sophistication of weapons used and in the types of attacks being carried out by insurgents and anti-Government elements. Other areas of critical concern included narcotics cultivation and trade, which continued to imperil the establishment of the rule of law and effective governance. That menace must be brought under control in order to protect the fragile democratization process and the success of State-building in Afghanistan.
Nonetheless, he said his delegation was pleased at the successful completion of efforts such as disarmament and demobilization, building up the Afghan national army, the training of more than 40,000 police officers and proposed major police reform, and the work of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. He said he was pleased at the successful outcome of the election process, and called on the international community to remain engaged and committed to helping Afghanistan address the remaining challenges in other areas.
NORZUHDY MOHAMMAD NORDIN ( Malaysia) said that the continued and sustained support of the international community was essential for Afghanistan. Malaysia stood ready to cooperate with others in that regard, and it would continue to provide technical assistance and training to Afghanistan.
Despite the efforts to address the problem, Afghanistan remained the largest opium producer in the world, providing nearly 87 per cent of the world's total supply, he continued. He supported the 2005 Counter-Narcotics Implementation Plan as the basis for making progress towards a drug-free Afghanistan and endorsed the efforts to end poppy cultivation, build relevant judicial and police capacity, and provide sustainable alternative livelihoods for those engaged in poppy cultivation. He called for international assistance in that regard. He also welcomed the progress made in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of militia forces and recognized particular challenges associated with the disbandment of illegal armed groups in Afghanistan.
Although the elections themselves had been largely peaceful, there had been a large number of attacks on security forces and Afghan citizens in recent months, he continued. While his delegation unequivocally condemned all such attacks in Afghanistan, including the attacks against the ISAF, and had expressed its deepest sympathies to the victims, it had also expressed its disgust and abhorrence over the video showing the burning of the remains of alleged Taliban fighters by soldiers of a particular country. Such controversy, including the alleged abuse of detainees, did not bode well in the efforts of the international community to assist the Government of Afghanistan to secure and stabilize the country.
While welcoming the readiness of the Government of Afghanistan to prepare an interim national development strategy, to be considered at a London conference in January, he urged the international community to support that process and contribute generously to Afghanistan's development effort. Also, in its capacity as Chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement, Malaysia reiterated the Group's commitment towards Afghanistan's development as reflected in the final document of the XIII Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Kuala Lumpur last February.
ANDREW SOUTHCOTT ( Australia) recalled that Afghanistan's conflict-weakened State structure made it a breeding ground for instability and terrorism. He said history had shown that such States could not be considered a localized problem or one distant to other borders. It was in the interest of all members of the international community to take a role in helping to reconstruct such States into secure, stable and economically viable entities.
He said his country had pledged $110 million in development assistance to Afghanistan since 2001 and expected to provide $26 million in 2005-2006. The assistance was focused on key areas of rebuilding: reintegration of refugees and the displaced, humanitarian aid and capacity-building. The priorities were to support delivery of essential services through the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, improve food security and improve the health and education sectors. In addition, Australia would resume its military assistance, first through a 190-person Task Group that had arrived in September to contribute to security, and then perhaps through a possible deployment in 2006 of 200 additional Defence Force personnel as a contribution to a Provincial Reconstruction Team under the International Security Assistance Force.
The London conference in January would provide the planning frameworks, benchmarks and strategic direction for rebuilding Afghanistan, he concluded. It would also provide an opportunity for the newly elected Government to put forth its own aspirations and views on behalf of all Afghan people.
Question of Palestine
The President of the Assembly, JAN ELIASSON ( Sweden) said that this morning, he had addressed the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. He had recalled the Organization's permanent responsibility until the question of Palestine was resolved in all its aspects. Solidarity with the Palestinian people was an intrinsic part of supporting the Middle East peace process, a process that was defined by the vision of the region where two States, Palestine and Israel, lived side by side within secure and recognized borders. The international community must spare no efforts in assisting Israel and the Palestinian Authority to reach a solution. In a message to the commemoration this morning, the President of the Palestinian Authority had stated that the Authority had chosen peace and negotiations as the way forward.
He said this year had marked some progress. The Palestinian people had democratically elected a President and the international community had welcomed the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank. Last week, the President of the Palestinian Authority had formally opened the border crossing between Gaza and Egypt. The Road Map provided a solid basis for peace. The international community must intensify efforts to pressure the parties to end the conflict. It was crucial that the parties cooperated, and that acts of violence and terror be stopped.
PAUL BADJI ( Senegal), Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, introduced draft resolutions A/60/L.28, A/60/L.29, A/60/L.30 and A/60/L.31. He said that in the past year, there had been promise and hope, but there had also been one complicating development in the implementation of the Road Map. That was the passing of the Palestinians' national leader, Yasser Arafat. Since then, the transition had been democratic and peaceful. The Sharm el-Sheikh Summit created new momentum for resuming the political process.
In September, he said, the Committee welcomed Israel's withdrawal from Gaza and four settlements in the northern part of the West Bank, which it deemed one of the most significant political developments in recent years. The Committee believed the withdrawal should be complete and irreversible, allowing the Palestinians to control their own border. It also sought guarantees of unimpeded circulation of goods and people, which was crucial for Gaza's economy. The 15 November agreement regarding movements and access to and from Gaza must be scrupulously and promptly implemented.
He said the Committee remained profoundly concerned at the intensification of settlements in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, and a speeding up of the construction of the wall. There was disturbing information about plans to establish permanent links between several settlements, especially around Jerusalem. All of those actions were a violation of international law and ran counter to Israel's Road Map obligations. There were also continuing incursions in Palestinian urban and rural centres, extrajudicial executions and destruction of houses, which provoked violence, including four suicide bombings, and jeopardized hope for a speedy return to political dialogue.
He called on Israel to refrain from any action that might further destabilize the situation. Israel must give up its policy of developing settlements and halt construction of the wall. He hoped Israel would facilitate the upcoming Palestinian elections in January so that the Palestinians of East Jerusalem would be able to fully participate. Israel must also lift curfews and reduce restrictions on goods and people. He welcomed the efforts of the Quartet to help the parties move forward in implementing the Road Map.
The Committee firmly believed that the United Nations should continue to exercise its responsibility with regard to the Palestinian question until it had been resolved in all respects. The Committee was aware that some Member States questioned the reason for its existence and criticized its activities as imbalanced and partial. The Committee was the only intergovernmental body of the United Nations that dealt with the political question of Palestine and promoted the Palestinians' inalienable rights. Unfortunately, progress had been very slow.
He added that, thanks to its interactions with other United Nations organs, Member States, intergovernmental organizations and civil society, the Committee believed it was doing a better job of raising international public awareness of all aspects of the question of Palestine. It had given its full support to the Road Map. At the same time, the Committee promoted the full exercise of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and mobilized international assistance for the Palestinians. He appealed to the Assembly to vote in favour of the resolutions and support the important objectives contained in them.
COLIN SCICLUNA ( Malta), Rapporteur of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, introduced the Committee's report.
NASSER AL-KIDWA, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Palestinian Authority, said a few weeks ago, the Committee had commemorated the thirtieth anniversary of its establishment by the Assembly. That occasion pointed to the permanent responsibility of the United Nations towards the question of Palestine until it was resolved in all its aspects. It also pointed to the tragic reality that the Palestinian people were still being denied their inalienable rights, particularly their right to self-determination and national independence, all as a result of Israel's rejection of the will of the international community and of international law and its continuous attempts to colonize the Palestinian land.
He said it was difficult, if not impossible, to imagine a similar case in which an entire people was either living in exile for 57 years or living under occupation for 38 years and subject to an effective colonial settlement campaign. He called on Member States to continue their support in the face of Israel's intransigence in order to solve the question of Palestine and achieve a real peace, based on two States on the basis of the 1949 Armistice Line or what is commonly referred to as the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. The central task before the international community was the achievement of a real cessation of the colonization of Palestinian land, which was being carried out via the construction and expansion of settlements and the construction of the wall.
In September, Israel had carried out its disengagement plan in the Gaza Strip and in parts of the northern West Bank, he said. Although it was an important development, the disengagement plan remained unilateral and Israel, while implementing it, had caused vast destruction in the settlement areas and had left many issues unresolved, including those of crossing points, the airport, the seaport and the connection between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. However, agreement had been reached on some points, including on the Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. It was important now to guarantee that things would not stop with the Gaza Strip. There was a real opportunity to return to the Road Map, beginning with the implementation of the Sharm el-Sheikh understandings, including the withdrawal from cities and areas to pre-September 2000 positions and the release of prisoners and detainees. Under all circumstances, the cessation of settlement activities and the construction of the wall must be ensured.
He said the Palestinian people, the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian leadership found themselves facing the responsibilities of fulfilling post-conflict tasks while they were still under foreign occupation and subject to colonization. In spite of that, the Palestinian Authority was exerting efforts to build State institutions, to achieve the rule of law and to strengthen the social fabric of the people. They were now in the process of holding legislative elections. He emphasized his opposition to any interference by Israel or by any other party in the election.
The participation of all parties and groups would contribute to the enhancement of the democratic process, he said. That should be followed by measures that would enhance the political system, including in the areas of weapons and other security issues. Israel should not create obstacles to any of those important political processes, particularly with regard to the freedom of movement and the participation of Jerusalemites.
As part of the international community, Palestinians reaffirmed their condemnation of terrorism in all its forms, including the latest terrorist attacks in the fraternal capital of Amman. Collective efforts to confront that phenomenon must be enhanced, and all must agree that any targeting of innocent civilians, anywhere, anytime and regardless of the reasons, constituted a condemnable terrorist act. Everyone must also agree that, in accordance with existing international law, situations of armed conflict, including foreign occupation, were governed by international humanitarian law.
He said many unusual developments had occurred in the region, including in Palestine and in Israel. He hoped that those developments would enhance the potential for a speedy return to negotiations and the actual implementation of the Road Map towards the achievement of peace in two States, Israel and Palestine, between them, in the region, and the world as a whole.
ABDULAZIZ NASSER AL-SHAMSI ( United Arab Emirates) noted that in spite of positive developments since last September, including Israel's military withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the outcome of those developments had not been fully realized due to obstacles created by the Israeli forces, including illegal settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and continued daily violations against Palestinians. Those Israeli policies, coupled with occupation and settlement activities in the Palestinian Territories, have impeded efforts to achieve a just and comprehensive peaceful solution of the Palestinian question. He reiterated his country's strong condemnation of the Israeli practices, which constituted a unilateral attempt to change the demographic, political and legal nature of the Palestinian Territories, and emphasized the international community's common responsibility to find a solution for the Palestinian cause. The Security Council, and the Quartet, must pressure Israel to stop its hostile campaigns against the Palestinians.
In that context, he called on the international community to force Israel to coordinate with the Palestinian Authority regarding its full withdrawal from all territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, to stop its illegal settlement activities in those territories and to dismantle the separation wall in accordance with the decision of the International Court of Justice. He also called for, among other things, protection of the Palestinian people, their national institutions and sacred sites against Israeli attempts to change their religious identity, and the provision of political, financial and moral support to the Palestinian Authority, which had demonstrated its determination to fulfil its commitments under the Road Map by carrying out necessary institutional reforms. The Israeli response to the fair demands of the Arab people would lead to security and stability for the Israeli people and the entire region.
ALI HACHANI ( Tunisia) said the question of Palestine remained the most important issue for peace and stability in the Middle East, the cradle of civilizations. The entire international community must put an end to the cycle of violence and conflict, and return to dialogue and negotiation with a view to achieving a just, comprehensive solution that guaranteed liberation of all occupied territories and peaceful coexistence in the region. Israel's intransigence against Palestinian civilians and its expansionist policy and wall construction were all counter-productive and not in the region's interest. The Geneva Conventions had become ineffective. Violence generated counter-violence, and there was no way to break the pattern unless genuine efforts were made towards a two-State solution.
He said peace in the region required the unconditional withdrawal of Israel from the occupied Syrian Golan and Lebanese territories occupied during the same conflict, in accordance with all resolutions. The withdrawal from Gaza and the opening of Rafah crossing represented positive developments. He hoped similar expeditious measures in the West Bank and other territories would follow. The search for peace should not be delayed. The parties must refrain from confrontational declarations that undermined the trust between them. They must learn from past lessons and avoid those things that did not assist the peace process. He said he wished to commend the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, as well as other committees and United Nations parties that worked for the establishment of peace in the region. They should continue their work until they had fulfilled their mandates in accordance with relevant Assembly resolutions.
HAYATI ISMAIL ( Malaysia) said there had been too many deaths, too many injuries, too much destruction and indescribable suffering, especially among the Palestinians, as a result of repressive policies, practices and measures by Israel. The international community must prevail upon Israel to respect its legal obligations just as other States were expected to do. There was a duty at the United Nations to stop all the atrocities and abhorrent policies and practices committed by Israel against the Palestinian population. The casualties and destruction on both sides should not be considered on the basis of numbers or percentages alone. The life of each human being must be protected; any act of violence inflicted upon innocent civilians, be they Palestinians or Israelis, was unacceptable and deserved equal condemnation by all.
She said that the period under review had seen several efforts by both sides towards peace within the Road Map's framework. The difficult and complicated process could be surmounted by stronger political will among all parties concerned. Resumption of dialogue at the highest level, as well as renewed efforts by the Quartet's members, was very encouraging. Withdrawal by Israel from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank last September was positive, but she strongly opposed the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Meanwhile, the historic reopening three days ago of the Rafah crossing provided 1.3 million mostly impoverished Palestinians in that area with access to various humanitarian services in neighbouring Egypt and the prospect for greater employment, as well as the regaining of an important part of their freedom and control of their borders after 38 years of Israeli occupation.
Israel's ongoing construction of the separation wall seriously endangered the prospect for comprehensive peace in the region, she continued. The impact of the wall on all aspects of Palestinian life in the areas concerned, as documented by the United Nations, had been overwhelming. The wall threatened the territorial integrity of a future State of Palestine, and was one of the most visible signs of the transformation of the territory into "a vast open-air prison", which was unprecedented in modern history. The wall was also a visible and clear act of territorial annexation under the guise of self-defence and security. She renewed the call on Israel to take all necessary measures to comply with the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice concerning the wall and with General Assembly resolution ES-10/15. It was highly regrettable that the Security Council had been unable to look into the specific question of the wall, in accordance with its functions and powers under article 24 of the United Nations Charter.
MAGED ABDELFATTAH ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt) said the Assembly had gathered once again to address an international question the global community had failed to address comprehensively for more than 50 years. At a time when Member States were discussing ways to implement the reforms adopted by their political leaders at the 2005 World Summit, Egypt would stress that in order to establish a more capable United Nations that was able to uphold the principles on which it was based -- particularly upholding the rights of people under colonial rule -- the obligations emanating from the Outcome Document should extend to include resolutions annually adopted by the Assembly calling on Israel to withdraw from Palestinian lands and expressing support for the Palestinian people to exercise their right to self-determination.
The Organization should strive to enhance justice and equality by deepening the wider understanding of Israel's obligations, including the need to put an end to all aggression and inhumane practices towards the Palestinian people, among which were closures and checkpoints and the continued construction of the separation wall on Palestinian land. He also called for enhanced support for the Palestinian Authority so that it could better carry out its important work.
He went on to say that the Palestinian people should be a major focus of the new Peacebuilding Commission that had been established at the World Summit, thus ensuring that their needs would finally be adequately and equitably addressed within an international framework. He called upon all Member States to support the relevant draft resolutions before the Assembly. Egypt supported the work of the diplomatic Quartet towards the completion of the principles for peace set out in the Road Map. While he welcomed Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank, he called on Israel to proceed further and to undertake all its obligations under the Road Map towards the creation of two States, living side by side in peace and security.
NIRUPAM SEN (India), recalling recent positive developments, said that with a renewed sense of optimism also came the hard reckoning of reality, as described in the Secretary-General's report. At the current critical stage, it became all the more important for the international community to take steps towards a smooth implementation of Palestinian trade and transit access both within its territories and with the outside world. It was equally important for Israel to stop settlement activity, lift curfews and ease restrictions on the movement of persons and goods. Israel's actions should not result in prejudging final status issues. Regarding the construction of the wall, he called on Israel to abide by its legal obligations as set forth in the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice and Assembly resolution ES-10/15. The Palestinian Authority also had to shoulder its responsibility by undertaking action to halt violence, and must push ahead with reform of the Palestinian security services.
He said renewed and redoubled efforts were necessary to move the peace process forward. The international community must press for renewed action in parallel by both parties on their obligations under the Road Map. It must also continue to assist the parties in simultaneously addressing economic, humanitarian, security and political issues. The vision of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian State living side by side with Israel in secure and recognized borders remained valid, and was perhaps more attainable now than at any other time. India had advocated a comprehensive solution to the situation in the Middle East as the logical next step in the resolution of the wider Israeli-Arab conflict, as envisaged in the Saudi Arabian peace initiative. The principle of "land for peace" was equally valid in addressing the other tracks of the Middle East conflict.
ABDALLAH BAALI ( Algeria) said the report of the Palestinian Rights Committee was worrisome and showed how indispensable the work of the Committee was. Its work should be pursued as long as Israel occupied Palestinian territories and persisted in flagrant violations of international law. The past year was marked by Israel's policy of colonization and repression, with its trail of atrocities, abuses and confiscations. In such an atmosphere of death and destruction, a glimmer of hope appeared with Israel's pullout from the Gaza strip.
For that to constitute a genuine break with the past, it would have to find its place within the context of the Road Map, and open a path to withdrawal and a thorough dismantlement of settlements around "al Kuds ah Sharif". The continued construction of the separation wall, the expansion of settlement activities and the continued isolation of East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank remained a source of grave preoccupation and gave rise to serious misgivings about Israel's genuine intentions regarding the territory. Israel was drawing a new map of occupied territories on the ground and thus severely compromising chances for a future independent Palestinian State.
He reiterated Algeria's condemnation of the inhuman practices of the Israeli army against Palestinians, their property and institutions. The time had come for the international community to shoulder its responsibility and end Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories. The Security Council had recently shown uncommon speed and effectiveness in bringing about the withdrawal of foreign forces in the same region. If it wished to maintain its credibility, the Council should act with the same resolve to ensure that Israel withdrew unconditionally and without further delay from the Occupied Territories. The withdrawal should be paired with a total and unconditional freeze on settlements and with the cessation of the construction of the wall and the demolition of the parts that had already been erected. A final settlement must be based on an end to occupation and withdrawal of the Israeli army from all Occupied Territories, including the Syrian Golan and the last remaining occupied enclaves in Lebanon, and a renunciation of all policies that tended to increase and inflame passions and mortgage the success of the peace process.
TAWFEEQ AHMED ALMANSOOR ( Bahrain) said that in spite of efforts to distort or obfuscate facts, it was clear that the occupation was the real cause of the current situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. At the same time, the human rights of the Palestinian people were being further impinged because Israeli settlements continued to be built and construction of the illegal separation wall in the West Bank was progressing apace. The International Court of Justice had called for the wall to be dismantled but the Israeli Government had flagrantly ignored that call. No one could doubt that the situation was getting worse because of the continued occupation, as well as the continued flouting of international law and resolutions of the Security Council, he added.
Israel appeared to be continuing its expansionist aims within the Occupied Territories, while the construction of the wall wrecked the Palestinian economy and social fabric, and effectively undermined the objective of securing long-term development and stability for the Palestinian people. He said the Quartet-backed Road Map peace plan remained the logical path to a just settlement of the matter.
ABDULLAH ALSAIDI ( Yemen) said the Palestinian issue was one with grave humanitarian and security implications. It was a heap of injustices and suffering that had exceeded all limits. The continued construction of the separation wall despite the legal opinion of the International Court of Justice had led to more Palestinian casualties and blocked freedom of movement. Palestinians were forced to live in parts of destroyed territories or to become displaced as a result of continued military aggression; demolition of houses, trees, and farms; and the closure of roads and crossing points. Israel targeted entire communities, depriving them of their livelihoods, education, health care and institutions, increasing poverty and leading to the deterioration of living conditions.
He said Israel sought to blot out all elements, which could compose a future united Palestine as a viable entity. It was incumbent on the international community to spare no effort to end Israel's practices against the unarmed Palestinian population. International agreements and resolutions must be implemented. Palestinians, including those living in East Jerusalem, must be allowed to participate in upcoming elections. Blockades on the Palestinian people must be unconditionally lifted, and the racist separation wall dismantled. Israel should withdraw from all Arab territories occupied in 1967. It was incumbent on the international community to reject as null and void all resolutions and measures by Israel that ran counter to international legitimacy and all attempts to erode Palestinian sovereignty. There must also be a just solution to the refugee problem. The Palestinian people must establish an independent State on their territory. He commended United States Secretary of State Rice for her successful negotiations on freedom of movement and opening the border crossing, as well as the efforts of the Quartet to advance the peace process in the region.
ILEANA NÚÑEZ MORDOCHE ( Cuba) said the ongoing situation of instability in the Middle East region was characterized by the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the foreign occupation of Iraq and the threats against Syria, taking advantage of the "flighty plots" that were concocted in the bosom of the Security Council. From the facts compiled by the United Nations, it was obvious that a whole people was being massacred in a massive and systematic manner. Despite withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, Israel continued to occupy in an illegal manner vast parts of Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese territories, paying a deaf ear to a large number of Assembly and Security Council resolutions. The Council had suffered under continued obstruction on the issue by the United States, especially during the last five years of the Republican administration. The usual use of double standards and the exercise or threat of veto had led to a stagnation on the issue.
She said the recent unilateral Israeli troop withdrawal from the Gaza Strip should not confuse the international community. Israel continued the construction of the illegal separation wall, which had left more than 20,000 Palestinians without any means of livelihood and had swept thousands of hectares of land and water wells in the West Bank, which would mean a de facto seizure of about 60 per cent of the territory, including East Jerusalem. However, her country, subjected to a tight blockade by the United States for over 45 years, was convinced that there would be no wall, fence or repression, however violent and inhumane it might be, that could break the longing for sovereignty and independence of the heroic Palestinian people.
Mr. ABDELBARI ( Sudan) said the question of Palestine was a question for the entire world, and called for a firm stance against Israeli arrogance and intransigence. Israel's high-handed attitude towards international law combined with the leniency of the international community had led Israel to continue its unjust policies. Homes were destroyed while the occupants remained inside, land was confiscated in direct violation of international humanitarian law, and the human rights of the Palestinian people continued to be abrogated.
Israel further flouted international law by ignoring the decision of the International Court of Justice to halt construction of the separation wall in the West Bank. Israel's actions spoke clearly of the Organization's double standards, he said. He called on the international community to urgently provide humanitarian and technical assistance to the Palestinian people in order to alleviate their suffering and allow them to rebuild their economy.
ROBERT O'BRIEN ( United States) said his country remained firmly committed to achieving a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. Its efforts continued to focus on sustaining momentum on economic and security issues after disengagement in order to make progress in the context of the Road Map towards a two-State solution. The United States would continue to work to maintain the momentum of disengagement. All parties had obligations they must fulfil in order to achieve the objective of two democratic States living side by side in peace and security. While the United States shared the concerns about the hardships facing the Palestinian people, the resolutions that the Assembly would consider reflected neither the complexities of the conflict nor the need for both parties to take steps to advance the goal of peace and security. The Assembly was being asked to view events in the region through the distorted lens of one-sided perceptions. Endorsing resolutions that condemned Israeli actions but that failed to address Palestinian actions or inactions had real consequences. Such one-sided resolutions undermined the ability of the United Nations to play a constructive role in furthering peace.
Specifically, he said, the 1975 mandate establishing the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and the 1977 mandate establishing the Division for Palestinian Rights within the Secretariat perpetuated a skewed and biased approach to the Middle East conflict. Those bodies reflected a cold war era gone by and had long since outlived any usefulness. Member States should eliminate those bodies and seek ways to reinvigorate the United Nations as an even-handed partner in seeking peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. As the United Nations considered historic steps to reform itself and its institutions, it must examine old mandates such as this one with a critical eye and confront the reality that the time for those bodies had past.
He said the United States would welcome a draft resolution that reflected a balanced and pragmatic approach consistent with that of the Quartet. Unfortunately, it appeared that the Assembly would be considering texts that put it in the position of attempting to prejudge the settlement of final status issues. To achieve a just and lasting peace, those issues must be decided through negotiations between the parties, consistent with their past agreements and with relevant Security Council resolutions. He would not support unbalanced resolutions that did nothing to further the cause of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and urged other Member States to withhold their support as well.
ABDULLATIF SALLAM ( Saudi Arabia) said the reports before the Assembly reaffirmed the inhuman conditions under which the Palestinian people lived because of Israeli practices committed in violation of international law. Israel continued to throw up obstacles to genuine peace negotiations, he said, adding that peace and security could not be achieved by arrogantly announcing lists of Palestinian activists the Israeli Government intended to assassinate. Peace could not be achieved by flouting the Geneva Conventions and resolutions of the Security Council. Peace could not be achieved with roadblocks, curfews and home demolitions.
He called on the entire international community to work together to overcome the selectivity and double standards that had stagnated the Middle East peace process for so long. He also called on Israel to abide by international law, to release Palestinian detainees and to stop building the separation wall. All nations should press for a negotiated settlement for peace throughout the Middle East.
Right of Reply
Riyad Mansour, Observer of Palestine, said he wished to respond to the delegation that had requested the elimination of two important committees and a re-examination of their mandate. Those committees had been established pursuant to Assembly rules. On the basis of democracy and accepting the will of Member States, programmes related to Palestine did receive evaluation in a democratic way by the entire Assembly membership. The will of the Assembly had been decided every year to extend the mandates of those committees and programmes until a just solution to the Palestinian question had been reached on the basis of the will of the international community.
He said he was also surprised to hear that Assembly resolutions prejudiced and prejudged a settlement in the Middle East. Such resolutions reflected international law. If international legal principles prejudged the settlement, did not illegal settlements on the ground, a separation wall, and the oppressive and abhorrent actions of the occupying Power also prejudge such a settlement? He left it up to the judgment of all countries and delegations to determine what was correct and fair, and what was one-sided and imbalanced.
He said the position of that one delegation was extremely political, a traditional position by which it had shielded Israel from the decisions of the international community and international law. That delegation's statement was anti-Palestinian. His own delegation had been positive in its attitude and dialoguing in good faith with that country, in the spirit of implementing United Nations resolutions and the mandate of the Quartet. He hoped that country would reconsider its position in future interventions.
Vote on Oceans and Law of the Sea
The draft resolution on oceans and the law of the sea (document A/60/L.22) was adopted by a recorded vote of 141 in favour to 1 against, with 4 abstentions, as follows:
In favour: Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Federated States of Micronesia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Serbia and Montenegro, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, United States, Uruguay, Viet Nam, Yemen.
Abstain: Colombia, Ecuador, Libya, Venezuela.
Absent: Albania, Azerbaijan, Benin, Bhutan, Burundi, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guyana, Haiti, Iraq, Jordan, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Nauru, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Swaziland, Switzerland, Syria, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
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