Press Releases

    16 November 2004

    Third Committee Hears Introduction of Draft Resolutions on Racial Discrimination, Self-Determination, Missing Persons

    NEW YORK, 15 November (UN Headquarters) -- Entering its first week of meetings devoted wholly to taking action on the wide range of issues before it, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this afternoon to hear introductions of draft resolutions on racial discrimination, the right to self-determination and missing persons.

    Introducing a text on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (document A/C.3/59/L.69), the representative of Belgium said that the Convention played an essential role in combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance. The draft emphasized the need for the universal ratification of this instrument and the importance of the universal implementation of provisions laid down in the Convention. The text also recalled the obligations of States parties under the Convention, particularly regarding reporting obligations.

    Subsequently, the representative of Egypt introduced a draft resolution on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination (document A/C.3/59/L.70), reaffirming that all peace-loving nations hoped for realization of the Palestinian people’s aspiration to self-determination through Israel’s withdrawal from their occupied territory and the establishment of a State on their historic land.  The world could not be made safe for democracy if it was not safe for self-determination, he stressed, which constituted the precursor to democracy, its backbone, and the main ingredient of human rights.

    The present text continued to embody the basic tenets of the concept of self-determination, he noted.  It did not deviate from last year, but had been updated to reflect the International Court of Justice’s advisory opinion on the construction of the wall.  He also expressed his condolences to the Palestinian people upon the death of President Yasser Arafat last week.

    Regarding the text on missing persons (document A/C.3/59/L.42), the representative of Azerbaijan said the draft drew attention to an issue that had not been given due prominence at the international level -- that of persons who had gone missing as a result of armed conflict.  Armed conflict gave rise to violations of human rights and humanitarian law, and it was important to keep the question of missing persons a priority on the international agenda.

    The draft called on States to take all measures to prevent persons from going missing and to search for all persons, including children, who had been reported missing, she noted. It called on States to cooperate fully with the International Red Cross to search for and identify persons reported missing in connection with armed conflict. It would send a timely message to States, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations to address properly the question of persons that had gone missing as a result of armed conflict.

    The Committee is expected to reconvene tomorrow, 16 November, at a time to be announced, to hear introductions of and take action on several draft resolutions related to human rights questions.

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