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Summary record of the 22nd meeting : 3rd Committee, held at Headquarters, New York, on Monday, 25 October 1999, General Assembly, 54th session

UN Document Symbol A/C.3/54/SR.22
Convention Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Document Type Summary Record
Session 54th
Type Document

16 p.

Subjects Persons with Disabilities, Racial Discrimination, Race Relations, Self-Determination of Peoples, Ethnic and Racial Groups

Extracted Text

United Nations
General Assembly
Fifty-fourth session
Official Records
Distr.: General
30 November 1999
Original: Spanish
Third Committee
Summary record of the 22nd meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Monday, 25 October 1999, at 3 p.m.
Chairman: Mr. Galuška . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (Czech Republic)
Agenda item 106: Social development, including questions relating to the world
social situation and to youth, ageing, disabled persons and the family (continued)
Agenda item 114: Elimination of racism and racial discrimination (continued)
Agenda item 115: Right of peoples to self-determination (continued)
This record is subject to correction. Corrections should be sent under the signature of a member
of the delegation concerned within one week of the date of publication to the Chief of the
Official Records Editing Section, room DC2-750, 2 United Nations Plaza, and incorporated in a
copy of the record.
Corrections will be issued after the end of the session, in a separate corrigendum for each
00-23520 (E)
Third Committee
Summary record of the 22nd meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Monday, 25 October 1999, at 3 p.m.
Chairman: Mr. Galuška . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (Czech Republic)
Agenda item 106: Social development, including questions relating to the world
social situation and to youth, ageing, disabled persons and the family (continued)
Agenda item 114: Elimination of racism and racial discrimination (continued)
Agenda item 115: Right of peoples to self-determination (continued)
The meeting was called to order at 3.10 p.m.
Agenda item 106: Social development, including
questions relating to the world social situation and to
youth, ageing, disabled persons and the family
(continued) (A/C.3/54/L.9/Rev.1)
Draft resolution A/C.3/54/L.9/Rev.1: Implementation of
the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled
Persons: towards a society for all in the twenty-first
1. Ms. Ramiro-Lopez (Philippines), introducing the
draft resolution on behalf of the sponsors, who had
been joined by Belgium, China, Costa Rica, Denmark,
the Dominican Republic, Fiji, Finland, Germany,
Greece, India, Italy, Jamaica, Malta, Norway, Portugal
and Sweden, said that, following consultations,
agreement had been reached on all the key elements of
the draft resolution. The European Union, particularly
Finland, and Algeria, Bangladesh, China, Egypt and
Norway had made a special contribution to that
process, as had the staff of the World Programme of
Action concerning Disabled Persons in the Division for
Social Policy and Development.
2. Operative paragraph 2 of the draft resolution had
been revised to read: “Welcomes the initiatives of
Governments to enhance the rights of persons with
disabilities and for the further equalization of
opportunities by, for and with persons with disabilities,
and also welcomes the contribution of the United
Nations system and non-governmental organizations,
as appropriate, in this regard”.
3. Operative paragraph 4 had been revised by
inserting, after the words “to take concrete measures”,
the words “to promote the implementation of relevant
United Nations resolution and agreed international
standards concerning persons with disabilities, in
particular the Standard Rules on the Equalization of
Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities”.
4. The draft resolution provided a broad framework
for the promotion of human rights and called for
measures in relation to disabled persons that had been
examined on the occasion of the third review and
evaluation of the World Programme of Action
concerning Disabled Persons. It also included new
elements such as the importance of technology and
access to information and telecommunications for the
effective participation of persons with disabilities in
social life and in development. It emphasized the
importance of public information and timely statistics
for the design of policies and strategies concerning
persons with disabilities. Lastly, it encouraged
Governments, concerned non-governmental
organizations and the private sector to continue to
support the Untied Nations Voluntary Fund on
Disability, which, according to the Secretary-General’s
report (A/54/388/Add.1) had allocated $1 million to 35
disability-related projects.
Agenda item 114: Elimination of racism and racial
discrimination (continued) (A/54/18, A/54/98,
A/54/299, A/54/347)
Agenda item 115: Right of peoples to selfdetermination
(continued) (A/54/98, A/54/118-
S/1999/633, A/54/326, A/54/327)
5. Mr. Moniaga (Indonesia) said that racism and
racial discrimination continued to exist and,
notwithstanding successes such as the demise of
apartheid, would remain on the international agenda
well into the twenty-first century. Despite the
international community’s strong determination to
address racism in all its aspects and to achieve the
goals of equality and justice, the resources and the
ability to implement the programmes of action of the
United Nations Decades to Combat Racism and Racial
Discrimination continued to be lacking, as the
Commission on Human Rights had pointed out with
regard to the Third Decade and its Programme of
Action. The General Assembly must therefore request
the Secretary-General to assign high priority to
activities under that Programme and to earmark
adequate resources to finance them.
6. In that connection, his delegation looked forward
to the convening of the World Conference against
Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and
Related Intolerance, which should be action-oriented
and aimed at the genuine eradication of contemporary
forms of racism. It was important that the Conference
focus on racism in all its aspects as a global problem
demanding a global response. No country, Indonesia
included, could claim to be free of prejudice and
racism and it would be counterproductive to target
specific countries. His delegation trusted that the
question of the human and financial resources that
would be needed both for the preparatory process and
for the Conference itself would receive appropriate
consideration at the current session and that it would
not prove an obstacle to a successful Conference. In
that connection, it noted the generous offer made by
the Government of South Africa to host the
7. One fundamental objective of the Conference
which was particularly important was the universal
ratification of the International Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,
which Indonesia had recently ratified and was currently
following up by harmonizing its national laws with the
Convention and reviewing all legislation that could
have discriminatory connotations.
8. His Government had responded promptly to
manifestations of intolerance and was determined to
prevent their recurrence. It was conducting a review of
its legislation to ensure that all citizens received equal
treatment in accordance with the 1945 Constitution. No
government regulation should discriminate against an
ethnic group. The Government no longer used
identifying codes on Indonesian Chinese identity cards
and all government officials had been instructed, by
presidential decree No. 126/1998, to abolish the use of
terms identifying indigenous and non-indigenous
Indonesians in all government activities, policies and
documents. The decree also instructed that equal
treatment and service be given to all citizens, without
distinction as to race, ethnic origin or religion. As a
moral and pluralistic society, Indonesia was committed
to promoting respect for human rights and taking into
account the varied cultural, ethnic and religious
composition of the nation, as provided for in the 1993
Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.
9. Ms. Viotti (Brazil) said that ethnic cleansing, the
resurgence of false doctrines of racial superiority, the
trend towards restricting the rights of migrant workers,
the use of new technologies to spread intolerance and
the abuses committed against asylum-seekers and
refugees were just some of the obstacles which the
international community must overcome to keep alive
the spirit that had inspired the historic struggle to put
an end to racism.
10. Brazil was proud of its historical legacy of
harmonious coexistence among people of difference
religious, racial and cultural backgrounds and had
consistently rejected the logic of ethnic borders. It
therefore supported the convening of the World
Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination,
Xenophobia and Related Intolerance to be held in the
year 2001. That Conference should be action-oriented
and come up with concrete commitments and measures
to counter racial discrimination and intolerance,
wherever they occurred. It must send a clear message
that was understood by the public at large. Her
Government planned to set up a national committee to
prepare for Brazil’s participation in the Conference,
and civil society would have a central role throughout
that process. At the same time, it would continue to
lend its support to the work of the Special Rapporteur
on that issue, who must be given all necessary means to
discharge his mandate.
11. Brazil’s society and Government were engaged in
promoting the rights of the country’s black population,
indigenous people and minorities. Activities to that end
included the review of schoolbooks to eliminate
stereotyping based on colour, ethnicity, gender and
national origin. A working group had also been set up
to foster equal job opportunity. Under Brazilian
legislation, racism was a crime for which there was no
bail or statute of limitations. Any kind of racial
discrimination was punishable by law. Brazil was
proud to be a melting pot of cultures, all of which had
contributed to building a tolerant, multi-ethnic society.
12. Her Government was deeply committed to the
right of peoples to self-determination, which was a
basic value in human society and also an inalienable
right of peoples under colonial or other forms of
foreign domination. The Vienna Declaration and
Programme of Action recognized the right of peoples
to self-determination, for which it was essential to
promote democracy and strengthen the rule of law for
the benefit of all.
13. Crown Prince Haakon (Norway) said that ethnic
diversity was a resource which must not be allowed to
be wasted by ignorance and intolerance. One step in
the right direction was to ratify and implement the
International Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Racial Discrimination. The World Conference
against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia
and Related Intolerance offered a chance to make
progress in that field.
14. Despite the efforts made by the international
community, under United Nations auspices, to combat
racism, the objective of eliminating all forms of racism
and racial discrimination was still far from being
attained. Racism was an assault on human dignity
which also manifested itself in the systematic ethnic
cleansing recently witnessed in several parts of the
world. Racism and discrimination were global
problems, but measures to combat them must be
identified at the local and national level. The challenge
therefore began at home. Human rights also began at
home. At the same time, domestic challenges had
become matters of international concern.
15. Although there had been a multi-ethnic presence
in Norway’s society for centuries, it was still learning
to deal with the challenges of social segregation.
Earlier in the year, the Government had ratified the
Council of Europe Framework Convention on the
Protection of National Minorities. It was currently
developing policies in that area and had submitted
plans to Parliament for improving its policy towards
the Sami population. It realized that Norway’s
population would continue to become more multiethnic
and that the number of people of immigrant
background would increase, and that it would have to
learn to promote tolerance and peaceful coexistence
despite the many obstacles that lay ahead. Although it
had taken the initial steps towards new legislation
against ethnic discrimination, that was not enough.
Education and the promotion of respect for foreign
cultures, religions, customs and peoples would
gradually wear down the barriers of intolerance.
Another measure introduced by the Government was a
plan of action against racism and discrimination which
included measures to secure equal opportunities in the
housing and labour markets. A plan of action to recruit
more people of immigrant origin to the public sector
had also been introduced and a centre had been
established to offer legal advice to victims of ethnic
16. Racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia
also required a comprehensive range of measures at the
international level. In that connection, the preparations
for the World Conference had provided Norway with a
unique opportunity to strengthen its commitment to
combating racism. It was urgent that all countries
comply with established standards, and his delegation
hoped that the preparatory process would inspire those
States which had not yet done so to ratify the
Convention. His Government believed that a national
preparatory process which involved civil society would
be beneficial for the outcome and follow-up of the
Conference. Norway would be establishing a national
preparatory committee for the World Conference in
which government ministries, specialized agencies and
civil society would be represented.
17. The United Nations had a unique role to play in
facilitating and harnessing national, regional and global
efforts to combat racism and intolerance. Norway
valued the role of United Nations instruments and
mechanisms and had already joined forces with those
who recognized the importance of providing adequate
resources to the human rights machinery, not just in
relation to the Conference but as a general policy. It
was committed to participating actively and offering its
support at all levels in the Conference preparatory
process and urged States to renew their commitment to
protecting the rights of all persons, regardless of their
ethnic, national or religious origin.
18. Mr. Amir (Sudan) commended the work done by
the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner
for Human Rights in the context of the Third Decade to
Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination and in the
preparatory process for the World Conference. Despite
the efforts of the international community, however,
racism and racial discrimination had taken on new
forms in recent years, especially in relation to refugees
and ethnic minorities, who had joined the thousands of
people worldwide already suffering from those
phenomena. The report of the Special Rapporteur on
contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination,
xenophobia and related intolerance (A/54/347) noted
that violent manifestations of those problems persisted,
spurred by neo-Nazi and far-right doctrines or even by
information media such as the Internet, on which, as
the report indicated, there were anti-Arab and anti-
Muslim sites. It was ironic that the Internet had served
to spread such ideas, rather than to reject them.
19. Intimidation and hatred of foreigners, the desire
to perpetuate the supremacy of one group over another,
ethnic cleansing and genocide were alarming
phenomena that affected everyone. Drawing on its
secular traditions and on the principles of peaceful
coexistence preached by Islam, his country denounced
those manifestations and called for the perpetrators to
be identified and restrained and for the problem to be
addressed in schools and universities and in places of
worship. His Government called on all States to take
part in the World Conference, to which it stood ready
to contribute, and endorsed the recommendations made
by the Commission on Human Rights in its capacity as
preparatory committee for the Conference. His
Government welcomed the offer by South Africa to
host the Conference, urged that the necessary resources
be allocated for convening it and trusted that the
Conference would consider both the progress made
against racism and the obstacles remaining to its
eradication, as well as what measures to take at the
national, regional and international levels. As a multiethnic,
multicultural society, the Sudan had been a
tolerant country for centuries, although politically
motivated foreign interference had used that diversity
to frustrate the people’s aspirations for progress,
prosperity and well-being. Ethnic, cultural and
ideological diversity must lead to unity and
coexistence, not cause division and discord.
20. Ms. Barghouti (Observer for Palestine) said that
the right of peoples to self-determination was a very
important item; its realization was enshrined in the
Charter of the United Nations and embodied in human
rights instruments, and the international community,
principally the United Nations, had a responsibility to
guarantee its enjoyment by all peoples. Combating
inequality and oppression and securing the right of
peoples to self-determination should therefore be
among the international community’s top priorities.
More serious action was required in that regard,
especially for people living under foreign occupation
or domination. The Palestinian people had for too long
suffered from Israeli occupation and oppression, and it
was still being denied its right to self-determination.
All the known ills of occupation continued, as did
Israel’s creation of new facts on the ground, foremost
of which were illegal settlements, the antithesis of
freedom and self-determination for the indigenous
people. Moreover, refugees and displaced persons
continued to be denied not only their right of selfdetermination
but also their right of return.
21. In the 1993 Declaration of Principles on Interim
Self-Government Arrangements, Palestine and Israel
had recognized their mutual, legitimate political rights.
Since a genuine commitment required recognition of
the right of the Palestinian people to selfdetermination,
however, Palestine preferred to believe
that Israel had not recognized that right for tactical
reasons, and it hoped that the current peace process
would result in full recognition, manifested in the
existence of a Palestinian State. Real engagement in
the peace process required such recognition, for it was
inconceivable to recognize one’s adversary as a people
while refusing to recognize its right of selfdetermination.
Without such recognition, the peace
process could not reach a normal, logical and
successful conclusion. At the same time, the
establishment of an independent State of Palestine, in
exercise of the right of self-determination, could not be
subject to any veto. In conclusion, her delegation
trusted that Palestine would be able to participate in the
forthcoming Millennium Assembly as a full member of
the United Nations, and it was confident of the
Assembly’s support in that regard.
22. Mr. Zmeevski (Russian Federation) said that the
international community had so far been unable to find
an effective remedy against racism and racial
discrimination, which were prevalent throughout the
world. Contemporary forms of racial discrimination
were increasingly complex and also included such
phenomena as nationalism, nationalist extremism and
xenophobia. The preparatory work for the World
Conference must therefore focus on identifying
concrete measures for combating them. In that
connection, his delegation endorsed the statement in
the Secretary-General’s report (A/54/299) that the
question of racism and racial discrimination should be
addressed from a global standpoint, because no part of
the world was exempt from those negative phenomena.
Racism was not only taking on new forms but also
using new means such as the Internet; the preparatory
work for the Conference should therefore also look at
racism in the electronic media. The only acceptable
contemporary form of intolerance was intolerance of
any act of discrimination, racism, aggressive
nationalism or belligerent xenophobia.
23. His delegation had read the report of the Special
Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights
(A/54/347) with great interest and it noted with
concern the many cases of human rights violations
committed against gypsies in Kosovo by Albanians,
who considered them to be allies of the Serbs. The
summary execution, abduction, arbitrary detention and
torture perpetrated against the Roma showed the
complexity of resolving the conflict in the Balkans, in
which the United Nations must play a leading role.
24. His country had been a multi-ethnic State
throughout its history and both its legislation on interethnic
relations and its State policy in that area, as well
as their application, were governed primarily by the
need to promote unity among peoples, strengthen
mutual understanding and cooperation and eliminate all
forms of discrimination. In recent years, federal laws
had been enacted concerning autonomous territories
and the rights of minority peoples, and bills on political
extremism and the prohibition of Nazi symbols and
propaganda had been introduced in the State Duma. A
federal programme against political and religious
extremism had also been developed. The Council of
Europe Framework Convention on the Protection of
National Minorities had entered into force in 1999 and
it was hoped that its provisions would help to further
harmonize inter-ethnic relations within the Russian
Federation. In the context of preparations for the World
Conference, a subregional conference on racism was to
be held in his country.
25. His delegation endorsed the conclusions of the
Secretary-General’s report (A/54/299) as to the
important role of the Committee on the Elimination of
Racial Discrimination in preventing racism, and it
hoped that the Latvian authorities would abide
voluntarily by the recommendations made by that
Committee at its fifty-fifth session concerning the
fulfilment of their obligations under the Convention on
the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
In particular, he recalled that the Committee had urged
Latvia to change its policy with regard to national
minorities and to implement the Committee’s
recommendations for bringing its legislation into line
with international human rights instruments. That issue
was also relevant to Estonia.
26. The security and stability of the current world
order depended to a large extent on the correct
interpretation of the right of peoples to selfdetermination.
It was essential that self-determination
should not be viewed in isolation from other principles
of international law. Although very important, that
right did not justify acts which threatened, in whole or
in part, the territorial integrity or political unity of a
sovereign, independent State. That would be reducing
self-determination to the level of separatism, which
was currently one of the main causes of inter-State
conflict and regional instability, both of which posed a
threat to all States. It should also be noted that
separatism was becoming increasingly associated with
violence and terrorism. It was at his country’s initiative
that the Security Council had, for the first time in its
history, recently held a special session on terrorism, at
which it had adopted a resolution unanimously
condemning terrorist attacks, especially those,
motivated by separatism, which sought to undermine
State sovereignty and institutions. The United Nations
must help to ensure that the international community
firmly opposed such criminal acts.
27. The promotion of local self-government was the
best alternative to separatism. In 1998, his Government
had ratified the European Charter of Local Self-
Government, which recognized local government
organs as one of the bases of democracy. The measures
taken by his Government in that sphere included the
establishment of a congress of municipalities of the
Russian Federation, approved in a presidential decree
setting forth the principles governing relations between
the congress and federal organs. Local interests were
also upheld in the Russian Constitution, which
guaranteed the independence of autonomous
authorities. Lastly, the Government had enacted a
number of laws and over 1,300 regulations in that
sphere, since people’s power was based on local selfgovernment.
His Government believed that the right of
peoples to self-determination could be exercised
constructively only through the democratic process and
not through violence or separatism.
28. Mr. Naser (Jordan) said that human rights were
the heritage of all humankind, regardless of gender,
religious, political or other considerations, and that
provisions for the protection of those rights were the
minimum standards that must prevail in all States. The
international community had a duty to overcome the
obstacles to the exercise of those rights, especially
since the Vienna Conference and in view of violations
of the principles which the peoples of the world and the
United Nations were fighting to uphold. His delegation
was concerned at the increasingly clear manifestations
of racial discrimination and xenophobia in many
countries of the world, which, as mentioned by the
Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human
Rights, were reflected in violence, discriminatory
policies and racist propaganda on the Internet.
29. His Government had tried constantly to use
dialogue and to maintain an open attitude in a region
affected by various crises. It had also applied that
approach in its domestic policies and legislation, in
keeping with its commitment to the main human rights
instruments, including the International Convention on
the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
It felt that a distinction must be made between
pluralism in its historical context and pluralism as it
existed politically in a given society, in order to protect
the cultural diversity of society while preserving the
coherent identity of the nation. It was not enough to
reaffirm tolerance and to defend human rights, which
in Jordan were guaranteed by law. What was important
was to respect the rights of minorities and to guarantee
their representation in political life. His Government
was doing its utmost to protect the rights of the most
disadvantaged sectors and to guarantee their
participation in society.
30. In order to preserve political pluralism at a time
when a communications revolution was under way,
more attention must be paid to cultural diversity,
emphasizing tolerance and the rejection of cultural
stereotypes. The notion of a clash of civilizations,
xenophobia, racism and negative generalizations must
be abandoned in favour of a dialogue with other
peoples and cultures, emphasizing what peoples had in
common. He welcomed the convening of the World
Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination,
Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, to be held in
2001. The Commission on Human Rights had a role to
play as the preparatory body for the Conference, and
the Special Rapporteur’s appeal that it be given all the
means necessary to formulate recommendations
deserved support.
31. The peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America
had made great sacrifices in order to win their right to
self-determination, waging a struggle that had always
had the support of the United Nations. Despite
numerous United Nations resolutions, however, the
Palestinian people was still unable to exercise its
legitimate right of self-determination in its national
territory. His delegation welcomed the progress made
in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and hoped that
it would be accompanied by the effective
implementation of the agreements signed, including the
most recent agreement, the Sharm-el-Sheikh
Memorandum, as a step towards a just and
comprehensive settlement of the Palestinian question
that would guarantee the Palestinian people’s right of
self-determination, including the right to establish an
independent State with Jerusalem as its capital.
32. Mr. Alaee (Islamic Republic of Iran) said that, as
the world approached the new millennium, the growing
trend of racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia,
in their new manifestations and subtle or violent forms,
against, inter alia, aliens, minorities, refugees, migrant
workers, women and children was a source of serious
concern for the international community and human
rights mechanisms.
33. Fortunately, the international community had
recognized the necessity of holding the World
Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination,
Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, which could
provide an opportunity for addressing the issue
thoroughly and could serve as a turning point in the
struggle against those phenomena by drafting wideranging,
clear guidelines and practical
recommendations. At the same time, the Conference
should be action-oriented and review shortcomings in
the implementation of the Programme of Action of the
Third Decade to Combat Racism and Racial
34. His delegation appreciated the endeavours of the
open-ended working group of the Commission on
Human Rights to review and formulate proposals for
the World Conference, as well as the discussions held
at its first session, in March 1999, on the basis of the
seven objectives of the Conference set forth in General
Assembly resolution 52/111 of 12 December 1997. In
that connection, he wished to emphasize the
importance of the following: the organization of
regional seminars of experts on recourse and good
practices; the creation of an Internet web site on the
World Conference; the promotion of universal
ratification of the International Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; the
crucial role of education and consciousness-raising in
combating racism and racial discrimination;
consideration of the role of the media, including the
Internet, in spreading racism; the use of the Internet as
an educational tool to promote tolerance and respect
for human dignity and diversity; and the study of ways
of increasing the effectiveness of United Nations
activities and mechanisms for combating racism.
35. His delegation had participated actively in the
discussions and consultations on the resolutions on
racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related
intolerance held in the General Assembly and the
Commission on Human Rights, and in April 1998 his
Government had announced to the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights that it was prepared
to host the Asia regional preparatory meeting for the
World Conference. The World Conference and its
regional preparatory meetings should address
thoroughly the abuse of new communication
technologies, including the Internet, for the purpose of
incitement to racial hatred and should adopt practical
measures to regulate their use. In that connection, the
prohibition on disseminating ideas based on racial
superiority, as recognized by the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination, was a legitimate
restriction on freedom of opinion and expression.
36. One clear manifestation of xenophobia and
intolerance was the resurgence of discrimination and
violence against Muslims. At the fifty-fifth session of
the Commission on Human Rights, States members of
the Organization of the Islamic Conference had
proposed a draft resolution on the defamation and
stereotyping of religions, which had been adopted
unanimously. His delegation believed that
“Islamophobia” fell within the mandates of both the
Special Rapporteur on racism and the Special
Rapporteur on religious intolerance and therefore
called upon them to take the provisions of that
resolution into account.
37. Mr. Tekle (Eritrea) said that, in the context of the
various reports, as well as the disturbing developments
in the Horn of Africa, his delegation was obliged to
raise the issue of the constitutional framework and the
political, economic and social policies which legalized
and indeed sanctioned the social, political and
economic discrimination, the massive violation of
human rights, the deliberate use of the print and
electronic media to incite hatred and the perpetration of
violence against national and ethnic groups in Ethiopia.
38. Ethiopia was purportedly a federal State
organized on the basis of ethnicity. However, the
majority of Ethiopian intellectuals and political leaders
had denounced such ethnic federalism as a kind of
“ethno-apartheid” which was undermining national
unity, social harmony, regional peace and economic
development and promoting the material interests of
only one ethnic group.
39. Politically, the Ethiopian State was divided into
kilils or administrative zones which had been compared
to apartheid South Africa’s Bantustans. Those
fragmented and non-viable kilils had made it possible
for the people of Tigray, whose territory had expanded
as a result of the annexation of territory from the other
ethnic groups, to maintain complete hegemony in the
country. Economically, the long-range plan was to
create a State in which the wealth of Ethiopia was
controlled by less than 4 million of Ethiopia’s roughly
60 million inhabitants. Resources were being diverted
to Tigray from the other kilils and the “federal”
Government. The Ethiopian economy had been
ethnicized, in other words, it was designed to serve
Tigray’s development needs and to enrich private
40. The armed forces have been monopolized by the
minority regime. Tigray was the only kilil to have its
own fully equipped standing army, as well as an air
force. The federal army formed by the Tigray People’s
Liberation Army was fully controlled by the regime.
That army was regarded by most Ethiopians as an army
of occupation which safeguarded the interests of one
ethnic group. Ethiopia’s foreign policy objectives could
be summed up as the restructuring of the region to
serve the interests of the minority regime and the
creation of a constellation of mini-States dominated by
it. To that end, Ethiopia had been building up an ultramodern,
aggressive army which it had already used in
Somalia and Eritrea and, worse still, it had hired
mercenaries who were participating in the war of
aggression against Eritrea. In its dangerous pursuit of
regional supremacy, it had occupied Somali territory,
violated Kenya’s territorial integrity and economically
blackmailed a neighbouring country into submission.
Its relations with the Sudan and Egypt also left much to
be desired.
41. His delegation condemned the use of mercenaries
not only because there were several Organization of
African Unity (OAU) resolutions condemning it as a
bane on African society and because mercenaries had
destabilized many African countries and had been
brutal instruments in the suppression of the right of
peoples to self-determination, but also because Eritrea,
both during its liberation struggle and currently as a
result of Ethiopia’s aggression, had been suffering the
consequences of the use of mercenaries by Ethiopia. It
was a matter of public knowledge that Ethiopia had
hired mercenaries from Eastern Europe, a fact which
Eritrea had documented for the Third Committee.
According to notable exiled Ethiopian intellectuals and
organizations and the Ethiopian press in exile, Ethiopia
had become a predatory and repressive ethnic State
which had constitutionally institutionalized tribalism in
order to benefit a single ethnic group politically and
economically, keep that group in power and expand at
the expense of other ethnic groups and neighbouring
42. According to the same sources, Ethiopia’s ethnic
minority regime had systematically violated all the
norms of international law, the Charter of the United
Nations and civilized international conduct. It was
waging a war against humanity which the Committee
must condemn both because of its crimes against
Ethiopian and foreign national and ethnic groups and
because of its reintroduction of mercenaries into
Africa. The Committee and the international
community must also insist on the unconditional
acceptance and application of the OAU peace package.
43. Mr. Al-Humaimidi (Iraq) said that his
Government had submitted its fourteenth periodic
report to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination, whose findings indicated that the
difficult economic and social situation prevailing in
Iraq and foreign military incursions in different areas
of the country had had a negative impact on the
implementation of the human rights treaties, including
the International Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Racial Discrimination. The Committee had
recalled decision 1998/114 of the Subcommission on
Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of
Minorities and had appealed to the international
community, in particular the Security Council, to lift
the embargo provisions affecting the humanitarian
situation of the population of Iraq. At the same time,
the Committee had welcomed the information that
Iraq’s internal legal order made it possible for
individuals directly to invoke the provisions of the
Convention before the courts.
44. On the eve of the new millennium, the increase in
racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia,
particularly against migrant workers in countries which
claimed to have made great strides in the area of
human rights, was a source of grave concern. The
report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary
forms of racism (A/54/347) referred to the use of the
Internet to spread racist propaganda, including anti-
Arab and anti-Muslim propaganda. States must take
action to combat that phenomenon.
45. His delegation fully supported the convening in
2001 of the World Conference against Racism, Racial
Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.
With regard to the right of peoples to selfdetermination,
the fact that that right was proclaimed in
Article 2 of the Charter of the United Nations,
following the Article referring to the maintenance of
international peace and security, meant that the two
Articles were closely linked. The International
Covenants had reaffirmed that right and had linked it to
the right to development. Those two rights were the
cornerstones of peace and security throughout the
world. Iraq, which like other countries had gained its
independence at the cost of great sacrifices and had
been a founding member of the United Nations, was
aware of the importance of the right to selfdetermination
and the right of peoples to choose their
own political and economic system, and it was proud to
have participated in the work of the Special Committee
on decolonization since its inception.
46. Despite all that had been done to eliminate
colonialism, the current decade had seen a dangerous
retrogression, which was reflected in direct and indirect
military intervention on a variety of pretexts, the threat
of force and the use of political and economic pressure
to prevent countries from choosing their own system of
government and to subject them to super-Power
domination. That was a new form of colonialism. His
country was one of the victims of such aggression. The
military incursions in northern Iraq violated its
sovereignty and territorial integrity and had forced a
withdrawal of the central administration from those
areas, turning them into a breeding ground for factional
infighting and bloody conflict. Moreover, the United
States and the United Kingdom had decreed, without
any Security Council resolution having been adopted to
that effect, that the exclusion zones in northern and
southern Iraq should be expanded. On inconceivable
pretexts, the United States Government had launched
three missile attacks, in 1992, 1993 and 1996, causing
substantial material damage. Between 6 and 20
December 1998, the United States and the United
Kingdom had launched further military attacks, killing
and wounding hundreds of people and destroying Iraq’s
industrial base and defence infrastructure. In the 25
January 1999 incursion against the city of Basra, 17
people had been killed and hundreds more wounded,
and there had been massive material damage.
Moreover, the United States and the United Kingdom
were continuing their daily bombing raids in northern
and southern Iraq on the pretext of maintaining the
exclusion zone.
47. Both countries’ insistence on maintaining a
comprehensive embargo, even if Iraq fulfilled its
international commitments, had emerged clearly from
statements by the United States authorities. That was a
flagrant violation of the right of the Iraqi people to
exploit their own resources. The United States had
spent $17 million on the financing and training of
mercenaries in an attempt to interfere in Iraq’s internal
affairs and change its regime. The right of self
determination was a prerequisite for the safeguarding
of human rights, and the international community must
take firm action against any practice which disregarded
that right or interpreted it selectively. His country had
chosen its political system by means of a free
referendum, thereby reaffirming the Government’s
commitment to respect that right, and the international
community must assume its responsibility under
international law with regard to the aggression against
Iraq. The United States and the United Kingdom must
be urged to halt such acts, which threatened Iraq’s
security, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
48. Ms. Tomic (Slovenia) noted that equality of all
human beings, as provided for in article 1 of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, was far from
being achieved. On the contrary, many armed conflicts
were being triggered by the drive for domination, and
even stable, flourishing societies were not immune
from occurrences of racism, xenophobia or intolerance.
Her country was no exception; in recent years, there
had been manifestations of intolerance towards those
who were perceived as “different” because of their skin
colour, national or ethnic origin, religion or sexual
orientation. Intolerance ran counter to the well-being of
society and its further socio-economic advancement on
the basis of inter-ethnic and cultural diversity. Respect
for equality needed to be further enhanced, especially
at a time when there were increasing numbers of
migrant workers and refugees.
49. Her Government saw the World Conference and
its preparatory process primarily as an opportunity to
enhance national action for the prevention of racism,
xenophobia and intolerance and to build on the process
of human rights awareness-raising begun in recent
years. Slovenia’s national preparatory activities would
involve the relevant government ministries and the
non-governmental sector. It would continue to
participate actively in the European regional
preparatory process, which could be extremely useful
for exchanging experiences.
50. In the context of the overall aims and objectives
set out in General Assembly resolution 52/111, her
delegation attached particular importance to the
following issues: appropriate information collection
and analysis; the existence of professional, independent
media; and public awareness-raising through the
teaching of tolerance, respect for diversity and human
rights values from an early age and the training of
target professional groups such as police officers and
prison guards. The protection of minorities would also
need to be addressed, since cooperation and
coexistence among different ethnic communities were
of vital importance for developing a tolerant,
democratic society.
51. Her delegation commended the Conferencerelated
activities of the Office of the United Nations
High Commissioner for Human Rights and its racism
project team. The Conference should hopefully
encourage universal ratification of the International
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
Discrimination and provide an opportunity for States to
submit declarations under article 14 of the Convention.
52. Mr. Haque (Pakistan) said that the right of
peoples to self-determination was sacrosanct; it was
through the exercise of that right that, over the past
five decades, the vast majority of the membership of
the United Nations had achieved their independence.
The United Nations had made an invaluable
contribution to the realization of that right, and the
central role which it had played recently in organizing
the referendum in East Timor was a reflection of the
international community’s strong belief in that most
basic of human rights. His delegation appreciated the
courageous and far-sighted decision by the
Government of Indonesia to hold the popular
consultation process in East Timor. That had been an
historic event which had allowed the people of East
Timor freely to express their views about their future,
and its result had been endorsed by the Indonesian
Parliament. The popular consultation process held
under United Nations auspices had provided an
honourable solution to a longstanding problem and was
a useful model for resolving other outstanding issues.
53. In the Middle East, the revival of the peace
process had given rise to a new optimism, and the
recent signing of the Palestine-Israel agreement on
final status talks was encouraging. His delegation was
confident that the people of Palestine would soon
regain all its territory. Many oppressed peoples
continued to be denied their inalienable right of selfdetermination,
however. The people of Jammu and
Kashmir had been denied that right for over 50 years.
Both India and Pakistan had committed themselves to
abide by the decision of the Security Council allowing
the people of Jammu and Kashmir to determine their
own future through the holding of a free and impartial
plebiscite under United Nations auspices. India,
however, had failed to honour its solemn commitment
and had so far refused to implement the relevant
Security Council resolutions, thereby denying the
Kashmiri people their right of self-determination.
While the United Nations had been organizing the free
and impartial popular consultation process in East
Timor, the Indian Government had been enacting an
electoral farce in occupied Jammu and Kashmir, with
the help of more than 700,000 occupation troops, in
order to perpetuate its illegal and immoral occupation
of Kashmir. More than 88 per cent of the people had
boycotted the sham elections, and the entire leadership
of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), which
had organized the boycott, had been imprisoned. The
overwhelming boycott of the so-called elections by the
Kashmiri people was the real referendum, and a telling
condemnation of India’s illegal occupation of Jammu
and Kashmir. The international community must call
upon India to release immediately the APHC leaders
who were under illegal detention.
54. The people of Jammu and Kashmir demanded the
holding of a free and impartial plebiscite under United
Nations auspices, and they expected justice from the
Organization. They also expected the international
community to be equitable in implementing Security
Council resolutions, and the United Nations to play the
same proactive role as it had in East Timor. The peace,
security and development of the region were
intrinsically linked to the solution of that problem.
Pakistan stood ready to work towards resolving all its
outstanding problems with India through peaceful
55. Mr. Noar (Egypt) said that the Special
Rapporteur’s report contained disturbing information
about contemporary forms of racism, racial
discrimination and xenophobia in many parts of the
world, especially some developed countries. His
delegation was deeply concerned at the proliferation of
racist propaganda and the incitement to hatred against
Muslims and Arabs by certain information media, as
described in the report. A distinction needed to be
made between freedom of opinion and dissemination of
racist propaganda and incitement to hatred.
Governments must enact laws to counter the activities
of organizations which disseminated such information
and to protect groups affected by it. His delegation
awaited with interest the holding of the World
Conference in 2001 and welcomed South Africa’s offer
to host the Conference and the efforts which it was
making to that end. The United Nations and the
international community must provide the financial
resources to make that offer a reality. In that
connection, his delegation was concerned at the lack of
funds to support activities under the Third Decade to
Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination and urged
the international community to increase its
contributions in order to lend impetus to the
implementation of the Programme of Action for the
Decade before the Conference.
56. Mr. Leal Cordeiro (Angola) said that his
delegation associated itself with the statement made by
South Africa on behalf of the Group of States members
of the Southern African Development Community
(SADC). His Government attached great importance to
the issue of racism and racial discrimination, not only
because for 500 years its people had suffered the
burden of discrimination under colonial rule but also
because it viewed all discriminatory practices as
inhuman and as a serious threat to harmony among
peoples. Angola was made up of peoples of different
races, ethnic backgrounds, creeds and religions, and all
the rights of its citizens were protected by the
Constitution and guaranteed by the Government.
Although it did not face conflicts involving racism,
racial discrimination, xenophobia and related
intolerance, it was driven by the duty to strive for a
world free of discrimination for future generations of
Africans and for Africans living throughout the world.
57. There continued to be widespread manifestations
of disguised and increasingly sophisticated forms of
racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia in the
world, particularly in regions with a high level of
economic development, a fact that had been recognized
and denounced in various forums. As the Special
Rapporteur pointed out in his report, the practice of
discrimination had not diminished and the goals
established for the Third Decade to Combat Racism
and Racial Discrimination were still far from being
58. His delegation was nevertheless encouraged that
some progress had been made, especially the adoption
of legislation to protect minorities against racism and
other forms of intolerance in many countries and the
increase in the number of States which had signed and
ratified the International Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
59. Much remained to be done, however, to ensure
the effective implementation of programmes to better
protect the rights of the groups most targeted by racism
and racial discrimination, such as national minorities
and migrant workers and members of their families.
Measures should also be taken to curb emerging neofascist
and neo-Nazi movements in some countries, as
well as increasing manifestations of xenophobia and
other discriminatory practices. His delegation stressed
the importance of the preparations for the World
Conference to be held in 2001, for which the amount of
financial resources should be increased. The Secretary-
General’s report on the implementation of the
Programme of Action for the Third Decade and on the
Conference preparatory process (A/54/299) revealed a
lack of strong commitment on the part of the
international community, displayed by the insufficient
contributions made thus far to the Trust Fund for the
Decade despite the appeal by the General Assembly in
its resolution 53/132.
60. His delegation fully supported the right to selfdetermination
of all peoples still living under the
colonial yoke. As it had during the decolonization
process, the United Nations had played an important
role in the recent popular consultation in East Timor,
whose people had overwhelmingly rejected foreign
occupation and voted for independence. In Western
Sahara, his delegation hoped that the combined efforts
of the United Nations and OAU towards the holding of
a referendum would soon lead to the long-awaited
settlement of differences. It also welcomed the latest
developments in the Middle East peace process.
61. His delegation was concerned at the continued
use of mercenaries in some regions of the world as a
means of hindering the full exercise of the right of
peoples to self-determination. The report of the Special
Rapporteur on that question (A/54/326) demonstrated
the extent of the phenomenon. His delegation strongly
condemned mercenarism and would continue to work
for its prohibition. It strongly rejected the accusation
that Angolan citizens were involved as mercenaries in
the conflict in the Republic of the Congo. Cooperation
between Angola and the Congo was based on bilateral
agreements signed by the two Governments and, of
course, included military cooperation. His delegation
supported the continuation of the mandate of the
Special Rapporteur on mercenaries, to whom it pledged
its full cooperation.
62. Mr. Hunte (Saint Lucia) said that respect for the
principle of equal rights and self-determination of
peoples, as set forth in Articles 1 and 55 of the Charter
of the United Nations, had always held a special
significance for the small island developing States of
the Caribbean and had served as a guiding principle in
the region’s ongoing process of self-determination.
According to one of the founding fathers of selfdetermination,
the late President of Tanzania, Julius
Nyerere, that principle meant the ability of a people to
determine their own future and to govern themselves
without interference. The late Kwame Nkrumah,
former President of Ghana, had also said that it was far
better to govern oneself than to be governed by anyone
else. Self-determination was the unfinished business of
the United Nations in the current millennium and the
international community must redouble its efforts to
complete the process in the new millennium. That task
remained incomplete in the Caribbean and Pacific
regions, where the majority of the remaining Non-Self-
Governing-Territories were located and whose peoples
had yet to exercise their right of self-determination.
63. His delegation strongly reaffirmed that the
principle of absolute and complete political equality
must continue to be the standard that applied to the
self-determination process of those small island
territories. The international community could not
accept anything less than the goal of self-determination
and subsequent political equality simply because many
of the territories in question were small in size, and his
delegation reaffirmed the longstanding principle of the
General Assembly that size should not be used as an
impediment to the exercise of the right of selfdetermination.
64. Mr. Yuasise (Papua New Guinea) said that for
more than half the current decade, his delegation had
chaired the Special Committee on decolonization.
Although some progress was being made in that area, it
hoped that before the end of the year 2000 agreement
would be reached on specific programmes of action for
each Territory, to help the Special Committee complete
its mandate, and that the United Nations, with the
support and cooperation of the Member States,
especially the administering Powers, would settle the
issue of the 17 remaining Non-Self-Governing
Territories. His delegation noted with appreciation the
cooperation and understanding shown by some
administering Powers and Member States, especially
New Zealand in the case of Tokelau, France in the case
of New Caledonia, Indonesia and Portugal in the case
of East Timor, and the parties involved in the proposed
referendum for Western Sahara.
65. His delegation noted the detailed information
contained in the report of the Special Rapporteur on
contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination,
xenophobia and related intolerance, as well as the
measures taken and the progress made by the United
Nations in combating those phenomena. The various
legislative and institutional mechanisms introduced by
some Member States for the betterment of humankind
and civil society should be encouraged, and he called
on other States which had not yet done so to take
similar action.
66. There was also discrimination in the area of
employment. Not only was there gender inequality, but
in some developing countries transnational and
multinational corporations were very influential both
politically and economically and often preferred to
employ foreign rather than local workers. That was
done in the name of efficiency and profit
maximization, with little or no regard for the human
resource and technology transfer needs of the host
country. The United Nations needed to address those
issues in either the Third Committee or other relevant
67. Another new danger was the use of information
technology and the Internet to promote racist ideas and
information which could incite new racial hatred. That
would very quickly undermine the successes achieved
and the good work done in that field. The international
community must take the lead in solving that problem.
His delegation hoped that the World Conference to be
held in South Africa in 2001 would set new targets for
solving the current problems in that field.
68. Mr. Malenovsky (Czech Republic), referring to
the statement delivered in the Third Committee on
behalf of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary
forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and
related intolerance, said that his delegation appreciated
the Special Rapporteur’s work but felt that, by focusing
mainly on the problem of the Roma population in the
Czech Republic and two other European countries
while referring only sporadically and in an isolated
manner to current manifestations of racism,
discrimination or xenophobia in other parts of the
world, that statement had not been adequately
69. His country was fully aware that the situation of
the Roma community in its territory was unsatisfactory.
Accordingly, being a democratic country, it paid
attention to the recommendations and suggestions of
other countries and international institutions. Although
it was a party to the Framework Convention on the
Protection of National Minorities and its domestic
legislation protected the Roma community, it had not
always been feasible to free interpersonal relations
from the elements of intolerance so typical for many
countries which were still coping with the heritage of
their totalitarian past.
70. In the past few months, his country had been
criticized in connection with the construction of a twometre-
high wall in the town of Ústí nad Labem, which
had also been mentioned — in a regrettably
uninformed manner — in the Special Rapporteur’s
statement. The construction of the wall had seriously
damaged the country’s image. Although the intention
of the builders had been to solve a dispute between
groups of citizens, the wall had gradually become a
symbol of racial intolerance. Even if it did not agree
with that perception, his Government was committed to
finding a balanced solution to the problem.
Accordingly, on 18 October 1999 a special
representative of the Government had been appointed
to reopen the dialogue between the parties to the
71. His Government was aware of its responsibility
for the overall improvement of the status of the Roma
community in its territory. In the past few years, many
fundamental, positive steps had been taken in that
regard on which information had been provided to the
international community. It would be naive, however,
to think that a genuine improvement in the status of the
world’s Roma community could be accomplished in a
few years.
72. The problem of the Roma undoubtedly had
international and European dimensions and as such
must be targeted by States acting together in close
cooperation. His Government had been calling for such
cooperation. In 1998, as a result of its initiative and
financial contribution, the structure of the Office for
Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
(OSCE) in Warsaw had been reinforced and the post of
coordinator for the Roma had been created. In
cooperation with the Council of Europe, a strategic
plan for the solution of inter-ethnic problems between
the majority population and the Roma community had
been developed in Brno, the second largest city in the
Czech Republic, and the Council of Europe intended to
introduce it as a blueprint elsewhere in Europe.
73. His Government was strongly committed to
pursuing its international efforts with regard to the
status of the Roma community. It believed that,
through cooperation with the United Nations and other
international organizations, it would gain the necessary
support of other States for its call to approach the
problem from a Europe-wide perspective, in order to
achieve a general, lasting improvement in the status of
the Roma in Europe and throughout the world.
74. Ms. Romulus (Haiti) said that, ever since
achieving statehood, Haiti had had a tradition of nondiscrimination
which had been affirmed in its very first
Constitution. Throughout its existence, it had been in
the vanguard of anti-racist movements. In 1972, it had
acceded to and ratified the International Convention on
the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,
and in 1981, the Government had promulgated a decree
bringing the provisions of the Convention into force,
especially those on the punishment of the crime of
racial discrimination. In August 1999, the Ministry of
Justice and Public Order had submitted a second report
to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination, and the Committee had expressed
satisfaction at the fact that international human rights
instruments became an integral part of Haiti’s domestic
legislation. However, since the Committee had also
expressed concern at the Government’s repeated
assertion that there was no racial discrimination in
Haiti, she wished to make a number of observations.
75. First of all, there was no racial discrimination in
Haiti because the country had always been very
racially diverse. The recent boom in technology and
growth of infrastructure had contributed to the racial
mix, with the result that racial distinctions were
becoming increasingly blurred and ethnic types
increasingly complex. Such diversity meant that while
there might be colour prejudice there was no racial
discrimination, since Haiti remained a black country
racially speaking. Secondly, Haiti’s domestic
legislation contained provisions against racial
discrimination, as had its successive Constitutions. As
a result, there was no racial discrimination as such in
Haiti. Haiti’s population, having suffered racism at first
hand, had always been in the forefront of the struggle
against that crime. Although some Haitians might be
colour-prejudiced in private, that was far from being
Haiti’s main social problem. In a country whose
population was black and mulatto, the main issue was
inequality between the rich, of whatever colour, who
exploited the labour of the poor, who could also be of
any race.
76. Mr. Tessema (Ethiopia), speaking in exercise of
the right of reply, said that he wished to clarify some of
the issues raised by the Eritrean delegation with regard
to the political, economic and social situation in
Ethiopia. Although it might appear from that
delegation’s statement that the situation in Eritrea was
better, the fact was that Eritrea had no constitution, no
political parties and no free press. In any case, he
believed that the issue of good governance and
economic and social policies came within the purview
of each State and that the Committee was not the place
to discuss it, while it was the place to discuss issues
such as unprovoked aggression against a neighbouring
77. Eritrea’s irresponsible behaviour was manifested
by the allegations which its representative had made in
the Committee in an attempt to tarnish Ethiopia’s
image vis-à-vis its neighbours. That representative had
named three countries in particular, but Ethiopia
maintained good relations with those countries, as it
had with Eritrea until May 1998 when the Eritrean
regime had committed its aggression. That was the
issue which the Committee should discuss.
78. Although racism no longer formed part of the
official doctrine of any country, it still existed in
practice in cruel forms which called for the adoption of
effective countermeasures by the international
community. His delegation was extremely concerned
about the unabated racist measures adopted by the
Eritrean regime against Ethiopians living both in
Eritrea and in the occupied Ethiopian territory, for
whom denial of human rights, lack of legal remedies
and outright discrimination had become the order of
the day. The Eritrean Government had given orders,
although not publicly, for the summary dismissal of
Ethiopian nationals from their jobs and the eviction of
Ethiopian tenants from their homes. In addition, the
police and organized hit squads subjected them to
beatings, arrest, rape, torture and killings. Those
atrocities were being committed away from the eyes of
the international community, because the Eritrean
regime had refused to allow non-governmental
organizations and some United Nations agencies to
operate in the country. The Eritrean authorities had also
confiscated money and property from Ethiopians, and
employers were refusing to pay them their salaries and
the compensation due to them for termination without
notice. Ethiopian nationals were being denied medical
treatment and routinely discharged from hospitals, they
had to endure racist slurs, they were being urged to
leave the country and they were often arbitrarily
arrested. If they decided to leave, they were required to
pay exorbitant emigration fees and were held in
detention centres where some had even died.
79. For the past year and a half, the Eritrean regime
had been trying desperately to exploit the issue of
Ethiopia’s treatment of some Eritrean nationals. That
was because its own clandestine terrorist structure in
Ethiopia had been smashed. It had also used the issue
to divert attention from its aggression against Ethiopia
and its indiscriminate bombing of civilians, including
schoolchildren. His delegation once again called upon
the international community to condemn the Eritrean
regime for its aggression, deplore its racist propaganda
and attacks and hold it accountable for its war crimes.
80. Mr. Priedkalns (Latvia), speaking in exercise of
the right of reply, said that he wished to refute the
allegations made by the Russian delegation both at the
current meeting and in August 1999 in Geneva during
the fifty-fifth session of the Committee on the
Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. For
all the Russian Federation’s claims that Latvia’s
legislation breached international norms on the rights
of national minorities, both the Council of Europe and
the OSCE Committee on National Minorities had found
Latvia to be in compliance with those norms.
81. Latvia’s progress on human rights was all the
more significant when set against the historical
backdrop of the twentieth century, in which two
totalitarian regimes had occupied it, violating the
human rights and forcibly altering the ethnic make-up
of its population. That had made it especially aware
that governments had an obligation to defend human
rights, strengthen democratic institutions and ensure
the social well-being of all citizens. Fulfilment of that
obligation, which was incumbent on all States
Members of the United Nations, was also an ongoing
82. Mr. Tekle (Eritrea), speaking in exercise of the
right of reply, said that it was one thing to make
allegations but another to substantiate them, which the
Ethiopian representative had failed to do. Eritrea’s
allegations, on the other hand, had been corroborated
even by Ethiopians. Professor Tilahun Yilma of the
University of California had described Ethiopia as a
“tribal homeland”, while Professor Minase Haile,
former Foreign Minister of Ethiopia and currently a
professor at Yeshiva University, had said that
Ethiopia’s Constitution institutionalized tribalism. On
the purpose of Ethiopian politics, Professor Messay
Kebede, professor of philosophy at the University of
Dayton, had said that the power of the Tigray People’s
Liberation Front (TPLF) was totally dependent on the
pursuit of Tigrean hegemony, at the cost of national
unity. The Ethiopian Review had written that the policy
of Prime Minister Meles and TPLF was one of “Tigray
über Alles” and sought to couple Tigray’s military
power with economic power, and that “never in the
history of Ethiopia have so few confiscated so much
wealth from so many in such a short period of time”.
Professor Worku Aberra, senior lecturer in economics
at Dawson College, Montreal, had written that despite
the disproportionate economic and human costs to non-
Tigreans, the regime was still pursuing its
discriminatory economic policy against them.
83. According to The Ethiopian Register, the strategy
of Prime Minister Meles was to ensure Tigrean
domination from Massawa, in Eritrea, to Mogadishu, in
Somalia. The regime had adopted the “Afrikaner”
method of imposing minority rule through minority
control of the armed and security forces. The Ethiopian
Register also accused the regime of fanning historical
grievances among Ethiopia’s other ethnic groups, as
part of a policy of divide and rule, and of promoting
ethnic discrimination and ethnic cleansing in Ethiopia.
Furthermore, Ethiopians who spoke up for human
rights, democracy and a non-ethnic political system
were being imprisoned on false charges.
84. He doubted whether Ethiopia could be considered
a democratic State when it had over 10,000 political
prisoners, four fifths of the country’s journalists were
in prison and extrajudicial executions and torture were
being carried out. Contrasting Ethiopia with a country
where there was good governance and the Government
did not fear its people might show which country had
the better Government.
85. Mr. Rogov (Russian Federation), speaking in
exercise of the right of reply, said that he was surprised
at the comments made by the representative of Latvia.
His delegation had always believed that the Committee
on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination must be
respected and heeded, and it reserved the right to raise
the issue of the Russian-speaking population of Latvia
during the consideration of other items, both in the
Third Committee and in other Committees.
86. Mr. Tessema (Ethiopia), speaking in exercise of
the right of reply, said that the rule of law prevailed in
his country. It was possible to criticize the
Government, and there were also intellectuals,
including some who held dissident views, who wrote
about economic and social issues. With regard to the
sources cited by the Eritrean representative in support
of his allegations, other academics had written in
glowing terms about Ethiopia’s democratic process.
87. Ethiopia had been the object of aggression by a
neighbouring country and all Ethiopians were united in
resisting it, as they had been on an earlier occasion. He
wished to remind the Eritrean delegation that it should
not misinterpret the political debate taking place in his
country, which was trying to establish democracy after
a long civil war. In May 1998, Eritrea had launched an
unprovoked attack on Ethiopia and, despite the
international community’s intervention, continued to
commit atrocities against Ethiopian nationals living in
its territory. It was inappropriate, therefore, to refer to
the system of government in the two countries or to try,
as Eritrea was doing, to divert attention from the main
issue, which was Eritrea’s aggression. Ethiopia had
always been committed to resolving the dispute with
Eritrea peacefully. It had not committed any aggression
against a neighbouring country and it had systemically
accepted the proposals put forward by the United
States, Rwanda and OAU.
88. Mr. Tekle (Eritrea), speaking in exercise of the
right of reply, said that his country’s position on the
issue of aggression had been made amply clear on
several occasions, including during the general debate
in the plenary at the current session. From the
beginning of the conflict, it had called — and it
continued to call — for a peaceful and legal settlement.
It had signed all three OAU documents, but Ethiopia
had yet to sign the third document which would enable
OAU and the United Nations to initiate the
implementation of the peace package. In fact, it had
kept up its ultimatum that unless Eritrea withdrew
unilaterally and unconditionally from its own
territories, Ethiopia would make it do so by force. At
that very moment, Ethiopia’s leaders were declaring
the completion of their preparations for an all-out war.
Lastly, it was farcical that Ethiopia should accuse
Eritrea of being the major source of regional
destabilization, when on 20 October 1999 it had
supplied several planeloads of armaments to Somali
The meeting rose at 6.05 p.m.