Press Releases

    GA/SPD/334
    9 November 2005

    Fourth Committee Approves Text Urging Assistance for Mine-Affected Countries; Recommending 4 April as International Day of Mine Awareness

    In Continuing General Debate, Israeli Delegate Calls Special Committee Report "Absurd, Shameful Waste of United Nations Resources"

    NEW YORK, 8 November (UN Headquarters) -- The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) this morning approved a draft resolution on assistance in mine action before continuing its general debate on the report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories.

    By the terms of the draft resolution, which the Committee approved without a vote, the General Assembly would urge non-State actors to halt immediately and unconditionally new deployments of mines and associated explosive devices, and call for the establishment of national mine-action capacities in countries where mines and explosive remnants of war constituted a serious threat to the civilian population or an impediment to social and economic development.

    Also by the draft, the Assembly would urge all States, the United Nations system and other relevant organizations, to provide assistance to affected countries in establishing national mine-action programmes, as well as reliable, predictable and timely contributions for mine-action activities, including those relating to victim assistance and mine-risk education.

    Further by that text, the General Assembly would declare that 4 April of each year to be proclaimed and observed as International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.

    The representative of the United Kingdom introduced the draft resolution on behalf of the European Union.  The representative of the United States made a general statement before the Committee's approval of the text, and Israel's representative spoke in explanation of position following the action.

    As the Committee continued its debate on the Special Committee's work, Israel's delegate reacted to that body's report by saying every year, it submitted draft resolutions and reports that were discussed at great length in the Fourth Committee, and every year, the Israeli delegation drew attention to such waste and redundancy for a United Nations budget that was woefully overtaxed.  "The only effect of this absurd, indeed shameful, waste of resources is to further undermine the credibility of the United Nations as a relevant, serious and balanced player in the global arena."

    Citing recent Israeli "practices", he said his country had withdrawn its military forces from the Gaza Strip and large parts of the Samaria, and evacuated 24 Jewish communities amounting to more than 8,000 people.  Improvements to the Karni border crossing between Gaza and Israel had resulted in quicker exportation of Palestinian products and reduced unemployment in Gaza. Israel had brought the total number of roadblocks and checkpoints down from 600 to around 370, the result of a decrease in terrorism inside its borders.

    He said that during 2004, Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank received annual per capita support of $345, compared with refugees elsewhere in the world who had to make do with a per capita allotment of $118.  Why was the Committee called upon to mandate an "investigation" of one side only, as no one could contend that the Palestinian Authority was innocent of numerous human rights violations?  Many would agree that the Special Committee's work did not serve the agenda, or agreed priorities, of the United Nations as a member of the Quartet. "We must not shy away from putting an end to this futile waste of UN resources," he added.

    Other speakers, however, called attention to the deteriorating human rights situation and living conditions of Palestinians in the occupied territories, noting that since the Special Committee's establishment, Israel had refused to cooperate with it, and urging that country's Government to grant it access to the occupied territories.

    Speakers said that although Israel's unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank had raised hope and was a step in the right direction, that hope had been dashed by continued Israeli attacks on civilians in Gaza and other policies that constituted collective punishment. Most speakers mentioned the continuing construction of the Separation Wall on Palestinian territory, particularly in and around Jerusalem, which was contrary to the 2004 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice and the 2004 General Assembly resolution ES-10/15.

    The observer for the Organization of the Islamic Conference said it was clear that the real objective of Israel's unilateral disengagement from Gaza was to divert attention away from the deteriorating human rights conditions and to create for itself favourable facts on the ground, including in East Jerusalem. Israel's expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank had been a primary consideration for the route of many sections of the "Apartheid Wall" and it was also implementing a "road apartheid", which would result in the imprisonment of thousands of Palestinian.

    Namibia's representative said that Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza was not in conformity with the Road Map, which presented the two-State solution as the only realistic and viable one. Measures taken by Israel were aimed at changing the physical character, demographic composition and institutional status of the Palestinian territories, in flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and constituting a serious impediment to the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

    Morocco's delegate said the approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should focus on establishing two independent States living side by side in peace and security. It was impossible to reach a just settlement without establishing a Palestinian State, ending the expansion of settlements and desisting from changing the character of East Jerusalem. Furthermore, the expansion of settlements in the occupied Syrian Golan and the continuing policy of detention caused a further deterioration of the social, educational and health situation there. Moreover, the burial of nuclear waste in the Syrian Golan was a grave threat to the environment.

    Libya's representative found it strange that some were trying to equate the wolf and the lamb when saying that the two parties to the conflict were responsible for the deteriorating situation and calling on both sides to show restraint. The Israeli authorities had been working to change the character of Jerusalem by forcing Palestinian residents to migrate.

    Other speakers today included the representatives of Algeria, Iran, Senegal, Lebanon, United Kingdom (on behalf of the European Union), Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Yemen and Pakistan.

    Speaking in exercise of the right of reply was the observer for Palestine.

    The Fourth Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 10 November, to take action on outstanding draft texts.

    Background

    The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this morning to continue its general debate on the Report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories (document A/60/380). A summary of that and other relevant reports can be found in Press Release GA/SPD/333 of 7 November.

    The Committee is also expected to take action on a draft resolution entitled Assistance in mine-action (document A/C.4/60/L.7/Rev.1), by which the General Assembly would urge non-State actors to halt immediately and unconditionally new deployments of mines and associated explosive devices, and call for the establishment of national mine-action capacities in countries where mines and explosive remnants of war constitute a serious threat to the civilian population or an impediment to social and economic development.

    Also by that text, the Assembly would urge all States, as well as the United Nations system and other relevant organizations, to provide, among other things, assistance to affected countries in establishing national mine-action programmes as well as reliable, predictable and timely contributions for mine-action activities, including those relating to victim assistance and mine risk education, through national mine-action efforts and humanitarian mine-action governmental and non-governmental organizations and through the Voluntary Trust fund for Assistance in Mine Action.  It would also urge assistance in mine clearance.

    By other terms, the Assembly would stress the importance of cooperation and coordination in mine action, and emphasize the primary responsibility of national authorities in that regard, and note the potential that mine action could have as a peace and confidence-building measure in post-conflict situations.

    Further by the draft, the Assembly would declare that 4 April of each year shall be officially proclaimed and observed as International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.

    Statements

    RAN GIDOR (Israel) said that year after year, the Special Committee submitted resolutions and reports, which were discussed at great length in the Fourth Committee. Year after year, the Israeli delegation drew attention to the waste and redundancy of that for a United Nations budget that was woefully overtaxed. It was an "incontestable fact" that all those hours, days and weeks of futile rhetoric had no bearing whatsoever on the well-being of the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. "The only effect of this absurd, indeed shameful, waste of resources is to further undermine the credibility of the UN as a relevant, serious and balanced player in the global arena."

    He said the very name of the Special Committee established a priori the conclusions of its purported "investigation". The fact that only about 45 per cent of the membership voted to renew the mandate attested to the international community's view of its work. While the Special Committee "investigated" it was others who were actively pursuing measures on the ground in order to improve the situation of the Palestinian population.

    As examples of recent Israeli "practices", he mentioned the fact that his country had withdrawn its military forces from the Gaza Strip and large parts of the Samaria, dismantling and evacuating 24 Jewish communities, with a population of more than 8,000 people, from the areas. Improvements to the Karni border crossing between Gaza and Israel had resulted in quicker exportation of Palestinian products, and a reduction in the level of unemployment in Gaza by 9.5 per cent during the second quarter of 2005, compared to the same quarter in 2004. Israel had brought the total number of roadblocks and checkpoints down from 600 to around 370, a result of a decrease in terrorism inside Israel because of the construction of the security barrier.

    He said Israel was open to discussion of the human rights situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which had been examined by foreign Government agencies, United Nations bodies and Special Rapporteurs, as well as reputable non-governmental organizations. Was there really need for yet another body? During 2004, the United Nations had spent some $3 million on the operation of the Special Committee and the Division of Palestinian Rights, the only division within the Department for Political Affairs devoted to one people.  Palestinians living in the Gaza and the West Bank received annual per capita support of $345, compared with refugees elsewhere in the world who had to make do with a per capita allotment of $118. Why was the Committee called upon to mandate an "investigation" of one side only, as no one could contend that the Palestinian Authority was innocent of numerous human rights violations?  The Special Committee, the Division for Palestinian Rights and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable rights of the Palestinian People invariably served as anti-Israel propaganda mechanisms.

    Israel had demonstrated the seriousness of its commitment to peace, he said.  The termination of Israeli control over the Gaza now enabled the Palestinian Authority to assume responsibility for its citizens' well-being. The ultimate test for the Palestinian leadership consisted of the fulfilment of its obligation to end terrorism. It was also committed to cease the culture of incitement and indoctrination of hatred towards Israel.  Many would agree that the Special Committee's work did not serve the agenda, or agreed priorities, of the United Nations as a member of the Quartet. "We must not shy away from putting an end to this futile waste of UN resources."

    He urged the Palestinian Authority to concentrate on the only means to avoid a paralytic stalemate -- the dismantling of the terrorist infrastructure coupled with direct, sincere and peaceful negotiations with Israel.  Israel called upon the international community to take real, constructive measures to help the Israeli and Palestinian peoples in their attempt to end their bloody decades-long conflict. "Unfortunately, the work of the Special Committee does not constitute such a measure", he added.

    LARBI DJACTA (Algeria) said the Special Committee remained the only body that the international community had to keep it updated on the crimes perpetrated by Israel. Year after year the Committee pulled the veil over the inhuman and illegal Israeli practices. In its dealings with the Committee, Israel kept refusing it access to the occupied territories and defying the entire United Nations system. The international community should play its role and help the Committee to perform its duties.

    Consideration of the report this year must be set against the background of the hopes raised by Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, he said.  Those hopes had been dashed when it became apparent that Israel was continuing to build settlements in the West Bank, as well as continuing to build the Separation Wall. Massive human rights violations continued to be perpetrated every day, causing unacceptable losses in human life. In that connection the Algerian delegation supported the Committee's recommendation calling on the international media to give far wider coverage of the tragic situation regarding the Palestinians and other Arabs living in the occupied territories.

    HOSSEIN MALEKI (Iran) said that Israel's atrocious, brutal and horrible treatment of the Palestinian people and the people living in the occupied Syrian Golan was worse than ever. As in past years, the Special Committee had not been authorized by the Israeli regime to visit the occupied Palestinian territory. Palestine was indeed a suffocating open-air prison, and the Separation Wall was a major source of injustice to the Palestinian people. The United Nations, and especially the General Assembly and the Security Council, must consider appropriate actions against the Israeli regime with a view to destroying the Wall.

    He asked why those Western countries that were always trying to charge independent countries with false accusations of human rights violations closed their eyes to the disasters and human tragedies in the occupied Palestine. What was the logic behind the double-standard policies practised by the West?  Israeli practices must be investigated on a regular basis and should be brought to the attention of Member States.  Iran urged the Secretary-General to seek all possible ways to enable the Special committee to extend its investigation into the occupied Palestinian territory.

    OUSMANE CAMARA (Senegal) noted that the human rights situation in the occupied territories continued to deteriorate, and that despite the unjustified lack of cooperation by the occupying Power, the Special Committee had been able to gain proof that the situation had worsened. The establishment of more Jewish settlements, the destruction of Palestinian property and impediments to freedom of movement were among the measures still being implemented.

    As mentioned in the report, the social situation of the Palestinians had become a source of serous concern, he said. The strategies of the occupying Power included the destruction of Palestinian houses, the confiscation of their property, and restrictions on their right to bring their families together. All such actions were laying the seeds for the ongoing poverty of the Palestinians.  For example, the unemployment rate among Palestinians was 26 per cent, a situation described by the World Bank as one of the worst recessions in modern history.

    The building of the Separation Wall continued to cause grave harm to the Palestinian people, he said, calling upon Israel to comply with the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice. Senegal encouraged the Special Committee and all those working with it, including non-governmental organizations and the media, to become further involved in advancing the peace process and to advocate initiatives to ease the suffering of innocent civilians throughout the occupied territories.

    SAADIA EL ALAOUI (Morocco), noting that the Special Committee had presented its report once again without having been able to visit the occupied territories, said that the construction of the Separation Wall made the Israeli practices harsher and affected the Palestinian people's lives in all their aspects. Israel's unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip had given hope for a just settlement of the Palestinian question, but its continued policies of closure and collective punishment had caused those hopes to evaporate.  Through settlement expansion, the Palestinian character of East Jerusalem was being changed.

    She said the Israeli withdrawal and removal of illegal settlements from the Gaza Strip had been a step in the right direction, but it had led to further policies that gravely affected the economic and social situation of East Jerusalem. The approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should focus on establishing two independent States living side by side in peace and security. It was impossible to reach a just settlement without establishing a Palestinian State, ending the expansion of settlements and desisting from changing the character of East Jerusalem. The expansion of settlements in the occupied Syrian Golan and the continuing policy of detention also caused a further deterioration of the social, educational and health situation.  Moreover, the burial of nuclear waste in the Syrian Golan was a grave threat to the environment. Morocco hoped that a true will for co-existence would cause the parties to find a way to implement the relevant United Nations resolution, in particular the halting of the construction of the Separation Wall.

    IBRAHIM ASSAF (Lebanon) said that a review of the reports of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA), as well as that of the Special Committee, reconfirmed Israel's disregard for international law and relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions. Israel continued to refuse the return of Palestine refugees to their homeland, as well as its construction of settlements in the West Bank, ignoring the relevant United Nations resolutions.

    The financial situation of the UNRWA was a source of great concern, he said.  Furthermore, Israel continued to detain Agency staff and hinder their freedom of movement inside the occupied Palestinian territories. Palestinians in Lebanon represented about 10 per cent of the total number of refugees and 10 per cent of the population of Lebanon. The Lebanese Government had begun to adopt a series of measures to improve their situation, but it was important to reiterate Lebanon's position calling for the return of the Palestinian people to their homeland.

    Occupation was the most horrible form of human rights violation, he said.  Israel continued its occupation of the West Bank and denied Palestinians the right to self-determination and political independence. Israel also continued its policies of extrajudicial killings and the destruction of Arab land and property.  It continued the construction of the Separation Wall, which tore apart Palestinian villages and towns, making the lives of the inhabitants almost impossible. That Wall, if completed, would take almost 1,000 square kilometres of the West Bank and hinder the construction of a Palestinian State. The withdrawal of Israel from the Gaza Strip was a step in the right direction, but withdrawal must be comprehensive and complete and should continue in the West Bank, as well as the remaining occupied territories.

    CATHERINE BROOKE (United Kingdom), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Union remained committed to the two-State solution as laid out in the Road Map and which would result in a viable, contiguous, sovereign and independent Palestinian State existing side by side with Israel in peace and security. It would not recognize any change to the pre-1967 borders other than those arrived at by agreement between the parties. The Union welcomed the disengagement as a significant step towards implementing the Road Map, but emphasized that more remained to be done, including regarding the growth of the Palestinian economy, reaching an agreement on access to Gaza through land borders, a sea port and the airport. The Union condemned unreservedly the recent terrorist attacks on Israel and further violence perpetrated by Palestinian militants, and called also on Israel to act with restraint and to refrain from all extrajudicial killings.

    She said the Union was gravely concerned by the continued violence in Gaza and the West Bank, and underlined the need for the Palestinian Authority to take full control of law and order in the occupied territories. The Palestinian Authority should take urgent action against Palestinian militants and dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. Acknowledging the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice, the Union demanded that Israel stop and reverse the construction of the separation barrier in the occupied Palestinian territory, including in and around Jerusalem. It urged the Israeli Government to cease all activities in the Palestinian territories, including settlement building and the demolition of Palestinian homes, which were contrary to international law and threatened to make any solution based on the coexistence of two States physically impossible. The Union was particularly concerned about the implementation of those policies in and around East Jerusalem.

    The Union underlined the importance of the forthcoming elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council as an essential element for progress in the peace process, she said, urging Israel to facilitate the preparations and conduct of the elections, including in occupied East Jerusalem. The Union reaffirmed its commitments to a just, comprehensive and lasting settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict based on Council resolutions 242 and 338, and would remain engaged with all parties to help ensure that progress towards that goal was achieved.

    SONG SE IL (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) said the question of Palestine was not only the fight of the Palestinian people for the restoration of their infringed territories, national self-determination and right to life, but also an essential guarantee for peace in the Middle East. In order to end the Israeli occupation and to solve the problems of the Middle East, it was essential to realize the legal right and requirement of the Palestinian people and all Arabs to self-determination and human rights.

    The Democratic People's Republic of Korea expressed its full solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people, he said, expressing the hope that the question could be resolved fairly according to the resolutions of the General Assembly and international law.

    AHMED GEBREEL (Libya) said 37 years had passed since the establishment of the Special Committee, throughout which Israel had continued to reject cooperation and to refuse to answer queries. The situation in the occupied territories was still the same, and thousands of Palestinians still suffered under the occupation, including from extrajudicial killings, expansion of settlements, demolition of homes and seizure of lands.  Recently, the situation had deteriorated, especially after the start of the construction of the Separation Wall, despite the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice and the Assembly resolution calling on Israel to stop the building of that Wall in the occupied Palestinian territory, including in and around Jerusalem.

    He said his country supported the rights of the Palestinian people to restore their inalienable rights and found it strange that some were trying to equate the wolf and the law when saying that the two parties were responsible for the deterioration of the situation and calling on both sides to show restraint. Israeli authorities had been working to change the character of Jerusalem in order to force Palestinian residents to migrate. The Special Committee had discovered a secret Israeli plan in that regard. The situation in the occupied Syrian Golan was no different, as the occupation there was aimed at changing the identity of that territory. Libya called, therefore, for an end to double standards and supported the recommendations of the Special Committee.

    ISMAIL M ALMAABRI (Yemen) said that Israel's building of the Separation Wall was a violation of human rights, which was tearing apart Palestinian territory. It impeded freedom of movement and was encompassing much of the occupied territory, separating East Jerusalem from the West Bank. The expansion of Jewish settlements was increasing the suffering of the Palestinian people, and Palestinians were being prevented from crossing between zones of the Gaza Strip. It had been hoped that following Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, other positive events would follow. However, those hopes had been dashed because of, among other things, the expansion of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

    He called for a reassessment of the plans, programmes and policies of the Special Committee and other organizations in order to form strategies that would bring about a just, lasting and comprehensive peace to the region.

    CLEMENT MWAALA (Namibia) said that whereas others were questioning the existence of the Special Committee, the existence of that body was still valid. It was regrettable that the Israeli authorities did not cooperate with the Special Committee. Namibia called upon the Government of Israel to cooperate with the body, thereby allowing it to perform its work without hindrance. The humanitarian and human rights situation was increasingly deteriorating in the face of the continuous military occupations, which were the fundamental source of tension in the Middle East.

    He said Israel's continued construction of the Separation Wall, despite the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice and Assembly resolution ES-10/15, was a clear indication that the occupying Power did not live up to its obligations under international law.  Although its unilateral withdrawal from Gaza had been viewed as a positive move, it was not in conformity with the Road Map, which presented the two-State solution as the only realistic and viable one. Measures taken by Israel were aimed at changing the physical character, demographic composition and institutional status of the Palestinian territories, thus constituting a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and a serious impediment to the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

    RAZA BASHIR TARAR (Pakistan) welcomed the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza and shared the optimism that the continuation of that momentum would also lead to similar action in the West Bank and other occupied Palestinian territories. Pakistan delegation noted with great concern, however, that the resurgence of violence in recent weeks could have serious implications for the peace process. The continuing erection of the Separation Wall, contrary to the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice, was particularly disturbing.

    There was a crying need to end the extrajudicial executions of Palestinian civilians, the continued imprisonment of over 8,000 Palestinians and the persistence of torture, he said. Pakistan also shared the Special Committee's concerns about the situation in the occupied Syrian Golan, and delegation called on all parties to respect their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law, as well as under the bilateral and multilateral peace processes to which they were signatories. The international community should continue to play the role of mediator and must be generous in providing financial assistance to strengthen the Palestinian Authority.

    YUSSEF F. KANAAN, Observer for the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said the occupying Power had been intransigent in its refusal to cooperate with the Special Committee since it establishment in 1968. The report clearly illustrated the intensive detrimental effects of the Israeli occupation on all aspects of the living conditions of the Palestinian people and of the Syrian population in the occupied Syrian Golan.

    He said that since the disengagement in the Gaza Strip, the area had been subjected to constant attacks and unbearable collective punishments imposed by the Israeli occupation forces and aimed primarily at innocent Palestinian civilians. It was clear that Israel's real objective was to divert attention away from deteriorating human rights conditions and to create favourable facts on the ground, including in East Jerusalem. The expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank had been a primary consideration for the route of many sections of the "Apartheid Wall". Israel was also implementing a "Road apartheid", which would result in the imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians. Israel's objective appeared to be to reach, within a year or two, total separation between the two populations.

    The human rights situation in the occupied Syrian Golan was also worsening, as Syrian workers were continuously suffering from harassment, unemployment, low wages and high taxes, he said. They were also suffering from a persistent shortage of health centres and clinics.  Israel continued to build and expand illegal settlements, tighten its grip on water and natural resources, and detain Syrian citizens.  The root cause of the present conflict in the region was the continuation of the illegal Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, and of the Syrian Golan. The Conference reaffirmed its support for a comprehensive peace process, which should lead to Israel's complete withdrawal from all occupied territories, and to the establishment of a viable, sovereign Palestinian State with East Jerusalem, al-Quds Al-Sharif, as its capital.

    Rights of reply

    The Observer for Palestine, responding to comments made by the representative of Israel, said the Special Committee continued to be relevant and necessary. After 38 years the occupation still existed and it had been transformed into a violent and brutal form of colonialism. Only when the occupation ended would the mandate of the Special Committee be fulfilled.

    Israel's questioning of the utility of the Special Committee's work was offensive and ignored the realities of the situation on the ground, she said. Countless other agencies outside the United Nations had detailed human rights abuses carried out by Israel against the Palestinian people. Regarding Israel's statement that the Special Committee was a waste of United Nations resources, it should consider how much the Organization would have saved if it had actually complied with international law and the relevant resolutions.

    She acknowledged that the withdrawal from Gaza was a positive step, but it had come after 38 years and today it resembled a human tragedy with no positive economic prospects. The area's legal status was still that of an occupied territory since Israel was still in effective control of the land, air and sea.  No one should allow Israel to distort the facts regarding the situation on the ground. Peace could only occur when the occupying Power ended its occupation and its abuses of human rights.

    Action on Draft Resolution

    ROBIN LAKE (United Kingdom) introduced the draft resolution entitled "Assistance in mine action" (document A/C.4/60/L.7/Rev.1).

    SICHAN SIV (United States) in a general statement before action, said his country would join the consensus, but noted that the text did not provide appropriate emphasis on the partnership that must exist between donors and mine-affected States.  For donor assistance to be truly effective, those States must produce clear strategic plans with defined priorities and measurable outcomes, allowing for full transparency on how funds were utilized.

    He said that the inconsistencies in the text regarding the use of "anti-personnel mines" in some instances and "mines" or "mines and [explosive remnants of war]" in others weakened the impact of the draft, signalling that the use of only one category of mine should be curtailed, while stating that funds should be provided for the clearance of all mines and explosive remnants of war. The United States was dedicated to eradicating persistent landmines, and was pleased to announce that its cumulative contribution to mine action since 1993 had now passed $1 billion. The United States also took great pride in its bilateral assistance programmes and its support of innovative public-private partnerships. In recognition that resources were limited, a strategic framework must be constructed to sustain efforts by mine-affected countries and allow donors to know that performance goals were being tracked and funds well spent.

    The Committee then approved the draft without a vote.

    Explanation of Vote

    Speaking in explanation of position after the action, the representative of Israel said his country strongly supported efforts by the Assembly to strengthen mine-action activities and fully supported the fundamental goals of the draft. However, Israel had strong reservations concerning the language used in operative paragraph 9 relating to non-State actors.  Mines used by non-State actors presented the primary humanitarian risk for innocent civilians. It was Israel's position that non-State actors could not be permitted to use landmines. It was the responsibility of Member States to take all necessary steps to prevent the transfer to and use of landmines by non-State actors. Moreover, Member States should make the transfers or use of mines illegal. That was particularly important for those States in regions of conflict. Israel hoped to see a stronger reflection of such a commitment in future drafts.

    * *** *