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The environmental situation in the occupied Palestinian and other Arab territories (decision 16/13)

35. At the 8th meeting of the session, on 31 May, the Council had before it a draft decision on the subject submitted by Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Sudan (UNEP/GC.16/L.28/Rev.1).

36. At the request of the representative of the United States of America, a vote on the draft decision was taken by roll-call. The draft decision was adopted by 28 votes to 1 with 22 abstentions. The voting was as follows:

In favour: Bangladesh, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Chile, China, Colombia, Gambia, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Mexico, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Yugoslavia, Zimbabwe.

Against: United States of America.

Abstaining: Argentina, Austria, Barbados, Canada, Cote d'Ivoire, Czechoslovakia, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Japan, Kenya, Lesotho, Mauritius, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Rwanda, Spain, United Kingdom, Venezuela.37. The Secretary Of the Council announced that the UNEP secretariat had received a communication from the representative of Jordan indicating that, had he been present during the voting, he would have.voted in favour of the

draft decision.

38. Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of the Netherlands speaking on behalf of the States members of the European communities that are members of the Governing Council, and on behalf of Austria, said that those States had abstained in the vote on the draft decision because they believed that the decision touched on political issues that came within the purview of other forums. It was neither appropriate nor in the best interests of UNEP that the Governing Council should be burdened with political matters.

39. The representative of the United States said that his delegation had strongly opposed the adoption of the draft decision, which did not address environmental issues, as it claimed to do, but focused on matters outside the purview of UNEP. The decision served no useful purpose, environmental or otherwise, and its adoption risked jeopardizing UNEP.

40. The representative of Finland said that his delegation had abstained in the vote because, while it agreed with the thrust of the draft, it had reservations about some of its wording.

41. The representative of Norway said that Norway had abstained for reasons similar to those outlined by the representative of the Netherlands: the decision dealt with political issues that fell within the purview of other bodies.

42. The representative of Argentina said that Argentina's abstention in the vote in no way meant a change in its deep-rooted concern about the illegally occupied territories. There were, however, some elements in the text that prevented Argentina from voting in favour.

43. The observer for Moroccot speaking on behalf of the members of the Group of Arab States that are members of the Governing Council, said that those States believed that the contents of the decision did indeed fall within the purview of UNEP, as they concerned the environment in the occupied territories. He hoped that the Executive Director would follow up the decision and obtain the information necessary to complete the data base. He also hoped that the Executive Director would be able to gather information from inside the occupied territories in whatever way he deemed appropriate.

44. The representative of Canada said that his delegation regretted the lack of consensus on the draft decision. UNEP's interests would not be furthered by the politicization of its work. Canada had therefore abstained in the vote.

45. The observer for Lebanon said that the data base should contain information on the environmental situation in the occupied Lebanese territories, which paralleled that in the other occupied areas.

46. The observer for Palestine expressed his gratitude to the Council for its adoption of the decision. He hoped that those delegations that had abstained would change their position in the light of the continuing deterioration in the situation as long as the occupying power continued its practices and schemes to eliminate the Palestinian people and settle imported hoards of Jews and so-called Jews from all over the world. Drawing attention to the devastating consequences of inaction, which could only lead to further injustices, he said that those who turned a blind eye to the problem would be held responsible as the security situation deteriorated. It was essential to ensure that the basic rights of the Palestinian people, including the right of self-determination, were respected. The Palestinian people was, however, indivisible in its determination not to live as second-class citizens. God would save the oppressed from the United States hegemony represented by the so-called new world order, the struggle would continue, and the occupation would end.