The UN Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People in Helsinki was held on 28 and 29 April 2011. The Seminar was organized by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, aiming to review the progress of and garner further support for the Programme of the Palestinian Authority in their pursuit and aspiration to end the occupation and establish the State of Palestine. H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, participated and chaired meetings as Vice Chair of the Committee.
The focus of discussions was on the current socio-economic situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, highlighting the urgent need for relief and reconstruction in the Gaza Strip. The sessions considered approaches to advancing the Palestinian State-building programme, including ways to address political challenges.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized in his message, delivered by Rima Khalef, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UN-ESCWA, the urgency of a firm re-launch of negotiations between Israel and Palestine. He said, “time is of the essence (…) the institutional achievements of the Palestinian state-building programme are approaching their limits within the political and physical space currently available.” The Secretary-General encouraged the parties to persist in their goal of resolving all final status issues so that a two-State-solution can be implemented. “In this regard, Israel’s continued settlement activity in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem is unacceptable” the Secretary General pointed out.
On Friday, 29 April 2011 H.E. Dr. Tanin chaired the first session, Plenary II on “Looking ahead: Developing sovereign institutions and creating a sustainable Palestinian economy”. The aim of this meeting was to discuss the extent to which the accountability and efficiency of the public sector within the Occupied Palestinian Territory has improved; whether an enabling environment for robust private sector-led growth has been created; what role women in socio-economic development are playing; the importance of investing in youth through education; and the role of the donor community.
In addition to the official seminar meetings, Ambassador Tanin met with the Director General of the Department for the Americas and Asia, Ms. Elina, Kalkku; the Director General of the Political Department, Mr. Teemu Tanner; and the Director General for the Department for Africa and Middle East, H.E. Ms. Kirsti Kauppi.