Tuesday, October 21, 2014

United Nations International Meeting on the Question of Palestine

UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, France

At the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Headquarters in Paris, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People is meeting from 29 May –1 June to discuss the question of Palestine and help mobilize the international community to empower women and children. The meeting is addressing plans for empowering women and children in the Palestinian territory. It is also emphasizing the role of women in the political process and the resistance movement. The meeting aims to involve women and children in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

H.E. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, delivered the opening remarks by video. “Women and youth have much to contribute to securing a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace,” Secretary-General Ban said. The Secretary-General noted that women and youth have risen up against human rights violations and oppression throughout the Middle East. He encouraged the Committee to facilitate a stronger role of women and youth in the peace process and to empower the next generation of Israeli and Palestinian peacemakers.

After Secretary-General Ban’s opening remarks, the meeting divided into three plenary sessions. H.E. Zahir Tanin, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, chaired the first of these plenary sessions on 30 May. Titled “The situation of youth and women in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem”, this first plenary session illustrated the impact of the occupation on women and children, concentrating on its socioeconomic and public health ramifications. The session also focused on the situation of refugees in the territory. The session closed with a discussion of how best to provide opportunities to women and children to overcome the pernicious effects of the occupation and engage in the political process.

Many plans for educational, social, and public sanitation and health programs were discussed with the aim of devising programs that will provide women and children with social, professional, and political opportunities. The role of civil society in this process was a central facet of the conversation: the Meeting is considering ways in which members of civil society can better coordinate their efforts with governments and UN entities to work with Palestinian and Israeli youth and women organizations.

Speakers at the plenary session chaired by Ambassador Tanin were: Siham Rashid, Project Manager at the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), Ramallah; Matthias Burchard, Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Representative Offices to the European Union and Geneva, Brussels; Nour Odeh, Freelance journalist and media consultant, Ramallah; Akram Natsheh, Youth Against Settlements, Hebron; and Mohammed S. M. Iqtifan, Campaign Coordinator at Migratory letters Campaign, Gaza.

The meeting will continue with two more plenary sessions on May 31st and meetings with Civil Society on June 1st.