Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Public Forum Closing Remarks by H.E. Mr. Zahir Tanin Head of Delegation Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Public Forum is drawing to a close. The delegation of the Committee is grateful for the very informative presentations by the invited speakers and enjoyed the lively exchange of views during the discussions. My special thanks go to the two moderators, Ms. Phyllis Bennis and Dr. Sylvia Tiryaki, who so ably steered us through the session.

Dear Friends,

The Palestinian people have suffered too much and for too long. All of us in every capacity — Governments, the United Nations and civil society — must each play our own role to bring justice back to them.

Today the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People was able to learn from you – from your analyses of the situation on the ground, and about your efforts to bring peace and justice to Jerusalem. We’ve heard about your tireless advocacy work, your relentless protests, your personal sacrifices and your invocations of international law.

I would like to assure you that we will take your messages back to New York – to the members of the Committee, and through them, the wider membership of the United Nations.

You should know that the Committee stands behind your efforts and encourages you to keep working towards a just and lasting peace. We support all your efforts to broaden the movement, to involve more organizations and individuals in your efforts. And we will continue to work with you. Wherever possible, we will provide you with a platform, like this Public Forum here in Istanbul, to widen your outreach, your networking and coordination. We will keep cataloguing your actions and analyses in the UN Division for Palestinian Rights’ “NGO Action News”. In that regard, please keep the Division updated about your activities, new initiatives and campaigns, including your work with other stakeholders, such as trade unions or parliamentarians.

Also, wherever possible, we will be inviting your representatives to report directly at Committee meetings or to speak at events organized under the Committee’s auspices. And of course, we are always happy to hear about your ideas to enhance our future cooperation.

The important thing is that we all stay connected and work together towards our common goal: the exercise by the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights, the right to self-determination, the right of return of the Palestine refugees, and an independent State with East Jerusalem as its capital.

I thank you once again for your participation in this meeting and with you a safe journey back.

With that, I declare closed the United Nations Public Forum in Support of the Palestinian People.

CLOSING SESSION Statement by H.E. Mr. Zahir Tanin Head of the Delegation Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People


Distinguished speakers,

Ladies and gentlemen,

The United Nations International Meeting in Support of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process is drawing to a close. On behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, I would like to thank all participants for their contribution to the successful holding of this Meeting. I would like to once again register our sincere appreciation to the Government of Turkey for hosting this timely and important event and for the generous hospitality extended to all of us. The Committee looks forward to continuing and expanding this excellent cooperation we have with Turkey towards the common goal of finding a solution to the question of Palestine.

The Committee has convened this Meeting to garner support for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Our special thanks go to the distinguished speakers for sharing with us their valuable insights and expertise. We know that there are still large obstacles lying ahead in the peace process. We clearly know what those hurdles are. We know that crucial provisions of international law and United Nations resolutions are not being upheld. We are all actually aware of what needs to be done to bring peace, as articulately described in the concluding document just presented. Some of the issues we have discussed during the past two days are extremely sensitive, politically and emotionally, but none of them can be neglected and excluded from the permanent status negotiations if a lasting peace is to be achieved.

The international community has legal and moral responsibilities to restore the long-lost justice. The Committee reiterates that the root cause of the conflict is the occupation by Israel of the Palestinian Territory, which has lasted for more than four decades. Palestinians have suffered for far too long. Years of occupation have also affected the lives of Israelis. This unacceptable situation must be urgently redressed to allow both Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security.

As I said in my opening statement, what is more important than the deliberations is to translate all the ideas and suggestions into reality. Our Committee will always be at your disposal for this endeavour. The Committee will continue to work to raise awareness of the question of Palestine based on the mandate given by the General Assembly of the United Nations. I would like to announce that our next meeting will be the United Nations African Meeting on the Question of Palestine, which will be held in Rabat, Morocco on 1 and 2 July. Invitations are currently being sent out.

I would like to inform you that related documents and all other information about this Meeting will be available on the “Question of Palestine” website maintained by the Division for Palestinian Rights of the United Nations Secretariat. A list with the respective links has been distributed by the Secretariat. I would also like to invite you to visit the new Facebook page that the Division has recently launched, which will help you keep updated on all of our activities.

Before concluding, I would like to express our Committee’s sincere appreciation to the staff of the United Nations Secretariat , the Division for Palestinian Rights, the Conference Services team coming from Vienna, all interpreters, the press officer, the staff of the Sheraton Hotel, and staff of the Intra servicing company. The successful holding of the Meeting would have been impossible without their professional assistance.

Thank you all once again.

Afghani ambassador traces history of conflict

To understand why the international community still needs to be involved in Afghanistan, one must first understand why it was necessary to intervene there more than eight years ago, Afghanistan’s ambassador to the United Nations said in a talk this week as part of the Lehigh/U.N. Partnership Ambassadorial Speaker Series.

“What took the United States and NATO forces to Afghanistan was to deal with the threat that came from Afghanistan,” Ambassador Zahir Tanin said, referring to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States in New York and Washington, D.C.

“The United States needed to intervene because the terrorist groups using Afghanistan posed a threat to the United States and its allies. (They went in because) the situation in Afghanistan gave Al-Qaeda a place to prepare for further attacks against that United States and the world. We cannot forget that history,” he told an audience of Lehigh students, faculty and staff, and students from Allentown Central Catholic High School’s Model U.N. Team.

However, while the Sept. 11 attacks are commonly cited as the starting point for U.S. involvement in Afghanistan by the mass media, Tanin pointed out that one needs to review the preceding three decades of Afghan history to get a more accurate picture of the climate that led up to Sept. 11, 2001.

The true starting point, he said, dates back to 1978, when the former Soviet Union intervened in Afghanistan.

“Afghanistan became the last battle of the Cold War,” Tanin said. “Afghanistan became a new ground for rivalry between the original powers.”

‘When there is no state, they flourish’

Fast forward through about 20 years of almost constant war in Afghanistan in which, as Tanin said, “ultimately everyone got involved” and you are left with the perfect backdrop for the emergence of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in the mid-1990’s.

“With the withdrawal of the Soviet Union, the Afghan society underwent critical changes. The economy was decimated. The magnitude of the destruction in Afghanistan, when the society was broken, when the economy was weakened, when the state was disintegrated, that is when the Taliban and Al-Qaeda moved in, and when there is no state, they flourish.”

“The Afghani people became the first victim of the Taliban regime,” he said, “and the international community tried to tolerate what was happening. It was seen as something happening far away in an isolated nation.”

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, he added, what was going on in Afghanistan could no longer be ignored by the rest of the world.

To those who believe that the United States should not be involved in nation-building, Tanin said that Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups cannot be stopped unless Afghanistan is stabilized.

“You have to invest in a situation that prevents the Taliban and others from coming back,” he said.

Among the issues that have slowed progress in Afghanistan, he said, are the war in Iraq, which made Afghanistan a secondary war for the United States, diverting focus and resources, and a lack of coordination among the 40-plus international groups working in Afghanistan, which resulted in the wasting of aid monies and “money not being used in the best way.”

“It’s a problem with capacity,” he said. “It’s a big tragedy. As a result of 20 years of being at war, a generation has been lost. A good government is not about a leader with good will. A good government is about capacity and resources.”