Friday, April 25, 2014

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

Excellencies,

Distinguished speakers,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my pleasure and privilege to welcome you to the United Nations International Meeting in Support of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process convened by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, under the theme “Ending the occupation and establishing the Palestinian State.”

At the outset, allow me to reiterate our Committee’s sincere appreciation through His Excellency Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, for the decision of the Government of Turkey to host our important Meeting. The holding of this Meeting in this country holds great significance. We are very much aware and appreciative of Turkey’s foreign policy dynamism and the leadership role it is playing in the region in recent years on many issues. The contribution of Turkey to the quest for a peaceful settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict spans many decades. Let me recall that Turkey was one of the three founding members of the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, established in the wake of the 1948 war. Having deep historical and cultural roots in the region, Turkey is strategically placed to be a trusted interlocutor to the various conflicting parties, while at the same time remaining a steadfast champion of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.

Turkey is always at the forefront in the region, whether promoting intra-Palestinian reconciliation, suggesting innovative solutions to the stalemate in the peace process, working on revitalizing the other tracks of the Middle East peace process, providing educational opportunities for Palestinians, sending relief goods to Gaza, building industrial zones, tirelessly advocating and mobilizing for the two-State solution, or patrolling as part of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron or UNIFIL in Lebanon. The commitment of Turkey to peace and stability in the region is well known and deeply appreciated by the international community, and we are privileged to have Turkey as a founding member of the Committee.

Our Committee, established in 1975 as the only United Nations organ exclusively entrusted with the political aspects of the question of Palestine, attaches great importance to this Meeting. We are grateful to all the officials from Governements and intergovernmental organizations, as well as to the experts and civil society representatives participating in our Meeting. Let me state, however, that I would not consider our mission accomplished if this Meeting solely provided a platform to restate our long-held positions, important though they are. We hope it would take us a step further towards a critical re-examination of some of the long-held assumptions and old patterns related to the peace process.

Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of the Madrid peace conference, which ushered in the peace process. We need to take a hard look at what went right and, more importantly, at what went wrong in the intervening two decades. The sovereign State of Palestine, free from foreign occupation, is still just a vision. The sense of frustration is palpable among Palestinians and in the region in general, both with the open-ended Israeli occupation and the open-ended peace process, which has proceeded by fits and starts, in bouts of inconclusive negotiations, raising expectations then failing to meet them. The patience of Palestinians with the peace process, and with the two-State solution in general, is wearing thin.

By many significant measures the Palestinians are worse off today than they were at the outset of the peace process. One of the obvious casualties has been their freedom of movement. Two thirds of Gazans under 30, meaning those who grew up during the peace process, have never had an opportunity to set foot outside Gaza. They have no first-hand experience of the world outside, and that includes the West Bank. The unacceptable blockade has reduced Gazans to building houses out of mud, to replace those wantonly destroyed during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead more than a year ago. The situation in the West Bank is not much better, with the separation wall and settler-only roads criss-crossing the land, dotted with Israeli settlements and checkpoints. The end result is geographical discontinuity, which is discouraging investment and choking off meaningful economic development, leaving the Palestinians massively dependent on foreign aid. Needless to say, humanitarian assistance and budget support by donors mostly going to pay current civil service salaries are hardly a sustainable basis to build a viable State on.

Against this rather bleak background, the resumed indirect Israeli-Palestinian negotiations mediated by the United States offer some encouragement. Our Committee welcomes the start of the indirect talks and hopes that they will soon lead to tangible results on the ground, such as unobstructed movement of persons and goods in the West Bank, and end of the blockade of Gaza, the release of Palestinian prisoners and the enlargement of the area under the control of the Palestinian Authority. Equally important is a credible mechanism to monitor and ensure the parties’ compliance with their Road Map obligations and other commitments while the talks unfold. The parties should refrain from any unilateral actions changing the status quo on the ground and from incitement that could jeopardize the ongoing efforts. Such steps would create the required atmosphere for direct negotiations between the parties that will tackle all final status issues without exception.

Unfortunately, the initial signs are far from encouraging. On the ground, new massive settlement projects are awaiting the end of the 10-month settlement freeze. Demolitions of Palestinian homes continue unabated. Top Israeli officials are signalling the intention to persevere with the illegal settlement campaign in occupied East Jerusalem and to continue to depopulate the city of its indigenous Palestinian population, in defiance of the collective will of the international community, including the Quartet, and in total disregard of international law. These acts undermine the very basis of a negotiated settlement and destroy the credibility of the political process.

To quote President Abbas, Jerusalem holds the key to a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East. A clear message should be sent to Israel, the occupying Power, that its unilateral actions aimed at altering the status of East Jerusalem and its demographic and cultural characters will not be recognized by the international community and will be firmly rejected.

Equally disturbing are the new Israeli military orders threatening thousands of West Bank Palestinians with deportation. Labelled as “infiltrators” in their own native land, these Palestinians can be arbitrarily deprived of their right of residency and summarily deported at the whim of a military commander. These and other similar measures constitute grave violations of international humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention.

A positive development that we have been championing is the comprehensive blueprint for a Palestinian State in two years unveiled by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in August 2009, which has garnered wide support by the international community. Aiming to end the Palestinian economy’s dependence on Israel, harmonize the legal system and streamline governance, the plan also involves building infrastructure, harnessing natural resources, and improving housing, education, and agriculture. The Plan aims to end the occupation by creating positive facts on the ground. No longer content to be at the mercy of external forces, the Palestinians want to take control of their destiny, building a future incrementally from the ground up. The Palestinian State-building agenda complements the negotiating process, and hopefully the two will run on mutually reinforcing tracks and eventually converge in the not so distant future. The revolutionary nature of the plan demands an equally bold response by the international community.

The right of the Palestinians to self-determination and sovereignty, acknowledged by the terms of General Assembly resolution 181 of 1947, has been annually reaffirmed by successive UN resolutions adopted by the overwhelming majority. This right is an inalienable right, which means it is not contingent on any agreement or someone’s goodwill, and it is not for any party to the negotiations or external Power to withhold or grant.

Upon the expected conclusion of the Fayyad Plan in August 2011, it will be time for the other countries supporting the Palestinian right to self-determination so overwhelmingly with their votes in the General Assembly to stand up and be counted, follow the lead of others and recognize Palestine, as a responsible member of the community of nations. It gives me great pleasure to recall that our host Turkey was among the first countries to recognize Palestine, and I would like to encourage other countries represented here to do likewise when appropriate. At the end of the projected two years, this recognition could be enshrined in a Security Council resolution clearly determining the borders of the Palestinian State based on the pre-1967 lines. By putting the weight of its authority behind this plan, the Council would create the necessary political framework for ending the occupation and implementing the two-State solution, with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security.

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our Committee is convinced that only serious and sustained international engagement will bring about a peaceful and negotiated settlement of all outstanding issues and reverse the growing support for radical forces that promote violent and unilateral approaches to ending the conflict. The Committee remains committed to contributing constructively and actively to international efforts aimed at the achievement of a peaceful settlement.

This United Nations International Meeting is one important step in that direction. We are looking forward to analyses and inputs from our distinguished experts representing think tanks, academic institutions, the United Nations, and civil society.

I thank you all and hope that in the course of the coming two days, you will have an opportunity to engage in a stimulating and useful discussion of the issues at hand.

Thank you very much.

United Nations International Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process to Be Held in Istanbul, Turkey, 25–26 May

Source: United Nations General Assembly

GA/PAL/1162

Background Release

United Nations Public Forum in Support of Palestinian People, in Istanbul, 27 May

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People will convene the United Nations International Meeting in Support of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process in Istanbul, Turkey, at the Sheraton Hotel Istanbul Ataköy, from 25 to 26 May.

The theme of the Meeting is “Ending the occupation and establishing the Palestinian State”.

The purpose of the Meeting is to provide a forum for exchanging views on the current state of the peace process and promote a constructive dialogue among stakeholders on how to advance the Palestinian State-building agenda. The Meeting, among other things, will discuss prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace, as well as ways of resetting the political dialogue, including through third-party mediation and other peace initiatives. The Meeting will also look at the Palestinian Authority’s programme for ending the occupation and establishing a Palestinian State, and explore modalities of moving forward the Palestinian State-building agenda and creating the socio-economic underpinnings for statehood. In addition, the Meeting will consider ways of creating a political climate conducive to advancing the peace process and building an international consensus for establishing a Palestinian State on the basis of the pre-1967 borders. The various topics under the programme will be addressed by expert speakers, including from the region.

The opening session, on 25 May, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., will feature Ahmet DavutoÄŸlu, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey; Robert Serry, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, representing United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; Zahir Tanin, Head of Delegation, Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People; Ekmeleddin Ä°hsanoÄŸlu, Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference; and Ibrahim Khraishi, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Palestinian Authority. Mr. Serry will also deliver the keynote address, entitled: “The path to a Palestinian State”.

Plenary I, on the state of the political process and prospects for peace, will run from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on 25 May. The sub-themes of the session will be: “Negotiating Israeli-Palestinian peace: Lessons learned from previous negotiations and other conflict situations”; “Resetting the political dialogue: Third-party mediation and other initiatives”; and “The question of Jerusalem — A key to Israeli-Palestinian peace”. Expected speakers include: Michele Dunne, Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, D.C.; Jad Isaac, Director General, Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem, Jerusalem; Ghassan Khatib, Director, Government Media Centre, Palestinian Authority, Ramallah; Eti Livni, Former Member of the Knesset, Tel Aviv; and Danny Seidemann, Legal Counsel, Ir Amim, Jerusalem.

Plenary II, on the Palestinian Authority programme of ending the occupation and establishing the Palestinian State, will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on 26 May. The sub-themes of the session will be: “The current situation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip”; “Advancing the Palestinian State-building agenda — From the status quo to statehood”; and “Creating socio-economic underpinnings for advancing Palestinian State-building”. Expected speakers include: Bassam Al-Salhi, General Secretary, Palestinian People’s Party, Jerusalem; Thomas Neu, Field Director, Carter Center Field Office, Ramallah; Güven Sak, Director, Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey, Ankara; Ahmad Tibi, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, Taibeh; and Jennifer Tonge, Member of the House of Lords, London.

Plenary III, on breaking the deadlock and creating a political climate conducive to the advancement of the peace process, will run from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on 26 May. The sub-themes of the session will be: “Building an international consensus for establishing a Palestinian State on the basis of the pre-1967 borders”; “The role of the United Nations”; and “The role of non-State actors”. Expected speakers include: Mensur Akgün, Director, Global Political Trends Center, Istanbul Kültür University, Istanbul; Nils Butenschøn, Director, Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, Oslo; Nabil Fahmy, Ambassador and Dean of the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, American University in Cairo, Cairo; and Chinmaya Gharekhan, Former Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of India for West Asia and the Middle East Peace Process, New Delhi.

The closing session, starting at 5 p.m. on 26 May, will feature: Engin Soysal, Deputy Undersecretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey; Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, New York; and Mr. Tanin, Head of the Delegation, Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

All sessions of the Meeting will be open to the media. The official languages will be English and Arabic. There will also be simultaneous interpretation from and into Turkish.

Following the International Meeting, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People will convene the United Nations Public Forum in Support of the Palestinian People, in Istanbul, Turkey, at the Istanbul Kültür University, on 27 May from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The theme will be: ” Jerusalem — The key to Israeli-Palestinian peace”.

The Public Forum will address home demolitions, forced evictions and settlements; the revocation of residency rights and identification; and security concerns, including rising crime rates, in the Holy City. It will also look at approaches to promoting a just and lasting solution to the question of Jerusalem, including through international law and institution-building. It will discuss the role of non-State actors in promoting peace in Jerusalem, including through interfaith dialogue and people-to-people diplomacy.

Opening remarks will be made by: Mensur Akgün, Director, Global Political Trends Center, Istanbul Kültür University, Istanbul; Mr. Tanin, Head of Delegation, Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People; and Bülent Aras, Director, Strategic Research Centre, Ankara.

The moderators of the discussion will be: Phyllis Bennis, Fellow, Institute for Policy Studies, Washington, D.C.; and Sylvia Tiryaki, Deputy Director, Global Political Trends Center, Istanbul Kültür University, Istanbul. Expert speakers will include: Daphna Golan-Agnon, Researcher, Minerva Center for Human Rights, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem; Mousa Qous, Researcher, Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights, Jerusalem; Nazmi Jubeh, Co-Director, Riwaq: Centre for Architectural Conservation, Ramallah; Fadwa Khader, Director-General, Sunflower Association for Human and Environment Protection, Jerusalem; and Ramzi Zananiri, Executive Director, Near East Council of Churches, Jerusalem.

Closing remarks will be made by representatives of Palestine and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

The Public Forum will be conducted in English and open to the media.

Updated versions of the programme, as well as information on previous Meetings, will be available on the website of the Division for Palestinian Rights, United Nations Secretariat, at http://www.un.org/depts/dpa/qpal/calendar.htm.

The report on the Meeting will be issued, in due course, as a publication of the Division for Palestinian Rights.

Conference Photos



Report of the Secretary-General on “Human Security”

STATEMENT BY H.E. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations

at the General Assembly on the Report of the Secretary-General on “Human Security”

Mr. President,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Before I begin, I would like to thank you, Mr. President, for convening this meeting on a topic of such broad relevance. I would also like to thank the Secretary-General for his report, which provides an excellent overview of the growing attention paid to this important issue by Member States, as well as by international and regional organizations. And finally, I would like to thank my colleagues at the Japanese Mission, for the draft resolution they have tabled today which Afghanistan is proud to co-sponsor. This meeting is a clear sign that the concept of human security is both increasingly relevant and increasingly recognized, and Afghanistan welcomes this trend and supports further discussion on this concept in the future.

Mr. President,

The need for security in Afghanistan overshadows and underlies every effort undertaken by the Afghan Government and the international community to build a stable, secure and prosperous Afghanistan.

The most immediate threat to security comes from ongoing terrorism and violence, in particular the murderous acts of the Taliban and al-Qaeda who, through suicide bombs, assassinations and threats, create an atmosphere of fear and danger for the Afghan people, and threaten the security of the region and the world.

However, while we must address this threat immediately, we have learned from experience that killing the enemy will not, alone, provide security to the Afghan people. We must also break the cycle of violence and conflict born of thirty years of war, which decimated the social, political and economic fabric of the country and resulted in environmental degradation, wrenching poverty, poor infrastructure and weak social structures. We must address lack of governance, rule of law and a stable justice system, and promote outreach and engagement of citizens with their government. We must combat human rights abuses and promote the health and wellbeing of women, children, and other disadvantaged groups. We must ensure that every Afghan has access to education, food, healthcare and gainful employment, and encourage investment in infrastructure and business. In addition, we must address transnational issues such as crime, narcotics trafficking, and border control. We have learned to look beyond military measures to sustainable, long-term civilian efforts. We have learned to look beyond simple physical wellbeing to address the long-term economic, social and political security of the Afghan people.

Mr. President,

The idea of “human security” admirably encompasses this broad range of needs, and can guide us in our approach in Afghanistan.

First and foremost, the concept stresses that people must be at the center of our considerations. Our goals, as governments, militaries and humanitarians, must be to locate and address the threats to the people of Afghanistan, and we should measure our successes by the changes we can bring to their lives. The military forces have already embraced this ideal in an effort to prevent civilian casualties and create sustainable progress. We need to ensure this principle is also central to the development and humanitarian realms, making sure that every dollar spent in Afghanistan directly benefits the Afghan people.

Second, this idea recognizes the essential importance of development in the prevention of conflict and the promotion of security and stability. Desperation caused by poverty, unemployment, and competition for resources and water, is an obvious and enduring factor that exacerbates conflict and has spread a culture of violence in Afghanistan. The proposed civilian surge will offer Afghans a chance to live in peace and help them find a way to take care of their families without resorting to violent or illegal activities.

Third, this concept addresses the need to look for both local, contextualized ways to repair the damage of conflict, including through peace processes, and also the need to encourage regional cooperation to address the international aspects of the conflict. In Afghanistan, the awareness that military means cannot solve the conflict has led the Government to introduce reintegration and reconciliation programs in the hope of repairing the broken social structures and encouraging national unity, while engaging in intense regional dialogue to build trust and foster cooperation on these and other issues. Without the full engagement of all of the Afghan people, the government and society can never hope to build a strong, independent nation, and without a constructive partnership with the region, Afghanistan’s efforts will not be sustainable.

Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, human security looks to strong societies and strong institutions as the core protection mechanisms against possible destabilizing factors. The recent strategy endorsed in London focuses on strengthening Afghan capacity, through training, mentoring and resourcing, so that Afghans can be invested in our common project and feel a sense of responsibility for its success. In addition, it emphasizes the importance of building a strong Government with stable institutions that is capable of representing its citizens and responding to their needs and concerns.

Mr. President,

I urge Member States to, in their consideration of this issue, also consider the ways that the international community could embrace these principles in practice as well as on paper. It is clear that only a comprehensive approach can truly hope to end or prevent a conflict. However, coordination within and among local and international actors, and coherence of priorities and aims, continues to marginalize domestic leadership and circumvent the Government of Afghanistan in favor of parallel structures. The concept of “human security” will only be useful in practice if the international community is willing to commit to truly understanding the local context of a conflict, and to empowering local people to take ownership of their own affairs.

Mr. President,

Human security is not a new concept. As governments, our primary responsibility is, and always has been, to the well-being of our people above all else. However, with conflicts increasingly involving non-state actors, and transnational conflicts and recurring conflicts becoming more and more common, the international community must truly embrace the reality that conflicts have broad and varied causes, and require comprehensive and contextualized responses. The concept of human security is an essential one in guiding domestic and international reactions to these emerging trends.

I thank you, Mr. President.

NEW YORK