Sunday, October 26, 2014

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

Ambassador Tanin Delivers Keynote at Global Governance Seminar in Brazil

H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, arrived in Brazil yesterday at the invitation of the Brazilian Government to attend a one-day seminar titled “Turning Point: Emerging Structures of Global Governance” to be held on Thursday, 22 April, 2010. The seminar’s purpose was to highlight the increasing interdependence of the world and the need for global governance, explore the current global governance mechanisms and identify possible areas for future improvement. The Concept Note for the seminar, circulated by the Government of Brazil, suggested that the period between the global financial crisis in September of 2008 and the difficult climate change talks in Copenhagen in December of 2009 represented a turning point for global governance, and prompted a widespread recognition that the old structures were no longer adequate to the need. Invitees to the conference included academics, politicians and diplomats.

Ambassador Tanin was asked to deliver the keynote address during the seminar’s working lunch, where he began with a brief overview of recent trends in global governance, the founding of the United Nations, and the attempts of the last few decades to reform the Security Council. He highlighted the unique legitimacy and legality of the United Nations as a body of global governance and argued for the necessity of reforming the UN, and the UN Security Council in particular, rather than turning to less inclusive forums. The Security Council, as the only global body dedicated to the maintenance of peace and security, and the only body whose decisions are binding on all 192 Member States of the UN, is unlike any other international body. He concluded by saying, “…If the last decade has taught us anything it is that the perceived legitimacy of power is now nearly as important as the power itself. In the sphere of international peace and security, the Security Council remains the only source of that legitimacy. This must be preserved, or we risk returning to the law of the jungle.” Ambassador Tanin’s statement was followed by an extensive debate.

Ambassador Tanin will return to New York on Saturday, 24 April.

Speech

Keynote address of H.E. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan

To the United Nations

At the Seminar “Turning Point: Emerging Systems for Global Governance”

22 April 2010

Brasilia, Brazil

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be here today. I want to thank the Government of Brazil for extending me the invitation to participate in this seminar. In particular, I would like to thank Minister Amorim, Minister Guimarães, Professor Garcia, and Mr. Rothkopf for their thought-provoking comments this morning. On a personal note, it is a great moment to be in Brazil, because later this year Afghanistan will open its first embassy here, and I look forward to a bright future of close relations between our two countries.

Ladies and gentlemen,

No nation chooses to put national interest second to the good of all. This is not a criticism; to the contrary, when governments do their jobs properly, they fight, above all else, for the wellbeing of their people. But it creates a central paradox in international relations. Though we all recognize the necessity of international agreements governing the global sphere, these agreements are at the mercy of national interests which are concerned more with local needs than with international stability.

This paradox means that global governance mechanisms are frequently toothless and devoid of enforcement measures, both practically and legally. Even when the agreements are widely seen to be necessary, self-interest and domestic political pressures frequently prove stronger than the perceived benefit of an agreement. Peoples are particularly reluctant to sacrifice visible comfort or convenience without equally visible returns. As a result, we often find ourselves caught up in empty rhetoric and unable to encourage tangible cooperation. Even when a political agreement can be found, the resulting decisions may be bluntly ignored by states at little cost when compliance is inconvenient.

However, to paraphrase the French scientist Blaise Pascal, if justice without force is powerless, force without justice is tyrannical.

International politics have always been governed by the law of the jungle: rule by the strongest. But none of us would be here if we didn’t also recognize that our self-interest can no longer be divorced from the interests of our fellow nations. Despite the difficulty in forging or enforcing agreements, the alternative would be unilateral action on the part of powerful states, enforcing their decrees by military or political force. Even those who have such power now recognize that this would be an unsustainable option. The world is far too interconnected for one state, no matter how powerful, to act alone without far-reaching repercussions. Frustrations, the difficulties and the inefficiency notwithstanding, global agreements have become necessary for the smooth functioning of the international system.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Recognition of the need for global cooperation is by no means unprecedented. It was precisely this recognition that underpinned the establishment of the United Nations after the Second World War. When fifty nations gathered in San Francisco in 1945, it was to address the growing interdependence of the world and the mutual responsibilities of nations to their people and to each other.  Together, they built an Organization that aimed to prevent conflict and to inspire mutual trust and respect among nations and between peoples.

Of course, the world has continued to evolve since 1945. Decolonization and self-determination have created a new map, shaped by imperialism and the fight against it. A global economy now binds us even more closely together, developed and developing worlds alike. Conflict and instability no longer recognize national boundaries but affect entire regions and can span the globe. Non-state actors and regional organizations play a large and growing role in both the political and economic spheres.  The hierarchy of power that bound the world together in 1945 has changed dramatically, with new powers rising and old powers finding new ways to engage with one another.

As the world has changed, the landscape of global governance structures has changed as well. Formal institutions like the UN and the Bretton Woods Institutions, created in the middle of the 20th century, have been joined by the WTO, the ICC and other organizations with more specific spheres of influence. Dozens of regional and trans-regional organizations address a range of issues from security to economic cooperation. Lobbying and voting blocs like NAM and the G77 represent particular global interest groups. In addition, new, more informal and thus more flexible decision-making groups have evolved to address targeted issues where no formal decision-making bodies exist. The G7/8 and G20 are perhaps the best examples of these.

Despite this proliferation of global governance mechanisms, the United Nations is still the only international body that can claim to represent all nations on earth; that aspires to grant each nation equal voice and equal sovereignty. Member States, in ratifying the Charter, commit themselves to respect the rule of law and the sovereignty of their fellow nations. The Organization as a whole enjoys a legitimacy unparalleled in the international arena. And the Security Council, as the organ responsible for the maintenance of international security, is the only such body whose decisions have full force of law over Member States.

Today we are entering a new era in global governance. Recent events, including the global financial crisis, have made our need for collective governance even more painfully clear. At the same time, recent setbacks such as the stalling of the Doha trade round and the difficult climate change talks in Copenhagen have also highlighted the challenges we face in finding innovative ways to inspire and encourage cooperation.

The United Nations has struggled to adapt to these new realities. The very solidity and legitimacy of its foundation makes it resistant to change, and the breadth and scope of its activities means that any reform has far-reaching consequences. And yet, despite the institutional inertia, reform efforts have begun. UN processes aimed at revitalizing and empowering the General Assembly, reforming the Secretariat, encouraging system-wide coherence and institutional efficiency, and reviewing and reforming peacekeeping operations, have been ongoing for years and have seen some modest success. New bodies like the Peacebuilding Commission and the new Human Rights Council have been created in the past years and are now entering their first review phase. Discussions on UN-led environmental governance efforts are ongoing. But perhaps most important, and most complex, are efforts to reform the United Nations Security Council.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Efforts to reform the UN Security Council began almost as soon as the Charter was signed. In 1965, the eleven-member Council was expanded to the current fifteen to account for the growing membership of the UN. Since then, the composition of the Council has not changed: we have five permanent members, whose concurring vote is needed for all Security Council resolutions, as well as for Charter amendments, and ten non-permanent members selected from the five regional groups, who are elected for two-year terms.

In the early 1990s, as new economic and political powers emerged, efforts to further reform the Council began with the creation of an Open-Ended Working Group to explore the issue.  Two major drives for reform have occurred since then: the first, in 1997, when the facilitator of the group proposed a possible three-stage solution; the second in 2005, when Secretary-General Kofi Annan undertook a comprehensive review of the UN system with a view to promoting ambitious and sweeping reforms, including reform of the Security Council. Both efforts failed. In between, the Open-Ended Working Group oversaw years of endless discussions.

Our current reform attempt, which was mandated by a decision taken in September of 2008, tries a new approach: intergovernmental negotiations. These negotiations represent a long-needed break with the repetitive OEWG and the best opportunity for real reform that we have seen in decades. As the Chair of this process, I would like to take this opportunity to look at the efforts to reform the Security Council, and the attitudes of Member States towards this reform, in the context of our larger debate about global governance.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The need for reform of the Security Council is universally agreed upon, though the principles and details of reform are the subject of intense debate. Some feel that the current structure’s lack of representivity is a real threat to its legitimacy, while others feel that the long-term legitimacy of the Council is guaranteed by the UN Charter. Some feel that the decision-making process, even more than the membership of the Council, lacks transparency and effectiveness. Others are concerned that the Security Council supports a power structure that is no longer reflective of current geopolitical realities. Though the proposed reform options vary widely, there is a large and increasingly vocal majority who feel that the continued effectiveness of the Council is threatened by its current composition.

Perhaps as a result, Member States are now increasingly demonstrating an intense engagement in the process. Since the beginning of these intergovernmental negotiations last February, the Member States have gone through four rounds of negotiations, looking at each of the five key issues of reform both separately and together – categories, veto, regional representation, size and working methods, and relationship between the Security Council and the GA. In this time Member States have shown the desire to push for a real reform.

As I stand here today, we are reaching an historic moment in these negotiations. The fifth round, which will begin shortly, will be based on a negotiation text that reflects the positions and proposals of Member States. Member States all agreed on the need for a text and all expressed readiness to engage in this process. What remains to be seen is whether the membership has the political will, and the flexibility, to rise above their immediate national concerns to recognize the long-term consequences of failure. A solution is both possible and necessary, both for the strength of the United Nations as an institution and for the continued viability of our current system of global governance.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Security Council is unique among global governance mechanisms. As a body mandated to make legally binding decisions, the Security Council both directly and indirectly affects the national interests of all 192 UN Member States. As the only international body responsible for maintaining international peace and security, the Security Council deals with the most intractable and contentious issues in the world. It is crucial that Member States feel a stake in the Council’s decisions and that these decisions are widely, if not universally, implemented.

The Security Council must be reformed. No other body has the legal standing to tackle the most difficult issues of the day, and no other body has enough legitimacy to demand that its decisions are implemented. If we are unable to achieve this reform, we run the risk that some will turn to other less inclusive mechanisms to preserve peace and stability in the world, sidestepping the rule of law and the principles of fairness and sovereign equality of nations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

None of us are naïve enough to believe that relative power has become irrelevant in international relations. Lack of coercive enforcement mechanisms can mean that international agreements reinforce the political weight of strong nations, who are able to enforce their decisions through bilateral or multilateral political pressure. This will not change in the near future. But if the last decade has taught us anything it is that the perceived legitimacy of power is now nearly as important as the power itself. In the sphere of international peace and security, the Security Council remains the only source of that legitimacy. This must be preserved, or we risk returning to the law of the jungle.

Thank you.

Keynote address of H.E. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan

To the United Nations

At the Seminar “Turning Point: Emerging Systems for Global Governance”

22 April 2010

Brasilia, Brazil

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be here today. I want to thank the Government of Brazil for extending me the invitation to participate in this seminar. In particular, I would like to thank Minister Amorim, Minister Guimarães, Professor Garcia, and Mr. Rothkopf for their thought-provoking comments this morning. On a personal note, it is a great moment to be in Brazil, because later this year Afghanistan will open its first embassy here, and I look forward to a bright future of close relations between our two countries.

Ladies and gentlemen,

No nation chooses to put national interest second to the good of all. This is not a criticism; to the contrary, when governments do their jobs properly, they fight, above all else, for the wellbeing of their people. But it creates a central paradox in international relations. Though we all recognize the necessity of international agreements governing the global sphere, these agreements are at the mercy of national interests which are concerned more with local needs than with international stability.

This paradox means that global governance mechanisms are frequently toothless and devoid of enforcement measures, both practically and legally. Even when the agreements are widely seen to be necessary, self-interest and domestic political pressures frequently prove stronger than the perceived benefit of an agreement. Peoples are particularly reluctant to sacrifice visible comfort or convenience without equally visible returns. As a result, we often find ourselves caught up in empty rhetoric and unable to encourage tangible cooperation. Even when a political agreement can be found, the resulting decisions may be bluntly ignored by states at little cost when compliance is inconvenient.

However, to paraphrase the French scientist Blaise Pascal, if justice without force is powerless, force without justice is tyrannical.

International politics have always been governed by the law of the jungle: rule by the strongest. But none of us would be here if we didn’t also recognize that our self-interest can no longer be divorced from the interests of our fellow nations. Despite the difficulty in forging or enforcing agreements, the alternative would be unilateral action on the part of powerful states, enforcing their decrees by military or political force. Even those who have such power now recognize that this would be an unsustainable option. The world is far too interconnected for one state, no matter how powerful, to act alone without far-reaching repercussions. Frustrations, the difficulties and the inefficiency notwithstanding, global agreements have become necessary for the smooth functioning of the international system.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Recognition of the need for global cooperation is by no means unprecedented. It was precisely this recognition that underpinned the establishment of the United Nations after the Second World War. When fifty nations gathered in San Francisco in 1945, it was to address the growing interdependence of the world and the mutual responsibilities of nations to their people and to each other. Together, they built an Organization that aimed to prevent conflict and to inspire mutual trust and respect among nations and between peoples.

Of course, the world has continued to evolve since 1945. Decolonization and self-determination have created a new map, shaped by imperialism and the fight against it. A global economy now binds us even more closely together, developed and developing worlds alike. Conflict and instability no longer recognize national boundaries but affect entire regions and can span the globe. Non-state actors and regional organizations play a large and growing role in both the political and economic spheres. The hierarchy of power that bound the world together in 1945 has changed dramatically, with new powers rising and old powers finding new ways to engage with one another.

As the world has changed, the landscape of global governance structures has changed as well. Formal institutions like the UN and the Bretton Woods Institutions, created in the middle of the 20th century, have been joined by the WTO, the ICC and other organizations with more specific spheres of influence. Dozens of regional and trans-regional organizations address a range of issues from security to economic cooperation. Lobbying and voting blocs like NAM and the G77 represent particular global interest groups. In addition, new, more informal and thus more flexible decision-making groups have evolved to address targeted issues where no formal decision-making bodies exist. The G7/8 and G20 are perhaps the best examples of these.

Despite this proliferation of global governance mechanisms, the United Nations is still the only international body that can claim to represent all nations on earth; that aspires to grant each nation equal voice and equal sovereignty. Member States, in ratifying the Charter, commit themselves to respect the rule of law and the sovereignty of their fellow nations. The Organization as a whole enjoys a legitimacy unparalleled in the international arena. And the Security Council, as the organ responsible for the maintenance of international security, is the only such body whose decisions have full force of law over Member States.

Today we are entering a new era in global governance. Recent events, including the global financial crisis, have made our need for collective governance even more painfully clear. At the same time, recent setbacks such as the stalling of the Doha trade round and the difficult climate change talks in Copenhagen have also highlighted the challenges we face in finding innovative ways to inspire and encourage cooperation.

The United Nations has struggled to adapt to these new realities. The very solidity and legitimacy of its foundation makes it resistant to change, and the breadth and scope of its activities means that any reform has far-reaching consequences. And yet, despite the institutional inertia, reform efforts have begun. UN processes aimed at revitalizing and empowering the General Assembly, reforming the Secretariat, encouraging system-wide coherence and institutional efficiency, and reviewing and reforming peacekeeping operations, have been ongoing for years and have seen some modest success. New bodies like the Peacebuilding Commission and the new Human Rights Council have been created in the past years and are now entering their first review phase. Discussions on UN-led environmental governance efforts are ongoing. But perhaps most important, and most complex, are efforts to reform the United Nations Security Council.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Efforts to reform the UN Security Council began almost as soon as the Charter was signed. In 1965, the eleven-member Council was expanded to the current fifteen to account for the growing membership of the UN. Since then, the composition of the Council has not changed: we have five permanent members, whose concurring vote is needed for all Security Council resolutions, as well as for Charter amendments, and ten non-permanent members selected from the five regional groups, who are elected for two-year terms.

In the early 1990s, as new economic and political powers emerged, efforts to further reform the Council began with the creation of an Open-Ended Working Group to explore the issue. Two major drives for reform have occurred since then: the first, in 1997, when the facilitator of the group proposed a possible three-stage solution; the second in 2005, when Secretary-General Kofi Annan undertook a comprehensive review of the UN system with a view to promoting ambitious and sweeping reforms, including reform of the Security Council. Both efforts failed. In between, the Open-Ended Working Group oversaw years of endless discussions.

Our current reform attempt, which was mandated by a decision taken in September of 2008, tries a new approach: intergovernmental negotiations. These negotiations represent a long-needed break with the repetitive OEWG and the best opportunity for real reform that we have seen in decades. As the Chair of this process, I would like to take this opportunity to look at the efforts to reform the Security Council, and the attitudes of Member States towards this reform, in the context of our larger debate about global governance.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The need for reform of the Security Council is universally agreed upon, though the principles and details of reform are the subject of intense debate. Some feel that the current structure’s lack of representivity is a real threat to its legitimacy, while others feel that the long-term legitimacy of the Council is guaranteed by the UN Charter. Some feel that the decision-making process, even more than the membership of the Council, lacks transparency and effectiveness. Others are concerned that the Security Council supports a power structure that is no longer reflective of current geopolitical realities. Though the proposed reform options vary widely, there is a large and increasingly vocal majority who feel that the continued effectiveness of the Council is threatened by its current composition.

Perhaps as a result, Member States are now increasingly demonstrating an intense engagement in the process. Since the beginning of these intergovernmental negotiations last February, the Member States have gone through four rounds of negotiations, looking at each of the five key issues of reform both separately and together – categories, veto, regional representation, size and working methods, and relationship between the Security Council and the GA. In this time Member States have shown the desire to push for a real reform.

As I stand here today, we are reaching an historic moment in these negotiations. The fifth round, which will begin shortly, will be based on a negotiation text that reflects the positions and proposals of Member States. Member States all agreed on the need for a text and all expressed readiness to engage in this process. What remains to be seen is whether the membership has the political will, and the flexibility, to rise above their immediate national concerns to recognize the long-term consequences of failure. A solution is both possible and necessary, both for the strength of the United Nations as an institution and for the continued viability of our current system of global governance.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Security Council is unique among global governance mechanisms. As a body mandated to make legally binding decisions, the Security Council both directly and indirectly affects the national interests of all 192 UN Member States. As the only international body responsible for maintaining international peace and security, the Security Council deals with the most intractable and contentious issues in the world. It is crucial that Member States feel a stake in the Council’s decisions and that these decisions are widely, if not universally, implemented.

The Security Council must be reformed. No other body has the legal standing to tackle the most difficult issues of the day, and no other body has enough legitimacy to demand that its decisions are implemented. If we are unable to achieve this reform, we run the risk that some will turn to other less inclusive mechanisms to preserve peace and stability in the world, sidestepping the rule of law and the principles of fairness and sovereign equality of nations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

None of us are naïve enough to believe that relative power has become irrelevant in international relations. Lack of coercive enforcement mechanisms can mean that international agreements reinforce the political weight of strong nations, who are able to enforce their decisions through bilateral or multilateral political pressure. This will not change in the near future. But if the last decade has taught us anything it is that the perceived legitimacy of power is now nearly as important as the power itself. In the sphere of international peace and security, the Security Council remains the only source of that legitimacy. This must be preserved, or we risk returning to the law of the jungle.

Thank you.

The Situation in the Middle East, Including The Palestinian Question

Statement by
H.E. Mr. Zahir Tanin
Vice Chairman of the Committe on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People
Before the Security Council
on
The Situation in the Middle East, Including The Palestinian Question

TEXT

Mr. President,

In my capacity as Vice-Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, allow me to congratulate you on the exemplary manner in which you have been steering the work of the Council during this month. I would also like to express my appreciation to H.E. Ambassador Emanuel Issoze-Ngondet of Gabon for his efficient presiding over the Council during the month of March.

On behalf of the Committee, I would like to express my appreciation to the United Nations Secretariat for the monthly briefings on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. Briefings such as this serve a useful practical purpose as they reflect the latest developments on the ground, as well as the efforts by various stakeholders in the international community to move the peace process forward.

Sadly, Mr. President, as we meet here today, there appears to be little hope for a serious turnaround in the all too familiar patterns of events on the ground. Violence continues to affect the lives of Palestinians and Israelis. Our Committee has condemned the use by Israel of its military might against the occupied Palestinian people, be it the bombing of areas in Gaza, incursions into Palestinian cities in the West Bank and Gaza, or dispersing non-violent protestors in front of the separation wall built illegally on Palestinian land. Our Committee has also been unequivocal in condemning the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Palestinian groups from Gaza into Israel. Violence from either side has to stop.

Our Committee also considers it alarming and totally unacceptable that the Government of Israel continues to flagrantly dismiss numerous calls by members of the international community, including the Quartet, for halting the illegal settlement activity in the Occupied West Bank and especially in East Jerusalem. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s latest statements in that regard send a clear message to the international community that the Israeli strategy is to continue to build in Jerusalem in violation of international law. At the same time, the occupying Power has continued to displace Palestinian residents in East Jerusalem through illegal house demolitions, evictions and residency right revocations.

Our Committee is also seriously concerned about the new Israeli military order that went into effect yesterday threatening thousands of residents in the West Bank with deportation. This order is part of the Israeli policy of consolidating and perpetuating its occupation of Palestinian land through forced displacement of the population. Implementing this order would constitute a breach of the Forth Geneva Convention, in particular its Article 49, which prohibits forcible transfers as well as deportations of protected persons, individual or mass, from the occupied territory.

It is absolutely clear that, by creating such facts on the ground, the occupying Power is undermining efforts at restarting the political process and is pre-determining the outcome of the sensitive permanent status negotiations on the status of Jerusalem. This approach renders any such negotiations devoid of purpose. In the same vein, Israel’s actions and policy on the issue of settlements are a serious threat to the concept of achieving a permanent settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of a two-State solution. It is obvious, Mr. President, that these illegal and provocative actions of the Israeli leadership are also directly undermining current efforts at resuming the political process between the parties.

Our Committee fully supports the demand by the Middle East Quartet that Israel freeze all settlement activity, dismantle outposts and refrain from illegal house demolitions and evictions in East Jerusalem. I would like to emphasize here that these are NOT pre-conditions for resuming the negotiating process. These are Israeli obligations under the Road Map, as endorsed by this Council. It is hoped that the ten-month freeze of settlement expansion declared by the Israeli Government would be comprehensive, extended to East Jerusalem and retained indefinitely.

I would like to inform the Members of the Council that, at the end of March, our Committee convened its annual United Nations Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People. Its goal was to draw the attention of the international community to the Programme of the Palestinian Authority entitled “Palestine: Ending the occupation, establishing the State” – the programme that has become known as the Fayyad Plan. This programme might be understood as the Palestinian answer to Israeli settlement-building by creating unilaterally positive facts on the ground. Unlike Israel’s settlement activity, the Palestinian Authority’s programme is consistent with international law, welcomed and supported by the international community, and promotes rather than impedes prospects for a peace agreement. The plan reflects the Palestinian determination to empower themselves by taking their destiny into their own hands and shouldering their share of responsibility through building state institutions under the Israeli occupation with a view to ending it.

This forward-looking programme of the Palestinian Authority deserves the full attention of and tangible support by the international community. The Palestinian Authority has proven its ability to transform international support into concrete government-administered programmes, as demonstrated by the reform of the law and order sector and improved transparency at all levels and in all sectors of its activity. The Fayyad Plan is a logical continuation of these efforts.

It has to be borne in mind that this programme is not being implemented in a political vacuum. It is now, and will be in the foreseeable future, critically affected by developments in the political process. In fact, its success is determined by the measure of progress in the political area. On the international level, support needs to be built for the broad recognition of an independent Palestinian State. At the end of the projected two years of the plan, this recognition could be enshrined in a Security Council resolution, clearly determining the borders of the Palestinian State based on the pre-1967 lines.

Our Committee has come out strongly in support of the Palestinian Authority’s State-building programme. We would like to encourage the Members of the Security Council to support the realization of this plan, which has already been endorsed by the United Nations Secretary-General, the Quartet and the League of Arab States. By putting the weight of its authority behind this plan, the Council will 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.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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The Situation in the Middle East, Including The Palestinian Question