U.N. Seminar on Palestinian Economic Developments: In Cairo, from 20-21 June 2000, the U.N. Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) convened the U.N. Seminar on Prospects for Palestinian Economic Development and The Middle East Peace Process. The seminar was organized on the premise that efforts to achieve a political settlement between the Palestinian and Israeli sides will be enhanced only if pursued in conjunction with policies that promote the economic cooperation, development, and living conditions of the Palestinian people.
Although the focus was on economic issues, many presentations emphasized the very negative impact that non-economic issues - such as the Israeli settlements, exploitation of water and natural resources, and the situation of the Palestine refugees and occupied East Jerusalem – have had on the potential for genuine Palestinian economic development and the need to consider these factors in any discussions or efforts in this regard.
Similar to other conferences and seminars organized by CEIRPP throughout the year, the Cairo seminar involved the participation of governmental officials from countries, representatives from U.N. agencies, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, and civil society organizations, academics, the media, and members of the private sector.
After the opening session, which was inaugurated by a representative of the host country, Egypt, Mr. Mustafa Al-Fiki, Assistant Minister for Arab Affairs, four panels were convened to discuss important and timely issues regarding the Palestinian economy. The panel discussions focused, inter alia, on Palestinian institution building; development objectives and strategies; Israeli-Palestinian economic relations; and, as noted above, the impact of non-economic issues on Palestinian socioeconomic development.
OIC Ministers Meet in Kuala Lumpur: The 27th Session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers convened in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 27 June 2000. Palestine was represented at the meeting by H.E. Mr. Farouk Kaddoumi. During the Session, which was inaugurated by the Malaysian Prime Minister, H.E. Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, the Ministers focused their attention on issues of importance for the Islamic Ummah in the new millennium.
As indicated by the Organization of the Islamic Conference’s (OIC) Secretary-General, H.E. Dr. Azeddine Laraki, foremost among those issues were: the cause of Palestine and Al-Quds Al-Sharif (Jerusalem), which he referred to as the primary cause of Arabs and Muslims; the crisis in Afghanistan; the situations in Kosovo and Chechnya; Jammu and Kashmir; the NPT; developments in Africa; human rights; Muslim communities and minorities in non-OIC states; and combating terrorism.
With regard to the question of Palestine in specific, the Foreign Ministers adopted a declaration on Jerusalem, affirming that Jerusalem is an integral part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and calling upon the international community to strive for the cessation of all Israeli measures aimed at changing the demographic composition and legal status of Jerusalem. In the final communique of the Session, the Ministers addressed other specific issues concerning Palestine. Looking towards September, the Ministers urged all States to support Palestine in its quest for full membership in the U.N. by time of the Millennium Summit. In this connection, they reaffirmed the continuing responsibility of the U.N. towards the question of Palestine until the achievement of a comprehensive solution and called for more effective participation of the U.N. in the peace process. Moreover, they called upon the international community and the Security Council in specific to pressure Israel to comply with all relevant U.N. resolutions as well as to accede to the treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and abide by the resolutions of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
U.N. Convenes XXIII and XXIV Special Sessions: In June 2000, the U.N. General Assembly convened two special sessions, namely the 23rd Special Session, entitled Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the 21st Century, which was held from 5-9 June 2000 in New York, and the 24th Special Session, entitled World Summit for Social Development and Beyond: Achieving Social Development for All in a Globalizing World, which was held from 26-30 June 2000 in Geneva. The sessions were respectively organized as 5-year reviews and follow-ups to the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 and the World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen in 1995. The two sessions covered many similar issues regarding social development, health, education, poverty, countless social ills and the gaps between the rich and poor countries of the world, assessing achievements in this regard as well as identifying continuing obstacles and specifying further initiatives to be taken.
Palestine was represented by delegations at the two sessions, and both were lead by the Palestinian Minister for Social Affairs, H.E. Mrs. Intisar Al-Wazir. All elements of the final documents of Women 2000 and Social Development and Beyond are of importance to Palestine. Yet of specific importance are those elements concerning continuing obstacles to the development and empowerment of Palestinian women and Palestinian society as a whole, namely foreign occupation, armed conflict, and refugee and displaced person plight. These factors have had a pervasive and extremely negative impact on all aspects of Palestinian life and have severely impeded the potential for socioeconomic development. As stated in paragraph 13 of the final outcome document of Women 2000, “Peace is inextricably linked to equality between women and men and development. Armed and other types of conflicts, wars of aggression, foreign occupation, colonial or other alien domination, as well as terrorism, continue to cause serious obstacles to the advancement of women.”
Note: Palestine & The UN will not be published in August. The next issued will be Mid-September.