Implementation of Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum Begins: On 9 September 1999, Israel released 199 Palestinian prisoners and on the following day, 10 September, the maps indicating the 7% of the territory transferred from Area C to Area B were signed. The transfer means that this part of the territory has come under Palestinian civilian control, while it continues to remain under Israeli security control. These two actions came as the first steps in implementation of the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum.
The next release of prisoners is scheduled to be carried out on 8 October 1999 and shall consist of the release of 150 prisoners. The next stage of redeployment is to be effected on 15 November 1999, when Israel will redeploy from 2% of the West Bank, presently now part of Area B, and will further transfer 3% of territory from Area C to Area B.
Following the start of implementation of the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum, the two sides declared that the final status negotiations would be resumed on 13 September 1999, which is exactly 6 years to the day since the signing of the Declaration of Principles in 1993 at Washington, D.C. For the final status negotiations, the Israeli side will be headed by Mr. David Levy, Foreign Minister, and the Palestinian side will led be by Mr. Mahmoud Abbass, the Secretary-General of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Culture of Peace at the United Nations: On 13 September 1999, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a “Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace” by consensus. This important step represented the culmination of the work done by the Open Ended Working Group headed by the Ambassador of Bangladesh, H.E. Mr. Anwarul Chowdhury.
The Declaration and Programme of Action was adopted following the adoption of resolution 52/15 of 20 November 1997, proclaiming the year 2000 the “International Year for the Culture of Peace”, and of resolution 53/25 of 10 November 1998, proclaiming the period 2001-2010 as the “International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World.”
The Declaration recognizes “that peace is not only the absence of conflict, but requires a positive, dynamic participatory process where dialogue is encouraged and conflicts are solved in a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation.” Moreover, the Declaration on a Culture of Peace was adopted with the aim that “Governments, international organizations and civil society may be guided in their activity by its provisions to promote and strengthen a culture of peace in the new millennium.”
Significantly, the Declaration and Programme of Action recognizes that the fuller development of a culture of peace is integrally linked to, inter alia, “Full realization of the right of all peoples, including those living under colonial or other forms of alien domination or foreign occupation, to self-determination enshrined in the Charter and embodied in the international covenants on human rights”. Moreover, the Programme of Action calls for various actions to promote international peace and security, including emphasizing “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in all parts of the world.”