Remarks by Phyllis Bennis, US Campaign Steering Committee Member, UN International Conference of Civil Society in Support of the Palestinian People, 7 September 2006
UN International Conference of Civil Society in Support of the Palestinian People
United Nations Office in
7 September 2006
Remarks by Phyllis Bennis
Co-Chair, International Coordinating Network on
Mr. Chairman, Representative of the Secretary-General, Excellencies, and Friends:
I would like to extend my appreciation to the General Assembly’s Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for sponsoring this International Conference of Civil Society in Support of the Palestinian People. It is a tribute to the longstanding and continuing commitment of the Committee, especially that of its chairman, Ambassador Paul Badji, as well as Ambassador Riyad Mansour and the rest of the Committee's leadership, that the General Assembly continues to link its work with civil society partners to remind the international community of the catastrophic situation facing Palestinians and the urgent need to end the occupation and provide Palestinians with all the rights guaranteed to them under international law and UN resolutions.
We meet today in the midst of a new crisis of war and occupation, in
which Palestinians have suffered, and continue to suffer, even beyond the
suffering imposed by almost 40 years of occupation. The aggressive reality of
The war in
In this new regional context governments are being forced by widespread
expressions of popular democratic demands for an end to Arab support for the
Excellencies, I use the term “all of us” advisedly – because the United Nations does not belong to you alone. The United Nations belongs to all of us, to global civil society as much as to governments. And so when the United Nations stands silent in the face of new violations of international law and of its own resolutions, we stand responsible as well as you.
On February 15, 2003, the day “the world said no to war” on the eve of the illegal U.S. invasion of Iraq, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu reminded Secretary General Annan of the relationship between the United Nations and civil society. Speaking on behalf of peace campaigners then marching in the millions all around the world, he told the SG that “we claim the United Nations as our own. We claim it in the name of the global mobilization for peace.”
Like Bishop Tutu who has himself made justice in
Once again the crime of apartheid is being committed by a UN member state. And we call on our partner, the United Nations, to join with civil society’s call for the perpetrators of that crime to finally be brought to justice.
Like global civil society throughout the years of South African
apartheid, we have been and remain committed to a non-violent strategy aimed at
ending the system of Israeli apartheid: a strategy of boycotts, divestment and
sanctions on a global scale. We have
made significant gains in that strategy. Our partners in the UN Human Rights
Council has taken an important step in investigating
We know the UN is engaged in a difficult effort to initiate the
compensation registry called for in the General Assembly’s resolution on
implementing the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice which
And yes, we expect the United Nations to go still
further. Many of us have long called for international protection for
Palestinians living under occupation, since the Occupying Power consistently
violates its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
But the war in
And finally, we urge that the United Nations move to convene, under its
own auspices, a new international peace conference for the
We are pleased that on September 21st the Security Council will once again engage with the Arab League’s initiative calling for a new international peace conference. We are especially pleased with the commitment to move the issue out of the Council and into the General Assembly should the Council prove unable or unwilling to take its responsibility. We recognize that real UN reform will require just this kind of shift of key issues from the U.S.-dominated Council to the far more democratic General Assembly.
And finally, we also note that September 21st is the United Nations- designated International Day of Peace. Ending the Israeli occupation and implementing international law and UN resolutions guaranteeing equal rights to all Palestinians could not be a more fitting way to replace unilateralism and war with the possibility of peace. Thank you.