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Consultative arrangements have been established with the Economic and Social Council and its subsidiary bodies, the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat, and various United Nations organs, agencies and programmes. Large numbers of NGOs have participated in the global conferences on social and economic issues organized since the early 1990s, as well as in their follow-up activities. Cooperation with NGOs is an essential element in humanitarian relief missions and in development assistance programmes.
NGO cooperation with the United Nations on the question of Palestine covers the entire spectrum from advocacy and solidarity, on the one hand, to humanitarian relief and development assistance, on the other. Some NGOs, particularly those providing aid to refugees, have been active on this issue practically since the beginning of the conflict in 1948. Following the occupation of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967 and the intensification of efforts to achieve a just settlement, many new NGOs were established and became active in mobilizing public opinion in support of the Palestinian cause at the national and local levels. During the 1990s, many NGOs supported the peace process and provided assistance to the fledgling Palestinian institutions in the self-rule areas. With the outbreak of the second intifada in September 2000, NGOs again are calling for confronting the root causes of the conflict, namely to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. NGOs are in the forefront of the providers of emergency relief. They closely monitor the developments on the ground and introduce ground-breaking, yet modest measures of protection to the Palestinian people.
The main United Nations forum where all NGOs interested in this issue can meet periodically to exchange information and experience and to make new contacts with like-minded groups and individuals is that provided by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
A subsidiary organ of the General Assembly, the Committee was established in 1975 to make recommendations for a solution of the question of Palestine based on the exercise of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. Subsequent to its inception, the Committee was requested to promote the greatest possible dissemination of information on its recommendations through NGOs. It was later mandated to establish closer cooperation with them and to help expand the network of NGOs active on the question of Palestine, particularly by organizing symposia in all regions, as well as international meetings of NGOs.
Since the mutual recognition by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization and the signing of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements in September 1993, the Committee has expressed its support for the peace process, which it considers a historical milestone in the long struggle of the Palestinian people to achieve its inalienable rights and to reach a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East. The Committee has also undertaken activities to promote the effective implementation of the agreements reached by the parties and to mobilize international assistance for the social and economic development of the Palestinian territory. At the same time, the Committee has expressed grave concern at the many obstacles and delays in the negotiations, the acts of violence by extremists, the expansion of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the serious deterioration of the Palestinian economic situation due to prolonged military closures, which have threatened the continuation of the peace process and caused the outbreak of the second intifada.
Since September 2000, the Committee has been increasingly concerned over the escalation of the crisis, the tragic loss of innocent lives, the wide-scale destruction of Palestinian institutions and property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and the rapid deterioration of the Palestinian economy. In light of the difficulties in the peace process, the international community has to intensify its engagement with both sides, so as to bring about the resumption of negotiations which would lead to a permanent settlement. Moreover, the Committee believes that the international community has a moral duty towards achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the region, based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). The role of civil society organizations in educating their respective constituencies about the fundamental issues of the question of Palestine and in mobilizing public support for the Palestinian cause remains very important.
In view of these developments, the General Assembly has reaffirmed that the United Nations has a permanent responsibility towards the question of Palestine until it is resolved in all its aspects in a satisfactory manner in accordance with international legitimacy, and has continued to renew the Committee’s mandate as the organ dealing with the question. The Committee has intensified its efforts to promote wider international understanding and support for the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people which will have to be met in any settlement to be just, comprehensive and lasting. Its programme of work has been streamlined and refocused in order to enhance the Committee’s contribution during the difficult stages towards statehood faced by the Palestinian people.
Since the early 1980s, the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council have also taken steps to expand existing United Nations activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and to develop a comprehensive programme of assistance to the Palestinian people that would reach beyond assistance already provided to refugees. This programme was greatly increased following the signing of the Declaration of Principles in 1993 and the establishment of the self-governing Palestinian Authority in 1994. Several United Nations agencies and programmes are cooperating closely with NGOs active on the ground that have long-standing experience in providing development assistance to Palestinians and have played an important role in supporting the growth of Palestinian institutions.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has programmes in the areas of primary and preparatory education, vocational and teacher training, primary health care, relief and social services, environmental infrastructural development and income generation. The UNRWA-NGO partnership dates back to the establishment of the Agency in 1950. NGOs have complemented UNRWA’s education, health, relief and social services to refugees by pioneering work in assisting people with disabilities and launching community self-help and income-generation programmes. They have given financial aid, assistance in elementary schooling, staff training and maternal and child health care and have distributed food and medical supplies. They run pilot projects in new domains and in emergency situations. For its part UNRWA helps NGOs by giving direct financial aid or by sharing expertise, technology and information and through joint training workshops. The agency also participates in NGO meetings, assists with their fund-raising campaigns and supports the development of community organizations.
The activities of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) concentrate on the provision and improvement of basic infrastructure, enhancing Palestinian capacity in the areas of governance and public administration, strengthening the economic base of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, particularly in agriculture, industry and trade, and information exchange among donor Governments and international organizations. In implementing its programme, the coordination with NGOs is essential. UNDP activities are decided jointly with the Palestinian Authority, but in many instances they are implemented by NGOs or in close cooperation with them, for they are often the only actors on the ground.
The programme of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) emphasizes strengthening community-level structures, particularly among disadvantaged groups in areas such as primary health care, basic education, physiotherapy and psychological trauma. UNICEF’s education programme is implemented through three main projects focusing on formal and non-formal education: early childhood development/psychosocial health; primary education; and youth and community development. To improve the quality of life of Palestinian children and women, UNICEF supports maternal and child health programmes and appropriate primary health care services. The implementation of these programmes is coordinated with those NGOs whose activities are aimed at similar target groups.
In 1994, the Secretary-General of the United Nations appointed a Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories (UNSCO) who serves as a focal point for all United Nations economic, social and other assistance to the Palestinians in the Occupied Territory. In September 1999, the Secretary-General appointed Terje Rod Larsen as the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and his Personal Representative to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority. He facilitates coordination among the respective United Nations programmes and agencies that are operating in the Palestinian territory, so as to ensure an integrated and unified approach towards economic and social development. In this connection the Special Coordinator maintains constant contact with the United Nations programmes and agencies, as well as NGOs and the donor community in general.
To join this network of NGOs on the question of Palestine, organizations need to become accredited to the Committee. In view of developments in the peace process and in order to promote broader participation, revised criteria for accreditation were adopted in 1994, as follows:
“The NGO should:
“(a) Be a recognized local, national or international non-profit organization;
“(b) Support the Charter of the United Nations, the principles of international law and the achievement of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, primarily its right to self-determination;
“(c) Have demonstrated that it has concrete programmes or the serious intent to establish such programmes in support of the achievement of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.
“Organizations whose mandates preclude advocacy but whose work encompasses humanitarian ends and programmes, including development, benefiting the Palestinian people, are welcome to participate.”
Interested NGOs are requested to submit an application form (see annex) to the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat, which will submit it for approval to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
Accredited NGOs will be invited to all relevant international meetings held under the auspices of the Committee, to participate in the discussion and to make statements. They may submit reports, written statements and other relevant documents for circulation among Committee members and observers. They will have the opportunity to display, after prior screening by the Secretariat, their own publications at the site of meetings organized under the auspices of the Committee. Accredited NGOs will be invited to participate in the preparation and conduct of NGO meetings organized under the auspices of the Committee, i.e. to make suggestions for the agenda, to participate in steering and drafting groups, to nominate officers of the meeting, etc. Whenever appropriate, members of the Committee and/or staff members of the Division will consult with these NGOs on issues related to the question of Palestine. They will receive all publications issued by the Division and other relevant information distributed by the Secretariat.
Accredited NGOs have the responsibility to support the work and objectives of the Committee and to respect the Committee’s mandate as defined by General Assembly resolutions. They shall respect the United Nations rules of procedure, as well as the guidelines, procedures and practice established by the Committee. Finally, they shall report informally to the Division/Committee on their planned and accomplished activities; and submit to the Committee once every four years a formal report detailing their activities on the question of Palestine.
Organizations that, for one reason or another, feel they cannot subscribe to the accreditation criteria but have expressed interest in the activities of the Committee can request to be recognized as observers.
NGOs in observer status will be invited to attend meetings held under the auspices of the Committee. They may speak in NGO meetings held under the auspices of the Committee, and they will be part of the mailing list of the Division. NGOs in observer status have the responsibility to respect the United Nations rules of procedure, as well as the guidelines, procedures and practice established by the Committee and to report informally to the Division/Committee on their planned and accomplished activities.
Moreover, specific NGO meetings in support of the Palestinian people are being organized every year under the auspices of the Committee. In the 1980s and 1990s, annual NGO symposia and international NGO meetings had been organized in New York and Geneva or Vienna. More recently, NGO meetings in solidarity with the Palestinian people have been organized in conjunction with international meetings in Paris (2000), in Madrid (2001) and in Nicosia (2002). Regional meetings usually include a one-day workshop of NGOs, in order to discuss the relevant issues and to encourage participating organizations to adopt a plan of action for the foreseeable future in support of the Palestinian cause. Such workshops have been held in 2000 in Hanoi, in 2001 in Havana and in 2002 in Rabat. An International Conference of Civil Society in Support of the Palestinian People will be held in September 2002 at United Nations Headquarters in New York.
NGO workshops, meetings and conferences bring together numerous organizations active on the question of Palestine, including Palestinian and Israeli NGOs. Panel discussions, usually held in plenary, serve to provide information and analysis on current political developments, to focus on the needs of the Palestinian people and to improve networking among NGOs. Where appropriate, part of the meetings is devoted to action-oriented workshops, where NGOs working on specific issues and campaigns have an opportunity, in a small group setting, to exchange experience and expertise with kindred groups and elaborate common strategies and proposals. Speakers in panels and workshops are drawn from the academic community, from among parliamentarians, government representatives and the media and from within the NGO community. NGO symposia and meetings may adopt a final document and a set of specific recommendations for action by NGOs.
The reports of symposia and international meetings are issued as publications of the Division for Palestinian Rights; a summary is included in the annual report of the Committee to the General Assembly. These documents are widely disseminated, not only to the network of accredited NGOs, but also to Governments, intergovernmental and United Nations family organizations, experts who have participated in the meetings and others interested in the issue. They are also posted on the Internet as part of the United Nations home page.
The Committee encourages cooperation, coordination and networking among civil society organizations. Through the Division it liaises with national, regional and international coordinating mechanisms. It holds periodically consultations with various organizations on ways and means to enhance its programme of cooperation with civil society. Representatives of the Committee or staff members of the Division participate in some of the conferences and meetings organized by NGOs that are of particular relevance to the mandate of the Committee.
III. RELATED ACTIVITIES
The Division for Palestinian Rights maintains two web sites dedicated to the issue. The main page, entitled “Question of Palestine”, can be accessed either through the United Nations home page at www.un.org or directly at:
As a main reference source, the Division for Palestinian Rights has developed a computer-based United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL). The system is designed to store and provide United Nations documentation, current and historical, on the various aspects of the question of Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict, as well as studies and publications issued by the Division for Palestinian Rights. UNISPAL can be accessed on the Internet at:
The address is: Division for Palestinian Rights
United Nations Secretariat, Room S-3350
New York, NY 10017
United States of America
Fax (1- 212) 963-4199
APPLICATION FOR ACCREDITATION
WITH THE COMMITTEE ON THE EXERCISE
OF THE INALIENABLE RIGHTS
OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
“The NGO should:
5. Contact person’s name:
(i) _______________________________________________ _________________________________________________
(ii) _______________________________________________ _________________________________________________
(iii) _______________________________________________ _________________________________________________
or any of the coordinating committees for NGOs on the question of Palestine? [ ] Yes [ ] No
Name of the organization/coordinating committees to which you are affiliated:
agency or body other than the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the
Palestinian People and the Division for Palestinian Rights? [ ] Yes [ ] No
on the question of Palestine? [ ] Yes [ ] No
[ ] Agriculture
[ ] Assistance
[ ] Children/Youth
[ ] Culture
[ ] Development
[ ] Education
[ ] Environment/Water
[ ] General Solidarity
[ ] Health/Medical
[ ] Industry
[ ] Information/Media
[ ] International Law
[ ] Labour/Union Rights
[ ] Law
[ ] Lobbying
[ ] Mental Health
[ ] Peace
[ ] Publications
[ ] Relief
[ ] Research/Analysis
[ ] Social Services
[ ] Trade
[ ] Women
[ ] Other (please specify):
[ ] national (please specify)
[ ] international (please specify in which countries)
21. Title of your publication: