Press Release
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York

23 June 2004

NEW YORK, 22 June (UN Department of Political Affairs) -- The United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People will convene the United Nations African Meeting in Support of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.  With the agreement of the Government of South Africa, the Committee has decided to hold this Meeting on 29 and 30 June 2004 in Cape Town.  It will be followed, on 1 July 2004, by the United Nations Forum of Civil Society in Support of Middle East Peace.

The theme of the Meeting is “Achieving the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people -- The key to peace in the Middle East”.  Both events will focus on promoting support for international efforts at stopping the dangerous deterioration of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, salvaging the political process, and realizing the vision of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.  Invited to the Meeting are eminent personalities, including high-level officials from the host Government and the Palestinian Authority, internationally renowned experts, including Israelis and Palestinians, representatives of United Nations Members and Observers, parliamentarians, representatives of the United Nations system and other intergovernmental organizations, the academic community, representatives of non-governmental organizations, as well as the media.

Theopening session of the Meeting will take place on Tuesday, 29 June, at 10 a.m., in the Conference Room (Ballroom East) of the Arabella Sheraton Hotel.  The session is expected to be addressed by Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa; Peter Hansen, Commissioner-General, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East; Paul Badji, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People; and Saeb Erakat, Minister for Negotiations Affairs of the Palestinian Authority.  It is envisaged that the opening session will be followed by a panel of eminent personalities to discuss African support for the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.  The Meeting will continue in three plenary sessions, during which experts will address specific issues.  Each plenary session will have a discussion period.

Plenary I, entitled “The situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem”, will begin at 3.00 p.m. on Tuesday, 29 June, with the participation of Saeb Erakat, Minister for Negotiations Affairs of the Palestinian Authority; Anat Biletzki, Chair of the Philosophy Department of Tel Aviv University and Board Member of B’Tselem; John Dugard, Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the Situation of Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory; and Jodi Kollapen, Chairperson of the South African Human Rights Commission.  The presentations will be followed by a broader discussion among the participants.

On Wednesday morning, 30 June, at 10 a.m., Plenary II will be devoted to “Realizing a shared vision of peace between the Israelis and Palestinians”.  Presentations will be made by, among others, a Palestinian expert; an Israeli expert, Yossi Katz, former member of the Knesset; and Ebrahim Ebrahim, Senior Advisor to the Deputy President of South Africa.  A broader discussion will follow.

Plenary III, starting at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 30 June, is entitled “International efforts at salvaging peace in the Middle East, African support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people”.  Speakers include Ali Halimeh, General Delegate of Palestine to Ireland; Joel Peters, Professor of International Relations at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev; Baleka Mbete, Speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa; Edward Abington, former United States Consul-General in East Jerusalem; Vladimir Chamov, Head of Section in the Middle East Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Ismail Debeche, Professor of International Relations at the University of Sétif, Algeria.  A discussion period will follow.

The closing session will take place on Wednesday, 30 June, at 5.30 p.m. 

Representatives of civil society will have the opportunity to discuss in greater detail their role in the question of Palestine at a Forum to be held in the Meeting venue on Thursday, 1 July, starting at 10 a.m.  The morning session will look at initiatives of African civil society in support of the Palestinian people.  Speakers include Amjad Atallah, President of the Strategic Assessment Initiative from Washington, DC; Naeem Jeenah, Spokesperson of the Palestine Solidarity Committee of South Africa; Shannon Field, Fellow at the Institute for Global Dialogue in Johannesburg; and Max Ozinski of the Not in my Name campaign in Cape Town.  The afternoon session will discuss the relationship between African civil society and worldwide initiatives to support a peaceful solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Speakers that have accepted the Committee’s invitation include, Soyata Maiga, President of the Association of Women Jurists of Mali, Richard Kuper, Spokesperson, European Jews for a Just Peace; and Ivor Chipkin, Fellow at the Wits Institute for Economic and Social Research. 

All sessions of the Meeting, as well as the Forum of Civil Society are open to the media.

The working languages of the Meeting will be English and French.

Reports of both events will be issued, in due course, as a publication of the Division for Palestinian Rights of the United Nations Secretariat.

Registration of Participants and Observers

Participants and observers, including the representatives of the media are required to register and obtain Meeting badges prior to entering the conference room.  A registration area will be set up in the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), located adjacent to the Arabella Sheraton Hotel.  Advance registration will be held on Thursday, 24 June, Friday, 25 June, and Monday, 28 June, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Registration on Tuesday, 29 June, will start at 8 a.m.  Kindly take advantage of the advance registration in order to avoid delays on Tuesday, prior to the opening of the Meeting.  Representatives of civil society, including the media will have to register on Thursday, Friday or Monday.  On Tuesday morning, 29 June, registration is reserved for participating delegations only.

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For information media - not an official record