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"As is" reference - not a United Nations document

Source: Israel-Palestine Working Group
9 October 2015

Arria-formula meetings of the United Nations Security Council

Arria-formula meetings are informal, confidential gatherings that allow Security Council members to meet on a specific topic and hear from people who normally would not have the opportunity to speak at regular meetings or consultations of the Council. In regular meetings of the Security Council, under long-standing practice, the only ones who may speak are government officials of Security Council members, invited delegations of UN member states involved in the issue at hand, and UN officials.

An Arria-formula meeting, first initiated in 1992 by Ambassador Diego Arria of Venezuela, allows a Council member or members to hold an informal meeting using a flexible procedural framework and held outside the Council chamber. The Council member or members calling the meeting invite persons they believe it would be beneficial for the Council to hear address the issue in question. This allows Council members to engage in direct dialogue with representatives of international organizations and experts from civil society on matters of concern that fall within the Security Council's responsibility. The inviting member(s) chair the meeting; the president of the Security Council must support the meeting taking place during said presidency.

Arria-formula meetings are off the record to allow frank and informal discussion. Such gatherings do not constitute a formal activity of the Council and are convened at the initiative of a member or members of the Council. Individual Council members determine if they will participate in Arria-formula meetings and at what level.

Arria-formula meetings represent a significant expansion of the sources of information for the Security Council. They allow voices of civil society experts to be heard and hopefully influence the debate and decisions of the Security Council's discussions in regular meetings.

Representatives of UN member states not serving on the Security Council and accredited nongovernmental organizations are often invited to attend Arria-formula meetings. Some UN member states view Arria-formula meetings as an appropriate and timely alternative mechanism that provides a better read on situations before the Security Council.

While the discussions in Arria-formula meetings of the Security Council are off the record, speakers or diplomats who wish to share the information that they presented in an Arria meeting are free to do so in a press conference or publication after the meeting, and in this spirit we are making this information available.

About the Israel-Palestine Non-governmental Organization (NGO) Working Group at the United Nations (UN)

The Israel-Palestine Non-governmental Organization (NGO) Working Group at the United Nations (UN) is a coalition of 15 active organizations that have met since 1999 to share information and advocate within the United Nations community for a just peace in Israel-Palestine.

The group is a unique body whose individual member organizations are accredited to the United Nations through the Economic and Social Council or the Department of Public Information. Each member organization has a link to Israel-Palestine, be it humanitarian, policy, or faith-based work. This dual commitment enables the working group to serve as a dynamic bridge between Israel-Palestine and the United Nations community while advocating for a just and lasting peace.


The content of the presentations are the sole responsibility of the speakers, not the Israel Palestine NGO Working Group, its affiliated organizations, or the sponsoring missions. This publication has been funded by civil society organizations affiliated with the Israel Palestine NGO Working Group.

Contact the Israel-Palestine NGO Working Group at the UN at:

Israel-Palestine NGO Working Group at the UN
c/o Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations
777 UN Plaza
New York, NY 10017


On Monday, July 20, 2015, the United Nations Security Council met in an Arria-formula meeting entitled, "Reflections One Year Later and Charting a New Course for Gaza." The Permanent Missions of Malaysia and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the UN co-chaired the meeting, the first ever Arria-formula Security Council Meeting to focus on Gaza, and the first on the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 1997.

In the 18 years since the previous Arria-formula, we have seen the Second Intifada, numerous failed peace processes, countless acts of aggression, violence, and terror throughout the region, and three military assaults on the Gaza Strip.

One year on from the most recent of these assaults, Operation Protective Edge, the 2014 Israeli military offensive against the Gaza Strip, no substantial reconstruction has taken place, and the region remains a tinderbox. This latest military offensive exacerbated an already dire humanitarian crisis due to the ongoing blockade imposed since 2007 by Israel, the Occupying Power, which has sealed off Gaza by land, sea, and air and separated and isolated it territorially, economically, socially, and politically from the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

The Arria-formula Security Council Meeting on Gaza was organized in part to highlight the inaction that has engulfed the Security Council when it comes to the Middle East Peace Process. It is an important foundation to build upon and encourage future constructive and sustained engagement on behalf of the Council and United Nations as a whole.

The Israel-Palestine NGO Working Group at the United Nations is grateful to the Permanent Missions of Malaysia and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the UN for organizing the

meeting. The constructive and compassionate interventions from members of the Security Council during the meeting, and during the subsequent Middle East Quarterly Open Debate on Thursday, July 23, 2015, were also welcomed.

The Israel-Palestine NGO Working Group at the United Nations was pleased to help bring new voices to the Security Council for this historic event, which interrupted the status quo of "business as usual." This booklet includes the presentations of the four civil society speakers at the Arria-formula meeting. We are grateful to Mr. Vance Culbert, Country Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council, Mr. Ardi Imseis of Cambridge University, Ms. Tania Hary, Deputy Director of Gisha—Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, and Dr. Sara Roy, Senior Research Scholar, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University, for their permission to include their words within this publication.

As a stakeholder for peace and justice for Israelis and Palestinians since 1999, the Israel-Palestine NGO Working Group hopes this meeting can help turn a new page in the long history of addressing the Question of Palestine at the UN. The ideas raised in the Arria-formula meeting will, hopefully, encourage the Security Council to engage in renewed negotiation to end the blockade and the current unsustainable situation in Gaza and catalyze a new course of action that leads to an end to the occupation and a peaceful future for the people of Gaza, and, indeed, for all Palestinians and Israelis.

But action must match rhetoric.

It is time for the members of the Security Council to overcome the current inertia and work toward new approaches and solutions that pursue a peace founded on justice for Palestinians and Israelis. Concerted and sustained engagement by a wide array of dedicated actors, state and non-state alike, has the potential to transform the unacceptable condition that currently exists. The fate of the Palestinian people in Gaza is intertwined with that of all the Palestinian people who live daily under occupation. The desperate situation in Gaza decreases the likelihood of creating a just and secure peace for Palestinians and Israelis alike.

As the United Nations moves into its 70th anniversary year, many concerned communities harbor renewed hope that progress can and will be made. For this to transpire, the Security Council and the international community will need to take bold and creative action to chart a new course that leads to a just peace for Gaza, and all of Palestine and Israel.

Israel-Palestine NGO Working Group
September 2015

Complete document in PDF format (Requires Acrobat Reader)

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