I. DECLARATION ADOPTED BY THE ASIAN REGIONAL NGO SYMPOSIUM ON THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE
II. TELEGRAM DATED 12 JUNE 1987 FROM THE MODERATOR OF THE ASIAN REGIONAL NGO SYMPOSIUM TO H.E. MR. RAJIV GANDHI, PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA
III. TELEGRAM DATED 12 JUNE 1987 FROM THE MODERATOR OF THE ASIAN REGIONAL NGO SYMPOSIUM TO MR. YASSER ARAFAT, CHAIRMAN OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE PALESTINE LIBERATION ORGANIZATION
LIST OF PARTICIPANTS AND OBSERVERS
1. In pursuance of General Assembly resolution 40/96 B of 12 December 1985, the Second United Nations Asian Regional NGO Symposium on the Question of Palestine was held at the Vigyan Bhawan Conference Centre at New Delhi, from 8 to 10 June 1987. The Symposium was combined with the Sixteenth United Nations Seminar on the Question of Palestine that took place from 8 to 12 June 1987 and the theme of both meetings was “The inalienable rights of the Palestinian people”. “Thirty-five non-governmental organizations participated in the Symposium, 18 of them as observers.
2. In his opening statement, N.E. Mr. K. Natwar Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs of India, stressed the importance of the attempt to mold international public opinion for the Palestinian struggle. He indicated that the settlement of the Middle East question must be premised upon certain fundamental principles — the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and the right to return to its homeland. In this context, the call by the United Nations to convene the International Peace Conference on the Middle East assumed paramount importance.
3. The Head of the delegation and Vice-Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, H.E. Mr. Oscar Oramas-Oliva, in his statement underscored the important role played by NGOs in awakening international public opinion on the facts relating to the Palestinian problem and the convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East in accordance with the provisions of General Assembly resolution 38/58 C.
4. Mr. Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), sent a message in which he stated that the Palestinian people was determined to continue its struggle to bring about a just peace. This demand, he continued, had been reiterated by the representatives of the PLO at the eighteenth session of the Palestine National Council, held at Algiers from 20 to 25 April 1987, which unanimously endorsed the convening of an international peace conference on the Middle East in accordance with General Assembly resolutions 38/58 C and 41/43 D.
5. Four panels were established, two of them for the combined United Nations Asian Regional Seminar/NGO Symposium on the Question of Palestine, and two specifically related to NGO activities, one of which was considered at a workshop. The panels and their respective panelists were as follows:
(a) “The role of the Palestine Liberation Organization”: Mr. Jawed Naji Al-Awad (Palestinian);
(b) “The International Peace Conference on the Middle East in accordance with United Nations General Assembly resolution 38/58 C, the need for such a conference and efforts and prospects to promote a successful outcome and benefits thereof”:
(c) “NGO collaboration on the question of Palestine and the role of the United Nations”:
(d) *NGO activities to promote the convening of the International Peace Conference in the Middle East and to mobilize Asian public opinion.” This topic was considered in a workshop and the panelists were:
6. Following the presentation of the various papers, a discussion was held on each of the topics. A summary of topics (a) and (b), as mentioned above, is included in the report of the Sixteenth United Nations Seminar on the Question of Palestine.
7. In his closing statement H.E. Mr. Oscar Oramas-Oliva noted that the rapid increase in activities and collaboration among NGOs since the last NGO Symposium, held at New Delhi in 1985, had led to the formation of the Asian Regional Preparatory Co-ordinating Committee of NGOs which will truly represent the great variety of nations and peoples of this region of the globe.
(b) “The International Peace Conference on the Middle East in accordance with United Nations General Assembly resolution 38/58 C, the need for such a conference and efforts and prospects to promote a successful outcome and benefits thereof”
8. A summary of the discussion on topics (a) and (b) is included in the report of the Sixteenth United Nations Seminar on the Question of Palestine.
(c) “NGO collaboration on the question of Palestine and the role of the United Nations”
9. Mr. Donald Betz, Chairman of the International Co-ordinating Committee of NGOs on the Question of Palestine, explained the origins of the NGO network and its growth from the Interim Co-ordinating Committee to the Regional Co-ordinating Committees already functioning in Europe and North America and the building of organizational structure currently underway in Africa and Asia. That proved, he continued, that there exists across the world a growing interlocking network of hundreds of NGO groups that refuse to accept the status quo with reference to the question of Palestine and that continue to pursue a genuine peace in the Middle East.
10. In his view, NGOs believe that they are helping tell the story of the Palestinian people to those who are not diametrically opposed to Palestinian self-determination in principle, but are essentially uninformed or misinformed about the facts. In order to accomplish this purpose, the International Co-ordinating Committee announced, on 29 November 1986, that NGOs collaborating world-wide had proclaimed 1987 as “the Year of the Palestinian People” for it marks four decisive dates: the seventieth anniversary of the Balfour Declaration; the fortieth anniversary of the partition of Palestine and the non-implementation of General Assembly resolution 181 (II); the twentieth anniversary of the 1967 war and the occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza strip; and the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Lebanon resulting in the massacre at Sabra and Shatila.
11. The Third International NGO Meeting, held at Vienna in September 1986, unanimously adopted the Vienna Declaration whose main focus was action and not rhetoric. A direct result was the establishment of the International Co-ordinating Committee Liaison Office at Geneva. This office has co-ordinated and participated in a number of projects such as the Palestinian Women’s Conference convened at Washington in March 1987, organized by the Palestine Human Rights Campaign and the Arab Women’s Council.
12. He concluded by stressing that the time for co-ordinated, purposeful and effective action on the part of NGOs is now and in the future.
13. On the same topic H.E. Mr. David D. Karran, Deputy Permanent Representative of Guyana to the United Nations, summarized the work that the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People has carried out since its inception in 1975, pointing out the activities that NGOs have performed in co-operation with the Committee. The turning point of this was the International Conference on the Question of Palestine, and in particular, the Programme of Action whose section III was almost entirely devoted to the role of NGOs.
14. General Assembly resolution 38/58 B of 13 December 1983, he said, continued this course and by it, the Assembly requested to increase contacts with NGOs, as well as the convening of symposia and meetings for NGOs in different regions, in order to heighten awareness of the facts relating to the question of Palestine. Consequently, he explained, regional symposia and international meetings were organized in 1984, 1985 and 1986. At the Second International NGO Meeting, the International Co-ordinating Committee for NGOs on the Question of Palestine (ICCP) was established with the view of expanding and further developing the existing global NGO network.
15. In 1986 at the North American Regional NGO Symposium, was established the North American Co-ordinating Committee (NACC) whose major function was to co-ordinate the work of the North American NGOs on the question of Palestine. In the same line, in 1986 at the first European Regional NGO Symposium, it was decided to set up a European co-ordinating committee.
16. He recalled that 1987 commemorates several significant anniversaries for the Palestinian people and explained that those anniversaries should provide inspiration and commitment; for the task that NGOs had ahead of them.
17. Mr. Dai Guanghe, representative of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, explained in his statement that the question of Palestine was in essence a struggle for national self-determination, especially since 1964 with the establishment of the PLO. The recent eighteenth session of the Palestine National Council had strengthened the unity of the PLO and was an important step in the struggle to regain the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people. Without a just and reasonable solution to the Palestine question there could be no lasting peace and stability in the Middle East. He reiterated the Chinese people’s firm support for the Palestinian and other Arab peoples in their struggle to recover their lost territories and regain their legitimate national rights. The Chinese people, he said, supported the convening of an international peace conference under the United Nations’ auspices, with the participation of the PLO as an equal member with the other parties concerned, and called upon the United Nations to take effective measures for the implementation of the General Assembly resolutions confirming the national rights of the Palestinian people.
18. Mr. Roman T. Akhramovich, Director of the Institute of the Countries of Asia and Africa at Moscow State University, in his statement, pointed out the correlation that exists between the urgent need for the settlement of the Middle East problem and the wider issue of the rejection of aggression and brute force in international affairs and the violation of the legitimate rights of peoples, which correspond to the needs of the present stage of world history. This was a matter of particular concern in the context of the struggle against the growing threat to world peace and for ending the arms race and removing the monstrous nuclear threat, as also the continuous attempts of the forces of neo-colonialism to dominate the newly liberated countries. There was overall agreement, he pointed out, to the need for the urgent convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East under the United Nations’ auspices, with the participation of the parties directly involved in the conflict as well as the Soviet Union, the United States and other interested States, which could contribute to a settlement and, if necessary, guarantee it. In this context, he emphasized the role of the NGOs of Asian countries in organizing a global information campaign to promote the early convening of the International Conference.
19. Mr. Ergun Osbudun, Director of the Institute of Middle East Studies at Ankara University, speaking on the same topic underscored the priority given by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian people to the convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East in conformity with General Assembly resolution 35/58 C. He referred to the Third International NGO Meeting on the Question of Palestine, held at Vienna from 2 to 4 July 1986, and stressed the importance of NGO activities in creating an international atmosphere for the early convening of the International Conference. In discussing ways and means of the mobilization of public opinion by NGOs, he recognized the fact that by and large Asian governments and public opinion fully supported the cause of Palestine and he underscored the specific role that Asian NGOs have to influence the American and Israeli public opinions.
20. Mr. Amnon Zichroni, one of the founders of the Israeli Council for Israel Palestinian Peace in Israel, while expressing his confidence in the achievability of lasting peace in the Middle East, analyzed the changes taking place in Israeli public opinion as a result of the continued Israeli presence in the occupied territories and the aftermath of the invasion of Lebanon. In this respect, he emphasized the opportunity and the need for NGOs to influence public opinion in Israel, particularly among the generation that had been brought up under the Israeli occupation of Arab territories. He described the difficulties encountered by the peace forces in Israel, particularly in the context of the new Prevention of Terror Act which prohibits any contact between Israelis and Palestinians, and called for gestures and symbolical efforts, including non-violent movements in the occupied territories, to strengthen the campaign of the Israeli peace forces with the view to answer the unjustified apprehension that the Arabs are determined to destroy Israel as a nation. He felt that Asia as a non-aligned area could make a major contribution to this process through the activities of NGOs
DECLARATION ADOPTED BY THE ASIAN REGIONAL NGO SYMPOSIUM ON THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE
2. We also wish to thank the Representative of the Secretary-General, the Chief of the Division for Palestinian Rights, the International Co-ordinating Committee, the NGO liaison officers, the staff of the Department of Conference Services and the interpreters for their valuable assistance in the preparation and execution of this meeting. We believe this meeting strengthens the bonds between the United Nations and the community of Asian NGOs involved with the Palestine question and look forward to increasing levels of understanding, appreciation and co-operation.
3. We wish also to thank very sincerely the Government of India for hosting this Symposium and for its generous co-operation. We recognize and appreciate the long-standing and unfailing support of the Government and the people of India to the just cause of the Palestinian people, in the tradition of the national liberation movement of India from the early twenties when it opposed the Balfour Declaration.
We recognize that 1987 marks the seventieth anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, the fortieth anniversary of the adoption of General Assembly resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947 for the partition of Palestine, the twentieth anniversary of the 1967 war and the subsequent Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and the fifth anniversary of the destructive Israeli aggression against Lebanon and the massacres at Sabra and Shatila and the International Year of the People of Palestine.
5. We resolutely reaffirm the international consensus that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people in its just struggle for its inalienable rights. Taking note of the support of the Palestinian people for the PLO, and of the consolidated unity established at the eighteenth session of the Palestine National Council in April 1987 at Algiers, we reject outright the idea that anyone other than the Palestinian people should decide who should represent them, all the more so as the first act of any people in implementing its right to self-determination is the choice of its own representatives. We fully support the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to untrammelled independent decision-making through its own national organization the PLO.
6. Accordingly, we call upon all governments that do not recognize the PLO to do so without delay. We also call upon all governments to support the convening of the International Peace Conference and to work for the realization of such a conference as a top priority.
7. We recognize that the self-determination of the Palestinian people and their right to self-government in their own independent State in Palestine is the central requirement for peace and security, for a just and durable peace between Israel and the Palestinian national State and its Arab neighbours, and is in full accord with one of the most fundamental principles of the Charter of the United Nations. We reaffirm that this right must be exercised without outside interference on its own national territory and under the leadership of the PLO, in conformity with relevant United Nations resolutions.
8. We fully support the Geneva Declaration on Palestine of 7 September 1983 adopted by the International Conference on the Question of Palestine, held at Geneva from 29 August to 7 September 1983, in favour of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East and we fully uphold General Assembly resolution 38/58 C of 13 December 1983. It is essential that the Conference be inclusive and be attended by the representatives of both Israel and the PLO, those Arab States parties to the conflict, the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, all on an equal footing. We are aware that not only world peace but also the human and civil rights of the Palestinian people have been set back by the non-implementation of Assembly resolution 38/58 C. In this context, we reject partial and piecemeal agreements as counter-productive and not conducive to a comprehensive peaceful solution, as others totally ignore the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
9. We take serious note of the fact that while the PLO fully support Assembly resolution 38/58 C, the United States of America and Israel are opposed to it. We strongly feel that the position of these two governments constitutes a serious threat to world peace and we urge upon all governments to exert more pressure on these two governments to join the global consensus on this issue.
10. We view with grave concern the law recently adopted-by the Israeli Government making any meeting between an Israeli citizen and a member of the PLO punishable by three years’ imprisonment. This is considered an act designed to prevent peace efforts at the NGO level. We urge the Israeli Government to repeal immediately this law and call upon the United Nations and all governments to exert their influence upon the Israeli Government to do so.
11. We note with grave concern the discriminatory policy and practices being committed by the Israeli Government against the Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel and condemn the racist laws and practices that endanger their existence in their homeland. We call upon the Israeli Government to give equal rights to the Arab citizens of Israel. We declare our full support for the struggle of the Arab Israeli community, together with the Jewish democratic forces, for equality and security. We believe that there can be no democracy without equal rights for all citizens.
12. We have heard with great appreciation the voice of Israeli peace forces and extend to them all our sympathy and support in their difficult task of opposition to the oppressive policies of the Israeli Government, within the Israeli Parliament and among the Israeli public. In particular, we express solidarity with those who, as an act of peace, accept imprisonment for their refusal to engage in military service in the occupied territories. We note with great satisfaction the emergence of peace forces, particularly within the Oriental Jewish Community in Israel. We regard this as a most significant development and call upon all elements interested in early peace in the Middle East to give moral and political support to the emerging peace forces within Israel.
13. We strongly condemn the continuation of the repressive measures by the Israeli administration against the Arab population in the occupied territories (arrests, tortures, demolition of homes and land requisitions, etc.) and call upon the United Nations, all governments and people to urge the Israeli Government to stop such oppressive acts.
14. We note with great concern the continued Israeli attacks on the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and strongly condemn the atrocities committed against the Palestinian people in the camps. We call upon all concerned parties to enforce a durable cease-fire and to ensure the flow of medical and relief supplies to the camps through the. United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, the International Red Cross and other international agencies.
15. We call upon all concerned parties to guarantee the security of the Palestinian people in Lebanon and their right to live in security in Lebanon. The presence of the Palestinian people in the refugee camps is not of their own will, but the result of the non-fulfilment of General Assembly resolution 181 (II). As this is the responsibility of all States Members of the United Nations, we call upon them and the United Nations General Assembly to take every necessary measure to ensure the security of the Palestinian people in Lebanon and elsewhere.
16. We draw attention to the continued Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon, its intervention in that country’s internal affairs through political coercion and oppressive actions in the south. We demand the immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon and the release of thousands held in prison. The question of Lebanon is an integral part of the Palestinian question and Israeli military expansion.
17. We believe that it is the increasing expansion of conflict areas by Israel, and the growing threat it constitutes to the peace not only of this region as a whole but of Asia and the world, that makes the convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East such an urgent necessity and the only practical and realistic solution to the problem of Palestine and the establishment of a Palestinian State. Immediate steps should be taken to set up a preparatory committee with the participation of the permanent members of the Security Council as the first step toward the holding of the Conference.
18. We further assert the inextricable connection between the struggle of the Palestinians for their independent homeland and every struggle in every part of the world of peoples fighting for their independence and sovereign right to build their life in their own way without any outside interference. The struggle of the Palestinian people is an integral part of the struggle of all peoples for world peace and against neo-colonialism, racism and all sorts of oppression against humanity and for a nuclear-weapon-free and non-violent world.
19. We fully appreciate the growing support in the United Nations for the Palestinian struggle and the PLO, the significant part being played in this connection by the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries and express our awareness of the urgent need for the NGOs of Asia to take the fullest advantage of the growing favourable environment to create a movement in public opinion in the United States and Israel against the policies of their governments, while at the same time activating public opinion in the Asian countries.
20. We are fully confident of the powerful role that NGOs, and particularly the NGOs of Asia, can play in creating a call in public opinion for the urgent convening of the International Conference. We are also confident that by creating a call in public opinion not only in Asia but also in other countries of the world, we can bring pressure on the Governments of Israel and the United States and also strengthen the hands of our respective governments in this task.
21. We believe the time has now come for urgent practical action. Having considered the various suggestions made at this Symposium, we pledge to mobilize people from different disciplines in Asian countries to influence their counterparts in other parts of the world, organize film screenings, meetings, demonstrations, symposia on specific issues concerned and signature campaigns among parliamentarians of the respective Asian countries, and similar other activities.
22. We appreciate the formation of the International Co-ordinating Committee (ICC) for NGOs. We strongly urge the United Nations, through the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, to continue to give all assistance to the ICC in organizing a network of NGO activities at a global level on the Palestinian question. Such a co-ordination committee with regional branches is essential for building up a massive campaign by NGOs for immediately convening the International Conference and for a continuing mobilization of public opinion for the realization of the just demands of the people of Palestine. Without the active material support of ICC it will not be possible to mount effective mass campaigns involving expensive modern media.
23. We, the Asian NGOs present here, decide to form an Asian Regional Co-ordinating Committee of NGOs to serve as a focus for our regional efforts. We recommend that we should begin with a preparatory committee of 12 members for this purpose to be formed through a wider discussion with other Asian NGOs for identifying the structure of such an organization and for finally constituting the preparatory committee. The delegates to the Symposium elect Mr. P. N. Haksar as the Chairman and Dr. M. S. Agwani as Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Committee for undertaking this task. The participants decide that NGO representation from countries represented by NGOs at this Symposium shall be included in the preparatory committee when finally constituted.
24. We call upon the international organizations of media men in the Asian region to take up the Palestine question and work together with the NGOs active on this issue. We call upon the poll of non-aligned news agencies to provide more information about the Palestine question and also about the worldwide campaign for the International Conference on Peace in the Middle East.
25. We conclude this Symposium with a great feeling of confidence and call upon the United Nations, through the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, to give due consideration to the practical recommendations of activities proposed in this document and provide necessary assistance and co-operation to the Asian Regional Co-ordinating Committee in fulfilling these tasks.
TELEGRAM DATED 12 JUNE 1987 FROM THE MODERATOR OF THE ASIAN REGIONAL NGO SYMPOSIUM
TO H.E. MR. RAJIV GANDHI, PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA
TELEGRAM DATED 12 JUNE 1987 FROM THE MODERATOR OF THE ASIAN REGIONAL NGO SYMPOSIUM
TO MR. YASSER ARAFAT, CHAIRMAN OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE PALESTINE LIBERATION ORGANIZATION
The Symposium wishes to assure His Excellency of its solidarity with the cause of the Palestinian people and its unwavering support for every effort aimed at securing for the Palestinian people the exercise of its inalienable rights and at arriving at a just, comprehensive and durable settlement of the question of Palestine.
It wishes to reaffirm its conviction that the International Peace Conference on the Middle East, as affirmed by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 38/58 C, is the only realistic and practical way towards a peaceful and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian question.
LIST OF PARTICIPANTS AND OBSERVERS
All India Indo-Arab Friendship Association
All India Indo-African Friendship Association
All India Muslim Majlis-E-Mushawarat
All India Peace and Solidarity Organization
All India Women’s Conference
Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development
Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries
Committee for Palestinian and Jewish Studies, Japan
Indian Federation of United Nations Associations Indian Society for International Law
International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions, Syria
Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace
Jawaharlal Nehru University
National Federation of Indian Women
The Soviet Committee for Solidarity with Countries of Asia and Africa
World Muslim Congress, Pakistan
Non-Governmental Organizations Observers
All India Bharat Yuvak Samaj
Asian Student Information Centre
Haryana United Nations Association
Islamic Cultural Centre
Palestine Committee for NGOs, Tunisia
World Muslim Congress
Indian Committee of NGOs for the United Nations Jawaharlal Nehru National Youth Centre
Poirz Bhavam Society of India
Indo-Arab Society, Bombay
Afghanistan, Algeria, Austria, Bhutan, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Cuba, Democratic Yemen, Egypt, German Democratic Republic, Guyana, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Islamic Republic of Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, Viet Nam, Yemen Arab Republic, Yugoslavia, Zaire, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Non-Member States represented by Observers
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Republic of Korea
United Nations Organs
Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples United Nations Council for Namibia
United Nations Special Committee against Apartheid
United Nations Secretariat. Units and Specialized Agencies
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
Intergovernmental Organizations League of Arab States
National Liberation Movements Palestine Liberation Organization