UN Seminar in Rome discusses future of Palestinian institutions
Posted: Friday, 8 March 2013, New York | Author: Department of Political Affairs
Over 160 representatives from 56 governments, 16 UN and other international institutions and 24 civil society organizations gathered in Rome at the end of February 2013 for a two-day UN Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People.
Secretariat staff from New York, Vienna and Rome pulled together to make the event organized at FAO’s Green Room a success.
Without the excellent support from our counterparts, the Seminar would not have gone as smoothly as it did. Substantive and logistical preparations were done by the Palestinian Rights Division in New York, conference services were coordinated by UNOV and on-site assistance was provided by the colleagues at FAO.
With the proceedings webcasted live, and all statements and press releases displayed online without delay, going paper-smart was put into practice, and appreciated by delegates, budget officers, and environmentalist alike. Similarly, a pro-active engagement with social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter helped disseminate the messages of the Seminar in real time, reaching about 450K users on Twitter. And last but not least, the seminar provided all the colleagues involved with an excellent opportunity to compare best practices in different duty stations, which will lead to further cost-efficient improvement of services.
Addressing the seminar, Secretary–General Ban said that the future of Palestinian institutions was closely linked to concrete achievements towards the two-State solution, and as such, failure to make tangible progress to that end “only means a continuation of the suffering, violence and instability in the whole region.” In a message delivered on his behalf by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Mr. Ban underlined that the Seminar was taking place at the time when the Palestinian Government was facing an “unprecedented” financial crisis that put at risk the significant achievements in institution-building made in recent years under the leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
The Seminar, organized by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, was the first such gathering since the General Assembly voted decisively in November 2012 to accord Palestine non-Member observer State status at the United Nations.
Experts, joined by senior Palestinian officials, weighed the challenges and opportunities of developing a self-sustaining economy in the new reality of a State under occupation. While agreeing that the principal issues in Palestine were not economical but political, they nevertheless outlined programmes aimed at rebuilding the severely eroded Palestinian economy.
Experts stressed that the conditions of humanitarian strife in the West Bank and Gaza were man-made, with the occupation practices creating a “protection crisis”. If allowed, the Palestinian people could effectively address their challenges themselves.
Expressing gratitude for unwavering support, Palestinian officials at the meeting asked the donor community to challenge Israel’s detrimental policies on the ground by supporting reconstruction in Gaza and projects that would connect the West Bank to East Jerusalem, by promoting the development of Area C, and by demanding that settlement products be labeled as such. They urged to look for new ideas on how to move forward, while sharing a unanimous sentiment of seminar participants that a small window of opportunity, opening on the political front following the last year’s General Assembly resolution, should not be missed.