13 June 2001


Search for Peace in Middle East, Role of United Nations To Be Discussed

NEW YORK, 14 June (UN Headquarters) -- Prominent journalists and Middle East experts, including senior officials and lawmakers from Israel and the Palestinian Authority, will meet at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) headquarters in Paris, on 18 and 19 June, at an international media encounter on the question of Palestine organized by the Department of Public Information (DPI).

The overall theme of the encounter is "The search for peace in the Middle East". It is designed as a forum where media representatives and international experts will have an opportunity to discuss the status of the peace process, ways and means to break the deadlock, and the cycle of violence and reporting about the developments in the Middle East. They will also discuss the role of the United Nations in the question of Palestine and in the overall search for peace in the Middle East.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations is expected to issue a message welcoming the participants, which will be delivered by Shashi Tharoor, Interim Head, DPI. The Secretary-General of the French Foreign Ministry, Loïc Hennekinne, and the Director-General of UNESCO, Koichiro Matsuura, will also welcome the participants.

Terje Roed-Larsen, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian Authority, will present the keynote address of the encounter, focusing on the peace process in the Middle East. He will be joined by Nabil Shaath, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation of the Palestinian Authority; Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, former Israeli Minister of Tourism and Transportation; Uri Savir, former member of Israeli Knesset; and Robert Malley, former Director of Near East Affairs, National Security Council, United States Government. All of them have been personally involved in the "peace process", which began with the signing of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements by Israel and the PLO in September 1993 in Washington, D.C.

Ambassador Ibra Deguène Ka, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, and Dr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, will also speak at the encounter.

International experts on Middle East joining the panellists will be Sir Ian Gilmour, former Defence Secretary and Deputy Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom; Ambassador Clovis Maksoud, Director, Center for Global South, American University, Washington, D.C.; Stephen P. Cohen, President, Institute for Middle East Peace and Development; and Phyllis Bennis, Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, Washington, D.C.

Senior editors and correspondents from major international newspapers and media organizations to attend the encounter as panellists are: Hafez Hasan, General Manager and Editor-in-Chief, Al Hayat Al Jadidah, Ramallah, West Bank; Nabil El-Sharif, Editor-in-Chief, Ad-Dustour, Amman, Jordan; Jean-Luc Allouche, Editor-in-Chief, Libération, Paris, France; Martin Woollacott, Columnist, The Guardian, London, United Kingdom; and Israel Shamir, writer and freelance journalist, Israel.

Shashi Tharoor will moderate the encounter. He will be joined as an alternate moderator by Thérèse Gastaut, Director, Public Affairs Division, DPI.

Also expected to take part in the discussions are some 20 senior representatives of the media from the Middle East, Europe, Asia and other regions of the world.

The DPI international media encounter on the question of Palestine is mandated by the United Nations General Assembly, which, in its resolution 55/54 of 1 December 2000, reiterated that the worldwide dissemination of accurate and comprehensive information remained of vital importance in heightening awareness of and support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. It requested the DPI to organize international, regional and national seminars or encounters for journalists, aiming, in particular, at sensitizing public opinion to the question of Palestine.

The Paris media encounter will be the ninth in a series launched 10 years ago by the DPI to support the search for peace in the Middle East and to raise international awareness about the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. In the past, such encounters have taken place in Helsinki (1991), Lisbon (1992), London (1993), Elsinore, Denmark (1994), Athens (1997), Prague and New Delhi (1998) and Madrid (1999).

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