Press Releases

         9 September 2004

    UN International Conference of Civil Society in Support of Palestinian People to Convene 13 - 14 September

    NEW YORK, 8 September (UN Department of Political Affairs) -- The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People will convene the United Nations International Conference of Civil Society in Support of the Palestinian People at United Nations Headquarters in New York on 13 and 14 September. The holding of the Conference is mandated by General Assembly resolutions 58/18 and 58/19 of 3 December 2003.

    The Conference will draw on the positive results of the 2002 and 2003 International Conferences of Civil Society. Its theme is “Ending the occupation -- A key prerequisite for achieving peace in the Middle East”. The aim of the Conference is to provide civil society organizations from all regions of the world with an opportunity to discuss the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, coordinate their activities and develop action-oriented proposals in support of the Palestinian people. Invited speakers will make presentations on various aspects of the role of civil society on the question of Palestine. During discussion periods in each plenary session, and in workshops, non-governmental organization representatives and other participants will have an opportunity to discuss issues of particular interest to civil society organizations. It is envisaged that participants at the close of the Conference will adopt a plan of action. The working languages of the Conference will be Arabic, English, French and Spanish.

    The Opening Session will take place on Monday, 13 September, at 10 a.m. in Conference Room 4. Kieran Prendergast, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, will read a message by Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Statements will also be made by Paul Badji, Chairman of the Committee; Nasser Al-Kidwa, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations; and Phyllis Bennis, Co-Chair, International Coordinating Network for Palestine.

    Plenary I will start at 11 a.m. in the same conference room and will discuss “The current situation: Facts on the ground”. Presentations will be made by Gabi Baramki, President, Palestinian Council for Justice and Peace; Rachel Greenspahn, Director for Development and International Outreach, B’Tselem; Jad Isaac, Director General, Applied Research Institute, Jerusalem; Gideon Levy, Columnist, Ha’aretz; Adah Kay, Professor at City University and Co-Author, “Stolen Youth: Israel’s Detention of Palestinian Children”; and Praful Bidwai, Journalist. The session will be followed, at 1.30 p.m., by the screening of documentary films on the question of Palestine, also in Conference Room 4.

    Plenary II, entitled “Occupation and international law”, will start at 3.00 p.m. Presentations will be made by Anis F. Kassim, Lawyer of the Palestinian Defence Team to the International Court of Justice; Michael Sfard, Lawyer, representative of HaMoked: Centre for the Defence of the Individual; Susan Akram, Clinical associate professor, Boston University School of Law; Iain Scobbie, Professor of International Law, School of Oriental and African Studies, London; and Victor de Currea-Lugo, expert in international law.

    Plenary III will start on Tuesday morning, 14 September 2004, at 10 a.m., in Conference Room 4. Presentations under the theme “The role of civil society: From alleviating human suffering to advocating the end of occupation” will be made by Adam Keller, Spokesperson, Gush Shalom; Raymond Deane, Chairman, Ireland/Palestine Solidarity Committee; Corinne Whitlatch, Executive Director, Churches for Middle East Peace; Max Ozinsky, Chairperson, Not in My Name; Na’eem Jeenah, Spokesperson, Palestine Solidarity Committee; Dennis Brutus, Professor (em.), African Studies, University of Pittsburgh; and Marcia Freedman, Former Member of Knesset and President, Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace. The session will be followed at 1 p.m. by the presentation of the final document prepared by the Steering Committee.

    Workshops devoted to such themes as “How to work with the media”; “Inter-religious mobilization”; “Working with the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice”; “International Protection: What does it mean and strategies to get there?” and “The question of Palestine within the global peace movement” will be held from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in Conference Rooms B, 8, 6, C and 5, respectively. The resource persons will include Ahmed Bouzid, Chairman, Palestine Media Watch; Joseph Cornelius Donnelly, Board Member, Israel Palestine NGO Working Group; Zaha Hassan, Co-Chairperson, U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation; Jeff Handmaker, Researcher at the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights, University of Utrecht; Bahia Amra, Fellow, Health, Development, Information and Policy Institute; Chris Doyle, Director, Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding; and Hani Khalil, Chairman, Palestine Working Group, United for Peace and Justice.

    Invitations to participate in the Conference have been sent to civil society organizations on the mailing list of the Division for Palestinian Rights. Governments, intergovernmental organizations and United Nations agencies have been invited to attend as observers. All the plenary sessions of the Conference will be webcast live at The plenary webcasts will be archived for continuous access through the Internet. The report of the Conference will be issued as a publication of the Division in due course.

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