Written evidence submitted by the United
Nations Association of the UK (UNA-UK)
THE UK (UNA-UK)
1. UNA-UK is the UK's leading independent
policy authority on the UN and a UK-wide membership organisation,
supporting the work of the UN and its agencies. We campaign for
a strong, credible and effective UN, promoting the principles
of multilateralism and adherence to international law contained
in the UN Charter. UNA-UK is independent of the UN system and
receives no funding from it, allowing us to be critical of the
UN's decisions and activities when we need to be and enabling
us to call for the organisation to be reformed so that it is better
equipped to fulfil its fundamental functions.
2. UNA-UK is non-party political. Our head
office in London provides policy expertise to support the advocacy
work of UNA-UK members. It maintains an ongoing dialogue with
UK government ministers, parliamentarians and the media on issues
relating to the UN and acts as the Secretariat to the All-Party
Parliamentary Group on the UN.
3. UNA-UK welcomes the launch of the Committee's
first Global Security Inquiry, into the situation in the Middle
East. However, we are concerned at the lack of mention in the
oral evidence presented to the Committee of the positive and essential
role played by the UN, currently and potentially in the future,
in solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. The UN is central
to any solution, as shown by the fact that all parties to the
dispute articulate their opinions and proposals through the language
of UN Security Council resolutions.
4. The UN is a member of the diplomatic
Quartet, described by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as playing
"a vitally important framework role in further facilitating
the peace process". Ban Ki-moon has stated that he wishes
to "re-energize" the Quartet process. The UN is active
in Israel, the Palestinian Territories, and in surrounding areas
affected by this dispute, in the fields of peacekeeping, humanitarian
assistance and peacemaking.
5. Three UN peacekeeping missions operate
in the regions surrounding Israel:
UN Disengagement Observer Force
(UNDOF): established in 1974 following the Israeli and Syrian
forces' agreement to disengage from the Golan Heights. UNDOF supervises
the implementation of the agreement and related ceasefire, with
1,042 troops and an annual budget of $39.87 million.
UN Interim Force in Lebanon
(UNIFIL): originally created following the Israeli invasion of
southern Lebanon in March 1978, UNIFIL was strengthened in August
2006. Its mandate is to confirm Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon;
restore peace and security and monitor the ceasefire; assist the
Lebanese government and armed forces to restore effective authority
in south Lebanon; ensure humanitarian access; and assist with
the return of displaced persons. UNIFIL currently has 13,058 military
personnel and an annual budget of $350.87 million.
UN Truce Supervision Organization
(UNTSO): created in 1948 as the UN's first peacekeeping operation,
UNTSO's functions have varied according to changed circumstances.
UNTSO's 152 military observers are available for immediate deployment
and are currently attached to UNDOF and UNIFIL, as well as being
stationed in Sinai. UNTSO has an annual budget of $29.96 million.
6. The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine
Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) provides education, healthcare,
social services and emergency aid to over 4.4 million Palestinian
refugees in 59 camps in the Palestinian Territories, Jordan, Lebanon
and Syria. In 2006, UNRWA's total budget was $569.85 million and
the UK's contribution of $27.09 million was the fourth largest
of any state. Other UN agencies providing humanitarian assistance
to Palestinian refugees include the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF),
UN Development Programme (UNDP), World Food Programme, World Health
Organization and the UN High Commissioners for Human Rights and
7. The UN has an active role in encouraging
peacemaking initiatives and negotiations between the parties.
The Office of the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace
Process responds to requests from the parties to the dispute and
supports negotiations and the implementation of political agreements.
The UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of
the Palestinian People provides a forum where non-governmental
organisations can meet to discuss their own peacekeeping and humanitarian
8. The UK, as a leading member of the EU
and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, with historic
ties to the region, needs to be at the centre of efforts to encourage
a solution to the dispute. UNA-UK shares the view of the UN and
the UK government that the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is fundamental
to other conflicts in the Middle East and that its resolution
would thus contribute to the handling of these other conflicts.
9. Multilateral political negotiations facilitated
by the Quartet are the most appropriate means for engaging with
all parties to the dispute. The Quartet should focus on the political
horizons of a future settlement between all regional actors, based
on the three principles of recognition of Israel's right to exist,
commitment to non-violence and adherence to previous agreements
between the parties. There should be no pre-conditions to the
opening of negotiations between the Israeli government and the
10. The Quartet should welcome the Arab
Peace Initiative, described by Ban Ki-moon as "one of the
important pillars of the peace process in the Middle East".
The Quartet members should work constructively with other Middle
East states, including the "Arab Quartet" of Egypt,
Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
11. The UK government, acting within the
UN and the EU, should do all it can to support the work of the
Quartet and to engage with other disputes within the Middle East,
including those involving Syria and Iran. The long-term aim to
create a nuclear-free zone within the Middle East should be pursued
8 May 2007