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UNESCO unmoved to try and end humanitarian crisis

By David Singer - posted Tuesday, 31 January 2012


The Director of the Division of Public Information at UNESCO - Mr Neil Ford - has made it clear that UNESCO still refuses to approach the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for an advisory opinion on the legality of the admission of Palestine as the 195th Member State of UNESCO.

This approach was suggested by me to UNESCO in a detailed submission on 1 December last - following what I considered to be an inadequate response to my concerns first raised with UNESCO on 5 November - 5 days after Palestine's admission to UNESCO.

On 31 December - and only after considerable prodding - I was advised by Ms Suzanne Bilello - Senior Public Information and Liaison Officer with the UNESCO Office in New York - that UNESCO had no comment to make on my submission.

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I then started a petition to in the hope of persuading UNESCO to review its decision.

I wrote to Ms Bilello on 2 January in the following terms:

I can only take UNESCO's refusal to comment further to mean that:

If I am mistaken in drawing the above conclusions - please advise me why within the next seven days.

  • UNESCO cannot legally justify the decision to admit Palestine as a full member of UNESCO since a two thirds majority vote of 130 member states required by Article II (2) of the Constitution was not met - as I claimed in my email to you dated 1 December 2011
  • UNESCO is not prepared to supply me with a copy of the recommendation of the Executive Board to the General Conference to admit Palestine to membership of UNESCO and any reports that formed part of that recommendation or were considered by the Executive Board prior to making that recommendation

Ms Bilello did not respond.

Surprisingly however - Mr Ford sent me an email on 18 January - but it failed to comment on my detailed submission. Instead Mr Ford sought to justify the legal correctness of a statement issued by UNESCO that I had criticised in various articles and blog posts.

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Mr Ford was quite peremptory in again letting me know that UNESCO would provide no further comment on the subject.

Undeterred - I asked him to confirm whether he had seen my detailed submission sent to Ms Bilello and asked him two further questions that required simple "Yes" or "No" answers.

True to his word he refused to comment. A three-word email was obviously too hard to draft and send for the UNESCO Director of Public Information.

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About the Author

David Singer is an Australian Lawyer, a Foundation Member of the International Analyst Network and Convenor of Jordan is Palestine International - an organisation calling for sovereignty of the West Bank and Gaza to be allocated between Israel and Jordan as the two successor States to the Mandate for Palestine. Previous articles written by him can be found at www.jordanispalestine.blogspot.com.

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All articles by David Singer

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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