to a pdf -


to a pdf -
London & SE Region
United Nations Association
New Chair for the Region
Catherine Pluygers was elected as the Region’s new Chair at last November’s AGM. We
are well aware that Catherine is a dedicated UNA member, but there is so much more.
New Chair for the Region
Two Funding Opportunities
Annual General Meeting
22 November 2014
Your New Committee
Feature Branch :
Tunbridge Wells UNA
The Big Issues: a personal
Obituary: Helen Bamber
Est-ce-que Je Suis Charlie?
Paris Tragedy Fans Anti-Islam
Re-opening the inquiry into death
of Dag Hammarskjöld
Time for Transparency for all Top
UN Appointments
UNA-UK Policy Conference
13 Ruth Steinkraus-Cohen
International Law Lecture
BDS Controversy
Forthcoming Events
Copy date for
the next issue:
30 April 2015
Born in Colchester, Catherine attended Gilberd Technical High
School and then studied oboe at the Royal College of Music and
composition at Goldsmith's College. She has an M.Mus degree in
Catherine started out as a freelance musician working for Opera
North, BBC Radio Orchestra and Sadler’s Wells before going into
teaching and running her own projects. She launched a wind
symphony orchestra and summer school in the 80's and more
recently works with improvisation
and film as well as directs a
contemporary music festival (now
into its 17 year). She has consistently championed new
music by women composers.
With Dutch parents, her mother lived under German
occupation and her father was interned by the Japanese in
the Second World War, settling on a fruit farm in the UK
afterwards. Ten years ago, Catherine was undertaking large tours as a soloist to USA,
Hong Kong, India and North Korea where by chance she found herself in the 'NGO' bar in
the embassies' compound and somehow the subject of UN/UNA came up. On her return
to the UK, she wrote to Malcolm Harper who put her in touch with David Wardrop.
In 2008, she studied at Birkbeck College University of London for a Certificate in
Development Studies. Shortly afterwards she joined WILPF Women's International League
for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). She is currently a committee member of the London
Branch which recently hosted the one-day event: 'Sexual Violence in Conflict: from Global
to Local Actions'. She helps plan flagship events for Voices of African Women (in
conjunction with L&SER UNA), MEWC (Make Every Woman Count, founded by Rainate
Sow), and organise UNA/WILPF projects on trafficking.
Catherine is currently a committee member of Westminster UNA, Vice-Chair of Putney
and Roehampton UNA and has been on the committee of the London & SE Region for
three years. Her hobbies are reading, contemporary art, sport and nature.
To learn more about Catherine’s work, visit To read
Catherine’s address at the last AGM, visit
Contribution guidelines and past
issues, go to:
Editors: Neville Grant & Linda Leung
([email protected])
The London and South East Region is part of
UNA-UK, currently serving 23 branches in the
Region. Views expressed in this membership
newsletter do not necessarily represent the
policy of UNA-UK or the Region.
Two Funding Opportunities
 To support organisation of hustings before the General election
(May 7, 2015), UNA-UK is running an outreach grant scheme to help with
the cost of running events. Contact Rich Nelmes, UNA Head of Outreach
([email protected] / 020 7766 3456), for more information.
 Grants are available from the London & SE Region Trust for projects
undertaken by a branch or an individual that further the objectives of UNA-UK;
branch capital funding; meeting/husting or local group support; study tours.
Contact Catherine Pluygers (Chair) for an application form (119 Woolstone Rd,
Forest Hill, London SE23 2TQ/ [email protected])
Your New Committee
Catherine Pluygers
(Putney & Roehampton
/Westminster UNA)
Kishan Manocha
(Westminster UNA)
Peter Webster
(Clapham & Streatham UNA)
Neville Grant
(Blackheath & Greenwich UNA)
Jane Beeley (Tunbridge Wells UNA)
Roger Hallam
(Enfield and the Barnets UNA)
Wendy Higgs
(Blackheath & Greenwich UNA)
Keith Hindell (Westminster UNA)
David Wardrop
(Westminster UNA)
Rob Storey
(Putney & Roehampton UNA)
outgoing President Philippe
Sands QC; and Committee
members: Alan Bullion
(Tunbridge Wells UNA),
Tim Garbutt (Canterbury UNA),
Ali Hessami (Enfield and the
Barnets UNA), Sheila Kesby
(Canterbury UNA),
Anusha Vamadeva (Clapham &
Streatham UNA)
Annual General Meeting – November 2014
The Region’s AGM successfully concluded on 22 November. We thank and bid
farewell to outgoing President (Philippe Sands QC) and Chair (Roger Hallam).
Before handing over chairmanship to Catherine Pluygers, Roger Hallam recapped some of
the highlights of 2014.
 President Philippe Sands QC’s discussion at the previous AGM of the case for armed
British intervention in Syria following the use of chemical weapons, and parliament’s
refusal to support it. All agreed that Parliament should be praised for voting against
taking part in the war - which had had the happy result of removing the vast bulk of the
Syrian regime's chemical weapons: a rare example of international co-operation in a
crisis situation
 Hosted high profile and high impact meetings, including UN: Working on Water (with
King’s College London), House of Lords meeting on Syria’s chemical weapons;
Eyewitness Palestine (Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church)
 Spring Council in Canterbury, organised by Sheila Kesby, on lobbying, influencing
policy and working with young people. Sheila is also to be congratulated on the UNA’s
national Distinguished Service Award: no one deserved it more.
 Bumper editions of the newsletter LaSER, which covered a wide range of issues,
promoted national, regional and branch events and, in many cases, reported on them
 The London UNA Trust provided funding for Charlene Misago to attend the UNA
Edinburgh Youth Conference (report in LaSER 22 / June 2014); and for Eastbourne
UNA ( to undertake outreach work in India and Uganda.
Roger praised the branches in the region for continuing to mount a wide range of
interesting meetings, MUNGAs and debates.
Nevertheless, membership remained a serious issue, and Roger emphasised the
importance of working with schools and universities. He pointed out that the decline in
membership numbers mirrors a general trend (including massive falls in membership in
political parties) but UN-related societies are flourishing in a number of universities and
colleges. The committee has had contact with such societies at King’s, Royal Holloway,
UCL and London Metropolitan. There is an opportunity, and need, for branches and
university societies to get together, perhaps helping with the problem of continuity that
some university groups experience.
Minutes of the AGM are available upon request. Contact Hon Sec Neville Grant.
Tunbridge Wells UNA
The London & SE Committee hopes to visit each branch in the Region in 2015. In the
meantime, Jane Beeley gives an overview of her branch.
We are a small, longestablished branch, with
just 30 members including
two corporate members. A
small core of these is active.
organisations and have joined with Friends of the
Earth, Amnesty International and the
Soroptimists to hold public meetings. Our
MUNGA is held free of hire charge in the town
After struggling without a
secretary for about four
years, in 2012 we were very
pleased when Julia Jarrold,
one of our members,
volunteered to take on this
For many years we ran a UNA stall at the annual
Quaker Peace Fair and held committee and public
meetings in the local Friends Meeting House.
However the Peace Fair ceased, and after the
Friends introduced charges we started to hold
committee meetings in our homes and only hire
venue for public events.
Julia also updates our
branch information on the
web and ensures that the
branch has an active
Facebook presence. We feel
social media is an important
means of engaging with
young people.
We have held hustings on UN issues, and for
some public talks we have tapped into our own
members’ expertise: Alan Bullion, treasurer, has
spoken on Sri Lanka and Brian Beeley,
membership secretary, has spoken on the Middle
We try where possible to support the activities
of L&SE Region and its branches. Our treasurer
was, and our chair is, on the LaSER committee.
In 2014/15 members of our branch participated
in L&SE Region AGMs, the Spring Council, the
UN-UK Forum, the Brighton Palestine/Israel
event and discussion following the Canterbury
peace drama.
We aim to hold two public meetings a year. In
April 2014 Natalie Samarasinghe, UNA-UK
Director, spoke on ‘What can women expect
For more information, visit:
We have links with local
from the UN?’ and in November, a panel of
three local speakers (coordinator of a local FoE
branch, a grammar school teacher in charge of
innovative eco projects, and our treasurer who
works on food security and energy policy issues)
discussed ‘If not fracking then what?’ This last
meeting was a particular success. We were able
to compile a list of local supporters which would
in turn help target our future publicity.
In 2015, we hope to hold a spring meeting on
overseas aid.
LaSER | Issue 24 | February 2015
LONDON AND SOUTH EAST REGION United Nations Association
The Big Issues: a personal analysis
Alison Williams summarises talk by Region President, Stephen Hockman QC
The overall theme of our President’s talk on 22 November was
the interaction between the law and social/cultural change and the
policy objectives suggested by that relationship.
Legal change can come through new laws passed in response to
social change or to precipitate it. At the international level, it
comes through treaties, such as the UN Charter. It may also come
through the decisions of judges.
It is with sadness
that I report the
passing of Helen Bamber OBE, our
former President (2003 -4) in
August 2014 aged 89.
I deeply admire the work she did
with people who experienced unimaginable suffering in their lives,
and her work as a campaigner.
The example of smoking illustrates legal change by judicial decision (American
judges ruled against tobacco companies for failure to disclose evidence of the harm
caused by nicotine) and by new law to promote social change (parliament banned
smoking in public places). The change has been striking: when most of us were
young, everyone smoked; now very few do.
Helen’s passing came to my
attention in an obituary in Therapy
Today, the magazine for psychotherapy professionals in the UK,
where she had been a Patron.
Another example of striking social change is the transformation of attitudes regarding
equality and diversity. In all modern western societies, a broadening toleration has
been stimulated and or reinforced by legislation on Race Relations and Employment.
From my own personal experience
of Helen, it was clear that she
understood the importance of
enabling an individual to be able
to tell their story, in their own
time, in their own way as a healing
tool. It was clear that she had
immense strength that enabled
her to witness harrowing accounts
time after time, and her gentle
compassion inevitably allowed the
healing process to begin.
The Human Rights Act (1998; in force from 2000) is an example of an international
treaty (The European Convention on Human Rights) being adopted into domestic
law. It has since required a lot of training for lawyers on its implementation and a
section of Conservative opinion is strongly opposed to it.
Lord Bingham took a proactive approach to the Act, quashing some control orders
and insisting that there are limits to what government can do in the name of “national
An exchange between Lord Bingham and then Home Secretary Charles Clarke
clearly illustrated the difference between legal and political approaches to matters:
Secretary Clarke suggested they meet for lunch to negotiate a compromise; Lord
Bingham said that was not quite how the law works.
Stephen then spoke of three Big Issues which he believed need to be addressed by
stimulating legal and social/cultural interaction.
1. Climate Change. His practice is in international environmental law and he
promotes the case for an Environmental Court to achieve a change of attitude
comparable to the examples of smoking, equality and human rights.
2. Financial Regulation. It is now clear how vulnerable the existing system is, and
the Governor of the Bank of England recently acknowledged that bankers’
salaries are still far too high and the culture unreformed.
3. Islam’s relations with the Rest of the World. The Muslim community feels
beleaguered on all sides - including by some members of its own community. It
is vital to build bridges.
Helen was a great campaigner,
bringing attention about the
brutality and futility of using
torture as a tool by national
regimes, emphatically stating
there is absolutely no place for it
in society.
She also brought our attention to
the plight of asylum seekers in our
own country, stating that there is a
‘regrettable shortfall in understanding what some asylum
seekers have to go through, and a
wanton disregard of evidence that
people’s lives were in danger
when adjudicating on whether
they should be given asylum’
(speaking at the Region’s 04 AGM).
In all three cases, major changes of attitude are required.
More than 10 years after her
Presidency with us, Helen’s work is
still highly relevant and continues.
In reply to a question how international environmental law could be enforced,
Stephen praised the working model of the European Union, where one legal system
applies across all members. He left with us the thought that we might need to move
to a more unified system globally.
We are extremely grateful for her
work with us, and the inspiration
that surely reached many of us in
the Region.
Stephens Trophy
Twickenham and
Richmond UNA was
awarded the Stephens
Trophy this year for
mounting an excellent
series of meetings.
Region President handed
the trophy over to the
branch's representative, Olivia Richardson.
LaSER | Issue 24 | February 2015
Helen was named European Woman of Achievement in 1993, made an OBE in
1997, and received the inaugural Times/Sternberg Active Life award in 2008 for
continuing to "assert the questing spirit of humanity". The Dag Hammarskjöld
Scholarship Fund for Journalists honoured Helen with the Inspiration Award in
2009 for her efforts against human trafficking.
Further tributes and details of her ongoing
work can be found at
Linda Hardy (McCulloch)
Est-ce-que Je Suis Charlie?
Neville Grant gives a personal view.
Are you wearing a lapel badge saying Je
Suis Charlie? - or perhaps Nous
sommes Charlie – if you think this more
However, are either wholly
appropriate? Of course the attacks on
freedom of speech, and the murder of
so many people are deeply abhorrent. Such violence can never
be justified.
Nevertheless, the facts on the ground are these: power
structures in France are strongly secular with a significant
Christian underlay; there is a large and relatively powerless
Muslim minority; and the secular majority are insisting on
their democratic right to mock the beliefs of the minority
(though, to be fair, both Catholics and Jewish fundamentalists
have also been targets.)
But the Muslim minority feel a great deal more vulnerable,
especially given the incipient racism that underlies much of
French politics. Some of the cartoons in Charlie Hebdo do
appear to tread a very fine line between mockery and hatred.
There is no doubt that the Muslim community find this hard to
take. In 2007, several Muslim organisations took the magazine to court for allegedly inciting hatred and insulting Islam
and Muslims generally. The court ruled that the magazine had
not exceeded "the admissible limits of freedom of speech".
Many French Muslims are asking why is it acceptable for
Charlie Hebdo to mock Islam, when the controversial comic
Dieudonne M'bala M'bala is prosecuted for mocking Jews?
Why is one defined as "inciting hatred" and not the other?
This situation is not going to make for community cohesion
and encourage mutual tolerance, let alone respect. In fact it is
likely to do the exact opposite. And as we have seen, it gives
the crazies with guns a loophole to exploit for their own
violent beliefs.
Should the French government be subsidising millions of
copies of the next issue of Charlie Hebdo? We do not at time
of writing know what its contents are: but if mocking people
for their religious beliefs is seen as an acceptable function of
the state, who knows where this could lead.
One thing is sure: it will not lead to social harmony and
cohesion, and the threat of
future violence looks like a
self-fulfilling prophecy.
Writing in the New York
In solidarity with fellow cartoonists- Sajith Kumar
Times, David Brooks argues:
"The attack in France reminds us to look closely at our own
speech codes, and to remember that offensive speech should
be discouraged socially but never legally." One could go
further: the legal constraints may need to be more clearly
defined, and more sensitively interpreted.
Freedom of speech also means that we should feel free to
criticise cartoonists who show no social responsibility. The fact
is that those cartoonists knew of the danger (not just to
themselves but to society) of what they were doing, and the
outcome was, sooner or later, predictable. One grieves for the
cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo, and their families; and for the
other victims. One is particularly shocked that members of the
Jewish community should have been so brutally singled out.
But freedom of speech does not relieve one of responsibility.
Those who give Charlie Hebdo carte blanche need to take note
of the number of people in France who joined the "Je ne suis
pas Charlie" Facebook page. The mainly Muslim French people
who signed up may not be supporters of the violence shown
by the Kouachis and Coulibaly but it is clear that many will be
extremely reluctant to support a national movement that
backs people who they feel insulted the Prophet Muhammad.
Muslims are also angry at what they see as double standards:
Why so much fuss over 17 dead when thousands were killed in
Gaza? No wonder there are schools in the banlieues where
the minute's silence on the Thursday following the outrage in
memory of the Charlie Hebdo victims was disrupted by pupils
– or indeed ignored.
It all goes to show that there are many French citizens who
feel their primary attachment is to Islam, rather than the
secular values of the French Republic. M Hollande's call for
"national unity" sound hollow when one is confronted by
these divisions in French society.
In the UK, our own culture has changed - and improved immeasurably, in my view, since we became a multi-cultural
society. Of course, there is no reason for complacency, and we
have our own home-grown crazies on all sides. But perhaps
the French should be aware that cultures are not static, but
can adapt.
Your Views Welcome!
What do YOU think? Should liberal democracies adapt and change - or should other cultures and
faiths adapt and change to recognise they are living in a pluralistic society? Or should there be
give and take on both sides?
Visit to register your view.
Paris Tragedy Fans Anti-Islam Hysteria
The Islamic Forum of Europe issued a statement on 14 January, reproduced below.
Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) condemns the murder of the French journalists and citizens by extremists. They have not avenged the
noble Prophet Muhammad, but sullied our Islamic faith and have inevitably led to the hate crimes directed at the Muslim
community. However, pressure on the Muslim community to always condemn crimes committed by extremists within the Muslim
community is not acceptable, the same way we do not expect Christians to apologise for the 2011 massacre in Norway by Anders
(cont’d on page 5)
LaSER | Issue 24 | February 2015
LONDON AND SOUTH EAST REGION United Nations Association
Let us sit upon the ground…and tell sad stories of the death of kings
David Wardrop chronicles the successful campaign to re-open the inquiry into the death of UN Secretary-General
Dag Hammarskjöld in 1961.
death in 1961
when seeking to
bring peace to
the newlyindependent Republic of the Congo
(now D.R.C) generated several
unsatisfactory inquiries, leading the
General Assembly to decide to re-open
its inquiry if new evidence arose.
The book Who killed Hammarskjöld
(2012) reviewed new evidence,
prompting the creation of the Hammarskjöld Commission comprising four
retired eminent jurists. They identified
important new evidence and their
report was submitted to Ban Ki-moon
who by his agreement, invited the GA to
consider re-opening the inquiry.
However, Sweden and a cadre of retired
senior UN officials had long opposed
such an initiative. So who might take
the lead?
The Justice for Hammarskjöld Facebook
page and similar independent projects
lacked international status, and remain
unable to influence the international
Westminster UNA, working with Dr
Susan Williams, author of Who killed
Hammarskjöld and Dr Henning Melber,
former Director of the Hammarskjöld
Foundation in Uppsala, Sweden, then
set up an international campaign. In the
House of Lords, Westminster UNA
briefed diplomats from more than 60
affected countries and a later mailing
targeted their UN-based colleagues.
Westminster UNA also arranged for an
Irish Congo veteran to meet the Irish
ambassador in London, to urge that
Ireland participate in the UN GA debate
on 15 December 2014.
the GA, now gathering consensus
support from all 194 member states.
The Resolution requests Ban Ki-moon to
appoint an independent panel of
experts to examine new information
and to assess its probative value. Also it
encourages Member States to release
any relevant records and requests the
Secretary-General to report to the GA
within the year on progress made.
In November, its widely-circulated open
letter promoting the necessary GA
debate gathered co-sponsors from 17
countries including Nobel Peace Prize
winner Martti Ahtisaari and former UN
Under-Secretary-General Lakhdar
For Westminster UNA, the opportunity
to seek to influence international
statesmen and women from all
continents, journalists and UN Member
States on a seemingly arcane issue
made for a unique experience and its
justification was articulated in the
closing section of its open letter.
The open letter prompted a similar one
written by leading Swedish personalities
addressed to the new Swedish
government. Within 2 days, despite
opposition by senior parliamentarians,
the Swedish government indicated it
would not only support the initiative in
the GA but lead it. Then, all was thrown
into uncertainty as the coalition
appeared to collapse threatening the
Hammarskjöld initiative. A short-term
resolution to this crisis restored it and
on 15 December, the Swedish delegate
to the UN proposed the re-opening of
the inquiry, supported by 20 other
delegations (including Ireland).
Following review by the UN’s Finance
Committee, the resolution returned to
“To those who insist it is a waste of time
to review such events from history, we
would argue that the injustice felt at the
time still resonates today. This relates to
the role of the UN, to the treatment of
colonised nations in Africa, to the conduct of the superpowers and also of
multi-nationals. At a time when critics
of the UN System and its Member States
challenge its determination to manifest
the principle of transparency, it is on such
issues that it and they will be judged.”
Clearly, this was a sentiment shared by
many delegates, leading to the
consensus agreement at the General
Footnote: The Westminster UNA website has a wealth of information. Visit:
Paris Tragedy Fans Anti-Islam Hysteria (statement continues)
The French magazine Charlie Hebdo’s publication of new cartoons, in response, is not a defence of freedom of speech, but a
provocation which we fear will lead to further escalations. The other media outlets and leaders jumping on the bandwagon of free
speech fail to mention that such freedoms are not absolute – Charlie Hebdo sacked a contributor for a Jewish joke mocking the
former French President’s son.
Insulting and baiting the most revered symbols of a minority and marginalised community, whilst penalising those who mock the
elite, is not free speech. The Prophet Muhammad is deeply revered by 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide, and the cartoons mocking the
Prophet were patently inflammatory and provocative.
Tragic as the deaths are, for the victims, their families, society and the anti-Muslim hate generated as a result, the reality is that the
extremist murderers have lionized an obscure failing magazine, with a tiny circulation and have propelled it to international fame.
Notes to editors:
Islamic Forum of Europe (established in 1988) is a British community organisation that seeks social and spiritual renewal,
drawing its ethos from the Islamic faith. Working within the community, with people of all faiths and none, it encourages
people to be civically active and participate in the democratic process for the common good.
For media and other queries, contact:
0207456 1062 | [email protected] |
LaSER | Issue 24 | February 2015
Time for Transparency for All Top UN Appointments
Westminster UNA puts its case.
UNA-UK is a founding member of the
global 1 for 7 Billion Campaign launched
last December, calling for an open, fair
and inclusive process to select the best
possible candidate for Secretary-General
of the UN.
…seven billion people across
the world are affected by his
or her decisions. That's why
choosing the best SecretaryGeneral for the United Nations
is so important…
Partners include Avaaz, Amnesty
International, CIVICUS, Equality Now,
FEMNET, Forum Asia, Third World
Network, Women’s Environment and
Development Organization and the World
Federation of UN Associations.
The first strand of the campaign was an
open letter sent to all UN Member States
calling for an end to the secret deals and
horse-trading that see five countries hold
sway over an appointment that affects all
the world’s people.
Specifically, the Campaign calls for:
Westminster UNA notes that the
campaign does not extend to other top
UN posts. A Report by the UN Joint
Inspection Unit (UNJIU) states:
 the Secretary-General insists that the
interview panel should submit to him
a choice of at least three candidates
for any position, at least one of
whom is a woman. .
 the Secretary-General recognises the
political realities that he must reflect
in the Organization, but that no
position is reserved for any Member
A process that aims to produce the
best possible candidate
Formal selection criteria that reflect
best practice in equality and
Greater transparency, including a
clear timetable and official shortlist
Open sessions that enable all states,
and other stakeholders, to interact
with nominees and have input in the
Candidates to submit vision
statements and to undertake not to
make promises on specific
appointments prior to their
More than one candidate to be put
forward by the Security Council
A single term of office to help the
Secretary-General pursue longerterm aims without the disruption of
re-election campaigning
UNA-UK Policy Conference 2015
Sat 16th May, 2015
Resource for London
356 Holloway Road, London N7 6PA
Click here to register
This is members’ opportunity to input into UNA-UK's
policy over the coming two years.
This conference is particularly important as it will feed
into the development of UNA-UK’s next strategic plan,
work on which will begin in the second half of 2015.
According to GA resolution 46/232,
as a general rule, no national of a
Member State should succeed a
national of that State in a senior post;
there should be no monopoly on
senior posts by nationals of any State
or group of States
The matter is immediate as Baroness
Valerie Amos (UK), UN USG for
Humanitarian Affairs & Relief
Coordination, will retire in 2 months’
time. It is reported that although Ban Kimoon has requested Prime Minister
David Cameron to submit the required
shortlist of 3 names, only that of Andrew
Lansley MP was submitted. Lord Malloch
Brown, former UN Deputy Secretary
General and Mark Goldring, Chief
Executive of Oxfam have both pointed
out Mr Lansley’s lack of experience and
qualification in this area.
Therefore Westminster UNA urges that
the British government set an example to
other P5 States by supporting the
principle of Ban Ki-moon’s statements,
and to urge the UN Secretary-General to
make clear his intention to encourage
transparency for all UN appointments.
Without such an initiative, the ‘One for
Seven Billion’ campaign may be seen by
some as hypocritical; ‘one rule for us and
another for the rest of you.’
13th Ruth Steinkraus-Cohen
International Law Lecture
25 February 2015 at 6.30pm
Brunei Lecture Theatre, SOAS,
London WC1H 0AL (tube: Russell Square)
‘The United Nations Special Procedures
system and the challenges of human rights
Dr Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on the
human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran
Click here to register
Submissions need to be supported by six individual
members of UNA and sent in by Monday 9th March if
they are to be placed on the agenda for discussion.
Submissions by email to [email protected] or by
post to 3 Whitehall Court, London SW1A 2EL
More information and electronic form available on
For our 13 law lecture, we are fortunate that Dr Shaheed is in
the UK and able to alert us to the stresses now threatening a
human rights mechanism never envisaged in the UN Charter.
He will argue for greater use of the special procedures system,
including closer integration into the Rights Up Front framework
proposed by Ban Ki Moon in 2013. The system’s primary
function of holding governments to account must be
safeguarded. But how can this be achieved and sustained?
All are welcome. A reception will follow the lecture and
we hope you will join us.
The lecture is organised by United Nations Association-Westminster in
association with The Bar Council of England and Wales and The Centre
for International Studies and Diplomacy at SOAS, University of London
LaSER | Issue 24 | February 2015
LONDON AND SOUTH EAST REGION United Nations Association
Controversy: Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions?
The Arab/Israeli conflict has been going on for decades, with no visible end in sight. Israel insists on its right to a
national home, in peace and security. The Palestinian population, both in Israel itself, in the Occupied Territories
and Gaza, and in exile, insist that their land has been stolen, their fundamental rights are being constantly
infringed, and the world is not listening. For example, the Israeli organisation B'Tselem (Israeli Information
Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories), cites grave violations of human rights in Hebron "because
of the presence of settlers in the city." Tragically, the cycle of violence seems never-ending - with the
Palestinians disproportionately on the receiving end. There must be a better way.
Below, LaSER highlights the arguments for and against the BDS strategy being applied to solve the Israel
Palestinian issue – and urges you to VOTE on the issue. LaSER also welcomes letters on the subject.
Yes to BDS
No to BDS
Argued by Neville Grant
Argued by Keith Hindell
The campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)
against Israel until it complies with international law and
Palestinian rights was initiated by Palestinian civil society
in 2005 – a year after the International Court of Justice’s
historic advisory opinion on the illegality of Israel’s Wall in
the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).
Land continues to be grabbed for settlements, houses
continue to be demolished, road blocks and walls and
"settler only" roads continue to make it extremely difficult
for Palestinians to lead normal lives. Despite repeated
condemnation of Israeli policies by the UN, other
international bodies, and human rights organisations, the
world community has failed to hold Israel accountable and
enforce compliance with basic principles of law. Israel’s
crimes have continued with impunity.
UN Special Rapporteur on "the situation of human rights
in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967", Richard
A. Falk, [66] in his 2012 report to the United Nations
Human Rights Council (UNHRC) recommended that
"businesses highlighted in the report – as well as the many
other businesses that are profiting from the Israeli
settlement enterprise – should be boycotted until they
bring their operations into line with international human
rights and humanitarian law and standards." He
specifically named a long list of companies from the US,
Israel, Sweden, France, the UK, Netherlands and Mexico.
At a news conference Falk said: "The focus on business
activities is partly an expression of frustration about the
inability to obtain compliance with these fundamental
legal obligations of Israel and the ineffectiveness of the
U.N. efforts to condemn settlement expansion."
For reasons that are well-known, the US cannot act as an
honest broker in securing a just and lasting settlement,
although there was a laudable if doomed attempt by John
Kerry. The suggestion now is that the EU should take the
lead: HMG should present to the EU a coherent and
compelling argument for the EU to take the lead in a
carefully calibrated movement of BDS, to persuade the
Israeli government that they cannot continue with their
present policies. This is not just about justice for
Palestinians: Israelis need to be saved from themselves. In
the words of the Chicago Tribune June 2014, 'so long as
the Israeli government remains unchanged, the Jewish
state will remain locked into self-destruction".
This proposition is hopelessly one sided. Israel and the
Palestinians both need to negotiate a peace treaty which
settles the main outstanding issues- namely, land,
frontiers, walls in the occupied territories, movement of
people and workers across borders, Jewish settlements in
the territories, refugees and of course recognition of Israel
and Palestine as permanent states.
Both sides have behaved abominably towards each other
from time to time. Both sides have felt under threat of
annihilation much of the time. The UN, the US, Britain,
Norway the EU and others have acted as mediators and
encouraged negotiations, so far without success. A policy
of boycott, disinvestment and sanctions against Israel
alone will never get the support of the United States or
the UN Security Council. I doubt that any British
government would adopt such a policy. So even if the rest
of the world supported BDS it won't achieve its objective.
Both sides do need encouragement to resume peace talks
but one-sided moves will only harden attitudes. In the
aftermath of "Charlie Hebdo" one-sided pressure on
Israel will be seen as weakness in the face of radical Islam.
In fact the atrocities committed in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan,
Afghanistan, Nigeria, Kenya and Somalia are so appalling
they bolster the hawks in Israel and in their eyes justify
the very bloody "attacks " on Gaza.
These atrocities also discredit the theory that all the
turmoil in the Middle East over the last 60 years is rooted
in the foundation of Israel. Neither Syria, nor Isis , nor
Boko Haram, nor the Taliban, nor Al Qaida kill thousands
of other Muslims in order to eliminate Israel.
The only glimmer of peace at the moment seems to be
that the Palestinian Authority and the Government of
Israel are cooperating on a number of domestic matters.
Let them build on that.
Let us know what you think. We would like to get feedback in time for UNA's
policy Conference in May.
by 28 February
LaSER | Issue 24 | February 2015
To vote, go to
Forthcoming Events
Twickenham & Richmond UNA
1 February, 11am
Golders Green Unitarian Church, 31 Hoop Lane,
London NW11 8BS
All are invited to a service to mark the launch of World
Interfaith Harmony Week.
The service will feature prayers and readings from the
world’s great religious traditions, a soul-uplifting choir,
and an address by the Revd Rana Khan, Curate at St
Anselm’s in Belmont and former interfaith adviser to the
Archbishop of Canterbury.
The service is organised by the International Association
for Religious Freedom British Chapter in collaboration
with Golders Green Unitarians.
Merton UNA
24 February–31 March–28 April–26 May–30 June
12.30-2.30pm (bring packed lunch) or 7.30-9.30pm
Flat 11 Wilberforce House, 119 Worple Road,
London SW20 8ET
Meeting series on the last Tuesdays of each month,
February through June,
Themes for each meeting will be available shortly.
Outcome and relevant action points will be collated to
input into branch or UNA policy.
As last year, lunch-time and evening sessions are
offered but RSVPs are essential as the venue is small.
More info, contact Alison Williams:
[email protected] or 020 8944 0574
7 March / 12.15pm
The Adelaide pub, 57 Park Road, Teddington TW11
0AU (between Langam Road and Kingston Lane)
Talk to be led by Neville Grant.
Please arrive at 12.15pm to allow time to order lunch
before the talk starts at 12.30. Discussion may continue
over or after the meal but we aim to finish the event at
2.00pm. All welcome!
Contact Olivia Richardson on 020 8943 3646
Putney and Roehampton UNA
9 March / 7.30pm
Putney Methodist Church Hall, Putney SW15 6SN
(Corner Upper Richmond Rd and Gwendolen Avenue)
The meeting will be chaired by Catherine Pluygers.
Speakers include Natalie Samarasinghe (UNA-UK
Executive Director) and Jane Grant (London WILPF)
More info, contact [email protected] or
[email protected]
Bexhill & Hastings UNA
28 February / 10.15am
Meeting Room, Parkhurst Hall, Parkhurst Road,
TN40 1DF
AGM starts at 10.15am to be followed by discussion
entitled “Migration: Challenge or Opportunity”
More info, contact Allan Bula 01424 210410
Network for Peace
WW1 Centenary
Peace Movement responses
An invitation to every anti-war and peace
organisation to come together to discuss progress on
events and news for
the centenary of the first world war. We hope to have
a guest speaker on academic research on WW1.
19 February 2015
2.30pm at Friends House, Euston Road, London NW1
(NfP AGM at 1.30pm – all welcome)
If you are planning events then please come along and share. If you are looking for
ideas for your organisation to present an alternative, come along and get those
ideas. If you are unable to come to the meeting, feel free to send a report on your
activities, plans, thoughts.
Network for Peace, 5 Caledonian Road, London 9DY tel: 07794036602
email: [email protected] web
UNA-UK and the
London and Southeast
Region would like to
encourage branches
to put on hustings
before the election on
7 May.
The hustings should focus on international
Please note that UNA-UK is running an
outreach grant scheme to help with the cost of
running pre-election events.
Contact Riche Nelmes, UNA Head of Outreach
([email protected] / 020 7766 3456), for more
LaSER | Issue 24 | February 2015