The « Cercle » sign the letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations on the Withdrawal of the ESCWA Report on Palestine

Letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres

In relation to his request to the Executive Director of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) to withdraw the report about Israeli practices against Palestinian People and apartheid policies.

Mr Secretary General,


Civil society in Arab countries is gravely surprised regarding your request to the Executive Director of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia to withdraw the report about Israeli practices against Palestinian people and policies of apartheid especially considering that the report examines Israeli laws, which discriminate against Palestinian people based on ethnic origin. The report documents these laws and practices using evidence beyond doubt.


The report relies in its conclusions on international legal principles embodied in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Convention on the Elimination of All form of Racial Discrimination, which defines racial discrimination in Article 1 and requires prohibiting and punishing acts of racial discrimination in its Article 2, in addition to the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. These are all UN adopted and agreed documents, which define international law in this regard.


We consider the Secretary General to be the main guarantor of all these treaties, laws and principles, which reflect development of human thought and experiences over years. We were expecting from Your Excellency to take all measures against the State which is violating international law and is practicing worst measures against Palestinian people, instead of asking for the report to be withdrawn from the UN Website.


The UN Charter affirms that it is an international organisation for the “peoples of the world”. It was established for their protection, protecting their rights, maintaining international peace and security, guaranteeing progress, prosperity and freedom, and their right to self-determination. Therefore, we regard that your steps are against the spirit and content of international law and standards, and against your role as their guarantor and defender working towards achieving their implementation.


While we call on you to withdraw your decision to remove the report, we are compelled to express our appreciation and respect to the Executive Director of ESCWA, Dr. Rima Khalaf, who has preferred to follow her moral and professional responsibilities, whereby she objected to the removal of the report, and tendered her resignation in objection to your unfair request.


Mr. Secretary General,


The international organisation was established, and people of the world elaborated its Charter, which is supported by the international human rights laws and standards, in order to protect peace and security and ending violations against peoples. However, we wonder: what is left with the legal and moral principles of the organisation that you are entrusted with when you refrain from protecting the people who have been under occupation for almost 70 years and who are facing the worst forms of discrimination on racial grounds. In so doing, you are not acting in an effective way against pressure, which led to the protection of the offending State against punishment, while it is violating international law publicly before all international organisations and bodies under your auspices.


We would like to draw your attention to the fact that the credibility of the UN has been shaken worldwide and in our region. It is seen as unable to resolve major problems in the world, especially wars and conflicts, the latest of which the conflict in Syria. It is seen to be biased towards big powers at the expense of small States and rights of peoples. The Arab region and Palestine has suffered particularly from this bias.


We call on you to withdraw your decision to remove this professional report, and call upon you to work towards stopping practices of apartheid, and punishing those who commission them. We also call on you to refrain from practicing any pressure against ESCWA, which negatively affects its image and undermines its role in the region, including its role in promoting civil society as an essential partner in development.



  1. Arab NGO Network for Development
  2. Le Cercle des Economistes Arabes (Arab Economists Forum)
  3. Social Watch
  4. Third World Network
  5. Instituto del tercer mundo
  6. Palestinian NGO Network
  7. Arab Center for Agriculture Development
  8. Democracy and electoral monitor in the Arab World
  9. Mauritanian Network for Social Work
  10. Bahraini NGO Network Members of ANND
  11. Bahraini Workers General Federation
  12. Bahrain Transparency Association
  13. Espace Associatif – Morocco
  14. Economic and Social Policies Monitor – Palestine
  15. Association of Heritage and environment committees
  16. Civic Forum – Sudan
  17. Center for Training on Gender and Development – Sudan
  18. Lawyers for Defending Human Rights – Jordan
  19. Iraqi Al-Amal Association
  20. Ain Network- Iraq
  21. Tammouz Association- Iraq
  22. Egyptian Association for the Enhancement of civic participation
  23. Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights
  24. ABAAD-Resource Center for Gender Equality – Lebanon
  25. Bahraini Human Rights Society
  26. Women’s Renaissance Organization in Bahrain
  27. NGO Platform of Saida (Tajamoh)
  28. Jordan Transparency Center

– See more at: letter on ANND site

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