LPDC CHAIRMAN OPENING SPEECH AT THE ADVISORY COMMISSION ON UNRWA IN AMMAN, JORDAN
Distinguished Minister of Foreign Affairs, Excellencies,
Distinguished Members of the Advisory Commission,
Welcome to the second meeting of the Advisory Commission for the year 2022.
I would like to begin by thanking Member States for giving Lebanon the opportunity to exceptionally extend our mandate as Chair of the Advisory Commission along with the UK as Vice-Chair. We have taken this mandate as a chance to look toward the future of UNRWA and the Advisory Commission.
We strive to build a future that will allow us to move beyond the simple categorization of ourselves as distinct edges of a tripartite partnership: hosts, donors, or UNRWA. Rather, we are seeking to strengthen this platform to create a harmonious dynamic of Member States leadership to empower the Agency and its beneficiaries, the Palestine refugees .
Toward this end, we applaud the progress and investment that has been made so far.
By the Ad Hoc Working Group on strengthening the Advisory Commission, by those members pursuing increased Assessed Contributions funding for UNRWA at the UN General Assembly, and by those funding and supporting studies and expert thinking on how we can enhance strategic advice on a way forward to sustain the Agency’s mandate through its financial crisis.
The extent of these efforts showcase Members’ commitment to work on the future of UNRWA in difficult circumstances, in alignment with the international community’s commitment to the UNRWA mandate which was just reaffirmed by the General Assembly.
However, dear partners, if these efforts are to truly bear fruit, we need to do this work together.
I urge Member States present here today to take the full measure of the potential that this platform here, the Advisory Commission, holds to overcome political obstacles and build a common vision for the future of UNRWA and Palestine refugees in the Near East.
To enact this process of building a common vision, all of us need to face our biases, our shortcomings, and perform an honest assessment of what added value we bring to the table. No less than twenty-five donor States are Members of this Advisory Commission. I urge them, in their generous and active donorship, to intensify and refine their communications with Palestine refugee communities and their host governments, in a spirit of openness, honesty, and friendship.
To our fellow host States: it is imperative that we operate a shift between being a group that refuses initiatives to becoming a group that takes initiatives. As we are currently evolving our Host countries’ meeting platform, we will continue, as we did in our last meeting in Cairo, to re-assess how we operate as host governments and how we can best respond to challenges in this transformative era for our region.
As always, I extend my sincere thanks to UNRWA for convening all of us here today.
I commend the Agency staff on their noble work in the face of incredibly difficult circumstances.
Mr.Commissioner-General, we ask you to continue, despite these hardships, to involve hosts and donors in open, honest, and inclusive consultations on UNRWA’s strategic planning and decision-making.
As you said before the Advisory Commission in Beirut last June, the UNRWA mandate is a collective responsibility.
We see four foundations to enable us to tackle this collective responsibility in the face of the challenges facing UNRWA and its partners. First and foremost, a foundation of trust in each other. Such a foundation of trust implies commitment to open, honest, and often difficult dialogue.
Second, the shared belief that all nations represented here today are committed to ensure a better future for Palestine refugees. Third, the consideration and respect for Palestinians’ national aspirations. It is necessary to build any vision for their future through this lens.
As such, all of us must understand how important the Agency is to Palestinians as a forum of expression of their national ambitions, and how important it is for us to emphasize and re-emphasize our unwavering commitment to protect UNRWA’s mandate, until a just political solution is found to uphold their rights.
Fourth and lastly, we need to build this common vision with a shared understanding of the global, regional, and local realities of armed conflict, inflation, growing socioeconomic needs, shifting landscapes, and political instability. I am talking about common awareness of the multilayered context in which UNRWA operates. It is an increasingly complex and strenuous one. Political and humanitarian borders are being effectively redrawn.
In this context, a strong and purposeful role of UNRWA in the region is a necessity. It is our role to build spaces and processes to provide strategic advice and guidance in this direction . UNRWA is not just a humanitarian agency. It is a human development Agency. Its capacity to build Palestine refugees’ human capital is its most precious attribute. Only if we, together, fully understand these transformations and their impact on
UNRWA operations, their impact on UNRWA’s capacity to build Palestine refugees’ human capital,
their impact on Palestine refugees’ future, can we formulate a joint and commensurate response to the challenges these transformations put before us, in a spirit of transparency, accountability, good governance, and goodwill.
Ultimately, this is how we can mature our collective determination to enact change in the best interest of the Agency and Palestine refugees; in a way that is satisfactory to all stakeholders in this dialogue; and in a way that protects the international consensus around UNRWA’s central and essential role in the past, the present, and most importantly the future of our dear region.
In closing, I have a request for all present here today:
I ask of you, as we proceed, to share with the Chair your ideas, feedback or even reservations when they arise, in the same spirit of openness, dialogue, and partnership that I have called upon all of us today.