Issue 83: Conditioning the Peace Process on PA Reform

Following President Bush’s Middle East policy speech, Secretary-General Kofi Annan commented: “[W]e had hoped that the reforms would not be a condition of the peace-process and moving forward.” But, does this statement reflect the previous position of the United Nations?

Analysis: “Without an efficient and transparent Palestinian public administration, there will be no foundation for peace in the occupied Palestinian territories.”

President Bush?  No.  The United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

Timothy Rothermel, Special Representative of the UNDP’s “Program for Assistance to the Palestinian People,” made that statement on May 7.

Speaking to the Security Council on June 20, Kofi Annan specified the need to end Palestinian terror and to reform Palestinian political institutions as necessary for progress toward Palestinian statehood:

“[T]here will be no political settlement in the absence of real security guarantees for Israel. The Palestinian Authority has failed to live up to its security obligations freely entered in the Oslo agreements… The commencement of a reform process within the Palestinian Authority is an important step towards the establishment of effective, democratic national institutions.”

In May 1999, the Office of the Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories (UNSCO) released the report, “Rule of Law Development in the West Bank and Gaza Strip,” which stated:

“A government based on rule of law also demands the establishment and maintenance of a strong and fair electoral system, and the creation of a broad framework of laws and policies which protect human rights, fundamental freedoms and democracy… The Palestinian Authority has firmly committed itself through peace agreements and public statements, to building a society based on the rule of law.”

The report notes that as of February 28, 1999, the UN had committed over $100 million to “rule of law” projects in the Palestinian territories.

The results, though, were not encouraging. Using an economics metaphor in a diplomatic fashion, UNSCO concluded that “the demand and needs in the rule of law domain still far outweigh the supply.”

And when the demand for good governance outstrips the supply of reform, the political price inevitably rises.

UN Watch