ESCWA Press Releases 2003

17 April 2003
15 April 2003
14 April 2003
10 April 2003
3 April 2003

















ESCWA Twenty-Second Ministerial Session Concludes; Recommends Holding Forum on Palestine Reconstruction


Beirut, 17 April 2003 (United Nations Information Service) --The twenty-second ministerial session of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) concluded today at the United Nations House in Beirut by recommending three main agenda items: holding an Arab-international forum on the economic and social rehabilitation and reconstruction of Palestine; establishing a committee on women at ESCWA; and establishing a United Nations Arab language centre at ESCWA.

Other recommendations covered the effects of lack of stability in the Arab region on social and economic development; the Agreement on International Railways in the Arab Mashreq; cooperation between ESCWA Member States concerning common water resources; ESCWA initiatives on promoting technology and the information society in the Arab region; improving the field of Statistics in Western Asia; as well as enhancing ESCWA advisory services and technical cooperation.

Concerning the occupied Palestinian territory, participants recommended the necessity of holding an Arab-international forum on the socio-economic rehabilitation and reconstruction of Palestine as soon as possible as a step towards an independent Palestinian state.

Participants also called on the Executive Secretary of ESCWA to exert efforts to encourage and enrich Arab contribution to the process of rehabilitation and reconstruction and link it with concerned international programs. They stressed the importance of the role of the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian civil society institutions in developing the practical rehabilitation and reconstruction plan of action.

Participants recommended the necessity of helping the ESCWA Secretariat in delegating experts to evaluate the losses of the economic and social sectors in the occupied Palestinian territory, and help in finding a special process of compensating those sectors through international organizations. They noted that Palestinian institutions should fulfill their future role and duties in contributing to the development process, and called on the Executive Secretary to follow up the implementation of this recommendation and submit a progress report to the twenty-third ministerial session of ESCWA expected to be convened in April 2005.

In order to enhance the status of Arab women, participants recommended the establishment of a committee on women at ESCWA, the member of which would be experts from Member States. They demanded holding the committee's founding meeting late this year, and agreed to convene its regular meetings on biennial basis starting next year.

Participants recommended founding a UN Arab language centre at ESCWA, in cooperation with the UN headquarters, aiming at ameliorating the technical and linguistic level of Arab terminologies used in UN documents.

Following today's deliberations, Bahrain, represented by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifah bin Ali Al Khalifah, Deputy Minister of Transport, signed the Agreement on International Railways in the Arab Mashreq in a ceremony held at the UN House, in the presence of ESCWA Executive Secretary Mervat Tallawy, Bahrain Ambassador to Syria and Lebanon Wahid Sayyar and Bradford Smith, Legal Officer at the UN Office of Legal Affairs.

The Agreement was also signed by Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, the Syrian Arab Republic, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt and Yemen in a joint ceremony held during the session's first day.

Speaking after the signing ceremony, Al Khalifah expressed the importance of joining this agreement, saying that Bahrain was keen on linking the Arab region through such a network, which would positively affect Arab economies.

On her part, ESCWA Executive Secretary Mervat Tallawy said that such an agreement was one of the means of achieving regional integration. "It is an indicator that Arab states possess a political will to cooperate despite all other differences," she concluded.