Last Monday, SIB went to the Palestinian Mission in The Hague. At 11 o’clock we entered the premises and coffee and tea was offered to us. After a few minutes the Head of Mission, Mrs. Rawan Sulaiman came in and welcomed us. She started with introducing herself and told us something her personal life and how she became Head of Mission.
After that, she started telling about the current situation in Gaza. On Thursday, a memorial would be held at the Mission, for all the victims and the dead caused by Israeli violence in Gaza.
Mrs Sulaiman was very delighted hearing that the ICC prosecutor opened a preliminary investigation into alleged crimes committed by the Israeli army in occupied Palestinian territory. Furthermore, she was glad that the Prosecutor had released a Statement in which said: “any new alleged crime committed in the context of the situation in Palestine may be subjected to my Office’s scrutiny”. Mrs. Sulaiman emphasized that the crimes committed by the Israeli forces should not go unpunished and that justice should prevail.
Having discussed the recent events, Mrs Sulaiman started explaining the broader political scope of the Mission. A two-state solution between Israel and Palestine should be reached fast. Although the fact that Mrs. Sulaiman is an optimistic woman, she was not very hopeful that this would happen anywhere soon. The asymmetrical relation between both parties, by which Israel is occupying Palestine, is the reason for that. The growing numbers of settlements on Palestinian territories is not an indication for peace, according to Mrs. Sulaiman.
Furthermore, the occupation imposes a heavy cost on the economy of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which might otherwise reach twice its current size. A report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) noted that: “Fifty years have passed since Israel occupied the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem; five decades of de-development, suppressed human potential and denial of the right to development, with an economy incapable of employing one third of its workforce and featuring extremely high unemployment among women and youth“.
Finally, Mrs. Sulaiman pointed out that the Netherlands can play an important role in the conflict. The Netherlands is an important player within the EU and since it is a member of the Security Council it can do even more. The Head of mission hopes that the UN will do more to help the Palestinian people, but she is afraid that nothing will come out of the Security Council, because the United States has a veto.
At the end, there was a lot of room for questions, especially relating Palestinian refugees. Some people even told about their personal experiences with individual refugees. Mrs. Sulaiman explained that the Palestinian Mission can help these people and they should contact the consular section.
After an interesting session at the Palestinian Mission, we went to Café Dudok for a nice cup of coffee.
On Monday 5 March, SIB went to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The event was organized by the Committee for External Activities (CEA). The OPCW is an intergovernmental organisation with 192 Member States. It oversees the global goal of permanently eliminating chemical weapons.
Jianwei Wang, a political researcher at OPCW, gave us a tour through the building and provided us with lots of information. The tour started at the Executive Council Chamber. The Council’s aim is to promote the effective implementation of, and compliance with, the Convention. It has 41 members and in order to ensure the Council’s effectiveness, it is constituted with due regard to the principle of equitable geographical distribution, the importance of the chemical industry, and political and security interests.
After that, Jianwei showed us the Nobel Peace Prize, which the OPCW won in 2013 for their “extensive work to eliminate chemical weapons”. The Norwegian Nobel Committee stated i.a. that: “the conventions and the work of the OPCW have defined the use of chemical weapons as a taboo under international law. Recent events in Syria, where chemical weapons have again been put to use, have underlined the need to enhance the efforts to do away with such weapons.”
Next, we went to a conference room where we received a lot of information about the structure of the Organisation and its current missions. Jianwei explained to us that the work of the OPCW consists of four pillars: Demilitarisation, Non-proliferation, Assistance & Protection, and International Cooperation.
Especially the current situation in Syria and the mission in 2013, which led to the destruction of Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons, had the group’s interest.
After the session was finished, we made a nice group picture at the OPCW.