Durban 7 August 2014
Archbishop Tutu, the patron of the this year's UIA 25th World Congress being held in Durban, has sent a statement to the closing session of the Congress today in support of suspension of the Israeli Association of United Architects from the UIA.
On 19 March the RIBA Council passed a Resolution to back the call for suspending the Israeli Association, but the President Albert Dubler refused to allow it to be tabled at the General Assembly because it was not submitted 150 days before the meeting, and because he said it was beyond the UIA's 'political scope', even though the UIA had passed Resolution 13 in 2005 and confirmed it in 2009 that:
“The UIA Council condemns development projects and the construction of buildings on land that has been ethnically purified or illegally appropriated, and projects based on regulations that are ethnically or culturally discriminatory, and similarly it condemns all action contravening the fourth Geneva Convention"
The RIBA resolution stated:
"Since the Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA) has paid no regard to the UIA resolution 13 of 2005 and 2009, the RIBA calls on the UIA, as the international guardian of professional and ethical standards in our profession, to suspend the membership of the Israeli Association of United Architects, until it acts to resist these illegal projects, and observes international law, the UIA Accords and Resolution 13."
In addition, the work of Israeli architects building settlements in the occupied West Bank, together with the whole panoply of occupation, the Separation (Apartheid) Wall, the matrix of control, the segregrated roads that link the settlements with Israel, all enforced by mass house demolitions, and expropriation of land against international law, contravene the humane ethical codes and Articles of the UIA. Further, the discriminatory practices in housing, planning and development against Palestinian citizens of Israel are reflected in the Judaisation programmes for East Jerusalem and Israel's cities, enforced removal of thousands of Negev Bedouin, for new Jewish-only towns in the Galilee, and refusal of planning permission to build.
It remains to be seen, that after the terrible onslaught by Israel on Gaza, where nearly 1900 people were killed, and over 10,000 injured and massive destruction of homes, schools, mosques, hospitals, civic infrastructure and vital services, and whole neighbourhoods laid to waste -constituting war crimes -and with the blockade, occupation and settlement building still relentlessly being pursued, whether the General Assembly will permit the Resolution back on the agenda or from the floor, and carry out what a whole body of architects and many eminent figures in the architectural, academic and cultural world have supported:
Archbishop Tutu's Statement
Message from Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu to the International Union of Architects (UIA): 7 August 2014
It has been my honour to serve as patron of the 25th World Congress of the International Union of Architects.
As you have gathered in Durban this week, the world news has been dominated by the carnage in Gaza. I have condemned those Palestinians responsible for firing rockets at Israel, for violence is not the solution to human crises. The disproportionality of Israel's response, however, has been utterly horrendous. Hundreds of Palestinian civilians, including women and children, among the more than 1800 dead, and much of Gaza's infrastructure – it's roads, public facilities and buildings – laid to waste. All in the name of preserving a fundamentally divisive and undignified status quo founded on the illegal occupation of Palestinian land.
Those who are opposed to violence have, over the years, developed an arsenal of peaceful tools aimed at isolating and negatively impacting on the economies of rogue states. As members of civil society, with the help of our friends abroad, we deployed these tools - boycotts, divestment and sanctions – to great effect against the apartheid state in South Africa.
The world's political and diplomatic leaders have floundered for decades in their efforts to develop a workable recipe for the people of Palestine and Israel to live in peace. It is time for civil society to step into the void, to persuade the people and leaders of Israel that it is in humanity's best interests to enter into dialogue aimed at negotiating a peaceful and sustainable solution for the crisis in the Holy Land – a solution that is acceptable to both Palestinians and Israelis.
I believe it would be appropriate for the UIA to send a clear message of support for justice in Palestine and Israel by suspending the Israeli Architect's Association from the world body.
I appeal to Israeli sisters and brothers present at the conference to actively disassociate themselves and their profession from the design and construction of any further infrastructure related to perpetuating injustice, including the separation wall, the security terminals and checkpoints, and the settlements built on occupied Palestinian land.
I implore you to take this message home: Please turn the tide against violence and hatred by joining the non-violent movement for justice for all people of the region.
God bless you.