About Us

Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine
UK architects, planners and other construction industry professionals campaigning for a just peace in Israel/Palestine.


Desmond Tutu urges UIA to suspend Israeli Architects Association

by Laura Mark         7 August 2014      Architects' Journal

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said the International Union of Architects (UIA) must ‘send a clear message of support for justice in Palestine and Israel by suspending the Israeli Architect’s Association’

In a speech read out at the end of the UIA’s conference in Durban today (7 August), Tutu appealed to the Israeli architects present not to support the design or construction of settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

His words back the RIBA’s controversial resolution, tabled by past president Angela Brady, which called for the Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA) to be suspended from the UIA.

Tutu said: ‘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.’

The institute’s motion was originally expected to be debated at the UIA’s convention but a spokesperson for the union confirmed it was not on the agenda with the organisation claiming it was outside its ‘political scope’.

But as conflict in the region escalates, pressure is being placed on the UIA to consider the suspension of Israeli architects from the institution.

RIBA-past president Angela Brady, added: ‘It is brilliant that the UIA patron Desmond Tutu made this closing speech Its exactly what our RIBA resolution was asking UIA to do It is now up to UIA Assembly to take it on board tomorrow which I hope they will do.

The UIA’s three-yearly conference, has this year focused on the built environment as a ‘major force that can be harnessed towards a better life for all’.

The full speech - read out by the UIA’s president of the local organisation committee Hassan Asmal

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 1,800 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.


 Further comments

Yara Sharif, for the Palestinian delegation to UIA and the Palestinian Engineering Association in Palestine

It is refreshing to hear Desmond Tutu – a fighter against apartheid — to call for the suspension of the Israeli Architects Association from UIA. Not only this echoes the Palestinians' voice and call for justice, but we also hope it will liberate other architects around the world to stand up firm against oppression. The UIA General Assembly is one such platform.

‘Desmond Tutu’s statement represents many of us who stand up for justice and ethics. It is a voice that should be heeded at the General Assembly, and has to be heard above the strong pro-Zionist lobby.

‘We believe that this is a chance for the UIA to show that it upholds its own Resolutions and Articles of professional conduct as the world body of architects, which are quite clear that action has to be taken where a member country is so blatant in its impunity to international law. Israel has over the years been perpetuating such violence and oppression against the Palestinian people in its architecture of occupation and in its ultimate show of unbridled force of massacres and urbicide, targeted at civilians that we have witnessed recently in Gaza, but also continuing over decades in the West Bank as well.

‘The UIA must not let us down this time. It must heed the call of civil society to take non-violent action and send a clear message to Israel that there is a price to pay after decades of occupation and injustice. Silence gives IAUA a green light to wash their hands off their social and ethical responsibility.

‘The IAUA must face suspension now.’


 Desmond Tutu calls for Israel's suspension from architects' union

 by Elizabeth Hopkirk         8 August 2014    Building Design

Archbishop backs RIBA motion

Desmond Tutu has made an impassioned plea to the International Union of Architects (UIA) urging it to suspend the Israeli association.

The archbishop’s intervention came as architects from around the world gathered in Durban for the UIA’s 25th world congress, of which he is patron.

An attempt by Angela Brady, former president of the RIBA, to force a suspension debate on to the agenda was rebuffed when the organisers said they needed several months’ notice.

But Tutu told the congress yesterday: “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 Architects Association from the world body.”

His speech, read out by the president of the South African Institute of Architects, was welcomed by Brady and her supporters including RIBA Council member Yasmin Shariff who is at the congress in a personal capacity.

“His speech was very well received,” she said. “The conference was about humanity and marking a special anniversary in South Africa’s history – 20 years since the end of apartheid. The UIA must take action if it is to have any credibility.”

Brady added: “This strong message and clarification from Desmond Tutu is very apt and timely, and we do hope that the UIA General Assembly meeting [today] will restate this position and take ‘appropriate action’.

“We all need to be on the right side of history right now and not turn a blind eye to the genocide and urbicide in Gaza which is totally condemned by the world.”

Architect Daniel Leon of the Constructive Dialogue group said: “It needs to be recognised that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is complex. Instead of isolating either side, the best way to promote a peaceful and meaningful solution is to build positive relationships with both sides through dialogue.

“Boycotts will not help those striving to build a future based on mutual recognition and development, and it would be counter-productive to punish individual professionals and independent civil organisations due to the policies of their governments.”

The RIBA motion passed in March 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.” 



  • Since when did standing up for human rights become so unpopular?

    Without exception all of the criticism listed here (and throughout this whole debate) has been of a hysterical nature, based on tiresome rhetoric, devoid of context, empirically vacuous and diversionist.

    This motion supports peace. It is in the tradition of the Israeli-Palestinian signed Oslo II agreement which states that “Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the Permanent Status negotiations.”

    These actions 'merely' aim to uphold multiple articles enshrined in international humanitarian law by sanctioning Israeli architects for their widespread involvement in the occupation of Palestine, which ultimately aims to change (and is changing) this status.

    This motion has nothing to do with anti-semitism, left wing intelligentsia bias or personal motives. In fact, it has arguably nothing to do with the boycott movement.

    It's not so difficult to understand. Try.

    Unsuitable or offensive? REPORT THIS COMMENT

  • @Mick thank you for putting it so well

    Unsuitable or offensive? REPORT THIS COMMENT

  • Agree with Craig. Well said Mick. 
    I still think that it is wrong to single out all Israeli Architects as most of them oppose the settlements in the occupied territories. This is my opinion and I have commented before. I wish the israelis and palestinians a peaceful weekend.

    Unsuitable or offensive? REPORT THIS COMMENT

  • Well done Mick for the balanced points of view, some people need to hear and share. Having been there and seen the apartheid first hand, the division roads and walls, the illegal hilltop settlements and the bulldozing of peoples homes, it is imperative that this must stop. We must support this call for help from our fellow institute in Palestine and do what we can to stop this architecture of oppression and urbicide which will not be stopped by political dialogue or any dialogue it would seem at this stage. This message from UIA patron Desmond Tutu is very clear and one we hope UIA are strong enough to take on board.

    Unsuitable or offensive? REPORT THIS COMMENT

  • What the proponents of 'Constructive Dialogue' and their repeated mantra of how both sides can get together and 'sort things out' do not understand, is that we all know very clearly this is the sort of Israeli 'hasbara' (sugar coated propaganda) -straight out of Frank Luntz's BICOM manual - that the pro-Israel lobby uses to counteract any criticism of Israel. Dan Leon is now on the RIBA Council where such promotion and protection of Israeli architects can continue.
    We all know where 'dialogue' and talking peace with the Israelis has led the the Palestinians for decades at every fruitless peace agreement. The West Bank has been completely swallowed up by Israeli settlements .The Times of Israel reported on July 13, what Netanyahu the Israeli prime minister who is wreaking such havoc in Gaza, said "I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.” The Zionist state will never, ever give up the West Bank, except for the 40% -Areas A& B, which will constitute the demilitarised bantustans where Palestinians will live, confined by 100s of checkpoints and the Apartheid Wall. With the steadfast protection by the US and UK, boycotts and sanctions are the only non-violent action left to shift Israeli hegemony and exceptionalism. What the Dialogue contingent seem to misunderstand, is that the case of Israeli architecture is unique,and why it can be 'singled out'.It is because of its total collaboration with the state's military and political agenda, since the earliest colonial settlements built in Palestine, of "Maximun land with minimum Palestinians" under total control and in the case of Gaza, complete blockade. Architecture is used as an instrument of occupation, erasure and land expropriation enforced with extreme violence.
    All this is against the ethical codes of the RIBA, the UIA, against humanitarian and international law, and constitute participation in war crimes, is racist, and also a form of apartheid. There is voluminous documentation by Eyal Weizman in his writings like 'Hollow Land' and in Israeli Human rights publications like B'Tselem's 'Land Grab'. Weizman says "While not all members of the Israel Association of United Architects are involved in building in Occupied Palestinian Territories and many may be against such actions — as an organization it must take an ethical and legal stand, but it has not." So with all this overwhelming evidence , is it not appropriate that professional bodies, and especially the UIA should stop appeasement, and make a stand in support of the Palestinians, oppressed for decades in a belligerent occupation, who have asked for civil society's help -to get the backing of architects of conscience throughout the world -using the clearly laid down ethical codes and UIA resolutions -to send a message to a supposed democratic western oriented state -that there is a price to pay for the impunity to international law that has gone on for far too long.