Second day: 12: 45 | Concluding Session
Ambassador Yutaka Iimura, Special Representative of the Government of Japan for the Middle East and Europe
Mr. Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, Coordinator for Multilingualism
Second day: 11:15 - 12:45 | Panel 5: New tools for the media in covering the Middle East - Infographics: merging journalism with design
With the acceleration in digital media, the popularity and sophistication of data visualisation in the form of infographics has grown tremendously in the last few years, becoming a key part of the toolkit relied on by activists and journalists around the world. In the Middle East, infographics have been used to varying degrees of success by all sides. In Japan, with a rich tradition in visual art forms and graphic design, infographics have also found their place in the overlapping worlds of journalism, communications, marketing and activism. This session discussed the impact of infographics, their advantages and disadvantages, and emerging ethics surrounding their use. Participants showcased examples of their work.
Moderator: Ms. Margaret Novicki, Chief, Communications Campaigns Service, DPI
Mr. Ramzi Jaber - Visualizing Palestine Co-founder
Mr. Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, Huffington Post Live
Ms. Roni Levit, Infographic designer
Mr. Takashi Tokuma, bowlgraphics
Second day: 9:30 - 11:00 | Panel 4: Japanese media coverage of the Middle East, including how the Japanese media covers its Government’s support for Palestine
Although geographically far removed from the Middle East, the Government of Japan has played a critical role in support to Palestine, providing generous and sustained funding to UNRWA – last year amounting to almost US$ 29 million. It has also been an engaged and active supporter of internationally-sponsored peace efforts between Israel and Palestine, most notably through its Special Representative to the Middle East and Europe, Ambassador Yutaka Iimura. At the same time, the Japanese media has a long and prestigious record of covering the Middle East conflict and the Government’s role in support of peace in the region. This session explored that coverage from the perspective of the Representative of the Permanent General Mission of the Palestine to Japan, Ambassador Waleed Siam, and two prominent and highly-respected Japanese journalists.
Moderator: Ambassador Lyutha Al-Mughairy, Chairperson of the Committee on Information and Permanent Representative of the Sultanate of Oman to the United Nations
Ambassador Waleed Siam, Representative of the Permanent General Mission of Palestine to Japan
Mr. Hiroshi Fuse, Chief Editor, The Arab magazine and Senior Editorial Writer, The Mainichi Newspaper
Ms. Yuki Hasegawa, Chief, Kofu Branch Office, and former Chief of Cairo Bureau, Yomiuri Shimbun
First day: 16:30 - 18:15 | Panel 3: Coverage and narratives surrounding Palestinian refugees - turning the spotlight on Yarmouk
As the crisis in Syria continues to spread, Palestinian refugees face violence, displacement, and lack of basic resources such as food and healthcare. Already a vulnerable minority in Syria, many Palestinian refugees and their families now face the unbearable choice of staying in their homes and risking their safety, or fleeing and facing further displacement. Thanks in part to a highly effective advocacy campaign by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the desperate plight of Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk has made it onto the front pages of newspapers and into the minds of policy makers. This panel discussed the evolution in narratives surrounding the lives of Palestinian refugees, especially in light of Yarmouk. Experts also discussed UNRWA’s efforts to highlight the suffering in Yarmouk as part of its push to get access to the camp for desperately needed humanitarian access.
Moderator: Mr. Chris Gunness, Spokesperson, UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)
Ms. Phyllis Bennis, Director, New Internationalism Project Institute for Policy Studies
Mr. Nidal Bitari, Palestinian Association for Human Rights in Syria
Mr. Faisal Irshaid, BBC World
Professor Ryoji Tateyama, Visiting Fellow, Institute of Energy Economics, and Professor Emeritus, National Defense Academy, Japan
First day: 14:15 - 16:00 | Panel 2: Shifting narratives in media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Middle East peace efforts
This session discussed how narratives in media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Middle East peace efforts might have shifted, especially in light of the major developments in the past 12 months such as the Kerry initiative and the Palestinian reconciliation deal.
Moderator: Ms. Deborah Seward, Director, Strategic Communications Division, UN Department of Public Information (DPI)
Mr. Nobuhisa Degawa, Senior Commentator, NHK
Ms. Nour Odeh, Founder and CEO, Connect Strategic Communications Consultancy
Mr. Noam Sheizaf, +972 Magazine
Mr. Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, Huffington Post Live
First day: 10:30 - 12:15 | Panel 1: The status of peace efforts - what now?
It has now been more than two decades since the signing of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Governing Arrangements – better known as the Oslo Accords. However, while the international community remains committed to the creation of an independent, viable and sustainable Palestinian state, and security for Israel, and despite the recent initiative on the part of U.S. Secretary of State Kerry, there has been no progress towards peace. In the meantime, dramatic changes continue to re-shape the political landscape in the wider region. This session looked at internationally-sponsored peace efforts over the last 12 months, their current status, and what might lie ahead for relations between Israelis and Palestinians.
Moderator: Mr. Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal
Ms. Phyllis Bennis, Director, New Internationalism Project, Institute for Policy Studies
Mr. Avraham Burg, International Coordinator, Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue
Ambassador Yutaka Iimura, Special Representative of the Government of Japan for the Middle East and Europe
Ambassador Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations
Delivered by Mr. Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information
I am pleased to greet participants at this International Seminar on Peace in the Middle East. I thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and Sophia University for hosting. I applaud the engagement of Japan in our efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East.
Last year, my message to this Seminar referred to renewed hope for the Middle East Peace Process. I reiterated my belief that the resumption of direct talks was a welcome step – and the only path towards peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
I regret that intense diplomatic efforts since then have not yielded the outcome we had all hoped for. Today, negotiations on the two-State solution have reached another impasse. This does not mean, however, that international efforts have stopped. I have repeatedly appealed to the parties and the international community to work diligently and constructively to find a meaningful path forward.
The parties should use the current pause to consider options for the future without taking unilateral steps that would undermine the prospect for the resumption of direct negotiations.
There is no contradiction between Palestinian reconciliation and peace negotiations. Palestinian unity is essential for the viability of any peace agreement. The United Nations has consistently supported efforts towards Palestinian unity within the framework of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s commitments, which include the recognition of the right of the State of Israel to exist and the renunciation of terrorism and violence.
The United Nations continues to play a key role assisting people in need. UNRWA, for example, continues to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees.
As we face a pause in the Israeli-Palestinian talks, another crisis that threatens the stability of the Middle East – the conflict in Syria – shows no signs of abating. Among the many dramatic humanitarian consequences of the conflict, Palestine refugees in Syria are being displaced again. I am deeply concerned about their plight.
I remain committed to working with the parties and international partners for an end of the occupation that began in 1967 and the establishment of a Palestinian State, living side-by-side in peace with Israel within secure and recognized borders, and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
I also count on your contributions. As journalists, representatives of civil society, academics and policy-makers, you play a critical role in promoting transparency, accountability and public participation as well as shaping the perception of our most important challenges.
I wish you a successful gathering.
Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen.
My name is Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal. I am the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information.
On behalf of the United Nations, I am delighted to welcome you to the 22nd International Media Seminar on Peace in the Middle East.
I would like to extend a very special welcome to our participants who have travelled from near and far to be here with us today in Tokyo.
This seminar is organized by the United Nations Department of Public Information, in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and with Sophia University.
We are very grateful to the Government of Japan for its warm welcome and for its generous support, which we believe reflects the importance that Japan attaches to the search for peace in the Middle East.
I would like to extend special thanks to Sophia University for hosting this event and for all of the excellent support they have provided.
I would also like to thank Ambassador Riyad al-Mansour of the State of Palestine and Ambassador Lyutha al-Mughairy of Oman, the Chair of the Committee on Information at the United Nations, for joining us.
We are honoured to have with us this morning for the opening session Mr. Hirotaka Ishihara, the Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan; Dr. David M. Malone, Under-Secretary-General, and Rector of United Nations University, Tokyo; and Mr. Takashi Hayashita, the President of Sophia University, Tokyo.
We will now hear opening statements from all three gentlemen.
Mr. Ishihara will make an opening statement on behalf of the Government of Japan.
Mr. Ishihara, the floor is yours.
[Mr. Ishihara makes his opening remarks]
Thank you, Mr. Ishihara.
We will now hear from Dr. Malone.
Dr. Malone, the floor is yours.
[Dr. Malone makes his opening statement]
Thank you, Dr. Malone.
We will now hear from Mr. Hayashita, the President of Sophia University, Tokyo.
Mr. Hayashita, the floor is yours.
[Mr. Hayashita makes his opening statement]
Thank you, Mr. Hayashita.
I would now like to read out a statement from the United Nations Secretary-General.
[USG reads the Secretary-General’s statement]
I am also pleased to let you know that copies of the message to the seminar from His Excellency Mr. Abdou Salam Diallo, the Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and Permanent Representative of Senegal to the United Nations, are available at the back of the room.
The Committee was established by the General Assembly in 1975 and has helped to ensure that the question of Palestine remains at the forefront of the United Nations’ attention. The Committee carries out a number of activities to promote international support and assistance to the Palestinian people.
This year, the Committee, along with the Division for Palestinian Rights in the UN Department of Political Affairs, and the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations, have held a series of events and activities to mark the General Assembly mandated International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The Department of Public Information has supported these efforts.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our objective in organizing this seminar is two-fold: to sensitize public opinion on the question of Palestine, and to examine some of the evolving media-related dynamics shaping events in the region, while exploring how they relate to the situation between Israelis and Palestinians.
I would like to emphasize that this is a media seminar. Our discussions will focus on the role of the media in recent events in the Middle East, and as this relates to the situation in Israel and Palestine. This is an opportunity for representatives of the media, civil society, policy-making and academia from the region and beyond to come together to share their experiences and exchange views.
This seminar is taking place against the backdrop of continued turmoil in the Middle East.
The tragedy in Syria continues to have a devastating impact on ordinary citizens. In excess of 100,000 people have been killed. More than four million people have been internally displaced, and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has put the number of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries at more than 1.8 million.
As Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has repeatedly stressed, peace in Syria can only be achieved through a political solution, not through military action.
The United Nations is working hard to address the enormous humanitarian challenges caused by the Syrian crisis, in close cooperation with Member States, including Japan.
It has also been a difficult year in the search for a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as negotiations reached an impasse with the end to the so-called ‘Kerry initiative’ – the period of intense US engagement over nine months spearheaded by US Secretary of State John Kerry.
As Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted last month, the current political stalemate poses great risks to the prospects of a two-State solution, and continued inaction could result in further instability. He said that the parties should realize that not making a choice in favour of peace and co-existence within the two-State framework was the most detrimental choice of all.
Failing to continue meaningful negotiations towards the two-State solution would lead further down the path of a one-state reality on the ground, he said.
The Secretary-General continues to stress that settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are illegal under international law and constitute a significant obstacle to achieving peace. Demolitions of Palestinian households and other property are in contradiction to Israel’s obligation to protect the civilian population under its occupation.
In addition, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is of profound concern. The Secretary-General has urged steps to help improve conditions and ensure a complete opening of crossings into Gaza, including Rafah, to allow legitimate trade and movements of people.
At the same time, continued violence and attacks against civilians, including rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, are unacceptable.
The Secretary-General has repeated that the United Nations will do all it can to help resume a meaningful peace process.
So, does the current stalemate signal the end of the two-State solution? What does the future hold for peace efforts?
Our first panel discussion will look at these questions and we will hear from four eminent speakers before opening it up for a wider discussion.
In the other four panels of the seminar, we will focus on some of the key media-related dynamics that have emerged in the region in the past 12 months and examine how they relate to the Israel/Palestine situation in particular.
As you will have seen from the programme, we will discuss shifting media narratives in media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Middle East peace efforts; coverage and narratives surrounding Palestinian refugees – turning the spotlight on Yarmouk; Japanese media coverage of the Middle East, including how the Japanese media covers its Government’s support for Palestine; and, new tools for the media in covering the Middle East – Infographics: merging journalism with design.
We have assembled a truly impressive list of speakers and participants for our seminar. We look forward to hearing the many different perspectives and experiences they represent. We also look forward to hearing from you, the audience, and I encourage you to engage with our panellists.
That concludes the opening to the seminar. I suggest we now take a short break and resume at 10:30 with Panel I “The status of peace efforts – What now?” – which I will moderate. See you shortly.
First day: 09:30 - 10:00 | Opening Session
Mr. Hirotaka Ishihara, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan
Dr. David M. Malone, Under-Secretary-General, Rector, United Nations University, Tokyo
Mr. Takashi Hayashita, President of Sophia University, Tokyo