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RIBA overturns controversial Israel motion


The RIBA’s resolution to suspend the Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA) has been overturned by the insitute’s council today

Passed in March, the controversial resolution demanded the International Union of Architects (UIA) censure the IAUA over illegal settlement building in the occupied territories.The contentious motion was brought by former president Angela Brady and carried by 23 votes to 16 - with 10 abstentions.

However the resolution split the profession and has now, after a council vote, been shelved.

According to the institute, the motion calling for the IAUA’s suspension, was beyond ‘the powers of [RIBA] council’ and ‘was not in furtherance of the chairtable objects of the RIBA and should not have been placed before RIBA Council’.

The news comes just a month after an RIBA taskforce led by Sumita Sinha and Peter Oborn – RIBA’s vice-president of international – travelled to the region and held talks with both the IAUA and the Association of Architects in Palestine.

Delivering his findings from the taskforce’s trip, Oborn said: ‘The RIBA motion was beyond the powers of council. It should not have come before the members of council.’

‘This is not the forum for these issues.’

Earlier today (4 December) council voted in support of the taskforce’s report and its recommendations - one of which included revoking the original motion.

RIBA president Stephen Hodder said: ‘I’m keen that architects engage positively with this issue. RIBA Council has an important role to play in engaging with difficult and controversial issues. However it is a widely held view that the resolution passed in March concerning the IAUA did not make a constructive contribution to the current situation.

‘For the Institute to have engaged in this issue in a confrontational way - by seeking suspension of the Israeli Association of United Architects from the UIA - was wrong. These recommendations supersede the previous council resolution of 19 March 2014 and as a result that policy is now rescinded.’

He added: ‘We got it wrong’

Hodder admitted the fallout had damaged the RIBA’s reputation and ‘had a financial impact’ on the institution, but wouldn’t expand on how much it had cost.

What council voted on:

RIBA council endorses the report of the group and adopts the recommendations of the report including the proposals for further work and becoming a signatory to be UN Global Compact and the International Ethics Coalition. These recommendations include replacing previous policy of 19 March and that policy is rescinded.



Readers' comments (35)

  • Good decision by the RIBA president. Now the RIBA can concentrate on it's objectives:
    "...the general advancement of Civil Architecture, and for promoting and facilitating the acquirement of the knowledge of the various arts and sciences connected therewith..."

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  • .... and Israel's architects can carry on their work of expanding illegal Jewish only settlements, at the expense of the Palestinian people, without international sanction.

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  • This just proves how weak and ineffective the RIBA's influence is, though the vote clearly had backing from within, they were forced to change their opinion due to outside influence (and most likely outside funding threats). The RIBA is meant to stand up for British architecture and its values and to uphold a standard of Ethics, and promoting them worldwide is most definitely a valuable thing to do. They have every right to express their disproval of another country Architecture body if deemed to be acting in an unethical way. Whether that is in Israel or any other country acting unethically. I wouldn’t want the RIBA to recognise any institute that agrees to build on disputed territories.

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  • In response to Janet Green's sour grapes, Israel provides free medical health care to Arab nationals and continues to find ways for peaceful coexistence, whilst the Palestinian authorities are ruled by extremist groupings who are blind to any peaceful advancement let alone architecture.

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  • Robert Erskine - my comment refers to the expansion of illegal Jewish only settlements but yours doesn't (?).

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  • Janet Green - seconded on both comments.

    RIBA shoots itself in both feet - again

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  • Finally, common sense has prevailed over this lengthy / costly and ludicrous campaign.
    Now that this is over, I do hope that RIBA can now focus on its members and fight for further changes in the planning system that is vital for the future of architecture in the UK.

    For those people who are disappointed about this decision, if you do your research I am sure you will find a more appropriate platform for whatever agenda you have.
    Boycotting does not promote dialogue between sides (which is badly needed in this current situation) it only creates further division and this is not good for peace or a stable future.

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  • Lior Brosh - seeing some of your past comments, I find it hard to see how you don't have an agenda of your own.

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  • Frirish,
    My agenda is very clear, to keep RIBA focusing on its members and promote British Architecture.
    You will find hard to believe but this is RIBA’s agenda as well.

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  • This must be the lowest depths that the RIBA has sunk - an obsequious capitulation to the Israel lobby both outside and within the RIBA, and to donor pressure -even after being intimidated, threatened and subjected to boycotts applied to its financial detriment.
    This was precisely a professional and ethical issue that could be undertaken by an institution, even within its charitable status, according to UIA Resolutions and Articles, and by a clear democratic Council decision.

    This has been subverted by the International Committee with its ludicrous visit and report, and then saying it was joining the UN Global Compact and the International Ethics Coalition.This must be the most farcical of ironies, as it has just rescinded precisely the Resolution that would have conformed to ethical practice -not given support to Israeli architects who are practicing the architecture of occupation, violence and dispossession. The concern seems to have been more for the feelings of the oppressors than the Palestinians -whose architects association had opposed the actions of the RIBA in supporting the Israeli standpoint.
    No, this is what the RIBA has got miserably wrong, and has brought the whole Institute into disrepute. They got it right in 1977, when they took the courageous action in breaking its links with the South African schools of architecture as part of the anti-apartheid boycott call.

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