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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 These recommendations supersede the previous council resolution of 19 March 2014 and as a result that policy is now rescinded.’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)

  • Kate,
    Israel offered the Palestinians their land back many times and they refused every peace deal that was offered to them (by Rabin, Peres, Ehud Barak and Olmert)
    Their Leaders do not fight for freedom, they are fighting against it and that is why their people are stuck in a limbo land with an uncertain future.

    All you write is empty comments with zero knowledge...

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  • All the above is a talking shop - essentially RIBA had taken the side of say for example Bethlehem and then later on, RIBA found that RIBA's own interests took precedence - nothing really to do with Architecture at all - at all

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  • It seems that some readers, Janif Josef for example, cannot endure that the voice of Palestinians should be heard at all. I wonder how he obtained the text of a letter, addressed to the RIBA President, which has only been sellectively quoted in the press? So that other readers may judge whether this letter "develops into a rant" I think they should be able to read it for themselves. here it is:-

    Mr. Stephen Hodder
    Royal Institute of British Architects
    66 Portland Place
    W1B 1AD

    11 November 2014

    Subject: RIBA Delegation visit to Palestine

    Dear Mr. Hodder,
    We in the Engineering Association (EA) and Association of Architects in Palestine (AAP) are extremely concerned over the announcement on the RIBA’s website about its recent delegation to Palestine. We believe that the visit arranged by some RIBA members reflects a clear and deliberate act of diversion from the original RIBA motion adopted on the 19th March 2014 which calls for the suspension of Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA) from UIA.
    We regret the fact that we were not consulted, or informed of the aims, objectives and schedule of this visit of the two RIBA delegates. We feel that the visit was planned as a tool to divert the RIBA motion and strip it of its spirit and goals. The statements made on the website of RIBA, the lack of clarity in the aim and objectives of the visit, as well as the continuous engagement of RIBA with IAUA indicate that there is no intention to implement the 19th of March resolution or to build on it. Instead, it seems like the democratically debated resolution is being sidelined in favor of alternative agendas.
    Instead of clarifying that the IAUA is practicing racism and discrimination through not censuring the illegal activities of its members in building in the occupied territories, RIBA in this action is presenting both sides as equal parties. This is totally unacceptable to us and against the spirit of the BDS call by Palestinian civil society. It is accepting and appearing to condone a group of architects involved with grave misconduct, breaches of international law and participating in war crimes and consolidating ethnic cleansing. This is entirely in breach of UIA Resolutions and Articles.

    We would like to state clearly that our resistance to the Israeli occupation is not a ‘civil conflict’ as you wrongly put it; it is a longstanding, brutal military occupation, colonization and apartheid against a captive and controlled and defenseless population; and this is what we clarified to the delegation. The architects of the IAUA are practicing within this situation without protest or comment, and should be suspended from the UIA, not engaged with by the RIBA!
    Moreover, The latest brutal attack involving massive destruction in Gaza, the horrendous upheavals in Jerusalem and the West Bank and the destruction of heritage sites in Nablus & Hebron in 2002 are not ‘natural disasters’; they are man-made ones, and the massacres in Gaza are war crimes, including the never-ending illegal settlement land grabs. Settlements established in the Occupied Palestinian Territory are clear violations of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention[vi] and the Hague Convention of 1907[vii]. All these relate to the 19 March Resolution, which is about the unacceptable professional practice of architecture. We must remind you again that Israelis and Palestinians are not equal stakeholders in this issue.
    We urge that our letters to both you and Mr. Albert Dubler, dated May 27th, 2014 signed by 350 Palestinians are adhered to. The Engineers Association (EA) and the Association of Architects in Palestine (AAP) back the Resolution for suspension of the Israeli Architects’ Association (IAUA) from the UIA and hope that this will be pursued firmly by the RIBA, as will the (EA) and (AAP) at any future UIA meetings they attend.
    We would like to state clearly that any future cooperation between us depends on RIBA’s position regarding this issue. The 19th of March Resolution still holds and must be pursued, and we would like to know what your line of action is in order to bring it to fruition.

    Engineering Association Association of Jerusalem Center Architects in Palestine

    c/c: Mr. Esa Mohamed, President of the International Union of Architects
    c/c: Ms Deniz Incedayi, Vice-president Region II

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  • An architects' body with no position on professional ethics. Meanwhile the ethnic cleansing continues unabated. Congradulations RIBA.

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  • All the pro-Israel lobby statements above- there are many voices upholding the ethical ideals of architecture. Not only are there many RIBA members and members of Council who supported the suspension motion, and indeed many of the great names in architecture, there are many Israelis who oppose the illegal practices of the architecture of violence, dispossession and apartheid discrimination endemic in Israeli architecture, and the whole basis of the state.
    In fact you should read the works of Eyal Weizman, and see his latest film -The Architecture of Violence -that was recently shown around the world.
    The group called Constructive Dialogue, led by Dan Leon (who threatened to resign from the RIBA but who now curiously has become a Council member) were able to email every Council member before the vote to try and turn them against the very valid and essential Motion, and were subsequently given exclusive access, together with Israeli architects, to meet with the RIBA executive. Subsequently, the RIBA and UIA were bombarded by a barrage of thousands of emails from all over world, including threats and intimidation to the proposers of the Motion, and the Jewish Chronicle accused the RIBA of being 'officially ant-Semitic', and encouraged its readers to boycott the RIBA by cancelling bar-mitvah bookings. The campaign to cancel the motion was relentless -and though it appears that the RIBA has succumbed to the lobbying, it has brought the profession into disrepute by refusing to uphold the ethical and professional standards and codes of the RIBA and UIA, in a most clear cut breach of international law and human rights by members of a country's professional institute (IAUA) which has done nothing to censure or stop its members' illegal practices. By the RIBA reversing the motion of such a clear cut and well documented case, it is condoning the ongoing violence of Israeli architecture in the OPTs and within Israel with the slow ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the Negev and the Judaisation of the Galilee and Israel's cities.

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