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 acknowledge 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 Armal
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.
Yara Sharif, for the Palestinian delegation to UIA and the Palestinian Engineering Association in Palestine
‘It is refreshing to hear Despond 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.’
Daniel Leon, Constructive Dialogue
‘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.’