03 July '15.
UNESCO, the United Nations and just this week – the Vatican – have recognised that the “State of Palestine” exists, despite the fact that it lacks all four basic requirements laid down in Article 1 of the Montevideo Convention 1933:
“The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: a ) a permanent population; b ) a defined territory; c ) government; and d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.”
Reverend Federico Lombardi – the Vatican spokesman – confirmed the Holy See’s stance:
“Yes, it’s a recognition that the state exists”
The Vatican is justifiably concerned to protect Christian communities in the Middle East against further ongoing death, dispersion and destruction of their churches as has occurred to Christian communities in Syria and Iraq during the last twelve months.
Easing the concerns of Christians in the West Bank would have certainly played a part in the Vatican’s decision.
Bethlehem’s Christian population has been reduced from 60% in the 1990’s – prior to coming under Palestinian Authority control in 1995 – to 15% Christian by 2013 – whilst 1,000 Christians are reported to be leaving every year.
However Christian population growth in Israel last year stood at 1.3%.
Risking a rift in its relations with Israel displays poor judgement by the Vatican given these realities.
Those 107 member States voting for Palestine’s admission to UNESCO on 31 October 2011 did so in direct contravention of Article II (2) of the UNESCO Constitution which provides:
“… states not members of the United Nations Organization may be admitted to membership of the Organization ….”
Voting to admit into UNESCO an entity that is not a lawful state is beyond understanding.
The UN General Assembly compounded UNESCO’s amazing decision when 138 UN member States voted to recognize Palestine as a “non-member observer state” on 29 November 2012.
The rule of law was thrown out the window with these UNESCO and UN decisions.
The international response to Islamic State has been markedly different since its declaration on 29 June 2014.
In just one year Islamic State has pillaged, plundered, beheaded and murdered its way through Syria and Iraq – now governing the population and controlling state assets in an area larger than Great Britain. Pledges of allegiance have come from many terrorist groups including Boko Haram and Sinai Province.
Islamic State meets all four Montevideo Convention criteria.
Yet British Prime Minister David Cameron urges Islamic State’s existence not be recognised by simply not using its self-declared name – reportedly telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
“I wish the BBC would stop calling it ‘Islamic State’ because it is not an Islamic State. What it is, is an appalling barbarous regime … it is a perversion of the religion of Islam and many Muslims listening to this programme will recoil every time they hear the words.”
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has an even whackier view:
“This is a terrorist group and not a state. I do not recommend using the term Islamic State because it blurs the lines between Islam, Muslims and Islamists. The Arabs call it ‘Daesh’ and I will be calling them the ‘Daesh cutthroats’.”
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has reportedly used the term “death cult” 346 times since last September.
The Pope too seems reluctant to use the term “Islamic State”.
President Obama uses the acronym “ISIL” to deny it is Islamic or a State.
“Palestine” – not a State – is recognised as a State. “Islamic State” – a State – is not recognised as a State.
No wonder the world is in such a state of turmoil and confusion.
David Singer is a Sydney Lawyer and Foundation Member of the International Analysts Network