Voice

Key moments in Palestine's relationship with the United Nations

With the Palestinian bid to achieve UN membership approaching a decisive point, it may be worth reviewing some key moments in Palestine's relationship with the world organization:

May 1949: Israel admitted to the United Nations.

Nov. 1970: General Assembly "condemns those Governments that deny the right to self-determination of peoples recognized as being entitled to it, especially of the peoples of southern Africa and Palestine." Beginning at this time, the Assembly passed regular annual resolutions affirming the right of Palestine to self-determination and encouraging all states to achieve that.

Nov. 1974: The General Assembly "invites the Palestine Liberation Organization to participate in the sessions and the work of the General Assembly."

Nov. 1975: General Assembly requests the Security Council "to consider and adopt the necessary resolutions and measures in order to enable the Palestinian people to exercise its inalienable national rights..." In that same session, the Assembly passed the famous resolution declaring zionism to be a form of racism.

Jan. 1976: PLO representative addresses the Security Council.

Dec. 1988: General Assembly "[a]cknowledges the proclamation of the State of Palestine by the Palestine National Council on 15 November 1988...[and] decides that, effective as of 15 December 1988, the designation 'Palestine' should be used in place of the designation 'Palestine Liberation Organization' in the United Nations system, without prejudice to the observer status and functions of the Palestine Liberation Organization within the United Nations system, in conformity with relevant United Nations resolutions and practice."

July 1998: General Assembly "decides to confer upon Palestine, in its capacity as observer, and as contained in the annex to the present resolution, additional rights and privileges of participation in the sessions and work of the General Assembly and the international conferences convened under the auspices of the Assembly or other organs of the United Nations, as well as in United Nations conferences."

The Multilateralist

'A constitution with no exits'

I distinctly remember coming across Martin Feldstein's 1997 Foreign Affairs article on European monetary union and all but scoffing. He argued, in essence, that monetary union makes severe political tension and even military conflict more likely in Europe. The article struck me as absurdly gloomy -- a cranky diatribe. A key insight from that article:

A critical feature of the EU in general and [monetary union] in particular is that there is no legitimate way for a member to withdraw. This is a marriage made in heaven that must last forever. But if countries discover that the shift to a single currency is hurting their economies and that the new political arrangements also are not to their liking, some of them will want to leave. The majority may not look kindly on secession, either out of economic self-interest or a more general concern about the stability of the entire union. The American experience with the secession of the South may contain some lessons about the danger of a treaty or constitution that has no exits.

Suffice to say that his take is looking less outlandish today, with senior European officials making pretty similar warnings.