Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, March 16, 2005

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Middle East & United Nations

Ros-Lehtinen Schedules Wednesday Hearing on UN Efforts in Region


BACKGROUND:  The United Nations has broad involvement in the Middle East, both as an institution and as a forum for debate and decision-making by U.N. Security Council members and other powers.   Some U.N. agencies provide economic and relief assistance to displaced populations; other U.N. agencies, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), monitor Middle East countries’ compliance with such international agreements as the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).  In some cases, the United Nations has undertaken security missions in the region, such as its U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) peacekeeping operation in southern Lebanon.  In other cases, U.N. envoys, such as U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Terje Roed-Larsen, have engaged in negotiations with parties to the Arab-Israeli conflict.  Larsen has also attempted to engage Syria’s leadership concerning compliance with the provisions of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559 – most importantly, requiring Syria to end its military occupation of Lebanon.  The Syrian occupation of Lebanon is one among many Middle East-related examples in which the Security Council has been used as a forum to debate or resolve regional issues.  In the past, the United States has criticized some U.N. institutions for becoming forums for Arab denunciations of Israel, and U.S. and Israeli representatives continue to accuse some Arab countries of seeking to marginalize Israel within the United Nations.  The United States and other countries have often criticized U.N. internal procedures and processes that have allowed “hardline” Arab states such as Syria to sit on the Security Council, and Libya, which is widely criticized for its human rights record, to chair the U.N. Human Rights Commission (2003-2004 session).  


WHAT:                     Subcommittee Oversight Hearing:  The Middle East and the United Nations

                      Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia,

                      U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chair

                            ***Note:  Immediately following the hearing, a markup will be held of H. Res. 54, Expressing the sense of the
                                  House of Representatives regarding anti-Semitism at the United Nations, and for other purposes.

WHEN:                     1:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 20, 2005

WHERE:                   Room 2200 Rayburn House Office Building

WITNESSES:            Philo Dibble, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Organization Affairs, U.S. Department of State;
                                  Richard S. Schifter
(former U.S. Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, and
                                  Deputy U.S. Representative to the United Nations Security Council); and
                                  Richard Williamson,
Partner, Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, LLP (former United States Ambassador and Alternate
                                  Representative for Special Political Affairs to the United Nations).

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