ACTU Congress 2012

Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) – International Policy 2012

“The ACTU endorses ITUC policy”
– Paragraph 27, ACTU International Policy 2012

[Excerpt Paragraph No.27 re Middle East]

27.  The ACTU endorses ITUC policy and practical initiatives in monitoring and influencing democratic, peaceful outcomes in the interests of workers and unions globally, including Africa, the Americas, and in the Middle East with a focus on the impact of Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the rights of all workers in the region and their families – Palestinians, Israelis and other communities.

Commentary – ACTU International Policy 2012:
> The ACTU’s endorsement of “ITUC policy” refers to the 2nd World Congress of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) held in June 2010.  With regard to Israel-Palestine, the ITUC policy specifically states:

[Excerpt from 2010 ITUC Policy “Democracy, Peace, Security and the Role of the United Nations”, pages 59-64, paragraphs 12-20, and Action Plan 22(b)-(h)]

12. The quest for a comprehensive peace between Israel and Palestine, based on the co-existence in conditions of security of two sovereign, independent and viable states, requires renewed international attention and support as a highest and urgent priority. Congress asserts that the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 242, (1967), which recognises the 1967 borders, and 338 (1973), are fundamental to the achievement of a just and lasting peace. Congress recognises that action to address the plight of Palestinian refugees, also in light of the relevant UN Resolutions, is a key building block for peaceful and constructive relations between Israel and Palestine and their neighbours. Congress further calls for universal recognition of Israel’s right to exist, next to an independent viable Palestinian state, acknowledging that this is essential to achieving a peaceful solution.

13. The continued Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the existence of illegal Israeli settlements there and their impacts on the lives of Palestinians including their access to water, along with the blockade of Gaza and the extremist policies of Hamas, impose severe constraints on the potential for Palestinian economic and social development and make many Palestinian workers dependent on precarious work in the settlements. Egypt’s decision to impose heavy restrictions on its border with Gaza will worsen the already deep economic crisis affecting those living in Gaza.

14. Israel’s December 2008 invasion of Gaza in response to rocket attacks, and the failure to respect the UN Security Council Resolution calling for a ceasefire were reckless and unacceptable, costing the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians. These events were yet another example of the deadly cycle of provocation and reaction, which only serves to deepen extremist attitudes and puts the prospect of a resolution of the conflict yet further from reach.

15. Recognising the ending of Israel’s presence in Gaza as an important step towards resolving the conflict, Congress calls for the lifting of the blockade on Gaza in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1860 (2009) and for Israel to end the occupation of the West Bank and to remove all settlements. Congress recognises that economic relations with the settlements help to sustain their existence, in violation of international law.

16. While every country has the right to defend recognised borders and the lives and well-being of its population, the building by the Israeli government of a separation wall which intrudes substantially into Palestinian territory is a violation of international law which can only make peace and mutual coexistence harder to achieve. Congress calls for the wall to be removed, recognising that the mutual security of and respect between Israelis and Palestinians is central to the quest for peace. Congress calls for Israel and Syria to reach agreement on Israel’s withdrawal from the Golan Heights, with the attendant guarantees for its security.

17. Congress urges both Israelis and Palestinians to renounce violence, commit to an immediate and lasting ceasefire and immediately engage in direct negotiations as envisioned in the “Road Map” launched in 2002 by the US, Russia, the UN and the EU. It recognises that agreement on the status of Jerusalem is central to resolving the conflict, and underlines the urgent and imperative need for the international community to support, in every way possible, the realisation of a peaceful and just solution.

18. Congress welcomes the landmark agreement between Histadrut and the PGFTU on the rights of Palestinian workers, which was finalised with the assistance of the ITUC in August 2008, and initiatives by Global Union Federations in their sectors to support cooperation in defence of workers’ rights. This agreement, and other actions to promote decent work and end discrimination, are crucial to building the basis for just and equitable economic development.

19. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinian workers are unable to find employment under current conditions, causing widespread despair and disillusionment, and Congress calls for urgent action to promote decent work opportunities for them. Congress commits the ITUC to continue to support the strengthening of cooperation between the Palestinian and Israeli trade union movements and calls upon the international community to support Palestinian economic reconstruction and development, including through the ILO Palestinian Fund for Employment and Social Protection.

20. Just as furthering democracy and respect for human rights is fundamental to resolution of conflict in the Middle East, it is equally as important in all of the many other conflicts taking place around the world. In this regard, Congress recognises and supports in particular the important role of the UN Peace-Building Commission, established in 2006, as an instrument for post-conflict reconstruction. It also welcomes progress at the United Nations concerning the Responsibility to Protect, and calls upon all countries to fully support and engage in its further development. Congress urges all countries to become parties to, and accept the universal jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and to respect the authority of the International Court of Justice in relation to international disputes. …

ITUC Action Programme
22. Congress instructs the ITUC and regional organisations, working together with Global Unions partners and affiliates, to: …

(b) Support actively multilateral action to consolidate and preserve peace, to resolve conflicts peacefully, to bring to justice those guilty of war crimes and other crimes against humanity, to strengthen the International Criminal Court, and to support the adherence of UN member states to the injunction of the Charter of the United Nations to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state;

(c) Campaign with particular urgency for all governments to advance the peace process in the Middle East, based on the principles and the UN Resolutions referred to in this resolution;

(d) Support and encourage action by the Histadrut, Israel and PGFTU, Palestine to press their governments to resume negotiations to achieve a just and fair resolution to the conflict, and to reinforce cooperation between Histadrut and the PGFTU;

(e) Promote the development of enforceable instruments with a view to addressing the behaviour of multinational corporations operating in zones of conflict or postconflict or weak governance zones, or benefiting from such situations;

(f) Support and defend trade unionists confronted with violence, and offer practical and political support to affiliates working in conflict situations for peace, reconciliation and the building of democracy;

(g) Work for substantial reductions in military spending and its transfer to meet pressing social needs, international development cooperation and the conversion of arms production to peaceful objectives;

(h) Promote effective international regulation of the production and trading of arms; the non-proliferation of all armaments including nuclear weapons; and in particular the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction; …

Commentary – ITUC Policy (2010):
> Paragraph 15 is important for its call for an end to the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, and the removal of all Israeli settlements. Paragraph 15 recognises that the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal and, significantly, that “economic relations with the [Israeli] settlements [are a] violation of international law”.
> Paragraph 16 is important for its call for the removal of the illegal Separation Wall being built by Israel in violation of the International Court of Justice ruling (9 July 2004).
> Paragraph 12 is important for its recognition of core United Nations Resolutions with regard to the conflict – UN Security Council Resolution 242 (1968), UN Security Council Resolution 338 (1973); as well as its recognition that the core issue of “the plight of the Palestinian refugees” must be resolved according to UN Resolutions, which is UN General Assemby Resolution 194 (1948).
> Action Programme (c) is important for its action call for unions to campaign for peace based on United Nations Resolutions. This is an argument based in respect for the rule of law, in this case, adherance to the principles of international law in ensuring a peaceful and just solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
> Action Programme (e) is important for its action call for unions to campaign for “enforceable instruments” against multinational companies benefiting from the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians – that is, those companies benefiting from the use of their products for human rights and legal abuses against the Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories (West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem).
> Action Programme (h) is important for its action call for unions to campaign for effective regulation of arms trading.

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