UN International Conference on the Question of Palestine

What was the 1983 UN International Conference on the Question of Palestine?

The International Conference on the Question of Palestine took place at the United Nations Office in Geneva from August 29 to September 7, 1983. It was attended by representatives of 137 States -117 as full participants and 20 as observers – as well as by the PLO. This initiative did not receive the support of all parties: Israel, the United States and some other countries expressed their opposition to the holding of the Conference. In general, this conference reflected the anti-Israel bias that infected the United Nations soon after Israel was founded.


The Conference adopted by acclamation a Declaration on Palestine, and approved a Program of Action for the Achievement of Palestinian Rights. The Conference considered it essential that an international peace conference on the Middle East be convened under United Nations auspices, with participation on an equal footing of all parties to the Arab-Israeli conflict, including the PLO.

Later in 1983, the General Assembly endorsed the Declaration and welcomed the Geneva Conference’s call for an international peace conference on the Middle East. Throughout the 1980s, the Assembly reaffirmed the call for convening the proposed conference. After politically motivated changes in the PLO’s position were announced by Yasser Arafat in 1988, and a peace plan fielded by Israel in 1989, a peace conference did eventually take place at Madrid in 1991.

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