Ron Gonshaw, the new SPG chair and I have sent a response to the president of the RIBA demanding Portland Place abandon its controversial motion against Israeli architects. (I stepped down as chair at last week’s AGM at the end of my 2 year term)
Here’s some background taken from the RIBA’s initial press release…
RIBA Council on 19 March 2014 passed a motion for the Institute to call on the International Union of Architects (UIA) to suspend the Israeli Association of United Architects’ membership until it acts to resist projects on illegally-occupied land and observes international law and accords.
The RIBA Council vote was passed with 23 for, 16 against, 10 abstentions.
The full RIBA motion, proposed by RIBA Immediate Past President, Angela Brady, was:
Since the Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA) has paid no regard to the UIA resolution 13* of 2005 and 2009, the RIBA calls on the UIA, as the international guardian of professional and ethical standards in our profession, to suspend the membership of the Israeli Association of United Architects, until it acts to resist these illegal projects, and observes international law, and the UIA Accords and Resolution 13.
*UIA's Resolution 13 (2005 and 2009) states that “The UIA Council condemns development projects and the construction of buildings on land that has been ethnically purified or illegally appropriated, and projects based on regulations that are ethnically or culturally discriminatory, and similarly it condemns all action contravening the fourth Geneva Convention”.
And here’s our response as reported in the Architect’s Journal….
The Solo Practitioners Group (SPG) has demanded Portland Place abandon its controversial motion against Israeli architects
The linked society of the RIBA has written to institute president Stephen Hodder calling for a U-turn on demands for the International Architects Union (UIA) to suspend the membership of the Israeli architects’ representative body.
The North West of England-based organisation spoke out against the motion after its annual general meeting on 1 April ruled the policy was ‘not representative’ of its membership.
Adopted on 19 March, the motion tabled by past president Angela Brady followed the IAUA’s continued failure to punish architects breaching the UIA’s 2005 Resolution 13 condemning the building of settlements on occupied land.
The letter from SPG chair Ron Gonshaw said the agreement failed to support the RIBA’s aim of promoting architecture and that insufficient time had been given to debate the issue and gain a balanced view from members.
He added: ‘The RIBA in this motion is involving itself in the complexities of international politics [but] the first debate should be to establish if it is the wish of the membership to examine and scrutinise the civil rights records of every country.’
The letter continued: ‘This motion implies that the RIBA is partisan in the complex political situation in the Middle East, which is more damaging to the perception of RIBA and it’s members than the likely effectiveness of any possible resulting outcome.
‘We believe that the motion is ill judged for the above reasons and should therefore be withdrawn.’
The SPG’s criticism comes shortly after the Israeli Association of United Architects called on Prime Minister David Cameron to block the motion.
In addition, the issue was raised at the RIBA regional council meeting, where I held a seat as chair of the Solo Practitioners (until our AGM last week) and the following will be minuted…
NW Regional Council noted the concerns around this motion and would make known these concerns formally through Nations & Regions Council (and through Matt Brook’s representation on Nations & Regions Council).
And at the MSA where I also hold a seat, I raised the issue and we will invite local members of the RIBA council to a Q and A.
If you are an architect or know of any architects, who like me, thinks the motion should be withdrawn, please let me know and we can organise another letter.