On the 6th of April 2017, ACJC hosted Dr Victor Kattan, Senior Research Fellow at the Middle East Institute and an Associate Fellow at the Faculty of Law at the National University of Singapore, who lectured students and teachers from colleges around Singapore on ‘The role of the United Nations in Jerusalem’ as part of DIALOGIC: The ACJC Guest Lecture Series. 


Dr Kattan, addressing the assembled group

Dr Kattan begun the lecture by enlightening us on the background of the Arab-Israeli conflict as he took us through a century’s worth of its history, starting from the intricate details that formed the crux of the conflict such as the Balfour Declaration, to the current controversy surrouding Israel and Palestine. Following which, the United Nations’ role in the conflict was introduced as Dr Kattan gave us a detailed and comprehensive evaluation of the effectiveness of the UN in its efforts to alleviate this conflict through mending political ties, settling territorial claims and providing humanitarian aid for communities affected by this. 

Additionally, Dr Kattan also took the time to give us an eye opener on the challenges he faced while working in the United Nations Development Programme in Jerusalem such as the threat of cyber espionage, and his observations on how arduous it was for Palestinians to travel within Jerusalem. Dr Kattan gave the audience a greater insight towards life in the midst of the Israel-Arab conflict and made us come to a common realisation that adequate measures need to be put in place to mitigate the conflict. 

The United Nations, since its inception, has been instrumental in establishing peace and resolving security around the world. Unfortunately, the UN is now facing a tirade of accusations for not doing enough to address the most prominent concerns that undermine world security today . Most critically was when Dr Kattan explained that the resolutions and human rights monitoring of the Arab-Israeli conflict had not been implemented and had even been superseded by the actions and decisions of the Israeli government. The inability of countries to come to a compromise, coupled with the UN’s failure to resolve this issue clearly points to how the United Nations’ reputation and ability to handle international affairs is plummeting due to its inability to clarify its resolutions and implement them effictively. 

This lecture has demonstrated how controversies and problems that have sufficed around the world today are a direct extention and manifestation of historical conflicts and events. It has further enriched our conviction that history is an illumination of the present and has without doubt, affirmed our belief in how the study of history is able to shed light on the human condition. We would like to express our thanks to Dr Victor Kattan for his time and valuable insights pertaining to the UN’s involvement in the Arab-Israeli conflict and to ACJC for giving us the meaningful opportunity to develop a broader understanding of our world today. 

Ariel Koh, 1AH