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Former senior UN officials publish statement in support of the UN Secretary-General

Former senior UN officials publish statement in support of the UN Secretary-General

A group of British former senior UN officials have released a statement in support of the UN Secretary-General and his role in addressing the situation in the Middle East.

27 October 2023

We, the undersigned UK nationals who are former senior officials of the United Nations, express our full support for the role of Secretary-General António Guterres in addressing the war in Gaza and the situation in the Middle East, including his 24 October remarks to the Security Council. 

We share his unequivocal condemnation of the horrifying and unprecedented 7 October acts of terror by Hamas in Israel; his call for the unconditional release of hostages; his reminder of the suffering of the Palestinian people; and his statement that while this cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas, nor can those appalling attacks justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people. 

We express our deep dismay at the humanitarian crisis in Gaza which worsens daily, and call for the lifting of the blockade of Gaza, which is depriving civilians of goods essential for survival, which United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk has noted is prohibited under international humanitarian law. 

We call for humanitarian access to all parts of Gaza, an end to forced displacement of civilians, and a rapid, large and sustained scale-up of humanitarian assistance across the border. Recognising that air strikes have involved disproportionate use of force in violation of international humanitarian law principles of distinction and proportionality, killing and injuring thousands of Palestinian civilians including a high proportion of women and children, as well as staff of the UN Relief & Works Agency (UNRWA) and people taking refuge in UNRWA premises, we support the Secretary-General’s call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. We deplore Israel’s threatened refusal of visas to UN personnel, which will further impede humanitarian efforts. 

We welcome the Secretary-General’s visit to the border between Egypt and Gaza, to highlight the humanitarian crisis. We support his efforts to engage actors in the region to prevent a wider conflict, and to promote a solution in which Israelis must see their legitimate needs for security materialized, and Palestinians must see their legitimate aspirations for an independent State realized, in line with United Nations resolutions, international law and previous agreements.  


Mark Bowden, former UN Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan

Sarah Cliffe, former UN Assistant Secretary-General of Civilian Capacities

Alan Doss, former UN Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Andrew Gilmour, former UN Assistant-Secretary-General for Human Rights 

Sir Richard Jolly, former Deputy Executive Director, UN Children’s Fund

Sir Nicholas Kay, former UN Special Representative for Somalia

Michael Keating, former UN Special Representative for Somalia

Rachel Kyte, former UN Special Representative for Sustainable Energy

Sir Mark Lowcock, former UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs

Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, former UN Deputy Secretary-General

Ian Martin, former UN Special Representative for Libya 

Sir Charles Petrie, former UN Special Representative for Burundi

Sir Derek Plumbly, former UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon

Sir David Veness, former UN Under-Secretary-General for Safety & Security

Ralph Zacklin, former UN Assistant-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs