NEWS RELEASES - The Item 7 is a permanent point on the Council focusing on one particular situation: Arab occupied territories and Palestine. A particular situation justified by the worrying human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories, and the issue of the Palestinian people right to self-determination.
His Excellence the High Commissioner for Human Rights,Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, started giving a review of his report following the Resolution 31/25. He argued that “the report identify patterns of non-compliance, non-implementation and non-cooperation” and proposes “follow up measure to assure the implementation of these recommendations”. Overall the recommendation in the report are addressed to all the parties: “the government of Israel, the government of the state of Palestine and other Palestine duty barer, the United Nations and the International Community, member states, businesses and civil society”. These recommendation are pointing out seven different area enumerated by H.E the High-Commissioner for Human Rights: “accountability and access to justice, international engagement, liberty and treatment in detention, settlements, freedom of movement, civilian and political rights, economic and social rights”. Until now all parties failed to implement a large majority of these recommendations which is “discouraging”. That is why the High-Commissioner invited the parties concerned to take these recommendations into account “in order to further compliance with international humanitarian law and international Human Rights law”. To conclude, he “reiterated to all stakeholders that compliance with international law and assuring its respect are not optional and are the sine qua non condition for peace”. He get on arguing that “the general pattern of human right violation and non-implementation of recommendations are not merely symptoms of the conflict but furthered fuel the circle of violence which has now persisted for half a century. To break the circle the root causes must be address. These includes bringing the occupation to an end and address the security concerns of Israel. Respect for Human Rights is the path which leads out of this conflict, granting the space for peace.” Following the intervention of the High-Commissioner, concerned countries, member states, observer states and NGO had the right to an intervention.
It is important to note that as item 7 is criticized by a large number of countries. “Western countries”- as called by the delegates present in the room- boycotted the general debate on item 7. These countries often justify this boycott arguing that item 7 is unfair and a prejudice for Israel and there should not be an item for a specific country. For this reason, Israel did not respond to the observations made by H.E the High-Commissioner.
The state of Palestine first took the floor. Its representative, Mr. Ibrahim Kraishi thanks the High Commissioner and its office for this “comprehensive reports”. Unfortunately the State of Palestine underlined an unfairness in the report: Palestine is treated in the recommendations as any other state and it is not taken into account that Palestine is “under forced occupation”. Among other thing, the state of Palestine expressed some regrets concerning the lack of commitment of the state of Israel: “Israel continue to turn its back on the advisory decision of the International Court of Justice ignore resolution of the General Assembly, Security Council and other agencies […] it doesn’t recognize these”. After a non-exhaustive list on Israel Human Rights violations in the occupied territories the State of Palestine delegate called on the international territory to put pressure on Israel in order to make the situation change concerning the occupied territory and to guarantee the rule of law in the occupied territory.
The Syrian Arab Republic was the second to take the floor as a concerned country. The delegate noted “methodic violations” in the Palestinian occupied territories and on the Syrian occupied Golan. The Syrian Arab Republic emphasize on the extrajudicial killings, the disappearance, forced displacement, and collective punishment. The Syrian Arab republic considered is the role of the council to condemn these violation of international law and international humanitarian law and should go on with the monitoring of the situation. As the State of Palestine, the Arab Syrian republic called on the international community to act and “take their responsibilities” vis-a-vis the State of Israel. Following the intervention of the concerned states, the state members had the opportunity to expose their view. Overall the condemnation of the occupation of Palestinian and Arab territories was strong. The delegation of Pakistan on the behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation compared the construction of a wall in Israel with the Berliner Wall insisting the wall being constructed by Israel was far bigger. The delegation highlighted the necessity of Israel to stop the occupation to reach peace. Most of the countries who choose to participate to the general debate emphasize on the necessity of the Item 7 and on the participation of the states in this item. The situation of the Palestinian people provoke even some indignation in the states present at the general debate, as Nicaragua’s delegate on behalf of 21 Like Minded Group of states, denied on their fundamental rights and freedom and of the right to self-determination “at the core of the UN charter”. He emphasize of the fact that “The Palestinian people deserve a life of freedom and dignity as all people do”. A last point was as well present in the debate: argument in favor of the return to the border of 1967. Beside the general debate and the states point of view it is important to ask ourselves if the boycott of some countries is undermining the legitimacy of the Human Rights Council or if it is the item 7 undermining the legitimacy of the Human Rights Council?
EF - Research Assistant at CIPADH