Human Rights Council
The Human Rights Council this afternoon held a general debate on the human rights situation in Palestine and other Occupied Arab Territories, and started a general debate on the implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.
Presenting her report on the human rights situation in Palestine and other Occupied Arab Territories, Navi Pillay, High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that Israeli settler violence continued to be perpetrated with impunity and that Israel had an obligation to protect Palestinians and their property from such violence. The situation of thousands of Palestinians detained and imprisoned by Israel, including the detention of Palestinian children, was a matter of deep concern. In Gaza, the rights to life and security remained priority concerns. On the Palestinian side, there was a pattern of indiscriminate attacks by armed groups targeting civilians and launching of rockets from populated areas.
Palestine, speaking as a concerned country, said that Israel, the occupying power, continued to violate international law and to expand its settlements. Israel’s pirating of Palestinian tax and customs revenues had serious implications for the economic situation of Palestine. Since the beginning of occupation in 1967, 800,000 Palestinians had been detained by Israeli forces, they had been severely beaten and tortured, and 203 had died in Israeli detention centres. An investigation into those acts of violence must be conducted.
Syria, also speaking as a concerned country, said that Israel, the occupying power, continued to deny the legitimate rights of the population of the Syrian Golan. Syria drew attention to the tragedy of the prisoners languishing in jail for a quarter of a century under circumstances of inhuman detention and noted the multiplication of abductions by Israel of farmers, children and shepherds. Israel was also constructing an 8-metre-high separation wall in the Occupied Syrian Golan, and had granted to the United States the right to prospect for oil and gas in the Golan.
Israel did not take the floor as a concerned country.
In the general debate on the human rights situation in Palestine and other Occupied Arab Territories, speakers deplored the continuing refusal of Israel to cooperate with the Council and other United Nations mechanisms, and condemned the ongoing violation of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of Palestinians by the Israeli occupying power. Concern was also expressed at the arbitrary detention of Palestinian citizens, including children, the displacement of Palestinians and the destruction of their properties due to Israeli settlements, the continuing blockade imposed on Gaza, and the impunity with which Israel continued to violate international law. Some speakers said that the legitimacy of the Council would remain in question as long as Israel was unfairly singled out under its own agenda item.
Speaking in the general debate were Ireland on behalf of the European Union, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Conference, Bahrain on behalf of the Arab Group, Iran on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, United States, Switzerland, Indonesia, Maldives, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Libya, Kuwait, Egypt, China, Algeria, Tunisia, Sri Lanka, Norway, Russian Federation, South Africa, Senegal, Iran, Cuba, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Oman, Yemen, Lebanon, Bangladesh and Turkey.
The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: BADIL Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, Al-Haq – Law in the Service of Man, Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the Council of Churches, Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples, Norwegian Refugee Council, International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, North-South XXI, International Organization for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Press Emblem Campaign, Human Rights Watch, Union of Arab Jurists, Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, International Buddhist Relief Organization, World Barua Organization, United Nations Watch, International Commission of Jurists, Hope International, Association of World Citizens, CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation, European Union of Jewish Students, Touro Law Centre – the Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, and Coordination Board of Jewish Organizations.
In the general debate on the implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, some speakers stressed the need to fight against discrimination based on gender identity and status, and drew attention to incidents of violence against women and cases of discrimination against migrant workers. Other speakers emphasized the indivisibility and universality of human rights, pointed out that objectivity and non-selectivity should characterize all efforts for the promotion and protection of human rights, and commended the creation of, and work carried out by, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Ireland on behalf of the European Union, Gabon on behalf of African Group, United States, Indonesia, Austria, Venezuela, Kuwait, Botswana, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, and Iran spoke on the implementation of the Vienna Declaration and the Programme of Action.
The Council will resume its work at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, 19 March, when it will continue its general debate on the implementation of the Vienna Declaration and the Programme of Action, followed by its annual thematic discussion on technical cooperation. The Council will then hold a general debate on racism, racial discriminatioin, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, follow-up to and implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.