Fellesutvalget og 64 andre organisasjoner ber han oppdatere listen over selskap som opererer i bosettingene.
Foto: UN Photo/ Jean-Marc Ferré
Fellesutvalget for Palestina og 64 andre internasjonale og palestinske organisasjoner har skrevet et brev til FNs nye høykommissær for menneskerettigheter, Volker Türk. Brevet ber høykommissæren om å ta konkrete grep for å verne om palestinernes menneskerettigheter, herunder å oppdatere listen over selskap som opererer i de folkerettsstridige israelske bosettingene.
RE: Welcoming Letter to the New UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Urging for Concrete Measures to Ensure Justice and Accountability for the Palestinian People
We, the undersigned 65 Palestinian and international organisations, welcome you in your new position as the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights, and look forward to working with you in proactively ensuring and advocating for the protection, respect and fulfilment of Palestinian human rights. This post requires a strong commitment to addressing discrimination, oppression, and injustice in all its forms, as well as combating impunit y and advancing accountability and justice for human rights violations everywhere, including those committed by powerful governments. We trust that your extensive experience in human rights work will aid you in leading the heavy responsibility you undertook; especially at a time when human rights are seriously threatened, undermined and violated around the world, including in Palestine.
Following your appointment, you emphasised your deep sense of responsibility for this position and your commitment to “advance the promises of [the] Universal Declaration of Human Rights for everyone, everywhere”. With the Palestinian people denied their right to self- determination, they have been enduring over seven decades of Israel’s settler-colonialism and apartheid, and 55 years of belligerent occupation, Gaza residents surviving in near-unliveable circumstances for 15 years, and Palestinian refugees unable to exercise their right of return , we believe that the human rights situation in Palestine should be at the top of your agenda. For far too long, the Question of Palestine has been treated as an exception to the implementation of international law. The Palestinian people deserve not only justice, but a restored hope that the international community will uphold and respect the rights of all people equally.
In the occupied Gaza Strip, more than two million Palestinians are subjected to an array of daily and systematic abuses of their rights due to Israel’s 15-year-old closure and blockade policy, which amounts to a prohibited collective punishment under international humanitarian law. Israel’s closure has a negative impact on every single aspect of Palestinian life, and while Gaza has long been deemed uninhabitable, in 2022 it is certainly unfit for dignified human life. Since the imposition of the closure and blockade, Israel has also carried out five full -scale military offensives against the Gaza Strip, killing 5330 Palestinians over a period of 15 years (2008-2022). Just over two months ago, between 5-7 August 2022, Israel waged an unprovoked military offensive against Gaza. In the space of three days, 49 Palestinians were killed, including 17 children and four women.
At the same time, millions of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank are witnessing an escalation in Israel’s invasive military incursions into their cities during the past months, especially in Jenin and Nablus, and an aggravation in the Israeli military’s use of indiscriminate, excessive, and disproportionate use of force, and ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy. Since the start of 2022, Al-Haq has documented the killing of 111 Palestinians by the Israeli occupying forces and Israeli settlers in the West Bank—an alarming increase which has not been recorded since 2015. Furthermore, Israel escalated its oppression of Palestinians in the past week, including by imposing unlawful closures on Palestinian cities, villages, and refugee camps, in what represents unlawful collective punishment. Between 8 October and 13 October 2022, Israel imposed a tight closure on Shu’fat Refugee Camp and ‘Anata, and increased its routine incursions into the areas, restricting the right to movement and affecting the lives of around 130,000 Palestinians living therein, including approximately 350 dialysis patients.
Concurrently, the Israeli occupying authorities have also intensified their repression campaign of mass arbitrary arrests and detentions, including in its arbitrary, coercive, and punitive administrative detention policy whereby Palestinians are held indefinitely without charge or trial on grounds of “secret information” which Israel refuses to disclose. Currently, around 780 Palestinians are held indefinitely in arbitrary administrative detention, in an alarming and unprecedented increase. In response to this unlawful, arbitrary policy, 30 Palestinian detainees held under administrative detention—including human rights defender Salah Hammouri— initiated a collective, open hunger strike on 25 September 2022, facing and enduring health repercussions as well as further punitive measures by the Israeli occupying authorities. On 9 October 2022, another 20 Palestinian detainees joined the collective hunger strike in support of the Palestinian demands. On 13 October 2022, the Palestinian detainees suspended their collective hunger strike, following an agreement with the Israeli occupying authorities to prioritise administrative detention in their discussion with the Palestinian Prisoners’ Movement and the immediate release of sick and elderly administrative detainees within the next two months. Palestinian detainees under administrative detention have routinely been forced to undertake hunger strike in a quest to seek justice, due to the international community’s failure to hold Israel to account.
In this regard, we stress that the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) should take effective measures to ensure justice and accountability for Palestinians, including by annually updating the UN Database on Settlement Business Activities (‘the UN Database’), as mandated. The UN Database is a key tool for assisting corporations in carrying out enhanced human rights due diligence in conflict-affected areas, as well as a crucial accountability mechanism to hold corporations operating in the context of belligerent occupation accountable for aiding and abetting violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws. Furthermore, the annual update of the UN Database allows for the adding and removing of companies from the UN database; and thereby, creating a necessary incentive and deterrent against engaging with Israel’s illegal colonial settlement enterprise.
On 24 March 2016, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted Resolution 31/36, which required for the establishment of a database listing companies and businesses operating in illegal Israeli colonial settlements. While the UN Database was first published in February 2020, ever since the OHCHR has failed to update it. These repeated and unexplained delays are unprecedented in the way the OHCHR has handled prior mandates, and are due to reported political pressure and interference exerted on your Office. Should the OHCHR not fulfil or continue to unnecessarily delay the implementation of a Human Rights Council resolution, the effectiveness and credibility of the work of the Council itself would be compromised.
As human rights defenders voicing their opposition to Israel’s unlawful policies and practices and pushing for international justice and accountability, we recognise, from first-hand experience, the external pressure that awaits you and your Office for carrying out strong and principled positions. The efforts taken by your Office in Palestine has led to retaliation by Israel, including the refusal and failure to renew and grant visas to OHCHR staff since late 2020. At the same time, Israel continues its attacks against human rights defenders and civil society organizations advocating for Palestinian rights, including by arbitrarily outlawing six prominent Palestinian human rights organisations, carrying out raids and closures of their offices, and personal harassment and threats to their staff. We trust that such pressure will not derail your Office from its commitment to human rights, justice, and accountability.
In light of the above, we urge you to: