On 24 March 2016, at the close of the 31st regular session, the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), adopted four resolutions concerning the issues of Israeli settlements, accountability, the right to self-determination, and the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (Al Mezan) reflects on the significance of the resolution on settlements, which contains a precedent-breaking mechanism to address corporate accountability vis-à-vis companies engaging in unlawful Israeli settlement activity in oPt. Notably, the European Union (EU) member states abstained on this vote, citing in particular the Office of the High Commissioner-tasked database. The database is an appropriate and practical mechanism to challenge the continued expansion of Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, which represents one of the main obstacles to achieving self-determination of the Palestinian people. It represents a step in the right direction and that is in line with established EU positions on settlements.
On the same day, the Council appointed Mr. Stanley Michael Lynk, from Canada, to the position of Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. After the resignation of his predecessor, Mr. Makarim Wibisono, due to Israel’s persistent non-cooperation with independent international mechanisms, including Special Procedures, political pressure by the Israeli lobby threatened to postpone a new appointment. In reaction, Al Mezan issued an oral statement calling on the President of the Council to follow the UN rules of procedure and practice for appointing Special Rapporteurs. The statement was preceded by a joint letter from civil society to the President of the HRC concerning the possible postponement.
Al Mezan made a general oral statement to the HRC and its member states on the deterioration of the situation of human rights in the oPt and of Palestinian citizens of Israel. Al Mezan noted that the continued violence against Palestinians – including the recent, five-month wave of arbitrary killings by Israeli occupation forces and authorities – and the impunity of Israel, stems from a symptom of entrenched inequality and institutionalized discrimination borne by the government of Israel.
Al Mezan’s advocacy activities in Geneva included meetings with State representatives, civil society, and speaking in two side events, during which Al Mezan cited in particular the need for accountability and access to justice for the victims of grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity. Al Mezan called for support for the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court to request authorization for a full investigation, from the current preliminary examination. The two side events were coordinated with Badil and Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.
Al Mezan’s statements at the HRC reflect our written statement, submitted prior to the commencement of the 31st session.
Al Mezan welcomes the HRC resolutions, which place due focus on the dire need for accountability for past as well as ongoing serious violations of international law, reaffirm the inalienable right to self-determination for the Palestinian people, and takes a practical step to challenge unlawful settlement activities. Al Mezan also commends the appointment of a Special Rapporteur in line with the UN rules of procedure. Al Mezan calls on international community, especially the EU and its member states, to act upon these resolutions and to exert pressure on Israel to cooperate with the newly appointed Special Rapporteur and other international mechanisms.