The 47th regular session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council, which opened on 10 June 2021 and was held in a virtual format, concluded its work on 14 July. The regular session closely followed the 30th special session on the grave human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) on 27 May. Al Mezan and partners reaffirmed their commitment to Palestinians’ human rights by submitting four written statements with Al-Haq and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies. Throughout the session, Al Mezan and partners engaged in several Interactive Dialogues with UN Special Rapporteurs and took the floor during a panel discussion on the tenth anniversary of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
During the opening week of the Council, Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng, Special Rapporteur on the right to physical and mental health, presented her first report to the Council, in which she outlined the strategic priorities of her mandate and the intersectional approach she intends to adopt as she pursues it. In line with her priorities, Al Mezan drew Dr. Tlaleng’s attention to Israel's settler-colonial and apartheid regime and its impact on Palestinians’ right to health and invited her to further investigate the current health situation in the oPt and its root causes. At the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, Al Mezan’s director delivered a joint statement highlighting the precarious humanitarian conditions of 8,000 Palestinians in Gaza who remain internally displaced following Israel’s May 2021 full-scale military offensive against the Strip.
In the second week of the Council, Al Mezan joined a statement delivered by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies at the panel on the tenth anniversary of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights on behalf of more than 60 organizations. The statement emphasized the key role played by the UN database of businesses involved in Israel’s settlement enterprise to strengthen the implementation of the guiding principles in situations of conflict and occupation and called on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to follow up with its commitment under Resolution 31/36 and to update the database. In the same week, Al Mezan and partners also delivered an oral statement during the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Opinion and Expression. The joint statement focused on the ongoing smear and intimidation campaign orchestrated by the Israeli government and its affiliated organizations toward Palestinian human rights groups and defenders and highlighted how Israel’s attempts to silence opposition to its breaches of international law are in flagrant violation of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
In the third week of the Council, Professor Lynk, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, presented his report focusing on the recent escalation of violence in the oPt as well as on the legal status of the settlements under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. During the Interactive Dialogue with Professor Lynk, Al Mezan and partners took the floor and delivered two oral statements on Israel’s systemic and ongoing human rights violations in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Of the States' interventions, those of Pakistan and South Africa are particularly worth noting. Pakistan's statement on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation included the use of the term “apartheid” for the first time to affirm that “[demolitions] are manifestations of Israel’s illegal demographic and geographic engineering, which has always been a central pillar of its colonization, apartheid, and annexation policies.” On the same issue, the South African delegate noted that “Israel has continued its illegal demolition of Palestinian homes and properties with the aim to continue altering the demographic reality reminiscent of apartheid spatial development policies.”
The 47th regular session was concluded with the adoption of final resolutions during its fourth and final week. Al Mezan looks forward to the next session of the Council to continue its reporting on Israel’s full-scale military assault against the Strip between 10-21 May 2021 and its impact on the lives of more than two million Palestinians in Gaza.