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ACCESSIBILITY AT UNOG A A A A The United Nations in the Heart of Europe

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HOLDS GENERAL DEBATE ON THE HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN PALESTINE AND OTHER OCCUPIED ARAB TERRITORIES

Concludes General Debate on the Universal Periodic Review
25 September 2017

The Human Rights Council this morning held a general debate on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories. It also concluded the general debate on the Universal Periodic Review.

The Council started the general debate on the Universal Periodic Review on Friday, 22 September, and a summary can be found here.

During the general debate on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories, speakers stressed their support for the Palestinian people and called on the international community to take action to stop Israeli violations against them and to ensure a two-State solution. They said the protracted conflict had taken a heavy toll on the livelihoods of people in the region, and Israel was in contravention of international law. Reports of serious human rights violations and grave breaches of international human rights and humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territories, where the Israeli settlement activities seriously endangered the viability of the two-State solution, were greatly concerning. Several speakers regretted that a number of States refused to address this agenda item 7, saying it must remain on the Council’s agenda until the Israeli occupation ended. A number of speakers condemned the report that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was compiling on companies working directly or indirectly on the construction of Israeli settlements. They also regretted that this agenda item against Israel continued to exist.

Israel was not present in the room to take the floor as a concerned country. State of Palestine and Syria spoke as concerned countries.

Speaking during the general debate on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories were Venezuela on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Tunisia on behalf of the African Group, Egypt on behalf of the Arab Group, Nicaragua in a joint statement, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Qatar, Brazil, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Cuba, Venezuela, Egypt, Ecuador, Bolivia, Tunisia, South Africa, China, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Kuwait, Russian Federation, Maldives, Sudan, Chile, Malaysia, Libya, Bahrain, Namibia, Morocco, Senegal, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Turkey, Angola, Iran, Jordan, Algeria, Oman, Lebanon and Mauritania. The Gulf Cooperation Council also took the floor.

The following non-governmental organizations spoke: Amuta for NGO Responsibility, Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture, The Palestinian Return Centre Ltd, World Jewish Congress, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies in a joint statement, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, Badil Resource Centre for Palestinian and Refugee Rights, Union of Arab Jurists, Human Rights Watch, Defence for Children International, Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l’Homme, World Muslim Congress, Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturelle, International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, United Nations Watch, Agence pour les droits de l’homme, Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches, International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, International-Lawyers.Org, International Buddhist Relief Organization, Al-Haq Law in the Service of Man, ADALAH - Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, B’nai B’rith in a joint statement, Association of World Citizens, Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru”, Meezaan Centre for Human Rights, International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, Palestinian Centre for Development and Media Freedoms "MADA", Africa Culture International, Norwegian Refugee Council, Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling, and Servas International.

During the general debate on the Universal Periodic Review, speakers stressed the importance of the Universal Periodic Review as a critical element in identifying and mitigating human rights violations around the world. The mechanism had shown itself to be successful in improving human rights situations in countries. It was underscored that the effectiveness and credibility of the Universal Periodic Review depended on the implementation of recommendations at the national level. The importance of the participation of civil society in the Universal Periodic Review process was noted by several delegations.

Speaking during the general debate on the Universal Periodic Review were Cuba, Venezuela, Iraq, United States, Tunisia, Paraguay, China, Samoa on behalf of a group of countries, Montenegro, Maldives, Haiti, Morocco, Iran, Turkey, Guinea Bissau, Malawi, Belize and Armenia. The Commonwealth also spoke.

The following non-governmental organizations took the floor: Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture, UPR Info, Article 19 – The International Centre Against Censorship, Canners International Permanent Committee, Together against the death penalty, International Humanist and Ethical Union in a joint statement, Colombian Commission of Jurists, Iraqi Development Organization, African Regional Agricultural Credit Association, Alsalam Foundation, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain Inc., Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development, Society Studies Centre (MADA ssc), Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, United Schools International, Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l’Homme, International Association for Democracy in Africa, Pan African Union for Science and Technology, World Muslim Congress, World Environment and Resources Council, Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee, Centre for Environmental and Management Studies, Liberation, Organisation pour la communication en Afrique et de promotion de la coopération économique internationale, World Barua Organization, International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, International-Lawyers.Org, Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme, International Buddhist Relief Organization, Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association MBOSCUDA Association pour l'Intégration et le Développement Durable au Burundi, VAAGDHARA, ABC Tamil Oli, ANAJA (Lord replied), Prahar, ASSOCIATION CULTURELLE DES TAMOULS EN FRANCE, Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul, Association Solidarité Internationale pour l'Afrique (SIA), Association for the Victims of the world, Association des étudiants tamouls de France, LE PONT, Alliance Creative Community Project, Indian Council of South America, L’Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l’Homme et de la Démocratie, Tamil Uzhagam, Association Thendral, Tourner la page, Association of World Citizens, Health and Environment Program, The Next Century Foundation, International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, Africa Culture International, United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation, International Educational Development, Inc., Federatie van Nederlandse Verenigingen tot Integratie Van Homoseksualiteit – COC Nederland, and Centre for Organization Research and Education.

Next on its agenda, the Human Rights Council is scheduled to hold a general debate on the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. At 3 p.m., it will hold a panel discussion on the impact of racial discrimination on the human rights of women and girls.

General Debate on the Universal Periodic Review

Cuba outlined that the Universal Periodic Review was supposed to be an instrument marking a change in the practices of the Council. Despite its existence, it was not possible to get rid of the double standards and subjectivity of this body. Cuba recalled that it was important to take into account the lack of resources of each State that could impede the implementation of online platforms. Cuba called on the Council to preserve the Universal Periodic Review as a legitimate instrument to promote genuine dialogue.

Venezuela supported the Universal Periodic Review that had proven to be efficient in the promotion of human rights, treating all countries on an equal footing with respect for sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs. The success of the Universal Periodic Review lay in its universal nature. Venezuela rejected any procedures which were politicized such as certain specific mandates on countries.

Iraq stressed that the Universal Periodic Review was a unique opportunity to foster the exchange of recommendations and hold interactive debates related to best practices in the field of human rights. The universality of the review gave a human and legal nature to human rights. This mechanism was important to foster constructive discussions around the world while preventing exclusion. It was a key mechanism for evaluating the human rights situations in all countries on an equal footing.

United States thanked the Governments which had undertaken their Universal Periodic Review with seriousness and respect, as well as an open mind and a willingness to engage in dialogue. The Universal Periodic Review could be a critical element in identifying and mitigating human rights violations around the world. The United States stressed the importance of civil society to this mechanism and expressed concern about the continued practice of reprisals against those organizations by some States.

Tunisia stressed the importance of the Universal Periodic Review as a forum for debate and said that its own review had been an opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to this mechanism, which had shown itself to be successful in improving human rights situations in countries, in cooperation with other Member States and human rights defenders. Achieving the goals of the Universal Periodic Review required support for this process and improvement of its effectiveness, with the involvement with all stakeholders.

Paraguay stressed that the effectiveness and credibility of the Universal Periodic Review depended on the implementation of recommendations at the national level, and the crucial role of international cooperation in this. Each review must include an assessment of the rate of implementation of the recommendations received during the previous cycle. Paraguay encouraged States to establish national mechanisms for the follow up. Paraguay also encouraged civil society to continue to contribute to this important mechanism.

China congratulated the countries whose Universal Periodic Review reports had been adopted, saying the constructive contents would be effective. The basic principles for the operation of the Universal Periodic Review included non-politicization, and all countries were urged to adhere to that principle. Countries had the right to implement recommendations on a voluntary basis, and technical capacity-building was essential for developing countries. There should be full cooperation with countries concerned.

Samoa, speaking on behalf of least developed countries and small island developing States, as well as the beneficiary delegates and fellows of the Technical Assistance Trust Fund, said their participation in the work of the Human Rights Council during this session was thanks to the Technical Assistance Trust Fund, which played a fundamental role in ensuring that representation at the Human Rights Council sessions was truly universal. It urged all States to increase their voluntary contributions to the Trust Fund.

Montenegro said the Universal Periodic Review had a central role in the promotion of human rights. All efforts should be placed on the implementation of accepted recommendations from the previous cycle. Recommendations must be more concrete and action-oriented, and countries should limit themselves to making two recommendations each. Montenegro, which would be reviewed in January 2018, was finalising its national report through an inclusive national consultative process.

Maldives emphasised the crucial role that the Voluntary Fund for participation in the Universal Periodic Review continued to play, including for small island developing States that did not enjoy representation based in Geneva. Maldives called on all States to support the Voluntary Fund and to provide technical assistance to those in need for the implementation of the Universal Periodic Review.

Haiti encouraged all States undergoing the Universal Periodic Review to ensure follow-up in implementing the recommendations. Haiti wished to share an experience with all Member States: in May 2017 during the previous cycle, the delegation of Haiti had referred to previous recommendations, asking for their follow-up. These recommendations referred to issues by China, Indonesia, Iran, Singapore, Mexico and Sweden Haiti encouraged all States to follow this path.

Morocco outlined the importance of the Universal Periodic Review as a mechanism for the promotion of human rights and stressed its key role to galvanize human rights policies. It was a cornerstone of the Council structure. It was necessary to preserve the legitimacy of this mechanism and protect it from any forms of subjectivity and politicization. Morocco recalled the importance of technical assistance and capacity building in order to help States to implement recommendations.

Iran said that the Universal Periodic Review was the best mechanism to review human rights progress at the national level and raise awareness about best practices. In order to implement the 189 recommendations that Iran had fully or partially accepted during the second cycle, it had set up in 2014 a Steering Universal Periodic Review National Committee by the Iranian High Council for Human Rights, with the participation of more than 30 government institutions, civil society and non-governmental organizations.

Turkey reiterated its strong support for the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, which addressed all human rights and improved the human rights situation on the ground in each of the United Nations Member States. Turkey stressed the universality, impartiality and spirit of cooperation of this mechanism, and the importance of the implementation and follow-up of the accepted recommendations. In this sense, Turkey reiterated its commitment to ensure that all its recommendations were precise, constructive and implementable.

Guinea Bissau said the Universal Periodic Review enabled States to comply with their human rights obligations, improve human rights situations on the ground and strengthen the constructive cooperation between States. States should ensure the implementation of the received recommendations and keep the international community informed of the progress. The Voluntary Fund must be financed to the necessary tune to enable States to receive the support they needed to ensure the implementation of recommendations.

Malawi said the Universal Periodic Review was a vital mechanism, noting that Malawi had made progress on the recommendations made during the second cycle of the review. Malawi had amended the minimum age of marriage in a bid to end child marriages. The right to information was a cornerstone of the protection of human rights and a cornerstone of Malawian democracy.

Commonwealth said since 2008, the Commonwealth had supported members’ engagement with the Universal Periodic Review process. The Commonwealth placed importance on the implementation of accepted recommendations. A regional Caribbean platform was being convened in early 2018. The Commonwealth’s partnerships in Geneva had proved to be valuable in calibrating the Commonwealth’s efforts.

Belize said it was committed to protecting and advancing the constitutional rights of all its citizens as embedded in its Constitution. That meant granting attention to health, especially for women and girls. In 1990, Belize had signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. There had been a continued improvement in maternal health care in the country. Belize remained committed to meeting its national objectives on gender equity, women’s empowerment and health.

Armenia attached great importance to the Universal Periodic Review process which offered an invaluable opportunity for States to reflect upon their own records of protection and promotion of human rights through direct and open dialogue with other States and with civil society. Armenia welcomed the active participation of non-governmental organizations and the significant role of national human rights institutions in the process.

Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture was concerned about the increase of gross violations and systematic torture of human rights defenders and media professionals in Bahrain. These violations included the use of abusive words during investigations, the use of travel bans and the incineration of cars. All these violations against fundamental freedoms would not have happened if Bahrain had not adopted a policy of impunity.

UPR Info said that despite significant progress, it was important to assess the impact of the Universal Periodic Review to identify, in each country, the obstacles to implement the recommendations, define strategies to address them, and improve the human rights situation for all groups of society. Such exercises must include time bound progress targets and have an inclusive approach.

Article 19 - The International Centre against Censorship called the attention of the Council to the actions of Iran which were directly against the recommendations it had accepted concerning freedom of expression. Rather than open space for civil society and the media, the Government routinely used the Penal Code and Press Law to crackdown on any sign of opposition or criticism. Iran was also tightening expression online, and continued to harass journalists, human rights defenders and women’s rights activists.

Canners International Permanent Committee said that Bahrain was a shining example of harmonious and peaceful coexistence between religions, which remained steadfast in defending human rights and freedoms, including the rights of women and of minorities. Women in Bahrain routinely held senior posts, including holding 15 per cent of the Parliamentary seats.

Together against the death penalty welcomed the commitment of Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria to maintain the de facto moratorium on the death penalty and urged them to live up to this commitment by voting in favour of the next United Nations resolution for the universal moratorium. It was regrettable that those three countries had totally or partially refused the recommendations to abolish the death penalty and ratify the Second the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

International Humanist and Ethical Union, in a joint statement with several NGOs1, said only 2.5 per cent of recommendations concerned freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief. The ability of believers to manifest their convictions faced serious threats. Christians in Iraq, Shi’as in Bahrain, and Falun Gong in China faced challenges, among many others. States were urged to give those rights more frequent attention which they deserved.

Colombian Commission of Jurists said among the recommendations Colombia had received was those concerning abortion. There remained obstacles to abortion in Colombia. There were also obstacles related to individual failings to act. The most widespread was lack of knowledge and understanding of the law. Women were not able to file criminal complaints, and healthcare providers failed to provide abortions despite the mechanisms in place.

Iraqi Development Organization said the Yemeni Government was totally disregarding the Universal Periodic Review recommendations, especially by failing to ratify the Rome Statute. The Government had established a national commission to investigate human rights violations, which had blocked investigations by the International Criminal Court prosecutor. Victims in Yemen had no access to legal redress. Member States should investigate war crimes by submitting a resolution to the Security Council to transfer the case to the International Criminal Court.

African Regional Agricultural Credit Association outlined that Finland was the first country to give the same rights to men and women in 1906. Finland was also fully committed to sustainable development both nationally and in the international arena. Finland was among the first countries to establish a national commission for sustainable development. It had adjusted its national legislation in 2016 to put it in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Alsalam Foundation was concerned about the treatment received by refugees and asylum seekers from Gulf countries in the United Kingdom. Alsalam Foundation was also concerned about the human rights violations led by officials in Bahrain and by the lack of investigations after violations were carried out by Saudi Arabia in Yemen. The Government of the United Kingdom was called on to fully protect minority rights.

Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain Inc. recalled that after the third round of Universal Periodic Review of Bahrain, the country had failed to implement legal safeguards against the harassment of human rights. The lack of access to legal council for victims and the extraction of confessions via violence was particularly worrisome.

Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development commended the comprehensive report on Bahrain and appreciated that this country had taken important steps to ratify a number of international treaties, and that it was building its national capacity to comply with the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture which it was considering ratifying. The judiciary, the prosecutor, the Ombudsman and non-governmental organizations that were present in the country could visit places of detention without prior notice.

Society Studies Centre (MADA ssc) drew attention to the steps taken by Sudan to implement its Universal Periodic Review recommendations, including the setting up of the High Representative Committee for the implementation of Universal Periodic Review recommendations with the participation of civil society organizations. The Centre stressed the importance of external support to civil society organizations to enable their participation of the implementation of recommendations.

Commission to Study the Organization of Peace said that the Constitution of Indonesia provided for freedom of religion for every citizen to worship according to their choice. Those provisions had been further reinforced with the ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 2006 and its subsequent incorporation in domestic law. Indonesia was also taken important steps to realize the rights of women in the country, and was a party to the Beijing Declaration and Plan for Action.

Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik said Iran had accepted only a few recommendations during two previous cycles of the Universal Periodic Review and had rejected the one on accepting visits by Special Procedures. The establishment of a national human rights institution was an election promise, but the head of Iran’s judiciary had complained that it would duplicate the work of the judiciary-affiliated High Council for Human Rights.

United Schools International said the promotion and protection of human rights was an essential part of Bahrain’s national legislation. The national action charter and constitutional amendments supported and protected human rights. National legislation concerning freedom of religion and many other rights, such as laws against human trafficking, showed the country’s commitment to the promotion of human rights.

Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l’Homme said there were a large number of martyrs in Iraq, without whom Iraqi territory would not have been liberated. There were large numbers of displaced women in Iraq who slept on the floor and suffered from cold weather. The international community needed to hold Saudi Arabia accountable in Yemen and it was not fair to have Saudi Arabia on the Human Rights Council.

International Association for Democracy in Africa recalled that Finland had been elevated to the top of all human rights records. With limited natural resources, Finland was amongst the top three European Union countries in terms of quality of life. It was also one of the least corrupt countries in the world and a top world country for press freedom.

Pan African Union for Science and Technology praised the progress made by Poland in terms of human rights, institutional rules and economic growth. Poland fully complied with the rule of law and had robust economic competition and a free press. Poland’s economic growth had benefitted vulnerable segments of the population and contributed to reduce poverty and extreme poverty. Poland had also made significant progress on access to education.

World Muslim Congress stressed that the Universal Periodic Review was a cornerstone of the human rights system. Although India had made many commitments during the second cycle, most of them had been ignored. Minorities were facing threats and journalists faced major risks. India had not ratified the Convention against Torture and the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

World Environment and Resources Council said that Poland was committed to the promotion and protection of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and to share its experience of embarking on a democracy transition with other countries. Poland was committed to the protection of minorities, and was also committed to sustainable development, as enshrined with the recent adoption of the sustainable development strategy.

Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee raised deep concern about continuing enforced disappearances in India, despite the ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances by this country. The Council should strongly press on India to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958 and stop the genocidal activities by the army under this act. India should also protect the rights of indigenous peoples by ending the expropriation of their land, territories and resources.

Centre for Environmental and Management Studies said that Indonesia was the third largest democracy in the world, and was also politically and economically stable. It had charted an impressive economic growth over the past several decades and had joined the ranks of the G20. Indonesia was improving gender equality with specifically developed policies to empower women and protect them against violence, including through the implementation of the zero tolerance to gender-based violence strategy.

Liberation said one of the most direct impacts of militarization was on women and children. In the Assam region, there were countless victims of rape by Indian security forces. Rape and sexual harassment went unreported due to fear of social stigma. Rape was being used as a weapon of war. The Human Rights Council was urged to prosecute Indian army officials involved in the rape of indigenous women in India.

Organisation pour la communication en Afrique et de promotion de la coopération économique internationale commended the adoption of the Universal Periodic Review reports of Morocco, Tunisia and Brazil. The migration and asylum policy set up in September 2013 was noted. Morocco was encouraged to implement its national development strategy for the southern provinces.

World Barua Organization said violence against the lower castes in India remained unaddressed. Incidents of discrimination and exclusion against the lower castes had severely impacted the Dalits. Human rights needed to be implemented, and inclusive development had to be effectively implemented. Access to legal aid should be provided to scheduled castes and tribes.

International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination was worried that Israel continued to perpetuate practices that mounted to apartheid in the Palestinian territories. Palestinian rights to life and security were continuously violated. Israeli forces perpetrated extrajudicial killings and maintained the illegal blockade on Gaza. The international community was called on to take measures to stop the occupation and enable Palestinians to exercise their right to self-determination.

International-Lawyers.Org was appalled by the situation in Myanmar where crimes against humanity were being perpetrated. Myanmar had been previously called on to rapidly address the rise of hatred in the country, particularly the upswing of anti-Muslim violence. Hate speech and extremism deserved strong condemnation. The Rohingya were facing ethnic cleansing. The abuse of force and hate speech perpetrated by the State of Israel against Palestinians was also concerning.

Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme recalled that effective follow-up and the implementation of recommendations were key to ensure the credibility of the Universal Periodic Review. Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme welcomed the efforts made in order to address poverty and realize the Sustainable Development Goals through consolidated initiatives. It was important to strengthen the complementarity of the Universal Periodic Review and the treaty bodies.

International Buddhist Relief Organization drew attention to the world’s most ruthless terrorist organization which had been operating in Sri Lanka for over 30 years. Failing to achieve its aims by terror, it had now reverted to work under the guise of a civil society organization. The Council had been silent about the operations of the Tamil Tigers. The Council was urged to remain impartial instead of being led on by a group of expatriate Tamils who lived in Europe and north America.

Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association MBOSCUDA said that in India, the Armed Forces Special Power Act 1958 represented a clear symptom of oppression in the region and had become a symbol of genocide in several Indian States. The continued application of this Act would bring on more inhumanity, genocidal practices and a culture of impunity, as activities by the army under this Act targeted the most marginalised communities and national and religious minorities in India.

Association pour l'Intégration et le Développement Durable au Burundi was concerned about the continued human rights violations against scheduled castes and schedule type minorities and urged the Council to hold India accountable for human rights violations against those communities. The measures taken by India to increase access to higher education for those groups were appreciated but they were not enough.

VAAGDHARA said that in Manipur, India, efforts towards self-determination were met with militarization. There were direct civilian casualties and enforced disappearances, and the Council was urged to end all forms of violence against women by the armed forces in Manipur. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958 should be repealed.

ABC Tamil Oli said Australia was signatory to a convention which applied to people seeking asylum by sea. Tamil women were particularly vulnerable, with one woman having been raped by soldiers but her application had failed as the rape was said to be opportunistic and her husband would be able to protect her upon her return to Sri Lanka. The woman was anxious when she saw men in army uniform, and would reside in a militarized area upon her return to Sri Lanka.

ANAJA (Lord replied) said the Human Rights Council had provided many recommendations to the Sri Lankan Government but most of them had been rejected. United Nations mechanisms had failed to protect the Tamils from genocide. There were 90,000 war widows, and the Sri Lankan State needed to demilitarize Tamil lands. The international community needed to protect Tamils.

Prahar voiced concern about the grave human rights violations committed in the state of Assam in north east India. The Council was urged to communicate with the State of India in order to ensure assistance for the populations in Assam.

ASSOCIATION CULTURELLE DES TAMOULS EN France welcomed the statement of the High Commissioner asking the Government of Sri Lanka to account for the atrocities committed in the past. Sri Lanka was asked to set up a court to investigate past human rights violations. Sri Lanka was urged to act in good faith to account for the crimes committed during the past conflict.

Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul voiced concern that despite a change in presidency in 2015 in Sri Lanka, the State continued to promote a culture of impunity and did not implement human rights, in line with the previous government. It was important to establish a court to investigate past crimes.

Association solidarité internationale pour l'Afrique (SIA) said that since its last Universal Periodic Review, Sri Lanka had undergone changes to its Presidency, but the oppression and harassment of journalists and human rights defenders continued, particularly those active on the question of the activities of the army in the occupied lands in the north and east of the country.

Association for the Victims of the World recalled that the promises that Sri Lanka had made during its previous Universal Periodic Review concerning ensuring access to justice for the Tamils had not yet been met. The army had grabbed the land of the Tamils in the north and east and prevented them from returning. The Council should press upon Sri Lanka to speedily ratify the Rome Statute in order to prevent crimes in the future and protect the Tamils.

Association des étudiants tamouls de France said that the authorities in Sri Lanka continued their repression against Tamils who continued to live under the occupation since the conflict had ended in 2009. During the upcoming Universal Periodic Review reviews of Sri Lanka, the Council Member States should insist that Sri Lanka repeal the anti-terrorism legislation, and ensure the legal protection of all suspects at the time of arrest, including speedy access to a trial.

LE PONT expressed concern at the genocide of Tamils in 2009, when United Nations mechanisms had failed to protect Tamils. The Sri Lankan Government was still occupying Tamil land in Sri Lanka. The Government of Sri Lanka was called on to recognize Tamil rights to self-determination. Arrests and arbitrary detention of human rights defenders, internet users and journalists were deeply concerning. Accountability and justice should not be sacrificed.

Alliance Creative Community Project said on 15 November, Sri Lanka would undergo its third Universal Periodic Review. The Tamils of Eelam had been subjected to brutal repression. Torture and disappearance of Tamils had occurred. There was virtual military rule in areas of Sri Lanka. The Human Rights Council was urged to investigate war crimes and crimes of genocide.

Indian Council of South America called on Brazil to address attacks on indigenous people, and to adopt the international criminal obligations that had been recommended. Ecuador was called on to adopt the same measures. Bahrain was called on to allow for the full and free participation and cooperation of civil society. As for the United States, the country was urged not to equivocate, and to watch and listen and look at the Universal Periodic Review recommendations it had not accepted.

L'Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l'Homme et de la Démocratie recalled that Sri Lanka would be reviewed by the Universal Periodic Review next November. United Nations mechanisms had failed to protect Tamil victims from the genocide by Sri Lanka in 2009. The last recommendations issued on this subject were too broad and vague. It was disappointing that the Universal Periodic Review sessions were not open for non-governmental organizations.

Tamil Uzhagam was concerned that Sri Lanka was seeking to escape from accountability for past crimes. Torture and killings of Tamils continued to happen. Tamil Uzhagam urged that Sri Lanka was referred to the International Criminal Court and asked the Secretary-General to visit Sri Lanka.

Association Thendral drew the attention of the Council to the lack of accountability for crimes committed during the war in Sri Lanka. It was alarming that the recommendations made in 2012, including the ratification of the Rome statute and the investigation into crimes committed in the past, had not been implemented. Sri Lanka was urged to establish a special court to investigate crimes committed during the war and to ratify the Rome statute.

Tourner la page stated that due to the horrific level of abuses and violations against the Tamils in Sri Lanka, the High Commissioner for Human Rights should refer the situation to the International Criminal Court. An independent international inquiry into the genocide against the Tamils by Sri Lanka should also be conducted. The lengthy delays in holding the Sri Lankan Government accountable undermined the credibility of the United Nations.

Association of World Citizens noted that recommendations based on specific indicators would improve the efficiency of the Universal Periodic Review, and that the ratification of core international instruments by States could be some of the most important accomplishments of the Universal Periodic Review. It strongly encouraged all States from all regions to formulate their recommendations using Sustainable Development Goals indicators in a very specific manner.

Health and Environment Programme noted that despite the challenges it was facing, Bahrain was making all efforts to protect and promote human rights. The respect of human rights was a goal to uphold while facing terrorism. Bahrain was one of few States that had committed to voluntary contributions to families and a new law on the media. The Programme welcomed the new law on the Internet.

The Next Century Foundation noted the shortcomings of the Universal Periodic Review, namely the failure to hold to account the United Kingdom for its leading role in the fall of Libyan President Gaddafi. The shortcomings of the United Kingdom to have an embassy in that country compounded the human rights catastrophe left behind in Libya nowadays. The Universal Periodic Review should be more constructive and prone to reconciliation.

International Human Rights Association of American Minorities welcomed the ratification of the Rome statute by Yemen. Since the coup d’Etat of the Houthis, the human rights situation had strongly deteriorated. The Houthis were the major players in human rights violations. Assassinations were carried out and many amounted to crimes against humanity and war crimes. Perpetrators could now be referred to the International Criminal Court.

Africa Culture International congratulated the reforms led in Bahrain as well as its engagement with the United Nations’ instruments. Bahrain promoted the protection of women, children and vulnerable groups. Africa Culture Internationale encouraged the Government to establish a specific policy for the development and promotion of human rights and for the protection of women and children.

United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation noted that North Africa was extremely vulnerable to climate change. Its effects were even worse in Tunisia, especially when it came to water resources. Recent storms in the north west of Tunisia had led to significant losses and had affected agricultural and commercial activities. Climate fluctuations were a major challenge for this region which had to face it with very few resources.

International Educational Development, Inc. continued to question the efficacy of the Universal Periodic Review in promoting compliance with international human rights standards given the high demands on the time and resources of the Council and the States. Certain States complied, others barely and some not at all. The process was not one for actually addressing the pressing issues of human rights, it was more ceremonial rather than substantive.

Federatie van Nederlandse Verenigingen tot Integratie Van Homoseksualiteit – COC Nederland said that Tunisia had made considerable progress in protecting human rights, particularly women’s rights, but it had only noted 19 recommendations concerning sexual orientation and gender identity issues during its latest cycle. Tunisia had not accepted even those recommendations which asked Tunisia to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons were protected from violence and discrimination.

Centre for Organization Research and Education spoke with concern about the human rights situation of indigenous peoples and minorities in several Indian states where the Armed Forces Special Power Act 1958 was enforced. India should urgently comply with the recommendations it had received during its Universal Periodic Review cycle, repeal the Act and protect the concerned groups from genocidal actions.

General Debate on the Human Rights Situation in Palestine and other Occupied Arab Territories

Statements by the Concerned Countries

Israel was not in the room to take the floor as a country concerned.

State of Palestine, speaking as a concerned country, expressed strong dismay at Israel’s boycott of item 7 on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories, underlining that Israel refused to comply with its international obligations and that it had continued with its colonial policy and daily attacks against Palestinians for over 50 years. Israel continued its abuses, arbitrary detentions, ethnic cleansing, stealing of land and natural resources, imposing sieges, building settlements, attacks on religious leaders and places, and carrying out raids and assassinations. Israel carried out forcible displacement of Palestinians which threatened their survival in certain neighbourhoods of Jerusalem. Among its provocative actions, Israel had plans for the building of four new settlements. The State of Palestine called on the international community to take serious measures to deter Israel and to prevent its settlement plans. All those who imported products from the Israeli settlements grossly violated international law. The Gaza Strip continued to suffer from the 10-year blockade, which amounted to collective punishment against two million Palestinians.

Syria, speaking as a concerned country, noted that the people of the occupied Syrian Golan were victims of violations committed by the occupying Israeli power, which stole natural resources and prevented Syrians from making their livelihoods. Syria called on the international community to put an end to that practice, and warned that Israel had decided to hold elections in the occupied territory in clear violation of United Nations resolutions. Those violations required monitoring and accountability, and Syria called on all United Nations agencies to monitor the situation of Syrians in the occupied Syrian Golan, and to open a United Nations office there. Syria condemned the continued occupation of Palestinian lands and the human rights violations committed against Palestinians by Israel. The international community should prevent Israel from acting with impunity. This agenda item had to remain on the Council’s agenda as long as Israel continued to occupy Palestinian and Syrian lands. Israel supported the Syrian opposition in Syria to serve its terrorist agenda.

General Debate

Venezuela, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated its support for Palestinians living in the occupied Palestinian territories. Israel was responsible for abusive reactions, enforced disappearances and forced displacement of civilians. The ongoing Israeli occupation amounted to a situation of apartheid and should be strongly condemned. The international community was urged to address this issue.

Tunisia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, reiterated its unwavering support to the historic struggle of the people of Palestine to realize their right to self-determination as enshrined in the United Nations Charter and article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Throughout almost seven decades, the Israeli Military occupation of Arab territories had lent itself to a situation of protracted conflict that had taken a heavy toll on the livelihood of Palestinians.

Egypt, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, was concerned about the situation of human rights in the Palestinian occupied territories. Israel had been occupying the Palestinian territories since 1967 in contravention of international law. Half a million settlers were now living in the occupied territories. The continued violations reflected the incapacity of the international community to solve the issue and the lack of recognition of the right to self-determination for Palestinians. Israel had been continuously trying to entrench its control on Jerusalem, including by building settlements, withdrawing rights to residency and confiscating lands.

Nicaragua, speaking in a joint statement, remained greatly concerned by the reports of serious human rights violations and grave breaches of international human rights and humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territories, where Israeli settlement activities seriously endangered the viability of the two-State solution. This solution was the only way to guarantee that both peoples could live together in peace, security and full enjoyment of their human rights. The Council and Member States had a legal duty towards the Palestinian people.

Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, was worried about the escalation of the human rights violations by Israel, which was advancing its policy of mass colonisation and apartheid. It was equally concerning that the international community remained silent and turned a blind eye to its ally’s disregard for its human rights duties and obligations. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation called for the urgent release of over 7,000 Palestinians who were arbitrarily detained and held in Israeli prisons.

Qatar firmly condemned racist violations by Israel which considered itself above the international community and continued to show that it was not ready to be a partner for peace. The Palestinian cause would not be marginalized by the current situation in the region, as this was the cause of all Arabs, Muslims and the world. The international community must end its silence, and demand of Israel to stop the building of the settlements and of the separation wall, and end the illegal blockade of Gaza.

Brazil noted that the prolonged occupation of the Palestinian lands had had an unmistakable impact on the human rights of Palestinians. The occupation had eroded respect for fundamental freedoms, degraded the rule of law, rewarded discrimination and inhibited civil society space. The need to increase efforts to realize the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people had become all the more urgent. Respect for human rights was essential to attaining sustainable peace and security between Israel and Palestine.

Iraq reaffirmed its full and sincere solidarity with the brotherly Palestinian people and other Arab people under the Israeli occupation. It condemned all the gross human rights violations perpetrated by Israel, including house demolitions, use of excessive force against civilians, and arbitrary detention. The recent arbitrary procedures by the occupying power to prevent Palestinians from accessing their places of worship had flouted the most fundamental principles of human rights. Iraq called on the Council to attach more importance to the human rights of Palestinians.

United Arab Emirates expressed concern that the discussion at the Human Rights Council about the Palestinian issue had been receding, and that there was a reduction of civil society space. It reiterated that the rights of Palestinian people had to be protected by the Council. In the West Bank, Israeli actions had led to the restriction of movement and the shrinking of economic activity. Israel continued to flout international law.

Saudi Arabia stressed that the current discussion concerned one of the longest occupations in modern history. The Israeli aggression was unjust and Saudi Arabia categorically condemned the non-participation of a number of countries in the discussion under item 7. The international community had failed to ensure that Israel complied with its international obligations, and Saudi Arabia requested that the Council protect the people of Palestine, not merely with words, but by bringing Israel to account for its violations of human rights.

Cuba said the Palestinian people continued to suffer violations of their human rights. The policies of colonization constituted an obstacle to human rights for the people living in the affected areas. As violations persisted, this agenda item had to remain on the Council’s agenda. Israel had to withdraw to the pre-1967 borders, and it would not be possible to achieve a lasting solution to the Palestinian situation if the Palestinian people were not allowed to enjoy their self-determination.

Venezuela said Israel had consolidated a colonizing structure, which included the construction of the wall and the expansion of settlements, as well as torture of the Palestinian people. The actions had increased tensions on religious grounds. The international community had to put an end to the inhumane conduct of the Israeli Government. Israel was seeking to eradicate all traces of the Palestinian community. It was strange that there were no dissuasive elements standing in the way of the occupying power.

Egypt continued to be concerned about the illegal practices of Israel, particularly in East Jerusalem, and the related impunity. The absence of progress towards peace over the decades continued to contribute to the suffering of the Palestinian people. Egypt would spare no effort to ensure the creation of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East and called upon the Human Rights Council to protect the rights of the Palestinian people and address the Israeli violations in a serious manner.

Ecuador reaffirmed its strong commitment to the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people and its support for the two-State solution, to end the illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories by Israel, which had brought much suffering to so many. Israel must end the illegal blockade of Gaza, stop violating international human rights and humanitarian law, and end impunity for all those who violated human rights. It must also ensure access of all victims to justice and reparations, including the restitution of lands.

Bolivia lamented over 50 years of injustice resulting from the Israeli occupation and its neo-colonial policies, including the construction of illegal settlements, illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip, arbitrary arrests of thousands, and acts of collective punishment. The majority of the world’s States had called for the end of the illegal blockade of Gaza, but this call had been ignored by a handful of States. Bolivia reiterated the importance of this item remaining on the Council’s agenda.

Tunisia drew attention to the arbitrary detention of hundreds of Palestinian children by Israel, who had been victims of physical and psychological violence. Israel acted as a power above international law. Despite all the Israeli practices against the Palestinian people, Israel wanted to make the international community think that it was a victim. The international community had to shoulder its responsibility and bring Israel to account. Lasting peace in the region would not take place without the end of the occupation.

South Africa reminded that despite the world preaching a two-State solution in Palestine, the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements continued unabated. The continuing settlement activity and security measures adopted to protect settlers and their movement, and the violence committed by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and their property, were behind most of the human rights violations. South Africa called for the resumption of negotiations leading to a two-State solution.

China noted that the Palestinian issue was key to peace in the Middle East. It was the international community’s obligation to defend the rights of Palestinians. For some time the international community had increased efforts for peace and China expressed hope that Palestine and Israel would resume negotiations. It promoted the two-State solution to the conflict, with a sustainable and shared concept of security, and implementation of integrated policies to promote peace and development.

Bangladesh said 24 years after the signature of the Oslo accords, it was disappointing that the Palestinians continued to experience deprivation of their human rights. Israel’s settlement activities had put the two-State solution into jeopardy. Ending impunity and combatting terrorism was talked about a lot, but the time had come for the international community to recall to Israel that it must end its occupation. The commitment by one side to peace was not enough, and until Israel showed its commitment, the Human Rights Council needed to continue its efforts.

Nigeria noted with concern the lack of will by the State of Israel to implement United Nations resolutions aimed at resolving the lingering crisis. Nigeria called on the Human Rights Council and the international community to live up to its responsibility and ensure that the occupying power abided by United Nations resolutions. Nigeria reaffirmed its continued support to the struggle of the Palestinian people and their right to live in peace and justice, in line with the two-State solution.

Indonesia said agenda item 7 on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories should be retained as a reminder of the continuation of the grave human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory. Illegal settlements were deeply concerning. The culture of impunity and exceptionalism enjoyed by the perpetrators of human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories led to a call for the Human Rights Council to ascertain responsibility for the perpetrators.

Nicaragua reiterated its solidarity with the Palestinian people and the just cause to establish a sovereign Palestinian State which would become a full member of the United Nations. The deteriorating situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, particularly in East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, was a direct consequence of the illegal occupation by Israel. Nicaragua continued to hope that the historic responsibilities of the United Nations would be fulfilled so that both peoples could live in sustainable peace.

Pakistan said that the violations of international law by Israel in the occupied Palestinian and other Arab territories continued to be of great concern. This debate was a reminder of the collective failure of the United Nations to address this issue, and to ensure the two-State solution with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Kuwait called for an end to the Israeli violations of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories which were tantamount to war crimes. Kuwait was surprised to see a number of countries trying to undermine this agenda item, as this was at odds with their human rights commitments. The international community, and in particular the United Nations Security Council, must put an end to the suffering of the Palestinian people.

Russian Federation expressed concern about the ongoing degradation of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, noting that the situation in Jerusalem should be resolved in strict compliance with the United Nations General Assembly resolutions. Unlawful Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories undermined the principles of international law. The Russian Federation called for the end of the blockade of the Gaza Strip, noting that only on the basis of international law and direct negotiations could sustainable peace in the region be achieved.

Maldives reasserted its full solidarity with the people of Palestine, condemning the violations of their rights. It expressed concern about the lack of access to safe drinking water of the people in the Gaza Strip. It was of great concern that Israel was establishing its settlements which robbed both the oppressor and the oppressed of basic human dignity. Maldives called on the international community to seek lasting peace in the region.

Sudan stressed the importance of keeping item 7 as a standing item on the Human Rights Council’s agenda, and called on Israel to fully withdraw from the occupied Palestinian lands and to provide Palestinians with an opportunity for self-determination. Israel was still gravely violating international law and the international community bore a huge legal and ethical responsibility to hold Israel accountable for its violations.

Chile said the Government of Israel continued to build settlements, and recalled a Security Council resolution that condemned all measures aiming to demographically change the occupied territories. Israel had an obligation to abide by its responsibilities, and the Palestinian people were suffering. All parties to the conflict were called on to take action, and Chile was committed to the two-State solution.

Malaysia said the world continued to witness atrocious human rights violations. Israel’s apartheid-like policies were in contempt of international law. There had been complete impunity. Suppressing international attention to the Palestinians had been attempted. The question of Palestine should continue to remain an integral part of the work of the United Nations.

Libya said serious crimes were being committed by Israel, which were tantamount to war crimes, as the colonization continued. The Libyan delegation stated that agenda item 7 needed to be kept on the agenda, as this reflected the historical responsibility of the United Nations.

Bahrain insisted on the importance of agenda item 7 which had to be retained until the illegal occupation of the Palestinian and other Arab territories by Israel ended. Israel continued to reject United Nations resolutions and to violate international law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention which applied to all occupying powers. The occupying power must respect the United Nations resolutions and guarantee the rights of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Namibia noted that while the discussions on the right to development had been prominent in the Council, little had been said about this right for the Palestinian people. The 50 years of Israeli occupation had resulted in the lack of development and supressed human potential, and had caused extremely high unemployment rates among the youth and women.

Morocco reiterated that the Palestinian cause was one of the most just among all those which had been examined by the United Nations, and yet, this cause remained without a solution. Morocco reaffirmed its support for the two-State solution and a sovereign Palestinian State within its 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Senegal stated that the situation prevailing in Palestine remained a cause for concern with continuing settlement activity by Israel, including in Jerusalem. Sudan appealed to the international community to increase its efforts to find a durable solution to the conflict, and ensure that the parties came to the negotiating table. Senegal advocated for a two-State solution in Palestine.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea reminded that despite repeated calls and demands of the international community, Israel continued to commit various forms of human rights violations in Palestine and other Arab occupied territories. Israel’s persistent denial of the right to self-determination and the right to survival constituted a flagrant violation of international human rights and humanitarian law. Its flagrant human rights violations could never be justified or tolerated on any account.

Turkey noted that Israel’s illegal settlement expansion policy violated international law and relevant United Nations resolutions, and it was damaging the viability of a two-State solution, adding that the Israeli occupation was the major obstacle for the realization of all the fundamental human rights of Palestinians. The preservation of the historical status and sanctity of Jerusalem and the Islamic character of Al-Haram Al-Sharif was of prime importance for peace and stability.

Angola reiterated its support for the struggle of the people of Palestine to realize their right to self-determination as well as their political, economic, social and cultural rights. Angola defended the principle of a two-State solution as the only way to achieve peace in the region. The international community needed to make every effort for a serious and constructive dialogue.

Iran said there was a need to put an end to the horrible suffering of the Palestinian people and to the Israeli threat to international peace and stability. The international community was seeing the situation deteriorating as a result of crimes, and the humanitarian disaster remained without redress. The confiscation of Palestinian land was a grave breach of international law. The international community needed to act decisively, and must not allow impunity to continue scot-free.

Jordan said the main cause of violations of human rights was the occupation, and the main party in charge of such violations was Israel, the occupying power. Violations of the human rights of Palestinian detainees was condemned, as was Israel’s aggression against the holy sites. Providing an enabling environment that launched genuine political effort towards achieving a two-State solution was needed.

Algeria expressed its concern about the Palestinian people who continued to suffer the scourges of Israeli occupation which defied the basic principles of humanity and violated all principles of international law. The activities by Israel were a threat to a mere existence and sustainability of the State of Palestine, and Algeria called upon all Member States to implement the Security Council resolutions, particularly those which called upon Israel to stop the construction of illegal settlements.

Gulf Cooperation Council strongly condemned the violations of the rights of the Palestinian people and awaited the database on the businesses articulating directly or indirectly in the construction of illegal settlements which was under preparation by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The occupying power must be held accountable for its violations. The Gulf Cooperation Council stressed that the lasting peace would not be viable without the withdrawal of Israel from all occupied lands.

Oman said that the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories must be kept on the agenda of the Human Rights Council and urged all countries which supported human rights to participate in this discussion until the very end of the occupation. Oman called upon the international community to encourage Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories, including the Syrian Golan.

Lebanon affirmed its commitment to agenda item 7, which was not a selective item as it covered a unique humanitarian situation. Israel as the occupying power was violating the rights of Palestinian people through an aggressive policy that deserved to be condemned. It was surprising that some countries boycotted item 7 which encouraged Israel to continue its policies with impunity.

Mauritania noted with concern the human rights violations by the occupying power in Palestine. For the people of Palestine the occupation had meant five decades of economic recession and the lack of the right to development. Mauritania condemned the use of collective punishment by Israel against Palestinians, as well as its settlement activities. It reiterated its support for the legitimate aspiration of the Palestinian people to a State of their own.

Amuta for NGO Responsibility was concerned about false allegations made by the United Nations Children’s Fund about ill treatment inflicted on minors by Israel’s military justice system. Such allegations were false and Israeli’s military justice system met all the requirements of a true and transparent process. Israel should not be demonized.

Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture was concerned about the medical situation of prisoners and detainees in Israel. Cancer had become widespread. Several prisoners suffered from lung cancer and no one was listening to them. These illnesses were strengthened by medical negligence. The Council was urged to address the violations of human rights in detention centres and to launch a fact-finding mission to research the medical situation of prisoners.

The Palestinian Return Centre Ltd was concerned about the continuous denial of Palestinians right to return home. The Palestinian people continued to be attacked by the Israeli army, including in refugee camps. Every Member State should bring justice to Palestine. The way to peace in the region was determined by the return of refugees.

World Jewish Congress reiterated its opposition to the publication of the “shameful and counterproductive” blacklist of international and Israeli companies operating beyond the Green Line. The Human Rights Council was called on to refrain from publishing the database and to consider Israel fairly as any other country under agenda item 4.

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, in a joint statement with Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, said Israel aimed at suppressing Palestinian steadfastness and worked to fulfil its demographic goals of forcible transfer and displacement of Palestinians in East Jerusalem. Israeli violations continued unabated while stakeholders from different countries continued to invest in the unlawfulness of the occupation.

International Federation for Human Rights Leagues said there had been recent Israeli attacks on Palestinian schools, homes, and other structures. Civil society urged Member States to bring those responsible for human rights violations to justice and to provide victims with reparation. The role of the International Criminal Court was important. All States should support all accountability efforts to address those crimes and cooperate fully with the Office of the Prosecutor.

Badil Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights drew attention to the fact that thousands of foreign individuals married to Palestinian residents of the West Bank had been increasingly affected by restrictions on their ability to remain in the West Bank with their spouses. Israel had halted their ability to obtain legal status via family reunification in 2009. The law was clearly discriminatory as this only applied to Palestinians and not to Jewish Israeli citizens.

Union of Arab Jurists noted that Israel believed that it was beyond law and that it practiced the policy of apartheid vis-à-vis Palestinians. Israel had adopted the most discriminatory laws since its creation. In the occupied Syrian Golan, it continued to carry out forced displacements and to build settlements.

Human Rights Watch reminded that the Israeli authorities continued to expand their settlements in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem. They had approved plans for 85 per cent more housing units in the first half of 2017 than during all of 2016. The humanitarian situation in Gaza remained dire as power outages jeopardized water supply, inhibited processing sewage, and crippled operations in hospitals.

Defence for Children International said that Israel was the only country in the world that systematically prosecuted between 500 and 700 children each year in military courts lacking fundamental fair trial rights. Three hundred and thirty-one Palestinian children were detained in Israeli prisons at the end of May 2017, a 62 per cent increase compared to data from 2012 to 2015.

Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l'Homme
thanked the Council for maintaining item 7 on its agenda despite Israel and the United States’ will to delete it. The situation in Palestine was the only remaining colonial system in the world. It was a tragedy and the international community was still passive vis-a-vis the grave violations of the rights of children and women. The world was witnessing passively.

World Muslim Congress said that this year marked the fiftieth year of the occupation of Palestine. Palestinians were killed and arrested almost every day. The announcement made by Israel in June to reduce the distribution of electrical power to Gaza was alarming. The constant disregard for Palestinian lives could only lead to an escalation in the situation. Human rights defenders were systematically targeted.

Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturelle said the detention of children had been on the rise, in addition to administrative arrests. Such violations of the rights of children below the age of 18 was not acceptable. Israel was terrorizing Palestinian children, and in 2006, about 420 children had on average been arrested, and had suffered from psychological abuse. The children were residents of prisons and did not receive any treatment, an infringement on their basic rights.

International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations said the people of Palestine had suffered under a brutal occupation for 50 years, but the international community had not put pressure on Israel to uphold international law. The agenda item was not about Israel, but about the occupation, and it would remain until the end of the occupation. All Member States were called on to participate in discussions under item 7 in the future.

United Nations Watch asked the Palestinian Authority where its legitimacy came from, as the Palestinian people had not elected them. Palestinian students were kidnapped from campuses and were tortured in jail. The Palestinian Authority used the platform of the Human Rights Council to mislead the international community and mislead Palestinian society into believing that Israel was responsible for the problems it had created.

Agence pour les droits de l’homme expressed concern about the number of attacks against Palestinian Christians by Israeli extremists. Such anti-Christian violence did not consist only of isolated vandalism, but it was accompanied by systematic violations. The organization called on the Human Rights Council to protect the delicate community balance in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches drew attention to the devastating impact of Israeli’s policies of occupation, including forcible displacement. Despite the fact that the International Court of Justice had declared it illegal, Israel had continued the construction of the wall in the Cremisan Valley between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, and had dispossessed dozens of Palestinian Christian families in the process.

International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination stated that it had been documenting violations by Israeli settlers and soldiers against Palestinian civilians since 2014. The threats, arrests and killings suffered daily by civil society representatives highlighted the importance of providing protection to human rights activists. Their work was vital in documenting Israeli crimes.

International-Lawyers.Org said that Israel had failed to ensure equal enjoyment of socio-economic rights between Jewish and non-Jewish populations in all areas under its effective control. Israeli restrictions on the movement of people and goods had devastated the Palestinian economy and caused hardship and a protracted humanitarian crisis.

International Buddhist Relief Organization stated that like Palestinian children, Tamil children had also been traumatised by war. Although the war was technically over in Sri Lanka, Tamils continued to face difficult living conditions, notably the diaspora established in Australia. Tamil children were exposed to propaganda posters. The international community should act to prevent them from becoming terrorists.

Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man outlined that over the past 50 years, Israel had systematically appropriated Palestinian land and unlawfully exploited Palestinian natural resources for the purpose of establishing and expanding illegal Israeli settlements, particularly in the Jordan Valley area. Israel continued to illegally exercise sovereign rights over 90 per cent of the Jordan Valley.

ADALAH - Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel said recently, the Israeli Interior Ministry had revoked residency for four people. Another judgment had given Parliament six months to amend a law. Those acts amounted to illegal collective punishment. The Human Rights Council was urged to pressure Israel to reinstate the citizenship of Palestinians and stop all measures of collective punishment.

B'nai B'rith, in a joint statement with Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations, said the High Commissioner for Human Rights had requested a report mandated by a resolution calling for a database of companies active in the Palestinian territories. A boycott had constituted the first phase of the Nazi persecution of Jews in Germany. The businesses being blacklisted employed thousands of Palestinians who would be unemployed. The proposed report should be abandoned.

Association of World Citizens said the right to peace was the most basic and significant human right, and Israel and Iran were two of the powerful countries in the region. Many citizens of Israel and Iran did not feel enmity toward each other. Acceptance of the international code of conduct against ballistic missile proliferation might reduce tensions between these countries.

Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru” reiterated its solidarity with the Palestinian people, noting that the opposition to item 7 in the Human Rights Council rendered all relevant international resolutions on the issue of the occupied Palestinian territories meaningless. There would be no peace nor justice so long as the Israeli authorities continued their oppression of the Palestinian people.

Meezan Centre for Human Rights stated that the Palestinian people suffered from policies of Judaisation which were becoming more intense. The Palestinians were not allowed to build on their own land, which constituted a violation of one of the most basic rights. People had been detained because they wanted to access the Al-Aqsa mosque. The Human Rights Council should take a stronger stance on Israel.

International Human Rights Association of American Minorities noted that the Israeli occupation was expelling Palestinians and destroying their houses. Limitations had been imposed on freedom of belief. Hundreds of Palestinians had been injured as a result of their protests against that limitation. Palestinians suffered from the worst forms of oppression and violation.

Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms "MADA" said that between January and the end of August 2017, Israel had committed a total of 227 violations against Palestinian journalists and media outlets, including 89 which were committed in July alone. Israel continued to apply discriminatory policies against Palestinian journalists.

Africa Culture International said Israel continued to kill Palestinian civilians, including children and women, while thousands of Palestinians were still arbitrarily detained. Acts of torture were still committed against detainees. Israeli authorities were trying to legalize retroactively the settlements on Palestinian lands. Africa Culture Internationale asked what the Council was doing to guarantee access to Special Procedure missions in Palestinian territories.

Norwegian Refugee Council outlined that the right to education in Palestine was under attack as the availability and accessibility of education was undermined. In the West Bank, the imposition of an aberrant spatial planning regime had resulted in critical classroom shortages and in the destruction of school buildings. In August alone, three educational facilities had been destroyed by Israeli authorities.

Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling said there were presently more than 500,000 Israeli settlers living in the Palestinian territories. Detained Palestinian women were held in mixed prisons. Israel had to be forced to uphold its international responsibilities and impunity had to end. As for the blockade on Gaza, humanitarian assistance should be allowed through its borders.

Servas International expressed deep concern about the ongoing expansion of settlements. The Human Rights Council resolution of 2016 establishing a database of business enterprises involved in settlement activities was an important step to address that issue. The 50 years of Israeli occupation had to end and all States should participate in the peace process.

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1Joint statement on behalf of: International Humanist and Ethical Union; Alliance Defending Freedom; Baha'i International Community; Christian Solidarity Worldwide; European Humanist Federation; International Association for Religious Freedom; International Fellowship of Reconciliation.



For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC/17/147E