The Human Rights Council (HRC) just concluded its 22nd Session in Geneva and the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC) has issued a statement expressing concern over the HRC's missed opportunity to hold Israel to account for its settlement-expansion project.
The HRC , which convenes three times a year, is "an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them." It is the body responsible for overseeing the Universal Periodic Review, a state-driven mechanism intended to review the compliance of all UN member states with international law and human rights norms. Notably, Israel boycotted its second UPR review earlier this year, claiming that the HRC is biased. The HRC was also responsible for the UN Fact-Finding Mission to Gaza in the aftermath of Israel's 22-day assault on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which produced the "Goldstone Report." During this Session, the HRC discussed its most recent mission to the OPT on Israeli Settlements.
On 18 March 2013, the Council held an Interactive Dialogue with the Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements. During the Dialogue, several countries expressed grave concern over Israel's ongoing settlement practices. Israel was not present to take the floor as the concerned country. While the controversy over the HRC's adopted resolution is quite discreet in content, its impact is profound.
The PHROC urged the HRC to endorse the resolution, rather than simply recommend states to implement it. The difference is that endorsement would have created an obligation on behalf of all states to hold Israel to account for its settlement-expansion project.
In his post about the topic on 21 March 2013, Ali Abunimah explains :
Subtle but important changeWhile the changes may appear subtle to the those of us not versed in the arcana of UN technical language, the difference is important as my source explained, especially about who has responsibility for moving the report forward. My source told me:
The failure to include more robust language belongs to the Palestinian leadership in part, perhaps even in full. As indicated above, a more robust resolution would have been welcomed by many state delegations. However, at the intense pressure of a few strong European states, the Palestine delegation did not insist on the more meaningful language. It did so as part of an ongoing strategy to build political support at the expense of international law and human rights norms. This option has put the Palestinian leadership at odds with the Palestinian human rights community for several years; I detail this divergence in a 2011 Al-Shabaka Policy Brief: Unmet Potential: The UN Committee on Palestine.
Today the PHROC issued a joint statement expressing their disappointment at this missed opportunity to advance the rights of the Palestinian people. The full text of the statement is posted below and on Jadaliyya: Joint PHROC Statement: UN Resolutions on Settlements, Another Missed Opportunity.