|Saturday, 10 December 2011 08:30|
Today, the world celebrates the anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In Paris 63 years ago, Member States of the United Nations General Assembly “pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms”.
Today also marks the end of one of the worst years in the history of the Palestinian people since the Nakba. The civilian population of Palestine has been reduced to demanding the right to life, food, medical treatment, movement, and freedom of expression. Fundamental human rights are systematically denied, to the point where victims are reduced to simply demanding the right to exist.
However, in the face of such injustice, we must place our faith in the universality of human rights. As human rights defenders we have no right to give up. We must maintain our motivation and strength to deal with the challenges of injustice, assisting victims in confronting the crimes of the occupation and the complicity of the international community.
In 2011, 43 years after the signing of the landmark Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Palestinian people remain unprotected and subject to life under occupation, colonization and apartheid. Today, the unabated construction of settlements and the annexation wall in the West Bank, and the illegal closure of the Gaza Strip continue, made possible through the political and financial support of the same States who simultaneously claim to be dedicated to human rights and democracy.
As long as the international community continues to grant Israel impunity and perpetuates the perpetration of these crimes, there is little reason for optimism in 2012. Nonetheless, we must remain committed to justice, and continue to push for positive changes for the Palestinian people, and an end to the illegal policies of occupation.
On behalf of numerous victims we will also continue to demand justice and accountability. Inaction with respect to the recommendations made by the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (the ‘Goldstone Report’) has to-date been another example of political considerations taking precedence over the rule of law, leading to a denial of victims’ rights, and further deterioration of the human rights situation on the ground. The international community’s refusal to pursue accountability in Israel and Palestine, and the evident hypocrisy of this stance, undermines the international rule of law, and the universality of human rights.
This year has also witnessed the refusal of UN Member States to respond to the request of the Palestinian political leadership when it exercised the Palestinian right to self-determination.
Countless United Nations sessions and resolutions have censored Israel for its violations of Palestinians’ human rights. However, these resolutions and declarations have not been supported by concrete enforcement action. The lack of sanctions and accountability has confirmed to the Israeli political and military leadership that they are exempted from international law, shielded from accountability by the blatant hypocrisy of the most powerful States.
With regard to the Palestinian authorities, PCHR continued to document the pervasive violation of fundamental human rights, including torture and ill-treatment, and violations of the right to life, freedom of assembly, and freedom of expression. Furthermore, PCHR will closely monitor efforts of the Palestinian political leadership to finalize the process of reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, and to hold democratic elections which could mark a new beginning after a 4 year split between the two parties which has been marked by a systematic deterioration in the human rights situation.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a landmark achievement. However, without enforcement, and concrete action aimed at ensuring the universal respect and protection of human rights, the UDHR remains but a declaration, of limited relevance to civilians throughout the world whose rights continue to be violated without redress.
(www.pchrgaza.org / 10.12.2011)