The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) welcomes the progress made by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in establishing a database of businesses unlawfully operating in Israeli settlements intended to be released in December 2017, pursuant to resolution A/HRC/RES/31/36 of 20 April 2016. Concerned businesses recently received letters by the High Commissioner informing them of the unlawfulness of their action. CIHRS considers this courageous step to be a victory for justice and accountability for grave human rights violations, and the business and human rights agenda.
Despite the pressure that has been applied on the various UN bodies to refrain from implementing the aforementioned resolution, the OHCHR step shows the resolve of this UN body to implement the law. It further attests to the importance of human rights advocacy; the dedicated efforts of human rights groups and civil society to push back against political calculations for the sake of justice were not in vain. CIHRS considers tangible actions to end Israeli impunity, such as publicly releasing the business database, are the only way to move forward in promoting human rights and ending the prolonged occupation in the OPT.
For the last two years, CIHRS and its Palestinian partners have been advocating against prevailing impunity for grave humanitarian and human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) and a stronger role for the Human Rights Council to protect Palestinian rights. The creation of a business database was one of various demands called for by CIHRS ,in coordination with a large platform of partners from Palestinian civil society organizations. The database is a concrete follow-up action on reports, recommendations and resolutions issued by the Human Rights Council on the deteriorating human rights situation in the OPT, and the lack of adequate accountability mechanisms. CIHRS, together with its partners, have also advocated for the creation and release of this list on several occasions since the resolution passed through side events, oral statements and meetings with several stakeholders in Geneva.
As recently as 25 of September 2017,CIHRS – along with its partners Addameer Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association and the Community Action Center/ legal clinic of Al-Quds University – addressed the 36th session of the Human Rights Council through a joint oral statement. The statement was delivered under Agenda Item 7’sdiscussion of the human rights situation in the OPT.
The statementstressed the importance of accountability, and called for concrete action to end the half-century long military occupation. It called on the Council to strongly support the database on businesses operating unlawfully in Israeli settlements, which constitutes action by the Council that is direly needed and overdue.
The statement also warned against the continued Israeli collective punishment policies that aim to forcibly transfer Palestinians, in particular from occupied East Jerusalem. These policies ultimately aim to erode the possibility for Palestinians to realize their right to self-determination.
Our organizations have also highlighted the occupation’s recent pattern of targeting children, particularly in Occupied East Jerusalem, since the AlAqsa uprising of July 2017, through a rising pattern of arrests, torture, and intimidationby imposing high fines on parents for their children’s release.Children are also coerced into becoming informants to the authorities.
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