By Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
Press Release, 13 April 2014
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) welcomes the State of Palestine’s accessions to 16 international conventions related to the international humanitarian law and human rights, but calls upon the Palestinian leadership not to surrender to the Israeli and international pressure and immediately accede to the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
PCHR emphasizes that Palestine’s accessions to the 16 conventions constitute a step on the right direction to promote our humanitarian values and human dignity for each Palestinian. However, it also stresses that this step needs further steps to be taken in order to provide effective means to protect the Palestinian people from the violations committed against them, especially by the Israeli forces. PCHR calls upon the Palestinian leadership to reject the Israeli and international pressure and immediately accede to all international instruments and mechanisms related to the protection of human rights in times of war and peace, especially the Rome Statute, in order to guarantee the achievement of justice and remedy for all Palestinian victims, against whom Israeli forces committed crimes, and to end impunity, which Israeli criminals enjoy.
On 01 April 2014, the Palestinian President, according to the General Assembly’s Resolution which recognized Palestine as an observer State in the United Nations in late 2012, has signed letters acceding to 19 international conventions, 16 of which are related to the international humanitarian and human rights law. Those accessions, which had already been sent, do not need to be deposited with the UN Secretary-General in order to activate Palestine’s membership in them. Eight of these conventions are related to human rights:
1- The 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
2- The 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights;
3- The 1984 Convention against Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading Treatment or Punishment;
4- The 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW);
5- The 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination;
6- The 2003 International Convention against Corruption;
7- The 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child; and
8- The 2006Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Palestine has acceded also to 6 conventions related to the international humanitarian law:
1- The 1949 First Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field;
2- 1949 Second Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea;
3- 1949 Third Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War;
4- 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War;
5- 1977 Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts; and
6- 1907 Hague Convention on the Laws and Customs of War on Land.
Palestine has also deposited its accession to two conventions relative to obliging States to prevent and punish international crimes:
1- The 1948 Convention on the Prevention of Genocide and Punishment and
2- 1985Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid.
The importance of these conventions lies in that it will reiterate the international legal obligation of the Israeli authorities to respect the laws of war, in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention and Protocol I and the Hague Convention on the Laws and Customs of War on Land, which set obligations on the occupying power to protect civilians in the case of armed conflicts and prohibit attacking or transferring them or establishing settlements considering them as war crimes. At the same time, these conventions set an obligation on all the member States to work on ensuring the application of this convention in all circumstances.
Accessions to the above-mentioned human rights conventions reflect the Palestinian Authority’s commitment to guarantee respect and protection of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), as the majority of these rights are prescribed in the Palestinian Basic Law 2003. PCHR hopes these accessions will promote the mechanisms to protect the Palestinian people’s rights against the PA’s violations.
PCHR stresses this Palestinian step will never practically achieve the purpose behind it unless it is followed by other steps to accede to all international conventions relevant to human rights and international humanitarian laws, particularly:
1- The 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which will guarantee the prosecution of Israeli war criminals;
2- The First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966, which will ensure the right of individuals and groups to resort to international mechanisms of judicial remedy;
3- Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty 1989;
4- The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women 1999, which will ensure the right of individuals and groups to resort to international mechanisms of judicial remedy; and
5- The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture 2002, which offers international and practical mechanisms to confirm the application of this Convention.