PCHR condemns Israel’s Refusal to Participate in the UN HRC Review

Impunity/Accountability, Independence of the Judiciary, International Human Rights Law (IHRL), International Humanitarian Law (IHL), Press Release

As had been anticipated, the State of Israel has failed to attend its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), which was scheduled to take place today, 29 January 2013. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) submitted a shadow report to the HRC in July 2012, in anticipation of Israel’s appearance at the UN body’s 15th Session.

Israel’s decision to boycott the UPR is yet another demonstration of its contempt for international human rights norms, and is made possible by the complacency of the international community. The failure to hold Israel to account for its violations of international human rights and humanitarian law has further deepened the culture of impunity which allows such violations to occur.

Israel’s refusal to participate in the review also represents a direct threat to the very credibility of the Human Rights Council, a cooperative mechanism with a mandate to examine the compliance of its Member States with their international human rights obligations. Israel is the first country to have withdrawn from the UPR procedure and, in doing so, has set a negative precedent for other states. The Human Rights Council should not allow Israel to stall the UPR process, and should instead protect its standards and procedures, and continue with the review of the State’s compliance with its human rights obligations.

PCHR’s shadow report emphasises that, as the occupying power in the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. the State of Israel has specific obligations with respect to the care and protection of the occupied Palestinian population.

The report highlights Israel’s numerous violations of its obligations, such as: the illegal closure of the Gaza Strip; the unilateral imposition of a so-called ‘buffer zone’ inside the land and sea borders of the Gaza Strip; and the Israeli judicial system’s systematic denial of justice for Palestinian victims of attacks by Israeli forces, including the victims of ‘Operation Cast Lead’. The impunity enjoyed by Israel for this assault, which has been perpetuated by the international community, allowed it to carry out its latest offensive on the Gaza Strip in November 2012, in which 102 civilians, including 35 children and 14 women, were killed.

Despite Israel’s refusal to participate in the Universal Periodic Review, PCHR calls on the UN Human Rights Council to proceed with its review of Israel’s compliance with its human rights obligations. Member States should not be permitted to opt out of and undermine the UPR process by refusing to appear before the Council.