Occupied Palestinian territory: UN expert calls for decisive response to end Israel’s ‘occu-annexation’
23 October 2019
NEW YORK (23 October 2019) – A UN human rights expert said that the international community has a responsibility and a legal obligation to compel Israel to completely end its illegal occupation and remove its barriers to the fulfilment of Palestinian self-determination.
“The status quo of Israel’s ‘occu-annexation’ is endlessly sustainable without decisive international intervention because of the grossly asymmetrical balance of power on the ground,” said Michael Lynk, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory.
“Accountability is the key to opening the titanium cage that is the permanent occupation. The international community has issued countless resolutions and declarations critical of the never-ending Israeli occupation. The time has long past to match these criticisms with effective consequences.”
In a report to the UN General Assembly, the Special Rapporteur analysed Common Article 1 of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, the 2001 Articles on State Responsibility for Internationally Wrongful Acts and Article 25 of the Charter of the United Nations. He concluded that much more is required of the international community to satisfy and ensure respect for the obligations emanating from those instruments.
“This 52-year-old occupation – the longest in the modern world – has been characterised by a strong sense of impunity by the occupying power. Israel has rightly assessed that the international community – particularly the Western industrial nations – has lacked the political will to compel a complete end to the occupation. As a result, Israel has rarely faced meaningful consequences for its defiant behaviour,” Lynk said.
The Special Rapporteur stated that the international community should take prudent and necessary steps to collectively construct a list of effective countermeasures which would be appropriate and proportional to the circumstances. “Should Israel remain unmoved, it should apply and escalate the range of its targeted countermeasures until compliance had been achieved,” he said.
“This occupation will not die of old age. Palestinians, along with Israelis of conscience, have been asking repeatedly for the international community to act decisively in support of international law to compel Israel to end the occupation and enable Palestinian self-determination. We can’t afford to ignore their call.”
Describing the human rights situation in Gaza as dire, the Special Rapporteur once more highlighted the continued economic and humanitarian deterioration and ongoing demonstrations in which more than 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces since March 2018. He also noted the increase in demolitions of Palestinian homes and construction of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Mr. Michael Lynk was designated by the UN Human Rights Council in 2016 as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967. The mandate was originally established in 1993 by the then UN Commission on Human Rights. Professor Lynk is Associate Professor of Law at Western University in London, Ontario, where he teaches labour law, constitutional law and human rights law. Before becoming an academic, he practiced labour law and refugee law for a decade in Ottawa and Toronto. He also worked for the United Nations on human rights and refugee issues in Jerusalem.
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.