Following a 20 year-long process, Palestine’s admission to UNESCO is an important step towards advancing respect for human rights in the OPT. The right to education, culture and enjoyment of the benefits of science are enshrined as basic rights in the United Nations Charter, and membership will provide Palestinians with a new mechanism to enjoy these rights, free from interference. Furthermore, Palestine will now be able to engage with other members of UNESCO on equal footing with regards to ensuring international protection for their culture and heritage.
Al-Haq applauds the widespread support of the international community for Palestine’s membership in UNESCO, which has shed some clarity on the status of Palestine in international relations and bolsters its attempt to become a member of the United Nations. The inclusion of Palestine as a full-fledged member of the international community will further ensure that universal human rights standards will be respected in the OPT. This enhanced legal status will give Palestine equal standing at the international level and allow for more effective access to international legal mechanisms.
Admission to UNESCO is an encouraging development that paves the way for Palestine to advance the pursuit of self-determination for its people. Al-Haq therefore calls upon all States, following the positive example of those who voted for Palestine’s admission to UNESCO, to support future Palestinian bids for accession to additional international bodies and organisations. Such a move will provide an important opportunity for strengthening the human rights framework and contribute to improving the rule of law in the OPT.