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On International Human Rights Day, Al-Haq Envisions How a People’s-Based Human Rights Council Should Look Like
10، Dec 2021

Date: 10 December 2021

Every year, on 10 December, the world celebrates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 1948, which promises to all human beings equal economic, social, political, cultural and civic rights as fundamental and inalienable rights, without discrimination. The year 1948 also marked the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) that witnessed the killing and forcible expulsion of thousands of Palestinians from their homes and land. Since then, the Palestinian people, living on both sides of the Green Line, and in the diaspora as refugees and exiles abroad, continue to live an ongoing Nakba under Israel’s settler-colonialism, apartheid, and prolonged occupation, entrenched by its illegal policies and practices of territorial annexation, forcible transfer, dispossession, among others.

On this year’s International Human Rights Day, Al-Haq shares its own vision of one of the most important pillars of the UN, the Human Rights Council (HRC). The video was primarily prepared as part of the Empty Chairs Campaign led by the Sexual Rights Initiative. The Campaign aims to criticize and radically transform the UN Human Rights System, starting with the UN HRC. In the video, Al-Haq imagines how a people driven council would look. In doing so, it highlights the obstacles that the Palestinian people face in reaching the HRC and drawing the international community’s attention towards Israel’s continuous systematic human rights violations and international crimes. Such violations include the denial of the right to movement, right to adequate standard of living and to housing, freedom from arbitrary deprivation of liberty and property, etc.

The video also focuses on the importance of reflecting a people’s language at the HRC, that is easily accessible, and remains committed to the efficient implementation of its mandate despite budgetary constraints, especially in terms of annually updating the UN Database of Businesses engaged in Israel’s Settlement Enterprise, and maintaining item 7 concerning the Human Rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories on the HRC’s agenda, in spite of the constant attack on it.

This video also emphasizes the importance of having a Council that provides a safe space for civil society organizations (CSOs) to amplify victims’ voices without fear or intimidation. This is particularly important in light of Israel’s latest attack aimed at dismantling Palestinian civil society, by designating six leading Palestinian CSOs as “terrorist organisations”. Israel’s designation is a direct attack on Palestinians’ right to freedom of association and expression, which, as stated by UN Experts “must be fully respected in order to enable civil society to perform its indispensable work, and cannot be undermined by the manifestly egregious misuse of counterterrorism and security legislation.”

See the video here.

See Al-Haq’s statement on the International Human Rights Day here.