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Al-Haq Welcomes the Findings of the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism on the IHRA Definition of Anti-Semitism and Israel’s Apartheid
22، Mar 2023

Al-Haq welcomes the findings of the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Prof. E. Tendayi Achiume, in her two outgoing thematic reports published in October 2022. The two reports critically analysed and denounced the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Working Definition of Antisemitism (“IHRA-WDA”) and acknowledged Israel’s apartheid in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), respectively. Al-Haq acknowledges the negative impact of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism on shrinking civil space to conduct legitimate, critical, and needed work and advocacy, and welcomes the growing recognition of Israel’s apartheid regime. Notably, Al-Haq stresses that Israel’s apartheid is imposed over the Palestinian people as a whole and should be analysed within the broader context of Israel’s settler-colonialism.

In her report on “the Combating Glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and Other Practices that Contribute to Fuelling Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance”, the Special Rapporteur highlighted the contested status of the IHRA-WDA due to “its susceptibility to be politically instrumentalized” and its negative impact on human rights, including for Palestinians and human rights defenders. Specifically, the Special Rapporteur highlighted how “[t]he IHRA-WDA and the illustrative examples attached to it are wielded to prevent or chill legitimate criticisms of the State of Israel, a state that must, like any other in the UN system, be accountable for human rights violations it perpetrates”. Her report further noted that “[t]hose primarily harmed as a result [of the IHRA-WDA definition] are Palestinians, as well as human rights defenders advocating on their behalf”.

Al-Haq welcomes the Special Rapporteur’s acknowledgement of the risks of the IHRA definition, and stresses that the promotion of the IHRA definition puts at risk the work of human rights defenders, and the legitimate discussion and criticism of Israel’s settler-colonial apartheid regime and its unlawful policies and practices which target the Palestinian people, including their right to self-determination. To this end, Al-Haq supports the Special Rapporteur’s recommendation to UN member states “to suspend adoption and promotion of the IHRA-WDA and the examples attached to it”.

The Special Rapporteur’s report on “Ecological Crisis, Climate Justice and Racial Justice” reiterated the Special Rapporteur on the environment’s emphasis that “although all humans are exposed to ecological crisis, the burden of this crisis falls disproportionately on systemically marginalized groups, and that many environmental injustices are rooted in ‘racism, discrimination, colonialism, patriarchy, impunity and political systems that systematically ignore human rights’”. The Special Rapporteur maintained her previous analysis on “how the contemporary global extractivism economy remains racially stratified because of its colonial origins and the ongoing failure of Member States—especially those who benefitted the most from colonial domination—to decolonize the international system and provide reparations for racial discrimination rooted in slavery and colonialism”.

In this regard, the Special Rapporteur’s report took note of a number of civil society submissions, including Al-Haq’s, which focused on the impact of Israel’s settler-colonial and apartheid regime and its military occupation on the Palestinian climate. Al-Haq welcomes the Special Rapporteur’s consideration of its submission and observation regarding how the Israeli settler colonial military occupation “contributed to the ecological devastation and transformation of the Palestinian territories, and continues to deny Palestinians their fundamental right to self-determination, including regarding indigenous Palestinian approaches to mitigating climate impacts”. The Special Rapporteur’s report also underscored Israel’s greenwashing policy, which entails the appropriation of Palestinian land and demolition of Palestinian houses to expand its colonial settlement enterprise. Furthermore, the Special Rapporteur’s report highlighted Israel’s policy of elimination of native trees in favour of European pine trees, as well as its discriminatory laws and urban planning regime in the occupied West Bank, which results in Palestinian forcible transfer, and discriminatory access of Palestinian water. Overall, through her analysis of Israeli policies and practices, the Special Rapporteur concluded that “Israel’s practices and policies in the OPT amount to apartheid, with extreme environmental and human rights consequences for Palestinians”.

As an advocate against Israel’s settler-colonial apartheid regime, Al-Haq welcomes the Special Rapporteur’s recognition of Israel’s apartheid in the OPT, and urges all Special Rapporteurs to recognise Israel’s maintenance of such regime over the Palestinian people as a whole. Furthermore, Al-Haq calls upon UN Member States and all relevant stakeholders to adopt the findings of the report and expeditiously implement the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations. To this end, Al-Haq reiterates the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations to systematically hold transnational corporations accountable for environmental racism and climate injustice, and to “decolonize or transform [legal and economic systems] in a manner that makes it capable of guaranteeing genuine equality and self-determination for all peoples”.

Finally, Al-Haq celebrates the professionalism of Prof. Achiume and her dedication to defend and advance human rights during her mandate as the Special Rapporteur, and looks forward to working with Ms. Ashwini K.P, the newly appointed 6th Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, to further protect and advance the human rights of the Palestinian poeple.