Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

UN Agencies in occupied Palestinian territory "extremely alarmed" by security situation in Gaza

We the United Nations Agencies working in the occupied Palestinian territory are extremely alarmed by the deteriorating security situation in Gaza. The upsurge of violence, which has taken the lives of innocent civilians, is also putting our workers on the ground at serious risk. It is becoming extremely difficult for us to fulfill our humanitarian mandates to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people. The implications of this for a population already facing extreme hardship are grave. We remain determined to continue with our humanitarian work. 

High Commissioner for Human Rights condemns killings of civilians in Qana

Noting that Israel had warned the population of likely military action, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, underlined that while effective advance warning of attacks which may affect the civilian population must be given, this legal obligation does not absolve the parties to the conflict of their other obligations under international law regarding the protection of civilians. Arbour today said: “I strongly condemn the killing of dozens of civilians, among whom a very high proportion were children, resulting from the shelling by the Israeli Forces of a residential building in which civilians were sheltering in Qana, South Lebanon, on 30 July. 

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Protection of civilians and accountability

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour today expressed grave concern over the continued killing and maiming of civilians in Lebanon, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory and called for accountability for any breaches of international law. The High Commissioner recalled that parties to a conflict have the obligation to exercise precaution and respect the principle of proportionality in all military operations so as to prevent unnecessary suffering among the civilian population. 

High Commissioner for Human Rights condemns all actions targeting civilians in Lebanon and Israel

The High Commissioner for Human Rights underscored the Secretary-General’s condemnation of all actions that target civilians, or which unduly endanger them due to their disproportionate or indiscriminate character, OHCHR’s spokesman told a news briefing in Geneva today. The High Commissioner said that, while Israel has legitimate security concerns, international humanitarian law requires that parties to a conflict refrain from attacks directed against civilian objects. In particular, they have an obligation to exercise precaution and to respect the proportionality principle in all military operations so as to prevent unnecessary suffering among the civilian population. 

Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions calls for accountability for killings in Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel

Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, today emphasized the “importance of ensuring accountability in relation to the killings that have taken place in recent weeks in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) and in Israel”. “Even in the midst of crisis, indeed especially in times of crisis, it is essential to ensure that the applicable rules of international human rights and humanitarian law are respected”, Mr. Alston said. 

UN expert: US, EU, Russia and other states ignore Israeli rights abuses

John Dugard, a UN Special Rapporteur on Wednesday criticized the United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations for ignoring countless Israeli violations of human rights, international law and other standards. Dugard, who is responsible for investigating alleged human rights abuses by Israel in Palestinian areas, said the United States and other international powers who make up the so-called Quartet of Mideast mediators have done nothing to rein in Israel. Dugard was the keynote speaker at the first emergency session of the new UN Human Rights Council, called at the request Friday of Arab countries, who are seeking a resolution that would censure Israel for its behavior. 

UN Health Rights Expert criticizes donors for failing their humanitarian responsibilities

The UN Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Professor Paul Hunt, reminded the donor community that it has a responsibility to provide humanitarian assistance to the population in the Occupied Palestinian territories (OPT). While welcoming last weekend’s emergency aid plan, the UN health rights expert emphasised that the acute funding crisis in the OPT, which is jeopardising the delivery of basic health services to the sick and infirm, arises from the deliberate actions of the donors themselves. 

UN Special Rapporteur: "Israeli settlers 'terrorize' Palestinians"

In a report to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, Special Rapporteur John Dugard said Israel and the Palestinians had failed to adhere to the “road map” plan drawn up three years ago by the United States, Russia, the United Nations and European Union. He said the plan is hopelessly out of date and needs to be revamped. The report, to be discussed by the UN commission in Geneva next week, said “much more needs to be done by Israel” to meet its human rights obligations. 

UN expert: Israel puts human rights defenders at "grave risk"

A top UN official accused Israel of depriving Palestinians of their basic human rights in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Hina Jilani, special representative of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on Human Rights Defenders, said that Israel was blocking lawyers, journalists and rights activists from monitoring potential rights abuses. “‘Security imperatives’ have been allowed to deprive a vast population of their very basic rights and these measures need deeper scrutiny by all concerned if any respect for norms of international human rights and humanitarian law is to be preserved,” Jilani told reporters in Jerusalem. Hina Jilani concluded her visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. 

Human Rights Commission adopts resolution on Israeli settlements and Israeli practices in occupied territories

Under its agenda item on the question of the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine, the Commission adopted a resolution on Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan by a roll-call vote of 39 in favour to two opposed, with 12 abstentions. In the text, the Commission expressed grave concern at the continuing Israeli settlements and related activities, in violation of international law; and demanded that Israel, the occupying power, comply fully with its legal obligations.