Lack of human security impeding progress for Palestinians, says UN-backed report

Palestinian women walk near Israel's barrier near Ramallah in the West Bank. Photo: IRIN/Shabtai Gold

9 May 2010 – Human security is a pre-requisite for development, and its widespread absence in the occupied Palestinian territory has greatly impeded progress for the people living there, according to a new report released today by the United Nations.

The Palestinian Human Development Report 2009/10, written by an independent team and sponsored by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), explores different facets of human security – economy, food, health, environment, political, personal, community – from the perspective of establishing freedom from want, freedom from fear and freedom to live in dignity.

It argues that sustained development will not be possible until Palestinians are afforded economic and environmental control, particularly on issues such trade, water resources and borders.

The Report notes that while many Palestinians are given enough food aid to sustain themselves, they remain in a state of dependency because they are unable to make enough money to feed themselves – what the authors refer to as a “poverty of disempowerment.”

The education and health care system are cited as examples of areas in which Palestinians, given a window of opportunity, have made progress. On the other hand, the national economy has consistently weakened over the reporting period due to stringent control.

In addition, Palestinians have no authority over their air space, territorial waters, natural resources, movement and the macro-economic instruments that enable economic autonomy, according to the publication, the fifth in a series of human development reports focusing on the Palestinians.

“Human security is the platform for development, the aim of which is to create an environment where people can enjoy long, healthy and creative lives,” said UNDP Special Representative Jens Toyberg-Frandzen, who launched the Report in Ramallah along with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

“This report is a reminder that Palestinians continue to face many challenges including the occupation and internal fragmentation.”

Another major hindrance is the territorial fragmentation of the occupied Palestinian territory, which the authors contend has severely weakened the central authority and governance institutions of the Palestinian Authority and intensified internal Palestinian political polarization.

This has resulted in more political violence and the suppression of civil rights by the various authorities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, they add.

The Report recommends devising a strategy to promote territorial contiguity, economic integration, social cohesion, sovereignty and political reconciliation. It also suggests establishing a Commission for Representative Governance to monitor the implementation of the strategy and boost transparency and accountability.


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