Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories – Human Rights Council eleventh session – Address by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights


Address by Ms. Navanethem Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to the Introduction of the first periodic report pursuant to HRC
Resolution S/9-1 (A/HRC/11/34) under Agenda Item 7 of the HRC 11th session


Earlier this year, during the Israeli military operation "Cast Lead" in Gaza, the Human Rights Council met in its Ninth Special Session and adopted resolution S/9-1. The resolution was entitled: "The grave violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly due to the recent Israeli military attacks against the occupied Gaza Strip." Among other tasks, it mandated my Office to strengthen OHCHR's field presence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and to submit periodic reports to the Council on the implementation of that resolution.

I have fulfilled my mandate regarding the OHCHR field presence. Two additional international staff members have been dispatched to the OHCHR office in the OPT. We are currently recruiting two more international staff members as well as two local staff members.

I regret to inform you that it was not possible for me to submit my first periodic report in time for this session. Its preparation was made more complex by the need to put in place a human rights monitoring framework in the OPT, which we have now begun to implement. Consequently, we were unable to give the report to the concerned parties in order for these parties to provide comments, according to OHCHR's established practice. However, a draft was shared with them a few days ago. I will submit a first report at your session in September, which will be made available on our website well before that session. A second periodic report will be submitted in March.

In the meanwhile, allow me to briefly refer to the human rights situation in the OPT, particularly in Gaza, which has deteriorated further since the previous HRC session.

The ongoing heavy import restrictions and near total prohibition of exports have negative cumulative effects on the realization of a wide range of economic, social and cultural rights, as well as civil and political rights, of the Gaza population. Gazans' rights continue to be severely undermined or violated. This includes their right to work, their freedom of movement, their right to food, their right to adequate housing, their right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, and their right to education. As a result, poverty is increasing. Sixty-five percent of Gazans live below the poverty line of US$ 2 per day.

These crippling conditions must be eased. Ultimately, the blockade and other restrictions that violate human rights must be lifted.

One of OHCHR's overarching priorities is combating impunity. Therefore, all allegations of breaches of international humanitarian law and human rights violations during the Gaza military operations and their aftermath — whether through attacks on civilians and civilian objects in Gaza or indiscriminate rocket attacks into Israel–must be investigated by credible, independent and transparent accountability mechanisms, respectful of international standards of due process. Equally crucial is upholding the right of victims to reparation.

All parties concerned, as well as States and the international community as a whole, should extend full support and cooperation to all such accountability efforts. In particular, I stress the need for full cooperation with, unimpeded access to, and support of, the ongoing work of the Independent Fact-Finding Mission mandated by the Human Rights Council and headed by Justice Richard Goldstone.

This concludes my address today. I confirm that the full reports will be submitted in due course.

Thank you.


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