Special Rapporteur for the Situation of Human Rights in oPt Calls For the International Community to Adopt New Accountability Culture Respecting the Israeli Occupation – Press Release

New York (26 October 2020) – The 53 year old occupation of the Palestinian Territory will only come to a just and complete end with the international community imposing accountability measures on Israel to enforce the many resolutions on the issue adopted by the Security Council, the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council, a UN human rights expert said today.

“An entirely new accountability culture is sorely needed by the United Nations to bridge the enormous gap between promise and performance,” said Michael Lynk, Special Rapporteur for the Situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967. “The UN has adopted hundreds of resolutions on this occupation, and these hundreds of resolutions have been ignored and defied by Israel, the occupying power.”

Building on his October 2019 report to the General Assembly on accountability, the Special Rapporteur pointed out that the resolutions and decisions of the Security Council and the General Assembly are the bedrock of the international legal consensus respecting the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

The Special Rapporteur observed that the Security Council – over the past 50 years – had adopted more than 30 binding resolutions on the Israeli occupation respecting the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the prohibition against territorial annexation, and the illegality of the Israeli settlements. Israel has accepted and applied none of them.

“As a solemn condition of joining the United Nations, member states commit themselves – in Article 25 of the UN Charter – to accepting and carrying out the decisions and directions of the Security Council,” said Mr. Lynk. “If the rule of law matters, then so does accountability. If the Security Council is to speak with authority, then the disobedience of Council decisions must have consequences.”

The new report also examined the influential role of businesses and corporations in sustaining the Israeli settlement economy.

“The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, adopted in 2011, call upon corporations to exercise “enhanced due diligence” when operating in conflict zones and occupations,” noted the Special Rapporteur.

“The Security Council has stated that the settlements are a flagrant violation under international law,” said Mr. Lynk. “I would add that they are a presumptive war crime under the 1998 Rome Statute. The settlements are the engine of the Israeli occupation.

In these circumstances, it is impossible for businesses to be engaged, directly or indirectly, with the settlements while honouring their human rights commitments.”

He asked all UN member states to ensure that all corporate activities regulated by them should cease any and all commercial relationships with the settlements. As well, he asked UN member states to prohibit the entry of all Israeli settlement goods and services into their domestic markets.


Mr. Michael Lynk was designated by the UN Human Rights Council in 2016 as Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967. The mandate was originally established in 1993 by the then UN Commission on Human Rights. Professor Lynk is Associate Professor of Law at Western University in London, Ontario, where he teaches labour law, constitutional law and human rights law. Before becoming an academic, he practiced labour law and refugee law for a decade in Ottawa and Toronto. He also worked for the United Nations on human rights and refugee issues in Jerusalem.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page: Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel

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