Seat of the Permanent Court of Arbitration: The Peace Palace ("Vredespaleis"), The Hague. .
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The International Court of Justice at The Hague should issue an advisory opinion on the failure of both Israelis and Palestinians to comply with humanitarian law, a United Nations official said in a report that will be debated in Geneva next week.
The suggestion was made toward the end of the document written by the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein.
“The High Commissioner suggests the Human Rights Council consider recommending to the General Assembly that it make use of its powers under Article 96 (a) of the Charter of the UN in order to specify how all parties can fulfill their obligations in implementing the recommendations reviewed in the present report,” the document stated.
Article 96 is the procedure under which an advisory opinion is sought from the ICJ.
In 2004, the ICJ advisory opinion stated that Israel's security barrier and West Bank settlements were illegal under international law.
Zeid’s has now suggested that the ICJ take a broader look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so that the UN would have stronger tools by which to enforce compliance with its resolutions and recommendations.
Zeid’s report was published on Monday and will be debated on June 19, when the UNHRC in Geneva focuses on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict under Agenda Item 7.
It took both Israelis and Palestinians to task for failing to comply with recommendations in reports and specialized UNHRC bodies.
“All stakeholders must recognize that compliance with international law is a sine qua non condition for peace,” Zeid’s office wrote.
“The general patterns of human rights violations and non-implementation of recommendations are not just symptoms of the conflict but further fuel the cycle of violence,” the report stated.
The report showed that over the last seven years, the UNHRC has issued 773 recommendations on the conflict, of which 27% dealt with issues of accountability and access to justice.
The data focused on reports the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Secretary General have delivered to the UNHRC, as well as documents issued by fact finding missions, special investigations and compliance procedures with UN human rights treaties.
The data does not include UNHRC resolutions against Israel.
Some 551 of the recommendations in those documents sought action from Israel, 75 targeted the Palestinian Authority and another 22 related to Palestinian armed groups. An additional 29 were directed at both Israel and the Palestinians. The remainder of the recommendations were directed toward the UN, its member states, businesses and civic society.
Some 267 of the recommendations were done as part of the UN’s review of Israel’s compliance with human rights treaties. The Palestinian Authority has only recently signed onto to some of those treaty bodies and therefore there are no corresponding lists of recommendations.
The UNHRC issued 253 recommendations on issues of accountability and access to justice, 187 of which were directed at Israel and another 68 at the Palestinians.
“Over the years, successive reports have detailed serious failings of accountability at all levels, and by all duty bearers,” Zeid’s report stated. It quoted UNHRC resolution S-21/1 stating: “impunity prevails across the board for violations allegedly committed by Israeli forces, both in Gaza and the West Bank”.
“Israel must break with its lamentable track record in holding wrongdoers accountable” and“accountability on the Palestinian side is also woefully inadequate,” the report said.
Israel put in place only two of the recommendations and ignored 168 of the suggestions the UNHRC has put forward on this topic, the report stated. The Palestinians partially implemented nine of the recommendations and ignored 56 of them.
Engagement with the UN made up 15 of the recommendations and arrests and detentions made up another 11%.
Some 10% — 99 recommendations — dealt with Israeli settlement activity, with 39 calls for action focused on issues relating to building, while another 36 looked at demolitions of Palestinian structures and the “transfer” of the Palestinian population.
Nine percent of the recommendations focused on freedom of movement, 7% on economic, social and cultural rights and 6% on civil and political rights.