RAMALLAH, October 21, 2017 (WAFA) - The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, together with the European Union (EU) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), launched on Thursday a project which aims at making the rights contained in the human rights treaties acceded by the State of Palestine in 2014 a reality for all Palestinians, according to a joint statement by the three groups.
The commitments under these treaties complement and enhance the Government‘s political obligations within the National Policy Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.
The project will provide capacity building to assist the Palestinian government in promoting and protecting all human rights for all Palestinians. The project will also work with the Independent Commission for Human Rights and selected civil society organizations to strengthen their ability to promote accountable governance through national dialogue and advocacy. It will empower Palestinians as rights-holders to better understand and claim their rights.
The project launch, held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates in Ramallah, brought together representatives of the Government, the EU, the Independent Commission for Human Rights, OHCHR in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council as well as representatives of the diplomatic community and the UN system in the OPT to discuss the key human rights challenges related to the implementation of the human rights treaties in Palestine.
In his opening remarks, Foreign Minister Riyad Malki welcomed the launching of what he considered "a new stage of the State of Palestine‘s implementation of its human rights obligations."
The Minister also reiterated that the universal values of human rights and democracy "were always at the core of the Palestinian people‘s struggle for their inalienable rights," adding, "In order to reach our mutual goals of advancing respect for human rights, Palestine needs technical and political support in confronting any violations of human rights and combat impunity."
EU Representative Ralph Tarraf stressed that “there can be no sustainable development when human rights are not fully respected. The promotion of respect for human rights is a key objective of the EU‘s common foreign and security policy.”
He said that “the EU has been at the forefront of efforts to promote democracy and human rights at the multilateral level and in its relations with its partners including Palestine. We commend the Palestinian Authority for having signed major international conventions on human rights. Implementing these obligations, and making sure that Palestinians will be able to enjoy the human rights protection guaranteed by these treaties will be a lot of work. It will also help the Palestinian Authority to address shortcomings and build their institutional capacity to better promote and protect human rights in Palestine. This EU-funded project implemented by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights will contribute to these efforts."
From his side, Ammar Dwaik, the director of the Independent Commission for Human Rights, emphasized that Palestine‘s accession to seven major human rights treaties is an important milestone towards the protection and realization of human rights for all Palestinians without discrimination.
“Our role as a national human rights institution is to provide advice to the government and monitor the implementation of these treaties,” he said, urging the Palestinian government to accede to the optional protocol of Convention against Torture and the second protocol of the ICCPR related to the abolition of the death penalty, and to publish the ratified treaties in the official gazette at the aim of integrating these officially in national legislation.
Sahar Francis, the representative of the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council, highlighted that the absence of accountability for human rights violations by the occupying power has sharply affected the status of the human rights in the OPT.
Georgette Gagnon, OHCHR Director of Field Operations and Technical Cooperation, stressed that "the treaty-based human rights obligations – which apply entirely across the Palestinian territory – allow Palestinians, as rights-holders, to claim a full range of legally-defined human rights from their Government. They confer on the Government, as duty-bearer, the obligation to respect, protect and fulfil these rights for all Palestinians. Human rights complement and strengthen the political commitments undertaken by the Government in the National Policy Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. From OHCHR‘s perspective, the Palestinian National Policy Agenda is a best practice in integrating human rights in development planning. Our aim is to support the Government in building a State of Palestine built on human rights."
Gagnon added that "while accession to these treaties is a significant step, the rights contained in these treaties must be translated into programs on the ground."
The project is made possible through a substantial two-year grant by the EU and builds on work undertaken earlier – with the support by the OHCHR – by the Palestinian government, the Independent Commission for Human Rights and civil society organizations in relation to the initial State party reports to the human rights treaty bodies.
The project will be consolidating the achievements made on human rights treaty reporting since Palestine‘s accession to the treaties in 2014, and provide technical support, training, and advice to key stakeholders, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, other relevant ministries, the Independent Commission for Human Rights and selected civil society organizations on human rights treaty implementation.