UN rapporteurs give witness to injustice of Israeli occupation

In an important new book, three former UN special rapporteurs share their experiences of documenting Israeli human rights abuses

Palestinian workers at the Eyal Military checkpoint, West Bank, 16 March 2020

Hilary Wise writes in Middle East Eye:

From 2001 to 2022, three eminent scholars of international law were charged by the UN with monitoring the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).

In their new book titled Protecting Human Rights in Occupied Palestine: Working Through the United Nations, authors Richard Falk, John Dugard and Michael Lynk write as both friends and colleagues about their work and experiences as UN investigators.

The reports enable the reader to follow in painful detail the growing fragmentation, dispossession, and control of the indigenous Palestinians.  The book, which includes a foreword by the current special rapporteur, Francesca Albanese, is a tremendously valuable resource coming at a time when even the most egregious violations of international law that they documented appear to be outdone by Israel’s current far-right, openly racist government.

As the role is both voluntary and unpaid, special rapporteurs are able to function quite freely and dispassionately.

John Dugard, a South African human rights lawyer who fought apartheid in his own country for decades, was appointed in 2001. The only special rapporteur to be granted access to the OPTs, he was able to travel unhindered, even during the Second Intifada.

‘Worse than apartheid’
Dugard was able to meet with local organisations and people, including the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat who was under virtual house arrest at the time.

Dugard came to the conclusion that the situation there was, in fact, far worse than in his native South Africa; many more civilians were killed, more homes destroyed and more constraints on movement, with Palestinians left reliant on the international community, as the occupying power totally abrogated its responsibilities under international law.

Such was the devastating clarity and precision of Dugard’s reports that subsequent special rapporteurs were denied access. Falk, who would become his successor, was actually arrested on his arrival and deported.

Lynk, a Canadian lawyer who followed him in 2016, did not even attempt entry. Nevertheless, all three were able to draw on a wealth of evidence collected by legal and human rights organisations, Palestinian, Israeli and international, who were working on the ground, and to talk to Palestinians in neighbouring countries.

Predictably enough, all three lawyers have been subject to intense vilification for their reports – especially Richard Falk, perhaps the most publicly outspoken of the rapporteurs. He writes of his surprise at being appointed to the post by the UN Human Rights Council; he expected that a candidate more “sympathetic” to Israel would be selected.

….. ….. …..

The reports, which form the main body of the book, enable the reader to follow in painful detail the growing fragmentation, dispossession and control of the indigenous population of Palestine.

Nearly all of Israel’s policies of expulsion, settlement, annexation and, ultimately, apartheid, are illegal under international law. On an issue like collective punishment, for example, article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention is absolutely clear: “No protected person may be punished for an offence that he or she has not personally committed.”

More ….


© Copyright JFJFP 2022