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Joint Submission to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied Since 1967, Mr Michael Lynk, on Accountability

Al Mezan
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Submitted by:

  • Al-Haq – Law in the Service of Man
  • Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights
  • Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association
  • The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
  • Habitat International Coalition – Housing and Land Rights Network
  1. As previously noted by the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967, Mr Michael Lynk, “Accountability – the duty to account for the exercise of power – is an indispensable cornerstone of the rule of law and a rules-based international order.”[1] Despite this, Israel, in its subjugation of the Palestinian people as a whole under an institutionalised regime of racial domination and oppression, amounting to the crime of apartheid,[2] and in the context of crimes committed during its belligerent occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), enjoyed widespread and pervasive impunity for its repeated and ongoing breaches of international law. This impunity is enjoyed not solely by members of the Israeli military and State officials, but the State itself, due to a systematic failure on the part of the international community to take effective measures to cooperate to bring the illegal situation imposed upon the Palestinian people to an end, in line with their responsibility as Third States under international law.
  2. Mindful of the legal and political responsibilities of States and international organisations to take positive actions when a State has manifestly failed to honour its obligations under international law, the present report, prepared by Al-Haq – Law in the Service of Man, Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, and Habitat International Coalition – Housing and Land Rights Network (the “organisations”), aims to address and document this pervasive impunity in its various forms, including: the responsibility of Israel; the responsibility of Third States, including as members of international organisations such as the United Nations; the failure to pursue accountability in the arenas of individual criminal liability and corporate accountability, and how these failures may be addressed; and finally, the gross human rights violations, international crimes, and other forms of grave harm arising from the institutionalised impunity enjoyed by Israel. In doing so, the organisations trust that this report will be of use to the Special Rapporteur in his forthcoming follow-up October 2020 report to the General Assembly on this pertinent issue.
  3. The organisations wish to stress that if genuine and meaningful accountability for widespread and systematic human rights violations, including international crimes, and corporate complicity for crimes committed during Israel’s prolonged military occupation is to be attained, Third States and multilateral organisations must take positive, effective, and coercive measures to ensure international justice and accountability and the fulfilment of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line and Palestinian refugees and exiles denied their right of return. Accordingly, it is paramount that States, inter alia, activate and honour their extraterritorial obligations vis-á-vis the Palestinian people, meaningfully engage, in good faith, with the UN machinery, support the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in opening a full and thorough criminal investigation into the Situation in the State of Palestine, activate universal jurisdiction mechanisms, and ensure that their multinational corporate entities refrain from commercial, and non-commercial, activity in illegal Israeli settler colonies in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan.

[1] UN General Assembly, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 (21 October 2019) UN Doc A/74/507, para 28.

[2] On this, see UN ESCWA, Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid, Palestine and the Israeli Occupation, Issue No. 1 (2017) UN Doc E/ESCWA/ECRI/2017/1 (henceforth the “ESCWA Report”); see also Al-Haq, et al, Joint Parallel Report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on Israel’s Seventeenth to Nineteenth Periodic Reports (10 November 2019), available at: (henceforth the “CERD Report”).