At the close of its 40th regular session, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council adopted on Friday, 22 March 2019, four resolutions on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), including on accountability within the context of the Great Return March, adopting the recommendations of the UN Commission of Inquiry on the 2018 OPT Protests.
Introduced by Pakistan on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), draft resolution A/HRC/40/L.25 was adopted by 23 votes in favour, eight votes against, and 15 abstentions, under the Council’s Agenda Item 2 on reports of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Secretary-General. Moreover, three additional draft resolutions on Palestine were adopted under Agenda Item 7 on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories, including on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination (A/HRC/40/L.26), on the human rights situation in the OPT, including East Jerusalem (A/HRC/40/L.27), and on Israeli settlements in the OPT and in the occupied Syrian Golan (A/HRC/40/L.28).
Al-Haq rights organization welcomeed the adoption of draft accountability resolution A/HRC/40/L.25 on Friday, 22 March 2019, in which the UN Human Rights Council noted with grave concern the serious human rights violations and possible war crimes and crimes against humanity contained in the findings of the UN Commission of Inquiry on 2018 OPT Protests, expressing alarm “that long-standing systemic impunity for international law violations has allowed for the recurrence of grave violations without consequence,” and stressing “the need to ensure accountability for all violations … in order to end impunity, ensure justice, deter further violations, [and] protect civilians”.
Accordingly, the resolution welcomes the report of the UN commission of inquiry on the 2018 OPT protests, and called on all duty bearers and UN bodies to pursue the implementation of the commission’s recommendations, including in relation to lifting the Gaza closure, in addition to implementing the recommendations of previous UN commissions of inquiry and fact-finding missions on Palestine. The resolution further condemned “the apparent intentional use of unlawful lethal and other excessive force by Israel, the occupying Power, against civilians, including against civilians with special protected status under international law, notably children, journalists, health workers and persons with disabilities, who pose no imminent threat to life” since the start of the Great Return March.
In addition, the resolution calls on States to fully cooperate with the preliminary examination, which is being conducted by the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court into the situation in Palestine, and with any subsequent investigation that may be opened. The resolution calls upon all High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) to respect, and to ensure respect for, international humanitarian law in the OPT, in compliance with their obligations as third States under Common Article 1 to the Geneva Conventions, and to fulfil their obligations under Articles 146, 147, and 148 with regard to penal sanctions for the commission of grave breaches.
Finally, the resolution requests the High Commissioner for Human Rights “to strengthen the field presence” of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the OPT, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, “to deploy the personnel and expertise necessary to monitor and document the ongoing violations of international law in the context of large-scale civilian protests”, in addition to following up on the implementation of the UN recommendations contained in the report of the UN commission of inquiry. As such, OHCHR is expected to provide the Human Rights Council with an oral update at its forty-second session in September 2019, and to present a report to the Council at its forty-third session in March 2020, to be followed by an interactive dialogue.