Commission on Human Rights Adopts Three Resolutions on Palestine

The 57th session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, which met in Geneva from 19 March to 27 April 2001, adopted three important resolutions dealing specifically with the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, focusing in particular on the violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people.

Resolution 2001/2, entitled "Situation in occupied Palestine", was adopted on 6 April 2001 by a vote of 48 in favor, 2 against (U.S., Guatemala) and 2 abstentions. (The Commission is composed of 53 members). In that resolution, the Commission, inter alia, reaffirmed "the inalienable, permanent and unqualified right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including their right to establish their sovereign and independent Palestinian State and looks forward to the early fulfillment of this right".

Resolution 2001/7, entitled "Question of the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine", was adopted by the Commission on 18 April 2001 by a vote of 28 in favor, 2 against (U.S., Guatemala) and 22 abstentions. The resolution comprehensively addressed the issue of human rights violations, including a reaffirmation of the applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War to the Palestinian territory and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including East Jerusalem, as well as a call for international protection for the Palestinian people until the cessation of the Israeli occupation.

In resolution 2001/7, the Commission, inter alia, also expressed grave concern at the deterioration of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and the gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, in particular extrajudicial killings, closures, collective punishments, settlements and arbitrary detentions. It expressed grave concern, moreover, at the continuing violence and the resulting deaths and injuries, mostly among Palestinians. Further, the Commission expressed its concern at Israel’s continued refusal to abide by the resolutions of the Security Council, the General Assembly and the Commission on Human Rights calling upon Israel to put an end to the violations of human rights. Among its various calls, the Commission called upon Israel, the occupying Power, to desist from all forms of human rights violations and also called upon Israel "to withdraw from the Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, occupied since 1967, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations and the Commission on Human Rights, as a basic condition for achieving a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East".

The third resolution adopted by the Commission in this regard, resolution 2001/8, dealt specifically with the issue of "Israeli settlements in the occupied Arab territories". The European and other members of the Commission cosponsored the resolution, which was adopted on 18 April 2001 by a vote of 50 in favor, 1 against (U.S.) and 1 abstention (Costa Rica). In that resolution, the Commission expressed its grave concern "at the continuing Israeli settlement activities, including the expansion of settlements, the installation of settlers in the occupied territories, the expropriation of land, the demolition of houses, the confiscation of property, the expulsion of Palestinians and the construction of bypass roads… since all these actions are illegal, constitute a violation of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and are a major obstacle to peace". Accordingly, the Commission urged the Israeli government to cease its settlement activities in the occupied territories, including Jerusalem.