Regional and International Activities

 

Throughout 1997, the PCHR intensified its regional and international activities in an effort to assert respect for human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and to contribute to the fulfillment of the Palestinian national goal of self-determination, an end to the Israeli occupation, and the building of democratic institutions. The activities of the PCHR in this regard included interventions before UN and international bodies, working visits to a number of countries, meetings with politicians and decision makers, and coordination with international NGOs in order to acquaint them with the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

During 1997, the PCHR also received tens of international formal and informal delegations and provided them with a precise explanation of the human rights situation in Palestine. All PCHR press releases were also translated into English and distributed though a large international network by e-mail, fax, and post. Thousands of international NGOs, including human rights organizations, public figures, and politicians received information from the PCHR.

 

Intervention before United Nations and international bodies

Since its foundation, the PCHR has exploited available human rights mechanisms, particularly UN specialized bodies, in order to explain the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and end the violation of these rights. The PCHR annually presents written and oral statements before these bodies. Such statements are based on information documented by the PCHR and provide important material to members of these bodies, acquainting them with the human rights situation from a professional point of view. In its interventions, the PCHR demands proper measures to stop the human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. 1997 was an active year in terms of international interventions by the PCHR. Following are the most important activities:

 

UN High Commission for Human Rights

In March 1997, the PCHR participated in the annual meeting of the UN High Commission for Human Rights in Geneva. The UN accredited a written intervention prepared by the PCHR: E/CN.4/1997/NGO/18. The intervention concentrated on the Israeli policy of closure, which at that time had been imposed on the West Bank and Gaza Strip for more than one year. The intervention also addressed the destructive implications and effects of the closure in terms of human rights for Palestinians, especially restrictions on the freedom of movement on patients, students, and workers. The written statement also analyzed the effects of the closure on the economic situation, due to restrictive measures imposed on Palestinian imports and exports.

The paper then addressed the living conditions of Palestinian prisoners in Israel and Israeli breaches of international law and obligations under the interim peace accords signed between Israel and the PLO. Another section was devoted to the Israeli escalation of settlement activities and the confiscation of Palestinian land, particularly those activities on Jabal Abu Ghneim near Jerusalem. The paper further analyzed Israeli policies in Jerusalem that aim to cleanse the city of its Palestinian population through the confiscation of land and ID cards. The PCHR asserted that international law should provide the basis for the peace process and that human rights must be protected in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

At the same time, the PCHR presented an oral statement before members of the Commission, concentrating on the Israeli policy of legalized torture against Palestinian detainees. The statement recalled that Israel is the only country worldwide that has legalized torture, in a severe breach of its obligations under the UN Convention against Torture and all forms of Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment and Punishment. The oral statement further exposed the September 1996 events that led to the death of 64 Palestinians after Israeli military forces fired at demonstrators protesting Israeli settlement policies. The PCHR urged the international community to support the Palestinian Authority and to encourage it to build civil society institutions, promote the rule of law, and ensure the independence of the judiciary. At the same time, the PCHR demanded that international law should remain the basis for any peace agreements between Israel and the Palestinians and that respect for Palestinian human rights is the foundation upon which to build peace and stability in the region.

 

UN Committee against Torture

In April 1997, the PCHR submitted a written intervention before the UN Committee against Torture. In accordance with Article 19 of the Convention against Torture and other forms of Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment, to which Israel is a contracting party, the PCHR provided the Committee with documentation and analysis of Israeli breaches of the Convention. The paper emphasized that Israel is the only country in the world that has legalized the use of torture against detainees. The paper noted that the Israeli High Court of Justice, the highest judicial authority in Israel, provided legal cover for torture by approving the use of torture by Israeli interrogators, in a grave breach of Article 1 of the Convention signed in 1984.

The statement also unveiled methods of torture applied by Israeli interrogators against Palestinian detainees in defiance of the Convention. The statement recommended that members of the Committee hold an investigation on the ground to clearly establish the torture activities taking place in Israeli prisons. The statement also recommended canceling all Israeli laws and measures that contradict the articles of international agreements and recommended the need to compensate victims of torture and their families and to bring the perpetrators of torture to justice.

 

UN Special Committee to investigate Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the Occupied Territories

Every year, the Committee invites members of the PCHR to testify about Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people. Since the foundation of the Committee in 1968, the Government of Israel has refused to grant access to its members to visit the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Therefore, meetings are held outside of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, usually in Jordan or Egypt. On 1 June 1997, Hamdi Shaqqura, coordinator of the Democratic Development Unit, and Eyad El-Alami, coordinator of the Legal Aid Unit, testified before the Committee in Cairo. Their testimonies focussed on the conditions of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and the oppressive measures used against them by the Israeli authorities, including excessive force, denial of family visits, and deprivation of legal representation. The testimonies also focussed on the use of torture against Palestinian prisoners in Israel, which has led to the death of many prisoners. The PCHR reminded the Committee that torture is a systematic and official policy legalized by the Israeli High Court of Justice.

The testimonies also exposed the Israeli use of collective punishment against the Palestinian people, in particular the imposition of closure and restrictions on the movement of people and goods between the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the outside world. Finally, the PCHR delegation asserted the need for international intervention to exert political and economic pressure on Israel. While welcoming international donations to the Palestinian people, the PCHR delegates referred to the fact that over the last four years, international donations have compensated for only one-third of the economic losses suffered by Palestinians as a result of closure.

 

Letter to US Secretary of State Madeline Albright

On 8 September 1997, in the wake of her visit to the region, the PCHR and a number of human rights organizations sent a joint letter to US Secretary of State Madeline Albright expressing their deep concern over the deteriorationof the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The letter warned of the dangerous consequences that may result from the measures taken by the PA to undermine the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary and to violate standards of human rights as a result of pressure from the governments of the US and Israel. These governments had demanded that the PA carry out massive waves of illegal arrests against Islamic opposition groups and destroy the civil institutions affiliated with these groups. The letter pointed out the continued Israeli policy of closure as well as punitive measures against the PA, including suspending the transfer of tax revenues. The signatories rejected the pressure exerted against the Palestinian people and the PA. They demanded that the international community, particularly the USA, should intervene to lift the closure, put an end to the collective punishment of Palestinians, and stop the policy of land confiscation and house demolition.

 

Press release regarding the position taken by the US administration towards recent developments in the region

On 18 June 1997, the PCHR issued a press release condemning the position taken by both the US administration and the US Congress towards recent developments in the region. The press release noted that the US House of Representatives decided on 10 June to recognize Jerusalem as the sole capital of the State of Israel and allocated $1 million to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. These measures defied international law and the will of the international community, expressed through the UN, which does not recognize the annexation of Jerusalem and considers all Israeli measures taken in Jerusalem as null and void.

 

 

Participation in Conferences, Workshops, Lectures, and Work Meetings Abroad

  1. From 13-16 March 1997, the PCHR participated in a workshop entitled “Strategies of the Palestinian Human Rights Movement” organized by the Cairo Center for Human Rights Studies. Held in Cairo, the workshop discussed challenges faced by Palestinian human rights groups since the signing of the Oslo accords.
  2. From 20-23 April 1997, Raji Sourani, Director of the PCHR, visited the Netherlands and met with the Deputy Foreign Minister and officials from the Human Rights desk of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Sourani also gave a presentation about the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories at Tilburg University.
  3. From 25-27 April 1997, the PCHR participated in an international workshop on “Human Rights Defenders.” The workshop was held at Lund University in Sweden and organized by both the International Federation for Human Rights and the Raul Wallenberg Institute for Human Rights at Lund University.
  4. From 4-10 May 1997, the PCHR participated in a workshop held in Cairo and organized by the International Federation for Human Rights, the European Commission, and the Foreign Ministry of Egypt. The workshop was devoted to discussing economic sanctions and human rights.
  5. From 22 June-1 July 1997, Raji Sourani, Director of the PCHR, visited Great Britain at the invitation of the Foreign Minister. During his visit to the United Kingdom, Sourani met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Derek Thatchet, to discuss the deterioration of the human rights situation since the signing of the treaties between the PLO and Israel. Sourani urged for a more active British and European role to stop Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights and its breaches of the Israeli-European Agreement. Sourani also visited Belfast, where he met with British Government representatives, prison officials, and human rights organizations. He also gave a presentation before the Palestinian-British Friendship Committee and held several meetings, especially with Pierre Sannet, Secretary General of Amnesty International, Emma Playfair, Executive Director of Inter-Rights, based in Britain, and several members of Parliament.
  6. From 29-31 July 1997, the PCHR participated in the regional Arab workshops about strategies to strengthen the Arab human rights movement organized in Cairo by the Cairo Center for Human Rights Studies. The workshop brought together a number of Arab human rights activists to explore strategies to strengthen Arab human rights organizations in order to meet the different challenges and obstacles faced by these organizations. The participants asserted the need to work within the framework of internationally accepted human rights standards. The workshop condemned the exploitation of human rights concepts to serve the political interests of some countries and criticized reports issued by some governments, especially the annual report of the US State Department, which has always been subjected to political considerations and US interests.
  7. From 4-9 October 1997, Eliana Salto participated in a seminar titled “Women, Democracy, and Development” organized by the International Commission of Women, formed in January 1995 at the conference of the International Federation for Human Rights. Representatives of members of the Commission, including the PCHR attended the seminar held in Brussels, Belgium. The participants issued a declaration reaffirming that equality is a fundamental, universal, inalienable human right. The declaration also reaffirmed that respect for the right to equality, the overlapping of civil, political, economic, and social rights, and women’s participation in the decision making process, are all safeguards for real democracy and sustainable development.
  8. From 31 October–2 November 1997, Raji Sourani, Director of the PCHR, participated in a workshop held in Cairo on “Democracy, Human Rights, and Citizenship.” Organized by the Middle East Council of Churches, in cooperation with the Arab Team for Islamic-Christian Dialogue, the workshop aimed at discussing topics related to human rights in religion; pluralism and unity of society; and citizenship and democracy.

 

Meetings in Gaza with politicains, diplomats, representatives of the UN, and other international organizations

During 1997, the PCHR received tens of international delegates, including politicians, diplomats, representatives of the UN, and other international organizations. During these meetings, the director and staff of the PCHR acquainted the visitors with the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and with the PCHR’s activity related to the promotion of human rights. Following are the most important meetings held in 1997:

Date

Meeting

24 January

Meeting with a delegation from Amnesty International headed by Elizabeth Hodgkin, director of the Middle East Department

25 January

1 – Meeting with an Amnesty International delegation

2 – Meeting with Hannu Halinen, UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, UN office, Geneva

2 February

Meeting with a delegation from the National Democratic Institute, Washington

3 February

Meeting with a joint delegation from the Ministry of Justice and the Parliament of Germany

12 February

Meeting with former Director of the ICRC-Gaza, Pascal Cota and the new Director, Jack Villetaz

19 February

Meeting with a delegation from Amnesty International

20 February

Meeting between representatives from the World Bank and the PNGO

1 March

Meeting with a delegation from Pax Christi

4 March

1 – Meeting with officials from the Spanish cooperation office

2 – Meeting with Francesca Marotta, from the United Nations High Commission/Committee for Human Rights (UNHC/CHR)

24 March

Meeting with a delegation from Amnesty International

25 March

Meeting with Anna Maria, Minister and Human Rights consultant at the Foreign Ministry of Norway

26 March

Meeting with Catherine Essoyan, representative of NOVIB, the Netherlands

26 March

Meeting with Judith Chomsky, lawyer, USA

3 April

Meeting with the Director of ICRC- Gaza, Jack Villetaz

11 April

Meeting with Per Stadig, head of Middle East Department, International Commission of Jurists, Sweden, and Agneta Johannsen, member of the steering committee of the ICJ and professor of international law at Upsala Univerand former head of the Red Cross, Sweden

12 April

Meeting with a delegation from the South African Representative Office to the Palestinian Authority

13 April

Meeting with Ambassador Jan Nordland, Director of the Middle East Department at the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Karen Rocksman, General Consul of Sweden in Jerusalem

14 April

Meeting with Chinmaya Gharekhan, Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations and UN Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territory (UNSCO)

21 April

Meeting with Shawn Barber, First Secretary, Canadian Embassy, Tel Aviv

3 May

Meeting with judges, lawyers, and members of Parliament from Germany

4 May

Meeting with Chinmaya Gharekhan, UNSCO

10 May

Meeting with Peter Nobel from the Canadian International Development Agency, CIDA

18 May

Meeting with a delegation from the Australian organization, AFEDA

19 May

Meeting with Chinmaya Gharekhan, UNSCO

21 May

Meeting with Nabil Ramlawi, Palestinian Ambassador to Switzerland

31 May

Meeting with representatives from Dan Church

2 June

Meeting with Amin Makki Medani, the first technical advisor at the UN High Commissioner/Committee for Human Rights (UNHC/CHR) representative office to the Palestinian Authority

17 June

Meeting between Raji Sourani (Director of PCHR), Amin Makki Medani (UNHC/CHR), and Palestinian Chief Justice, Qusai Al-Abadla

1 July

1 – Meeting with Per Stadig, ICJ, and Khader Shkirat, Director of the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment (LAW)

2 – Meeting with Richard Dalton, Consul General of the UK, Jerusalem

2 July

Meeting with the head and members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Danish Parliament, and a number of officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark and the Danish Representative Office to the Palestinian Authority

7 July

Meeting with the Staiyislas Laboulaye, Consul General of France in Jerusalem

8 July

Meeting with a delegation from the Ford Foundation office in Cairo including: Steve Lawry (new regional representative for the Ford Foundation), Liz Taylor (consultant and former Regional Program Officer), Hanny Megally (Regional Program Officer), Jocelyn Dejong (RPO), and Richard Sexton (RPO)

9 July

1 - Meeting between PCHR, PNGO, and the delegation from the Ford Foundation (see 8 July)

2 – Meeting with Chinmaya Gharekhan, UNSCO

12 July

Meeting with a delegation from the International Federation for Human Rights including Saadeddine Zmerli (Vice President), Carolie Stanier (Deleguee Permanete de la FIDH apres de l’Union europeenne)

13 July

Meeting at PCHR between the Palestinian Minister of Justice, Freih Abu Medain, and the delegation from the FIDH (see 12 July)

16 July

Meeting with Jack Villetaz, director of ICRC-Gaza

23 July

1 – Meeting with Dana Shell and Jeff Feltman, American Embassy, Tel Aviv

2 – Meeting with Nuhad Jamal, program coordinator, and a delegation from Grassroots International, USA

24 July

Meeting with representatives of the World Bank

27 July

Meeting with Diego De Djeda and Isabel Candela from the European Union, Brussels

5 August

1 - Meeting with Abdel Mital Qurshab, delegate of Amnesty International

2 – Meeting with a delegation from the Danish Representative Office to the Palestinian Authority

6 August

Meeting with Sina Bershon, Swedish consulate, Jerusalem

7 August

Meeting with Jack Villetaz, Director of ICRC-Gaza and Yves Giovannoui, Director of ICRC-Tel Aviv

9 August

Meeting with Nabil Qaddoumi, head of the Palestinian Trade Union in Australia and a representative of the Palestinian Human Rights campaign

27 August

Meeting with a delegation from the Foreign Ministry of Norway, including Kjetil Paulsen (Head of 2nd Political Division), Kjetil J. Halvorsen (Executive Officer), Hilde Haraldstad (Executive Officer at Royal Norwegian Embassy in Tel Aviv), and Toger Nilsen (Police Advisor at UNSCO)

28 August

Meeting with Shawn Barber, First Secretary and consul, Canadian Embassy, Tel Aviv

30 August

Meeting with Heidi Minshall (Foreign and commonwealth office, desk officer for the Peace Process, UK)

31 August

1 - Meeting with Amin Makki Medani and Francesca Marotta, UNHC/CHR

2 - Meeting with Vergain Howman, 3rd Secretary, Australain Embassy, Tel Aviv

8 September

Meeting with Kath Simner, Lawyer, Australia

15 September

Meeting with Amin Makki Medani, UNHC/CHR, and Elizabeth Hodgkins from Amnesty International

16 September

Meeting with Chinmaya Gharekhan, UNSCO

2 – Meeting with Linda Taylor and Alexander Moler, lawyers from the International Law Unit, UNRWA

17 September

1 – Meeting with Richard Dalton, British Consul General of the UK, Jerusalem

2- Meeting with a delegation from the Foreign Ministry of Norway

19 September

Meeting with a delegation from the UK including Ernie Ross (Member of Parliament), Derek Wyatt (MP), Dr. Phyllis Starkey, (MP), Bridget Gilchrist (Director of Labor Middle East Council) and Mary Pring (LMEC)

20 September

1 - Meeting with Greg Chapland, foreign office research, Foreign Ministry of UK

2 – Antonio Boblo, National Assistant, Office Advisor of the Prime Minister of Australia

26 September

Meeting with John Pace (Chief of the Research and Rights to development branch UNHC/CHR) and Darka Topali (Project officer UNHC/CHR Headquarters in Geneva)

28 September

Meeting with a delegation from the International Federation for Human Rights, including: Dr. Saadeddine Zmerli (FIDH Vice President), Dr. Pierre Pradier (Member of European Parliament), Michel Tubiana (Lawyer, Vice President of the French League for Human Rights), and Christine Duare (President of International Prisons’ Watch)

29 September

Meeting with Steve Riskin from the United States Institute for Peace

30 September

Meeting with Peter Askelton (Director General of the British Cultural Council), Trupti Desai, (Director General of the British Council in Gaza), and Ghada Abu Assad (responsible for scholarships and cultural exchange at the British Council)

1 October

Meeting with a delegation of international observers, Hebron

2 October

Meeting with Asma Abu Ghazala, UNICEF

5 October

Meeting with a fact finding committee on the human rights situation from the Netherlands

7 October

1 - Meeting with Nubar Hosipian, counselor from the Centre for Development Counseling

2 – Meeting with representatives from OXFAM, the Netherlands

8 October

Meeting with Dr. Eyad El-Sarraj, High Commissioner of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens Rights, and Nubar Hosipian

9 October

1 - Meeting with Jack Villetaz, Director of ICRC- Gaza, and Yves Giovannoui, director of ICRC-Tel Aviv

2 – Meeting with Karen Rocksman, Consul General of Sweden, Jerusalem

14 October

Meeting with Virginia Paulman, Responsible for Palestinian Territories office at the Embassy of Australia, Tel Aviv

15 October

Meeting with a delegation from International Prisons’ Watch

21 October

Meeting between PNGO and the World Bank

22 October

Meeting with Chinmaya Gharekhan, UNSCO

26 October

Meeting with Hannu Halinen, Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories, UN Office, Geneva

28 October

Meeting with Gene Carter, Director General of UNAIS

5 November

Meeting with a delegation from the Foreign Ministry of the Netherlands, including: Pieter Rammaer (Senior Advisor to Netherlands Minister of Foreign Affairs on Middle Eastern Affairs), Christien van Kooten (Senior desk officer at the Ministry of Foreign affairs – director for international cooperation and responsible for budget line on human rights)

8 November

Meeting with experts and lawyers from Denmark

13 November

Meeting with Annie Foster, Director of Save the Children Foundation

17 November

1 - Meeting with Jonath Stragen, responsible for the Palestine and Jordan office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, South Africa and To. M. Uys Vilgoen, representative of South Africa to the Palestinian Authority

2 – Meeting with Amin Makki Medani, UNSCO

26 November

Meeting with Max van den berg (Director General of NOVIB), Mario Weima (NOVIB’s political pressure section), and Catherine Essoyan (programme officer, Middle East and Maghreb, NOVIB)

27 November

Joint meeting between Raji Sourani (PCH), Khader Shkirat (LAW), Eyad El-Sarraj (PICCR), and members of Parliament from Switzerland

30 November

Meeting with Jack Villetaz, Director of ICRC-Gaza

2 December

1 – Meeting with Annick Tonti, Swiss Embassy, Tel Aviv,

2 – Meeting with Shawn Carol, NDI

3 – Meeting with Jack Villetaz, Director of ICRC, Gaza

4 – Meeting with Richard Dalton, General Consul of UK, Jerusalem

9 December

Meeting with Per Stadig, head of Middle East section, ICJ-Sweden

17 December

Meeting with Amin Makki Medani and Francesca Marotta, UNHC/CHR

23 December

Meeting with the new Consul General of the UK, Jerusalem, Robin Kealy

 

Other visiting delegations to the region received by the PCHR

During 1997, the PCHR received 27 international delegations visiting the Occupied Palestinian Territories with more than 400 people. In these meetings, the PCHR provided a thorough explanation of the human rights situation in the Middle East. Following are a list of the delegations:

Date

Number

Country/Institution

Coordinator

16 January

14

Holland

Middle East Council of Churches, Gaza

22 January

11

Cyprus

Middle East Council of Churches, Gaza

27 February

24

International students

Middle East Council of Churches, Gaza

1 April

14

Association for Palestinian Equality Between People

 

13 April

20

International Students from Bir Zeit University

Bir Zeit University

15 April

20

Swedish Churches

Middle East Council of Churches, Gaza

27 April

20

Germany

 

28 April

12

Christian Peacemaker Team

 

6 May

9

Sweden

Diakonia

21 May

16

Yale Training School

Middle East Council of Churches, Gaza

26 May

33

Earlham College, USA

Weam Center, Jerusalem

29 May

12

Springboard Opportunity

Middle East Council of Churches, Gaza

26 June

5

NDI

 

26 June

13

Council for the National Interest

 

2 July

20

Danish Parliament

 

10 July

9

Mennonite Central Committee

 

31 August

16

USA

 

9 October

16

Christian Peacemaker Teams, Hebron

Mennonite Central Committee

16 October

24

American Colleges

Middle East Council of Churches, Gaza

20 October

17

The Catholic College for Social Services, Germany

Middle East Council of Churches, Gaza

11 November

20

Canada

Middle East Council of Churches, Gaza

12 November

27

American University, DC

Gaza Community Mental Health Programme

13 November

8

American students

Middle East Council of Churches, Gaza

17 November

11

United Methodist Group

Middle East Council of Churches, Gaza

25 November

15

Swedish Theological Institute

 

1 December

15

Group from American colleges and universities

 

20 December

15

Olaf College - USA

 

 

 

Interviews with Local, Regional, and International Media

During 1997, the director and staff of the PCHR were interviewed by tens of representatives of local, regional, and international media about specific events in the region or the human rights situation in Palestine. Amongst the most prominent interviews, were the following: Voice of Palestine; Radio South Africa; Orient Radio, Paris; Norwegian TV; French TV Channel 1; ARTE-France; CBS; ABS; NBC; RTE-Radio Ireland; Radio Australia; Newsweek; Al-Ayam; and Al-Ahram international.

 

Coordination and cooperation between the PCHR and regional and international organizations

Part of the strategy adopted by the PCHR involves developing its contacts and relations with international and regional NGOs which are well known for their work in the field of human rights and support for the Palestinian people’s inalienable rights. The PCHR believes that such relations contribute to the development of the human rights situation in Palestine at the same time as they influence the international environment and international public opinion. During 1997, many organizations provided the PCHR with forums to address international bodies.

The International Commission of Jurists, Geneva

A few months after its foundation in 1995, the PCHR acquired affiliation with the International Commission of Jurists, Geneva. The Commission is a non-governmental organization with consultative status in the UN Economic and Social Council, UNESCO, the Council of Europe, and the Organization of African Unity. Founded in 1952, its task is to defend the rule of law throughout the world and to work towards the full observance of the provisions in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Commission has 59 branches worldwide, and usually adopts the positions of member organizations in issues related to their countries. Over the last two years, the ICJ has provided a forum for the PCHR to address international organizations.

 

Fédération Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l’Homme (FIDH)

The International Federation of Human Rights Organization (FIDH) is an international NGO based in Paris that was established in 1992 and represents 89 non-governmental human rights groups, including 57 members and 32 partners worldwide. The organization enjoys consultative status in the United Nations, UNESCO, and the European Council. The PCHR was a partner of the organization during 1996 and, in November 1997, became a member. The FIDH provides a forum for the PCHR to address United Nations and international bodies. The FIDH also holds joint projects with the PCHR. The PCHR expressed its reservations about the participation of the representative of the Israeli organization ACRI to the FIDH Conference held in Dakkar, Senegal from 20-23 November 1997. The chosen representative had formal connections with the Government of Israel. Many Arab organizations and other member organizations expressed the same reservation, which led to the suspension of ACRI’s membership in the organization.

Upon an invitation from PCHR and LAW, the FIDH sent a fact finding mission to investigate the effects of the Israeli closure imposed on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The mission included Pierre Bradier, a member of the European Parliament, and Michel Tobiana, Vice President of the French League for Human Rights. The mission visited the area from 25-30 September 1997. A similar mission was sent by the FIDH in December 1996. During its visit in September, the mission conducted intensive meetings with Palestinian and Israeli government officials, human rights representatives, and representatives of the private economic sector. The mission conducted a press conference in Jerusalem on 30 September to announce the results of its investigation. The mission considered that total and partial closures imposed by Israel on the Palestinian people of the West Bank and Gaza Strip were forms of collective punishment as defined by the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. The head of the mission, Pierre Bradier, asserted that the FIDH would remind the EU that the European-Israeli Agreement includes a clear article regarding respect for human rights by Israel. Mr. Bradier said that the agreement would soon be ratified by members of the EU but that there was sufficient time for human rights organizations to lobby to ensure that the agreement is bonded with respect for human rights.

 

Arab Organizations for Human Rights

The AOHR, the oldest regional Arab human rights organization, is headed by Secretary General Mohamed Faiq, with a board composed of select Arab human rights activists. During the organization’s meeting on 9 October 1997, Raji Sourani, Director of the PCHR, was elected as a member of the board. The PCHR views this development as a further step in strengthening the relationship between the PCHR and other Arab human rights organizations, which now consider the PCHR the representative organization in Palestine.

 

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