The Human Rights Council (Council) has included Item 7, entitled “the Human Rights Situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories”, in its agenda since its creation in 2006. The agenda item was similarly included on the agenda of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Commission - a predecessor to the Council.
The Council was established to “address situations of violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations, and make recommendations thereon. It should also promote the effective coordination and the mainstreaming of human rights within the United Nations system.” The Council is the primary United Nations organ responsible for promoting human rights and international law on the international stage and has the potential of setting the groundwork for UN-wide action with a view of protecting victims. The Council, including standing Agenda Item 7, therefore provides a vital platform for discussing and addressing the proliferation of international law violations committed in the occupied Palestinian and Syrian territories. In addition to providing a forum to address violations arising from Israel’s unique and prolonged occupation of the Palestinian and Syrian territories, the Agenda Item provides an important precedent of how the Council could operationalise its mandate in other situations where prolonged, gross and systematic violations of human rights are not being addressed adequately.