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Justice from Theory to Practice

Monday, 11 October 2010 15:27
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AL-HAQ PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

REF: 28.2005E

29 November 2005

On 29 November 2005, the international community observes the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. On this day, Al-Haq is saddened to note the continuing inaction of the international diplomatic community in relation to Israel‘s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and its failure to address the resulting social, economic and political plight of the Palestinian people. Although illegal Israeli practices, most notably the ongoing construction of the Annexation Wall, development and expansion of settlements, and sustained efforts to formalise the de facto annexation of East Jerusalem, have been systematically condemned through United Nations resolutions and most recently been declared illegal by the International Court of Justice, the international community has failed to take effective action to bring such practices to an end.

Despite the lack of sustained diplomatic action, Al-Haq notes that the true spirit of this day was upheld in a recent gathering of leading local and international jurists, advocates and academics in Ramallah. From 21-24 November 2005, Al-Haq hosted an international legal seminar entitled, "From Theory to Practice: Upholding International Humanitarian Law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories." At the root of the expert seminar was the deeply-held belief that the Palestinian people cannot achieve justice while they remain under Israeli military occupation.

Over the four days of the seminar the discussions focused on broad issues, such as the prolonged occupation and its implications under international law, as well as specific concerns, such as settlement construction or the impact of the Annexation Wall on women. Contemporary developments and "facts on the ground" created by Israeli policies in the OPT, in particular Israel‘s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, were also examined.

In an effort to ground the theoretical discourse of international law in the practical realities of the OPT, the seminar participants explored the means by which Palestinians can obtain justice through international and third-state legal mechanisms. In addition, participants recognised that while international law forms the essential foundation to address the situation in the OPT, it alone is not enough. The seminar emphasised different means of obtaining accountability through various law-based strategies available to civil society organisations, activists and Palestinian institutions working to protect the basic rights of the Palestinians.

The message to emerge from the seminar was that solely through the ending the occupation, and the meaningful and effective exercise of the right to self-determination by the Palestinian people, will justice be achieved. Such a solution can, and will, only occur once the fundamental principles of international human rights and humanitarian law are upheld for all Palestinians.

While the seminar emphatically testified to the fact that this message has not been lost, it equally emphasised that enforcement of international law does not take place in a vacuum. It must be the outcome of concerted efforts and practical measures at the local and international levels. Only if there is an end to international inaction regarding Israeli violations in the OPT will a just and durable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict be reached.

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