AL-HAQ PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
10 December 2005
Today the international community observes International Human Rights Day, commemorating the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. On this day, Al-Haq is compelled to note the stark contrast between the fundamental standards enshrined in the UDHR, and the situation of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
Palestinians are frequently subjected to pervasive violations of nearly all the provisions of the UDHR, profoundly affecting their ability to lead normal lives. As highlighted in its preamble, the Declaration was drafted as a reaffirmation of the dignity and worth of the human person, stating a determination to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, thereby highlighting the respect and enjoyment of human rights as a cornerstone of everyday life. The UDHR and subsequent human rights treaties do not merely prohibit certain actions by states, but also seek to safeguard a dignified daily human existence through the fulfilment of the complete spectrum of human rights.
The policies and actions of the Israeli authorities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) have resulted in the sustained violation of norms set forth in the Declaration. The rights to employment, education and health, all of which are dependent on physical access to certain institutions and geographical areas, have been severely curtailed by movement restrictions imposed on Palestinians in the OPT. Most recently, the Israeli authorities closed the Qalandia checkpoint in response to the killing of an Israeli soldier at the checkpoint on 8 December 2005. The checkpoint, which will remain closed for an undetermined period, is a vital access point for thousands of Palestinians who work, attend school or receive medical treatment in or around Jerusalem. Aggressive settlement expansion and the construction of the Annexation Wall have also resulted in flagrant violations of economic, social and cultural rights, through increased limitations on Palestinian movement and the destruction and confiscation of Palestinian property and land.
These rights are clearly upheld in the UDHR, notably in Article 25(1), which enshrines the right of everyone to a standard of living adequate for the health and well being of himself and his family, while other rights include the right to work and education. These rights, amongst others, were affirmed and clarified in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Article 11 of which provides for:
the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions.
The violation of the right to an adequate standard of living is symptomatic of a wider disregard for the human rights of Palestinians by Israeli authorities in the OPT. Israeli settlers systematically attack Palestinians and destroy their property with impunity. Further, the Israeli authorities subject Palestinians to extrajudicial executions; mass arbitrary arrests; and humiliation, harassment and violence at checkpoints.
It is evident that the Israeli authorities are in breach of numerous principles upheld in the UDHR. The cumulative effect of these flagrant violations and widespread disregard for human rights is the near impossibility of Palestinians in the OPT living their daily lives in dignity and equality as envisioned by the UDHR.
Al-Haq reminds the international community that on this day 57 years ago the United Nations held, recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world, and pledged to achieve, in cooperation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms. It is time for both Israel and the international community to uphold these commitments.
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