The Third Committee of the General Assembly at its seventy-first session, is chaired by H.E. Ms. María Emma Mejía of Colombia.
The General Assembly allocates to the Third Committee, agenda items relating to a range of social, humanitarian affairs and human rights issues that affect people all over the world.
As in previous sessions, an important part of the work of the Committee will focus on the examination of human rights questions, including reports of the special procedures of the Human Rights Council which was established in 2006. In October and November 2016, the Committee will hear and interact with over 50 special rapporteurs, independent experts, and chairs of working groups as mandated by the Human Rights Council.
The Committee also discusses questions relating to the advancement of women, the protection of children, indigenous issues, the treatment of refugees, the promotion of fundamental freedoms through the elimination of racism and racial discrimination, and the right to self- determination. In addition, the Committee addresses important social development questions such as issues related to youth, family, ageing, persons with disabilities, crime prevention, criminal justice, and international drug control.
At the seventieth session of the General Assembly, the Third Committee considered over 65 draft resolutions, more than half of which were submitted under the human rights agenda item alone. These included three so-called country-specific resolutions on human rights situations.
The Third Committee is expected to consider a similar number of draft resolutions during the present session of the General Assembly.
In line with General Assembly resolution 66/246, the formal meetings of the Third Committee are webcast live on UN Web TV. Live coverage of the formal meetings is available in the six official languages of the United Nations, including the original language of the speaker. Past meetings of the session will also be available from the Committee’s dedicated video archives.
Topic A “Human Rights violation in Palestine: International Responses”
The Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group was founded in December 1996 in response to the deteriorating state of democracy and human rights under the newly established Palestinian Authority. The group was founded by a diverse group of well-established Palestinians, including Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) members, newspaper editors, journalists, a union leader, veteran human rights activists and religious leaders. The political composition of its founders is diverse – including members of many Palestinian organizations and institutions – thereby ensuring the non-partisan character of the organization. 2.2 Historical and Recent Developments Serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law continued in 2012 in Israel and in the West Bank and Gaza. Renewed armed conflict between Israel and Hamas and armed groups in Gaza from November 14-21 involved unlawful attacks on civilians by both sides. At least 103 Palestinian civilians and 4 Israeli civilians died during the fighting, which ended after a ceasefire brokered by Egypt and the United States. Israeli forces killed at least four Palestinian civilians during the year off Gaza’s coast and in the “no-go” zone on the Gaza side of the boundary fence. Israeli authorities destroyed homes and other property under discriminatory practices, forcibly displacing Palestinian residents of the West Bank, as well as Bedouin citizens of Israel.
Torture allegations against the treatment of Palestinians detainees in Israeli prisons make headlines again. Few days after his arrest, Arafat Jaradat died in Israeli custody. On 27 February 2013, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk, called for an international investigation of the death of Jaradat while undergoing interrogation in an Israeli facility. Falk stressed that “the death of a prisoner during interrogation is always a cause for concern, but in this case, when Israel has shown a pattern and practice of prisoner abuse, the need for outside, credible investigation is more urgent than ever. The best approach might be the creation of an international forensic team under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council.” The violations of the human rights of the Palestinians by the Israeli occupying forces have not decreased despite the peace process and there is no difference between the Labor Party and the Likud bloc. The list of the offenses is long: torture, arbitrary killings and arrests, the demolition of houses, the severe restrictions imposed on the freedom of movement by hundreds of check points, violence against Palestinians, land confiscation and the construction of illegal settlements, the “ethnic cleansing” of the Palestinians from East Jerusalem, collective punishments, such as the total closure of the territories like Gaza and curfews, and the bombardments of the people of the Gaza Strip.
In the aforementioned report, Lea Tsemel, a leading Israeli human rights lawyer, gives a rundown on the history of torture in Israel. The two main bodies that carry out torture are the GSS, which continues to do so up till now, and Military Intelligence. The latter is involved in the interrogation of detainees kidnapped abroad or had infiltrated the country. The vast majority of the interrogation takes place in GSS centers. According to advocate Tsemel, the Israeli public was first informed of torture practices in 1977, after the New York Times published an article containing testimonies by young and old Palestinians who were subject to torture. After the Nafso case in 1980 and the Bus 300 affair in 1984, the Israeli government established the Landau Commission, named after a former High Court Judge David Landau. It came up with a list of authorized and prohibited methods of coercion. Despite these recommendations, torture continued unabated till 1999, when the Israeli High Court found that torture was practiced, and stated that it was illegal. It suggested, however, that torture could be permitted in situations of “necessity”. According to Lea Tsemel, torture was sub-contracted to Palestinian collaborators. These Palestinian “friends” are known as “birds” (Asafeer). The results of their violent interrogations are recorded and later taken to the GSS agents. The detainee is later confronted with this “evidence”. These “friends” have an advantage over GSS interrogators, because they remain secret and do not fall under the direct jurisdiction of Israeli law. Torture permission is required in cases of the “ticking bomb” doctrine of “necessity”, as envisaged by the High Court, writes Lea Tsemel. In so-called “military investigations” the definition has been broadened to justify torture of a person who merely “knows someone who may know something” about an upcoming danger. No permission is needed in cases that are not regarded as “soft” torture, like shouting, threats against the detainee and his or her family, or spitting at their faces. Another mechanism is the lie detector machine and the total isolation of the suspect. In this surreal world people are totally lost. Israel has been the largest overall recipient of foreign aid from the US since World War II, receiving US$3 billion in military aid in 2011. In February the US vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution that sought to reaffirm that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law, even though the US and virtually every other government has found such illegality. 2.3 VIOLATIONS OF UN RESOLUTIONS: Israel has violated 28 resolutions of the United Nations Security Council (which are legally binding on member-nations), and almost 100 resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly (which are not binding, but represent the will and understanding of the international community). And Israel is now in violation of the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice of 2004, condemning the separation wall Israel is building throughout the occupied West Bank.
Countries with possible Bloc formation
In 2000, Israeli and Palestinian authorities met to discuss critical final status issues: a one-state versus a two- state solution, the status of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees’ right of return. During the negotiations, Israel offered the Gaza Strip, a territory of mostly Palestinian people, a significant portion of the West Bank, and Islamic guardianship of significant sites in Jerusalem, along with a promise to contribute finances to a fund for Palestinian Refugees. Yasser Arafat offered Israeli control of the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem in exchange for the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees. However, in the end, neither side was satisfied, nor was any agreement reached. During these negotiations, the issues discussed were more precise than ever, and it brought to light the key themes of conflict that are still on the table today. In 2003, the U.N., along with Russia, the United States, and the European Union, established the “Roadmap to peace” http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-14628835 process, which called for the creation of a Palestinian State along with recognition of Israel’s right to exist (the two-state solution). The Roadmap to Peace proposed a 3-phased process:
- Both sides would issue statements supporting the two-state solution, the Palestinians
would end violence, act against ‘all those engaged in terror’, draw up a constitution, hold
elections and the Israelis would stop settlement activities and act with military restraint.
- Would see the creation, at an international conference, of a Palestinian state with
- Final agreement talks.” The plan was originally designed to be implemented in 2005,
but has yet to have any effect. The “Roadmap to peace” was a plan initiated by U.S.
president George W. Bush that was meant to be completed in 2005. However, these
attempts were largely diverted by the international community and the United States by
the war in Iraq. This also generated a general mistrust in the United states intentions in
the Middle East.
Today the Roadmap to Peace functions as a basis for Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. The Israeli government has claimed that the Palestinians have failed to subdue suicide bombers and gunmen of Hamas and other extremist groups that claim to represent the Palestinian cause; the Palestinians argue that Israel was never genuinely committed to ending its expansion of settlements despite having promised to do so. The death of Yasser Arafat in 2004, his replacement by Mahmoud Abbas, and Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 has raised mild hopes that the road map process may potentially be revived. In 2006, Hamas won a majority of seats in parliamentary elections, but failed to take control of the Palestinian Authority, led by current President Mahmoud Abbas, a member of Fatah, the main rival party, and representative of the PLO. Since June 2007, Hamas has been in control of the Gaza Strip after winning a majority of seats in Parliamentary elections.
The United Nations continues to recognize the PLO as the representatives of the Palestinian people. Since the election of Hamas in 2006, the United States and the European Union halted financial assistance to the Gaza Strip.
The Arab Spring in 2011 led many Palestinians to express a desire for the two groups to consolidate. In May, 2011 the two rival parties signed a reconciliation accord in Cairo, recognizing the removal of Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands as a common cause. 2.5 What needs to be addressed/Policy options Israel must, in compliance with article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, cease all settlement activities without preconditions. In addition it must immediately initiate a process of withdrawal of all settlers from the OPT. The Mission further urges Israel to ensure adequate, effective and prompt remedy to all Palestinian victims for the harm suffered as a consequence of human rights violations that are a result of the settlements in accordance with Israel’s international obligation to provide effective remedy. Where necessary, steps must to be taken to provide such remedy in concurrence with the representatives of the Palestinian people and with the assistance of the international community. Israel must put an end to the human rights violations that are linked to the presence of settlements. The Mission calls upon all Member States to comply with their obligations under international law and to assume their responsibilities in their relationship to a State breaching peremptory norm of international law – specifically not to recognize an unlawful situation resulting from Israel’s violations. Private companies must assess the human rights impact of their activities and take all necessary steps – including by terminating their business interests in the settlements – to ensure they are not adversely impacting the human rights of the Palestinian People in conformity with international law as well as the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. 2.6
Questions for Delegates to research
- How the world community should bring the powerful nations of the world to bring the Palestine/Israel serious situation on the table and find viable solutions?
- What should be the mechanism of rehabilitation process and how it will be funded?
- Discuss the role of countries supporting Israel to cut down the military and financial aid against Palestine?
- Role of Human Rights Organizations of the world, UNDP for the development of war affected areas in Palestine?
- How the violation of Human Rights be put to an end by any nation of the world in general and Israel in particular and proper implementation of the Geneva Convention and UN Resolutions (been violated by Israel)?
Bibliography of Topic A
World Report 2012: Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories (Feb 2012), Events of·
2011, from http://www.hrw.org/world-report-2012/world-report-2012-israeloccupied-palestinian-territories
Palestinian Human Rights under Israel Rule (March 11, 1993), The center for Policy·
Analysis on Palestine, from http://www.thejerusalemfund.org/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/2934
Prof. Shai Feldman and Dr. Khalil Shikaki (December 2008), Policy Options: The·
Obama Administration and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, from
David Makovsky (September 2011), Mapping Mideast Peace, The Opinion Pages,·
NewYork Times from