The human rights problems facing Palestinians living under occupation are exceptional in both scope and scale. The perpetual cycle of acute crises and chronic deprivations compounds the suffering of ordinary people and creates complex challenges for human rights defenders.
Communities in conflict situations such as Palestine are extremely vulnerable to violations of economic, social and cultural rights. Development outcomes are seriously hampered when conflict leads to the destruction of houses, hospitals, school, water and sanitation systems and other essential infrastructure. More generally, economic instability is a common characteristic of countries facing or emerging from conflict, which, in turn, further fuels political instability. This reality undermines economic and social rights and further exacerbates inequalities, hindering the meaningful policy changes needed to eradicate the entrenched patterns of poverty, inequality and exclusion so important to achieving sustainable peace.
In such a context, promoting, protecting and monitoring the realization of all human rights is essential. CESR supports national efforts to ensure that relevant national and international accountability mechanisms—including judicial, administrative, political and social mechanisms—receive the robust, methodologically sound and actionable evidence they need to hold states responsible when policy deficits lead to violations of economic and social rights.
CESR is currently partnering with Palestine’s Independent Commission on Human Rights (ICHR), an official body mandated to protect and promote human rights in accordance with the Palestinian Basic Law and the international principles of human rights. This collaboration, which is part of a joint initiative between CESR and the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions, seeks to strengthen the capacity of the Commission to assess development-related policies from a human rights perspective, by sharing tools, skills and practices for monitoring economic and social rights in order to improve development outcomes. Specifically, by supporting the Commission to deploy CESR’s OPERA framework, the ICHR will be able to more effectively assess progress in implementation of the Palestinian Authority’s National Development Plan for 2014–2016.
These efforts build upon CESR’s previous history of work in the Occupied Territories. From 1996 until 2004, CESR worked with a broad range of Palestinian, Israeli, and international groups to document and oppose violations of economic and social rights in both Israel and Palestine:
- Israeli Jurisdiction in Palestinian Territories and Israeli Violations of Palestinian Human Rights. Reports submitted to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. November 1998.
- Concluding Observations of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. December 1998.
- Great Expectations, Bitter Realities, 2001.
- Thirsting for Justice, Right to Water in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Report submitted to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. May, 2003.
by Allison Corkery
August 27th, 2014