Palestine Accedes to International Human Rights Conventions

Press release
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FIDH welcomes the decision of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) to accede, without reservation, to 19 international conventions and treaties.

The United Nations confirmed that official letters for accession have been presented to the UN Secretary General’s Chief of Cabinet on April 2, 2014 by Palestinian officials.

In the meantime, official letters were also submitted to the Swiss and Dutch Representatives to the Palestinian Authority in view of accessing the four Geneva Conventions and The Hague Convention (IV) respecting the Laws and Customs of War.

FIDH commends Palestine’s positive move to « exercise its legal right as a State [1] to join those instruments and live up to its international responsibility », as expressed by the Palestinian Ambassador to the UN and recalls that the ratification of core human rights treaties is an important step toward protecting and promoting the rights of the residents of the West Bank and Gaza, who have long suffered human rights abuses.

« However, the recognition of Palestine’s statehood in 2012 was also a crucial step in the struggle for justice and accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity, and we regret that Palestine has not seized this opportunity to accede to the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC) » declared Karim Lahidji, FIDH President.

In this regard, FIDH is well aware of the pressure exerted on the Palestinian Authorities and deplores that, whilst convening peace negotiations and demanding that Palestinians take their responsibilities, the US has been very critical of Palestine’s decision to join international conventions. Furthurmore, FIDH condemns Israel’s decision to cancel a scheduled prisoner release and to cut back contacts with Palestinian officials as retaliation.

«This is an unprecedented move. To my knowledge, so far, no State has ever been punished or blamed for ratifying human rights instruments. This is not the attitude we expect from democratic states continued Karim Lahidji.

The US had already exerted pressure on the PA in 2012 by conditioning their support for the staehood bid on the Palestinians’ commitment not to accede to the ICC.

In spite of this sensitive context, FIDH recalls that peace negotiations must be based on international law and no ratification of international conventions can be considered as an obstacle to peace ; FIDH also reiterates its call on the Palestinian authorities to promptly ratify the Rome Statute, in addition to other conventions, as a means of preventing the perpetration of international crimes and ensuring the respect of international law against settlements and the commission of other war crimes and crimes against humanity, and of protecting any civilians.

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