An Israeli border police member fires a weapon during an anti-Israel protest by Palestinians over tension in Jerusalem, in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank May 10, 2021. REUTERS/Mussa Qawasma TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Palestine: UN and member states should recognize and take action towards ending Israel’s crime of apartheid against the Palestinian people

In Arab Countries, International Advocacy Program by CIHRS

On the fifteenth anniversary of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, eight human rights organizations reiterated that the international community has failed to take effective measures to put an end to Israel’s impunity. The organizations call on the United Nations and its member states to recognize  Israel’s perpetration of  apartheid – a crime against humanity – against the Palestinian people, while underscoring that there should be no selectivity in applying the principle of the responsibility to protect.

Joint oral intervention[1]
Intersessional panel discussion on the fifteenth anniversary of the responsibility to protect
11 May 2021

Madame Vice President,

On the fifteenth anniversary of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, as enshrined in the 2005 World Summit Outcome, we call on the UN and its member states to recognize that Israel is committing the crime against humanity of apartheid against the Palestinian people.

Through its strategic fragmentation of the Palestinians, Israel has established an apartheid regime, where Palestinians cannot meet, group, live together, and exercise their collective rights, including their right to self-determination. For decades, Israel has institutionalized through its policies, practices and laws, an apartheid regime of racial domination and oppression over the Palestinian people. Through myriad of human rights violations, including mass arbitrary arrest, torture, collective punishment, and the oppression and silencing of opposition to apartheid, Israel ensures the maintenance of institutionalized Jewish-Israeli superiority.

The international community has failed to take effective measures to put an end to Israel’s impunity. As stated in the World Summit Outcome, the international community has the responsibility to protect populations from crimes against humanity using appropriate effective measures. There should be no selectivity in applying the principle of the responsibility to protect.

Amid mounting recognition that Israel is carrying out the crime of apartheid against the Palestinian people, including by 47 UN Special Procedures, the UN CERD, and member states led by South Africa and Namibia, countries which have struggled against apartheid, it is imperative that the international community recognizes this reality as one of apartheid and takes effective measures to ensure that third states do not contribute, directly or indirectly, towards its continued maintenance including through imposing an arms embargo and economic sanctions.

Most recently, Namibia became the first state to join the call for the reconstitution of the UN Special Committee Against Apartheid by civil society around the world. We call on UN member states to ensure the reactivation of this important body, which was essential in building support for collective action by states to overcome apartheid in South Africa.

Amid this growing recognition, we ask the panel to elaborate on the obligations of states with respect to the responsibility to protect the Palestinian people from the crime against humanity of apartheid.

Thank you.


[1] Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association; Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man; The Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem (CCPRJ); Community Action Center – Al-Quds University; Palestinian Centre for Human Rights; Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy- MIFTAH; Human Rights & Democracy Media Center “SHAMS”; Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling (WCLAC)

Photo: REUTERS / Mussa Qawasma

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