“Protection Through Accountability” Calling on the Human Rights Council and International Community to Protect Civilians in Palestine and Darfur

In International Advocacy Program by

In oral and written statements before the 9th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC), the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies called on the international community to act through the UN to put a stop to atrocities being carried out in the Darfur region of Sudan and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs), and criticized the double standards being propagated by the United States, the European Union and the League of Arab States toward these two situations.
While the US and EU have strongly pushed for the protection of civilians in Darfur, including enacting sanctions against the government of Sudan, they have been unwilling to make significant efforts or enact sanctions against the Israeli government to ensure Palestinian civilians are protected from indiscriminate attacks by the Israeli military. Members of the League of Arab States, in turn, have attempted to block all international actions to compel the Sudanese government to end atrocities committed in Darfur by government or government supported forces, but strongly push for the protection of Palestinian civilians. As CIHRS has consistently pointed out, these double standards make a mockery of international human rights and humanitarian law and significantly undermine international efforts to protect all innocent civilians from being victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including Palestinians and Darfurians.
In this regard, The report of the Special Rapporteur on Sudan presented at the 9th HRC Session concluded that the “on-the-ground” human rights situation in Darfur, and all of Sudan, “remains grim” and has not improved. The Fact Finding Mission on Bet Hanoun also spoke at the 9th Session. Their report presented a case study of the type of war crimes and crimes against humanity systematically perpetrated by Israeli forces in the OPTs on a daily basis. In its oral and written intervention, CIHRS identified that a lack of civilian protection, when combined with an official culture of impunity is a fundamental obstacle to peace and security in the both Beit Hanoun and the Sudan HRC reports. In this regard the request filed by the ICC prosecutor for issuing an indictment of the Sudanese President, Omar Al-Bahsir constitutes one of the only significant attempts to bring justice to the victims of atrocities perpetrated by official armed forces and government supported militias in Darfur.
As pointed out in the Beit Hanoun fact finding mission’s report, the Israeli security forces are still using grossly disproportionate , indiscriminate and unnecessary violence against civilians in response to the Kassam rocket attacks carried out by Palestinian militias. The policy of collective punishment practiced by Israel, as demonstrated by the blockade of the Gaza strip from December 2007 until now, constitutes a serious humanitarian catastrophe for civilians living in Gaza.
In this regard, CIHRS called on the Human Rights Council to make all efforts to ensure the universal application of civilian protection standards throughout the Arab region, and to support and adopt the draft resolution proposed during the 9th Session by the delegation of Egypt on the protection of human rights in armed conflicts. This is despite the fact that CIHRS remarks that the performance of the Egyptian government on this concern is contradicting with the draft resolution that they have submitted. (Darfur is an example).
The recent barbaric attacks on Kalma IDP camp in South Darfur on 25 August 2008 which resulted in the immediate death of 39 Internally Displaces People and injured another 51, mostly women and children , demonstrates the need for an effective, universally applied system for the protection of civilians that is primarily based on combating impunity and enforcing international standards of civilian protection not only in Darfur but throughout the whole region.

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