Prolonged occupation, a new type of crime against humanity

Statement of Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories on the International day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people:

Geneva, 29 November 2010

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights on Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 wishes to express sympathy for the Palestinian people who continue after more than 43 years to live under Israeli occupation that daily violates many of their fundamental and inalienable human rights.

Above all, the failure to resolve the underlying conflict between Palestine and Israel in such a manner as to realize after decades of delay the Palestinians’ right to self-determination is of urgent concern. It should be observed, also, that negotiation between the parties to the conflict needs to be guided by the implementation of several principles of international law if a settlement of the conflict is to achieve Palestinian self-determination. These principles, as set forth in the General Assembly Resolution 48/158, 20 December 1993, include the following: (1) withdrawal from Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem; (2) resolving the Palestinian refugee problem in accordance with General Assembly Resolution 181 and subsequent resolutions; (3) dismantling settlements established during the occupation; (4) fixing of secure and internationally recognized borders; (5) guaranteeing free access to sacred sites and religious buildings throughout historic Palestine. A peace process that does not heed these guidelines, with appropriate degrees of flexible implementation, cannot realize either self-determination for the Palestinian people or peace with security and justice for both Palestinians and Israelis.

The ongoing realities of the occupation have cumulatively altered the character of the Palestinian territories, especially due to the continuing expansion of Israeli settlements which are unlawful under the Fourth Geneva Convention that prohibits transfer of population from the occupying power to the occupied territory, that disallows the construction of a separation wall on occupied Palestinian territory held unlawful by a 14-1 vote of the judges comprising the International Court of Justice in 2004, that is an unlawful result of an Israeli-only road network in the West Bank, and of a proposed rail connection, linking large settlements to pre-1967 Israel, and that is a consequence of concerted and accelerated Israeli annexationist efforts in East Jerusalem by expanding existing settlements and interfering in a variety of coercive and cruel ways with the residence rights of Palestinians.

Finally, on this day of solidarity it is important to ponder the special consequences of prolonged occupation and refugee status, which inflicts serious physical and mental harm on Palestinians living under occupation. International humanitarian law was developed under the assumption that occupation would be temporary and short-lived. The Palestinian experience suggests the need for a new protocol of international humanitarian law that addresses the distinctive situation of prolonged occupation and refugee status, imposing some outer time limit after which further occupation becomes a distinct violation of international law, and if not promptly corrected, constitutes a new type of crime against humanity. The United Nations and the international community as a whole will be judged in the future by whether effective action is now taken to end the humanitarian catastrophe that has befallen the Palestinian people. In this respect, the United Nations, the governments and the peoples of the world will all be judged complicit to the extent that this persistent violation of fundamental human rights is endured without taking the necessary steps in a spirit of urgency and commitment to bring this abusive occupation to an end and achieve Palestinian self-determination in accordance with international law and the dictates of global justice.

3 thoughts on “Prolonged occupation, a new type of crime against humanity”

  1. From Wikipedia (so who knows how reliable this is):

    “On February 16, 1979, two weeks after the return of Ruhollah Khomeini to Iran, Falk wrote an op-ed for the New York Times “Trusting Khomeini”. He criticized President Jimmy Carter’s accusations of “religious fanaticism” and media descriptions of Khomeini as being backward, antisemitic, and guilty of “theocratic fascism.” Arguing Khomeini was being judged unfairly, he concluded “the depiction of Khomeini as fanatical, reactionary and the bearer of crude prejudices seems certainly and happily false … To suppose that Ayatollah Khomeini is dissembling seems almost beyond belief. … Having created a new model of popular revolution based, for the most part, on nonviolent tactics, Iran may yet provide us with a desperately-needed model of humane governance for a third-world country.”

    During the June 2008 session of the UN Human Rights Council, UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer challenged Falk on his statements. “Could you tell us what credibility you expect your reports to have when leading newspapers such as The Times of London are commenting on your support for the 9/11 conspiracy theories of David Ray Griffin, who argues, and I quote from the Times article of April 15, ‘that no plane hit the Pentagon,’ and that ‘the World Trade Center was brought down by a controlled demolition’? Although Egypt’s representative objected with a point of order asking that this be stricken from the record, Council president Romulus Costea declined to accede, and Neuer’s challenge remains on the official UN record. Falk never responded.

  2. @Have I been banned?
    tnx for info, that certainly enhances Richard Falk’s credentials in my view.

    The government better get a better story together be/c no one believes the 19 Islamofascists hijacked 4 planes, etc.
    At the very least people believe Bush was complicit.(from my personal conversations with varieties of folks)

  3. Er… really? “A better story”?

    “no one believes the 19 Islamofascists hijacked 4 planes” I think that kind of depends on your definition of “no one”.

    I am desperately trying not to be patronizing here, but I can only say the same thing that I say to all conspiracy theorists. The burden of proof is on you to bring evidence of a conspiracy. Picking holes and finding inconsistencies in the established record does not prove that an entirely different narrative must be true. It just means that the existing one has holes and inconsistencies. You still have to provide some kind of proof that the US government crashed two planes full of US citizens into the World Trade Center. I will gladly pay you $1 million dollars as soon as you provide me with that evidence if you promise to pay me the same when you fail.

    Is it still patronizing to suggest that your “personal conversations with varieties of folk” doesn’t count as evidence?

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