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The Obligation to ‘Ensure Respect’

Dear Representative,


Please find enclosed a
copy of “The Obligation to Ensure Respect: A Call for the High Contracting
Parties on the Enforcement of Israel’s Respect for the Fourth Geneva
Convention” published by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.


12 August 2001 was the
fifty-second anniversary of the Geneva Convention Relative to the
Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of August 12, 1949 
Fourth Geneva Convention).  Israel has long been a High
Contracting Party to the Convention, yet since its occupation in 1967 of the
Gaza Strip, the West Bank, including Jerusalem, Israel has refused to recognize
the de jure applicability of the Convention to these Occupied
Palestinian Territories.  During the last thirty-four years of this
occupation, Israel has consistently and repeatedly violated many of the
provisions of the Convention.  However, the first year of the Al-Aqsa
has borne witness to an unprecedented escalation in violence
against Palestinian civilians. Willful killings, torture,
ill-treatment of prisoners, willful destruction of homes and property,
population transfer (settlements), and collective punishments are just some of
the violations that Israel has committed and continues to commit against
Palestinian civilians.  As grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention,
these violations constitute war crimes, as recognized by the International
Committee of the Red Cross, international human rights organizations and some
High Contracting Parties to the Convention. 


The High Contracting
Parties’ meeting held on 15 July 1999 in response to a call by the United
Nations General Assembly was intended to discuss ways of ensuring Israel’s
respect for the Fourth Geneva Convention.  Under pressure from the United
States, Canadian and Australian governments, political interests compromised
the conference and although its convening was a manifestation of the legal
obligation embodied in Article 1 of the Fourth Geneva Conventionwhich
calls upon all High Contracting Parties to “respect, and ensure respect for the
present Convention in all circumstances”, the conference essentially failed to
constitute any step towards the
 fulfilment of this


The Palestinian Centre
for Human Rights notes with appreciation the recent call of the Swiss
Government to reconvene the meeting on December 5, 2001 and urges the High
Contracting Parties not to allow its subjugation to political interests as
occurred in the conference in 1999.  The outcome of this conference must
not be merely a statement of condemnation of Israel’s violations. 
Palestinian civilians are daily paying a heavy price for


the inaction of the
international community and it is time for this conspiracy of silence to be
broken.  The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights therefore demands that
the outcome of this meeting of the High Contracting Parties be a plan of
action, consisting of practical measures, to be implemented with immediate effect
to ensure Israel’s respect of the Fourth Geneva Convention. 


The Palestinian Centre
for Human Rights condemns the US government’s decision to boycott the meeting
and is concerned that this action undermines their commitment to the
eradication of terrorism, in all its forms, around the world.  State
terrorism, as perpetrated by Israel against Palestinian civilians, must be
combated with the same commitment and efforts as all other forms of
terrorism.  No state which commits or supports terrorism can be allowed to
enjoy impunity.


The meeting of the High
Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to be held on December 5,
2001 is an essential step in ensuring the implementation of the Convention in
the Occupied Palestinian Territories, in protecting Palestinian civilians and
in halting war crimes and acts of state terrorism which have been or are
currently being perpetrated in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.


The Palestinian Centre
for Human Rights wishes the international community to recognize and accept
that the resolution of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
can be found only in the application and implementation of international, human
rights and international humanitarian law.


Please also find
enclosed a copy of a Press Release issued by the Palestinian Centre for Human
Rights in cooperation with LAW, the Society for the Protection of Human Rights
and the Environment, on 10 November 2001.


Yours sincerely,



Raji Sourani


Palestinian Centre for
Human Rights

The Obligation to ‘Ensure Respect’

A Call for a High Contracting Parties on the Enforcment of Israel’s
Respect of the
 Fourth Geneva Convention (pdf)


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