Last Friday, at the UN Human Rights Council, the UK regrettably voted against a resolution on accountability for alleged serious international crimes committed against Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory.
By voting against a resolution firmly grounded in principles of international law and international justice, the UK placed itself in a position that is unacceptable from a human rights and rule of law perspective.
The basis for this extraordinary vote against international justice lies in the UK’s position, made in a strong statement in March 2017, that the Human Rights Council should not have a standing agenda item on Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights under military occupation.
The UK’s negative vote is a partial implementation of its new policy, announced in the same statement last year, that it will in future vote against all resolutions on Israel/Palestine at the Human Rights Council until the standing agenda item is removed.
Our letter to the UK Government on this significant issue can be read here.
Whilst the UK’s vote against legal accountability is very troubling from a human rights and rule of law perspective, it does illuminate that the locus for pursuing substantive justice for Palestinian victims is currently to be found away from the Human Rights Council.
The Office of the Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, in its latest report, noted that a large number of submissions have thus far been made, including by national and international NGOs, in the context of its preliminary examination on the situation in Palestine.
This seminal work by expert civil society organisations is driven by their deep belief and acknowledgement that victims, survivors and their families need justice. It is here where hope for a better and just future for Palestinians can be found.
Through its negative vote last Friday, the UK has undermined fundamental principles of international justice under the rule of law that these civil society organisations are working to uphold. It is hoped that this dismaying departure will not to be repeated.