ICHR reviews its shadow report on the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights before the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Ramallah – Within the framework of its efforts to promote the human rights situation, the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) presented its shadow report on the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR).
In his presentation to the CESCR, Dr. Ammar Dwaik, ICHR Director General, asserted that “the Israeli occupation is the main obstacle to the enjoyment of fundamental rights, including economic, social and cultural rights, by Palestinian citizens.” In spite of its limited powers and compromised sovereignty, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has certain obligations under International Law, including those prescribed by the ICESCR. The ICHR presents its shadow report to contribute to establishing the list of issues to be addressed by the CESCR to the State of Palestine. This is based on the ICHR role as a national institution with full membership of the United Nations Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, where the ICHR has maintained A-status since 2005.
Ms. Khadijah Zahran, Head of the ICHR Monitoring of National Legislation and Policy Unit, reviewed key issues not indicated by the initial report of the State of Palestine on the implementation of the ICESCR, as well as human rights gaps in existing legislation, policies, and practices. Of these, a road map is lacking to incorporate international human rights conventions into the domestic legal and judicial systems. An explicit constitutional or legal provision does not make clear the legal value of international conventions in Palestine.
According to the ICHR report, in spite of domestic regulations, national strategies, and procedures, measures taken to realise the right to work continue to be substandard. These include inadequate budgeted appropriations for realisation of the right to work and mechanisms for networking between the trio of employers, labour organisations, and workers in order to assimilate the unemployed and promote a public-private social contribution policy. Unemployment continues to be on an upward trajectory, reaching 26.6 percent in 2020.
The ICHR called on the CESCR to urge the Palestinian government to develop the Law on Social Security jointly with civil society organisations and the ICHR. The law should be more inclusive of Palestinians and cover unemployment insurance, maternity, informal employment, and most economically vulnerable groups. The principle of equal rights and obligations needs to be applied to female employees in public and private sectors, ensuring non-discrimination on the basis of employment sectors.
The ICHR submission demonstrated that the report of the State of Palestine failed to clearly show budgeted allocations for children within the budget line items of the Ministry of Social Development. In the absence of an integrated database on older persons, it is hard to make policies and develop plans and strategies, which help to construct indicators to measure the situation of the rights of older persons in Palestine. A dedicated law on the elderly is also lacking.
Also, the report of the State of Palestine does not address the problems facing Gaza citizens to enjoys their right to adequate food. The report does not examine approved policies to finalise Gaza reconstruction in the aftermath of Israel’s military aggression of 2021. After the Israeli offensive in 2014, just 70 percent of Gaza reconstruction projects have reportedly been completed.
The report of the State of Palestine does not make reference to the policies needed to enhance the health system in the light of a natural population increase of 2.5 percent, continuing rise in the number of older persons, and health care gaps revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ICHR submits written statements and shadow reports to many treaty bodies, including shadow reports on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The ICHR continues to follow up on the implementation of the concluding recommendations of all treaty bodies by relevant authorities to ensure that the provisions of international conventions are fully enforced and Palestinian human rights promoted.