Question of Palestine home
Economic and Social Council
31 January 1994
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Item 7 of the provisional agenda
QUESTION OF THE REALIZATION IN ALL COUNTRIES OF THE ECONOMIC, SOCIAL
AND CULTURAL RIGHTS CONTAINED IN THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN
RIGHTS AND IN THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL
AND CULTURAL RIGHTS, AND STUDY OF SPECIAL PROBLEMS WHICH THE
DEVELOPING COUNTRIES FACE IN THEIR EFFORTS TO ACHIEVE THESE HUMAN
RIGHTS, INCLUDING: PROBLEMS RELATED TO THE RIGHT TO ENJOY AN
ADEQUATE STANDARD OF LIVING; FOREIGN DEBT, ECONOMIC ADJUSTMENT
POLICIES AND THEIR EFFECTS ON THE FULL ENJOYMENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND,
IN PARTICULAR, ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE DECLARATION ON THE
RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT
Written statement submitted by the International Federation
for the Protection of the Rights of Ethnic, Religious,
Linguistic and Other Minorities, a non-governmental
organization on the Roster
The Secretary-General has received the following written statement, which is circulated in accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution 1296 (XLIV).
[6 January 1994]
1. In their preliminary report to the Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities (E/CN.4/1993/17 and Corr.1), the Special Rapporteurs on the human rights dimensions of population transfer stressed that population transfer has remained a common feature of war and peacetime policy. Following from their in-depth analysis of the different manifestations of this detrimental policy and practice, they concluded that population transfer is never a means to protect human rights and that the cumulative rules of existing and emerging human rights and humanitarian law are consistent with a legal prohibition against population transfer. However, they recognized that in certain situations, legal protection is inadequate and in almost all current situations, respect for norms expressly or implicitly prohibiting population transfer and the requisite political will to enforce those laws are entirely lacking.
2. As such, they indicated the need for a legal instrument outlawing population transfer as an offence having a character of its own. Such an instrument should clarify that population transfer is prima facie unlawful, and should elaborate with great care the highly exceptional circumstances under which population transfer would be permitted or even be imperative, and thereby regulate its consequences.
3. The International Federation for the Protection of the Rights of Ethnic, Religious, Linguistic and Other Minorities considers it of utmost importance that immediate and serious attention is given by all United Nations human rights bodies to the human rights dimensions and legality of population transfer. Certain cases occur in international or internal conflict and other situations in peacetime, as large numbers of conflict situations, as well as cases of consistent human rights abuses, involved forcibly displacing people from their homes or implanting alien settlers onto their territories. And even though the features or consequences of population transfer may not always be as directly visible as when this practice has reached the level of "ethnic cleansing", in most cases occurring in different parts of the world, the effects on the affected population's enjoyment of human rights are grave and the very survival of entire population groups may be at stake.
4. In addition to the necessary long-term attention being given to the question of population transfer by the Sub-Commission's Special Rapporteur, ongoing cases of population transfer should be the subject of immediate consideration by the Commission on Human Rights. In particular, in cases of international (armed) conflict involving the occupation of territory, the implantation of the occupier's own civilian population onto the disputed territory and the subsequent displacement of the original population from its homes and lands are being undertaken with the aim of demographically manipulating the territory so as to serve the occupier's objectives, such as the annexation of the territory and/or the effective control of its population. To allow such practices which constitute a gross violation of the unambiguous prohibition of population transfer contained in article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, undermines respect for and implementation of humanitarian and human rights law at the time its application is most crucial. But it also prevents finding early and peaceful solutions to problems as it exacerbates ethnic sensibilities and conflicts and may eventually jeopardize the peace, security and stability of regions.
5. In this context we refer to five contemporary cases where population transfer continues to be practised and increased movement of settlers into the occupied territory is currently taking place. The persistent movement of Israeli settlers into the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the progressing implantation of Moroccan settlers into the Western Sahara, the continuing movement of Anatolian Turks into northern Cyprus, the migration of Indonesians to the island of East Timor and the increasing rate of settling Chinese in Tibet warrant instant concern.
6. Population transfer forms the essence of the conflict over historic Palestine, with Israel continuing to implant its own "Jewish nationals" onto Palestinian territories acquired by force. Resolving the consequences of Israel's confiscation of Palestinian lands and implantation of settlers in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip looms as the greatest challenge to the chronically stalled peace process, and is the key to the Palestinian people's acceptance of the current promise. It is incompatible with the laws of occupation as well as the Palestinian people's right to self-determination that even today, with attempts under way to initiate a limited form of Palestinian self-rule, Israeli settlers continue to move into newly constructed homes in the Occupied Territories. Moreover, it is this persistent and systematic settlement which contributes directly to increased tension, friction and violence between Israeli settlers and the Palestinian population, thus providing the Israeli army with a rationale to remain in order to protect its settler population.
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