Press Release

13 February 2002


Following is the statement made today by Mary Robinson, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, on the human rights situation in the Middle East:
Rule of Law programme in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

Background information on OHCHR activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

OHCHR's activities in the area designated as Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) form part of the broad international effort aimed at developing the social and economic infrastructure of the OPT by strengthening Palestinian institutional capacities in various sectors. The OHCHR programme, which began in late 1996, focuses on institution building in the area of the rule of law.

A project evaluation mission early in 2001 concluded that to assist institutions which strengthen the rule of law in Palestine, it was necessary to place a greater emphasis on strengthening institutional structures. A project formulation mission went to the area earlier this month.

The next phase of the project for 2002-2003 will involve work on:

- Administration of justice and the rule of law

- Human Rights Education

- National Institutions

- Mainstreaming of Human Rights

Direct beneficiaries of the programme include Palestinian Authority officials, police, members of the judiciary, prosecutors, lawyers, prison officials, members and staff of the Palestinian Legislative Council, the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens Rights and various human rights NGOs.

The OHCHR programme relies to a large extent on existing national human rights expertise and the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens Rights to implement programme activities. Civil society and non-governmental groups, as well as Palestinian Authority ministries, agencies and departments, contribute to the programme. A number of programme activities are specifically designed to bring together various national actors involved in, for example, law reform, or formulation of strategies in national development sectors.

The OHCHR's Office is based in Gaza, with a sub-office in the West Bank. Its staff is composed of two international, two national professionals and three national support staff. The office works under the coordination of UNSCO, and is supported administratively by UNDP in Jerusalem.

For further details, please contact:
Mr. Karim Ghezraoui,
Regional Coordinator,
Arab Region Team
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais Wilson
1211 GENEVA 10
Fax: + 41 22 917 90 03
Tel: + 41 22 917 91 47
Email: kghezraoui.hchr@unog.ch

For information media - not an official record