Press Release

3 April 2001


Independent Expert on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights Presents Report

The Commission on Human Rights this afternoon continued its debate on economic, social and cultural rights, hearing from speakers who highlighted issues ranging from the negative effects of globalization on economic, social and cultural rights in developing countries to the effect of foreign debt on the implementation of these rights and the need for support from the international community to order to ensure them.


The Commission was scheduled to continue its work in an extended evening meeting until 9 p.m. to continue its debate on economic, social and cultural rights.

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights


LYNA AL-TABAL, of Nord-Sud XXI, said the continued occupation of the Palestinian territories by the Israeli military had had a severely negative impact upon the basic human rights of the Palestinian population. Since the end of September, many Palestinians had either been unable to reach their places of employment, or had been unable to work due to a lack of business or resources. It was estimated that half the population of the Gaza Strip was either directly or indirectly dependent upon income generated by work within Israel. Prior to the intifada, more than 130,000 Palestinians had worked within Israel, in settlements, or in Israeli industrial areas. Since the intifada began, this number had been cut to approximately 20,000. Daily direct losses due to lost work in Israel were estimated at $ 2.7 million per day. Additionally, lost income due to an inability to import means of production or export products, restrictions on travel and decreased productivity in the occupied territories had greatly affected the Palestinian economy. The Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator had estimated that Palestinian losses had reached as high as $ 1.15 billion at the end of January.

There needed to be international protection for the Palestinian people by pushing for the creation of an international protection force by the Security Council. Nord-Sud XXI also demanded that the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention enforce the provisions of the Convention and its Protocols. It urged the international community and the United Nations General Assembly to exercise their role under international law by adopting effective measures, including economic sanctions, to oblige Israel to adhere to United Nations resolutions. It was vital that economic, social and cultural rights be accorded full recognition within the United Nations treaty monitoring system. Four of the six international human rights treaties already had optional protocols providing for individual communications to the treaty bodies. Developing an optional protocol to the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights would be a critical step towards realizing the indivisibility and interdependence of human rights, upon which the entire United Nations human rights system was based.

For information media - not an official record