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Source: United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR)
31 March 2005



Public Report

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
(OHCHR)






Arab Region

Quarterly Report



Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
TECHNICAL COOPERATION PROJECT WITH
THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY

Quarterly Report
(Period covered: November 2004 - January 2005)



1. Executive summary

The reporting period witnessed major political developments in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, most notably the death of President Yasser Arafat early in November. The transfer of powers and competences to his successors was conducted smoothly, in accordance with the Basic Law of the Palestinian Authority, and other applicable laws governing the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Presidential elections were held after the transition in early January, and a call for legislative elections to take place in July 2005 was issued.

Mahmoud Abbas was elected as President of the Palestinian Authority, in addition to being nominated as the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization. A new cabinet is to be formed shortly.

The new leadership is working on renewing peace talks with Israel, and prioritizing the reform process on the Palestinian agenda. The forthcoming period is likely to be one of significant change, which will impact on the human rights situation, and in turn will positively reflect on the work of OHCHR- Palestine.

The human rights situation remains characterized by serious violations of Palestinians' rights: extra judicial executions and killings are still continuing, arrests, house demolitions continue, and closures, curfews and restrictions on movement are widely enforced, as construction of the Wall is continuous. At the same time Palestinian suicide attacks continued to target Israeli civilians inside Israel.

Despite the volatile security situation, and the political developments in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), OHCHR office continued to function as the situation permitted. Permits were sought and granted for two OHCHR national staff to travel from Gaza to Ramallah, and it is hoped that they will be able to travel in the coming weeks. During the reporting period, the new Head of Office and International Human Rights Officer assumed their duties, and initiated the process of planning for the new cycle of the project. The office continued with a number of activities to conclude the project for 2002-2004, in addition to conducting consultations with partners, stakeholders and UN agencies for the forthcoming plan.


2. Project activities

OHCHR Palestine has undertaken a number of activities during the reporting period.

2.1. Administration of justice

On 29 November, OHCHR–Gaza office, conducted a training session for 30 Palestinian officers on the UN code of conduct for law enforcement personnel. The officers were members of different Palestinian security branches. This training session was organized by the Palestinian National Security–Directorate of Training.

On 7 December, OHCHR-Ramallah office conducted a training session on the separation of powers and the rule of law for more than 50 people from the Special Units at their Ramallah-based headquarters. This session was one of many sessions on human rights and the rule of law organized by the Commission on Human Rights and NGOs Affairs for the Palestinian security apparatus.

A meeting between OHCHR-Ramallah and representatives of some security apparatuses took place, with a view to designing a training course on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

2.2. Human rights education and awareness raising:

Between 23-28 November, OHCHR-Ramallah organized a training course for 16 Palestinian Personnel of the Ministry of Women's Affairs and women's affairs units in other ministries (Labour, Local Government, Social Welfare, Health and Agriculture) on “Human Rights Principles and Standards” with a focus on women's rights, CEDAW, and building skills in documentation and reporting on human rights violations. The course was organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Women's Affairs (MOWA) in the West Bank. On 6 December, OHCHR-Ramallah organized a meeting for the human rights NGOs forum. The meeting discussed the following issues: evaluation or feedback on the experience of the human rights NGOs forum since February 2004, the planned activities of NGOs for Human Rights Day, the two planned activities of OHCHR-Palestine for the Human Rights Day, and NGOs' input to the OHCHR- Palestine plan for 2005. A fact sheet was produced by most of the human rights NGOs as a collective activity for Human Rights Day covering issues such as: targeted killings, house demolition, children, prisoners, and the Wall.

On 7 December, OHCHR-Ramallah co-organized with the Commission on Human Rights and NGOs Affairs, a training session on separation of powers and the rule of law, for some 50 people from the Special Unit - a Palestinian security apparatus.

On 8 December, a study day was held in Gaza in cooperation with the Palestinian Association for Human Rights Education and Democracy to mark Human Rights Day. The discussions focused on “Human Rights Education in Palestine: Experiences and Challenges”, and brought together around 35 human rights professionals and activists, officials and academics. Five themes were presented and discussed: Human Rights Education Experience of OHCHR (focusing on the UN Decade for Human Rights Education), UNRWA's experience in integrating human rights concepts in the UNRWA school system, Human Rights Education Experiences of the Palestinian Ministry of Education in integrating human rights concepts in the school curriculum, Palestinian NGOs' experience in teaching human rights within the local community, and Palestinian Culture and Human Rights Education..

On 9 December, OHCHR-Gaza participated in a seminar organized by the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO) in the Gaza Strip about elections in Palestinian civil society organizations; papers were presented covering three topics; elections within associations, election of local councils, and elections of NGOs.

On 9 December, OHCHR-Ramallah, organized the Human Rights Day. Officials from the Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Centre for Curriculum Development, human rights NGOs, UN agencies, universities, academics and trainers, were invited. The theme of the day was: Lessons learnt from respective experiences in Human Rights Education in formal and informal education; the UN Decade for Human Rights Education was reviewed and discussed, and the first three-year phase of the new world plan was presented. Participants in the workshop were invited to present their plans and proposals in the field of Human Rights Education for 2005, and to propose ideas for future cooperation within and with OHCHR-Palestine. The meeting concluded with a series of recommendations on cooperation.

On 15 December, OHCHR-Gaza participated in a workshop organized by Kana’an Institute to introduce the UN Plan of Action for Human Rights Education 2005-2006. The workshop was attended by NGO representatives of the Gaza Strip.

On 15 December, OHCHR-Ramallah participated in an event marking the International Day of the Disabled organized by the General Union of the Disabled.

Preparations for organizing a training course for the Palestine Legislative Council Personnel, and different legal units at various ministries were conducted. The training was planned to introduce the integration of human rights in legislation. The three day training course was planned to be held on 21-22 December, but was postponed due to the organization of a 40th day rally in remembrance of the late President Arafat.
2.3. Mainstreaming of human rights Under mainstreaming of human rights, OHCHR-Palestine initiated several meetings with UN agencies to explore further cooperation for HR mainstreaming;

On 22 November, OHCHR-Gaza met with the human rights focal point at the education department of UNRWA, in which OHCHR- Gaza was invited to join a consultative committee to be established for human rights projects within UNRWA. During the meeting, the discussion focused on celebrating Human Rights Day in UNRWA schools, and organizing a training course on human rights for UNRWA staff as part of the office work plan under the mainstreaming of human rights.

OHCHR-Gaza participated in a workshop organized by UNICEF to introduce their mid- term plan. Several UN agencies were present in addition to PA ministries and NGOs.

On 3 December, Head of Office and Ramallah Human Rights Officer participated in a UN roundtable discussion in Jerusalem on the UNDAF process, Action 2, and further cooperation and coordination between UN agencies. Follow-up discussions took place at UNSCO for the Advocacy Group. The discussion was on the TOR for the group in light of the change of title to the Public Information Committee (PIC).


3. Administrative issues

The new Head of Office and International Human Rights Officer assumed their duties during the reporting period, and are leading the process of planning for 2005. Consultation meetings are underway with partners, NGOs, PICCR, UN Agencies and different stakeholders, in order to consolidate the 2005 plan in a way that reflects the urgent needs of different partners.


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