This report is released on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the issuing of the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the legal consequences of the construction of the Wall being built by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory. In its Advisory Opinion the ICJ highlighted the serious violations of both international humanitarian law and international human rights law, caused by the construction of the Wall. The ICJ therefore ruled that Israel’s construction of the Wall in the occupied Palestinian territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, is contrary to international law and Israel is obliged to cease all construction, to dismantle the Wall and to make reparation for all damages caused by the construction of the Wall. Yet, five years later, Israel has not implemented the decision of the ICJ, and the construction of the illegal Wall continues with a corresponding and continuing negative impact on the rights of the Palestinian people.
Image source: Dissident Voice
Partially due to lack of international political will to implement the ICJ decision, Palestinian communities have continued to protest against the Wall and exercise their rights to assembly, association and freedom of expression. The Israeli military’s brutal repression of such protests has caused significant additional damage for individuals who are victims of permanent injuries, killings, arrests and threats. Israel has also used collective punishment against entire communities where protests are held, including through implementing closures, curfews and the wanton destruction of property.
Twenty-five feet high, punctuated by giant “sniper” towers, and entrapping Qalqiliya on three sides, the wall is a brazen attack on what is vital to life in a dry environment – water. In villages around Qalqiliya and nearby Tulkarem over 30 Palestinian wells have been lost due to the construction of the wall. This may not sound like many wells, but since Israeli law prevents Palestinians from drilling any new wells, this means no water for drinking, for agriculture, for life. [Source: Dissident Voice]
In its Advisory Opinion the ICJ called upon the United Nations to ‘consider what further action is required to bring to an end the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and the associated régime, taking due account of the present Advisory Opinion’. In line with the ICJ decision, UN General Assembly Resolution ES-10/15 requested the UN Secretary General to establish a register of damages for all natural and legal persons having suffered damages from the construction of the Wall. The establishment of this UN Register of Damages (UNRoD) has so far been the only measure enacted by the UN towards the implementation of the ICJ decision.
While the establishment of UNRoD is in principle a positive step, this report underlines a number of concerns regarding UN measures to comply with the requirements of the ICJ decision and the implementation of UNRoD. In particular, the lack of transparency regarding UNRoD with relation to appointment of board and staff as well as access to information regarding its field presence; criteria and methodology for claims collection; and lack of participation of both Palestinian and international organisations in the process.
The primary recommendations of this report are:
1. Israel should comply with the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice and related UN resolutions by immediately ceasing construction of the Wall, dismantling the Wall and providing reparation for victims of damages caused by the Wall.
2. Israel should end the illegal occupation of Palestine and enable Palestinians to enjoy their right to self-determination. Until that time, Israel should ensure that human rights law and the Fourth Geneva Convention are upheld and applied in the occupied Palestinian territory.
3. The United Nations, international community and 194 States that have ratified the Fourth Geneva Convention should develop concrete mechanisms to enforce the ICJ Advisory Opinion and hold Israel accountable for violations of international law.
4. Targeted economic sanctions should be applied upon Israel to pressure it to comply with its international legal commitments specifically, the suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement and non-ratification of the Mercosur-Israel Free Trade Agreement.
5. The United Nations Register of Damages should carry out its work on the basis of a participatory and transparent process and ensure the inclusion of all damages incurred by the Wall. A methodology and framework for full restitution for the victims of damages caused by the Wall should be established and guided by international legal principles. In particular it should:
– Allow Palestinian and international organisations full access to information regarding its field presence and criteria and methodology for claims collection.
– Address persisting concerns as to whether all damage suffered by Palestinians as individuals and a collective, including damages through repression of popular protests, are registered through the mechanism.
– Develop, in broad consultation with relevant civil society organisations, a methodology of verification and quantification of losses in order to ensure that the information necessary to allow restitution and remedy is effectively collected, for once the unlawful situation has ended and the Wall is dismantled.
A full list of recommendations can be found at the end of the report.