The Palestine Solidarity Campaign has responded to the UK government’s voting decisions at the ongoing UN Human Rights Council taking place in Geneva.
On Friday morning, the UK abstained on an accountability resolution which moved to adopt the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry report condemning Israel’s “intentional use of unlawful lethal and other excessive force” against civilian protesters in Gaza in 2018. Despite this, the resolution was comfortably passed with 23 countries voting in favour, 8 voting against and 15 abstaining.
This comes after the UK already supported resolutions promoting accountability for human rights violations in Sri Lanka & Nicaragua yesterday. There are further accountability votes taking place on Friday in relation to violations in Syria, Myanmar, South Sudan and North Korea, and it is expected that the UK will also vote in favour of these resolutions.
The UK government also voted against a 4 further resolutions relating to human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan, the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israeli settlements in occupied territories, all of which passed. The resolution relating to the Palestinian right to self-determination had 41 votes in favour and only 3 against, putting the UK at odds with the vast majority of the UN Human Rights Council.
Voting against these resolutions directly contravenes existing UK government policy, which condemns settlements as illegal under international law and calls on Israel to cease all settlement expansion. The government has also described Israeli settlements as “a barrier to peace”.
The UNHRC is one of the few international mechanisms holding Israel to account for its crimes against the Palestinian people. Human rights campaigners across the country have already condemned the UK government for refusing to support the accountability resolution.
Ben Jamal, Director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: “These voting decisions by the UK Government represent a gross neglect of the UK government’s responsibility to promote human rights and respect for international law. The UK government has endorsed calls for accountability of human rights violations in a number of other countries but refuses to do so with Israel. This double standard is sickening. Over 5000 emails have been sent to MPs and the Foreign Office by PSC members, calling on them to support the recommendations of the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry report into Israeli war crimes against Palestinian civilians. We will continue to keep up the pressure on the UK government to promote global peace and justice, including by building the UK Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) movement and taking to the streets on March 30th and May 11th in support of Palestinian rights.”