MAP at the UN: How states can support the Palestinian right to health

Next week, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) will be in Geneva for the 37th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council as the Council discusses the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) under Agenda Item 7.

As in previous years, MAP will be there to update states on recent developments with regard to Palestinians’ rights to health and dignity, and to encourage action at the UN that will ensure accountability for any violations against these rights. Our briefing for states, which covers access to healthcare, protection of health facilities and personnel, and the de-development of health infrastructure is available here, and makes the following key recommendations:

In order to support the realisation of Palestinians’ rights to health and dignity, states should:

  1. Place pressure on the Government of Israel to remove the obstacles to the right to free movement which undermine access to treatment;
  2. Work towards ending the blockade and closure of Gaza and the separation between East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank and Gaza;
  3. Pursue accountability for all violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including attacks on medical personnel and infrastructure, in order to ensure justice for victims and deter repetition of such violations; and
  4. Take steps to reverse the harmful effects on Palestinian health and healthcare caused by the severe fragmentation of the occupied Palestinian territory due to settlements, the separation wall and other barriers to movement.

In Geneva, states can take the following action in pursuit of this goal:

  1. Support resolutions coming under Item 7 of the UN Human Rights Council which are rooted in fundamental principles of international humanitarian and human rights law, including the right to health, and accountability for violations thereof;
  2. Support the engagement of Palestinian and Israeli human rights groups in the work of the UN Human Rights Council, particularly those who have encountered restricted civil society space in the oPt and Israel;
  3. Support decisions at the World Health Assembly promoting monitoring and technical assistance to the development of the health system in the oPt.

At the Council session the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the oPt, Prof Michael Lynk, will release his latest report, which will focus in part on the right to health of Palestinians. MAP will take part in the interactive dialogue with Prof Lynk on the content of his report in the Council Chamber, and on Tuesday will host him for a panel discussion alongside Randa Siniora, General Director of the Women's Center for Legal Aid and Counselling (WCLAC) and Abbas Melhem, Executive Manager of the Palestinian Farmers Union (PFU). This side event will discuss how occupation, blockade and closure are violating the economic, social and cultural rights of Palestinians in the oPt, with a focus on livelihoods, access to healthcare, and the Palestinian economy.

The panel will also discuss the gendered impact of violations of International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law in the oPt on Palestinian women, with a specific focus on health and livelihoods in Gaza and the situation in East Jerusalem. If you are in Geneva and would like to join this discussion, click here for more information.

Prof Lynk will also be joining MAP in London the following week, and will be speaking at a public event at the Amnesty International Human Rights Action Centre at 18:15pm on Tuesday 27 March. For more information, and to book your free ticket, click here.

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