The Institute for NGO Research1 brings this submission in advance of the 83rd Pre-sessional Working Group (3-7 June 2019) meeting for the review of “State of Palestine” and its compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We hope that this submission will aid the Committee in its preparation of the List of Issues to the Palestinian Authority.
This submission focuses on the rampant campaign of incitement targeting children within the Palestinian Authority (PA). This campaign of incitement is endemic throughout Palestinian society and has damaged many generations of Palestinian children. Palestinian incitement undergirds the ongoing armed conflict with Israel and is responsible for countless deaths of both Palestinians and Israelis. It also underlies the extensive recruitment and use of Palestinian children as combatants. Any review of the PA’s compliance with the CRC must address this issue in depth. Failure to do so will represent a significant lapse in evaluating the PA’s adherence to and compliance with the CRC.
We are also highly disturbed that the PA’s report to the Committee and several NGO submissions appear to excuse or diminish the PA’s obligations under the CRC due to the ongoing armed conflict with Israel and control of Gaza by Hamas. More than 95% of the Palestinian population falls under the control of the Palestinian Authority and therefore under its jurisdiction and responsibility pursuant to the CRC. This jurisdiction and responsibility also includes Gaza. It is important, therefore, that the Committee does not give the PA a pass on compliance with its obligations under the CRC while shifting blame onto others. The Committee is tasked with upholding the human rights of children as specified by the CRC. It should not indulge excuses for noncompliance by the PA.
The CRC Explicitly Demands Children Be Protected from Incitement Campaigns
The vulnerability of children and the need to protect them from incitement and violence is a cornerstone of the CRC.
The Preamble of the CRC states that
Recognizing that the United Nations has, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the International Covenants on Human Rights, proclaimed and agreed that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth therein, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status,
Recalling that, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations has proclaimed that childhood is entitled to special care and assistance,
Convinced that the family, as the fundamental group of society and the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members and particularly children, should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance so that it can fully assume its responsibilities within the community,
Recognizing that the child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding,
Considering that the child should be fully prepared to live an individual life in society, and brought up in the spirit of the ideals proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations, and in particular in the spirit of peace, dignity, tolerance, freedom, equality and solidarity,
Under Article 17 of the CRC, States parties must ensure that children have access to media and information
from a diversity of national and international sources, especially those aimed at the promotion of his or her social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health.
To this end, States Parties shall:
(a) Encourage the mass media to disseminate information and material of social and cultural benefit to the child and in accordance with the spirit of article 29;
(e) Encourage the development of appropriate guidelines for the protection of the child from information and material injurious to his or her well-being, bearing in mind the provisions of articles 13 and 18.
Government promotion of incitement, violence, and discriminatory materials is incompatible with this provision.
Similarly, Article 19.1 requires State Parties to protect children from violence and exploitation, including private facilities, schools, and other institutions that have responsibility for children:
1. States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.
Article 29 requires State Parties to ensure that education promotes:
(b) The development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and for the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations;
(c) The development of respect for . . . civilizations different from his or her own;
(d) The preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin;
Under Article 36, States Parties “shall protect the child against all other forms of exploitation prejudicial to any aspects of the child’s welfare.”
Article 38 mandates that States Parties observe the rules of international humanitarian law (IHL) relevant to children including barring recruitment and use of child soldiers and protecting children impacted by armed conflict:
2. States Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that persons who have not attained the age of fifteen years do not take a direct part in hostilities.
3. States Parties shall refrain from recruiting any person who has not attained the age of fifteen years into their armed forces. In recruiting among those persons who have attained the age of fifteen years but who have not attained the age of eighteen years, States Parties shall endeavour to give priority to those who are oldest.
4. In accordance with their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect the civilian population in armed conflicts, States Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure protection and care of children who are affected by an armed conflict.
The Palestinian Authority has extensively violated all of these CRC provisions.
Members of the Institute’s Advisory Board include Elliott Abrams, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations; former Canadian Ambassador to Israel, Amb. Vivian Bercovici; Hon. Michael Danby, MP, senior member of the Australian Labor Party; Harvard Professor Prof. Alan Dershowitz; Canadian Senator, Hon. Linda Frum; best-selling author and commentator and British journalist and international affairs commentator, Tom Gross; Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Iraq and Afghanistan; Douglas Murray, Director of the Centre for Social Cohesion, best-selling author and commentator; former Member of Italian Parliament, Hon. Fiamma Nirenstein, UCLA Professor and President of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, Prof. Judea Pearl; US Jurist and former Legal Advisor to the State Department Judge Abraham Sofaer; Dr. Einat Wilf, former member of Knesset with the Israel Labor Party and advisor to Shimon Peres; Harvard Professor Prof. Ruth Wisse; R. James Woolsey, former US Director of Central Intelligence; and Israeli Supreme Court Justice, Justice Elyakim Rubinstein.