NGO Monitor1 presents this submission to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (“Committee”) at its 70th session regarding its review of “State of Palestine” and its compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (“CEDAW”), to which it purported to accede in April 2014.
Under CEDAW, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is required to “condemn discrimination against women in all its forms” and to “agree to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating discrimination against women” (Art. 2); to “ensure the full development and advancement of women, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms on a basis of equality with men” (Art. 3); to “(b) participate in the formulation of government policy and the implementation thereof and to hold public office and perform all public functions at all levels of government” and to “participate in non-governmental organizations and associations concerned with the public and political life of the country” (Art. 7); to “take all appropriate measures to ensure to women, on equal terms with men and without any discrimination, the opportunity to represent their Governments at the international level and to participate in the work of international organizations” (Art. 8); to “ensure to them equal rights with men in the field of education” (Art. 10); to “accord to women equality with men before the law” (Art. 15); and to “eliminate discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family relations” (Art. 16).
Yet, the PA is currently not fulfilling these obligations, as indicated in its own submission to the Committee. Personal status laws discriminate against women in matters of marriage, divorce, child custody, and inheritance. Repressive cultural practices such as child marriage, female genital mutilation, polygamy, and “honor” crimes are endemic. Coupled with unsatisfactory educational and employment opportunities, the laws and customs create an environment where there is both entrenched de jure and de facto discrimination. In addition to legal and cultural discrimination, the PA exploits women and girls to carry out and incite acts of terrorism against civilians. The PA promotes female terrorists as national role models for young girls, enabling a culture of violence, in direct opposition to the principles of CEDAW. The PA also supports so-called “civil” society organizations that promote the exploitation of women for nationalism and violence, denying women the ability to access legitimate organizations that might aid them in achieving equality and prosperity.
NGO Monitor is also greatly concerned by the 2018-2022 UNDAF agreement signed between the PA and the 24 UN agencies operating in the West Bank and Gaza. The agreement calls for $252 million in annual funding, with approximately $18 million dedicated to “human rights mechanisms are increasing engaged to hold Israel accountable for its obligations under international law.” Part of this funding is to be used to author, with UN help, 33 shadow reports against Israel to UN treaty bodies.
It is egregious that the PA (with UN agreement) is using scarce humanitarian aid to write shadow reports targeting Israel, but has requested no assistance to produce materials regarding its own compliance. This failure suggests that the PA is not interested in sincerely complying with or improving its own human rights record but rather, seeks to exploit humanitarian aid and UN bodies for its political war with Israel. It is disturbing that the UN agreed to be a willing partner with the Palestinian Authority in this endeavor.
Nevertheless, we hope that the Committee, as should be its standard practice, will focus its review on the PA’s compliance with CEDAW. The Committee will be in breach of its duties if instead, it decides to use the “State of Palestine” review to whitewash PA violations of CEDAW and simply engage in an improper second review of Israel.2
In the interests of brevity, the submission highlights several representative examples of violations of CEDAW by the PA, but there are countless additional cases.
- NGO Monitor is a project of the Institute for NGO Research, an Organization in Special Consultative Status with ECOSOC (since 2013). 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; Amb. John Bolton, US National Security Advisor and former US Permanent Representative to the UN; 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.
- Israel was reviewed by the CEDAW Committee in October 2017.